Abuja- UNDP Administrator Helen Clark has ended her official visit to Nigeria-with a call at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the National Assembly and a tour of projects in the megacity of Lagos.
“I have seen the windows of opportunity which can drive the development of Nigeria forward, with the very credible elections earlier this year which gave President Jonathan the authority and mandate to assemble a strong team to implement his vision” said the UN Development Chief when she met with the Chairman of the INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega. Helen Clark commended INEC for the successful general elections which have been acclaimed as credible, free and fair. She expressed UNDP’s satisfaction with the Commission’s partnership under the Democratic Governance for Development project, adding: “We are committed to continuing the collaboration with a view to 2015, building on the tremendous achievements of the electoral process. As Nigeria moves forward, we would like to pay increased attention to the political role of women, as there was a slight decline in their numbers in elected positions”. They shared views on solutions to building sustainable peace, security and social cohesion in the country, with Chairman Jega stating: “We have nothing but commendation for the excellent work UNDP does globally in assisting countries conduct elections. You have provided leadership, effective coordinator of donor support, and efficient management of the elections basket fund.”
The Commission had registered 73.5 million Nigerians and 53% of them participated in the past presidential elections. The INEC Chairman cautioned that as good as these polls have been, compared to Nigeria’s past electoral history, there are still challenges which commissioners are determined to overcome with support predicated on stronger partnership. Chief among them is the need to ensure that INEC is strongly established as a structured, well-staffed institution.
Ms Clark also visited Nigeria’s National Assembly for a courtesy call on the Senate President, Hon. David Mark, and the leadership of Parliament. The UNDP Administrator commended the Senate under Hon. Mark’s leadership for playing a key role in the consolidation of electoral democracy in Nigeria. She confirmed UNDP’s commitment to continue supporting the National Assembly in the implementation of the electoral reform agenda and institutional capacity-building of the national legislature.
Climate-smart development in Lagos
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark travelled to Lagos to tour the EKO Atlantic City, a multi-billion land reclamation initiative, which brings together private investors aiming to build a 21st century city that will become the financial centre of Africa, in response to the triple challenges of coastal erosion, land scarcity, and the demographic growth of Nigeria’s economic capital whose population is estimated at close to 20 million. The project which includes reclamation, sand filling and construction of a 7 meter sea wall is an example of the efforts of the state government to support sustainable and climate-smart development. Clark said: “I can see jobs, huge opportunities for skills-training for young people especially, so as to add value to the development strategies of the state.”
The UN Development Chief also had a meeting with the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Ms. Evelyn Oputu, who shared her experience in promoting the utilization of renewable energy in industry (hydro, wind in the Niger Delta, and solar in the North)-at a time when only 47% of the population has access to electricity – and how UNDP is supporting this initiative through a 4 million USD funded project.
Ms. Clark exchanged perspectives on development- including the impacts of climate change on the city, as well as strategies implemented by the state to ensure sustained economic and social development with the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Adekoje Orelope Adefulire. They discussed models of growth and special initiatives targeting women and young people.
The UNDP Administrator was accompanied by the Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP Africa Bureau, Mr. Tegegnework Gettu.
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