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RECENT EVENTS AT THE EMBASSY

 
 
 

Nigeria came on the positive spotlight when Fr. Anthony Nnadi’s doctoral thesis was considered the best in recent times. He was consequently conferred with the prestigious PhD, on 28 November 2019 at the Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, Rome.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

PROTOCOL


.............It is indeed a privilege and honour to have a galaxy of distinguished personalities like you, here, to celebrate with the Embassy of Nigeria to the Holy See this double-edged Ceremony, namely, the 59th Anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence and the 43rd anniversary of our diplomatic odyssey with the Holy See.  I bring greetings of our President, H.E. Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, and the good people of Nigeria to His Holiness Pope Francis, the Curia and all our colleagues and friends.

2.
.........Firstly, Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary.  When on October 1 st 1960, the Union Jack (the British National Flag) was lowered with a simultaneous raise of the Nigerian Flag, expectations were high on all fronts - from socio-economic to political fronts.  Barely 6 years into the journey of self-governance, there was an interregnum via a military coup that eventually led to a 30-month civil war.  The democratic process which had started on 1 st October 1960, was on hold for several years until the renewed democratic governance that began again in 1990, barring the 1979-1983 democratic interruption.  We have therefore experienced a 20-year civilian rule, uninterrupted till date.


3.
.........Notwithstanding the years of interregnum, reasonable progress has been made on all segments of our developmental spectrum; and with your support, Nigeria would progress further.

4.
.........Secondly, we see our relationship with the Holy See, just like all the countries Nigeria has diplomatic relations with and those we are yet to formally do so, as indispensable.  This year we are celebrating 43rd anniversary of our relationship with the Holy See, to some countries represented here by Your Excellencies, we could be talking of some 59 years.  Whichever number of years Nigeria has had relationship with you, we would like to assure you of our commitment and support at all times, and we do hope you would reciprocate our kind gesture.

5.
.........Consequently, Nigeria invites you to avail yourselves of the many opportunities she presents in Agriculture, Mining, Infrastructural development, Manufacturing, Commerce and the Arts, to mention a few, to participate in her economy.  The Nigerian government had long identified some of the impediments to smooth business relationships with foreign countries, the often-cited Ease-of-doing-business has improved.  One other impediment is corruption, which the government is confronting head-on.  Others are insecurity and inclement investment conditions.  These have greatly improved.  With the very liberal conditions for investors, the return-on-investment is very encouraging and can be described as a win-win situation.  It is this shared prosperity that engender global peace.  Consequently, we have put together a Symposium, which is suitably themed "Cultural Diplomacy, Global Peace and Shared Prosperity" to underscore the significance of Culture in the pursuit of peace and the global commonwealth.

6.
.........The Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, as you have seen in the programme, is a man who has done so much to ensure peace in the world.  It is not just his love for peace and prosperity that has brought his Eminence to this Symposium; it is rather the strong affinity he has for Nigeria.  You may be wondering what is responsible for such a bond.  This is why.  A popular musical maestro, Rod Stewart, titled one of his many songs "The First Cut is the Deepest"; and this applies to his Eminence, Cardinal Parolin.  If you would keep it secret, Cardinal Parolin cut his first diplomatic teeth in Nigeria.  Are you therefore surprised that his Eminence has found it very difficult to severe that bond?  We are eternally grateful to you, Eminence, for the honour you have done Nigeria.  

7.
.........For the rest participants, I would like to invite you to sit, comfortably, and enjoy the Symposium, which will be handled by renowned scholars, for the next 80 minutes or thereabout. I thank you for coming.


 
 
 
 

Opening Address by His Eminence Card. Pietro Parolin,
Secretary of State of the Holy See.
Hotel Roma Aurelia Antica, Thursday 31 October 2019.
-----------------


Your Excellency Mr. Godwin George Umo, Ambassador of Nigeria to the Holy See, Distinguished Speakers, Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honour to address you on this special occasion as we commemorate the 59th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence and the 43rd anniversary of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the Holy See.
First of all, I wish thank Ambassador Umo for inviting me to be with you and to say a few words at the beginning of this symposium.  In so doing, I am happy to extend to you Mr. Ambassador, and through you, to the Authorities and all the citizens of Nigeria, as well as to all who are gathered here, the good wishes and blessings of the Holy Father Pope Francis.
The theme of this symposium “Cultural Diplomacy, Global Peace and Shared Prosperity” is very timely. Culture is comprised of all those characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music, arts, etc. The Centre for Advance Research on Language Acquisition goes a step further, defining culture as shared patterns of behaviours and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialization. Thus, it can be seen as the growth of a collective identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group.
A philosopher historian once commented that centuries of existence are required to generate a little history; many more centuries are necessary to create a little civilization; and an even greater number is required to distil a culture.  As such, culture is the embodiment and outcome of centuries of history and the development of a civilisation.
The Holy See bases its definition of culture on the Second Vatican Council: «The word “culture” in its general sense indicates everything whereby man develops and perfects his many bodily and spiritual qualities; he strives by his knowledge and his labour, to bring the world itself under his control. He renders social life more human both in the family and the civic community, through improvement of customs and institutions. Throughout the course of time he expresses, communicates and conserves in his works, great spiritual experiences and desires, that they might be of advantage to the progress of many, even of the whole human family» (Gaudium et spes, 53).
The human person is at the heart of all the cultural activities of the Church. Culture is defined in relation to human beings, and all cultural activities are both from and for humankind. Culture is a springing forth of human potential. Pope Benedict XVI recalled, on the occasion of the colloquium “Culture, Reason and Freedom” (May 2005), with words borrowed from St. John Paul II’s 1980 speech at the headquarters of UNESCO: “In the cultural field, man is always the first fact: man is the prime and fundamental fact of culture”.
What is the role that dialogue between cultures play in bilateral relations? In June last year, when Mr. Philip Pullella, Chief of Reuter’s Rome bureau, asked about the relations of the Holy See with China, His Holiness Pope Francis responded by indicating three different paths leading to diplomatic relations: the first one is the dialogue between the official Delegates of both Parties, the second is “dialogue of everyone and with everyone” and the third path, which according to the Holy Father is the most important, is the dialogue between cultures. Pope Francis has meant it in two different ways, i.e. intercultural dialogue and the cooperation between the Parties by organising intercultural events.  
This path is very important because, in Pope Francis’ vision, there exists an inextricable bond that unites people with their culture. He has said this several times. Moreover, according to him, in dialogue between different cultures, it is the people themselves who enter into dialogue. As a result, there comes about an opening up to the other, shortening the distances in between and building up peace.
Cultural dialogue is the way to overcome the misunderstandings and ambiguities that exist between the Parties. In fact, cultures in themselves do not engage in dialogue, but rather it is the men and women of different cultures who enter into dialogue. In short, a human encounter is needed for an intercultural dialogue, which naturally leads to a better understanding of each other.
Cultural events induce intercultural dialogue. As there exists a close bond between people and their culture, where there is intercultural dialogue, there is also a better relationship between peoples. In today’s world, cultural identities are increasingly evoked to build walls thus leading to division and even conflicts. On the other hand, intercultural dialogue will help to build bridges and consequently that will lead to peaceful coexistence.
The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, held in Vatican from 6 to 27 of this month, or the past Continental Assemblies for Africa, Asia and Middle East, were also efforts from the part of the Catholic Church for dialogue with different cultures for a better understanding of the other and for mutual enrichment.
For the Holy See, this constructive approach towards different cultures is not something new. As is well known, the Catholic Church, from its beginning and even in times of persecution, has always been a promoter and guardian of culture and art. Religious freedom in the fourth century led to the birth of a characteristically Christian art, which found its expression in religious buildings and their decoration. In the Middle Ages, the Church became the guardian and vehicle to promote ancient cultural heritage. The Pastoral Constitution on the “Church in the Modern World” (Gaudium et spes) devoted a chapter to the Church’s relationship with culture and cultures. It enunciated some of the more urgent duties of Christians regarding culture: defence of the right of all to a culture, promotion of an integral culture and harmonization of the links between culture and Christianity.
Since 1965, the Holy See has been very aware of the importance for the Church of dialogue with contemporary culture and of its relationship with different cultures. In the Vatican Museums, St. Paul VI created a collection of contemporary art and in his exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (1975), he drew attention to the need to evangelise the culture. This awareness, together with a rich personal experience, led St. John Paul II to create the Pontifical Council for Culture in 1982, with the aim of providing the Holy See with an instrument capable of fostering the Church’s dialogue with people and institutions from the world of culture and cultural policy. In the field of culture, Pope Benedict XVI had maintained continuity with the policy of his predecessors and Pope Francis also has never failed to foster dialogue between the Catholic Church and contemporary culture. Furthermore, the Holy See is actively engaged in inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.
As the American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding”. Therefore, in an age, which demands a fresh approach to international relations in the context of turbulent times, where we are forced to face the threat of global climate change, religious extremism and controversial military conflict, cultural diplomacy takes a relevant place in promoting peace and the consequent prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as I conclude this opening address, I wish to state that the Catholic Church remains committed to accompanying Nigeria in all its efforts to ensure the spiritual as well as material well-being of its people. While appreciating the continuing Holy See-Nigeria bilateral relations, I wish a brighter future for the Nation and its beloved people.
Thank you for your kind attention.  May God bless you all!


 
 
 
 

INTRODUCTION


1.
.........The subject of Cultural Diplomacy has occupied the centre stage of academic discourses in recent times, especially, since the demise of the Cold War and the collapse of the Walls that stratified the world. This is more so when nation states have de-emphasized the use of coercive force to project power and have resorted to the employment of Soft Power in the projection and propagation of influence, through culture, political ideals and policies. This accords with Ruis and Zamorano’s assertion that “Soft Power and Cultural Policies have been conceptualized and deployed as tools to launder countries images or perceptions (2014)”. It means therefore that nations can still deepen the support for political and economic goals by developing an understanding with one another through means other than force. Some of these means lie in the Arts, language, exchange of ideas, foods and so on; and when properly harnessed by a nation to attain national objectives, they result in Cultural Diplomacy.

2.
.........[Like has been said by the preceding speaker,] Cultural Diplomacy could be viewed as the prism through which nations present their cultures, hoping to use such avenues to influence the others. Over a long period, such influence could prove positive thus helping to further cement the diplomatic relations amongst such nations. With such spirit of camaraderie, a greater level of cooperation and trust is generated. This would in turn create an enabling environment for the resolution of conflicts before they become crises. Once security and conducive environment are guaranteed, tourism and commercial opportunities could be pursued. Here lays the nexus between Cultural Diplomacy and Prosperity. This assertion has a forerunner in Melissa Aronczyk’s position on national branding policies when she said that “Culture can be ultimately understood to be a way to achieve economic goals (2008)”.

WEAPONIZATION OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND ETHICAL ISSUES

3..........The advent of Information Age has promoted globalization, which has thrown up some good and some not-so-good situations. On the good side, Information Revolution has helped to bridge distances and has helped to disseminate and propagate Cultural Diplomacy tools. Without Information Revolution, it would have been difficult to burnish images of countries that could assist in wooing investors, tourists and help governments to project political power, to mention a few.
On the not-so-good side, Information Revolution has provided non-state actors, state actors and, indeed, anyone with a computer or similar devices, with the opportunity to do evil.  Besides cybercrimes, the Social Media have been employed to create confusion, misinform, promote hate and conflicts. Responses to these hate and conflicts are more hate and conflicts. In other words, the Social Media have been Weaponized. So, what could be responsible for this increasing weaponization of the Social Media and what could be done to ameliorate the situation? Prof Bede Ukwuije, who sits on my left is here to lead the discussion in the first segment of this Symposium and he will be looking at “WEAPONIZATION OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND ETHICAL ISSUES”.

CULTURAL DIPLOMACY, XENOPHOBIA AND AFRICAN INTEGRATION

4..........When the Social Media are allowed to disseminate falsehood, inflame passions and create conflicts, some reactions are wont to occur. This scenario would only lead to more conflicts that would intensify the level of hate already present in the society. When such hate is intense, it is described as Xenophobia. Xenophobia divides the people, promotes mistrust and these hurt relations – political, social and economic. This played out in Africa of recent where a continental mechanism – The African Continental Free Trade Agreement – had just been signed, which was designed to foster shared prosperity among Africans. Dr Paulinus Nweke is set to let us into how Cultural Diplomacy could serve as an elixir in mitigating Xenophobia with a view to promoting African integration and shared prosperity, when he discusses “CULTURAL DIPLOMACY, XENOPHOBIA AND AFRICAN INTEGRATION”.

CULTURAL DIPLOMACY – PRECURSOR OF GLOBAL PEACE AN SHARED PROSPERITY

5..........The desire to improve the World’s Human Development Index (HDI) gave birth to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000. After 15 years of implementing the goals with no visible results, the MDGs were reviewed in 2015 to what we now know as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016, with a 15-year timeline for their attainment. Not entirely satisfied with SDGs, addressing the teething problems of health and education, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its October 2018 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, came up with the Human Capital Index (HCI) to further improve the wellbeing of humanity. All these efforts by both the UN and the IMF are aimed at  enhancing the prosperity of the peoples of the world.

6.
.........However, prosperity cannot be realized in the absence of peace. Consequently, Prof Ukemenam takes a cursory look at the imperatives of Cultural Diplomacy in realizing global peace and the prosperity the UN, like the IMF, seeks for the world.

CHALLENGES OF CULTURAL DIPLOMACY AND THE WAY FORWARD

7..........Just as globalization, changes in socio-economic and geopolitical dynamics have brought the relevance of Cultural Policies to international limelight, new players have grabbed the opportunities presented by these changes. In Nigeria for instance, the Federal government has a Minister in charge of Arts and Culture, the State governments have commissioners responsible for the coordination of cultural issues. At the Local governments levels, there are counsellors overseeing cultural affairs. Cultural industries like the Nollywood and the Performing Arts are engaged in the same business; so are individuals and Non-Governmental Organizations like the Nto Annang Foundation. This current dispensation is at variance with the theoretical definition of Cultural Diplomacy that was established during the Cold War era. Consequently, scholars, including Joseph Nye and Mariano Zamorano, have advocated the re-examining of the concept of Cultural Diplomacy.

8.
.........Besides the issue of definition, other challenges plague the utilization of Cultural Diplomacy in achieving national strategic objectives. We are lucky to have Honourable Antonio Morabito to help us with highlighting these challenges and the way these challenges could be circumvented in order to leverage Cultural Diplomacy to achieve global peace and prosperity for all.

INTERACTIVE SESSION

9..........When all these would have been said and done, we would have a 10-minute leg-stretch, after which we shall have some time for questions.

CONCLUSION

10..........I implore you to hear these erudite scholars out on this very important discourse. I thank you for your presence.


 
 
 
 
 
 


Ms Sylvia Godfrey Akro, a young Nigerian Architect,
meets HE Ambassador (Gen) Godwin George Umo  OON
(Rome, 09 October 2019)


After getting a Bachelor of Science in Architecture (Second Class Honours-Upper Division) in 2014 at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (Ghana) with a Dissertation Topic titled “An Approach towards Sustainability through Water Conservation Strategies”, Ms Sylvia relocated to Italy to further specialize in architecture. She first got a Building Information Modelling (BIM) for Design course in Piacenza (Italy) in 2018 and then a First-class Masters of Science degree in Sustainable Architecture and Landscape Design (108/110 _ 110 Point Grading Scale) in 2019, at Politecnico di Milano, Milan (Italy), with a Thesis titled “Beyond The Box; An Incremental Modular Approach for Protracted Internal Displacement”.
She did not limit herself to study her preferred subject matter, but wanted to apply it through work experience since 2013 at Jonem Consults (Nigeria), then as a Junior Architect (National Youth Service Corp), Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning (Nigeria) in 2015. She worked as a Space Planner at ExxonMobil - Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (Nigeria) in 2015-2016. She is currently an Architect | 3D BIM Modeller at AXD Study of Architecture (Italy) since July 2019 to present.
She likes defining herself as a Dynamic Architect with experience and background in architectural design projects, coordination and planning. Highly skilled in the development of technical and construction drawings. 5 years+ in 3D BIM (Building Information Modelling) using Revit software. With a special interest in Sustainability, BIM/VDC, Additive manufacturing, Waste management, Green technologies, Energy efficiency, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ms Sylvia Godfrey Akro stands as a positive model for all Nigerian youths both in Nigeria and abroad, testifying that through self-engagement and hard study and work, it is possible to achieve relevant results.

 
 
 
 

Dear Compatriots,

1st October each year is an opportunity for us to reflect and thank God for his endless blessings on our country.

2. It is also a time for us, collectively, to:
3. Remember the sacrifices made by our Founders and great leaders past; by soldiers, by distinguished public servants; by traditional leaders, by our workers — sacrifices on which Nigeria has been built
over the 59 years since Independence in 1960; and
4. Rededicate ourselves to attaining the goals which we have set for ourselves: a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21st century opportunities and challenges.
5. In the past four years, the majority of Nigerians have committed to Change for the Better. Indeed, this Administration was re-elected by Nigerians on a mandate to deliver positive and enduring Change – through maintaining our National Security; restoring sustainable and inclusive Economic Growth and Development; and fighting Corruption against all internal and external threats.
6. This Change can only be delivered if we are united in purpose, as individuals and as a nation. We must all remain committed to achieving this positive and enduring Change. As I stated four years ago, “Change does not just happen… We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust… simply put, to bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens”.

SECURITY:
7. Good Governance and Economic Development cannot be sustained without an enabling environment of peace and security. In the last four years, we have combatted the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram. We owe a debt of gratitude to our gallant men and women in arms, through whose efforts we have been able to achieve the present results. We are also grateful to our neighbours and allies – within the region and across the world – who have supported us on this front.
8. The capacity of our armed forces to defend our territorial integrity continues to be enhanced by the acquisition of military hardware as well as continued improvements in the working conditions of our service men and women.
9. The Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security. My recent assent to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act has created a legal framework to support our Police with increased fiscal resources to enhance their law enforcement capabilities.
10. These initiatives are being complemented by the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Nigeria Police Force. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to arrest the incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes across our nation.
11. We remain equally resolute in our efforts to combat militant attacks on our oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta and accelerate the Ogoni Clean-up to address long-standing environmental challenges in that region.
12. The recent redeployment of the Niger Delta Development Commission from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs underscores our commitment to enhance the living standards of our communities in the Niger Delta, through coordinated and appropriate programmes.
13. Our attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
14. In this regard, I reiterate my call for all to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations. Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political and religious issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past – lessons that are most relevant on a day such as this.
15. The path of hatred and distrust only leads to hostility and destruction. I believe that the vast majority of Nigerians would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our unity.

ACCELERATING SUSTAINABLE AND INCLUSIVE ECONOMY GROWTH
16. This Administration inherited a skewed economy, where the Oil Sector comprised only 8% of Gross Domestic Product but contributed 70% of government revenue and 90% foreign exchange earnings over the years. Past periods of relatively high economic growth were driven by our reliance on Oil Sector revenues to finance our demand for imported goods and services. Regrettably, previous governments abandoned the residual Investment-driven Non-Oil Sector, which constituted 40% of Gross Domestic Product and comprised agriculture, livestock, agro-processing, arts, entertainment, mining and manufacturing activities that provide millions of jobs for able-bodied Nigerians and utilize locally available raw materials and labour for production.
17. To address this imbalance, our commitment to achieving economic diversification has been at the heart of our economic strategies under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which I launched on the 5th of April, 2017.
18. This medium-term development plan charted the trajectory for our economy to exit from recession and return to the path of sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth for Nigerians. Pursuant to these reforms, the economy has recovered and we have had 9 successive quarters of growth since our exit from recession. The exchange rate in the last 3 years has remained stable, with robust reserves of US$42.5 billion, up from US$23 billion in October 2016.
19. Learning from the mistakes of the past, this Administration is committed to responsibly managing our oil wealth endowments. We will continue to prudently save our oil income and invest more in the non-oil job-creating sectors.
20. In this regard, we are significantly increasing investments in critical infrastructure. Last year, capital releases only commenced with the approval of the Budget in June 2018. However, as at 20th June this year, up to N1.74 trillion had been released for capital projects in the 2018 fiscal year.
21. Implementation of the 2019 Capital Budget, which was only approved in June 2019, will be accelerated to ensure that critical priority projects are completed or substantially addressed. The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been directed to release N600 billion for Capital Expenditure in the next 3 months.
22. To maximise impact, we shall continue to increasingly welcome and encourage private capital for infrastructural development through Public Private Partnerships. Through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which I initiated in January this year, we are giving incentives to private sector inflow of over N205 billion in 19 Nigerian roads and bridges of 794.4km across in 11 States of the Federation.
23. As we push to diversify the economy, we still remain focused on optimizing the revenues generated from the oil and gas sector. We will, working with the Legislature, soon pass the Petroleum Industry Bill and amendments to the Deep Offshore Act and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act into law, to ensure Government obtains a fair share of oil revenues, whilst encouraging private sector investment.
24. We will also continue our fight against illegal bunkering of crude oil and the smuggling of refined petroleum products across our borders, including the diligent prosecution and conviction of offenders found guilty of these acts. Whilst Nigeria remains committed to free and fair continental and international trade, we will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to tackle illegal smuggling, transshipment and other predatory trade practices that destroy jobs in our country.
25. We are resolute in reforming the power sector. In August this year, we launched the Presidential Power Initiative to modernize the National Grid in 3 phases: starting from 5 Gigawatts to 7 Gigawatts, then to 11 Gigawatts by 2023, and finally 25 Gigawatts afterwards. This programme, in partnership with the German Government and Siemens, will provide end-to-end electrification solutions that will resolve our transmission and distribution challenges.
26. The programme will also look to localize the development and assembly of smart meters as well as the operations and maintenance capabilities of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
27. I am pleased with the improved inter-agency collaboration between the Ministry of Power and the regulators in the banking and power sectors to ensure that electricity sales, billings and collections are automated and become cashless.
28. These initiatives are important to ensure that the technical and collection losses in the sector are substantially reduced. I remain confident that Nigerians will have affordable and uninterrupted electricity supply in the not too distant future.
29. Our efforts to improve the power sector will complement other infrastructure investments projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, which is investing in the Mambilla Power Plant project, as well as key economic road infrastructure such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja-Kano Expressway. The first set of these projects remain on track to be completed by 2022.
30. Our journey to food security and self-sufficiency is well underway. We have made remarkable progress in almost all segments of the agriculture value chain, from fertilizers to rice, to animal feed production. We shall sustain these policies to ensure additional investments are channeled, thereby creating more jobs in the sector. We must not go back to the days of importing food and thereby exporting jobs.
31. Our commitment to achieving macroeconomic stability and economic diversification, has been underscored by the merger of the Ministry of Finance with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
32. This combined Ministry has the important mandate to enhance the management of domestic and global fiscal risks; coordinate policies with the trade and monetary authorities; raise and deploy revenues to fund budgeted expenditure; and integrate annual budgets and medium-term fiscal strategies.
33. With this, our revenue-generating and reporting agencies will come under much greater scrutiny, going forward, as the new performance management framework will reward exceptional revenue performance, while severe consequences will attend failures to achieve agreed revenue targets.
34. I recently constituted an Economic Advisory Council to advise me on inclusive and sustainable macroeconomic, fiscal and monetary policies. This independent body will work with relevant Cabinet members and the heads of key monetary, fiscal and trade agencies to ensure we remain on track as we strive for collective prosperity. However, we are also committed to ensure that the inconvenience associated with any painful policy adjustments, is moderated, such that the poor and the vulnerable, who are most at risk, do not bear the brunt.
35. Our ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention Programme continues to target these vulnerable groups, through the Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing scheme.
36. To institutionalize these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date. To the beneficiaries of these programmes, I want to reassure you that our commitment to social inclusion will only increase.
37. Our population growth rate remains amongst the highest in the world, presenting both challenges as well as opportunities. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we provide adequate resources to meet the basic needs of our teeming youth.
38. Accordingly, we shall continue to invest in education, health, water and sanitation, as well as food security, to ensure that their basic needs are met, while providing them with every opportunity to live peaceful, prosperous and productive lives.

FIGHTING CORRUPTION AND RESTORING GOOD GOVERNANCE:
39. On fighting corruption, our institutional reforms to enforce the Treasury Single Account policy, introduce the Whistle-blowers’ Initiative, expand the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System as well as the Government Integrated Management Information System have saved billions of Naira over the last four years, and deterred the rampant theft and mismanagement of public funds that have plagued our public service.
40. The Ministry of Justice, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will continue to address this menace. We are determined to ensure that transparency and good governance are institutionalized in public service.
41. We must commit to installing a culture of Good Governance in all we do. This Administration has fought against corruption, by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources. We have empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases of evidence, traced the proceeds of crimes and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.
42. Furthermore, we partnered with our friends abroad to combat tax evasion, smuggling, terrorism and illicit financial flows. In June 2018, I assented to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, to provide a domestic legal framework for obtaining international assistance in criminal matters.
43. This measure has already strengthened our law enforcement agencies in obtaining evidence, investigating suspects and facilitating the recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of property implicated as proceeds of crime.
44. An example is the US$300 million recently identified as part of the Abacha money-laundering case, working closely with the Government of the United States of America. The Federal Ministry of Justice is working with the US Department of Justice to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding to expedite the repatriation of these funds.
45. The P & ID Arbitral Award has underscored the manner in which significant economic damage has been caused by the past activities of a few corrupt and unpatriotic Nigerians.
46. The policies that we are putting in place today are to ensure such criminal and unpatriotic acts do not go without consequences. Our renewed partnership with the 9th National Assembly will facilitate the swift passage of enabling laws that will institutionalize these anti-corruption efforts in our criminal justice system.
47. In this connection, I call upon our States to intensify their own efforts to instill greater fiscal transparency and accountability. And to ensure greater fiscal efficiency and optimum use of our very scarce resources.
48. The blight of Corruption is fighting back. Nevertheless, this is a battle that we shall see through and this is a war, which we shall win by the Grace of God.
49. I will also call upon all Nigerians, from every walk of life, to combat Corruption at every turn. By choosing to question and confront corrupt practices, by reporting unethical practices or through whistleblowing. Together, we can overcome corruption and will no longer be a country defined by corruption.
50. Fellow Nigerians, let me reiterate my call for unity across our dear nation.
51. Nigeria will emerge from our present challenges stronger and more resilient than ever – but only if all of us join hands to entrench Good Governance, foster Inclusive Economic Development, and defend and protect our Nation from all those who would wish us ill.
52. I thank you most sincerely and wish you a Happy Independence Anniversary.
53. May God bless you all, and may He continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 
 
 
 

A Lecture by
H.E. Ambassador (Gen) Godwin George Umo  OON
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Vatican
on the occasion of the 30th Annual Session of Crans Montana Forum
Geneva – Switzerland (26-29 June 2019)


INTRODUCTION


1.
.........A couple of years back the projection was that a new set of countries would become economic powers to reckon with. They were called the BRINCS – Brazil, Russia, India, Nigeria, China and South Africa. All the countries listed here have more or less realized that projection, except Nigeria. It is not for the want of the resources, both human and natural, that Nigeria, which is deemed the giant of Africa, could not actualize this projection, but for factors that have, sometimes, proved difficult to contend with.

2.
.........Nigeria serves as a beacon of hope for the Sub-Saharan Africa and that is why Nigeria would have to come into the calculus in the process of building Africa as a 21st century world power. Politically, Africa is democratizing at great speeds, though with little to show for it. Part of the reason could be adduced to stem from the literacy level that is on the downward slide.

3.
.........Africa is endowed with many untapped natural resources, some of which have become curses to the continent. Wars and conflicts have resulted from the presence of these resources. Instead of harnessing the resources for economic growth and development, these resources have become sources of strife. Africa, South of the Sahara, plays host to about 41% of the world’s poor with the youth constituting 60% of that. With most African countries economies in tatters, the bulk of the youth are either unemployed or underemployed; and these give rise to migration, brain drain and engagement in crime. Of recent, there has been an upsurge in organized crime like: Human trafficking, kidnapping and recruitment for violent extremists like the ISIS.

4.
.........Realizing the consequences that the continued negligence of the African deteriorating economic condition could bring about, African leaders took steps to unify and promote the economic wellbeing of member states. This re-awakening towards making Africa the 4th World Economy, saw to the institution of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). Prior to the 2018 AfCFTA, there had been attempts by African regional blocs to institutionalize regional trade arrangements. For instance, in the West African bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community for East Africa (ECA) for East African countries, were also established to integrate these blocs for intra-African economic market.

5.
.........All these efforts have been thwarted by some self-imposed and extraneous factors. Bad leadership would be considered self-imposed while world pricing of African produce, mounting debt and increased borrowing would be extraneous. Without the proper harnessing and utilization of natural resources sectors, unemployment, infrastructural development and lack of sense of urgency to ameliorate the situation, on the part of African governments, there has been a proliferation of myriad security challenges.


GLOBAL SECURITY


6.
.........The proliferation of security concerns is not unconnected with the fact that poverty, especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa, where some 41% of the world’s population resides, is worst hit. The Global Monitoring Report further said that Infrastructure and health have not fared better. African workforce grew, in the past decade, by 91 million and only 37 million of these were in jobs that were wage-paying, according to UNDP 2013 report. With this large number of unemployed people, very fertile ground has been created for recruitment into organized crime.

7.
.........Besides bad governance that is commonplace in Africa, there are the issues of climate. The INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC) has identified Africa as one of the most vulnerable continents to climate variability and change, despite being the least contributors to the causes of climate change. According to the report, Africa faces an increased threat from extreme events like storms, flooding in its coastal regions, sand dune mobilization (due to desertification) and sustained drought with impact on food and water security. Apart from all these, melting glaciers from Mt Kilimanjaro would cause floods and destructions to lives and properties and over 5,000 species of African plants and animals and Karoo biomes would be at risk.

8.
.........All the aforesaid could be further grouped into:
.............a.  Kinetic security concerns or threats.
.............b.  Non-kinetic threats.
And these could be undertaken by Military and Non-military actors. Indeed, like Hakan Gunneriusson (2014) has suggested, the nature of the 21st century global security threats would call for a paradigm shift in the design of doctrines and strategies to contain them. This is so, because the traditional approaches to war and peace and their perceptions have, indeed, changed. This sad situation is compounded by the emergence of Hybrid Threats, which threaten global peace, prosperity and security. NATO identified Low Intensity Conflicts (LIC), Kinetic and non-Kinetic Threats to international peace and security, including Cyber War, Low Intensity Asymmetric conflict scenarios, global terrorism, piracy, transnational organized crimes, demographic challenges, resource security, retrenchment from globalization, corruption and the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) as Hybrid Threats, in what became known as NATO’s Bi-Strategic Command Capstone Concept 2010. The Concept describes these Hybrid Threats as “those posed by adversaries, with the ability to simultaneously employ conventional and non-conventional means adaptively in pursuit of their objectives”.

9.
.........The multimodal or Hybrid Threats are made very potent by the availability of improved technology and the elusiveness of the Cyberspace. With the freedom for actors to use the Cyberspace and the new technologies, command and control can be cheaply done using very inexpensive gadgets for attacks and winning the minds of the populace. New technologies may not be the only source of worry; advanced weapon systems, especially following the fall of Moamar Gaddafi, are now in possession of Non-State Actors (NSAs) and these constitute a grave danger for global peace and security.

MEASURES TO ENHANCE GLOBAL SECURITY


GOOD GOVERNANCE
10.
........Issues of corruption and forced migrations are direct consequences of bad governance. Governments that are not based on the Rule of Law would not be all-inclusive and this exclusion therefore creates room for disenfranchisement, which could lead to Human Rights abuse. Adejumobi, however, contends that although the World Bank Good Governance project with its emphasis on Rule of Law, transparency and Human Rights is relevant to the African condition, the project is enmeshed in serious contradictions and not grounded in the African intent, articulation and focus. This can also be linked with the absence of strong institutions to direct governance. It is, therefore, advocated that insistence on good governance must encompass institutional building in Africa of the 21st century. Doing this will pave say for sustained poverty reduction and will reduce security challenges that could impinge the global community.

HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
11.
........In its Bali Conference of October 2018, the Bretton Wood Institutions developed another yardstick of assessing the wellbeing of the citizens of the world. Departing from the Human Development Index (HDI), they christened this new paradigm as the Human Capital Index (HCI). Human Capital is measured by health, education and quality of standard of living. Building HCI is a global responsibility because investing in human beings leads to economic growth, which promotes employment. It is the rank of the unemployed that provide a ready pool of miscreants that become available for the destabilization of global peace.

INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT
12.
........Infrastructural development has been, and continues to be, key to overcoming challenges facing the developing world like Africa. Proper infrastructure can help the continent to attain fast-paced development by improving in health, energy, education, transportation and a variety of  other critical institutions. Well thought-out infrastructure initiatives have the capacity to improve the quality of life for Africa.

13.
........There are impediments to the realization of infrastructure development, some of which are funding and corruption. A school of thought believes that selling projects to private contractors, government can cut costs and prevent corruption. Others opine that it would take the duo of private sector investors and foreign aid to get infrastructural development right. Infrastructure is important to the 21st century Africa towards becoming the 4th world power. Without it, growth becomes unattainable, with dire consequences on the wellbeing and appropriate engagement of the people. It is the absence of appropriate engagement of the population that gives rise to some of Global Hybrid Threats, earlier discussed.

14.
........Modern societies rely on effective functioning of Critical Infrastructure networks to provide public services, enhance quality of life, sustain profits and spur economic growth. Having thus established the need for critical infrastructural development for economic growth, it becomes imperative that such critical infrastructure must be secure and resilient. Critical Infrastructure could suffer from Climate Change or terrorism. In either situation, the society must be capable of going about without serious consequences to their daily lives. This therefore calls for secure and resilient critical Infrastructure and adaptive ability on the part of the populace.


STRENGTHENING REGIONAL COOPERATION AND SOLIDARITY
15.
........It was earlier argued that the war against Hybrid Threats, which pose security challenges to any region of the world, equally pose such security challenges to the entire world. Indeed, the UNHCR posits that 70 million people have been displaced, globally, due to wars and conflicts occasioned by these threats. Consequently, a coordinated approach to stemming multi-modal threats would be support and assistance from the international community. In addition regional cooperation and solidarity would have to be deepened. We have seen such regional cooperation in the West African Sub-region in the fight against radical Islamic extremism in Mali and Nigeria. In East Africa, we have seen a UN coordinated effort against the Al-Sheebab in Somalia.

CONCLUSION


16.
........In this short discourse on Global Security within the context of building a new Africa of the 21st century that would attain a world power status, I have talked about the projection, a few years ago, that saw Nigeria and South Africa as possible economic powers in no distant future. The countries of Brazil, Russia, India, Nigeria, China and South Africa were tipped to attain the said status. Whist all other countries listed above, have in one way or the other realized this projection, Nigeria has not managed to inch towards the projection; and this has a ripple effect on African progress.

17.
........What makes the situation in Africa worrisome is that Sub-Saharan Africa plays host to a large number of gainfully-unengaged youth that could constitute a formidable workforce for evil. Sub-regional cooperation and synergies have attempted to create economic activities that could stimulate economic growth and provide opportunity for employment; but, these efforts are far from yielding the immediate succour required. Some of the impediments to attaining the goals are due to bad governance, world pricing of African produce and goods, mounting foreign debts and increased borrowing from the Bretton Wood institutions and the Paris Club.

18.
........Poverty, unemployment, infrastructural deficit, deteriorating health provisions and growing population are not helping the African move towards the envisaged goal. The situation is further compounded by Climate Change as IPCC reports that Africa is one of the most vulnerable to climate variability. The implications are far-reaching to both the humans and the environment. So, whether it is terrorism, Cyber Threats or climate issues that threaten the peace, stability and security of the region, all these are grouped into kinetic and non-kinetic threats, which could be posed by military and non-military actors. Since the nature and scope of current global threats are quite different from the previous centuries, security practitioners have called for a paradigm shift in the design of doctrines and strategies and even the weapons and weapon systems to contain the threats.

19.
........New technologies, coupled with the Cyberspace having free entry to all corners, Hybrid Threats are made very potent, to the extent that Non-State actors can assume command and control of the Cyberspace with the cheapest of electronic gadgets and yet prove difficult to identify and interdict.

20.
........Notwithstanding, I proffered measures that could be adopted to enhance global security. Some of the measures include:

...............a.  Good Governance to include creating avenuefor inspiration and ensuring there are opportunities to realize the dreams.
...............b.   Human capital development.
...............c.  Critical infrastructure development and the need for them to be made secure and resilient.
...............d.   Strengthening of regional cooperation and solidarity.


This brings me to the end of my contribution as regards Global Security within the context of building the 21st century Africa towards becoming a world power; and, I thank you for listening.


 
 
 
 

A Lecture by
H.E. Ambassador (Gen) Godwin George Umo  OON
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Vatican
on the occasion of the 30th Annual Session of Crans Montana Forum
Geneva – Switzerland (26-29 June 2019)


INTRODUCTION

1.
.........The realization that Africa cannot make progress without regional integration made some African leaders like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkurumah, Leopold Sedar Senghor, General Yakubu Gowon and Maomar Gaddafi to call for regional integration for economic prosperity.  Indeed, the call led to the formation of regional blocs.  In West Africa, there is the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), there is Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in Central Africa, the 5-member Southern African Customs Union (SACU) for Southern Africa’s COMESA.  Other building blocs of the African Union are: East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), South African Development Community (SADC), Arab Magreb Union (AMU), The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD), Common Market for East and South Africa (COMESA).

2.
.........The regional economic communities are expected to serve their member States with the implementation of the regional integration agenda, where the concept of good faith and the resultant observance of treaty obligations are the basis on which member States must make regional integration decisions, as well as ensuring their performance and implementation.

TOWARDS REGIONAL INTEGRATION


3.
.........At the Assembly of the AU in January 2012, a decision was adopted to establish a continental Free Trade Area by 2017, whilst also endorsing an action plan to boost inter-African trade.  These duo decisions were aimed at deepening African market integration and using trade as a plank for rapid socio-economic development.  Continental trade integration was to be used to leverage Africa’s participation in global trade.  Eventually, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) came into existence in 2018, though Nigeria is yet to ratify.  The long-term objectives of AfCFTA is to boost incomes, add value to goods and enhance the living standards of African people.

4.
.........Regional Integration is a development priority for Africa as it affects what is on offer in the local market and what people can buy and the ease of movement of people, goods and services, even beyond national limits.  With the AfCFTA, Africa’s regional integration roadmap to a more connected, competitive and business-friendly continent has just been put in place.


AFRICA’S REGIONAL INTEGRATION INDEX


5.
.........It is a tool for measuring the progress of an Africa on the move.  The Index is made up of 5 Dimensions, which are the key socio-economic categories that are fundamental to Africa’s integration:

............:a. .........Regional Infrastructure.
..............b..........Trade Integration.
............:c. .........Production Integration
............:d. .........Free Movement of People.
............:e. .........Financial and Macroeconomic Integration.

Some RECs are strong in some of the Dimensions while some others are weak.  The highest scores are on trade Integration, with the average REC scores of 0.54, the average REC scores are closest together on Regional Infrastructure and Productive Integration.  The lowest scores are on Financial & Macroeconomic Integration.

6.
.........Integration is multi-dimensional for both Regional Economic Communities and the individual countries in it.  From the Integration Index analysis, every country is not doing too badly, except, of course Somalia (in CENSAD) and IGAD.  Those with strong showings could avail the weak ones with their methodologies for achievement.  Yet, it is the performance on the 5 Dimensions by the RECs that would signal the degree of preparedness for trans-regional trade relationship and investments.


ESSENCE OF INVESTMENT CLIMATE


7.
.........The Integration Index, in conjunction with the individual countries profiles that make up the region, is essential to properly guide would-be investors.  In Africa, data acquisition is still a problem, but from the little available, some reasonable extrapolations could be made in order to take investment decisions.  Generally, business opportunities are informed by the size and the growth potential of markets.  Africa has, undoubtedly, a very big population of about 1.3 billion people (bigger than USA, Europe combined); and, if the UNDP’s projection is anything to go by, Africa will post a population of 2.2 billion people by 2050.  It therefore posts a very luring market for Foreign Direct Investment.

8.
.........It is not only growth potential and, perhaps the size of market that are issue in ensuring proper investment climate.  Progressively, many African countries are walking away from autocracy where strong men hold sway and are internalizing democratic norms.  Consequently, efforts are on to build strong institutions that can provide a level-playing field for everyone.  It is when people operate under the rule of law that investors confidence is reassured.

9.
.........Another important factor in attracting FDI is in the area of putting investment-friendly regulations in place.  Periods of moratorium, tax holidays and other forms of incentives are necessary precursors of FDI, and must be considered.  There are, of course other areas that cannot be overlooked when trying to create favourable investment climate, and these will be considered shortly.


KEY AREAS IN INVESTMENT CLIMATE



OPENNESS TO INVESTMENT
10.
........Conditions of entry into the business must be explicit, ab initio, and should not involve shifting the goal post in the middle of the game.  This is succinctly captured by Porter M. (1990) when he said that “competitive advantage no longer rests on a country’s natural endowments, but on that ability to create a business environment, along with supporting institutions that allow the nation’s inputs to be used and upgraded in the most productive manner”.  The Investment Climate can thus be defined as the “POLICY, INSTITUTIONAL, AND BEHAVIOURAL ENVIRONMENT, BOTH PRESENT AND EXPECTED, THAT INFLUENCES THE RETURNS AND RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH INVESTMENT”. This environment comprises 3 main components which are discussed subsequently.


POLITICAL AND MACROECONOMIC STABILITY
11.
........Political & Macroeconomic Stability is prerequisite for private Investment, both domestic and foreign.  The key determinants for FDI are in Macroeconomic terms include: Fiscal Monetary and Exchange Rate policy.


LEGAL AND REGULATORY SYSTEMS
12.
........Sound Regulatory Framework and Efficient Supporting Institutions to enforce the relevant Laws and Regulations are necessary for investors to enter the market, the costs of starting and operating a business have a large impact on choices of country location by the investor and how much contribution the investment will make to the host economy.


PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

13.........An adequate physical and social infrastructure complements a good policy and regulatory framework to create the requisite environment for attracting and retaining investment.  These include Power (Quality & Quantity), Transport and Communications, Access to Finance, skilled labour force (Human Capital Development) and the provision of social services.


RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS CONDUCT
14.
........Investors must enjoy government’s confidence in an event that something goes wrong with the terms of investment.  In other words, Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) entails, above all, compliance with laws, such as those respecting human rights, environmental protection, labour relations and financial accountability, even where these are poorly enforced.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) came up with Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on RBC.  The governments that adhere to the Guidelines aim to encourage the positive contributions the MNEs can make to sustainable development and to minimize the difficulties to which their various operations may give rise.

15.
........I would like to remark here that I come from the area in Nigeria where various MNEs are exploiting crude oil causing a lot of despoliation to the ecosystem there, making one to doubt if such MNEs have ever heard of RBC.  For if they did, that is the OECD Guidelines, according to Christine Kaufman, they would have known how to navigate responsibly, thus translating human rights responsibilities into due diligence requirements.


CONCLUSION

16.........In the course of this short discourse, I highlighted efforts by sub-regions of Africa at having intra-regional integration with a view to conducting trade and other business amongst the constituent countries.  I pointed out that there were, principally, 8 of such sub-regional bodies in Africa.  By 2012, African States, under the auspices of the AU, moved to have continental integration and by 2018, the AfCFTA came into being.  The reason was not just to boost inter-African trade but to deepen African market integration and using trade as a plank for rapid socio-economic development and enhance the standards of living of the African people.

17.
........To measure the progress made by various countries in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), an Integration Index is evolved, comprising FIVE (5) Dimensions. (RI+TI+PI+FMP+F&MI).  A recent analysis of both the RECs and their constituent countries shows that some countries are strong in some of the Dimensions, but no country, except Somalia and IGAD, were abysmal failures.

18.
........The Integration Index, with countries profiles, helps to determine the suitability of investment climate, and this assists the would-be investor in making informed decisions.  Generally, business opportunities are informed by the size and the growth potential of the markets.  African population stands at 1.3 billion and is projected to reach 2.2 billion in 2050, therefore, Africa is an investment destination.

19.
........Size and growth potential are necessary but not sufficient to attract FDI.  Therefore the keys areas of Investment Climate, which must be ensured to attract FDI include:

.........a. .....Openness to Investment.
.........b. .....Political and Macroeconomic Stability.
.........c. ......Legal and Regulatory Systems.
.........d. .....Physical and Social Infranstructure.
.........e. .....Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), based on Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines.

I thank you for the attention.

 
 
 
 

A Lecture by
H.E. Ambassador (Gen) Godwin George Umo  OON
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Vatican
on the occasion of the 30th Annual Session of Crans Montana Forum
Geneva – Switzerland (26-29 June 2019)



INTRODUCTION
1.
.........Cultural nuances have continued to define roles assigned to sexes in various climes of the world. Not just roles, but activities that they are permitted to partake in. From Africa, through Europe and Asia, to the Americas, there had always been one form of restriction or the other, based on sex, religion, ethnicity and even creed.  The African situation was not too different; though it has been evolving, it is rather slow.

2.
.........From time immemorial, African women, in spite of the seeming disenfranchisement in some climes, have found themselves in positions of leadership and authority. In some cases, they defied the customary gender roles ascribed to them, to lead even the men. One of such was Nigeria’s Queen Amina of Zaria, born in the mid 16th century, who was a Hausa warrior queen of the city-state of Zazzau, in the North West of Nigeria. Though Queen Amina carried out a couple of exploits in her brother’s calvary and wielded a lot of influence, such influence did not trickle down to her female successors. Indeed, women after her were relegated to the background especially in politics and development.

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS
3.
.........Queen Amina was not the only notable woman leader of old. Other notable women leaders in Africa would include: Hadjia Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang of the Gambia, who is the Vice President and has been a key advocate for the observance of human rights, elimination of poverty and institution of social justice and equity in the Gambia. Similarly, Sophia Abdi Noor of Kenya has led the call for the respect of the rights of marginalized women.

4.
.........The 1929 Ikot Abasi Riot, which extended to Abak, Etim Ekpo (in present-day Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria) and Aba, in present-day Abia State, Nigeria, was a classical example of a strong exhibition of women’s leadership. The British colonial administration had imposed a poll tax on the people of Calabar Province, which included the present-day Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. While the men were taking it with “equanimity”; the women of Ikot Abasi, led by Madam Mary Adiaha Edem, resented it and started a riot. Though 33 women were mowed down by the British colonial administration, the riot gained currency to other parts of the region. Consequently, the Poll Tax was rescinded.

5.
.........In recent times, women like Margaret Ekpo of Nigeria, Diane Shima Rwigara of Rwanda and Proscovia Alenyot Oromait of Uganda have served as moral compasses to African women. With the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the 24th President of Liberia (and the first female President in Africa) and her subsequent nomination as a Nobel Laureate in 2011, the stage had been set to break the barrier that hitherto relegated women to the background. Ellen Sirleaf not only served as a symbol of emancipation of the women folk, she actively advocated for the rights of women, including education, which she saw as a means to end poverty and drive economic development.  In the current government of Liberia, Dr Jewel Horward Taylor is the Vice President.

GENDER ROLES AND BELIEFS
6.
.........The long-held tenets in most African climes apportion certain roles to men and women based on the societies perception of gender. For instance, it would constitute a taboo for a woman to harvest Palm Fruits in Annang Land, South South, Nigeria. This is because an average Palm Tree from where the Fruits are harvested measures some 18 meters and therefore considered too risky for the female to climb. In other words, gender roles are determined by cultural nuances of the people; however, circumstances could alter gender roles. Angela Raven-Roberts posits that armed conflicts, for instance, not only feed off power structures and inequalities that exist within societies, they also affect, and sometimes, reshape these power structures at the community, family and household levels. Furthermore, Raven-Roberts contends that war changes men’s and women’s roles, including marital relations and household burden-sharing, and the way each looks to the other for nurturance and protection.

7.
.........Raven-Roberts is equally collaborated by Egodi Uchendu when the latter demonstrated the shifting realities in conflict situations. Fintan Enang, a Nigerian war veteran, had actually confirmed that women were made to evacuate the wounded and even bury the dead, during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). Traversing the hitherto male-dominated grounds served to embolden the women.

8.
.........In a particular instance when a certain criminal kingpin was terrorizing a community in Isiala Mbano Local Government Council of present day Imo State, Nigeria, at the close of the Nigerian Civil War and the men were helpless, it took the women (400 of them), led by the woman community leader, Madam Janet Asinugo, in December 1970, to raze the house of the terrorizing kingpin and then affect his exile from the community. This incident clearly demonstrated the shifting role of women after the civil war and underscored the fact that women not only became vocal but also law enforcers. This, however, opposes Judith Butler’s assertion that women are viewed as a culturally conditioned or constituted subjective identity.

AFRICAN WOMEN’S EMANCIPATION
9.
.........There is nogainsaying that African women have evolved from the docile, dumb and subjective mold to active participants in the socio-economic and political affairs of the continent. Judith Butler may have been right to assert that women are viewed as a culturally conditioned or constituted subjective identity; but from rights advocacy to poverty eradication, African women have witnessed increased political awareness, re-awakening and empowerment. This is as a result of numerous African countries desire to foster favourable political space for women’s participation in politics.

10.
........In Rwanda, for instance, about 50% of political office holders are women. This is in contrast with happenings in African polity a few years ago, when women were not even eligible to vote, let alone be voted for, or appointed to hold any political office.  Towing the same line, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has just contitutesd 50% Women Cabinet, which is a major paradigm shift in the political landscape of South Africa. This new development has seen more and more women coming out to participate in political issues. Besides engaging in the revolt against the perpetration of social, political and economic injustices, some have become active proponents of environmental sustainability. One prominent woman activist in environmental issues, is Kenyan Wangari Maathai, who founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977.

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT PLATFORMS
11.
........The ascension of women to the socio-political and economic limelight in recent times is chiefly due to the emergence of feminist networks, one of which is known as the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI).  This is a regional networking, information and training forum, which trains African women aged between ages 25 and 40 in critical thinking and gender issues, feminist theory and practice, organizational building and resource development.

12.
........Another prominent network engaged in women development since 1966, is Women Organization for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource management (WOCAN).  It is a women-led international membership network of 1000+ women and men professionals and women’s associations, from about 109 countries.  The sole aim of WOCAN is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of socio-economic and political life.

13.
........Women of Global Change (WGC) Community, on the hand, are focused on sensitizing the communities on the need to provide the citizens with clean water, health care, education, income and training beyond race, creed, religion and circumstance.


WOMEN’S EVOLUTION FOR GLOBAL CHANGE
14.
........What has really given the impetus to women’s loud presence on the African socio-economic and political landscape is the eloquent expression of the prohibition of gender discrimination, which is codified in the UN Conventions on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  CEDAW was adopted by the UNGA in 1979, and instituted on 3 September 1981. And has been ratified by 189 States.

15.
........Like earlier pointed out, women’s evolution for global participation had actually gathered storm in mid 1960, but with the ratification of CEDAW, more socio-political space was opened.  Just as it did, women began to articulate areas that most concern them and have done pretty well in such areas.  For example, women’s interest in Climate Change is not some random intuition, but based, rather, on their understanding that they are more vulnerable to Climate Change than the men. This position has been supported by compelling evidence that links the evolution and distribution of infectious diseases to Climate and weather.

16.
........Besides health concerns, it has also been discovered that the impacts of Climate Change and environmental degradation have helped to increase the number of women farmers and those performing traditional male roles.  This, therefore, helps to explain why women’s contributions in Climate Change and related fields have increased recently.

CONCLUSION

17.
........In this short talk on Women’s Leadership in Africa and what have inspired the women to evolve to the current levels they have reached, I talked about some prominent women who had held leadership positions in the past, and those who have held them in recent times, and the significant roles they played in their respective societies.  

18.
........I briefly touched on the gender roles and the beliefs that shape gender roles in African societies.  It was equally pointed out that circumstances have had to change gender roles.  It is this gender role swap that have inspired the African women to socio-political emancipation, and in some African countries like Rwanda and South Africa, women’s socio-political fortunes are beginning to have a positive climb.  This transformation, it was submitted, was occasioned by the emergence of women empowerment platforms like AWLI, WOCAN and WGC.

19.
........Consequently, African women, like some of their counterparts in other continents, have evolved to the global stage and are making great impacts in the area of Climate Change and Environmental issues.


 
 
 
 

A Lecture by
H.E. Ambassador (Gen) Godwin George Umo  OON
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Vatican
on the occasion of Carità Politica International Association Meeting
Rome – Italy (05 June 2019)

INTRODUCTION

1. ..... .....At creation, God, in Genesis 1 vs.10-12, created the Earth, the Seas and  caused  herbs and grass to produce seeds of their kinds and trees to produce fruits in their kinds also. He saw that it was good. In other words, God never underrated the importance of ecology to mankind. He knew that man’s survival depended on it and to give expression to the significance of it, the Garden of Eden came to existence. Until the unfortunate disobedience of God’s commandment not to eat of a particular fruit in the Garden, Adam and Eve were living in comfort. Man’s travails began with the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden.

2.
..... .....In today’s scenario, ecology plays a significant role in the sustenance of mankind. Not just mankind, but both the biotic and abiotic elements of the ecosystem. It is indeed the symbiotic relationship between these two groups that ensures the sustainability of the environment. What this means is that the environment, on which mankind depends, must be treated with respect. It must not be denuded, exploited and polluted. The environment must be taken care of, otherwise, the human race ceases to exist.


3. ..... .....Indeed, His Holiness Pope Francis captured it succinctly when, in his Encyclical letter "LAUDATO SI", he stated that "The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together". In other words, the treatment meted out to the natural environment will elicit a direct proportional effect on the human. Unfortunately when and if that happens, the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of despoliation of the natural environment are the poor.


4. ..... .....I do not intend to underestimate the intelligence of this august audience by defining the key concepts of this discourse because they are commonplace. I would however remark that we have to deliberately ensure ecological prudence, that is, the proper use of natural resources to guarantee fairness to all the inhabitants of our common home – the Earth. The realization of fairness in the utilization of natural resources can only come through love. The love of God, of your fellow human being, and, of course the environment on which our collective lives depend.


AIM

5.   ..... .....The aim of this discourse is to discuss critical factors that could ensure the sustainability of our common home – the Earth.

     
SCOPE

6. ..... .....I intend to cover this short discourse by considering the following:
    
..... ..... ..... .....a.  Ecological issues and consequences.
    
..... ..... ..... .....b.  Prudent utilization of natural resources.
    
..... ..... ..... .....c.  Impact of the Environment on Justice.
   
..... ..... ..... ..... d.  Cooperation through human brotherhood.
  
..... ..... ..... .....  e.  Sustainable Development.
 
..... ..... ..... .....   f.   Sustainable Development Goals.
 
..... ..... ..... .....   g.  Diplomacy of Values.

ECOLOGICAL ISSUES AND CONSEQUENCES

7. ..... .....Anthropogenic activities have continued to dominate discussions on ecology; and this is necessarily so because of the adverse consequences these activities have on the environment. From bush-burning to industrial production, to pollutants resulting from carbon emissions from various sources, the harm on both the biotic and the abiotic elements of the ecosystem are inestimable. Indeed the consequences have now manifested in various areas, some of which are irreversible; and that is why mitigation of such consequences are no longer discussed but adaptation is now preached.

8.  
..... .....Some of the consequences of human activities on the ecology would include:

a.    Deforestation. Especially in the developing world, where subsistent farming is very well practiced, deforestation is well pronounced. Usually, the bushes have to be cleared before the planting season..ommences. It is not so much the clearing of the overgrowth that is at issue here, but the method employed in doing this. In the developed  climes, mechanized farming is the practice; but in the developing countries, the bushes are most likely to be set on fire. These fires, .over a period of time, set off chain reactions. Carbons and other gases are liberated into the atmosphere and these would include CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), CO (Carbon Monoxide), CH4 (Methane) and N2O (Nitrous Oxide). These aregenerally called the Greenhouse Gases (GHGs). The consequences are that deforestation sets in, there is concomitant depletion of oxygen required by humans to survive, top soils of the burnt bushes are .destroyed leading to the destabilization of the ecosystem in those .environment

b.   Greenhouse Gases Emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions arelargely
.. responsible for global warming because when they float up theatmosphere, they deplete the Ozone Layer, which is responsible for the prevention of the full heat intensity of the Sun from hitting the Earth surface. As a result of the thinning off of the Ozone Layer, the ice caps melt, seas and oceans get warmed up and overflow their banks. These lead to flooding, destruction of lives and properties and the destruction of the ecosystem.

c.
  Air and Water Pollutions. When these gases are emitted from all the sources, earlier mentioned, coupled with effluents from factories, the air and water get polluted. The rich in the societies can afford health care if faced with these pollutions, it is the poor and the vulnerable of such societies that are left tograpple with the health challenges resulting from these pollutions.


9.
..... .....Notwithstanding the consequences of human activities, many measures have been devised to safeguard the global environments. These include the many summits on global warming in Rio De Janeiro, London and so on, to innovative technologies to mitigate the consequences. On Carbon Dioxide emission, clean renewable energy and Carbon Entrapment technology have been employed. Furthermore, on the issue of desertification and deforestation, Artificial Water Seeding and Hydro-Oxygen Vapour Launch have been employed to cause artificial rains to fall. The latter was demonstrated in Mississippi, USA, recently.


PRUDENT UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES


10.
..... .....In his Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI, His Holiness Pope Francis had cautioned that "the deterioration of natural and human environment goes pari-passu". This requires no further emphasis as the human, and indeed, all living and non-living things depend on the natural environment for survival; so, if the natural environment is destroyed, life ceases to exist. Since natural resources are not infinite, it behoves its users to ensure systematic replacement of used natural resources in other to ensure sustainability.

11.
..... .....The synergy between the developed and the developing world is necessary. The former is completely unable to employ harmless technology to prevent harmful fallouts of its activities, while the latter employs its own within its environment. Since it is the same Earth that the two segments of the world both use, the harm done in one segment will sooner or later manifest in the other. So, it is necessary that the war against environmental degradation, in any form, must be won together by sharing requisite technologies to stem the consequences.


IMPACT OF ABUSED ENVIRONMENT ON JUSTICE

12.   ..... .....Quite often the rich do not cry. It is indeed the affluent segment of a society that are culprits in the destruction of the environment; and when the consequences of their abuses occur, they are the first to evade them. Take for instance there is a flood, perhaps warnings had been sounded by the Weather man, the rich have all the means of getting out of harm’s way before it comes. Can the same be said of the poor? The answer is NO. They will be left to face their fate. Nothing can be more unjust.

13.
..... .....This perhaps informed Pope Francis’s observation when he said that the lack of response to tragedies occasioned by Climate Change, which essentially impact the poor more, signposts the society’s laissez-faire attitude towards the wellbeing of its fellow men and women.

14.
..... .....This insensitivity on the part of such society is premised on the fact that the few rich people think more of their personal satisfaction and would care less about what their consumerist attitudes do to the larger society. In other words, Consumerism is one of the pull factors for production and production models that encourage the abuse of the environment.

15.
..... .....It has since been recognized that eradicating the effects of years of environmental abuses would be impossible, as some of these actions are largely irreversible. Consequently, measures are being taken to mitigate the effect; and where mitigation fails, adaptation becomes the only option, Some of the measures include substituting fossil fuels with renewable energy and Carbon Capture technologies; unfortunately though, methods to mitigate the Greenhouse Gas effects are not common, as I earlier stated. It would, therefore, mean that deliberate policies must have to be churned out to mitigate GHGs effects on the environment.

COOPERATION THROUGH HUMAN BROTHERHOOD


16.
..... .....Pope Francis in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, CHRISTUS VIVIT reminds that Friendship is "One of life’s gifts and a grace from God". Furthermore, the Holy Father advises that Friendship must be stable, firm and faithful and that it matures as time progresses. To underscore the importance of friendship, our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15:15 told his servants that he would be calling them friends from then on. This was done for Jesus to demonstrate his appreciation for their loyalty and the reciprocal love he had for them. He also enjoined them to extend the love to others.

17.
..... .....From the preceding paragraph, it is clear that love is the foundation stone for bonding. Brotherhood entails cooperation, irrespective of colour, race or background, bound by love – the love of God, the love of mankind, the love of the environment, our Common Home, that sustains every member of the brotherhood. It is therefore safe to say that the collective cooperation in how we treat the environment, will ensure its sustainability.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

18. ..... .....The Bruntland Commission Report, also known as our common future, published in 1987, defines Sustainable Development as the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while, simultaneously, sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. In other words, it is the development that is conducted without the depletion of natural resources. So, Sustainable Development is about social programmes, economic development and the care of the planet and environment. Like I have always said, there is no development, if environmental sustainability is not guaranteed.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

19. ..... .....Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are the blueprint, containing 17 global goals to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. The SDGs are designed to address the global challenges confronting the world including those related to poverty, inequality, climate and the environment, to mention a few. It was put together by UN General Assembly 2015. Barely 11 years to the target date, poverty which was supposed to be eradicated by 2015, throughout the world, has gone extreme. This means that inequality, which impinges on the human rights of the poor and which the SDGs sought to eradicate, is still very much alive. The Catholic Church, more than any other, has advocated the restoration of human dignity through the respect of individuals’ human rights. This therefore calls for the committed implementation of the SDGs if inequality is to be eradicated.

DIPLOMACY OF VALUES


20.
..... .....According to Brian C. Rathburn, Diplomacy is a game of high stakes poker in which states have no incentive to show their cards or believe the cheap talks of others. However, he contends that good diplomacy is chess rather than poker. Furthermore, Rathburn submits that diplomacy could also be viewed as a reasoned dialogue, which is sometimes referred to as enlightened, civilized diplomacy of a liberal variety. The application of any of these varieties depends on individual diplomats.

21.
..... .....Anupam Ray in an article "Values in Diplomacy" defines values as principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgment of what is important in life. It connotes, among other things, the existence of right and wrong, of good and evil, it equally implies the existence of choice between them. I want to believe that, we as Ambassadors to the Holy See, will always identify with those values that promote ecological prudence, fairness and human brotherhood in order to uphold the sustainability of our Common Home.

CONCLUSION

22. ..... .....In the past 20 minutes or thereabout, I have tried to discuss some critical factors that could foster the sustainability of our Common Home – the Earth. In doing so, I argued that anthropogenic activities have continued to have very dire  consequences on our Common Home and highlighted some of the measures employed in the mitigation of the consequences. Consequently, I advocated the prudent utilization of natural resources and stressed the need for synergistic collaboration between the developed and the developing segments of the world.

23.
..... .....The paper argued that most of the anthropogenic activities are driven by Consumerism, the rich being at the driving seat. When however the impact of their activities hit the environment, they are most likely not to share in the consequences, but the innocent poor would be left to bear the brunt. This serves as injustice to the poor and the vulnerable. Consequently, the paper argued that these consequences could be averted through cooperation and love brought about by human brotherhood.

24.
..... .....Though development is desirable as it brings with it changes, those changes must be in the positive sense. Development that does not enlist environmental sustainability is a development on the negative slope of a graph; and to ensure the development that would bring good to all, the UN SDGs were brought on board to eradicate extreme poverty, inequality, mitigate the effects of Climate Change and preserve the environment – our Common Home.


25. ..... .....Finally the paper encourages the Holy See Ambassadors to help propagate the values the Holy Father continuously emphasizes in order to promote ecological prudence that would remove inequality. It is inequality that ends up disenfranchising the poor. Therefore, we must preach human brotherhood towards sustaining our Common Home – the Earth.


 
 
 
 

PREAMBLE

1. I would like to thank the organizers of this epochal conference and especially, Senator Roberto Salerno and my Chief Host, Honourable Andrea Tronzano, for inviting me. I must confess that my joy does not only derive from having the opportunity of participating in this conference, but in the life-time privilege of savouring the unique landscape and the beautiful weather of Torino. My experience in Torino is further enlivened by the sheer warmth of the people; for all these, I am sincerely grateful.

2. The theme of this conference is rested on a tripod – Economy, Security and Immigration. I must say that the subject of discourse was not only well thought out, it is current and very relevant to the diplomatic relations of Italy and Nigeria.

ECONOMY


3. The interconnectedness of the three concepts of this conference cannot be downplayed. Italy and Nigeria have had a bilateral relationship dating back to over half of a century. This relationship has economic dimension tied to it; and that explains the presence of Italian businesses in virtually every facet of the economic life of Nigeria. There are Italian companies doing businesses in Agro-allied sector, Oil and Gas sector and the Construction sector of the Nigerian economy. Ready examples of such Italian companies are Boroni-Proni, Eni Petroleum, AGIP and ESSO, to mention a few.

4. The Italian companies investments in Nigeria have been symbiotically beneficial to the peoples of the two countries and I would like to use this forum to encourage the Italian entrepreneurs to leverage the many Nigerian government’s incentives to invest more in the Nigerian economy. Besides Agriculture, the Mining industry remains largely untapped; and, there is a galaxy of important solid minerals, ranging from Marble to Gold. Investing in the many sectors of the Nigerian economy would, definitely, promote the economic wellbeing of both countries, ensure the security of the peoples and stem irregular immigration.

SECURITY

5. Security shares an umbilical chord with economy. Let me quickly define the aspect of security I am referring to. Security has been largely misconstrued to mean the preservation of nation states, governments and regimes from danger. This, of course, is the Westphalian conception of security, which is the Hard Security. I am, however, talking, here, about the Soft Security aspect of Security. Specifically, I am saying that when the basic needs of man are met, as espoused by Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs, security is guaranteed. The economy of the nation has to be bouyant to sustain security, and that is why I earlier asserted that security and economy share the same umbilical chord. Consequently, the choice of the theme could not have been more apt in addressing the many socio-economic problems plaguing the two countries.

6. It is when there are distortions in the economy that people begin to feel insecure; and, the next reaction is to seek where their security can be guaranteed. The exploration of a more conducive environment in the face of economic insecurity leads to migration. Though an age-long phenomenon, migration will continue to take place, especially given the interconnectedness and the globalization of the modern world. Migration could result from political persecution, natural disasters, wars and adverse economic conditions, to mention a few.


IMMIGRATION

7. People are bound to migrate from places that do not guarantee safety from harm, hunger and climate. In the early 1930s, the global economic meltdown saw people migrating to where they felt they had some form of security. Italians were no exception. Another economic downturn in Italy in 2007/2008 saw many Italian companies relocating elsewhere they considered more economically-friendly. It is natural.

8. In a good part of Africa, where Nigeria belongs, there has been a combination of factors responsible for the migration of its youths to Europe and America. Besides those causative factors earlier mentioned,  Consumerism has been fingered as one of the reasons fuelling Irregular Immigration. Immigration on its own is not a bad thing, but it is the Irregular Immigration that people talk about. Most times, discussions on Irregular Immigration do not go over the entire Push-and-Pull factors. I would like to believe that this conference shall look at the entire spectrum of the Push-and-Pull factors of Irregular Immigration with a view to proffering lasting solutions to the problem.


CONCLUSION

9. I would like to end my short remarks by thanking the sponsors and conveners of this important conference, which seeks to address the Economy, Security and Immigration issues confronting our world. In discussing these issues, we must focus on solutions that would not only provide a healthy economic environment, these solutions must assure us of our security. Consequently, if those two parameters are guaranteed, the knack for Irregular Immigration will be much reduced.

10. Whilst wishing you a very exciting conference, I wish to thank you for the privilege granted me and the attention. God bless.


 
 
 
 

Your Excellency Msgr Giovanni D’Ercole, the Bishop of Ascoli Piceno, our host. I am General Godwin George Umo (Rtd), the Nigerian Ambassador to the Holy See. Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors or their representatives of:
        a.  Cameroon.
        b.  Ghana.
        c.  Mexico.
        d. Nicaragua.
        e. Venezuela.
        f.  Any other ones not mentioned.

It is, indeed, a privilege to say the following few words on behalf of my colleagues. When the idea of coming for this visit was mooted to me, I asked the organizers what the import of the visit was and who was going to be the host. A letter was sent to me with H.E. Msgr Giovanni D’Ercole as our chief host. Immediately, the name struck a chord in my head because the Bishop, we are so fortunate to be guests to, in other climes, ought to be one of the national heroes. For the benefit of those of us, who had not followed the Earthquakes in Aquila and the recent one in Ascoli Piceno in 2016, Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole played a very active part in helping to salvage the victims and survivors of the earthquakes. This is one feat that stands Bishop Giovanni out as first amongst equals.

Talking about the two earthquakes, there were severe destructions of infrastructure and monuments that defined the culture of the people. Though efforts have been made to rebuild the colossal damages to the infrastructure and monuments, the psychological restitution may never be achieved. This situation therefore calls for global solidarity with the victims and their families in their harrowing experiences. We would like to reiterate that we are in solidarity with the victims and their families of these unfortunate disasters.

Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole knows full well that the total person cannot be separated from the politics of the environment he or she finds himself or herself; so, he partakes in several political discourses all in an attempt to proffer solutions to the engaging challenges. Disturbed by the political firestorms that defined the 2018 Italian Elections, he opined that the harsh tones used by the various political gladiators during the electioneering campaigns were worrisome and cautioned, after the elections, that they should bury their political hatchets and seek to be responsible. The Bishop succinctly captured this in a very few words. “Now it is time to rebuild, like after an earthquake”.

Born in Morino on 05 October 1947, Bishop Giovanni was ordained priest on his birthday in 1974. H.E. Msgr Giovanni D’Ercole is a polyglot; specifically, he speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. Barely 2 years after ordination, the Bishop was posted to Grand-Bassam in Côte D’Ivoire as a Parish Priest and an Episcopal Vicar. Later, he served as a Professor of Moral Theology at the Major Seminary located within Anyama City. He was, therefore, in the West African country from 1976-1984.

In 1987, Saint Pope John Paul II appointed him the Deputy Director of the Holy See Press Office, then directed by Joaquín Navarro-Valls. In 1990, he joined the Secretariat of State of the Holy See and in 1998 he was appointed Head of the First Section of General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, a position he held until 2009. He was ordained Bishop in December 2009, appointed and installed Bishop of Ascoli Piceno on 10 May 2014. Before then, the Bishop had been the Archbishop of Aquila. Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, we are fortunate to be hosted by a rare gem who has devoted more than 45 years of his life to priesthood and has been a Bishop for some 10 years.

Your Excellency, Msgr Giovanni d’Ercole, the Bishop of Ascoli Piceno, our host, Your Excellencies, I believe I will be saying your minds if I say that this auspicious visit to the highly revered Bishop is another milestone in the art and practice of Diplomacy. It is not entirely surprising to us that Carità Politica has put this together, as the Association has been at the forefront of giving values to diplomacy at the Holy See. This exercise goes to reinforce the tenets of diplomatic communications, which have been eloquently expressed by the organizers of this visit and our host. Your Excellencies, our host is a well known figure in and outside Italy.

When one ponders on the raison d’être of diplomacy from its inception at the Vatican to its conceptualization in the United Kingdom in 1645, the import of the unique visit comes to the fore. Frequent diplomatic communications and interactions would eliminate rancour, friction and misunderstanding. It is, indeed, the absence of these diplomatic ingredients of symbiotic existence that lead to war and violence. When therefore peace reigns, both bilateral and multilateral relations are boosted.

It is this type of cordial atmosphere that promotes and gives vent to the proper employment of instruments of diplomacy to the benefit of the parties concerned. Here then lays the significance of this visit, which you have generously given the nod to take place.

We, the Ambassadors, will not take your kindness and compassion for granted. More than anything else, we shall see this visit as a means of further deepening the diplomatic relations between our respective countries and the Holy See.

Let me end these few remarks by expressing our sincere thanks and appreciation to Carità Politica, especially Professor Alfredo Luciani, who has continued to remind us of the values of diplomacy. Whilst not forgetting other contributors like Heads of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia to this important programme, our appreciation goes to our host, H.E. Msgr Giovanni D’Ercole, who has not only educated us on the nexus between Diplomacy of Values and Development, but has laid bare his chest of hospitality for our comfort. It is our prayer that the good Lord shall reciprocate your kind gestures in no distant future. We thank you; and, God bless you all.


 
 
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