By Fortune Abang
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Wednesday reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to supporting Nigeria for the good of the citizenry.
Guterres said this at the wreath-laying ceremony in Abuja on the sideline of his two-day official visit to Nigeria.
The visit is in commemoration of the 11th anniversary of the Aug. 26, 2011 terrorist attack on the UN House Abuja.
He decried the attack as tragic and resulted in killing 23, injured 60 UN employees and partners, saying the event burnt in collective memory of UN family.
He decried the tragic loss of UN staff and Nigerian civilians, saying staff who lost their lives were heroes, who served Nigerians throughout the organisation’s operations.
Guterres said, “Clerks, receptionists, drivers and national professional officers, associate experts, monitoring and evaluation specialists and shipping assistants all worked for our organisation and supported Nigerians, UNDP, UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNODC.
“They were also mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and cherished friends, all but one were Nigerian nationals; today we mark their tragic death.
“We celebrate the love and joy they brought to their colleagues and loved ones and inspiration they provided, while we continued to carry out our vital roles over 10 years.
“Today we stand in solidarity with the families of the victims, as well as women and men who work at the UN House every day, to support and serve Nigerians.
“We stand in solidarity with all Nigerians; in our victim support approach, every perpetrator must be held accountable; we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting a peaceful Nigeria for all Nigerians.”
Mrs Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, later told newsmen that the outcome of closed-door women group meeting with Guterres was reassured of UN’s support for Nigerian women.
She said that discussion with the UN boss centred on women’s participation in politics, gender-based violence, inclusion of women in decision making and need for global treaty to end violence against women.
Tallen commended Guterres support for women and children, adding that he was a man with a large heart, committed to promote the wellbeing of Nigerian women and children.
“Guterres visit to Nigeria gives us hope, we know that he will lend his voice to all issues affecting women, gender-based violence, early marriage and lack of implementation of some of our laws.
“The VAPP Act, the Child’s Right Act and the justice system by the grace of God, Nigeria will key in like other African countries that have prioritised women and children issues,” Tallen said.
Also, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, said the meeting with Guterres on religious leadership in Nigeria hinged on chatting way forward for the country.
He reported Guterres to have expressed shock at the large number of talented Nigerians across the world, but that such should be replicated in the development of the country.
“Religious leaders have a duty to have good examination of conscience; what are we doing, we should do better, what can we do to make our followers better? These are issues we discussed.
“We referred to Easter and end of Ramadan, whereby religious festivities merged by providence, Christians and Muslims were kept in mood of religious reflection about ways to live better lives,” Onaiyekan said.
Meanwhile, Dr Betty Edu, National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said that they they attended the meeting to advocate rights of Nigerian women participation in politics.
She said APC would mainstream women, in spite of high charges for purchase of election form for candidates, saying women in APC and the disabled would receive their forms free of charge.
“Beyond this, we are working to see that we ensure women scale through the primaries into the main election and come out as elected winners at different levels.
“Today the message was clear that for Nigeria to achieve SDGs, it is important for political parties to support the country achieve SDG and its policies.
“They must ensure women are mainstreamed and prioritised as we go into the 2023 elections.”