By Bukar Bolori
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale has called for a stronger partnership with the media in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said the would enhance achieving the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development in Nigeria.
Schmale said: “Media play a critical role in achieving Agenda 2030, which includes ensuring citizens are well-informed to enable them to form opinions based on facts. Factual and evidence-based reporting is critical at this period of fake news.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria made the call at the closing of a two-day training of journalists on SDGs, and developing a Nigeria Network of Sustainable Development Journalists, organized by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN), and held on 24 – 25 March at the UN House Abuja.
According to him, the media, need to help spread factual information about the SDGs and to hold government and institutions accountable for what is being done and the progress being achieved.
Schmale further explained that the “UN is supporting the government of Nigeria to address its challenges and to realise its development aspirations and the transformative change. They cannot do it alone. The United Nations also cannot do it alone. We need stronger partnerships, and the media fit well into this partnership.”
On gender equality, the Resident Coordinator called on the media to intensify profiling successful Nigerian women to motivate other women and girls to break the gender barriers. “Nigeria has the first African woman to lead the WTO; my boss, the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Amina Mohammed is also a Nigerian woman. A third of CEOs of Banks are women and Nigeria has the highest number of female representatives on Boards of private sector organisations in Africa. Media need to do more in profiling many successful Nigerian women for the purpose of learning and motivating other women.” He observed.
Schmale added that the United Nations was in the middle of developing, with the government of Nigeria, a Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the next five years.
In his presentation titled, “Gender Equality And SDGs: The Role of Journalists in ensuring progress”, the Deputy Country Representative of UN Women to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Lansana Wonneh, emphasized that unless progress on gender equality was accelerated, the global community would fail to achieve the SDGs.
According to him, @Gender equality is a right and at the centre of the SDGs. Fulfilling this right is the best chance to address economic crisis; lack of health care; climate change; violence against women; and escalating conflicts.” He said and called on journalists to amplify the voice of vulnerable women in their reportage, while ensuring accountability in the commitments made to women through appropriate budget allocations and delivery of services.
He added: “Acknowledge women’s voice so that other women get motivation and support. Make the society aware of women’s right to equal access to opportunities and provide information and interpretations to policy makers for formulating policies on local gender issues.”
Earlier, the Senior Technical Adviser in the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Dr. Bala Yunusa, noted that the SDGs could not be achieved with stand-alone programmes and projects. “They must be carefully integrated into national and sub-national policies and development plans.” He explained.
Special Adviser on SDGs to the FCT Minister of State, Hajiya Ahmed, in her remarks commended UNIC and MAIN for organising the media training. She was represented by Mr. Ona Ndubuisi.
The Chairman of MAIN, Prof. Lai Oso, in his overview of the training, noted that none of the 17 goals of SDG could be achieved without active cultivation and cooperation of the media. The media, according to him, have become central to the initiation, execution and public support of any policy and programme of development.
He said: “It is in realization of the importance of communication and the media that the need to train, equip and deploy an informed media to achieve SDG goals has become imperative.”
The participants were decorated with the ‘SDGs-Wheel’ pins by the Resident Coordinator who designated them as ‘Champions of SDGs’, to further strengthen their commitment to promoting the SDGs and sustainability journalism.
The project, “Training of journalists on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and developing a Nigeria Network of Sustainable Development Journalists”, was aimed at deepening journalists’ knowledge of sustainable development, to engender high-quality journalistic practice that holds government accountable to Agenda 2030.
It was also aimed to strengthen the capacity of participants in sustainability reporting with emphasis on economic, social and environmental dimensions; to improve participants’ knowledge of the role of women in sustainable development; and to establish a “Nigeria Network of Sustainable Development Journalists” that will engage regularly to report and view development initiatives in Nigeria from the prism of sustainability.
The training of journalists on SDGs in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria will move to Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State on 6 – 7 April; Enugu, Enugu State on 28 – 29 April and end at Lagos on 10 – 11 May 2022.