Global Resources

Nigeria MDGs End-point Report 2015

Publisher: Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs
Publication Date: Nov 2015

For 15 years, the global development agenda was defined by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Yet it wasn’t until 2005, five years into the process, that Nigeria, bolstered by debt relief negotiated with the Paris Club, got moving in trying to achieve these development targets. So how did Nigeria do? As the MDGs are replaced by the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this UNDP report provides a detailed assessment on the success, or otherwise, of all of Nigeria’s efforts to achieve each of the MDG goals.

The assessment shows that Nigeria has had mixed results in fulfilling the MDGs, and the same is true for the country’s efforts toward MDG 3, concerning the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The focus of the goal was on attaining gender parity in educational enrolment, and in increasing levels of female participation in the labour force and government. Empirical data on the progress on each of these indicators are presented and discussed in the report, together with the identification of potential reasons for their successes and/or failures.

On the positive side, by 2013 Nigeria saw 94 girls enrolled for every 100 boys in primary education, up from 82 in 1991, while secondary education saw the figure rise from 78 to 91 over the same time period. While all areas of the country have seen increases in girls enrolment in schools, the trend is stronger in southern Nigeria than in the north, primarily due to a higher prevalence of cultural practices that constrain the enrolment of girls in school. These positive results are explained with reference to the large number of government initiatives and actions, such as the National Policy on Education, laws protecting children’s rights to education, and the provision of school materials to primary school girls on their first day. Remaining challenges are also identified, such as reducing the number of girls who fail to transition to secondary school, and the decline in female university enrolment.

Less success has been seen in improving the levels of women in non-agricultural waged employment. In 1991, women accounted for just 6.6% of paid employees outside of the agricultural sector. In 2012, that figure had risen to 14%, which is still disappointingly low. When agricultural workers are included, that percentage rises to 37.7%, which is at least an increase from 2012 (33%). Factors driving this gender disparity include lower levels of education for women, widespread workplace discrimination, and persistent cultural resistance to women working in the formal sector. Even more disappointing still is the proportion of seats held by women in the national parliament. With an MDG target of 35% by 2015, the current figure of 5.11% actually represents a backward step compared to the 7-7.7% seen in previous years. Despite a lot of efforts to encourage women candidates to stand for election, long-standing challenges concerning Nigeria's patriarchal culture, family-based socialisation of girls into passive roles, financial barriers, and constitutional constraints continue to constrain progress.

A number of national- and local-level success stories are highlighted, such as: President Goodluck Jonathan’s efforts to combat Polio, which led to its eradication in the country and served to show the importance of strong political leadership in achieving ambitious goals; the Conditional Grant Scheme that served to successfully scale-up MDG related schemes and leverage extra investment; the Midwives Service Scheme, which trained 4,000 midwives on emergency life-saving skills; and the Ondo State Abiye Safe Motherhood Programme, which helped to reduce the high maternal mortality rate in the area.

Finally, the report focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and how Nigeria’s strategy to transition to the new development agenda should be informed by the lesson’s learned from the MDGs. These lessons include the importance of debt-relief-induced resource availability, additional private sector funding, stakeholder empowerment and equitable participation, political will, and of the need to start the process as early as possible. Failure to heed these lessons will risk a repeat of the patchy, limited, and delayed MDG results.