28 June 2010

Nigeria: G8 Tasks Jonathan, Others on Good Governance

The eight most industrialised nations of the world, otherwise called G-8, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan and other African leaders to rise up to the challenges facing their nations and meet their primary responsibilities to their citizens especially on good governance.

"We call on developing country governments to meet their primary responsibilities for social and economic development and good governance, in the interests of their citizens," a communiqué issued at the end of the G8 Summit in Huntsville, Canada, stated.

The G8, which comprises the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia, said its support for development would be based on mutual responsibility and a strong partnership with developing countries.

The G8 communiqué said Africa remained a cornerstone of the G8's approach and reiterated that it would pursue a comprehensive approach to development, aiming at sustainable outcomes.

It added, "We reaffirm our commitments, including Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and enhancing aid effectiveness. Since the most vulnerable states have made the least progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we will place special emphasis on helping them build the foundations for peace, security and sustainable development," the communiqué noted.

The G8 leaders, which met with seven African leaders at the Summit, including President Jonathan, commended the increased ownership that Africa had over its development process.

The rich nations' leaders noted the high economic growth rates that had been attained in Africa immediately, prior to the onset of the global economic and financial crisis.

The group reaffirmed its shared commitment to continued collaboration to advance economic development of the continent, in addition to entrenching a more stable, democratic and prosperous Africa.

It noted that G8 and African leaders recognised that the attainment of the MDGs was a shared responsibility and that strategies based on mutual accountability are essential to going forward.

"It noted that, significant progress had been made in some areas, greater efforts are required by all actors in order to achieve the MDGs in Africa. In this regard, African leaders expressed support for the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Muskoka Initiative.

"Mindful of the importance that maternal and child health has to development and Africa's ability to achieve the MDGs and of the consequent need for urgent action, leaders undertook to explore how to accelerate progress in the implementation of their respective commitments in Africa," the communiqué said.

On security, the G8 communiqué noted that African leaders also welcomed the G8's continued efforts to help strengthen the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).

It said the eight developed nations were assisting in institutional capacity, to prevent and manage conflict through peacekeeping training centres in Africa.

The G8 leaders also acknowledged the important contribution of African leaders to the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative.

NAN reports that a major highlight of the 2010 G8 Summit was the financial pledge of $7.3 billion by the group for maternal and child health issues in developing countries.

The eight G8 countries pledged $5 billion with Canada contributing 20 per cent of the funding or $1.1b and other non-G8 countries and foundations such as Gates Foundation and the UN Foundation contributing the remaining $2.3 billion.

However, development agencies have strongly criticised the amount, saying it fell short of the amount that was hoped, although the funds will still be useful.

UN estimates that about $12 billion in budgetary allocation are needed annually to check pregnancy-related deaths of mothers and under-five children.

UN figures estimate that, each year, between 350,000 and 500,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth while 3.6 million children die within their first month of life and 5.2 million more die before the age of five.

Meanwhile, the G8 has pledged $5 billion on maternal and child health programmes in developing countries for the next five years.

Harper commended Norway, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the Gates Foundation and the UN Foundation for their contribution to the "Muskoka initiative" aimed at improving maternal and child health.

The prime minister defended criticism against the G8's credibility to deliver on the pledges given their failure to meet up on past promises on aid to developing countries.

"The scepticism this time is not warranted. I think any money we get pledged here for this particular initiative, I am confident that will be delivered.

"I don't think you will again see leaders go out and make pledges that they don't intend to keep or that they really haven't thought about very thoroughly," Ha rper said.

He, however, admitted the reluctance by some G8 countries to pledge larger sums as many of the economies represented at the summit were terribly affected by the global financial crisis.

With Agency Reports

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