At the World Leaders Summit in September 2015, Nigeria together with 193 member states of the United Nations adopted a Global Agenda for the Transformation of the World- the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. The SDGs is a set of 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 individual indicators from which progress can be marked over the 15 year span of the goal project.
It is noteworthy to point out that the SDGs is a successor of the Millennium Development Goals MDGs which spanned 2000-2015, which had committed the Nations of the world to a new set of global partnership aimed at reducing extreme poverty and other time-bound targets. With regards to the MDGs, Nigeria lagged behind due to a plethora of reasons, chief of which was the inadequate institutional understanding of its implementation at the very top echelon of government. And when it eventually took off, it was in the garb of a developmental assistance scheme akin to the NDDC . A political contraption better understood as a help-the-poor scheme.
Upon assuming office, the Buhari administration in a bid to reward Amina Mohammed who had chaired the MDGs under three different presidents to national and global acclaim, elevated her to the full ministerial ranking and assigned her the Environment portfolio, which further validates the inadequate and warped knowledge of the SDGs and how it can be harnessed as a spring board for national development.
Had the government understood the transformative benefits of the SDGs, it would have instead assigned Amina to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and promptly made her the coordinating minister of the economy in the garb of Okonjo Iweala. To speak of missed opportunities, Amina Mohammed is today the UN Deputy Secretary –General, where her experience is better appreciated and effectively utilized, whilst Okonjo Iweala sits on the board of Twitter aside serving as the Chair of the board of Gavi.
Nigeria’s developmental progress is trapped in the old ways. At a time when Sweden is phasing out its dependence on fossil fuels, when every roof top in Dakar Senegal is been fitted with solar energy gear, when Pakistan is planting 10,000 trees, Nigeria is trapped with her ever present perennial problems that have been with us since the structural adjustment programe misadventure. The bane of which is Nigeria’s poor grasp of its binary natural endowment-her people and her geography- which have both been poorly understood, ineffectively harnessed and underutilized.
Such Structural Adjustment induced problems as unemployment, widespread poverty and hunger, the disappearance of the middle class, weak institutions, unchecked loss of biodiversity, strong man politics, institutionalized corruption, low average life expectancy among a litany of developmental problems are the Nigerian reality which a better grasp of the SDGs as well as concerted top-bottom political will, would have helped stopped totally.
The SDGs with its many targets and indicators is a once in a life time golden chance for discerning governments which should have inspired a sober Sovereign National conversation to chart the economic progress of the country around geo-political and cultural leanings has unfortunately been kept on the bark burner. However, at every opportunity, our political actors are wont to jet abroad to attend high level political events where developmentally conscious countries come to showcase their accomplishments, mark progress as well as leverage on the global market place of ideas for solutions to their native process-problems.
The 2019 elections are around the corner and sadly, identity politics and politics of stomach infrastructure are beclouding the developmental conversations. The theatrics at the recently concluded gubernatorial elections in Ekiti state where vote buying was alleged to hold sway buttresses the point that the SDGs represents unfortunately poorly understood more or less by the electorate and political actors.
Will Nigeria develop? Will Nigeria get it right? Prominent activist Oby Ezekwesili, Pro-development politicians like Peter Obi, Babatunde Fashola, Donald Duke are some of Nigeria’s GREEN politicians who understand the window of opportunity that is the SDGs who if given the opportunity can help us achieve the realities that we desire. Unfortunately Nigeria’s GREEN politicians are outsiders and far from been favorites in the political contraption that is Nigeria’s political system.
For so long as the old eggs- the structural adjustment politicians hold sway, Nigeria must be content to sit on the fence, to remain as it were and watch other countries make tremendous developmental progress to global acclaim.
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