By A A ISAACTAMSON
“The seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals are integrated…they recognized that action in one area will affect the others…of all the seventeen goals, number four which is: Qualitative and inclusive education, stands out above the rest… Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development” said Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu.
This Nigerian renowned educator had said these three years ago. This means that Nigerians are not oblivious to the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals were aimed at guiding all nations towards combating challenges that are universal in nature and making a conscious effort to improve the standard of living among men regardless of biological and geo-social differences.
How far has Nigeria gone in the Attainment of these goals?
Since 2015, the United Nations (UN) has continued to increasingly urge nations to adopt the 17 SDGs as one of the strategies to address problems that are capable of hiring and weaponizing environmental, economic, and social challenges against the universe of mankind. Interestingly, Nigeria is one of the countries that have achieved modest progress in this regard. As noted earlier, Nigerians are not ignorant of the SDGs. This can be confirmed by the growing rate of participation by both Governmental and Non- non-governmental organizations. For instance, a survey revealed that two-thirds of Nigerians have heard of SDGs out of which only 1. 3 % of them have good knowledge of the goals (Omisore et al., 2017). This implies that despite the fact that the government at all levels has launched several projects such as the poverty alleviation program with the aim of achieving these goals, the progress that such programs attained is asymmetrical. The recent SDGs score index reveals that currently, the country ranks 146th country out of the 166 countries that were rated globally and 30th out of 43 in sub-Saharan Africa, the best that the effort of the government has accomplished is the achievement of growing awareness does not correspond with the characteristic realities of attainment.
SOURCE: UN SDGs Score
The interlink between the seventeen goals
The seeming unproductivity in the country’s effort to make any remarkable progress could be a result of its lack of consciousness of the intrinsic nature of the seventeen SDGs. Its inability to establish peace, justice, and strong institutions (SDG 16) threatens life on land (SDG 14) and life on water (SDG 15). The insecurities that the country suffered over the years perpetuate the disruption of communities (SDG 11) and catalyze the destruction of even existing infrastructure (SGD 9) thereby affecting the economy and the means of livelihood of the citizens (Goal 8), increasing hunger (SDG 1) and Poverty rate (SDG 2), decreasing access to quality education (SDG 4) and widening inequality (SDG 9).
One important goal with stale achievement
Particularly, the index illustrates that from the inception of the goals, the attainment of the fourth goal; Inclusive and quality education, has been waddling and dwindling. Between 2000 and 2007, the country recorded a landslide progress in its score. However, in 2008 the progress began to stalely shillyshallying. Thus, it is not completely out of place to allude that the holdups impeding progression in the attainment of other goals is a resultant effect of the inability to improve the literacy rate. This is because the role of education in bettering the lives of the individual and society is no longer questionable.
Coincidentally, equivocal factors such as insecurities; The COVID-19 pandemic, and political gangsterism that should have been attributed to this backwardness had their direct blow on the nation’s population by cruelty annihilating the lives of many innocent citizens. It has been estimated that, between 2015-2023, an average of 22 Nigerian Citizens lost their lives daily due to one form of insecurity or the other. Despite this and amidst the growing rate of mortality, migration, changes in fertility behavior, and modern anti-natalism, the population of the country is projected to have been quiet on the increase while its developmental indices keep decelerating. Primarily, this comparison is made to emphasize the need to sharpen the skills, talents, and potentials of the citizens to enable everyone to access the opportunities needed for personal growth and contribution towards national development. Where such is not the case, the growing population becomes a curse.
Those who suffer the most from the setbacks
The first manifestation of this curse is the widening of the facets of social inequalities. In such an instance, the nation suffers the epidemic of divergent interests among its citizenry. Those who consider themselves superior pursue their selfish aspirations at the expense of collective interest.
For example, although more than half of the Nigerian population is male (50.01%), more females disproportionately receive the most painful blows from these setbacks. This is because aside from existing institutional, sociocultural, and economic barriers that threaten girl-child education, the continuous depreciation in the standard of living caused by misgovernance and weak governance is another factor that concomitantly deprives girls of access to quality education. This occurs in two ways either by exacerbating the former factors or by engineering other factors such as Gender-based violence, a spike in harmful practices, and a decline in the accessibility to learning institutions and learning aids.
SOURCE: Nigerian Bureau of Statistics
As observed by the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals gender snapshot report “COVID-19 illnesses and deaths among adult caregivers have also resulted in lower educational outcome. Among adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa, such losses lead to a greater risk of sexual violence, exploitation, HIV infection, and lower educational attainment”. Also, more girls are liable to be left out of school, forced into childhood marriage, or become vulnerable to trafficking and child labor in the face of the increase in insecurity and economic hardship.
How to get back on the track of achieving the goals
From the foregoing, it is not hard to deduce that making tangible achievements in the attainment of any of the goals will require an approach that embraces their wholeness. While the current indicators suggest the lack of willpower by Nigerians in the pursuit of these goals, it could also mean that the Government that should champion the cause mistook the universality of these goals for the globalization of the approach. Given such benefit of the doubt, adopting a multi-disciplinary approach that’ll address local SDG-related problems rather than importing existing solutions that are incongruent with its socio-historical realities can facilitate more progress in the attainment of these goals. Specifically, addressing the existing inequalities will require making quality education affordably accessible to everyone.
Sachs, J.D., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G., Drumm, E. (2023). Implementing the SDG Stimulus. Sustainable Development Report 2023. Paris: SDSN, Dublin: Dublin University Press, 2023. 10.25546/102924
Omisore, A. G., Babarinde, G. M., Bakare, D. P., & Asekun-Olarinmoye, E. O. (2017). Awareness and Knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals in a University Community in Southwestern Nigeria. Ethiopian journal of health sciences, 27(6), 669–676. https://doi.org/10.4314/ejhs.v27i6.12
UN Women. (2022). Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2022. UN Women and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division