ADDRESS DELIVERED BY HER EXCELLENCY PRINCESS ADEJOKE ORELOPE-ADEFULIRE, SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AT THE FLAG-OFF CEREMONY OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE CORPS/SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS CHAMPIONS IN NIGERIA ON THURSDAY 16TH FEBRUARY, 2017 .
AT THE NYSC PERMANENT ORIENTATION CAMP, KEFFI, NASARAWA STATE.
Today marks another milestone in the collaboration between the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals and National Youth Service Corps as we launch the NYSC/SDGs Champions, a group of Corps members who will be acting as the mouth piece of the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs) on the Advocacy and Sensitization of Sustainable Development activities at the thirty six States and the Seven Hundred and Seventy Four (774) Local Governments of the Federation.
It is instructive to note that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) with its nationwide spread played a major role in galvanizing Nigerians for participation in the Millenuim Development Goals and was in the forefront for the collection of data which resulted in the new global agenda for development; the Sustainable Development Goals. It is, therefore, only logical for the Office and National Youth Service Corps to evolve this partnership of using Corp members to drive the Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to complete the “unfinished business” of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
As you may be aware, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are currently at the Centrepiece of the current global development agenda which evisages a world free from poverty and deprivation where the fundamental conditions for human survival and prosperity are safe guarded. This vision, which was endorsed by 189 nations in New York in September, 2015 is expected to guide Nations, International Organisations, the Private Sector, Civil Society and Governments in all countries and at all levels in the shared pursuit of a healthier world and a better tomorrow.
The 17 goals and 169 Targets of the SDGs is a response to the numerous challenges that confront the world today. While we assert that Nigeria recorded appreciable progress in the implementation of the MDGs, particularly in the area of Universal Primary enrolment, gender parity as well as the prevalence of hunger, critical challenges remain, which have been rolled over to the SDGs. The 17 goals are integrated and indivisible and balance economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, indeed these goals, targets and indicators will stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance to us as a nation.
The Office has embarked on a number of activities to domesticate and mainstream the new agenda in Nigeria. During the process of formulating the SDGs, Nigeria demonstrated leadership by leading other African States to ensure that citizens’ voices were included in the new Agenda.
It is therefore important that Nigeria continues to be at the forefront of implementation even as the global community rolls out the SDGs. In an effort to domesticate, integrate and mainstream the new Agenda, the Office is working assiduously to conclude actions on the Policy, Financial and Institutional frameworks needed for the successful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.
A Millennium Development Goals End-Point Report that details the various MDGs key implementation milestones and achievements, notable policy drivers, main challenges and key lessons learnt at both the national and sub-national levels have been compiled and disseminated, being the first of its kind in Africa. In addition, the Office has articulated the essential elements that make up the Country Transition Strategy necessary for the successful transition from MDGs Agenda to the SDGs Framework.
The document proposes key strategic options that best support effective transitioning and implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria, structured around eight thematic areas that are at the heart of the SDGs. These thematic areas are institutional framework, policy and legal mechanisms, partnership, data, monitoring and reporting, human resources, communication and financing mechanism. The Country Transition Strategy was further examined and an Action Plan with a list of immediate priority activities with strict timelines was developed in a brainstorming retreat organized in collaboration with United Nations Country System, the UK Department for International Development, MDAs and other relevant stakeholders.
The Office is in partnership with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to mainstream and integrate the SDGs into the medium and long-term National Development plans for effective planning, adequate budgeting and overall successful implementation across the nation. We are equally working with the National Bureau of Statistics and the United Nations Development Programme in the conduct of a mapping of existing SDGs related data and establishing baseline data which will be useful in benchmarking SDGs progress.
It is as a way of preventing some of the drawbacks found with the implementation of the MDGs in Nigeria that setting up this group of Corps members became necessary. One major drawback of the MDGs implementation was the inability of communities where projects were sited to take ownership of projects.
One of the aims of the NYSC/SDGs Champions, will therefore, be to develop in the Nigerian citizenry, a commitment to development through awareness creation in the implementation of the SDGs and to galvanize Nigerians for active participation in the achievement of the SDGs. The SDGs Champions will enrich SDGs activities in their various places of primary assignment by collaborating with community members, private organisations etc to improve the lives of the youth in their various communities in line with the vision of the SDGs in Nigeria which is “Stronger Together”.
The implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria is envisaged to be community based. This will enhance strict development programme and create zeal for the communities to protect and sustain its programme. As such, the need for Advocacy and Sensitization by the NYSC/SDGs Champions cannot be over emphasized. It is therefore my hope that this collaboration, like previous ones with the National Youth Service Corps, will yield positive results.
I charge you as the maiden group of NYSC/SDGs Champions to see this assignment as a clarion call to contribute your own quota to the development of this great nation.
We implore you to be very active in the area assigned to you, keep records of activities, make advocacy and enlightment of SDG programmes/projects known to the people in the area you cover and report community pressing needs to OSSAP-SDG’s. Always make your voices heard to assist the weak because Stronger Together, we can achieve the SDG’s.
I therefore hope you will set the pace for the attainment of the laudable goals of setting up a group of this nature.
On this note, I therefore launch the NYSC/SDGs Champions to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind.
Thank you and God bless.