Mr Edward Kallon, the Humanitarian Coorinator in Nigeria - Remarks on United Nations Day, 24 October 2019

His Excellency, Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ably represented by ------

Your excellencies the Executive Governors here present,

Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs ably represented by ------,

Honourable Minister of the FCT,

Honourable Ministers and Ministers of State here present;

Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations, Mr. Mark Lowcock,

Assistant-Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Asa Regner, Your Excellency Joy Ogwu, former Minister and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners;

Excellencies, Heads of UN Agencies and International Organisations;

Members of the Diplomatic Corps;

President of FUNSAN, Friends and Colleagues UN Staff Members;

Our Partners of the Media

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Mr. President and the People of Nigeria, thank you for your generosity. This generosity is a demonstration of your strong belief in multilateralism. The rehabilitation and handover today of this edifice is a further demonstration of Nigeria’s resilience in combating terrorism.

Thank you, Under-Secretary-General Mark Lowcock, for being with us today on behalf of the Secretary-General. Your designation by the Secretary General to represent him at this occasion is an indication of his gratitude to the Government and people of Nigeria for the support given to the United Nations.

I also welcome the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Asa Regner who is coming at a timely moment when we are embarking on a major project to end violence against women and young girls – the EU and UN-funded Spotlight Initiative.

Permit me to extend special gratitude to Her Excellency Prof. Joy Ogwu who at the time of the bombing of the UN House in 2011 was the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations in New York. I can only imagine the sleepless nights you had to endure as the world’s focus was here at the UN House.

I am delighted to welcome you all on behalf of my colleagues to the commemoration of the 74 years of the United Nations, and the official handover after reconstruction and rehabilitation of the UN House by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

What started as a normal working day at the UN House on Friday 26th August 2011 quickly turned into a disaster to the United Nations staff, families and some of our partners. We lost 23 of our colleagues and many others were injured. Many of our partners who were at the UN House for meetings and other activities were also caught up in this disaster. It was indeed a dark day for the United Nations.

Please rise for a moment of silence in remembrance of our departed colleagues. May their souls rest in peace.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, it was former UN Secretary-General Dag

Hammarskjöld who once said that: "Only they who keep their eyes fixed on the far horizon, will find the right road." We have chosen to look to the future we want for Nigeria and that is why we are back to the UN House. We are back with increased determination to support the Government and people of Nigeria to achieve their aspirations which are captured in Agenda 2030 and its SDGs.

I would like to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria for working tirelessly to rebuild and rehabilitate this UN House from the ruins of 2011 and to present back to us fully furnished and secured premises to enable us to continue our work. This is another clear indicator of this country’s commitment to multilateralism as a means of addressing global challenges.

We are grateful to all the Government agencies, foreign missions and private Nigerians who provided premises for UN agencies during the period this building was under reconstruction. I extend special gratitude to my colleagues the UN staff who have come back with more zeal and determination to serve the United Nations and the people of Nigeria from this premises.

There were times when we wondered how our colleagues who experienced the bombing would feel when they returned to the UN House, but I am glad to report that every day I see hard working and committed staff and that is very encouraging.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, since it began operation in Nigeria, the United Nations system has been working with the Government and People of Nigeria to strengthen capacity and improve institutions, policy and legal frameworks that will deliver human and socioeconomic development using best practices and the comparative global advantage of the UN System. As the gate-keeper of international development, the UN in Nigeria works with national and state institutions, parliamentary and judicial bodies and other national stakeholders as well as bilateral and multilateral partners to improve democratic and accountable governance, facilitating inclusive growth and development to eradicate poverty and provide sustainable livelihoods, provide humanitarian assistance and help protect the weak and vulnerable in the society.

We have started implementing the UN Development System Reforms as mandated by the General Assembly. The aim is to ensure a more coordinated and accountable United Nations system which will support Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The return to the UN House is therefore very timely as it enables us to work more closely together from the various parts of the UN system. We are working together to implement a Partnership Framework developed between the UN system and the Government of Nigeria. Special gratitude to all the Government agencies and UN staff who work collaboratively on a regular basis to implement agreed programmes.

The humanitarian response for the North East of Nigeria remains a major focus of our work, but also a huge challenge. I commend the Federal Government for the establishment of the North East Development Commission, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and other institutional mechanisms which will ensure better coordination of the humanitarian response. The challenges remain, with high levels of malnutrition especially among the young children. The UN System is working hard to mobilise additional resources for the humanitarian response in that part of the country and this support will continue until the people of the North East are able to rebuild their lives after years of the insurgency.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are commemorating this day with the theme for the 75th anniversary of the UN namely: The Future we want, the united nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism. Ahead of the anniversary, we are launching a one- year campaign in Nigeria about the future of international cooperation. This campaign will go on throughout 2020. The Secretary-General wants to hear from all of you, especially the young people on what future we want to create and the role of the UN and multilateralism.

From the ashes of the second world war, the United Nations was born to maintain global peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, to achieve international cooperation and a centre for harmonizing the action of Nations.

Multilateralism is under strain, yet effective multilateral cooperation is essential if we are to rise to our global challenges and achieve our global goals. As we look to the challenges we face – from climate change to migration to terrorism to the downsides of globalization – there is no doubt in my mind that global challenges require global solutions. No country can do it alone. We need today multilateralism more than ever. And we need an inclusive multilateralism -- in which not only executive branches are part of the system, but in which, more and more, the business community, civil society, academia, and, parliaments, are part of the way we together analyze problems, define strategies, design policies and then implement those plans.

Part of that future we want has been painted clearly in Agenda 2030 and its SDGs. Many have asked the question whether Nigeria can meet the Goals. The potential exists and the country needs to mobilize all actors in a business-unusual approach. Nigeria has the human and material resources available to drive this movement towards building a better country if we all work together. We must address structural challenges. We must remove millions of our people from poverty; ensure access to food, good health care and proper sanitation; we must ensure that the economy grows in such a way that jobs are created; and that inequalities are reduced between the haves and have-nots. We will work to promote good governance, justice and peace. The women, men and children of Nigeria are looking unto us to deliver on all these commitments.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to support the Government and people of Nigeria to achieve Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. The 24 Un agencies and staff represented here, our regional support teams and headquarter units are all available in a variety of fields with expertise, experience and best practises that should spur this great country Nigeria to even greater heights. You can count on our support.

To all my colleagues, the UN staff, let us continue with the good work. I am proud of your brevity and hard work. I see it here at the UN House, in the field when I travel to Maiduguri and other parts of this country. You are some of the best talents that support the various mandates we have to achieve for the people of Nigeria. Thank you, colleagues, and please let us keep this momentum. The opening of the UN House presents to us a challenge: an expectation from the people of Nigeria to serve them with even more determination. I know we will together rise to the occasion and leave no one behind as we build that future we want. Finally, I would like to thank all colleagues on the organising committee who have worked hard to make sure this event happens. I also thank all of you distinguished guests for honouring our invitation.

I thank you for your kind attention.

For further information, please contact:

Eve SABBAGH, Head of Public Information, OCHA Nigeria, (+234) 9073430290, sabbaghe@un.org
Oluseyi SOREMEKUN, Information Officer, UN Information Center, Nigeria (+234) 9073430290, soremekun@un.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.