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Just last month, a major summit was held at the United Nations headquarters to review the progress made by countries on the Millennium Development Goals MDGs, especially in view of the fact that 10 of the 15 years target set by the world body for attaining the target have just reeled by with the attendant skepticisms as to whether it is indeed realizable.

10 years after this noble initiative to improve the lot of mankind, the debate has continued on whether these impoverished countries, the primary targets of the MDGs have actually done enough to take advantage of the global initiative.

How sincere have they been this last 10 years in leveraging on the millennium goals to transform living conditions in their countries? How seriously have some of these countries been able to deal with internal official corruption which international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies have identified as the greatest threat to MDGs because whatever fund received from international donors and debt forgiveness package are most likely not going to reach their MDGs destinations.

This was why Transparency International (TI) recently called on governments who desire to achieve their MDGs to first of all implement the UN Convention against corruption, stating that it is the most comprehensive legal framework for combating corruption as well as the fact that it has specific articles that can advance pro-MDGs policies.

There is also the debate on debt forgiveness itself. Should poor countries who are the beneficiaries of this seeming kindness be really grateful for the debt cancellation or should the gesture be seen for what it is - a reparation of sort for the exploitation and dehumanization of our ancestors. But beyond debt forgiveness, how well have the rich countries as constituted in the G-8 shown commitment to their 0.7 percent Official Development Assistance (ODA) which is recognized by the UN. Under this commitment, each economically advanced country is expected to progressively increase its official development assistance to the developing countries and will do its best to reach a minimum net amount of 0.7 percent of its Gross National Product (GNP).

On our local front, there is also palpable cynicism regarding the prosecution of the MDGs. Questions have been asked if the government is doing enough to alleviate poverty and transform the hash social and economic conditions of Nigerians; then the issue of transparency. This piece is therefore, an attempt to present some of the available facts on how our internal MDGs have fared thus far. But before that, let's refresh our memories on how it all began.

The Millennium Development Goals were hatched at the United Nations Summit of 2000 where all the world leaders adopted a United Nations Millennium Declaration from which the eight Goals were promoted to accelerate the development of the world's poorest countries socially and economically.

The first and perhaps the most important Goal is to 'Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger.' By this, affected countries are expected to reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day; achieve decent employment for women, men and young people, and halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

The second is to 'Achieve universal primary education' where by 2015 all children, boys and girls, would have completed their full primary education. Then the third – to 'Promote of gender equality and empowerment of women'; fourth, 'Reduce Child mortality rate by two-third'; fifth, 'Improve maternal health by three-quarters and achieve by 2015 universal access to reproductive health'; sixth, 'Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases'. Under this particular Goal, the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major life threatening diseases are expected to have been halted and reversed by 2015 while by 2010 (i.e. this year) universal access to the treatment of HIV/AIDS for those who need it should have been achieved.

The seventh Goal is to 'Ensure environmental sustainability' where the principles of sustainable development is integrated into countries policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources; reduce biodiversity loss and halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to drinking water and basic sanitation. The eight Goal is to 'Develop a global partnership for development' which is expected to create a predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial system that could address the needs of the least developed countries. This final Goal is expected to also address the needs of landlocked and small Island developing countries as well as deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debts more sustainable in the long term.

Even though MDGs kicked-off in the year 2000 following the UN Millennium Declaration, it did not have effect in the country until 2006 when the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs and the Presidential Committee on the Assessment and Monitoring of MDGs were created.

The office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, occupied by Amina Az-Zubair, an experienced public servant with an unflagging mission is charged with the responsibility to set up the structure and process of ensuring that the debt relief gains are properly utilized. Her office is also to develop a coherent strategy for the achievement of MDGs, design appropriate systems to tag and track debt relief funded expenditure and to keep government focused on achieving the Goals by encouraging ministries, departments and agencies to prioritize and maximize resources in MDGs related areas.

To accelerate progress towards the MDGs the G-8 countries in 2005 reached an agreement to provide enough funds to the World Bank, IMF and the African Development Bank by canceling billions of dollar debts owed by poor countries to allow them re-channel the resources saved from the forgiven debt to programmes and project that would improve their standards of living and ultimately help to alleviate poverty. Our government maximized this opportunity to negotiate a debt relief of which our local MDGs is a beneficiary. Proceeds from that debts forgiveness is what is now referred to locally as our Debt Relief Gains.

The Debt Relief Gains which according the MDGs Office, amounts to $1billion dollars annually is kept in a Virtual Poverty Fund from where the MDGs are administered. Out of this amount realized through the Debt Relief Gains 75 percent belongs to the Federal Government while 25 percent goes to the States

At inception of the office of MDGs, projects were executed through the Federal Government ministries whose responsibilities synchronize with the millennium goals objectives. Co-funding of MDGs projects with States Governments was voluntary at that time. Yet it was obvious that if the MDGs must have the desired impact at the grass root where poverty, hunger and disease are highest the States must be committed partners in the development goals because they wear the shoes and know where it hurts most. Moreover, the activities that will be required to meet the MDGs are the constitutional responsibilities of the State Governments. It then became obvious that a change in strategy was necessary to effectively involve States in order to cover more grounds and reach Nigerians at the lowest rung of the poverty ladder.

Thus, the Conditional Grant Scheme, CGS, was introduced where States are expected to design their own interventions in a way that would most effectively have a better impact on the MDGs in their domains. This of course is tied to a range of conditions to ensure good project designs and accountability of the fund being released. To get the Conditional Grants, the States must provide matching counterpart funding, a bank guarantee to protect the Federal funds and an MOU signed. Then the application would be evaluated by a team of experts using a set of objectively agreed evaluation criteria.

By 2009, all the States of the Federation had benefited from the CGS and a total of N120bn invested. Of this amount 45 percent have been invested in primary healthcare and this has provided 2,844 primary healthcare facilities, 2.4m long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and the training of 6,673 health workers.

Another 45 percent has been invested in water and sanitation which have provided 3,524 solar-powered boreholes, 6,031 hand pump boreholes, 393 small town water supply schemes 3,709 VIP toilets. The balance of 10 percent has been set aside for economic interventions including vocational trainings for 7,673 people and conditional transfers for 3,790 households.

Still determined to scale up MDGs activities in the States, Federal Government has introduced CGS to the Local Government Areas to enable them fulfill their own constitutional responsibilities and by so doing accelerate the achievements of the MDGs. In the first phase of the initiative 113 Local Governments have been selected to participate and the selection was based on the criteria that were approved by the National Economic Council. First there must be an agreement to participate from the Local Government Chairman; the LGAs must be those with significant challenges in meeting some or all of the MGDs; then the population of the LGA should be at a level where impact can be made while there must be a commitment to invest in the MDGs. This includes evidence of appropriations (in capital expenditure and associated recurrent expenditure) over the past three years in MDGs-related sectors, particularly in health and education.

Just like the States, the LGAs working with communities will assess needs and source local counterpart funding. They will also be responsible for drawing up plans that will align with achieving the MDGs.

The third key initiative is the Quick Wins where the MDGs partner with the National Assembly - Senators and Representatives. The MDGs Office has collaborated with them in areas where there are guidelines for expenditure that are related to MDGs like health, water, education and so on.

Conditional Grants Scheme Summary
Input (appropriation) Output (expenditure) Outcome (deliverables)

Conditional Grants to States 18,414,780,000 1,176 Solar Boreholes,

46 Hand-pump boreholes,
130 Motorised Boreholes,
Wudil Water supply scheme serving 240,000 people
1,423 VIP toilet blocks
335 Primary Healthcare Centres constructed or rehabilitated,

527,500 Insecticide-treated Nets
74 solar electrification schemes
Nigeria's Geneva Pledge against polio 1,584,920,000 Provision of immunizations to eradicate wild polio virus

Returned to treasury 300,000
2008: 59,300,000,000 Conditional Grants to States 24,398,921,277 511 Solar Powered Boreholes,

2,858 hand-pump boreholes,
174 motorised boreholes
801 Primary Healthcare Centres constructed or rehabilitated,

1,121,074 Insecticide-treated Nets
37 skill acquisition and women development centres
of which: 1st Tranche (14,975,655,844.50)
2nd Tranche (9,423,264,432.50)
Water Exit Projects 10,761,752,785 20 water projects and related consultancy

21,000 handpump boreholes
Community Health Insurance Scheme 5,000,000,000 Free basic healthcare for 600,000 mothers and children

NACA 1,000,000,000 Procurement of 1.5m doses of ARVs

NDE 1,000,000,000 Rehabilitation and equipping of 18 skill acquisition centres and training of 4,500 unemployed youths

FM Defence 1,000,000,000 Rehabilitation and furnishing of 89 classrooms in 10 Barracks

Rehabilitation and equipping of 10 Medical Receptive stations in 10 Barracks

Quick Wins 568,223,625 Payment of consultancy fees
Payment of mobilization
Returned to Treasury 15,571,102,313
Outstanding in CHIS fund 3,570,000,000 (also includes N4bn appropriation in 2009)

2009: 32,600,000,000 Conditional Grants to States 27,043,320,584 1,321 Solar Powered Boreholes

2,404 hand-pump boreholes
300 motorised boreholes
132 small town water supply schemes
1,088 Primary Healthcare Centres constructed or rehabilitated

759,000 Insecticide-treated Nets
6,143 health workers trained
6 agricultural facilities
4,290 households receiving CCTs
of which: 1st Tranche (20,663,790,343)
2nd Tranche (1,900,360,094)
3rd Tranche (4,479,170,150)
First Payment on Earth Institute Consultancy Agreement 146,851,795 a) A concept note describing LGA program

b) Tutorials conducted for key MDG staff in CGS office on Earth Institute software programs

c) Hosting OSSAP/MDGs staff at Millennium Village conferences,

d) A detailed workplan for first six months of consultancy

e) Launching and hosting first assessment meeting of the International Advisory Panel

f) Overview of Earth Institute MV management tools provided to OSSAP/MDGs/CGS leadership and staff.

Returned to Treasury 5,410,040,062
2010: 35,027,128,870 No expenditure to date
Summary of 2007-09 Conditional Grants to States
Total Project Value of MDGs Conditional Grants Scheme Initiatives by State, 2007-09

State 2007 2008* 2009*
Abia 290,000,000 1,735,144,020 1,959,037,070
Adamawa 267,700,000 950,487,450 1,956,739,316
Akwa Ibom 411,594,706 1,695,000,000
Anambra 1,795,200,000 1,691,780,940 1,819,757,000
Bauchi 1,000,000,000 1,909,000,000 1,791,888,388
Bayelsa 1,586,161,314 1,956,743,859
Benue – 1,801,246,296
Borno 1,135,347,926 623,602,874
Cross River 1,407,500,000 – 1,989,490,000
Delta 1,890,538,106 1,612,119,750
Ebonyi – 1,334,450,324
Edo 732,800,000 1,817,988,440 1,729,899,212
Ekiti 2,054,300,000 1,749,999,916 1,000,000,000
Enugu 762,827,000 1,727,104,406
FCT 1,708,900,000 1,586,262,454 1,999,649,840
Gombe 698,200,000 1,909,665,272 1,287,370,456
Imo 1,969,515,636 1,924,165,292
Jigawa 775,700,000 1,814,156,000 1,940,127,000
Kaduna 535,480,000 1,971,080,348 1,699,820,678
Kano 1,069,300,000 1,249,500,000 -
Katsina 648,000,000 1,836,558,924 1,977,876,402
Kebbi 1,640,437,300 1,628,532,586
Kogi 817,098,188 1,211,290,780
Kwara 1,468,650,858 1,599,960,000
Lagos 700,900,000 1,129,288,064 989,405,750
Nasarawa 638,700,000 999,969,850 -
Niger 1,004,580,938 1,813,065,416
Ogun 1,641,565,000 -
Ondo 508,000,000 663,000,000 306,617,506
Osun 638,685,250 1,667,412,764
Oyo 1,882,593,696 1,760,396,542
Plateau 955,810,600 1,793,485,400
Rivers 1,807,800,000 1,429,936,879
Sokoto 822,926,600 1,187,439,422
Taraba 1,878,400,000 1,619,100,560 1,785,118,098
Yobe 489,700,000 1,770,913,080 1,569,945,160
Zamfara 1,216,000,000 1,957,814,132 1,077,336,206
Totals 18,414,780,000 48,797,842,568 53,646,030,673

Report Card
Goal 1: Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Hunger. According to the findings released by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, the recent economic growth, particularly in agriculture has reduced the proportion of under weight children from 35.7 percent in 1990 to 23.1 percent in 2008.

However growth has not generated enough jobs and its effect on poverty is not yet clear as the most recent data is from 2004. The available data and current policy environment suggest that the target will be difficult to meet.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education. The report states that nearly nine out of ten children, that is 88.8 percent, are now enrolled in schools. Nevertheless, regional differences are stark as State primary completion rates range from 2 percent to 99percent. The report holds that there is need for progress to be accelerated in the northern part of the country if the target must be met.

Low completion rates reflect poor learning environments and points to the urgent need to raise teaching standards. The rapid improvement in youth literacy, from 64.1 percent to 80 percent between 2000 and 2008 appears to have reached the plateau.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women. The report observed that a gradual improvement in the proportion of girls enrolled in primary school, though noteworthy, is not yet enough to meet the target. There are still fewer girls than boys in schools. There are also signs of backsliding in the number of girls in tertiary educations.

Measures to encourage girls to attend schools particularly by addressing cultural barriers in the northern part of the country and by providing the economic incentives for boys to attend school in the south east are urgently required.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality. The Office finding revealed that the progress in reducing child mortality is rapid. The Office believe that with sustained effort and improvement in related and lagging sectors such as water and sanitation there is strong possibility of achieving the fourth Goal. Under-five mortality has fallen by over a fifth in five years from 201 deaths per 1000 live births in 2003 to 157 deaths per 1000 live births in 2008.

In the same period, infant mortality rate fell from 100 to 75 deaths per 1000 live births. Recent interventions, including integrated management for childhood illnesses, which reflect the underlying causes of child death, have contributed to these successes.

Goal 5: Improved maternal health: This is one Goal that the report is optimistic that it would be realized by 2015. It further disclosed that maternal mortality fell by 32 percent from 800 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2003 (the highest maternal mortality rate in the world at the time) to 545 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Nigeria has had striking success in almost eradicating polio, reducing the number of cases by 98 percent between 2009 and 2010. Another area of success is in the drop in the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women aged 15-24 from 5.8 percent 2001 to 4.2 percent in 2008. With this, the country has already achieved this target but some States still have high rates that require urgent policy attention. However, success has been driven by better awareness and use of contraceptives. There has been a sharp decrease in malaria prevalence rate due to the nationwide distribution of 72 million of long lasting nationwide insecticide treated bed nets, although only in its initial stages, protected twice as many children (10.9 percent) in 2009, compared to 5.5 percent in 2008.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability: The report noted that the country's natural resources, some its most valuable national assets are still seriously threatened. For example, between 2000 and 2010 the area of forest shrank by a third, from 14.4 percent to 9.9 percent of the land area. Similarly, access to safe water and sanitation is a challenge for Nigeria. Little progress was made up to 2005 but improvements since then have brought the proportion of the population accessing safe water to 58.9 percent and the proportion accessing improved sanitation to 51.6 percent.

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development. The report stated that the debt relief negotiated by Nigeria in 2005 provided new opportunities for investment in the social sector. Debt servicing fell from 15.2 percent of exports in 2005 to 0.5 percent in 2008.

In conclusion the report posits that Nigeria is making progress. And that whilst no Goal is certain to be achieved there is good news on each. If the supportive environment continues to improve as it has over the last ten years, the nation has a real chance of achieving the MDGs.