By Levinus Nwabughiogu,
ABUJA – Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the penchant for unnecessary wealth by the elite in the country was fueling corruption.
Osinbajo who spoke while inaugurating the Private Sector Advisory Group for the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, the first by a United Nations member country at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday said that the actions and inactions of the political, economic and religious elite were affecting the rest of the country.
He said: “This event marks the beginning of the unique partnership between the public and private sector.
“I have always believed that Nigerian elite, political, business and even the religious elite, have a responsibility to ensure that we do something for our society which will affect it fundamentally.
“Everywhere in the world, it is that elite that have always make a difference in the societies. Those are the ones responsible for transformation.
“Many of the societies that have been truly transformed have done so when their elite decided that it was necessary to do so.
“Sometimes, when you look at our situation, you think that it is necessary to force the political and private sector elite together to do something. But the truth is that whether or not we recognize it formally, they are doing things together whether it is for good or ill. The important thing is to recognize that we have an important role to play.
“We have decided as an elite in this country that wealth is a measure of worth. It is a decision we made consciously or unconsciously.
“The political elite have decided that wealth is a measure of worth and that is why you find so much corruption among the political elite. Even the religious elite believe that it is a blessing of God.
“There are some societies that have decided that the value of human beings is in their contribution to the society. Those societies, of course, have done better than those who have decided that wealth, no matter how it was obtained, is a measure of worth.
“I think it is important if our elite decide that dealing with poverty is worth the while and that it will measure whether or not we are serious about our society.
“There is an enormous responsibility placed upon us as elite to do something about the millions of the extremely poor in our midst. It is a responsibility that we cannot take lightly at all.
“This is how we are going to be measured. At the end of our lives, the question that will be asked is what is the impact that we made on people’s lives. Nobody will be measured by how much money we made or the positions we held.
“A lot of our people in this country hang their hopes on us. They look up to us and believe we can do it and despite all the failures and the false starts, our people especially the poor and the vulnerable still believe that these elite will and can deliver.
“Let us therefore take this as a personal responsibility to our people to do something profound that will make a huge difference in the lives of our people.
“This is why I am so excited about this coming together of the public and private sector to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are realized in our time and that nobody is left behind”.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, described the inauguration of the PSAG as a landmark event, saying Nigeria was the first United Nations member state launch such a group.
She said that the advisory group was a veritable platform for interaction between leaders, saying it had become imperative to harness the technical resources of the private sector to realize the goals of the SDGs.
She said, “No country has significantly improved people’s lives without the driving force of a vibrant economy.
“In the face of a prevailing fiscal crunch, it has become urgent to leverage multi-stakeholder engagement to mobilize non-government resources for SDGs implementation.
“It is in this recognition that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals-Fund established the global Private Sector Advisory Group as a powerful platform for business leaders from across the world to interact, leverage comparative advantages, exchange lessons learned, promote South South, North South and Triangular Cooperation and in the process, accelerate the attainment of the SDGs.”
Orelope-Adefulire listed the duties of PSAG to include engaging with and coordinating the Nigerian Private Sector to partner with the SDGs Office to implement an agreed roadmap; ensuring public-private alliances to provide large scale solutions towards achieving the SDGs; as well as working within a set of SDGs impact areas and focus on driving a specific targets that will be tracked, monitored, reported and reviewed periodically.
Others were to partner with the SDGs Office to hold periodic Public-Private Dialogues to expand engagement for sustainable development; to promote and coordinate broad-based actions to deliver results while mobilising the entire private sector around SDGs priority areas; to galvanise business to deploy the UN global compact for durable development; as well as contributing and helping to mobilize resources for the successful implementation of the SDGs in line with the guidelines contained in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
The inauguration attracted the many stakeholders including the former Minister of Industry and President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Chief Mrs Nike Akande and the Chairman of Channels Television, John Momoh.