Actualising The MDGs By 2015: What Hope?


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