Statement made by Edward Kallon during address to Kano State Executive Council

Mar 22, 2017

[Protocol]

It is a pleasure to be back in Kano. It is always refreshing to visit this vibrant and historic city, the commercial nerve of Northern Nigeria and potentially the commercial hub of the entire Sahel region. Thank you your Excellency, for arranging this meeting at such short notice. It is a true testimony of the value you attach to the work we do as the United Nations System in Nigeria. Our presence here today, Excellency, is to engage the government of the great state of Kano under your leadership, in a new partnership for inclusive growth and development. Since this is the regular meeting of the Executive Council, I will not make a long speech given the very heavy agenda ahead of you. 

Allow me Your Excellency, to reiterate the importance that we attach to building this new partnership, which is the main objective of my visit to Kano.  As you may be aware, in addition to several other initiatives supported by various UN Agencies, Funds and Programs across Nigeria, Kano State can benefit significantly from the enormous technical expertise available to the UN system in areas where you have already demonstrated leadership and commitment as well as areas of critical need. These include agriculture, with the commercial agriculture credit scheme, health with the contributory health care scheme, and gender with the State Action Plan on Women Peace and Security to enhance opportunities for the girl-child and address harmful traditional practices.

Alleviating poverty through strengthening of agro-food value chains, improving agricultural productivity and enhancing access to markets are areas where Kano state already has a comparative advantage we can leverage on. The partnership we intend to build moving forward, will unlock Kano’s potentials, revive its industrial base and generate employment for its people.

Your Excellency, we did not chose to come here simply because we love Kano, which I do. I brought the UN system in Nigeria to Kano because your administration has demonstrated an uncommon commitment to rebuild the state into a modern economic power house. As you said when launching the Kano State Development Plan 2016-2025 last year, your vision was, and I quote, “to transform the state to a knowledge-based, agriculturally industrialized and commerce friendly society with sustainable growth and appreciable living standards for all citizens,” end quote. Your Excellency, I do not need to add one more word to explain to you and the Honorable Members of the state executive council why we are here. You said it all in the quote I just cited.

Equally, you touched on an extremely important aspect of our common development when you launched the State Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security aimed at addressing domestic, sexual and gender-based violence covering 2016-2019. We are here to partner with you across the board for as long as it takes.

Despite the economic recession and many other development challenges that your State, and indeed all other States of the Federation currently face, I am a firm believer in the saying that every challenge/adversity creates numerous opportunities and provides invaluable lessons for the future, but only for the wise and nimble.

SDGs Implementation at State Level

We look forward to supporting the State to implement the 2016 -2025 Plan, buttressed by the national ‘Economic Recovery and Growth Plan’; and the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the SDGs framework, we have an excellent opportunity to create an indelible mark in the lives of the people of this State. I have always advocated for State-level SDGs-based ‘Marshall Plans’ to implement the recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the Federal Government to achieve broad-based and inclusive economic growth. This will enhance the provision of basic social services, while ensuring environmental sustainability. We are privileged to be the first generation with all the necessary knowledge and ideas; the appropriate frameworks, tools and mechanisms; and importantly, unprecedented political commitment to make sustainable development a reality.  

I came here to re-assure you, Excellency, of the commitment of the UN System to support and encourage you to mainstream the SDGs in your policy, planning, budgeting and reporting frameworks. The SDGs form an integral part of your development plan, and we are here to help you realize them.

Your Excellency, the UN support to your development aspirations in Kano will be catalytic and innovative, and we look forward to work with your team to leverage all available resources (human and financial); institutions, including those of the United Nations and the private sector; and ideas and best practices from across the globe to ensure that we succeed.

Based on my reading of the transformational changes that you have embarked on in Kano state, I know you are desirous of moving away from the business- as-usual track to a different development pathway; a higher level of engagement; and a faster pace of change and adaptation to innovation in carrying out the business of development. Indeed, yesterday’s approaches will certainly not deliver today’s desired results and the aspirations of your Development Plan. Neither can they deliver on Agenda 2030 nor the SDGs at the local level. We must spin the wheel of development in a different direction and at a much faster pace if we are to address the challenges that we are confronted with and ensure no one is left behind.


The Criticality of Peace and Security

Your Excellency, The UN has continuously highlighted the fact that there can be no development without peace and vice versa, and neither development nor peace can thrive without the respect for human rights. The recurrent pockets of violent clashes, especially between the herders and farming communities in the Middle Belt and other parts of Nigeria, the insurgency in the North-East and other conflicts in general remain a major cause for concern to us all. Kano has suffered its fair share of extremist violence, ethno-religious intolerance, attacks and conflicts, armed banditry and cattle rustling. These conflicts and challenges are not unsurmountable and there is no doubt in my mind that we all can pull our efforts together to sustain peace in Kano and bring lasting and sustained peace in the rest of the country. A preventive approach is critical in creating the enabling environment for development because prevention is not only better but cheaper than cure. By the same token, justice and accountability for previous abuses and violations is a critical foundation for sustainable peace.  Kano cannot thrive, if its neighbors and the country at large are in crises, neither can Kano’s full commercial and socio-cultural potentials be realized if it does not address its own diverse internal challenges.

The problem of insecurity and violent conflicts in many parts of the country has also been exacerbated by ever-increasing availability of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Excellency, with the full integration of Nigeria into the UNDP implemented ECOWAS/EU Small Arms project, Kano can benefit from the support aimed at reducing the proliferation of Small Arms. We look forward to working with the State government in the future on related small arms and light weapons amnesty and livelihood programs to foster peace and security in the state.

To conclude Your Excellency, permit me to draw from what I consider to be my own vision for a Nigeria I cherish and respect. This vision is drawn from the Secretary General’s new orientation of conflict prevention, dialogue and reconciliation and peace as central in our engagements, building partnerships from grassroots to the apex level, in the framework of a national infrastructure for peace. The UN would continue to mobilize support for an inclusive dialogue that would restore lasting peace in Nigeria by addressing the roots of conflicts in a more holistic manner, wherein the SDGs will serve as pillars for sustainable peace. We are building this medium and long term developmental approach to peacebuilding and the prevention of violent extremism (PVE) in the new UN- Delivering As Framework UNDAF (2018-2022) currently in the last phase of its formulation.  

We want to accompany you on this journey towards economic development; social welfare; security and justice; and good governance as outlined in your current Development Plan. We want to be counted, as a small but nonetheless significant player, together with your government when you achieve a positive score on the development score card.

To achieve this development pathway, we need to move to a new plane of engagement and a higher level of partnership fashioned around your own resources, institutions and ideas, as well as the desire to bring about durable change in the lives of the people. As the UN family in Nigeria, we commit to play a catalytic role and avail to you our varied resources -human, financial, ideas and best practices distilled from across the globe, in order to achieve your vision for Kano State.

Thank you for your attention.

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