HE WHO failed to plan, planned to fail. In the opinion of many pundits, Nigeria has failed to plan well hence her slip in the past 60 years of her existence as a nation.
Many, especially young ones, are of the view that the country is rudderless. In 2002, a young hip-hop artiste, Eedris Abdulkareem released a hit single which was so successful that it flagged his third long play (LP) – a club hit album in 2004. The number was entitled, ‘Nigeria Jaga-jaga’ (implying that everything is topsy-turvy in the country).
The album with a lead number of same title turned out a rave with lead piece as a chart-topper and club anthem. The lyrics were so popular that one could still remember boys and girls chanting the lines away in dance halls:
“Nigeria Jaga-jaga… Everywhere scatter-scatter… gunshot in da air!…”
It was a show banger and the development so riled up the then president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) that he sharply countered the artiste’s misrepresentation of the country. Obasanjo even engaged the music act on the matter, publicly.
In fury, OBJ noted the young singer’s unfortunate point of view and extremely condemnable rascality, hinting that he was ignorant of the facts about the issues in his music as well as the magnitude of his tainting communication.
“Na ya papa house jaga-jaga,” OBJ darted at the artiste.
Indeed, on matters relating to Nigeria’s social and economic development, many young people, and old too, hold views, similar to the year 1990s through 2000s rave rap music act, Eedris. Some even express stronger opinions, in public and in private events.
In a recent interview, published, January 13, 2020 in The Guardian newspaper,
Mr. Abdulkareem said that the persisting deplorable state of Nigeria, 18 years after his controversial song still vindicates as the message remains relevant almost two decades after release. The artiste explained thusly to his interviewer:
“In 2002 I dropped Nigeria Jaga Jaga, and the ex-president came on the National TV and said that boy wey sing that song, na him papa and him family jaga jaga. I was very happy that my message got to the president. I was very happy that the president talked back at me because that means they were listening and today I’ve been vindicated again because Nigeria is still jaga jaga.”
Even as most of the lads and gals who danced gleefully and echoed the jaga-jaga lines have grown up and became wiser as the singer’s fame has waned, some of his fans then still deem him vindicated. As Nigeria marks the 60th anniversary of her independence today, there is a need to appraise the truism or extent of falsehood of the frequently cited rudderlessness or lack of planning in Nigeria’s history. Should the notion be totally false, it would need to be established to note whether our dear country’s challenge is not planning for the future or lacking the sagacity to work out our way through the woods via our own strategy.
Without doubt, at 60, Nigeria is a long way behind where it is expected to be even by her founding fathers and peers. But her annals do not point towards a land that never prepared for rainy days. Even before gaining her independence from England’s colonial rule on October 1, 1960, Nigeria had already evolved an elaborately explicit national development plan in 1946. Thereafter, she has been exploring the chances offered by half decade development strategies. Four of such plans, ran simultaneously ended in the middle of the 1980s. With the four to 5-year development plans as well as an austerity measure; a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP); two three-year rolling plans; four well-articulated national vision programs and strategies comprising the on-going Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of President Muhammad Buhari’s (PMB) among others no argument that the country lacks development plans would really hold water.
To date, Nigeria has also had many maverlous educational, housing and agricultural development plans. as the late 1970s’ Operation Feed the Nation (OFN); the early 1980s’ Green Revolution among others, all targeted at putting food on the table of the people and making the land richer. Yet the dream of a well-fed populace still seems a pipe dream as there seems to be an endless search for the best strategy for the country’s development.
The availability of a plethora of developmental plans is ample evidence that Nigeria is a visionary nation. Added to the long list of national developmental visions are several equally detailed and finely packaged social, cultural and political projections. There are equally resolutions of robust constitutional fora, from the 1950s to 2014.
Despite all these, the country still graples with all manner of developmental initiatives in a visibly frantic helpless quest for growth-enabling ideas. It would therefore appear that the documents and mandates we have produced over the years, lack some vital factors somewhere or that they are too difficult for us to implement.
May be, the variety of planning initiatives the country had designed and adopted failed to yield desired outcomes because they were not well focused narrowly on given areas which is why various states are further seeking new roadmaps, strategies and quick-fix tactics that will address their core developmental troubles. Two weeks ago, Kaduna State brainstormed along the same line in a robust event tagged, Kaduna Investment Forum (KADINVEST 2020).
It could also be that there are intrinsic cultural issues that have been ignored over the years. Three weeks ago, two of Nigeria’s elderstatesmen, OBJ and the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, advocated the convening of a national discourse of ethnic nationalities by the federal government. They reasoned that given the seemingly endless crises across country and deep-set reign of lack of trust among the peoples, such a platform would chart a new socio-political path and soothe ethnic tension.
Possibly, Nigeria should have settled the basic trobules such as hunger, unemployment and productivity and just done away with the fantasy we haboured some years ago of heading to the orbits with borrowed tokumbo (or was it hire-purchase?) satelites that suddenly packed up there and concentrated on the basic matter of deploying science and technology education for national productivity. Had we gone those ways, the plans we had in our first 14 years would have sufficed to get the country to her Eldorado. The first National Development Plan (1962 – 1968) which sought to address the nation’s need for skills and manpower needs and the Second National Development Plan (1970 –1974) which brought up the ideology of indigenous ownership of major businesses as well as heightened national interest in technology and technical education had enough commonsense that could have set us firmly on the path of vast jobs and human resource creation. The two ( both short-term plans) had enough to put food on our tables.
But we wanted more. We went for the Third National Development Plan (1975 – 1980) and the Fourth National Development Plan (1981 – 1985), and still the Fifth National Development, the perspective plans (1986 – 1990) which out of our zeal, we aborted while still-born and replaced with a longer term mode of planning, begining with the (NPC 2005) – a fifteen-year projection. Although, a good idea that seriously established Nigeria as a land that projects far ahead, there was no evidence that we mastered the short-term method before jumping into the long leap.
From then we plunged into several long-tenure plans such as The Era of Perspective and Rolling Plans (1990 – 1998); Vision 2010; Vision 20: 2020 (in 2007) under OBJ, the Seven Point Agenda of the late President Umar Ya’Adua; the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan (2011 – 2015); and Buhari’s on-going Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which debuted in 2017.
Added to these was the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) of OBJ’s second tenure in presidency 2003 – 2007. The NEEDS document was so robust that the rudiments of development as well as wealth creation, employment generation, poverty reduction and value reorientation were well stated. There was also SEEDS for development in states.
All these notwithstanding, the economy still ails as if all the gods offended by every black person on earth has decided to vent their anger on Nigeria. But ther are experts who reason that our doom is not in the deities knowing our sins rather it is failing to face our demons squarely with smart ‘street sense.’
The plans tend to shy away from heavily promoting self-reliance, entrepreneurship, direct and sincere encouragement of innovations as well as hard work through our indifferent financial systems that seem not to co-tow with the government.
Inconsistent policies of government and frequent change of hands in power also hinder the friution of the development plans. Worse, is our condoning of nonchalance and lack of sense of productivity in the work force. No nation advances with such suicidal attitude to work.
Nigeria’s undisguised tendency to ape western economies in her development planning is another flaw. Studies show that in economic and developmental thinking a peoples’ culture, comprising belief systems and tendency for crises as well as attitudes to productivity affect the results they get from whatever strategy or plan they employ.
In the words of the late Prof. Claud Ake (1981) “any development plan and initiatives that did not encourage the disengagement of Nigeria economy from the exploitative structural links with Western capitalist economy, will not succeed.”
That four-decade old observation by Ake the very erudite scholar, (one the brightest brains Nigeria has produced is still sounding real just like the rap act, Eedris’ ‘jaga-jaga’ assertion.
The task before us as Nigeria turns 60 today is to slay that demon of ‘planning without implementing’ but one fact that is self-evident is that Nigeria has never failed to plan for her future. Rather she has over planned. Though without implements. But we must not fail.