BusinessDay

Nigeria’s wasteful spending on subsidies slows attainment of SDGs – Sanusi

To accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria by 2030 the country would require a political leadership that puts an end to wasteful spending on subsidies, Muhammadu Sanusi II, the former emir of Kano has said at the ongoing NES27 summit.

He said Africa’s biggest economy must spend its resources on critical sectors of the economy such as health and education to drive growth, secure the future of Nigeria and attain the SDG development goals.

“Does the Nigerian state consider development as its critical priority?” he asked.

“Forget the noise, where are we spending our money. We spend more on debt service, fuel subsidy, overheads on the national assembly and not education, healthcare that countries like Ghana and Rwanda are spending,” the former central bank governor said.

He noted that the country is paying a heavy price by taking resources meant for education and other critical sectors to spend on subsidies.

The SDGs is a 15-year development strategy designed by the United Nations (UN), as an improvement on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for member nations to affect development in all areas, particularly at the grassroots.

Read also: Nigeria to end petrol subsidy June 2022 – Finance minister

SDGs target development and growth in fighting poverty through empowerment, job creation, provision of clean and safe water, roads, power, as well as provision of social amenities for meaningful development and growth.

But Nigeria seems to be far behind as experts have lamented the country’s poor performance on SDGs and warned that the country might not meet the 2030 target. According to a 2021 Sustainable Development Report, Nigeria ranked 160 out of the 165 countries on the SDG index.

At the level of the state we are, we have to decide what the priority is, Sanusi said. “So long as our spending sends the wrong signals and the bulk of our resources are going to the wrong areas, we are not going to reach the goals of the SDGs,” he added.

He stated that the biggest accelerator to the attainment of the SDG goals is having a political leadership that understands what development is all about.

“If we do not as a nation, at the level of leadership understand that development is about human beings; everything we are doing will come back and hurt us,” he explained.

“So, the biggest accelerator is having a political leadership that understands that the state should be a developmental state and not a popular state,” he said.

“For the last 20-30 years, we have turned the state into a populous and righteous state, the focus has to be interrogated.

He added that the country needs to build a national consensus and the consciousness has to be at the top, the governorship and legislators have to agree, noting that Nigeria needs to focus on education, health, and other critical developmental sectors of the economy.

“We need a mind change. It is something that the states need to exit. For those poor people, whoever is sitting in the governor or the state should think of those people first.”

“When you do that is when you make the right investment in education, health and the right policies that will help us to reduce poverty, if we don’t do all these, we cannot accelerate the SDGs,” he added.

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