What kind of society do we want to build? The country needs an ambition, a vision of its future. The specificity of a country is understood as the set of physical, human, social, political, cultural and other data whose relationships and dynamics determine the unique character of a country as well as its internal evolution–all the more so when they condition it’s gaining of increased presence in both the immediate and long-term contexts. In this belt, oil palm, which prior to the petronaira era was the main foreign exchange earners, abound. The soil in the Western part of the country is conducive to the growth of cocoa. North of the tropical forest is savannah with dense forests in the river valleys. This vegetation is largely grassland dotted with trees. The savannah zone provides excellent grazing lands for animal husbandry and the bulk of the country’s meat comes from this region.
Restrictions on development stemming from a set of obvious structural constraints (unknown expertise about natural resources, extensive geographical size, insularity, territorial continuity, prolonged pollution, scarcity of clean water resources, shortage of farming fund, mass illiteracy, geographical location outside the principal currents of international trade, and a high rate of demographic growth) are very evident in Nigeria
A country’s vision or image of a desirable future rests on the collective aspirations of that society and the real possibilities and constraints pertaining to it. This vision is the succinct and qualitative expression of a series of objectives to be achieved in the long run. It is a projection of the state of the nation, a translation of the future desired by the various components of the society, and an anticipated materialization of those aspirations.
THE MAJOR OPTIONS OF DEVELOPMENT (2002-2005)
The key strategic options for the National Development Plan (NDP) flow from the national vision of development that was presented here, from the principles pointed here, and from the priority objective of job creation. The development priorities for the current legislature appear in the Government Program approved by the National Assembly. The purpose of the Major Options is to furnish a frame of reference for the execution of this Program and to define the structure of the foundation of the National Development Plan, thereby establishing the strategic agenda for convergent action by the various areas of governance.
Therefore, the MAJOR OPTIONS OF DEVELOPMENT provide the frame of orientation of the NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN that is a medium term plan. The National Development plan is but one stage in the materialization of the national development strategy and encompasses a set of public policies and programs that reinforce each other. It attempts to permit genuine “takeoff” by the national economy and improved quality of life for the nation’s citizens.
1st Option: Promote good governance as a development factor, thereby reforming the State, strengthening democracy and citizenship
In an interdependent and highly competitive world in which we live, a fragile and small country such ours has to be able to produce, manage and capitalize internal energies that will sustain our credibility and performance as a State In this regard, the role of the Government, as responsible for the implementation of the national public policies, is crucial. The Government should be able to govern and govern well, keeping in mind the need for a sustainable development that benefits all Nigerians, promotes and improves the national community.
We are aware that good governance is not the sole duty of the Government, but by saying that we are referring to a fundamental principle that needs to guide the global action of the Government at national and local levels.. For Nigeria, good governance cannot and must not be a mere intention. In the contrary, it is the Rules of the Law of a Democratic State, through the dynamic exigency of its principles and rules that make the democratic governance, good governance. Clearly, good governance is a strategic resource for Nigeria. It is necessary to take advantage from it, keeping in mind our aspiration to become a developed country, modern, of social solidarity and of the full realization of personal dignity.
Obvious limitations in the action of the Government result from this perspective. The Government is tied to the Constitution and to the Law, to which it is subordinated all through the governance decisions. The Government respects the Constitution and the Law from the formulation and the adoption of policies to the implementation of internal and external plans, and actions of its agents who have to respect and promote human dignity.
From the precedence of the Fundamental Law, it is naturally understood that the Government obeys to the rules of constitutional loyalty, promoting the political deontology that supports institutional cooperation, mutual respect when dealing with other sovereign parties. These values enable the good performance of the governance system. Moreover, this implies that the Government carries on the role model of a good person, since democratic governance must be ethically consent. It is important to state that the Democracy takes its strength from its capacity to allow, at any time, the representation of the people. This is both its departure and its arrival point. Since the people do not represent a fixed reality, but instead a reality with the sense of time and the “memory of the future,” the democracy results necessarily as a process. A process that is, overcoming and beneficial, of constant rejuvenation and deepening. There is a fundamental ethical assumption underlying this process: exist a permanent congruence between, on one hand, the references of content such as values, principles and rules inherent to Democracy, and on the other hand, the policies of the State. It is not sufficient to call the State a democratic State; this would just be a theoretical statement. It is necessary that the content prevails over the form, and acts as a limit, a parameter and as a guarantee during the entire period of functioning of the State. This is why a Democratic State guided by the Rule of the Law is a State of responsibility. If everything is done for the sake of the people, those who are elected to represent them receive a mandate to act in favor of this “community of destiny;” not a license for adjudication nor impunity. This means a mandate for Democracy, keeping in mind its objectives: more and enhanced liberty, more and enhanced equality, more and enhanced justice and more and enhanced solidarity.
The principle of transparency is a logical outcome of this responsibility. Transparency, as a driving force of the State, is propitious to an enable environment for the permanent exercise of control within the framework of a normal institutional delivery of services. The affirmation of the Rule of the Law in a Democratic State entails the implementation and/or the valorization of the control of the governmental action. The country itself, since it is vulnerable, requires an ethical way of governance. It is in this perspective that some objectives emerged:
a) Build a large consensus on key national issues, and guarantee the efficient empowerment of all capacities existing in the Nigerian nation, in an environment of tolerance, harmony and respect of differences;
b) Ensure in practice the rights of he citizens, not only at the political level but also for their economic, social and cultural achievements;
c) Promote, because of their pedagogical example in the struggle for national cause, the dignify of political actors and their affirmation as a positive social subject. However, the definition of a legislative framework that regulates the rights and privileges and also the incompatibilities, the constraints and a clear regime of responsibility needs to be set.
d) Assert a sensitive governance, open to social pluralism and consequently geared towards the promotion of an agreement framework and synergy, which endorses diversity as a social value-added factor and which defends tolerance and the mutual respect as strong values;
e) Develop a framework of integration and promotion of all the capacities existing in the society as a necessary contribution for the affirmation of a modern and participatory citizenship. This policy is in harmony with the gains resulting from progress and modernity, and it has the means to assure a suitable relationship with the political power.
In addition, it is imperative to set up an information service for citizens, which will give true and objective information about matters of public life. This service will help citizens to better exercise their political rights by participating in public management and controlling the governance and administrative actions. For Nigeria, the corner stones of good governance should be the guarantee of the macro-economic stability and the good management of public finances, which are crucial conditions for the development of the country.
The macro-economic stability is vital for the rapid growth of the economy and consequently for the significant improvement of the standard of living of the Nigerians, and for the fight against poverty and social exclusion.
Warrant the macro-economic equilibrium is also essential to maintain the external competitiveness of the country and to achieve our strategic goals. This will guarantee the external credibility of the economy, the stability of the prices and revenues and the confidence of the private sector. Especially, the sustainability of public finances is a permanent requirement of the economic regime. It requires the adoption of rigorous fiscal and budgetary policies and the completion of structural reforms that can help make fiscal administration and the entire government apparatus, effective. The implementation of a healthy and balanced budget policy must be the central element of the macro-economic policy for the next several years. We must reinforce the idea that budget and fiscal policy will be a central element of macroeconomic policy during the coming years, because only a prudent fiscal policy will achieve the stabilization necessary to the foreign credibility of the economy and to gain confidence of the private sector. In this situation, the coordination between the monetary and the budget policies will be vital to macro-economic stabilization. The autonomy of the Central Bank is also a crucial requirement. Only when stability and rigor are attained, can the Government take actions against social inequalities, promote social justice and guarantee the equitable distribution of national community wealth for every citizen. The reduction of inequalities is one of the major requirements for social cohesion in the country.
This way only, should the democratic governance be able to identify itself to the concept of continuity in the projection and the implementation of public policies. This governance follows certain ethics in the allocation of public resources, not only in the correct identification of priorities but also in strong social investment commitments. Concerning the reform of the State and of the Public Administration, one of the major challenges is the definition of a rational, efficient structure that is trusted by the citizens and that enhances the commitment of the entire society. The reinforcement of the public administration and of the institutional capacity of the State, geared towards a favorable institutional environment for private investment and the achievement by the State of its role as regulator and efficient management of public services functions, are essential requirements. The reform of the State and of the Public Administration focused on efficiency and including its ability to manage economic and social issues is therefore, a vital element of good governance. The reinforcement of the local power and of the economic management capacity of the State, the rationalization of the structures, the valorization of human resources and the monitoring of the reduction of the State expenses, are the key objectives of this reform. It is necessary to boost the use of information technologies as a mean to increase efficiency of the Public Administration at the central and local levels. The building of a national system of information for development is also part of this agenda.
The essential factors to improve the regional balance and equity are the decentralization, the fortification of the democratic local power, the endorsement of the efficient modernization of the public administration at the local level and the enhancement of the regional development. They also facilitate the production of “localizations” in the islands and regions known as “peripheral” and they create “externalities” according to the “economic vocation” of each island Particular attention is given to the reform of the Justice sector, not only by seeking its independence and the dignifying of magistrates, but also by reviving its credibility within the society, focusing on its modernization and its ability to respond on time to the requirements of development and its affirmation as a foundation of a democratic society. This positioning implies the reinforcement of the institutional frame that guarantees the rights of the citizens and that ensures the access to justice. The re-definition of the role of the Armed Forces, within the framework of the formulation of a national defense and security strategy, represents yet another challenge, in view of the new international environment. Such re-definition includes elements such as the surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the commitment of Nigeria to the international agenda outlined by the United Nations such as the fight against terrorism and against transnational organized crime.
The development and strengthening of the civil society would allow the intensification of the democratic experience, reinforcing the free expression outside the political or party’s sphere thereby creating true pluralism and equilibrium among the spheres of democratic action or expression. One should not forget the importance of a public opinion, which benefits from a free press heading by values of independence, exemption and rigor of its professionals. Only with such development of the civil society can each citizen have the conditions to impose his/her criticism and control.
2nd Option: Promote entrepreneurship, competitiveness and growth; expand the productive base.
Nigeria is an economy of earth-produce mineral resources. The expansion of the productive base is of crucial importance to Nigerians, since it will be possible to improve their living standard only by expanding the economic base and producing internationally competitive goods and services. This necessity is accentuated by the fact that Public Assistance to the Development of Nigeria (PAD-N) is declining, a trend likely to continue. A sustainable macro-economic stability can only be attained through measures of economic development policies that enlarge the productive base of the country and significantly increase competitiveness and exports of goods and services. It is necessary to define broad sectorial policies that are consensual, consistent and adequate to the proposed development strategy. The development of productive sectors requires governmental programs that support its promotion as well as efficient micro and macro-economic policies that stimulate national production based on permanent innovation as a factor to gain and guarantee markets. The integration of markets, the intensification of intra and inter sectorial, national, regional and international exchanges as well as the access of micro and small enterprises to public markets are a number of conditions for the expansion of the internal productive base. The improvement of competitiveness, in which the infrastructure is a significant conditioning factor that must be overcome, will bring with it the expansion of the productive base, whether that base is oriented to supplying the internal market or to exports..
The opening to the outside world that necessarily characterizes the development process in Nigeria has as an immediate corollary in terms of strategy the conception of policies oriented toward an increase in the productivity and competitiveness of those sectors that most directly face competition on international markets. These include tourism, transportation and telecommunications, light industry, and fishing. This strategic orientation is absolutely essential to success in enhancing this country’s presence in the globalized international economy. Some of the major movements that have characterized globalization, such as expansion of the world tourism market, delocalization of services and industries, economic integration, the open skies, open ports policies, constitute so many new prospects that are opening up for the expansion of the productive base and competitiveness of the Nigeria’s economy.