The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Leonardo Santos Simão, concluded yesterday a one-week working visit to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
During his visit, Simão had a series of meetings with Nigerian authorities and regional partners. He also participated in the 91st ordinary session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers on 7 December and in the 64th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, held in Abuja on 10 December 2023.
In his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf M. Tuggar, the Special Representative commended the tireless efforts of Nigeria to foster peace and stability in the sub-region. He also reiterated the United Nations commitment to continue working with the Nigerian authorities towards reinforcing development and democracy.
During his visit, Simão participated in the Conference on “public presentation on the needs assessment of political parties in Nigeria”, organized by the Kukah Centre and Convener of the National Peace Committee, where he delivered a goodwill message calling for the need to support political parties in their crucial role in the consolidation of democracy.
Speaking at the 64th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Simão stressed the importance of continued dialogue and engagement with transition countries for a return to constitutional order. “the ongoing situation in Niger arguably remains the most concerning politico-security development which has impacted peace and security in the Sahel with implications for the entire region,” he warned, adding that “the developments also portend an uncertain future for the return of constitutional rule in all countries of our region currently undergoing political transitions.”
He underlined the need for a stronger effort to address “economic issues such as the inequitable redistribution of resources; unemployment, especially amongst youth; and other forms of socio-economic marginalization of the vulnerable, including women.
Mr. Simão also spoke of the urgency to act now to save the education of an entire generation of children who are facing the harmful consequences of conflicts. While welcoming and encouraging ongoing efforts in several countries for equitable access to quality education, the Special Representative called for a greater investment in safe schools and for the introduction of reforms in education and vocational training.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).