President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to crusade against the corruption, terrorism and human trafficking that plague his country and asked the world community Monday evening to partner with Nigeria in this fight when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
Buhari’s speech at the 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly marked the first time in 16 years a Nigerian leader was invited to speak on the opening day.
Buhari, who assumed office in May, spoke about the problems his government inherited, particularly the insurgency of militant group Boko Haram and corruption within military and security agencies. He called the corruption crimes “impediments to development.”
“We are unwavering in our war against corruption and cross-border financial crimes,” Buhari said.
Though Boko Haram continues to terrorize Nigeria, Buhari said the government has gained traction in the fight. Through bombings, assassinations and abductions, Boko Haram has fought to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state. Buhari said countries in West Africa have established a multinational task force to defeat the armed group and already have killed or captured many of their operatives.
“We are on the frontline on the war on terror,” Buhari said. “Boko Haram’s war on the people of Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon may not attract as much attention, but the suffering is just as great and the human cost is just as high.”
In the speech, Buhari said Nigeria is committed to rescuing the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April 2014 by Boko Haram who remain captives in the group’s camps.
“One of our major aims is to rescue Chibok girls alive and unharmed,” he said. “They are always on our minds and in our plans.”
But Buhari said the country needs aid from international community. He said the challenges Nigeria faces pose a threat to all nations, just like climate change, cybersecurity and proliferation of weapons are problems all countries “must tackle collectively.”
“Nigeria is ready and willing to partner with international agencies in other countries,” he said.