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Education and Peace, antidotes to poverty

Poverty surpasses a state of having little or no money and material possessions. It manifests in various forms such as hunger, poor health, limited access to education, discrimination, to mention a few and these effects of poverty can lead to lifelong struggles. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere, is indeed one that should be achieved without leaving anyone out.

The UN reports that about one in five persons in developing regions live below poverty line and the first target of the SDG 1 seeks to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030. On the scale of the Human Development Index (HDI) Report of 2015, Nigeria ranks 152nd out of 188 countries. The United Nations Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (UNGMPI) published in June 2015, gives an estimated percentage of poverty rate in the 36 states in Nigeria. An analysis of this report reveals that poverty in Nigeria correlates with level of education and the stability of each State. Therefore, we want to consider the role of low literacy/ education and high level of insurgency in poverty outlook in Nigeria.

According to UNICEF, Northern Nigeria records the lowest school attendance rate, particularly for girls. Education is directly related to the ability to earn enough to stay out of poverty, the higher the individual’s education, the more job benefits that become available. UNICEF supports efforts to increase equitable access to quality basic education and to improve learning achievements, special emphasis is given to girls’ education. According to the UNGMPI, Northern states in Nigeria record high rates of poverty with Zamfara 91.9%, Adamawa 59%, Borno 70.1%, etc. Whereas, the Southern states record relatively low rates with Lagos 8.5%, Ekiti 12.9%, Osun 10.9% etc. We hence can see a relationship between low literacy rate and poverty as seen in the North compared to the South. Education in all forms is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and it generally has an uplifting effect on other aspects of society.

The high poverty rate in the North-Eastern states in Nigeria can also be linked to insurgency in the area. The UNGMPI shows that the North-Eastern states are among the 15 states with the highest poverty rate. Borno 70.1%, Bauchi 86.6%, Adamawa 59.0%, Gombe 76.9%, Taraba 77.7%. Insurgency in North-East Nigeria has affected basic education negatively, it has also resulted in the internal displacement of persons. The Boko Haram activities which started in 2009 have left many homeless and displaced and these persons have been placed into Internally Displaced Persons camps in the North-East Nigeria. Life in these camps is not conducive as normal life remained a luxury the displaced persons could not afford. This situation has great impact on the poverty level.

The 17 SDGs are interlinked, right from Goal one to the seventeenth goal. ‘No Poverty’ for instance is interlinked to ‘Zero hunger’, ‘Quality education’ which is Goal 4 as well as Goal 16 which is ‘Peace Justice and Strong Institution’. The insurgency in the North-East has provided a good case studies to development experts and researchers and they have established a nexus between Poverty, education and peace. It needs no rocket science to see that where poverty is predominant, there cannot be peace. Similarly, A people that lack education would struggle in the area of economic development and more likely to get stuck in the poverty rut for a long time. To properly address poverty, everyone should take education seriously just as peace should be paramount in the mind of all. No doubt, Education and a peaceful atmosphere are antidotes to Poverty.

A lot of interventions have been carried out by the Nigerian government, the United Nations and its specialized agencies as well as Non-Governmental Organisations, but a lot still need to be done. It is of extreme importance for everyone, both young and old, private and public, individually and collectively, to be involved in the SDG 1 in order to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. You have a role. I have a role. We all have a role play in ending poverty everywhere.

Written by Sonia Ahanmisi (Intern)

Lagos Planning Ministry, UNIC, DFID take SDGs awareness to LGs

It was indeed commendable to see Lagos State’s development planners and representatives of Local Governments engaged in discussion on how to raise awareness and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the grassroots level. This was the case on Thursday, 30 March 2017, when the Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget (MEPB) in collaboration with United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK – DFID) and the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) held a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) awareness programme at the Library Auditorium of UNIC, Ikoyi Lagos.

The programme which was the third and the last in the series, included over 100 representatives from Local Government Areas (LGA’s), Local Development Area Council (LCDA’s) and Community Development Committee (CDC) under the Lagos Central Senatorial District. It was aimed at raising awareness of the SDGs and highlighting the need for everyone, including those at the various Local Government Areas, to understand the goals and the targets.

In his opening remarks, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre, Mr. Ronald Kayanja, underscored the importance of the SDGs to development planning for the next fourteen years. According to him, “It is important that we mainstream the global goals into the country’s development plan at the three levels of government: Federal, States and the Local Governments. We all have the responsibilities to localize the goals and ensure that they are deeply rooted in the society.”

The Director, Development Partnership Department (DPD), Mr. Bankole, the Director of Planning, Mr. Akinsanya, who represented the Lagos State Permanent Secretary as well as Mrs. Margaret Fagboyo, Program Officer, Department for International Development, (DFID) and other speakers highlighted the importance of the SDGs awareness programme to the total development of the society as it encourages participation across all levels. They noted that the SDGs would only be achieved if everyone was involved.

The workshop paraded ‘SDGs Champions’ who are members of MEPB previously trained by UNIC, UNDP and DFID in the past. They are to continually educate and work closely in the SDG planning process with those at the area level, achieving a bond between the state and local governments.

The 17 SDGs Champions were decorated with ‘SDGs Wheel’ pins by Mr Kayanja.


Youth, key to achieving SDGs in Nigeria

“Youth have a crucial role to play in the achievement of the Global Goals, otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are great thinkers, innovative and drivers of change.” These were the words of Mr. Oluseyi Soremekun, National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in his welcome address at the ‘Nigerian Youth SDGs Pre-Summit – Inspiring youth engagement, promoting youth participation’, held at the UN information Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Mr. Soremekun who represented the Director; Mr Ronald Kayanja, introduced and explained the relevance of the SDGs to youth. He enjoined the youth to pull together their creative energies and harness the opportunities offered by the SDGs as an extension of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He continued, “Youth must play an active role in the implementation and reporting of the SDGs. The goals are ambitious and all-encompassing giving room for everyone to contribute.”

The National Information Officer further stated that the SDGs as a development framework, addresses issues that are of interest to both the developed and developing countries; private and public sectors as well as the Civil society and the academia. ‘They are global goals that leave no one behind’, he added.

The pre-summit organized by NextGen Africa in collaboration with UNIC Lagos, had in attendance representatives of youth organisations from Lagos and neighbouring States. Speaking at the event, the Founder of NextGen Africa, Mr Joshua Alade explained that the purpose of the summit was to ensure that youths in Nigeria worked under one umbrella to achieve the global goals. The pre-summit included youth stakeholders in development and young people driven to attain the global goals in Nigeria.  Some of the stakeholders gave brief descriptions of their works and plans towards the achievement of the global goals.

The participants, who later broke into five discussion groups, discussed topics such as ‘How can we make economic and strategic case for the SDGs?’ ‘How can we break silos, catalyse and facilitate new forms of partnership and communities of practice – across sectors to deliver on the SDGs?’ ‘How can we raise the profile of the SDGs across the various sectors and the Nigerian public?’ ‘How can we develop a coordinated National approach to the SDGs?’ ‘How can we prioritize SDGs while ensuring nothing important is ignored and interlinkages between the goals are addressed?’ Representatives of the groups made presentations on the topics to the plenary.

The pre-summit rounded off with a mandate to the attendants to ensure adequate sensitization of the Nigerian youth on what the SDGs represent, using a unified, all-inclusive and participatory method to build a foundation for these goals towards a sustainable Nigeria.

Other organizing partners were United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN) and SustyVibes.


Shun slavery as all human beings are born free and equal in dignity – UNIC

Against the backdrop of modern day slavery as exemplified by forced migration, forced labour and human trafficking, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, has called on everyone to shun all forms of slavery as all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. “The right to liberty and security”, he said, “is a fundamental human right that must be respected and no one should hold anyone in slavery or servitude”.

He said this at the weekend in Calabar, Cross River State, South-East Nigeria, during the educational briefing of students as part of activities marking the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, organised by UNIC Lagos and the Cross River State Government.

Addressing over 200 students from 10 High Schools, Mr Kayanja who was represented by UNIC National Information Officer, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, urged that “Those in position of power and influence at all levels including the family unit, should desist from exploiting and taking advantage of the vulnerable ones who are not in position to withhold consent to servitude.”

Explaining the theme for this year’s observance, “Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”, the UNIC Director explained that it focused on the ways in which enslaved Africans and their descendants influenced and continued to shape societies around the world, including in the areas of technology and culture; as well as the persistent spirit and innovation of the people in communities affected by the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Declaring the International Day open, the Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, represented by the Commissioner Ministry of International Development Cooperation (MIDC), Hon Francis Ettah, acknowledged that Calabar was eminently qualified to host the ‘Remember Slavery’ programme in Nigeria due to its strategic importance as a slave port during the period of Slave Trade and thanked the United Nations for making Cross River the destination when it decided to take the observance out of Lagos for the first time.

He disclosed that the same year the UN General Assembly established the ‘Remember Slavery’ Programme in 2007, the Cross River State Government also established the Calabar Slave Museum, an indication that the State government and the UN were thinking alike.

Hon Ettah therefore urged the students not to allow themselves to be lured into slavery under the pretext of greener pastures.

The educational briefing was preceded by a public awareness rally led by the Commissioner MIDC, Hon Ettah, Permanent Secretary of  MIDC, Dr Gabriel Akpeke and UNIC National Information Officer Oluseyi Soremekun. The rally which was spiced up by music with intermittent messages of ‘Remember Slavery’, was started from the Government Secretariat and terminated at WAPI school, the venue of the briefing.

The students were treated to a film screening tiled, ‘Queen Nanny: The Legendary Maroon Chieftainess’; a Poster Exhibition as well as a rendition by the WAPI school choir after which 30 students who answered correctly, questions drawn from the film, were taken to the ‘Slave History Museum’ at Marina Resort, Calabar.

Sharing her experience, Magdalene Francis, a 17-year old student of WAPI School said, “I was touched. I felt bad and it was as if I was the victim.” “I learnt a lot today. I want to thank UNIC and Cross River State Government for the opportunity to learn about Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” said Christopher Edet, a 17-year old student of WAPI.

UN General Assembly, in December 2007, declared 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, to be observed annually.


Fanfare in Lagos as UNIC marks mother language day, urges parents to encourage mother tongue at home

Language is culture and a way of life. Little wonder it was all fun and fanfare in Lagos: Traditional drummers in their elements, display of traditional dance steps, oral poetry rendition in Yoruba language, participants in gorgeous traditional attires, educational briefing of students in Yoruba Language and at a venue decorated with cultural artefacts, all combined to make Tuesday, 21 February 2017, truly the International Mother Language Day in Nigeria.

Organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the Lagos Education District 1, Agege, and observed in the 99 schools under the administration of the District, the Mother Language Day event also featured the launch of the Guidelines on the use of Yoruba Language on Thursdays, at the Assembly Ground of all Public schools in the District. By the Guidelines, all public schools must on Thursdays conduct the Assembly Ground activities in Yoruba Language.

Addressing the over 400 participants at the observance of the 2017 International Mother Language Day in Lagos, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Mr Ronald Kayanja urged parents to teach and encourage their children to speak in their mother tongue. “Master your mother language. Teach and encourage your children to speak their mother language”, he said.

Explaining the 2017 theme: ‘Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education’, the Director noted that “To foster sustainable development, learners must have access to education in their mother tongue and in other languages. It is through the mastery of the first language or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.”

Mr Kayanja whose message was interpreted in Yoruba language by the National Information Officer of UNIC Lagos, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, therefore, called on teachers to desist from cautioning students who speak in the mother tongue. “The era of ‘Do not speak in the vernacular’ is gone. The United Nations General Assembly has called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.” He said.

Mr Kayanja added that “promoting the mother language is part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and I want to commend the Lagos State Government for its commitment to promoting the mother language in schools”.

Clad in the traditional Yoruba attire, the Tutor General and Permanent Secretary of Lagos Education District 1, Dr (Mrs) Olufolayimika Ayandele, noted that the launch of the Guidelines was meant to draw attention to the need to promote mother language speaking, reading, listening, writing, teaching and learning. She said further that any student who has mastered the mother tongue would find other subjects easier if thought in the mother tongue.

“Besides”, the Tutor General continued, “a good understanding of the mother language, would not impede the development and the performances of the students in any field they have chosen,” she continued, “All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world.”

The International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62) and has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Promote conservation, sustainable use of land resources

The survival of man depends on land and the ecosystem. To ensure that life on land is preserved and kept safe for both humans and animals, environmental menace, land degradation, deforestation and pollution of all kinds must be checked.  This is why everyone has to work towards achieving the goals and targets of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: To protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

SDG 15, simply referred to as ‘Life on Land’, targets preserving diverse forms of life on land. This requires promoting the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial and other ecosystem resources. This is not only critical for human lives, but also imperative to preserve the lives of animal species such as amphibians, birds and mammals that are on the verge of extinction.  Environmental activities by humans that also affect the safety of life on land, especially for animas include poaching, and trafficking of wildlife.

Land and Forest are important resources that sustain life on land. However in Nigeria, these resources are depleting due to land degradation, deforestation and pollution. These depleting factors arise due to over-use and inappropriate use of technologies and urbanization.  In fact, Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment records show that major factors that cause land degradation include deforestation resulting from multiple uses of forest resources for human survival (e.g. fuel wood and energy, housing etc.), poaching and mineral exploration(Mining). The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) also recorded that in the first half of the year 2007 a total of 424 spill incidents involving 33,799 barrels of oil. Hence, the resultant heat stress and acid rain continues to degrade the ecosystem. As a result, we are constantly exposed to the hazards of highly polluted gaseous and dust emissions from industries and vehicles and dangerous industrial wastes that are constantly being discharged into the environment.

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Environment and the United Nations have both made several efforts to ensure that life on land is secured in Nigeria as well as globally. However, these efforts can be aided if everyone can likewise promote activities that conserve and ensure sustainable use of land and forest resources. For example, The Great Green Wall Program, is a Pan African Initiative which is set up to address land degradation and desertification, boost food security and support communities to adapt to climate change in the Sahel-Sahara region of Africa while the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) was set-up by Nigeria Ministry of Environment with the aid of the World Bank, to respond to the gully erosion and degradation challenges that was plaguing the country as at 2010.

Also, to mitigate the glaring cases of deforestation and conserve endangered species in the Niger Delta region, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a project being executed by the Niger Delta Biodiversity Conservation Project in collaboration with community members who play crucial roles in the conservation and protection of forests as they are the custodians of natural resources, living around the forests and relying on the land to provide food, medicines, and energy for their subsistence. More so, The Niger Delta Biodiversity Project (NDBP) an initiative of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) carried out some activities, among which is the implementation of Community Biodiversity Action Plan (CBAP), within four  Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, which were captured in the five-year biodiversity conservation program which commenced in 2014. These and many more efforts have been made by the Nigerian government and the United Nations System to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal15.

However, it is important to re-emphasize the need for commitment from everyone to promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial resources through simple activities such as planting for trees, desisting from poaching, avoiding bush burning and illicit oil exploration.

Written by Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)


Not all wastes are wastes, recycle and reuse

There must be sufficient production before there is sufficient consumption. When consumption exceeds production, then there is a problem. When there is consumption of products, there needs to be a replacement, otherwise, there will be a deficit. Consumption leads to waste production but then not all wastes are wastes. Some wastes can be recycled and reused as raw materials in the production of other products. Most of the wastes produced in the world today come from what individuals consume. Little wonder Sustainable Development Goal 12 seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

As emphasized by Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF), “SDG 12 seeks to open a new world to humankind, where not just a few people undertake sustainable consumption, but where reducing, reusing, preventing and recycling will be common for everyone. The effects of such a sustainable lifestyle go beyond preserving the earth’s natural resources, as it can help in reducing the increasingly widening gap between the rich and the poor. Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources.

The Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF) emphasizes that the sustainable growth and development of a country is measured by how well they are doing in terms of production and not consumption. It involves minimizing “the natural resources and toxic materials used; the waste and pollutants generated throughout the entire production and consumption process.” As we consume, we are not to dispose all that we consume but rather look for ways to get more produced out of the wastes generated by the consumed goods. Production does not only come from fresh materials or fresh farm produce, production can come from waste if effectively recycled. For example, bio-fuels are produced from animal and farm wastes, manure are produced from sewage and decomposed refuse.

Target 5 of the Sustainable Development Goal 12 therefore, focuses on ensuring that by 2030, member countries would have substantially reduced waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse. Hence, Goal 12 can be achieved when countries understand the importance of aligning production to meet up with consumption through proper waste management. The efficient management of our shared natural resources, and the way we dispose of toxic wastes and pollutants, are important targets to achieve this goal. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important, as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.

Wastes management is not just going to happen only through the efforts of the government. Individuals need to develop, cultivate and imbibe the culture of responsible production and consumption even within the home and office environments. From water usage to printing on papers, everyone must adjust to responsible consumption and production. We all need to contribute our own quota. Proper use of products and less consumption of what is not needed are ways through which individuals can help the government. Not all wastes are useless, dispose well and recycle for reuse.

Written by Ms Olaide Olumide (An intern)

UNIC Lagos, UNESCO Abuja promote ‘Radio is you’ theme, gives radio sets to listeners

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with UNESCO Abuja,  on 13 February 2017, organized live discussion programmes on three radio stations, of which one is an indigenous language broadcast station.

Speaking on the 2017 theme of the World Radio Day, ‘Radio is You’, UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that the theme was a call for greater participation of audiences and communities in radio broadcasting process. Audience participation in radio broadcasting, he said, should go beyond simple on-air interaction. “Radio audience should be involved in programme planning and development to ensure maximum impact,” he added.

At 8:15 a.m., Mr Soremekun featured on Radio One 103.5 FM and spoke about the 2017 World Radio Day; and at 9:15 a.m. he came on air at Radio Continental on the programme, ‘Top 9 at 9’ where he articulated 9 ways radio impacts the lives of the people and bringing in the theme, ‘Radio is You’ at intervals. At 11:30, he moved to Bond FM 92.9 FM, an indigenous language broadcast station where he conveyed the message of the 2017 World Radio Day in Yoruba language. It was very participatory as the audience also called in and also linked up on Facebook and twitter to be a part of the discussion.
On each of the programmes/ stations, every first caller to participate in the discussion was rewarded with a radio set made available by UNESCO Abuja while three other contributors via telephone and Twitter were also rewarded for their contributions. In all, six radio sets were given to listeners.

World Radio Day was first celebrated in 2012, following its declaration by the UNESCO General Conference. It was subsequently adopted as an International Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Previous annual themes have included gender equality, youth participation, and radio in humanitarian and disaster situations. In 2016, more than 380 World Radio Day events were held in more than 80 different countries.

Encourage Girls To Study Science – UNIC Director

As the world marked the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Mr. Ronald Kayanja has underscored the need to encourage girls to study science subjects and explore careers in the Sciences to break the socio-cultural barriers that discourage girls and women from making career choices in science and technology.

“More girls and young women should be encouraged to go into the Sciences as “there are no subjects for boys and another for girls, what boys can do, you (girls) can do even better.” Mr Kayanja said while speaking at the 2017 International Day for Women and Girls in Science event organized by UNIC and ‘Yes I believe Academy’ (YIBA) at Supreme Education Foundation School, Magodo Lagos.

Attended by 200 girls from three Secondary Schools, the observance featured presentations by women in the Sciences as well as a playlet by the students of Supreme Education Foundation. The United Nations (UN) has declared every 11th day of February as International Day for Women and Girls in Science, due to its concern about changing the trend of gender inequality in the Sciences and its commitment to increasing the participation of more girls and young women in Science,”

In Africa, Mr Kayanja explained, fewer girls are in the Sciences. This he said is due primarily to the socio-cultural belief that sciences are meant for boys and not for girls and secondarily to lack of motivation from parents to make girls pursue career choices in Science.  He enjoined that girls and women must be empowered at every level, in learning and research across all scientific fields.

In his message on the observance, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres observed that for too long, discriminatory stereotypes have prevented women and girls from having equal access to education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “These stereotypes” according to him, “are flat wrong. They deny women and girls the chance to realize their potential – and deprive the world of the ingenuity and innovation of half the population.”

He urged commitment to end bias, greater investments in STEM education for all women and girls as well as opportunities for their careers and longer-term professional advancement so that all can benefit from their ground-breaking future contributions.

Obviously inspired by the speakers, who were all women with thriving careers in the Sciences, the girls, during the interactive session, expressed their willingness to pursue careers in science and technology. The need to offer mentoring opportunities to young women scientists to assist in their career development was repeatedly stressed by the speakers.

Participants attended from Supreme Education Foundation Schools, Ostra Heights Schools and Veritas Schools, Lagos.

Production, not consumption can help achieve SDG-9

According to the Bureau of Statistics on Industrial development in Nigeria, over half of the gross domestic product (GDP) is accounted for by the primary sector with agriculture continuing to play an important role. The oil and gas sector, in particular, continues to be a major driver of the economy, accounting for over 95 per cent of export earnings and about 85 per cent of government revenue between 2011 and 2012. The sector contributed 14.8 and 13.8 per cent to GDP in 2011 and 2012, respectively.  Generally, the United Nations statistics shows that in developing countries, small-scale industries accounted for an estimated 15 per cent to 20 per cent of value added and 25 per cent to 30 per cent of total industrial employment in 2015. However, access to reliable, affordable and resilient innovation, industrialization and infrastructure remains a problem.

The Sustainable Development Goal 9 aims at three important aspects that can aid sustainable development: infrastructure, industrialization and innovation. Infrastructure provides the basic physical systems and structures essential to the operation of a society or enterprise. Industrialization drives economic growth, creates job opportunities and thereby reduces income poverty. Innovation advances the technological capabilities of industrial sectors and prompts the development of new skills. These aspects of the goal requires the commitment of the government, private and public stakeholders and investors for it to impact the growth of the country’s economy.

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), technological progress is a key foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency, adding that without technology and innovation, industrialization will not happen, and without industrialization, development will not happen. “Investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology – are crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities in many countries. It has long been recognized that growth in productivity and incomes, and improvements in health and education outcomes require investment in infrastructure”, UNIDO stated.

A major aspect of infrastructural development are road and transportation. Although these basic infrastructure remain inadequate in Nigeria, their availability can promote economic growth. Infrastructural development in these two areas will indeed help to achieve a target of SDG 9 to develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all. In particular, infrastructural development in these areas will also play a critical enabler role; increasing the impact of nearly all other sectors of the economy.

Nigeria needs to invest not only in infrastructure but also in innovation which is also a crucial driver of economic growth and development; especially as new industries, information and communication technologies are becoming important drivers of the Nigerian economy. Apparently, it was in the light of this that on 22 May 2016, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, said that Nigeria needed the support of UNIDO to successfully implement its industrialization plans, policies and programmes to achieve economic diversification, poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation. “We need the support of international developmental agencies like UNIDO to implement our economic diversification plans, policies and programmes, including the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan. UNIDO has the technical expertise and global interconnectivity so they can help us connect the dots,” He said.

Despite efforts by the Nigerian government to advocate the use of local contents in the manufacturing sector, provide financial facilities for Medium and Small Scale Enterprises, and establish initiatives such as “Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan” (NIRP), the country’s level of development in the key areas of sustainable development seems low. This indicates that Nigeria still needs to do more to move from selling just raw materials, and move into more value-added manufacturing activities. The country can and must produce what its population consumes. The more a country specializes in the production of raw materials only, the poorer it becomes because Industry multiplies National wealth. In fact, no country has ever become rich by exporting raw materials without also having an industrial sector, and in modern terms an advanced service sector.

Therefore, as Nigeria aspires to join the league of developed nations worldwide, and as it aspires to achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 9, the nation needs to move from being a consumer to being a producer.

Written by Ms Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)