UN properly invites Nigeria to New York over Boko Haram Insurgency

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOCHA, states that Nigeria was officially informed and properly invited to a high-level event in New York where the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin was discussed.

This is contrary to the claims by the Nigerian presidency that the country was neither informed nor invited to the meeting where Nigeria’s neighbours and key humanitarian agencies brainstormed on how to tackle the refugee crisis caused by the conflict.

The event was organised by UN Under-Secretary-General, Stephen O’Brien, but Nigeria, the main victim of the Boko Haram insurgency, was absent.

According to Reuters news agency reports last week,  U.S. and European Union diplomats were disappointed that Nigeria was not represented at the meeting.

The news of the absence of the Nigerian delegation at the meeting attracted condemnation back home with many blaming it on the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint ministers.

They argued that a competent minister of foreign affairs would have ensured that the country was represented at the meeting where such an important issue was discussed.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, insisted the presidency did not get an invite to attend the meeting.

“There is no record of any invitation to the Nigerian Mission as confirmed by the Permanent Representative, Prof Joy Ogwu,” he said.

But a spokesperson for UNOCHA, Jens Laerke, who is based in Geneva, said that not only was the office of the Permanent Representative of the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations officially informed and invited for the event, an invite was in fact sent to the office of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, prior to the departure of the Nigerian delegation to the UNGA.

“I’m almost 100 per cent sure that Nigeria was invited. One of the reasons was that I read the original speech by O’Brien in which he acknowledged the presence of the Nigerian government,” he said.

Mr Laerke, however, asked to be allowed to double-check with his colleague in New York, who was in charge of inviting participants for the meeting. He called back four hours later after checking with his organisation’s New York office.

“I’ve just been in contact with my colleague in New York and we can assure you that the government of Nigeria was invited to the event and my colleagues in New York did what they could to ensure that they were provided with the invitation,” he said.

When asked which organ of the Nigerian government the invite was sent to, Mr Laerke responded: “Actually, the government was invited both by direct communication to the Vice President and then subsequently through the permanent representation in New York.

“My colleague told me he actually went there personally to hand over the invitation to make sure they receive the invitation. We really made an effort to make sure the government was aware of the invitation because we really want them to come.”

When asked to for documentary evidence that the Nigerian mission was actually informed, and indeed received and acknowledged the invitation, Mr Laerke demanded an official letter before that could be made available.

“I have not obtained any reply regarding your request for access to written documentation. In the meantime, however, I have double checked the matter and I can assure you that Nigeria was invited to the event. We don’t know why they didn’t come.

“You may want to raise this with the Permanent Mission of Nigeria at the UN in New York.

Allow me to add that the Nigerian Government is a valued partner of the UN and UNOCHA,” he wrote.





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