MDGs: The Niger State Example
Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu’s second coming has been described by many as a period of consolidation for a better Niger State. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led government took off in 2007 with an action plan targeted at promoting the welfare of citizens and to bring about the desired change needed for growth and development.
Areas of intervention by Governor Aliyu at inception ranged from reinvigoration of the machinery of governance to rapid revolutionalisation of the public service, and from education to agricultural development. Adequate attention was also paid to other fundamental sectors of human development as health, housing and environment, social security and rural development
The United Nations millennium declaration embraces most of the international development targets(IDTs),which commits member states to meeting specific development targets by 2015.This includes eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and women empowerment; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability and developing global partnership for development. Between May 2007 and now, the state government under Aliyu’s watch has engendered meaningful change in the lives of the people by embarking on sustainable developmental projects that provide succor for poorest of the poor as envisioned by the MDGs.
Driven by the aspiration to ensure that Niger State is rated among the leading states in Nigeria that seek to fasttrack achievement of the ambitious MDGs goals and targets, Governor Aliyu established the Niger State Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) office, a full-fledged agency to provide a clear framework for the MDGs process.
As part of efforts aimed at eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, government has scaled up investments in the agricultural sector through direct support and enabling policy environment to promote private sector participation in agriculture. This is to meet the target of ensuring food security and poverty eradication. Farmers now receive targeted incentives and support in form of subsidised fertilizer, improved seeds, crop protection products, farm inputs and training in new technologies of improving farm outputs.
Specifically, the MDGs agency in Niger State has renovated the farm institute in Tegina and has provided instructional materials. 60 motorcycles have also been provided to the State Agricultural Development Projects for agric extension services.
Universal access to education by children of school age, including the girl child is another key sector. To fasttrack MDG targets, the state adopted free education policy from primary to secondary school since 2007. The free education model is anchored on the principle that education is a key enabler to human capital development. Again, education is a right and not a privilege and ensures equal access by boys and girls to achieve their life time opportunities. The pool of skilled labour expected from investment in education will support the burgeoning agro-allied industry in the state.
One unique thing in the policy is that every child in the state is treated equally, no matter the child’s state of origin or circumstances of birth.
Improvements in access to healthcare delivery equally points to growing investments in primary and secondary healthcare facilities spread across communities in the state. Niger MDGs has so far constructed, equipped and supplied drugs to 13 comprehensive primary healthcare centres; renovated, equipped and supplied drugs to 100 basic health centres. Aside the existing facilities that were renovated, the Niger MDGs office constructed, equipped and supplied drugs to 100 basic health centres spread across the State.
Interestingly, the administration has just approved the construction/drilling of another 75 solar-powered boreholes at average of three per local government area and also the construction and equipping of 13 comprehensive primary healthcare centres, to underscore the administration’s belief that promoting policies that ensure quick wins is the way to go.
—Ndayebo is chief press secretary to Niger State governor
Copyright © United Nations Development Programme-Nigeria, 2007. All rights reserved|