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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

President Jonathan Truly Led 600-Man Delegation To The 2013 UN General Assembly - Minister of Foreign Affairs

Last year when news broke that President Jonathan had led a 600 man delegation to the UN General assembly, Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati was quick to deny the claim. His words: “There is  no substance to the rehashed charge of profligacy which Sahara reporters annually makes against the President when he leads Nigeria’s delegation to the UN General Assembly,” he said in a statement, asserting that the delegation was “less than 30” persons.

“Other than them, the only other persons who are in New York for the UN General Assembly with the President’s knowledge and approval are relevant ministers and few essential aides,” Abati said, adding that Mr. Jonathan’s delegation was not out of proportion with Nigeria’s size, role and relevance in Africa and the global community.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bashir Wali, has now confirmed that President Goodluck Jonathan did lead a massive 600-man delegation to the United Nations General Assembly last year. Mr. Wali, a former Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, made the startling disclosures yesterday in Abuja while addressing heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

In the his words, 80% of the people in the delegation have no business being on them, and do not add any value.“The size of Nigeria’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly last year was 567; that is something that is certainly way out and unacceptable. On that basis I asked that they send me the list of 3 countries: Germany, South Africa and Egypt, to compare with what we in Nigeria have. None of them is up to one third of our own delegation,” the Minister said.

He regretted that not even China with a population of over one billion people can compare with the number of delegates that Nigeria sends to the event annually, confirming that Nigeria did have the largest of all the delegations to New York in 2013. What is worse, the ambassador observed that 80 per cent of Nigeria’s vast delegations to the General Assembly do not add any value to the team’s work at the assembly.

“So, you can see that there is certainly need to really take a second look and see that those of our delegates that go the UN General Assembly do have value. It is not a question of having a jamboree, but indeed, it is more like a jamboree. I happen to have observed for four years as Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN, the delegation of Nigeria to the UN General Assembly. So, I know and if we are going to be honest to ourselves, I know that 80 per cent of the delegates that go from Nigeria do not add value to our team to the UN.”
Mr. Wali assured that his ministry was working to ensure that the country has value for money, stressing that there ought to be some measure of accountability and responsibility on the part of Nigeria’s delegates.He is now awaiting the approval of President Jonathan to place a ceiling on the number of delegates that will be in New York this year, he said, declaring that Nigeria can “certainly” not afford a 567-man delegation.

It is an open secret that Nigeria’s public servants seize every opportunity to travel abroad on bogus official assignments, including meaningless workshops, seminars and conferences, as a ruse for collecting generous travel allowances known as estacode. Some of them do not even bother to show up at such events, preferring to shop, visit relatives or attend to other private businesses. The 69th General Assembly opens next Tuesday, September 16. The annual general debate will begin the following week, and President Jonathan is expected to be there. 

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