Nigeria Asked to Seized Critical Opportunities to Accelerate Sustainable Development

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Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa has tasked Nigeria to seize critical opportunities to accelerate sustainable development.

Eziakonwa made this call in Abuja during an interaction with journalists after concluding an eight-day official visit to Nigeria.

Eziakonwa, had during her visit met with President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, and other senior leaders at both Federal and State Government level, where he emphasized the importance of leveraging wealth creation through investing in women, youth, the creative industry and the private sector.

Starting with crossing the Cameroon-Nigerian border by foot into Borno State, she witnessed firsthand the impact the federal government and Borno State – led stabilization efforts have had on the most vulnerable people in north-east Nigeria – where she inaugurated infrastructure serving borderland communities in the Lake Chad Basin ( both in Cameroon and in Nigeria), such as a police station, barracks and new immigration and border control offices as well as housing for immigration officers.

Speaking on her experience during the visit, Eziakonwa said: “Stabilization efforts are working. I was in Banki less than a year ago and being there again last week I was struck by the transformation the town and people living there have undergone.”

She added: “Police and customs officers were proud to be back to serve people in the community, who, in turn, have expressed they now feel more secured. Through our joint stabilization work, we can reduce needs and strengthen support to humanitarian action.”

Eziakonwa, who met with President Buhari in Abuja to reinforce UNDP’s support to Nigeria’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and its plans to speed up sustainable development in the Decade of Action – focused on climate change, wealth creation, youth employment, and women’s participation in politics, said: “Nigerian authorities and people have immediately responded to the pandemic and we are proud to have supported the procurement of forty percent of the equipment needed for the response as a ‘One UN’ effort.”

She however said: “The pandemic is not over yet, and we must now redouble efforts to address the global inequality evident in vaccine famine. Vaccines must be available to all those who wish to take it.”

She commended the federal government for launching the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS), mandated to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years – emphasizing the fundamental role the private sector plays in Nigeria.

She had in Owerri, in partnership with both Imo and Abia State Governments, launched a socio-economic revitalization project to support 11,000 people across both regions to strengthen the economic capacities of communities affected by the pandemic, with support going to livelihoods support, business continuity, improving food security and social cohesion as well as support for start-ups companies.

She said: “What I have witnessed in Nigeria, and last week in Cameroon, is a dynamic Africa. Empowering people, particularly women and youth, facilitating their endeavors, and scaling up the transformative innovations they develop, is the only way to support Nigeria and its people in their unique development path towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.”