The question of if Nigerians are Nigerians are being left behind in the development process requires an answer from all quarters. Because the state of most vulnerable in the country continues to get worst. It is no longer news that sustainable development goals (SDGs) are not only goals that succeed in millennium development goals (MDGs) in September 2015. But also are goals that broaden the development agenda of both developing and developed countries. In its adoption by the UN General Assembly, one of the major components of Agenda 2030 is Leave No One Behind (LNB) commitment. This is a major part of the SDGs implementation possibility. In this regard, leave no one behind means development that meets the needs of all citizen at local, state, country and global levels.
The recognition of non-inclusive development in many developing countries over one and half decades by many development experts have increased the emphasis on inclusive development pertinent in setting global agenda. On this metric, SDGs acknowledge that to achieve any of its goal or target, the involvement of all people in formulating and implementing it is important. Though the formation phase for SDGs is over, it was inclusive because it was a bottom-up approach. A departure from the MDGs approach.
Nigeria Leave No One Behind National Dialogue
Three international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Civicus, Development Initiative and Project Everyone – formed alliance for LNB campaign. Nigeria is one of the thirty countries where the first phase of the LNB campaign is to take place. As a result of this, the country national dialogue on LNB took place in Lagos last two week. Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNN) convened the dialogue.
At the national dialogue that had the presence of close to 200 organisations, many of them were civil society organisation (CSOs) in Nigeria. Also in attendance are private sector and international NGOs. These participants had discussions on excluded people in Nigeria. The discussion identified groups, locations, and main obstacles these disenfranchised people and groups are facing. In addition, the main measures that could be taken to remove these obstacles were also at the centre of discussion.
At the end of the dialogue, the participants issued a communique which shows that “women, children, people with disability, aged, people living in rural communities and internally displaced persons are the most left behind in our country. And they confront a wide range of developmental challenges that pose direct threats to the lives and the stability of their environment.”
Nigerians are truly left behind in the development process
According to a report by the Overseas Development Institute examines that in Nigeria, “far more than half of the population lives below the $1.90 extreme poverty line.” Therefore, income poverty alone is responsible for the exclusion of more than half of Nigerians from the benefits of economic growth and development.
All Nigerians can claim that they are left behind from development except those in power and their close allies. One of the panellists at the dialogue, Professor Lanre Olaniyan, Director, Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, believes he suffering from exclusion, too. I wonder who else is not being left behind if the professor feels excluded. However, leaving Nigerians behind in this sense goes beyond income inequality among Nigerians. It means when the poorest and most marginalised people continue to be furthest from human development indicators.
This group of people bears the greatest incidence of poverty. These include lack of quality education, health facilities, water and sanitation, good roads, power among others. Experience has shown that exclusiveness in implementing development programs have been a recurrent issue even at the global level.
In the same vein, it is a serious problem in Nigeria because people that really need to benefit from development programs or people that these policies are designed for do not benefit from such at the end of the day. Left behind people or regions can only enjoy inclusiveness if Nigerian governments change the current system of governance as some public affairs commentators have suggested; I do not share in that opinion, or by carrying out our developmental agenda with more purpose and sincerity; I believe this will ease the plight of the furthest behind Nigerians.
Key dimensions of leaving Nigerians behind in the development process
Poverty remains a major hindrance to inclusive development. The rates of poverty and vulnerability to leaving Nigerians behind in the development process are high. This is not because Nigeria is in short supply of resources to drive its population to inclusive development. But because the manner by which public policies are formulated and implemented reinforces exclusion among Nigerian people and regions.
Closely related to poverty as major keys that drive exclusion is income inequality. The current economic recession in Nigeria is evidence of exclusive economic growth for more than a decade. Consequently, most Nigerians did not benefit from years of economic gain. And many of them are still experiencing exclusion up to date. This demonstrates why our economy is finding it difficult to recover from the recession.
Poverty and income inequality are just a few key dimensions of exclusion in Nigeria. Other key dimensions include decent work deficits, regional marginalisation and political exclusion.
Measures to tackle exclusion in Nigeria
Exclusion is a social problem that will continue to degrade many of Nigerians social and economic well-being. For a reverse case, application of transformational measures to tackle leaving Nigerians behind in the development process is important. Improve data disaggregation, and applying them efficiently and promoting inclusive institutions are imperative policy paths for Nigeria to leapfrog out of exclusion.
There is a great need for government to invest in modern data management practices. Data that identify people and region that are vulnerable at household and individual level have the capacity in designing more realistic programmes. These programmes often improve the lives of furthest behind people. As a result, the government will be able to enter into a public-private partnership that delivers benefits to more poor Nigerians.
In addition to investing in data management, it is imperative for the government to promote inclusive institutions. Engaging Nigerians in the developmental process by various government institutions is paramount to bringing people out of marginalization. Therefore, the government need to engage CSOs and improve its workforce on deliberative democracy. Also, the government most empower local authorities to deliver more services according to their needs. Enacting anti-discrimination laws and repealing any discriminative laws like unfair allocation of resources and laws that refuse to punish environmental polluters are essential.
It is a resounding fact that exclusion of more Nigerians and some regions are growing. And for sustainable development to take its root in Nigeria, the involvement of everyone is non-negotiable. A situation where few are feeding fat while the majority are lagging behind will definitely result in a crisis. Examples are what we are witnessing in the south-south and the north-earth regions of the country. Therefore, the government does not need to give flimsy promises. But purposeful commitments to improve both social and economic inclusion among furthest behind Nigerians.