Despite the current economic difficulties occasioned by the precipitous fall in the prices of crude oil, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has reassured Nigerians that there is still a very big hope for Nigeria to overcome the adversity in no distant time and emerge a stronger, more vibrant and prosperous nation.
The minister spoke in Abuja on Thursday at the launch of Action/2015, an international movement to call for progress in fighting poverty, inequality and climate change, while raising public awareness on the importance of the year 2015.
The launch provided an opportunity for children who were born 15 years ago (2000) when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda were set to present the minister with what they expect their country to be in the next 15 years.
She restated that following the steady fall in oil prices, 2015 will no doubt be a difficult year, but expressed optimism that there was still hope for the country to surmount the challenge in no distant time, as the situation is a passing phase.
According to her, more needed to be done to get out of where the country is currently to where the citizenry wants it to be, even as she noted that although some MDGs had not been achieved, impressive progress has been recorded in many.
Okonjo-Iweala said steady progress had been recorded in some areas, including a drastic reduction in infant and maternal mortality rate and provision of clean water, among others, admitting however that such progress could have been faster.
The Finance Minister said in the past, statistics was not available to give an insight into national development requirements, adding that the situation has been gradually given way to a technology-driven system, as she cited the emergence of the National Identity card, which she said would drive positive change in the economy.
Okonjo-Iweala said the ID card, which is smart card-compliant would facilitate conditional cash transfers for women and children, among other benefits, and is already being massproduced to ease the way Nigerians do things.
She expressed delight at the way the children rendered the second stanza of the National Anthem, which she said, not many Nigerian adults could do.
Star actress, Ms Genevieve Nnaji, who presented a keynote address at the launch said by September this year, the global community will converge to launch a new set of MDGs, aimed at addressing global challenges in the next 15years.
She stated that the nation’s leadership must be made to be accountable to the yearnings and aspirations of the youths and children as well as the general public.
Nnaji said Nigerians, especially the youths, desire a country with the absence of extreme poverty, where maternal and infant mortality rates are at the barest minimum, among others.