By Vivian Onyebukwa
A development expert, and the co-Founder/ CEO of Development Nigeria. Mr Micheal Ale, has lamented Nigeria’s abysmal performance on the scale of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs is a 15-years development strategy designed by the United Nations (UN) as an improvement on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for member nations to effect development in all areas, particularly the grassroots. SDGs target development and growth in fighting poverty through empowerment, job creation, provision of clean and safe water, roads, power, as well as provision of other social amenities for meaningful development and growth. But, according to him, Nigeria has not fared well in the foregoing areas.
Speaking to stakeholders and newsmen on development in Lagos at a forum organised by his development platform, Development Nigeria, Ale identified lack of finance and failure by government to properly domesticate the SGDs development model to meet our peculiar development status, as factors inhibiting Nigeria from realizing the goals after five years.
Ale who is also the National President of the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners Practitioners (AWDROP), said Nigeria’s late entry into the earlier Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), model, had adversely affected our socio-economic development pace, adding that there is an urgent need for government at all levels to domesticate the principles of the seventeen SDGs in the Nigeria context for the nation to achieve meaningful development.
“The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were designed to primarily eradicate poverty. We had domesticated the MDGs in Nigeria and it worked but we couldn’t meet up with the global indices of MDGs because we joined late and we had our own peculiar challenges. SDGs came up with seventeen goals. It is an herculean task and we could not meet up because we have so much to meet up with. A lot is being done in Nigeria, but we aren’t doing much in monitoring. If we are slowing down in developing, what can we sustain?
If we want to grow the sustainable development must be domesticated in the Nigerian context. What is peculiar to Ghana may be very alien to Nigeria. What suits U.K that is already developed may not suit Nigeria that is a developing nation. The SDGs must be made to grow in the Nigerian context. Every nation is to pick the goals as a guiding principle on how to domesticate the implementation of that suggestion by the UN and bring it to our own status of development and probably keep on developing and maintaining the level of development we have attained. Those seventeen goals must be made to match the status of our development in Nigeria”.
He lamented the level of awareness among citizens. “How many Nigerians know what SDG is? Even go to the higher institutions and ask them what it means, if you can get 90 percent of respondents to say yes, then we would have domesticated it. I can tell you that some state executives do not even know what SDGs. It must be something we know and it must correspond with what we have in the case of Covid 19. We have already domesticated it as everyone now realizes how to prevent it and measures to keep it at bay. The same way SDGs must go viral among the political actors because they are the ones who will take the overriding decisions on development. If I may ask, how many states have development plan in line with SDGs?. “
Asked to assess the level of SDGs impact in local areas in the country, he said: “From what I see around, especially where I reside, I can say there is zero impact of SDGs probably because states couldn’t accept the funds. We got the funding for the MDGs from the Paris fund. For SDG we do not seem to have any fund for it and it is becoming issues for states to key into it. The information has not gone so much for the state to have the understanding of what SDGs is. We need the infrastructure to develop SDGs not just the soft copy that is merely advertising the goals in offices of our administrators”.
Ale also gave his view on the possibility of Africa meeting up with the SDGs, saying: “I don’t want to be pessimistic but there are tasks you cannot meet, goals you cannot get, but it is certain for Africa, especially South Africa, but for me, I do not think there is any African nation that can achieve it now”. He however attributed finance as a major challenge. “Once the finance is provided, the human resources will be available. We should work at our own pace, adapt to our own situation and work with that. In 200 years, it might be very difficult for us to meet up with the developed nations. But you look at United Emirates as they took a political will and decision to turn desert to a tourism centre and that happened. We can look in that direction, but it all boils down to innovative thinking, ideas and strategy. We don’t need to key into an ambitious task which is very difficult to meet because of lack of finance. We can look at creating our own national development strategy that will make us develop at our pace irrespective of us having a timeline to meet with SDGs. Know well that we are not receiving any fund from UN to make us move forward. If finance is not coming from UN, it means we must look at the best option for us. UN should not generalize development; it is an ambitious task that can never be met. Why would we want to compare different kinds of nation with diverse potentials to meet same goals at sametime,” He quarried.