26th March, 2014
By John Tosin Ajiboye
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were established after the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 189 United Nations member states at the time (there are 193 currently) and at least 23 international organizations committed to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The goals are:
To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empowering women; reduce child mortality rate; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and to develop a global partnership for development.
Although in Nigeria, we have seen some level of commitment starting from the Obasanjo-led administration to the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the area of Universal Basic Education, which has commenced in some states of the federation, a critical look at the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria shows that much needs to be done especially now that 2015 is fast approaching. A look at the foregoing eight goals will give rise to eight questions to assess how far Nigerian has gone in implementation of the goals: Is poverty and hunger dropping? Do we have more children in school? Are women empowered and gender equality achievable? Is maternal mortality declining? Has maternal health improved? Are we making progress on the campaign against HIV/AIDS? Is there any major improvement on environmental sustainability? Lastly, how far has Nigeria fared in global partnership for sustainable development? These questions are very fundamental because they provide the platform on which progress can be assessed in each area of the MDGs.
The performance appraisal of Nigeria’s fourteenth years journey to achieving the set Millennium Development Goals is mixed. Progress towards five MDGs has been below average but progress has been less satisfactory towards the three other MDGs:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: No progress. 69% of the populace still live in abject poverty and as the day goes by, the gap between the poor and rich keeps widening. Eight out of every ten Nigerians still live in poverty. The growth in the economy has not generated adequate employment, the majority of Nigerian youths are either unemployed or underemployed. Nigeria is ranked the 17th least developed country of the world by the United Nations Human Development report of 2007. According to the international indicator for extreme poverty, 70.2% of Nigerians live on less than 1 dollar or N124 per day- and the proportion is still increasing. It is estimated that over 20 million Nigerians do not have access to 20 litres of safe drinking water. Most often, up to 1.5 hours a day on average is spent by rural household to collect water and wood, with household members walking an average of one kilometre each day to have access to these basic necessities of life. The current urban unemployment rate of 10.8% has greatly affected the Annual productivity of the country and has further driven it away from reducing poverty by 2015.
However, nutrition has improved significantly maybe in the upper class while the rural dwellers which contain the larger population experience malnutrition
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education. Little progress: In the area of Universal Basic Education, progress has been slow even though government at the federal level has shown strong determination to implement the programme. Only few states in Nigeria today have partially implemented the Universal Basic Education, while others are yet to follow suit. This goal amongst others could be the reason for the criticism of the goals lacking in analysis and justification behind chosen objectives, the difficulty or lack of measurement for some of the goals and uneven progress towards achieving some of the goals.
Nigeria progress based on net enrolment, six out of ten eligible children are now in school from the universal primary education programme interventions and enrolment in private schools. However, disadvantaged groups are still excluded and the quality of education remains very poor. Massive actions still need to be done in teacher education and the development of infrastructure.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women. Average progress: Improvement has been made in gender parity in Nigeria, one will say that the government has tried in bringing women to form an integral part of the administration and they have proven to be more responsible, accountable, and efficient than some of their male counterparts. Much credit goes to President Goodluck Jonathan on this one.
The proportion of seats held by women in the National parliament has increased from 3% in 2001 to 71% in 2007-and the figure is still on the increase, bearing in mind the reform policies of the past and present administration which aims at fully integrating women into the decision-making process of the country.
Domestication of the UN convention on the Eliminating of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), has played a great role in ensuring that the rights of women are protected. Also, as one of the most vulnerable groups in the society, government recognizes the need to empower women educationally through value re-orientation of parents in order to ensure equal opportunity for the girl child. For every ten boys in school, there are nine girls. Latest statistics have shown that about 84.0% of girls now enjoy equal chance of education as their male counterparts- an indication that gender disparity in primary and secondary schools can be eliminated in the near future.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality. Average progress: There has been a minute decrease in under-five mortality, from 301 deaths per 1000 live births in 2003 to 201 death per 1000 live births in 2008. Infant mortality also shows a significant reduction from 100 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 85 deaths per 1000 live birth in 2008. The proportion of children immunized against measles by 12 months of age marginally increased from 31.4% in 2003 to 41.1% in 2008.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health. Slow progress: Success in this goal has been slow and poses greater challenge to women’s survival. However, maternal mortality fell from 800 deaths per 100,000 births in 2003 to 545 deaths per 100,000 births in 2008. Reproductive health through the use of contraceptive is at the rate of 4%. The slow pace on achieving this goal is as a result of poor medical facilities and half baked doctors and nurses.
Maternal mortality as far as Nigeria is concerned is yet to receive any boost. World Health Organisation’s report says “more than 500,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth each year, mainly because of lack of access to skilled care.” Many women in Nigeria today lose their lives during childbirth particularly those in rural areas because of unavailability of adequate healthcare delivery system especially in the areas of ante–natal and post natal care.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Average progress: The prevalence of HIV/AIDS dropped to 4% in 2008. HIV prevalence in pregnant women aged 15-24 years also dropped to 4.2% in 2008. The proportion of the population accessing antiretroviral drugs increased to 34.4% though still very costly, basically for the elite. The percentage of children sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito net rose from 2.2% in 2003 to 5.5% in 2008. Malaria infection rate remains steady, and has accounted for average of 300,000 deaths each year. There is considerable progress against polio and credit goes to an international organization like Rotary International.
However, if we must reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases the fight has to be intensified and those living with the disease must be helped, and all forms of discrimination against them must be stopped.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability. No progress: Access to safe water and sanitation has not improved significantly and other environmental challenges, such as erosion, coastal flooding and climatic change are growing; a good example is the 2012 massive flooding that ravaged many parts of the country. The national ecological fund for such purposes is misappropriated by those at the helm of affairs.
In the 1980s some 92,000 hectares of our land was once covered by forest. Today, just half of the green forest still remains and the potential for their future exploitation is extremely limited. The situation may even get worse considering that over 90% of rural population depends on the forest for livelihood and domestic energy. The activities of oil prospecting companies and other mineral exploration corporations has led to a lot of environmental degradation in the Niger- Delta, a situation which creates a bleak picture for the future generation. Right now, more than 50 species of mammals including the Patas Monkey and Leopard are classified as endangered species and face the risk of extinction by the end of the 21st century.
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development. No progress: The eighth goal specifies avenues through which the first seven goals can be achieved by way of joint partnership with international development agencies. The debt cancellation by the Paris club owed by Nigeria was seen as a landmark achievement but it has not been matched by an increase in aid; trade and access to markets remain unequal. Debt-relief gains would have helped immensely in Nigeria’s modest progress towards achieving the MDGs if the few saddled with the responsibility are not busy helping themselves with public funds. As much as the funds that come into the country for accomplishing these targeted objectives go into individual pocket the country will continue to lack behind and lose the confidence of the international community.
Nigeria has proved to the world that it has strategic importance in Africa, and spearheads peace and stability in West Africa. It leads international peace-keeping role in the sub-region. In terms of international and regional integration, Nigeria is a founding member of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The number of fixed lines and mobile phone subscribers has increased from 22% in 1990 to 79.1 in 2004 an unprecedented increase which fosters communication and creates more partnership with international development agencies.
Nigeria and other nations around the globe have to wake up to this amazing opportunity to not only to improve the standard of living of their citizens but also stand in terms of economic growth and development and be counted among developed countries of the world. In spite of the poor performance Nigeria recorded in some of the goals and the near impossibility of the country achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 or beyond, there are lots of opportunities and potentials that can help the country to better the lot of its citizens. For instance, Nigeria produces 2 million barrels of oil per day and is ranked the sixth largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The country’s proven reserves of oil is about 37 billion barrels, enough to last for 37 years at the current rate of production. It is estimated that our natural gas reserve is 174 trillion cubic feet, the equivalent of 30 billion barrels of crude oil. If fully utilized, our gas will last another 110 years.
At 924,768 square kilometre, Nigeria is larger than Sweden, Norway and Denmark put together. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, cocoa and rubber accounts for 60% of our non-oil merchandise export. Of our 98 million hectares of land, 74 million is arable and can be of medium to good productivity if properly managed, therefore eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 in Nigeria alone should not be our primary focus as a country but we must look for the possible way to liberate other African countries from the bondage of poverty bearing in mind our rich human and natural potentials.
With wise management, the country can still be Africa’s largest economy, and also play a significant role in the global economy. Be that as it may, the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan should re-position the economy of the country through the formulation of effective policies and programmes to steer Nigeria to greater height. The principle of accountability, transparency and respect for the rule of law should be upheld and most importantly enforced. It should be able to pursue the millennium development goals with utmost zeal and seriousness.
On its part if the United Nations fails to apply any sanction to countries who fail to accomplish the set target, posterity will judge this generation for their actions and inaction towards securing a better future.
•Ajiboye, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Lagos, Nigeria via [email protected]