About six decades ago, fresh from the frenzy of independence, a permutation crept in and surreptitiously held Nigeria’s socio- economic planners hostage. In their plans, projections and ambitions, the buzz was to search and pin down years that would anchor the total transformation of the country in record time. The altruism and even credulity of policy plans may not have been in doubt. They were weighed on a scale which posted strong analytical depth and historical correctness. No one dreaded the landmines to come or the ambush that would ultimately derail the dream. The first National Development Plan was launched in 1962, barely two years into independence. It had a six- year target that proposed the spending of about $19,000,000 (Nineteen million dollars) on development and productivity induced projects. It was prepared by the Minister of Economic Development, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, with support from the United Nations and Ford Foundation experts including the erudite Wolfgang Stolper, who died a few years ago. The vision as espoused by Tafawa Balewa, the then prime minister was to propel the new nation towards rapid and sustainable development within the six years span. The second National Development plan was launched after the civil war by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was Shagari’s successor in Office. It was geared towards saving for the “raining day”. Prof Adebayo Adedeji reputedly drafted the second and third National Development Plans. He was Minister of National Planning and Reconstruction at the time. For the second National Development plan, General Gowon created a Central Planning, CPO, which served as the theatre, or to use a phrase more suited to this time,” War room”. It was headed by Chief Gilbert Obiajulu Chikelu, who was a director in the ministry of Statistics. Other members were Chief Olu Falae, Chief John Oyegun, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief John Edoziem, among others. It was conceived as a robust plan that would erase the scars of the civil war and utilize effectively and efficiently the lush proceeds from the oil boom. The third National Development Plan was launched on April 1, 1975 during the Murtala/Obasanjo military regime, and it was slated to end on March 31, 1980. Most projects which were commenced during the second Development Plan were completed during the Third Plan. Some examples of such projects include two iron and steel plants at Ajaokuta and Aladja, two petroleum refineries at Warri and Kaduna, and three steel rolling mills at Katsina, Jos and Osogbo, four commercial vehicle assembly plants, two passenger car assembly plants. The vision behind it was to galvanize the abundant resources and launch the industrial take off of the nation. The 4th and last Development plan was launched on January 12, 1981 by the civilian regime of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. The basic strategy of the plan was the promotion of optimal utilization of resources. The Military took over the reins of government in 1983 and replaced the development plans with rolling plans. From rolling plans, it gravitated to Vision 2010, 7 – point agenda, Vision 2020, and many other interminable policy plans. Particular years were identified and infused with a blend of magic and realism.
The year 2010 foamed with pregnant expectations. The planners had encapsulated in their vision that all social amenities and developments including the abandoned projects would make hay and be handy and available for Nigerians. Slogans and catch- phrases like “Food for all by the year 2010”, Jobs for all by the year 2010”, Houses for all by the year 2010”, Education for all by the year 2010”, “Health for all by the year 2010”, ruled the airwaves and adorned all public places. Intermittently, the country was awash with the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS, State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, SEEDS, Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, LEEDS, and a host of others. They were conceptualized to mainstream employment creation programmes and policies into the national development planning. While the first Development Plan gulped N2.2b in capital expenditure, the second Plan took N3b in capital expenditure. The third Development Plan leapt up to a whooping N30b which was later reviewed upwards to N43.3 billion. In terms of scope, the third National Development Plan made a clear departure from its predecessors and was a watershed in the country’s planning repertoire. The government only succeeded in spending N29.43b. The 4th Plan consumed N82b and was far bigger than the rest. It was the first plan where local governments were integrated into the design and formulation. The first National Rolling Plan (1990- 1992) was based on strengthening the implementation of the Infamous Structural Adjustment Programme and address problems of the economy. The Second National Rolling Plan (1993- 1995) focused on tackling observed lapses and gaps in the operation of monetary and credit instruments, low level of capacity utilization of industries and the soaring problems of unemployment. The 1994/96 and 1997/99 rolling plans beamed its searchlight on employment generation (National Planning Commission, 2000). When the country returned to democratic rule in 1999, the government, led by Olusegun Obasanjo threw up the four- year medium plan document, the National Economic Direction (1999 – 2003). The goal was to achieve a broad based economy with capacity to absorb external shocks and ultimately create a virile, strong and purposeful economy. It was not different from the ones operated during the military backed rolling plans (SAP). NEEDS is best seen as Nigeria’s plan for prosperity. But, despite the huge capital outflows to nick the core objectives of a virile economy, full and gainful employment, and industrialization, advancement in science and technology and emergence in the group of 20 leading economies globally, not one of these dreams have been achieved after close to six decades. In fact more progress has been made on the reverse gear as the nations fortunes inexorably continue to dim. The Expatriate Quota Allocation Policy (1963) which was to ensure that expatriates were only employed in areas with persistent acute shortage of indigenous manpower has been observed more in the breach. The ITF (Industrial Training Fund) decree No 47 of 1971 made it compulsory for employers with 25 employees and above to pay a training level of 1% of their annual payroll to the ITF while employers were to be reimbursed up to 60% of the cost of training programmes procured for their employees on annual basis. The general idea behind this scheme was to engender accelerated availability of indigenous manpower and contribute to the growth of the Centre for Management Development (CMD). Today, the whole programme has been circumscribed and is perfectly resting in the dust bin.
The National Directorate of Employment, NDE which was created in 1986 to train the unemployed youth, provide guidance, finance and other logistic services to assist them transform to employers of labour for themselves and others has since become comatose and inexplicably dumped. It died after gulping a tidy sum of N259b. The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) which began operations in 2002 and hit a popular chord with people has also been consigned to the rubbish heap of history after “swallowing “over N124B. Although, indicators have emerged of 253.0%, 21.3%, and 6.0% growth of labour force, employment and unemployment rate respectively in the last few years, the impact on the populace is yet to be felt. The gap between labour and employment was about 340,000 in 1970. In 1985, which was the era of fixed medium term planning, the difference between labour force and employment came to about 1,400,000 and this marked the period when unemployment rate shot up in the country.
Between 1999 – 1998, the era of the rolling plans, the difference between labour force and employment was 2,120,000, while unemployment rose to an all time high of 10.0%. These appallingly grim figures have in the main, been attributed to high population growth rate, dwindling oil prices, poor planning and mismanagement on the part of government. But government would always pass these off as a phase in the developmental process and buttress them with heaps of lies and sophistry as justification. By 2008, unemployment had risen to 13.6%. The adoption of SAP (1986 – 1988) was to have a positive improvement on employment generation but the reverse was the case. In- built mechanisms by bureaucrats in government, indifference by the citizens towards governance as well as indecent manipulations by self- serving political leaders and military egg- heads are the base elements that serve as the clog in the wheel of attaining the goals of the visions.
Nigeria has never been in want of strategic schemes and the accompanying slogans and grandstanding.
By the end of 2010, it was self- evident that the dream had vitiated on all counts. Instead of an economic leap, the nation was gripped in a vortex of retardation, paralysis and palpable gloom. The visioners went back to their rich, inexhaustible bag of dreams and visions. This time, the lot fell on year 2020 and it was labeled Vision 20:2020. The blueprint was an expression of Nigeria’s intent to improve the living standards of her citizens and place the country among the top economies in the world with a minimum GDP of $900 billion and a per capital income of no less than$4000 per annum. It bristled with raw optimism and fervent expectations. The drawing board was brimful of incipient advancement and progress as the people looked forward. The musical change of chairs in government did not alter the vision. Each succeeding government retained the year in its overall plans and imbued in It even nobler objectives, perceptions and grandiose projects. Year 2020 inevitably became the prime promise year, the cherry that must be sought after, in thick and thin. Slogans and catch- phrases ran high on a din. Vision 2020 was launched with fanfare. The two broad objectives were to make efficient use of human and natural resources to achieve economic growth and to translate the economic growth into equitable social development for citizens. The critical policy priorities of the vision were to correct the weaknesses of the revenue allocation system which is primarily based on revenue accruing from oil and stimulate aggressive internal revenue generation mechanism at both states and local government levels. It was also pried to increase investment in critical infrastructure, develop a framework for joint financing of infrastructure projects among the tiers of government, and encourage private investment in infrastructure. Others include deepening reforms at all levels of government, promote private sector- led non- oil growth to build the foundation of economic diversification, invest in human capital development to enhance national competiveness, entrench merit as a fundamental principle and core value, intensify the war against corruption and upgrade the capability of the internal security apparatus of government and through that, enhance the efficiency of their operations. The Local governments which have been wallowing in utter neglect and derision were to be empowered through the vision. Separation of powers between the executive and legislature was to be strengthened while appropriate mechanism to allow for civic engagement and citizen participation should be established especially the involvement of women in public policy development and implementation. Today, not one of these objectives was met. Instead, the nation has continued to slide down the ladder of opprobrium. Like others before it , it was constrained by failure of leadership, misplacement of priorities,, poor plan discipline, lack of self – reliance, ineffective executive capacity, public sector inefficiency, technology transfer syndrome ,system corruption, and inefficacious public/ private partnership have all combined to render genuine development through vision2020 illusory. Apparently determined to create more excitement to attain the fast evaporating goal, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan was launched in 2017. As usual, this one came with songs and dance. The year looked so distant and far- fetched. But it finally nested. This is 2020. The year of perceived El- Dorado. Why were these years chosen by the haymakers? Were those who envisioned these plans altruistic? Why did they not leverage on the abundant human and natural resources in the country to make them successful? Why did Nigeria’s Human Development Index Value for 2018 and 2019 stagnate at 0.534, which placed the country at 158th out of 189 countries of the world? Who were the people behind the choice of the year? Why did the lofty dreams placed on it fizzle out in a pipe? What next after the collapse of these dreams? Lookout seeks for answers to these and more.
Gone down the drains
• 1st Development plan – $19m (2.2b)
• 2nd Development plan – N3b
• 3rd Development plan – N43bn
• 4th Development plan – N82b
• NDE (National Directorate of
Employment) – N259b
• NAPEP (National Poverty
Eradication Programme) – N104b
Experts say that in numerology, the year ahead looks straight and stable This, perhaps has influenced the incurable adoption of visions and dreams in the country. A former minister of finance under the late General Sani Abacha regime, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu who was one of those that enunciated and propagated one of the visions – Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP sees nothing except profound patriotism and pro-active setting of objectives behind the vision. From the spiritual angle, a homoeopathic doctor, Dr Isima Oguchialu, describes years 2010 and 2020 as the “code of peace, vision and responsibility that helps to create results and a numerical year in numerology”. He said: “2020 is the year of accomplishments, a year that makes dreams real. The same applies to 2010. That was why they chose those years” But he dithered to say why the projected accomplishments did not fall through.. Col Tony Nyiam, Rtd, a social crusader, and one of the few Nigerians whose disillusionment about goings- on in the nation forced him into an aborted revolution through a coup d’état disagrees. He believes that as long as leaders of the nation are “self- serving, corrupt and morally bankrupt, the nation will never surpass its current level of groveling backwardness. “We failed as a nation because of conflict of interest. There is no national interest based on shared values right from the time of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo. There is opposition by internal colonizers and their external allies who have interests contrary to national interest. That is why we can’t get a bearing. That is why we are working at cross purposes. That is why Generals Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, IBB, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Chief Ernest Shonekan were in office and not in power. That was why when it was due time to reclaim power, Gowon was overthrown. That was why Babangida was allowed to annul June 12 presidential elections. Nigeria has a reputation to allow those who are deliberately undermining the policies, to flower their personal and ethnic interests.”
He continues: “Why is it impossible to arrest the killers of the daughter of the Afenifere leader? Why do we allow those who carry AK 47 to go about freely and most of them are trans- national herdsmen? Why is it that all the service chiefs are from two ethnic groups? People are unknowingly controlled by these repressive forces, just as the South- south and South east are pitched against each other to make way for the internal colonizers to continue to have their way. It’s not empty sloganeering, ideas, and propaganda that will do it for the country. The challenges we face are multifarious and there is no concerted efforts I have seen to surmount them. The political will is not just there and as long as it is not there we will continue to chase the shadow of a passing cloud. Personal interest, ethnicity, religion all coalesce into a conundrum to deny these visions a proper platform to succeed. When you assess our natural resources and human capital spread across the globe, you know that our problem is self- inflicted. All the visions over the years ended up in the trash can. The country is still grappling with maternal and infant mortality. Infrastructure is fast decaying and no new ones are built. We have taken a conspicuous position as the headquarters of extreme poverty. We look back with nostalgia to the glorious days of the 50’s and early 60’s.”
Nigeria is the biggest economy in the West African sub region. Vision 2020 was chosen to place her among the 20 largest economies in the world. Vision 2010 was designed to make life more abundant and less stressful for the people. The grand plan was to have a comprehensive transformation agenda for Nigeria. He delves deeper into what he sees as a malaise. “Were they stampeded into it based on the desire of manifesting real practical outcomes? It is not enough to envision things, there ought to be a corresponding awakening and change mindset built around those programmes.” According to Wikipedia, 2020 is a leap year, which started on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2020th year of the Common era (CE) and Anno Domini(AD) designations, the 20th year of the third millennium, the 20th year of the 21st century, and the 1st year of the 2020s decade. These noble descriptions fly in the face of the accretion, farce, lies, mysteries and fascinations that aided the formulation of the vision and also killed and buried it.
How they crumbled
Vision 2010 was short-lived. The sudden death of the vision bearer General Sani Abacha ensured it died a natural death. His successors dropped the plan. A Perspective Plan, which it was, must be a continuous movement towards desired goals. It failed in the projection and continuation of the four previous development plans, the Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, and the 7 point Agenda. By 2006, while vision 2010 was on, only 17.6% of Nigerians, according to reports built their houses. Only 48% of the population during the same period had access to improved water and sanitation. The adult literacy rate in the same year was 60.4%. The primary school enrolment was 68%. HIV/Syphilis sero- prevalence rate in the same year was 11.4%, whereas it was less than 1% in developed countries which Nigeria was aiming for. The number of people reportedly killed in road accidents in 2003 was 23,868, and 7.3% in 2007. The figures doubled by 2020 despite the vision being in place. Six decades after the National Development plans and the ensuing Visions 2010 and 2020, the basic problems confronting the nation such as widespread poverty, large- scale unemployment, low- capacity utilization, illiteracy, urban congestion, huge debt burden, inadequate and decayed social and physical infrastructure have not been eradicated or mitigated. If anything, they have multiplied in quantum leaps. Institutional/structural inconsistencies and discontinuity are the plaques. Government officials are not committed to the development policies of their predecessors. Policy reversals, politics and failures are common, resulting to why all development programmes in Nigeria failed. The 3Rs: Reintegration, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction – a declaration after the civil war failed. All the Poverty Alleviation Programmes failed. The 7- point agenda of late president Yar’Adua failed. All the reform programmes since independence, including, but not limited to , Electoral Reforms, Monetary Policy Reforms, Land Reforms, Health Sector Reforms, Banking Reforms, Insurance Reforms, Telecommunications Regulatory Reforms, Structural Reforms, Civil Service Reforms, Policy Reforms, Pensions Reforms, Tax Reforms, Electric Power Sector Reforms, Economic Reforms, Public Enterprises Reforms, Education Reforms, Political Reforms, Electoral Reforms, Trade Union and Labour Reforms, Justice Sector Reforms, Local Government Reforms, Market Reforms, Constitutional Reforms, Prison Reforms, Social Health Insurance and Sustainable Healthcare Reforms, Trade Policy Reforms, Police Reforms, Capital Market Reforms, Administrative Reforms, Higher Education Reforms, Financial Sector Reforms, Mining Sector Reforms, failed, or in various degrees of stagnation after gulping billions of Naira. A professor of Development Economics and Public Finance at the University of Abuja, Nafizi Darma, corroborated Nyiam by identifying poor implementation plans and poor investment in technologies and infrastructural deficits as responsible for their failures. A former Governor of the Central Bank, Prof Charles Soludo, who was one of the big faces behind Vision 2020 has given an insight into why the dream crashed. According to him, not much thought or clear – headed, rigorous and introspective analysis was given to it before it was launched. It was taken as one of those cavalier programmes that thrive on whimsical motions. In a newspaper publication recently, Soludo lamented over the flimsy manner the policy was conceived and implemented which he adduced as the reason it never made it. Reminiscing, he said he drew ex- president Obasanjo’s attention to a Goldman Sach’s report on the BRIC( Brazil, Russia, India, And China), and the next 11 countries(N11), which Nigeria was an integral part of. The report had put Nigeria in the league of the World’s largest economies by 2025. He however hinted that the growth rate used by Sach was lower than Nigeria’s actual growth rate for that period (2004, 2005) which meant that that the goal could be realized in 2020, a clear five years ahead of Sach’s 2025 bar. An elated Obasanjo, throwing caution to the winds and brushing aside further interrogations into the analysis proceeded to declare Vision 2020 that very night at a state banquet at the Villa. That very hasty and naïve move nailed the coffin on the vision even before it rolled off. There were no scientific investigations, research, examination of data, and consultations. The outcome was the residual stifling that drained it of steam. The planning and visioning efforts paled into insignificance. A top official of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (MFBNP) told Lookout that the designers of the programme did not factor in the needs of the majority of Nigerians. He spoke on condition of anonymity. According to him, the programme was quickly rejected by Nigerians whose interests were not taken into consideration before the programmes were designed.” Is there anything like Nigeria? National development Programmes should be Nigerian projects. But a few people will sit in one room and decide what over 200 million Nigerians would like. Before a programme of this nature is designed, Nigerians from all walks of Life should be consulted”.
Although vision 2020 was flagged –off oft- handedly, the same approach was not accorded vision 2010, and yet it collapsed. In 1996, a presidential Committee was inaugurated and was given a year to find out why after 36 years of independence, the nation was still crawling relative to its potentials, visualize where it should be at 50 years old in 2010, and set out a blueprint that will bring it to fruition. The result after the painstaking visioning and planning is the descent into less edifying morass the country sunk into. Plans are afoot to launch yet another vision, Lookout gathered. The result, it is feared will not be any different from the previous ones. So, why the endless visions rage, smart and lucky officials reel in financial boom, while the nation lies prostrate at the bottom rung of social progress and economic development.