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Lagos Will Meet The Millennium Development Goals - Fashola

Aug 31, 2009 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Monday faulted the impression that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) may not be achievable in 2015 asserting that Lagos State will meet the Goals.

Governor Fashola, who spoke at the signing ceremony of a Project Implementation Agreement between the State and two United Nations (UN) agencies - Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) - at the Lagos House, Ikeja, said the Lagos State Government has a clear plan for the achievement of the Goals.

The Governor noted, while speaking, that the suggestion that the MDGs may not be met is not applicable to Lagos State. “I must express some very slight misgiving that we may not meet the Millennium Development Goals. It is six years away and we intend to meet it”, he said.

According to the Governor, the MDGs are encapsulated in the various programmes and policies of the Government such as the one addressing the issue of maternal and childcare in Lagos State.

Faulting the parameters on which the impression is based, the Governor declared. “Not only are the figures we are being given not verifiable, they have been based on very imprecise estimates”, adding that the State Government has already commissioned a baseline survey before it takes off on the clear programme that it has drawn up for campaign to eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum issues of maternal and child mortality in the State.

The Governor, who said the Government has a clear programme to implement in that sector, promised that details of the programme will become clearer “as we go into the final quarter of this year”.

“It is total human, infrastructural and advocacy programme, empowering doctors, empowering pregnant women and providing environment in which to receive first class medicare in order to ensure safe delivery. I believe that the Goal is achievable and we have decided to do our best to achieve it”, the Governor said.

Governor Fashola also advised the UNPF, “as the world’s foremost consultant in population planning and as an implementing agency” to begin to focus on the population level at which any state can function with optimum efficiency based on its known and predictable resources.

Using Nigeria as a test case, Governor Fashola queried, “Is Nigeria, for instance, optimum at 140 million based on our resources or do we begin to plan so that our population will not grow in any significant way? Should we begin to give rewards to families who do not give birth to many children? These are some of the issues we must begin to look at”.

He said though nobody is advocating taking drastic measures like those taken in some continents like Asia, it would be better and wiser to take proactive measures rather than waiting for the situation when the nation will be forced to take drastic measures to contain its population.

Governor Fashola lamented that Nigerians have relegated family planning to the background pointing out that the issue of population explosion and family cannot be divorced from underdevelopment and poverty. “How many children can the resources of a family support? How many children can be produced in a family that is solely dependent on the State in terms of free Education, free Healthcare and so on?”, he queried.

He said the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) document which seeks to replenish the wealth of the Coconut belt in the State teaches not only that nature’s gift is not inexhaustible, but that as one takes from nature, one must give back.

“But beyond that, it creates opportunity for development, jobs for young people, jobs for women and jobs for people in the rural areas , ordinary people to venture into coconut farming”, the Governor said pointing out that the products would galvanize cottage industries in the rural areas and create robust economic activities for the rural people.

Expressing pleasure in signing the two agreements and to partner with the two agencies, Governor Fashola declared, “We will by this instrument strike another important blow to poverty”.

In his remarks, the FAO representative, Mr. Tesfai Tseggai said the FAO in partnering with the Lagos State Government has seen the Coconut Belt as a significant economic resource of the State adding that the Organization wants to be a partner to replenish the belt.

The Resident Representative of UNPF, Agathe Lawson expressed joy that the Lagos State is one State where the Bill of Domestic Violence is implemented as the State level and assured that the collaboration that Nigeria would have with the UNPF through Lagos State will be most rewarding.

Earlier, in his introductory remarks, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said the State has been in consultation with the FAO with respect to the rehabilitation of the Coconut Belt in the State, adding that the consultation has been on in the last five years.

According to the Commissioner, the partnership is aimed at rehabilitating the Coconut Belt and making it a significant contributor to employment and overall economic activities in the State.

Also present at the occasion were the Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr. Enoch Ajiboso, and some other members of the State Executive Council, as well as top government functionaries.


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