The announcement of the appointment of Mrs. Amina Mohammed, Nigeria’s Environment Minister, as the new Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations is a most welcome development in view of bleak opportunities and bad news all round Nigeria. At a different period, today Nigeria will be in a celebratory mood, however, all nagging issues have piled to deny us this warming event. Mohammed was named into the No. 2 office on December 15 by Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of UN. Her appointment to the exalted office represents victory for competence and hard work as well as breakthrough for the womenfolk and the country in general. This is coming after she served meritoriously as the Special Adviser to the out-going secretary general.
Hear Guterres while announcing her appointment: “This is a time to actualise women’s representation in leadership positions and, indeed, in all walks of life.” Mohammed’s appointment did not come out of the blues. Prior to her appointment as the Environment Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari in late 2015, she was a senior Advisor to Ban ki-Moon, on Post-2015 Development Planning. In that office which she was appointed to in 2012, Mohammed served as the vital link between the Secretary-General, the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) and the General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG). She had also served Nigeria’s three previous presidents in various capacities, before capping it off as a Senior Special Assistant on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Let’s go back to early 2000, in 2002 to 2005, Mohammed coordinated the Task Force on Gender and Education for the UN Millennium Project. Her rich pedigree covers academics, as well as business and public sector consulting. She has worked as an Adjunct Professor for the Master’s in Development Practice programme at the Columbia University in the USA. She has also worked as Founder and Executive Director of Afri-Projects Consortium and as Founder and CEO of Centre for Development Policy Solutions.
In all of these previous positions, she performed creditably to the admiration of her principals, other stakeholders and the general public. She did not betray the confidence reposed in her. In her present position, she is highly regarded and seen as a high performer among ministers. Not just that, she exudes confidence and has a natural understanding of what the issues are in her ministry. She has shown and pushed the administration towards taking positions on global climatic issues. At home, no one would easily forget the competence, zeal and single-mindedness she brought to the Ogoni Clean-up exercise – a challenge which had dogged several successive administrations and for which the country has got very poor reputation around the world.
Her departure from the cabinet sometime in March 2017, therefore, is going to be a huge loss for the Buhari administration and the country at large. However, we are comforted by the fact that she’s going to a higher platform from where her service will be felt by all of the world’s eight billion people. The importance of the UN in ensuring global order and peace cannot be overstated. We are glad that Mohammed is returning to the organisation of such global significance where she had served so creditably in the past, to fly the country’s flag.
Mohammed is one of three women specially targeted for high and strategic offices at the United Nations. The others are the Brazilian, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti who was appointed as Chief of Staff to the UN Secretary-General and Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea, who was appointed to the new office of Special Adviser on Policy. It was not an accident.
We are very proud of the global recognition that has trailed Mrs. Mohammed. More importantly we are elated and proud that her appointment will no doubt rub-off on us as Nigerians. She has brought honour to us and we hereby congratulate her. We believe that with her recent elevation, gender matters, especially those of women and children, would get a new boost at the highest levels of the apex world organisation. Having been found worthy for the high office, we urge Mrs. Mohammed to do her best to justify the confidence reposed in her by the international organisation.