CISLAC’s shadow report on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, was aimed at providing a broad independent assessment of the Nigerian government’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), a Nigerian nonprofit also registered in the US, has Friday launched its shadow report on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as opened its US global office in New York, United States of America.
The event which was hosted on the sidelines of the still ongoing 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was attended by Nigeria’s permanent representative at the United Nations, H.E Tijjani Muhammed-Bande; Hon Muhammed Ali Wudil, a member of the SDGs committee at Nigeria’s House of Representatives; as well as Hilary Ogbonna, coordinator (Africa and Arab States) at United Nations SDG Action Campaign, amongst others.
The launch of CISLAC’s shadow report on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals – which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels – and opening of its US global office was attended by development partners, civil society organizations and the media from within and outside the United States.
In his opening remarks at the event, CISLAC’s executive director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa said the shadow report on SDG 16 aimed to “inform the current anti-corruption efforts of the current Nigerian government towards achieving sustainable development” and therefore urged the Nigerian civil society and other stakeholders to lend their voices to the campaign against corruption in the country.
“Nigeria is being threatened by ethnic and socio-cultural turbulence; the civil society has the mandate to advocate for peace, fairness and social justice towards bringing about the much needed development in the country,” says Musa.
Speaking on the rationale behind CISLAC’s establishing of a global office, Afia Zakiya, a member of the nonprofit’s board said the global office would help consolidate CISLAC’s “expertise in implementing regional and global programmes and enhance our regional and global advocacy as well as partnerships with UN agencies, missions, development partners, and the diplomatic community.”
While also speaking at the launch event, Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, H.E Tijani Muhammed-Bande commended CISLAC’s giant strides in the campaign against corruption and blamed corruption for Nigeria’s underdevelopment including the current social unrest in the country.
“There cannot be peace if there is injustice, Nigeria has had series of leaders that were not transparent, and paradoxically, everything revolves around the leader; we need to create strong institutions and creating strong institutions should be everybody’s business,” says Bande.
Hilary Ogbonna, coordinator (Africa and Arab States) at the United Nations SDGs Action Campaign expressed appreciation that Nigeria was “strongly interested” in engaging with the SDGs and described SDG 16 as “a development enabler that could propel Nigeria into becoming a true African giant, if well implemented.”
Speaking on the role of legislators in achieving SDG 16, a paper presenter at the event, John Francis said, as representatives of the electorate and thus the voice of the citizens, legislators’ leadership role cut across policy formulation, fiduciary powers in appropriation as well as oversight role for the purpose of transparency and accountability and strengthening institutions for good governance at all levels.
And while reviewing CISLAC’s SDG 16 Shadow Report, Chioma Kanu, a senior progamme officer in charge of the SDGs at the nonprofit said the objective of the report was to provide a “broad independent assessment of the Nigerian government’s progress towards achieving the SDGs.”
“The SDG 16 Shadow Report focuses on the anti-corruption agenda, specifically focusing on targets 16.4 which is on illicit financial and arms flows; target 16.5 on reducing bribery and other forms of corruption as well as target 16.10 on access to information. The report has 19 policy areas and 175 targets,” says Kanu.
She said although not much had been achieved by the Nigerian government regarding the implementation of the SDGs, there was a political will to push the process forward in terms of creating necessary legislative frameworks for the Global Goals in Nigeria.
“We are urging the government to strengthen the legal framework by passing into law some enabling pieces of legislations such as the whistle blower protection bill, freedom of information bill and the lobbying policy as well as reviewing the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to include beneficial ownership disclosure,” she calls.
A communiqué issued at the end of the event observed there was “absence of clear short, medium or long term national development plan that will harmonize the SDGs at national and sub-national levels” in Nigeria and that there was “no clear institutionalized bilateral efforts to curb Illicit financial and arms flows or to recover stolen funds of Africa, specifically Nigeria, domiciled in foreign countries.”
Thus, the communiqué recommended that the Nigerian government borrowed a leaf from the UN by creating a space for civil society to effectively engage with the sustainable development process by establishing “a clear plan for short, medium, and long term national development that includes harmonization with the SDGs, Agenda 2063 and other relevant African development plans.”
It also urged “African countries, specifically Nigeria to strengthen bilateral relationships and access to information that will ensure all stolen illicit finances in foreign countries are repatriated for sustained development within the African region” as well as “expedite action on asset recovery by setting up a special integrity trust fund to be monitored by the Civil Society to ensure repatriated funds are duly channeled to sustainable development efforts.”
Participants at the launch event held at New York’s Helmsley Building called on the Nigerian and African governments to work towards achieving SDG 16 and applauded CISLAC’s strides as a leading non-governmental organization working locally and internationally to improve Nigeria’s legislative process’ engagement with the civil society.