The outgoing Minister for Enviroment and soon to be Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed has revealed the most difficult decision she has ever made in her life – leaving her ministerial post and Nigeria for the UN job.
She made this known in the Oriental Hotel in Lagos when friends and colleagues honoured her with a congratulatory dinner for her new job.
“I am really overwhelmed. Because I feel like I really love to work. It feels like an out of body experience”, she said of the evening’s occasion.
Everyone who took the stage earlier, had eulogised her so much, Mohammed could have been forgiven for blushing as a battery of photo-journalists and Reporters laid in wait for her at the entrance of the hallway.
When asked Mohammed if she’d be missing her job as Nigeria’s environment minister and if she thinks she’d be missed back in Abuja.
“Government is a continuum”, she offered. “Everything that we do in government is aimed at building institutions. You are judged by what happens after you leave. I am very convinced that my co-pilot, the minister of State, is going to carry the ministry to greater heights.
“We can do many many things to help fulfill the President’s agenda,” Mohammed said.
“Choosing between Nigeria and the United Nations was probably one of the most difficult decisions of my life”, Mohammed.
Amina is however certain that Nigeria is in good hands. She also feels that the land of her birth has a lot to offer the world.
“We have many challenges here too. We all needed to serve in this administration because we need to make a difference..to move from where we are. And to be called to the global arena is an immense situation and honour. But I’m a humanist. Every day of my work involves communities, involves people. I am going to a different level and hope that I can make the same difference”.
Mohammed announced that as she leaves for the UN, she’ll be taking Nigeria along with her.
“I am going to the UN with Nigeria, Africa and the world”, she said with a characteristic grin.
Mohammed’s short time in office saw her flag off the Ogoni cleanup in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta region.
“We have done more in the last 13 months than we have in the last 10 years”, she said of the Ogoniland cleanup which will take two more decades at least.
“We want to use Ogoniland as the benchmark for how things should be done. We’ll take the lessons from Ogoniland to find a solution. Nigeria has a lot to share and I’ll share them with the rest of the world”, she said.
It was a night where Mrs. Mohammed was content to share the spotlight with Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Women Affairs Aisha Alhassan (Mama Taraba) and Minister of State for Environment Ibrahim Jibrin.
They all spoke of how much of a delight it was to work with Mrs. Mohammed.
“She’s a good woman”, said Amaechi.
‘Mama Taraba’ (as Minister for Women Affairs Alhassan is popularly called) narrated how the departing Minister coerced the rest of her colleagues to contribute funds toward taking care of her ailing leg on one occasion.
“She was like that to everyone..looking out for her colleagues”, said Mama Taraba.
The Women Affairs Minister describes Mohammed as a “dedicated, hard working, honest person. She has always been passionate about women advancement, women empowerment, gender affairs….
“She’ll always call me to say, ‘come..let us collaborate to see what is good for Nigerian women. She’s my friend, my sister. I’m very happy for her and happy for Nigeria. She’s a good person and the world needs her”.
During Mrs. Mohammed’s address on the podium, she made jokes about how strange it was for her not to know her portfolio during the ministerial screening on the floor of parliament back in 2015.
Every potential minister was getting grilled by lawmakers without prior knowledge of the ministry they were going to be overseeing.
It was something of a culture shock for someone who had spent most of her adult life in the prim and proper surroundings of the United Nations (she was Special Adviser to then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon) before President Muhammadu Buhari beckoned on her to return home to serve her country.
On Thursday, two of her colleagues in the federal cabinet disclosed that she was coerced to take the Nigerian job.
She leaves as one of Nigeria’s finer Ministers in a cabinet milling with several ghost personnel.
She further said she’ll be doing everything to project Nigeria’s many challenges and successes on the global map as she’s done all her adult life.
“I couldn’t have done it without all of you”, she told the room packed full with captains of industry and Managing Directors of multinational oil companies and banks.