By Cecilia Ologunagba
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Prof. Muhammad Bande, has been conferred with the Distinguished Alumni Award by Boston University (BU), Massachusetts, United States.
Bande was conferred with the award at the ’73rd Best of BU Alumni Awards’ ceremony in Boston in recognition of “his innovative performance as the 74th President of the UN General Assembly” from Sept. 17, 2019, to Sept. 15, 2020.
Boston University particularly recognised his “innovative working method as he prioritised the issues he set out to address” during his presidency and also for “developing effective and comprehensive response to COVID-19″ when the pandemic struck.
The award came three months after he was conferred with the Global Leadership in International Relations Award by the International Police and Veterans Foundation for his outstanding performance towards rallying the world to combat the menace of COVID-19 during his tenure.
The Dean, Faculty of Art and Science, Boston University, Prof. Stan Sclaroff, commended the Nigerian envoy, saying he was inspired by the leadership style of Bande and his commitment to serving humanity.
“I’m personally and deeply inspired by his enduring commitment to make a world a better place, his commitment in health and humanitarian efforts globally.
“He is a prominent figure nationally and now recognises as one of our alumni.
“Our current students look at him as a role model today. We are very proud of him as alumni of Faculty of Art and Science,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that diplomats at the UN had expressed concerns that it would be impossible for the assembly to do its job when COVID-19 started spreading and countries began to impose lockdown.
The UN General Assembly under Bande’s leadership, however, passed over 70 decisions and resolutions at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic through an innovative method called “silence procedure”.
Silence procedure is an online decision-making method adopted by member states following the suspension of in-personal plenary meetings at the UN headquarters to avoid the spread of the disease.
Among the resolutions adopted was the “omnibus resolution” titled “Comprehensive and coordinated response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”, calling for holistic COVID-19 response.
The resolution acknowledged the key leadership role of WHO – and the fundamental role of the UN system – in catalysing and coordinating the global response to COVID-19, and the central efforts of Member States.
It also called for intensified international cooperation and solidarity to contain, mitigate and overcome the pandemic and its consequences through responses that are people-centred and gender-responsive, with full respect for human rights.
Diplomats praised Bande for leading the 193-member body 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 commended Bande for his “wise, determined and excellent judgment” to address the unforeseen challenges of COVID-19.
In his acceptance speech, Bande, who graduated with a Masters Degree in Political Science at the university in 1981, appreciated the authorities for the honour.
The Nigerian diplomat and scholar said that he found interesting combination of excellent scholarship and camaraderie in the department of Political Science, characterised by notion of social justice and camaraderie.
“I, therefore, everyday, recall my debt to Boston University in this issue of connection between social justice and scholarship,” he said.
“I formed very important relationship with the teachers, which was really amazing.
“A rare lesson that shaped me when I went back to teach, I established a close relationship with my students throughout my teaching career and till this day.’’
The Nigerian envoy to the UN said the significance of the award for him was to continue to work to deal with issues of inclusion, justice and climate change that bedeviled our world.
“We have a responsibility in whatever situation we find outside to continue working to avert and elevate that which advance the course of humanity,’’ the Nigerian envoy said.
Bande was honoured alongside Shoshana Chatfield (set ’88), Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and President, United States Naval War College; and Kathleen McLaughlin (set ’87), Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart Inc. and President, Walmart Foundation.
Lawrence Carter (set ’68, ’70 and ’79), a Professor of Religion, College Archivist and Curator, Morehouse College; Dean, Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College; and Founder, Gandhi King Ikeda Institute for Global Ethics and Reconciliation, was also honoured alongside Bande.