The year-long activities marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in Nigeria reached a climax on Monday 30 November 2015 when the Federal Government of Nigeria and the United Nations system in the country organised an anniversary lecture and an exhibition to underscore the strategic importance of the country as a member state of the UN.
Anchored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Government of Nigeria, the event was graced by the crème de la crème of Nigeria’s Foreign Service and the diplomatic community.
Ms Jean Gough, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. of the UN system in Nigeria, expressed the gratitude of the UN to the Government of Nigeria for excellent cooperation and hospitality extended to the 22 UN agencies in the country. ‘The UN commends Government for the efforts to bring to an end to the insurgency in the North East of the country,’ she continued, ‘Since the bombing of the UN House in 2011, the Federal Government has made efforts to complete the repairs to enable our staff go back to the premises. I remain hopeful that the UN House will be completed as soon as possible to enable our staff operate from the premises next year.’
Ms Gough therefore stressed the commitment of the United Nations to continued partnership with the Government and people of Nigeria to deal with the insurgency and eventually restore peace and calm to the society.
Delivering the anniversary lecture titled, ‘Nigeria, Africa and the United Nations: 70 years of collaboration’ former Minister of Foreign Affairs Nigeria Professor Ibrahim Gambari called for the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council to give greater participation and voice to Africa in the UN organ that has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Prof. Gambari, who is also a former UN Under-Secretary General, added that the UN was far too important to be left to government alone; the opportunities for and contributions of parliamentary associations, NGOs and other Civil Society Group to peace-making and peace building must be considerably enhanced in the next decades of the United Nations existence.
In her speech, Honourable Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Khadijah Bukar Abba Ibrahim, pledged the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the success of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for the Country while thanking the UN for its developmental and humanitarian support to the government and people of Nigeria.
Other speakers at the event which was held at the Rotunda Auditorium, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abuja, included Amb. Godwin Agama, Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Mr. Paul Arkwright, British High Commissioner and representative of President of the UN Security Council; His Excellency Mr. Torben Gettermann, Ambassador Royal Danish Embassy and representative of President of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly.
The UN@70 Exhibitions, opened by the Honourable Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, featured the activities of the UN system in Nigeria and also UNIC Lagos-initiated Africa’s longest photo collage measuring 160 feet and comprising of over 3,234 images including photographs of the United Nations activities (1945 — 2015) and the national flags of UN member States.
On display by UNIC Lagos, were the translated copies of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Pidgin English languages. Added to that were two giant UN@70 Greeting cards, UN@70 branded T-shirt and UN@70 tie-dye cloth.
The United Nations Communication Group (UNCG) led the planning and implementation of the Exhibition.
By Patrick Aigbokhan