Lagos, 25 September 2020/The times we are living require a fundamental rethink and changes to strategies, plans, approaches and policies of government aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, unpack the various features and amplifiers of poverty, structural causes and consequences for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. This was the main message of the “People’s Assembly” event, a gathering of citizens from different fields of experience and expertise—civil society, multilateral organisations, public officials, academia, private sector, entrepreneurs, gender experts, media, clergy, former ministers and the general public. The event was held on the 5th anniversary of the SDGs, the decade of action to deliver the goals and 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
Addressing participants in a keynote remark, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, Founding Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs and former Senatorial Candidate argued that “We are not at the very bottom of the ladder as we have made some strides in terms of ensuring ease of doing business together but we are not where we should be in terms of the capacities and resources we have or in meeting with the vision that Nigerians have of their nation”.
Yet “in terms of adhering to the development plans we have had over the years, I’m not sure that there are many of those plans we have been able to implement successfully. In order to actualize these plans in terms of attaining the SDGs or even our National plans, we need to make government less expensive. If you have a business and you are spending 90% of your earnings on salaries, for your staff, yourself, the principal officers, you’re going to go bankrupt very quickly.” Ransome-Kuti concluded.
“We are still not where we should be in the achievement of the SDGs as a nation and we must understand that education cannot wait, we have to acknowledge the fact that education will continue to remain the foundation for development and the actualization of the SDGs” said Soji Adeniyi, Former Chairman, United Nations Staff Pensions Fund. “Unless we take SDGs 4 seriously, we cannot achieve the SDGs. It is the centre of the SDGs. Poverty will only be addressed when we have addressed SDGs 4 and gender equality ahead of the other goals” Adeniyi submitted.
Underscoring the need for a gender-aware development, Bunmi Dipo-Salami, Executive Director, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights explained “Gender equality should be everybody’s business; we cannot overemphasize the role of social advocacy. If Nigeria should make progress, we need to invest more in gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. There are laws that must be revisited for this to happen”.
“The media needs to do more especially on climate change. The media is a critical stakeholder and partner in pushing the SDGs and should represent solutions and not just issues…what we need now is solution journalism so that we not only present the stories but also discuss solutions and how to get it right. The media should start looking for candidates for solution journalism. The media can help to bridge the connection gap between the civil society and the public” opined Femi Obong- Daniels while speaking on the role of media in the attainment the SDGs.
On how best to make use of the influence of celebrities in raising awareness on the SDG, Gbenga Adenuga a celebrated musical artist and entertainment entrepreneur said “there are lot more that can be done, people want to follow celebrities and copy what they do, and I think the government can latch unto that and get a lot more done. Government should invest in making things that celebs do more accessible, encourage creativity and seeing positivity in entertainment. Celebs can help in achieving the SDGs through inclusion; include celebrities in policy formulation because I believe when they do this, they can own it a lot better and get their audience to fly with it.”
The 90-minutes event was supported by a broad range of civil society organisations and media, and informed by the experience, expertise, and reports from the voices of citizens from different parts of the Oyo State. Contributions at the event covered many aspects of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs and reflect the rich geographic and cultural diversity of participants from 14 States of Federation.
The “People’s Assembly” was organised by Splash FM 105.5, Global Call to Action against Poverty, Justice Development and Peace Commission and Nigeria Network of NGOs.
LAGOS --- Splash FM 105.5, Global Call to Action against Poverty, Justice Development and Peace Commission and Nigeria Network of NGOs are pleased at the collaboration to bring the voices of millions of Nigerians to bear on the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria through the joint hosting of the “People’s Assembly” that aimed to provide a consolidated view of citizens and citizen organisations on the state of governments’ commitment to attaining the SDGs by 2030.
The “Assembly”, a focused and action-oriented hybrid event (live radio, web-streaming and web-conferencing) x-rayed issues around Nigeria’s developmental history, given the 60th anniversary of her independence, insurgency, and emergencies in the North-East, need for gender-aware development, the role of the media and celebrities in connection to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and refocusing energies on the path to meeting and exceeding agenda 2030.
To ensure inclusiveness and participation, Splash FM 105.5 journalists visited public places across Oyo State to ask citizens about their perception of governments’ efforts to reduce poverty, improve security, health, address COVID-19 and curb gender-based violence. These voices were captured into a 3 minutes audio report that set the tone for the “Assembly”. Panellists and participants drawn from different fields of experience and expertise—civil society, multilateral organisations, public officials, academia, private sector, entrepreneurs, gender experts, media, clergy, former ministers and the general public—listened and provided their thoughts on the state of development including offering recommendations
This event showed the power of collaboration and partnerships for the attainment of the SDGs through the mass media and outreach strength of the radio, catalytic role of global alliances, convening power of National Associations and resource sharing amongst traditional nonprofits. “We look forward to sustaining this model of partnership to further increase awareness on the SDGs and to bring the voices of citizens and citizen organisations into the development and implementation of policies and programmes of government” said NNNGO Executive Director Oyebisi, B. Oluseyi.
The “Peoples Assembly” was held on Thursday 24 September 2020.