Month: September 2017

Act on SDGs, Citizens, Others Urge Govts

Act on SDGs, Citizens, Others Urge Govts

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the second year of adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), civil society organisations in Nigeria are calling on the Federal, State and Local Governments to act on the SDGs.

It has been two years since September 25, 2015, when the Nigerian Government joined other United Nations world leaders to agree to a definitive plan for the planet and its people by adopting the Agenda 2030 and the 17 Goals.

The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. In different parts of the country civil society organisations are organising events from Lagos to Benue, to Bayelsa and Abuja to mark the second anniversary.

According to the Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Mr. Oyebisi B. Oluseyi, “Citizens across the country are calling attention to the many forms of inequalities everywhere/

“If our governments (at all levels) don’t act in time, we stand the chance of not meeting the goals and our growing pains — disparities in the incomes of the poor and the wealthy, limited access to education, health and basic social services, increasing vulnerabilities of the poorest to human-induced climate change and disasters, and the growing repression of human rights and civic participation would have exacerbated.”

“Our celebration of the 2nd anniversary of the SDGs is with mixed feelings; we are glad that two years ago the world came together to care for people and the planet. It is however worrying that between then and now we have as a country witnessed increased social injustice with more people going hungry. With an estimated 184 million inhabitants in Nigeria, 112 million of these live below the poverty line; this is unacceptable and it calls for urgent action on the part of our government.

“Now is the time to break the cycle of poverty in our land! As President Muhammadu Buhari returns from the UN General Assembly, we want to share our concerns with him and to remind him of the urgent need to accelerate action on the implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.

“We need action at all levels. First, we need to increase awareness, then public policies that create real changes to reduce inequalities in and between states. We must also change production and consumption patterns, in order to make development sustainable for the environment and for people.

“While the Federal Government is to be commended for its social protection programme and the adoption of the national social protection policy, we hope that the programme will cover all sections of the population in need of this. With the Government’s effort in raising revenue through taxes, we recommend fair and equitable tax system that is people-centered and devoid of multiple taxation.

“Women’s and girls’ rights is an important first as we move to attain the SDGs, this is the bedrock of our national development. Freedom of civil society and political participation is a critical foundation to the stakeholder partnership that is needed to attain the ambitious Agenda 2030. A shrinking civic space is bad for development”, Oluseyi added.

On his own part, Director, Justice Development and Peace Commission, Ijebu Ode, Rev. Father John Patrick, said, “We remain concerned about the growing threat to the nation’s peaceful co-existence”. He urged all “as citizens to cultivate the culture of living together in unity as there is no development without peace; there is no peace without development. Now is the time to walk the talk! Let’s act together!”

Copyright THISDAYLIVE.

The SDG is Nigerian, we must let it Work

The SDG is Nigerian, we must let it Work

Two years after the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, those goals have never been more vital to the development of the 193 countries (including Nigeria) subscribing to the 17 goals and 169 specific targets.

Many Nigerians may not be aware of the SDGs and may think it is too technical. But they know firsthand what it means to go for days without food, they ride on bad roads and have at one point or the other witnessed the lack of social services, be it in the areas of health, access to good education or lack of portable water. Up NEPA! is our second national anthem.

Two years into the 15 years lifespan of the goals, Nigeria through the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on SDGs (SSAP-SDGs) has taken national ownership of the SDGs and has worked to integrate the goals into the nations planning documents.

“The Government of Nigeria has embarked on an SDGs Needs Assessment and Policy Analysis exercise which should provide the nation with the much-needed baseline data and information to enable the forecast and planning for the subsequent public investments across sectors and regions and hence, more effective and efficient resource use as well as impact’’, we read in the opening statement of the President in the National Voluntary Report submitted by Nigeria to the “people and international community on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Federal Republic of Nigeria’’ in July 2017 in New York.

The above leaves no room for doubt or debate on whether Nigeria is taking steps to implement the SDGs. As with many of our plans and programmes, time is of essence. Nigeria has been in the development labour room for years, going through the pangs of development labour, yet its doctors have refused to send it to an emergency ward for necessary surgical operation. Overwhelming debt profile, recession, corruption and plummeting economy has greatly compounded our agony as a nation.

With the Presidential Council on the SDGs now in place, their role will be paramount in developing and implementing an urgent response in attaining the SDGs by 2030 and deflating the country’s poverty rate from the present 112 million Nigerians living below the poverty line as of 2016.

Before they are reduced to mere projects, the SDGs provide a basis for developing and implementing clear national development plans, set a good foundation for a carefully articulated political party manifesto and may even be a good agenda for discussing the much touted ‘restructuring’’.  Our technical and political elites including grassroots mobilisers must now pay attention to the SDGs and what “its spirit is telling the congregation”.

The SDGs leave a whole new level of development agenda that needs scaling. The last time I checked, no one yet has estimated the full cost, however, allocation of resources to the right sectors of the economy will be the most critical factor, in the view of development specialists. They dare to hope that with the country now out of recession, the 2018 federal, state and local government budgets will be SDGs-based providing the spark for a long overdue accelerated implementation of the goals.

All Nigerians should rally forcefully behind their fellow citizens being left behind on the island of development as the country labours to develop using the SDGs as an accountability framework for holding all stakeholders accountable — government, private and civil society.

It is up to the private and civil society sector to partner government in ensuring that by 2030, we have a Nigeria that “Nigerians want” after all the 17 issues listed in the goals have been with us since independence and they are more Nigerian than foreign.

Oyebisi B. Oluseyi, Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs writes in from Lagos, seyi@nnngo.org

Copyright PUNCH.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS IN NIGERIA; TWO YEARS AND COUNTING…

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS IN NIGERIA; TWO YEARS AND COUNTING…

On the 2nd years Anniversary of the SDGs, Ms. Oyindamola Aramide shares her thoughts in this article.

On September 25, 2015, the United Nations general assembly adopted 17-interconnected goals which form the universal, integrated and transformative 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. 193 member nations of the United Nations; Nigeria inclusive formally took on implementation of these global goals in the year 2016 with hopes of full attainment in every country by 2030.

The 17 goals, alternatively referred to as global goals are further broken down into 169 specific targets which fundamentally lean on three crucial domains of environment, economy and society. Each of the goals has a stake in one of these domains with the ultimate goal of ensuring inclusive development for everyone in every city of the world through the mitigation and subsequent eradication of poverty, reduction of hunger and food waste, creation of enabling environments for growth and development, protection of the planet and so on.

One major challenge to the attainment of the SDGs in many countries is the lack of awareness and inadequate sensitization of the public of the goals, what they entail and how their implantation impacts the quality of life of the average citizen. In Nigeria, studies show that more than 50% of the population is unaware of what the sustainable development goals are or how they affect their own development. How then can these goals be achieved if people do not know about them or how they fit into the implementation of the goals.

Two years into the adoption of the goals, there is still more to be done in terms of sensitizing people about each of the seventeen goals and how they can be fitted into citizens’ lives on a daily basis. First of all, we have to ask ourselves as well as our governments if the goals are even achievable so that enquiries into them do not put us in an offensive position (them on the defensive), where it is obvious that the government is inundated by the sheer magnitude of all that have to be accomplished in the next thirteen years. At this point in the implementation of the SDGs, it becomes imperative that questions which interrogate our governments’ commitment to the promises made in September 2015.

Liu Zhenmin, Under Secretary- General of the United Nations and head of its Department of Economic and Social Affairs noted that; “Successful implementation of the SDGs is predicated on people knowing about them. If people are aware of the bold commitments their leaders made in 2015, then citizens can hold their leaders accountable.”

As much as the attainment of the SDGs is prominent in the framework of world nations and strongly backed by the United Nations, Agenda 2030 cannot simply be actualized by increasing awareness and sensitizations. It is important to note that the SDGs only stand a chance at being achieved if everyone takes a part in the implementation. National, state and local governments, the private sector, the academia, civil society as well as average everyday citizens all have a stake at achieving Agenda 2030.

When citizens are engaged in a process especially founded on issues which affect them on personal levels, they would be inclined to act. People which make up a country have high population power (in comparison with those in power) and so the contribution of everyone to issues of development in ways which they find relatable is important to foster implementation of the SDGs for the next thirteen years.

Governments have the prerogative to ensure that people understand that they play a large role in taking up actions especially regarding identifying one particular goal which speaks to them the most, connecting it all on how best the other goals can be achieved.

Education is key to engendering inclusivity and a core goal for being ahead of the curve on a lot of changes. It cannot be denied that the entry point to conversations on the SDGs is goal 4; quality education. It is through the actualization of quality education that poverty can be eradicated and then zero hunger can be achieved.

The greatest challenge to quality education in achieving sustainable development lies in the conflict between the federal, state and local governments in the management of education at these different levels. The problems range from lack of adequate funding of the sector to politicization of the system, indiscipline to general instability of the sector. According to UNESCO, 26% of national budgets are to be allocated to education in each country but it is cannot be said that this is the case in Nigeria and has not been so for many years now. The onus is on the government to revitalize the educational system in the country and provide sustainable funding for the educational sector to achieve the vision of quality education for all by 2030.

Climate change and how human activities lead up to the situation where environmental degradation causes an inability of the environment to sustain life is another area intended to be tackled by the SDGs. It is time to begin to educate people on the importance of sustainable use of nature’s resources in a way that these resources are not used up faster than they can be replenished.

Urbanization and rapid expansion of cities which results in destruction of vegetation and farmlands, release of hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere; another result of massive industrialization, engaging in actions which further jeopardizes the ozone layer; causing a ripple effect on land and sea temperature leading to recent occurrence of massive flooding of many cities around the world, hurricanes and the environment essentially lashing back at the unsustainable use of its resources. These are some of the issues that need to be addressed but cannot simply be achieved solely by government.

Government has to educate people on these errors and while actions have to be taken by all which including everyone making better choices on how best to engage the use of environment resources to forestall irreversible danger.

With partnership and the support of stakeholders on all levels in the society as well as the commitment of all citizens to the attainment of the goals, the government has to brace up to the challenge of delivering on its promise to lead the movement.

Policies which engender peaceful living and create a society which absorbs and spreads development must be enacted, a society which is ideal for global partnership and inclusive development must be created; one devoid of mutual distrust, chaos and violence in order for Nigeria to stand a chance at sustainable development in the long-term.

ATTAINING SDGs: A CALL TO GOVERNMENT AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS

ATTAINING SDGs: A CALL TO GOVERNMENT AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS

With the SDGs now 2 years, Ms. Oluwatosin Sulaimon our Project Officer shares her thoughts on what needs to be done to attain the SDGs.

It’s been two years since the adoption of the sustainable development goals by 193 member states of the United Nations. September 25 – 27, 2015, world leaders gathered for a three-day summit at the United Nations to unanimously adopt a global agenda of 17 goals that aim to end poverty in all forms, protect the planet and ensure people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Promises to achieve all these goals by 2030 were made and each country is expected to nationalize strategies, policies and processes.

Presently, more than 60% of the population still lives in poverty, we have the Boko Haram in the North destroying lives and property, the IPOB in the East agitating for sovereign state of Biafra, yearly increase of youth unemployment, kidnapping across the nation and climate issues amongst others. All of these issues and more spell doom for national development.

It is worthy to note, however, that successful implementation and achievement requires a collective effort of every Nigerian including those in the diaspora. An inclusive approach where every Nigerian everywhere is supporting the government either locally or nationally is the best technique that can be adopted. The government, media, academics, civil society, youths and private individuals should all get involved and ensure no one is left behind.

Every actor should build on the experience gained during the MDGs. Lessons learnt should serve as basis for better implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

The academics should plug into existing networks such as the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, critique the government at all levels and importantly intensify their research on how best to implement the goals.

More media practitioners are needed to create platforms where further awareness can be created for these goals as well as proper monitoring of progress made.

The private sector can come in by creating more employment opportunities, producing sustainably and consequently ensuring a friendly and resilient climate. The sector should also get involved in corporate social responsibility initiatives which can go a long way in addressing social issues in the country.

The civil society as a driver of development, has been known to support the efforts of the government at all levels in ensuring national development. From mobilization of people and resources to wide dissemination of essential information, advocacy, monitoring and collaborating with other stakeholders. Civil society organisations should ensure they are at every point of their activities accountable and transparent to foster their contributions to SDGs attainment and national development. They should also use their various platforms to increase the level of awareness of the SDGs amongst Nigerians especially the grassroots who are expected to feel the impacts of development the most because the higher the level of awareness, the greater the possibilities of informing the government what we desire as citizens.

Youths are important actors in the development process and are generally perceived to be the drivers of social change. It is of great essence that they start taking responsibilities for the Nigeria they want. Youths have to relentlessly and with utmost belief fight for their future. No youth is too young to make a difference.

Nigerian government at all levels should in conjunction with their main responsibilities of ensuring national development create enabling environments for other stakeholders to carry out their activities, ensure inclusiveness, build and strengthen partnership with relevant organisations and agencies and most importantly, be receptive.

Not discountenancing the fact that some of these actors have since the adoption of these goals started creditable activities, the importance of intensifying all efforts cannot be overemphasized.

Attaining all 17 sustainable development goals by 2030 in Nigeria, I believe will be one of the greatest achievements of the country. Let us come together and work as one.

Together we can!!!

Nonprofit leaders kick at NGO Regulatory Agency Bill

Nonprofit leaders kick at NGO Regulatory Agency Bill

Concerned about the restrictive nature of the NGO Regulatory Agency Bill, 123 nonprofit leaders on Tuesday 12 September struck back against the proposed Bill arguing that it is not ‘’fit for purpose’’ and should be ‘’killed”.

Through a declaration issued at the end of a one-day national dialogue to discuss the Bill and its implications for civic space in Nigeria, participants expressed their concern noting that the Bill if passed will make Nigeria backslide on its international commitments to standards, norms and principles on freedom of association and assembly.

“We are extremely concerned that there is a NGO Regulatory Agency Bill (HB58) seeking to regulate the nonprofit sector. Nigeria as a signatory to many international standards, norms and principles around freedom of association and assembly cannot be seen to be backsliding on its commitments to the rights of citizens and citizen organisations”.

Convened by the Nigeria Network of NGOs and InnerCity Mission for Children, the national dialogue called on the National Assembly to stop further consideration of the Bill. “We fully support the call by various civil society actors to stop the passage of Bill 585. We condemn the Bill in its entirety and call on the House Committee on Civil Society to uphold decisions of civil society organisations at the July 25, 2017 roundtable to ‘’kill the bill’’. We stand in solidarity with the 54 civil society actors and experts issuing a statement on Bill HB585 as reported by Premium Times on its website on September 7, 2017[1]

A copy of the Declaration issued at the end of the event can be downloaded here.

[1] http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/242640-ngo-regulation-bill-threatens-nigerias-hard-won-democracy-academics-experts-others-warn.html