THE appointment of Mrs. Amina Mohammed, Nigeria’s Environment Minister, as the new Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations is welcome on many fronts. Mohammed was named into the No. 2 office on December 15 by Antonio Guterres, the in-coming Secretary-General of the world body. Her elevation to the exalted office represents victory for competence, hard work, the women folk and the country in general.
In announcing Mohammed for the office, Guterres said: “This is a time to actualise women’s representation in leadership positions and, indeed, in all walks of life.”
Mohammed’s appointment is not completely surprising. Before joining President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration last year, she was the Special Adviser to the outgoing UN Secretary-General, 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.
Between 2002 and 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 the present Buhari administration, she is generally perceived as one of the best performing ministers, who is at home with the issues under her purview and with her eyes firmly focused on the goal. 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 bad press both at home and abroad.
Her imminent departure from the cabinet, therefore, is going to be a huge loss for the Buhari administration and the country at large. We are, however, consoled that she is leaving for a bigger cause and higher service. 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.
Before Guiterres’ appointment as Secretary-General, there was a strong lobby that it was perhaps time for a woman to occupy the high office. But, it was not to be this time. With Mohammed’s appointment and the credible showing of the women who contested for the office, it is only a matter of time before the gender equality dream in the UN leadership is actualized.
We congratulate Mohammed on her well deserved appointment. We applaud the two other women for their own appointments too. They have been specially selected for their competence and, perhaps, to improve gender parity. The occasion and message must never be lost on them. We believe that with their recent elevation, gender matters, especially those of women and children, would get a new boost at the highest levels of the apex world organisation.
For Mohammed, it is a credit to our country that she has been found worthy of the high office and we urge her to do her utmost to justify the confidence reposed in her by the United Nations.