The appointment of Nigeria’s Minister of Environment Hajia Amina Mohammed as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) was a reward for excellence and a recognition of expertise, dedication and selfless service to humanity and the world. It was a big feather in Nigeria’s cap and a statement of confidence in the African continent as a whole. She was expected to assume duty on January 1, 2017 together with the new UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres.
Her appointment was received with great excitement by Nigerians who are very confident in her ability to do the job. Mrs Mohammed is not new to the UN or to international assignments. She served as Special Adviser to the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on post-2015 development goals. Before that, she became very well known in Nigeria when she served as Senior Special Assistant to former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Yar’adua on Millennium Development Goals. Even when no one believed the goals were achievable, she went about the task with great dedication and she managed to prod state and federal governments to make many strides towards achieving the MDGs.
In 2005 she was vested with the responsibility of coordinating Nigeria’s debt relief funds toward the achievement of MDGs. Prior to that she also coordinated the Task Force on Gender and Education for the UN Millennium Project in 2002-05. Little wonder therefore that accolades poured in from all quarters. President Muhammadu Buhari hailed her appointment as an honour to Nigeria. Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki and Governor of her home state of Gombe Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo warmly welcomed the appointment. Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i described her appointment as an “excellent choice” while the
National Council of Women Societies’ (NCWS) National President Mrs Gloria Shoda said her record of “impeccable and meritorious service to Nigeria and the United Nations stood her out.”
The post of UN Deputy Secretary General was created by the General Assembly in 1997 and was first held by Louise Frechette of Canada, who was deputy to Kofi Anan. Next came Mark Malloch Brown of the United Kingdom, followed by Mrs. Asha Rose Migiro of Tanzania and Jan Eliasson of Sweden. Mrs. Amina Mohammed is therefore the fifth deputy secretary general. One of her responsibilities is “to support the Secretary-General in ensuring inter-sectoral and inter-institutional coherence of activities and programmes and to support the Secretary-General in elevating the profile and leadership of the United Nations in the economic and social spheres, including further efforts to strengthen the United Nations as a leading centre for development policy and development assistance.”
This is an enormous task but we have no doubt that Amina Mohammed is up to it. Even though she performed all her previous assignments with zeal and expertise, the burden that now rests on her shoulders is more demanding and is probably the toughest that she has so far encountered. She hardly needs to be reminded that in this new job she is the ambassador of Nigeria, Africa, the Third World and women all rolled up together.
The UN has made many positive contributions in maintaining international peace and security, promoting cooperation among states and international development. As the world still faces major issues of peace and development, health, environment, security, economy and humanitarian issues, only by international cooperation can mankind meet these challenges. The United Nations can play a pivotal and positive role in this regard and strengthening its role in the new century and promoting the establishment of a just and reasonable international political and economic order goes along with the trend of history and is in the interest of all nations. We expect Hajiya Amina Mohammed to bring her wealth of experience to bear in this great new role. We wish her a successful and rewarding tenure.