Reactions continue to trail the election of Amb. Tijjani Mohammad-Bande as President of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
Mohammad-Bande, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, was elected by acclamation at the 87th plenary meeting of UNGA at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
The 61-year-old diplomat and scholar, who will be the second Nigerian to hold the office, will succeed Ecuador’s Maria Fernanda Espinosa in September.
Newsmen report that the General Assembly Hall erupted in cheers as Espinosa declared Mohammad-Bande elected.
This was followed by a standing ovation as he was called to the podium to make his acceptance speech.
Mr Ahmed Abubakar, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), described Mohammad-Bande’s emergence as “a very big day for Nigeria and Africa’’.
Abubakar, who led a presidential delegation to the election, said Mohammad-Bande’s election by acclamation underscored his clout, knowledge and experience as a diplomat.
“You saw the energy in the hall after the declaration of Prof. Tijani Mohammad-Bande as the next PGA (President of the General Assembly).
“The ovation was just overwhelming. This goes to say one important thing that we already know, that Nigeria is a very great country.
“His candidature was endorsed by ECOWAS, African Union and the continent as a whole, underscoring the clout, experience and knowledge that he will bring to bear on the job.
“You heard the testimonies of regional representatives, including that of the United States of America. So, we are happy that this has taken place at this moment.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said Mohammad-Bande’s election signified a “rebirth of Nigeria’s role on a global level’’.
“This is a milestone, it is epochal, and Nigeria has gained a major recognition; we have presented a credible candidate who is one of the most respected ambassadors at the UN.
“It showed, because there he was on the floor of the General Assembly, drawing applause from virtually every ambassador, nearly 200 of them,’’ he said.
On what the election means to Nigeria, Shehu said the UN General Assembly was key to the realisation of the goals of the UN.
“It is also key to resolving the challenges that are facing the world. So, for a Nigerian to captain that ship for one year means a lot to us as a nation.
“It is a way for Nigeria to inject our own national and regional purpose into the global conversation and action.
“As you can see from the major goals he has identified, these are important goals for the world but more for Nigeria his own country and for Africa as a continent,’’ he said.
Poverty eradication, inclusion of women and youth, peace and security, promotion and protection of human rights, climate action, among others, are part of the vision outlined by the PGA-elect.