Earth Hour: Lights-out at UN House Abuja, as Guterres Advocates Greener Future for All

To underscore the United Nations’ continued support for climate action, the United Nations in Nigeria on Saturday, 30 March 2019, participated in a global lights-off event tagged ‘Earth Hour’, by switching off the lights in and outside the UN House, Abuja from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, had in his message on the Earth Hour, noted that the Earth Hour was an opportunity to show support for ambitious climate action, by turning off your lights on Saturday, March 30th, at 8:30 p.m. local time.

He expressed optimism that “It is still possible to limit climate change, protect our planet and safeguard our future.” Guterres called on everyone to “Let’s build a cleaner, safer and greener future for everyone.”

According to the Secretary General,“Technology is on our side. I am convening a Climate Action Summit in September. And I am telling global leaders to bring concrete plans.” He disclosed.

The Earth Hour event, which started as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, is now one of the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring millions of people to take action for our planet.

 

Slavery: We Must Never Forget the Crimes and Impacts in Africa and Beyond – Guterres

“The transatlantic slave trade was one of history’s most appalling manifestations of human barbarity. We must never forget the crimes and impacts in Africa and beyond. We honour them by standing up against ongoing forms of slavery, by raising awareness of the dangers of racism,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his message on the 2019 International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the TransAtlantic Slave Trade commemorated in Nigeria on 25 March 2019 at Badagry, a Slave Trade port over 400 years ago.

The UN Secretary General, in the message read by the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme was aimed at ensuring that the lessons of Slavery were learned and heeded today. “We need to tell the stories of those who stood up against their oppressors, and recognize their righteous resistance.” He added, “On this International Day of Remembrance, we pay homage to the millions of African men, women and children who were denied their humanity and forced to endure such abominable cruelty.”

Organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria and Lagos Education District V, the Observance held at Badagry Grammar School, was attended by 1,200 students, School Principals, Teachers, Traditional Rulers and some parents. The educational programme featured a visit to the Mobee Royal Family Slave Relics Museum, Badagry and the Badagry Heritage Museum; Poster Exhibition and series of drama presentations by the various schools in attendance.

Speaking further, the National Information Officer who represented the Director, Mr Ronald Kayanja, called on parents and guardians to shun all forms of modern day slavery including child labour and human trafficking. ‘The grass is always not green on the other side’, he added.

Slave trade, according to him, was racism and prejudice in practice as Africans were the main targets leading to an extensive exodus of Africans spread to many areas of the world over a 400-year period which was unprecedented in the annals of recorded human history.

Dr Soremekun disclosed that in commemoration of the memory of the victims, the General Assembly, in its resolution 62/122 of 17 December 2007, declared 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, to be observed annually, to inculcate in future generations the “causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice.

In her address, the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary of Lagos Education District V, Mrs Anike Adekanye, noted that Slavery in any form was evil and should not be condoned in the modern society. She urged the students to be bold to report teachers, parents, uncles and anyone that attempted to subject them to any form of abuse or inhuman treatment be it in school or at home.

She, therefore, shared with the students and other members of the audience, the telephone numbers of the Police in the Badagry area and the Lagos State child protection office with the audience.

The Observance of the International Day of #RememberSlavery at Badagry Grammar School was indeed a memorable one, as students highlighted the brutality of slavery, the harms of modern day slavery, human trafficking and forced labour through dance, music, poetry and drama.

In the exhibition of twenty-one posters titled, “Remember Slavery: Say It Loud”, the students were briefed on the contribution of architects of African descent to various sectors of the American society and promoting their professional development. The various designs have also given voice to the African diaspora consciousness.

The students later visited the Mobee Royal Family Slave Relics Museum, Badagry, the Badagry Heritage Museum and the Royal Palace Mobee of Badagry Kingdom where they came into contact with the relics of Slavery. The visit to the museum was significant because Badagry was a slave trade commercial centre and a major port for the transportation of enslaved African people.
Badagry is a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated Slave Trade Route and widely noted as a major port in the export of slaves to the Americas.

Climate Change: gods are not angry, Watch your actions – Student Poets say as UN marks Poetry Day

Sequel to the widespread misconceptions in the African traditional society that climate change and its impacts manifest only when the gods are angry, some students have, through poetry, debunked the notion and submitted that human actions and inaction were mostly responsible. “We made it happened, burning of bushes, felling of trees and we accused the gods of chiding us in wrath, clean the land, clean the earth, stop the smoke in every form. If we all turn deaf ears, where shall we go from earth?” said Basit Saba of Ikotun Senior High School Lagos, in his presentation at the Poetry competition on “Combating Climate Change and its Impact in Nigeria”, to commemorate the World Poetry Day.

The 2019 World Poetry Day observance held on Thursday 21 March 2019, was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria and Lagos Education District One. The poetry competition involved all the ninety-nine schools in the District. However, only fifteen finalists from fifteen schools made it to the finals.

In line with the objectives of the World Poetry Day, especially as related to restoring a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, the fifteen finalists in their presentations, demonstrated the convergence of poetry, theatre, dance and arts to convey the message of climate change and its impact in Nigeria. Most of the poetic recitals were either preceded by drama or accompanied drums and dances.

“Climate change, who are you?” asked Miss Omoyemi Sodiq of Stadium Junior Grammar School, “You are a global challenge. You respect not all national borders. A threat to humanity! Your threat requires urgent climate action’’.

In her presentation titled, ‘Mother Earth’, Miss Bolanle Bolaji of Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior grammar School, noted that “Mother earth sits quietly and in pains, suffering through high temperature, through global warming, through malnutrition, through heavy rainfall, through sea level rising, and through rising infectious diseases.”

In a highly poetic flow, Miss Saidat Lamina of Iju Senior Grammar School said, “What about our plants and trees? Mother earth needs some bees; on the trees and some honey bees. Global warming is everywhere; Climate change is already here; there is a lot of things we can’t bear. Let us save our mother nature; Let’s give it a perfect structure.”

Speaking at the occasion, the Director of UNIC, Mr Ronald Kayanja, called on schools and stakeholders in the education sector to revive the oral traditions of poetry recitals.

Mr Kayanja who was represented by the National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that poetry not only unlocks the creative potentials in people, it also contributes to language skills development, builds confidence in public speaking and asserts people’s identity.

Poetry, according to him, has no particular language. “Poetry is universal. It can be written and recited in any language, including indigenous languages.” He noted, “Poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.”

Addressing the audience comprising of students, School Principals and teachers, the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary of Education District 1, Dr Mrs Olayimika Ayandele, expressed gratitude to UNIC for its consistency in educational programmes and FABE International Foundation, for providing prizes made of upcycled wastes recovered from the environment.

UN Urges Schools to Revive Oral Traditions of Poetry Recitals, as Poetry Day Holds in Lagos

In promoting poetry as an expression of cultural and linguistic diversity, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria and Lagos Education District One, on Thursday 21 March 2019, observed the World Poetry Day with a Poetry competition on “Combating Climate Change and its Impact in Nigeria”, involving all the ninety-nine schools in the District. Speaking at the occasion, the Director of UNIC, Mr Ronald Kayanja, called on schools and stakeholders in the education sector to revive the oral traditions of poetry recitals.

Mr Kayanja who was represented by the National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that poetry not only unlocks the creative potentials in people, it also contributes to language skills development, builds confidence in public speaking and asserts people’s identity.

Poetry, according to him, has no particular language. “Poetry is universal. It can be written and recited in any language, including indigenous languages.” He noted, “Poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.”

Towards achieving the objectives of the World Poetry Day, especially as related to restoring a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, the fifteen finalists from fifteen schools, in their presentations, demonstrated the convergence of poetry, theatre, dance and arts to convey the message of climate change and its impact in Nigeria.

Addressing the audience comprising of students, School Principals and teachers, the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary of Education District 1, Dr Mrs Olayimika Ayandele, expressed gratitude to UNIC for its consistency in educational programmes and FABE International Foundation, for providing prizes made of upcycled wastes recovered from the environment.

At the end of the recitals, Miss Favour Ocheje of Oke-odo Senior High School got the 1st position; Mr Basit Saba of Ikotun Senior High School came 2nd while Mr Ayomide Fadairo of Ijaiye Ojokoro Senior High School came 3rd. All fifteen finalists were issued Certificates of Participation.

Explaining the prizes given to the top three winners in a message sent to the event, the Founder of FABE, Mrs Temitope Okunnu said, “The first prize is an upcycled Ottoman made from discarded type; the second prize is upcycled pouf made from PET plastic bottles and the third prize is our ‘Spoontastic’ Mirror made of plastic spoons.” She added that those prizes were aimed at rewarding excellence and challenging the winners to pay more attention to the environment as well as promoting eco-solutions that can mitigate the effects of climate change.

UNIC, Partners Mark Int’l Day of Happiness with Fun and Fanfare

It was all fun and fanfare on Wednesday, 20 March 2019, at Agidingbi Primary School, Ikeja Lagos as the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, WomanChild Wellness Foundation and Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, jointly commemorated the International Day of Happiness with over 500 pupils, representatives of civil society organisations and the media.

Addressing the audience, the Director of UNIC, Mr Ronald Kayanja, explained that “the United Nations attaches so much importance to the well-being and happiness of people around the world hence the declaration of 20 March as International Happiness Day to encourage governments and partners to prioritise peoples’ wellbeing and happiness in public policies. “People’s wellbeing and happiness are universal goals and aspiration which therefore, should be part of public policy objectives.” The Director, represented by the National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, said.

He further stressed that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) boast of four key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness: End poverty, reduce inequality, promote good health, and protect our planet. The achievement of these four Goals, he continued, would make people happy and put smiles on their faces.

In her address, Ms Olabisi Okeh, President WomanChild Wellness Foundation, noted that in the spirit of creating happiness, everyone must contribute to engender happiness in Nigeria and around the world. Orkeh said that it was imperative for every Nigerian to always prioritise children’s happiness and well-being, because they were the future of Nigeria. “We strongly want to describe today as a special day to show love to these children. We are celebrating today with these children to give them hope and make them happy. We have decided to focus on children because they are the future of this country and the world,’’ she said.

The children danced to pulsating music vibes, savoured different delicacies, and were on circus train rides, farmhouse obstacle course, bouncing castle, among others.

UN Urges Parents to ‘Think Equal’ and Shun Gender Discrimination in the Family

As the world continues the celebration of the International Women’s Day, the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) for Nigeria, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, has urged Nigerian parents to think equal and shun stereotypes that discriminate against girls and women by training their children to advance gender equality.

“Promotion of gender equality should start from the family level. When parents think equal, boys and girls in the family would have equal opportunities to succeed in life.” He said on Tuesday, 19 March 2019, at the observance of the International Women’s Day event organised by UNIC, Luciano Global Foundation and Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) Lagos.

Speaking on the 2019 Women’s Day theme: Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change, Dr Soremekun further called on parents to encourage their daughters to pursue a career in innovation and technology to bridge a growing gender digital gap in which women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design. “Science and technology field is not exclusive to men.” He added.

In her remark, the Lagos State Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Dr. Lola Akande, acknowledged the relevance of the 2019 Women’s Day theme to the activities of WAPA, especially as related to women empowerment. Represented by Mrs N. O. Goodluck, the Commissioner urged the women to network for business and avail themselves of opportunities offered by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

Speaking, the Founder of Luciano Global Development Initiative (LGDI), Mrs Lucy Olaniyi, called for more active involvement of women and girls in innovation to remove barriers and accelerate progress towards addressing the gender digital divide.

Addressing the participants on the importance of digital device, the Founder of Hope Rising Foundation, Mr Tayo Adigun, enjoined the women to use social media for business development instead of restricting their activities to social chatting only. “Create a strong marketing force for yourself on the social media.” He added.

UNIC Lagos and Nairobi Jointly Mark Mother Language Day

Towards encouraging linguistic diversity and multilingual education, the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos Nigeria, collaborated with UNIC Nairobi Kenya, via a video link, to commemorate the 2019 International Mother Language Day.

The dialogue which involved 20 students with 10 distinct mother tongues, emphasised the importance of mother languages to people’s identity, communication, social integration, education and development.

Receiving the students from three secondary schools, the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, noted that the collaboration between UNIC Nigeria and its counterpart in Kenya was to develop greater awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions between the two countries and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

According to him, Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. “They transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way. We must preserve our mother languages.” He explained.

It was so instructive and exciting as the Nigerian students shared their linguistic diversity with the Kenyan team: The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 (No Poverty) was said in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages while the Nairobi team provided the Swahili language translation. According to the students

According to the Deputy Director of UNIC Nairobi, Mr Newton Kanhema, in Swahili, ‘No Poverty’ means ‘Hakuna Umaskini’. Other words which the Nigerian participants learned were ‘Hello’ which in Swahili means ‘Habari yako’ while the response is ‘Nzuri’ which means ‘Good’.

Similarly, the Nairobi participants learned that ‘No Poverty’ means ‘Ba Talauci’ in Hausa language; ‘Ise buse’ in Yoruba language and ‘Enweghi Idaogbenye’ in Igbo language. The dialogue also explored the basic greetings in the various languages.

In line with the advice of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services which encouraged people around the world to state their favorite proverb in their mother tongue, a few proverbs in local languages were discussed: “A child who refuses the wise counsel of his parents, will be taught a hard lesson by outsiders”; “No one beats his chest with a finger”; among others.

Earlier in his remarks, UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, noted that International Mother Language day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. He disclosed that “every two weeks, a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered.”

UN Secretary-General appoints Nigerian into Civil Society Advisory Board on Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Ms Joy Ezeilo

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has announced the appointment of a Nigerian, Ms Joy Ezeilo as a member of seven distinguished experts to serve on the newly established Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Ms. Ezeilo is the Dean of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria and the National Chairperson, Sexual Assault Referral Network Nigeria. From 2013 -2016, she was a member of the Board of Trustees for the United Nations Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking.

The aim of the Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, is to foster closer interaction with civil society and external experts and organizations as part of the United Nations efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. 

The functions of the Board include advising the Secretary-General on ways to strengthen preventive measures and accountability mechanisms to address sexual exploitation and abuse by both United Nations personnel and non-United Nations forces operating pursuant to a Security Council mandate.  Members of the Board serve in their personal capacity and will not receive any compensation or remuneration.

Other members of the Board are Ms. Rosa Freedman (UK), Mr. Pablo de Greiff (Colombia), Ms. Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid (Morocco), Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand) and Mr. Muna B. Ndulo (Zambia).

The establishment of the Board is an important element in the Secretary-General’s strategy outlined in his 2017 report Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: a new approach (A/71/818), to improve the United Nations response to sexual exploitation and abuse.

Let’s recognize the power of radio to promote dialogue and peace – Guterres

UNIC National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun presents message of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the World Radio Day

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has underscored the power of radio as a mass medium of communication. “On this World Radio Day, let us recognize the power of radio to promote dialogue, tolerance and peace,” he said in his 2019 World Radio Day message.

In the message read on his behalf by the National Information Officer of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, at the Award event organised by the National Broadcast Academy in Lagos, the Secretary General noted that radio is a powerful tool.

A group photograph of dignitaries and faculty of the National Broadcast Academy at the event

“Even in today’s world of digital communications, radio reaches more people than any other media platform. It conveys vital information and raises awareness on important issues. And it is a personal, interactive platform where people can air their views, concerns, and grievances. Radio can create a community.” Mr Guterres added.

UNIC National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun (Left) exchanges pleasantries with the Coordinator, World Radio Day, National Broadcast Academy, Ms Uchenna Obaseki (Right)

Explaining the rationale behind the choice of 13 February for World Radio Day, Dr Soremekun said, “During its 67th Session, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 13 February, the day United Nations Radio was established in 1946, as World Radio Day.

He explained that the 2019 Theme: ‘Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace’, took its roots from the Sustainable Development Goal 16 and provided a platform for dialogue and democratic debate over issues, such as migration or violence against women, and could help to raise awareness among listeners and inspire understanding for new perspectives in paving the way for positive action.

Speaking, the Director of the National Broadcast Academy, Engineer Ajibola Abiola, noted that radio is still the most dynamic, reactive and engaging medium there is, adapting to 21st century changes and offering new ways to interact and participate. “Radio provides the diversity of views and voices needed to address the challenges we all face.

UNIC National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun decorates Mr Jude Uchea with the SDGs-Wheel pin at the event

In her closing remarks, the Coordinator of the 2019 World Radio Day event at the Academy, Ms Uchenna Obaseki, thanked the broadcast industry partners especially the United Nations for their support. She hinted that the National Broadcast Academy would have a greater observance of the World Radio Day in 2020.

Earlier, Dr Soremekun decorated a participant, Mr Jude Uchea, of the Academy Production Department, with the SDGs-Wheel Pin for his brilliant summary of the message of the UN Secretary-General.

No country, no region, can tackle global challenges alone – UN-DSG Amina Muhammed

United Nations Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Muhammed addressing the audience at the Kaduna State Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) Acceleration Conference 2019, on Tuesday 22 January.

Against the backdrop of rising global challenges, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Muhammed, has emphasised that no country or region alone could tackle the global challenges of today. “In the regions today, no country is alone. Our borders don’t make any difference in the Sahel when we talk about issues of terrorism, migration, and climate change. No country, no region can tackle the global challenges of today,” said Ms Muhammed at the opening of  Kaduna State Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Acceleration Conference 2019, on Tuesday, 22 January 2019, under the theme: “Building Effective Partnership For Accelerated Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.  

Despite a global decline in people living in poverty, the Deputy-Secretary-General observed that extremepoverty has remained high due to conflicts and other factors. She explainedthat “There are many reasons why people are in poverty: when there is noenabling environment and when there is no stability. Unfortunately, globalhunger has risen over the past few years. That’s a great concern.” However, shedisclosed that in the world today there is enough to feed the world two tothree times over but there are so many Inequalities in many places and millionsgo to bed hungry.

Those big issues, according to her, “affect the way we will invest, they short change us in the revenue otherwise would have been put into governance.” The Deputy-Secretary-General noted that it was important to put everything into national perspective, look at the regional context as the global one is addressed.

On global plan and local action for the achievement of the SDGs, Ms Muhammed underscored the importance of effective partnership as exemplified by the conference which she observed the involvement of the Federal Government, State Governments, the international community, Civil Society, local authority and community.  

She advocated for gender inclusion in implementation and results: “Part of our population, especially women and girls, has to be put at the centre of the results we have. They should not only be at the centre of our policies, we also want to see them at the centre of our results.” She explained further that “We need to see young people at the centre of the impact that is made on everyone’s life. Because they are not the future tomorrow; they are the future today.”

Also speaking at the conference attended by Hon. Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed; Resident Coordinator of UN in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon; representative of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, H.E. Prince Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and others from the UN system and the Civil Society, the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, disclosed that the State made history as the first in Nigeria to present an in-depth analysis of its SDGs data and strategy for implementation at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York. Malam El-Rufai said his administration has made progress by adopting the SDGs targets and indicators, investing in data that allows “us to know where we are coming from and what we have achieved so far.”

According to the Governor, “We believe that evidence-based data improves our decision-making process by indicating which outcomes are more realistic and how much is required to fund the programmes that ensure that no one is left behind.” He explained that the state was developing integrated and sustainable Infrastructure that would make Kaduna State a leading investment destination in Nigeria: “our comparative advantage’’ to drive the revamping of the industrial sector, to make our state globally competitive.

Mallam El-Rufai added that Kaduna state stood out as a pacesetter in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). iority48