One of the reasons that have undermined development in Nigeria is inconsistency in policy formation and implementation. For decades successive regimes have formulated policies which were not enforced to the utmost intentions or partly pursued or discontinued by their successors. The outcomes of these shortcomings are the myriads of developmental cavities prevalent in the country, such as weak infrastructure, epileptic power supply, weak institutions, complicated tax system and fiscal policies, and gender disparity among others.
Many of these socio-economic drawbacks infringing development efforts can be traced to the inactivity of evaluating the critical needs of the people during policy formation processes. The barriers, insurmountable as they look, offer a window of opportunities, if properly confronted, and aggressively harnessed with prompt execution to transform Nigeria into a first-world economy in twenty-five years.
That’s why the Federal Government’s Vision 2050 plan inaugurated to make this a reality, is not only strategic but visionary. The goal developed with the overall aim of making the country accomplish her dreams to be a smart, affluent, balanced, strong and happy society, mustn’t be understood on focused areas of performance alone, but take into cognizance vital needs of the citizens in line with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The prosperity of every nation is measured in the human capital resources of its people. The most significant bottlenecks militating against Nigeria’s development are the under-investments in these areas. A grim truth unfolding in the country, is that 60% of her primary 6 pupils cannot read at all, and citizens constantly grapple with outbreaks of treatable diseases such as malaria, cholera and measles.
Making these crises an experience, requires concerted efforts from stakeholders. Primarily, information sharing between State Commissioners of Health and Education and their counterparts at the Federal level, enables them to assemble flexible policy frameworks, and enforce them in line with global best practices and needs assessment. Collaborating with the private sector and non-governmental organizations, they can spot and prioritize areas of involvement such as community health centres, learning structures, training and retraining of personnel, welfare management and advocacy. Furthermore, identify causes of instability such as the incessant strikes by health workers, teachers under-performing and under-payment, numbers of out-of-school-children and bouts of diseases occurring repeatedly. Consequently, solutions can be provided like blocking funding loopholes to prevent leakages and corruption, and safeguarding adequate spending, leveraging on diaspora expertise for knowledge and technological transfer, encouraging indigenous innovations by giving-out grants, incentives and tax-breaks to inventors and research institutions to unearth treatments to infections.
Wealth creation and infrastructural development are parts of the strategies desired to enable the country achieve this vision. It can be done by activating the country’s numerous spirited Startups and SMSEs because they are the mechanisms for growth, scientific advancement, capital and employment generation. Hence, easy access to credit facilities and loans with softer interest rates, tax relaxations to enable them grow rapidly and surpass their break-even-point are extremely crucial.
Similarly, infrastructural development and expansion are fundamental. Government cannot solve these challenges alone. Private Sector involvement like rich equity holders and companies must be stimulated to partner with government to tackle these problems head-on. Through Public Private Partnership, they can smack obstacles such as erratic power inventories, dilapidated rail tracks and road networks by constructing or rehabilitating these infrastructures in exchange for some tax recourses.
It’s also critical to look at institutional development by bolstering the rule of law and cultivating the tradition of respecting court judgments, boosting the efficacy and efficiency of regulatory bodies to maintain standards and clamp-down on criminal activities detrimental to the country’s progress.
While relieving the bureaucratic blockages to ease of doing business such as timely registration procedures for businesses, robust laws protecting workers and consumer’s rights, patents and copy-right licenses and privileges, a harmonized and adaptable tax regime among others.
Security and service delivery is indispensable if the country is to reach her goals.
Protection of lives and properties should be paramount in policy initiatives, development, and undertaking, because no investor would want to invest in an economy beset by unstableness. In the same vain, service delivery is valuable in the ease of doing business index. There should be conscious measures to equip agencies operating within these spectra with essential training, modern gadgets and a well modified welfare package to guarantee optimal service delivery. Apart from providing mandatory assistance to people, their efforts would assist in propelling the image of the country as a top investments destination.
Closing the gender gap and youth empowerment is critical to quick fulfillment of one of the most notable objectives of the Vision, lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next ten years. To achieve this, there must be deliberate agenda to ensure gender inclusivity in all facets of life through affirmative actions and advocacy. It’s crucial to assist women gain positions of authority by enhancing their capacity to represent in official functions and organize awareness on cultural sentiments hampering girls child education such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.
On that trajectory, it’s meaningful to include youths in governance, and nurtured as future leaders. After all, they “are the leaders of tomorrow”. The scourge of poverty and unemployment impacting these groups will end if their candid intervals mentioned broadening their numbers by participating in politics, education and entrepreneurship. Thus, orientation, capacity building, skills acquisition and scholarship programs and grants will go a long way in closing the perimeter gap.
Therefore, it’s imperative for a progression of vision just as there’re transitions in governments. This will not only fasten the actualization of Nigeria becoming an advanced country but attain her logical place in the comity of nations.
Author and writer based in Kaduna.