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Service Deserves Its Rewards

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Being a Keynote Address Delivered by His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu (Sarkin Yakin Keffi and Aare Obateru of the Source), Executive Governor of Nasarawa State at the Workshop on National Awareness on the United Nations Reforms, Held at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Monday, June 13, 2005.

On behalf of the government and people of Nasarawa State, I welcome you to the ancient town of Keffi. We feel honoured that our state was chosen to host the first in the series of sensitisation workshops organized by the Presidential Committee on United Nations Reforms to enlighten Nigerians on the imperatives of the changes about to be made in the United Nations. It is apt that this workshop is holding in Nasarawa State University, the state’s centre of educational excellence. The intellectual ambience of our young but trail blazing university is conducive to the mental and physical rigours of an important workshop of this nature. We have been assured that the vice-chancellor and his able staff intend to make this the first and best workshop in the series. We thank them for their active support for this workshop and, indeed, their identification with the aspirations of the federal government in its worthy pursuit of this very important national goal.

The government and people of Nasarawa State are firm believers in Nigeria’s honoured place in the comity of nations. The domestic and foreign policies and programmes of the Federal Government under our untiring patriot and visionary leader, President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, are primarily intended to show that Nigeria has come of age and must be allowed to assume its rightful place as the home and the spokesman of the black race. As patriots and lucky citizens of this great country, all Nigerians are duty and honour bound to fully and unequivocally support the resoluteness of the Federal Government in ensuring that Nigeria gets its rightful of place in the United Nations.

The United Nations (UN) is a supra-national body whose membership spans all the continents of the world. Nigeria joined the UN immediately after independence in 1960. Since its inception in 1945 after the Second World War, the UN has been involved in the onerous task of forging and sustaining global peace and development. The various organs of the United Nations such as the UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP, UNHCR, UNIDO, FAO, etc, have been actively involved in policies and programmes aimed at addressing and solving practical problems as well as implementing policies aimed at enhancing human living conditions throughout the world. Without the United Nations, relations between and among nations and peoples would be characterized by chaos, violence and destruction. The UN has proved the wisdom of its founding fathers.

But the United Nations, like all other organizations, must necessarily move with the times in order to continue to be relevant for all seasons. Its old structures can no longer serve its current needs. The UN effected some reforms in 1965 by increasing the membership of its Security Council from 11 to 15, with 5 five permanent members. It is time for it to effect some fundamental reforms in the Security Council if only because the nature of world politics has changed since the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Many countries have attained stronger economic power through industrial and technological development and, therefore, earned the right to be authentic regional or bloc voices in their own right in a supra-national body such as the United Nations.

We, therefore, welcome the decision of the member nations of the UN to redress the historical imbalance in the UN Security Council. Africa has been allotted TWO permanent seats in the Security Council. These are to be competed for by African nations. Nigeria is competing for one of the two seats. This is a worthy national goal. We must thank Chief Obasanjo for his early and focused initiative in its pursuit.

Nigeria occupies a unique place among African nations and in world affairs. It is the most populous black nation in the world. One out of every four Africans is a Nigerian. One out of every five blacks in the world is a Nigerian. It is important to note that twenty-five per cent of the world population is black. Yet, no black nation is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the most important organ in the UN set up. This means that the voice of the black race in world affairs is muted at best. This is unfair and unjust. It is a denial of the rights of one quarter of the world population to play an active role in how the world is governed and how nations relate to one another. Equity, fairness and justice demand that the black race must have an authentic representation and voice in the council. Its authentic representative is, obviously, Nigeria.

Nigeria has been a true, loyal and committed member of the United Nations. No member nation of the UN, save, perhaps India, comes close to Nigeria’s outstanding record in participating in UN operations around the world to end intra or inter- national conflicts and restore peace. In these operations, our country has made and continues to make valuable human and other sacrifices that nations and peoples might be at peace with one another. Our country left its enviable mark on the peace keeping operations in Lebanon, Congo, Somalia, Western Sahara, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It is actively participating in the ongoing peace effort in the Dafur region of Sudan. Nigeria’s participation in these peace missions has earned it international commendations and brought stability to many countries and regions around the world. Nigeria has consistently met all its financial obligations to the UN. In local parlance, it is a financial member of the world body. We do not view a permanent UN Security Council seat for Nigeria as a compensation for its UN support; we see it as a fair and just acknowledgement of its role ensuring that the UN continues to realise the objectives of its founding fathers.

Nigeria is a regional power in its own right. Even its bitterest critics would admit that were Nigeria to fold its arms, the West African sub-region would remain convulsed in needless conflicts and violence. Our country has been a stabilising force in the region. Nigeria has always answered the distress call of its brothers in distress. We have spared no efforts to make our sub-region and the world better and more peaceful places because we know that when the bell of conflict tolls in one country, it tolls in every country.

We admit that our nation has itself witnessed periods of internal instability because of military interventions in the political administration of the country. But we have firmly put that period of our history behind us. But even during the military regime, our country did not turn deaf ears to the cries of other countries in distress. It did not shirk its responsibilities to the world body and the world. Since our return to democratic rule six years ago, and despite the whining voices of the prophets of doom, our country’s feet remain firmly planted in the soil of democracy. Democracy in our country is not a passing phase. It is a permanent feature of our administration. Our country is more stable than ever before. It is, indeed, more stable than some of the older democracies in other regions of the world. We are proud of what our country has achieved so far as a young democracy. We have good reasons to believe that the future is bright for our country. We believe that our country has earned the right to be the authentic voice of the black race. Of all the countries known to have indicated interest in the permanent seat in the UN Security Council, including Egypt and South Africa, Nigeria is the only true black nation that can raise a pure black national flag. It would be unfair and unjust to deny it the right it has earned; the right to take its rightful seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We cannot, and we must not, settle for anything less.

I now have the pleasure declare workshop open.

Thank you and may God continue to bless our efforts.


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