Millennium Development Goals; A reality or an illusion for Nigeria

Millenium Development Goals


‘Heal the World’; to make it a better place for the human race, inspired the largest gathering of head of states in September 2000 to adopt the United Nations Millennium Development Program (UMDP). Goals were dedicated to eradicating poverty, achieving universal basic primary education, women empowerment, combating malaria, HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing global partnership for development.

As at the time of declaration, forty-year old Nigeria obviously needed to adopt the declaration and embark on achieving the millennium development goals (MDG), so that before ‘her’ golden jubilee, a significant positive change would be achieved. Since the late 1960s, the Nigerian economy has being primarily based on the petroleum industry. Economic growth produced by this, influenced rapid rural-urban migration, and consequently drastic reduction in agricultural production, thus, stagnation in export of cash crops. Increasing population combated the steady petroleum revenue and at the turn of the 21st century, the country faced unsteady revenue flow. Efforts were made to curb this; borrowing from international bodies, and employing austerity measures. As a result, an ever-increasing portion of the national budget was used for debt-repayment, and with oligarchy as ‘pilot’ and corruption as ‘co-pilot’, an insignificant part of the nation’s income was spent on the people and their needs.

Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger? No, unattained! Since 1975, Nigeria has been forced to import basic commodities for domestic consumption; bringing about expensive and scarce goods. The Gini index measures the deviation of income distribution and consumption expenditure of an economy, from a perfectly equal distribution (0); Nigeria has one of the world’s highest: 50.6. Apparently, the poverty eradication rate is too slow. The survey conducted by National Population Commission (NPC) indicated 54.4% poverty in 2004.

Universal Basic Education; a slack! Though, statistics show increased efficiency in primary-six completion (83% in 2001 to 94% in 2003). Gender equality is keeping up (56% to 44% boy-girl ratio of primary school enrollment). Infant mortality is retrogressing (100/1000 live births in 2003). Maternal health? Improving! Considering the multiple indicator cluster survey report of year 2000; 704/100,000 live births, 2:1 in rural and urban areas respectively.

HIV/AIDS, took on a series of increasing progression since its first identification in the mid 1980s up to 2003, but presently retrogressing. Concentration of people in the cities, coupled with poor drainage, improper sewage disposal, and water shortage, cause sanitary problems, flood and disease outbreaks. The problems of market access and political violence pose threats to the national partnership development.

The Nigeria MDG report of 2004 stated “It is unlikely the country will be able to meet most of the goals by 2015, especially the goals related to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger reducing child and maternal mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. For most of the other goals, up to date data exists which shows that if the current trend continues, it will be difficult for the country to achieve the MDG targets by 2015”.

The report stated “if the current trend continues”, identifying that efforts made to achieve the MDGs are insignificant. Due to factors ranging from corruption, poor governance, failing economy, to political violence and unrest, the country is honestly not driving to the desired state of exquisite standard.

Liu Binyan wrote “smashing a mirror is no way to make an ugly person beautiful nor is it a way of making social problems evaporate”. The efforts are not yielding rapid development rates, therefore solutions should be sought to make the MDGs realities rather than illusions.

The primary aim of adopting the UNMD is to foster rapid development. Desired development would occur by encouraging effective private investment, expanding into international markets, building assets for the poor, addressing asset inequalities across genders, ethnic, and social divides; provision of infrastructure and knowledge, investing in basic education, health, while fostering gender equality, and curbing of social barriers.

Social transformation is the most important weapon which must be weld if the ‘promise land’ is to be arrived at sooner. Without a change in social orientation, performance and participation, none of the suggested solutions will be implemented. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo(Past president) said “ We must not continue to stress the pursuit of a high growth rate in statistical terms and fail to reduce the social and economic deprivation of statistical number and group of our people. We must not absolutely pursue wealth and growth at the expense of inner being, joy, satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment of human beings”. Transparency and accountability should be coupled with the affairs of the country. Institutions should be standardized to ensure delivery of effective and efficient service to the people. Furthermore, a diversified economy dependency and partnership with developed countries will definitely heal the dying economy.

To sum up, it is true considering statistics, Nigeria might not reach the desired height by 2015, the MDGs should not be referred to as illusions, a glimmer of hope exist. If the suggested solutions are implemented, sooner; not later, the Millennium Development Goals will become Realities.

JIMOH AJIBOLA DOLAPO.

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