UN’s Ban kicks off two-day Nigeria visit

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SHAFAQNA - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday began a two-day visit to Nigeria, where he will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, provincial governors, local businessmen and civil society leaders as part of his global campaign for sustainable development.

At an official dinner on Sunday evening, the UN chief is slated to meet with the governors of Nigeria’s 36 states, according to a statement issued by the country’s Foreign Ministry.

“[There will also be a] wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the attack on the United Nations House and a field visit to the Kuje Area Council,” the statement read.

On August 26, 2011, the UN office in Abuja was bombed, killing 21 people. The incident brought the Boko Haram militant group – the suspected perpetrators of the attack – into the international limelight for the first time.

Ban is also scheduled to have lunch with Nigerian businesspeople, during which he will discuss the role of Nigerian entrepreneurs in helping to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and address the issue of climate change.

At the lunch, he will also discuss ongoing efforts aimed at democratization, the issue of sustainable development and the need to counter violent extremism in the region.

Ban is then scheduled to meet with the leaders of Nigeria’s #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which continues to advocate for the recovery of over 200 schoolgirls abducted last year by Boko Haram, a civil society source told Anadolu Agency.

The climax of Ban’s visit will be a Monday meeting with President Buhari, after which both men will hold a joint press briefing at State House.

According to the Foreign Ministry, there will also be a dinner hosted by the president in Ban’s honor.

The UN chief’s first visit to Nigeria, in May 2011, was intended to drum up support for his “Every woman, every child” campaign, launched one year earlier at the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit in New York.

Nigeria continues to lag behind in terms of implementation of the UN’s MDGs, especially in the area of infant and maternal mortality, school enrolment and poverty alleviation.

According to official statistics, at least 10 million Nigerian children of school age are truant, while as many as 100 million Nigerians continue to suffer from extreme poverty.

The country has registered some progress, however, in terms of other MDGs, including gender equality and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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