The Millennium Develop-ment Goals (MDGs) is a UN initiative launched in 2000 and adopted by UN member states in 2001 under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to improve the lot of humanity by 2015. Nigeria is a member of that international effort and so much money and personnel at state and Federal levels have been deployed to achieve the MDGs by 2015. But according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair at a briefing on progress of MDGs in Abuja, to achieve the MDGs by 2015 would require a whopping $170.30 billion which is N25.557 trillion within a period of six years starting by 2010. Az-Zubair said that on an annual basis, the projected cost of achieving the MDGs will increase from $19.3bn in 2010 to $38bn in 2015 while averaging $284bn annually. In Nigeria’s current economic condition, Az-Zubair’s figures tend to suggest that the MDGs are unaffordable and too expensive to realize.
This is precisely why the UN looked forward and planned for 15 years to achieve the MDGs in member nations. The world body knew it was an expensive undertaking that would stretch the limited resources of member nations over a decade and a half. That was why the MDGs achievement was to be done step by step till the vision is realized by 2015. That the Special Assistant is rolling such huge financial requirements now- eight years after the start and past the half way mark into the MDG vision realization in Nigeria – raises the issue of what has actually been achieved.
The eight MDGs formulated by UN Heads of State for achievement in 2015 include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promotion of gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development.
The argument that the MDGs now form the basis of government policies like NEEDS and the Universal Basic Education Programme makes a lot of sense. But considering that some of the MDGs are really routine government responsibilities, it is difficult to appreciate achievement levels. Not with the current level of poverty and dysfunctional socio-economic infrastructure. From all indications the MDGs are very important and crucial goals to be achieved in any polity especially Nigeria. Even if there were no MDGs these are social services and objectives to be set and achieved by any government especially in a democracy such as ours. The MDGs were meant to supplement responsive government efforts in looking after the wellbeing and economic welfare of their people and align them with the international community for global growth and development.
We are also concerned by recent reports that the National Assembly complained that the vote for the MDG projects was not being utilized. The Special Assistant should let us know what has been done with the MDG votes. We believe the MDGs do not exist on their own or in a vacuum. More so as we think they are compatible with the 7 - point agenda of the present administration and its budgets. To cost the MDGs out of our expectation and hope is unacceptable. Constitutionally, implementation of MDGs activities is the duty of all tiers of government, so significant progress cannot be made unless states and local governments are committed to implementing the related activities. But there should be effective monitoring at all levels to ensure that Nigerians benefit from this laudable initiative of the UN . No doubt, the success of the initiative is a direct function of commitment to the concerns of the poor and good governance.
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