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MDGs and 2020 Goals: Nigeria’s Hidden potentials

This is an excerpt of UNDP comments on Nigeria on the progress of its Millennium Development Goals following a 2006 status report. Of the eight goals, UNDP foresaw only the achievement of universal primary education, environmental sustainability and global development partnerships.

UNDP, which is official monitor of the UN declaration, goes on to say that availability of current data and limited funding for further data generation are critical barriers in the programme. Bad news for a country that has more that just the MDGs to meet!

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the ambitious 2020 plan – of taking Nigeria to the top 20 world economies by that year – after being democratically elected to power in 1999 following decades of political uncertainty and civil unrest. If the MDG targets are hard, considering both Nigeria’s current and projected fortunes, the 2020 goals are much tougher.

The extreme contradictions of Nigeria’s economy are part of academic lore. The second largest economy in the African continent earns an estimated $2.2 million every day from oil exports alone, yet its GDP per capita at just over $1,400 is comparable to some of the poorest nations. As of 2007, it has proven reserves of over 36 billion barrels in oil and 5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, yet more than 54% of its population continues to live in extreme poverty without access to fundamental necessities. Added to these are far less than optimistic human development indices and the latest threat of growing Islamic militancy in the Niger Delta region.

The MDGs that Nigeria is unlikely to achieve, according to the UNDP, are:

•    Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty
•    Promoting gender equality and empowering women
•    Reducing child mortality
•    Improving maternal health
•    Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

The goals are part of the UN Millennial Declaration of 2000 that sets out to achieve universal basic human rights concerning health, education, shelter and security in a time bound manner by 2015. They call for genuine progress and reflect holistic development from the bottom up. For Nigeria, they present gargantuan challenges in terms of innovative strategy and effective execution.

At the very basic level, Nigeria’s goals presume a paradigm shift and large-scale overhaul of its legal, financial, energy and educational institutions. This will require overriding commitment on two critical aspects: effecting a mindset change at the grassroots level and working out radical policy changes for accountability and effective implementation. For a country riddled with ingrained corruption and administrative ineptitude, these can be defeating challenges.

For Nigeria to have a realistic shot at meeting its twin objectives, history holds the strongest argument in favour of entrepreneurship development. Enterprises have been the backbone of rapid but durable economic growth the world over.


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