Nigeria has often been described as a country of promise and potentials. UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, in this exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES echoed the same point.
Mr Schmale also talks about Nigeria’s journey to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the general elections, and other matters.
PT: How long have you been in Nigeria?
Mr Schmale: I arrived in early December 2021. I have been here a little over a year.
PT: What do you like about Nigeria? What were your first impressions about the country?
Mr Schmale: Nigeria as you probably know has a bad reputation around the world. My first positive surprise, and that continues till date, is that there are many intriguing positive sides to life in Nigeria. And I am thinking of the many young entrepreneurial people I have met. Every day, I meet colleagues working in the UN, working in the private sector, including working for the government, who really have an incredible entrepreneurial constructive forward looking spirit.
I am taken by so many others like Nigeria’s rich culture and history. You have great poets and writers, you have great filmmakers, great musicians. My sons, when I told them I was going to Nigeria, they listed a number of musicians I have never heard about; it is very clear that for younger people around the world, Nigerian musicians set standards. So, there are a lot of positive sides to what goes on in Nigeria despite huge challenges.
PT: Before arriving here in 2021, had you visited Nigeria before?
Mr Schmale: I used to work for the International Federation of Red Cross, I visited the Nigerian Red Cross about 20 years ago when its headquarters was still in Lagos.
PT: Has any of the Nigerian culture or music you mentioned had a lasting impression on you? Could you accompany this with names?
Mr Schmale: One name that comes to mind is Chimamanda. I heard her speak at last year’s UN-Female Ambassadors sponsored international women’s gala. She spoke very eloquently. I have had the privilege of hearing Wole Soyinka at one event, challenging, strong. I have heard the privilege of hearing younger poets at various events we have been holding with the UN and government jointly. I do not remember their names, (they will be very angry with me), but very impressive young poets who speak very eloquently and directly about positives and negatives of their country.
Musicians as I indicated earlier, I am not so much into the music thing… I have not met him sadly but BurnaBoy is the name that comes to mind.
PT: What role does the UN office in Nigeria play, historically, in line with the founding objectives of the larger UN?
Mr Schmale: My understanding of the reason the UN historically came to Nigeria is like in many countries, development. The government asked us to support their development efforts for the benefits of vulnerable citizens, that is one aspect.
A lot of our work, my office as Resident Coordinator but primarily the 21 resident UN agencies, is focused on working with the government to improve the development prospects for ordinary Nigerian citizens.
The second part is humanitarian, a number of agencies like the food programme. For example, the office for humanitarian coordination came in in 2015 when the government asked us to assist in addressing humanitarian needs in the North-east. So there is humanitarian work focused primarily on the North-east.
And then the third bit is the original mandate of the UN, to help create and maintain peace. We also have a peace component to our work and takes the shape, primarily so far, of helping build local peace coordination and peace building structures… We have done some work on the farmer-herder conflict. As we are sitting here, there is a regional workshop on this topic going on.
Around the current elections and building on the past efforts, we are building on the national peace committee to get national actors to sign peace accords. They did so in September with us witnessing. A few days ago, I was in Cross River where a state level peace accord was signed by governorship candidates (some of them); so that is another aspect of our peace mission.
So, the UN work spans across development work, humanitarian work where the government asks us to support and then we try to remember that we are all about peace and human rights…
PT: When you talk about peace, human rights, humanitarian support for Nigeria, it quickly reminds me of the concern raised a few days ago by the UN on the worsening security situation in Nigeria. Beyond raising concerns, what action has/is the UN taken/taking to see that there is peace in Nigeria?
Mr Schmale: I have referred to one of them, which is working with local actors at state level and sometimes even the local government level to establish local peace coordination and peace building structures. As an example, a few months ago, I was in Benue State and in the presence of the governor, a local peace committee was set up. The idea behind this is that at the end of the day, challenges concerning human rights, threats to peace are better solved by the people themselves. We cannot solve Nigeria’s problems as the UN, we can facilitate, we can convene. Having people come together at the table where they need to discuss and agree on ways forward, that is one bit.
The second bit is communication and media work. An important aspect of that is to work against hate speech. As you mentioned earlier, we were together at an event a few days ago to commemorate International Holocaust Day. That for me as resident coordinator was an opportunity to remind all of us and remind Nigeria as a country that often, genocides and serious violation of peace starts with statements that are disrespectful of others, intolerant of others. We are trying to contribute also through public statements, media events, capacity building workshops to ensure that people understand that violence does not often start with violence, it starts with spoken words and expressions of intolerance and prejudice and we are working massively on that.
A third bit I want to say is what we call quiet diplomacy. You referred to the statement of the Secretary-General’s adviser on preventing genocide, some of the work is public statements when we see something that is wrong but a lot of it is behind closed doors.
As UN, we are here to work and support the government and shouting from the rooftops will not always help or will not be any help in addressing problems, so a part of it is behind closed doors. It is really building relationships and when we see problems, it is to take key stakeholders, including senior government representatives, and we have a talk on this.
Nigeria has signed up to many international conventions; Nigeria believes in the International Declaration of Human Rights, which we will be commemorating 75 years this year. Because Nigeria is such a proud citizen of the globe and the UN, we have a basis where, behind closed doors, we can say for example, here are laws you are violating, so can we work together in ensuring that you live up to the standards which you have signed up for internationally.
PT: When you talk about violation of human rights, what comes to mind is the #EndSARS protests and that protest saw human rights violations with peaceful protestors being beaten up. We did not hear a lot of what the UN had to say in line with human rights violations. What did the UN do during this period?
Mr Schmale: An easy answer related to #EndSARS specifically would be that it was before my time here. But on a serious note, I do not know all the details. What I have been told by colleagues who were here at the time and what I have read is indeed that most of that was quiet diplomacy. So we felt at the time that public statements could inflame the situation, could block access for us to key people. So, indeed, it was mostly quiet diplomacy.
Triggered by that, let me mention another example where there are serious allegations of human rights violations and that is the recent Reuters report alleging that the military systematically had a programme that led to 10,000 forced abortions and other claims and allegations. That is an example where in addition to quiet diplomacy, what we are doing is supporting the Nigeria Human Rights Commission’s investigation. Our secretary-general immediately publicly said these are serious allegations that need to be independently investigated and we have ever since been working with the NHRC who recently launched the investigation…
PT: Can you provide a general overview of what UN is doing for the upcoming Nigerian elections?
Mr Schmale: There are two main areas of involvement for the UN in Nigeria’s elections. The first one is to provide technical support and that is led by our colleagues at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Women as well.
What our colleagues in UNDP are doing is working with INEC to support them in better preparation for and administering the election process. There is a lot of capacity building and we are seeing results already, not just because of UN involvement but there are other partners, member states. In our view, over the years, not just since last year’s election, over the last couple of elections, INEC has been making, with our support and that of others, steady progress.
An element of this is the BVAS, better control of verifying voters. It is in our understanding a significant progress in ensuring that the results cannot be easily manipulated as they are being transmitted…
These are technical assistance we offer in ensuring that INEC is in a better place as an organisation preparing for and managing the election, capacity building of INEC officers.
A second bit of what the UN does is what we call offering the good offices of the secretary-general. We have a special representative of the secretary-general who is based in Dakar, who regularly comes, working closely with me as resident coordinator. And what that means is two things; we are trying to build relations and we are trying to meet all the key candidates of political parties to impress on them the importance of conducting themselves in a way that will lead to a peaceful, credible, inclusive and transparent elections.
There is a lot of messaging going to the key players involved; avoid violence, settle your disputes in nonviolent ways, avoid hate speech. So it is back to what we just touched on earlier, quiet diplomacy and you only do quiet diplomacy if you have built relationships with key actors. In 2019, the good offices of the secretary-general through its representative, Mr Chambers, at the time proved very valuable in my understanding, when the election was postponed by one day, which in my understanding led to significant tensions. Mr Chambers was on ground, had access to key players including INEC and was able to contribute to keeping things fairly calm and not letting them get out of control. So we are preparing to be ready if there is crisis moment, to intervene.
A sort of a mix between technical support and good offices support is the work our colleagues at UN Women are doing in particular but others at UNFPA as an example and that is to enhance the role in public life. We all know that is a major challenge; women are subject to a lot of violent and aggressive behaviour and it is so sad to see that Nigeria has produced so many women of excellence across the world and private sector but in public life, Nigeria lags behind many African countries.
We are also involved as UN to ensure that, over time, women have the chance and opportunity they more than deserve to participate fully. Those are key areas of our work around the elections.
You asked in terms of involvement, we are under strict instructions from the secretary-general to remain neutral, so you will never hear me come out in favour of one candidate or one party. Our focus is really on ensuring there is a process that is fair, inclusive, that meets international standards, and transparent.
We need to trust the Nigerian citizens to produce a result through elections that is good for the country.
PT: You spoke about the past election’s postponement and if you have seen news or feeling the pulse of Nigerians, you will see that there is also fear that the elections may be postponed again. Is there an ongoing conversation between the UN, INEC and FG on why there is a need to keep the date?
Mr Schmale: The hope clearly is that we will stick to the dates. We remain optimistic that that will be possible.
We can see one scenario where a postponement will be justified and that is if preparations are not finalised. I mentioned earlier the BVAS machines that are needed for verification of registered voters. Of course, they need to be in place at the polling stations and we know because of the fuel crisis and currency related crisis, INEC is having some challenges to ensure that all things are prepared, including having all the materials at the polling stations and having their officials at the polling stations.
From our point of view, what will be justified is if there is evidence that things are not ready and need another week or so. We do talk about scenarios where this is justified, we very much hope that will not be necessary but we need to entertain it as one scenario.
We are concerned about elections being postponed due to violence. We hope and get regular assurances from the police and the military as complementary to the police that they are doing the best they can to ensure that polling stations, citizens are protected and that the elections will not be impacted by violence.
I think like many of the international community and indeed what I am hearing from Nigerians, that is a real fear and worry. Again, we hope that this will not become a scenario that the election will have to be postponed because of violence.
PT: Although you touched on this in the previous question, what are your specific concerns for the upcoming elections?
Mr Schmale: There are a couple. I think violence is clearly one and it is not just the North-east, it is the South-east and other places in the North-west. There are country-wide pockets of violence that could negatively affect the running of and the outcome of the elections.
That remains a concern and that is why we regularly talk with others, talk for example to the Inspector-General of Police. I have mentioned some challenges around preparations being far enough advanced in terms of getting materials, the BVAS machine, officials and so on to the polling stations and that is directly linked with the fuel crisis and also the currency related crisis.
As much as we have heard public assurances from the CBN governor for example, that INEC will have access to the cash they need to make this happen, you have assurances from the security forces that they will protect and make sure materials get to the polling stations but we have to remain open-minded, we have to continue to work with INEC, support them to make sure that, from an administrative point, the elections are ready.
A third thing of worry is hate speech, I touched on this earlier. We have heard from all candidates and parties, it is not always the candidates, sometimes it is the parties and other times their followers, statements that are not acceptable.
Behind closed doors mostly, we work with all involved to ensure that the language is toned down and the campaigns are conducted in a respectful and peaceful manner. In this respect, we work very closely with the National Peace Committee… I must say I think the national peace committee deserves some credit for what they are doing to try and ensure it is free and fair.
A final point of concern is ensuring there is a level playing field. We have heard allegations that at times, those in power do not provide public institutions for opposition candidates. That is an issue that is being addressed through various channels, including the national peace committee, to ensure that all sitting governors ensure that all key candidates have the opportunity to present their case to voters.
PT: Do you have any concerns on the recent overturning of the outcome of the Osun State election and the BVAS?
Mr Schmale: We are well aware of that case. In fact, together with some senior diplomats headed by the EU ambassador to Nigeria met with the president of the Court of Appeal and some of her eminent judges. We asked them the same question and they said, which I think is right, that they do not want to publicly comment while it is being looked into.
It is a concern that it took six months to achieve this ruling, whether it was right or not, I cannot personally judge. It is worrying that it took so long and the important point in this aspect is that the court of appeal president mentioned to us that there are over 600 pre-election appeals and that there is no way they will adjudicate that massive volume of appeals before the elections and then we can expect appeals about the elections themselves.
They are a little overburdened and one worry is that we need to ensure that political parties settle some of their internal disputes in their own party constitutions and mechanisms. It is not every time that you feel something has gone wrong inside your party or with another party that you run to the court. We need to protect the court so that it can deal with any appeal in a timely and efficient manner. Osun again is an example of where it took too long.
Indeed, it is extremely important that all the materials are in place, including the BVAS machines and the officials overseeing the elections know what the rules are. As an example, we would know that BVAS depend on electricity, so what happens if there is no power supply? There are clear provisions that the elections can be repeated the following day if there are technical problems. So, it is crucial if we want to avoid appeals like the one around Osun, that really what has been set up works.
That is why I said earlier, the only scenario we can see justifies postponement is if technically the elections are not ready… It is critical that there is a BVAS machine in each polling station, the officials are there and that a credible and transparent process can be.
PT: Where is Nigeria in terms of achieving the SDGS by 2030?
Mr Schmale: Sadly, as things stand, Nigeria lags far behind achieving the SDGS on almost all of them. Nigeria is not alone there but because of Nigeria’s size population wise, economy wise, it matters.
I have heard many Nigerians tell me that if Nigeria sneezes, the rest of the continent gets a cold. I think that is true for the SDGS; if Nigeria does not make significant progress on the SDGs, this will not only show itself in Nigeria but for the rest of the continent. It is an engine that pulls everyone , so we are very worried and regularly express that to the government.
According to the government’s own statistics and data, 130 million people are affected by multidimensional poverty, (not) a report that our UNDP and UNICEF colleagues have put together but these are government data. You can see from that alone that you cannot just make the case that Nigeria is making the progress it needs to make on the SDGs agenda.
What we have agreed with the government is a series of transformative agenda. We need to accelerate the pace. There are some good stories and good achievements but the impact and scale need to accelerate. To give one specific example, is the economy; we are convinced within the UN that Nigeria’s challenges of poverty and unemployment will not be solved by international aid increase, it has to do with increasing domestic resource mobilisation. We are focused very much as the UN system to work with those in power, the next government of course, the central bank to ensure that the potential that is there to increase domestic resource will be increased, that there is a critical review of how money is spent. And that of course brings in the sensitive topic of fuel subsidy.
What I am trying to express with this is a sense of optimism that Nigeria has the potential and resources to turn things around, it just needs credible, good leadership; it needs continuous strengthening of public institutions; it needs the elections to hold. I want to be clear that I am not trying to paint a doom’s day scenario, Nigeria has what it takes, it can turn the slow progress around and maybe not achieve all the SDGs by 2030 but make significant visible progress.
PT: What happens when Nigeria, like some other countries, does not meet up?
Mr Schmale: I think ultimately, the test of all of these is what it means for ordinary citizens. Probably as UN, we will complain and say you are not doing enough, the international community and institutions will have things to say, but I think the measure of it all is how it translates into meaningful progress for a majority of the citizens and that is what it will boil down to.
It will boil down to where the citizens will have the patience to say, “we have not achieved it yet, I cannot see the fruit of country-wide labour yet in my life in terms of my children having access to education as an example, having enough food on the table and so on.”
I really think we need to be very sensitive to citizens and that is why this multidimensional poverty index is important because it gives us details for the whole country around several dimensions of how citizens are doing.
Governance is important, we need to ensure that citizens can vote if they are unhappy and are assured accountability that way. And that there are mechanisms where citizens can bring to the attention of those in power where things are going wrong…
PT: The UN has been described as basically a talk shop with no actions, When will the UN restructure itself and become more inclusive?
Mr Schmale: I must say I heard two questions or comments. One is about, are we a talk shop? I think that is a justified question because we run many meetings, hold the general assembly each year so I am not surprised that there may be a perception out there that we are a talk shop.
Now having said that, what I think is important to understand is that the value of the UN is primarily its convening power, we are a global network that can mobilise technical expertise, knowledge, good practices and share it with different countries.
We do not run government services, we are here to support the government and that is where the challenge is. It is not whether we talk much but are we effective in helping governments improve the services for the benefit of citizens? I think what we should be measured on is this and I have been challenging my colleagues here in Nigeria, not having five capacity building workshops, will enforce the notion that we are a talk shop. What we need to prove is that building capacity translates into better service delivery for citizens and that is not just an Africa-wide issue for the UN, that is a global issue and we need to demonstrate that convening people, experts together, talking at meetings, translates into meaningful changes in the day to day life of citizens. That is one bit.
The other bit is really about power and inclusiveness in the UN. Our secretary-general, when he visited last May at the press conference with Mr President acknowledged that there is progress to be made. The security council needs to change and have a different, more inclusive set up.
My understanding is that at last year’s General Assembly, momentum was gathering, including from some of the powerful security council members themselves, to look seriously at getting to a more inclusive structure to the UN’s various decision making bodies.
PT: In line with those reforms, the UNSC is really important because of the kind of veto power that members wield. Is the UN looking to reform the UNSC in a way that it does not appropriate so much power to a country?
Mr Schmale: Allow me to first of all underline that it is important that we understand what we mean by the UN. The UN is in the first instance the more than 190 member states. The UN is not me, I am a civil servant serving member states. So, when we are talking about reforms to the UN, we are talking about member states needing to agree amongst themselves and we would facilitate; needing to agree within themselves that things need to change and that is why I referred to the general assembly.
Our colleagues in New York say for the first time in a long time, there was a positive momentum among member states including the most powerful ones to initiate serious reforms.
You are absolutely right, and as civil servants of the UN, I think we at leadership levels, including myself here in Nigeria, are fully supportive of the notion that veto rights need to be revisited and an inclusive way of governing the UN must be reflected in form of each member state feeling their voice is heard and their vote mattering. I do not know what the concrete answer to that is, I am not an expert on this but I can tell you, we are very sympathetic to the concern and I know that my leadership in New York is pushing for revisiting the system of veto and taking decisions to make it more inclusive.
PT: A quick veer off will be to ask about the migration challenge all over the world but especially Africans who are exiting the continent in small boats. What action is the UN through the IOM taking to make sure that migrants have their human rights preserved and respected? Take the Italy and Spain example.
Mr Schmale: I will give you an answer that reflects what I said earlier about how we work in Nigeria, because this is the way we work to influence the human rights agenda, development agenda, it is not unique to Nigeria.
It is about trying to use our convening power, our moral authority to influence states. Just as I was telling you, in Nigeria we try to build relations with those in power and other key stakeholders to try and influence them. Same is happening in Spain, in Italy and other European countries. A part of is that trying to influence, trying to get governments of the receiving countries of migrants to do their bit in living upto the global standards they signed up to.
A second bit is indeed service delivery and you have mentioned IOM, UNHRC, WHO. There are a number of agencies that are trying to accompany migrants both leaving and returning, including to Nigeria. So we work with governments, civil society and others to address the humanitarian needs that vulnerable migrants have on their journeys. So, there is the influencing political work and there is the service delivery work to ensure that vulnerable migrants have access to services that every citizen should have.
PT: Is there any concern around the volume/ level/degree of migration in Nigeria, Africa and all over the world?
Mr Schmale: The numbers are increasing every year so, of course, we are concerned about this and regularly issue statements. There is a global compact for migrants that we have tried to get member states to agree to standards and ways of approaching migration.
Some of these are, we know that some refugees, some migrants flee because of desperate situations in their country and I mean in particular, wars and conflict. The international discussion around the ideal is for people to be able to return if they want to. For those who cannot, another option has to be to settle where they have arrived. We are also working with host countries to ensure that where it is appropriate, migrants can stay and settle.
A third option that is being looked at globally, is the third country option. You may have arrived in Spain, you cannot go home but there may be better opportunities in a third state. We are also working on this.
I want to come back to the development agenda, we sincerely believe as UN civil servants that a lot of migration that is causing problems elsewhere (not all migration does, I am a migrant but I am not complaining)… but vulnerable migrants and migration due to vulnerability, due to poverty, wars and conflicts, refugee issues, need to be addressed through development work.
Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Nigeria, the majority of that in my understanding is because of misdevelopment, failing development, so I think the biggest contribution we can make as a globe and as UN supporting member states is really to accelerate progress in achieving the SDGs.
The SDGs are a blueprint for countries, ensuring that their citizens have more fulfilled lives and do not need to flee and seek opportunities elsewhere.
PT: Going back to the talk shop conversation, there have been a number of resolutions at the general assembly in respect to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. What have these resolutions translated into?
Mr Schmale: I think it is a fair question and fair observation that political efforts within the UN system to end the war in Ukraine have not yet shown demonstrable results. That is clear, I cannot claim we are closer to peace in between Ukraine and Russia than we were 10 months ago because of resolutions and meetings, that is just objectively not the case.
Having said that though, there has been some progress though if our secretary general were sitting here instead of me, he would rightfully point to the global grain initiative. It has been possible in the middle of the war to get the two parties to agree to a mechanism where grain gets re-exported and other goods for the benefit of vulnerable people around the world. I am using that because the secretary general has said this very publicly when he is being asked the same question, the glass is some full. There is some progress in terms of benefits for affected people in the war zone but also it is impacting the globe and we are working to try and mitigate the negative impact of this war.
But back to your question in terms of resolution and talk shops, I think the UN as in the member states, the security council, remain with a significant challenge to find a way of ending the war. We know from history, wars cannot be won and the price is too big for all citizens involved so the UN’s credibility on the peace side of things will stand and fall with “can a more effective way be found to end the war” rather than just mitigating the impact of it.
PT: And Russia’s membership of the human right council?
Mr Schmale: I do not know the latest on that, whether they are still suspended or not. I do not really have a clear opinion and view on whether suspensions from international bodies is a useful step and the reason I am saying that is, I used to work with the Red Cross before joining the UN, I have very much, as an individual, believe you can only end wars if you talk to people. That is why the deputy secretary general recently went to Afghanistan as a woman given all the challenges and I think that was an expression of what I am trying to say – excluding people from dialogue, I am not sure is always an effective tool. Sanctions, exclusion, we all know there have been examples in history.
I am thinking of apartheid, excluding South Africa at the time and the sanction regime did contribute massively to ending apartheid but there is no one solution that fits all and so to your specific question, I do not know enough to judge whether that is an effective measure or not.
PT: Mediation appears to be significantly absent in the Russia-Ukraine war. Is the UN averse to mediation? If not, why are we not seeing mediation happening?
Mr Schmale: The UN is not at all averse to mediation and talking. Infact the secretary general was meant to come to Nigeria a bit earlier last year, he postponed the trip because he offered mediation services to Russia and Ukraine and they took him up on it.
So, his priority at the time was to let me first go there and start the negotiations and then he came to Nigeria… To the best of my knowledge, the secretary general alongside other senior UN leaders are continuing in quiet diplomacy behind closed doors to try and get the two parties to talk about how to end the war. I am not privy to exactly what progress is being made on those talks, it is not public.
Some of our efforts to get people to talk are behind closed doors, that makes it sometimes frustrating I think for the media because I cannot tell you exactly what is going on because we firmly believe if we start talking publicly about confidential processes, it will undermine them.
There will come a time where you deserve more clear answers to the questions you are asking.
PT: The war in Ukraine will be one year by 24 February. What action is the UN taking to see that we do not have a repetition of the war in Ukraine elsewhere?
Mr Schmale: You will not be surprised if I tell you a part of that is the quiet diplomacy bit but a part of it is very public. I do not know if you have had a chance to see the secretary general’s statement to the general assembly, I think it was a week or two ago outlining his priority for this year and he spoke very eloquently and very powerfully I think about the risk of the world sleepwalking into further disasters like the Ukraine war.
READ ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: UN raises four major concerns about Nigeria’s
The secretary-general as our CEO is using his power and moral authority to regularly remind member states that we must at all costs avoid the kind of crisis we are seeing in Ukraine because it is not just destructive and detrimental to the citizens of those two countries, but for the globe and we cannot afford with all the other challenges we have around climate change and so on further wars like that.
So, there is both private and public diplomacy trying to use the convening power of the UN to get member states together to resolve the crisis, to prevent the crisis from escalating before it is too late.
PT: In your opening statement at the beginning of this interview, you talked about how much of a bad reputation Nigeria has. Having lived here for over a year, does the bad impression of Nigeria persist?
Mr Schmale: No, it has been modified if I am honest and allow me to use an expression I have used in this interview that I heard from our deputy secretary general. What I have really understood and I am firmly convinced that the glass is some full, maybe it is not half full, maybe it is three-quarters. I do not know, how you measure that.
But it is not a failed state and I have seen enough over this year and not just in Abuja. I think I have travelled to up to 15 states by now, I have seen enough people. It is all about people at the end of the day who have an entrepreneurial, peace-building mindset that is about improving their lives to remain hopeful and optimistic… it is not a rosy picture. What I am trying to say is that despite the massive challenges, a part of why it has a bad reputation, there is enough in this country to turn this around. And I see it as my job as a senior UN official to not be a prophet of gloom, to say let us build on what is working and try and expand and accelerate that.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999