Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, is stepping down after five years in the past. In this blog, Mr. Kallon reflects on the many challenges facing Africa’s most populous nation, the impact the UN has had under his watch, and the prospects for a prosperous and sustainable future.
“When I arrived in 2016, I decided to go beyond traditional engagements with governments, diplomatic and business communities, and engage and interact with people and their diverse cultures and traditions. It was an incredible journey, with milestones and a legacy to build on.
Over the past five years, as I worked to realize this vision for the UN, I have enjoyed tremendous support and goodwill from the government and the people at the federal levels, state and local. For this I remain eternally grateful, as it would not have been possible without their continued support and guidance.
Nigeria: an opportunity and a risk for the Africa region
Nigeria, being the most populous country in Africa and the fastest growing economy in the region, offers great opportunities for economic growth and development, not only within the country but throughout the African region.
On the other hand, with these opportunities come challenges as well. Nigeria is at a crossroads, with multiple and complex challenges that have implications for peace, development and stability across the continent and beyond.
Therefore, Nigeria represents both an opportunity and a risk for the region as a whole and must address five critical risk factors to ensure peace, security and stability in the country: social cohesion, equality and no discrimination ; Internal security; economic stability; justice and the rule of law; and displacement and migration.
UNIC Lagos / Oluseyi Soremekun Edward Kallons, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria (l) and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (r)
A myriad of challenges
Nigeria faces a number of megatrends, including multidimensional poverty; governance and human rights deficits; climate change; sluggish economic growth in a context of strong demographic growth; the limited involvement of women in civil society and politics; youth unemployment; and pockets of conflict, banditry, crime and terrorism motivated by ethno-religious differences and increased hate speech.
Conflicts between farmers and herders are now part of wider tensions between various actors, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continues to threaten national security, and Nigeria accounts for 70% of the estimated 500 million illegal weapons circulating in Africa. from West.
The United Nations partnership with the Government of Nigeria has been fruitful over the years and I leave with singular pride in the success we have had in raising awareness in the international community of the impact of the atrocities committed by Boko Haram on innocent civilians. , and joint efforts to bring hope to those affected by the insurgency.
Together, we averted famine in 2017, fought cholera epidemics, alleviated human suffering by providing humanitarian assistance to over five million people in northeast Nigeria each year, mobilizing over 3.2 billion people dollars for the humanitarian response in the northeast
Nigeria from 2017 to date, and has gone through the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency on millions of people. Thanks to the Nigeria One-UN Basket Fund, which has raised $ 73.3 million for the pandemic response, the UN has purchased around 40% of Nigeria’s COVID-19 medical supplies.
UNIC Lagos / Oluseyi Soremekun 5. United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon
The 41 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 29 make up some 40 percent of the country’s population and nearly 20 percent of all young people in Africa.
To unlock this demographic dividend, Nigeria must empower its young people to play constructive, unifying and innovative roles, and fully include them in the country’s development process. Young people must have equal access to economic opportunities and decent livelihoods. They are the present and the future of Nigeria, and it is necessary to make them the strength of the nation in achieving sustainable development.
I am pleased that the United Nations is supporting the government’s efforts through many interventions – including Generation Unlimited, a new public-private-youth partnership platform that will equip 20 million young Nigerians with skills and opportunities for life. ‘Economic Empowerment and Social Impact – and the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Program (NJFP), a youth empowerment partnership initiative between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which aims connect 20,000 talented graduates with local employment opportunities.
UNIC Lagos / Oluseyi Soremekun UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon (right) receives COVID-19 supplies at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja
The light at the end of the tunnel
In the midst of these challenges, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, with the surrender of Boko Haram fighters, which is a moment and an opportunity that we must support; the development of a pact to strengthen partnership and political support with the government; intensifying the activities of the Northeast Development Commission; and intensification of stabilization activities.
Nigeria must continue on a growth path, which must be accelerated with major investments in social capital. The ongoing counterinsurgency effort of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) must be complemented by dialogue and a peacebuilding process.
The prospects are many if Nigeria continues to work on opportunities such as promoting and implementing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, always prioritizing prevention, development where possible and aid. humanitarian aid when necessary.
Nigeria must continue to build on regional efforts, initiated by the United Nations and other stakeholders, to address the root causes of insecurity; as well as strengthening public-private partnerships, private sector engagement, north-south and south-south cooperation and impact investing.
Passion, humility and patience
As I complete my five-year term in Nigeria, it has been a complex, challenging and interesting time in the service of humanity in the country as a whole, which I have accomplished with passion, humility and patience.
Going forward, I wish to encourage the government of Nigeria to pursue a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, as a means of overcoming the recurring security challenges that the country currently faces.
2030 is fast approaching, so it is imperative to accelerate investments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and build a sustainable future that benefits all Nigerians.
United Nations Resident Coordinator
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, sometimes referred to as RC, is the most senior representative of the United Nations development system at country level.
In this occasional series, UN News invites RCs to blog on issues of importance to the United Nations and the country in which they serve.
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