Review Of Nigeria Millennium Development Goals - 2005 Report




Dr. Otive Igbuzor

ActionAid International Nigeria

Plot 590 Cadastral Zone,

Central Business Area, Abuja, Nigeria.

Tel: 09/2348480 & 3



March 14, 2006 





1.                  INTRODUCTION

The problem of development has occupied the attention of scholars, activists, politicians, development workers and international organization for many years with an increased tempo in the last decade. Even though there are different perspectives to development, there is a general consensus that development will lead to good change manifested in increased capacity of people to have control over material assets, intellectual  resources and ideology; and obtain physical necessities of life (food, clothing & shelter), employment, equality, participation in government, political and economic independence, adequate education, gender equality, sustainable development and peace. This is why some people have argued that the purpose of development is to improve people's lives by expanding their choices, freedom and dignity.


However, the reality of the world is that many countries are underdeveloped with precarious development indices. More than 1.2 billion people or about 20 percent of world population live survive on less that US $1 per day. Wealth is concentrated in the hand of a few people. The UNDP in its 1998 report documented that the three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the 48 least developed countries.


Nigeria, which was one of the richest 50 countries in the early 1970s, has retrogressed to become one of the 25 poorest countries at the threshold of the twenty first century.  It is ironic that Nigeria is the sixth largest exporter of oil and at the same time host the third largest number of poor people after China and India. Statistics show that the incidence of poverty using the rate of US $1 per day increased from 28.1 percent in 1980 to 46.3 percent in 1985 and declined to 42.7 percent in 1992 but increased again to 65.6 percent in 1996. The incidence increased to 69.2 percent in 1997. The 2004 report by the national Planning Commission indicates that poverty has decreased to 54.4 percent.  Nigeria fares very poorly in all development indices. The average annual percentage growth of GDP in Nigeria from 1990 -2000 was 2.4. This is very poor when compared to Ghana (4.3) and Egypt (4.6).  Poverty in Nigeria is in the midst of plenty.  Nigeria is among the 20 countries in the world with the widest gap between the rich and the poor. The Gini index measures the extent to which the distribution of income( or in some cases consumption expenditure) among individuals or households within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution.  A Gini index of zero represents perfect equality while an index of 100 implies perfect inequality. Nigeria has one of the highest Gini index in the world. The Gini index for Nigeria is 50.6. This compares poorly with other countries such as India(37.8), Jamaica(37.9), Mauritania(37.3) and Rwanda(28.9).


In order to address the problem of poverty and promote sustainable development, the United Nations Millennium Declaration was adopted in September 2000 at the largest ever gathering of heads of heads of States committing countries both rich and poor to do all they can to eradicate poverty, promote human dignity and equality and achieve peace, democracy and environmental stability. The goals include those dedicated to eradicating poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.


Recognising the pivotal role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in mobilizing public pressure for the achievement of the Millennium Goals in Nigeria, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA) and Civil Society Coalition on Poverty Eradication (CISCOPE) with the support of the Millennium Campaign and ActionAid Nigeria organized a civil society Consultative Forum on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Abuja, Nigeria on 20th April, 2004.


2.                  LIMITATION OF MDG’s

The limitations of the MDGs and its targets are well documented.[i] First, they risk simplifying what development is about, by restricting the goals to what is measurable. Many aspects of development cannot be easily measured. Secondly, some of the goals are very modest e.g. the goal to half the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day by 2015 and the target to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. Finally, some of the targets do not address some the problems holistically. For instance, the MDG on education talks only of a full course of primary schooling with no reference to secondary and tertiary education.


3.                  WHY ENGAGE THE MDG’s?

Despite the limitations mentioned above, why should we engage the MDGs? There are various reasons. First, the MDGs draw together in a single agenda issues that require priority to address the development question. Secondly, the MDGs have received tremendous endorsement and backing by world’s governments. Thirdly, the MDGs have the advantage being more or less measurable, few in number, concentrated on human development and focused almost on a single date-2015. Another advantage of the MDGs is that it adds urgency and transparency to international development. Finally, explicit resource commitments have been made to achieve the MDGs. In the Nigerian context, the civil society Consultative Forum on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) held in Abuja, Nigeria on 20th April, 2004 provided the following three reasons why we need to engage the MDGs:


4.                  THE 2005 REPORT

The Nigeria Millennium Development Goals 2005 report is the second in the series of annual reports on the MDGs in Nigeria. The first report was the 2004 report. The report which addressed the eight MDGs highlights the current status and trends of each of the MDGs, the challenges and opportunities in attaining the goal, the promising initiatives that are creating a supportive environment and priorities for development assistance. The report concluded that:

There is high potential to attain some of the Millennium Development Targets namely,

·         Achieving universal primary education

·         Ensuring environmental stability

·         Developing a global partnership for development


Given the current policy environment and strong political will, there is also the likelihood of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

However, based on available information, there is the need for sustained efforts to ensure that the country meets the following goals by year 2015:   

·         Achieving gender equality and women empowerment

·         Reducing child mortality

·         Improving maternal health; and

·         Combating HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases[ii]

The conclusion of the MDG 2005 report is very remarkable and gives hope that there is possibility for achieving all the MDGs in Nigeria with sustained effort. This conclusion is quite different from the conclusions reached by the first report in 2004. The 2004 report states that “based on available information it is unlikely that the country will be able to meet most of the goals by   2015 especially the goals related to eradicating  extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child and maternal mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases”[iii]  It further states that “for most of the other goals (i.e apart from goal 1) up- to- date data exists which shows that if the current trend continues, it will be difficult for the country to achieve the MDG targets by 2015”.[iv]  As noted above, without providing the basis and reason for the dramatic change, the 2005 states that there is high potential to achieve 3 of the goals (Goals 2,7 and 8) likelihood to achieve one with strong political will(Goal 1) and the need for sustained efforts to ensure that the country meets the remaining four goals(Goals 3,4,5, and 6).




A review of the Nigeria Millennium Development Goals 2005 report will reveal a number of problems. We shall focus on only three of them. First, there is the challenge of accurate, reliable, credible and believable statistics. The draft of the first Nigeria MDG progress report prepared by NISER stated that at the primary school level “by 2002, the gender ratio was 1:04 in favour of girls’[v] 26. This was seriously criticized by CSOs as not reflecting reality. When the final  report came out, it stated that “at the primary school level, the gender ratio increased from 0.76 in 19990 to 0.78 in 1995 and 0.96 in 2000”[vi] The statistics had changed. In the past two and a half decade, statistics in Nigeria have always indicated increasing levels of poverty over the past two and a half decades from 28.1% in 1980 to 65.6% in 1996 (MDG Report ,2004). In the early 2000s, there were many estimates that poverty rate was above 70%. But President Obasanjo has always instated without any study that the poverty level was much lower. Expectedly, when the NPC conducted a survey in 2004, the poverty level was put at 54.4%. Before this report was released the 2004 MDG report stated that “it is unlikely that the country will be able to meet most of the goals by 2015 especially the goals related to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger”. After the release of the report, the 2005 MDG report stated that “given the current policy environment and strong political will, there is also the likelihood of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger’ p.viii.


The second problem with the report is that it is development assistance focused. The 2005 MDG report highlights the status of the MDGs, the challenges, opportunities and priorities for development assistance. This is not surprising for development strategy planning in Nigeria has been essentially external focused. According to the Nigerian draft interim poverty reduction strategy paper prepared in November, 2001 (the precursor of NEEDS),

Nigeria has embarked on preparing its own PRSP as a requirement for concessional assistance from its development partners abroad, including the World Bank, the IMF, the bilateral donors and other sources of such assistance. Given the importance of the subject and the tight timetable, the Nigerian authorities fully recognize the need to move forward expeditiously   to the timely completion of the countries PRSP of which this interim PRSP (IPRSP) is the preliminary step.[vii]

The final drawback of the report that we will like to point out is that the report did not indicate the policies and practices that need to change to attain the goals. Meanwhile, scholars and agencies have documented what needs to be done to tackle poverty and achieve the MDGs. In this review, we shall outline the recommendations of three agencies. The World Bank in its 2001 report titled Attacking poverty points out that “physical capital was not enough, and that at least as important were health and education” and proposed a strategy for attacking poverty in three ways[viii]:

1.         Promoting opportunity

§         Encouraging effective private investment

§         Expanding into international markets

§         Building the assets of poor people

§         Addressing asset inequalities across gender, ethnic, racial and social divides

§         Getting infrastructure and knowledge to poor area-rural and urban

2.         Facilitating Empowerment

§         Laying the political and legal basis for inclusive development

§         Creating public administration that foster growth and equity

§         Promoting inclusive decentralization and community development

§         Promoting gender equity

§         Tracking social barriers

3.         Enhancing Security

§         Formulating a modular approach to helping poor people manage risk

§         Developing national programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to macro shocks-financial and natural

§         Designing national systems of social risk management that are also pro-growth

§         Addressing civil conflict

§         Tackling the HIV/AIDS Epidemic 


The UNDP in its Human Development report of 2003 titled Millennium Development Goals: A Compact Among Nations to end Human Poverty pointed out that to achieve the MDGs require policy responses to structural constraints on several fronts along with stepped up external support.[ix] The report recommended six policy clusters to help countries break out of their poverty traps:

1.         Invest early and ambitiously in basic education and health while fostering gender equity. These are preconditions to sustained economic growth. Growth in turn can generate employment and raise incomes- feeding back into further gains in education and health gains.

2.         Increase the productivity of small farmers in unfavourable environments- that is, the majority of the world’s hungry people. A reliable estimate is that 70 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture.

3.         Improve basic infrastructure- such as ports, roads, power and communications- to reduce the costs of doing business and overcome geographic barriers.

4.         Develop an industrial development policy that nutures entrepreneurial activity and helps diversify the economy away from dependence on primary commodity exports- with an active role for small scale and medium size enterprises.

5.         Promote democratic governance and human rights to remove discrimination, secure social justice and promote well being of all people.

6.         Ensure environmental sustainability and sound urban management so that development improvements are long term.


ActionAid International in its report titled Changing Course: Alternative Approaches to Achieve Millenium Development Goals and Fight HIV/AIDs shows that there is a yawning gap between MGD needs and spending realities in poor countries and that macroeconomic policies enforced by the IMF block poor countries from being able to spend more on education, health and economic development.[x]  The report argued that for the MDGs to be achieved, the world must start to change course now and adopt at local, national and international levels alternative economic policies that allow for much higher long-term public investments in health, education and development.



In future editions of the report, it will be necessary to address the problems of the 2005 report discussed above. For the MDG/GCAP working group in Nigeria, there will be the need to address the following issues:



[i] Abani, C., Igbuzor, O. and Moru, J. ( 2005), Attaining the Millenium Development Goals in Nigeria: Indicative Progress and a Call for Action. In Moru, J. (Ed), Another Nigeria is Possible: Proceedings of the First Nigeria Social Forum. Abuja, Nigeria Social Forum.

[ii] Nigeria Millenium Development Goals 2005 Report.

[iii] Millenium Development Goals Report 2004 p. iv

[iv] Ibid p. v

[v] Millenium Development Goals 2004 Draft Report p.26

[vi] Ibid p.23

[vii] Nigeria Interim PRSP November, 2001

[viii]  World Bank (2001), World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty. N.Y., Oxford University Press Inc.

[ix] UNDP (2003), Human Development Report 2003-Millenium Development Goals: A Compact among Nations to end Human Poverty. New York, Oxford University Press

[x] ActionAid International (2005), Changing Course: Alternative approaches to Achieve the Millenium Development Goals and Fight HIV/AIDS