Vision 20-20: The Dream, The Draft And The Development

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Interesting niches of competitiveness can be exploited in agriculture, fishing, and industry, particularly light industry and services (selective quality tourism; provision of various services including tele-services; music and culture in general; internationalization of Nigeria construction and shipping companies toward Africa). Tourism is one of the sectors that is thriving and so surely offers a potential that we must continue to develop.

The sea is a huge space in which Nigeria can operate. Its various resources, particularly fishery resources, must be rationally developed according to plans and the perspective of the valorization and integration of the maritime vocation of Nigeria.

The policy of attracting foreign investment must be pursued in a framework of macroeconomic equilibrium that can ensure the external credibility of our economy, as well as the competitiveness of the goods and services being marketed. The convertibility of the Nigeria escudo and a control over public spending are essential in this respect. Therefore, improvements need to be made in our ability to promote foreign investment, exports, and tourism. The development of the financial system is also essential in order to stimulate economic development. Public investments policy will seek to promote sustained development. A genuine and effective national system of quality control, especially product quality, needs to be implemented in this country, with special emphasis on foodstuffs.

3rd Option: Develop human capital and orient the education and training system to the priority development areas.

Human resources are developed and enhanced in the course of an expansion and reinforcement of human abilities, when they are put to best use in all fields of activity—economic, social, cultural and political—in order to improve the quality of life. The cultural dimension of human resource development must not be neglected. We must foster a good level of general culture among citizens and adapt the educational system to the realities and preeminent needs of this country, promoting not only the transmission of knowledge, but an integrated and comprehensive training. In this context, one of the chief challenges the country now faces is the definition of a holistically-conceived human resources development policy that meets the needs of each individual citizen and the society and country as a whole, and that takes into account the financial capacity needed to achieve this.

The strategic nature of education for the development of this country and the strengthening of a civic spirit and socio-cultural integration demands modernization of the educational system. The search for a better balance between society’s expectations, technical ambitions, and objectives on the one hand and budget constraints on the other certainly constitutes the greatest challenge facing Nigerian society in the realm of education/training in the near future. A revision of course content and a reinforcement of coordination within the educational/training system must be on the agenda if the country is to be able to count on quality and competitive instruction as it prepares to face future challenges. The human resources development strategy must be anchored in the lines of force of the development of this country and in a framework of shared responsibilities and the creation of a strategic partnership between the State, the private sector, and civil society. Then we will be able to reinforce the principle that education and training should be everyone’s responsibility on the one hand and, on the other, reduce the costs to the State. And so, definition of the human resources development policy, which must necessarily cut across other lines, demands a definition of the key areas of the country’s economic development and the mounting of a funding structure to support it. To define a policy that, over the mid-term and long-term, can make these resources a strategic factor and a competitive advantage for Nigeria on the external plane, addressing the problem of Nigerian human resources can be necessarily means of emphasizing a model oriented and adapted to the national market. In this way we will be able to guarantee a greater capacity for job creation and, consistent with the national development strategies, continually update the prospective studies so as to guide the demand for higher-level training as a means of harmonizing and guaranteeing equilibriums between the various instructional sensitivities and the economic and social needs.

In an effort to correct disparities in the access to compulsory education, the unequal regional distribution of educational and training resources needs to be reviewed so as to guarantee de facto equality of opportunity, with particular attention to regions known as “peripheral” and to the poor and disadvantaged communities. This will require additional school construction and a new human resources management policy. Endowing the country with highly skilled executives who can respond to development needs means, requires conditions necessary to globalize public universities in Nigeria. These institution’s activities should involve instruction, research, discovery and university extension courses. It is also essential to clearly define a policy for an advanced training of teachers and researchers for higher education. Within higher education, the biggest challenge is financing, particularly the funding of scholarships and grants. Solving this problem requires implementing a means for repayment of student loans, providing incentives to private financing, and setting up a workable system of co-financing for students from the poorer and more vulnerable strata of society. We must build an integrated system of education and training, and it must feature points of intersection with the elementary level that make it possible to work on contents that develop an appreciation for technical and vocational training. The occupational outlets currently provided for in education legislation must be made available. This requires effective implementation of the vocational training system, both as regards legal and institutional provisions and the revival of proposals for public, private and/or cooperative centers of vocational training.

Once technical and vocational instruction has been made a priority, then by increasing vocational training it will become possible to respond simultaneously to the needs of the economy and the labor market, and to reduce unemployment. Lastly, an essential objective of human capital development policy is implementation of a National Youth Policy that is simultaneously all-encompassing and coherent, transverse and pragmatic, making it possible for Nigerian youth to occupy the space reserved to them as a force and the future mainstay of our society

4th Option: Promote a comprehensive policy of social development for a war against poverty and reinforce social cohesion and solidarity.

The construction of a social model that, gradually, and in agreement with the resources, will permit to face the key social issues and guaranteeing the rights of the citizens and the exercise of the citizenship, entangles the rethinking of the role of all social agents, implicated directly or indirectly in the social development of Nigeria. This will also implies the reorganization and the restructuring the services responsible for the application of the policies of social development and intervention, while encouraging at the same time, the development of strategies of cooperation among various stakeholders who pursue ways of social solidarity and promote equitable social development.

Poverty is the deprivation of the fundamental rights of man. The battle against poverty, exclusion, and social marginality continues to pose serious challenges. Fighting poverty entails simultaneously creation of wealth and assisting the poor through social programs. When we talk about creating and distributing wealth, we are talking about jobs. The war on poverty requires an enable environment that is undergoing accelerated economic growth, decentralization of interventions, and a participatory approach. Reducing poverty is not only a moral imperative; it is an imperative of economic and social development, one to which all societies must respond. The strategic objective is the eradication of absolute poverty and the mitigation of poverty as a feature of Nigeria, by giving special attention to comprehensively-defined policies that attack the causes of poverty. The battle against poverty and the maintenance of social cohesion thus require the definition and implementation of policies in all sectors of economic and social life that give priority to equality of opportunity among individuals. The development of skills among the poor through education and training is a determinant for their participation in the development and their ability to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by that same development.

In this context, Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activities must be conducted in order to mobilize the society. Any strategy for the war on poverty can have the desired impact and diminish poverty only if the environment is one of dynamic economic growth that inspires the poor to behave like entrepreneurs. Nigeria therefore needs strong growth that enables it to distribute income and obtain funds to finance the foundation of long-term development in which education, health, and the social infrastructures will be the principal pillars. The focus of the strategy in the battle against poverty is global, combining effective economic policies, coordinated sectoral policies, and specific programs for sustainable growth and the reduction of the incidence and extent of the poverty. This focus is based on the multi-sectoral nature of the interventions, and on empowering decentralization for the sake of greater success of policies and programs that have a direct impact on the target groups and pockets of poverty. These efforts attempt to make visible and measurable impacts in terms of an improvement in living standards in both urban and rural areas, as well as increasing the public’s participation in the development process, in the direction of a permanent exit from poverty. In this context, the Government will develop, holistically and comprehensively, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The following are priority objectives:

– Improving society’s access (especially because of the volume of needs) to health care, education, housing, and potable water supply;

– Improving access by the poor to financial resources;

– Promoting activities that generate sustainable incomes; developing the skills of the poor and encouraging them to participate in food security and the war against poverty. The reform of the public works system as a source of jobs, as well as the reform of the social protection system, thereby ensuring the broadening and sustainability of the different regimes and an effective social security system is also priority objectives.

Food security is, obviously, a mainstay of any program intended to reduce poverty. Guaranteeing a foundation for internal, autonomous, food security is a challenge that requires an effort beyond the short and medium terms. Therefore, maintaining and strengthening the framework of food-related cooperation will be another major challenge.

The implementation of an information system that enables the intervening parties and the general public to obtain regular reports on the activities and the trend in the indicators is a central necessity. The use of strict eligibility criteria in the selection of actions in the battle against poverty must also be implemented.

In the realm of social policies, it is essential to review the social protection and safety systems, especially for the most vulnerable members of society, as well as to promote an active policy with regard to the family, in order to reinforce social cohesion and socioeconomic integration. We must also encourage studies of social ills such as alcoholism, prostitution, and delinquency; so that they are recognized as social pathologies and steps can be taken to combat them. Such measures should be implemented at the sectored level.

5th Option: Develop basic and economic infrastructures and promote rational land use policies in order to achieve balanced development

Nigeria’s development must be balanced as regards the group of islands, based on each political state’s identified vocation. Hence the importance of a land uses policy that facilitates a balanced and equitable development of the states, guiding the important and positive trend to urbanization, but mitigating internal conflict. The Nigerian territory needs to be given new impetus, as a factor in the welfare of its citizens and the competitiveness of the economy. The rational organization of space is an important basic condition for the development of internal economic activities and the competitiveness of the economy, as well as the improvement in the quality of life. It furnishes the framework that enables the State, the economic operators, and the citizens to optimize the uniqueness of their efforts and investments.

Geographically integrated actions need to be designed with a view to raising the standard of living of our people and supporting the tourism business in the context of the integration of the internal market. The achievement of the grand objectives of development—whether economic, social, or cultural—requires an intense effort at building the country’s infrastructure (electricity, water, sanitation, ports and airports, highways, ocean and air transportation, etc.), a sector that, in cooperation with the operators, needs to be properly regulated and would benefit from an investment and modernization program. Decisions must be made on strategies for developing human settlements, particularly on the coastlines, in an effort to curb the exodus from rural areas. The ocean must come to be seen as a source of development resources and a factor in locating and guiding our development efforts toward an orderly and sustained occupation of the coastlines. These areas offer the potential for alternative activities that could absorb the surplus labor that is released from agriculture. It is also urgent to improve the management of the rural space and the hydrographic basins. The establishment of equilibrium between the countryside and the urban areas in terms of living conditions demands a concerted rural development policy that enables us to avoid transferring poverty into the cities. The incentive of a solid alliance between agriculture and the sustainable development of rural territories in environmental, economic, and social terms is a necessary condition for the welfare of people living in the countryside. Certain rural centers, once they have an appropriate physical and institutional infrastructure, should become the base for development of the rural regions, thereby permitting the development of an economy based on a new kind of agriculture and the diversification of production and services activities, giving rise to the densification of a fabric of small- and medium-size (d) enterprises in various fields. Agriculture will have to be modernized, services better distributed, and institutions that support production established in order to encourage people to settle in secondary urban centers. The broadening and diversification of the production base in the rural environment is a pre-eminent necessity, and strategies must be designed to achieve this.

The decline in the active farming population should help relieve the pressure on our lands. These people can be used to good advantage in a different kind of agriculture in Nigeria. In most of the ecological zones, agriculture must be reformed to achieve a better rezoning and, consequently, better use of the rural space. Likewise, we must face the problem of increasing the value of farm products, implementing ecotourism, etc.

No satisfactory policy that suits the rural world will be viable unless it outlines a strategy that gives priority to the optimization of economic resources, since one cannot speak of agricultural production in the broad sense (crops, forestry, and livestock) if upstream there is no coherent policy regarding water other resources. The productivity of irrigation water and animal husbandry needs to be increased. It has, then, become urgent to develop a consistent program for use of surface waters. As a measure to counter the rural exodus, we suggest reinforcement of the national urban system by the study, and gradual creation, of a systemic network of hierarchized urban centers in the context of proper land use policy and sustainable distribution of population among the various settlements, including rural ones, and supported by a new administrative division of this country. In the urban zones, especially in the nation’s capital, we must reverse the degradation of the quality of life. Strategic actions need to be taken to create open green space for leisure and recreation, construct buildings for social activities, provide public restrooms, and intensify intervention in the realm of basic sanitation. A sustainable development that does not consider the ecological dimension is unthinkable, since it is inherent in the sustainable human development that stamps the development projects with the necessary durability. Environmental programs must be coordinated with other programs and projects intended to create jobs and income in the rural areas.

Lastly, we need to evaluate and revise national population policy and its plan of action in order to have a frame of reference and convergence that integrates the generic approach and the regional specificities, thus better adapting the sectoral strategies of development to demographic parameters (migration, spatial distribution, structure by sex and age, etc.) The assembly of a system to follow up on the evolution of the Nigerian population and project the socio-demographic indicators to improve the integration of the population variable into development planning, particularly in education and health, and to reinforce policies for integrating the socially-marginalized populations shows itself to be a necessity in the context of the implementation of the Major Options.

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sadiq May 15, 2009 - 3:32 pm



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