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FG SPENDS N1.04TRN ON MDGs IN 4YRS

By NBF News

A whopping N1.04 trillion has been committed to funding projects under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since inception in 2006, the House of Representatives was told yesterday. Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on MDGs, Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair, revealed at the opening of a three-day public hearing to assess the implementation of MDGs in Nigeria between 2007 and 2010.

As a result of the quantum of money expended on MDGs projects, Speaker of the House, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, said there was no reason why Nigeria should fail to meet the 2015 target of achieving the MDGs goals.

Az-Zubair informed the MDGs committee, chaired by Mrs Saudatu Sani, and other stakeholders that Nigeria had shown enough commitments required to achieve MDGs by 2015.

The hearing was specifically organized to assess and evaluate implementation of the MDGs scheme funded directly from the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) to fast tracking MDGs (Quick Wins).

'We have not only shown the needed commitment but initiated specific actions and measures toward realizing the objectives of the MDGs by the target year 2015,' she said.

The SSA stated that since 2006, the sum of $1 billion or N150 billion, has been gathered from the Paris Club debt relief, out of which the Federal Government takes $750m (N112.50 billion), while state governments take $250 million, about N375 billion.

Even then, she noted that the MDGs would need more money if it must meet the 2015 target.

She emphasized the need to be on guard so that funds appropriated for the attainment of MDGs, which is about $1 billion per annum is not misappropriated.

According to her, N20 billion was appropriated to the MDGs office in 2007, out of which the total of N18.4 billion was allocated to the states under the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS), and that N300 million was returned to the treasury as unspent fund.

Similarly in 2008, the office got N59.3 billion and gave N2.3 billion to states as CGS while the sum of N15.5 billion was returned, and in 2009, the office got N32.6 billion, spent N27.04 billion given to states under the CGS, while in 2010, the office got an appropriation of N35.02 billion but yet to make the CGS disbursements.

Through the intervention of MDGs, she said 90 per cent of Nigerian children, under school age, were registered, a development she noted was a significant achievement, as it translated to nine out of 10 children in school.

'11.6 million Nigerian school children benefited from better quality education from over 200,000 teachers retained through MDGs. Through the work we are doing, many remote communities across the country, some of which have never experienced any form of real development now have access to primary healthcare centres, boreholes, classrooms and so on,' she noted.

Declaring open the public hearing, Bankole, who was represented by Chief Whip of the House, Mr Emeka Ihedioha, stated that there was no reason why Nigeria could not achieve the 2015 target for the implementation of the MDGs.

He, however, expressed concerns about the slow pace in meeting some of the goals in the country.

'We nonetheless believe that the targets are achievable, given the needed collaborative synergy and re-strategizing of approach,' he remarked.

Bankole said MDGs encapsulate the entire gamut of human development indices, and that the targets revolve around addressing issues related to the sick, the poor, the illiterate, the disadvantaged, the underserved and the marginalized, adding that there was the need to therefore discuss on the challenges, and the best way forward in achieving the targets.

Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs Sani noted that with only five years away from the 2015 target declared by the United Nations on the MDGs, Nigeria's commitment, she declared, had been impressive so far, even though she pointed out that there was need to continually review the processes, programmes and projections towards the targets.

She informed the stakeholders that the outcome of the public hearing would form the bedrock of implementation of the scheme in the remaining five years, while promising that adjustments would be made where necessary.