By Efe Igbinosa
For a state seeking to promote its own development, enacting a successful long-term developmental plan is key, regardless of the economic system.
Benefiting from its long-term plans, China has gradually grown into a global power.
By contrast, Nigeria, despite a long history of enacting national plans, has failed to set attainable goals and align with the world’s development trend and to keep policy continuity between plans.
This means that, although it has abundant human and natural resources, like China, Nigeria has failed to pull its feet out of the quagmire of underdevelopment.
Edo State, through the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki, is determined to make a difference, regardless of the prevailing economic atmosphere in the country.
Governor Obaseki restated his commitment to his 30-year plan for the state when he gave the opening speech at a workshop on the overview of Edo State Development and Physical Plan, which held on November 22, 2021, in the new festival hall, Government House, Benin City.
The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development and Ministry of Budget and Planning to harness the thoughts and views of critical stakeholders like surveyors, estate managers, town planners, consultants, academia, students, etcetera, in a move to give clarity to what Edo State’s future should look like.
Governor Obaseki believes that we, as Edo people, must be certain of where we should be in the near future. The type of world we want to build and what sort of environment and conditions Edo people will live in.
China is a rare example in enacting successful long-term plans in the world.
At the 19th Communist Party of China’s National Congress, Xi Jinping laid out the grand blueprint of China’s development for the next three decades, following the three-step developmental strategy proposed by Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of Chinese reform policies. The first period (until 2020) was aimed at comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society and eliminating poverty.
After the second period (2020-2035), China will have basically realized socialist modernization and, by the end of the third period (2035-2050), China would finally become a leading nation in terms of national power and global impact.
Anyone following China’s growth would be able to clearly see their developmental pathway that is engendering growth and lifting millions of Chinese citizens out of poverty.
Stakeholders have agreed that a long-term development and physical plan is long overdue in Edo State. The last developmental plan that was conceived for Edo State was carried out in 1975 by the late Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, a two-time governor of Mid-Western State and later Bendel State. The plan was to begin in 1975 and terminate in 2005. The plan failed to see the light of day and it only recorded 20 per cent performance, according to experts.
In spite of the failures of developmental plans in the past, Governor Obaseki is determined to open a fresh page in our history to see to the reality of this 30-year plan, because of the significance of the plan to our future. This plan, like China’s, also has short, medium and long-term implementation strategies.
The advantages of a long-term plan are such that decision-makers within a state or local government have a reference point and documentation against which decisions are made and progress measured.
The long-term perspective of the planning policy enables planners and decision-makers to advocate against short-term gains that any given development may offer, if it is likely to act against long-term sustainability, and, similarly, anticipate longer-term developmental needs in an integrated framework.
Without these long-term perspectives set in a policy framework, the plan faces the risk of being missed in the face of short-term perspectives. This reduces the ability of leaders to argue in favour of such short-term developments that may provide jobs and developmental opportunities,but in the long term do not reconcile the imperatives, putting undue strain on the viability of the state or the communities.
We must choose a long-term holistic approach to planning, which is better able to provide real and sustainable benefits. Edo State’s 30-year plan will have a significant degree of community participation in the developmental process as it will have community support from the start, and as a result it will be politically harder for local authorities to adopt contradictory policies and ignore the plan process.
Similarly, public support for the tenets of the plan will be greater and as a result programmes that are included in the plan will have smoother delivery.
Another issue that has also agitated the minds of stakeholders and other well-meaning Edo sons and daughters is the sustainability of the implementation of the plan at the end of Governor Obaseki’s tenure in office.
Governor Obaseki is prepared to entrench a culture of planning in the state and, as such, he has decided that the 30-year Edo developmental plan will not only be a plan but a legal document that will be legislated upon and, to do this, the government is already putting plans in place to create an agency that will be established by law and saddled with the responsibility of conceptualizing and implementing government’s development plan in a sustainable manner. By so doing, subsequent leaders will be bound by law to continue with the state’s development and physical plan.
Governor Obaseki is already laying the foundation for this 30-year plan, with some of the reforms and landmark projects he has embarked upon, from civil service reforms to basic education, to health, power, agriculture, fintech, MSMEs, culture, sports and security.
All these infrastructures have been deliberately and carefully put in place to serve as the pillars for the 30-year development and physical plan, which on its own has four key pillars: Governance and Sustainable Environment, Social Development, Economic Development and Infrastructural Development.
In the end, the overall objective of Edo State Development and Physical Plan is to be among the top-three richest states and the first most livable state in Nigeria in 30 years. This plan is achievable and Governor Obaseki is prepared to secure the future for the people of Edo State.
•Mr. Igbinosa is an aide to the governor of Edo State