The Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, whose nomination as the United Nations Deputy Secretary General-designate was announced recently, got a lot of commendations from well-meaning Nigerians and well wishers for an honour well deserved at a farewell ceremony held in her honour in Lagos recently.
Eminent personalities who took turns to pay tribute to the environmentalist at the event organised by the Global Compact Network, Nigeria, included Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi; Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin; Minister Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba; Chairman, First Bank Holdings, Oba Otudeko; Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Bola Adesola, among others.
Describing her as one of the finest examples of patriotism, Amaechi revealed that the minister agonised before accepting the UN top job.
“Before it came to the public, what many people didn’t know was that it was a difficult decision for her to accept the job. It was a big test of her patriotism. She is one of the best models of patriotism. As an individual, those of us in the federal executive cabinet can tell you that Amina is such a wonderful person,” Amaechi said.
In her brief speech, Alhassan corroborated Amaechi’s statement while revealing how difficult a decision it was for the outgoing minister.
She described Mohammed as a “dedicated, hard working, honest person,” adding: “She has always been passionate about women advancement, women empowerment and gender affairs. She will always call me to say, ‘come let us collaborate to see what is good for Nigerian women. She’s my friend, my sister. I’m very happy for her and for Nigeria. She’s a good person and the world needs her.”
Acknowledging the tributes, Mohammed said choosing between Nigeria and the UN was probably one of the most difficult decisions of her life. She said: “I am so overwhelmed because I feel like I really love to work. It feels like an out-of-body experience. Government is a continuum. Everything that we do in government is aimed at building institutions. You are judged by what happens after you leave. I am very convinced that my copilot, the Minister of State, is going to carry the ministry to greater heights. We can do many things to help fulfill the president’s agenda.
Speaking further, UN Deputy Secretary General-elect, said on the Ogoni cleanup, “we have done more in the last 13 months than we have in the last 10 years. We want to use Ogoniland as the benchmark for how things should be done. We’ll take the lessons from Ogoniland to find a solution. Nigeria has a lot to share and I’ll share them with the rest of the world.”
Prior to her recent appointment, Mohammed was Special Adviser to then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, before President Muhammadu Buhari called on her to return home and serve her country as the Minister of Environment.