From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, has disclosed that 23 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have received N24,450,000,000.00 from the Conditional Grant Schemes.

The SSA on SDGs, who was the guest of the Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Thursday, explained that the funds are incentive to states to invest more of their resources into areas of national development priorities and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)/Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She explained that the fund, which has been disbursed since 2015, was established in 2007 with a 50 per cent matching grant from the federal government and a 50 per cent matching grant from the participating states.

She added that the grants were targeted at education, health, water and sanitation projects “and aimed at executing pro-poor projects in a consultative manner with the beneficiaries.”

Orelope-Adefulire stressed that the money was spent on the implementation of 732 water and sanitation facilities; 494 health facilities (new facilities and renovation/rehabilitation); 616 education facilities (new construction, renovation/rehabilitation of block of classrooms; 1,150 women and men were empowered/trained in vocational skills, such as sewing, knitting, detergent & pomade making etc.)

The SDGs chief stated that special intervention projects were being implemented across the geopolitical zones, an initiative she stated was aimed at strategic investment to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs in Nigeria.

She explained that: “Between 2016 and 2021, a record number of projects have been implemented, aimed at providing essential services to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs, by ensuring no Nigerian is left behind.

“In the education sector, 8,008 classrooms were constructed and 305 renovated with furnishing to strengthen basic education across the country.

“A total of 4,845 Desktop and Laptop Computers have also been supplied to schools across the country for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training.

“In the health sector, 195 Health Centres, comprising Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) and Mother and Child Centres (MCC) were constructed, complemented with the supply of 199 Intensive Care and Rural ambulances. About 257 incubators and 7,464 regular and automated hospital beds were supplied across tour health facilities.

“In other cross-cutting sectors, OSSAP-SDGs constructed 66 Vocational and Skills Acquisition Centres; supplied 1,294 transformers; provision of 19,266 solar-powered streetlights; 300 Housing units for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Borno State; and 925 Solar Boreholes, in addition to several other interventions.”

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Orelope-Adefulire also discussed some findings from Nigeria’s 2nd Voluntary National Review (VNR) 2020 on SDG-3, indicating that while the country faces challenges in health outcomes, such as high rates of maternal mortality, there has been a significant reduction in under-five mortality rates (from 157 to 132).

According to her, the review highlighted the need for more investment in public health and to ensure the most vulnerable are reached through universal access to basic healthcare services.

The SDGs boss also explains that: “On SDG-4, a key challenge confronting the country has to do with Out-of- School-Children, a demographic challenge that relates to an interplay between employment (SDG-8), education (SDG-4), poverty (SDG-1) and the digital economy (SDG-17). With a population of approximately 200 million people, regional disparities are significant.

“On SDG-8, Nigeria’s informal economy is one of the largest on the continent – estimated at 53% of the Labour force and accounting for 65% of GDP. It is estimated that 75% of all new jobs are informal. Ensuring youth are well-trained and able to transition to productive employment through the digital economy can help reduce poverty and help diversify growth away from oil and gas.

“In addition, the Nigerian government can dramatically shift to digitization and strengthen its transition to e-government to facilitate its social protection to the poor and vulnerable population.”

In response to SDG 1: Ending Poverty in All Its Forms, Reducing Poverty, and Sharing Prosperity, she stated that the federal government maintained consistent investment in health, education, and other social services between 2015 and 2018, saying “because investments in these areas are essential and integral to addressing poverty.

“With about 10.8 million out-of-school children and more people drifting into poverty, Nigeria’s expenditure on education just about 8.6 per cent in 2015 and witnessed a steady decline to 8.2, 8.5 and 8.2 per cent in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“This was largely due to the 2016 economic recession and the decline in global oil prices and COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

On Goal 2 of Zero Hunger, the Orelope-Adefulire stated: “Findings from the baseline showed that the prevalence of undernourishment in 2016 for stunting, moderate stunting and severe stunting were 32.9 per cent, 20.4 per cent and 12.5 per cent respectively, while in 2019 the report indicated 32 per cent stunting, and 21.2 and 10.8 per cent for moderate and severe stunting respectively.

“Thus, we had a modest decrease in severe stunting.”

On Goal 3, which is Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being for all at all ages, she said the summary of the baseline indicated that the rate of under-five mortality rate (meaning that for any child born in a specified year to survive before reaching the age of 5) per 1,000 live births in 2016 was 128/1,000 live births but had reduced significantly to 100 in both 2018 and 2019.

“However, the population of Nigerians covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for a better quality of life via the removal of financial barriers increased from 634,154 for males and 266, 618 for females in 2016 to about 781,057 for males and 332,742 for females – an increase of about 26 per cent national coverage,” she stated.

For Goal 4, she affirmed that the participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months increased from 4.97 per cent in 2016 to 5.38 in both 2017 and 2018 while for Goal 8, Nigeria faced economic challenges, which was a fall out of global oil price crash and insufficient foreign exchange earnings to achieve Balance of trade.

Notwithstanding, Orelope-Adefulire, said, this was increased from -1.6 per cent in 2016 to 0.82 per cent in 2017 with an annual per capita at -17.31 per cent and was subsequently increased to 1.91 per cent in 2018 and 2.27 per cent in 2019 with its per capita GDP growth of 1.22 per cent in 2019.

On reducing inequality within and among countries under Goal 10, she pointed out that in 2016, the Labour share of GDP was 25.17 per cent, and witnessed a steady increase to 26.06 per cent and 26.61 per cent in 2017 & 2019.

“With the successful realignment of the National Statistical System (NSS) with the indicators of the SDGs in December 2021, going forward, we will be able to track and report on the SDGs on annual basis – every December through the National Bureau of Statistics. Nigeria is now the first country in Africa to have successfully re-aligned its National Statistical System,” she declared.

According to the SDGs boss, “The Nigerian government has demonstrated strong commitment towards the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the SDGs. Institutional Frameworks have been established at the national and sub-national levels to support the effective implementation of the SDGs. Thus, Nigeria is leading in the institutionalization of the SDGs.

“The SDGs cannot be achieved with stand-alone programmes and projects. They must be carefully integrated into national and sub-national policies and development plans. Currently, we have integrated the SDGs into Nigeria’s National Development Plan (2021-2025) and we presently supporting 16 States to develop SDG-Based Development Plans.

“It is our hope that all 36 states and the FCT will eventually develop SDG-Compliant-Development Plans. This is our approach to Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS).

“Robust Monitoring and Tracking Systems have been designed to ensure effective tracking of interventions using computer-assisted software. We are committed to conducting Voluntary National Reviews every two years for presentation to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).

“To ‘Leave no one behind’, we need the expertise and resources of all – public and private sectors; UN Development System; donor community; academia and the wider Civil Society and concerned citizens.”

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