Nigeria’s Vision 2020: The Recommendations of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group

On October 24, 2008, the 14th Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) summit ended in Abuja, Nigeria with several declarations and recommendations. One of the declarations points to the problem in governance and institutional capacity. The Group concluded that these deficiencies are major obstacles in the race to become one of the 20 leading economies in the world. The Group offered several recommendations, some of which are outlined below.

The NESG claimed that Nigeria is ranked 106 of 134 by the World Economic Forum’s current Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). This means that a lot work is needed to improve our standing in the global economy. The Group appeared to be concerned that the civil service, in its current state, lacks the capacity and/or too weak to get in the race to 2020. Two important questions are raised. First, are we willing to put on our track shoes and get in the race? Second, are we ready to stretch beyond our comfort zone and pay the price for success as great athletes do? In answering both questions, the Group has provided a diagnosis of the problem facing the nation, but believes strongly that the nation can win big time if other things are equal. Other things are not always equal in Nigerian context. Attempts have been made in the past to equalize and stabilize the nation through various economic and educational programs and initiatives, but only to fall short of intended outcomes.

According to the Group, “we must confront our realities with courage and embrace our possibilities with imaginative ideas, innovations, and action.” Here are more declarations and recommendations:

1. The Federal Government should “Walk-the-Talk” in support the goals of Vision 2020.

2. The Federal Government should reinstate the reform plan that aimed at 100 percent enrollment in basic education by 2012.

3. The Federal Government should significantly increase public and private sector investment in vocational and technical education.

4. The Federal Government should encourage public and private investment in youth empowerment programs.

The recommendations:

5. NESG recommends a comprehensive system approach to economic growth and national development.

6. NESG recommends a change in mindset at all levels of government.

7. NESG recommends that Government should restore confidence in all Nigerians by helping to change their mindsets.

8. NESG recommends a speedy and effective implementation of the recommendations of the Niger Delta Technical Committee.

9. NESG recommends that the Minister of the Niger Delta be empowered to bring visible changes in the lives of the people.

10. NESG recommends raising the size of the national economy from about $170bn to $900bn by 2020.

How prepared are the people in race to Vision 2020? How ready are they for the marathon race? The participants in the race must confident, ready, matured, strong and willing to endure the hardship that are associated with running a marathon. I am reminded of my days as a professional tennis athlete competing against the best in the tennis world. I lacked the tennis infrastructures such as power, energy, transportation, managerial and technical assistance critically needed to support my efforts to win tennis games. Other factors too hindered my efforts.

The Nigeria Economic Summit Group has provided yet another forum for authentic conversations about the future. The long term dialogue about political and economic change must begin in schools. The curriculum must reflect this change in direction. To change a collective mindset of a nation, something has to give. What is the opportunity cost? The Nigerian people will be willing to support the goals, aspirations and expectations, if the process is genuine and inclusive. Many people are often left out of the process of development in Nigeria. The NESGroup and the Federal Government know this, and they know full well that ownership of the Vision 2020 can only come about only when we truly believe that the Return-on- Investment will be shared equitably.

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