By G9ija

United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Muhammed, has admonished the Federal Government to continue to strengthen public institutions to ensure the protection of basic human rights.

She gave the charge, yesterday, in Abuja during a courtesy visit to Minister of Women’s Affairs, Pauline Tallen.

Muhammed said while UN and Federal Government are making effort to strengthen public institutions and protect basic human rights, there must be a reciprocal commitment from public servants to encourage government.

“Public servants in Nigeria must be committed to their duties to ensure proper utilisation of meagre resources. Nigerian women should blaze the trail in this regard so that we can celebrate more women like Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is making Nigeria and Nigerian women proud,” she said.

The UN scribe noted the degradation of cultural and societal values among young Nigerians and called for a unified action to entrench moral values to tackle the challenges of rape of minors and Gender-Based Violence (GBV), among others.

“We are at a crossroads where our social cohesion is being threatened and torn apart. The moral and cultural value of Nigeria must be maintained by both the leaders and followers, and we must learn to cash in on our strength in diversity as a nation,” she said.

While soliciting the support of the UN in the protection of the rights of Nigerian women and children, Tallen said the ministry had been working with state governments to promote the fight against gender-based violence.

She commended the UN deputy secretary-general for promoting issues relating to women and for being a role model for girls who aspire to take leadership positions in politics and other fields.

“As Nigeria prepares for UN Convention on Status of Women (CSW) and International Women’s Day later in the year, we would need a huge support from the UN system and our Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), who has been giving us tremendous help.”

“We would like the UN to support us in the area of women in politics so that more Nigerian women can be in leadership positions, just as Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala and our very own Amina Muhammed, are beacons of hope to Nigerian women and girls,” Tallen said.

Speaking on behalf of CSOs, Mrs. Saudatu Mahdi, of Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), called for financial support from UN donor agencies to enable them to go to the grassroots and obtain data on GBV and Violence Against Women (VAW).

She said their interaction with women at the grassroots had not been easy because a lot of them are not willing to come out and speak on their challenges, especially on issues of GBV and rape of minors.

“Getting data from the grassroots is very expensive because it requires a lot of money for logistics, among others, and as CSOs, we have meagre resources. This makes our work harder. Therefore, we would appreciate some form of financial aid to enable us to work with ease,” Mahdi said.