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Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020-Issues, Challenges and Implications for Development Management

Onyenekenwa Cyprian Eneh

Amidst various reforms agenda, policies, development plans and programmes, Vision 2010, Seven-Point Agenda and a host of others, Nigerian leaders have articulated the Vision 20:2020, which targets to catapult Nigeria into the league of the first global 20 economies by the year 2020. This study used the critical research method to analyze and compare recent development indicators for Nigeria with those of advanced countries, the first 20 of which Nigeria aspires to join in 10 years’ time. In contrast to the situation in high-income OECD nations, the vast majority of Nigerians are ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and ill-educated. They live in the rural areas characterized by massive underdevelopment. Poverty is the basic malady of Nigeria which is involved in misery-go-round, as part of the slum of the world economy. Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 is, therefore, too ambitious. And, against the backdrop of the antecedents of policy reversals, summersaults and failures in Nigeria, the Vision is utopian. Recommendations include commitment of the leadership to sufficient discipline and political will to enforce development policies and programmes.

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Onyenekenwa Cyprian Eneh , 2011. Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020-Issues, Challenges and Implications for Development Management. Asian Journal of Rural Development, 1: 21-40.

DOI: 10.3923/ajrd.2011.21.40

Received: June 24, 2010; Accepted: August 08, 2010; Published: November 04, 2010


The Vision 20:2020 is a dream statement that Nigeria will become one of the first 20 economies in the world by the year 2020. Abdulhamid (2008) traced the history of the dream to a research conducted by economists at an American Investment Bank, a fall-out of which was a prediction that Nigeria would be in the league of 20 top economies by year 2025. This was based on assessment of its abundant human and material resources and on the assumption that the country’s resources would be properly managed and channeled to set economic goals. The then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, next muted the dream as Vision 2020 (Onyekakeyah, 2008).

According to Nigeria Vision 2020 (2008), the National Council on Vision 2020 (NCV2020) is the apex body of the operational and institutional arrangements for Nigeria’s Vision 2020. The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the Chairman. It is to provide leadership and direction to galvanise the nation. The process involves a bottom-up strategic planning to ensure ownership by all stakeholders. Other terms of reference for the NCV2020 have been clearly spelt out to include approving the core national priorities to guide the process; ensuring the quality of plan document, appropriateness of targets and practicality of strategies; review of progress and giving further direction; ensuring the active involvement of all stakeholders in the visioning process; approving the framework for resource mobilization from private and other stakeholders; approving a comprehensive planning framework for annual budgets and medium-term plans and issuing of any other directives considered desirable by the Council.

The National Steering Committee on Vision 2020 (NSC2020) has been put in place. It is the engine for the visioning process. It is headed by the Honourable Minister/Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission as the Chairman. Its terms of reference have been marshaled out as developing methodology and guidelines for all MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies), private sector and other stakeholders to facilitate the Vision; proposing a comprehensive plan; proposing appropriate goals, targets and strategies; identifying and recommending overall national goals and priorities; guiding and assisting all States and MDAs; arranging nationwide dissemination of programme for widest buy-in by stakeholders; developing a template for the preparation of a result-oriented communication strategy and monitoring of annual progress at national, MDAs and State levels; undertaking comparative studies of best practices; examining the linkages among perspective plan, medium-term plan and annual budget; recommending an inclusive monitoring and evaluation (M and E) mechanism; commissioning in-depth research; undertaking any other assignments from NCV2020 and making any other recommendations (Nigeria Vision 2020, 2008).

The State NV2020 Stakeholders Committee, the MDAs and other stakeholder visioning development committee consists of 20-25 groups of about 25 eminent persons with interest and knowledge on the subject area. The V20202 Development Committees serve as fora for building consensus on issues. The Committees are also responsible for preparing sectoral inputs for the V2020 Plan. In particular, the major stakeholders include (1) State Governments, (2) MDAs and (3) key institutions. Each stakeholder has an inclusive competent committee involving the public sector and non state representatives. The terms of reference for the Stakeholder V2020 Development Committees have been spelt out to include examining background papers on thematic areas from National Technical Working Groups (NTWGs); in-depth review of position papers; preparing feedback reports to NSC; generating sectoral and other related inputs and undertaking any other assignment from NSC (Nigeria Vision 2020, 2008).

The NTWGs comprises of maximum of 25 groups of experts for the identified area drawn from both public and private practitioners with responsibility, expertise and passion for the area. It provides technical support to the NSC. The report of NTWGs serves as input to the work of NSC and the stakeholder visioning groups. Other terms of reference of NTWGs have been clearly spelt out to include developing background papers; articulating key economic issues; defining proposed policy targets, objectives and priorities; preparing guidelines and template for communication on progress (COP); working with and assisting stakeholder groups in preparing their documents and COPs; reviewing and evaluating COPs of stakeholder groups; receiving assistance from consultants for specific study research works; providing regular technical briefing on progress by NSC and undertaking any other assignment from NSC.

The National Planning Commission (NPC) under the auspices of the National Council on Development and Planning (NCDP) held 25-26th June, 2008 a joint meeting at the Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State capital with the theme, Vision 2020, 2008: Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential for Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction (Abdulhamid, 2008). The Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Moshe Ram, has made suggestions on how to actualize Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020. According to the Israeli envoy, Nigeria’s dream of becoming one of the 20 leading economies by the year 2020 is not a pie in the sky. For this dream to become a reality, the country must go back to the basics agriculture (Adepetun, 2008). Similarly, the Mayor of London, Mr. Alderman David Lewis, has offered his opinion on how to achieve the Vision. The Mayor said that for the country to achieve its Vision 2020 objectives, due attention must be given to human capital development issues. He added that Nigeria’s Vision 2020 would be a mirage if there was absence of sound and qualitative education, training and re-training. He stressed that Nigeria was a financial hub of healthy, skilled and creative experts who, if well articulated and motivated and with the right atmosphere, would be able to turn things around for the country (Vision 2020, 2007).

Debates have been raging as to whether Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 will be actualized. Other people that contributed their opinions on the issue were Cecelia Ibru (former Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Oceanic Bank International Plc), Peter Upton (Director, British Council, Nigeria) and Mark Bickerton (Director, Metropolitan University) (Adepetun, 2008).

There is the need to contribute to these debates based on development indicators. This study is, therefore, a feasibility comparative analytical critique of Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 based on some recent development indicators from literature on Nigeria and the high-income Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, which Nigeria aspires to join. The work is justified on the curious ground of the non-performance of the numerous policies, perspective and medium-term development plans as well as reforms in Nigeria. These include the civil service reforms, education reforms, judicial reforms, local government reforms, integrated rural development programme, four National Development Plans covering the 1962-1985 period, poverty alleviation programmes spanning 1970s to date, industrial policies from the 1960s to date, Vision 2010, Seven-Point Agenda and a host of others.


In the World Bank’s classification system, 206 economies (each with at least 30,000 population) are ranked by their levels of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. By the 2003 classification, 59 nations or 28.6% (including Nigeria) are low-income countries (LICs) with GNI of $765 or less; 57 nations (27.7%) are low middle-income countries (LMCs) with GNI of between $766 and $3,035; thirty-five nations (17.0%) are upper middle-income countries (UMCs) with GNI of between $3,036 and $9,385; thirty-five nations (17.0) are Other high-income countries with GNI of $9,386 or more and 24 nations (11.7%) constitute the High-income OECD countries. Accordingly, nations are broadly divided into 2 groups: the developing countries formed by LICs, LMCs and UMCs and the Other high-income countries and the developed countries (High-income OECD countries) (Todaro and Smith, 2002; African Development Bank, 2007).

The Other high-income countries are developing countries with one or two highly developed 1export sectors that enable them earn GNI of $9,386 or more (like the developed countries), but in which significant parts of the population remain relatively uneducated or in poor health for the country’s income level. Examples include the petroleum oil exporters, such as Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The upper middle-income economies also include some tourism-dependent islands with lingering development problems. Some upper middle-income countries are designated newly industrializing countries for having achieved relatively advanced manufacturing sectors. Also, a few of the high-income OECD member countries, notably Portugal and Greece, are viewed as developing countries at least until recently. Another way to classify the nations of the developing world is through their degree of international indebtedness. Thus, the World Bank classifies countries as severely indebted, moderately indebted and less indebted. Also, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) classifies countries according to their level of human development, including health and education attainments. By 2007/8 UNDP human development rating, Nigeria was the 158th out of 175 United Nations member countries (Todaro and Smith, 2002; UNDP, 2007).

The developing world is made up of sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, Asia (except Japan), Latin America and the Caribbean and the transition countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (including the former Soviet Union). In contrast, the developed world constitutes the core of the high-income OECD nations and is comprised of countries of Western Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand (Todaro and Smith, 2002).

Most developing nations share a set of well-defined goals. These include a reduction in poverty and unemployment; the provision of minimum levels of education, health, housing and food to every citizen; the broadening of social and economic opportunities and the forging of a cohesive nation state. Related to these economic, social and political goals are the common development challenges shared in varying degrees by most developing countries: widespread and chronic absolute poverty, high levels of unemployment and underemployment, wide and growing disparities in the distribution of income, low levels of agricultural productivity, sizeable and growing imbalances between urban and rural levels of living and economic opportunities, serious and worsening environmental decay, antiquated and inappropriate educational and health systems, severe balance of payments and international debt problems and substantial and increasing dependence on foreign technologies, institutions and value systems (Todaro and Smith, 2002).

Absolute poverty - not relative poverty - is more important in assessing developing economies. Absolute poverty is measured not only by low income, but also by malnutrition, poor health, clothing, shelter and lack of education. Thus, absolute poverty is reflected in the low living standards of the people in developing countries. In such countries, food is the major item of consumption. About 80% of the income is spent on food, as compared with 20% in advanced countries. People mostly take cereals and other starches to the total absence of nutritional foods, such as meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. For instance, the per capita consumption of protein in LICs is 52 grammes per day, as compared with 105 grammes in developed countries. The per capita fat consumption in LICs is 83 grammes daily, as against 133 grammes in developed countries. As a result, the average daily calorie intake per capita hardly exceeds 2,000 in underdeveloped countries, as compared with more than 3,300 to be found in the diets of the people of advanced countries (Jhingan, 2007).

The rest of the consumption of such countries consists mainly of a thatched hut and almost negligible clothing. People live in extremely insanitary conditions. More than 1,200 million people in developing countries do not have safe drinking water and more than 1,400 million have no sanitary waste disposal. Of every 10 children born, 2 die within a year, another 3 die before the age of 5 and only 5 survive to the age of 40 years. The reasons are poor nutrition, unsafe water, poor sanitation, uninformed parents and lack of immunization. Services, like education and health, hardly flourish. Recent data reveal that there is a doctor for 870 persons in China, for 2,083 persons in India, for 5,555 persons in Bangladesh and for 20,000 persons in Nepal, as against 410 persons for the developed countries (Jhingan, 2007).

Most developed countries are expanding educational facilities rapidly. Still, such efforts fall short of the manpower requirements of these economies. In many LICs, about 70% of the primary school age children go to school. At the secondary level, enrolment rates are lower than 20% in these countries, while enrolment in higher education hardly comes up to 3%. Moreover, the type of education being imparted to the majority of the school and college children is ill-suited to the development needs of such countries (Jhingan, 2007).

About 1 billion people in developing countries, excluding China, are in absolute poverty. Half of them live in South Asia, mainly in India and Bangladesh; a sixth live in East and Southeast Asia, mainly in Indonesia; another sixth in sub-Saharan Africa and the rest in Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East. Poverty is, therefore, the basic malady of an underdeveloped country which is involved in misery-go-round. Hence, the underdeveloped countries are the slums of the world economy (Cairncross, 2007).


Economic planning is a deliberate control and direction of the economy by a central authority for the purpose of achieving definite targets and objectives within a specified period of time. The need for economic planning in Nigeria and other developing countries is informed by the need to address their characteristic development challenges: poverty, urbanization, rapid population growth, agricultural development, dualistic economy, underdeveloped natural resources, technological backwardness, economic backwardness, unemployment and disguised unemployment, insufficient capital equipment and foreign trade (Jhingan, 2007).

Economic plan is described as strategic if it is holistic, far-sighted, critical to the organization’s survival and phased vis-à-vis the means of realizing the goals. It is described as specific project plan if it pertains to a specific project by government or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and reflects the Project Life Cycle (PLC): conceptualization, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and others within a specific period (e.g., building a road to specification within a year) (Jhingan, 2007).

Types of economic development plan are Perspective Plan, Medium-term Plan, Short-Term Plan, Annual Plan, Regional Plan and Sectional Plan. A perspective plan is a long-term plan in which long-range targets are set in advance for a period of 10, 15, 20 or 25 years. It is a blueprint of development to be undertaken over a long period. The broader objectives and targets of the perspective plan are achieved on time by dividing the plan into several medium-term plans of 6 to 9 years and short-term plans of 4 to 6 years, which make for greater precision that is hardly vitiated by unpredictable changes. The short-term plan is broken into annual plans, further divided into regional plans (pertaining to regions, districts and localities), to be further split into sectional plans (for agriculture, industry, foreign trade, transportation, etc.) and to be further sub-divided into sub-plans (for branches, such as food grains, iron and steel, exports, etc.). Since, planning is a continuous process for movement towards desired goals, one plan must be a projection and continuation of the previous one (Jhingan, 2007).

Nigeria has been operating with Annual Plan (annual budget) mixed with Short-term Plans from 1962 to 1985. The Short-term Plans were termed Development Plans and were four in number (First, 1962-1968; Second, 1970-74; Third, 1975-1980 and Fourth, 1981-1985). The Babangida Administration jettisoned the fifth one for the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), which came into effect in 1986. Vision 2010 of the Abacha era and the currently touted Vision 20:2020 are 2 perspective plans predicated on the need to confront the daunting development challenges in Nigeria. Vision 2010 was short-lived by the sudden exit of the vision bearer, late Sani Abacha in middle of 1998. As is characteristic of Nigerian leaders, Abacha’s successors dropped the plan for theirs.

The social contract theory holds that in earliest history man lived in a state of nature. No government existed. Each man was only as secure as his own power and mental awareness could make him. By agreeing with one another to make a state by contract, men within a given area joined together, each surrendering personal freedom as necessary to promote the safety and well being of all. By this contract the members created a government. The social contract gives rights and responsibilities to both the citizenry and the government. For example, in The United States, citizens yield the powers of prosecution of and punishment for, criminal offenses to the judicial branch of government. The government, for its part, bears the responsibilities of maintaining public safety for the citizens through the police, court systems, correctional facilities and all supporting structures. Consent is the basis of government. It is because people have agreed to be ruled that governments are entitled to rule (Pettit, 1997).

The resource curse or the paradox of plenty theory refers to the paradox that countries and regions abounding in natural resources, specifically point-source non-renewable resources, like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. This is hypothesized to happen for many different reasons, including a decline in the competitiveness of other economic sectors (caused by appreciation of the real exchange rate as resource revenues enter an economy), volatility of revenues from the natural resource sector due to exposure to global commodity market swings, government mismanagement of resources, or weak, ineffectual, unstable or corrupt institutions (possibly due to the easily diverted actual or anticipated revenue stream from extractive activities).


The study used the critical research method of analyzing available secondary information and data. It compared recent development indicators for Nigeria (mostly published by the organs of the Federal Government of Nigeria) with those of advanced (OECD) countries, the first 20 of which Nigeria is aspiring by its Vision 20:2020 to join in 10 years’ time. Unavoidably, the analysis also drew comparisons in some cases between the development statistics for different periods to show how too slowly Nigeria’s development grows to aspire to be one of the first 20 economies in 2020. Sometimes, retrogress was even the case.


Some selected recent development indicators for Nigeria are displayed on Table 1, as documented mostly by some organs of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Literature also reveals some recent development indicators for advanced (OECD) countries, the first 20 of which Nigeria aspires to join by 2020 (Table 2).

Rural development: Urban population in Nigeria was 48.2% in 2005, as compared with 75.6% in advanced countries (Table 1, 2). Agreeing with this finding, the Federal Government of Nigeria, (2004), reports that Nigeria’s experience shows an appalling development disparity between the rural and the urban areas. The greater population of the country dwelling in the usually isolated and neglected rural areas is trapped in absolute poverty and misery: a condition characterized by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality and low life expectancy clearly beneath any reasonable definition of human decency. Although, rural development has featured prominently in Nigeria’s development strategies since her Independence in 1960, very limited benefits have resulted there-from. Rather, there is upward trend of poverty in the rural areas, where both the majority of the poor and the poorest of the poor reside. There is dearth of infrastructural facilities, such as feeder roads, water and sanitation, energy and communications, to activate and promote rural industrialization. Literacy rate is discouragingly low and health, income size and nutritional status are far from being encouraging. The vulnerable groups, especially women and children, continue to suffer extreme deprivations, which severely limit their chances of growth and fulfillment as well as optimal contribution to national development.

Table 1: Some recent Nigeria’s development indicators
NPC (2009); NBS (2008); UNDP (2007); Jhingan (2007); NBS (2005, 2007a, b)

Table 2: Some development indicators for advanced (OECD*) countries
*Organisation for European co-operation and Development (Jhingan, 2007; UNDP, 2007)

Though the rural population constitutes the large majority and occupies the bulk of the territorial space, they have suffered prolonged and systematic neglect and continued to endure severe deprivations as they eke out a paltry livelihood at the margin of society. The bulk of Nigerians - about 85% of the extremely poor currently living in rural areas - are denied the choices and opportunities for living decent, healthy and creative lives consistent with self-esteem, freedom and dignity. The present poor state of the rural areas reflects the cumulative policy neglect and faulty planning and inadequate resource transfer. National economic and social development requires the full participation of the vast rural population in the development process. It requires that the rural population have equitable and adequate access to resources, inputs, credit and other support services and that they participate in the design and implementation of development programmes. This way, national security can be guaranteed.

In order to address the compelling need for a better direction to and more effective coordination of, rural development action at all levels, the National Policy on Integrated Rural Development (NPIRD) was formulated by all relevant national and international development partners operating in the rural sector in Nigeria. It was expected to promote accelerated transformation of the rural areas and to be complemented by its implementation blueprint, the Rural Development Strategy for Nigeria (RDSN), which was jointly formulated by stakeholders.

To achieve integrated and even development on a sustainable basis, the strategies to be adopted would empower rural dwellers through the development of productive employment, enhancing their income, ensuring protection of the environment, promoting gender responsiveness and ensuring adequate care for vulnerable groups. Policy areas for promotion of rural productive activities would include agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry, forestry, mineral resources development, manufacturing and industry, marketing and distribution and rural financial systems.

For supportive human resources development, special emphasis would be laid on health and population, culture and social development, education/technology/skills development, research and extension services and information and communications. Under enhancement of enabling rural infrastructure, government would cooperate with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs), Private Sector Enterprises (PSEs), Community-Based Rural Development Organizations (CBRDOs) and other relevant agencies in the choice, design, implementation and maintenance of rural infrastructural projects to ensure their appropriateness and sustainability. Special attention would be paid to transport infrastructure and facilities, communications infrastructure, housing, environment, energy and water and sanitation.

Special programmes for target groups would reach women, youth, children, the elderly and the retired, the handicapped, emergencies and natural disasters, disadvantaged areas and border areas. Rural community organization mobilsation would strive to encourage, promote and support the formation and strengthening of CBRDOs; promote mutual understanding and partnership with them in the initiation, formulation and implementation of developed programmes and mobilise, encourage, advise and support communities and CBRDOs in the choice of projects most suited to their needs, within their capabilities and in harmony with national integrated rural development objectives.

Three years after the NPIRD was first published in October 2001 and against its provision for participatory approach to integrated rural development, it has been revealed that planning and policy formulation are done at the top and forced on the grassroots, who hardly are called to participate in the choice and design of projects meant for them, their implementation or monitoring or evaluation (MHDPR, 2004). Four years after the second printing of the NPIRD was made in March 2004, the situation has not changed. Overall, self-sustaining growth and development have eluded the rural areas in Nigeria and the general welfare and standard of living of their population remain poor and miserable. Social amenities and infrastructural facilities that could stimulate life and industrial development are mostly absent in rural parts of the country. The growth of agricultural production is lagging behind the population growth, with inevitable result of food shortage and scarcity, in spite of great potential and relative endowment for agricultural production in Nigeria (Efemini, 2003).

Housing, water and sanitation: Only 17.6% of the population was able to complete their houses in Nigeria in 2006 (Table 1). Ghettoes and thatched huts are characteristic of increasing number of urban slums, where people live in extremely insanitary conditions. Only 48% and 44% of the population in Nigeria had access to improved water and sanitation, respectively in 2004 (Table 2). More than 1,200 million people in developing countries do not have safe drinking water and more than 1,400 million have no sanitary waste disposal. Of every 10 children born, 2 die within a year, another 3 die before the age of 5 and only 5 survive to the age of 40 years. The reason is that the vast majority of the people in LICs are ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and ill-educated (Jhingan, 2007).

When clean water is scarce, the stake is high. In developing countries, about 80% of health problems can be linked to inadequate water and sanitation, claiming the lives of nearly 1.8 million children every year and leading to the loss of an estimated 443 million school days for the children who suffer from water-related ailments. In Africa, women and children often walk more than 10 km to fetch water for domestic use in dry season. The human consequences of the water crisis, exacerbated by corruption, are devastating and affect the poor and women most of all. It is estimated that an amount equivalent to 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lost to illness and death caused by dirty water and poor sanitation (Transparency International, Cambridge University Press and Water Integrity Network, 2008).

Education and technology diffusion: The adult literacy rate was 60.4% in 2006 in Nigeria (Table 1). The primary school enrolment rate was 68% in 2004 in Nigeria, as compared with 96% in a developed country (Table 1 and 2). The rate was 27% for secondary schools in 2005 in Nigeria, whereas children reaching grade 5 (% of grade 1 pupils) were only 73% in 2004 (Table 1). Qualitatively, the type of education being imparted to the majority of the school and college children is ill-suited to the development needs of Nigeria, where the appropriate education approach is yet to be given attention. This has gross adverse effect on quantitative human capital development. Nigeria has surplus labour force (unemployment), but lacks human capital - the number of persons who have the skills, education and experience which are critical for the economic and political development of a country (Jhingan, 2007; Eneh, 2008a).

Only 3 telephone mainlines were available per 1,000 persons in 1990 in Nigeria, as compared with 390 per 1,000 persons in a developed country. The figure was 9 per 1,000 persons in Nigeria in 2005, as compared with 441 per 1,000 persons in an advanced country. There was no cellular subscriber per 1,000 persons in Nigeria in 1990, when there were 10 cellular subscribers per 1,000 persons in a developed country. In 2005, there were 141 cellular subscribers per 1,000 persons in Nigeria, as against 785 cellular subscribers per 1,000 persons in a developed nation. Similarly, there was no internet user per 1,000 persons in Nigeria in 1990, whereas there were 3 internet users per 1,000 persons in an advanced country. In 2005, there were 38 internet users per 1,000 persons in Nigeria, as compared with 445 in a developed country (Table 2).

Technology diffusion is at the lowest ebb in Nigeria. Analysis shows that technology, which comprises domestic research and development as well as access to foreign technology through foreign direct investment, has a powerful influence as a driver of industrial performance. Among the drivers of industrial performance, research and development (R and D) is the most significant determinant (UNIDO, 2002/2003). But, with Nigeria’s educational system in prolonged crises of decaying infrastructure and the attendant continuous agitation by the staff for a change, R and D is poor and therefore, cannot be appropriated for meaningful development in Nigeria. Nigeria needs to attract talent (and foreign investment) from around the world, while investing in the human resources development of its people (Gorski, 2001, 2002) and building ICTs infrastructures, which contribute towards socio-economic development.

Information technologies are yet to get to the rural areas of the country. Education process is related to information dissemination and ICTs. Information, which educates and transforms, is the prime driver of real development. ICTs are those goods, applications and services that are used to produce, distribute, process and transform information, which, on its part, notifies, stimulates, surprises and reduces uncertainties. They have the potential to improve the delivery of services, increase productivity, raise living standards, transform economies and develop opportunities (Kombol, 2006; Mogu, 2006; Lawley, 1993; Epodoi, 2003; Huyer, 1997).

The role of ICTs in stimulating development is two-edged. It allows countries to leapfrog stages of economic growth by being able to modernize their production systems and increase their competitiveness faster than in the past. For those economies unable to adapt to the new technological systems, their retardation becomes more pronounced. Furthermore, the ability to move into the Information Age depends on the capacity of the whole society to be educated and to be able to assimilate and process complex information. This starts with the education system, from bottom up, from the primary school level to the university. And it relates as well to the overall process of cultural development, including the level of functional literacy, the localization of content of the media (instead of the globalization of the media content) and the diffusion of information within the population as a whole (Huyer and Sikoski, 2003).

There is a direct correlation between access to ICTs and socio-economic development. ICTs are no longer the consequence of development, rather they are a necessary precondition for development (Gorski, 2001). Information societies (also known as the information-haves or information-rich) have well developed ICTs to share information for development and innovation. They have both relevant and useful information for development and are also innovators in many spheres of development (Huyer and Sikoski, 2003). The information-haves-not or information-poor societies do not have well-developed ICTs infrastructure and, therefore, do not manufacture and share enough information for their development. These countries are predominantly the developing countries (Dcs) and/or less (least) developed countries (LDCs) and are mostly found in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America (Jensen, 2001).

The benefits of ICTs are not evenly distributed among and within countries, partly because of the difference in access and knowledge base to optimize their use. The UNDP Human Development Report of 1999 shows that only 25% of all countries in the world have penetration level for fixed telephone lines, only 15% of the world’s population have access to ICTs and their most popular tools, namely, computers, internet and e-mail. In addition to scarcity of fixed telephone lines in most parts of the world, other factors, such as income, education and literacy levels, race, ethnicity and gender, impede equity in distribution of these benefits. While many countries have experienced tremendous changes in their information communication sectors and consequently, a transformation in their quality of life, some other countries lack access to such information communication facilities (Huyer and Sikoska, 2003).

Accessibility to ICTs is a major issue in developing countries. Telephone lines (Internet service providers, ISPs) are in short supply to provide internet connections to homes and computers (Madu, 2006). According to Kombol (2006), Jensen (2001) and Tofojomo (2006), factors that hamper accessibility of ICTs are lack of infrastructures, huge costs, poor electricity supply, poor ICTs literacy and awareness and immoral and corrupt uses of ICTs by the youth.

The diffusion of innovation (DOI) theory postulated by Rogers (1963) identifies the conditions which enhance or impede the rate of adoption of an innovation. The media and interpersonal contacts with opinion leaders influence the decisions of individuals on the adoption of innovations. Each adopter’s willingness or ability to adopt an innovation largely depends on awareness, interest, evaluation, trial and adoption. In developing countries, people also need to have the means to afford the adoption, the technical know-how to operate the gadget (ICTs literacy), infrastructure (electricity and wireless connection) and the knowledge of the importance of ICTs in uplifting social standards. The majority of people in developing countries belong to the late majority group of ICTs adopters because they are skeptical, traditional, of lower economic status and lack the supporting infrastructural facilities (Kombol, 2006; Gorski, 2002; Losh, 2003).

Population growth, health and nutrition: Although, the population growth rate in Nigeria was 3.2% in 2006, the contraceptive prevalence rate was 13% (Table 1). Increasing population and diminishing facilities means that poverty will continue to override in Nigeria’s development landscape, even in decades to come. Certainly, this is not the way to leapfrog into the league of the first 20 economies within the next decade.

The average daily calorie intake per capita was 2,100 in year 2005 in Nigeria, as against 3,300 for a developed country. In 1999, 30.7% under-five children had under-weight, with the figure decreasing only to 29% in 2003, when 49% had stunting and 14% were born with low birth-weight. Children with stunting were 18% in 2003 in Nigeria. Life expectancy at birth was 46.6 years in 2005, as against 77.8 years in an advanced country. Neo-natal mortality rate was as high as 48 per 1,000 live births in 2003 in Nigeria. Infant mortality rate is 133 per 1,000 live births, as compared with 41 per 1,000 live births in 1970 and 9per 1,000 live births in 2005 in a developed nation. Under-five mortality rate was 257 per 1,000 live births in 2003 in Nigeria, as compared with 54 per 1,000 live births in 1970 and 11 per 1,000 live births in 2005 in an advanced country. In 2005, maternal mortality rate was 110 per 100,000 live births in Nigeria. Reported cases of deaths from preventable diseases increased from 11,854 in 2006 to 15680 in 2007 (Table 1 and 2). The reasons are poor nutrition, unsafe water, poor sanitation, uninformed parents and lack of immunization. Births attended by skilled personnel stood at 35% in 2005 in Nigeria, as compared with 95% in a developed country. There is a doctor for 410 persons in advanced countries, but for 2,536 persons in Nigeria (Table 1).

HIV/syphilis sero-prevalence rate was 11.4% in 2005 in Nigeria, whereas it was less than 1% in most developed nations (Table 2). About 13.3 million children aged 15- in sub-Saharan Africa (where Nigeria belongs) were orphaned by HIV/AIDS at the end of year 2000 (Eneh, 2005). The number of people reported killed or injured in road accidents was 23,868 in 2003 and 27,802 in 2007 in Nigeria (Table 1). This carnage dimension is unimaginable in any developed nation, which Nigeria aspires to become soon.

Gender and human rights: Only 2.8% of the senatorial seats were occupied by women in 1999, 3.7% in 2003 and 7.3% in 2007. For corresponding periods, 4.6, 7 and 12.96% of the headship of National Assembly committees were held by women. In the State Assemblies, the corresponding figures were 2.42, 4.14 and 5.66% for members and 2.13, 3.61 and 6.0% for committee chairpersons. In the Local Government Councils, the corresponding figures were 1.8, 1.8 and 2.87% for Councilors and 1.3, 3.25 and 3.81% for committee chairpersons (Table 1).

According to FGN and UNICEF (2001), more women than men often participate in voting exercises, but women usually retain less than 2% of elective or appointive positions. During the first (1960-1965) and second (1979-1983) Republics, various political parties established viable women wings whose function included, inter alia, mobilization and political education of women. The wings performed well in mobilizing women for voting en mass, but only for party candidates who were usually men. Traditional socialization, which emphasizes women’s contributions in private, in exclusion of their public life, partly accounts for their low representation in decision and policy making bodies, leading to their sidelined interest, welfare and development.

Development is about human beings - child and adult, male and female. Sustainable development is all about equity, defined as equality of opportunities for well-being, as well as about comprehensiveness of objectives (Soubbotina, 2004). Although, conventions on child and women rights are ratified and widely vaunted in Nigeria by the political leaders, commitments are lacking. National statutes are replete with provisions aimed at protecting children and women, but in reality, they are at variance with local realities and practices at the community level. The tripartite system of statutory, customary and religious laws that operate in tandem with societal norms and values and coupled with lack of legal literacy, constitute serious obstacle to development of women and children. Recent situation analysis of children and women in Nigeria, shows that in every sector, women’s low status in the society is one of the major underlying causes of the worsening condition of children and women. Records abound regarding the violation of the rights of women and children in Nigeria. These jeopardize, rather than enhance, sustainable human development. Women and children are often marginalized in development in Nigeria. Discrimination against women and children inform social exclusion and poverty. The rights of women and children thus recklessly violated lead to frustration, apathy, violence and lop-sided development and underdevelopment (Oloko, 1999a, b; Eneh, 2000; Kolo, 1998; FGN and UNICEF, 1997).

Girls are still subject to and victims of, harmful traditional practices, like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). They are often withdrawn from school at the slightest excuse, as a result of the limited value put on educating the girl-child, compared to the boy. Yet, abounding evidences show that educating women lead to enhanced family income, health and hygiene, child education and wholesome up-bringing, as well as reduction in infant and maternal mortality rates. The patriarchal society leaves women significantly disadvantaged. In several areas of Nigeria, widow and female disinheritance practices represent the most blatant violation of the family and individual rights of the woman and girl-child. Increasing and widening poverty, along with certain cultural traits, has driven millions of children into types of child labour that are exploitative, hazardous and prejudicial to their welfare and development. There is rapid spread of street children, child begging, child trafficking, child prostitution and child abandonment. Newly born children are abandoned in public places, such as markets, toilets, taxis and hospitals, by unwed young mothers fearing disgrace and stigmatization (Ikediashi, 1986; Anumnu, 1995).

Commercial sexual exploitation of the girl-child has grown in scale and its links with commercial trafficking in women and children, with its role in the development of HIV/AIDS pandemic now tormenting the country. Family destitution has forced many youths to join gangs and criminal groups, resulting in a high wave of urban crime and the consequent sentencing and extra-judicial killing of youth offenders. The inadequate welfare and juvenile justice system has been unable to accommodate and/or correct the problem, culminating in indiscriminate imprisonment of children with hardened adult offenders and sometimes convictions far in excess of justifiable punishment for minors (FGN and UNICEF, 2001; Chikwem et al., 1989; Adedoyin and Adegoke, 1995; MWASDRS/UNICEF, 1999; Oloko, 1999b).

Women are generally considered to be at the lowest rung of poverty ladder in Nigeria. This calls for women’s economic, social and political empowerment. Robust economic growth and poverty alleviation cannot be achieved without these empowerments. Women participation in development in Nigeria has been rated very low due to poor and inadequate provision of various factors of production, due, among many other factors, to discriminatory ascribed cultural role and class of women in Nigerian society. Women are part of the missing links in the development quagmire confronting the least developed economies, where Nigeria belongs. This assertion is buttressed by the fact that they (women) account for over half of the food produced in these (developing) countries, consist of one-fourth of the industrial labour force, in addition to fetching most of the household’s water and fuel wood and being responsible for children and household chores. Also, women have been identified as vital part of the Indian economy, (and) constitute one-third of the labour resource and primary member contributing in the survival of the family (Ozuru et al., 2009; Anyanwu, 1994; Manimekakai, 2004).

Economy and unemployment: About 79.2% of rural and 70.7% of urban dwellers lived below the national poverty line in 2005 in Nigeria. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita was US$752 in 2005, as compared with $29,860 for advanced countries. Between 1975 and 1990, the GDP per capita retrogressed at the average rate of -0.1% per annum in Nigeria, as compared with 1.8% average rate of increase in a developed country (Table 1, 2).

At the current growth rate of 0.8% per annum, the GDP per capita will become $847.3 in year 2020 and $892 in year 2025 in Nigeria. In this regard, Nigeria will in both 2020 and 2025 fall in the lowest echelon of Low Middle-income Countries (LMCs) with GNI of between $766 and $3,035. On the other hand, at the current growth rate of 2% per annum, the GDP per capita will become $40,188 in year 2020 and $44,370 in year 2025 in an advanced (OECD) nation.

Over 21% of the population aged 15+ were either unemployed or underemployed in 2005 in Nigeria, while the unemployment rate stood at 14.6% in 2006 and 10.9% in 2007 (Table 1). This exacerbates poverty of income and access (Eneh, 2007). According to the United Nations Millennium Project Report (UNDP, 2005), the sub-Saharan African countries experienced an increase in the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day from 45 percent of the population to 46 per cent. And, UNIDO (2004) observed that the low-income African countries will not break free from the shackles of poverty unless and until they diversify their economies, especially through industrialization. The report pointed out that slow progress in poverty reduction can be attributed to shortcomings in respect of private sector development and structural reform.

Historical antecedents of policy reversals, summersaults and failures in Nigeria: Nigeria is replete with brilliant impeccable and well written policies, visions and reforms agenda. The problem is implementation. The policies, visions and agenda often end up as paper-works rubbished by insincere implementation efforts and corruption. For example, 5 years of the formulation and implementation of the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS), the NEEDS has not sorted out our needs (Ebigbo, 2008).

Similarly, four decades after the national development planning in Nigeria, the empirical indices of the basic problems confronting the Nigerian state, such as widespread poverty, large-scale unemployment, low-capacity utilization, illiteracy, urban congestion, huge debt burden, inadequate and decayed social and physical infrastructure have not been eradicated or meaningfully mitigated (Onah, 2006). The typical Nigerian government is plagued with institutional/structural inconsistencies and discontinuity. Government officials are not committed to the development policies of their predecessors, hence the national landscape is littered with uncompleted projects (Okigbo, 1989; Oladapo, 2004).

Discontinuity is a style of misgovernance in Nigeria. Earlier works noted that Nigeria’s underdevelopment is more of poor implementation than lack of development visions and programmes. Policy and programme reversal, summersault and failure are common in Nigeria (Eneh, 2009). All the four National Development Plans (1962-1985) failed. The 3Rs: Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction - a follow-up programme to the No victor, no vanquished declaration to end the Nigerian civil war - also failed, hence the present marginalization problems and the attendant ethnic militia confronting the nation (Eneh, 2008b).

Similarly, all the poverty alleviation programmes (PAPs) of successive administrations in Nigeria have failed. Onah (2006) chronicled these programmes from the 1970s to date and opined that they all failed because of poor handling by corrupt and poor/hungry politicians/bureaucrats, leading to growing poverty symptoms, including electoral frauds; untrue and inefficient representatives; violence: religious crises, crises in Middle belt and Niger Delta regions, hostage taking and cult; food insecurity; low agricultural production; illiteracy (that also weakens democracy); crime; high mortality and morbidity rates; prostitution and poor health and national image; low GDP and GNP and high unemployment rate.

The Yar’Adua 7-Point Agenda has only been white-washed for the past 3 years, but not implemented. Literature is agog with reforms programmes in Nigeria. They include, but are not limited to, Electoral Reforms, Monetary Policy Reforms, Land Reforms, Health Sector Reforms, Banking Reforms, Insurance Reforms, Telecommunications Regulatory Reforms, Structural Reforms, Civil Service Reforms, Policy Reforms, Pension Reforms, Tax Reforms, Electric Power Sector Reforms, Economic Reforms, Public Enterprises Reforms, Education Reforms, Political Reforms, Election Reforms, Trade Union and Labour Reforms, Justice Sector Reforms, Local Government Reforms, Market Reforms, Security Sector Reforms, University Reforms, Petroleum Sector Reforms, Customs Reforms, Customary Court System Reforms, Constitutional Reforms, Gender and Constitutional Reforms, Prison Reforms, Social Health Insurance and Sustainable Healthcare Reforms, Trade Policy Reforms, Police Reforms, Capital Market Reforms, Administrative Reforms, Higher Education Reforms, Financial Sector Reforms, Mining Sector Reforms, Pro-Poor Economic Policy Reforms and others.

Commentators have justified the institution of the reforms agenda in the Third Republic:

On assumption of office in 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria observed that the time-tested approach in conducting government business had degenerated to such an extent that the Public Service Rules, Financial Regulations and Ethics and Norms of the Service were jettisoned either due to sheer ignorance or for selfish reasons (Ekpenkhio, 2003)
The Third Republic inherited in 1999 turbulent social and economic condition, resulting from decades of military dictatorship. There was the need to create a new social and economic order to promote sustainable development and reduce the level of poverty. Good governance, accountability and transparency needed to be enthroned and the level of corruption needed to be reduced. These formed the core of reforms processes, which together with reinvigorated economic policies, were expected to create the environment for private initiative to drive growth process (Independent Policy Group, 2006)

This informs the overwhelming public support enjoyed by the reforms agenda. But, the reforms have not sustained public confidence, for reasons noted by Okonjo-Iweala and Osafo-Kwaako (2007):

Following years of economic stagnation, Nigeria embarked on a comprehensive reform programme from 2003 based on the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS) and focused on four main areas: improving the macroeconomic environment, pursuing structured reforms, strengthening public expenditure management and implementing institutional and governance reforms. Although, there have been notable achievements under the programme, significant challenges exist, particularly in translating the benefits of reforms into welfare improvements for citizens, in improving domestic business environment and in extending reform policies to states and local governments. Hence, the reform programme is the initial steps of a much longer journey of economic recovery and sustained growth

Like the preceding policies, NEEDS and the reforms are being dumped. Thus, the likelihood of jettisoning or bastardisation of NV2020 is very high, judging from history and antecedents. On this ground, one cannot foresee Vision 20:2020 working.

Social contract: As has been noted, Nigeria is awash with captivating development visions, policies and plans, but corruption-induced failure of implementation of development projects on the part of the political leaders is responsible for underdevelopment in the country. Each of the successive governments had one or more development visions to chant, but eventually there was no actualization and no regrets for the failure; no review and no direction. These political visions are smokescreens for enriching cronies, political stooges and sycophants. Some of the projects were started, only to be abandoned halfway, after wetting the appetite of citizens. Nigeria abounds with abandoned projects and policy summersaults. For example, decades after and with the huge fund sunk into the Ajaokuta Steel project, it is a failure story. Add these to numerous other white elephant projects, the amount of wastes makes for no progress in development.

This leads to the citizens losing confidence in the leaders whose words are not their bonds, but display consistent failure in delivering their promises. The social contract theory posits that the people trust the government (leaders) for their inalienable rights and that people change their non-performing leaders through democratic electoral processes (Eneh, 2009). Although, Nigerians long for change of political leaders during democratic processes, the politicians forestall this by use of various forms of electoral malpractice.

Resource curse: In spite of Nigeria’s immense natural and human resources, weak management and corruption have combined to drag it behind some developing countries, like Malaysia, Indonesia and Venezuela, that were worse than Nigeria in development in the 1960s. Nigeria also lags behind many sub-Saharan African countries, including Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, Ghana, Togo and Benin in GNP per capita. Nigeria’s GNP per capita dwindled from $310 in 1993 to $280 in 1994 and $260 in 1995 (Eneh, 2005). At the current GDP per capita of US$752 (among the least in the world) and its 0.8% growth rate, Nigeria is not on course to join the first 20 economies by Vision 20:2020.

The Resource Curse Thesis (Auty, 1993) refers to the paradox that countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources, because of decline in the competitiveness of other economic sectors, volatility of revenue due to exposure to global commodity market wings and government mismanagement of resources. This paradox of plenty hypothesis is supported by other scholars, including Sachs and Warner (1995) and Gylfason (2001). Besides, natural resources often provoke conflicts (Collier, 2003), as different groups fight for their share. This undermines governance and economic performance, as is evident in Nigeria, where the operation of militia in the oil-rich Niger delta region hampers exploration.

Recommendation: Nigerian governments are plagued with institutional/structural inconsistencies and discontinuity. The officials are not committed to the development policies of their predecessors, hence the national landscape is littered with uncompleted projects. Lack of discipline and political will in the formulation and implementation of policies constitute the most serious defects in the exercise. A policy is only as effective as the discipline and will that sustain it. Lack of discipline manifests in the infusion of partisan and ethnic politics into the technology of data collection, in the location of government projects and in the application of policies, while poor policy performance is largely attributed to lack of commitment and political will on the part of the leadership. Therefore, it is recommended that the leadership commit to sufficient discipline and political will to enforce policies.


Nigerian leaders have added Vision 20:2020 to the numerous, past and present policies, development visions, plans and programmes and reforms agenda that should guide development in the country. Vision 20:2020 seeks to catapult Nigeria into the league of the first 20 developed economies by the year 2020. To actualize this lofty dream, Nigeria’s GDP per capita must grow at an incalculable rate (different from the present 0.8%) from US$752 to $30,000 at least and the GDP of those countries (over US$29,000) Nigeria wishes to displace and/or join must stop growing (now they grow at 2%). HIV/AIDS must flee Nigeria. Its rural areas must be transformed from age-long poverty and misery centres to urban status of world standard. Nigeria’s education, health, power, agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors must receive such miraculous boosts that in 10 years’ time the country will compare with the high-income OECD nations in all development respects. Nigeria must move from its 158th (2007) position in the UNDP human development ranking to the first 20 position in the world.

Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020, like most other development visions, programmes and plans (perspective, medium- and short-term), policies and reforms agenda in Nigeria, remains a vision until it is actualized - not by mere touting, but by commitment to discipline and political will on the part of the leadership. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Nigerians are ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and ill-educated. They live in the rural areas characterized by massive underdevelopment. Poverty is the basic malady of Nigeria which is involved in misery-go-round, as part of the slum of the world economy. Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 is, therefore, too ambitious. And, against the backdrop of historical antecedents of policy reversals, summersaults and failures in Nigeria, the Vision is utopian.

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