Nigeria celebrates its 48th birthday this month as a nation in search of an elusive identity in a global community. The nation also continues to struggle with the experimentation with self-governance, self-rule, democracy. In this paper I reflect briefly on the Vision 2020. The reflection is done within the context of the Nigerian character and the need to change a mind-set that is imbued in tribal and historical antecedence. The reflection raises concerns about our attitudes towards the implementation and accountability of federal, state, ad local government programs. I argue that if Vision 2020 is to achieve its intended outcomes, special attention must be given to a grassroots professional cadre of seriously committed individuals at the national, state, and local levels, including schools and universities. This cadre will be expected to sell and market the new values, beliefs and concepts to all Nigerians. 

Past federal governments have attempted to do just that. They have introduced various reform programs that were aimed at transforming a nation many have characterized as “failing” or “dead.” Today, the nation is embarked on a journey to transform the nation. This time the nation is very optimistic about the prospect of achieving its intended outcome. The new vision is called Vision 2020. But Oyebode (2007) has argued that if Nigeria wants to fulfill the prediction of Goldman Sachs five years earlier than the year 2025, there must be a total overhaul and re-appraisal of all critical institutions in the country.” He writes that four critical institutions that are in dire need of readjustments are the (a) legal institutions, (b) banks and other financial institutions, (c) energy institutions and (d) educational institutions. Two fundamental challenges face these institutions. They are (1) changing the collective mind-set of the nation and (2) seeking a collective commitment to policy implementation and accountability. Makinde (2005), in a study that examined the problem of implementation of policies in developing nations, identified corruption, lack of continuity in government policies, inadequate human and material resources as factors that contribute to the implementation and accountability problem. He defines the implementation gap as the widening of the distance between stated policy goals and the realization of such planned goals. When dispositional and policy implementation and accountability problems occur, Abdullahi (2007) believes that four factors- communication, resources, dispositions or attitudes, and bureaucratic structures are the source of the problem. The deficiencies in these four factors seriously undermine capacity building, relationships, and productivity in all institutions in the country. 

Abdullahi (2007) in his article, Education and Democracy in Nigeria: Vision 2020, argued that the problem facing the nation, particularly in education, is not the lack of technical know-how, workable and well-intentioned national policy on education nor the lack of capital to adequately fund education and other sectors, but that the main problem is the failure to implement a clearly defined and clearly articulated vision and goals of education, and the reluctance by the leadership to hold individuals accountable for their actions, as corruption in all institutions is becoming rampant (Akinyode, 2007). Joseph D. McNair, a professor of education at Miami-Dade College, FL, believes that programs in Nigeria are often “poorly conceived, poorly planned and extremely difficult to implement.” This type of criticism has forced the present administration to call for a series of “Stakeholder” dialogue about change in the country. Two leading private organizations, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Nigerian Economic Society (NES) have provided the forum for such dialogue, and they have assisted in formulating economic plan and policy recommendation which the present administration is adopting. One of the plans is the Vision 2020.

Vision 2020
What is Vision 2020? Vision 2020 is a comprehensive framework designed to stimulate economic growth in the country. The framework also offers a blueprint for sustainable political development in Nigeria. The Vision 2020 is aligned with the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP).  One of the main objectives of Vision 2020 is to place Nigeria in the top 20 leading economies of the world by the year 2020. To achieve this objective, Nigeria would have to compete with nations like the United States, Japan, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom, which have traditionally maintained the Top Five ranking of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2007, IMF ranked Brazil 10, India 12, South Korea 13, and Indonesia 20 respectively. These nations are expected to vigorously compete with Nigeria in the global economy. Nigeria is ranked 41. The IMF uses criteria based on several benchmarks such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Gross National Product (GNP), and the rise in personal income (International Monetary Fund, 2007). Senator Sanusi Daggash, the Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission (NPC) said that the federal government has taken steps to “harmonize”, that is, consolidate the President Yar’Adua Seven-Point Agenda, NEEDS II, and Vision 2020 to form the National Development Plan (NDP).  He also said that the “task of ensuring a successful implementation of the harmonized development agenda will not be easy”, but reaffirms the government commitment to the NDP.

Furthermore, Senator Daggash, said that a framework for the implementation of Vision 2020 has been approved by the federal government. He pointed out that the “implementation of the harmonized agenda over the next four years would be an important milestone towards meeting Nigeria’s vision of becoming one of the 20 largest economies of the world by 2020.”  But the 2008 Country Review Report of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) has raised a procedural concern, and concludes that “the government’s agenda is questionable because it lacks specification for structural transformation, and the blueprint does not meet the requirement for a clearly defined vision.” Chukuma Soluda, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Shamsudeen Usman, the Minister of Finance, disagree. Both believe that Nigeria is headed in the right direction politically and economically. They argue that the goals and objectives of Vision 2020 are not only achievable, they are measurable. But “it would remain a pipe dream if necessary steps are not taken to attract needed funds to translate the dream into reality.”  The President Yar’Adua administration appears to have taken the appropriate steps in that direction. For example, the ministers have projected that the energy institutions, particularly the power sector, will need about 20 trillion naira to meet the needs of the country by year 2020. They also projected that there will be an increase in generating capacity from 3,000 mega watts to 6,000 mega watts by December 2009, and to 10,000 mega watts by 2010.  Furthermore, they projected that oil production will increase rapidly in 2008 to about 2.45 million barrels per day. The current production is over two million barrels per day. These projections translate into billions of dollars in revenue for the government. For example, in 2008, the total drawings from oil revenue were in excess of $8 trillion, part of which was used to strengthen the external reserves, which grew from $7 billion in 2004 to $52 billion in 2007 and $60 billion in 2008 (Usman, 2008; Soludo, 2008). 

In August 2008, President Yar’Adua reiterated his administration’s commitment to Vision 2020 at the Stakeholder’s Summit. He said Vision 2020 represents a short to long term response to the challenges inherent in his vision to transform the nation.  He quickly broadened the structure and scope of Vision 2020 and created the National Steering Committee (NSC) on Vision 2020 and the National Technical Committee to oversee the implementation of Vision 2020. He expanded the role of the Stakeholders’ Visioning Groups. He emphasized the principles of distributive leadership and private ownership of the Vision 2020 by the public sector.  This restructuring is critical to the implementation and accountability of Vision 2020 in the years ahead. This new partnership represents a new direction in thinking about public and private collaboration. Some of the expectations include good relationships, good governance, accountability, and transparency in public and private institutions. These projections, it is hoped will ultimately translate into revenue for the government. The concern being expressed is how the revenue is been dispensed at the state and local governments.

It remains to be seen, however, how the President Yar’dua’s administration will fair in 12 years. I remain optimistic that lessons learned would be a barometer for the effective application of resources, both human and capital, to support the Vision 2020. This time around the forces of globalization and the internet will act as the barometer from without. It is necessary to assert the importance of changing minds, changing how attitudes towards practice, dialogue, debate, and reflection. I hope policy makers and all Nigerians listening and ready to do substantive work to change the status quo and mobilize a nation many have said is dying.

References

Abdullahi, S (2007). Education and Democracy in Nigeria: Vision 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2008, from nigeriansinamerica.com
Akinyode, S (2007). Re: My Reflection on Education and Democracy in Nigeria: Vision   2020. Retrieved September 11, 2008, from nigeriansinamerica.com.
Makinde, T (2005). Problems of Policy Implementation in Developing Nations: The Nigerian Experience. Journal of Social Sciences, 11(1):63-69
Oyebode, A (2007). Position Nigeria for the Top 20 Economies-The Role of Institutions.  Paper presented at the 13th Annual Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NES#13),  held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria on September 5-7, 2007