In the past stories on National Development Plans dominated the headlines especially in the early seventies. Professor Adebayo Adedeji under General Yakubu Gowon was the founder and Chairman of the National Youth Service Scheme. He also drafted the treaty of the ECOWAS which was established in May 1975 after over three years of arduous negotiations with 16 governments and countries divided into Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone spheres of influence.
But years ago, he was more known as Professor of National Development Plan, for he was the architect of the economic development and reconstruction of post-civil war Nigeria when he drafted the second and third development plans with inputs from brilliant technocrats years ago.
The first Nigerian National Development Plan was launched in 1962 with sixyear target that envisaged the spending of about$1,9 billion on development and productivity enhancing projects. The plan was prepared by the Minister of Economic Development, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari in concert with United Nations and Ford Foundation experts including the late Economist Wolfgang Stolper.
Actually the preamble for the first development plan in Nigeria was formulated in 1945 as a result of the British Government initiative for the promotion of economic and social advancement of the colonies stemming from the 1940 Colonial Development and Welfare Act.
The plan made provision for the capital expenditure of a total of 55 million pounds of which the British Government provided 23 million pounds. After the civil war, thanks to Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) as Minister of Finance and his successor, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Nigeria economy rose rapidly.
The “Super Permanent Secretaries” at that time impressed on General Gowon to save for the raining day by launching the Second National Development Plan. He then tapped on Professor Adedeji to serve as Minister of National Planning and Reconstruction.
Adedeji had just graduated from Harvard University and who at the age of 36 had become a full-fledged Professor at the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). In addition, Gowon brought brilliant Economists from the civil service to help Adedeji in engineering the second National Development Plan. Gowon created a Central Planning Office (CPO) in the now abandoned Independence building at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos. The office was headed by Chief Gilbert Prince Obiajulu Chikelu, who was then, a director in the Ministry of Statistics. While Chikelu was the Director Planning, he had three people who were working directly with him.
They were Falae, who later became the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief John Evboyomwan Kenneth Oyegun, who later renamed himself Chief John Odigie- Oyegun when he became the Governor of Edo State and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, the Okwadike who later became Governor of Anambra State.
Oyegun became Permanent Secretary at the age of 36 before Falae and Ezeife. Following protest, Falae finally became Permanent Secretary while Ezeife who, because of the civil war was a Senior Lecturer at the Makerere University, Kampala in Uganda came back to be Permanent Secretary in 1982 in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity and later Permanent Secretary, Nigerian Enterprises and Promotion Board. The nation owes these officers a debt of gratitude.
The Third National Development Plan which commenced on April 1, 1975 and was due to end on March 31, 1980 but was extended by nine months to give the various civilian state governments more time within which to prepare their programmes of activities for the Fourth Plan period. Many projects commenced during the Second Plan were completed in the Third Plan period and reasonable progresses towards implementation of new ones were made.
The fourth and last development was launched by President Shehu Shagari on January 12, 1981 at the National Assembly then in Lagos, presided over by the then Senate President, Dr. Joseph Wayas. When the military came to power they jettisoned the idea of development plans and replaced it with rolling plans. But these days we don’t hear much of any development plan.
We are bedeviled with internal security and insurgency to the extent that Nigeria has the highest number of displaced persons in Africa. I guess the only development plan we have now is the National Assembly that consume 30 to 35% of our capital votes. Something is wrong with our system.
•Teniola a former director at the presidency, writes from Lagos