Nigeria: UN work continues after bombing, says UNDP chief
Abuja – UNDP Chief Helen Clark met with UN staff and toured the damaged UN headquarters in Abuja yesterday on the first day of her three day official visit to Nigeria.
“These were unarmed civilians who had dedicated their lives to helping the people of Nigeria,” said Clark after she laid a wreath at the site of the bombing. “This senseless attack will not stop our critical development work here.”
The August 26 bomb blast killed 23 people, including 11 UN staff, and injured more than 100.
“I have been very shocked, and to see the scale here today is very sobering indeed.”
Later in the day, Clark met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan who expressed condolences to the UN and lauded UNDP’s work globally. Speaking after the meeting, Helen Clark thanked the President for his support and pledged continued support to Nigeria’s development priorities, including the President’s job creation scheme.
“Nigeria has a tremendous role to play in the continent, and overcoming its challenges can be a lesson for other countries,” she said. “With the threat of global recession, times are tough, and we will also focus our efforts on the imperative of employment, so as to fulfil the aspirations of young people.”
The President acknowledged that youth unemployment remained a challenge in Nigeria, and that by November of this year, 56% of the 166 million Nigerians will be under the age of 35.
“These young people have to acquire skills, find work, proper housing, and a place in society,” said President Jonathan. “We want every young person to create employment for 5 other young people, and thus develop a multiplier effect. We are launching a major youth entrepreneurship program this month, and we welcome our partners’ assistance in this initiative.”
Helen Clark also met with the Minister of the National Planning Commission Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga Ashiru, and Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo Iweala. She is accompanied by Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP Africa Bureau, Mr. Tegegnework Gettu.
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