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UN, Nigeria Reaffirm Commitment To MDGs Attainment

By Israel Goodway
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The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr Precious Gbeneol have expressed optimism that the unmet targets of the Millennium Development Goals are still within reach, but nations need to step up their efforts to achieve them.

The leaders stated that thirteen years after the world set the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), countries have made big strides to meet the eight anti-poverty targets by their 2015 deadline but there is however need for leaders to redouble their efforts in this winding down phase.

The UN scribe made this remark, while launching the 2013 Millennium Development Goals report in Geneva at the start of the annual gathering of the UN Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, Mr. Ban said the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been reduced by half while over 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water. Mr. Ban, while calling for accelerated progress to achieve the MDGs, but noted that declining donor support was slowing down the attainment of the goals especially in the poorest countries.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr Precious Gbeneol in her presentation before the council stated that Nigeria is committed to the realisation of the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals. She said that Nigeria's Vision 20:2020 under President Goodluck Jonathan is aimed at optimising the country's human and natural resources to achieve rapid, sustained economic growth, translating such growth into inclusive, equitable and sustainable development for Nigerians.

'Going forward, the government is committed to an STI-based development framework which delivers the needed critical socio-economic transformation to all without leaving anyone behind,' she stated at the conference.

Dr. Gbeneol whose presentation on behalf of Nigeria, was the only National Voluntary Presentation from Africa at the council said that her office in collaboration with UNDP, with support from the Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF), is currently implementing a project entitled ''Enhancing Citizen Engagement in Accelerating Attainment of the MDGs in Nigeria''. She said that the programme is aimed at strengthening and developing tools and mechanisms that would ensure communities' voice is part of decision making. She said that Nigeria has been acclaimed as one of the countries that have demonstrated unrivalled commitment to the MDGs since the Millennium Deceleration in 2000.

According to her, ''Nigeria has devoted its entire debt relief gains to MDGs interventions, eestablished the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs to coordinate Nigeria's efforts to attain the MDGs, setting up the Presidential Committee on MDGs, initiated aadditional public spending at the federal, state and local government levels targeted at the MDGs and continuing disbursement of the DRGs through the annual federal budget for pro-poor activities. The council continues this morning.

According to the UN Secretary General, the MDGs have been the most successful global anti-poverty push in history and have proven that focused global development objectives can make a profound difference.

'We have made remarkable gains in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis. These achievements show that the combined actions of governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector can make a profound difference. However, the Report also outlines serious challenges. Environmental sustainability is under threat, with continuing loss of forests, species and fish stocks, and rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions. Nineteen thousand children under age five die each day, most from preventable diseases. Women continue to be denied an equal opportunity in decision-making at all levels. We must intensify our efforts, particularly to tackle the disparities across regions and between different social groups. Greater progress towards the MDGs will fuel confidence and mobilize support for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda. And our post-2015 efforts should build on the work begun and the lessons learned through the MDGs.'

Mr. Ban said global agenda beyond 2015 must focus on poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core.

'Redoubled efforts are urgently needed, particularly in regions most behind to jumpstart advancement and achieve maximum gains," the report says. "The world community should take pride in its accomplishments thus far, while building on existing momentum to reach as many goals as possible by 2015 and to realize gains for all.'

'In more than a decade of experience in working towards the MDGs, we have learned that focused global development efforts can make a difference," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in the report's foreword, in which he urges for accelerated action to close development gaps.'

'Now is the time to step up our efforts to build a more just, secure and sustainable future for all.'