ew days ago, Nigerians joined the rest of the world in welcoming the magical year 2020. For the rest of the world, it was another new year, celebrated with pomp, at least by the living.
But for Nigeria and Nigerians, it was not just a year. It was a sad reminder of the opportunities lost by the country – another one of the countless opportunities and missed targets by the country.
Roughly 10 years ago, government officials at the federal level were filled with promises of what the country would become by the year 2020. The promise aptly captured as Vision 20:2020, was a programme aimed at launching Nigeria into the club of developed countries. It was aimed at making Nigeria a member of the 20 biggest economies in the world from its then 29th position or thereabout.
Just like in the 1980s and 90s when the mantra was about ‘everything for all in year 2000’, the visioners of 20:2020 painted an Utopian picture of the economic outlay of the country that would launch it into the club of the big players in global economy. But just like the Year 2000 vision, it failed as we entered 2020 just less than a week ago.
We recall that in the heat of that Vision, the then President, the late Umaru Yar’Adua had listed a seven-point agenda, which he said would be his guiding light in governance. That included areas such as power and energy, food security, wealth creation, land reforms, transportation, security and education. From about 3,000MW of electricity, the country was aiming to achieve about 10,000MW by the year 2010.
There was also promise for other areas towards the achievements of the goals even before the bigger picture of Vision 20:2020 was initiated.
Many Nigerians were optimistic as the government set the full machinery in place for the achievement of the goal. It is instructive to note that after rebasing its GDP along the line, it was announced that the country was now the largest economy in Africa, leapfrogging South Africa, which had that honour.
But that was where it stopped. Just like the lofty dreams of an Utopian 2000, the Vision 20:2020 died a natural death. It died like so many other programmes rolled out to Nigerians by successive governments since independence.
Thus, from the lofty dreams of becoming one of the 20 biggest economies in the world 10 years ago, Nigeria is today rated as the poverty capital of the world with more than 90 million of the estimated 180 million people in the country adjudged to be living below the poverty line.
Security has worsened since then. The Vision 20:2020 was to be fully launched in 2009, the same year Boko Haram became a national disaster following the murder of its founder, Yusuf Mohammed, by the Police. It is worthy of note that since then, new crimes, such as kidnap-for-ransom, banditry, cattle rustling and herdsmen attacks have jumped into the fray of national security problems. Armed robbery, which was the king of crime in the country previously, is now on the decline.
Yet, from the promises of education, security, infrastructure to transport and power and energy, the country has not achieved much right from the early 80s, when the leaders started seeing visions for its development.
In the past five years when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, we cannot say for certainty that much has improved. Rather, the country has continued to move round the circles of blame, which has become its hallmark. While Buhari blamed the governments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which ruled Nigeria from 1999 to 2015 for its woes, we cannot forget that the PDP governments had blamed the military, which Buhari was part of between 1983 and 1999 for the country’s failures. In turn, the military had blamed the previous administration of the late President Shehu Shagari, whom it overthrew for its own failures.
Thus, since independence, Nigeria has tethered on the brink of failure, with the only hope being its famed potential that it can one day wake up from its slumber and join some club of positively advancing countries.
It is perhaps, the hope for the potential that has taken the country thus far into 2020.
But as 2020 is upon us, do we still expect the country to extend the goalposts of its development to another landmark, say maybe 2030 or 2050? The answer is a big no.
Rather, we expect that the minders of the country have their work cut out. First is to look at the failed promises from the past two decades, the failed targets and the unmet ones with a view to realizing the ones that are still achievable. We expect that there should be a deep look at the failures of the country in the past, with a view to moving ahead in the right direction with appropriate corrections made.
We are optimistic that at least, President Buhari, whose tenure would end in 2023, has his eyes on his legacies. If not for anything, the president knows that the dawn of 2020 is a pointer that his exit from power is closer than his entrance into the scene.
Thus, he and his administration owe Nigerians a duty of apology for the years lost, not only by him but by successive governments in the country. He can only offer the apology on behalf of others by pointing a realistic direction for the country in the next 10 years. He stated much in his letter to Nigerians on the New Year day. 2020 provides another opportunity for a new direction for the country. Let’s hope something new would happen to Nigeria.