By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Marvelous Anthony
Vision 2010 was one of the legacies of the regime of late General Sani Abacha through which he tried to change the narrative of Nigeria’s socio-economic woes.
The VISION Committee was set up by General Abacha on 27th November 1996. The committee’s mandate was captured in a 14-item Terms of Reference.
It had former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, a private sector player as Chairman. About 248 persons, including 25 foreigners were appointed as members. They were from various sectors of the economy and picked from across the country. They were in Abuja for about 10 months, with a mandate to fashion out an economic blueprint that would lead the nation from poverty and under-development into a democratically-stable and economically prosperous nation within a period of about 14 years.
The broad vision statement was that by 2010, Nigerian would have been transformed into “a united, industrious, caring and God-fearing democratic society, committed to making the basic needs of life affordable for everyone, and creating Africa’s leading economy.”
The Committee organized itself into several sub-committees and used the methodology of plenary sessions, workshops, specially commissioned studies, presentations by guest speakers and consideration of memoranda from the Nigerian public. 750 such memoranda were received on various national issues, on which members undertook intensive brainstorming on the best approach to every problem plaguing the nation.
To successfully carry out its mandate, it adopted an analytical approach by identifying specific areas and issues in the country and determining “Where We Are,” “Where We Want To Be” and “How To Get There”.
The committee organised its works under 53 sub-committees and eight clusters of sub-committees, covering 13 critical success factors, 17 economic issues, 17 special issues and six general issues. Arising from the results of this process, the committee concluded that by 2010 Nigeria would have transformed into the country of their vision and those of the Nigerians they represented.
The salient findings of the Committee were organized under various areas such as: Education, Health, Industry, Petroleum, solid Minerals, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Poverty Alleviation, Rural and Urban Development, Unemployment, small and Medium-scale Enterprises, Public and Private Sector Partnership, Stable Policy Environment, Law and Order, Anti-Corruption, Good Governance, External Image and Capital Mobilisation.
Some of the details of the vision were:
Nigeria was identified as a multi-ethnic society, with a value system that derives from the diversity of its people and their different behaviour, religions and cultures. The elements of this value system included respect for elders, honesty and accountability, cooperation, industry, discipline, self-confidence and moral courage. Over the years, however, this cherished value system has weakened.
By the year 2010, it was envisaged that the Nigerian peoples would have re-discovered themselves and reverted to being God-conscious and God-fearing, sincere, honest, accountable in their dealings with public trust, and proud of their country and heritage.
By 1996, the military had ruled Nigeria almost continuously for 27 out of 37 years since the country’s independence in 1960. A political transition programme was in place and the Nigerian people eagerly awaited a return to democratic rule.
It was envisaged that Nigeria would have a stable democracy within characterised by comprehensive freedom for the citizens, rule of law, openness, accountability, and orderly and predictable changes of government by 1998. Democracy returned in 1999.
From a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 3.3 per cent in 1996, the vision was to see GDP growth rising to an average of 10 per cent in 2010; oil stops being the mainstay of the economy and a less than 5 per cent inflation; manufacturing accounting for 25 per cent of GDP; oil contribution to GDP less than 20 per cent. This goal remains largely unattained, 22 years after.
In 1996, only about 50 per cent of children between the ages of 5 and 24 years were enrolled in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions, with the enrolment ratio being highest at 88 per cent for primary school children. By the year 2010, primary school enrolment should be almost 100 per cent and at least 26 per cent of the government budget (at federal, state and local levels) should be devoted to education.
Nigeria’s annual population growth rate of about 2.8 per cent over the past decade outstrips the average annual GDP growth rate of about 1.6 per cent. Also, about 45 per cent of the population are youths below the age of 15 years. All these contribute to a significant decline in the standard of living of the majority of the population. By the year 2010, the country’s population growth rate should have declined to less than 2 per cent per annum. Faster economic growth rate and development, the education of girls up to the age of 18 years and effective family planning schemes are some of the major strategies for achieving a significant reduction in the population growth rate over the vision period. Population growth at about 2.7 is still higher than GDP at 1.9 per cent; while no administration has been courageous enough to confront the population growth.
By the year 2010, manufacturing should contribute about 24 per cent to the GDP and should be a major employer of labour. To achieve this goal, a competitive, market-oriented and private sector-driven strategy, backed by very generous incentives and adequate infrastructure is required.
By 2010, Nigeria’s proven oil reserves should be about 40 billion barrels from the present level of about 22 billion barrels and daily crude output should have risen to about 4 million barrels per day.
Community-related disruptions of operations will be curtailed by making each community a stakeholder in the operation of the sub-sector. Greater indigenous participation in the oil sub-sector as well as exploration should be encouraged.
By 2010, Nigeria’s downstream oil activities should have become a significant earner of foreign exchange and a supplier of a wide range of raw materials to local industries.
During the Vision period, the sub-sector should be liberated and deregulated, and incentives provided to attract private sector investment to refineries, gas and product distribution.
This vision has not been achieved as the refineries have continued to be out of shape with Nigeria importing fuel from other countries.
By 1996, 50 per cent of Nigerians were categorized as poor. The committee noted that the legal minimum wage of N250 per month and the minimum pay of N1,250 per month in the public service, were far below the N3,920 per month required by an individual Nigerian for minimum sustenance. A family of five would also required N13,462 per month, just to live above the poverty line. By the year 2010, it was envisaged that not more than 20 per cent of the population should be categorised as poor. To achieve this, Nigeria’s annual GDP growth rate over the Vision period should be at least 7 per cent, whilst the population growth rate should not exceed 2 per cent per annum. The poverty index as yet to improve.
Nigeria should have attained virtual full employment of all able-bodied persons by the year 2010.
Although, the year 2010, Nigeria should be a corruption-free society. The achievements of this objective, however, will require imagination, dedication, resourcefulness, courage and discipline of all Nigerians to fight the menace. The scourge has hardly abated in the country. Execution of Vision 2010 ran into hitches, especially with the sudden death of Gen. Abacha’s sudden death in 1998.