Win­jobi: Poverty Can­not be Erad­i­cated in Nige­ria or Even Africa

As the sec­ond year since the adop­tion of the 17 global Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals at the Septem­ber 2015 land­mark 70th United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York ap­proaches, the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor, Civil So­ci­ety Coali­tion on Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment,

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How did Nige­ria fare in re­al­is­ing the pre­vi­ous eight MDGs and what hitches did you iden­tify dur­ing that process, both from state and non-state ac­tors…and what is your as­sess­ment of the cur­rent ef­forts of the three tiers of gov­ern­ment to de­liver good gov­er­nance and de­sired de­vel­op­ment to the elec­torate?

Nige­ria failed to at­tain MDGs just like many other African coun­tries. As a mat­ter of fact, it was Goal 3 on the is­sue of gen­der that Nige­ria first missed be­cause it was the only goal that had some of its tar­gets set at meet­ing in 2005. In­deed, Nige­ria started the im­ple­men­ta­tion of MDGs late as it was the ne­go­ti­a­tion of the Paris Club debt re­fund of 2006 that raised the con­scious­ness of Nige­rian gov­ern­ment to MDGs. By the end of 2015, it was ob­vi­ous that Nige­ria had com­pletely de­railed from at­tain­ing Goal 1 (Erad­i­cate ex­treme poverty and hunger); Goal 4 (Re­duce child mor­tal­ity); and Goal 5 (Im­prove ma­ter­nal health), and even­tu­ally missed all the MDGs. Ab ini­tio, the process lead­ing to the craft­ing of MDGs up to the sign­ing stage was de­void of in­clu­sion of crit­i­cal stake­hold­ers in many coun­tries in­clud­ing Nige­ria. Worse still, in­sti­tu­tional stake­hold­ers such as min­istries, de­part­ments, agen­cies, in­clud­ing the par­lia­ment, CSOs and pri­vate sec­tor were ex­cluded. The prob­lem was largely gov­ern­ment’s own. At a point, MDGs be­came a mat­ter of po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age while the con­di­tional cash trans­fer scheme was not trans­par­ent enough and many state gov­ern­ments failed in putting down their own coun­ter­part funds though the civil so­ci­ety did all they could to en­sure mon­i­tor­ing.

There is no way the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal ac­tors can de­liver good gov­er­nance and de­sired de­vel­op­ment to the elec­torate if they con­tinue the busi­ness as usual. Is it three tiers of gov­ern­ment we re­ally have or two tiers; lo­cal gov­ern­ment in Nige­ria is just an ex­ten­sion of the of­fice of the ex­ec­u­tive in states. Noth­ing has re­ally changed from the change mantra. Peo­ple are still hun­gry while poverty is still star­ing about 100 mil­lion Nige­ri­ans in the face with ma­jor­ity in ru­ral community while women con­sti­tute not less than 70 per cent of the poor. In­equal­ity is grow­ing by the day as the rich are be­com­ing richer and poor poorer. In­equal­ity is also no­tice­able be­tween the ur­ban and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties as the lat­ter is suf­fer­ing from decades of ne­glect by var­i­ous gov­ern­ments whereas these ru­ral cen­tres are the food bas­kets of our na­tion. Noth­ing has changed ex­cept from bad to worse as the po­lit­i­cal ac­tors are self-cen­tred lots who are milk­ing our economy dry with­out sym­pa­thy for the elec­torate. Not less than three quar­ters of the 36 state gov­ern­ments owe their work­ers sev­eral months of salary ar­rears whereas the gov­er­nors have be­come in­so­lent em­per­ors feed­ing fat on the states’ al­lo­ca­tions. Both the con­sti­tuted au­thor­i­ties and their leg­is­la­tors are liv­ing in op­u­lence while their work­ers in­clud­ing leg­isla­tive aides are starv­ing. Has any­thing changed? ASUU was on strike for 9 months in 2009 and still on strike in 2017 and gov­ern­ment can­not do any­thing about it. Med­i­cal and ed­u­ca­tional tourism by the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and their chil­dren has been the or­der of the day while poor Nige­rian cit­i­zens are dy­ing in their num­bers as a re­sult of in­fras­truc­tural de­fi­ciency and de­cay that gov­ern­ment doesn’t care about since theirs don’t pa­tro­n­ise them. If this busi­ness as usual con­tin­ues, SDGs will suf­fer the same fate that be­fell MDGs.

It is al­most two years since the 17 global Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) were adopted in New York, USA in Septem­ber 2015, and Nige­ria was one of the 195 UN Mem­ber­coun­tries which signed onto the agenda…how well has the present gov­ern­ment re­sponded to the de­vel­op­ment chal­lenges cap­tured in the Goals?

There are 17 Goals and 169 tar­gets in all and I am not sure Nige­rian gov­ern­ment is pri­ori­tis­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of them 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. 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. Putting these mech­a­nisms in place is not a mea­sure of the progress of SDGs im­ple­men­ta­tion but ev­i­dence-based re­sult of the im­ple­men­ta­tion which we don’t have. What does all this 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.

One needs to praise the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for be­ing in­volved in the re­cently con­cluded High Level Po­lit­i­cal Fo­rum, Na­tional Vol­un­tary Re­view (HLPF NVR) of the SDGs July 2017 in New York. HLPF is de­sir­able as it was an op­por­tu­nity for coun­tries in­volved in VNR to show­case their ef­forts in im­ple­ment­ing SDGs in the past cou­ple of months. It was also an op­por­tu­nity for NGOs from these coun­tries to hear di­rectly from their po­lit­i­cal lead­ers some “lies” be­ing told about the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SDGs. Un­for­tu­nately, there was no op­por­tu­nity for NGOs to re­buff some of these “in­sin­cere” im­ple­men­ta­tion com­men­taries be­cause NGOs were pre­s­e­lected to make com­ments. How­ever, HLPF though po­lit­i­cal in na­ture is good as NGOs can still hold their gov­ern­ments ac­count­able back home. Some­thing that stood out cut­ting across the NVR pre­sen­ta­tions in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries was the fact that many of them were re­ally pas­sion­ate about im­ple­ment­ing SDGs in their coun­tries but they shied away from the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing them; two of which are in­se­cu­rity and cor­rup­tion. For ex­am­ple, coun­tries like Nige­ria, Kenya, So­ma­lia and even So­ma­liland are still bat­tling with vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism as ev­i­dent in the an­tics of Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, Al-Queda, etc. de­stroy­ing lives and prop­erty which os­si­fies smooth im­ple­men­ta­tion and at­tain­ment of SDGs. Cor­rup­tion has also be­come a dreaded dis­ease seep­ing through the pores of the fab­rics of Nige­ria and rav­aging it be­yond re­pair. For ex­am­ple, the lead­er­ship of the Se­nate is en­meshed in high level cor­rup­tion to the ex­tent that they re­fused to con­firm the ap­point­ment of Mr. Ibrahim Magu the act­ing Chair­man of the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crime Com­mis­sion (EFCC) be­cause the lat­ter al­ready has their graft case files with him.

NOTE: In­ter­ested read­ers should con­tinue in the on­line edition on www.this­daylive.com

Win­jobi

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