Did Nigeria achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the quantitative targets for year 2015? Did the government commit to the ideals and goals of that Millennium Declaration? Did the federal government adequately disseminate the MDGs information to the state and local governments, including other public and private agencies? Did state and local governments understand the import of MDGs? As I stated some years ago, these were some of the questions that begged for answers had Nigeria intended to meet the quantitative targets of MDGs by 2015.
The eight MDGs targets for 2015 were the following:—to reduce extreme poverty and hunger by half; achieve universal primary education; eliminate gender disparity at all levels of education; reduce child mortality by two-thirds; reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio, improve maternal health; halt and combat the spread of HIV/AIDS; combat the incidences of malaria and other diseases; ensure and enhance environmental sustainability, halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, improve significantly the lives of 100 million slum dwellers; and develop a global partnership for development with financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, etc. The impressively articulated eight MDGs had 18 quantifiable targets that were measured by 48 indicators.
Indeed, global poverty and other human ailments had always been a concern to the international community. In order to respond to the world’s development challenges, the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000 emerged with the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments. From the Millennium Declaration, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were drawn up to be achieved by the year 2015.
Optimistically speaking at that time, United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi A. Annan, said, “We will have time to reach the Millennium Development Goals – worldwide and in most, or even all, individual countries – but only if we break with business as usual. We cannot win overnight. Success will require sustained action across the entire decade between now and the deadline. It takes time to train the teachers, nurses and engineers; to build the roads, schools and hospitals; to grow the small and large businesses able to create the jobs and income needed. So, we must start now. And we must more than double global development assistance over the next few years. Nothing less will help to achieve the Goals.”
Also, addressing the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee in Brussels on September 23, 2004, Poverty Group Leader, United Nations Development Programme, Jan Vandemoortele aptly stated the dilemma in meeting some of the UN goals when he said, “The fight against global poverty yields inadequate progress in too many countries. If we are to meet the targets by 2015, strategies for reducing poverty must make a quantum leap in scale, in ambition and in imagination. For the sake of the MDGs, prudence is silver but ambition is golden.”
The prudence in MDGs blueprint culminating in quantitative targets cannot be overemphasized. However, the level of commitment of individual nations toward meeting the quantitative targets of MDGs could be readily deciphered by examining their adequately implemented plan and the accompanying monitoring and evaluating systems. In any case, some nations had structural, cultural and behavioral impediments that would drastically hamper the achievement of MDGs. Such systemic impediments should have been addressed first before human dimension programs could thrive.
Though Nigeria had been making some strides in every realm of development since the return of democracy, yet reversing the vestiges of a weak economy, poor political governance, incidence of corruption, and high level of poverty due to several years of military rule had proved a daunting and overwhelming task. On this note, I am afraid that Nigeria did not achieve its MDG targeted goals.
Nevertheless, it appeared that the federal government was making concerted efforts to meet the MDGs quantitative targets by launching reform agenda in May 2004, four years later, designed to be implemented and monitored by the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) and State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (SEEDS) collaborating with Department for International Development (DFID). But it appeared that all the efforts were to naught because some of the programmatic remedies were not sustained.
However, squandering of resources, misallocation of state and local government funds, lack of accurate data, and capacity constraints of federal, state and local governments had not only impacted service delivery, but had also made “numerical and time-bound targets” elusive. Though state and local governments had relative fiscal and political autonomy, yet lack of responsiveness and accountability of these levels of governments, coupled with corruption and misallocation of funds, permeated the society. Worse still, all the tiers of government lacked the fiscal discipline to adequately implement the activities of NEEDS and SEEDS in their respective domains during the period.
Nigeria must have taken prodigious steps toward achieving the quantitative targets of MDGs. The nation had resources and must have worked assiduously to meet the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) quantitative targets by year 2015. The government should have had genuine programs anchored on rigorous monitoring and evaluating systems. There should have been monthly evaluation of these programs aimed at accomplishing the 18 quantifiable targets that were measured by 48 indicators.
The question now is whether Nigeria will be able to achieve such goals today. The most ominous fear is the current political fragility emanating from the enormous pressures of present insecurities, structural imbalance, and agitations for self-determination. Unfortunately, political framework that would perhaps quell the undercurrents and anxiety of the masses and possibly refocus all efforts to achieving these development goals.