…Advises FG to complement force with dialogue
…Says pandemic opportunity to strengthen health institutions
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The United NATION, UN, Monday said that it invests an average of $1.5 billion annually to support the humanitarian and development efforts of the federal government.
The UN also said that Nigeria should see the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen its health institutions, urging government to put, in action, bold and effective changes to restructure and reform government health institutions.
This is as the world body said that the nature of security challenges in the country has made things difficult to resolve them, adding that the government needs to complement the use of military force with a robust dialogue mechanism in crises areas
The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, stated this after leading the world body’s delegation for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Kallon, accompanied by other UN delegation said that the UN provides the support even though it is not a financial institution.
The UN representative emphasized that humanitarian problem in the north east does not have a humanitarian solution and therefore, noted that only peace and preventive measures can solve the problem.
He, however observed that the typologies of the different insecurity challenges in the country make them difficult to resolve, saying that government needs to complement the use of military force with a robust dialogue mechanism in crises areas.
According to him, “From our global experience, there are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian problems. The only solution to the conflict in northeast
Nigeria is peace and we must prioritize prevention, development where feasible and humanitarian assistance when needed to find lasting and durable solutions.
“The affected people especially the 1.2 million IDPs and over 293,000 refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon must be supported in every way possible to improve IDP sites and shelter, basic services, protection and decongestion and dignified voluntary return to places they will have access to basic services and security.
“There is an urgent need to look at the issue of outstanding Tripartite Agreements with the Nigerian-Refugee Hosting countries and develop a National Framework to guide action on IDPs at state level in line with protocols agreed at the Kampala Convention.”
Highlighting the need for dialogue and a political process to complement the military efforts in the new national security strategy, he assured that UN can tap into its deep reservoir of expertise, both in human and material resources to put at the disposal of Nigeria.
He said: “We have multi-faceted security problems with each problem requiring a unique set of innovative solutions from identity-based conflict to resource-based conflict and power-based conflict. One size will not fit all.”
Speaking on the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, he said that it has underscored the need for a strengthened and renewed multilateralism.
He said, “Multilateralism built on trust, inclusive and networked with stronger institutional links and based on international law with an overarching goal of peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.”
Kallon said Nigeria should see the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen its health institutions, urging government to put, in action, bold and effective changes to restructure and reform government health institutions.
Kallon stated: “The system of financing health, the coordination between federal and state structures, the rebuilding of quality health centers that are staffed by trained health workers with appropriate supplies are the challenges critical to building a primary health care system capable of sustaining Universal Health Coverage in all aspects of health care and need a renewed focus from leadership coupled with strengthened partnerships.
“I would recommend you request your government to put into action bold and effective changes to restructure and reform the Government health institutions to improve efficiency and cooperation across the board.
“The United Nations is Nigeria’s first partner in this challenge, and we are ready to do our part.”
While noting that COVID-19 has been likened to an x-ray that has revealed fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies, he pointed out that the pandemic has laid bare risks including inadequate health systems, gaps in social protection, structural inequalities, environmental degradation and the climate crisis.
He said “We need to work together to find innovative solutions to turn this human tragedy into a generational opportunity to build back better a more equal and sustainable world.”
On the fight against corruption, the UN commended President Buhari for his resolve to reform and return discipline in the public service as well as the success in fighting corruption including the convictions and recovery of assets.
He said, “As you continue to strengthen institutions to fight corruption, we now also need to increase our support for grassroots and ‘people-centered’ approach and get all members of the community involved and engaged,” he told President Buhari.
He informed that based on UN assistance both to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) across the country over the last four electoral cycles, the world body has gathered enough data and experience to support government’s efforts towards leaving a legacy on the electoral processes in Nigeria.
Kallon further said: “There have been commendable incremental improvements in the process since the return to democratic rule. The UN stands ready to support you in the current efforts to further improve the electoral reform process. We also salute your leadership and engagements in supporting electoral processes in West Africa.”
Also commenting on census, he said, “A national census is long over-due and critical for planning and effective management of national resources and to guide strategic investments in health care, education food security, human resources and social services.”
He revealed that the UN is currently supporting the Enumeration Area Demarcation exercise and is ready and willing to continue to support such an effort at all stages and remains at the President’s disposal at all times.
The UN commended Buhari and Nigeria on the Polio Eradication achievement and UN’s commitment to stand with Nigeria to ensure the country remains polio Free.
He said, “With the support of international partners over the past two decades, Nigeria has made great strides in addressing many of the killers and cripplers among us. Under-5 mortality from diarrhea and respiratory infections, HIV, malaria, TB, and neglected tropical diseases are all in retreat. Polio is no longer endemic congratulations on a job well done.
“This progress has been achieved through leadership and sustained investment in building human resources for health and strengthening health systems. ”