Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has been elected as the 74th President of the United Nations General Assembly with top bureaucrats of the world body extolling him as a scholar and diplomat who “bring(s) many important and admirable qualifications to the job.”
His election followed an affirmative vote in New York on Tuesday by member-nations as Muhammad-Bande was the only candidate who stood for the elective position. This was announced by outgoing and 73rd UNGA President, Ambassador Maria Espinosa Garcés.
Also elected were Vice-Presidents and Main Committee Bureau members of the UN General Assembly. The new executives will assume powers in September when the current president’s tenure comes to an end.
“My sincere congratulations to HE Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande #Nigeria, for his election as 74th #UNGA President. Amba. Tijjani brings with him an outstanding career both as a scholar & diplomat. My team & I will be at your disposal to ensure the smoothest transition possible #UN4ALL,” Garcés later said in a tweet on her official Twitter handle.
“Professor Bande, you bring many important and admirable qualifications to the job. From your years as Permanent Representative of Nigeria, you know the United Nations well. From your wide-ranging academic pursuits, you are an expert in political science and public administration,” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said in a speech after the election.
“And as a Nigerian and an African, you have invaluable insights into the continent’s challenges – such as the Sahel and Lake Chad basin – and more broadly into the challenges our world faces across the three pillars of our work, peace, sustainable development and human rights. We wish you well in your preparations for this role in the months ahead.” Guterres concluded.
Garcés had earlier visited the Nigerian capital, Abuja last month where she met behind closed-doors with President Muhammadu Buhari and top officials of the government. The Buhari administration had used its weight and network to lobby other countries and it culminated in a unanimous, affirmative vote for Muhammad-Bande on Tuesday.
“I am honoured by the trust placed in me. We have to assume collective responsibility to make the world a better and safer one,” president-elect, Muhamad-Bande said during his acceptance speech.
The African Union, Rwanda, France, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina, Austria and several countries have sent in their congratulatory messages promising to support the Nigerian-led assembly when it begins work in the last quarter of the year.
Second Nigerian to head UNGA presidency
Muhammad-Bande becomes the second Nigerian to be elected President of UNGA after Major General Joseph Nanven Garba who held the position as the 44th President of the United Nations General Assembly between 1989 and 1990.
He was born at Zagga in Kebbi state, northwest Nigeria and attended Ahmadu Bello University for undergraduate studies where he received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1979 before proceeding to Boston University, Massachusetts, USA where he earned an M.A in Political Science in 1981. He later got a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1987.
Professor Bande was, from January 2000 to February 2004, the Director-General of the Centre African de Formation et de Recherche Administrative pour le Development (CAFRAD) in Tangier, Morocco. It is Africa’s premier institution with responsibility for training and research in public administration and management.
He was the Vice-Chancellor Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto between 2004 and 2009. He also served as former Director-General of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Nigeria from 2010 till March 2016. It is Nigeria’s premier policy training institution.
Muhammad-Bande will be assuming office at a time that the United Nations is gearing up to commemorate its 75th anniversary next year. “I hope we can use (the anniversary) to reaffirm the value of international cooperation and the vision of the Charter.” Guterres also said at the gathering.
When the new president takes office in September, it will be coming at a crucial time that the world body is focusing on a series of meetings such as the Climate Action Summit, Sustainable Development Goals Summit, high-level meetings on universal health coverage, including small island developing states and financing for sustainable development.
Two UN personnel killed in Benghazi by car bomb
Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb.
A car bombing in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi killed two United Nations staff on Saturday, a security official said.
“Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb” in a shopping area of the Al-Hawari district, the official said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which happened as a UN convoy was passing through the area.
Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the cradle of the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was hit by years of violence targeting diplomatic offices and security forces after his fall.
An attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
In 2017, military strongman Khalifa Haftar drove hardline Islamists and jihadists out of Benghazi after a three-year battle.
Haftar, who backs an eastern-based administration that opposes the Tripoli-based unity government, went on to seize Derna, the last city in eastern Libya outside his control.
But bombings and kidnappings have continued.
A May 2018 attack left seven people dead and last month, a car bombing at the funeral of an ex-army commander killed at least four people and wounded more than 30 others.
A Libyan lawmaker is also feared to have been abducted by an armed group in the eastern city, the UN and lawmakers said in July.
Haftar controls most of eastern Libya, and early this year he ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army to purge the south of what he called “terrorist groups and criminals”.
On the heels of that campaign, his LNA launched in April an offensive to take the Libyan capital from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.
The LNA on Saturday announced a truce around Tripoli for the three-day Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha, after the unity government conditionally accepted a ceasefire called for by the UN.
Jihadists release video of ‘kidnapped aid worker’ and 5 colleagues in Nigeria
The hostages are believed to be held in the ISWAP enclave on the shores of Lake Chad
Jihadists aligned with the Islamic State group released a video Thursday purporting to show a female aid worker and five male colleagues kidnapped in an attack in northeast Nigeria.
Aid group, Action Against Hunger (AAH) said earlier that one of its staff members along with three health workers and two drivers were missing after their convoy was attacked last Thursday near the border with Niger.
In the three-minute video, a woman wearing a bright blue hijab who says she is the abducted aid worker addresses the camera in English while seated in front of five men she describes as her colleagues.
The footage seen by reporters was released through the same channels as previous videos from the IS-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
An employee at another NGO confirmed the identity of the missing aid worker.
Villagers see captives –
The hostages are believed to be held in the ISWAP enclave on the shores of Lake Chad.
Villagers told reporters the kidnapped aid workers were seen with their armed captors passing through the villages of Chamba and Gatafo on the day of their abduction.
ISWAP is a splinter group of Boko Haram that swore allegiance in 2016 to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
It has repeatedly attacked military bases and previously targeted aid workers in northeast Nigeria.
Two female aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were murdered by ISWAP last year and an aid worker with the UN children’s agency UNICEF is still being held by the group.
Since 2009, more than 27,000 people have been killed and some two million forced from their homes by the Boko Haram conflict.
Prime Minister under Muammar Gaddafi’s rule freed in Libya
Mahmoudi was arrested in September 2011 as he tried to flee across the border to Tunisia, and was extradited to Libya
Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Libya’s last prime minister under ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has been released from jail for health reasons four years after being sentenced to death, Tripoli’s justice ministry said Saturday.
Mahmoudi, in his 70s, was premier when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed Gaddafi.
He was handed the death sentence in July 2014 along with eight other Gaddafi-era officials including the leader’s son Seif al-Islam, over their alleged role in a bloody crackdown on protesters.
The justice ministry said Mahmoudi was released “for health reasons” at the recommendation of a medical commission “so that he could be treated at specialised medical centres”.
It gave no further details on the nature of his illness or when he was liberated.
Mahmoudi was arrested in September 2011 as he tried to flee across the border to Tunisia, and was extradited to Libya the following year.
During his detention in Tunisia, he claimed that Libya had financed the 2007 election campaign of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, according to his lawyers.
The French ex-president vehemently denied the allegations, initially made by Seif al-Islam.
But Sarkozy was charged in March 2018 over accusations he accepted millions of euros from Gaddafi.
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