By Gideon Maxwell
A seasoned journalist and former presidential aide, Laolu Akande, has lauded how President Bola Tinubu directed his inaugural speech with the adroitness of an experienced politician as he addressed the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States.
Akande, who is currently in New York, covering proceedings at the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, expressed his views while featuring as a guest analyst live on Channel TV’s morning programme, Sunrise Daily, on Thursday, September 21, 2023.
Since his inauguration on May 29, Akande commended President Tinubu for delivering a notable speech at his first appearance on the global scene, rubbing shoulders with other world leaders and Heads of State and Government who gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York, to discuss world issues.
Tinubu, had, on. Wednesday during his address at the 78th UNGA, called for “an equal, firm commitment” to Africa as part of the UN’s 2030 goals, noting that, “Broken promises of fair treatment and outright exploitation from abroad have also exacted a heavy toll on our ability to progress.”
President Tinubu charged that “If this year’s theme is to mean anything at all, it must mean something special and particular to Africa,” and ended his speech with a message of regional empowerment, saying, “Africa is not a problem to be avoided. Nor is it to be pitied. Africa is nothing less than the key to the world’s future.”
Akande a former spokesperson to Nigeria’s immediate past Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, responding to Tinubu’s delivery, said, “Clearly this was a very notable speech that the president gave.”
According to him, “You know, as he indicated himself, this was his first speech as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Not only did he speak for the Nigerian people but he also made some very important statements on behalf of the African continent. He said the time that Africa used to be seen as a place of people to be pitied is over and that what Africa wants is a mutually beneficial partnership.”
Analysing the issues the issues raised by the President one after the other, Akande said, “He spoke about the development of the African continent. He said that what Africa is looking for is a mutually beneficial relationship, namely that the international community ought to partner with Africa. He did refer to the marshal plan which of course was the plan that was put up by the international community after the end of the Second World War to sort of help Europe to recover.”
“He said that even though the circumstances of Africa are not compared to what happened in Europe after the war, the same kind of commitment that the international community, especially European countries gave to rebuilding Europe is the kind of request that Africa is making for serious political commitment and mutuality in terms of international relations,” Akande noted.
Tinubu, as it is rightly known is the chairman of the main West African bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), who has been trying to negotiate with the Niger military junta to restore democratic norms to the country, and while reviewing his influence on the Africa subregion, Akande also lauded his efforts in trying to establish partnerships with the international community on how to curtail the forceful taking over of government by the military junta in Africa, while also calling for the exposure of those stealing the continent’s mineral resources.
As he said, he (Tinubu) spoke about democracy. This is a very important one because of what has been happening in the West and Central Africa with the coup that we have been having all over the place, especially the question of Niger. He said that the solution to the problems is not coups. He said as chairman of ECOWAS, he was looking for a partnership with the international community on how to stem the tide of coups in the continent.”
“He then talked about the ‘dark channel of commerce’ that has been perpetrated in the international community in places like Africa and other developing countries where there has been a pillage of mineral resources by foreign countries taking advantage of mineral resources Africa, especially in places like Nigeria, where they come and steal our mineral resources and do all kinds of illicit transactions and taking away the resources of Africa and other continents in a way that not only is despicable but that perpetuates poverty of the people and also promotes conflict.”
“I think what the president has done is that he has attempted to retake our place of importance, the significance of the Nigerian voice in the international community, the significance of Nigeria as a voice for the black race, as a voice for the African continent and as a voice for the developing world, a voice that cannot be ignored,” Akande said.