SDGs in 365 Days: How Has Nigeria Fared?

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A year after the adoption of the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) many Nigerians are concerned that the country has not achieved a reasonable level of realisation under the current administration, with various challenges arising from economic recession and allegations of corruption. Abimbola Akosile and Ugo Aliogo jointly examine the present scenario

On September 25, 2015, 193 member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda tagged; ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.

The development agenda is a set of seventeen global goals with 169 targets, and part of the UN’s efforts to build a comprehensive development plan in order to complete the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs). It is also aimed at eradicating all forms of poverty and moving the world onto a sustainable development path while ensuring that no one is left behind.
The programme is poised to ensure the realisation of the human rights of everyone, achieve gender equality in all spheres of life, and ensure parity in economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. The MDGs were established following the Millennium summit of the United Nations in 2000, and the agreement under the ‘Future We Want outcome document.’

MDGs Review
According to a report, a review of the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) implementation in Nigeria explained that the country registered diverse results across the goals, geographic areas and gender groups. Regardless of progress on some indicators, many of the goals and targets have not been achieved.

The slow pace of progress nevertheless, the country has reportedly registered some remarkable achievements such as eradicating polio, the implementation of a largely successful Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) and mobilising community utilisation of health facilities through the village health workers scheme.

The country had also taken the leadership position on the MDGs within the continent and internationally. Policies and institutions set up in Nigeria were admired and simulated by other countries. Showing the same leadership on the SDGs and delivering results across all of the goals will require pro-active planning and thinking.

The report explained that the movement from MDGs to SDGs meant that the new sectors and goals in the SDGs will require new policies and new institutional mechanisms to ensure actions on ground, while calling for increased funding, more financial investments, effective planning and legal framework.

Adoption Commitments
At the adoption of the agenda in New York, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed satisfaction that most countries have pledged commitment to the post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs with their means of implementation, adding that the SDGs have come with lofty aspirations and they require targeted development cooperation by the international community to the year 2020.

“For the newly adopted SDGs to be truly global, they must be practical. In this regard, the SDGs’ core objectives of poverty eradication and reducing inequalities must be met within the framework of a revitalised global partnership support by concrete policies and actions as outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

“Luckily, these two core objectives of the SDGs are precisely at the centre of Nigeria’s new administration’s agenda. It must be emphasised that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) supplemented where suitable by Official Development Assistance as outlined in the Addis Ababa Agenda are necessary, though not sufficient, conditions for accelerated development in countries that are trying to catch upon.”

Buhari appealed to industrialised countries to redeem their pledge of earmarking 0.7 per cent of their GDP to development assistance, adding that with the exception of the UK, all concerned countries have met the UN requirements, “but with SDGs we have the opportunity to improve the lives of people not just in the developing world but in all nations.”

The President noted that Nigeria fully subscribes and endorses Goals 13, 14 and 15 of the SDGs regarding climate change, stressing that in Nigeria, desertification, land erosion and degradation leading to biodiversity loss are real threats to the environment.

Joint Roles
The Director of the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Ronald Kayanja, said the SDGs is a global target that should not be met only by the federal or state government alone.
Kayanja added that the private sector, Civil Society Organisations (CSO), foundations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and development partners have a great role to play in the realisation of the goal, “there is a need for high level partnership in order to achieve the goals of the SDGs and everyone has a role to play.”
He stated that in the last one year, Nigeria has achieved some measures of progress, especially with the creation of the Office of the Senior Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) in the office of the Presidency.

“In the Ministry of Planning and budget, we have focal points on SDGs. In most of the states, we have special advisers on SDGs. One of the challenges countries needs to work on is generating data, in order to reach these goals. You require data to prove it.
“Presently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has launched a national survey which will help to develop the baseline for the SDGS. There was a meeting of various stakeholders in July to discuss strategies on how to mainstream SDGs in the planning processes in Nigeria and in November, these goals are going to be official,” he noted.

Kayanja stressed that there will also be launching across the states of the federation, noting that the essence is to keep promoting these goals so that people will understand; while there have been spirited efforts by NGOs and CSOs at sensitising people at different levels of about SDGs.
The UN Director expressed confidence that the country has started well, while calling for the setting up of an institutional framework to help the country to achieve these goals, adding that “the UN has been supportive in helping the government to develop the institutional framework.”
He said: “The framework includes the focal points, office of the special adviser, the work being done by the ministry of budget and planning, the National Bureau of Statistics and the states involvement. There is need for the funding of these in order to achieve the SDGs.

“It is too quick to judge what the nation has achieved in the last one year, remember the expectation of member countries is that these goals are achieved in the year 2030, therefore at the stage where Nigeria is planning and building an institutional framework. We have to first begin by creating awareness and put measures in place for data collection. We hope that by next year, budget will align with SDGs in order to have data to prove”,

Other Strides
Although senior officials in the UN system and other analysts have admitted that it is still too early to judge how far Nigeria has come or how well the country has performed in the race to realise the 17 SDGs and the 169 targets between now and the 2030 deadline year, many citizens appreciate the fact that Nigeria began the process of implementation much faster than was the case with the MDGs.

Given the need for all stakeholders to be involved in the implementation of the development goals in Nigeria, the federal government recently set the tone by convening a national stakeholders retreat under the auspices of the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs).

Before then, the National Assembly, with the help of the Acting Regional Coordinator, Africa of the United Nations SDG Action Campaign, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna, also organised an African Parliamentarians retreat on the SDGs in Abuja; while civil society organisations, some private sector organisations, and the media have been actively involved in creating awareness on the SDGs.
If the various efforts by the present administration to integrate the SDGs into the national development framework, with domestication and step-downs by the various states are anything to go by, Nigerians may get to enjoy the benefits of good governance contained in the global SDGs.