Presidency explains Buhari’s ‘embarrassing’ response to question at UNGA
The Presidency has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s supposed ‘embarrassing’ response to a question at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA74) in New York, United States.
President Buhari during an interactive session at the event, was asked to talk about his plans for the future of Nigeria’s young population. But in his response, Buhari shocked the audience when he responded to the question with a written speech on climate change.
Part of his response had read, “Your excellencies, Ladies, and gentlemen. I share your sentiments addressed by the Secretary Gen, that the world is on the verge of calamity and catastrophe. Undeniably climate change is a human-induced phenomenon. It is now imperative that we must step up our collective climate actions in line with the request of the Secretary Gen. It is in this regard that I wish to retract Nigeria’s commitment to its obligations under the various agreements, the aspirations enshrining our national timely contribution and ensure resilient future that may stream climate risk is our decision making.”
The development had seen Buhari criticised and accused of embarrassing the country once again before the world.
However, in a statement entitled ‘Frenzy about an online video from UNGA in New York’, the Presidency defended the president and also explained the rationale behind his action.
The statement released by the President’s Media Office read in part:
“On Monday, September 23, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari participated alongside other world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019.
“Since then, we have seen conversations on Twitter doing what Twitter allows many people to spend a lot of their time on getting things horribly wrong and/or focusing on the wrong things, while completely missing the real/meaningful/actual message.
“And so, this is a backgrounder/explainer, focusing on Nigeria’s commitment to climate action, under the Buhari Administration.
“The Climate Action Summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to provide an opportunity for world leaders to, ‘come to New York on 23 September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net-zero emissions by 2050.’
The theme of President Buhari’s panel was, ‘Towards a Resilient Future’ — with the rider: ‘Announcement of plans to mainstream climate risk in decision making.’
“So, note that the goal of the panel was to elicit ‘announcements’ from the panelists on behalf of their respective countries: Fiji, Nigeria, Netherlands, the Bank of England, etc. In other words, panelists were billed to deliver remarks announcing their country/organisation plans to build a resilient, climate-sensitive future.
“To address the theme of the event, President Buhari chose to deliver prepared remarks.
“And the moderator’s question was, in keeping with the theme: ‘President Buhari, Nigeria has a very young population; perhaps you might highlight what a pathway for a resilient future looks like?’
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“The President did exactly that, in his prepared remarks, over the next few minutes, highlighting what a ‘resilient future’ will look like in Nigeria — by focusing on the administration’s policies (the ones already being implemented, like the Green Bonds, and the ones set for implementation, like the new tree-planting campaign, and the energy mix target).
“His prepared remarks were wholly in alignment with the theme of the Panel event, and the question he was asked.
“Keep in mind that as panels often work, the moderator’s question was meant to invite/usher him to take the stage, and share his remarks. As a panelist, it was up to him to choose