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Corruption Is Major Obstacle To Achieving Agenda 2030 -Nigerian leader tells UN Assembly

President Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
President Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

20 September 2016 – Warning that corruption undermines achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took the podium of the United Nations General Assembly today to call on all countries to sign up to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) underscore the imperative for our collective will towards finding enduring and sustainable solutions to addressing global disparities,” he told the Assembly’s annual General Debate on its opening day, referring to the 2030 Agenda that seeks to eliminate poverty, hunger and a host of social ills within the next 14 years.

“Corruption freezes development, thereby undermining the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said, citing his own Government’s efforts to combat the scourge, including the significant recovery of stolen assets which are then channelled towards the development of critical infrastructure and the implementation of social inclusion programmes.

Asset restitution is a major plank in the UNCAC, adopted 13 years ago and the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. It now has 179 States Parties out of a UN membership of 193 countries.

“Nigeria will continue to advocate for the facilitation of the recovery of illicit financial assets,” Mr. Buhari said, calling on those States that have yet to sign up to UNCAC to do so.

He also noted the “giant step” towards addressing climate change taken in the Paris accord last December, noting the adverse effects that climate change has already manifested in the drying up Lake Chad, threatening the livelihood of some 30 million inhabitants of the Lake Chad Basin, spread across Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

“The cost of replenishing the lake has been put at $14 billion under a five year plan which should be accorded global attention,” he said. “Nigeria also supports the African Union initiative on the Great Green Wall to halt desertification.”

Turning to security, Mr. Buhari cited the “remarkable progress” Nigeria has made in its resolve to defeat the Boko Haram terrorist group, whose “capacity to launch orchestrated attacks as a formed group has been severely degraded.”

He called on those nations that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which seeks to stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons that nurture the spread of terrorism.

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