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Nigeria'll not attain SDGs by 2030, except … says Dr. Winjobi - ITREALMS

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The National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development (CSCSD), Dr. Tola Winjobi, in this chat with a cross section of media, lamented the seemingly inability of Nigeria to attain the SDGs, especially Goal 16+ by 2030.
Excerpts
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National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development (CSCSD), Dr. Tola Winjobi

Tell us about the coalition established and its mission?

Established in 2010 as Campaign2015+ and in 2016 formally re-registered as Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development (CAC/IT/No 87678), CSCSD is a network of close to 2000 non-governmental orgnisations (NGOs), Community-Based Organisation (CBOs), Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs), professional associations based in Nigeria, and a staunch partner of TAP Network and Action for Sustainable Development.

It is the only registered national coalition of organizations purposely created to be working on monitoring the 17 Sustainable Development Goals across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Reinforcing the assertion that SDG16 underpins the entire 2030 Agenda and that SDG16 is linked with all other SDGs, CSCSD collaborates with other development actors and organizations in engaging on issues around Goal 16 of the SDGs which is to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

CSCSD, in partnership with other civil society, the poor and the marginalized, the donors, the development partners, and international community, gingers at pressuring governments and other stakeholders to account for SDG promises and give the lives of people a meaning through upholding justice, human rights and development. Our member organizations are poised to thinking globally but acting locally especially on the need to have a more transparent and accountable government which is germane to ‘an honest and responsive government’ as one of the top priorities in the My World survey.



What is the overall objective?

Our overall objective is to support, contribute and strengthen capacity of civil society and other SDGs stakeholders to work on issues of transparency, accountability and participation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and integration of 2063 Agenda with a particular focus on SDG 16 which underpins the entirety of the 17 SDGs.

What has been the achievement of CSCSD?

Thank you for that beautiful question. We have successfully established membership across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria with National Steering Committee and Board of Trustees in place. Some states have their own platforms of engagement as well. We have also registered CSCSD with the Corporate Affairs Commission while we also belong to different international coalitions such as TAP Network, Action for Sustainable Development and Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness. CSCSD has been actively involved in monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development since its inception.

We have taken some steps including building the capacity of our members on the issue of Freedom of Information Act 2011; advocacy and strategic engagement with policy makers; human trafficking and smuggling of persons; National SDGs Advocacy Training on Goal 16 so as to be meaningfully engaging the stakeholders on peace, justice, inclusive societies, transparency and accountability etc;

In addition, we have been creating awareness against gender-based violence, torture of children and female genital mutilation, and related death rates; Campaigning against impunity and decrying shrinking civic space for civil society; Engaging the state actors on transparency and accountability for good governance; and clamouring for all-inclusive non-discriminatory policy making at all levels for the benefit of the maginalised, the poor and the voiceless.

Apart from extensively working with the media, we have also produced civil society reports and research works around the 2030 Agenda while we also organize annually pre-High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and International Stakeholders Conference on SDGs. However, COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted on our activities in 2020. As a founding member, we were involved in the inaugural meeting of the Global Forum for National SDG Advisory Bodies, from 17th to 20th February 2020 in Bogotá, Colombia where we jointly developed the roadmap for the Global Forum’s first year of activity.



Does CSCSD work with the government?

Yes, it does. Government alone cannot bring about sustainable development; the realization of the 2030 Agenda hinges on partnership with stakeholders in which civil society like CSCSD is one.

We have cordial working relationship with the government of Nigeria as we are a member of the Core Working Group on Nigerian VNR/HLPF under the aegis of the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals. We are a founding member of the Civil Society Strategy Group on SDGs established in November 2015 with the support of UN Action Campaign led by OSIWA. We also collaborate with Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission where we rally support for clean, accessible and affordable water in Nigeria (SDG 6) with a special round table discourse on National Water Resources Bill. CSCSD was appointed a member of the 18-member Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme, ASP, inaugurated at the Presidential Villa on January 26, 2021 where President Buhari charged the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development to coordinate and lead the deployment of a National Plan which will address the issue of out-of-school children in the country.



We understand you organized a workshop on capacity strengthening around civil society report writing and SDG16. So why capacity building?

Good question! The Holy Writ says my people perish for lack of knowledge. We organized the capacity strengthening with focus on writing civil society report or spotlight report and SDG16+. Our members needed knowledge in these two areas otherwise engaging government would be an exercise in futility if the former are not versed on what to engage on.

While the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process is the primary channel for governments’ reporting on country-level progress on the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda, civil society reports are vital to ensuring an independent, robust and accurate assessment of progress within countries, and provide a direct means to promote this government accountability to its citizens. CSOs’ reports often put government on their toes in giving accurate report of the SDG implementation in their countries. Even findings from CSOs can lead to workable recommendations useful in attaining the SDGs while the reports can breed better working relationship between governments and civil society. The question is: In view of the many advantages of civil society reports, does every NGO have the capacity for crafting spotless spotlight or “shadowless” shadow reports? No. Many indeed wish they could be writing such reports but do not know how to go about it. Many CSOs do not know the major parts that a civil society report should ideally have though there is no one-size or one-structure-fits all mechanism. Hence the need for our coming up with this project tailored at strengthening the capacity of TAP Network partners in writing standard civil society reports so as to advance SDG16+ and 2030 Agenda localization, implementation and accountability in Nigeria.

Secondly, in order to strengthen the knowledge of our members we had to produce SDG16+ in form of a booklet to distribute. This is the first time such a book on SDG16+ has been produced. The material produced was adapted from TAP Network’s SDG16+ Civil Society Tool kit. The written material factored in SDG 16 and SDG16+; its importance as an outcome and enabler of sustainable development; and interlinkages with other SDGs and international agreements. Workshops like this quoting TAP Network “can serve as an important opportunity to provide a space for country-level CSOs to come together to strategize around collective advocacy priorities, particularly in regards to engagement with their government around the drafting of their 2019 VNR reports, and help enable these CSO groups to engage constructively in the VNR processes themselves”.



What were the objectives and outcomes of your workshop?

The general objective was “advancing the cause of SDG16+ through capacity building around SDG16+ and civil society reports in Nigeria”. Specific objectives included to boost civil society’s knowledge and understanding on crafting standard, adaptable and useable reports so as to serve as a tool of accountability; to equip TAP Network partners with SDG16+ materials in order to enhance and strengthen their existing programmes on SDG16+; to enable our members have access to and understanding of information on SDG16+ thus creating awareness through distribution of SDG16+ booklet; and to increase visibility of the work of TAP Network in Nigeria via inauguration of National TAP Network Club SDG16+ for the purpose of collaboration and networking.

The project produced some four major outcomes, which include that (1) many more civil society actors are aware of and more enlightened on SDG16+ compared to their knowledge on SDG16, and are taking actions; (2) SDG16+ gains more popularity through the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials available in English in Nigeria;

Thirdly, we also saw increase in membership of TAP Network collaborating with one another on SDG16+ enhancing the work of TAP Network across the globe; and lastly, the functional national civil society group christened SDG16+ Club Nigeria with a focal point in place under the aegis of TAP Network.



What is SDG 16 and SDG 16+?

As part of the 2030 Agenda, SDG 16 aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” It encompasses 10 targets, two means of implementation, and some global indicators covering a range of issues related to peaceful, just and inclusive societies, including violence, violence against children, the rule of law, access to justice, illicit financial and arms flows, stolen assets, organized crime, corruption and bribery, effective, accountable and transparent institutions, responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making, global governance, legal identity, access to information, fundamental freedoms, institutional capacity-building and non-discriminatory laws and policies.


While SDG 16 is the main Goal for fostering “peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence,” the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies has identified 24 targets from seven other Goals – including SDGs 1, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 17 – that directly measure an aspect of peace, inclusion or access to justice. These additional 24 targets together with the 10 targets and two means of implementation from SDG 16 are collectively known as SDG16+. Accordingly, SDG16+ encompasses a total of 36 targets from across the SDGs that directly contribute to building more peaceful, just and inclusive societies. As a framework, the SDG16+ targets provide a more comprehensive picture of the actions that are needed to realize peace, inclusion and justice for all, especially for those furthest behind.



You mentioned inaugurating SDG16+ Club from Global SDG16+ Coalition as one of the outcomes. Why Club?

There are a lot of organizations working around SDG16+ across the globe though these are not largely formalized structures. However, there is a body called Global SDG16+ Coalition. We are thinking globally but then we are also working locally and we can’t work in isolation. CSCSD is a member of TAP Network which was instrumental to the establishment of the Global SDG 16+ Coalition. Therefore in line with our project objective, we needed to increase visibility of the work of TAP Network in Nigeria via inauguration of National TAP Network SDG16+ Club for the purpose of collaboration and networking both locally and globally. Thus our members demonstrated commitment by not only belonging to TAP Network but also to Global SDG 16+ Coalition which led to the inauguration of “SDG 16+ Club Nigeria” on the day of the workshop.



Throw more light on Voices of the SDG16+?

Thank you. Voices of the SDG16+ Campaign was part of our project deliverables. Voices of SDG16+: Stories of Global Action is a collaborative campaign to bring the work of civil society on SDG16+ to the global level of work around the United Nations. The campaign provides individuals and partners from around the world the opportunity to submit short videos telling their “stories” of best practices and extraordinary efforts being undertaken towards SDG16+ at the national and local levels. CSCSD was among the first set of finalists among a dozen of them whose video was show-cased in New York in 2019.

Many of our members are doing remarkable work around SDG 16+ nationally but not many people know about these efforts. So, what the individual participants were doing at the workshop was to do a recording of their activities around SDG 16+ at the local level so as to bring this to limelight at the global level. This recording shall be sent to our partners in New York to be featured on TAP Network Action Platform show-casing civil society commitments to SDG16+.



Why from SDG16 to SDG16+? What is the plus about?

SDG 16 cannot be understood in isolation. It has strong links with all the other goals. Of the SDG framework’s 169 targets, 36 directly measure an aspect of peace, inclusion, or access to justice. Only a third of these are found in SDG 16; the broader set of 36 can be understood as SDG16+ targets. Even beyond those, additional goals and their targets indirectly hinge on aspects of peace, justice and inclusion.

In addition to the interlinkages between SDGs, the SDG16+ agenda has strong linkages with a large number of international agreements, including those that address international human rights and labor standards. Many of the SDG16+ targets are aligned with or directly support international human rights principles and obligations. Accordingly, international agreements are relevant both to understanding many of the SDG16+ targets, as well as to guiding overall SDG16+ implementation. Thus, the plus (+) in SDG16+ refers to the interlinkages within the 2030 Agenda, as well as with other key international agreements and treaties.

For the sake of illustration, SDG16 Target 1 addresses reducing all forms of violence and related death including homicides, gender-based violence and violence against children. This Target 1 of SDG16 has interlinkages with other SDGs and targets like Goal 3.4 that addresses “reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases” and Goal 5.1 that addresses “gender discrimination”, and Goal 10.3 “eliminate discrimination”. This same Goal16 target 1 is also linked to some international instruments such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Hence, we say SDG16+ because of the interlinkages with other SDG targets and key International Agreements. In short, SDG 16 is much more important than any of the remaining 16 Goals.



In Nigeria, would you say the country will attain SDGs by 2030?

Thank you for that good question. The answer is “No” unless there are drastic changes between now and 2030. When one considers the socio-economic and political challenges facing Nigeria, one doesn’t need a soothsayer to tell us that Nigeria is failing and will fail in attaining SDGs by 2030 unless diligent attention is paid on SDG 16+. A couple of statistics would suffice to let us know Nigeria will not attain SDGs. Permit me to delve into the archives. We can use some parameters such as poverty rate, unemployment rate, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), ratio of maginalised citizens, economic indices, ease of doing business, debt profile, conflict trends and so on to assess government’s performance in attaining the SDGs.



It is rather unfortunate and paradoxical that despite significant human and natural resources, Nigerians are still suffering from poverty, hunger and diseases. Categorized among the third world country, Nigeria, according to The World Poverty Clock, has overtaken India as the world's poverty headquarters.

According to NBS (May, 2020) quoting 2019 figures, 40.1 percent (82.9 million) Nigerians were poor which translates to, on average, four out of 10 individuals in Nigeria has real per capita expenditures below poverty line of 137,430 Naira ($352) per year if 2018-2019 statistics is anything to go by. The National Bureau of Statistics estimates that an additional 4.9 million Nigerians will slip into poverty by 2022. This current poverty rate of 71% is partly due to the mismanagement of the oil business and the pervasive corruption eating deep the fabric of the entire country.

A cross section of CSCSD participants
Paramount is the need to uphold the rule of law, shun impunity, respect human rights, promote the right to initiative of citizens, and uphold all fundamental rights and freedoms including, but not limited to, freedom of association, of expression, and political participation, the rights to peaceful assembly and information, and release unconditionally all the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience including the activists and journalists kept behind bars despite court injunction to release them on bail.





1 comment:

Anonymous said...

May God heal our land as we need Divine intervention. We need better political leadership that would have political will to attack and surmont the Albertross of socio-political and economic challenges facing Nigeria