Achievement of the MDGs depends on strong political commitment and good governance
In 2003, the Government of Nigeria approved a poverty reduction strategy, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), based partly on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To prioritize its spending in line with the Goals, Medium Term Sector Strategies (MTSS) were developed to guide the preparation and implementation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), with 57 per cent of total capital spending earmarked for the MDGs related sectors. A presidential committee on the MDGs was set up in 2005, with membership comprising the federal and state governments, the legislature, civil society organizations, the private sector and development partners. The review of NEEDS has led to the elaboration of a new strategy, NEEDS2, more closely aligned to achievement of the MDGs. NEEDS2 is being aligned with the Seven-Point Agenda that is the focus of the new administration, which is largely in line with the MDGs, to form the country’s National Development Agenda. This is expected to be the first medium term plan to implement the Vision 2020.
Following the debt relief extended to Nigeria in 2005, a Virtual Poverty Fund was established to ensure that monies released from the debt relief would be channeled towards initiatives to reduce poverty. Since 2006, on an annual basis, about US$1billion has been allocated to support progress in health, education, water and sanitation, environment, energy, housing, women’s rights, HIV&AIDS, social safety nets (including micro-credit scheme and conditional cash transfer), the conditional grant scheme to state governments and for the provision of rural infrastructure. This fund facilitated the establishment of monitoring framework for tracking its expenditure and evaluating its impact. Through the involvement of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), this monitoring framework has been used to track the performance of the activities implemented under the Debt Relief Gains (DRG).
An MDG awareness campaign was carried out in 2005 with participation from a broad spectrum of society including schoolchildren, out-of-school youth, and grass-roots women. It also included training for the media to encourage reporting to bring the Goals to public attention and show the connection between the MDGs and the daily life of the people. This campaign increased awareness of the Goals and underlined the need to step up public expenditure in order to achieve them. A baseline survey of MDGs awareness was also undertaken in 2006. At the national level, MDGs needs assessment has been undertaken in eight sectors – agriculture, energy, environment, housing, roads, water, health and education – and the report is being finalized. Efforts to garner support for the states and local governments are being introduced with funding being provided from the national level for “MDG quick wins” projects. Plans have been completed to pilot MDGs costing exercise in six states of the federation. The MDGs costing exercise is to inform the preparation of subsequent annual budgets. In addition to the regular publication of the national MDGs report, not less than 14 states have initiated the process of domesticating MDGs reporting. The mid-point assessment is being finalized by the Federal Government.
Significant progress has been made in education (MDGs 2 and 3, relating to universal primary education and gender equality). Net enrolment rates show considerable improvement as a result of the government’s implementation of the Universal Basic Education Programme (UBEP), a girls’ education project and a child-friendly school initiative. In 2006, 145,000 teachers were retrained and 40,000 new teachers recruited through the Virtual Poverty Fund.
On Goals 7 and 8 on environment and global partnership for development respectively, initiatives that merit special mention are the agreement on Zero Tolerance on Gas Flares by 2008 and the cancellation of Nigeria’s international debt, freeing up an additional $1 billion a year for poverty reduction.
There remain critical challenges in the health sector where weak infrastructure, ineffective health services, low coverage of immunization and lack of access to skilled health care continue to hamper progress. Good governance and strong political commitment represent an overarching challenge for the achievement of the MDGs. Constitutionally, implementation of MDGs activities fall within the purview of sub-national governments, hence significant progress cannot be made unless states and local governments are committed to implementing MDGs related activities. The need to address the weak database for effective monitoring of MDGs in the country is vital for substantial progress to be made. This notwithstanding, the adoption of policy driven and rule-based development management by the government is serving as an opportunity and should be promoted.
Last updated September 2008
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