Nigeria has urged the United Nations to step up its fight against the illicit arms trade that has sustained civil wars in Africa. The proliferation of arms in West Africa is fast turning the region into a major transit point for illicit drugs and facilitating the growth of criminal consortiums, some with enough munitions to challenge a country’s military force, the Nigerian foreign minister stated.
Speaking at the UN general assembly, the Nigerian minister of foreign affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, called on the international community to check the spate by implementing existing agreements, as well as creating new and legally binding ones, in order to achieve the goal of preventing, combating and eradicating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and regulating the transfer of conformist weapons in general. “There is no doubt that the international community needs, more than ever before, to fulfill its commitments to the developing world if more than half of humanity is to avoid an imminent calamity,” said Maduekwe.
The foreign minister drew a connection between arms trade and piracy on the Somali coast, and oil smuggling in the Niger Delta. He praised the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone, which banned testing, manufacturing, stockpiling, and possessing nuclear weapons in Africa: “However, dangerous nuclear weapons were, it is important not to forget the real dangers posed by small arms and light weapons, which are linked to drug trafficking, piracy and oil smuggling in the Niger Delta.” Madueke called for the international community to prevent, combat and eradicate the trade of those weapons.
According to Maduekwe, Nigeria continues to make great strides in its effort to build a democratic, stable, peaceful nation. The country sought to build on this foundation to grow an economy that would see it take its rightful place among the world’s powerhouses, he declared. He also acknowledged that although there were still challenges, there had been progress in the Niger Delta, and the return of peace there would provide the platform for meeting the aspirations of the people and return of economic activity.
The Nigerian minister hinted on the long-awaited reform needed to make the Security Council more legitimate, democratic, transparent and inclusive, by reiterating to the assembly that it was unacceptable that Africa, with 53 countries, was not represented in the permanent seat category of the Security Council. However he complimented the efforts of the U.S and Russia in Nuclear disarmament: “The idea of a nuclear free world, the architecture of which is now being put together, has great appeal for many of us. Such an outcome, probably achievable in our lifetime, would not only result in a safer world, but would free resources for use in sectors that would better benefit humanity,” he said.
Maduekwe also reminded the assembly that the need for global efforts to boost food security, for domestic consumption and for export, require collaboration between investors, organizations and government, and that Nigeria has joined other nations in pursuit of reliable, cheap, and environmentally-friendly alternative sources of energy.