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Olawuyi tasks government on sustainable development goals

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The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships (ARISP) of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, has called on governments at all levels to fully embed the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into COVID-19 economic recovery plans.

Prof. Olawuyi made this known during an online workshop organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), in partnership with the International Law Association (ILA), with the theme “Progressive Realization of SDGs in Nigeria During and Post COVID-19”.

The workshop featured eminent speakers and experts, including the Director General of NIALS, Prof. Muhammad Tawfiq Ladan, Prof. Robert Home, Emeritus Professor of Land Law and Urban Management, Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom, Dr. Nkechikwu Valerie Azinge, lecturer in law, University of Lincoln, UK, as well as senior scholars at NIALS, including Prof. Animi S. Temple, Franscisca Nlerum, Irekpitan Okukpon and Osatohanmwen Eruaga.

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In his remarks, Prof. Olawuyi said many of the complex problems facing our world today are lethal, tenacious and invisible. “Whether we are speaking of poverty, hunger, climate change, corruption and financial crimes, we cannot see them, but we can feel their deadly and menacing impacts on human life and development. 

“The SDGs provide important tools for countries to fight all invisible enemies. The SDGs are built on the idea of turning disasters and challenges to opportunities. To ensure that economic recovery efforts leaves no one behind, there is an urgent need to make the SDGs the basis and foundation of all post-COVID recovery plans, including economic planning, research, education and rule-making in Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, without SDG approach to recovery, effectively detecting, measuring and reporting on the impacts of the pandemic, as well as progress made in addressing them, will be extremely difficult.

He however commended the Federal Government for the foresight and vision in releasing the Building Back: Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, with a stimulus package of N2.3 trillion, which he described as a remarkable first step. 

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The don also emphasized on the need to focus on the stimulus package on small and medium scale entrepreneurship, climate-friendly ventures, and green technologies that can holistically improve social, economic and environmental conditions across Nigeria.

Similarly, Dr. Valerie Azinge, an international financial crimes and banking law expert highlighted the importance of addressing trade-based money laundering as a way of advancing the SDGs on economic growth and zero poverty. 

She advocated the need for automation of trading systems to flag trade mis-invoicing, tax evasion, money laundering, and other illicit transactions that may further create loopholes in government revenue and public finances required for post-pandemic recovery.

Other eminent lawyers that contributed to the discussions include Prof. Adebambo Adewopo (SAN), Prof. Paul Idornigie (SAN), and a former Director General of NIALS, Prof. Epiphany Azinge (SAN), who has been at the frontline of litigating China’s legal liability in international law for the COVID-19 pandemic.

In closing the session, the Director General of NIALS, Prof. Muhammad Tawfiq Ladan, commended the exceptional leadership roles that government agencies are playing in monitoring and collating data on SDG progress in Nigeria. He noted that such active data collation and measurement can help all stakeholders in pubic and private sectors, to better prioritize their efforts on key targets and goals that can enhance progress across all the SDGs.

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