By Ononye VC
The President, Muhammadu Buhari and U.S. President Joe Biden were among the world leaders that attended the opening of the General Debate of the 76th session of the General Assembly at the UN headquarters on Tuesday in New York.

Buhari was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, and Head of Chancery of the Permanent Mission, Muyiwa Onifade.

No fewer than 80 heads of state are expected to attend the General Debate in person in New York while others spoke through pre-recorded videos.

Buhari presented Nigeria’s statement to the General Assembly on Friday, September 24.

The Nigerian leader would be the second speaker on the fourth day and would deliver his address around 9 a.m. (around 2p.m. Nigerian time) to other world leaders during the morning session.

The President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was the first world leader to present his address to the 76th session as it is tradition, followed by Biden, the traditional second speaker, being the host country.

The opening session of the high-level event could be described as semi-normal as global leaders addressed the world in a hybrid format.

In sharp contrast to the bustling atmosphere at the UN headquarters and the general New York area, the 2021 event followed strict pandemic rules.

There was an enforcement of mandatory mask-wearing for all participants, required vaccinations for headquarters staff, and severely limited access to the 16-acre complex of the 193-member states organisation.

The aim was to at least ensure a partial restoration of the person-to-person diplomacy that its leaders regarded as critical for the organisation’s ability to function, according to the organisation.

The 2021 high-level meeting was, however, an improvement on the 2020 session when the General Assembly was conducted in a virtual format through pre-recorded video messages only.

The year 2020 General Assembly was the first time in the 75 years of the UN existence that the annual high-level meetings were conducted without in-person attendance.

The 76th session of General Assembly opened on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, with the inauguration of a new President, Abdulla Shahid of Maldives.

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