For the past several months, several interest groups and stakeholders have been meeting, discussion, and creating a new vision for Nigeria. What they have created will be released in the next few weeks by the federal government. In anticipation of the new vision, my attempt here is to introduce Vision 2020 as an idea that has many challenges and possibilities.

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. 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 Products (GDP), the Gross National Product (GNP), the rise in personal income etc (International Monetary Fund, 2007).

President Yar’Adua Seven-Point Plan
President’s Yar’dua’s Seven-Point Agenda supports the goals of the Vision 2020. The agenda includes the following: polity, macro-economy, infrastructure, education, health, agriculture, and manufacturing. The federal government’s expectations are: polity - the nation will be peaceful, harmonious and stable by the year 2020; macro-economy- a sound, stable and globally competitive economy with a GDP of not less than $900 billion and a per capita income of not less than $4000 per annum; infrastructure – adequate infrastructure services that support the full mobilization of all economic sectors; education – a modern and vibrant education system which provides for every Nigerian the opportunity and facility to achieve his maximum potential and provides the country with adequate and competent manpower; health – a health sector that supports and sustains a life expectancy of not less than 70 years and reduces to the barest minimum the burden of infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and other debilitating diseases; agriculture- a modern technologically enabling agricultural sector that fully exploits the vast agricultural resources of the country, ensures national food security and contributes to foreign exchange earnings; and manufacturing– a vibrant and globally competitive manufacturing sector that contributes significantly to GDP with a manufacturing value added of less than 40%.

In order to sustain the momentum of the seven-point plan and reach the top 20 economies by the year 2020, President Yar’Adua, in August 2008, reiterated his administration’s commitment to his Seven-Point Agenda at the Stakeholder’s Summit. He said his Seven-Point Agenda represents a short to long term response to the challenges inherent in his vision to transform the nation.  He then broadened the structure and scope of Vision 2020 and created the National Council on Vision 2020. The Council will provide leadership and directions to energize and galvanize the nation. The Council will use a bottom-up leadership approach that will ensure ownership by all stakeholders. Other committees such as the National Steering Committee on Vision 2020, the Stakeholder Development Committee, and the National Technical Working Groups Committee were formed to perform various functions and tasks. For example, the National Steering Committee will act as the engine room of the visioning process, focusing on the “how”, while the Stakeholder Groups will prepare the “what”, and the Technical Groups will provide technical assistance and support to the steering committee. All the committees will ultimately report to the National Council on Vision 2020. It is not clear, however, who will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the successful implementation of Vision 2020, neither is it clear whether provision is made for continuous improvement of some aspects of Vision 2020. This component of the vision is critical to the overall success and sustainability of Vision 2020.

In the new structure, the representations include all three branches of
government. Representing the presidency is the president himself and the vice-president. At the state level, representing the zones are Dmeji Bankole, Governors of Lagos, Imo, Kwara, Bauchi, and Kaduna states. At the legislative level are Senate President, David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Others include the ministers of National Planning, Finance, Labor, Youth Development, Justice and Commerce and Industry. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and National Security Adviser are also on the committee. From the private sector are representatives from the Economic Summit Group, the Nigerian Association of Chambers and Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), the Conservatory Society of Nigeria (CSN), the President of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), and the Chief Economic Adviser to the President. Minister Usman has credited the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Nigerian Economic Society (NES) for assisting in formulating a sound economic policy direction for the nation. This new partnership represents a new direction in thinking about public and private sector collaboration. Some of the expectations include good relationships, good governance, accountability, and transparency in public and private institutions.

What Challenges Lay Ahead?
Nigeria and Vision 2020 will face difficult internal and external challenges ahead. The internal challenge will deal with the Nigeria politics and the Nigerian character. Other internal challenges include the deplorable condition of the economy and a failing educational system. All will pose threats to Vision 2020. Nigerian internal problems are complex. The complexities are deeply rooted in the historical, political and economical foundation of the nation.  Enough has been written about the origin of the Nigerian politics and Nigerian character elsewhere. I have written elsewhere about the history, politics and economics of education in Nigeria as they relate to nation building and economic growth (Abdullahi, 2007). For example, I argue that the increase of human capital through education could be the catalyst for the social and economic development of Nigeria When human capital is developed, the result is a dynamic economy, an adequate standard of living, and there is a general increase in positive attitude about the future (Abdullahi, 2007). 

One of the external challenges to Vision 2020 is globalization. The discussion on globalization is relevant in the sense that globalization has positive and negative consequences. And we must sustain Vision 2020 and be globally competitive, we must pay attention to it. How will globalization impact the realization of Vision 2020? How is the nation responding to globalization? Globalization is the integration of political, economic, cultural, financial, ecological, and technological systems in the global economy. It is the idea that the world has an interdependent and interconnected global village that allows national economies to compete and expand. But globalization has economic and political consequences (Abdullahi, 2004).

Finally, in order to achieve the ideals of Vision 2020, the nation as whole needs to make a shift in mind-set and in thinking. This shift will begin at the kindergarten level. Professor Wole Soyinka reminds us that the development of human capital will be the greatest challenge facing Vision 2020 and the nation. Therefore, the Early Childhood curriculum and instruction should be strengthened. Nigerian leadership needs to articulate a coherent shared vision of where the nation is and what the nation will look like educationally by the year 2020. A commitment must be made to its core values, and effort must be made to improve practice in the classroom. The innovations or reforms that have been advanced in the past have failed to reach their intended outcomes because they are half-baked and imposed from the outside. Nigerian educational leadership must now embrace the principle of collective and democratic leadership and accountability as the only way to achieving the vision for all Nigerians.

What Possibilities Lay Ahead?
Vision 2020 offers endless possibilities for the nation. The first is that it provides opportunities for all Nigerians to work together to rebuild the economic base for growth and development. Second, it will provide the opportunity for the government to experiment with the bottom-up, open-ended democratic philosophy of good governance. Furthermore, and if the nation hopes to be competitive and gain comparative advantage, it must invest in human capital development as a strategy to effectively compete in the global economy. Global interdependence and global economy rely on a nation’s comparative advantage. Global competition leads to efficiency, productivity and global recognition. Nigeria will need all of these elements to be competitive globally. As economists remind us, competition has costs and benefits.