The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has presented a Shadow Report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria. The Report was presented at a Side Event of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Event also coincided with the official launch of the Global Office of the Centre and was graced by His Excellency, The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Prof. Tijani Muhhamed-Bande, and His Deputy, H.E Mr. Sunday Itebode, House Committee Chair on Poverty Alleviation and member of the SDGs Committee, Hon. Muhammed Ali Wudil, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna the Africa and Middle East Coordinator of the UN SDGs Action Campaign, Ms. Hauwa Umar- United Nations Environment Programme, New York, CISLAC Global Trustee Members- Dr. Afia Zakiya and, Mr. John Francis, Mr. Seing Falu Njie- UN Coordinator National think Tank, as well as other development partners, civil society organizations and media within and outside the United States.
In presentation of the Shadow Report on SDGs Goal 16, the Senior Programme Officer of CISLAC, Ms. Chioma Kanu stated that “the objective of the SDG 16 Shadow Report was to provide a broad independent assessment of the government led national progress toward the SDGs.” She intimated that the SDG 16 Shadow Report, which has19 policy areas and 175 targets 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 and target 16.10 on access to information.
While commending the show of political will by the government to push the process forward in terms of legislative frameworks, the Centre urged the government to strengthen the legal framework by passing into law some enabling pieces of legislation such as the whistle blower protection bill, freedom of information bill and the lobbying policy, and also called for the review of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA to include beneficial ownership disclosure.
A communiqué jointly signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) and members, CISLAC Global Board of Trustees, Mr. Francis John and Dr. Afia Zukiya revealed that the global office is expected to consolidate CISLAC’s huge experience, knowledge and expertise in implementing regional and global outreach programmes and partnerships; strengthen global networking among Africans in the Diaspora, provide a platform to address governance challenges internationally, and increase its regional Africa and global advocacy and partnerships with the UN Missions/Institutions, Development Partners, Diplomatic Community and Relevant Committees in the US Congress. Dr. Afia Zakiya, CISLAC board member, maintained that CISLAC has the pre-requisite competence to mobilize Africans in diaspora and other entities and individuals to leverage their expertise and spheres of influence to the benefit of the African continent.
Participants at the event applauded the giant strides of CISLAC and encouraged CISLAC to stand tall as a leading non-governmental organization locally and internationally, in its efforts to improve Nigeria’s legislative processes and relations within the civil society space. They further encouraged CISLAC not to relent in its efforts to represent the local NGOs to mobilize local philanthropic and other appropriate international resources to deeply engage in shadow reporting that will keep citizens informed of national development and SDG progress, and engage the grassroots in wider consultations so as to project the voice of the voiceless.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), noted that Nigeria is plunged into a critical period where the country is threatened by ethnic and socio-cultural turbulence; he observed that the civil society has the mandate to advocate for peace, fairness and social justice as this will bring the much needed development and urged the civil society and all other stakeholders to lend their voices to the clarion call on peace and stability and eschew corruption.
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Prof. Tijani Muhammed-Bande, while commending CISLAC on her giant strides and efforts at strengthening the work she does, observed that corruption is the bane of underdevelopment and social unrest in the country. He said that corruption is the worst epidemic among religious, ethnic and socio-cultural factors affecting the country’s development. He remarked that Nigeria has been plunged into conflict for the past three years and said that there cannot be peace if there is injustice. He further observed that Nigeria has had a string of leaders without transparency, and that paradoxically, where there has been strong leadership, everything revolves around the leader but not around creating strong institutions. He further posited that strong institutions should be everybody’s business, while also urging Nigerians to launder the image of the country abroad by highlighting the great achievements made by Nigerians while not losing sight of the challenges.
Hon. Muhammed Ali Wudil in his remarks, commended CISLAC’s effort in setting up a global office and called on all stakeholders to lend their voices to the Poverty Alleviation Bill at the National Assembly as well as support the government program on social investment which targets the poorest of the poor.
In his remark, Hilary Ogbonna expressed satisfaction on the fact that Nigeria is strongly interested in engaging with the SDGs. He stated that the SDG 16 is a development enabler that will propel Nigeria, if implemented, to become the leader in Africa and not just a middle income country. He also observed the need for Nigeria to attract technical expertise and also buttressed the point on the pivotal role of the civil society in bridging the gap between the executives and the legislature.
A paper presentation on role of the legislators in revitalizing SDG 16 gave rationale for parliamentary engagements by Mr. John Francis highlighted the legal mandate as representatives of the electorate and voice of the citizens, their leadership roles in policy formulation, fiduciary powers in appropriation and the legitimacy of the legislative oversight role for the purpose of transparency and accountability and strengthening institutions for good governance at all levels. He further stressed the need for a holistic approach to the SDGs which will enable effective and efficient implementation and sustained development.
CISLAC has been registered in the US as a 501(c)3, and has officially launched its global office on the 22nd of September, 2017. This coincided with the UN World Peace Day and the launch of its Shadow Report on SDG 16.