The United Nations, at its just concluded General Assembly in New York, applauded efforts by Delta State government in achieving the Millennium Development Goals
When about one year ago Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta State governor, inaugurated a Committee of Assessors from the United Nations, UN, to appraise the performance of some key sectors of the state, not many people were comfortable with the decision to open up the state to such external inquisition.
The mandate of the UN assessors was an assessment of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, especially as it concerned education, health, agriculture, provision of potable water and health. Those who viewed the exercise with so much trepidation believed it would expose the inadequacies or failures of the Uduaghan administration, or perhaps uncover a can of worms.
Even some members of the opposition parties were excited, not for the positive reason of the governor’s sincerity of purpose, but for the expected backlash that could taint the reputation of the government. A member of one of the opposition parties wondered what could have emboldened the governor to embark on what he called an “act of self-destruction.”
However, over one year after, the government had cause to celebrate its audacity of courage and vindication that indeed, a clear conscience fears no accusation. The state government won international accolade at the just-concluded UN General Assembly held in New York, United States, for meeting international standard in the thematic areas under scrutiny by the team of seasoned assessors led by Shola Omoregie, a former UN secretary-general’s envoy to Africa. An excited Chike Ogeah, Delta State commissioner for information who was on the entourage of the governor to the meeting, said the free medical care programme for children under five years of age and senior citizens over 65 years, as well as the free maternal care up to delivery for pregnant women, including caesarean section where necessary, was highlighted as crucial programmes that had reduced infant and maternal mortality in Delta State.
On education, the report noted that the introduction of Edu-Marshals, a scheme whereby officials are deployed to all towns in the state to ensure that children of school age were in schools, alongside the free and compulsory education of children up to secondary school level, was recommended by the UN report for adoption by other governments in meeting the goals of universal education. The report however noted that the implementation of the MDGs remained an unfinished business. It more importantly highlighted the challenges and bottlenecks that needed to be addressed by the state government.
Inaugurating the UN Committee of Assessors, at a preparatory workshop in Asaba, the state capital, Uduaghan had said the objective of the independent assessment in the key areas that affect human development was “to see how far we have done, where we have challenges, and to also advise us what to do in moving forward so that by 2015 when there is an assessment of the Millennium Development Goals, we can at least move faster if we are not there yet”.
Omoregie had appreciated the governor “for his extraordinary vision and creative leadership” for launching the initiative of undertaking an assessment of key sectors of the Delta State economy. While pointing out that the focus of the assessment was on the state’s performance in the key sectors that are relevant to the MDGs, he noted that although MDGs’ performance is aggregated at the national level, the states are the building blocks of national performance. According to him, “As we approach 2015, this assessment will enable Delta State to fulfil its obligations and have a sense of the progress that it has made since the beginning of this administration in 2007.” In doing this, he said, the state recognised that there were four critical sectors to the attainment of the MDGs – education, health, agriculture, and water and sanitation, hence it decided to focus on the four sectors under review.
He said it was an encouraging coincidence that the assessment was taking place at the same time that Nigeria returned to the UN Security Council under the able leadership of a daughter of Delta State, Joy Ogwu, a professor, who had expressed strong support for the assessment. He also asserted that, “this assessment would boost Nigeria’s overall performance in achieving the MDGs, noting that the team of consultants and experts that the UN had assembled was of very high calibre and specialists in the various sectors to be covered.
Dauda Toure, United Nations resident coordinator, who was represented by country representative of the UN, in a goodwill message on behalf of the United Nations system in Nigeria noted that monitoring performance and progress on development was a powerful tool which leads to poverty transformation and the provision of evidence-based planning in a state or nation and commended the governor for putting forward Delta State “for this objective performance assessment of key sectors of agriculture, water and sanitation, education and health, as well as the attainment of the MDGs.”
Toure said the assessment was “an indication of the state’s commitment to the broad ideals of good and accountable government, democracy, human development, peace and security, amongst other important issues.” Delta-born Eloho Otubu, also of the United Nations, described the performance assessment programme as important because “it’s part of the effort to see how far we have gone in Delta State in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals,” noting that fulfilling the MDGs had become a key yardstick of development around the world.
Uduaghan: Lauded for vision and creative leadership
Omoregie, Toure: Appreciate Uduaghan sense of leadership
Ogeah: Singled out free medical care programme as commendable
EDU-MARSHAL Programme: Recommended by UN for adoption by other
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