By Cecilia Ologunagba
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, has been conferred with the Global Leadership in International Relations Award by the International Police and Veterans Foundation.
Muhammad-Bande was conferred with the award at a ceremony in New York, in recognition of his outstanding performance and global leadership as the 74th President of the UN General Assembly from Sept. 17 to Sept. 15, 2020.
President of the foundation, Richard Ezaqui, said it “fully recognised the outstanding role Muhammad-Bande played and demonstrated towards rallying the world to combat the menace of COVID-19 during his tenure.
“Your sterling performance in leading the world successfully during those difficult times played significant role in choosing your excellency for this prestigious International Award,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the UN General Assembly under Muhammad-Bande’s leadership passed more than 70 decisions and resolutions at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diplomats at the UN had expressed concerns that it would be impossible for the General Assembly to do its job when COVID-19 started spreading and countries began to impose lockdown.
They praised Muhammad-Bande for how the 193-member body was able to carry out its work through novel means that guaranteed business continuity while mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, particularly described the Nigerian envoy as the “miracle” needed by the UN General Assembly to weather the COVID-19 storm.
Receiving the award, Muhammad-Bande appreciated the leadership of the foundation for the recognition and for bestowing it on him.
He said there was a connection between the work of the UN and the work that the foundation did to help humanity.
“Peace and security are foundation and the most important elements and when there are troubles, peace and security come first.
“We must appreciate the work that police and other law enforcement agencies do for all us,” he said.
Dr Kazeem Bello, President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), New Jersey, while reading Muhammad-Bande’s citation, said it was on record that he held the position of the President of UN General Assembly at the most trying period.
Bello, an Adviser on Financial and Strategic Planning at the foundation, said Muhammad-Bande headed the UN General Assembly at a very challenging year since the establishment of the organisation.
“Muhammad-Bande performed exceeding creditably during the global challenging time that confronted the entire human race.
“He led the entire leadership of world leaders to unify, work collectively and speak with single voice to combat the menace of ravaging COVID-19,” Bello said.
The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who said that members of the foundation were the first responders to the pandemic and thanked them for supporting the people.
“This association during the pandemic was distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), providing scholarship for the children of those officers who lost their lives to the pandemic,’’ he said.
Muhammad-Bande was accompanied by his wife, Consul-General of Nigeria in New York Amb. Lot Egopija, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN Amb. George Edokpa and Mrs Catherine Udida, a Minister at Nigeria’s permanent mission.