..As stakeholders set agenda for government in 2018
By Josephine Agbonkhese & Sinmisola Sode
As the third year since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, rolls by, there is no denying the fact that concrete plans are underway globally to achieve the set goals since the beginning of implementation in January 2016.
This is precisely as successful implementation of the SDGs means successful attainment of citizens’ aspirations for prosperity, peace and wellbeing, as well as preservation for the planet. A set of 17 goals, otherwise known as global goals, built on the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, the SDGs generally seek to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.
Unfortunately, Nigeria failed to attain the MDGs, just like many other African countries, even though it had countless opportunities of being in the lead as the giant of Africa throughout the 15 years tenor. It is to prevent the SDGs from going the way of the MDGs, that stakeholders are currently harping on the need for government and relevant bodies to intensify efforts towards attainment of the goals.
“I am not sure Nigerian government is prioritising the implementation of the SDGs so as to see those they can easily work on which will impact on the people. However, the Federal Government has put some mechanisms in place to ensure hitch free implementation of the SDGs. There is the establishment of the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs which is a carry-over from the former MDGs under the presidency. There is also a House Committee on SDGs at the lower legislative house of assembly; of recent there seems to be a Senate Committee counterpart too to play oversight function and appropriate appropriation to SDGs,” said Tola Winjobi, National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development, while speaking on progress made so far.
He went on: “There is also an Inter-Ministerial Committee on the SDGs established to guide the coordinated engagement with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) though there has never been a replica of this at the state level. There is also a Private Sector Consultative Group which, hopefully Nigerian government thinks, would bring financial leverage to SDGs implementation.”
Winjobi however said the various mechanisms put in place have not translated into progress for the SDGs.
“What does all these translate to in terms of reduction in the number of people going hungry daily, suffering from poverty, death as a result of poor road networks, decayed hospital facilities coupled with wrong diagnosis, unemployment, unpaid salary arrears and pensions, insecurity especially in the hands of armed robbers, violent extremists, kidnappers and ritualists? Can we say the government is doing well in moving towards attaining SDGs by 2030 in the face of all these calamities befalling our citizens? Worse still, the National Assembly has not been helping matters despite their oversight function as they not only indulge in budget padding but they also delay with impunity the passage of the budget. For example the 2017 Appropriation Act was not passed till almost half of year 2017,” he lamented.
Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Oyebisi B. Oluseyi, on his part, feared that Nigeria stands the chance of not meeting the global goals like just like the MDGS.
“If our governments (at all levels) don’t act in time, we stand the chance of not meeting the goals and our growing pains — disparities in the incomes of the poor and the wealthy, limited access to education, health and basic social services, increasing vulnerabilities of the poorest to human-induced climate change and disasters, and the growing repression of human rights and civic participation, would have exacerbated.
“Our celebration of the 2nd anniversary of the SDGs last year was with mixed feelings; we were glad that three years ago the world came together to care for people and the planet. It is however worrying that between then and now, we have, as a country, witnessed increased social injustice with more people going hungry. With an estimated 112 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, this is unacceptable and it calls for urgent action on the part of our government,” he said.
Oluseyi again reiterated the need for actions at all levels, saying, “We need action at all levels. First, we need to increase awareness, then public policies that create real changes to reduce inequalities in and between states. We must also change production and consumption patterns, in order to make development sustainable for the environment and for people.”
Applauding the Federal Government’s social protection programme and the adoption of the National Social Protection Policy, he also emphasized the need for focus on women and girls, saying: “Women’s and girls’ rights is an important first as we move to attain the SDGs. This is the bedrock of our national development. Freedom of civil society and political participation is also a critical foundation to the stakeholder partnership that is needed to attain the ambitious Agenda 2030. A shrinking civic space is bad for development.”
Also stressing that tackling gender issues is critical to the achievement of the SDGs, the Executive Director, Women Environmental Programmes, WEP, Priscilla Achakpa, said the employment of a more comprehensive coordination framework that promotes and supports coordinated organizing and includes Local Governments is essential.
Winjobi, further advised the Federal Government on each of the goals, saying: “All the Goals are important but not all of them can be given equal weight. Poverty is number one problem facing most African countries while outright lack of food on the table coupled with bad health could be a sign of poverty. All these are pointing to Goals 1 to 3. They are basic physiological needs before thinking of having quality education and the issue of gender. Though, that would have been partly settled in the process of poverty alleviation. Water and sanitation (Goal 6) should also be taken seriously over goals 4 and 5. Education is important and should be given the worthy place desired, while agriculture should not be relegated as this sector would take care of Goals 1, 2, and partly 3. Reducing inequalities (Goal 10) within the country between the rich and the poor, men and women, youth and adults is as important as Goal 16 which deals with access to justice for all by promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Government should take Goal 8 seriously in providing decent jobs, especially for our youth while making all efforts to grow our economy. Then the issue of climate change (Goal 13) and other Goals can follow.”