Dr. Precious Gbeneol, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals has advocated that global post 2015 development Agenda can only have the necessary impact on the development of developing nations if it has at its core eradication of poverty with focus of enablers of economic development and job creation.
The SSAP-MDGS who spoke at the informal dialogue titled: “Turning Commitment to Realities- Perspectives on The Post 2015 Development Agenda” during the 57th Commission on the status of women at the United Nations headquarters in New York last week. She therefore listed issues that must be addressed in the post 2015 development framework to include access to sustainable energy, infrastructure, population demographics and governance.
She noted that the changing population demographics imply that the greatest challenge facing developing countries at the moment is providing economic opportunities for young, educated segment of population of their population and ways to do this must be included in the framework of the new development agenda.
The presidential aide said Nigeria’s youth unemployment currently estimated at around 42 per cent poses danger to national political, social and economic stability as had happened in other countries.
“The UN Resident Coordinator for Morocco recently said an underlying factor in the Arab Spring was education not being rewarded with employment. Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa faces a similar trend, except on a far larger population scale, with far less infrastructural capacity and weaker social safety nets than that present in Morocco”, Gbeneol added.
The SSAP-MDGs however added that harnessing the potential of the increase in Nigeria working age population could drive Nigeria forward at an incredible rate, accelerating economic progress with potential for development of social infrastructure for future generations.
This, she said can only be done if appropriate environment that will lead to creation of jobs for youths are created. “There is therefore need for an expansion of enterprise, and such an expansion needs to be supported by better infrastructure. This is true not just for Nigeria, but also for the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa”, DrGbeneol who noted that it has been estimated that an additional 122 million workers will enter Africa’s labour force by 2020, added that by 2035, the size of the African labour force will be larger than any nation’s, including China.
“Therefore as a continent, we need to focus on increasing investment in infrastructure, particularly within energy and transportation. I suggest that ways through which infrastructure could be captured within the new framework would be to include indicators such as electricity power consumption per capita, density of road network, and percentage of population with access to electricity, improved water resources and roads”, said Gbeneol.
The presidential aide also suggested that rather than targeting increase in enrolment in primary education as contained in the present development framework, it is more important to target improvements in secondary and tertiary education whilst incorporating practical and vocational skills in tune with the reality of contemporary global development.
“Targeting investment in skills development of the youth population will enhance their productivity in the labour market. One way of capturing youth education and skills training within a Post-2015 Agenda would be to take a youth unemployment target informed by indicators such as participation rates in youth vocational training and tertiary education enrolment”, she said.
While giving the country’s scorecard, the SSAP-MDGs noted that in spite of the of the challenges, the country has made steady efforts towards the attainment of the MDGs by recording modest improvements in maternal and infant mortality, gender equity, HIV prevalence and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
She also noted that Nigeria has started the implementation of United Nations MDGs Acceleration Framework (MAF) with focus on reducing the burden of maternal mortality.
“This first round of MAF will build on the success of policies such as the Midwives Services Scheme, Community Health Extension Workers Programme, the newly introduced Village Health Worker Scheme and the Saving One Million Lives Initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria”, said Gbeneol.
The presidential aide also revealed that efforts are being made across the board with other initiatives such as the use of ground-breaking mobile money technology to drive the new scale up of Conditional Cash Transfers for which the sum of N10billion half of which comes from 24 participating States of the Federation has been approved.
“This CCT Scheme, designed to stimulate demand for services, targets education, basic health care, as well as the transfer of agricultural enterprise, being a multi-faceted program implemented in the run up to the 2015 deadline”, she added.
Deputy Director, Information