Interview on Post-2015 Development Agenda (ThisDay Newspaper 01/06/2013)

DELE OGBODO of ThisDay Newspaper, Abuja seeks some further insights to some issues on Campaign 2015+ International

What encouraged you into setting up 2015+ International and how old is the body?…your background check…work experience!

I am a human rights activist and development actor of about two decades having worked forprominent organizations such as Amnesty International in the early 90s and CAFOD. I have ledthe largest anti-poverty campaign in Nigeria before while I have conducted studies in the area of democracy, development and human rights. On a number of occasions I have addressed theUN General Assembly (both in Geneva and New York) on the issue of human rights and MDGs progress in Africa. Since 2000, I have been working in the development sector and monitoring the MDGs progress across the globe and across Africa in particular. Experience actually showed that most countries in Africa would not attain MDGs by the set dateof 2015. Many CSOs have conducted studies on MDGs while many have evaluated progress.The result has ever been the same that many African countries were derailing from achievingMDGs. This was way back in 2010 when MDGs entered their 10th anniversary.

The question that continued to engage the minds of development actors including the donors was “can countries attain MDGs by 2015? 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. For this purpose, Campaign2015+ was set up in 2010.

The Campaign was also conceived in order to provoke discussions to fill the lacuna left by the 8 MDGs. 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.

What has been the perception of Nigerians/the general public to 2015+ International?

We had rather talk about the perception of Nigerians, nay international community, about MDGs instead of about Campaign2015+ International. The Millennium Declaration, indeed, offered a ray of hope to the despondent. It Is well loaded with promises of 8 specific goals and 18 targets and 48 indicators. Unfortunately, corruption in most cases and lack of political will in some cases make attainment of MDGs an uphill tasks for most African countries. Campaign2015+ International is just a coalition of like-minded CSOs around the world promoting public debates and discussions on economic and social issues including human rights.

A priority in the agenda of Campaign2015+, among other actions, is campaigning for pro-poor global and national policies that can accelerate broad-based economic growth, poverty reduction and public accountability, as well as the call for immediate action to reduce the debt burden of poor countries and institute fair trade policies and practices, and ODA development effectiveness among the OECD and other developed countries around the globe. The perception of the general public about Campaign2015+ has been positive. In terms of ownership, Campaign2015+ is such a coalition that has become the rallying point for all the cross sections of the society including but not limited to NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, trade unions, professional associations, student organizations, community groups (the poor and the marginalized), disability groups, bilateral and multilaterals, development partners, and intergovernmental agencies working worldwide on development, human and socioeconomic rights, justice and peace.

In what areas/ways has the organization impacted on the disadvantaged?

Campaign2015+ International is not government that is saddled with service delivery; it is a campaign, and doesn’t pretend to replace government. The main purpose of this campaign is to engage governments to tackle those challenges hindering the attainment of MDGs in Africa and other parts of the globe and campaign beyond 2015 on democracy, good governance, human rights, justice, development and global security. It aims at pressuring governments and other stakeholders to look beyond 2015 and give the lives of people a meaning through upholding justice, human rights and development.

Nevertheless, many of its member organizations are working in different thematic areas implementing projects and delivering services impacting positively on the lives of people. The campaign often makes consultations with governments on advisory basis and submits position papers to influence government policies. At the global level, Campaign2015+ International has been playing prominent role in ensuring that the post-2015 development agenda is all-inclusive making the voices of the poorest of the poor, the marginalized, the minority, women and children count. Because of its contribution to global development discourse, it was appointed as the Lead Agency to support the UN-led national deliberation and coordinate CSOs deliberations on post-2015 MDGs in Nigeria.

It is the only coalition in Nigeria that organized grassroots-oriented deliberations in five Geo-political zones of Nigeria. Throughout these zonal deliberations, the voices of the disadvantaged were heard as they were given unbridled audience on the kind of world they want and the kind of Nigeria they desire.

Has government being responding to some of the challenges facing you and what are some of these challenges?

It might be an understatement if we say our campaign doesn’t have its own challenges. The challenges border on funding to meet up with so many plans and programmes we are implementing. We are trying to expand to other parts of Africa as Campaign2015+ International has presence in some African countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroun, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe but we need presence and coordination in other countries. We also need devoted members who have passion for development in all ramifications and are ready to use their time, talent, intellect and other resources in order to help fulfil the mandate of the campaign.

Governments have not been responding to all these challenges as they have their own challenges already which we would like them to respond to. It is our desire for governments across Africa to respond to many challenges facing them in governance among which are low political will; their misplaced priorities; lack of inclusive policies and programmes; poor management of resources; lack of transparency and accountability; limited and conditional aids; gender inequalities; conflicts; political instability including terrorism etc.

Let governments tackle those challenges hindering the attainment of MDGs in Africa and other parts of the globe and work beyond 2015 giving us good governance, human rights, justice, development and global security. Our governments need political will to attain MDGs as many African countries have both human and natural resources to lift their citizens above poverty. With political will they can fight corruption and with political will they can combat and win the war against insurgency and terrorism.

Which state would you rate highest as having done well in meeting MDGs

No state in Nigeria has ever met all the MDGs as many are still struggling to provide basic services the people need while only a few are making a change in the lives of their citizens. Unemployment rate is still high in many states as 5 million youths from tertiary institutions are being added annually to the already saturated labour market in Nigeria. Agricultural incentives to farmers are dwindling yearly though much money is allocated to agricultural sector while farmers are provided with tools (like GSM) without adequate consultation on their felt needs.

Though there is improvement in maternal health in some states this does not translate to a significant reduction in infant mortality. Though there is a significant improvement in governments’ efforts towards combating malaria, it is not quite so with HIV/AIDS as about 3.3 sero-prevalence rate across country is not synonymous to the disparities noticeable at the state level. However, while the states in the south especially southwest and southeast are improving on poverty profile, many states in the northwest and especially northeast for obvious reasons are not doing well in meeting MDGs.

Experience has shown that of all the six states in the southwest, Ekiti State despite its meagre federal allocation has been the beacon of light of development while it might take twenty years before development is restored to northeastern states of Borno and Yobe. While Osun state is empowering its teeming youths, Jigawa State has bounced back from its leading status of poverty-ridden state since 2009. Therefore, it might be difficult to be categorical in rating states according to their performance on MDGs scale as many are failing in indicators but making efforts towards attaining the goals.

In what other ways can International bodies help African countries in alleviating the high level of poverty?

We need to look inward to solve our development challenges facing us in Africa. We alone can bring development to our countries. Most of the time, aids are tied to one condition or the other. There is no sincerity in the whole lot of aid architecture. The OECD and rich countries including their donors are only interested in aid architecture rather the impact the aids are supposed to make on the people that are meant for. Theirs is aid effectiveness rather than development effectiveness. The impact the aids are making on the people should be paramount rather than facilitating aids getting ‘safely’ into the hands of governments.

The question is do we need aid or ODA (Official Development Assistance) to survive in Africa? How many developed countries are sincerely fulfilling their pledge of allocating 0.7 percent of their GDP to developing economy? Insignificant figure! While Scandinavian countries including Netherlands seem to be improving in ODA remittances, the United States of America leaves much to be desired. Do we need to be helped by an outsider before we can get our priority right as a continent? Don’t we have the resources?

Anyway, if we support aids to help African countries in alleviating the high level of poverty, our governments must make aid work. They should make development money work for us. It is our responsibility to hold both our governments and donors accountable. We can use the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and freedom of Information Act to demand transparency and accountability in public expenditure while we can ask the donors to publish what they fund.

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