By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
THE Vision 20:2020 is a dream statement that Nigeria will become one of the first 20 economies in the world by the year 2020. The Vision is traceable to a research conducted by economists at an American Investment Bank, a fall-out of which was a prediction that Nigeria would be in the league of 20 top economies by the year 2025.
This was based on an 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. The Vision was subsequently unveiled in 2009 under the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
The National Council on Vision 2020, NCV2020, is the apex body of the operational and institutional arrangements for Nigeria’s Vision 2020. The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are the Chairman.
Fundamental to the vision are two broad objectives: to make efficient use of human and natural resources to achieve rapid economic growth; and to translate the economic growth into equitable social development for all citizens.
These aspirations are defined across four areas, which are social, economic, institutional and political dimensions.
The strategies set for achieving the objectives
Some strategies were laid down to achieve the objectives. They include: to urgently and immediately address the major constraints to Nigeria’s growth and competitiveness, such as epileptic power supply, weak infrastructure and institutions, among others; to aggressively pursue a structural transformation of the economy from a mono-product to a diversified and industrialised economy; to invest in human capital to transform the Nigerian people into active agents for growth and national development; and to invest in infrastructure to create an enabling environment for growth, industrial competitiveness and sustainable development.
The Vision 20:2020 wants to create a peaceful, equitable, harmonious and just society where every citizen has a strong sense of national identity and citizens are supported by educational and healthcare systems that benefit all and sustains life expectancy of not less than 70 years.
The economic agenda became a unifying force for all Nigerians, regardless of ethnicity, status or religion, to unite and stand behind the common cause of placing the country firmly on a path of sustainable growth and taking it to its rightful place in the comity of nations.
One year to go, much is left to be desired as regards the actualisation of the vision. For instance, Nigeria’s position in terms of GDP size has risen compared to 2009, even though remaining below 20th. While this shows improvement and that the country is close to achieving its vision, an assessment of other economic indicators shows the uninspiring result.
Based on the most recent nominal GDP data from the World Bank, Nigeria is not among the world’s top 20 economies with respect to GDP size. It was the 29th largest economy in the world in 2019, moving three steps backwards from 26th it ranked in 2016. However, in 2010 when the vision 20:2020 was created, Nigeria was the 30th.
A look at how it has fared in terms of meeting its broad objectives shows mixed results. Firstly, the aim to achieve rapid growth did not materialise. While the Nigerian economy grew by 7.8 per cent in 2010, economic growth has slowed and contracted 2.01 per cent in real terms in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2.38 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
In a similar vein, the country has not been able to achieve significant improvements in terms of records of social development. Nigeria’s progress on the Human Development Index, HDI, is also not encouraging.
Between 2010 and 2015, Nigeria’s HDI increased to 0.532 in 2019 from 0.5 in 2010. In comparison to other economies, its ranking has not significantly improved. In 2010, it ranked 153rd among 188 economies; in 2015 it was 152nd. In a similar vein, the country’s ranked 157 in 2019. These statistics demonstrate that the economy has not fared well after the adoption of the Vision 20:2020 in 2009.
Policy reversals and somersaults: Nigeria is replete with brilliant, impeccable and well-written policies, visions and reforms agenda but the problem is implementation. The policies, visions and agenda often end up as paper-works rubbished by insincere implementation efforts and corruption. For example, two years of the formulation and implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, the economy is still struggling to recover from the recession.
Social contract: As has been noted, Nigeria is awash with captivating development visions, policies and plans, but the corruption-induced failure of implementation of development projects on the part of the political leaders is responsible for underdevelopment in the country. Each of the successive governments had one or more development visions to chant, but eventually, there was no actualisation and no regrets for the failure; no review and no direction. These political visions are smokescreens for enriching cronies, political stooges and sycophants.
Resource curse: In spite of Nigeria’s immense natural and human resources, weak management and corruption have combined to drag it behind some developing countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Venezuela, that was worse than Nigeria in development in the 1960s. Nigeria also lags behind many sub-Saharan African countries, including Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, Ghana, Togo and Benin in GNP per capita.