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Nigeria and the MDGs: Where We Are and How YOU Can Make A Difference

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On September 20-22, World Leaders including a group of representatives from Nigeria (President Goodluck  Jonathan withdrew his commitment to attend a few days ago), will attend the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, which will be held in New York. It will be a chance for the government to accelerate the progress or lack thereof towards the MDGs especially when in Nigeria, a country with a population of more than 150 million citizens and counting, despite earnings of more than $300 billion from oil revenue, Nigerians remain among the poorest in the world. Such findings reveal the reality of life in Nigeria whereby 92% and 71% of the population live on less than $2 per day and $1 per day respectively.

Furthermore, as of 2008, the major source of water for drinking and cooking for 28.4% of Nigerians is a bore hole hand pump. 97% of 17-22 year old Hausa girls from poor homes have fewer than two years of education; presently, 25 seats are held by women in the national parliament, for men it is 333; the percentage of women in 2008, between the ages of 15-24 years old, who used condoms at their last high risk sexual encounter was 35.5%; the percentage of children under 5 years of age with a fever who are treated with appropriate anti-malarial drugs as of 2008 was 33.2%; and as of 2009, 13% of terrestrial and marine areas are protected.

What does this mean? It means that the Nigerian government is woefully behind in achieving the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. For those who are unaware, in 2000, world leaders met in New York City to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a global partnership to reduce poverty, and agreed to a time-frame for ending global poverty and other issues by 2015, which are known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are 8 MDGs which range from eradicating poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and empowering women, ensuring environmental stability, reducing child mortality, to combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

Although in some African countries pockets of success stories have emerged, many countries like Nigeria still remain off track to meeting the goals by 2015. According to the UN, Nigeria is off track to eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health. Why this is the case, despite all the wealth in the country, is quite baffling. The Nigerian government obviously knows what is necessary to achieve the MDGs; the issue is how willing are they to do so? That said, the truth is the Nigerian government cannot do it alone. As Nigerians, we also have a role to play.

The question now becomes how can we as Nigerians aid the government in getting back on track to achieving the MDGs? I compiled a couple of suggestions, some of which I believe are often overlooked, that I think will help us aid the government in achieving the MDGs by 2015 and beyond. Before I commence, I will preface this by saying I am not an economist, public health official, or professor of sorts. These suggestions and observations are a result of research, discourse with fellow Nigerians and academics, and the volunteer work I am currently involved in.

What the Nigerian populace can do to assist the government in achieving the MDGs:
1) Have a deep love for the country: I understand that Nigeria and the government has hardly shown that it cares about its people: from the Jos crisis, the slow response by the Nigerian police to armed robbery attacks, to the death traps known as roads that we use, loving Nigeria is daunting. However, we need to start somewhere. For one, recognize that if Nigeria fails, we all fail. It’s that simple. Which is why despite the annoying level of ethnocentrism that abounds among some citizens in western countries, I do admire the fact that a love for and pride in the country is often a root cause. Nonetheless, I will concede that the surge of “Nigerianitis fever” that has taken over Nigerians in recent times is a positive step forward.

2) Support and have a mutual respect for each other: Nigerians must support and love each other. The disheartening level of disregard and animosity that pervades the way we think and behave towards each other must cease. For example, it is not unheard of for expatriates hired by some companies in Nigeria to have access to chefs, nannies, drivers, choice residential areas, a standard of living that most may never be privy to in their home countries. While a Nigerian who might be equally qualified is provided with lesser perks or languishes in poverty. What makes this acceptable? We need to end our reverence for all things foreign as being superior. Until we address the inferiority complex syndrome that abounds and stop the trend of allowing other countries and divisive leaders to take advantage of us, Nigeria can never progress and achieve the MDGs, which I believe requires unity among citizens.

3) Get Involved: Nigeria’s inability to achieve the MDGs is a political as well as a civilian issue. First, Nigerians need to be aware of who their leaders are in order to keep them accountable. Second, lobby them and go out and vote. Understandably, the history of free and fair elections in Nigeria is depressing in itself, but it is imperative that we make our voices heard. Like fellow Nigerians did in March with the “Enough is Enough” protest, we need to take a proactive stance on pertinent issues and develop a culture of volunteerism. When we get involved, it will be preposterous for individuals like IBB to say that “the younger generation cannot rule Nigeria.” We also need to continue writing articles and op-eds in newspapers about the MDGs. We can take a cue from Banky W and Reuben Atiba or Bayo Oluphonda’s open letter to IBB.

4) Keep each other accountable: The 6th MDG of combating infectious diseases can be fostered by advocating a practical stance towards hygiene that is not solely applicable to ourselves, friends, and families, but also to the environment we are situated. This will prevent the spread of infectious diseases and increases the efficacy of treatment if localized. In addition to the risk of spreading deadly diseases, thousands of people put their lives at risk on the freeways to pick up our litter and trash, as such, we need to stop littering, throwing trash on the roadside and bridges or peeing on the street or in gutters.

5) Form organizations, eschew sexism and cultivate a habit of giving to those in need:
We need not donate millions of naira before we help those in need. Sometimes, all it takes is something little like what Tari Ekiyor did in the Mohammed Lawal story. Often, little things can make the most difference. Groups of friend or concerned Nigerians can join hands and raise funds to buy and donate food and clothes to children and families who live under the bridge or are homeless. Small but impactful. We can also form organizations or NGOs that can be used as a platform or tool to source for funds that will aid in tackling the various MDGs or serve as government watchdogs. Keeping in line with the 3rd MDG of promoting gender equality and empowering women, we must encourage young girls to get an education and aspire to positions of leadership. Current President of Liberia and Africa’s only female president, Ellen Shirleaf Taylor, was born in poverty. But her parents urged her to further her education which in turn broadened her scope on life and paved the way for her to become a great leader. Moreover, given the numerous reports that show that thousands of households in Nigeria are now being supported by women, it is essential for women to get a good education and job so that they can have a good standard of living and support their families. When you educate a woman, you educate a nation!

Effecting change, is not easy. We will feel like giving up. But we must be cognizant that Nigeria’s success is contingent on our hard work, unity, sacrifice and persistence. We cannot afford to remain complacent and yet continue to complain about the state of the country. The African proverb says it best, “Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.

Where would you like to sit when you are old?

The 8 Millennium Development Goals:
1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2) Achieve universal primary education
3) Promote gender equality and empower women
4) Reduce child mortality
5) Improve maternal health
6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7) Ensure environmental stability
8) Develop a global partnership for development

Interested in making a difference, check out the following links:
1) Stand Up Against Poverty Take Action 2010! – http://standagainstpoverty.org/suap/
2) Join the Millennium Campaign – http://www.endpoverty2015.org/
3) Submit a song against poverty – http://www.ifightpoverty.eu/act/music-contest
4) Become a UN citizen ambassador – http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/citizenambassadors/
5) The Borgen Project – http://www.borgenproject.org/

Photo Credit: United Nations Development Programme

___________________________________________________________________________________________
Shade Anozie is extremely passionate about Nigeria, politics, music and making a difference. She also enjoys traveling, trying new things, and good food.
http://shadenonconformist.blogspot.com/

13 Comments

  1. Musings of Ewa

    September 22, 2010 at 12:48 am

    While the Nigerian gorvernment may not be able to accomplish all of these goals by itself, it sure bears the burden of responsibility.

    I’m assuming Goodluck sent a representative on his behalf…
    African governments have a lot of restructuring and development work to do. Instead of spending a ridiculous amount on Nigeria’s 50th and looting to fulfill their personla agendas, they need to start fulfilling the roles that they were elected for.

  2. omo......

    September 22, 2010 at 1:12 am

    wow….Good read…. i hope Nigerians as a whole have a change of Heart and character. We Nigerian have prayed and prayed but now what we need is change of character…like the bible say “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”. All what is left for Nigeria to do is turn from there wicked ways and God Will heal our land.
    Good job Shade

  3. Noni

    September 22, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Preach sista !! u hit the nail right on the head Nigerians need to be global citizens and help Nigeria better instead of hating on what is wrong about it..
    so proud of ya*mwah*

  4. Udochukwu

    September 22, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Nigerian issue bore me 2 hell. Everybody knows wats right and nobody wants to do it.

  5. uchechi

    September 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Abi o udochukwu!

  6. squish

    September 26, 2010 at 5:21 am

    All she’s trying to say is the change begins with us. Let’s all go out there and prove people like IBB wrong. I’ve heard one or two fellow nigerians say they’ll go where the money is! even if that means voting for IBB!! We better pray that we, the youths, don’t sell ourselves out this time around. C’mon people, let our voice be heard! Enough IS enough!

  7. omiyale olajide

    February 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    what a good piece! the progress may be slow, but its important we move, no matter how slow. I pray for courage to effect positive change for all willing Nigerians.

    May God bless my country… NIGERIA

  8. Everest Chijioke

    February 19, 2011 at 9:46 am

    It is nw an obvious fact dt Nigeria can neva mit d deadlyn 4 MDGs…… There r so many factors invold dt nids to b settld first, as said, we r nt yet to put on our track suit nt to talk of bein on track….. All/Most of our institutns r bedridin wf corruptn yle d instability of government nd ha policies r issues dt cant be ovalukd. Well 4 us d questn isnt abt 2015 bt wud we eva meet dis basic goals even in d next 20yrs. God help us.

  9. soji adelore

    February 22, 2011 at 10:41 am

    The MDG were mandates agreed to by leaders worldwide for countries to move up the development ladder. Alas the major drivers are asleep in Nigeria. The youths of our nations must rise and take up the challenge instead of waiting for saviors from abroad. It all begins in our little corner. I have chosen to add not just my voice but my hands and feet to move the natiion forward. In your little corner , speak up, act up and do all you can to make a differrence. We owe the future generation this much. Our children will ask what we did when things were going down

  10. Adegbe

    February 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Shade. You raised sm fundamental points dt rings a bell! The ? is, in wat way am i part of d prblm? PATRIOTISM is d nmbr 1 thing. Lets quit d spectator seat & get involvd. Thanks

  11. Godwin Oyakhire

    April 9, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Hi! Shade i appreciate ur highlighted point, they are not far from what we have done as corps member while serving in emure ekiti, we have execute series of projects to empawer youths, from our personal saving, but the challenge was that the community have us no assistance, i have submited a proposal on how meet the mdgs goals, shortly after our POP, till now i had not received an answer, what do you suggest in this case.

  12. Adedoyin Lukman Orimanro

    April 26, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you,
    I think our leaders has a lot to, the need to shun selfishness, corruption and be God fearing.
    May god continue to bless Nigeria

  13. kolawole folusho

    March 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Nigerian leaders are selfish and wasteful. They are not much concern about the development of the country as concern about themselves and their families. We can keep discussing and bringing suggestions every time just to show that we can think but if we are not ready to do something, nothing will be done.Let the government show a sign of concern and see if Nigerians will not support but rather we spend much money on congress whose outcome will end where it was held.if the head moves itself from the body then the body can do nothing but if it shows concern for the body, the best result will be gotten.

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