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Actualising The MDGs By 2015: What Hope?

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Nigeria is a federation,
which gained political independence on October 1, 1960. Fifty-four years after, the nation, which began with three federating regions, has 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, and still gearing for 18 or more states, if the recommendations of the just-concluded National Conference are implemented religiously. The states constitute the second tier of government and are further sub-divided into 774 local governments. With a parliamentary system at inception, intermittent military regimes, Nigeria has since 1999, been running an uninterrupted presidential democracy, with three successful general elections.
The country’s total land area is approximately 923,768km2. With a population projected at 170 million in 2013  (presently at 176 million) from the 2006 population census figure of 140 million people, Nigeria is made up of over 250 different ethnic groups, with over 500 languages and dialects, and an array of cultural diversities. All these constitute challenges to policy implementation.
Nigeria is richly endowed with diverse natural resources, including vast areas of arable land and large deposits of crude oil, natural gas, coal, tin, columbite, iron ore, limestone, lead and zinc. Agriculture constitutes the main occupation of the people, but crude oil is the country’s main source of revenue and export earnings. Overall economic growth has averaged 6.77% since 2006. The non-oil sector growth, which averaged 8.76% between 2006 and 2012, has been the main driver of economic growth. Other key macroeconomic indicators have also recorded relatively improved trends over the years. However, primary traditional agriculture remains the dominant economic activity, accounting for 40.0% of GDP and 60.0% of total employment. Other contributors to GDP are the wholesale and retail trade (19.90%) and crude petroleum and natural gas (13.80%). With these three sectors, accounting for 74.0% of total GDP and manufacturing accounting for just 4.0%, value added economic transformation has remained a significant challenge.
A number of other indicators, especially human development indices, have shown not-too-impressive outcomes. In particular, youth unemployment is estimated at 37.70%, placing Nigeria among the countries with the worst youth unemployment record in sub-Saharan Africa. Of equal concern are the poverty and inequality levels which have remained considerably high. The most recent nationally representative survey, the Harmonised Nigerian Living Standard Survey 2010, indicated a 62.60% poverty prevalence rate, which translates to over 100 million people living in absolute poverty (although some studies put the 2013 rate at 69%). This situation obviously contrasts with the country’s performance on other macroeconomic indicators, and points to an important policy challenge, which is that of translating economic growth into measurable improvement in people’s welfare.
But at 54, Nigeria is a paradox: a country endowed with abundant human and natural resources but is geometrically trapped in deep, pervasive and galloping poverty. The fight against poverty has been a central plank of development planning since independence in 1960, with more than fifteen ministries, fourteen specialised agencies, and nineteen donor agencies and non-governmental organisations involved in decades of concerted crusade to secure sustainable development of the country, to no avail, ostensibly due to weak institutions and infrastructural decay, endemic corruption, bad governance, and lack of transparency and accountability in public resources management.
As part of strategies to curb poverty and fast-track the sustainable development of the country, a number of economic policies and programmes had been initiated by successive governments. Among them are Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Free and Compulsory Primary Education (FCPE), Green Revolution (GR), Low Cost Housing Scheme (LCHS), River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs), National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), Strategic Grains Reserves Programme (SGRP), Rural Electrification Scheme (RES), and Rural Banking Programme (RBP). Others are the Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Community Banks Programme (CBP), Better Life for Rural Women Programme (BLRWP), People’s Bank of Nigeria (PBN), Family Support Programme (FSP), and Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP).  In 1999, government introduced Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), which was restructured as National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in 2001 following efforts to key into the policy objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in 2000.
But the MDGs did not emerge from the blues. It emerged from a series of global summits, conferences and rounds of negotiations across virtually all continents. However, at the September 2000 UN General Assembly’s Millennium Summit in New York, 189 world leaders and 23 international development organisations adopted the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Millennium Declaration, committing their countries to a new global partnership to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. Clearly, the Millennium Declaration asserts that every individual has the right to dignity, freedom, equality, basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger, and violence, and encourages tolerance and solidarity. For the first time in history, countries collectively agreed on a globally applicable set of development goals, indicators and targets in the MDGs.
Indeed, the MDGs set a 15-year timeline and quantified albeit specific targets for addressing extreme poverty in its multiple dimensions – income disparity, poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion – while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. As the most comprehensive and specific poverty reduction targets the world has ever seen, the MDGs have become the standards for global and country-level self-assessment, peer review and mutual accountability among countries. Currently, the MDGs constitute vital elements of the nation’s policies, and benchmarks by which citizens can hold governments accountable. With three months to 2015, the global community and indeed, Nigerians are taking stock of progress made to date, accelerating actions being taken to meet the targets and articulating post-2015 development priorities.
As a signatory to the Millennium Declaration and the resultant eight goals with 21 targets, and a set of measurable indicators, Nigeria has continued to respond in various ways to the global push towards achievement of the MDGs. Actions have included incorporating the targets in development plans, starting with the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) in 2004, the various State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (SEEDSs) and Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (LEEDSs). MDG targets have been mainstreamed in successive development plans, strategies and sector-specific policies, including the Seven Point Agenda in 2007, the Economic Transformation Agenda, and the Nigeria Vision 20:2020 First and Second Implementation Plan 2010–2013 and 2014—2017. Some states, including Rivers, have also made significant progress with MDGs-driven policies with support of the Federal Government and international partners.
But how have these goals impacted the ordinary Nigerian, for which they were originally designed. Since 2004, when the MDGs were first reflected in a national development plan, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), successive plans and policies have incorporated them. The adoption of the MDGs has positively affected the country’s planning and policy processes.
The first most significant fiscal push for the MDGs came from the debt relief initiatives in 2005, which released roughly $1billion or N100billion per year in obligatory spending on the MDGs. The debt relief fund then provided an additional 5.0% of government expenditure for the MDGs. The policy attention paid to the MDGs is underpinned by the central coordinating and monitoring role of the Presidential Committee on the Assessment and Monitoring of the MDGs and Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs. The national monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system, recently created by the National Planning Commission, has developed a set of key performance indicators which include the MDGs, with the first Annual Performance Monitoring Report in 2011. As further evidence of political commitment to the MDGs at the highest level, the President, on 29 May 2013, unveiled the mid-term report on the Economic Transformation Agenda, incorporating objects and targets pertaining to the MDGs. With the benefit of experience with the MDGs, Nigeria has fashioned a post-2015 development framework to sustain implementation of policies to tackle sustainable development imbalances.
But with initial efforts at all levels, what achievement has been made and what hope for the future in respect of meeting or surpassing the eight MDGs goals and 21 targets? Let us take the indicators, and the progress going forward one after the other!
The Goal 1 aims to, ‘Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger’, by halving, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 per day. Investigations show that poverty prevalence in 1992 was 42.70%. On this basis, 21.40% was adopted as that proportion of people whose income would be less than $1 a day which had to be attained by 2015. However, poverty rate in Nigeria rose to 65.60% in 1996, but declined to 51.55% in 2004. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimates that poverty prevalence for 2010 at 61.20%. On the basis of this measure, the country has experienced a regression in its progress towards the target of 21.40%. Other measures have declined marginally, with the exception of relative poverty which rose to 69.0%. Both per capita absolute poverty and the ‘adult equivalent’ absolute poverty declined; with per capita poverty declining from 64.20% in 2004 to 62.20% in 2010 and absolute poverty declining from 48.40% in 2004 to 46.0% in 2010. On all measures, the gap between the actual figure and the target of 21.40% prevalence still remains wide. Likewise, the poverty gap and the share of national consumption by the poorest quintile have not shown any remarkable improvements. Available data suggest that poverty prevalence, gap and consumption share of Goal 1 are unlikely to be attained by 2015.
Key sources of setback have included both domestic and external developments. On the domestic scene, the challenges have included rising unemployment, high income inequality and rapid population expansion. The national unemployment rate stood at 23.90% in 2011 as compared to 21.10% in 2010 and 19.70% in 2009. By 2013, some studies indicate unemployment at 33%, and it’s still rising. The inability of economic expansion and employment-generating interventions to catch up with over 1.8 million new entrants into the job market every year, pose a major challenge to poverty reduction efforts. According to the ‘Next Generation Task Force’ report, Nigeria will need to create 15 million new jobs over the next ten years  (from 2010) just to keep employment at current levels. If Nigeria is to halve unemployment, it will need to create 24 million new jobs, and expand the labour market by almost 50.0%. And, if again, unemployment is to be brought to 7.0% by 2030, the labour market needs to nearly double in size, creating almost 50 million new jobs. But for now, government is targeting three million new jobs!
On another score, income inequality has forced relative poverty to rise from 54.40% in 2004 to 69.0% in 2010. The upward trend in income inequality underscores the importance of enhanced opportunities for employment and income-earning economic activities for the rapidly expanding labour force and more flexible tax policy for income redistribution.
Again, Nigeria ranks as the eighth most populous country. At the current rate of growth, her population is estimated to rise by 68 million by 2030 and a further 63 million by 2050. This will possibly place her as the fifth most populous nation in the world after India, China, the USA and Pakistan. At this rate of expansion, the country requires a much faster growth rate than the current 6.0% to 7.0% annually. Government must realise that rapid population growth brings about a weak connection between economic growth and poverty reduction through a number of channels, including pressure on the available infrastructure, declining productivity and higher cost of providing and maintaining social services.
Also, domestic food inflation rose from 3.90% in 2006 to 8.20% in 2007 and further to 18.0% in 2008. This food price shock alone pushed a few million below the food poverty threshold. At about the same period the global economic downturn set in, straining fiscal capacity, especially in 2009 and 2010, with the result that compelling reductions in public spending across all tiers of government on infrastructure and other avenues critical to poverty reduction took place. The mixture of negative external and domestic influences took their toll on the economy with severe consequences for the poor.
The proportion of under-five children who are underweight was estimated at 24.0% in 2011, trailing behind the 2015 target of 17.85%. Over the years, the three tiers of government – federal, state and local – have been addressing the intertwined problems of unemployment, inequality and poverty, through MDGs-targeted interventions combined with economy-wide and social sector policies and development plans. Overall, the target of 21.40% poverty prevalence by 2015 would be missed. But to achieve poverty reduction in years to come, the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda, comprising the Growth Enhancement Scheme, the Value Chain Development Programme and the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-sharing Agriculture Lending Scheme must be vigorously pursued. Also, government must religiously implement targeted interventions including Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) as well as Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) and YouWIN.
Looking at Goal 2 aimed to, ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education’, Nigeria’s net enrolment ratio in primary education, which stood at 68.0% in 1990, increased significantly to 95.0% in 2000. This achievement in primary enrolment can be associated with the favourable national policy environment – 1990–2000, the decade of Education for All and Universal Basic Education (UBE), re-launched in 1999. Net enrolment peaked at 95.0% in 2000, decreased to 80.0% in 2004 and gradually increased to 88.80% in 2008. The inability to sustain the 95.0% recorded in 2000 underscores the challenge in sustaining programme implementation. Data obtained from the Federal Ministry of Education show that gross enrolment for the population aged 6–11 years, has remained at 80.0% from 2009 to date.
Since 1990, the trend has shown an undulating progress in the primary school completion rate. From 58.0% in 1990, the primary school completion rate rose to 82.0% in 2004. In 2005, however, the completion rate decreased dramatically to 69.20%, and thereafter it remained steady at 67.50% in both 2006 and 2007. The rate rose again to 87.70% in 2012. In spite of the unstable trend since 1990, the primary school completion target of 100.0% is within Nigeria’s reach, although not attained yet.
On the proportion of youths aged 15–24 who can both read and write with understanding in any language, performance has been slow. In 2000, the literacy rate was 64.10%, and rose rather sluggishly to about 80.0% in 2008. The literacy rate in English for women aged 15–24 was 65.60% in 2011 and 66.0% in 2012. The trend broadly indicates the target will not be easily met.
On gender inequality in primary school education, the record shows the nation stood at 91.60% in 2012, with male primary school completion rate higher than that for females – 83.20%. The primary completion rate in rural areas in 2012 stood at 90.50% as compared to 81.50% for urban areas. The literacy rate among women in urban areas at 87.05% in 2012 was higher than that for women in rural areas at 56.60%. Even so, children still dominate the band of street hawkers, and child labour persists.
There are a number of policy-related bottlenecks to the realisation of full primary enrolment, retention and literacy. Some states, in particular, have shown different levels of commitment to basic education, as reflected in the low level of integration of early childhood education into the public schools and the lack of quality education sector plans which identify challenges and solutions to basic education. Low use of Federal Government of Nigeria/UBE matching grants by states continues to pose an additional challenge. There is also the challenge of the partial exclusion of disadvantaged groups (e.g. Almajiris) in the formal education system. The poor state of the infrastructure and learning materials in primary and secondary schools also continues to pose a major challenge. Both federal and state governments have implemented an array of successful interventions, including free primary education, over the years.
On Goal 3 designed to, ‘Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women’, it was observed that since 1990, there has been a gradual but steady increase in the ratio of girls to boys in primary education. From 76.0% in 1990, it rose gradually to 79.0% in 2003, to 83.0% in 2006, and then to 85.40% in 2008. At 90.0% in 2012, Nigeria is, without doubt, on track to meet the target in 2015. From 75.0% in 1990, the ratio of girls to boys in secondary schools rose to 87.0% in 2000, but declined to 78.0% in 2003. It rose again to 80.60% in 2005, and then declined to 75.40% in 2007. In 2008, it rose to 79.90% and in 2012, to 88.0%. The proportion of females to males enrolled in both public and private tertiary educational institutions rose from 66.0% in 2000 to 87.0% in 2002. It decreased to 72.0% in 2003, but increased to 75.50% in 2004, and continuously declined to 70.10% in 2005, 69.0% in 2006 and 66.40% in 2007. It rose marginally to 66.80% in 2008. There are no hard statistics from 2009 to 2012, but indications are that there is rise in female enrolment in universities. Yet, early girl-child marriage and prostitution have affected efforts.
Available statistics show limited progress on male/female employment ratio. From 6.60% in 1990, the share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector rose to 7.90% in 2004 and increased to 14.0% in 2012. Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, there has been some improvement in the proportion of seats held by women in the national parliament. From 3.10% of the total seats in 2000, women made giant strides in 2007 when they secured 7.70% of the seats in the national parliament. In both 2008 and 2009, the figure declined to 7.50% and dropped to 7.0% in 2012. In the various state Houses of Assembly, there are just 68 female members, representing about 6.90% of the total of 990. On this indicator, the government, in collaboration with civil society organisations and other stakeholders need to do a lot more focused interventions ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The achievement of gender parity in primary and secondary enrolment is likely, if the policy interventions are fully implemented. But the outlook with regard to ‘the share of women in wage employment’ and ‘the proportion of seats held by women in the national parliament’ is not equally as good. The need to more proactively address those social, economic, traditional, cultural and religious factors that militate against gender equality, especially women’s participation in the electoral process are key.
On Goal 4 packaged to, ‘Reduce Child Mortality’, it is observed that Nigeria has made some progress in reducing child mortality, although this has been slow. Statistics show that in 1990, the infant mortality rate (IMR) stood at 91 deaths per 1000 live births. However, by 2008, the IMR had fallen to 75 deaths per 1000 live births, and by 2012, it further declined to 61 deaths per 1000 live births as against the 2015 target of 30.3 deaths per 1000 live births. Similarly, substantial improvements have occurred in the under—five mortality rate (U5MR). From 191 deaths per 1000 live births in 2000, it dropped to 157 per 1000 in 2008; and further to 94 deaths per 1000 live births in 2012. However, Nigeria is still short of the 2015 target of 63.7 deaths per 1000 live births.
As regards child mortality targets, Nigeria is half-way towards meeting its 2015 target for the IMR and two-thirds of the way towards meeting the target for the U5MR. Meeting the MDG 4 target is not possible, but the intensification of current efforts will brighten the prospects in future. The government must implement the integrated maternal, newborn and child health (IMNCH) strategy in the SURE-P portfolio. The essential medicines scale-up plan to achieve 80.0% treatment coverage for childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia should also be part of the efforts to rise to the challenge of child mortality. Given the short length of time to 2015, governments and other stakeholders will need to collaborate to achieve accelerated scale-up of tested high-impact interventions for maternal, newborn and child health including antenatal care, skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetrics and newborn care, and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
On Goal 5 focused to, ‘Improve Maternal Health’, Nigeria has made steady progress, though slow. The records show that from a high of 1000 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990, maternal mortality fell to 800 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004, 545 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008 and 350 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2012. Maternal mortality also declined by 20.0% between 1990 and 2004, to 36.0% between 2004 and 2008. However, Nigeria’s current status, estimated at 350 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, is still 40.0% short of the 2015 target of 250 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the National Health and Demographic Survey 2008, the major causes of maternal deaths are: haemorrhage, infection, malaria, toxaemia/eclampsia, obstructed labour, anaemia and unsafe abortion (NPC, 2009). And these remain very prevalent.
There has been a steady increase in the proportion of pregnant women who have a skilled birth attendant present at the time of delivery. It rose from a low of 36.0% in 2004 to 54.0% in 2012. The contraceptive prevalence rate has increased from 8.20% in 2004 to 17.30% in 2012. Antenatal care coverage (of at least one visit) with a skilled health worker significantly increased to 67.70% in 2012 from 61.0% in 2004 while antenatal coverage – of at least four visits – rose to 57.80% in 2012 as against 47.0% in 2004. The unmet need for family planning services has risen from 17.0% in 2004 to 19.40% in 2011 and further to 21.50% in 2012.
Building upon the successes recorded through these schemes, progress needs to be hastened to achieve the 2015 target. The situation requires that the critical bottlenecks and drawbacks, which are slowing down national progress, need to be tackled. These drawbacks and bottlenecks include the large inequalities in achievements between states and zones, socio-cultural and religious barriers to the use of maternal health services, inadequate facilities and equipment, and a poor referral system. All these cannot be met by 2015.
On Goal 6 directed to, ‘Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases’, available data show that Nigeria is slowly on track regarding the MDG target for HIV/AIDS. HIV prevalence among pregnant young women aged 15–24 years has continuously declined in recent years. From 5.40% in 2000, it initially rose to 5.80% in 2001 and 2002, but then fell to 5.0% in 2003 and to 4.30% in 2005. It has stabilised around 4.10% since 2008.
At 24.0%, Nigeria is still far behind the target for the spread of comprehensive correct knowledge of the prevention of the sexual transmission of HIV among the population aged 15-24. The condom use rate of 45.70% appears not good enough to sustain a reversal of the spread of HIV/AIDS, with reported increase from 44.0% in 2003 to 64.0% in 2007, but declining to 46.0% in 2010, perhaps because of the massive commodities shortages across the health system in 2010–2011. Overall, Nigeria falls far short of the target regarding the use of condom during sexual intercourse with a non-regular sexual partner.
The treatment for HIV/AIDS has been rising steadily, from 24.0% in 2010 to 33.0% in 2012. In other words, about one out of every three persons living with HIV/AIDS is receiving treatment, against the target of 100.0% by 2015. Regarding the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, Nigeria currently stands at only 16.0%, against the 2015 target of 80.0%.
On efforts to halt by 2015, and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other diseases, mortality data are not readily available to measure the level of malaria-specific death rates. However, malaria is arguably Nigeria’s biggest disease burden, with over 90.0% of the population at risk of falling sick with two to three incidences of malaria per year; and contributing as much as 30.0% to childhood mortality and 11.0% to maternal mortality. The vision is for a malaria-free Nigeria, but achieving it is a mirage.
Again, Nigeria remains one of the 22 high TB infested countries responsible for 80.0% of the estimated global TB burden. The TB burden is further compounded by the prevalence of HIV. Nigeria adopts the WHO recommended DOTS (directly observed treatment short-course) strategy – Stop TB strategy for the control of TB. The vision is ‘Nigeria free of TB’, with the goal to reduce the burden of TB by 2015 in line with the MDGs and the Stop TB partnership targets. Progress with TB shows that the prevalence of death rates associated with TB has decreased over time, from 15.74 per 100,000 in 2000, to 5.0 per 100,000 in 2012. But the target remains unachievable.
In order to address the daunting nature of the malaria challenge, the government must intensify efforts on several fronts, including the distribution/use of LLINs to populations at risk of malaria. Actions also need to be taken to promote the use of indoor residual spraying to complement the use of LLINs. Efforts must be made to promote initiation of larviciding, or the source reduction of mosquito infestations, by reducing human–insect contact. Strategies to promote environmental management as an integral part of integrated vector control will count. Diagnosis and prompt treatment of malaria as part of effective case management, prevention in pregnancy (through the affordable medicine facility for malaria) are key. The DOTS strategy for addressing TB must be strictly implemented.
On Goal 7 designed to, ‘Ensure Environmental Sustainability’, it is noted that unfortunately, Nigeria continues to lose forest cover at alarming rate of about 3.50% per annum – approximately 350,000 to 400,000 hectares per year. Logging, subsistence agriculture and the collection of fuel wood are frequently cited as the leading causes of forest clearing, especially in the South. Some areas of the North have specific problems with desertification where continuous desert encroachment poses a challenge. Nigeria has, therefore, not made much progress on this indicator considering the rate of loss of primary forests in the country. The proportion of land area covered by forest has consistently fallen over the past 20 years and not much has been done to counteract this. FAO estimates put the statistics at 9.90% in 2012, down from 9.80% in 2011 and 12.20% in 2006.
On the target to halve by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, it is worrisome that access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a daily challenge for many Nigerians. The nation’s progress in providing clean water to its citizens has been irregular. While the general trend since 2007 has been an overall increase from 49.10% to 57.40%, this still leaves a gap to target of approximately 20.0% to be covered as the 2015 timeline draws to a close. This is not going to be achieved.
Good sanitation is important for urban and rural populations, but the risks are greater in urban areas where it is more difficult to avoid contact with waste. Improved sanitation has obvious and immediate effects on health, with diseases like cholera and dysentery often being the results of poor sanitation. The country’s performance over the last five years has been an overall downward trend from 53.80% in 2008 to 33.70% in 2013. The government needs to continue to collaborate with development partners in particular to promote and improve basic education on health and hygiene practices.
On the target to by 2020, achieve a significant improvement in the lives of, at least, 100 million slum dwellers, Nigeria is still far from meeting the target. Cities and other urban settlements are growing at a very fast rate because of the high rate of rural–urban migration and the high growth rate of the urban population. Nigeria’s urban population is projected to be 60.0% of the total population by 2015. The high demand for land and municipal services, including housing, is increasing, resulting in a high proportion of urban dwellers living in slums and shanty settlements. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) recently estimated that about 56 million Nigerians, representing 70.0% of the country’s urban population, live in slums and shanty settlements. This, indeed, is high, and shows that even by 2020, many Nigerians will still be living in squalor.
Therefore, a comprehensive urban renewal and slum upgrading need to be intensified in several urban communities nationwide. Several states, in partnership with UN-HABITAT, must be encouraged to develop structural plans to systematically guide development efforts. A more serious strategy, other than the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria—driven National Housing Fund/Scheme must be put in place to fast track the achievement of set target.
Nigeria’s progress on the MDGs’ environmental indicators is generally slow. Nigeria is lagging far behind the 2015 targets for MDG 7, for access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation. Halting deforestation and gas flaring appear to be the least achieved. Only about 10.0% of gas produced is used domestically – primarily for power generation – while 24.0% is flared. Gas flaring from joint venture oil companies represents roughly 60.0% of all emissions from Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. Tackling the growing tide of slum dwellings has become more challenging amidst the urbanisation wave sweeping across the country. With regard to environmental sustainability, it is important to have clearer role definitions in the policy and regulatory framework. The prospects for environmental sustainability are tied to building the institutional, technological and human resource capabilities for environmental accounting, regulation and management.
Going forward, therefore, the Federal Government needs to ensure better coordination with the states to push the fight against the challenges to land degradation, soil erosion and waste management in many urban and rural areas. Existing national institutional mechanisms, including the Ecological Fund, Environmental Impact Assessment Law and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency need to be strengthened for improved effectiveness. Government needs to give priority to addressing wide geospatial disparities through more targeted investment in the water, sanitation and hygiene sectors.
The last is Goal 8 put in place to, ‘Develop A Global Partnership For Development’, with a set target to deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through per capita Official Direct Assistance (ODA). On this score, it is important to note that ODA to Nigeria has witnessed a steady increase over the years, with a total inflow in 2011 of $1,502,080,645.79, which translates to a per capita ODA of $9.20 in 2011 compared to $8.70 in 2008 and $4.89 in 2005. The bulk (78.0%) is directed towards human capital and social development while good governance and general administration gulped 10.0%, just as physical infrastructure swallowed 2.20% and knowledge-based economy took 0.50%. But with the slow success rate on all set targets, it seems this amount falls far short of the amount required to achieve the MDGs.
The burden of external debts is one score that has adversely affected the country. In 1990, about 22.30% of the value of the country’s exports of goods and services went into external debt servicing. But with the intervention of the Paris Club and the write-off of $18 billion debt in 2005, debt servicing as a proportion of foreign exchange earnings has continued to fall from 16.08% in 2005 to 1.44% in 2007 and 0.12% in 2012.
Similarly, installation of fixed telephone lines has stagnated with the virtual demise of Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd and the introduction of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). At present, there are 0.4 fixed telephone lines per 100 persons, with most of them in Lagos and Abuja. In contrast, mobile telecommunications have witnessed an astronomical growth with 59 cellular subscribers for every 100 inhabitants. A recent study conducted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) presents Nigeria as a particularly successful case of mobile communications expansion, ranking as the fastest growing mobile market in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. The number of cellular subscribers rose from 55,000 subscribers in 1999; to 33million in 2006; and over 113million in 2013. This accounts for a growth in cellular subscribers per 100 persons from 0.02% in 2000 to 59.0% in 2012. This massive increase in access to mobile telecommunications has been a considerable contributor to growth, as it is estimated that telecommunications contributes 5.67% to GDP in Nigeria. It also generates jobs for a wide spectrum of individuals, from umbrella phone operators to telecommunications servicing companies.
On the other hand, innovations in mobile and wireless telecommunication technologies, and the introduction of wireless broadband access, have brought about growth in the internet penetration rate. Between 2001 and 2007, the internet penetration rate rose from 6.77% to 28.43%. With increased competition and investment, the prospects for high-speed internet connectivity are very good, just as efficient internet penetration brings with it different improvements and benefits for education and business.
Nigeria’s performance on Goal 8 gives much hope. There are signs of a firm policy effort by the authorities to keep foreign and domestic debt under control. The communications sector is also encouraging, but internet use is not as widespread as it should be. The government needs to promote investment in broadband and encourage use of the internet in schools and other educational institutions. It also needs to strengthen the regulatory framework to promote quality in the services provided by GSM operators, even as it strives to protect the rights of consumers through increased access and a fair pricing of services.
As Nigeria marks 54 years of nationhood, and three months to 2015, its performance on all three targets of Goal 1 represents no progress. Reason: About 69% of the population still lives in abject poverty, and the gap between the rich and poor is widening. Eight out of every 10 live in poverty. Growth in the economy has not generated adequate employment opportunities, with majority of the youth unemployed or underemployed.
On the one target of Goal 2, Little Progress has been made thus far. Progress is noted in net enrollment, where six out of 10 eligible children are in school under the Universal Basic Education (UBE), and other free education interventions of some state governments, and enrollments in private schools. However, disadvantaged groups, such as physically challenged ones are still being excluded, and the quality of education remains very poor.
Based on available facts on the single target of Goal 3, average progress has been recorded in the area of gender parity. For every 10 boys in school, there are nine girls, and female economic and political empowerment has seen incremental rise, though not enough.
The one target of Goal 4 has seen Average Progress. A little decrease in under-five mortality is in place. Infant mortality shows significant reduction, while the proportion of children immunized against measles within 12 months of birth has marginally increased.
Slow Progress has been achieved on the one target of Goal 5, where maternal mortality has fallen while reproductive healthcare has witnessed infinitesimal rise with the use of contraceptive at just 4% rate.
On all three targets of Goal 6, Average Progress has been made. Overall prevalence of HIV/AIDS has dropped. HIV prevalence in pregnant women has also dropped. Proportion of those accessing antiretroviral drugs has increased, just as children sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets are up. Malaria infection rate remains steady, but considerable progress against polio has been recorded, thanks to Rotary Club, and others.
On the four targets of Goal 7, No Progress has been made. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation has not improved, and environmental challenges, including gas flaring and underground and surface water pollution as well as biodiversity and ecosystem devastation and pollution arising from oil spills; erosion, coastal flooding, waste management, and climate change are growing. The number of slum dwellers is also rising.
Also, No Progress has been made on the eight targets of Goal 8. The expected benefits of debt relief have not been matched by an increase in ODA (aid) and trade; and access to markets (especially for essential medicines and technology transfer), remain unequal.
From the foregoing, it is clear that progress towards the respective MDGs has been mixed. While Nigeria is on track on a few MDGs, it lags behind on many others. Therefore, as the nation marks 54 years of independence some three months to 2015, governments at all levels must give priority to sustaining progress towards the MDGs, accelerating activities on those MDGs which are lagging and considering priorities and options for post-2015. Bottlenecks have included wide sub-national disparities in achievement, data inadequacies and programme implementation obstacles, among others.
It is necessary to draw government’s attention to the fact that tackling poverty and other areas where current achievement of the MDGs is low require tailoring policy and programmatic interventions to reduce sharp subnational and rural–urban disparities. Therefore, policies to address economic inequalities and promote social protection should be given priority both in the run up to 2015 and beyond. Other important imperatives for policy in the final lap to 2015 include addressing implementation bottlenecks between states and the Federal Government which have tended to slow progress in primary healthcare and basic education in particular. Corruption, bad governance and transparency need to be internalized in our body polity to achieve progress going forward.

 

Nelson Chukwudi

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Special Report

‘Wike Has Transformed Rivers Through Projects’

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On April 11, 2015, the good people of Rivers State trooped out in their numbers to declare their preference for the creation of a New Rivers State. They voted overwhelmingly for Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (CON, GSSRS) to lead the state into prosperity.
That decision by 1,029,102 (One Million and Twenty Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Two) Rivers people representing 87.77 per cent of the total valid votes cast established the process of rebirth, revival and reconstruction of Rivers State. That decision laid the foundation for the unprecedented development being witnessed across the length and breadth of Rivers State.
Over the first 31 months of his first term, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has transformed the state through the unprecedented roll out of people oriented projects.
Economic recession has crippled development in most states of the Federation . Majority of states cannot pay salaries , let alone, embark on the developmental projects.
The case of Rivers State has been different . Like Governor Wike has told anyone who cares to listen, Rivers State is operating a divine economy built on sound economic principles and the overriding interest of the people .
Governor Wike has over the first 31 months of his first term embarked on the massive construction , reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, schools, hospitals, reclamation of lands, agricultural development and provision of other critical infrastructure across the three senatorial districts of the state .
Revival of the State economy and basic governance structure
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike ( CON, GSSRS) inherited a battered economy. At the twilight of the immediate past APC administration in the state, all the economic fundamentals were in a terrible shape, while businesses had collapsed. The basic governance structure in the state was in shambles with the state bureaucracy at a vegetative state.
Through careful implementation of reform policies, Governor Wike has over the last two years revived and repositioned the Rivers economy. After two years of good governance, Rivers economy is one of the most vibrant in the country, supporting corporate, medium-sized and small businesses across the state.
Business entrepreneurs who relocated from the state at the twilight of the immediate past APC administration are returning to the state. One of the major indicators of revived economy is the sustained growth of the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
While other states suffer from economic recession, Governor Wike posits that Rivers State is enjoying an era of boom because it operates a Jesus economy. The foundations of the state’s economic growth are from God, hence it cannot be affected by political and economic developments in the country.
The governor revived the State Assembly which was sitting at the dinning of the Government House under the last APC administration in the state. Since he proclaimed the Assembly, they have been passing laws for the good governance of the state. Two budgets have been passed, while the State Assembly enjoys independence and financial autonomy.
Regular payment of salaries and pensions
Immediate past Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi painted a gloomy picture of the finances of the state on May 27, 2015, when he declared: “Nyesom Wike is coming, let us see where he will get the money to pay salaries.” At this point two days to the end of that failed administration, the state civil servants were owed four months salaries and pensioners owed for six months.
With the state governance system and bureaucracy revived, Governor Wike has taken deliberate steps to ensure that civil servants and pensioners in the state receive their monthly salaries and entitlements.
Governor Wike initiated and implemented a scientific biometric exercise which paved the way for accurate data on workers and pensioners on the state’s payroll.
Rivers State is one of the very few states that is up-to-date in the payment of salaries and pensions. This has served as a motivation to civil servants to contribute their quota to the development of a New Rivers State.
The regular payment of salaries and pensions has helped in making the Rivers economy functional as the flow of liquidity is constant all through the period under review.
Projects Galore Governor Wike did not emerge Mr Projects by happenstance. His emergence is a product of vision and careful planning, targeted at repositioning Rivers State.
The 2017 budget was crafted to lift and flood the state with developmental projects.
Out of the N470billion budgeted for 2017, the total projected capital expenditure is N329 billion (three hundred and twenty-nine billion naira) only, which represents 70% of the capital estimate of the budget. This gives a capital to recurrent expenditure ratio of 70:30. This is unprecedented. The multiplier effect of this pro-people decision is being felt across the state.
Road infrastructure
Thirty one months ago when Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took over the reins of leadership, the economy of Rivers State was at its lowest level. The road infrastructure had completely collapsed, leading to economic stagnation.
Right on the day of his inauguration at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike launched “Operation Zero Potholes Programme”. Since May 29, 2015, the Wike administration has constructed, reconstructed and rehabilitated over 200 roads.
The administration started with the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads in Port Harcourt; Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre and Eleme Local Government Areas. Majority of these roads were completed and commissioned at the end of the governor’s first year. Roads in Diobu, Borikiri, Port Harcourt Township and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Governor Wike’s development of road infrastructure is tied to the rapid social and economic development of the state. The first class road infrastructure, drainage systems and bridges being constructed, reconstructed and rehabilitated across the state by international and indigenous contractors have enhanced economic recovery in the state.
The road infrastructure is linking communities, thus enabling farmers and businessmen to link up with markets in Urban Centres.
At the last count, the Wike administration has constructed or is constructing over 200 roads, spanning over 500 kilometres in a statewide unprecedented intervention in the road sector.
Some of the key road projects include:
1.Rehabilitation/ Maintenance of some roads and drains, tagged “Operation Zero Potholes” in Port Harcourt metropolis (additional Works) (Ahoada Road, Force Avenue, Churchill and Creek Road, Evo and Woji Road, Tombia Extension, Ohiamini Road, Ogbunabali Road, Sokoto Road, Eleme Flyover, Kolokuma Road) – completed and commissioned
2. Rehabilitation of Industry Road – Completed
3. Construction Of Internal Roads and Drains In G.S.S Rumuokwuta in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area – Completed
4. Rehabilitation of marine base junction and Moscow road roundabout and laying of kerb stone and concreting of the island- Completed
5. Port Harcourt Government House – work in progress
6. Reconstruction of High Street, Rehabilitation of Prof. Okujagu Street and Danjuma Drive off Peter Odili Road in Trans Amadi Industrial Area-
7.Construction of Sani Abacha Road-
8. Captain Amangala Street, Bishop Fabara Street, Tourist Beach Road, Elliot Henry Street, Bishop Johnson Street, Bonny Street, Adaka Boro Street, Creek Road Extension, Extension of Ada Expressways by Rumuola Bridge and Dualization of Birabi Road by Presidential Hotel Roads
9.Desilting and Cleaning of Subsurface Drains and Manholes from Education to Emenike Junction, Okija Road to Nta-Wogba Creek, Mile 3 Diobu Section of Ikwerre Road and Big Culvert Under Aba Road and Desilting of Covered Drains and Deflooding of Bank Road, Gokana, Forces Avenue Thru Moscow Road Junction, Old GRA Port Harcourt-
10. Construction of Eagle Island – lioabuchi By-Pass, Port Harcourt. – completed and commissioned
11. Construction of Chief Benson Street Chief Benson Close, Omunakwe Str. And the Surrounding Streets Ortiarunma and Omarunma Close. – Contractor is on site.
12. Reconstruction of Roads in D/Line, PHC. – completed and commissioned
13. Dualization of Azikiwe Road (UTC) Junction – Lagos .Bus Stop. – completed and commissioned
Name of project – lga obalga
14. Reconstruction of Diobu Roads (Nnokam Road, Chief Amadi Street, Elechi Street, Odioma Street, Ekwe Street, Wokoma Lane, Azikiwe Street, Ojoto Street, Adelabu Street, Abel Jumbo Street, Ikwerre Rd By Education Bus Stop By The Flyover To Abonnema Wharf Road, Abakaliki Street, Anokwuru Street, Nkoro (Nsuka) Street, Nnewi Street, Okolabiri Street, Osina Street, Azikwe Lane, Ataba Street, Wokoma Street, Enwume Ave, Ejekwu St., Nnokam Street, Bishop Okoye Street, Wobo Street, Elechi Beach Road, Lumumba Street and Joinkrama St.) – comple ted and commissioned
15. Rehabilitation of Agip Gate to Eagle – Island- lloabuchi link Road Junction and Wike Road in Obio /Akpo L.G.A – Completed
16. Rehabilitation of Abuja Bypass, Mile III Diobu, Port Harcourt – Completed
17. Rehabilitation of Rumuola By Boricamp Junction To Rumuola Flyover, Rumuola Overhead Bridge By Rumuadolu Road To Presidential Hotel, Eliozu East-West Road By The Overhead Bridge – Completed
18.Rehabilitation of SARS (Nelson Mandela) Road, Rukpakwolushi-Eligbolo Road and Agip Road – Completed
19.Rehabilitation of Okocha Mgbuodohia Roads, Rumuolumeni As a Replacement For East/West – Ogbakiri-Degema-Abonnema Road – Completed
20.Construuction of Eneka-Rumuapu-Rukpokwu and Miniorlu – Mgbuakara – Eliaparawo RoadsConstruction of Owabie Road, Canaan Avenue and Ozurunha Street, Off Orazi, all in Rumuowabie Community in Rumuopirikom Town- Eneka- Rumuapu Completed
21.Reconstruction of Rumuagholu-Airport Road “A” L=2550m Spur to Nkpolu East/West Road “B” L = 1170m and Spur to International Market Road “C” L= 1675m- Completed
22. Rehabilitation of Rumukalagbor Road (the link road between Elekahia and Aba Road), Rumuibekwe Road and Eliohani Road- Completed
23.Rehabilitation of Mid-King Perekule Road to Woji Road, Port Harcourt- Completed
24.Reconstruction of Eliozu-Rumunduru-Oroigwe- Elimgbu Road/Bridge in Obio/Apkor LGA- Completed
25.Rehabilitation of Oyigbo Express to Imo River Aba Express Road- work in progress
26.Rehabilitation of Aba Road (Artillery Phase 1 – Phase 2 With CBN Junction, Rivers State Secretariat Complex Access Roads- Completed
27. Reconstruction of Woji Road From Old Aba Road to Woji Road/Bridge. – Completed
53. Construction of Akpajo-Woji Road/Bridge. – Completed
54.Reconstruction of Elioparanwo Road. – Completed
55.Dualisation of Epirikom – Rumuoiumeni Road, (additional works of canals) – Completed
56. Dualisation of Nkpogu Road (from Trans Amadi Road – Micheletti Junction – NLNG Roundabout) Including a Bridge, Reconstruction of Micheletti Junction – Amadi Ama Road and Mammy Market (Nlerum) Road. – Completed
57.Dualisation of East/West-Elelenwo-Woji- Slaughter- Trans Amadi-Garrison Roas. – Completed
58.Construction of Ozuoba-Ogbogoro-Rumuolumeni Road. – Completed
59.Reconstruction of Oyigbo Market Road to Kom-Kom in Oyigbo LGA. – Completed
Name of project – LGA Eleme
60. Repair of some section of East/West Road from Eleme Junction-Onne Junction. Contract Sum
Name of project – LGA OBALGA/Eleme
61.Dualization of Oil Mill-Elelenwo-Akpajo Road- work in progress
Name of project – LGA Ikwerre/Etche
62. Reconstruction of Igwuruta-Chokocho Road terminating at the Bridge – Completed and commissioned
Name of project – LGA Etche
63. Construction of Eleme Junction-lgbo Etche-Chokocho Road
64. Reconstruction of Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road in Etche LGA
65. Construction of Ulakwo ll-Afara-Nihi Etche Road in Etche LGA
Name of project – LGA Emohua and Ikwerre
66.Construction of Rumuji-lbaa-Obele-lsiokpo Road In Emohua and Ikwerre LGAS –
67. Reconstruction of Airport-lpo-Omademe-Ozuaha Roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area –
Name of project – LGA Emohua
68. Construction of Elele Alimini Internal Roads Phase I –
69. Construction of Elele Alimini Internal Roads Phase II-
Name of project – LGA Tai, Khana/Gokana
70.Dualization of Saakpenwa-Bori Road –
71. Construction of Internal Roads of Birabi Memoral Grammar School (BMGS) Bori
Name of project – LGA Degema, Asari Toru and Akuku Toru
72.Dredging, Sandfilling and Reclamation of Bakana, Abalama and Abonnema in Degema, Asari Toru and Akuku Toru LGAS –
Name of project – LGA AKULGA
73.Construction of Abonnema Ring Road Phase 2- work in progress
Name of project – LGA Gokana
74. Completion of Kpopie-Bodo City Road
Name of project – LGA Akuku Toru
75.Construction of Internal Roads and drainage in Nyemoni Grammar School in Abonnema, Akuku Toru LGA
Name of project – LGA Abua/Odua
76. Construction of Abua-Degema-Emoh-lyak-lghom- Elok and Emoh-Egbolom Access Road in Abua/Odual Local Government Area
Name of project – LGA ONELGA
77. Reconstruction of Akabuka-Omoku Road –
78. Completion of Unity Road & Bridges (Khana/Andoni and Opobo Local Government Areas)
79.Rehabilitation of Omoku Internal Roads in ONELGA –
Name of project – LGA Okrika
80. Reconstruction of Ekerekana-Okochiri Link Road in Okrika Local Government and the construction of Okochiri Internal roads in Okochiri Community
Name of project – LGA Oyigbo
81.Reconstruction of Old Aba Road By Mbano Camp Junction
Name of project – LGA AKULGA
82. Construction of Abonnema New Bridge and Approach/Asphalt Overlay of Abonnema Internal Roads in AKULGA. – completed and commissioned
Name of project – LGA Ogu/Bolo
83. Reclamation/Sand filling of Olombie/Owukiri Island, Ogu Community . work in progress
Name of project – LGA Ahoada East
84. Reconstruction of Edeoha-lkata-Ochigba Road In Ahoada East LGA
Some of the roads completed or under construction are key to the rapid development of the benefitting communities.
The dualisation of the Sakpenwa-Bori Road that cuts across Tai, Gokana and Khana Local Government Areas and links neighbouring Andoni and Opobo Local Government Areas, remains the greatest post independence gift to the Ogoni People.
The road is also a key facilitator of economic activities. Even the milestone completion already attained has improved the fortune of the people.
The Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road is one of the most important roads since the creation of Rivers State, 50 years ago. This road links the prominent riverine communities of Andoni and Opobo Nkoro Local Government Areas to the rest of Rivers State, through Khana Local Government Area.
It is a road with economic and social significance to the riverine populations. The people of Andoni and Opobo Nkoro have shown their deep appreciation to Governor Wike for translating the vision of this road to reality.
The Woji-Akpajo Bridge recently completed by the Wike administration is a story of the commitment of Governor Wike to completing key projects abandoned by the immediate past APC administration in the state, but which are relevant to the development of Rivers people. Earlier in the life of the administration, the governor completed the Abuluoma -Woji Road and Bridge, also abandoned by that administration.
The recently completed Woji-Akpajo Bridge links Obio/Akpor Local Government Area to Eleme Local Government Area and helps to solve traffic congestion on Aba Road.
The Reconstruction of Edeoha-lkata-Ochigba Road In Ahoada East Local Government Area is a major economic intervention to help the farming communities in this axis. This is another abandoned road, which Governor Wike is reconstructing in line with his pledge to the Ahoada East people.
The Reconstruction of Obiri Ikwerre – Airport Road is a major alternate route to the Port Harcourt International Airport. This road nearing completion was flagged off for reconstruction during the first year anniversary of the Wike administration. Today, it has reduced travel time to the airport.
The Etche Roads are worthy of special mention. First it was the Igwuruta-Chokocho road, which was delivered as a major link between the food basket of the state and the markets of Port Harcourt.
That completed, Governor Wike flagged off and intensified the construction of other roads linking Etche communities and the rest of Rivers State.
They include: Construction of Eleme Junction-lgbo Etche-Chokocho Road, Reconstruction of Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road in Etche LGA and Construction of Ulakwo ll-Afara-Nihi Etche Road in Etche LGA.
Etche people have never had it so good.
In Kalabari land, Governor Wike first completed the Abonnema/Obonoma Link Road and Bridge. Thereafter, he is constructing the Abonnema Ring Road which serves as an alternate route out of the ancient town.
The Wike administration is also constructing the internal roads of Nyemoni Grammar School in Abonnema.
It is necessary to highlight two other critical roads that are helping to reinvigorate the economy of Rivers State. The Construction of Abua-Degema-Emoh-lyak-lghom- Elok and Emoh-Egbolom Access Road in Abua/Odual Local Government Area and the reconstruction of Akabuka-Omoku Road.
In Rivers State, all the three senatorial districts have been impacted positively in terms of road infrastructure. Governor Wike people-oriented style of governance entails that all segments of the state are carried along. So far, he has religiously kept his promise.
December 2017 Road Flag Off Programmes
As the 2017 Christmas approached , Governor Wike flagged off the construction of key road projects. He flagged off the reconstruction of Ahoada-Odienereyi-Ihugbogo-Odieke Road in Ahoada East Local Government Area. The Governor also flagged off the dualization of the Omoku-Egbema Road and the construction/rehabilitation of Isiokpo Internal Roads and Drains in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Healthcare Delivery
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has worked towards creating a comprehensive healthcare that caters for the needs of Rivers people. The administration has invested in the improvement of health facilities and services across the state, while taking care of the welfare of professionals in the sector.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, was in Rivers State to lay the foundation for the construction of an ultra-modern doctors quarters at the Braithwaite Specialist Memorial Hospital. This project is progressing satisfactorily.
Training of Health Professionals
The administration established a College of Medical Sciences at the Rivers State University and also started the setting up of the State Teaching Hospital with the signing of the bill to actualize it.
Support for Private Medical Practitioners
In order to guarantee that more residents of Rivers State have access to quality healthcare, the Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike flagged off a private hospitals loan scheme (PHLS).
The first batch of the scheme witnessed 37 hospitals in the state having access to N500 million to upgrade their facilities and improve their services to the people . Seven of the beneficiaries are non-indigenes, while 30 are from Rivers State.
Flagging off the PHLS at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Wike urged the private medical practitioners to apply the loans judiciously.
The state government would pay the interest on the loans on behalf of the beneficiaries, while the beneficiaries will pay the principal sum. This novel scheme has improved access to quality healthcare in Rivers State.
Unprecedented Rehabilitation of Secondary Healthcare Facilities
Prior to the advent of the Wike administration, secondary healthcare had collapsed across the state. These General Hospitals suffered criminal neglected during the leadership of the immediate past APC administration in the state. Therefore, Rivers people in rural communities were denied access to quality healthcare.
In line with the vision of the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to create access to quality healthcare for the people of Rivers State , the Wike Administration commenced the total rehabilitation of 13 General Hospitals .
The following are the hospitals being rehabilitated : General Hospital Omoku, General Hospital Nchia , General Hospital , Abua , General Hospital Isiokpo, General Hospital Abonnema, General Hospital Okirika , General Hospital Opobo , General Hospital Bodo, General Hospital Ngo, General Hospital Buguma, Psychiatric Hospital , Rumuigbo , General Hospital Emohua and General Hospital Eberi.
Rivers people from all walks of life have declared their support for the Governor’s commitment to rebuild the health infrastructure in the state. These hospitals have never witnessed any form of rehabilitation since they were constructed in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Governor Wike declared that his administration will transform the secondary healthcare sector of the state as a means of improving the living standard of the people.
The governor said that the state government resolved to revive the secondary healthcare facilities because they were abandoned for over two decades.
Their upgrade would open a new chapter in healthcare delivery in the state . Quality healthcare would be close to the ordinary people of Rivers State at their doorsteps .
Recruitment of Medical Personnel/Improvement of Facilities at Braithwaite Specialist Memorial Hospital
Aside the development of physical infrastructure in health facilities across the state, the Wike administration has recruited qualified medical professionals to help the state government strengthen access to quality healthcare.
Also, facilities at the Braithwaite Specialist Memorial Hospital (BSMH) have been improved by the administration. Governor Wike has released $4million for the purchase and installation of modern equipment at the BSMH.
The administration will implement a phased distribution of vehicles to doctors on the payroll of the state government in the course of the year.

Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

To be contd.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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Special Report

26 Nigerian Women Found Dead in the Mediterranean Sea

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Twenty-six Nigerian women and girls were taken from the Mediterranean Sea over last weekend. The women were in boats.

“It is a tragedy for mankind,” The prefect in the port city of Salerno, Salvatore Malfi, told it a massive tragedy for all people on the planet. He reminded that recently the officials rescued over four hundred migrants from Africa in the central Mediterranean.

According to official reports, the age of dead women was from 14 to 18. The communications officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy, Marco Rotunno, additionally told that the Spanish Navy found the bodies of 26 women floating in the water. Another official added that all dead women, who departed from Libya, were from Nigeria.

Additionally, Mr. Rotunno added that nobody had yet claimed corpses as family members. “So, there no chance to speak with any of 400 migrants, but almost certainly they were not relatives of these girls,” he clarified. The official also added that when groups of young girls are alone, there is a high probability that they could be victims of numerous sex trafficking rings.

“For Nigerian ladies, it is pretty standard to being trafficked. Unfortunately, it is a regional network. I have seen younger than thirteen, and they were alone and from Nigeria,” added the communications officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy.

Source: Naij Nigeria.

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Special Report

Kanu`s Ambitions and the Future of Biafra

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When Ralph Uwazuruike, the founder of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), told in his August interview with the journalists tat that Nnamdi Kanu, the head of the Indigenous People of Biafra, was used to wipe out Biafra, everyone thought it was their private fight. However, everything is a bit complicated.

At the very beginning of MASSOB activity, when Uwazuruike planned to launch Radio Biafra in the United Kingdom, he had unwillingly taken Kanu to run the shop. In some time, the determined young Kanu had his own ideas. Therefore, he displaced his supervisor and took charge.

Time passed by. Nnamdi Kanu became an influential person with his own army. It allowed him forming the Biafra Secret Service (BSS).

Kanu has already rallied thousands of young men to his cause and sold them on a fool’s paradise—a promise of heaven on earth when the Republic of Biafra is realized.

Unfortunately, he has worked his followers to an outrageous edging. The terrible videos from Aba and other parts of the South East which were broadcasted last week really demonstrated how hazardously close the country was to the outburst of another hugest bloody disagreement.

Last week, there were serious incidents on both sides: for example, the video of Nigeria soldiers making unarmed youths roll in the mud and lie face down at gunpoint in the head. Or the video of supposed IPOB members in secret locations beating some folks believed to be from the North with planks and frisking commercial cars for “non-Biafrans.”

These were tremendously frightening and dangerous spectacles, and as they outspread, Kanu, who had been praying for war, was busy looking for a secret place to hide. The real approach of the soldiers recognized in the video was terrible and must be punished. However, only the God knows what might have happened if soldiers had not been deployed?

By all means, Nigeria must keep away from a repeat of Odi (1999) and Zaki-Biam (2001), where the troop’s deployment after criminal gangs clashed with the military led to the killing of 220 civilians and dismissal of several villages. Therefore, if Kanu starts a bushfire, it can never know how it will end.

What is about President Buhari? The current president is the only one would win an election with near-zero support from two major blocks—the South and the South East. He should have seized the moment to expand his base. But he did not.

So, peoples’ lives are the most precious thing in the world. If Buhari and Nnamdi Kanu fail to agree somehow, all people in the region will undoubtedly suffer.

And the final question. When will the people of the Republic of Biafra finally realize that it would be much easier and calmer to develop own State without such people as Kanu?

Source: NAIJA.ng News

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