At the 70th United Nations General Assembly (UNGAS) meeting in New York, September 2015, world leaders ratified and adopted the SDGs as the new post 2015 global agenda to ensure zero hunger, good health and quality education, gender equality , clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, reduction of inequalities, combat climate change and its impacts, promote peaceful and inclusive societies amongst others. However this development is not surprising.
This is so, due to the fact that, by the end of year 2015, it has become obvious that the previous MDGs, as much as it tried within the limits of its eight goals and the time frame, could not address satisfactorily the myriad of problems confronting humanity, as such threatening the fabric of its existence.
Now, the scope of the goals of the global agenda has been widened and increased from eight (8) to seventeen (17) with 169 targets, all to be achieved by the years 2030. The new slogan of SDGs becomes “leave no one behind” targeting a world where no one is left behind in access to decent living, provision of food, good education and health, access to clean environment, development of entrepreneurship etc. all aiming at a society where there are no wants and lacking of anything.
Laudable as these dreams and initiatives are, they could only be realized if we learn from experience of the previous MDGs implementation processes and strategies, we must acknowledge where we have failed and why, in order that we may be guided to come up with an enduring implementation framework supportive of accelerating the process of achieving SDGs in Nigeria. We need to build on successes of the past as well as destroy foundation of the challenges encountered in the past, for us to make progress.
It is good to note that the Presidency has recently appointed the former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Adejoke Orelope – Adefulire, as the new Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, which is an indication of current administrations commitment and preparedness to ensure that the country hit the ground running in effort at achieving SDGs. By the pronouncement, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs is saddled and entrusted with the great responsibility of coordinating activities towards the achievement of the goals in Nigeria.
Nevertheless, the challenges of successful implementation and achievement of SDGs goes beyond neither the responsibility of OSSAP-SDGs nor that of the SSAP-SDGs, but rather that of all stakeholders. Right from the Presidential Advisory Committee on SDGs, headed by the Vice-President, members of the National Assembly committee on SDGs, Ministers of implementing MDAs, state Governors, community leaders, members of international communities, civil society organizations and the press, all hands must be on deck if we are to achieve SDGs to an appreciable level within the time frame.
Meanwhile, in the face of current dwindling national revenue due to fall in global oil price and other variables, the country must design a way of looking inward through partnership with private institutions, NGOs, international development partners/organization and others in order to garner resources required for the implementation of projects and programmes of the SDGs.
Nigerians expect that members of the National Assembly take seriously the issue of adequate/sufficient budgetary appropriation/provision to finance SDGs in Nigeria.
The same way it is expected that the Ministry of Finance, Budget Office and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation should harmonize their operations and synergies efforts to fast track the process of releases of funds to finance SDGs programme and projects.
In spite of the shortcoming of the implementations of the previous MDGs, some Nigerians in different constituencies today continue to shower praises on the programe/project, which they referred to as the only Federal Government presence witnessed in their area over the years: schools and classrooms were built and equipped, hospitals and health care centers were constructed and supplied with drugs, equipment were provided with manpower capacity; in some places, skills acquisition and computer training centers were built while special effort were made to bridge gender inequality, reduce maternal and child mortality rate, incidences of AIDS/HIV and other diseases.
Therefore, there is no doubt that Nigerian citizens are looking forward to the opportunities that the new SDGs will provide, which will end hunger and poverty, enable equal and quality education, provide shelter and clean environment and affordable energy. It does not stop there, they look forward to SDGs opportunity that will reduce unemployment provide clean water and energy, address insecurity problems, guarantee fundamental human right and protect dignity of humanity. Not until these dreams are realized by the United Nations and other SDGs stakeholders could they be applauded for a job well done.