Will SDGs 2030 be the Next Vision 2020 in Nigeria?
“By 2020, Nigeria will have a large, strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy that effectively harnesses the talents and energies of its people and responsibly exploits its natural endowments to guarantee a high standard of living and quality of life to its citizens”.
The above vision 20:2020 emanated from research conducted by economists at an American Investment Bank, which predicts that Nigeria will become one of the first 20 economies in the world by the year 2020 and a member of the league of top 20 economies by 2025. This projection stems from the assessment of the abundant human and material resources in the country and on the assumption that these resources would be properly managed and channelled to set economic goals.
12 years after the conception of the vision, and with a year to go before the set target, Nigeria is yet to be proximate with the vision meant to be actualised through a series of three to four-year plans; articulated through strategies, policies, projects and programmes. The two broad objectives of making efficient use of human and natural resources to achieve rapid economic growth and translating it into equitable social development for all citizens across Social (building a peaceful, equitable, harmonious and just society), Economic (developing a globally competitive economy), Institutional (having a stable and functional democracy); and Environmental pillars (achieving a sustainable management of the nation’s natural resources) are still major challenges.
A history of failed visions
The 1945-1955 Development Plan marked the beginning of development planning in Nigeria. The ten-year plan was aimed at assisting the British colonial government in disbursing development and welfare funds. The plan, which was intended to last for ten years, was however modified in 1951 due to the regionalisation of the Nigerian federation into three. This was followed by the 1955-1960 Development Plan of which each region developed its own aspirations. These ideas were bedevilled by implementation problems due to an overlap of contents, while there was also a snag of inadequate funds, shortage of highly qualified/experienced professionals, and technical and administrative personnel, to effectively implement them. The plans were further limited in scope as they only concentrated on Public Sector expenditure.
With the attainment of independence in 1960, there were moves to develop and launch a truly national plan that would take care of the interests of all the three regions. Thus, in 1962, a six-year (1962-1968) Development Plan was conceived. It was described as the first national development plan due to the fact that it was the first post-independence. The plan was also comprehensive as it took care of both the public and the private sectors. Although each regional government had its separate plans, some attempts were made to integrate the programmes of the various governments into one plan document and within a framework of projections of the entire economy.
However, one major limitation of the 1962-1968 Plan was the lack of uniformity in the organisation of the ideas. This was adduced to the structure of the country and the provisions of the independence constitution of 1960, which left the regions in a relative power position viz-a-viz the central government. Due to this intergovernmental relation, the central government was too weak to impose its will on the politically powerful regions.
The Second National Development Plan (1970- 1975) was aimed at reconstructing the war from 1966-1970. It was based on five development objectives to establish Nigeria as; a strong and self-reliant nation, a great and dynamic economy, a just and egalitarian society, a land of pride and full opportunities for all citizens, a free and democratic society. The Third National Development Plan was from 1970-1980. In the plan, the five cardinal objectives of the Second Development Plan were modified and increased in per capita income; more even distribution of income, reduction in the level of unemployment, increase in the supply of high-level manpower, diversification of the economy, balance development, and indigenisation of economic activities. In preparation for the advent of a new civilian regime in 1979, the federal government issued the guidelines for the Fourth National Development Plan. However, this plan could not be launched until 1981. The major objectives of the plan included; increase in the real income of the average citizens, more even distribution of income among individuals and social-economic groups, reduction in the level of unemployment and underemployment, increase in the supply off skilled manpower, reduction in the dependence of the economy in a narrow range of activities, balanced development of different sectors and geographical areas of the country, increased participation by citizens in the ownership of and management of productive enterprises, greater self-reliance development of technology and the production of a new national orientation conducive to greater discipline, better attitude to work and cleaner environment.
One common feature of the second, third and fourth development plans was that they were designed by Nigerian planners. Nonetheless, most of the objectives of these plans other than some macro targets were not realised. Apart from these plans, other road maps like Vision 2010, 2015 were projections used by the government to give hope to the citizens in form of short, medium and long term plans to improve social welfare.
2030, Another Failed Plan? – The iSDG Model
Most developing nations share a set of well-defined goals including a reduction in poverty and unemployment; provision of minimum levels of education, health, housing and food to every citizen; broadening of social and economic opportunities and forging of a cohesive nation-state. Related to these economic, social and political goals are the common development challenges also shared in varying degrees: widespread and chronic absolute poverty, high levels of unemployment and underemployment, wide and growing disparities in the distribution of income, low levels of agricultural productivity, sizeable and growing imbalances between urban and rural levels of living and economic opportunities, serious and worsening environmental decay, antiquated and inappropriate educational and health systems, severe balance of payments and international debt problems and substantial and increasing dependence on foreign technologies, institutions and value systems.
In spite of these challenges, Nigeria can benefit immensely from customising the integrated Sustainable Development Goals (iSDGs) policy simulation model (developed by Millennium Institute and currently in partnership development with the UN, bilateral aid organisations, governments and private sector actors), as an addition to the existing planning tools. The iSDG model enables policymakers and planning officials at all levels of governance to understand the interconnectedness of policies designed to achieve the SDGs and test their likely impacts before adopting them. The model simulates the fundamental trends for SDGs until 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario and supports the analysis of relevant alternative scenarios.
The iSDG model is structured to analyse medium-long term development issues at the national level and its successful application will help in achieving policy coherence by aligning national plans and budgets and strengthening collaboration between the various tiers of government (Federal, State and Local Government) towards improved budget implementation for better delivery of public services. One of the key scenarios that can help in the attainment of the SDG goals is the ‘doing business as usual (no change in policy implementation)’ pillar. Successive governments change developmental policies often without recourse to the past policies that have been started. Therefore, regardless of any change in government at all levels, having an anchored policy focus can aid the drive towards the realisation of the SDGs. The analysis of the cost implications and the impacts/benefits of implementing this will give policymakers and development practitioners a good insight into Nigeria’s best strategic policy choices and development pathways. It will also provide a good basis and the required milestones for tracking the progress of the implementation of these policies at all tiers of government.
4 years into the SDGs with 11 years to go, the failures of past visions should not hinder Nigeria from forging ahead. Taking practical steps in attaining the SDGs across board should focus on the following:
- ·Recognising the urgency of the 2030 agenda and seizing the global momentum to build solid partnerships with International Development Agencies (IDAs) for funding;
- Setting up clear implementation mechanisms and accountability channels at national and subnational levels;
- Allocating appropriate funds for the goals through state and national budgets;
- Communicating the policy direction at national, subnational and local levels for the citizenry to hold their leaders accountable for the failures and successes;
- Ensuring broad participation through the setting up of clear channels for civil society and other stakeholders to meaningfully engage in the formulation of national strategies and plans to achieve the SDGs, and in the monitoring and review of progress at national, subnational and local levels and;
- Committing to accountability.
In conclusion, the dynamic challenges faced by Nigeria have made it imperative for the SDGs 2030 not to go the same way as vision 2020. Government across all levels need to build solid partnerships between the private sector, civil society and the governed, in order to foster accountability and sharpen the focus on what needs to be achieved with the resources at their disposals. In addition, there needs to be a holistic buy-in by all and sundry. The effects of the failures of past development policies are being felt today hence the need for progress towards a country that is no more tagged as developing but developed.
*Article written by ThistlePraxis Consulting