On 11 September, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with Nigerian Ministers in relation with UNESCO. The meeting, chaired by the newly appointed Minister of Education, Chief Barr Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, provided an opportunity to review cooperation between Nigeria and UNESCO and to identify areas to be reinforced. The Minister of Water Resources, Ms Sirah Ochekpe, the newly appointed Minister of Defence, Mr Labaran Maku, as well as senior representatives from line Ministries, including Women Affairs and Science and Technology, attended the meeting.
The Director-General met also with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Viola Onwuliri. The Minister recalled the President’s development agenda for Nigeria, which includes education, gender issues and women empowerment. She emphasized the importance for Nigeria of the cooperation with UNESCO in its areas of competence, and expressed the country’s hope for greater support to heritage sites in the context of culture and tourism. The Director-General presented to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs the Nigeria-UNESCO Country Programming Document covering 2012-2013, which highlights UNESCO’s contribution to Nigeria’s development efforts.
While renewing Nigeria's appreciation on the excellent cooperation with UNESCO, the Minister of Education thanked the Director-General for technical support to the Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy Project, which can be considered be a model in the sub-region. He underlined the importance of the quality of education, namely by investing in teacher training and benefitting from UNESCO's institutes such as IUS for data. The Minister recalled the President’s commitment to education and to reaching children out of school.
The Minister of Water Resources welcomed cooperation with UNESCO, namely through the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and highlighted the need to better link the work of the Category 2 Center on water management with this programme. The Honorable Minister called for stronger collaboration in strengthening capacity of the institutes and professionals.
The newly appointed Minister of Defence (formerly Information Minister) underlined his appreciation for the continuing collaboration with UNESCO and elaborated on the collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education for stronger advocacy in support of education, specifically for children to enroll and stay in school.
The representative of the Minister of Women's Affairs (Permanent Secretary) highlighted the need for continued support to the education of the girl as a key force for gender parity.
The Director-General assured the Ministers of UNESCO's determination to accompany Nigeria’s efforts in different fields, including literacy, quality of education, sound policies to get children, especially girls, enrolled in school, promoting a culture of peace, safeguarding tangible and intangible cultural heritage and fostering sustainable water management. She highlighted the key role of the new UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja, which will work closely with relevant ministries, national and regional institutions.
On the same day, the Director-General met with the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr. Kadre Desire Ouadraogo, who was accompanied by the Commissioner of Human Development & Gender, Mrs. Adrienne Diop and senior staff members.
The two parties welcomed the sound cooperation between ECOWAS and UNESCO in such domains as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for youth employability, culture of peace and integration as well as the professional development of teachers. They agreed on the need to give a new impetus to their cooperation, to better respond to new challenges in an evolving world.