President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man at the Nigerian helm, is gearing up to chat with world big shots at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It kicks off on September 18, 2023. They’re planning to gab about big issues like climate stuff, being poor and hungry, wars, and some other deep-seated inequalities.
The UN General Assembly, that’s the big talking place for the United Nations. Tinubu is set to speak first. He’s number 14 out of 20 bigwigs and the fifth African to take the stage after the leaders of South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Mozambique.
The theme for this year is all about rebuilding trust and making friends worldwide for peace, money, progress, and stuff. People are thinking Tinubu, who leads the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), might mention the military takeovers in West Africa.
Now, the problem isn’t so much what Tinubu says. It’s about the folks he brings along. Nigeria’s diplomats and the UN crew from Nigeria are crossing their fingers for a smaller team this time. They’re trying to avoid the shame parade they’ve been doing for years.
Tinubu even told the government folks, “Stay home if you don’t have a real job at the UN in New York.”
The president’s advisor on media and stuff, Ajuri Ngelale, put it in writing. They’re freezing visas for government folks who want to jet off to the UNGA. “Only bring the folks we tell you to bring,” they said.
Some retired diplomat said this is a good move. He thinks it’ll save the Foreign Affairs Ministry from looking silly. “The UNGA theme should pick the team,” he said.
A smarty-pants professor, Abubakar Kari, agreed. He said, “In the past, Nigeria sent hordes of people who just wanted a free trip, like a holiday.”
Kari added that Nigeria better stick to essentials now. He thinks it’s a break from the past. “This government looks set to stop wasting money,” he said.
But here’s the kicker. Tinubu didn’t say anything about state governors. They often come with big entourages, sometimes just to get a handshake from the president. “They sneak in like they’re part of the team,” the ex-diplomat moaned.
He thinks each country should bring the folks who care about the stuff on the UNGA agenda. “There’s a committee for everything. If Niger has a problem, Nigeria should talk to the democracy committee. No need for extra baggage.”
So, you’ve got these extra ministries coming along, adding to the bill. “Only three departments should go, not the whole circus,” he said.
Still, he admitted some ministries have good reasons to come. They just need to shrink their guest list.
Now, the embarrassment usually starts when Nigeria shows up with a small army of delegates. They even elbow other folks out of their hotel rooms. It’s like a scene from a comedy show.
Kari said, “Governors shouldn’t be there. It’s a waste of money. Find a cheaper way to meet the president.”
Trimming down the UNGA crew started with Goodluck Jonathan. He tried to downsize the group he took with him. The ex-diplomat remembered the chaos when there were 200 to 300 people in Nigeria’s gang.
Things got a bit better in 2014 and 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari came along. He wanted only the key players at the UNGA party.
So, even with Tinubu’s new rules, Nigeria’s team will still be chunkier than most. But hey, at least they’re trying to put the brakes on the UNGA carnival.