Special Report: Challenges Of Nigeria MDGs Target By 2015

February 25 08:06 2013 Print This Article

Poor sanitation

By Benjamin Umuteme

2015 was regarded by many as the magic year that most countries of the world would meet their development targets.

When the United Nations set 2015 as the year for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) little did it know that 2015 would not take eternity.

With less than a thousand days to the set date, it is beginning to dawn on various countries-especially developing ones-that the MDGs targets are not realisable.

In 2000,189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivation. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is therefore focused on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieve Universal Primary Education, promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, reduce Child Mortality Progress, improve Maternal Health, combat HIV-AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases, and ensure Environmental Sustainability.

In spite of bare-faced assurances from government circle on achieving some of the goals of the MDGs, the structures on ground suggest otherwise.

At a recent stakeholders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s Vice President, Mohammed Sambo was apt when he said that “Although Nigeria has made significant strides in reducing maternal mortality from figures that were above 1000/100,000 live births in 1990 to 545/100,000 live births in 2008, attainment of the health MDGs still remain a challenge in Nigeria. For instance, the current annual reduction in under-five mortality of 4% is far below the 13% annual reduction needed to bend the curve to attain Goal 4 by 2015”. Similar reduction in maternal mortality leaves much to be desired.

Even President Goodluck Jonathan did not paint a rosy picture either in his speech at the recently concluded ‘water summit’ in the nations’ capital when he said that Nigeria needs over N350billion annually to meet its water and sanitation targets.

The President also said that a situation where rural and sub-urban areas do not have access to clean water is unacceptable”.

Mr. Jonathan noted that all hands must be on deck to provide clean portable water for all Nigerians.

“It has become necessary to implement a more cooperative, more radical programme of action to meet the nation’s Millennium Development Goals MDGs) target in this sector.

“For the nation to meet her MDGs, the federal, states must work together, insisting that a situation where a lot of money is spent to provide water but management becomes an issue, should no longer be tolerated.”

Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Mrs. Precious Gbeneol is not accepting the option of failure, and as she puts it, “we must all put our hands on deck to ensure the attainment of the goals by the target date. There is no excuse to fail.”

Again, that is to put it mildly.

The recent killing of nine health workers by gunmen is a drawback to the progress that has been recorded in the Health Goals.

But Nigeria’s Country Director, Actionaid Mr. Hussain Abdu had in a chat with FrontiersNews admitted that with the way things were going, Nigeria would not achieve the MDGs

Quoting statistics to back up his claims, Mr. Abdu insisted that the nation can only make some progress if there is a radical approach to the way government has gone about the implementation.

He pointed out that not much has come from government investments; as over 90% of funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS is coming from the Donor Agencies and NGOs.

“They are the ones actually funding that intervention, the government is not investing much in that. The more sustainable way of dealing with this kind of scourge is that the government should also invest in it.”

According to an Abuja based media practitioner who spoke with FrontiersNews, “I did agree that it is not achievable but the government would have implemented it half way”.

According to her, the solution to achieving it is to put in enough money-which the government does not have, insisting that “there should be more Public Private Partnership (PPP) so that the 2015 date can be a reality.”

But Mr. Abdu argued that government cannot endlessly continue to wait for funding from the private sector or international development partners.

“I think as a people and as a government, we should be able to fund some of these interventions.”

The Actionaid Country Director fingered corruption and bad governance as one of several reasons why the country has not been able to meet its MDGs target.

“One of these things is corruption. Ours is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and the level of corruption is quite palpable. You can feel it on both side from the side of the people that are stealing the money and from the side of the people that are actually been affected by the stealing that is actually going on.

“You go round our streets and see the type of luxury structures that we have around that are owned by individuals. Those are a clear reflection of poverty that is why there is corruption in the system. And then look at the depth of poverty in our different communities. We have one of the widest gaps between the rich and the poor and corruption is a major contributor to that.

“Again one of the reasons is bad governance. The character of our government is not development oriented. And so we don’t have a very good sense of what governance should look like. Even from our leaders the way the system is so structured is not responsive to development issues. Our concerns is more about what we do for ourselves and how do we sustain our continued hold on power rather than justifying it.

“Secondly on the MDGs itself the way we embraced it, the way we structured it, we actually didn’t design it for us to make any serious progress in it,” he insisted.

Interestingly, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Mrs. Gbeneol, thinks otherwise. According to Presidential aide who spoke at a stakeholders meeting in Abuja, “the MDGs Accelerated Framework is part of a wider strategy to fast-track the attainment of the MDGs by 2015.”

She stressed that the presence of stakeholders is a clear indication of the understanding and commitment to the imperative of mobilising the needed resources to meet the globally agreed Goals in order to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable.

FrontiersNews visit to Jikwoyi a suburb of Abuja paints a gloomy picture. At the Jikwoyi Health Centre, it was sorry site as the drainage in front of the centre was filled with both water and refuse giving an impression that it has not been cleaned for a long time.

A man who simply identified himself as Mr. Musa told our correspondent that the Health Centre is a ‘big joke’.

According to him, “people hardly patronise the place as they would prefer to go to the Jikwoyi Hospital which is a private clinic. Even pregnant women hardly patronise the place, they would prefer to carry their children to private clinics.”

He added that the last time he visited the place is the last he would step his foot there, as he would rather spend all his money at a private hospital than visit any government hospital, even the so called bigger hospitals like Asokoro and Nyanya General Hospitals do not fare better.”

The only borehole built by government at the popular Jikwoyi football field broke down two years ago with no sign that it would be repaired.

There is no proper waste management system as resident dispose their refuse at the back of the only market in the suburb.

Even several families use pit latrine with zinc covering, while very few landlords that are ‘generous’ enough use blocks to build round the such toilets.

At Nyanya, the situation was not different as one would have to cover the nostril with hand due to the offensive stench from most of the drainages which have not been cleared for a long time.

When our correspondent confronted a resident of Nyanya, this is what he said:”bros I tire for the thing myself, but as money no dey to get another place, we go dey manage am”

Majority of residents patronise water vendors for their water needs.

When further asked whether residents don’t fail sick often living in that kind of environment, Mr. Edet replied in pidgin english, “bros, their body don dey used to the system. Dem dey hardly dey fall sick.”

The Nyanya public cemetery has partially been turned to a public toilet by residents who live around the cemetery.

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