The Honourable Minister of Education, Mal. Adamu Adamu, has stressed the need for the Commonwealth of Nations to work together to protect the natural environment and the ocean that they collectively share.
In his address at the 2019 Commonwealth day celebration, held this Monday, with the theme “A Connected Commonwealth,” the Minister also called for more closer cooperation on trade, to foster sustainable economic and social development in order to promote inclusive economic empowerment of its people, particularly women, youth and marginalised communities.
The Hon. Minister, noted that the event was historic being the 70th year Anniversary of the formation of the unique association, stating that Nigeria had been at the forefront of enunciating efforts to empower women, youth and marginalised communities, through policies and programmes that encouraged inclusive education, stimulate participation in economic activities, move people out of poverty through investment across agricultural value chains.
Other focal areas he highlighted included the exploration of bountiful opportunities offered by Information and Communication Technology ICT and creation of an enabling environment for small businesses, innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish.
He stated that the cardinal desire of the theme for this year was to encourage collaboration on protecting the natural resources and the environment, especially following the adoption in 2018 of the Commonwealth Blue Charter of the Ocean which connects so many member countries.
He explained that the Blue Charter was intended to promote fair, equitable, inclusive and sustainable approach to Ocean economic development and protection from the effects of climate change, pollution and over fishing.
Mal Adamu, who dwelt on the history lane of the Commonwealth, noted that the transition from the British Empire to the Commonwealth of Nations was a defining moment which signalled the commitment of the 53 independent countries and territories to work together and pursue common interests. This, he said, spanned from trade and cooperation, pursuit of human rights and rule of law, good governance and gender equality, among others.
He traced the Commonwealth to the London declaration of 1949 which modified the requirements for membership. According to him, this change gave countries like Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony opportunity to become a member in 1995 without a British heritage. Dwelling on the theme, the Minister said that it was the heart of the founding principles and aspirations of the sovereign countries who share a common colonial heritage under the leadership of the United Kingdom. According to him, the Commonwealth, with its Secretariat located in London, UK had sought to strengthen the bonds which tie its members using institutions such as the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the Commonwealth Club and the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers.
He noted that the outstanding success achieved by the Association include the quadrennial Commonwealth Games held on rotational basis and that brings together youth from all the member states to compete in sporting events at a festival and carnival setting. Nigeria, he recalled, had participated at every one of the games since its admission and holds fond memories of the spectacular performances recorded by her athletes over the years.
Welcoming Guests, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Architect Sunny Echono, described this year’s Commonwealth day celebration as very special, following the London declaration of the union in 1949. This year, he said, had made it 70 years that members shared historic ties, bond and togetherness. He noted that Nigeria had been proud to be a part of the British Commonwealth, expressing optimism that it was the experience of other countries within the Commonwealth.
In a message, Her Majesty, the Queen of England and Head of the Commonwealth, who spoke through the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, said Britain had been in the forefront of leading a network of cooperation among countries of the Commonwealth. Towards this end, the Commonwealth, she said, had in the past two years focused more on pursuing human rights, good governance and sustenance of democracy among its people.
The Deputy High Commissioner disclosed that the United Kingdom action plan was to prevent violence against women and children and had been proud to work with the government of Nigeria on gender equality. She noted that the 70th year celebration was an opportunity for all the countries to reaffirm their faith, bond and ties that had held them together in the past as members of the Commonwealth.
Delivering a goodwill message, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, represented by the Director of European Affairs, Mr. Oluremi Oluyide said that the Ministry was committed to the promotion of the ideals and values of the Commonwealth over the years, recalling that Nigeria had been playing critical roles to ensure that the ‘Commonwealth of nations’ become in reality the ‘Commonwealth of people.’
He said Nigeria had sponsored some reforms geared towards meeting the needs of the present globalised world, especially those that would impact on the connectedness of all citizens of the Commonwealths.
He cited the example of the country’s request for the issuance of standard visa to facilitate the free movement and interaction of the citizens in a more meaningful way and thereby promoting the connectedness of its peoples.
Other good will messages came from the Kenyan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage and Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Abhay Thakur, who both relived the experiences of African and Asian countries in the membership of the Commonwealth. They especially mentioned the cultural ties and bonds existing through sports and the meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government as very rewarding for members. They expressed delight that the association abhorred terrorism and called for a unified voice against terrorism, which every known religion kick against.
The Highlight of the event was a presentation of a paper on the theme of the Commonwealth day celebration by Country Director, The Royal Commonwealth, Mr. Blackson Bayewunmi.
There was also the launch of an Essay competition by the Honourable Minister for students in secondary schools for those within the ages of 14 years and below and the second category for those 15 years and above.
Representatives of schools within the FCT also displayed some performances including dance drama, poetic rendition, theme song and cultural display.
Also at the event were High Commissioners of Pakistan, Wagar Ahmed; Ghana, Hamed Tijani; Cameroun, Salaheddine Abbas; Kenya, Wilfred Machage; Tanzania, Frnacis Nkayala and some Directors of the Ministry of Education.
The event hosted by the National Universities Commission (NUC), was attended by the Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL. Some Directors that accompanied the ES include those of the Directorate of Accreditation, Dr. Noel Saliu; Integration and Cooperation and Liaison Services, Mrs. Constance Godday-Nnadi and Students Support Services, Dr. Mrs. Maryam Sali.