Mohammed, UN deputy scribe, tasks Africa on Boko Haram, conflicts

Women, children paying ‘stark cost’ of conflict in Africa’s Sahel – Mohammed
United Bank for Africa

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, has challenged Nigeria and African countries to learn from the lessons of the Boko Haram insurgency and other violent conflicts ravaging the continent.

Mohammed, who made the remarks at a “special honorary dinner” organised in her honour by Nigerian women at the Nigeria House in New York, expressed regrets that the gains of peace were becoming easily lost on the continent.

“We know today that often in Africa, we very quickly might get the gains of peace as we did in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, but they are so quickly lost because we do not invest in the thereafter.

“So the lessons learnt is that as we recover from Boko Haram in the Northeast of Nigeria; let us not forget that we need investment 24-seven in large amount for many years to come.

“This is because the destruction there is not just goods and lives; it is living in the lives of the girls and women who have come back from their horrors and that will take a generation to get back,” she said.

She said that the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, had given her some clear-cut responsibilities geared toward making the world better for humanity.

Mohammed said: “The Secretary-General of the United Nations is committed to gender parity, he started it in his office and he hopes to do that by the end of his term.

“He has committed to seeing an end to sexual exploitation and abuse and it starts with the United Nations itself.

“But he has also given me a mandate to implement the 2030 agenda, the 17 SDGs, to do the climate agenda, to address migration, to take the leadership in the reform of the United Nations system and also to look into the humanitarian issues that are needed if we are to recover from the conflicts that we come out of.’’

Mohammed said she accepted her new role so as to serve humanity with Guterres, adding “it really is an honour to have got this, it is humbling, it is a privilege, there are so many expectations of the secretary-general and myself.’’

“When I asked him why he took the job, he said it was a moral imperative.

“So when he asked me to join, of course, after the nod in the right direction of President Muhammadu Buhari, of course, it must be taken because we have a job to do.

“The world is not in a good shape. As we look around, left, right, centre, whether north or south, everywhere has lost the moral compass of what it should be doing for humanity.

“And when we sit at the United Nations, people are asking ‘so what are we going to do?’. So there are expectations of the United Nations, we are still needed in the world today.

“But the real challenge is to make us more relevant so that on the ground we can make the difference.

“We can be those that speak with courage of our convictions, with truth to power, don’t know religion or culture, just know human beings especially our women and girls and that we can shout at the top of our voices for the rights of everyone,’’ she added.

She challenged Nigeria and Africa to invest in women and girls saying “I know in my country, we say the greatest asset we have is human resources; we (women and girls) are 50 per cent.

“Nigeria is going to fly but we can’t fly on half a wing, so we must invest in the two wings and other wings that we don’t have investment in is that one that affects women and girls in my country.

“But we are not alone. This is around the world, you will see some that are far worse off than we are and some that have made great progress that show us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“What it does say is that women must gather together, we must grow stronger in our diversity.

“We must link our hands, we must get through the Commission on Status of Women with a will to see the outcome that gives ambition to our rights and our aspirations,’’ she said.

The UN deputy scribe regretted that “there are women dying in childbirth, those women not going to school and those still held by Boko Haram waiting for someone to do something about it.’’

She said every time women gather, it should be with the intention of setting free women and girls.