The Secretary-General Remarks at Dialogue with Nigerian State Governors – Abuja, 23 August 2015

24 August 2015 | Press Releases, Secretary-General message

I am so pleased to begin my visit to Nigeria with you – and it is fitting that I do so. I strongly believe a more prosperous, democratic and secure Nigeria begins with you.

I would like to thank the Governor of Kaduna State for hosting this opportunity to discuss your aspirations for change in Nigeria.

Governors play a fundamental role in the future of this country, the region, the continent – and, indeed, our world. You are among the closest to the people.

You understand their challenges and aspirations. You have the resources and the power to help the people of Nigeria realize the tremendous promise of this great country – on education, on health care, on women’s empowerment, on climate change, on governance, institution-building, security and on rights across the board.

I am here to listen and support you.

Nigeria occupies a central place in the family of nations. As I visit, Nigeria also happens to be serving as President of the Security Council for the month of August. This is yet another reminder of the weight of the regional and global responsibilities you bear.

I am here at a time of challenge – in Nigeria and beyond. Across our world, we see insecurity, inequality, growing divides. Here in Nigeria, you know the challenges all too well – including the rise of extremism and the lack of equal opportunity. I know this is a deep and vital challenge in particular for the Governors of the Northeast, including Borno State, and I commend the work and leadership of Governor Kashim Shettima who is with us. Allow me to also take the opportunity to express my sincere condolences on the passing of the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Zannah Umar Mustapha.

Honorable Governors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

This is also a time of hope. I want to commend you and all of Nigeria’s leaders for the peaceful democratic transition of power. Nigeria sent an important signal of hope throughout the continent.

This is also a moment of hope for the world, particularly in the field of development.

Last month, UN Member States met in Addis Ababa and agreed on a new financing for development plan: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Earlier this month, Member States reached agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A proud daughter of Nigeria helped shepherd this agreement to its inspiring conclusion — my special Advisor, Assistant Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.

The outcome document – “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – includes a bold new set of 17 goals – will be formally adopted by world leaders in New York in September.

In December, governments will meet in Paris to agree on a new far-reaching climate change agreement.

Together these three processes provide an opportunity to put the world on a sustainable pathway fostering human prosperity while protecting our planet.

Honorable Governors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Local governments have an important role to play in the implementation of the SDGs. Nigeria demonstrated this through its efforts on the MDGs through the Federal Government Conditonal Grants program to States and local governments.

Let me point to five essential ways that you can build on your advances and sustain that momentum.

First, the universal framework will have to be tailored to national circumstances to live up to its promise to be an agenda “of the people, for the people, and by the people” that leaves no one behind.

Sub-national and local governments will play a major role in the national tailoring process and in ensuring that this process is participatory and inclusive.

Second, we need to work together to establish a revitalized global partnership for development. Each of you is crucial for engaging local civil society organizations and the private sector in the implementation of the goals at local level.

Third, in a world of rising inequalities, sub-national and local governments can help ensure that the limited available funds are targeted at the most vulnerable and marginalized who are often hard to reach, in particular ensuring health, education, empowerment and equality for women and girls.

That leads to my fourth point – institutionalizing gender mainstreaming across all government ministries and bodies responsible for implementing agenda 2030, with effective means of implementation and capacities for monitoring progress.

I encourage you to implement national action plans and legislation on gender equality and take steps to enhance the political and judicial participation and representation of women at all levels.

Fifth, you can support the follow-up and review process by feeding inputs directly into the review and by helping to ensure the quality of data by investing in institutions and using big data to inform better planning and decision making.

Accurate data will also allow us to better respond to new and unforeseen challenges.

Honorable Governors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a crucial moment for Nigeria. You face many serious challenges, but you have also taken a hugely important step to move forward in a way that can respond to the aspirations of the country’s people.

I am eager to hear your views on how you think you can best achieve this universal and ambitious agenda. The United Nations stands ready to fully support you.

Thank you once again for this opportunity.