February 27, 2019

Interview with H. E. Mr. Samson Itegboje. Nigeria Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.


H. E. Mr. Samson S. Itegboje
 
Thank you H. E. Mr Samson S. Itegboje for availing us your time, out of your very tight schedule to have  conversation with us. - By WPP Jr 

Welcome to Esanland Network, otherwise known as esanland.org formally ewohimi.com, please introduces yourself.

My name is Mr Samson S. Itegboje, Deputy Ambassador of Nigeria to the United Nations. I was born and grew up in Auchi, Edo State. I did my primary and secondary school in Auchi until I went to University of Ibadan. (Check out his credential ....) I‘m married with children.


Pre – to your appointment as Ambassador what were your area of specialty, was it at the private sector?

No, no, no, I had always wanted to be a diplomat. There were two professions I wanted to be in:
1.      Be a diplomat
2.     Or journalist.
Incidentally, as fate will have it I have the two professions at the same time. I was given automatic employment in the Daily Times by virtues of my performance in postgraduate diplomatic program in journalism.

And at the same time, too, there was opening at the Foreign Service and I had to apply for the job and went for an interview. And I got both jobs at the same time and have been with Foreign Service for some time now. I had served in Venezuela, New York (Consulate General), Philippines, Ethiopia and now New York (permanent mission)

Please tell us about Nigeria activities at the United Nations, success and why the UN is important to Nigeria.

There is the Sixth Committee at the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly. All of the United Nations Member States have a right to representation on the Sixth Committee as one of the main committees of the General Assembly.

Committees of the United Nations General Assembly

• First Committee
Disarmament and International Security (DISEC)

In the Lake Chad area, it is necessary for us to find a way to understand how to stop the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons. That’s the first committee.

• Second Committee
Economic and Financial (ECOFIN)

The 2nd committee is on development basically. You know what the United Nations does now is run the SDG- (Social Development Goals), SDG is very important in Africa and Nigeria especially. We are also pursuing and making sure Nigeria benefits from what the UN is doing.

• Third Committee
Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian (SOCHUM)

The 3rd is on Social and Humanitarian Activities. Of course, we have our own experts there too, so that Nigeria interest can be protected, whenever an issue arises. For example, we have issues of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) the West wants to force their values on us. So, we are alert, eternal vigilant to ensure that they don´t use the instrumentality of the United Nations systems to force on that us and erode African culture and values, we are very active in that.  

• Fourth Committee
Special Political and Decolonization (SPECPOL)

4th Committee is on Peace Keeping and Decolonization. Nigeria is very active in Peace Keeping; we contribute troops to guarantee peace all around the world. In fact, we have subcommittee known as C34, which is a committee on Peace Keeping. Nigeria has been the chair of that committee since 1972; we are really active on that step.

• Fifth Committee
Administrative and Budgetary

Also, we have the 5th committee which is budgetary and Administration, also we have experts there to ensure we are not over accessed, sometimes they do that, we are keeping tab on that.

• Sixth Committee
Legal

6th Committee, which is International Law and engagement, we also have officers there making sure things go well there. Like you know, we are having some problem with the Chagos Archipelago is which an Island own by Mauritius, which is being occupied by the West. We are pressing that ICJ (International Court of Justice) should give an opinion on it. Even though they try to see how to stop it but we didn´t allow that.

Also, there is Counter Terrorism, which we have an officer as well. They are allowing us to train our security personnel in Nigeria in counter-terrorism operations. Especially aviation terrorism, to ensure there is maximum security at Nigerian airports and planes so there are no terrorist attacks on our planes or airports.

Also on our justice system, they are also assisting us in trying terrorist activities.

We also monitor the security activities in the Security Council. When there are issues that bother on the interest of Africa, Nigeria especially and we discover those issues are going to be discussed, if they are opened, we go there and make statements. Basically, these are the issues we are following at the United Nations.

Is there a possibility that Nigeria will represent Africa as a permanent member of the Security Council soon?

Of course, we are also working on that. Right now there is the IGN- (Inter-governmental negotiation) process that’s on; the next meeting is starting February 25th, 2019.

The issues surrounding that, is the fact some members of the P5 – “(The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (also known as the Permanent Five, Big Five, or P5) are the five states which the UN Charter of 1945 grants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council: China (formerly the Republic of China), France, Russia (formerly the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries were all allies in World War II, which they won. They are also all nuclear weapons states.)” don´t want to easily give up their powers.

 Africa has a common position, which is known as Ezulwini Consensus. The Consensus says in order to address historical injustice that has been done to Africa, Africa deserve at list 2 permanent seats in the UN Security Council, with all the privileges, including veto and none 5 permanent seats. This is the Ezulwini Consensus, which we are pursuing. We are hoping if that happens we are able to have this given to Africa, then the next race will start as to who occupied those seats. But for now, leave that as it is and pursue the African common position and then we drive it. So, Nigeria is very active in inter-governmental process right now.

There are issues, the process has been on for about 11 years now and no movement, it’s all motion no movement. People are beginning to say. No! When there is an IGN (Inter-governmental negotiation) process, it must be a test based so that we know what we are negotiating on because the process has always been we talk and everybody goes home, in every session we talk and everybody goes home. Now we are trying to find out how to make the process go forward, that is how it is right now at the Security Council.

What are the reform embassy has put in place to make it easier for Nigerians to obtain travelling documents?
Nigeria House New York City, USA

Though that’s not department there is a lot of reform that has taken place at the Nigerian Embassy New York. We have a new CG who has been up to the task and makes it easier for Nigerians to obtain their travelling documents

Diaspora voting: Is there any plan in the near future for Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote in the near future.

Everybody support Diaspora voting should be in place, but we need to build the architecture that makes that happen, without that it's hard to tell, this is when this will happen. I think the government is looking at it

Since 1 January 2019, enrollment or collection of data is now mandatory in Nigeria, with gradual enforcement of the use of ID to obtain services in Nigeria. Is there a plan by the Embassy to begin issuing the Nigeria National e-Identity Card in America?

I'm happy, you said that this program is just coming on stream. Of course, when things come upstream the first thing you do is first deal with those at home domestically and when, you are done with that you begin to look at those outsides. Yeah, but, there can be a shortcut to it. For instance, when members of the Diaspora travelled home, all you need to do is to get yourself registered and when your ID card is ready they will let you know. I think in the long run when we are done domestically then Diaspora will be taking care of.

Recently Nigeria announces Visa on Arrival. What does this mean for Nigeria and Africa and who is qualified to obtain visa-on-arrival in Nigeria?

Again, that’s not my department my business is to represent Nigeria to the best of my ability at the United Nations.

.... Cut in: but can you cast light on that. I don´t get any information on that. But my personal opinion is that issuing visas on arrival encourages FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) so that people don’t go through the obstacles of having to apply for visas and you go for interviews. once your status is known then getting Visa on Arrival become very easy, especially for business people, so they can come in and do business without so many hiccups.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Could you educate us more and why Nigeria has not ratified the deal?

Yes, you know it's a good idea but President Buhari is a listening President and he responds to yearnings of Nigerians. Private sectors cried out loud that their interest was not factored into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. So, the government had to pull back and set up a committee to look at diagram mould and to find out how to approach it. I’m sure once that committee finishes its job, the government will go ahead to do the needful.

Any advice to Nigerians in the Diaspora

My advice is this, that nobody should lose hope in Nigeria, Nigeria is a very vast country. We are required to put our heads together and collectively work for the betterment of Nigeria and to make sure Nigeria moves forward.

Sometimes, I hear from the Diasporas that Nigeria is not doing this Nigeria is not doing that but they don’t know how difficult it is to govern that country. We need people to assist that is why the President has established a Diaspora Commission to see to the affairs of Nigerians in Diaspora, that is a very strong move. We are hoping that Nigerians in Diaspora will latch on that opportunity and be part of the development of Nigeria. We are stronger together.

Editor/Publisher
ESANLAND