By Tony Osakpamwan Agbons
For a country with a population of nearly 200 million people, Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and material resources. We have produced some of the best brains dominating in many countries of the world in virtually all spheres of endeavour. The list of such eminent Nigerians performing at the highest level is endless. They are making their mark and holding their own creditably globally. The question many are asking is, “why is there so much disparity in this performance compared to their kindred who are based at home”? Pointers have been made to environmental factors which tend to stunt the proper growth and development of enterprise of our people. There is a seeming lack of an enabling environment for them to thrive. There is a palpable lack of vision by the political elite in Nigeria to create this enabling environment.
In the early days of our current democratic sojourn, former President Olusegun Obasanjo muted the idea of a national vision for the country in 2006. It was at the tail end of his tenure. His successor in office, the Late President Musa Y`Adua (His soul rest in peace) launched the Vision 20:2020 in September 2009. This was announced with pomp, zest, and embellished with beautifully crafted words and captioned VISION 20: 2020. For most developed and developing nations, governance revolves around a sextuplet of goals as encapsulated in the United Nations Development goals. These include a reduction in poverty and unemployment, the provision of minimum levels of education, health, housing and food to every citizen, the broadening of social and economic opportunities and the forging of a cohesive nation state.
At that time, the launch of the Vision 20:2020 was greatly heralded and seen by Nigerians as a win-win. Many well-meaning Nigerians saw it as a design to lay the foundation of a veritable framework that will eventually `catapult` the country to the proverbial `phoenix` and much desired ‘el-dorado`. More so, when the Vision 20:2020 construct was inspired from patches of our previous rolling national development plans of the 1970s and early 80s, the United Nations Human Development goals and other socio-economic parameters.
At the time, government officials at Federal, State, and Local government levels had a field day in well-articulated speeches. The citizens applauded and were bombarded left, right and centre with oratory beyond recent Barack Obama heights. Many saw the Vision 20:2020 idea as an instrument of structured planning to the twinkling magical year 2020, and millennium. How wrong we were!
Having criss-crossed and situated arguments from sundry sources, we can pin-point how, why, where and when this vision fell apart and the lessons, we can learn from it. Some analysts have alluded that the failure of this vision to the demise of President Musa Y`Adua at that time. Some opined that it got washed away by the usual `Nigerian factor`. A handful of commentators put the blame on our system operators who they claim are smart on theorising but poor in practical implementation. Each of these analyses are well documented in the annals of our history as a nation state.
In today’s Nigeria, the recurring decimal has always been our inability to throw up our best in leadership. This assertion is very sad since the return to democratic rule in 1999. Many Nigerians still say, we are presently in civilian rule and not in democracy yet. They say we have rulers currently and not leaders. Ours has been a clime that celebrate mediocrity. We never put out our “best eleven” forward for political leadership although we boast of some of the best brains in virtually all fields of human endeavours. Our kit and kin are `flying high` all over the world, yet we are unable to replicate same at home. Ours has become a very suffocating chimney where only the hardened can survive.
For Nigeria to achieve her full potential and take its place and pride in the comity of nations, our current model of recycling the political elite model must be jettisoned. The country is in dire need of credible men and women of quality, consummate Godly compassion, and wisdom. We must drop the present system where sensitive vital political leadership is for the highest bidder. Political leadership should not be for sale, but for service to the people. It should throw up men and women who are ready to serve the people sacrificially.
Similarly, we must do away with this “over-bloated unitary-federal-cap-in-hand-to-Abuja system” we operate. We need to practice a proper federal system where the federating units grow at their comparative pace. As a country, we have missed several opportunities for national rebirth. The events of the current global pandemic and its attendant effects provides us another chance to have a rethink. Also, the recent endSARS protests across the country is a warning to the ruling elite that it will not always be business as usual. The country is crying loud for a new mindset based on fairness, equity, and justice in all aspect of our national life. Our commonwealth must be for the benefit of all citizens and not just for a privileged few. This way, we can face up to the tirade of challenges confronting us. The endSARS cum end bad governance protests of the last few weeks is therefore a fresh opportunity for Nigeria to redesign and recapture its lost vision. Unlike the failed Vision 20:2020, this new vision must be laced with provisions.
Dr. Agbons writes from the UK