Peace Mission House: Between The First Lady And The Law Makers
By Pat Elo
The Senate last week at its plenary session rejected the appropriation of the sum of N4 billion budgeted for the construction of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) permanent secretariat in Abuja.
The law makers recommended that the funds earmarked for the secretariat should instead, be diverted to other developmental projects in satellite towns in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
I am a taxpaying Nigerian who feels that the distinguished law makers displayed an error in their judgment by not approving the funds appropriated for the AFLPM permanent secretariat. If the senators had probed more and looked at the bigger picture they might not have arrived at their decision. This is because hosting rights is an honour sought by many but granted to a few. Nigeria was given the right to host the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) permanent secretariat on a platter of gold and we wasted the valuable opportunity to deliver.
Let me elaborate further. If a nation wants an international organization to locate its headquarter building or secretariat in its own country, officials of that country will normally have to lobby, woo, fight tooth-and-nail or persuade member countries of the organization that their country is indeed suited for the privilege of the hosting right. To host the edifice of an international organization is really a big honour. This is well known and can be attested to, especially among the diplomatic community.
The reason for this is not just because of the prestige conferred on that country by hosting the international edifice, but also because of the economic benefits, that accrue greatly to the country through employment, endorsements and tourism amongst others.
The United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York, the UNESCO building in Paris; the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa and the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja are just examples of buildings that employ hundreds of personnel; annually attract tourists for sight-seeing; host delegates for conferences; generates much needed foreign exchange for the hosting country and adorn the skyline as impressive landmarks in the cities where they are situated.
If the FCT, in its wisdom, appropriated funds for the construction of a permanent secretariat for the African First Ladies Peace Mission in its territory, it means that it is aware of the socio-economic and diplomatic importance of having such a building in Abuja – a point that may have escaped the reckoning of the lawmakers.
When the peace mission house is built, the edifice will naturally improve the aesthetics of the Abuja skyline. It will also attract international figures from the African continent and beyond to attend the organization's summits and other meeting. The African First Ladies Peace Mission secretariat would be an edifice which represents peace in our nation and on our continent. Nigeria would have been proud and honoured to host such a building on its shores, especially because of the quality of work it will be undertaking to promote peace, which hopefully will become a reference point.
I hope that the First Lady or the FCT will not be discouraged by the action of the Senators and will continue to press for a befitting AFLPM building in the Federal Capital Territory.
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who is the President of the African First Ladies Peace Mission, who is known for her principle and strength of character must continue to forge on with her good work.
Many diplomatic analysts are in firm support of Nigeria hosting the Peace Mission and attest to the First Lady's leadership of the Organization as placing Nigeria at a vantage in international diplomacy, especially on the African continent.
I hope that the Senators will in future appreciate the importance of having an African First Ladies Peace Mission in Abuja.
Well done to the First Lady for her continuous support of the cause of women and peace in Nigeria and in Africa.
*Pat Elo is a teacher of international studies and wrote from Lago