World leaders at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly renews their efforts toward alleviating the plight of the poor in the society as Nigeria receives a thumbs up for her unflinching commitment.
The side event held at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York was designed to enable African countries implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals framework to share experiences of their best practices, identify areas of weaknesses and device strategies that will help the member countries accelerate their efforts towards effectively attaining the goals.
Titled: Transformative agenda for sustainable development in Nigeria and Africa: Lessons, actions and emerging perspectives, the event pulled together participants from different strata of the United Nations and Presidents of some African countries. In attendance were the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon represented by the UN Assistant Secretary and Advisor on post 2015, Amina Mohammed, President Goodluck Jonathan, President of Ghana, John Mohama, President of Liberia, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, President Macky Sall of Senegal, Ministers, Heads of Mission, Diplomats amongst others.
With less than 1000 days remaining to the 2015 target date, world leaders are racing against time in the final push to attain MDGs. Indeed, deliberations on a post 2015 development framework is already at top gear and the side event therefore provided a platform for peer review of the efforts of the various leaders of African countries towards achieving the MDGs.
The leaders also seized the opportunity to highlight their desired inputs to the succession framework post 2015. All the leaders of African countries present at the side event agreed that alleviation of poverty should be the major focus of the post MDGs agenda with measures aimed at poverty reduction, improved healthcare, jobs creation, as well as energy also included in the agenda
While speaking at the event, President Mohama noted that experience of the last 13 years has largely shown that a lot can be done to improve the cause of humanity when the world come together to set common targets as it was done with the MDGs in year 2000. The Ghanaian President who stated that the successes that has so far been recorded by some African countries in alleviating the plight of the most vulnerable in their societies singled out Nigeria’s Social protection scheme (Conditional Cash transfer) for commendation, describing it as an effective way of reaching the poor and under-privileged in the society.
Ahead of the 2015, deadline, Nigeria, as revealed by recent NBS statistics as reeled out by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr Precious Gbeneol, has met goals three and six as well as the Hunger target of goal one. The country’s Maternal Mortality Ratio, which was estimated that 1,000 mothers died per 100,000 live births in 1990, dropped to 545 in 2008 and to 350 in 2012. Nigeria has also recorded 65 per cent reduction in maternal mortality between 2000 and 2013 and increased skilled birth attendants from 17 per cent in 2000 to 60 per cent 2013.
There has also been a reduction from the 2008 NDHS figure for the under-five mortality rate of 157 deaths per 1,000 live births, to 94 deaths.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon who spoke through the UN Assistant Secretary and Advisor on post 2015, Amina Mohammed stated that the MDGs Acceleration Framework (MAF) introduced by the Nigeria and supported by the UN as well as other policies of Government attest to the commitment of Nigeria in addressing the plight of the very vulnerable poor in the country as defined in the MDGs framework.
He hailed the leadership and coordinating role of the government of Nigeria in attaining the MDGs not only in Nigeria, but also in Africa.
“The commitment of President Jonathan to MDGs in Nigeria and indeed across Africa will help us more in our quest to meet the peoples’ need at national, regional and global level. In turn, this will contribute to more effective multilateral system and one that is fit for purpose to deliver not only on the MDGs but the post 2015 development agenda” Ban stated.
The Coordinator of the UNDP Helen Clark, speaking through Regional Director of Africa Bureau, Abdoulaye Mar dieye stated that the concerted efforts of Nigeria have produced significant results especially on the MDGs target on the proportion of undernourished people, on gender parity in primary education, reversal of HIV/AIDS, reduction of under 5 mortality and maternal mortality rate.
Ban’s position was re-echoed by the Special Adviser to the Secretary General and head of the Earth Institute of the Columbia University, Professor Jeffrey Sachs. “Nigeria deserves our great gratitude for its leadership right from the start of the MDGs. I am very proud of the huge successes so far recorded by Nigeria in the effort to attain the goals. I expect Nigeria to continue to lead in the post 2015 efforts.” Sachs said.
According to the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, the efforts of Nigeria and the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan is notable and very key as the continent joins the global community in the new quest to frame a post 2015 successive framework.
On her part, President Ellen Sirleaf stated that she was particularly impressed by Nigeria’s MDGs implementation mechanism, institution and structures put in place to achieve the development agenda as well as the independent monitoring and evaluation mechanism which she described as world class and laudable.
While acknowledging the commendations over Nigeria’s achievements in the realization of MDGs, President Jonathan stated that the commitment of his government to the development goals is as result of the premium the government places on the lives of the vulnerable poor in the country, which he described as a mission. The Nigerian President particularly noted that his commitment was also informed by his personal experience.
“The issues of MDGs touch me directly, having lost seven of my eight siblings before their first birthdays and we are taking the issues of the MDGs as a mission. We are committed to taking people out of poverty, ensure that mothers and babies stay alive in good health and households enjoys improve standard of living.” President Jonathan stated.
The President’s remarks at the side event was a further amplification his earlier pledge of greater commitment to the MDGs during his address to the UN General Assembly. The President also during the address harped on the importance of peace as the bedrock of all developmental efforts.