Leave No One Behind: The Impacts of SDGs in Nigeria
- Posted By Vitalis_Obidiaghaa | On September-28-2020 14:19:08
- How Princess Orelope-Adefulire is driving the successful implementation of SDGs in Nigeria.
“A sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.” _Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The above quote was written in 1870 by the late American thinker and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson in one of his famous articles titled, “Civilization, Society and Solitude”. In his intellectual quest to appraise the impact of good women in human civilization, Mr Emerson succeeded in laying a philosophical foundation for earnest appraisal of human progress in general. Writing at such a time when it seemed that men preferred that women should be seen and not heard, learn and not teach, observe and not participate, he challenged that wrong perception, mostly held by men, enlightening his readers on the need to place premium value on the contributions of ‘good women’ in human civilization. The summation of his thoughts on that essay is that no society can be said to be making progress, until it begins to give women the due recognition for what they have truly earned in the historical narrative of human civilization.
Bringing it home, Prof. Chinua Achebe reminds us that “until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” This aphorism, which is universal in its interpretation and application, can also be used to appraise the role of women and their contribution to Nigeria’s social, economic and political development, to balance the historical equation that seems to have given too much glory to men without giving appropriate recognition to what women have justly earned in Nigeria’s historical development.
It is based on the foregoing that we intend to tell the story of one of Nigeria’s leading female public administrators; Princess Adejoke Orelope –Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs) and former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, appraising her contributions to our national development as she celebrates her 60th Birthday.
Born of a noble birth and raised with discipline of purpose, Princess Adejoke Orelope –Adefulire has distinguished herself as a public servant with a compassionate heart for the least amongst us. With a record of over 25 years of commendable public service, she has carved a niche for herself as an accomplished grass-roots politician who is deeply committed to youth development, women emancipation, especially the girl child education. That explains why she is so driven in her quest to mobilizing critical stakeholders towards the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.
For those amongst our readers who may not be aware of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Agenda 2030, which stipulates the SDGs, is a successor framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which was adopted by world leaders in 2000 and came to an end in 2015. When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) started in 2000, it made many promises for global development. But for some reasons and limitations, many of its objectives were not achieved at its expiration in 2015. Some stakeholders believe that the goals were limited in reaching out to all the targeted groups. It was also observed that although significant achievements were recorded with respect to the MDGs target worldwide, progress has been uneven across regions and countries, leaving significant gaps. Millions of people were being left behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity, or geographic location.
The above limitation and the inability of the MDGs programme to achieve its developmental objectives at its expiration in 2015, led to the adoption of a successor framework by world leaders on September 25, 2015, at the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, where every member state of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to the UN Secretary-General at the time, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, “The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people…they are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.” The new Agenda has a set of 17 SDGs, 169 targets and 232 indicators designed to bring about a peaceful, just, equitable and inclusive world. The Agenda commits all signatory countries to work together to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection in order to ensure that every person fulfils his or her potentials in dignity and equality under a healthy environment. This explains why “Leave No One Behind’’ was adopted as its transformative promise.
To ensure that the SDGs are realized, there are several concrete global plans and sector-specific strategies to achieve the set goals. This is essentially because a successful implementation of the SDGs would mean successful attainment of citizens’ aspirations for prosperity, peace and wellbeing, as well as the preservation of the Earth’s biodiversity and equitable distribution of natural resources. In other words, the SDGs generally seek to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. The 2030 Agenda aligns with Nigeria’s drive to deliver democratic dividends and improve the lives of the poor.
Since the adoption of the SDGs in September 2015, and the commencement of their implementation in January 2016, Nigeria has been part of these global efforts. Unlike the MDGs which Nigeria started implementing 6 years behind schedule, Nigeria, under President Buhari’s administration, has taken the lead in rolling out the SDGs in the continent by showing best practice in early domestication, integration and implementation of these goals through sub national mainstreaming, inter agency coordination and institutional strengthening. These efforts are being coordinated by the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs), ably led by Princess Orelope-Adefulire, who has been at the forefront of this global crusade for our national interest.
As an immediate successor and inheritor of the activities previously carried out under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the OSSAP-SDGs developed a roadmap for the implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria, focusing on six thematic areas of policies, institutions, data management, partnership, communications, and finance to ensure the successful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria. Some of the activities which were carried out at the beginning of the programme ranged from the conduct of a comprehensive data mapping exercise aimed at ascertaining the various sources of data for the SDG Indicators to be monitored as well as the awareness programmes to be carried out at national and sub-national levels of government. Another critical aspect of the early preparations was the development of a robust and comprehensive statistical information system for monitoring progress achieved in the SDG targets that are of special relevance to Nigeria.
The Agenda 2030 being a global social mobilization campaign for human common good, one of the lessons learnt from the shortcomings of the MDGs is the need for inter-sectoral, inter-governmental, multi-level and multi-stakeholders’ engagement towards the successful implementation of the SDGs. To this end, the office of OSSAP-SDGs has been driving the advocacy and sensitization efforts across the national and sub-national level, to mobilize critical stakeholders and ensure coherence towards the implementation of the SDGs across the nation. These advocacy efforts are yielding results across board. One of such results is the strategic partnership the office of OSSAP-SDGs established with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to domesticate the 2030 Agenda by integrating it with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and as well as aligning it with the National Development Plan. It is also important to note that the core areas of the SDGs, such as Agriculture and food security, energy, industrialization, inclusive economic growth, health, education and other aspects of social development were integrated into the National Recovery and Development Plan (NERGP). Princess Orelope-Adefulire is sustaining the advocacy to ensure that the whole of the 17 SDGs gets integrated into the implementation plan, otherwise known as the Volume 2 of the NERGP.
One of the early mile stones recorded by Princess Orelope-Adefulire led OSSAP-SDGs is the collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics and other stakeholders which produced the Baseline Database for SDGs implementation in Nigeria, aimed at laying a solid foundation for the monitoring of the SDGs targets. This initiative places emphasis on the important role data plays in monitoring the progress and implementation of the SDGs.
Another significant achievement of the office of OSSAP-SDGs is the progressive steps Nigeria has taken through an improved attempt at private-public sector collaboration, a different trajectory from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) whose emphasis was on developed countries’ roles in helping developing countries. This collaboration creates opportunities for more engagement and participation of the private sector in the success of the SDGs. Princess Orelope-Adefulire championed the establishment of Nigeria Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG), which was inaugurated by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, reflecting the Global Private Sector Advisory Group set up by the United Nations Sustainable Development Funds to achieve a more focused symbiotic relationship for the SDGs because of the lapses experienced during the implementation of the MDGs. The PSAG creates the platform for the organized private sector to support the achievement of the SDGs in Nigeria. It is on record that Nigeria took the lead as the first nation to inaugurate the PSAG amongst the UN member nations and it is designed to forge a partnership between the public and private sector to build a consensus for effective implementation of the SGDs in Nigeria.
To accelerate the efforts towards the achievement of Goals 10, 16, and 17, which deal on issues of access to justice, peace, inequalities, inclusive society and partnership for sustainable development, the office of OSSAP-SDGs established a strategic partnership with the Nigeria Bar Association. This partnership offers free legal services to vulnerable Nigerians, who ordinarily cannot afford the services of lawyers to seek redress from their daily abusers.
Just recently, President Muhammadu Buhari officially launched the integrated Sustainable Development Goals (iSDG) Simulation Model Report at the Nigeria High-Level side Event on the margins of the 74th UNGA in New York. The iSDG model is designed to help bridge the Policy, Planning, and Budgeting gap in the quest to achieve SDGs in Nigeria. With this commendable initiative, Nigeria has become one of the few countries, if not the first country in the Global South, to have developed a home grown analytical framework for SDGs integration.
In spite of the many achievements of the office of the SSAP-SDGs, the program is not without its challenges. Scaling up the goals from 8 MDGs to 17 SDGs in a vast nation like Nigeria comes with some unique challenges. For instance, according to the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), as at February 2018, about 100.9 million Nigerians were internet users with access to a variety of information and resources from the World Wide Web. However, a number of Nigerians are still not aware of the SDGs or their implications and how they affect them in the long run. This was proven in a survey carried out at a tertiary institution in the Southwestern part of Nigeria in 2017. Responses from participants of the survey showed an abysmally low knowledge about the SDGs especially in an academic setting. From the foregoing, it appears a clear gap exists between the SDGs and the people it is meant to impact, and may be an indication of the direction that needs to be taken for some of the interventions that may aid in the facilitation, attainment and achievement of the SDGs in Nigeria.
It has also been observed that another major challenge of the SDGs programme is funding. This is why it is instructive that the issue of funding for the SDGs should be a top priority for all stakeholders. Moreover, indications and lessons from the MDGs have shown that apart from the above-mentioned areas, there should be a bit more drive in engaging more stakeholder groups and becoming more vocal in the attempts to make more impact.
The SDGs programme has been widely accepted as laudable for its wider approach to global development and sustainability. Records show that it is more inclusive, universal, and creates global partnerships based on the joint responsibility and obligations of all partners. However, if the Agenda 2030 is to be achieved in Nigeria, there is need for sustained partnership, collaboration and engagement with inter-sectoral, inter-governmental, multi-level stakeholders. This would ensure that there is a continuous dialogue on the SDGs plans, policies and programmes, making necessary recommendations that would help the country realize the SDGs. It is on this note that we commend the efforts of the office of OSSAP-SDGs, led by Princess Orelope-Adefulire even as we wish her more of God’s grace in continuous service to our nation.