Closing speech of UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein at the 27th Universal Postal Congress, 27th August 2021, Abidjan, Côte D'IvoireThe Prime Minister of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Hon. Patrick Achi,
The Minister for Digital Economy, Telecommunications and Innovation of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Hon. Roger Felix Adon,
Your Excellencies Ministers and heads of delegations,
Director General-elect, Mr. Masahiko Metoki,
Deputy Director General-elect, Mr. Marjan Osvald
Dear delegates and participants,
Invited guests and members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
After three remarkable weeks we have come to the end of the 27th Congress here in Abidjan. I would like to once again thank the government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire for making this possible. I never once doubted the commitment and ability of the government to host this Congress despite the Covid-19 pandemic. My strong conviction was once again vindicated. We can now confidently declare this Congress is a resounding success
Your Excellency, this Congress is historic in two ways. It is the first that has happened in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the first hybrid Congress of the Union. We were able to gather more than 100 countries physically present and the rest participating remotely using technology. I can also say that UPU is the first UN body that has successfully conducted hybrid Congress of this scale. I would like to thank the government of Côte D’Ivoire and the International Bureau secretariat for making this possible.
Mr. Prime Minister, despite the small technical hiccup during the first two days, the Congress went on smoothly. We were able to deal with more than 200 proposals and held the elections of the DG, DDG and members of the governing councils without any difficulties. At this juncture, I would like to congratulate the new DG and DDG elect Mr. Metoki and Mr. Osvald for their success in their campaign for the leadership positions of the Union. These are two respectable and experienced men I have known for many years. I have no doubt they will lead our organization to new heights.
I want to congratulate Mr. Jean-Paul Forceville for his election as chair of the POC. Mr. Forceville is no doubt a man with long experience in the postal sector. I know the POC is now in safe hands. I also want to congratulate the newly elected member states of the UPU councils for their success.
Finally, I want to congratulate my able friend, Mr. Isaac Gnamba Yao, I fondly call him the “big lion”, for his nomination as Chairman of the governing body (CA) for the next cycle. I wish the new captain, co-pilot and crew every success in their leadership roles in the Union for the next cycle.
Mr. Prime Minister, today is significant for me too. It marks the final steps for me to completing my two mandates as the DG of the IB of the UPU. I want to express my profound gratitude to all the member states of the Union for this rare opportunity and privilege I was given to lead this organization for the past nine years. I say thanks to you all.
It would be difficult for me to say how far we have come and what we have achieved during my two mandates in this short space of time. Suffice to say that Pascal and I have accomplished all the objectives we were assigned to do by the Doha and Istanbul Congresses. I am glad we have not disappointed you.
Excellences, during the official opening day of this Congress three weeks ago, I mentioned that Pascal and I placed the most difficult topics of reforms on the agenda of the Union bodies. We went on a road show to sell our ideas of reform to the member states in all regions. We received overwhelming support and naturally some resistance.
I have always known that change is never easy. Unfortunately the rapid changes in postal sector were not going to allow us the time to be complacent. Change was not only necessary but urgent. We decided to step up the gas pedal on reforms. I am sure you will remember me for my views regarding the famous quotes (“further studies,” “impact analysis,” and “step-by-step approach). I know the new team will take it up from where we have left and will bring in new perspectives and energy to lead our Union to prosperity. I wish them success on the difficult road ahead.
Allow me to share some my personal history and perhaps you will understand what was driving my motivation. I took this from my Dad, my upbringing and the environments in which I was born and raised.
Dear friends, my Dad was a decorated regimental senior sergeant in the British colonial tribal police force in Kenya. He later became a chief and community elder before he died in 2008. My identity and character was forged by this tough disciplinarian soldier. There was no place for lay-back and laziness in his household. He taught me be a man and not just another male. There is a distinction between the two. I would like to share his idea of the man he wanted to see in me.
Dad took me through the hard drill of life from my childhood.
He defined my life long character and conduct.
He taught me how to distinguish the right from the wrong from an early age.
He taught me to speak the truth no matter how pleasant or uncomfortable they may sound.
He taught me to be principled.
He taught me to be a man who means what he says, and says what he means.
He taught me how to respect and how to demand respect.
He taught me to stand upright and speak my mind loud and clear without ambiguity.
He taught me to honour my promise and always make best efforts to keep them.
He taught me to be honest and humble when I falter.
He taught me never to give up when things get hard.
He taught me to get up when I am down and start all over again.
He told me to speak out for the voiceless.
He taught me to advocate for justice and support the weak.
He taught me to be generous and not mean and miserly.
He taught me to give and not expect anything back in return.
He taught me not bully others and never accept to be bullied.
He taught me that art of listening.
“God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason,” he would say. “To listen more and speak less.”
He taught me to shun laziness and strive for success in everything I undertake.
He taught me something else. He taught me to own up an apologies when I falter.
I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere apologies to you for all my shortcomings. I know I have pushed the member states very hard to undertake UPU reforms. I want you to know that it was not personal. I only wanted the best for the Union. My sincere apology to all of you if I may have stepped on anybody’s toes in the line of my duty.
Your Excellency, I must say something about Mr. Pascal Clivaz (DDG). I will not say enough about the exemplary leader he is. He is honest man and dependable friend. Mr. Pascal, I can never thank you enough for the invaluable support and advice you gave me during our mandate. Thank you sir.
I would like to appreciate the following people:
All African heads of states.
All member states of the Union.
All CA chairs with whom I had the pleasure to work with namely, Mr. Al Aqaily , Mr. Faleh al Naemi, Mr. Kenan Bozgeyik and Mr. Hakan Gülten.
I thank the DG-elect, Mr. Metoki, for his leadership of the POC for the past two cycles.
My thanks goes my entire IB secretariat. You are the unsung heroes of the Union. Please continue to support the new leadership.
To my government and compatriots from Kenya – many thanks to you.
I thank my family (wife and children) for their enduring love and support to me.
To my parents – my appreciation, prayer and love will forever be with them.
Excellences, over the years, I have made enduring friendships with many people across the globe. You have been kind and respectable to me. I would not have accomplished what we delivered without your support. I say thanks to you all.
As you depart Abidjan, I wish you safe travel home.
Amb. Bishar A. Hussein