Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), arrived Nigeria to a rousing welcome on Thursday night on a five-day official visit to the country, the News Agency of Nigeria has reported.
Muhammed-Bande, who arrived at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja at 11:45pm, was received by the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Comfort Lamptey; Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, Amb. Samson Itegboje, among others.
The UNGA president, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time since his inauguration in September, had as part of his entourage, his Chef de Cabinet Mari Skåre, Senior Adviser Alex Tope, Special Assistant Muyiwa Waheed Onifade, Advisor Emanuel De Jesus Da Costa Tilmann and Communication Adviser Kristina Klein.
Muhammed-Bande, while speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said he was excited to be at home and to learn about the issues relating to the Regional Expert Conference on the Human Rights situation of older persons in Africa.
“Well I’m excited to be here and also very keen to learn about issues at home, but basically we are here to discuss issues of ageing in relation to how the life of the aged are advanced”, he said.
For being the second Nigerian to be elected UNGA President in 30 years and how this reflects on the nation, Muhammad-Bande advised that Nigerians continue to do the things that endears us to the international community and make our nation proud.
“I think that we should continue to do the kinds of things that makes us acceptable to others by doing our bit in the international community and doing also great things for our country,” he added.
Similarly speaking on his experience so far as President of the UNGA Muhammad-Bande credited his good start to the support he enjoyed from his colleagues.
“I’m happy that the support of all colleagues has gotten us to a good start”, he said.
Muhammad-Bande is in Nigeria to attend a Regional Expert Conference on the Human Rights Situation of Older Persons in Africa as an Inter-sessional Event of the United Nations General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on Ageing.
The conference, which is for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons, will hold in Abuja on Nov. 25.
It will have as participants, governments, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations, academia, older persons, regional organisations as well as intergovernmental institutions and United Nations organisations.
The Conference will also witness the participation of non-African member states and is open to a global audience.
It is also expected to provide a better understanding of progress made and challenges faced in ensuring those rights, as well as exchange-related experiences and lessons.
While in Nigeria, Muhammad-Bande will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, and the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Pauline Tallen.
He will also visit the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja as well as the reconstructed UN House.
Muhammad-Bande’s election, was the second time that Nigeria has produced the president of UNGA in three decades and since joining the UN as its 99th member in 1960.
The first was in 1989, during the tenure of late Gen. Joseph Garba, which was usually described as a flamboyant era.