The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, has asked older Nigerians to pave the way for the youth by creating leadership opportunities for them.
Mohammed, who stated this at a Cultural Night organised by Nigerians working at the United Nations System, urged older Nigerians to stop competing with the younger ones for employment opportunities.
“Whenever there are opportunities, try and pave the way for the young ones; you are getting old and we want to see the young ones in the system.
“We need to give the youth the opportunity because if we don’t give them the opportunities, they can easily fall victims of crimes,” she said.
According to her, the Nigerian employees at the UN system are getting old and there is the need for the Nigerian youth to be allowed to come into the system.
Mohammed has repeatedly stressed the need for Nigeria to create opportunities for its burgeoning youth population at the UN System through the Junior Professional Officers’ (JPO) Programme, including internship for young Nigerian graduates.
According to her, Nigeria has the opportunity to sponsor its youth for UN careers through the JPO.
But Nigeria has not seized the opportunity in a long while, she noted.
JPO is a programme for the young people to come and grow their career at the UN and it has 37 positions for Nigeria – one for each of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.
The JPO programme provides young professionals with hands-on experience in multilateral technical co-operation, and is one of the best ways to gain entry level positions within the UN system.
JPOs are sponsored by their own government, which fund their placement in one of a range of UN organisations.
“Home really does need us; there are leaders and we are trying with the professionals that we see in the United Nations.
“The work we need to do is not just to the world but also to remember that at the root of all that, you are only as good as where you come from.
“And it’s really important that we remember, with what we do here, what we can get back home, that we can encourage those at home, and inspire them.
“It’s not just what we do for the world but can’t we take those expertise back home? Amina said, urging them to make the best use of every opportunity they got.
She condemned what she termed alarming gender-based violence in Nigeria, saying it has increased in dimensions that one could never imagine.
“So when I look back home and I see that there are women that are coming back from Boko Haram captivity, they come back with a type of violence that many, for the rest of their lives, can’t recover from.
“But I also see that what is worse is the kind of violence that is visited upon the young girl. She is indoctrinated and convinced to tie a bomb around her and blow it off; that’s violence against girls; that’s violence against women.
“But what I wanted to say was that as we look at the gender-based violence initiative that we put a spotlight on our own nation; we all have a part to play.
“I know we would spend some money in Nigeria on this initiative but we all have a part to play individually and collectively in trying to bring it to zero,” she said.
Mohammed also lamented how girls were left behind in education, stressing that everyone needs to have an education – the boys and the girls.
“The boys we didn’t educate are the same ones that kidnap the girls that we educated.
“So education for everyone is exposure for everyone; it matters so much; it really does give us the basis, the moral compass to help us navigate through life.”
Nigeria’s Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Samson Itegboje, commended the Nigerians in the UN and particularly lauded the appointment of Mohammed as the UN Deputy Chief.
Itegboje said Nigeria was proud of Mohammed, describing her as an “ultimate authority and a reference point when it comes to Sustainable Development Goals’ issues”.
The Nigerian envoy said: “Nigeria is a great country; we are a happy people, you can’t take that away from us; we have gone through difficult times but we are happy that we have a government that is responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of dear people of Nigeria”.
Col. Jolly Abu (rtd), President, United Nations Staff Recreation Club Nigeria Association, said the cultural night was organised to showcase Nigeria’s culture.
According to him, the Nigerians in the UN are very proud of their culture adding, it is also for them to mingle, rekindle and renew their bonds.
“The UN encourages that we should meet and foster unity among ourselves and also enjoy ourselves; so that’s what we’re doing,” Abu said.
Amb. Audu Kadiri, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN Office and Other International Organisations in Geneva and Nicholas Ella, acting Consul-General in New York also attended the event.
By Prudence Arobani