Remarks by UN Res. Coordinator and UNDP Res. Representative Daouda Toure, during commemoration of 2014 UN Day in Abuja

Oct 24, 2014

I am privileged and honoured to welcome all of you to the 2014 United Nations Day event on behalf of United Nations system in Nigeria. Today, we join the global community for the commemoration of the UN Day; to reaffirm our global mission and reassert our normative role, the universal values of tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity, and to uphold our faith in the tenets of the UN charter, as it states — “We the people… “  — Clearly giving voice to all people, especially the voiceless. 

More than ever before, the UN is needed most  for maintaining peace and security, providing humanitarian assistance including capacity for disaster preparedness and mitigation where required, deepening democracy and promoting sustainable development. In spite of all the constraints we know of this World body, the unique role of the UN is not in doubt at all to the contrary. Exactly a year from today the UN will be 70 years since its formation (older than almost all of us in the audience) with the theme: Strong UN, Better World!.  We therefore gather to reflect on our collective achievements and the challenges to even better adhere to the fundamental principles of the UN: promote Peace, Justice, Human Rights and Development for all.  

Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Without peace and stability, the strenuous efforts of developing Nigeria will come to naught. We all know that, conflict in every community is inevitable, but it needs to be managed through peaceful means including good governance principles of transparency and accountability, rule of law, equity and justice that take away desperation and give hope to all, particularly the youth and women, bring about equity between the regions and ethnic groups — irrespective of religious belonging when these groups have conscience of stake to defend, they become first line of defence for stability. 

Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen;

Since the UN began operation in Nigeria its cardinal mission has been working with the Government and People of Nigeria to strengthen capacities and improve institutions, policy and legal frameworks that will deliver human and socio-economic development using best practices and the comparative global advantages of the UN system. Together with Government and other like-minded partners, we’ve contributed to efforts to improve democratic and accountable governance, facilitate inclusive growth and development to eradicate poverty and provide sustainable livelihoods, build heath systems and protect the weak and vulnerable in the society. 

Unfortunately, Thirty (30) years after the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, the world is still witnessing violent conflicts in Gaza and eastern Ukraine, the Syrian conflict is into its fourth year, the onslaught to control northern Iraq by ISIS. In Africa, the descend of Libya into a new chapter of crisis, the ongoing horror in South Sudan with fears of famine growing there, attempts to stabilize Central African Republic, Somalia and Mali is a reason enough to worry. 

Here in Nigeria, the rights  of our people to peace has been adversely curtailed with the raging insurgency in some parts of the country, increasing attacks on innocent people and soft targets, such as schools, hospitals and places of worship.  All efforts are welcome to put an end to the protracted crisis and restore back to our people, their right to peace and development.

In an effort to achieve peace, the UN system in Nigeria, alongside its partners, have been engaging stakeholders to promote understanding and build synergy for peace and stability in Nigeria.  Currently, the UN Country Team in Nigeria that I proudly lead have developed an Integrated Support Package (ISP) for the North-East including support for the abducted Chibok girls, their families and the affected communities. The ISP is designed to cater for the immediate and the long-term needs of the affected population in psycho-social support, protection, food security and health services. There are also early recovery interventions and alternative livelihoods support to the victims, particularly female-headed households and children. Just when international outrage over the abducted Chibok girls looks to be fading, let us remind ourselves of the tragedy in which they and those abducted before and after then are in. 

The announcement of a ceasefire to end the insurgency and paving the way for dialogue, reconciliation and reconstruction in the north-east and other affected areas to a lasting peace is welcome. 

Your Excellencies,

The promotion of effective Democratic Governance and conflict prevention have been and are arguably among the key priorities in Nigeria today.  In this regard, the UN working with like-minded well-wishers of Nigeria is partnering closely with all tiers of Government, Civil Society Organizations and Media beyond financial support with technical assistance and sharing of best practices on important aspects such as increase women’s participation and representation, promoting level playing field for all to the upcoming 2015 general elections. On economic governance, we are supporting and strengthening the country’s anti-corruption agencies to effectively carry out their functions. Other key interventions in promoting growth and food security range from agriculture, agro-processing, youth employment in Agriculture with plan for development of Six (6) agro-processing zones, microfinance and entrepreneurship development.

Distinguish Ladies and Gentleme

Through the technical support of the UN and other key Development Partners, the formidable leadership at federal government and the state levels, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has been contained in a manner recognized by the entire world and demonstrates that when there is a strong country leadership; timely allocation of resources supported by a good coordination mechanisms and accountability framework it's possible to contain any deadly epidemic. –- This is the Nigeria we are all proud of!. 

Nigeria was the epicenter of Guinea-worm disease with more than 650,000 cases reported each year but this year WHO confirmed the Country has eradicated Guinea-worm disease – another spectacular success story!.  From the records, the Polio eradication program in Nigeria made tremendous progress and we are at the verge of interrupting the circulation of polio in 2014. Let’s remain alert! 

Working closely with partners and Government, there have been great strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS, we recorded a significant drop, of a little over 30 percent, in new HIV infections in the past ten years, the numbers of people receiving anti-retroviral drugs has also increased considerably. Through the UN system and partners Nigeria has further benefitted from sub-national analyses on the HIV epidemic trends.

Your Excellencies, 

The UN has shown commitment to working with the Government and People of Nigeria to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We acknowledge the important strides which Nigeria is making towards the achievement of the MDGs including proactive approaches in mainstreaming the Goals into national and sub-national development strategies, and the adoption of the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) to fast-track progress particularly for Goal 5.  But, political will at both Federal and State levels remains critical as the MDGs are running their last laps in 2015 and pick up the Post 2015 agenda.

As the global record-keeper of the MDGs, UN system has helped shed light on critical national development issues through the coordination of the publication of the national MDG report, Human Development Report, support to key national institutions such as, the Planning Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics to compute key statistics, data collection and analysis for enhanced policy making. The Post 2015 agenda presents us yet with a lot of opportunities in Nigeria to inform a national consensus for the way forward and to fulfil our shared responsibility. First, the new agenda will be a continuation of the MDGs and will seek to complete the unfinished business hopeful most would have been achieved in the remaining year of 2015. Second, it will address new development challenges in a way that the MDGs did not foresee -- from climate change to food insecurity, population bulge, inequalities, socio-political instability, non-communicable diseases and unemployment, which tend to increase vulnerability and reduce resilience.  

 Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen;

In the area of coordination and response to humanitarian, emergencies and protection issues, the UN has supported national and state institutions with technical, financial and operational assistance to respond to natural disasters and emergencies, protection of persons with concerns, IDPs and migration. We are working closely with government institutions, humanitarian agencies and the Presidential Task Force to mobilize support, locally and internationally to respond to the social, economic, environmental and infrastructural impacts of the situation in NE and the middle-belt of Nigeria.

Through a UN inter-agency group w’ve been working with stakeholders and humanitarian actors to provide durable solutions for refugees, mitigate the impacts of  disaster and displacement on women, 83% of the former Liberian refugees have been completely locally integrated in Nigeria, over 100 refugees departed on resettlement, implementing USD 3.6 million life-saving interventions from CERF in the North-East.  We have supported IDPs within the interagency framework through capacity building on protection, camp coordination and camp management as well as shelter/Non Food Items, support also provided to the Nigeria migration data management working group to develop a migration data management framework, which includes a strategy document, implementation plan and templates for migration data sharing. The UN will continue to deploy its technical competencies in managing emergencies and disasters to support Nigeria’s capacity and preparedness to respond to imminent disasters and emergencies.

The UN and partners have commenced the implementation of the over USD 920 million UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF III) and its Action Plan under the ‘Delivering As One’ modality. UNDAF III (2014-2017) — the main strategic document defining the broad areas of support/assistance of the UN system to Nigeria is a joint development framework for the 18 UN agencies and organizations in Nigeria viz: Good Governance, Social Capital Development, Equitable and Sustainable. Economic Growth, and Human Security and Risk Management. UNDAF III is major imperative for not only a joint-UN collaboration but a direct re-affirmation of the support to Government Vision20:2020 and its National Implementation Plan and the Transformation Agenda in line with the principle of Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda for Action and Busan declarations. 

Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Permit me at this point to appreciate and salute the courage, resilience and the commitment of the UN Staff in Nigeria to our mission leading to some achievements I have mentioned in this speech.  August 26, 2014 marked the third anniversary of the bombing of the UN house that caused our unplanned dislocation and killed over 23 staff and partners. We will forever remember them and their families!.  Let me once again plead for more effort to finalize the refurbishing of the UN House to give back to our staff and partners a conductive environment to work from, and to continue to appreciate the Government and the hospitality of Nigeria.  

I now have the singular privilege to deliver the Secretary General’s Message to mark this 2014 UN Day Celebration.

I quote...

"The United Nations is needed more than ever at this time of multiple crises.  Poverty, disease, terrorism, discrimination and climate change are exacting a heavy toll.  Millions of people continue to suffer deplorable exploitation through bonded labour, human trafficking, sexual slavery or unsafe conditions in factories, fields and mines. The global economy remains an uneven playing field. 

The founding of the United Nations was a solemn pledge to the world’s people to end such assaults on human dignity, and lead the way to a better future. There have been painful setbacks, and there is much work ahead to realize the Charter’s vision.  But we can take heart from our achievements.  

The UN Millennium Development Goals have inspired the most successful anti-poverty campaign ever.  United Nations treaties addressing inequality, torture and racism have protected people, while other agreements have safeguarded the environment. UN peacekeepers have separated hostile forces, our mediators have settled disputes and our humanitarian workers have delivered life-saving aid.

At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable.  On United Nations Day, I call on Governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good." Ban Ki-moon

 

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