Author Archives: Oluseyi Soremekun

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

UN Secretary-General Addresses Covenant Model UN Conference, Emphasises SDGs as Blueprint for Prosperity and Healthy Planet

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has emphasised that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the world’s blueprint for dignity, prosperity and a healthy planet. “Our world today enjoys remarkable opportunities to advance common progress.  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our blueprint for dignity, prosperity and a healthy planet,” said the Secretary-General in his message to the first Covenant International Model United Nations (CIMUN) conference, read by the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) for Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja.

The conference which was organised by Covenant University Ota, in collaboration with UNIC Nigeria, was themed, “Restructuring the future through innovative ideas”, and attended by over 300 delegates from 8 countries and 12 institutions at the opening plenary held on 16 January 2019. Despite the remarkable opportunities, Guterres explained, “we the peoples” also face many complex challenges:  “Armed conflicts have deepened.  Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War.  Climate change is moving faster than we are.  Inequality and nationalism are on the rise, while trust and solidarity are on the decline.”

These problems and challenges, according to him, are increasingly global – and increasingly grave.  “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.“ He added.

Earlier in his opening remark, Mr Kayanja observed that “The achievement of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires innovative ideas. Therefore, there is no other time to discuss the theme, “Restructuring the Future Through Innovative Ideas” than now,” He added that in Model United Nations (MUN) conferences, delegates are the Ambassadors of their assigned countries to the UN. “Let your presentations reflect the reality of the countries you are representing.” He urged the delegates.

The Vice Chancellor of Covenant University, Prof A.A.A. Atayero, in his keynote address presented by Prof Sheriff Folarin, noted that “It is only by innovative ideas that we can restructure, own and control the future.” He acknowledged that the United Nations has either redefined humanity or changed the world through sustained programmes, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, environmental development programmes and erstwhile Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as its current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and several other innovative programmes and initiatives.

Of particular interest, according to the Vice Chancellor, is the trickle-down idea of simulated UN System through Model United Nations (MUN) which brings the vision, philosophy, goals and workings of the UN to the micro levels, which should solidify the UN’s reach and consolidate its gains.

“Aside preparing the youths for leadership in the future, it alsoinculcates in them the enduring traditions, disposition and skills of conflictmanagement, peace-building and a new world order in the context of peace andstability.” Prof Atayero added, “It is light of this that I commend andcongratulate the United Nations and particularly appreciate the United NationsInformation Centre in Nigeria for the cooperation, guidance and support.”

The Secretary General of CIMUN 2019 was Mr Andikara Honour Etiubon while Dr Oluyemi Fayomi of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant University Ota was the Faculty Advisor.

Nigerian Security Agencies Pledge to Respect Human Rights as UNIC Lagos marks UDHR@70

“I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even if 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.” This was the pledge taken by officers of different security agencies as part of activities marking International Human Rights Day and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), organized by United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), South West Zone, on 10 December 2018.

The officers drawn from the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Army, Immigration, Customs, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as well as the National Agency For The Prohibition Of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) recited the Human Rights Pledge while the most senior officers signed the Human Rights Commitment Board.

In his video message on the Human Rights Day, and watched by over 70 particioants, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, noted that “Now more than ever, our shared duty is clear: Let us stand Up for human rights for everyone, everywhere. We must stand up for equality, justice and human dignity.”

Welcoming the participants, the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, informed that the UDHR was the most widely translated document in the world, a feat contributed to by UNIC Lagos through its translation of the UDHR to Fulfude, Hausa, Igbo, Ijaw, Idoma, Kanuri, Pidgin English and Yoruba languages. He later shared copies of the UDHR to all participants while each of the Security Agencies was also presented with a framed canvass poster of the UDHR.

The Zonal Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), South-West, Mr. Lucas Koyejo, advised the security agents to always respect citizens’ rights and remain professional in the discharge of their duties during the forthcoming elections in Nigeria.

In another event, on the same day, to commemorate the Human Rights Day, UNIC in collaboration with White Technology hosted students from ten High schools for a Digital Arts Competition on the UDHR.

The Digital Arts Competition challenges the creative thinking of the students as they expressed their understanding of the various Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a digital form. The participating schools include Akande Dahunsi Memorial Junior High School, Dowen College and Ephraim High School. Mr. Eze Obioma-Igwe of Dowen College Lagos came top in the competition. �&

Kings Of West And Central Africa Move Against Child Marriage And Female Genital Mutilation

Traditional and religious leaders in West and Central Africa have moved to end child marriageand female genital mutilation and other harmful practices in the region. “Weagree to break our silence by condemning totally, and standing against any formof violence. We adopt zero tolerance to these modern forms of slavery, brutalcrimes and inhuman indignities on our women.” They declared after a four-daydialogue on ending child marriage and female genital mutilation and otherharmful practices, organised by UN Women on 4 – 7 December 2018 in Lagos.

In a declaration jointly presented by the Emir Of Shonga, HRH Dr Haliru Yahaya and the Secretary General, National Alliance Of Traditional Authorities Of Congo (DRC), His Majesty Mfumu Difima (ROI KONGO), the traditional rulers committed to recognising 18 as the age of marriage and directing all customary courts to consider marriage below 18 as a crime and enforce such decisions.

“We recommend that measures are initiated to blacklist the perpetrators, fight impunity in our communities and ensure access to justice, enforcement of the rule of law and punishment of perpetrators of this crime.” They added.

In her opening remarks, the UN Women Regional Director, Dr Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, said the UN would continue to provide all the technical support needed to end child marriage and female genital mutilation in Africa. She urged the traditional rulers to make definite pronouncement against child marriage and female genital mutilation as their voice could end these harmful practices.

Mr. Edward Kallon, the UN Resident Coordinator-Nigeria, in his address noted that Girls and Women across all African countries experience child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other harmful cultural practices. Some of the implications of these practices include lack of access to education and sexual/reproductive health, unemployment and death.

He highlighted and commended the efforts of the UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF in their investment towards #EndingChildMarriage in Africa, while encouraging traditional and religious leaders to remain committed in supporting the UN and other stakeholders in order to end the menace around the world.

The UN InformationCentre (UNIC) Lagos provided communication support to the conference.