In less than two months an economic development plan aimed at catapulting Nigeria into the league of the first 20 global economies by 2020 will come to an end without any part of the outlined plan implemented.
The Vision 2020 policy document which was drafted in 2009 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 economic growth into equitable social development for all citizens.
However, 12 years after, hopes of a better nation envisaged in the plan appear to be 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; about six Nigerians fall into the poverty trap every minute, according to data from the World Poverty Clock.
“Nigeria has the problem of policy somersaulting rather than consistency which is making it achieve little or less of set goals,” said Evans Osabuohien, professor of economics and chairman of the Centre for Economic Policy and Developmental Research at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State.
Africa’s largest economy has spent huge resources, not once, twice or thrice, in developing an economic development plan and has always lacked the political will to implement its set agenda.
Since Nigeria returned to civilian rule, it has not made any headway in seeing through well-thought out policies.
A recent example is the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) formulated in 2017 under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The ERGP aimed at resuscitating an ailing economy from a recession following the drop in oil income, due to a drop in prices, which accounts for almost 85percent of the West African nation’s foreign earnings and unrest in the Niger Delta region of the country.
From all indications, the projections made in the plan appear not to be “going as planned”.
For example, the ERGP forecasts that by 2020, Nigeria’s economy would grow at an average of 4.6 per cent annually while inflation was projected at a single digit.
Similarly, the unemployment rate was expected to be within 11.23 percent by 2020 and an average of 3.7 million jobs created to increase the total jobs added into the country to 15 million.
But in reality, growth is still tepid at 2 per cent while unemployment has almost doubled to an all-time high of 23.3 per cent as at the last data released by the Abuja-based statistical agency, NBS.
Inflation is nowhere near the country’s single digit target. The federal government is planning on collapsing both the Vision 2020 and the Economic ERGP into a new development plan that would kick off in the fourth quarter this year, according to a statement made by Zainab Ahmed, the minister of Finance.
Analysts fear little or no progress will be made in the proposed plan based on failure of previous plans.
“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.
“For me, Nigerian’s are not sincere in achieving any plan for its citizens, it wouldn’t be talking about 2023 elections instead of brainstorming on how to get its country working,” Alege told BDSUNDAY.
Aside from failing to implement policies drafted in its development plans, Nigeria has a penchant for killing policies however good so long as they were drafted by a previous government.
Before the formulation of Vision 2020 in 2009, Nigeria had an economic development plan known as Vision 2010 that was drawn up under the then military government of General Sani Abacha.
The Vision 2010 plan which was crafted in 1996 was articulated by over 300 Nigerian stakeholders from all walks of life including expatriates. It had a workable document to put Nigeria on economic growth trajectory by 2010.
Vision 2010 was, therefore, a more comprehensive development strategy programme by both Nigerians in the public and private sectors to put Nigeria on a path of growth and development through economic diversification, political restructuring and socio-cultural unification.
The Vision 2010 was also against the back-drop of gross mismanagement and political misalignment after years of military dictatorship.
In 1996, at the time of the Vision 2010 was being made it was clear that after 36 years of independence; the economic and political performance of the country was far below its potential and the expectation of Nigerians. The Chairman of Vision 2010 Committee, Ernest Shonekan said then:
“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”. The Vision which looked at many sectors, assessed where Nigeria was, where the country wants to be and marshalled out road maps on how to get there.
The Vision 2010 was abandoned by subsequent governments: Abdusalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo, Musa Ya’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari. And Nigeria has either stagnated or receded economically.
From a pre-independence economic growth rate of 6-7 percent to 11 percent immediately after independence, Nigeria is now struggling to growth at a rate of 2 percent.
With an estimated 87million people (about half of the country’s population) living in extreme poverty, Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in poverty.
Michael Omolayole, a member of Vision 2010 and who had served as managing director and chairman respectively of many companies including Unilever, Chemical and Allied Products and American International Insurance Company Plc. (AIICO) regretted the abandonment of what he described as the collective wisdom in Vision 2010.
Looking at Nigeria past and present, Felix Ohiwerei, a shrewd industrialist who was on a committee for Vision 2010 said non-implementation of the vision to put Nigeria on a growth path is regrettable.
Sam Ohuabunwa, another member of the Vision 2010, reckons we have not made progress as a country due to non-implementation of the vision. “There has not been any significant improvement, and in some cases, it is worse and this means that we have not done the right things. If we have followed policies consistently, we would have arrived at a better position,” he said.
Phillip Asiodu, who served as Chief Economic Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, considers the non-implementation of the Vision 2010 by Obasanjo government as a great regret.
Asiodu believed that any leader could have made the difference in economic growth as envisioned in Vision 2010 if the recommendations were implemented. “When you are in power, you must always think of the people and their welfare,” he said.
In 2006, after realising the failure of Vision 2010, the Nigerian government led by Obasanjo assembled technocrats again to come up with another plan, Vision 2020.
DANIEL OBI & MICHAEL ANI