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 VISION 2020: Missed opportunities! How Nigeria wasted the ‘brains’ of 1000 experts

VISION 2020: Missed opportunities! How Nigeria wasted the ‘brains’ of 1000 experts


It was out of the lofty dream of placing Nigeria among the top 20 global economies that the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua launched Vision 2020 in 2009. The idea was initially conceived by former President Olusegun Obasanjo – President Yar’Adua’s predecessor – in 2006. According to reports, the planning process, for the programme, involved the commissioning of 1,000 experts who worked for over nine months to produce a draft document for the programme.

The draft document was launched in September 2009 with seven principal objectives:

1, Make Nigeria one of the 20 largest economies in the world by the year 2020,
2, Make Nigeria an international finance centre
3, Evaluate Nigeria’s potentials using development variables
4, Make Nigeria to be African’s financial hub where most of the international financial transactions in Africa would be connected with Nigeria
5, Help other African nations move out of financial doldrums
6, Move Nigeria out of third world country state to an industrialised nation
7, Drive rapid and sustainable economic growth in Nigeria and Africa.

With Vision 2020, it was thought that by 2020, Nigeria would have a diversified, large, viable, and competitive economy that effectively utilizes the talents and energies of its people and responsibly exploits its natural resources to ensure a high standard of living and quality of life to its citizens. However, with 2020 just a few weeks away, the Nigeria’s challenged economic growth and development shows that the dream has largely been a failure.

John Chukwu of Ripples Nigeria examines how Nigeria’s objective conditions illustrate monumental failure of leadership across the decades.

1. 10 million out-of-school

Education, arguably, is the bedrock of national development. Unfortunately, the funding for education has continued to rotate between 5%, 6% and 7% of the national budget. In November 2018, when President Buhari visited France he assured the Nigerian community there that education would be better funded in 2019.

“We are currently reviewing investments in the entire infrastructure of the country like road, rail and power, including investing more in education. We will certainly need to do more in education,” he vowed. Afterwards, the education sector only got N620.5bn, in the 2019 national budget, which is about 7.05% marginal raise over the total of N605.8bn budgeted for the sector in 2018.

Interestingly, the 2020 budget proposal of N10.33 trillion presented before the National Assembly on October 15, 2019, had the sum of N691.07 billion constituting 6.7% of the budget allocated the Education Ministry.

This is against the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) global standard which recommends 26% of the national budget to education.

Outside poor funding is the sad reality 10,193,918 out-of-school children as revealed by the Minister of Education, Prof. Adamu Adamu, on April 12, 2019, after the ministry conducted a National Personnel Audit of private and public schools in Nigeria. The hard facts, therefore, suggest that successive administrations had paid lip service to education and the role its meant to play towards the actualization of Vision 2020.

2. 55% youth unemployment

Employment smoothens economic development. On the contrary, Nigeria has been bedeviled with high rate of unemployment. The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, puts jobless rate at 23.1%, underemployment at 20.21% and youth unemployment at an appalling 55.4 %. Meanwhile, inflation rate stands at 11.25% which frustrates businesses from expanding and creating greatly needed jobs.

Nigeria has been tagged the world poverty capital as declared, in 2018, by the World Poverty Clock with an estimated 87 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty. The Nigerian government has since promised to sink the sum of N500 billion into wealth creation and poverty alleviation.

It remains to be seen how the ongoing National Social Investment Programmes, (NSIP), with promises of hundreds of thousands of jobs, will ameliorate the situation.

3. N2.7 trillion breeds darkness

The story of epileptic power supply in Nigeria is rife. The electric power generated, transmitted and distributed in the country is basically less than what is needed for home and industrial needs. The Federal Government aspiration targeting a whooping 20GW of available electricity capacity by the end of the year remains a dream.

The former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali and the former Managing Director, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, NDPHD, James Olotu, on September 8, 2015, disclosed to the Senate Ad-hoc committee probing the power sector, from 1999 to 2015, that the Federal Government – the administrations of Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan – invested a whopping sum of N2.74trillion in the power sector.

Over the years, successive governments have continued to proffer excuses instead of solutions. In December 2018, Babatunde Fashola, as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, heaped the blame for poor power supply on the Jonathan administration.

“There are problems without a doubt and we must deal with them. But let me remind you, all of the assets that the Ministry of Power used to control for power have been sold by the last administration before I came. And so if you don’t have power. It is not the government’s power, it is not the government’s problem. Let us be honest,” he said.

With various policy somersaults, industries have continued to groan with many reportedly folding up and or relocated to another country due to inefficiencies in energy distribution.

4. 14% global total in maternal deaths

The health ministry in Nigeria has been in ruins, for years. No nation can assume a giant height economically when its health system is overly poor. Available statistics pertaining to the health sector in Nigeria is simply scary. In the United Nations’ 2019 State of the World report, Nigeria’s life expectancy is 55 years. It is, however, marginally better than only Sierra Leone, 53 years, Chad and Central Africa Republic which have 54 years each. While countries like Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia are better than Nigeria; having 62.74, 62.77 and 65.48 years life expectancy respectively.

The African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) reports that one Nigerian woman dies every 13 minutes from preventable causes related to pregnancy and child birth. Its annual 40,000 maternal deaths account for roughly 14% of the global total; according to the Kenya-based APHRC. Not-too-long ago, a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report ranked Nigeria as the 11th highest on newborn deaths, with 29 deaths per 1,000 births of newborn. Add to these, Nigeria is still one of the top three countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

These awful situations are so pronounced in the way government officials and the privileged few patronize hospitals overseas for medical care as the state of the medical facilities in different hospitals in the country are in a sorry state.

5. Over 22 million without a home

The problems surrounding housing has remained the bane of Nigerians for decades. Just this year, the head of the Federal Mortgage Bank, Ahmed Dangiwa, put the country’s housing deficit at 22 million with the bulk of that in urban areas of Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

The Federal Government estimates that the Ministry of Housing would need about $400 billion investment over the next 25-30 years to resolve this deficit. Whereas the World Bank are of the view that bridging the deficit will cost Nigeria about N59.5 trillion, estimates by Nigeria’s Federal Mortgage Bank totaling N56 trillion also support the World Bank figures.

As the population of the country grows exponentially, and without any foreseeable strategic response, it is expected that the situation would turn worse.

6. 3800 failed roads

Perhaps, nothing depicts the sorry state of infrastructure as the death traps called Nigerian roads. With 3800 roads clearly identified in 2019 as needing urgent repairs, the disclosure that only 500 of these can be addressed by the N260 billion allocated to the relevant ministry in the 2020 budget shows how far Nigeria is from its dreams.

Caving in to frustrations, the Minister of Works and Housing, Fashola, was caught on tape on November 6, 2019, saying that Nigerian roads were not as bad as often described.

“The roads are not bad as they are often portrayed. I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad,” he said. Massive attacks within the media space have since forced him to recant.

What next?

With Vision 2020 completely mismanaged, the natural move is to query government’s future plans. Would there be another dream document or a ‘rolling plan’ articulated as was once bandied by past governments? The answers may be blowing in the wind.

What is, however, certain is that failure to honestly implement Vision 2020 has been linked to greed, incompetence and unwillingness of successive administrations to follow through with long term strategies as enunciated by previous regimes.

At the moment, government appears sucked into short term goals built around the Medium Term Expenditure Frameworks, and hoping to integrate these with long term strategic goals.

We are minded, therefore, to admit the submissions of a Nigerian Senator who, on November 23, 2019, hinted that the Federal Government was considering the introduction of another long term development plan to guide its programmes and activities.

It was Senator Olubumi Adetunmbi, Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs, who provided this insight at an accountability discourse series organized by Actionaid Nigeria,

If this comes to reality, it would be another chance to see if the nation could get it right. Only time will tell.

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