UN SCRIBE STILL EAGER TO VISIT NIGERIA
After two cancellations of his proposed trip, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said he is still eager to visit Nigeria before the end of the year.
Ban wrapped up his second trip to Africa with visits to Sierra Leone, South Africa, Burundi and Cameroon. Nigeria had been listed as one of the African countries to be visited but it was later cancelled indefinitely.
Responding to a question from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at a news conference with UN correspondents at the weekend the first after his return from Africa, the secretary-general said visiting Nigeria was still a “priority'' on his agenda.
'Because of some conflicting schedules between President Goodluck Jonathan and myself, we agreed to postpone it to a later stage. I met President Jonathan in South Africa on the occasion of the World Cup and we agreed that we would discuss a mutually convenient date.
'Cooperation and partnership with Nigeria is very important. so, I should be able to arrange my visit as soon as possible,'' he said. Ban said he would return to Africa within the month for visits to Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He described his last trip as 'very encouraging.''
The secretary-general said: “In every country I saw the continent's effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. “I saw countries making significant gains in consolidating peace and improving governance and preparing for presidential or legislative polls between now and 2012.
'And at the International Criminal Court Review Conference in Uganda, the parties to the Rome Statute made important progress in our fight against impunity and demonstrated that an era of accountability is dawning in Africa and everywhere.'' Commenting on the forthcoming G-20 summit in Toronto, Canada, Ban promised that the continent's needs and potential would be among its top priorities. He said the Toronto meeting must not settle for “an economic recovery that simply takes us back to pre-crisis conditions; we need to build back better''.
In a letter he wrote to the G-20 leaders, Ban emphasised the need for concerted efforts in three specific areas. These are inclusive growth, including a priority on job creation and decent work; green growth, powering prosperity through environment-friendly technologies and, lastly, growth that promotes healthy populations.
On the latter, he explained that he would call on the G-20 to invest in stronger health systems, including the vital issue of maternal and child health. The meeting of the G-20, which includes both developed and developing economies such as Russia, China and Argentina, will hold on June 26 and end on June 27.