Activities of Secretary-General in Nigeria, 22-24 May

31 May 2011

Activities of Secretary-General in Nigeria, 22-24 May

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Abuja, Nigeria, from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in the afternoon of Sunday, 22 May.

As soon as he arrived, the Secretary-General visited the Maitama General Hospital.  There, he said that 1,000 women die every day from complications from pregnancy and childbirth — the kinds of complications that can and should be dealt with in a hospital like that one.  This is truly unacceptable, he added, especially because most of these deaths can be easily prevented.  The Secretary-General explained that that was why the United Nations had launched the Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13588)

That evening, he attended a dinner hosted in his honour by President Goodluck Jonathan.  He also met with Attahiru Jega, Chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission.  The Secretary-General noted that national and international observers had declared these elections a significant improvement from past elections.  He also noted that some observers had raised concerns about a number of issues, and said he was confident that the Electoral Commission would look into these matters and address them promptly and transparently.

The next day, Monday, 23 May, the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Henry Odein Ajumogobia.  They discussed the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the role of the African Union in addressing the situation in Libya and Nigeria’s contribution to the Security Council.  In remarks to the press, the Secretary-General said he was there to discuss how the United Nations and Nigeria, as a regional leader in Africa and a global leader in diplomacy, could strengthen their partnership for peace, stability and development, and also for promoting human rights around the world.

The Secretary-General then had a meeting with the President Jonathan.  They discussed the partnership between the United Nations and Nigeria, and the country’s leadership and contribution to regional stability and development.  The Secretary-General commended the President for his role in resolving the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.  They discussed the deterioration of the security situation in Southern Sudan and the way forward towards its independence in July.  They also discussed the need for consensus with regard to the situation in Libya.

Later that morning, the Secretary-General addressed the Presidential Committee on the status of the Millennium Development Goals.  He told its members that improving women’s and children’s health was one of the keys to progress.  He said he was pleased that the Government was working to allocate a portion of its oil wealth to supporting health initiatives for women and children.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13590)

Talking to the press after the meeting, the Secretary-General said he was focusing his discussions with the leadership of Nigeria on how maternal mortality rate and child mortality rate could be reduced.  The General Assembly last year adopted a global strategy for women’s and children’s health.  He said he hoped that the strong leadership demonstrated by President Jonathan and relevant ministers, business communities and local leaders would be a good incentive for many African countries.

Later that afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the Dutse Makaranta Primary Health Care Centre, near Abuja.  He told the assembled crowd that, like them, he was born in a small village and that his mother gave birth to him almost alone.  He also said that his father had waited to record his birth, as is often done in countries where child mortality is high.  “Let us save our children.  Let us resolve ourselves, here in Nigeria, in this health-care [centre], to do all that we can,” he said.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13591)

That evening, the Secretary-General met with Victor Gbeho, President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, before attending a dinner gathering leaders of civil society and the private sector.  He said the private sector and civil society had a crucial role to play in delivering effective health care.  By working together — Governments, civil society, the private sector and the United Nations — there is little we cannot achieve, he added.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13592)

The next morning, Tuesday, 24 May, the Secretary-General addressed the Governor’s Forum of Nigeria.  On the recent elections, he told the Governors of several Nigerian states that he was aware that some observers and political parties have raised concerns.  He said he hoped that all electoral disputes would be addressed in a peaceful and transparent manner.  He also said he was deeply disturbed by the level of violence, particularly in the northern states, and concerned by the periodic ethnic and religious violence that affects parts of the country.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13593)

The Secretary-General left Abuja for Ethiopia later that morning.

For information media. Not an official record.