THE maiden edition of the SDGs Monitor magazine was formally presented to the public and launched at the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Centre, Abuja on August 24, 2017.
In his welcome address, Professor Ebere Onwudiwe, Principal, O-analytics Research & Development Initiative (ORADI), publishers of the magazine said that the publication is designed to continue to zealously investigate and display what the government is doing to implement the SDGs in Nigeria. “We will be beaming our light on Federal and State governments, and to reach into some of the often unseen corners, but always in a responsible and objective manner,” he said.
He expressed his gratitude to the Ford Foundation for funding the special publication.
It was indeed an epoch making event as Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Leader of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly Steering Committee on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) unveiled the maiden edition of the magazine to the admiration of all the important dignitaries who graced the occasion.
Senator Lawan, who was the chairman of the occasion, commended ORADI for the laudable initiative.
He expressed delight that the implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria has so far recorded success in terms of institutional leadership and agenda setting. “The goals have to be implemented through country-led initiatives as opposed to a global scheme, as was the case during the MDGs era. Thus, the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will depend on the ability of countries to turn words into tangible results for all citizens. Therefore, deliberate effort must be made in this regard to ensure that SDG projects and programmes are adequately delivered,” he said.
He noted that developing a concrete SDG localisation strategy must be a process that is participatory, consultative and interactive in nature. According to him, targets and indicators need to be adapted to the Nigerian context and aligned with community-level planning, prioritization and decision-making, as these are the foundation for long-lasting ownership of the SDGs.
He added that the localisation process should have legislative backing so as to stand the test of time. Senator Lawan explained that Nigeria's 8th National Assembly believes that an inclusive and effective accountability framework is key to ensuring that Nigeria religiously implements and tracks progress on the 2030 agenda.
He observed that the role of legislators in delivering the SDGs has been well recorded globally. He cited the examples of the United Kingdom, Korea and Mexico where their various parliaments are deeply involved in holding government accountable in the implementation of global goals. He explained the in the United Kingdom, the Parliament has an International Development Committee which monitors the activities of Department of International Development (DFID), which is the agency that contributes towards ending extreme poverty. He said that in Korea, the Korean National Assembly UN SDGs Forum established in 2014 has engaged in diverse congressional activities related to the SDGs, including holding seven regular fora, launching two campaigns and promoting diverse global initiatives to create national ownership of the SDGs at the legislative institutional level.
Similarly, the Congress of Mexico has been a key stakeholder of the global goals, holding the government accountable for their implementation by developing a crucial piece of legislation known as the General Law for Social Development (LGDS).
Senator Lawan said that it against this background that the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria should engage in the implementation and oversight of the entire SDG framework. He said: “As representatives of the people, we are expected to work to localize the SDGs by ensuring that national SDGs reflect specific local needs and the circumstances of specific groups such as women, youth and persons with disability. We believe that legislators should play active and visible roles in high-level national SDG working groups or similar bodies that will be established to coordinate and guide SDG implementation, so that they can echo their constituents' views and provide institutional support.”
Senator Lawan pointed out that the 8th National Assembly led by Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President and Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives has begun some SDG self assessments in defining the core functions of the legislative arm of government relating to the realization of the SDGs in Nigeria and what specific roles, partnerships and collaborations are necessary to collectively help achieve these laudable development goals in the country.
He explained that this was why on July 19, 2017 upon approval by the Senate President; a National Assembly Steering Committee on the SDGs was established. As the chairman of the National Assembly Steering Committee on SDGs, Senator Lawan promised to effectively utilize it as a working platform for both the legislative and executive arms of government to work together towards the implementation of the global goals. Membership of the committee includes representatives from the Office of the President of the Senate, Speaker House of Representatives, leadership of SDGs committee of both chambers of the National Assembly, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, the Ministry of Budget & National Planning, Budget Office of the Federation, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nigeria, and the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS.)
According to Senator Lawan, the Steering Committee has already made tangible progress in prioritizing the SDGs and agreeing on a delivery framework. He noted that the Committee is in line with best practices elsewhere in the world. He described it as another layer of committee that will be technical in nature, to create legislative direction and synergy across both chambers of the National Assembly towards delivering SDG public good to Nigerians.
He was glad that the SDGs Monitor magazine would serve as a media platform which would provide reliable, up-to-date, adequate, timely and reasonably complete information for SDGs implementers at all levels. “It will be great to have the SDG Monitor magazine provide at periodic intervals information that will show the general performance of the SDGs across all levels of the Nigerian society,” Senator Lawan said.
He urged organizations such as the UNDP, SDG Global Campaign Office, and the Ford Foundation among others to continue supporting all aspects of delivering the SDGs in Nigeria. “A number of new strategies/initiatives will be required to increase awareness, education around the SDGs and improve communications to all stakeholders. These include using science, technology and innovation to develop ICT-based communication platforms like an SDG data gathering/UReport app for the SDGs to strengthen relations between government and all other stakeholders,” Senator Lawan said.
In her remarks, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, who was represented by Dr. Laminu Waziri, Secretary of programmes (SDGs Office) also felicitated with ORADI on the successful unveiling of the maiden edition of the SDGs Monitor Magazine. She said that the launching of the magazine was timely as the SDGs are at the centre of the current global development agenda and provide the basis for a new set of global development priorities designed to usher in a new, peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world.
She explained that since the implementation of the SDGs commenced in January, 2016, the Federal Government has put in place key policies, and institutional measures to create the enabling environment for mainstreaming the SDGs into national policies, plans and programmes. She recalled that in July, 2017, she was in New York to present Nigeria's National Voluntary Report on the SDGs Implementation at the High-Level Political Forum under the auspices of the UN ECOSOC. “The report provides information on the progress and status of implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria and it is a product of a highly participatory and broad consultative process involving the MDAs, Sub-national Governments, Civil Society Organizations, Organized Private Sector, Academia, Development Partners, Youth Groups, Women Organizations and Persons with Disabilities Group, amongst others. The report is proof that a lot is being done in the implementation of the SDGs at the national and sub-national levels,” she said.
Princess Orelope-Adefulire observed that since information is key to knowledge, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs) is committed to the dissemination of information on the implementation of the global goals through publications and various social media platforms, educating the public on the SDGs implementation in Nigeria.
She said that her office was delighted to identify with ORADI at the official unveiling of the maiden edition of the SDGs Monitor. “We believe that the SDGs Monitor magazine will provide relevant information for knowledge-sharing and keep the public abreast with up-to-date information on SDGs implementation at the national and sub-national levels. Our Office is open to provide you with any information you may require regularly. I seize this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to the publishing of this maiden edition of the SDGs Monitor magazine and also who worked towards the success of today's unveiling,” Princess Orelope-Adefulire said.
Cyriacus Ijebor, a financial consultant and member of ORADI Board said that it is heart-warming that the agricultural sector in Nigeria is improving significantly as it would help that country alleviate poverty which is goal number one of the SDGs. He, however, noted that the huge obstruction to full growth of this sector remains the absence of guarantee of economically viable prices for Nigerian farmers. “We must provide a price guarantee mechanism for our long-suffering farmers in the tradition of the marketing boards of yore. The pre-1980s marketing boards in this country were the veritable bedrock for the development of the agriculture sector,” he said.
Ijebor recalled that the groundnut pyramids in Kano were attained without government subsidised inputs or fertilizer and tractors. He added that most of the textile mills located in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Asaba and Onitsha were not built by government. According to him, investor's saw opportunities created by the large production of cotton lint that was facilitated by the certainty of prices while groundnut and palm oil were the main sources of vegetable oil simply because farmers produced substantial quantities. “It was this policy that made Nigeria net exporters of these products. Why can't we return to such a model that worked for us so profitably?,” Ijebor asked rhetorically.