Kanu reappointed UNICEF Nigeria Goodwill Ambassador
Kanu makes long-term commitment as UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador
UYO, AKWA IBOM, 11 June 2009—Nigerian soccer star Nwankwo Kanu today signed on to his third term as UNICEF Nigeria Goodwill Ambassador at a ceremony at the University of Uyo Sports Complex with the UNICEF Representative, Dr. Suomi Sakai.
Four years ago Kanu joined the prestigious league of UNICEF Goodwill ambassadors across the world who speak and advocate for children. The appointment is renewable every two years after a review of the Ambassador’s tenure and his availability to continue to work for children.
“Working with UNICEF, I have seen the dire circumstances that children in Nigeria face every day.” “I see children who have been disabled and heard of others who have died, just because they weren’t immunized. Thousands of little children die every year from malaria, and we know that sleeping under bed nets every night prevents it,” he said. “We have to help young people avoid HIV infection—and all kids need to secure their future by going to school. There is so much to do!”
After the ceremony, Dr. Sakai took Mr. Kanu to visit the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network shelter in Esit-Eket, Akwa Ibom State, where children who have been rejected by their families after having been accused of being witches are cared for. “These children need the protection and care of all of us in the community,” the athlete said. “They are all our children.”
UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Suomi Sakai praised the efforts of the Akwa Ibom State Government for its adoption of the Child Rights Law and for taking measures against those who abuse children. She called for even stronger implementation of the law to ensure that children are systematically protected in the State.
In the last four years, as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Nwankwo Kanu has used his fame, resources and personal capacity for social mobilization and advocacy to make children’s rights a priority and encourage social change. He has been involved in the Children and AIDS campaign in Nigeria and joined other international celebrities worldwide including David Beckham in the worldwide campaign. During the Africa Cup of Nations last year in Ghana, Kanu joined other African players to promote quality education for all children in Africa.
Nwankwo Kanu plays active football in the English Premier league, and has won the African Footballer of the Year award twice in 1996 and 1999. He holds two national honours, Officer of the Order of the Niger, and Member of the Order of the Niger. Before joining his current club, Portsmouth, Kanu played for Ajax Amsterdam, Inter Milan, Arsenal and West Brom. He is a regular member of Nigerian National team, the Super Eagles.
For further information, contact Media & External Relations, UNICEF Nigeria Country Office