By Jide Ojo
“Vision 20:2020 is an articulation of the long-term intent to launch Nigeria onto a path of sustained social and economic progress and accelerate the emergence of a truly prosperous and united Nigeria. Recognising the enormous human and natural endowments of the nation, the blueprint is an expression of Nigeria’s intent to improve the living standards of her citizens and place the country among the Top 20 economies in the world with a minimum GDP of $900 billion and a per capita income of no less than $4000 per annum.”
–Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 document
From today, January 1, 2020, we have set on a journey of another year as well as another decade. As is customary with many of us, we set ourselves resolutions of what we intend to desist from and what to embrace in the New Year. These resolutions are sometimes partly or fully kept. Oftentimes, they are not kept at all. Yet, we continue to make the resolutions year in, year out.
About a decade ago, Nigeria envisioned to be one of the top 20 economies in the world by this year 2020. This was based on assessment of its abundant human and material resources and on the assumption that the country’s resources would be properly managed and channelled to set economic goals. To achieve this, the Vision 2020 identified six interwoven pillars, including good governance and an efficient state, skilled human capital, vibrant private sector, world class physical infrastructure and modern agriculture and livestock, all geared towards prospering in national, regional and global markets.
According to the 134-page document, “The NV20:2020 economic transformation blueprint is a long-term plan for stimulating Nigeria’s economic growth and launching the country onto a path of sustained and rapid socio-economic development. The blueprint articulates Nigeria’s economic growth and development strategies, for the eleven-year period between 2009 and 2020, and will be implemented using a series of medium-term national development plans.”
From the aforementioned, it is clear that the NV 20:2020 was a grandiose plan. Prior to this, we had had the Vision 2010 when we thought all social amenities such as housing, health, education would be available and affordable for all Nigerians. Before that, we had several development plans and economic blueprints. I recall that former President Olusegun Obasanjo launched with glee the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy popularly known as NEEDS. There was also the State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy known as SEEDS as well as its local government version called LEEDS.
While the Vision 20:2020 was supposedly being implemented, this regime in 2017 launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. “The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is a Medium-Term Plan for 2017-2020, developed by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people – the nation’s most priceless assets”.
In spite of these development strategies and economic blueprint, Nigeria’s Human Development Index value for 2018 remained 0.534 – which put the country in the low human development category- positioning it at the 158th out of 189 countries and territories. In April 2019, the Misery Index ranked Nigeria and South Africa as Africa’s Most Miserable Countries. The country still ranks high on maternal and infant mortality while our life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world.
Why is it that in spite of all the development plans, strategies and goals as well as the visions of development, the country still lags behind in the comity of nations? The answer is not far-fetched. We are long on rhetoric and short on delivery. We are very adept at sloganeering and propaganda rather than do the needful. The political will to do the right thing is lacking while our leaders prioritise their personal aggrandisement over national development.
Nigeria has for long been classified as one of the resource-curse countries. The potential is high. The human and material resources are many. Our natural resources comprising oil and gas as well as solid minerals are enough to make us attain the Vision 20:2020. Unfortunately, we are perpetual underachievers. As aptly described by the Professor of Political Science and incumbent Vice Chancellor of Igbinedion University, Eghosa Osagae, Nigeria is a crippled giant.
It shouldn’t be so but that is the stark reality. Among the key contributory factors to our underdevelopment is corruption. We have been unfortunate to be governed by a team of rapacious leaders whose welfare and well-being are prioritised over and above those of the citizens. If the resources of the country had been used to develop it and not diverted to private pockets, our decaying infrastructure would have been long fixed. Our public schools would not be in deplorable conditions that they are; our hospitals would not be mere consulting clinics that many of them are now; our road networks which are pot-hole ridden and death-traps would not have been this awful. What would Nigeria have had to do with poverty? Ironically, due to corruption and mismanagement of the nation’s resources, we are now the world capital of countries with extreme poverty.
As we start this New Year and decade, can our leaders across board – the three arms of government and the three tiers of government – make a new commitment to work assiduously for the betterment of our suffering motherland? Can they make a New Year resolution not to pilfer the country’s resources again? Can they turn a new leaf and shun corrupt practices in all ramifications? Can they simply make our money and other resources work for us? That would be very heartwarming if they can do that.
On the part of the citizens, we also have roles to play. Our duty is to support government to succeed. To whom much is given, much is expected. As citizens, we all must shun our petty corrupt practices. We must be our brother’s keeper. We must pay our taxes, stop vandalising public utilities and be patriotic. We must also engage our elected representatives and demand transparency and accountability in government. As the saying goes, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
Happy New Year everyone!
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