Kayanja: With political will, Nigeria is well placed to achieve SDGs

Ronald David Kayanja

Mr. Ronald David Kayanja is the Director, United Nations Information Service, (UNIC), Lagos. Until his appointment, He was UNESCO Adviser for Communications and Information in West Africa. In this interview with Sunday Aikulola, he explains the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and efforts to implement them.

The SDGs was launched in September 2015, how would you describe the implementation of these goals in Nigeria?
The Federal Government has started seriously by putting in place mechanisms to implement agenda 2030. Already, there is a special adviser to the president on SDGs. The government has also just published economic growth and development plan. The plan took into account the SDGs, which mean in the next five years, aspect of the goals will be implemented. The National Bureau of Statistics is also developing indicators that will be used for monitoring the SDGs. We have to mainstream the SDGs within the plans of every state.’ The states will then allocate resources, which would be mobilised to implement the goals.

By doing this, we can know what the budgetary gaps are.  The state that is moving fast is Lagos. Lagos State government has started sensitization of all its MDAs around the SDGs. This year, they will review their State Development Plan to integrate the SDGs and allocate resources so that they can go on with implementation. Other states have appointed special advisers to the governor on SDGs.

There are 17 SDGs and 169 targets; can you explain the differences between them?
The goals are interrelated. They focus on five key areas – people, peace, planet, prosperity and partnerships. We have to ensure that the economy is growing, leading to prosperity. But we should also ensure that there is social inclusion; that no one is left behind.

These development efforts should consider that we have one planet with resources, which we have to keep for future generations. And of course we can only achieve all these in a situation where we have peace, stability, rule of law and good governance. So, the goals are interlinked. A young woman may be in extreme poverty (goal one) because she did not get quality education (goal 4) and thus cannot feed her children well (goal 2) which makes them unhealthy (goal 3), the husband beats her each night (goal 5) and due to her poverty cannot easily get clean water and sanitation (goal 6). This is just an example of how interconnected these goals are.

The deadline for the implementation of all the goals is 2030; do you think Nigerian government can meet the deadline?
Nigeria is very well placed to achieve these goals. It has the human, material and financial resources. Nigeria also has the international good will, so it can easily get additional support. With political will and active participation of everyone, I believe Nigeria will meet the goals.

The Agenda 2030 is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity; can you shed more light on this?
People refer to those goals that focus on the social sector including education, health, water and sanitation. For planet, we refer to goals on climate action, life under water, life on land and those others, while prosperity refers to goals that focus on developing the economy and increasing incomes.

Mrs. Amina Mohammed from Nigeria recently became the Deputy Secretary General of UN, what role do you think she can play in the implementation of the goals in Nigeria?
Mrs. Mohammed was probably the leading person in establishment of SDGs and Agenda 2030. She was the Special adviser to the Secretary General in the post 2015 development agenda. It is fantastic for us to have her as the Deputy Secretary General, because she will work directly with the Secretary General in implementing the goals across the world. And being a Nigerian is also a plus. She was a former minister and also served in various other senior capacities.

What are the roles of the private sector, civil societies, community based organisation and other stakeholders in the implementation of the goals?
Government alone cannot do it. You need the private sector, civil society, international organization, donor organization, and young people. Civil society is doing a lot. We have seen this on the social media; you also see NGOs and other civil societies mobilizing around the SDGs. That is why we have Goal 17. Although, government both at states and federal level, sets the plan, but they have to work closely with the private sector in meeting the goals.

Do you think the youths have any role to play?
First, the youths must be fully involved at this point. By 2030, some of the youths now would be leaders by then. This age brackets fall between 18 and 35 years. Secondly, many youths are also not employed in Africa, but they have access to the new information technology. This, if not well-managed can lead to demographic disaster. So it is very expedient to integrate young people.

Goal number one is ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. In a recent interview you said Nigerian government can end poverty despite the huge population, can you explain how this is possible?
In 2001, the global percentage of people below the poverty line was about 36%. By 2015 it had reduced to around 12%. And the World Bank estimates that soon we will have single digit figures for percentage of people below the poverty line. Those figures were largely because of what China and India have achieved in developing their economies and moving masses of people away from poverty. Nigeria is well able to do this. The country has a huge population of young people, many of whom are well educated. This country has natural resources and can feed its people and even become a food basket for Africa. The potential for Nigeria is just too huge. It is the biggest economy in Africa. So, Nigeria is very well able to eradicate absolute or what we call chronic poverty by 2030.



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