Nigeria, which has failed to focus on implementing the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, has sent a record 600-man delegation to the 68th General Assembly in New York which will focus on a follow-up plan, SaharaReporters investigations reveal.
The delegation is led by President Goodluck Jonathan, who will speak at the plenary debate on Tuesday. It includes two state governors and the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
Most members of the delegation are 547 civil servants drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as advance team members who arrived in New York earlier to make preparations for the trip of the President.
The Nigerian delegation is by far the largest of any nation at this year’s UN event, the theme of which is: “Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage.”
SaharaReporters findings show that President Jonathan’s inner entourage comprises 26 people, including security aides, his wife, doctor and political associates.
The Nigeria leader, who has been much-criticized for squandering resources and for failing to lead by example, arrived in New York today and is staying at the lavish The Pierre Hotel across from New York’s Central Park in a presidential suite that will cost Nigeria at least $10,000 per night. This means his tab for accommodation alone, for one room, will hit at least $50,000.
According to the hotel’s documentation, the 39th floor presidential suite, which features an expansive living room and two bedrooms, among others, may be combined with other rooms and suites to provide up to 6 bedrooms and a private floor, an opulent option Mr. Jonathan is likely to have jumped at. According to the hotel’s itinerary which was seen by Saharareporters, he is booked for five nights.
Several other members of the Nigerian delegations are booked in hotels around the city by the Nigerian consulate and staff members of some of the ministries that arrived in advance.
Nigeria has become internationally-known for wasting valuable development funds on lavish foreign trips. It would be recalled that during last year’s United Nations General Assembly, for instance, the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, booked into two rooms in two different expensive hotels. One of them was a $5,000 per night suite at the Four Seasons Hotel at 57 East 57th Street, and the other a 28th floor room at the Pierre for $3,000 per night. It was unclear how she slept in two different hotels at the same time.
In addition, Ms. Alison Madueke’s delegation of seven from her Ministry also rented 10 limousines, at a cost of $1,800 per day, some of which were never used.
As SaharaReporters reported last year, the profligacy of the Nigerian delegation attracted the attention of America’s National Broadcasting Corporation in New York, which reported on how African delegates from the poorest countries stayed in some of the most expensive hotels during the UN General Assembly and shopped in high-priced retail stores.
Mr. Jonathan will commence his official duties in New York this afternoon by engaging in an all-expenses paid lunch date with Nigerian professionals selected by Nigerian diplomats in the US.
The invitation-only event was chosen after the President and his inner circle abandoned a Town Hall plan for fear of protesters in the New York area.