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Tinubu to Guterres: I’m Ready to Take Tough Decisions Even if They Make Me Unpopular

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President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, told United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, that he was prepared to take tough decisions, even if they could make him temporarily unpopular, as long as the outcomes addressed challenges, such as poverty, hunger, among others, that had stunted economic growth in Nigeria.

Tinubu made the assertion at the UN headquarters in New York, when he spoke with Guterres, according to a statement by the president’s media adviser, Ajuri Ngelale.

The president declared that African nations would no longer accept a situation in which human rights advocacy was used by developed countries to stop developing economies from dealing decisively with actors, who illicitly siphoned and smuggled out the continent’s vast mineral resources. He said such individuals smuggled in western-made weapons, and enriched the wealthiest economies in the world at the expense of Africa’s stability and wealth creation.

He frowned on a situation where 70 per cent of the resources devoted to the world’s poorest countries were spent and sent back out on overheads and administrative costs, which defeated their purpose.

Tinubu stated, “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 talk shops 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. I fought for democracy. I was detained for democracy. I am now president and I am determined to prove that democracy can provide the development that our nation and our continent so urgently demands.

“Trace those of us here to our foundations and you will find that we have ties and links with poverty. We must not be ashamed of that history, but poverty is unacceptable. I am one of the lucky survivors of gripping poverty. Nigeria is truly a giant. Two hundred and forty million people and counting with a massive youth population.

“We are done saying too much. We seek much action. We have arisen out of poverty as individuals, but until our people have arisen out of that, we will not rest, even if it requires decisions at home that make me temporarily unpopular.”

The president also said, “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.”

The Nigerian leader noted that the UN must transform from being one of the world’s foremost talk shops on global issues into becoming the world’s foremost action coordination centre.

Responding, Guterres emphasised that the UN system was in the process of real reform that would largely address some of the institutional frailties and lack of decision-making power for the developing world, on whose behalf more than 75 per cent of UN resources were accrued.

The UN secretary-general said, “We now recognise the need to reform the institution to represent the world as it is today. The questions of debt and SDRs. The fact that middle-income countries have only marginal access to concessional funding. In the SDGs summit, we believe we have a growing political consensus and now, a declaration, in this regard. We are pursuing this with great determination.”

Guterres assured Tinubu of the fullest support of the UN system for ECOWAS in the light of the series of military coups the West African sub-region had witnessed in the past few months and years.

He said, “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.”

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