The recently-concluded United Nations Summit revealed that many countries, Nigeria inclusive, is far from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015.
The MDGs are eight international development goals that the 192 members of the United Nations and, at least 23 international organizations agreed to achieve by the year 2015. These eight goals are: eradication of poverty and extreme hunger; achieving universal primary education; promotion of gender equality and women empowerment; improvement of maternal mortality; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; promotion of environmental sustainability and development of global partnership for development
However, with only five years to 2015, many countries are still far from achieving the MDGs. But speaking at the last United Nations Summit, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon stated that although many countries were still very far from achieving the MDGs he was optimistic that they had set up recoverable frameworks for achieving these goals. In fact, President Barrack Obama clearly stated that United States would promote incentives for economic growth over food or financial aid, and encourage countries to come up with practical policies for achieving the MDGs. Similarly, other countries are strategizing, building blocs and galvanizing support to achieve the MDGs.
The pertinent question in the light of the above, is: how far has Nigeria gone towards attaining the MDGs knowing fully well that Nigeria became a signatory to the Millennium Declaration in a bid to tackle poverty in the land? Unfortunately, looking at many indicators for measuring progress towards the MDGs, Nigeria is not anywhere near achieving the MDGs. A recent United Nations report confirms Nigeria as having the second highest number of maternal deaths in the world after India . One of the objectives of the MDGs is to improve maternal health and reduce maternal deaths by 75% by the year 2015. Unfortunately the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in Nigeria is still scandalously high. Nigeria still occupies an unenviable position in the “league table” of the countries with those living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). The various Human Development Index (HDI) reports continue to place Nigeria on the last rung of the global development ladder. Life expectancy in Nigeria has drastically reduced to 45; real income of most families has woefully reduced; unemployment is gone overboard. Nigeria is topping the list of countries with malnourished children; Nigeria’s literacy rate is still low. Nigeria is ranked as the 20th hungriest country on the Global Hunger Index (GHI); Nigeria is pitiably named among the countries with the highest number of illiterates.
Therefore, the greatest challenge facing our government, as Nigeria turns 50, is to improve the appalling human conditions and the standard of living in Nigeria. Human development, as we have repeatedly echoed in our previous editorials, is the epicenter of all developments. Human beings are the wealth of a nation, not oil or any other thing. Therefore, if the citizens of Nigeria lack access to clean water in the 21st century; if they are denied electricity supply or denied access to primary healthcare in the 21st century, then the government is very far from satisfying the basic needs of her citizens. It is a shame, that whilst Nigeria is in a celebratory euphoria for her golden anniversary, citizens are still dying of common cholera. Is it not shameful that Nigerian women still die at child birth in the 21st century essentially due to lack of access to qualitative health care?
Consequently, in the coming months, we urge the Jonathan administration to initiate, fine-tune or galvanize concrete recoverable programs and projects aimed at putting Nigeria on the track to achieving the MDGs. Men of character should be entrusted with the disbursement and utilization of development funds to ensure accountability.
Government should show the political will to do what is right at all times and break away from international politics that leads to compromising our widely-shared values.