Nigeria has been urged to re-focus her post-2015 development agenda, and to urgently address six key challenges to improve the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians for a better development process.
The proposed six challenges highlighted by the Executive Director Centre for Democracy and Development, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, include the implementation of the policy package on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), combating corruption, addressing poverty and inequalities, population dynamics, insecurity, and lastly, climate change and its attendant effects on livelihoods.
In an information titled, 'As the MDGs End; Let's Refocus Nigeria's Post 2015 Development Agenda', Ibrahim, popularly known as Jibo, said, "The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted in 2000 and are supposed to have been attained by 2015, that is, in two years time. There are currently a number of on-going consultative processes in the search of a successor agreement.
"Nigeria still lags behind and it is now clear that we are unlikely to be able to meet any of the goals by 2015. The three levels of government, federal, state and local, are simply not investing enough to meet the goals and a significant part what is being invested is lost due to massive public corruption and diversion of resources to meet security challenges.
"As we move forward, I propose six key challenges we need to address to improve the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians. Nigeria has already engaged the Post 2015 Development Agenda with the launching of Vision 2020 in 2009 as our blueprint for economic transformation.
"The expected outcome of the policy is a high standard of living and quality of life for citizens. To achieve this, the policy framework will prioritise economic growth and job creation over the next seven years. The MDG goals have been incorporated into the National Implementation Plan (NIP) of the visioning process but the key challenge is that there is very little being done on the implementation of the policy package.
"The level of investment on infrastructure and job creation is insufficient to push us to the desired goal of being part of the top twenty economies in the world. We therefore need to invest more to achieve the targets and we must develop clear benchmarks for implementing the visioning process. Public budgeting processes must therefore become more closely aligned to the Vision 2020 implementation benchmarks.
"The second challenge is that of combating corruption. Over time, there has been increasing evidence of the growth of mega corruption in Nigeria. Corruption has therefore become a stumbling block to combating poverty and achieving the MDGs. Nigeria is suffering from a pattern of organised looting of our national resources emanating from governments.
"For Nigeria to return to its development agenda and implementation of Vision 2020, we must prioritise the promotion of transparency and accountability in public life. There is increasing evidence that Government will not act on anti corruption if citizens do not mount sufficient pressure so all sections of the society must join the anti-corruption struggle as part of our strategy of liberating the resources to implement Vision 2020.
"The third challenge is that of addressing poverty and inequalities. Nigeria has sustained a growth rate of over 5 per cent since 1999 but the rate of poverty has grown over the period from 54 per cent to 69 per cent of the population. The gap between the rich and the poor has been widening and the number of the poor growing.
"Our development agenda must therefore address both the growing incidence of poverty and the significant spatial differentiation in its distribution. Governments and stakeholders in the North must declare a state of economic emergency and allocate significantly more resources to the combat against poverty in their zones.
"The fourth challenge is to take population dynamics more seriously. Whilst Nigeria continues to grapple with economic crisis, the population growth rate continues to soar and to change in composition.
"This means that we must transform our population from one characterised by short lives and large families to one with long lives and small families. We cannot achieve our objectives if we maintain our current rapid population growth which gives us an unusually large proportion of children and adolescent dependents, and a relative dearth of working age adults per dependent", he said.
According to Jibo, "The fifth challenge is that of insecurity. Nigeria is suffering from several sources of instability. Life is becoming increasingly precarious because of breakdown of social fabric and family bonds, as well as the mounting pressures on livelihoods. We have to prioritise achieving the MDGs as a strategy for national survival and progress. Addressing poverty and misery is a vital component of our national security strategy but even more important, a fulfilment of the pact signed by Nigerians and their governments to achieve the social and economic goals set out in chapter two of our Constitution.
"Finally, we need to address the challenge of climate change and its attendant effects on livelihoods. As the effects of global greenhouse gas continue to rise, causing dramatic changes in temperature, and precipitation, we see the dramatic impact of this process on Nigeria in the last two years as floods and erosion continue to pose threats to human and food security and causing environmental degradation in alarming magnitudes in different parts of the country.
"As we look forward to the Post 2015 development agenda, there is an urgent need for Nigeria to implement policies and programmes aimed at addressing the challenges of climate change. It is imperative that all levels of government in Nigeria engage with citizens in mapping out priorities for the Post 2015 Development Agenda", he said.