Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal government and UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations (UN) Programme on HIV/AIDS, have signed a cooperation agreement in Abuja.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, signed on behalf of the Federal government, while the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe, stood in for UNAIDS.
In his remarks, Onyeama said the cooperation agreement was a welcome development since it would enable the government to have a direct relationship with UNAIDS.
He said hitherto the signing of the agreement, UNAIDS had been under the umbrella of the larger UN body.
He expressed delight that UNAIDS and the government have been able to formalise the bilateral relationship to capture the cooperation of UNAIDS and the Federal government more directly within the framework.
“I think in recognition also of the status of your organisation, we are delighted to be able to formalise this bilateral relationship and to capture our cooperation more directly within that framework,” Onyeama said.
Responding, Sidibe said he was pleased to be in the ministry, particularly as the day witnessed the launch of the survey on HIV/AIDS by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sidibe added that the result of the survey was a transformative moment for Nigeria since the survey is the largest UNAIDS managed to have in the history of its response to HIV.
“This survey is good news. It shows clearly that we have lesser people affected with HIV; we have a lesser new infection, and we have lesser death due to HIV which is very, very important.
“And we want to really use this momentum to, of course, reinforce and strengthen and enhance our relationship with Nigeria because we know that with this data, we can be more focussed, we can really go to where the epidemic is; we can be more efficient in terms of utilisation of resources; we can have a better return on any dollar which will be invested in this fight.
“So, I can see clearly that one of the legacies of the president could be to end completely, the transmission from mother-to-child and to control this epidemic in this country. And if we control the epidemic in Nigeria and South Africa, we will be controlling completely the epidemic in this continent,” Sidibe said.
Sidibe added that the agreement was an important one which would never have happened if not for the commitment of Onyeama.
Sidibe also said that the agreement would assist UNAIDS and the Federal government to have better visibility and more credibility in their activities.