President Muhammadu Buhari, who would depart Abuja on Sunday for New York, to join other world leaders at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, would not speak with journalists here before heading to London, a presidential spokesman told Simon Ateba News Africa on Saturday.
“There would be no media parley,” the Presidential spokesman told this newspaper, following a request on Saturday morning.
Simon Ateba News Africa learnt that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra whose organization has been declared a terrorist movement would be protesting in New York to demand a referendum for an Independent country called the Biafra Republic mainly populated by the Igbo in eastern Nigeria.
A media chat would have provided Mr. Buhari an opportunity to address once more the Biafra agitation that almost pushed Nigeria close to another civil war, and would have also given him another international platform to say whether he would be running for another term in 2019.
The high point of the President’s visit in New York will be his participation in the General Debate during which he will deliver the country’s National Statement, the presidency said in a statement on Friday.
The theme for this year’s Debate is: “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.”
President Buhari will join other world leaders at the welcoming reception to be hosted by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, and also hold a bilateral meeting with the UN scribe. Equally, the Nigerian leader will hold a lunch meeting with President Donald Trump of the United States of America, along with other world leaders.
At these events, President Buhari and members of his delegation will strive to project Nigeria as a strong moral force and responsible member of the international community, the Presidency said.
Nigeria’s commitment to global peace, security and development will also be reaffirmed and where necessary, the need for increased international cooperation in the fight against corruption.
Other priorities for the Nigerian delegation at UNGA 72 include strengthening human rights institutions; the rule of law; support for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a result of terrorist acts and recent flooding, and mitigating the effects of Climate Change.
The Nigerian delegation will also canvass the support of UN member states for the Buhari Administration’s efforts towards combatting illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development.
The President will be accompanied by the governors of Zamfara, Ebonyi and Ondo States, and key cabinet ministers.
At the end of these meetings and events, President Buhari will transit through London on his way back to the country. But, he would not meet with Nigerian and African journalists while he’s here, at least there is no plans for that purpose for now.
The return of Mr. Buhari to London, where he had spent much of his time this year, treating himself for an ailment raised further questions in Nigeria on Friday.
Many wondered whether the President who spent over hundred days there between May 7 and August 19 would be back to Nigeria after a few days or months.
Nigeria would be having general elections in 2019 and as 2018 approaches, various contenders are positioning themselves to replace Mr. Buhari.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is already in the race and two weeks ago, Mr. Buhari’s Minister urged the President not to run again but allow Atiku Abubakar to contest.
There are also belief within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, who has been urging the President to run again, is positioning himself as a replacement should Mr. Buhari decide not to run.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, may also be in the race, having been elected with Mr. Buhari in 2015 and now seen as a competent leader, especially when Mr. Buhari is away.
The opposition People’s Democratic Party is also regrouping, although it’s not clear who will run under that banner.
One thing is clear, the race for Aso Rock, the Nigerian seat of power has begun, and any move by Mr. Buhari is either raising questions or reassuring his base.