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Evaluating the claim that Nigeria performed poorly in SDGs in the past five years

UN Sustainable Development Goals 4 mins read

Mr. Michael Ale, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Development Nigeria said at a forum organised by his development platform recently in Lagos, that Nigeria, in five years, has performed poorly in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ale claimed that lack of finance and failure by Government to properly domesticate the SDGs development model to meet Nigeria’s peculiar development status was a major factor hindering the country’s realization of these goals after five years.

TRUE – A close scrutiny of various reports by the United Nations and other research institutions prove that Nigeria, though making some progress on some of the goals, has generally  performed poorly on achievement of the sustainable development goals.


The Sustainable Development Goals is a 15-year development strategy designed by the United Nations as an improvement on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for member nations to achieve development in all areas that pertain to improvement of  living standards of people , particularly at the grassroots.

At the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGAS) in New York in September 2015, Nigeria like other Member States of the United Nations, adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by the year 2030. 

The 2030 agenda is a transformational set of 17 interwoven Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) broken into measurable targets and indicators. Nigeria began its implementation in 2015 and as a set of tools for the eradication of poverty, securing a healthy environment for future generations, and building a peaceful, inclusive society as a foundation for ensuring a life of dignity for all.

However, Nigeria’s road map to the SDGs is designed to focus on six thematic areas namely: policies, data management, institutions, partnership, communications and finance. The implementation programme is designed to be carried out in 3 phases and according to the specific needs of each zone of the country.

Phase 1: 2016 – 2020

Phase 2: 2020 – 2026

Phase 3: 2026 – 2030


In verifying this claim, an extensive search was made from the United Nations annual reports from 2016 to 2020. 

These annual reports focus on the 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 other social amenities for measurable development and growth. But Nigeria has not fared well in the foregoing areas.

While reports including country rankings were readily available for 2018 to 2020, rankings for 2016 and 2017 were not found.

However, the 2017 SDG report reveals that Nigeria’s Performance was below expectations because the country’s reliance on the oil and gas sector; dwindling agricultural production and productivity; and limited value addition in the agricultural sector to grow the economy, create jobs, address poverty, and ensure food security were named as critical challenges that adversely affected the country’s performance. There was no ranking in the 2017 report.

A review of the 2018 Africa SDG Index, which ranked Nigeria 39 out of 51 African states according to 97 indicators across all 17 SDGs. 

The report further noted that Nigeria needed to prioritize the goal areas facing the steepest structure (SDG 9), and peace, justice, and strong institutions (SDG 16) with food security and sustainable agriculture (SDG 2), and energy access (SDG 7).

The Sustainable Development Report 2019, fourth edition of the annual stocktaking of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  prepared by Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) presenting data for all 193 UN member states alongside assessment ranked Nigeria 159 out of the 162 countries on the index.

An overview of Nigeria’s performance as contained in the UN 2020 country review and Nigeria’s 2020 Voluntary National Review (VNR) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) report, shows that Nigeria performed poorly and ranked 160 out of 166 countries accessed. 


A close scrutiny of various reports by the United Nations has proven that Nigeria has performed poorly on  achievement of the sustainable development goals.

The Fellow produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with CORE TV NEWS to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

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