United Nations day commemorated in grand style in Abuja
Resident Coordinator, Mr. Daouda Toure and staff members of the United Nations System in Nigeria commemorated the UN Day with a colourful parade and grand reception at the UN House in Abuja on Friday, 29 October 2010.
Among the dignitaries at the special event were the Nigerian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dein Ajumogobia, Professor Dorah Akunyili of Information and Communications, other senior Nigerian government officials, diplomats, representatives of international development agencies and civil society organizations.
In his welcome address, Mr. Toure congratulated the President and citizens of Nigeria on the country's 50th anniversary of independence and thanked the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs for ensuring that the event was a joint U N - Nigeria commemoration. The Resident Coordinator said "...today we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's membership in the UN and its immeasurable contributions to the organisation".
Mr. Toure also stated that Nigeria's membership in UN has been marked from its earliest days by her commitment to the organizations peacekeeping efforts. "Only a few months after its accession to the UN, Nigeria deployed a contingent of peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nigeria has not looked back since and has been a major contributor of peacekeeping forces from Bosnia to Cambodia, and particularly in Africa. There are over 6,000 Nigerian peacekeepers deployed around the world today".
In his speech at the event, the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs said the event was an opportunity for him to reiterate Nigeria's resolve and commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. Mr Ajumogobia disclosed that "...Nigeria has made much progress in some aspects of this very important endeavour", adding that "child and maternal mortality rates, for example, have been lowered and the national HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has dropped".
The honourable Minister also drew attention to "President Jonathan's consistent appeal to the United Nations to take firmer action to control the illicit trade in the proliferation of small arms and light weapons... giving their role in the exacerbation of crisis and conflicts in Africa"
Commenting on the on-going reform of the United Nations system, Mr. Ajumogobia said the exercise "...must be a priority for our esteemed organisation. A world in which the entire continents of Africa and South America representing close to 25% of the world's population are not represented in the permanent membership category of the Security Council is clearly undemocratic and contradicts a part of the UN's ethos in actively promoting democracy across the world".
The President of the Federation of United Nations Staff Association in Nigeria (FUNSAN), Ms. Uzoma Ihedirimadu-Abudu also spoke at the event.
A colourful guard of honour inspected by Messrs Toure, Ajumogobia and Professor Akunyili was mounted by Nigerian UN Peacekeepers, who also treated guests to a military demonstration parade at the special event, which opened with the hoisting of the UN and Nigerian flags by the Resident Coordinator and the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs.