Nigeria is a country enormously blessed with abundant natural and human resources, amongst other wealth, that could fast-track accelerated development and national growth.
But is it not ironic that around 116 million Nigerians live on less than 1.25 US dollars a day, while according to a 2016 report, the country recorded 23 billionaires with collective wealth reaching almost 78 billion US dollars and 43, 000 individuals owning assets worth at least 1 million USD?
This was the poser, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, threw to other speakers and participants from various African countries, at a recent workshop in Abuja. Ibrahim Musa, who is easily recognized by his Rafsanjani pet name, then pointed out that, ‘’despite huge deposits of oil and gas, solid minerals and human capital resources.
Monumental corruption and kleptocratic governance have led to a state whereby Nigeria now boost of having the highest number of people living under extreme and dehumanizing poverty level in the world.’’
Mr. Rafsanjani, spoke at a ‘’Two-Day Transparency International (TI) SDG Africa Common Assessment Workshop’’ organized by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), where he said that Nigeria is no exception to this dilemma of being endowed with numerous natural resources and skilled manpower to effectively and efficiently drive the country into prosperity but its citizens remain extremely poor.
“Today presents a huge opportunity for us to share country-by-country progress made in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 16 which seeks 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’’, he added.
In his opening remark at CISLAC Conference Room, venue of the event, Rafsanjani challenged the participants to brainstorm on why Africa needs to develop economically, politically and financially in transparent, accountable and sustainable manner.
He said: ‘’While Human Development is one of the bigger success stories of the 2018 as pointed out by Mo Ibrahim this year, driven by improvements in Health, the stalling progress in Education seen in last year’s Index has now turned to decline.
For 27 countries, education scores registered deterioration in the last five years, meaning that for more than half (52.8%) of Africa’s youth population, education outcomes are worsening. Some are giving up on their governments and are voluntarily crossing continents and very often ending up in slavery, deprivation and even death.”
The CISLAC Executive-Director noted that rule of law, transparency and accountability are key to improving public governance in Africa, informing the participants that CISLAC has been resolute in their advocacy campaigns for the implementation of SDGs in Nigeria and Africa.
“In 2017, with support from Transparency International (TI), we presented a Shadow Report on SDG 16, which was a modest contribution to the monitoring of the SDG progress in Nigeria and aimed at providing independent and objective assessment and progress made under SDG 16, in particular targets 16.4, 16.5 and 16.10.
The report responds to three key issues related to the official SDG monitoring processes: the multi-dimensional nature of SDG targets, data availability and perceived credibility of data generated by government agencies.
Collectively, these limitations provide a strong rationale for an independent appraisal of the government’s anti-corruption efforts in the context of the SDGs,” he revealed.
Rafsanjani, while speaking further, commended the leadership of the Senior Special Assistant to the President of the SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs) for ensuring that Nigeria ardently adopt the SDGs much more than it did with the MDGs.
He, however, stressed that there is much to be done to ensure the implementation of the SDGs, appreciating the strong leadership role of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), which was established to reform the agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort.
He solicited the implementation of other required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system, saying: “Despite some acceleration in the rate of repatriation and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption, we still do not see the investigations, prosecutions and convictions in the highest levels of our political class. Despite some indisputable evidence, many corrupt politicians and businessmen and women seem to be outside the law and reach of the law enforcement. A report by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission claims that in 2016/17, 286 cases were brought to conviction, which would signal a remarkable improvement to 53 convicted cases in 2012 out of 353 court proceedings. However, this nominal improvement disguises the fact that Politically Exposed Persons have been too often acquitted on dubious grounds.”
The CISLAC boss, who stated that according to Thabo Mbeki report, 70% of West African’s losses to Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) comes from Nigeria, added: “Annually we lose over 35 billion USD. This indirect and dodgy movement of monies earned in Nigeria and leaving the country through the backdoor poses great challenge to our development and economy.
He recognised the works done by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria, who through their activities constantly and persistently put government excesses in check.
“We must not be tired, but see the challenges as opportunities to deliver Nigeria and many Nigerians who are voiceless, challenged, poor, impoverished and damaged by bad leadership, insecurity and insurgency, and poverty to the Nigeria of their dream. We must continue to speak out, advocate, network and partner for their sake. As they depend and look up to us as torchbearers of hope. I must at this point recognize and commend Transparency International for their support of this initiative of undertaking this workshop,” Rafsanjani said. (PRNigeria)