Friday, 31 January 2014

Speech: There Is Need For Us To Remain Focused And Vigilant

(Being Speech By President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria At the 22nd ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, 31st January 2014)

Mr. Chairman

Your Excellencies

I want to thank President Johnson-Sirleaf for her eloquent presentation on the work of the High level Committee on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.  Her presentation highlighted what should drive our position in the emerging structure that will propel the Post 2015 Development Agenda, as we approach the 2015 threshold that terminates the life of the current MDGs.

There is no doubt that the MDGs have helped to refocus our attention as leaders of our countries on very critical areas of human development, including committing resources to meet the timeline and benchmarks prescribed under each segment of the eight MDGs.

Mr. Chairman, the cross-cutting nature of the eight MDGs were such that any positive outcome in one, resulted in progress in another.  Statistics showed improvements across the MDGs within Nigeria. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2013 acknowledged that Nigeria has halved the proportion of those who suffer from hunger way ahead of the 2015 deadline.

The net attendance levels for basic schooling have risen markedly in the country. Gender parity targets at primary and secondary education levels have been achieved. The under-five mortality and maternal health have equally seen reversal of the previously negative trend. There is continual fall in the HIV prevalence of the country. Government, in collaboration with stakeholders, is mobilizing the necessary attention needed to focus on Goals lagging behind.

Mr. Chairman, Nigeria hosted a Side Event on the MDGs in New York on the margins of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.  The Event was attended by the Presidents of Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, many international figures and UN Officials. The experience gathered from aggregating citizens’ aspirations for a Post-MDGs era clearly shows that the current MDGs must not be sidelined. Poverty eradication should remain in focus, whilst recognizing the challenges that have impeded progress with a view to highlighting structural transformation as a panacea.

Mr. Chairman, African leaders voiced the need to ensure that the unfinished business of the MDGs is carried into the MDGs successor agenda. There is need for us to remain focused and vigilant to ensure that decisions on what forms the new framework is all inclusive, reflecting the wishes of developing countries.

Nigeria affirms the African Common Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda as set out in the African Union policy document of March 2013. The document promotes universal and equitable access to quality healthcare, gender equality, education and human capital development, disaster risk reduction, poverty eradication, shelter provision, water resources management as well as harnessing the potentials of Africa’s growing population demographics.

There is no denying that the scale of resources needed for financing the Post 2015 Development Agenda is daunting, especially for our countries. While we continue to require the assistance of our development partners, we must also explore other sources of funding. In this regard attention should be devoted to finding our internal resources as well as collaboration among member states.

Mr. Chairman, we have the opportunity to make transformational changes throughout societies and in particular ensure that those who are most in need amongst us are given the necessary support.  I have no doubt that given the requisite commitment, these changes would be made.

 I thank you.

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