By ‘Sola Fagorusi
The world needs healing and the continued flattening of it by the internet and other new media technologies is making efforts at addressing this global. Injustice to one has become injustice to all, to borrow from Martin Luther King Jnr. By December 31st, 2015, the Millennium Development Goals which has come to define the various efforts at development on earth will expire. The Sustainable Development Goals are going to replace the MDGs. The conversations around the SDGs took off from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. Unlike the MDGs which had the limitation of limited input from citizens of the world, the SDGs thus far has been a departure. From the platform of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, various stakeholders especially young people who are obviously going to be in charge of affairs when the curtain on the SDGs are drawn have been able to make inputs into the document. It was the Post-2015 Development Agenda that helped define the framework for global development that is now called the SDGs.
New media technology was merged with offline advocacy in sourcing votes on what people think is important to them across 193 countries. By August, the countries had reached a consensus and what we have today are 17 proposed goals of the SDGs which consenting nations will aspire to for the next 15 years. Of note in Nigeria was the My World Survey, which was a survey to ask people to highlight the world they desire to see by 2030. Education as a Vaccine and the Africa Youth Panel were some of the organisations that drove this locally. It was the United Nations’ way of knowing what people deem as important. Largely driven by young people, responses were collected through the MyWorld 2015 mobile app and as I write this, 8.4 million plus votes have been garnered across the world from the analytics available on www.myworld2015.orgAccording to the curators, it is about using‘the #peoplesvoices to remind world leaders and policymaker’s what is at stake.’ On a country specific basis, the responses are a reflection of the Human Development Index of each nation. For Nigeria, the analytics revealed that 1.6 million votes were gathered from a combination of 835,700 male voices and 760,565 female voices. Of this lot, 70 percent of the responses came from young people under age 31. This is a plus knowing well that most young people never get into rooms where policies are being made and when they even manage to, they are not given a front row seat to make contributions to policies and decisions that will ultimately affect them. It is also noteworthy, that the votes with the highest were those for ‘Good Education’ followed by ‘Better Health. The app has turned out to be a good way to capture people’s voices, priorities and views, so world leaders can be informed as they begin the process of defining the next set of global goals to eradicate extreme poverty everywhere which is currently measures as people living on less than 1.25 US Dollars per day.
The real work will commence when the actualisation of these well-defined goals are now being monitored. For Nigeria, the country’s Mission to the United Nations will play a key role. Unlike a number of other countries however, Nigeria is missing on the list of countries with social media channels through which citizens and other stakeholders can engage its Mission. It is however creditable that the Mission unlike what obtained when the MDGs were put together. The mission is available on www.un.int/nigeria while emails can also be sent to email@example.com; but this is not enough. Feedbacks on real time basis is a sure way the country can drive activities and feedback around the SDGs. There are currently about 15 million active Facebook Users in Nigeria, which literally translates that there are 15 million Nigerians with potential capacity to engage with the mission through that channel if they create the right environment.
The Nigeria Mission to the United Nations is the formal title of the Nigeria delegation to the United Nations and it is currently headed by Prof. Joy Angela Ogwu who before then was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She will need to extend the frontiers of her work as Nigeria’s face at the UN by making the process participatory; and social media currently offers that. Her colleagues are doing same in other Africa countries and ours should not be an exception. South Africa is available through @SAMissionNY; Kenya, our new East African alter ego also hold presence as @GenevaMissionKE and through its ambassador – @AmbMKamau while Zambia holds sway on twitter as @ZAmbiaUN and Liberia kicks in the same space through @UN_Liberia. Nigeria; the big brother is missing in this space! Though some of the present ones are not engaging properly but it is a good starting point. It is through social media outlets like these that citizens can track what is being done and know what decisions are being made on behalf of the country.
Good healthcare features ranks second on the preference of young people in Nigeria from the MyWorld Survey. And currently there is a lack of clear understanding of the government’s framework for engagement with young people on Sexual and Reproductive Health issues which is at the heart of health concerns for several young adults. Nigeria’s Mission needs to find creative way to charge the space and get everyone engaged in its attempt to ensure that its work is seen and understood and more importantly that the process is engaging enough especially for a demography that can always be found through technologies. One understands why other western countries do not ignore the role social media can play in social engineering. With over 1.4 billion active monthly Facebook users across the globe and about 316 million monthly active users on twitter, the social media space is a decent place to crowd source thoughts and ideas and the SDGs must connect purposefully with this space.
Sola Fagorusi is a social entrepreneur and a prized freelance writer with a bias for youth and rural development. He started off as a youth staff with Action Health Incorporated in 2001. The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife alumnus currently manages the programmes ofOneLife Initiative, Nigeria. ‘Sola is a DESPLAY Africa (Africa’s foremost and most consistent annual youth democracy academy) fellow and has been on its faculty since 2011. Keenly interested in governance and pan-Africanism, he volunteers as online editor of YouthHub Africa; a cyber-community for young Africans involved in social change. He believes in the efficacy of oratory and writing as tools to drive developmental engagements. As a freelance writer, he spares time to pen thoughts on contemporary societal issues and is a weekly columnist with Nigeria’s most read daily ? Punch Newspaper. His training and capacity cuts across democracy and governance, leadership, micro-enterprise, ICT4D, SRH, value chains, development communication and policy issues. He tweets @SolaFagro and blogs at www.kadunaboy.com
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