In a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in New York, President Bola Tinubu strongly emphasised the need for African nations to assert their sovereignty and address issues related to the illicit syphoning of the continent’s mineral resources and the smuggling of western-made weapons.
President Tinubu highlighted that human rights advocacy should not be used as a tool by wealthy and powerful nations to hinder developing economies from dealing decisively with malign actors engaged in the illegal extraction of Africa’s vast mineral wealth.
He expressed concern about the exploitation of African resources and the enrichment of developed economies at the expense of African stability and prosperity.
“We are facing the great challenge of scavengers ravaging our lands and oppressing our people on illegal mines—taking our gold and mineral wealth back to developed economies by stealth and violence against Nigerians. Where one’s human right ends, the rights of another begin. Most especially for self-protection. If we fight, they say ‘human rights,’ but we will now be aggressive and we will question motives. We will stop what is happening in our land. We require your effective collaboration,” President Tinubu firmly stated.
The Nigerian leader urged the United Nations to evolve from a global talkshop into an action coordination centre. He expressed concern that a significant portion of resources dedicated to the world’s poorest countries is spent on overhead and administrative costs, undermining the organization’s primary purpose of providing much-needed assistance.
“The poverty ravaging our continent and the question of security and counter-terrorism requires us to work in close and effective synergy. The world will ignore Nigeria at its own peril. If we engage in talkshops as real challenges wreak real havoc in real time, we will fail. The time to strike is now. The time to achieve real results is now,” President Tinubu stressed.
He further emphasised his commitment to democracy and development, acknowledging his own history of poverty and the need to lift Nigeria’s population out of poverty.
In response, the UN Secretary-General acknowledged the ongoing reform efforts within the UN system to address institutional shortcomings and improve decision-making power for developing countries. He expressed support for Nigeria’s leadership in the sub-region and pledged the UN’s assistance for ECOWAS amid recent military coups in West Africa.
“Mr. President, we have high expectations for your presidency after the many bold steps you have taken. Nigeria is an indispensable voice in the sub-region. We will give you every support needed for your success to be achieved. Your success is Africa’s success, and we wish you well,” Secretary-General Guterres concluded.