Nigeria’s Vision 20: 2020: Myth or Reality?
Nigeria articulated its Vision 20:2020 during the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999- 2007. The vision captures among other things, the road map and blueprint to achieving national economic growth and becoming one of the twenty largest economies in the world by 2020. As lofty as the blueprint may be, there is glaring evidence that only a little can be achieved before the expiration of the set date considering the unpreparedness on the part of government.
On assumption of office in May, 2007, the Yar’Adua administration set up the National Council on Vision 2020 to develop a blueprint for the vision 20:2020 in collaboration with the National Planning Commission. In November, 2007, it presented the Vision 20:2020-Economic Transformation Blueprint to the larger populace, as the average Nigerian had little or no idea about it. The ordinary market woman in the village is not privy to the contents of this blueprint, so largely, the Blueprint is widely perceived as an attempt by the Nigerian ruling class to hoodwink and deceive the people into believing that the state is striving to make Nigeria one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. The realities on ground support this assumption.
In pursuit of this economic blueprint, certain grey areas must be addressed. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form part of this vision. The eight MDGs targets include policies to eradicate extreme poverty, achieving universal basic education, promoting gender equality and empowerment of women. Others include: reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, controlling of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other deadly diseases. It also seeks to develop global partnership with other countries and ensuring environmental sustainability. Besides the relative stable political environment in this country, nine years to the realization of this blueprint, nothing has been achieved. Other critical areas that must be addressed, are the creation of jobs and youth empowerment, less dependence on oil, development of science, pursuit of economic development for the six geopolitical zones, development of agriculture, political will, strong war on corruption and fifty percent attainment of the eight MDGs.
All around the world, the youths are the heartbeat of any nation. No country can be adjudged as developing when the bulk of its populace live below the poverty line. Pundits say that if the Nigerian government desires to be among the twenty largest economies in the world, then the issue of job creation and youth empowerment must not be treated with disdain and levity. The new government of President Goodluck Jonathan, they say, must comprehensively place this above all others. They argue that Nigeria must aggressively pursue food sustainability and depend less on imported food. Agriculture must be developed particularly at the state and local government levels with a strong support from the federal government. If Nigeria’s quest is to be among the 20 most developed economies in the world by 20:2020, then food sustainability through agriculture must be pursued with vigor. This can also partly solve the problem of unemployment in Nigeria. As a way forward, there is a growing consensus among economic experts that we must revive other critical sectors of the economy and depend less on oil revenue. Coal industry in the South East and abundant mineral resources in the North should create good alternatives for us to diversify our economy.
The development of science in Nigeria is critical to the attainment of the vision 20:2020. At present, the national approach to the development of science in secondary and tertiary institutions is poor. Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe, a former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos posited that science forms the basic root of national development because it is “predictive, precise, logical and open-minded for national development.” He also believes that, there is no better time for science to assume its proper place in the realm of national development than now. It is worrisome to know that more than half a century after the United States sent its scientists to the moon, Nigeria still imports machetes for farming. Our automobile and all electrical appliances from the rural areas up to Aso Rock are imported. And this goes to show a gross negligence on the part of the federal government on which the onus of science development falls upon. Prof. Ibidapo-Obe suggests that tertiary institutions in Nigeria can initiate exchange programs with institutions in developed countries to aid speedy acquisition of basic science skills needed for the furtherance of science development in Nigeria and in turn accelerate the attainment of our economic blueprint by the year 20:2020.
The six geopolitical zones in the country still rely heavily on the central government for their survival. Besides few states like Lagos, Rivers and Kano, which have succeeded in fine-tuning ways to boost monthly revenue, others cannot survive in a month if the federal government suspends their monthly allocation. Virtually every state in Nigeria is endowed with abundant natural resources. From the east to the west and north to south, huge natural resources abound. The problem however is that, the federal government’s stance on the exploration of these resources hinders their full utilization. If the Nigerian government desires to attain vision 20:2020, then the states must be economically empowered to cater for their needs and depend less on allocation from the federal government. Effective taxation, revival of the moribund tourism sector and agriculture are key to the survival of different states in Nigeria.
Two other cardinal areas hold the key to the realization of Nigeria’s vision 20:2020 economic blueprint: political will and strong war on corruption. Most lofty ideas have been developed by the federal government in the past, but they only ended up in the grave yard because they were never implemented. Political leaders in Nigeria lack the will to implement government policies. Too many interests show up at the stage of implementation and when their voices are ignored, they fathom ways to frustrate the dream. In less than nine years to the realization of that goal, President Jonathan must be brutal in the implementation of these blueprints. He should take a clue from Nuhu Ribadu and step on toes if this must be realized. More importantly, corruption must be fought with utter sincerity to a logical standstill. No meaningful development can be achieved in an environment that promotes corrupt leaders. The various anti-graft agencies must be empowered and made independent to combat corruption. Stringent laws and penalties must be spelt out to defaulters to serve as effective deterrent to every public office holder.
These two points are the most important deciding factors to the realization of Nigeria’s vision 2:2020 economic blueprint. There must be at least 50 percent realization of MDGs in order to attain the position. As of now, Thailand is the 20th largest economy in the world with an annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over US$400 billions. The irony is that, Thailand is still developing and has the potentials to surpass this position in nine years. The country currently occupies the position we are pursuing to attain but our current GDP is far less than half of its’. Nigeria must therefore intensify her efforts to meet the necessary challenges and be consistent in policy formulation. A change in government should not affect the country’s policies.