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Data show how Nigeria moves at snail pace towards achieving SDGs

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GLOBALLY-ENDORSED data have shown how Nigeria struggles to join the rest of the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The country faces crises in many of the 17 goals set to be achieved by 2030.

The SDGs replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which 189 world leaders agreed to achieve in 2000. The MDGs had a 15-year life span. 

While the MDGs had eight goals, the current SDGs have 17. 

The SDGs are no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure.

They also include reduced inequality, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land, peace, justice and strong institutions, and partnership for the goals.

Data presented at a Two-day Media Dialogue with media practitioners on how the SDGs link to Child Rights showed Nigeria moving at a snail’s pace to achieve the goals which terminate in 2030.

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The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture convened the meeting in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in Enugu, Enugu State, this week, to examine how achieving the SDGs would boost child rights, namely access to school, healthcare, reduced malnutrition, and safe water, among others. 

A presentation titled: “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Child Rights,” delivered by Anthony Ezinwa, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu, shows that Nigeria had unfavourable data for many of the goals. 

UNICEF officials at the meeting, including its Communication Specialist, Geoffrey Njoku, validated the data as globally approved. 

Ezinwa said Nigeria was ranked 160th on the 2020 world’s SDG index 2020 from 159th in 2019.

He said 83 million Nigerians, representing forty per cent of the country’s population, live in poverty. 70.3 per cent of children live in poverty, while 23.3 per cent live in extreme poverty. The statistics dent the country’s drive to achieve the SDG goal one, seeking ‘no poverty.’

Ezinwa said 70 per cent of 10-year-olds in Nigerian schools could not understand simple sentences or perform basic numeracy tasks. 

He said of the estimated 170 million people living in the country, 75 million did not have basic literacy skills. At the same time, 10.5 million children were out-of-school, the highest number of out-of-school children globally. 

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According to him, one-third of children in the country were out-of-school, and one in five out-of-school children in the world was a Nigerian. 

His claims question the nation’s preparedness for the SDG’s goal four – quality education.

The data showed that one in five women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 in Nigeria reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within 12 months.

And women, who make up slightly less than 50 per cent of the population, account for more than 70 per cent of citizens living in extreme poverty—these cast doubts on the nation’s determination to achieve the SDG’s goal five – gender equality. 

Speaking on goal six – clean water and sanitation – he said one-third of children in the nation lacked access to water.        

According to him, 25.5 million Nigerian children are experiencing high or extremely high-water vulnerability, while 209 million Nigerians use water contaminated at the point of collection.

These are in addition to 46 million people who defecate in the open – the highest rate in the world.

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Though he did not provide the data for Nigeria on the SDGs goal seven – affordable and clean energy – he said 789 million people globally lacked access to electricity, with 548 million of the number living in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Power supply has been a challenge in Nigeria, with the national grid collapsing multiple times yearly, leaving the nation without a power supply, thereby grounding economic activities. 

The United States Government estimates that Nigeria, estimated at 200 million people, depends on about 4,000 megawatts of power, despite having the capacity to generate 12,522 MW of electric power from its existing plants.

As of 2019, Nigeria’s population was 195.87 million, and the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at $397.27 billion, according to the US.

Ezinwa provided global data for other SDGs; they were not specific about Nigeria. But they are issues the country has serious challenges with, such as climate change, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, justice, and strong institutions.

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