NIGERIANS deserve an emphatic ‘welcome’ to their year of reckoning, a fairy tale year that looked like it was never going to materialise. But here it is, incumbent on us, prodding us with piercing questions on how serious, we take ourselves, and our dear country.
By this date, next year, the verdict on Nigeria: Vision 20:2020 would have been ready. Then, how Nigeria fared on the mission it set for herself with focus on year 2020 would be clearly evident for all to appraise.
But there is a school of thought that holds that it is 2020 that is the target year. Hence, any projection of the project that is not yet manifest or in existence has failed. Somehow, the holders of such view have cogent point.
As one writes, on front pages of newspapers currently are reports on imminent hike in costs of domestic consumption of such vital daily-used items as electricity, petrol, gas and food grains. Experts still dot on the need for the nation to diversify her economy and move away for near-sole dependance on crude oil export.
Possibility of the emergence of a one-currency West Africa (the Eco) is sending chills down the spine of those who know about economics and the socio-political consequences of use of money. These will form the bases of one’s appraisal of how far Nigeria has fared in her Vision 20:2020 mission.
In 2008, the Federal Republic of Nigeria set herself on a mission to accomplish some ambitious but not out of place, wholistic development objectives by the target year, 2020. But in a 2008 piece, a columnist in Lagos-based The Guardian newspaper, Luke Onyekakeya, noted the project had actually been dreamt up and mutted by President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, while in office during his presidencywhich held 1999 through 2007.
Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 is based on the plank that “by 2020 Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player” in global comity of nations.
Indeed, the project captures the height of the nation’s aspiration. When in 2009, the Federal Republic of Nigeria summed and articulated the Vision after a series of conferences, the objectives were mind-buggling and germane enough to motivate even the unbeliever. One of its resounding goals was that Nigeria hopes and plans to be among the 20 leading economies of the world in gross domestic product (GDP) size by 2020.
The project’s two major aims are: efficient use of Nigeria’s human and natural resources to achieve rapid economic growth and to translate the economic growth into equitable social development for all citizens.
Pursuant to the achievement of the set objectives are these strategies:
To urgently and immediately address the major constraints to Nigeria’s growth and competitiveness, such as: epileptic power supply, weak infrastructure and institutions among others;
To aggressively pursue a structural transformation of the economy from a mono-product to a diversified and industrialized economy;
To invest in human capital to transform the Nigerian people into active agents for growth and national development; and
To invest in infrastructure to create an enabling environment for growth, industrial competitiveness and sustainable development.
Researchers in development studies has noted the remarkable difference between the year 2020-targeted project and the various other development programs the nation has evolved since her independence in 1960. What distinguished Vision 20:2020 is its roboustness and multi-pronged aproach to simple targets.
“Amidst various reforms agenda, policies, development plans and programmes, Vision 2010, Seven-Point Agenda and a host of others, Nigerian leaders… articulated the Vision 20:2020,” writes Onyenekenwa Cyprian Eneh , in his 2011 essay, ‘Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020-Issues, Challenges and Implications for Development Management’, published in Asian Journal of Rural Development.
Onyenekenwa explains Vision 20:2020 as a dream statement that Nigeria will become one of the first 20 economies in the world by the year 2020. He cites Abdulhamid (2008) who traced the history of the project to a research conducted by economists in an American investment bank.
Experts at the event reasoned that Nigeria has the capacity and requisite endownment to be among the league of 20 top economies of the world in 2025. They assessed the country’s abundant human and material resources and concluded that if well managed, the country’s economic and development goals would be achieved.
The robustness of the project is established strongly by a strong bureaucracy named the National Council on Vision 2020 (NCV2020) which oversees the operational and institutional arrangements for it. President of Nigeria is the Chairman of the structure, to provide leadership and direction to galvanise the nation.
A bottom-up strategic planning approach was set up to ensure ownership by all stakeholders and terms of reference for the NCV2020 were clearly spelt out to include approving the core national priorities to guide the process;
ensuring the quality of plan document, appropriateness of targets and practicality of strategies; review of progress and giving further direction; ensuring the active involvement of all stakeholders in the visioning process; approving the framework for resource mobilization from private and other stakeholders;
approving a comprehensive planning framework for annual budgets and medium-term plans and issuing of any other directives considered desirable by the Council.
There was a National Steering Committee on Vision 2020 (NSC2020) headed by the Minister/Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission as the Chairman. The body was put in place to engineer the visioning process.
These and other well established committees of specialists and stakeholders in various social and industrial sectors; states, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) ensured that there was good planning and seminal documents on the country’s mission to greatness.
Eventually, when the well-documented plan emerged, it was befitting of the rich structure built around it. The vision raised hope.
Now as we find ourselves in the projected year we are at loss over what we have. From economy to health, sports, agriculture, science, technology, housing, works, the arts, among others we look around and feel robbed or at least in askance.
It appears the Vision 20:2020 never happened or that the country never wanted to do anything serious with the whole plans she rolled out. Worse, that flaw was foreseen from the early days of the mission by people who no sane society would ignore.
June 25-26, 2008, the National Planning Commission (NPC) under the auspices of the National Council on Development and Planning (NCDP) organised a joint meeting at the Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State.
Theme of the event was, Vision 2020, 2008: Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential for Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction. One of the participants there was the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Moshe Ram.
In his suggestions on how to actualize Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020, the Israeli diplomat said Nigeria’s dream of becoming one of the 20 leading economies by the year 2020 is not a mission that should be treated as hot knife slice through butter.
He emphasised that for the dream to become a reality, the country must go back to the basics, especially agriculture.
Equally, Mayor of London, Mr. Alderman David Lewis, offered his opinion on how to achieve the Vision. The Mayor said that for the country to achieve the mission, she must be keen on human capital development.
He emphasised that Nigeria’s Vision 2020 would not fly if there was absence of sound and qualitative education, training and re-training. He noted Nigeria’s positions as the financial hub of West Africa as well as her being a home of healthy, skilled and creative experts who, if well motivated and given the right atmosphere to excell, would radically transform the country within a short while.
Adepetun (2008) reports that among contributors in the engaging discourse in Owerri were Cecelia Ibru (former Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Oceanic Bank International Plc), Peter Upton (then Director, British Council, Nigeria) and Mark Bickerton (Director, Metropolitan University).
The fact is that education, agriculture,human capital development, the creation of healthy environment for innovation and freedom of expression of unconventional ideas could not explain why we look back and sulk if not mourn despite all work and emotions we invested in hope of achieving a great nattion in 2020.
Our development pointers, this time give no sign of success or fruition of the plans we had for 2020. But there is a belief in some fath-based societies like ours that man plans, providence provides. However, we must accept that we have gobbled yet another chance for greatness in Vision 2020,
the same way we bungled Green Revolution and Operation Feed the Nation in our so far, failed mission for national food sufficiency; and Vision 2010 on the guise that it was the late Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha who initiated it. There was also the seven Point Agenda and the several national rolling plans.
Nevertheless, we must not give up. There is hope, afterall, the experts at the America Investment Bank from whose findings the Vision 20:2020 dream evolved forecast 2025. We, in our usual Nigerian quick-fix approach rushed to bring it foward. May be in 2025 we will have the great nation.