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Guterres sworn in as UN scribe amid Mohammed uncertainty

Antonio Guterres was on Monday, December 12 2016 sworn in as the ninth and next UN Secretary-General, but there are uncertainties concerning his deputy.

Antonio Guterres addresses the UN after the oath-taking ceremony
Antonio Guterres addresses the UN after the oath-taking ceremony

There have of recent been unconfirmed media reports that Amina Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, has been appointed as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

In fact, social and traditional media outfits had reported widely that Mrs Mohammed is set to be appointed UN Deputy Secretary-General.

A tweet by Pamela Falk, CBS news reporter for the United Nations, obtained by NAN, said that the world body would soon release a statement confirming the appointment of the Nigerian Minister of Environment.

She is expected to be deputy to Antonio Guterres, who will assume office as UN Secretary-General on Jan. 1, 2017.

Mohammed was appointed Minister of Environment by President Muhammadu Buhari in Nov. 2015.

Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed, briefing the press in Abuja recently
Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed, briefing the press in Abuja recently

But, in a tweet on Sunday in Abuja, Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, assured that Nigerians would be fully informed on any development concerning the matter.

He said: “There is a lot of exuberance on the net concerning a UN job for Mrs Amina Mohammed. She remains our Minister of Environment.

“If there is anything on this that is released officially, we will let Nigerians know. I am pleased to know that she enjoys so much goodwill.”

Mohammed was recently appointed by President Buhari to serve in the African Union (AU) Reform Steering Committee as Nigeria’s Representative.

Mohammed, who hails from Gombe State in North-East, had formerly served as adviser to the outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Guterres on Monday pledged to carry out a far-reaching reform of the global organisation to make it effective and efficient in its response to global challenges. Guterres, in his remarks after taking the oath of office, said he would reposition development at the centre of the UN’s work and ensure that the UN can change to effectively meet the myriad challenges facing the international community.

“The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective. It must focus more on delivery and less on process; more on people and less on bureaucracy.

“The United Nations was born from war. Today, we must be here for peace,” Guterres said after taking the oath of office at a ceremony before the 193-member UN General Assembly.

The incoming UN secretary-general noted that addressing root causes, cutting across all three pillars of the UN – peace and security, sustainable development and human rights – must be a priority for the organisation.

Guterres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, would replace Ban Ki-moon from Jan. 1, 2017.

Ban will step down on Dec. 31, 2016 after leading the global organisation for the past 10 years. The incoming scribe was formally appointed by the General Assembly on Oct. 13, 2016 in what was the culmination of a historic process, which member States set in motion late last year.

The selection of a new UN Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, for the first time in history, involved public discussions with each candidate vying for the leadership position.

Monday’s ceremony opened with the General Assembly paying tribute to the outgoing secretary-general for his contribution to the work of the UN since Jan. 1, 2006.

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