As Nigeria celebrates 11 years of uninterrupted democracy and with 10 years to 2020, some stakeholders have expressed fears that the country is yet to attain the core targets in capsulated in the Vision 20:20:20 and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Though, they observed that modest steps have been taken to achieve some of the targets in the area of sustaining democracy, the country leaders need to give special attention in transforming the lives of the people.
Vision 20:20:20 envisages the country to be among the first 20 countries in terms of industrialisation, democracy, human resources in the next 10 years. While the MDGs which form part of the vision of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), is aimed at giving special attention to core economic, political and social variables to speed up development of backward African nations.
The eight MDGs target include policies to eradicate extreme poverty, achieving universal basic education, promoting gender equality and empowerment of women.
Others include: reducing child mortality and improving material health, controlling of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other deadly diseases. It also seeks to develop global partnership with other countries and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Barring his mind in a telephone chat with The Weekend Tide, prominent sociologist and coordinator of the Institute of Ethnic and Conflict Studies in the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Mark Anikpo, said among the eight targets, nothing has been achieved.
“Aside from the stable political environment, we are enjoying today due to the amnesty, I don’t think we have made much progress in the last 11 years of our democracy,” Prof. Anikpo declared.
He continued, “even corruption is magnified, our roads are still a nightmare. I don’t think it’s time to celebrate.”
Prof. Anikpo’s views seem to have been shared by the Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS). The body at a media roundtable in Lagos last Tuesday, said unless the Federal Government pursues the development of Science, the achievement of Vision 20:20:20 will be a mirage.
NAS President, Prof, Oye Ibidapo-Obe, a former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos remarked that science forms the basic root of national development.
In his view, “Science is predictive, precise, logical and open-minded for national development.” Adding that, there is no other better time for science to assume its proper place in the realm of national development than now.
Also, the Director of DEVCOMS Network, Mr. Akin Jimoh, said though many scientific researches were being made in the country, the results were not getting to the people, “because journalists have not woken up to their duties.”
Jimoh added, “for this country to achieve Vision 20:20, we must take science serious, everybody must know science. We have a President who is a renowned scientist and we do have a serious person in charge of science and technology ministry.”
For Rivers State chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Hyginus Onuegbu, credible elections is a catalyst to achieve Vision 20:20:20.
Speaking during a courtesy visit paid to him by the Rivers State Youth Movement President, Richard Alete, Comrade Onugbu warned that without credible elections next year and the resolution of the Niger Delta crisis, the attainment of the core values of Vision 20:20:20 will be elusive.
Chairperson of Academic Staff Union of Universities in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Mrs. Emilia Jaja, observed that the country has not given attention in achieving universal basic education.
“The education has not gotten enough attention”, she said, “last month, an examination body declared that we had 96 per cent failure in examination, so you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you more”, adding that, there is no way poverty can be tackled with the current power outage.
The RSUST ASUU chairperson however noted that in Rivers State, there are modest attempts to provide infrastructure, but remarked that the country is yet to practice real democracy.
In the area of reducing maternal and child mortality, the country is still rated high. A recent statistics revealed by a Chief Medical Officer in the Rivers State Ministry of Health, Dr. Roland Obed-Whyte said the state is even worse hit by the malaise.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting and sensitisation forum organised by the state Ministry of Women Affairs, last Thursday, in Port Harcourt for religious and faith-based organizations, Dr. Obed-Whyte declared that MDG goal number four is far from being realised.
According to him, 800 per 1,000 child die in the country daily. In Rivers State, the figure is above national average. About 889 out of 1000 children die after or during birth.
Furthermore, he stated that about 90 children out of 1000 die before their fifth birthday in the state. The major cause, the medical expert submitted is because, “67 per cent of our women deliver outside hospitals and only a handful of 33 per cent put to bed in medical facilities”.
He insisted that another major cause of maternal mortality include bleeding following complications caused by traditional birth attendants.
Goal six of MDG envisages to control HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases. But Dr. Obed-Whyte observed that malaria constitutes 11 per cent of deaths in the country and anaemia 11 per cent also.
There are indications that the rate of HIV/AIDS infection is equally going above the 5.2 per cent threshold in the country. Studies indicate that though publicity and awareness have increased infection rate may not have abated.
Nevertheless, Dr. Obed-Whyte stressed that Rivers State is doing all it can to check the menace. He stated that the state government has embarked on massive construction of medical facilities at both the urban and rural areas.
Out of the 160 health centres now under construction, he stated that about 50 per cent are Completed and ready for use.
In the area of developing a global partnership for development, former commissioner for Economic Development in old Rivers State, Chief Monday Okonny said there is a slight improvement with the inception of Dr. Jonathan’s administration.
In the words of Chief Okonny, “I think after 11 years, our democracy have fallen on the laps of someone who’s going to make it real. Finally, we have gotten to the stage where we can make progress”.