National Development Plan 2021-2025: Matters arising

Nigeria recently launched another short-term development plan christened the “National Development Plan 2021-2025. The short term plan was long overdue. Historically, development plans have been instrumental in the transformation of many economies across the world. A case in point was the Marshal Plan that was implemented by the United States of America (USA) in Western and Eastern Europe in post World War 2.

During that period, 1948-1951, the United States injected over $13 billion into Europe. Then, attention was on Germany, Great Britain and France because of the belief that recovery in highly industrialised European countries was essential to the overall recovery of the entire European continent. The plan worked. Europe today accounts for a significant amount of the global trade, financial transactions, intellectual output and inventions.

Japan is another country that owes its economic transformation to different development plans. Launched its first development plan in 1962, by 1998, five different development plans had been successfully implemented. Consequently, Japan is today the third biggest economy in the world by GDP; second biggest economy when ranked by external reserves, and third globally, when ranked by research and development expenditure.

The new development plan rests on the existing structure of more federal dominance while states act at the mercy of the federal government

Just about the time that Nigeria launched its development plan, China, one of Nigeria’s largest trading partners and creditors, launched its 14thDevelopment Plan 2021 to 2025. China’s first Development Plan was launched in 1953 during the reign of Mao Zedong. Since then, the country has evolved and transformed from a command society to a modern economy where market forces play significant role, albeit with occasional government interventions.

Christened development plan of “Self-reliance and Technological Independence”, China aims to become the global centre for the new generation artificial intelligence, quantum information, integrated circuits(or Semiconductors), neuroscience and brain-inspired research, genetics and biotechnology, clinical medicine, as well as the deep sea, deep space, and polar exploration.

Specific targets to be attained by 2025 include the attainment of an urbanisation rate of 65 percent, 12 high-value patents per 10,000 people, 95 percent basic pension insurance penetration rate, more than 650 million tons of grain production, and 87.5 percent of days should be with good air quality in cities. Going by what China has achieved economically, scientifically, technologically and militarily within a short time horizon, economic analysts believe China will surpass these targets.

Malaysia also launched its twelfth economic development 2021 to 2025. The country aims to attain a minimum economic growth rate between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent, which if consistently attained will transform Malaysia into a developed economy. The plan seeks to rebalance the Malaysian economy away from an export-led growth to the one with higher GDP going into wages and consumption. The new plan emphasises granting more space for private investments.

Read also: Experts say macroeconomic constraints could deter success of development plan

On its own part and since independence in 1960, Nigeria has had many economic development plans that targeted the overall economy, and some sector-specific plans. These were designed and implemented by both the military and civilian regimes. Therefore, Nigeria’s problem is not the dearth of plans, but implementation.

The current Nigeria’s development plan 2021 to 2025 is highly ambitious. It seeks to mobilise N348.1 trillion worth of investments and the three tiers of government are expected tocontributeN49.7 trillion, while the private sector will contribute N298.3 trillion. When further analysed, the contribution from the three tiers of government will come from the federal government, N29.6 trillion, and sub national governments, N20.1 trillion. Out of the contribution expected from subnational government, state governments will contribute N13.4 trillion while local governments across the country will contribute N6.8 trillion.

Other highlights of the plan include the anticipation that Nigeria’s labour force will average 70.49 million during the period with 1.25 percent growth rate; creation of 4.2 million jobs annually; 22.78 percent unemployment rate, and an average 6.98 million Nigerians taken out of poverty annually. Above all, Nigeria’s per capita GDP should increase from $2,227.17 to $3,706.29. However, little attention is given to regional development.

Synthesising the above, one can see that the new development plan rests on the existing structure of more federal dominance while states act at the mercy of the federal government. On their part, the local government administrations are almost non-existent except to collect the monthly FAAC.

For instance, the contribution from the three tiers of governments indicates that the federal government will make 59 percent; states 27 percent while local government areas will contribute 14 percent. This alone forecloses the possibility of the review of the existing revenue sharing formula between now and 2025.

Above all, the problem of weak government institutions and judicial systems continue to loom large on the implementation of the plan. Truth is, it is not in the culture of successive administrations in Nigeria to follow through with the programmes of their predecessors. A case in point is the 2014 CONFAB report, which has not seen the light of the day in the current APC administration. Now that the new development plan was introduced at the twilight of the current administration,

Nigerians are sceptical that the new development plan might gather dusts once the Buhari administration is out of power. Thus, the take-off stage will become elusive again. In the light of the bitter lessons of the past, we urge the political class across the partisan divides to ensure continuity as regards the implementation of this latest Development Plan. This is certainly one way in which Nigeria can join the league of developed social formations that are to be found in other parts of the world like Europe and Asia.

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