• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Several economic development plans fail to lift Nigeria

Obasanjo-buhari

The deliberate failure of implementation of a country’s well thought-out visions designed to emancipate its citizens from poverty is clearly an indication of its lack of seriousness.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, is a clear example of a country that is quick in policy formulations but slow in implementation.

Nigeria had in 1996 and 2007 crafted all-inclusive plans embodied in Visions 2010 and 2020, respectively, to launch it into reckoning in the comity of nations, but most of the plans of both visions were either abandoned or haphazardly implemented, leaving the country still struggling with poverty and infrastructure decay.

Barely a month from now, for instance, Vision 2020, an economic development plan aimed at catapulting Nigeria into the league of top 20 global economies by 2020, will come to an end without any noticeable form of implementation of the agenda outlined in the plan.

The policy document, which was drafted by technocrats in 2007 under the administration of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, was supposed to, among other things, make efficient use of Nigeria’s human and natural resources to achieve rapid economic growth and translate the economic growth into equitable social development for all citizens.

However, 14 years after its documentation, hopes of a better nation as encapsulated in the plan are fading, with Nigeria still faced with several economic maladies including epileptic power supply, weak infrastructure and institutions, among others. The country has now become the poverty capital of the world, according to data from World Poverty Clock, with about six citizens falling into the poverty trap every minute.

Beyond Visions 2010 and 2020, Africa’s largest economy has spent huge resources to design other economic development plans but, apparently, without the political will to implement the set agenda.

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration, for instance, in 2017 launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) aimed at resuscitating an ailing economy that suffered from a lengthy recession following the collapse of oil prices which accounts for almost 85 percent of the country’s foreign earnings, coupled with militancy in the Niger Delta region.

But from all indications, the projections embedded in the ERGP appear not to be “going as planned”. For example, the said development plan forecast that by 2020 Nigeria’s economy would grow at an average of 4.6 percent annually while inflation was projected at a single digit. Similarly, the unemployment rate is also expected to be within 11.23 percent by 2020 as an average of 3.7 million jobs would be created bringing the total jobs added into the country to 15 million.

In reality, however, no progress has been seen in these areas. Growth is still tepid at 2 percent while unemployment has almost doubled to an all-time high of 23.3 percent as at the last data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Inflation is also outside the country’s band of a single digit.

The Federal Government is planning on collapsing both the Vision 2020 and the ERGP into a new development plan that would kick off in the fourth quarter this year, according to Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s minister of finance.

Analysts, however, fear there would be little or no progress in the proposed plan drawing from failures from previous plans.

“Nigeria has the problem of policy summersault rather than consistency which is making it achieve little or less of set goals,” said Evans Osabuohien, professor of Economics and chairman, Centre for Economic Policy and Developmental Research at Covenant University, Otta, Ogun State.

Aside from failing to implement policies drafted in its development plans, successive administrations has the penchant for killing policies, even though good, so long as they were drafted by a previous government.

Before the formulation of Vision 2020 in 2007, for instance, Nigeria had an economic development plan known as Vision 2010, drafted under the then military government of Sani Abacha.

The Vision 2010 plan crafted in 1996 was articulated by over 300 Nigerian stakeholders from all walks of life, as well as foreigners. It had a workable document to put Nigeria on economic growth trajectory by 2010 through economic diversification, political restructuring and socio-cultural unification.

“It is clear that Nigeria is lagging behind in almost everything and that is because of failure of being consistent in achieving set policies and objectives,” said Philip Alege, professor of Economics at Covenant University.

Vision 2010 was also against the backdrop of gross mismanagement and political misalignment after years of military dictatorship. As at 1996, the time of the visioning, it was clear that after 36 years of Independence, the economic and political performance of the country was far below its potential and Nigerians’ expectation.

“For us in Nigeria, the need to do this visioning has never been more compelling given our relatively weak position in the world in many areas of human endeavour,” Ernest Shonekan, chairman of Vision 2010 Committee, said.

The Vision, which looked at many sectors, assessed where Nigeria was, where the country wanted to be and marshalled out roadmaps on how to get there.

But it was abandoned by subsequent governments and Nigeria has since then either stagnated or receded economically. From economic growth of 6-7 percent pre-Independence to 11 percent immediately after-Independence, Nigeria is now struggling with a 2 percent growth rate. Today, Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty.

 

DANIEL OBI & MICHAEL ANI