Author Archives: Oluseyi Soremekun

Youth’s Potential is world’s potential – Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Anotnio Guterres has acknowledged that young people’s potential is the world’s potential. Therefore, “We must do more to enable young people to shape the decisions affecting their lives.” He said in his message to the University of Lagos Model United Nations (LAGMUN) conference organised by the university in collaboration with the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos. Held 13 – 15 August 2018, at the University of Lagos, the conference was attended by 230 delegates from 11 universities across the nation.

In the message delivered by the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, the Secretary General noted that the world needs less hatred, more dialogue and deeper international cooperation; and added that empowering the world’s young people is also an imperative.

Earlier, Mr Kayanja congratulated the organising team of the conference and acknowledged the importance of the conference theme: ‘Innovation and Collective Action Towards Achieving the SDGs’.

He explained that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)“ are aimed at People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. Emphasising the need for reduced inequality, he said, “It is dangerous and counterproductive to have an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty. As a delegate to this Lagos Model United Nations (LAGMUN) conference, you are a global citizen and therefore should be concerned about what happens in other regions of the world.”

Speaking in the same vein, the keynote speaker, Prof Ademola Abass, in his paper titled, ‘Innovation and Collective Action Towards Achieving the SDGs’, advocated for collective action towards national development and urged the delegates to be involved in activities happening around them.

“Success of the SDGs rests with all of us. Do not expect others to change the situation or change the world, you have got to change it yourself.” He added.

 

Young people need safe spaces to pursue their dreams – Guterres

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has emphasised that the world’s young people need safe spaces: public, civic, physical and digital spaces where they can freely express their views and pursue their dreams.

“In making the world safe for young people, we make the world better for all,” the Secretary General explained, “We must invest so that young people have access to education, training and decent jobs to achieve their full potential.”

He said this on the occasion of International Youth Day 2018 event organised by the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos; United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Strategy for Mentoring Initiative & Leadership Empowerment (S.M.I.L.E), on Saturday 11 August 2018, at University of Lagos Akoka Lagos.

He acknowledged that the hopes of the world rest on young people; and emphasised that the United Nations is strongly committed to listening to the voices of young people and opening pathways for meaningful participation in decisions that affect them.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Her Excellency, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, in her goodwill message, noted that youth activism is on the rise world over, particularly via social media due to broader connectivity and accessibility, therefore, their needs must be attended to. It is in the light of this, according to her, that President Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated its support to youth participation in governance by signing into law the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill which is a landmark victory for Nigerian youth.

Princess Orelope-Adefulire who was represented by Mr Gbenga Akinbayo, expressed her trust that activities of 2018 International Youth Day would complement efforts of the Federal Government in youth development.

The Youth Day observance featured three discussion panels under the central theme: “Safe spaces for youth”. The first panel discussed ‘Safe spaces for youth online; the second panel discussed the sub-theme, Youth Involvement in the Civic Space‘; while the third panel discussed ‘Improving Youth Well-being’.

Discussing the Safe spaces for youth online, the Communication Lead of Microsoft Nigeria, Mr Oluwamuyemi Orimolade, emphasised that “The future of the world is technology and technology drives the future; and the future is now.”

He posited further that more people would lose their jobs while more jobs would be created. “Position yourself now and be prepared for the future.” He added.

In her remarks, the Ms Jaiyeola Ayanbadejo of UNFPA, acknowledged that the hope of the world lies with young people of whom more than 400 million live amidst armed conflict or organized violence; and millions face deprivation, harassment, bullying and other infringements of their rights. She enjoined all to make the world safe for young people to make the world better for all.

The President of S.M.I.L.E, Mrs Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins, in her closing remarks, called on governments, private sector, development partners, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to encourage youth innovation and creativity as a driver of national development.

Addressing the press at the event, the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, explained that the 2018 theme recognises that youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves.

According to him, “Safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth.  Safe spaces such as civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance issues; public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community; digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone; and well planned physical spaces can help accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalization or violence.”

The event was also attended by the South Africa’s Consul-General in Lagos, Mr Darkey Afrika. International Youth Day is marked on 12 August every year.

Spotlight Nigeria Team Engages Youths, CSOs To End Violence Against Women And Girls

The UN system in Nigeria represented by UNICEF, UN Women, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO and UNIC, under the auspices of Spotlight Initiatives, on 2 – 3 August 2018, held a Youth engagement dialogue and a CSOs consultative session as part of the process in the development of Country Programmes Document for the Spotlight Initiatives to end violence against women and girls.

The Spotlight Initiatives, a global development partnership framework of the United Nations and the European Union to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in support of the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, is being coordinated in Nigeria by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office.
The Initiative is so named as it brings focused attention to this issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The youth interactive dialogue identified challenges many activists and NGOs face in the fight against violence. They included lack of security and funding, non-inclusion of people with disabilities during policy formulation, lack of information for people living in rural areas, poverty, cultural interference, lack of inclusion of gender equality in school curriculum and lack of media support.
Recommendations at the end of the dialogue included establishing youth friendly spaces where  youth can freely express their opinions; individual efforts to sensitize the society; as well as using products and services to advocate for an end to violence against women and girls.

Providing guidance to the CSOs representatives for group discussions, Ms Patience Ekeoba of UN Women Nigeria, requested the CSOs to discuss in-depth and make presentations on the following: Organisations working on prevention of violence and harmful practices broadly; Organisations that work mainly on SGBV in education; Organisations that work on GBV services; Organisations that work mainly on data collection and researches;  Women’s Rights Organisations working to promote women’s rights, address GBV and  harmful practices as well as Minority Groups working to end GBV.

The group presentations were insightful, revealing and interesting.

UN, South African Consulate, Partners Mark Nelson Mandela Day

‘’Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us- if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity; a man of towering achievement who worked tirelessly for peace , equitable development and human dignity indeed one of the greatest leaders of our time. His life and work embodied the ideals of a democratic, free and equal society. It is therefore a day to reflect on the life and work of a legend who embodied the highest values of the United Nations’’ remarked the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr. Ronald Kayanja in his address at the Lecture organised on Monday 16 July 2018, by United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in collaboration with South Africa High Commission and Nigeria Institute for International Affairs (NIIA) as part of activities to mark the Nelson Mandela International Day (Centenary Celebration).

Mr Darkey Africa, the Consular General of the South Africa High Commission in Lagos, speaking at the event highlighted his brief encounter with Nelson Mandela and stressed that the legacy of Nelson Mandela resonates beyond the shores of Africa.

Nobel Laurette for Literature, Prof Wole Soyinka, recalled his personal encounter with Nelson Mandela describing him as an embodiment of humanism, service and leadership, humble, simple, unpretentious, determined and diligent.

At a similar event organised on Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, by UNIC, United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN) and Freedom Park Lagos, participants did a mandatory 67 minutes community service which involved cleaning of the park.

The Director of UNIC, Mr. Ronald Kayanja welcomed all guests and thanked UNAN for organizing the event in honour of Nelson Mandela. The South African Consulate General represented by Mr. Azwianewi Mbedzi in his address reminded all present about the meaningful contributions of Madiba to the world and that the objective of his commemoration is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better.

Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd) the Chairman of the event, paid tribute to Nelson Mandela by highlighting some of his services to mankind. He urged everyone to continue to uphold the legacy of Mandela who is an embodiment of peace, integrity, human dignity and indeed a great man.

Dr Babafemi Badejo the keynote speaker expressed his happiness about the fact that the whole world has set aside today to honor and recalibrate the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela. According to him, it is better to lead from behind and put others in front; however, good leaders take the front line when there is crisis. Mandela’s values included freedom, justice, diversity, equality, forgiveness, love and peace.

The Director of Freedom Park, Ms Aboaba Iyabo paid tribute to Nelson Mandela; describing him as a man of integrity and called on African leaders to provide the kind of leadership Mandela displayed.

Ambassador Ayo Olukanni, DG (NACCIMA), and other eminent personalities were present at the event. The celebration featured video clips, poems and a short drama on Mandela by students, and a cultural performance by Squad 1 Group.

Provide Platforms For Marginalised Groups – UNIC Director Urges Media

A call has gone to the media to provide platforms and space for marginalised groups including relevant and credible civil society actors to articulate their concerns about national issues. Making the call was the Director of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja while delivering a keynote address titled “The Media and the Quest for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in Nigeria” on the 2nd annual lecture of Penpushing online news channel held at Abeokuta on Thursday, 19 July 2018.

“A vibrant civil society enables the media to include the voices of more people and to enable them articulate those in ways that will draw the attention of those in authority.” He said, “While the civil society scene in Nigeria is not so vibrant, there are those who help to articulate concerns of the marginalised. The media should work more with them.”

In his speech, the Chairman of the occasion, a veteran journalist, Mr Felix Adenaike, spoke about the sanctity of journalism ethics while the Royal Father of the day, the Olota of Ota Awori Kingdom, HRH Oba (Prof) Adeyemi Obalanlege discussed the school of thoughts that believes that news are manufactured.

Welcoming the guests, the founder of Penpushing, Prince Dimeji Kayode-Adedeji, thanked members of Penpushing forum for their professionalism and commitment to seeing the WhatsApp platform metamorphosed into a reputable online news channel.

Pay More Attention To Cyber Security – BIMUN Urges UN Member States

Having considered that cyber security threats are among the most serious challenges of the 21st century, Babcock International Model United Nations (BIMUN) conference has encouraged member states to pay more attention to cyber security and broaden its definition beyond hacking, to enhance implementation of broader solutions.

This was one of the resolutions reached at the simulation of the UN General Assembly First Committee: ‘Disarmament and International Security (DISEC)’, during the 2nd BIMUN conference (9 – 13 July, 2018) organised by Babcock University, Ilishan Ogun State, in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, and attended by over 250 delegates from 15 countries.

The General Assembly First Committee, chaired by Ms Jewel Ike-Obioha, discussed the topic, “Cybersecurity and protecting against Cyberwarfare” and noted that the misuse of information technology had left a devastating global effect on Member States economically and posed a threat to global peace and security.

The Committee’s resolutions, adopted by consensus at the General Assembly headed by Prince Kwame Agbata, further “affirms that the security of cyberspace and its information should be strictly monitored through effective cyber laws within Member States; Endorses the adoption of the block chain innovation into cyber security in the decentralisation of information storage; and introduce cyber security as a study course in tertiary institutions.

Speaking at the plenary, the Director of UNIIC, Mr Ronald Kayanja, urged the delegates to seize the opportunity of the Model UN to think beyond their immediate environment and focus on global issues which countries grapple with daily. “I am hopeful that after this experience you will become truly global citizens who seek to solve problems faced by the wider humanity.”

Represented by the National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, the Director noted that he was pleased that BIMUN included the UN General Assembly, the Security Council and the International Court of Justice in its simulations. The General Assembly, Mr Kayanja said, “is a forum for deliberation among member governments and provides collective legitimation of norms, rules and actions. It also provides an oversight function on the entire UN system. It is a Forum where all member states are treated as equals, providing an opportunity for all views and concerns to be expressed.”

Citing Agenda 2030, adopted by the General Assembly in September 2015 as one of the ways the UN is expressing the urgency with which countries need to deal with issues of economic growth, social inclusion and environment protection, Mr Kayanja declared that “This is probably our last chance to provide lives of dignity to our people presently without compromising the ability of succeeding generations to be assured of decent livelihoods. This Agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals constitute a framework to save humanity and the planet we all call home.” We must all take this framework very seriously.

The President and Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Ademola Tayo urged the delegates to be good ambassadors of their assigned countries and justify their attendance of BIMUN through their position papers and presentations. He acknowledged the contribution of UNIC and pledged that the University administration would continue to support the BIMUN team for a greater conference next year.

In her address, the former Ogun State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN), enjoined the delegates to develop their passion and follow their hearts in choosing a career path.

The Former Nigerian Permanent Delegate and Ambassador of Nigeria to the UNESCO, Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa, highlighted the contributions of the United Nations to global peace and security and the need for the organisation to reform.

The Secretary General of BIMUN 2018, Ms. Atinuke Elizabeth Awoyale, thanked the Secretariat staff and volunteers for their commitment and dedication to making the conference a success. She congratulated the delegates on their performances at the conference.

In his address to the delegates, the Executive Director of BIMUN, Mr Samuel Chiemela, expressed gratitude to the University administration for supporting the initiative to institutionalise Model United Nations at Babcock University.

The President of the General Asembly, Prince Agbata adjourned further deliberations till 3rd BIMUN in 2019.

 

UN Stands with you – Guterres Assures Youth At Ife Model UN

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has assured young people around the world of the United Nations support for a brighter future. “As you stand up for our shared values, the United Nations stands with you.” He said in his message to the first Obafemi Awolowo University Model United Nations (IFEMUN) conference held 21-23 June 2018 and organised by the University in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC).

The conference which attracted over 250 delegates from Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa, was a three-day of networking and diplomacy in practice as students assumed roles of Ambassadors of UN Member States, and simulated the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.  In the message read by the National Information Officer of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, the Secretary General emphasised that “We must do more to enable young people to shape the decisions affecting their lives. Empowering the world’s young people is also an imperative. Your potential is the world’s potential.”  Mr Guterres called for less hatred, more dialogue and deeper international cooperation. According to him, “Multilateralism is more important than ever.”

Speaking, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede, reiterated the commitment of the university administration to supporting value-adding activities amongst the students. The Model United Nations (MUN), according to him, is a platform for students of Political Science, International Relations, International Law and the social sciences in general, to express themselves and manifest their potentials.

He urged all delegates to be diligent in their roles as ambassadors of their assigned countries for the conference. “Make new friends, learn more about diplomacy and enjoy the hospitality of OAU, Ile-Ife.” He added.

The Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee, Prof Charles Ukeje, in his message, thanked UNIC for its support to the University in organising the first IFEMUN conference and commended the students for their commitment and determination to ensuring a successful conference.  He urge

Speaking at the closing ceremony on Saturday, 23 June 2018, Dr Soremekun explained that UNIC Lagos got aggressively involved in Model UN following the launch of UN4MUN by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), New York, to teach MUN teams how to bring their simulations more in line with the way the UN actually works. According to him, many MUNs across the world do not follow the actual rules and practices used at the UN. “It, therefore, became imperative for UNIC Lagos, being the field office of UN-DPI in Nigeria, to ensure quality of MUN conferences in terms of adherence to the rules of procedures of how a typical UN General Assembly, for instance, conducts its affairs.

The National Information Officer added that “Model United Nations (MUN) simulations are popular exercises for those interested in learning more about the UN. It is estimated that more than 400,000 students worldwide participate every year in MUN at all educational levels – from primary school to university. Many of today’s leaders in law, government, business and the arts participated in MUN as students.”

Addressing the delegates, the Secretary General of IFEMUN 2018, Mr Patrick Ojunde, expressed his delight about the quality of discussion by the delegates and expressed his expectation of a better IFEMUN conference next year.

The President of the General Assembly at IFEMUN 2018 conference, Mr Chimezie Judemary Udechukwu, brought the conference to a close at about 5 pm on Saturday 23 June 2018 and adjourned till IFEMUN 2019.

Other facilitators and Committee Chairs at the conference included Mr Adama Joshua Ugbede; Mr Kehinde Odanye; Ms Cynthia Akhagbeme Simeon; Ms Damilola Ifeoluwa Kehinde; Mr Daniel Obiyo; and Ms Daberechi Jewel Ike-Obioha.

We Need Less Hatred – Guterres

“We need less hatred, more dialogue and deeper international cooperation. Multilateralism is more important than ever. Empowering the world’s young people is also an imperative.” This was said by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his message to the first Obafemi Awolowo University Model United Nations (IFEMUN) conference which started on Thursday 21 June 2018. In the message read by the National Information Officer of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, the Secretary General emphasised that “We must do more to enable young people to shape the decisions affecting their lives. Your potential is the world’s potential. As you stand up for our shared values, the United Nations stands with you.”
Speaking, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede, reiterated the commitment of the university administration to supporting value-adding activities amongst the students and strengthen the international profile of the institution though the Model United Nations platform. He warmly welcomed all delegates, including those from outside Nigeria, to the conference.
The Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee, Prof Charles Ukeje, in his remarks thanked UNIC for its support and commended the students for their commitment to hosting the conference.

Respect Each Other’s Rights – UN tells Nigerians

As part of activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has organised a Human Rights commitment ceremony which entailed signing of the Human Rights Pledge board by dignitaries and others. Speaking on the occasion, the National Information Officer of the UNIC Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, called on Nigerians to respect each other’s rights regardless of their differences in language, faith, tribe, geographical location or political affiliation.

According to Dr Soremekun, the UDHR recognises all human beings as equal and enjoins them to act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood. “If everyone respects the other’s rights, the world would be a better place to live.” He noted.

The UDHR, he explained, is the most translated documents in the world having been translated into over 500 languages. “In Nigeria, the UDHR has been translated into Edo, Efik, Ibibio, Hausa, Igbo, Kanuri Yerwa, Tiv, Yoruba and Pidgin English. We have also finalised the translation into Ijaw and  Idoma languages.” He emphasised, “To demonstrate our commitment to inclusiveness, UNIC Lagos has also produced the world’s first complete braille version of the UDHR, which we launched in Abuja in December 2018.”

Dr Soremekun added that the activities marking the 70th anniversary of the UDHR was aimed at promoting the rights enshrined in the Declaration and what the UDHR means in our daily lives; Engaging broad audiences across the country and mobilise people for human rights; as well as reflecting on progress and challenges, and ways that each of us can stand up for human rights.

He therefore led the audience to make the Human Rights Pledge: “I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even I disagree with you. When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined, so I will stand up; I will raise my voice; I will take action; I will use my right to stand up for your rights.”

In his remarks, the Zonal Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, South West, Mr Lucas Koyejo, urged the audience who were mainly students, to pay more attention to the provisions of the UDHR, and make conscious efforts to understand and uphold the 30 Articles in the document.

Mrs Tola Akinsanya, representing the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, observed that Human Rights have evolved and classified into first, second and third generation rights, some of which have necessitated sheer political will to ensure full implementation.  According to her, Lagos State remains committed to ensuring that human rights are upheld and access to justice moves from a slogan to reality. She added that the Human Rights pledge would be a catalyst for the enforcement of human rights in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.

The President of Women Arise, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, in her remarks, charged the audience to “stand up for your rights even if you are standing alone.” “Raise your voice, take action. Your right is your right.” She reminded those who trampled on others’ rights to always remember that one day they would have their day in courts.

The Head of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Kwasi Amankwaah emphasised that Human Rights is everybody’s business and “it begins with you”, he added.

The dignitaries and representatives of schools present, took turn to sign the ‘Human Rights Pledge Board’.

World Bicycle Day: UNIC Calls On State Governments To Create Bicycle Tracks In Cities

Following the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/72/272 of 12 April 2018, declaring 3 June as the World Bicycle Day, the Director of the UN information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Mr. Ronald Kayanja has urged all the State Governments in Nigeria to integrate bicycle corridor into city transport infrastructure planning and design. “This will protect and promote safety of pedestrians and cycling mobility, with a view to improving health, particularly the prevention of injuries and non-communicable diseases amongst the people,” he explained.

Mr Kayanja made this remark on Saturday, 2 June 2018 in Lagos, during the observance of the World Bicycle Day organised by UNIC and Cycology Cycling club. He emphasised and advocated for the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development, strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people, promoting health, preventing disease, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.

Addressing over fifty male and female cyclists who have gathered for the flag-off at the Ikoyi Office of UNIC, Mr Kayanja further said that “Cycling empowers people. Cycling promotes peace and development, Cycling promotes good health and wellbeing. Cycling will reduce urban transport emissions if encouraged in the cities. Cycling is an enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

The Director noted that the General Assembly resolution on the World Bicycle Day was in acknowledgment of the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, “which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation, fostering environmental stewardship and health.”

He added that the commemorative event of 2 June might probably be the first in the world because “tomorrow, 3 June is the actual day and we are probably the only one marking the day on 2 June.”

Speaking, the Captain of Cycology Cycling Club, Ms Bimpe Olufemi, commended the United Nations for declaring every 3rd June as the World Cycling Day. This she said, would encourage people to imbibe the culture of cycling which will further enhance the wellbeing of the people. However, she called for infrastructural development that would make cycling safe and enjoyable.

The UN Resolution on World Bicycle Day among others, “Invites all Member States and all other relevant stakeholders to cooperate in observing World Bicycle Day, to celebrate the Day and to promote awareness of it”; and “Encourages Member States to devote particular attention to the bicycle in cross-cutting development strategies and to include the bicycle in international, regional, national and subnational development policies and programmes, as appropriate”.