DEVELOPMENT Planning Initiatives – 1999 to date
The overview of Nigeria’s four decades of the national development plan (national rolling plans) shows laudable objectives crafted with every intent to achieve a strong and self-reliant economy. But the years progressed into six decades and not only has growth diminished, but the economy is also far from anything developed.
At the end of the 20th Century, after 40 years, and with the return of democratic governance in May 1999, a new dimension of perspective planning began. This time around each regime tries to introduce its own programme, and by implication jettisoning the plan, it met on ground. This also means that none of the plans was executed to a significant level as continuity became sacrificed even when the same political party was in government. However, the semblance of medium-term perspective planning continued with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, which ran as a mother fiscal plan embodying three fiscal year budgets.
Obasanjo’s NEEDS left Nigeria needier
The concept of National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS, introduced in 2004 by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration emphasizes the creation of employment opportunities with an emphasis on self-employment and self reliant economic growth and development.
NEEDS focused on Nigeria’s commitment to sustainable growth and poverty reduction. It was based on three pillars: 1) Empowering people and improving social service delivery; 2) Fostering economic growth, in particular in the non-oil private sector; and, 3) Enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of government while improving governance.
NEEDS rests on four key strategies: reforming the way the government and its institutions work; growing the private sector; implementing a social charter for the people, and re-orientation of the people with an enduring African value system.
Even a non-committed observer could see that NEEDS failed to live up to expectations. Nigerians had expected that since public sector-led efforts at development have consistently failed in the previous years of rolling plans, a new shift towards a private sector-led initiative would be the way to go. This underscores the emphasis on empowering the people and non-oil private sector.
But 15 years later and even with more government initiatives in these directions, the people are less empowered economically, with poverty index on the rise while the non-oil sector grows only in more paper works.
The Seven-Point Agenda
In 2007, then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua rolled out his seven-point agenda for his administration’s delivery of democracy dividend, the key of which are economic development. They included:
Power and energy: To develop adequate power supply so as to ensure Nigeria’s ability to develop as a modern economy by the year 2015.
Food security: The emphasis is on the development of modern technology, research, financial injection into research, production and development of agricultural inputs leading to a five to 10-fold increase in yields and production.
Wealth creation: This reform is focused on wealth creation through diversified production, especially in the agriculture and solid mineral sector.
Transport sector: The transportation sector in Nigeria with its poor road networks is an inefficient means of mass transit of people and goods.
Land reforms: While hundreds of billions of Naira have been lost through unused government-owned landed assets, changes in the land laws and the emergence of land reforms is supposed to optimise Nigeria’s growth through the release of land for commercialised farming and other large scale businesses by the private sector.
Security: Introduced the Amnesty Programme to tackle unrest in the Niger Delta, whereby security was marshalled not with physical policing or military security, but through “honest and accurate dialogue” with the people.
Education: Two-fold reforms in the educational sector are supposed to achieve the “minimum acceptable international standards of education for all”. This was to be achieved through massive injection into the education sector.
The state of the nation in all the seven fronts simply evidences a resounding failure all over. The seven fronts aptly capture the yearnings of all Nigerians for a better country. This has now been hugely disappointing. Perhaps one should assume that the seven-point agenda died with the initiator, the late YarÁdua.
Enter Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda
In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan launched the Transformation Agenda as a follow up to the Seven-Point Agenda of his predecessor. But critics were quick to point out that he actually departed from it.
The transformation agenda was aimed at stopping leakages, increasing the revenue generated from non-oil sectors of Nigeria by removing subsidy partially from imported goods like petroleum products in Nigeria. This led to the launching of subsidy reinvestment and empowerment programme, SURE-P, to monitor savings and income from petroleum import.
Other aspects of the agenda are an agricultural revolution; transport sector revival; social development and actualising vision 20: 2020. On the agricultural sector, some notable progress was made in an effort to boost local food production in the country, led by then Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
However, the regime had hoped the results would be visible in the second term of four years between 2015 and 2019, which, unfortunately, never materialised with the electoral defeat of the regime in the 2015 presidential election. This development also nailed the laudable plans of the Seven-Point Agenda.
Buhari, Recession and the ERGP
Not only did the transition to a new regime shred the on-going development programme of the previous government, but it also launched Nigeria into an economic recession. In order to address the challenge, President Mohammadu Buhari government introduced the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, in 2017 as a policy option.
ERGP is a medium-term all-round development initiative focused on restoring growth, investing in people and building a globally competitive economy. The focus is to: Stabilise the macro environment; achieve agriculture and food security; ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; improve transportation infrastructure; and drive industrialisation focusing on small and medium enterprises, SMEs.
But latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows the plan is clearly off-course. While the ERGP projected strong GDP growth rate of 4.5 per cent in 2019, a report by the NBS shows the economy grew by 2.01 per cent in the first quarter of the year, and further declined by 0.16 per cent in the second quarter of 2019. The African Development Bank predicts Nigeria’s economy will, at best, grow by only 2.3 per cent this year.
Meanwhile, risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft estimates economic growth will average 2.7 per cent over the next four years as against 7.0 per cent projection by ERGP. If those estimates prove right, 2019 will be the third straight year in which economic growth falls short of the ERGP’s projection. With the ERGP projected to cover a four-year span until 2020, Nigeria’s economy is running out of time to regain steam.
Perhaps the inauguration of a new team, the Economic Advisory Council, EAC, is an admission that ERGP has failed and now a new initiative may be underway.Read Full Story