At the UN Summit in September 2000 in New York, USA, eight MDGs were ratified. They are: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Achieve universal primary education (UPE); Promote gender equality and empower women; Reduce child mortality; Improve maternal health; Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; Ensure environmental stability; and Develop a global partnership for development. Nigeria is a party to this ratification. However, with less than three years until December, 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs, Nigeria is still wide-of-the-mark to achieving these goals. Despite all the natural resource wealth Nigeria is endowed with, yet Nigeria lags behind in meeting the 2015 deadline. The greater challenge remains to make the citizens completely aware of the MDGs and the significant values they can add in achieving the MDGs.
It is against this background that this article examines the various ways Nigerian citizens can contribute alongside the government in achieving the MDGs. There is no exhaustive list in this regard. Given the foregoing, highlighted below are ways Nigerians can contribute to the achievement of the MDGs:
Greater results will be achieved when citizens are involved in the policy making processes that affect their lives alongside the government. If people are not involved or do not get themselves involved in the process then the end product of MDGs is a mirage. Nigerians seem to be out of the loop of what goes on in the economy. Many Nigerians are oblivious of who the leaders of various government institutions are, hence are unable to know who and for what to hold accountable. Progress in MDGs will be quite elusive if citizens are not conscious of the political and economic activities in the country.
Volunteerism is an area that has remained unexplored in Nigeria over the years; hence the multiplier effects accruing from volunteerism are lost. The interesting thing about volunteering is that it gives volunteers a first class experience of the challenges facing the areas they are working on, the recognition of the positive impacts on the lives of people in the economy, and the self satisfaction of being part of a team that fosters change on ground. Given Nigeria’s youth bulge, Nigeria is placed at a vantage position of what could be the most transformation in the history of Nigeria if the demographic dividends are harnessed to impact on the MDGs.
Citizens make their voices heard through effective participation in monitoring and reporting of their daily life experiences. An average Nigeria owns a mobile phone and is able to communicate at a basic level. Given this context, creating an initiative where citizens can monitor economic and social activities through text messaging or calls has the great potentials of yielding positive results. Through these they can hold governments accountable on the promises they make. MDGs cannot be achieved in isolation; people need to be empowered to empower others; and it goes on like a chain reaction.
- Believe in Nigeria:
Across Nigeria, there is a wind of despondency blowing, especially in the minds of young Nigerians. Albert Einstein rightly said that “weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” The way Nigerians perceive Nigeria and react to issues that affect Nigeria makes a big difference in solving challenges that behold Nigeria. However, the mindset of the people determines their thoughts; their thoughts direct their behaviour; and their behaviour forms the general belief. Nigerians need to develop a dyed-in-the-wool spirit for Nigeria; a spirit that Nigeria is for all; hence Nigeria’s failure is a failure for all.
The sixth MDG that is concerned with combating HIV/SAIDS, malaria, and other diseases needs collaboration among people for much headway to be made. This goal requires high-priority of hygiene, which is not solely exclusive to an individual. Diseases are spread from individual to individual; hence fight against spread of diseases can be promoted from the pragmatic stand point that involves everyone to maintain high level of hygiene.
- Respect for one another:
There is poverty of respect for human dignity among Nigerians. This is manifested in the ways Nigerians treat each other. Nigerians see themselves with different perception of identity. Intolerance among Nigerians has eroded the respect for each other. This poses a greater challenge in bringing people together to work for a common purpose, hence mounting a severe strain on the MDGs. The love, strength and faith labored by Nigeria’s heroes past as reflected in Nigeria’s coat of arms should be upheld by Nigerians in dealing with each other to build a unity of purpose needed to make headway on the MDGs.
Achieving the MDGs is a collective effort of every Nigerian and not an exclusive role of the government. Given the lag in delivering on the MDGs it has become a clarion call for every Nigerian to put hands on deck to add value, no matter how little, in achieving the MDGs. In this regard, everyone has a role to play; MDGs are everybody’s tasks; every effort you make in the process adds a great value; your little effort today can foster change and make a big difference. To conclude, Nigerians need to sacrifice their comfort zones and get involved in the tasks of the MDGs.” – Chukwuma Okonkwo – Abuja, Nigeria