A Press Interview Granted by Dr Tola Winjobi The Convener, Campaign 2015+ International on various Issues Dealing with MDGs and Post-2015 Development Agenda

Can we meet you?

My name is David Tola Winjobi. I am the Convener of Campaign2015+ International, an organization that campaigns alongside other civil society, the poor and the marginalized, donors, development partners, and international community, pressuring governments and other stakeholders to look beyond 2015 and give the lives of people a meaning through upholding justice, human rights and development.

There were lost hopes in the years before 2000; what has been the situation since the inception of the new millennium and the role of the UN?

In the decades preceding the turn of the new millennium, there were hopes and expectations that year 2000 would provide a magic wand that would provide solutions to many if not all of the intractable challenges facing humanity. It was a period where commonplace were slogans such as “health for all by the year 2000”, “education for all by the year 2000”, “food sufficiency for all by the year 2000”, “shelter for all by the year 2000”, “prosperity for all by the year 2000” and several other slogans. Poverty, hunger, starvation and diseases seemed to be the major challenges facing the developing nations while the developed economies seemed to be enjoying the benefits of development including human rights, democracy, and good governance.

The United Nations indeed felt concerned about the plight of common people especially in the global south. In order to address the problem of poverty and promote sustainable developments, the 8 millennium goals were adopted in September 2000 at the largest gathering of Heads of States committing both rich and poor countries to do all they can to eradicate poverty, promote human dignity and equality, and achieve peace, democracy and environmental stability. By this commitment the world has an unprecedented opportunity to improve the lives of billions of people by adopting practical approaches to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

What is the essence of MDGs, and are there organizations working in consonance with the UN in achieving MDGs?

The MDGs and related targets and indicators serve as benchmarks of progress towards the shared vision of where we want to go and commitment to work together to get there. There are 18 targets and 48 indicators set to achieve the 8 goals by 2015. Three distinct characteristics of MDGs are that: it is people-centered; it is adaptable to SMART test; and it involves the development partners, among others. There have been several initiatives, alliances, formations, coalitions, organizations including NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, trade unions, professional associations, student organizations, community groups, bilateral and multilaterals, and inter-governmentals working worldwide alongside the UN and governments in order to attain the vision and mission of the United Nations on the Millennium Declaration.

Can countries attain MDGs by 2015, and if not what are the challenges and pitfalls of MDGs?

Can countries attain MDGs by 2015? Yes, No! If “Yes” what happens, do we rest on our oars? And if “No” what about it, do we become despondent? The need to monitor and evaluate performance on MDGs implementation is not only important but also highly necessary so as to know whether the programme is on course or derailing, or to know how far we have gone, and where we need to strengthen our efforts. Monitoring and evaluation efforts have shown some astounding results giving way to despondency on attaining MDGs by 2015 among developing countries in particular. Thirteen years on from the original adoption of the MDGs at the 2000 Millennium Summit, and two years left to 2015 it seems all the efforts by stakeholders towards achieving MDGs are not drastic enough.

According to the UN Secretary-General, though there is some remarkable progress made in some countries, collectively we are falling short in the achievement of MDGs globally. The consequence of these shortfalls, further aggravated by the combined effects of the global food, climate, energy and economic crises, is that improvements in the lives of the poorest are happening at an unacceptably slow pace while in some countries, hard fought gains are being eroded. At the current pace, several of the eight MDGs and associated targets are likely to be missed in many countries. The challenges are most severe in the least developed countries (LDCs), land-locked developing countries (LLDCs) and some small island developing states (SIDS). Therefore, if MDGs cannot be achieved by 2015 (which is very certain), the need to look beyond the target year is imperative.

CSOs therefore have a crucial role to play in further engaging the governments to address those MDG lines they could not achieve at the set date and do more on those they achieved. If governments achieved MDGs by 2015 (which is very uncertain), imperative is the need for the CSOs to further engage governments in monitoring and evaluation so as to consolidate on and not to derail from the gains hitherto achieved. Though the MDGs are people-centered and development focused, lacking are the essential ingredients of human rights, peace and justice which are the bedrocks of development. The issues of democracy, good governance, and human rights, are not expressly stated in the Millennium Declaration though they can be linked in some way. However justice, peace, and security especially global terrorism are difficult to situate within the purview of the 8 goals.

Do we need to look beyond 2015 if most MDGs would not be attained, and what replacement if any for MDGs?

Yes, we need to look beyond MDGs2015 and come up with sustainable development goals as replacement. The need for us to look beyond 2015 MDGs is emphasized in the 2010 Annual report of the Secretary-General (11 July 2011) titled, “Accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015”. The Millennium Development Goal summit requested the Secretary-General to make recommendations in his annual reports, as appropriate, for further steps to advance the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.

Over the past months, structured discussions, in different United Nations forums, enabled Member States and other relevant stakeholders especially the CSOs to make their own assessments on how the Millennium Development Goals should be reviewed and rethought. The post-2015 development framework is likely to have the best development impact if it emerges from an inclusive, open and transparent process with multi-stakeholder participation. Using established global, regional and national mechanisms and processes is one way to ensure that such deliberations benefit from the wide range of lessons learned and the experiences of different stakeholders. Several formal and informal meetings are scheduled in the run-up to 2015. In addition to taking stock of Millennium Development Goals progress, these could discuss elements of a post-2015 framework.

What efforts is the UN making towards post-2015 development framework?

The UN has started the work to foster a broad based, open and inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders, including civil society actors, on the post-2015 agenda. A key part of this will be a global conversation on post-2015 to capture the voices of citizens. As indicated in the UN Secretary General’s report to the General Assembly in September 2011, the UN Millennium Campaign will act as one of the outreach mechanisms to civil society to gather inputs and feedback on the post-2015 agenda and facilitate dialogue with the UN system. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) have been mandated by the Secretary-General to lead the work on the post-2015 framework. A Task Team of senior technical experts from UNDP and DESA, chaired by Olav Kjorven (UNDP) and Jomo Kwame Sundaram (DESA), and supported by the full UN system, was set up in January 2012 to define a system-wide vision for the post-2015 agenda.

The UN Secretary-General has also set up a think tank group called High Level Panel to whom the reports on various consultations would be submitted. The HLP would advise the UN Sec-Gen on the reports. Among the HLP are two Nigerians: Ms Amina Ibrahim (Mohammed), and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The Task Team is mandated to produce a study which will serve as a roadmap for the work of a High-Level Panel that the UN Secretary General has appointed third quarter of 2012. The study will critically appraise the current MDG framework, map on-going activities inside and outside of the UN on defining a post-2015 agenda, and assess challenges that have become more prominent in the last decade. As part of this work, UNDP, working with other UN Development Group (UNDG) agencies, is supporting consultations at the national level in up to 50 countries and producing and distributing guidance notes to the UN Country Teams to facilitate these exercises.

The consultations are set up in a way that facilitates the inclusion of voices of poor people and those that are vulnerable; although the modes of doing this will depend on the country context. The detailed list of countries and type of support that will be offered are already being shared UNDP is also facilitating 8 regional/global consultations to discuss thematic and cross-cutting issues in post- 2015 global agenda, such as inequality, sustainability, population and governance. As a general principle, civil society organisations are invited to participate in all levels of the consultations.

Which countries in Africa do you feel are really ‘invested’ in the post 2015 process? Who are the ones who are taking a lead on this?

There are 19 African countries south of the Sahara out of not less than 50 countries globally where national deliberations would take place. Among the countries that I feel are really invested in post-2015 process are Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa. I should think that Liberia and Ethiopia are taking a lead on this going by several meetings on post-2015 development framework that have taken place in the two countries. Eyes are all on Liberia in particular because of the role of President Helen Johnson-Sirleaf as one of the three-member Co-Chairs. But then Nigeria is also playing a critical role because of its influential position within the sub region. You know if Nigeria gets it right other countries in Africa would follow suit.

Who are the countries that other African countries will be listening to in determining their own positions – in other words, which countries do you think are the most influential ones within Africa?

Apart from Liberia and Nigeria, other influential countries in Africa include Kenya and South Africa because these countries are strategically positioned in East and Southern Africa respectively. These are countries that other countries would be listening to in determining their own positions.

Who are the stakeholders/organisations your country will be influenced by? How important is the UN as an influencing factor? How important is the High Level Panel?

In Nigeria are stakeholders like CSOs including Campaign2015+ International and JDPC, and development partners such as USAID, Oxfam International, Save the Children International, and WaterAid including UN Systems like UNDP, UNMC, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, IOM, UN Women etc whose Nigerian position would be influenced by them because of the critical role they are playing presently. Campaign2015+ International is the only coordinating hub for CSO in Nigeria ensuring that the voices of the critical masses including the minorities, the marginalized, the poorest of the poor, the artisans, the famers, the professionals etc are heard and included in the post-2015 deliberations.

Campaign2015+ International with the support of its members and Beyond 2015 organized five zonal deliberations and several local deliberations in Nigeria as at February 2013. Its BlogSpot link is http://campaign2015plus.blogspot.com and Facebook is http://m.facebook.com/groups/263518357002767?refid=27 UN is an influencing factor in Nigeria because of the leverage they bring to the discussions and their role as the coordinating body for the deliberation in Nigeria. The UN may make or mar the process: It may refuse support, both technical and financial, to CSOs to deliberate inclusively and meaningfully. However, the UN Resident Coordinator is supposed to provide strategic guidance in order to ensure the deliberations are all-inclusive and factored in into the outcomes. UNMC (United Nations Millennium Campaign) is under the UNDP who entrusts the responsibility of coordinating the UNDG-led national deliberation on the former.

Likewise there are specific thematic areas that two or three UN Systems coordinate. For example, UNICEF/UNWomen jointly coordinated discussions on inequalities while UNDP/ILO coordinated those of growth and employment. Similarly, WHO and UNICEF coordinated deliberations focusing on health while the same UNICEF in conjunction with UNESCO coordinated education theme. All these UN systems are visibly present in Nigeria and thus could influence the discussions and outcomes of the deliberations going by the thematic areas they work on. Appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the HLP too is important because it is a think tank body that would receive all the reports and outcomes of the national deliberations and thematic consultations and advise the UN Secretary-General. The HLP report to be submitted about May 2013 would shape the MDGs High Level Event that would come off later in September.

Does Nigeria see this as an intergovernmental negotiation process (is up to countries to decide) or are they happy to let the UN and the High Level Panel set the agenda?

Well, a global process of this nature has to begin somewhere….either intergovernmental or otherwise. The UN with its Task Team and later HLP had to set the agenda. One thing is for the Task Team or UN HLP set the agenda, another is for the countries to reject the unpopular agenda. I think they are favourable and well-intentioned agenda which is why no government to my understanding has ever kicked against it. Even if Nigeria sees it as an intergovernmental process the content and process of the deliberation have changed their “business as usual” style. This has gone beyond governments and the UN because the CSOs and the masses are involved going by the way we have started it in Nigeria without waiting for UN or government to support us financially before we could organize ourselves.

Though we approached UNDP/UNMC in Nigeria for support when we started the process, they were dilly dallying and we had to look inward for resources when we realized they were not articulate. UN with its Country Team everywhere needs to demonstrate seriousness in this global development agenda process by cooperating with and carrying along the CSOs, the maginalised, the poor, and the voiceless so that the voices of the latter could count and be reflected in the final outcome of the whole deliberations. Nothing about this global framework is about us if the process and outcome are non-participatory, non-transparent, non-inclusive, and not masses-responsive, which are some of the pitfalls of the MDGs.

Are there efforts organized by CSOs geared at the new framework in Nigeria and what has been done in this regard so far?

The CS has a key role to play in the various deliberations towards post-2015 development agenda. Campaign2015+ International, Beyond 2015, GCAP etc have been involved in all the processes. Campaign2015+International is the lead agency coordinating the CS deliberations in Nigeria. Hence it has supported small hubs of deliberations across five geo-political zones of Nigeria as at January 2013. The focus of those grassroots-oriented deliberations was on the vision, purpose, principles and criteria of a post-2015 framework and the kind of Nigeria we want. Meanwhile, there was a UN-led national deliberation organized in collaboration with office of the Special Assistant to President on MDGs involving cross sections of Nigerians in Abuja in February, while another one with the support of UNMC bringing only CSOs together came off in March 2013.

What is your assessment of MDGs implementation currently in Nigeria, are we on track?

No, we are not. As a matter of fact, the MDG that Nigeria had missed since 2005 was on promotion of gender equality and empowering women (Goal 3). At the current pace, several of the eight MDGs and associated targets are likely to be missed in Nigeria. Nigerians are suffering amidst plenty as we have both human and material resources. About 72 % Nigerians are still living in poverty (Nigeria Bureau of Statistics 2011) while our youths are passing out from higher institutions without jobs thus turning some of them to emergency robbers while many are desperate to get out of the country. Our educational system from primary to tertiary level is in shambles while our health systems are in abysmal decay as our national budget on health has never reached 15% as canvassed for internationally. Both infant mortality and maternal mortality ratios are increasing by the day as women are still dying while giving birth. Things that are supposedly to work are not working.

Vision 20-2020 cannot see any vision for Nigeria to be one of the 20 topmost economies of the world as industries are relocating to neighboring countries like Sierra Leone and Ghana while many are folding up. Power supply is a challenge in Nigeria as electricity authorities are throwing people into further poverty through epileptic and erratic power supply. Religious and ethnic crises have become the order of the day. Insecurity has become a major challenge and the bane of development especially with Boko Haram unleashing terror on innocent Nigerians while the federal government seems helpless.

What is the problem with our country, what do we really need?

The problem is nothing but leadership. Nigeria is fraught with despondency in the face of bad leadership, hunger, starvation, preventable diseases, moral decadence and corruption. Nigeria needs good leadership. It needs leaders that have political will to transform Nigeria from this state of squalor to an enviable position among the comity of nations. Nigeria needs committed leaders that are ready to stamp out corruption by sealing the leakages of public funds into private pockets and genuinely prosecuting sleazebag. The government must been seen as genuinely fighting corruption rather than pardoning convicts that are still under the watch of international community.

I therefore call on the Nigerian government, the Nigerian members of the High Level Panel, development agencies, civil society organisations and all stakeholders to join in a synergistic partnership with Campaign2015+international to ensure that the poor and those highly affected by poverty in Nigeria have a voice in the process of developing a more sustainable global development framework.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.