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Newly-elected Nigerian UN General Assembly President pledges focus on ‘peace, prosperity’ for most vulnerable

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The global reach of the United Nations makes it “the world’s best hope for peace and security, sustainable development and the promotion and protection of human rights and social progress”, said the top Nigerian diplomat who will be the next President of the General Assembly.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Nigeria’s current UN Permanent Representative, was elected to head the world body by acclamation on Tuesday in the General Assembly Hall in New York and will succeed Ecuador’s Maria Fernanda Espinosa.

“Peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion will constitute a major priority of my presidency”, said the Nigerian ambassador.

When he takes the reins at opening of the 74th session in September, he committed “to promoting partnerships that are needed from all stakeholders to achieve our objectives, and ultimately ensure that we do our best to ensure peace and prosperity, particularly, for the most vulnerable”.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande spoke about a number of September’s high-level events that will be convened at UN Headquarters in New York to support the Sustainable Development Agenda, including a High-Level Political Forum, the Climate Change Summit, the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, the High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage, as well as the high-level meeting to review progress made in addressing the priorities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

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“The promotion of human rights and the empowerment of women and youth deserve special attention, and I will be devoted to the promotion of gender parity throughout the whole UN system, starting from my own Office”, said the president-elect.

Noting that the 75th anniversary of the UN’s founding would be commemorated during his tenure, he called it “a unique opportunity for us to reduce the trust deficit between nations”.

To “achieve the visions of our founding fathers, we must ensure that indifference and cynicism does not creep into our Organization”, he asserted, saying that the 193-nation Assembly “must play its role in bridging the gaps and promoting collective action”.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande’s in-tray includes:
  • Promoting international peace and security, in particular, conflict prevention.
  • Strengthening global action to tackle climate change, which is integral to the effective implementation of the SDGs.
  • Accentuating inclusion, human rights, and the empowerment of youth and women, respectively.
  • Promoting partnerships for advancing the achievement of the SDGs, in particular Goals 1, 2 and 4 on poverty eradication, zero hunger and quality education, respectively.
He also highlighted that efforts must be maintained to strengthen the relationship between the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

“I will count on the support and solidarity of all Member States as well as the Secretariat”, he maintained, saying that he would use his office’s advocacy tools to promote multilateral approaches for “workable solutions” to pressing issues. “I will work with Member States on streamlining our work and improving the way we do business at the UN”, he added.

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Noting the growing number of events, which may risk undermining genuine dialogue and over-stretching delegations, he assured “I will work with you all on appropriate solutions, as I believe we must make the UN more efficient, effective and accountable to the people we serve”.

President-elect offers ‘invaluable insights’ – Guterres

In his remarks, Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated Mr. Muhammad-Bande and noted some of the “many important and admirable qualifications” he brings to the office.

He cited the president-elect’s tenure as Nigeria’s UN Ambassador; his expertise in political science and public administration; and the “invaluable insights” he has into Africa’s challenges and world affairs in general, particularly regarding the Organization’s peace and security work, sustainable development and human rights.

The UN chief said that “as we gear up to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations”, he hopes to use the occasion “to reaffirm the value of international cooperation and the vision of the Charter”.

Mr. Guterres also commended the current Assembly President, María Fernanda Espinosa for her “outstanding work”, saying “I am most grateful for her support for United Nations reform and her overall stewardship of this body”.

The Secretary-General concluded by offering the president-elect his support “as we strive to reach our shared goals and uphold universal values”

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Nigerian physician, Funsho named one of TIME’s most influential people in the world

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TIME named Nigerian physician, Dr. Tunji Funsho to the 2020 TIME100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

Dr. Funsho, a cardiologist based in Lagos, Nigeria, is the first Rotary member to receive this honor for the organization’s work to eradicate polio, having played an essential role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August of 2020.

“I’m honored to be recognized by TIME for my part in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralyzed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year,” said Dr. Funsho. “Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio.”

As the leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, Funsho has worked alongside Rotary members throughout the country to raise awareness about the importance of polio immunization, encouraged governments and public figures to support polio eradication, and served as a vocal leader and advocate for Rotary’s fight to end polio in Africa.

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Dr. Funsho works closely with Rotary’s partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI): the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. As a member of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Polio, he has coordinated immunization and advocacy campaigns with the Minister of State for Health and the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee for Polio Eradication. He has also worked closely with the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, the Dangote Foundation, the Traditional Leaders Council and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria.

In August 2019, Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus. Nigeria’s progress, led by Rotary, its GPEI partners and local and national governments, was the result of decades of sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of hundreds of thousands of health workers, and innovative strategies to immunize children who previously couldn’t be reached due to insecurity in the country’s northern states.

On 25 August, the African region was certified wild polio-free. This historic announcement means that five of the WHO’s six regions, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s population, are now free of the wild poliovirus. The virus is now endemic in just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Rotary’s nearly 32,000 members in Africa have played a critical role in helping the region achieve its wild polio-free status by holding events to raise funds and awareness for polio, and working with world governments and national and local leaders to secure funding and support for polio eradication.

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Lagos govt. approves full reopening of churches, mosques

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The Lagos state government on Saturday approved the full reopening of worship centres in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who announced this during a briefing in the state said churches are now allowed to observe their mid-week services, while the mosques are also allowed to carry out their five times a day prayer routine, with strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must, therefore, strive to prioritize the safety of all our children, teachers, parents, and the entire society,” the governor said.

Before now, the state had allowed for a gradual re-opening of places of worship as lockdowns eased.

With the full re-opening now, the governor has urged Lagosians to continue to act responsibly and maintain the required levels of hygiene.

Some other parts of the world have witnessed a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and rising possibilities of “hard lockdowns”, which according to Governor Sanwo-Olu may become inevitable for Nigerians if caution is not applied.

“Let me make it clear that if we do not continue to maintain our guard, and sustain the adherence to all required protocols and guidelines, we will find ourselves in a situation where fresh lockdowns are inevitable,” he warned.

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“The only way to avoid this is to continue to act responsibly: maintain the required levels of hygiene, through regular handwashing and use of sanitizers, wear masks in all public places, avoid non-essential public gatherings, and maintain the prescribed levels of physical distancing at all times”.

The total infections in the country have now risen to 56,956, with 48,305 patients recovered and 1,094 deaths recorded.

At the onset of the virus in Nigeria, Lagos became the epicenter, gapping other states with its case load despite frantic efforts to curb the spread.

However, in recent times, other states such as Plateau have started to witness a surge with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 stating that it might become the new epicenter in the country.

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Photos: Oyo deputy gov. donates patrol motorcycles to security operatives

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The deputy governor of Oyo state, Engr. Raufu Olaniyan on Friday made a personal donation of patrol motorcycles to security operatives in Oke Ogun area of the state to boost their role of ensuring the safety of lives and properties.

Speaking at the event, Olaniyan noted  that Security is one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration headed by Governor Seyi Makinde, adding that the government has invested massively to provide facilities and equipment for security operatives in the state to perform their roles.

Speaking further, the deputy governor remarked that ” In the light of the security challenges in the country, it is imperative that we support the government in tackling this malady. It was therefore a delight for me to donate patrol motorcycles, from my purse, to the various security outfits operating in the Oke Ogun area of our state.”

He stressed that security matters should be the responsibility of all and not the government alone.

Olaniyan, however , urged well meaning individuals and lovers of peace to support the government in creating a safe and conducive environment for growth.

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