The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr. Precious Gbeneol has said that for Nigeria to reach the Millennium Development Goals target by 2015, an increasingly deeper and contextual analysis of the key challenges impeding progress against the MDGs, their solutions and collective efforts and resources that are needed for accelerating progress, then stakeholders must resolve to improve the lives of the poor and thereby bridge the inequality gap. The Senior Special Assistant made this call when the office of the Senior Special Assistant on Millennium Development held a stakeholder briefing in Abuja, on the commencement of the application of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals Acceleration Framework, MAF.
Addressing stakeholders the SSAP-MDGs said that; “the exercise is borne out of a partnership between Government, the United Nations Country System in Nigeria and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the MDGs Acceleration Framework is part of a wider strategy to fast-track the attainment of the MDGs by the 2015 deadline. Your presence here is a clear indication of your understanding and commitment to the imperative of mobilizing the needed resources to meet the globally agreed Goals in order to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable.”
According to Gbeneol, she said with less than one thousand days from the 2015 deadline, there is evidence that the United Nations MDGs Acceleration Framework presents a proven strategy that has the potential to address regional disparities and large in-country variation in progress; “this drive coincides and is in accordance with the recent Presidential directive to identify impediments to progress against the MDGs with a view to suggesting acceleration solutions.”
“MDG 5 has been prioritized as the first of the Goals to go through the acceleration process. MDG 5 has been selected not only due to the large in-country divergence in progress but also because of the ripple effects interventions on this Goal can have on the other MDGs. It goes without saying that the action plan that would be prepared for implementing identified solutions to impediments hampering Goal 5 would be a common companion action plan needed to accelerate progress against the other two health Goals,” she said.
Meanwhile the Vice President Architect Namadi Sambo, who was the chairman of the stakeholders briefing declaring the briefing open also, said that it has become urgent to conduct an increasingly deeper and contextual analysis of the key challenges impeding progress against the MDGs, their solutions and collective efforts and resources needed for accelerating progress while adding that; “I therefore commend the efforts of various stakeholders here gathered today for the resolve to improve the lives of the poor and thereby bridge the inequality gap. The collaboration between the Government of Nigeria, the United Nations Country Team and the Department for International Development (DFID) aimed at deploying the United Nations MDGs Acceleration Framework (MAF) in order to fast-track Nigeria’s progress against the MDGs cannot come at a better time.”
Speaking further the Vice president also said that the fact that MAF, as a UN methodological framework that offers governments and their partners a systematic way to identify and prioritize bottlenecks to progress on MDGs targets that are off-track in order to suggest ‘acceleration’ solutions to these bottlenecks is being applied to Goal 5 inspires hope; “although Nigeria has made significant strides in reducing maternal mortality from figures that were above 1000/100,000 live births in 1990 to 545/100,000 live births in 2008, attainment of the health MDGs still remain a challenge in Nigeria. For instance, the current annual reduction in under-five mortality of 4% is far below the 13% annual reduction needed to bend the curve to attain Goal 4 by 2015. Similar reduction in maternal mortality leaves much to be desired. It is therefore very timely that an evidence based approach deployed by Government in partnership with important stakeholders is being rolled out to stem the tide of maternal deaths and improve the lives of our women.”
However, in his Goodwill remarks, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Mr. Dauda Traore who was represented by Mrs. Ade Lekoetje Mamoyane, at the occasion said that the United Nations System in Nigeria is very pleased to be associated with the efforts of the Government of Nigeria to operationalise the countdown strategy using MAF as a tool, while adding that; “as you are aware, the Millennium Declaration has remained the greatest promise by governments for a more humane world; and for more dignified life to their peoples in recent history.”
Speaking further the resident coordinator, also said that; “notwithstanding the numerous economic and political challenges witnessed globally leading to dwindling resources, we have seen in Nigeria, governments commitments to accelerate the MDGs through financial, institutional and policy frameworks including the Countdown Strategy, the Vision 20:2020 National Implementation Plan and groundbreaking programs like the Conditional Grant Scheme and the Conditional Cash Transfers. We have also seen the setting up of an Office of a Senior Special Assistant and the Presidential Committee on the MDGs to provide coordination and oversight to the implementation of the MDGs. We are therefore convinced of the commitment of the government and people of Nigeria to the Declaration.”
“In the last decade, globally, significant strides have been made towards many of the MDGs targets – reducing poverty, empowering women and increasing access to basic services like health care, education and clean water. Yet, we also know that progress has been uneven across the Goals, and within countries and regions. There is now a great deal of evidence about both the obstacles to MDG progress and how to overcome them. That evidence reveals that there is a range of tried and tested policies which, adapted to national contexts, will ensure MDG progress, where there is the leadership, capacity, and funding to implement them,” the resident Coordinator said.
Asking rhetorically, the he said that the question before us has been how to act on the evidence. Moving forward from the 2010 Summit to 2015, how can we put evidence into practice and, as called for in the Summit’s Outcome Document, accelerate progress on the MDGs? As he also responded that the UN Development Group has developed an MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF), designed to help countries do just that. The Framework enables governments and development partners to identify systematically the bottlenecks preventing MDG progress, as well as the tested and proven solutions which can help overcome them.
Citing example with Togo, he said that the Togolese government has prioritized agriculture focusing on the bottlenecks preventing small farmers – in particular women – from growing more and better food, while he said that; “in Uganda and Ghana, the Framework is helping the governments and partners identify the bottlenecks which have frustrated their efforts to reduce maternal mortality and has led to increased coordination, donor actions and government’s strategic financial commitments.”
To him he said that a lot of countries have development strategies which align their national priorities to the MDGs. It is pleasing to note that currently, Nigeria with the leadership of the National Planning Commission Minister is reviewing the first Vision 20:2020 National Implementation Plan (NIP) to produce a 2nd NIP; “it is about turning these strategies into the concrete and proven actions that will accelerate MDG progress. If we focus our collective efforts on this task – the MDGs can be met.”
He added that in Nigeria it is recognized that in the context of its political and administrative structure and its size, the MDGs can only be achieved with active collaboration of the three tiers of government, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders. It is in this light that we commend government for providing strategic leadership that has put MDGs at the forefront of the development discourse and policy framework, while he commended the office of the SSAP-MDGs as he said; “in a similar vein, we commend the OSSAP-MDGs for the important innovations and initiatives and the drive that has started to show on many of the indicators including even the more challenging health indicators.”
Speaking further on the very short time for the attainment of the MDGs he said; “your Excellencies, permit me to say that with very short time to 2015, there is a need to urgently intensify or scale-up those strategies and initiatives that have been tested and known to work including infrastructure targeted investment through the Conditional Grants Scheme, the midwifery scheme and strategic interventions in primary healthcare and education and so on. Your Excellencies, an emerging matter of concern and urgency, the emerging wide disparities in MDGs outcomes across regions and states would require, among others, state or zone specific interventions and strategies, taking advantage of the important synergies among the Goals. Needless to say that sustained policy commitments in the areas of reducing poverty and hunger driven by agricultural productivity, employment creation and equitable distribution of income, assets and opportunities continue to be relevant.”