President Goodluck Jonathan recently hosted a Presidential Summit in Abuja to evaluate the achievements and challenges in the implementation of his administration’s development agenda.
Observers note that the summit was part of effort to accelerate the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ahead of the 2015 target date.
Participants at the summit reflected on the challenges and lessons learnt from Nigeria’s effort to achieve the MDGs and suggested strategies for ensuring effective implementation plan for post-2015.
MDGs are eight international development goals that were established in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
The goals are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
Others are to combat HIV and AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
Participants at the summit examined the effectiveness of the suggested strategies in sustaining the momentum in the final push to achieving the MDGs target in Nigeria, especially in those critical areas where Nigeria has not made enough impact.
The summit, with the theme: “The MDGs and the Socio-Economic Transformation of Nigeria: 2015 and Beyond,’’ attracted participants from different segments of the society, including the private sector, civil society organisations, international development partners, trade unions, the academia and the media.
Evaluating the success of MDGS in Nigeria, WaterAid Nigeria says Nigeria needs to reflect and learn from its poverty reduction setbacks if it is to fully key into the Sustainable Development Goals which are currently being negotiated globally to replace MDGs.
Speaking at the summit, WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative Michael Ojo said: “We cannot miss out this crucial step, as a country we need to make a success to the new Sustainable Development Goals.
“Nigeria’s access to water progress has been slow and we are unfortunately not on track to meet our MDGs target.
“The situation on access to basic sanitation is even bleaker with Nigeria being among a handful of nations where levels of coverage are falling rather than rising.
“One area of concern that has hampered socio-economic transformation is access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene which are crucial for good outcomes in health, nutrition, education and livelihoods.
“The inability of millions of women and children to access basic services such as water and sanitation has not allowed some children to go to school.
“It has also made many girls vulnerable to physical and sexual violence on their way to unsafe toilets.
“If the current trend persists, access to basic sanitation is predicted to fall from 37 per cent in 1990 to just 26 per cent in 2015.’’
According to him, lack of attention on reducing inequality is also widely recognised as one of the major shortcomings of the MDGs.
Irrespective of Ojo’s view, Alhaji Alhassan Doguwa, Chairman House Committee on MDGs, said the development project of the goals would not end in the year 2015.
He said Nigeria had succeeded tremendously in achieving MDGs projects nationwide, particularly in terms of job provisions, poverty reduction among others.
“As a stakeholder, I am telling you that in the course of global consultations and with other stakeholders, the project will not end in 2015.
“This is because there would be another successor with similar goals to replace MDGs; the Sustainable Development Goals,’’ he said recently at a meeting with stakeholders of MDGs organised by the National Teachers Institute, Kaduna.
Similarly, Alhaji Mohammed Yaro, the Director MDGs in Kano State, said that paediatric and maternity wards were constructed in 26 primary health centres in the state since the inception of the MDGs.
Yaro said the government purchased and distributed ambulances to general hospitals in Bichi, Dambatta, Gwarzo, Wudil, Bagwai local government areas of the state.
In the same vein, in Katsina State, Alhaji Isyaku Dikko, Permanent Secretary In-Charge of MDGs in the state, said that achievements were recorded.
“We have done something about poverty eradication, education, water supply, health and hygiene, among others.’’
Dikko said that 1,115 boreholes; six semi-urban water supply schemes and 80 maternal and child clinics were provided across the state.
The story is however different in Kaduna State as Malam Abdullahi Lere, Technical
Assistant on MDGs in the state said insufficient funds from the MDGs office had affected the success of the goals.
He said the state, nonetheless, recorded more than 40 per cent reduction in maternal mortality through free medical care for pregnant women and children under five.
In his assessment, Mr. Steve Akpan, Special Assistant on MDGs in Akwa Ibom, said by 2015, Akwa Ibom would have met six targets of the goals.
He said the targets of the government were on “eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, attainment of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and women empowerment.
“Others are reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health and provision of water and basic sanitation,’’ he said.
In Kwara, Mr. Ope Saraki, the Special Assistant to Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed on MDGs, said many communities in the 16 local government areas of the state benefited from various projects of MDGs.
According to Saraki, some of the projects completed are toilets, motorised boreholes, renovated health centres, medical equipment and instructional materials for schools, among others.
He said 150,000 insecticide mosquito nets were provided to communities in all the local government areas, while ultra sound scanning machines were given to 32 health centres in the state. Saraki said 78 communities benefited from solar powered boreholes, while 13 general hospitals were supplied modern medical equipment and 13 ambulances.
Nonetheless, Saraki noted that most of the MDGs projects had not been completed due to inadequate funds.
Mr. Garba Ajiya, the MDGs Focal Person in Taraba, said the MDGs office in the state, had provided healthcare units and maternity clinics in each of the council wards in the 16 local government areas of the state.
Ajiya explained that the major area of concern was inadequate manpower in the health sector.
In Plateau, the state government said it had achieved 92 per cent success in MDGs implementation.
Mr. Peter Gai, the Project Coordinator, Project Support Unit of the MDGs, said the achievements were recorded in the areas of poverty reduction, provision of healthcare services, provision of potable water, sanitation and primary education.
“So far, we have empowered 12 cooperative groups with a grant of N500, 000 each to enable them to improve their businesses,’’ he said.
Gai said 2,250 rural poor persons were being paid N5, 000 monthly for a period of one year to enable them to send their children and wards to schools on the platform of MDGs Conditional Cash Transfer.
He attributed the success to the political will by the Federal Government and the state government, especially in regular payment of counterpart funds.
Mr. Allwell Eneh, Communication Officer in Rivers MDGs office, said the state government  equipped 66 out of the 170 new primary health centres across the state in order to meet the MDGs target.
He said the MDGs had also built classroom blocks for four fishing communities and renovated over 150 room-hostel blocks at the Rivers State College of Health Sciences and Technology.
Dr Okezie Nwanjoku, the Special Adviser to Gov. Sullivan Chime of Enugu, said the government had achieved a lot in providing education, healthcare delivery, water and sanitation, among others.
He said more than 50 health centres were constructed, noting that the dilapidated ones had been renovated in different local government areas.
Stakeholders commend Nigeria for the success recorded in the attainment of the MDGs targets, but want the government to do everything possible to enable the country properly key into the Sustainable Development Goals likely to replace the MDGs.