EU-UN Spotlight Team Begins Implementation Workshop to End Violence Against Women and Girls

The European Union – EU and the United Nations (UN) in Nigeria on 26 May 2019, kick-started the implementation of the EU-UN Joint Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, with an Inception Workshop held at Sokoto, North-West Nigeria. The team was received on arrival by the Governor of Sokoto State, H.E. Aminu Tambuwal at the Government House, who noted that the State would continue to key into the development initiatives of the EU and the UN in Nigeria.

Declaring the workshop open on 27 May 2019, the Governor expressed his delight at the inclusion of the State amongst the 5 selected for the Spotlight project. Represented by his Deputy, Hon. Maniru Muhammad Dan’iya, the Governor acknowledged that the Spotlight Initiative project inception workshop was critical as it would enhance the engagement of all stakeholders in Sokoto State.

Addressing the participants, the Head of the UN Nigeria delegation to the State, Mr Kwasi Amankwaah, explained that the EU-UN Joint Spotlight Initiative was a global, unique, multiyear initiative focussed on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. The Civil Society, according to him, were expected to play a more active role in the spirit of leaving no one behind.

The initiative, he added, would engage community-based, grassroots CSOs across Nigeria. UNDP in Nigeria, UN Women Nigeria, UNFPA Nigeria, UNICEF Nigeria and UNESCO Regional Office Abuja are working with the European Union in Nigeria, Government and Civil Society partners on the Spotlight Initiative.

Urgent Efforts Needed To Protect Bees – Amina Muhammed

Amina New DSG Portrait

“Urgent and wide-ranging efforts are needed to protect bees across wild, agricultural and urban habitats,” said the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Muhammed in her message on World Bee Day commemorated every 20 May.

The Deputy Secretary General observed that the decline and disappearance of bees and wild insects would have drastic consequences for global ecosystems and human well-being. “Bees are clearly crucial for our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet populations of bees and other pollinators have decreased significantly. Intensive agriculture and pesticide use are placing bees in ever greater danger. Bees are being exposed to new diseases and pests.” She explained, “Our non-governmental organizations, as well as beekeepers’ associations, research organizations and academia, have a key role to play.

Drawing a parallel with UN field staff, the Deputy Secretary General acknowledged that bees were among the hardest working creatures on the planet. “I would say, much like our UN staff we have in the field, peacekeeping and humanitarian.” She noted.

Muhammed therefore called on everyone to work together to ensure that these hard-working creatures could thrive so that the ecosystems and humans that depend on them could do the same—today and for future generations.

To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the United Nations designated 20 May as World Bee Day. 20 May coincides with the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia and praised the bees for their ability to work so hard, while needing so little attention.

 

Defend the Rights of Journalists – Guterres

Defend the Rights of Journalists – Guterres Urges Everyone

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on everyone to defend the rights of journalists whose efforts ‘help us to build a better world for all’. He said in his message on World Press Freedom Day presented by the Director of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja at the observance organised by UNIC and the Centre of Excellence, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos on Friday, 3 May 2019 in Lagos.

The Secretary-General observed a growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity which according to UNESCO led to the death of 100 journalists and hundreds imprisoned in 2018. “When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.” Guterres noted, “A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights. No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information.”

Mr Kayanja had before presenting the message of the Secretary General appealed to the Nigerian press to shun avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes about Nigeria but rather look for something good and positive to report about Nigeria. According to him, there were many rumours and unsubstantiated reports on the social media concerning the situation of things in Nigeria which unfortunately also found their way into the mainstream media. “Nigeria is a great country. Things are not as bad in Nigeria as portrayed by the Nigeria press.” He added.

The Chairman of the event, Professor Ralph Akinfeleye, called on the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigerian Union of Journalists to rise up to their responsibilities, regulate their ranks and clean up the journalistic space which he observed had been contaminated. Prof Akinfeleye called for a socially responsible free press in deepening democracy and strengthening professionalism.

The Keynote Speaker and Senior Fellow, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Dr Fassy Yusuf, called on media practitioners to eschew corruption, disinformation and misinformation. “The Nigerian media should eschew corruption, tinted and fake news and other unethical practices for it to live up to its billing as the fourth estate of the realm.” He said, “If the media is to play a pivotal role in deepening and sustaining democracy, it must be socially responsible while its freedom should be non-negotiable”.

Earlier, the HoD Mass Communication, UNILAG, Prof Abigail Ogwezzy Ndisika, had urged the media to be responsible  and patriotic in their reporting.

This year’s theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” discusses current challenges faced by media in elections, along with the media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes.

140 NIGERIAN BLUE HELMETS AWARDED UNITED NATIONS MEDAL

140 Nigerian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) were awarded the United Nations medal on 18 April.

The Deputy Chief of the United Nations Police Component (UNPOL), Brigadier General Jean François VOILLOT, presided over the ceremony that was held in the historic city of Timbuktu. 

The medal recipients, including 40 women, were members of the Nigerian Formed Police Unit (FPU). 

The UN medal rewards the courage and commitment of peacekeepers who have spent 90 days in MINUSMA, particularly in northern Mali, in the service of peace.

Given the current context of the region, and in accordance with its mandate, this unit of the UN Police conducts daily, long and medium range patrols with the Malian Defense and Security Forces (FDSM), including the Police and the Gendarmerie, in the city of Timbuktu and the surrounding villages. It conducts escorts and security operations allowing people to go about their business in serenity.

UNPOL Deputy Chief Voillot congratulated the recipients for the professionalism that allowed them to honorably perform their missions with determination and integrity “You will receive the UN medal which is both a testimony and a mark of recognition of the international community for your participation in the efforts and work done for the stabilization and maintenance of peace in Mali,” he said.

The ceremony was held at the UN Mission Integrated Camp, in the presence of Acting Head of Office Mamane Sani Moussa, UN Force Commander for Sector West, UNPOL Regional Commander Colonel Chérif Sami, representatives of the local and administrative authorities of Timbuktu and Taoudeni, as well as the hierarchy of the Defense and Security Forces of Mali (FDSM).

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.