Reps Committee On MDGs Claim Nigeria Will Attain The Goals

With just about a thousand days to the expiration of the United Nations set, Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the chairman, House  Committee on MDG, Alhassan Doguwa, has stated that Nigeria is on course to meet the goals before the expiration of the intervention in December, 2015.

Rep. Doguwa gave this assurance during an oversight visit to some of the MDGs projects in Niger state.

Mr Doguwa, who is also the chairman network of African parliamentarians on the attainment of the MDGs in Africa, applauded the Niger state government for the timely implementation of the 2012 projects of the scheme.

The committee members were received by the officials of the state government at Dikko in Suleja local government area of the state for the inspection and commissioning of the MDG projects recently completed by the state government.

Mr Doguwa in company of other members of the committee commissioned the Primary Health Centre in Dikko.

The Director General of the Niger state MDGs; Ditijo Aliyu assured the committee that the projects scattered across the 25 local government areas of the state will be well utilized.

The committee members then paid a courtesy visit on the state Governor, Muazu Aliyu, who wondered why the committee is undertaking the oversight function at the twilight of the scheme.

SERAP Threatens To Sue FG For Spending N700billion In Four months

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has demanded that the federal government should provide information on how it has spent the sum of N700billion which was allegedly borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013.

The civil society group in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, warned that it would take legal action against the federal government if it fails to provide the information within the next 14 days, as it also demanded “a moratorium on borrowing.”

In the letter dated 27th of May, 2013 and sent to the Accountant-General of the Federation; Mr. Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, SERAP alleged that the funds might “have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen.”

The anti-corruption organization claimed it is making these allegations, relying “heavily on” a recent statement by the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, that “government increased its borrowing in securities by N700billion between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013, and that the government has spent more than N2trillion in four months.”

“SERAP is seriously concerned about this high level of spending by the government within this short period of time, especially given the fact that government borrowed almost the same amount between 2011 and 2012.”

“Whereas the government has borrowed over N6.54trillion from national sources and its external borrowing is growing, there is no evidence on the ground to show that the huge sums of money have been put to good use to benefit millions of economically and socially vulnerable Nigerians. In fact, we fear the money could have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen” the group stated.

“Despite this huge borrowing, the same period also witnessed decreased spending on basic social services such as roads, electricity, health, education, and thus explaining in part why the government has lagged behind in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”

Raising more concerns about the nation’s growing debt SERAP stated that “we are further concerned about the country’s growing debt problem because this will continue to weaken the capacity of this government to fulfill its human rights obligations and commitment, thus throwing millions of Nigerians deeper into poverty.”

Moratorium on debt

“Unless a moratorium on debt borrowing and periodic transparent audits of debt are introduced, the current unsustainable debt situation will continue to jeopardise the well-being of not only the present generation but also the future generation, the organization said.

The organization is relying on Sections 1 (1); 4 (a); and 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011, for its request.

According to SERAP “the information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.”

“The disclosure of the information requested will give SERAP and the general public a true picture and a clear understanding of how the spending of the sums of money borrowed have impacted on the lives of the ordinary, common, poor and indigent and other disadvantaged Nigerians,” the organization said.

SERAP therefore asked the government to provide information on “the amount that has been spent from the N700billion borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013 and details of projects on which this money was spent.”

Okorocha Warns Against Politicisation Of MDG Funds

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has warned against the politicisation of the funds meant for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

Speaking during an advocacy visit by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDG, Dr Precious Gbeneol, Governor Okorocha said the bureaucracy associated with accessing the funds have been frustrating.

He advised that government should not be directly involved in management and disbursement of the funds instead they should be restricted to just providing their counterpart funds.

The Presidential Aide, Dr. Gbeneol agreed with the governor that communities must own the projects and not following government suggestions.

She however urged the state government and the people of the state to protect the MDG projects from vandalism because that will inform the allocation of funds to the communities.

Dr. Gbeneol was in Imo state as part of the President’s directive that her office should visit all the projects and give an assessment report ahead of the 2015 expiry date for the MDGs.

FG Vows To Meet All MDGs

With less than 1,000 days to the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and maternal mortality rate figure at 350 per 100,000 live births, the Federal Government has restated its promise to achieve all the goals in Nigeria.

The Minister of Health; Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, claimed that Nigeria has succeeded in achieving goals four, five and six which relates to health.

The goals are promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases respectively.

Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs; Dr Precious Gbeneol expressed confidence that remarkable progress has been made and that government is making efforts to hit the milestone.

According to Dr Gbeneol, top on the list of achievements for Nigeria is the net attendance levels for basic education which she says, has increased over time.

She further claims that the Federal Government is working hard to ensure that it hits the 100 per cent mark by 2015.

The MDGs boss also said Nigeria has recorded progress in its bid to reduce maternal mortality with the country’s maternal mortality rate figure now at 350 down from 1000 per 100,000 live births in 1990 and 545 in 2008.

She however agrees that Nigeria is still 28.6 per cent away from the 2015 target.

The Minister of Health lists the decline in HIV prevalence rate from as high as 5.8 to 4.1 in 2012 and the increase in the proportion of under-5 children sleeping under insecticide treated nets from 2.2 per cent in 2003 to 34.6 per cent in 2012 as confirmed by MDGs survey of 2012.

In the area of poverty eradication the Federal Government says it has appropriated the sum of N10 billion to assist poor households across the country.

But the sentiments claimed by the government officials on the nation’s progress in achieving the goals is not shared by all, as the World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated that Nigeria can meet the targets with a strict adherence to the mechanisms that have been put in place for successful implementation.

Experts advocate the need for Nigeria to look beyond the targeted date of 2015 by consolidating on the gains of the MDGs and evolve new developmental initiatives for the welfare of Nigerians.

The year 2015 is the deadline for the realization of the MDGs set by the United Nations in the year 2000 with about 189 countries including Nigeria being signatories to achieving the goals which are geared towards reducing extreme poverty among other priorities.