The Manifestation of Development in Everyday Life

Since the adoption of the SDGs, experts, civil society actors, and concerned intellectuals have had a lot to say about them. We have heard speeches, read articles, opinion pieces and more about what the achievement of the SDGs would mean for us as individuals, a country, a continent, and a planet. From iterating the simple meaning of the term, Sustainable Development Goals to speaking about each of the pieces that make it up, one would be inclined to think that quite a lot of discussions go on about the global goals, right?

 

However, I bet when you go into the streets to ask average citizens what the sustainable development goals are, 90% -95% would gift you with responses ranging from a blank stare to derisive laughter, depending on how informed your pool of respondents is. It, therefore, begs the question, who discusses what?

 

 

It seems to me that to a large extent, developmental issues and especially issues around the SDGs are in some way abstract or esoteric. I was recently embroiled in an argument about the non-abstractness of the goals and although I tried to do justice to my position, I was left feeling like not much was done. For some reason, it seems to me that developmental issues are not gaining much traction with the people that matter; citizens. If they were, shouldn’t at the barest minimum, every school-going child know what they are?

 

A keynote speaker at a conference I attended last year spoke about how citizens need to begin to do more in terms of having and owning their voices. She had noted that with the huge human capital in Africa, especially since majority include young people between ages 15 to 45, more concern should be given the fact that our past, presents are futures are decided by a “few old men” in a room. The speaker had been affronted by what she called the “lack of attention of youths to matters of development”. She said she found it worrisome that youths had imbibed the notion of individuality over the African Ubuntu philosophy and this could only spell doom for sustainability.

 

In retrospect, this kind of brings me to the #LazyNigerianYouths movement. Even though I felt insulted and unappreciated by that statement made by the President at an International gathering no less, I may now be inclined to not completely fault that statement. I sense a general air of malaise/fatigue when speaking with young people about hope for our country. We have been conditioned to manage our expectations because “the country is not smiling” and perhaps this is why many young men and women risk it all to leave the country. In my opinion, of every six young Nigerian you meet, five aspire to “escape” Nigeria to “any other country but here”, four are in the process of “arranging to leave” while two will succeed to the chagrin of the other three people. All with no intention of returning. Some may argue that these young people are cowards but sometimes I think, “can you really blame anyone for not wanting to stay?”.

 

When you begin to explain the SDGs in terms of food provision, access to social amenities, income generation and provision of the basic needs of a person and all these are tied to the rights a person is entitled to as a world citizen, you have the attention of people who had, minutes prior to your explanation, given you an impatient shrug as to why you are being a disturbance on a hot Tuesday afternoon. There is more than a likely chance, that this would happen when your discussants are people in rural or hard-to-reach communities but when confronted with more informed individuals, you have a harder nut to crack it would seem.

 

Citizens who have a more than sparse knowledge of the goals would argue that the global goals are an agenda cooked up by international communities who see the need to be the prince charming for the clueless damsel which African countries constantly prove themselves to be. Even though they make my job harder to do, can they, honestly be blamed for thinking that way?

 

African leaders are not exactly known for initiating conversation along the lines of sustainable and developmentally-inclined policies. Someone once said, “In Nigeria, it is about the now, no one really cares about the survival of future generations”. In fact, I have been privy to one or two discussions about the inability of the government to implement the goals in totality…wait, that’s a little too mild. Many people, especially youths who are now jaded by the never-ending “promise and fall” attitude of authorities have blatantly expressed derision as to the notion that any government, especially an African one could achieve complete and total development.

 

Regardless of what is being done about the SDGs and their implementation at the moment, I bet many people, are plagued by the question; “So what Happens after 2030?” After all, we are already three years into the adoption of the SDGs.

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!!!

The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) is the first generic membership body for civil society organisations in Nigeria that facilitates effective advocacy on issues of poverty and other developmental issues. Established in 1992, NNNGO represents over 3495 organisations ranging from small groups working

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