By Gift Chapi Odekina
The Presidency, and other stakeholders on Tuesday kicked against the creation of a management board for the proposed Sustainable Development Fund.
The Presidential office in charge of SDGs, the National Population Commission, the Federation Ministry of Health, as well as professional bodies such as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), all expressed willingness to support the establishment of the Fund.
They however, noted that provided the Fund is domiciled within the Presidential office in charge of SDGs, rather than a separate management board that would duplicate the functions already performed by existing body within the Presidency.
First to kick against the management board for the Fund was the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Adejoke Adefilure.
She said “while the presidency supports the bill and the SDGs office is desirous of more funding to achieve its goals, we are of the view that setting up a separate management board would be burdening and compounding the bureaucracy associated with the operations of government agencies which slows down the pace of work.”
“We are grateful to the leadership and members of the national assembly for this bill which seeks to raise more funds for the achievement of the Sustainable development goals.
“The President adopted the SDGs as a successor development framework after the termination of the MDGs. After the adoption, Nigeria acted very quickly and set up the team at both federal, states and local governments to guarantee effective implementation of the SDGs.
“We want to assure Nigerians and the committee that the SDGs will be met if the fund is raised and deployed to the appropriate organizational structure that already exist.
“Mr. President has already set up a committee to fashion out ways of reducing government agencies, and creating more would be antithetical to the objective of that mandate.
The NPC represented by Margaret Edison, Health Ministry and NBA all opined that the proponents of the Bill should have taken cognizant of the practical fact that there is in existence a functional Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the SDGs (OSSAP), since 2007 (since the MDGs era); and that OSSAP reports directly to Mr. President on the SDGs.
“Equally, Part 1, Section (1) sub-section (3), of the Bill states that the Fund shall be located in the Presidency and shall be subject to the direction, control and supervision of the President in the performance of its functions under this Act. This is tantamount to duplication of efforts and wastage of limited fund that is not sufficient to meet the critical needs of the nation and may not be in the interest of the nation in proceeding with accentuating to this Bill further.”
Edison said: “The NPC wishes to suggest for consideration, the situating of the management and disbursement of the fund in OSSAP, which already has a well operational arrangements for the implementation of the SDGs programmes and activities nation-wide.
Earlier, the chairman of the Committee, Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye noted with regrets that Nigeria lacks accurate and up-to-date population data necessary for the achievement of the Sustainable development goals.
According to him, it’s only national population commission that can provide up-to-date information about the country’s population on which government can anchor her development plans, such as the SDGs.
The sponsor of the bill, Hon. Abdularazak Namdas, when called upon to speak said SDGs goals are very important and that he was on ground to listen more to what stakeholders had to say so as to know those areas of the bill that need enriching and adjustment before the final copy is made for transmission.