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Did UN Secretary General promise Nigeria permanent seat on the Security Council

Claim: A former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, claimed that the United Nation’s Secretary General, Anthony Gueterres, during a visit to Nigeria promised it would be…

Claim: A former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, claimed that the United Nation’s Secretary General, Anthony Gueterres, during a visit to Nigeria promised it would be considered to have a permanent seat on the coveted United Nation Security Council (UNSC).

The claim is misleading. The Secretary General when asked the status of Nigeria’s quest for a seat on the council admitted that Africa needs a representative. While stating Nigeria’s position in Africa, Gueteres said he is in no position to decide on which country the seat should go to.

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A former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, in a twitter post urged Nigerians not to believe the United Nation’s Secretary General, Anthony Gueterres, statement that the country would be considered for a permanent seat on the United Nation Security Council (UNSC).

In the tweet, he said, “We shouldn’t be deceived from the speech of the UN Secretary General that Nigeria might be considered for a permanent seat in the Security Council Membership. There will not be any new member in the security council except for the new victors of the emerging World War III.” 

Brief on the United Nation Security Council

The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) is an arm of the United Nations that seeks to maintain world peace and security.

A report by Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) noted that the body is empowered to give binding obligations on the 193 UN member states for peace in their countries.

Currently, the council has 15 member states consisting of five permanent members (P5) with 10 non-permanent members who are elected for two-year term that can’t be consecutive.

The Security Council has five permanent members—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. All, except China, were the allied troops that emerged victorious after the second World War.

CFR attributes criterion for selection for non-permanent members on how they contribute to maintenance of international peace and security, which often translates to financial or troop contributions to peacekeeping operations or leadership on matters of regional security likely to appear before the council while equitable geographical distribution, sometimes is looked on.

Even though the P5 members have the political, economic and military might to influence other member states, its overbearing influence is the use of veto power to stop any resolution adopted by the UN.

The veto power, according to a research journal by Dr. Ononihu and Prof. Oddih, titled, Nigeria’s Quest For A Permanent Seat At The United Nations Security Council: An Appraisal, was adopted by founders of UN to ensure the unanimity of the Super powers.

They stated that “In due recognition of objective reality, the founding fathers had designed The Security Council to operate on the principle of unanimity of the Great Powers. This was based on the understanding that the combined powers of the Super Powers will be so overwhelming that enforcement of decisions or sanctions on any issue on which they all concur, will be successful.”

In recent years, there have been calls for the council to be reformed to incorporate more states in the permanent membership with different blocks emerging to promote different countries. If the window is open, getting a consensus on which country to get the seat in Africa would be a source of worry for the African Union as Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa are all top contenders.

A report commissioned by the AU in 2005 had even proposed two seats to Africa with one occupied by Egypt and the other by Nigeria and South Africa on rotational basis.

Nigeria’s campaign for a permanent seat on the UNSC started in 1991 when the country’s Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, addressed the UN General Assembly and the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had in 2015 revigorated the quest with a statement that Nigeria deserves the membership due to its contributions to international peace keeping, size of its economy and population, even though it has been elected into the non permanent seat on five occasions.


After the presentation of his speech and asked whether Nigeria’s ambition to join the UNSC is still being considered, the Secretary General stated that “the reform of the Security Council is an essential element of the reform of the United Nations. Kofi Annan, an African Union Secretary-General, said there will be no true, no complete reform of the United Nations if we cannot reform the Security Council. Now, Africa is a double victim of colonialism.”

“First, it was a victim of colonialism in itself. And second, because most of the institutions were created when African countries were not yet independent. Africa is under-represented in most of the international institutions. And one of the things that I believe is now a general consensus is that Africa is under-represented in the United Nations Security Council.”

“Obviously this is a matter for Member States to deal with, it’s not for the Secretary-General. I have no authority on that, but I can see that there is a growing consensus on the need to increase Africa’s presence and it is entirely fair to recognize that there should be a permanent member of the Security Council from the African continent.”

“Don’t ask me now to discuss who it should be because the African Union has been very clear to say we want a seat but has not said anything about who should occupy it. Of course, Nigeria is the country with the largest population, the largest economy. Your position is of course, entirely understandable, but don’t task the Secretary-General to promise what I cannot give.” 


The claim that the Secretary General of the UN promised that Nigeria would be considered to be a permanent member of the UNSC is misleading. Even though he rated the country high on criteria to be considered, he said he’s not the right person to be asked that. 

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