This article is culled from the leadership newspaper in honour of Amina Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, who has just been appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the UN.
For most Nigerians, Amina J. Mohammed, the Minister of Environment, became a national figure when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in year 2000, appointed her the Senior Special Assistant on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In that position, she was in charge of designing and developing government projects to reduce poverty around the country. Between 2002 and 2005, she worked in the United Nations Millennium Project as a coordinator of the Task Force on Gender and Education. She served in that capacity till 2014 when she was appointed Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Post-2015 development planning. President Muhammadu Buhari brought her back to Nigeria and appointed her the Minister of Environment, a position she held until this week when the United Nations Secretary-General-designate, Antonio Guterres, announced her appointment as his Deputy Secretary-General.
Amina is an acknowledged key player in development process. Working with Ki-moon, she acted as the link between the Secretary-General, his High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP), and the General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG). She is, indeed, an outstanding personality whose career as a development practitioner has spanned over 30 years in the public and private sectors as well as civil society. In 2005, she was charged with the coordination of the Debt Relief Funds (US $1bn annually) towards the achievement of MDGs in Nigeria through the establishment and implementation of a Virtual Poverty Fund. Her mandate included designing innovative approaches to poverty reduction, budget coordination and monitoring as well as providing advice on pertinent issues regarding poverty, macroeconomic stability and sustainable development.
It is widely accepted that her performance in office as the coordinator of the MDGs programme in Nigeria and, in particular, with regard to resource management, set standards that were considered unequalled. Amina’s transparent execution of her functions, the probity and integrity she brought to bear in the discharge of her duties, remain a reference point in the assessment of public servants in Nigeria. This was further proved by the adulations she attracted to herself during her Senate confirmation process for ministerial appointment. It is not out of place, therefore, to conjecture that her sterling display in the MDGs’ office exposed her to international recognition.
In our opinion, Amina’s upliftment to that exalted office, as President Muhammadu Buhari noted is, on all scores, an immense honour to Nigeria. Gender parity, as encapsulated in Beijing Declaration, is achievable after all on the basis of personal merit.
Born in 1961 in Kaduna, though from Gombe, all in Nigeria to a Nigerian Father and a British mother, Amina is a proud mother of six children. She can be rightly described as an expert in development-related issues as her role as the founder and chief executive officer of the Centre for Development Policy Solutions amply testifies. A well sought after authority in her own right, she was an Adjunct Professor for the Master’s in Development Practice programme at Columbia University, New York, United States of America.
Earlier in her career, Amina was Founder and Executive Director of Afri-Projects Consortium, a multidisciplinary firm of engineers and quantity surveyors just as she also worked with the architectural engineering firm, Archcon Nigeria in association with Norman and Dawbarn, the United Kingdom.
Amina has also served on many international advisory boards and panels such as the Gates Foundation and the UN Secretary General’s Global Sustainability Panel. Since April 5, 2016, this upwardly mobile lady has served as Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
Without doubt, in our view, the new Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations is a source of inspiration for the womenfolk across the globe and especially in her native Nigeria where primitive factors tend to place women in the backwaters of national development. Amina has literally broken the glass ceiling and is paving the way for other women to improve themselves and refuse to be held down by primordial sentiments. She has proved, in a remarkable way, that religion and culture rather than being inhibitions to self-actualisation can become stepping stones to career enhancement and lofty achievements.
Amina Mohammed received the National Honours Award of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2006 and was inducted in the Nigerian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007.