23 May 2011

Opening remarks at joint press stakeout with Foreign Minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia of Nigeria after meeting of Presidential Committee on the Status of the MDGs

Ban Ki-moon

Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister, for your kind introduction. I would like to, first of all, thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his warm hospitality and leadership.

I have just attended this very important Presidential Committee on MDGs together with cabinet ministers and civil society representatives. This is a very important initiative and leadership.

I believe that with such strong political leadership demonstrated by President Jonathan and supported by the international community for robust support and full participation of civil society communities, the MDG target by 2015 can be met. This is exactly what I had been urging world leaders, to show such leadership.

I am here to discuss how the United Nations and Nigeria can further strengthen our traditional partnerships. Since the admission of Nigeria into the United Nations half a century ago, Nigeria has been a steady and strong partner of the United Nations. Just weeks after your independence, you have dispatched your men and women to the Congo, as a member of the peacekeepers. Now you are the fourth largest troop and police contributing country, starting with Darfur and UNMIS - nine different areas where your men and women are contributing to the peace and stability of the world. I deeply appreciate this.

You have sent many distinguished Nigerian leaders – Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, who is now working as a UN/AU Joint Special Representative in Darfur; and Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the newly-elected Director of the UNFPA [UN Population Fund]. We have Maj. Gen. Moses Bisong Obi as Force Commander in UNMIS, the Sudan. And just a few days ago I have appointed Ms. Margaret Vogt as my Special Representative in Central African Republic. These are some of your very distinguished citizens, where they are showing excellent leadership and participation. I hope this will continue from your side.

This time I am focussing much more my time and discussions with the leadership of Nigeria on how this 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. We have to prevent all these women and children from dying needlessly from preventable diseases. I was very impressed by what I have seen in Maitama General Hospital, and I am going to visit a health care centre right after this press conference. I sincerely hope that with such a strong leadership role demonstrated by President Jonathan and relevant ministers and business communities and local leaders will really be a good incentive to many countries in the African continent.

I highly commend such leadership and vision to have this health care bill passed at the National Assembly. This is again a very important initiative by the Government.

I am very happy to be in Nigeria, even though I have not yet finished my programme here. I am very satisfied, and I sincerely hope that Nigeria will continue much greater leadership as has been shown in Côte d'Ivoire, as President of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], continuing leadership role in the region and in the world. Again, thank you very much, Mr. Foreign Minister. Thank you very much, Ladies and Gentlemen.