by MA Johnson
In the year 2000, world leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration which committed the nations of the world to a new global partnership. A global partnership aimed at reducing extreme poverty and other time-bound targets with a stated deadline of 2015. At that time, it was the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) comprising 8 goals.
Several reasons were presented by government officials why Nigeria could not achieve the MDGs in 15 years. One of the reasons adduced for the country’s poor performance, was poor leadership of the country even though the implementation started late. Nigeria, it was reported, began to find its rhythm in the implementation of the MDGs from 2005 when the nation successfully negotiated a debt relief from the Paris Club. Some government officials also cited the perennial insecurity in the North Eastern part of the country as one of the factors that inhibited the progress of project implementation across the country.
In explaining why Nigeria and other African countries could not achieve the MDGs, the immediate past minister of Budget and National Planning, disclosed that:
“We have not made as much progress as had hoped for partly because of poor implementation mechanisms and excessive reliance on development aid. Another factor is the failure of many African countries in mainstreaming the MDGs into their national economic plan, policies and budgets. Added to these is the fact that many African countries lacked relevant data and mechanisms to monitor progress.”
The failures and achievements of Nigeria and other African countries in the MDGs notwithstanding, the MDGs have been superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were officially adopted on 25 September 2015. Also known as the Global Goals the SDGs are a set of 17 goals with 169 targets and a timeframe of 15 years.
The SDGs equally, seek to end poverty, hunger and inequality, tackle climate change and build resilient infrastructure. Like the MDGs, the SDGs reflect the moral principles that no country should be left behind and that all countries should have a common responsibility of delivering the Global Goals by 2030.
Simply put, “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The SDGs is hinged on the principle of sustainable development. This principle predicts that nations would articulate strategies that meets the developmental needs of their societies today, without mortgaging its prospects for the future.
We want a future fit for our children. The future we want is that in which development is pursued in a manner that bridges the gap between the present and future generations. A development that is sensitive to providing quality education, bridging gender inequality, and ensuring a healthy environment which is a prerequisite for good health amongst others.
The year 2030 is just a decade away. It is not too early to start assessing what the federal, state and local governments are doing to actualize the SDGs. The crux of the matter is that one cannot see any sustainable development program being implemented in most of the 774 local governments in the country in the past 5 years. In other words, no one can really say where most state and local governments currently stand on their commitment to the implementation and actualization of the SDGs because of the overwhelming problems confronting them ranging from economic crisis to increasing insecurity.
At the federal level, efforts are being made to bridge the infrastructural gap. However, access to water supply and sanitation is restricted. Water management in the country is still an issue. A report (Greenberg Reporters, November 7, 2016) revealed that about 150,000 children under the age 5 die annually from diarrhoea-related diseases that was traceable to unsafe drinking water. The situation is worse in rural areas where polluted ponds and streams remain only source of water for drinking and other household chores. This trend must be reversed.
The successful implementation of the SDGs requires a collective effort of all Nigerians at home and abroad. An inclusive approach where every Nigerian is supporting the governments- local, state, and federal- either locally or nationally is the best strategy to be adopted. The governments (local, state and federal), media, academia, civil society, youths and private individuals should all get involved and ensure no one is left behind.
To buttress the need for the actualization of the SDGs by all stakeholders, the former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, was of the view in 2015 that:
“The Sustainable Development Goals were forged from the most inclusive policy dialogue we have ever organized. Governments must take the lead in living up to their pledges. At the same time, I am counting on the private sector to drive success. Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing business and building markets. Trillion of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions.”
Even though, a sizeable number of MDGs were not attained by the end of 2015, the country has known what is possible and it can now offer a solid foundation on which to build upon. If there was proper engagement and mobilization of the private sector and relevant government agencies at local, state, and federal levels concerning SDGs, glad tidings await the country and the continent of Africa at large. But can the private sector in Nigeria be mobilized by the government towards achieving the SDGs? What will be the incentive for private sector participation in the implementation of SDGs?
In implementing the SDGs, there are some prospects. It is necessary for the government to carry the civil society and the private sector along as it continues the process of implementation of the SDGs. The need to carry the civil society along as they are drivers of development cannot be overemphasized. Civil societies should collaborate with other NGOs to increase the level of awareness of the SDGs amongst Nigerians at the grassroots. If the implementation strategies of governments are effective particularly at state and local government levels, the impact of development would be felt by the grassroots. The higher the level of awareness, the greater the possibility of the government knowing what citizens need.
One should not overlook some challenges that will affect implementation of the SDGs namely: Leadership, security threat and corruption. As laudable as the SDGs could be, if the twin evils of corruption and insecurity are not dealt with, its goals and targets may end up “developing” personal pockets without achieving its ultimate aim. No African country achieved the MDGs due to leadership failure and the penchant of African leaders to pursue selfish and sectional rather than national interests.
In order to improve the living standard of Nigeria’s 200 million people, there is need to have an improvement in the implementation gap of the SDGs at all levels of governments and proper domestication of the goals in our national development plan and other policies. If there is no improvement, the SDGs may flounder in failure. Thank you!