The United Nations has been commended for reiterating that the fight against hunger is one that concerns everyone and not just the agricultural sector or specialized agencies. The Provost of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing Ijioma made the call during the 2015 UN Day celebrations in her College.
The Provost, in her speech, also held that “As an academic institution that produces agricultural science teachers, we understand the need to imbue our students with knowledge of agricultural entrepreneurship alongside that of teaching them about improved farm yields and responsible farming methods.”
Earlier on, the guest lecturer, Dr. Chijioke Osuji, an Associate Professor of Food Science and Technology in the Federal University of Technology, Owerri encouraged students and young people to get involved in the agricultural value chain process, stating that with more hands engaged in food production and distribution Nigeria will be on the road to Zero Hunger. He made these remarks while delivering a lecture on the theme, Zero Hunger Challenge: United for a Sustainable world.
Mr. Hillary Ozoh from the UNICEF office in Enugu represented the UN Resident Director at the event. The colourful ceremony also featured a Roundtable on healthy soil for healthy life, dance-drama, poetry, music and audience perspectives on hunger and migration.
The UN Day is an annual event in the College in recognition of the technical assistance which the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) provided in 1963 during the establishment of the then Advanced Teachers Training College which metamorphosed into the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri.
It will be recalled that the United Nations celebrated 70 years of existence this year having been founded on 24th October, 1945. Dr. Blessing Ijioma, speaking on the newly unveiled Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) said: “a close collaboration with the UN will enable us to better contribute our quota to Nigeria’s efforts to meet the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Goals no. 4, on quality education, fall under the purview of a college of education like ours which is primarily tasked with the job of producing teachers for the various levels of education; and quality teachers, as we all know, is the fulcrum for quality education and consequently sustainable development.”
A news commentary broadcast on Radio Nigeria Heartland FM, Owerri on 24thOctober, 2015 (UN Day )
Immediately after the Second World War, the Allied Powers, comprising a coalition of Britain, China, USSR, USA and France, also referred to as Super Powers, which defeated Italy, Germany and Japan decided to set up an international peace-keeping body known as the United Nations Organisation (U.N.O.) as a replacement for the then failed League of Nations. The United Nations, as an intergovernmental, international organisation was founded on 24thOctober, 1945 to promote international cooperation and commitment to maintaining international peace and security, development of friendly relations among nations, and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
In a bid to achieve the objectives of the organisation, the U.N. charter provided for six major bodies. These are the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. Others are the Trusteeship Council, the Secretariat and the International Court for the Promotion of Peace and Security.
Although best known for peacekeeping, peace building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its specialized agencies, funds and programmes affect every human society and make the world a better place. The organisations work on a broad range of fundamental issues from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promotion of democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, socio-economic development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and co-ordinate efforts for a safer world for the present and future generations.
In order to make known to the peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the 193 member nation body, and to gain support for its work, the UN General Assembly in 1947 declared October 24 the anniversary of the charter of the organisation. This explains why the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, which is historically closely tied to the United Nations always gives the UN Day a pride of place in the academic calendar.
A journey down memory lane reveals that in 1963, when the then Eastern Region Government of Nigeria established the Advanced Teachers Training College (ATTC), in the old Shell Camp quarters, Owerri, it was with the technical assistance from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The first Principal, Mr. A. J. Brooks was a UNESCO expatriate who laid the foundations for an institution that has today grown in leaps and bounds to become the best College of Education in the country. Under the tutelage of the Federal Government, the College has become a centre of excellence in teacher education. It is thus fitting that the College joins millions of others across the globe to celebrate the UN Day with pomp and pageantry.
As the 2015 UN Day falls on a weekend the College will formally mark the celebrations on Monday 26th October at the College auditorium. A number of activities such as dance drama, debate, poetry, parade, art exhibition, raising of flags, and a thematic lecture as well as a Roundtable all anchored on the UN ethos have been lined up to mark the day.
The observance of the UN Day in our College for the first time, last year, was a success. This year the UN has extended a hand of fellowship by sending a special delegate to represent the UN envoy in Nigeria.
In the last few years the College has realized the need to aggressively reach out and network with many organisations, institutions and agencies: governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental. This is the modern trend in higher education where linkages and collaborations are leveraged to broaden horizons and to interface with different cultures. In the case of the UN, a close collaboration will enable us to better contribute our quota to Nigeria’s efforts to meet the newly unveiled Sustainable Development Goals.
The UN theme for 2015, is “Zero Hunger Challenge: United for a Sustainable World.” The UN is saying that the challenge of eradicating hunger is one that concerns everyone, and not just the agricultural sector or specialised agencies. While we are at this, we must not damage the environment so that future earth will remain arable. As an institution that engages in research and produces agricultural science teachers, we understand the need to imbue our students with knowledge of agricultural entrepreneurship alongside that of teaching them about improved farm yields. Staff at Alvan have been exposed to several workshops and programmes on modern agricultural systems and our curriculum has been expanded to include teaching young people the need to engage in the food production business.
This is with a view to producing graduates who are second to none in learning and character, who will understand the need to live in peace, respect for human rights, gender equality and women empowerment; the need for tolerance, economic and social development, self-reliance as well as the need to imbibe the fundamental ideals of the UN.
To this extent, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri wishes all peoples of the world a happy United Nations Day celebration.