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Reviewing Impacts Of The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), In Nigeria

7 February 2010

By Salim Salihu Muhammed 

Across the globe, poverty had been a cankerworm against even growth and development of the rural areas, notably in developing nations including Nigeria. Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.

In an effort to fight these menaces over the decades, government had embarked in several reform programmes aimed at bettering the lives of the common man and building a virile nation. One of such initiative is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which has the United Nations’ commitment and endorsement. 

Nigeria endorsed the initiative after its successful exit from the Paris club Debt. The boss of the agency responsible for MDGs in Nigeria Hajia amina Az-Zubair discloses to online economic magazine, the Economic Confidential that there are eight goals being pursued in the country to address poverty eradication, primary education, women empowerment, child mortality, maternal health care, combating diseases, environmental sustainability and a global partnership for development. She also highlighted some of the achievement in attaining the goals through execution of capital projects and implementations of programme at all level of government, states and local government councils inclusive. 

Nevertheless, the contribution of the growth process to poverty reduction does not depend only on the rate of economic growth, but also on the ability of the poor to respond to, and confidently accept to work with an economic plan aimed at bettering their lives. Since its inception in 2000, the MDGs project had received a significant acceptance and commitment, not only by the beneficiaries, but also by the three tiers of government who jointly access and utilize the debt savings to provide infrastructure for the increasing demand for labour in the more productive categories of employment. 

The carefully selected MDGs goals can transform the living conditions of all persons as well as bridging the gap between the rich and the poor nations of the world. In rural areas throughout the world, poverty contributes to unsustainable levels of resource use as a means of meeting short-term subsistence needs. This is also the case in rural Nigeria, wherein population growth rates are particularly high and income from agriculture is low, resulting in high poverty and poor environmental protection. In some rural areas, both absolute population size and population growth rate have been shown to be significantly associated with loss of vegetation on which local subsistence families heavily depend. For people with few agricultural resources, especially the rural poor, high population growth rates undermine the potential for economic development that would otherwise occur with improved agricultural resources and more rational natural resource use

Population-related issues pertaining to natural resource use, agriculture, and associated food security exacerbate existing inequities between urban and rural areas, and between rural subsistence families and those moving closer toward the market economy. In short, overutilization of resources and high population growth rates are making the poor even poorer. The big challenge to the implementation of the MDGs is one of complexity of the Nigerian government; accountability and weak institutions and deteriorated systems pose dangers that lead to drop outs from school, underrepresentation of women in key national decision process, malnutrition and health hazards, lack of skilled medical personnel as well as sound education on pandemics, and the ability to sustain a friendly and healthy environment for the Nigerian populace. An insight to the present situation also indicates the country’s lack of global partnership that could aid development and improved production capacity of the nation to boost technology and international trade. 

Although, underlying antecedents may perceive the attainment of the 15 years transformation plans as another economic tale which, like most other programmes, may not be feasible or fail from inception. The success of the 2007 and 2008 Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) Projects by Office of Nigeria MDGs attest to the positive growth for the economy in the last quarter of 2009 by 7%. This is an indication that there is a drastic achievement in the area of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger with an all time fall to 28.78%. The Grant Scheme had not only boosted the prowess of the poor in agriculture, but had also improved the country’s human capital development, infrastructure (which are indices to growth), literacy, skills and technology needed for development of the rural areas. 

In the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, social justice, equity and equality reflect the concept of a just society ensuring the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality of opportunity for all. This declaration stands to fix the disparity between male and female where literacy rate stands in favour of the male in Nigeria, and also extends to show that less than 8% of female represents the country at parliament. It is quite interesting to note that lack of education among women hinders their participation in socio-economic and political spheres of social life. Improved MDGs initiative on this sphere in the provision of enabling environment for the girl child to seek and acquire education can broaden their knowledge on scourges and other diseases that could hamper their triumph in equalling the disparity that had weighed down their progress over the decades. 

One of the important gestures of the MDG initiative is its recognition that unemployment and underemployment lies at the core of poverty. For the poor, labour is often the only asset they can use to improve their well-being. Hence the MDGs’ undertakings of Youth Empowerment (YEP) projects for creating productive employment opportunities is essential for achieving poverty reduction and sustainable economic and social development. The MDGs success at the provision of Solar powered electricity to some communities and villages has not only improved living standard, but also helped the nation attained a significant step towards saving energy, technological advancement and rapid economic growth that could stimulate high rate of expansion of productive and remunerative employment. 

Many MDGs employment strategies are often related to agricultural and rural development and include using labour-intensive agricultural technologies, it may be necessary to also focus mote attention in developing small and medium-size enterprises, and promoting micro projects in rural areas that are easily accessible to dwellers.  

Despite increasing democracy and stability in sub-Saharan Africa, corruption and conflict remain serious barriers to ending extreme poverty on the continent. In addition to the human and psychological toll corruption and conflict take on African populations, they also cost money -- the continent loses around $148 billion each year as a result of corruption alone. We know the damage of Jos crisis has done to image of Nigeria apart from economic costs and the loss of lives. It may not be out of place if MDGs engages in advocacy towards peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance to provide the enabling environment for MDGs projects to be rooted all over the federation 

Given the importance of employment for poverty reduction, the MDGs should continue to recognize the necessity of job-creation as a central place in national poverty reduction strategies through the improvement and development of skills acquisition centers across the country. Although the MDGs is said to be an all government encompassing project, it should engage other groups outside government including NGOs and private organizations to play roles in its mandates especially in monitoring projects and provision of infrastructure. There is no denying the fact that public private partnership can be the tool in the area of construction of classroom blocks, health centres provisions of relevant materials for those institution. The MDGs Secretariat should also pay more attention to publicity on some of the projects it executes so that they are easily monitored from antics of lazy politicians who may wish to claim for doing nothing. 

To achieve these targets by 2015, collective supports of all Nigerians towards the MDGs are needed to build a virile nation. 

Salim Salihu Muhammed salimmed16@yahoo.com

 Jemaá Street, Romi North, kaduna South, Kaduna.




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