Friday, October 16, 2009

Vision 20-2020: Rising from ground zero

The Federal Government seems to have at last ended months of much talk and little action, and has released what now appears on paper as a realistic blueprint towards making Nigeria rank among 20 top economies in the world by the year 2020. The Vision 20-2020 document has been unveiled, after nine months of brainstorming by over 100 experts empanelled into groups to draft the vision plan.

In the last ten months alone, the Federal Government inaugurated a plethora of committees to translate the vision into reality. Among these was the Business Support Group (BSG), which was inaugurated in February. The Group was tasked to prepare a realistic framework that will meet government’s objectives in line with its Seven-Point Agenda.

Also, over the past months, other committees empanelled by government include the National Council on Nigerian Economy, and the National Steering Committee on Vision 2020.

We have always insisted that for Vision 2020 to have any realistic chance of succeeding, it must be matched by a corresponding action plan that is achievable, based on all indices that propel economic prosperity and political stability. In this regard, we welcome some of the critical areas stressed in the blueprint. First is that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) must not be less than $900 billion, and the national per capita income which measures the people’s standard of living should not be less than $4,000 per year by the year 2020.

Besides, the document dutifully identified priority areas that government must address urgently. These include decentralisation of governance and sustainability, electoral reforms, land use/property reforms, public service reforms, national security, human capacity development, as well as critical infrastructure, with particular emphasis on power and transportation. It is also clear from the blueprint that government plans to generate 60,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity in order to make Nigeria among the 20 great countries of the world, by focusing on renewable and sustainable energy sources. Interestingly also, government says it hopes to make the citizens’ per capita income reach $1,700. This is 300 percent higher than the 2005 figure.

These are lofty objectives and targets and we commend the vision. However, we continue to insist that these are achievable targets only if government shows corresponding commitment to meeting them. Visioning is vacuous unless it is matched with political will and sincerity of purpose. Sadly, available facts on ground show pointedly that there is no unflappable commitment to achieving this ambitious programme, which is designed to make us rub shoulders with the top 20 economies of the world. That is why many Nigerians still harbour serious doubts about the workability of Vision 2020. We, therefore, challenge government to rise above this ground zero level and prove critics wrong that, indeed, it has the political will to provide steady power supply which is a major plank upon which all other developing plans can succeed. Less than three months to the deadline of meeting 6,000 megawatts, government is far from generating 50 percent of that target.

It is not enough to make promises, there should be clear time lines on each target.
We believe that the next two years will be critical, because it will be the period of elections. And how successful the polls are will depend largely on a set of factors which include genuine electoral reforms, and systems, institutions and processes anchored on good leadership.

We must not discountenance reforms, which are the bedrock of a sound public service and human capital development. It is regrettable that ten years into our democracy, the country is yet to have a comprehensive public service reform. We, however, believe that the current effort by the Head of Service of the Federation will yield the necessary result, if pursued with diligence. Inasmuch as we have our reservations about the government blueprint towards actualising Vision 2020, all hope is not lost.

We need to see a fundamental change in critical sectors that drive the economy. This is because any realistic vision must say something that clarifies the direction in which a nation intends to go. This can only be achieved through action, not by words alone. If Nigeria must meet the targets encapsulated in the 20-2020 blueprint, now is the time to begin comprehensive reforms in the critical areas that can make the vision possible. Without that, we are merely engaged in a pipe dream, mere chasing after the wind.