By Chioma Blessing Kanu
The 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women held March, 2014 was a groundbreaking event giving Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) enabling platform to fulfill its mandate as an organization with ECOSOC status by organizing a side event, primarily to commemorate the session in New York City. The theme of the event is “Challenges inherent in the implementation of the MDGs”.
The event converged dignitaries from Nigeria and across the world, such as Her Excellency, Dame Abimbola Fashola, First Lady of Lagos State Governor; Her Excellency Mrs. Bisi Fayemi, First Lady of Ekiti; Hon. Eucharia Azodo, member of MDGs Committee of National Assembly; Members of the United Nations; Presidents and CEOs of NGOs; Members of Bank of Industries; etc. The event was moderated by Dr. Ada Odika, the President of FEACOBA, New York, with the following panelists: Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Keynote Presenter; Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of CISLAC; Her Excellency Mrs. Bisi Fayemi; and Ms. Chioma Blessing Kanu, Program Officer of CISLAC.
In her keynote address, Dr. Nwadinobi recounted some challenges and successes Nigeria has recorded with the advent of MDGs. She mentioned as part of the successes, implementation of the conditional grant scheme, where households are provided with 5,000 naira per month for livelihood by the state government. Dr. Nwadinobi lamented that only 24 states (out of 36) currently implement the scheme. She also commended Nigeria for combating extreme hunger, which has been recognized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, to had reduced from 19.9million in 1990 to 13.38 million in 2010 and 8.5% in 2012; whereas the MDGs target is 9.5%.
Dr. Nwadinobi believes if women are encouraged as their male counterparts, serious initiative such as forming a cooperative and granting cooperative soft loans, women will be effectively empowered.
In his presentation, Rafsanjani observed that owing to grey areas in the implementation of the MDGs, there is a dire need to further engage the process. He said in addition to identifying key stakeholders to drive this process, such as the legislators at both national and state levels, CISLAC has further engaged the institutions to ensure effective implementation and enabling platform for the process to thrive.
In her presentation, the first Lady of Ekiti State affirmed that political will and accountability are very crucial in the implementation of the MDGs. She added that though Ekiti State is not financially endowed as some other states, but its sufficient political will to drive the process has been effective. She listed some key legislation that have been passed or domesticated by the state such as the Gender Policy, Violence against Women Prohibition Act, and Gender and Equal Opportunity Act. She further reiterated that the State presently records lowest maternal mortality and HIV rates as a result sensitization and awareness programs it enjoys in partnership with civil society.
Also, Miss Kanu of CISLAC said in Nigeria, her survey to identify six areas of priority in global efforts towards agenda setting for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gathered that workable and deliverable healthcare; honest and responsive government, standardized education system, employment opportunities, enabling infrastructural facilities would go a long way to achieve such Goals.
She further reiterated that as part of the struggles for attainment of MDGs in Nigeria, civil society groups have been on their toes. “CSOs have constructively engaged relevant stakeholders; and this has resulted in enhanced and informed debates on MDGs by the legislatures on the MDGs resulting in increased oversight, budgetary allocations to critical MDGs–education, health, poverty reduction, agriculture, energy etc.
In order to facilitate the implementation of MDGs, Chioma added that CISLAC has embarked on capacity building efforts for NGOs, CBOs, FBOs and media on budget tracking of MDGs allocations. She cited CISLAC’s efforts at the state level which resulted in the recent establishment of Committee on MDGs by Kano State Government.