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If Nigeria is to succeed in 2030 where it failed in 2015, it must achieve the localisation of the goals and work better with the private sector, so that every community and business is invested, says Abideen Olasupo (a member of the Youth power Panel).  

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are targeted at having a better world by 2030. That gives Nigeria no more than 10 years to catch up. It can’t be denied that Nigeria’s falling short on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) might slow it down in achieving the new goals. Nigeria’s failure can be attributed to many hindrances in the 15 years, from insecurity, to leadership crisis, with Nigeria having one of its ‘worst elections’ in history and the Boko-haram menace affected progress in education and ending poverty. 

“A community is like a ship – everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm “

Gro Harlem Brondtland, Former Minister of Norway. 

However, we must learn from the MDGs end-point report, where it was made clear that Nigeria’s late start affected it not meeting most of the goals. Nigeria started it’s implementation of the MDGs in 2005, 5-year later than it was supposed to. This, according to the end-report this was due to the Paris Club Debt, which was relieved in 2005. 

Despite this some progress was made on the MDGs. Nigeria witnessed significant improvement in the health sector; where ‘under-five mortality rates’ were reduced and the #EndPolio Campaign made a significant impact. Nigeria also witnessed an increase in the net enrolment of kids in education, primarily in primary and secondary schools. However, progress was less evident in “tackling poverty, hunger and malnutrition, achieving gender parity in education, wage employment and political leadership, reduction of maternal death, sanitation and finally, ensuring environmental sustainability.” which were all essential to the actualisation of the MDGs. 

How far have we come?

Below are some key stats on Nigeria’s MDG progress. As you can see, despite some notable areas of improvement indicators show that Nigeria did not hit most of their targets. It should also be noted that these figures do not show the unevenness of progress across different districts. In general the north has improved dar more quickly than the south. 

Lessons to learn

“Important steps have been taken, and innovative partnerships are taking shape. But if we are to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals, more needs to be done.”

Liu Zhenmin, The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, in the 2019 SDG report. 

There are key lessons to learn from the MDGs report. These are;

  • The importance of early commencement of the actualisation of the next global sustainable long-term working-plan.
  • The necessity of local ownership and consolidating the culture of implementing partnership programmes. This should also include localisation of the ideas of the goals.
  • The need to explore different funding sources, including within the private sector.
  • Incentive-based interventions and incentive-based policy instruments work.
  • Political will is essential and the government must drive a policy agenda focused on the goals. 
  • Strong coordination between the tiers of government, most importantly local governments is integral.

The failure of Nigeria with the MDGs can be blamed on failure to properly educate the populace on the MDGs, with most local communities failing to grasp the idea of MDGs, if they knew they existed at all. Failure to collaborate and work collectively on the achievement of MDGs can also be blamed for the failures in Nigeria. Even though Nigeria recorded high productivity in Developing Global Partnership for Development, local partnerships were mostly absent. 

Localisation is key

Localisation in action. The Brain Builders, founded by the author translate the SDGs into local languages, including Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.

We have to understand that the localisation of the SDGs is important to the achievement of the implementation of SDGs in all forms, putting into consideration that local communities make up most of the populous on Nigerian soil. 

“Local Development plays an important role in the development of local economies, enhancing job and livelihoods creation as well as aiding in the provision of basic services to the population, thereby having a significant impact on achieving the SDGs and fostering communities’ well­being. Local governments are well positioned to play a catalytic role in involving local actors and enhancing local action in the strategies to achieve the SDGs.”

Lamin M. Manneh, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa

Having studied this chain of effects, a number of changemakers conducted in depth studies to learn lessons from failures of the MDGs to help in realising the SDGs. Early efforts to implement the SDGs show energy and resourcefulness. These methods and actions of implementation range from minor steps such as the personalisation of curriculum according to ethnic and cultural specifics, to monumental actions such as implementing enterprise responsibility policies across the nation. I believe the presence or absence of the following localisation techniques will make the difference in Nigeria’s success or failure;

  • Awareness raising campaigns and advocacy educating the society about the SDGs and their importance to the growth of their local community. Including through the creation of SDGs clubs in schools and the inclusion of SDGs in the academic curriculum.
  • Cooperative Governance and Citizens Participation, including them in every process of policy making and implementation of the SDGs.
  • Surveys and assessments to understand the needs of local communities.
  • Building adequate legal and institutional frameworks that ease the implementation of SDGs to carry everyone along.
  • Public-private partnership towards the achievement of the SDGs carrying along the private sector in every process and spreading financial and resource burdens. 
  • Annual reporting on the SDGs.

In other words to achieve progress in the SDGs and to meet the goals in 2030, we have to realise that the local communities must be carried along. This is a call for us all to inter-sectionalise and work together to localise the ideals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


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Abideen Olasupo

Abideen Olasupo

Abideen Olasupo is the founder and executive director of Brain Builders International. He also championed the translation of the SDGs into local languages and is currently mobilising community campaigners to meet stakeholders across all the 774 LGAs in a bid to help in the localisation, and most importantly, the achievement of the SDGs.

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