The UN Secretary-General High Level Representative to Nigeria, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, said the United Nations (UN) had provided 60 million dollars, about N1.2 billion, to ensure the success of Nigeria’s 2015 general elections.
Chambas disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on Friday.
He said the UN was interested in Nigeria’s elections because ”the country is too important for the sub-region, the region and the world at large”.
Chambas explained that the UN had been involved in building institutions and capacity that were required for the elections.
“Several months even before this election, the UN deployed a Needs Assessment Mission and based on that needs assessment mission, certain areas were identified by INEC in particular. But also by National Human Rights Commission and many civil society organisations as to where they could benefit from institutional strengthening and human resource capacity building.
“We then came up with a budget which amounted to almost 60 million U.S. Dollars. This was mobilised for members-states and other international organisations and has been provided to Nigerian various institutions and organisations in the process of preparing towards this election. So that is the kind of ongoing work that the UN does throughout the period.
“And this has been the specific contributions that the UN has made and the UNDP managed this basket of funds that was collected. And I should say that one particular intervention that I am personally proud of is the creation of the National Peace Council which was an initiative out of the UN.
“To get a group of Nigerian eminent personalities and respected citizens to come together and to lead the clarion call for peaceful, credible elections. So, it is out of this peace council that we have seen, for instance, the two leading candidates, Mr President and General Buhari re-affirming their commitment to the Abuja Accord.
“Which itself is a product of the work of the UN through the former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, other prominent Nigerians such as Prof Gambari through his Savannah Institute, Bishop Matthew Kukah through the Kukah Centre.
“UNDP was very instrumental in working with them, in bringing on board other partners which culminated in the establishment of the National Peace Council.”
He said that the UN’s interest in the election was borne out of the strategic importance and value of Nigeria.
“Even at the United Nations, Nigeria is a member of the Security Council. Nigeria on the African continent, is a natural leader providing leadership in the past and present on the issuer of peace and security. On economic issue, Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa. Politically, Nigeria is acknowledged leader.
“So for all these reasons, and of course, Nigeria is also the largest democracy in Africa and definitely one of the largest democracies in this world. It is for this reason that the United Nations is particularly interested in this election and wants to be of help.”
He said the UN was trying to be of constructive value to Nigeria in ensuring peaceful, credible elections.
He said the organisation had been working with all Nigerian stakeholders, the leadership of political parties, the civil society organisations, among others.
The UN representative urged all Nigerians to be mindful of the burden and responsibility they carry, adding, “we all want to see a strong, stable, peaceful Nigeria”.