President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in New York, called on development partners to join the fight against corruption by returning ill-gotten financial assets and halting future illicit financial flows to their countries.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari stated this in New York at the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
The meeting was to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development.
Buhari said that such collective action “will guarantee a stronger international defence of the right to development.’’
He maintained that illicit financial assets stashed abroad deprived developing countries including Nigeria of their national wealth and resources needed for development.
The president cautioned that non-repatriation of illicit financial assets could impinge on the determination of States to achieve an all-inclusive 2030 sustainable development.
Buhari, therefore, called on the United Nations “to remain vocal and active in addressing the negative impact of non-repatriation of illicit financial assets on their countries of origin.”
“As soon as stolen assets are legally established, they should swiftly be repatriated.”
Buhari explained that his administration was fighting the scourge of corruption headlong “because it contributes to the denial of the resources required for development’’.
The president welcomed the commemoration of three decades of the Declaration on the Right to Development, which he observed, coincided with the first anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“It reminds us all of the essence of development and provides us with the opportunity to reaffirm commitments to converting this right into the policies and operational activities of relevant actors at the national, regional and international levels.”
He stated that as a developing country, Nigeria considered the Right to Development an inalienable right of fundamental importance.
He noted that at the national level, his administration had been making strenuous efforts to ensure that the right to development was at the centre of all development initiatives.
Buhari reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the UN Charter and other international conventions that uphold the Right to Development.
He also drew the attention of the international community to the urgent need to address the lop-sided terms of trade between developed and developing countries.
Buhari noted that this had impacted negatively on the capacity of many developing countries to embark on development programmes for the benefit of their peoples.
“Nigeria is convinced that the Right to Development is a shared responsibility considering the growing inequality and poverty resulting from climate change impact, natural disasters, violent extremism, social unrest and deprivation.
“The Right to Development must be promoted and protected like all other rights. Its universality and interdependence are indisputable,’’ he declared.
Buhari also said his signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change has demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to a global effort to reverse the effects of the negative trend.
The President said this on Thursday while addressing the opening of the meeting on “Taking Climate Action for Sustainable Development’’ in New York.
A statement issued in Abuja by Mr. Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the president, said the meeting was co-hosted by Nigeria and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Adesina stated that the meeting was one of the Side Events of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA71).
He said that President Buhari had shortly before this event, signed the Paris Agreement, where he expressed Nigeria’s commitment to reducing “Green House Gas Emissions unconditionally by 20 per cent and conditionally by 45 per cent”.
This he noted was in line with Nigeria’s “Nationally Determined Contributions.”
While describing the signing as historic, President Buhari also expressed confidence that with support from development partners, Nigeria would meet the above targets.
The resident pledged to ensure the ratification of the Paris Agreement before the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016.
He said that it was to demonstrate his personal dedication to the process of implementing the Agreement that he was hosting the side event on Taking Climate Action Towards Sustainable Development.
President Buhari, who said he was privileged to have been part of the Paris Agreement, expressed appreciation to what he called “the genuine efforts by President Francois Hollande of France in drawing global attention to reviving the Lake Chad Basin,’’.
He also lauded him for galvanising the political will that led to the global consensus in reaching the Paris Agreement.
The President said Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris Agreement was articulated through its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) “that strive to build a climate resilient society across the diverse terrain of Nigeria.
“We have instituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change to govern implementation of my country’s NDCs, thereby ensuring a strong cross-sectoral approach, coherence and synergy for Climate Action.’’
President Buhari, while admitting that implementing the Roadmap will not be easy in the face of dwindling national revenues, however, indicated that both internal and external resources would be mobilized to meet Nigeria’s targets.
He added that the 2017 Budget would reflect Nigeria’s efforts to accord priority to realizing its NDCs.
“In addition, we are set to launch our first ever Green Bonds in the first quarter of 2017 to fund a pipeline of projects all targeted at reducing emissions towards a greener economy,” he said.
While urging global support to transit to a low-carbon climate resilient economy, the President specifically reminded industrialised nations “to play their role and deliver on their commitments on access to climate finance and technology transfer and help with capacity-building.
“Expectations are high for their leaders to deliver 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 in support of developing countries to take climate action, thus keeping the promise to billions of people.”
President Buhari called on the international community to “give special recognition to the plight of Lake Chad and support our effort to resuscitate the livelihoods of over five million people in the region.
“This will reinforce our efforts to reintegrate the thousands of Boko Haram victims and returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).”
According to the President, the Niger Delta region is a unique biodiversity rich in coastal environment that is highly prone to adverse environmental changes.
He said these changes were occasioned by climate change, such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, exacerbated by poverty and many decades of oil pollution leading to loss of livelihoods and ecosystems.
He added however, that “through an integrated approach, implementation of the NDCs, and our efforts to clean up Ogoniland, we will improve livelihoods, protect the environment and take climate action, and ensure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
President Buhari thanked the Presidents of Chad, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger for attending the event.