Prince Clem Ikanade Agba
Yesterday, in line with the usual tradition of rolling out economic plans, the Federal Government disclosed plans to launch the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) spanning 5 years (2021-2025) in October 2021. The development plan, which follows the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) anchors on lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty. Also, it intends to achieve economic stability, development, and good governance. At a capacity building workshop where this was made known, the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, stated that the National Agenda 2050 is in progress expected to replace the former vision 20:2020 plan.
For over a decade, the Nigerian government has been initiating several economic recovery plans to stimulate the economy and diversify the country's revenue base. The 7-point agenda (2007) during the late Umar Musa Yar'Adua administration, the Vision 20-20 (2010), National Industrial Revolution Plan (2014) and the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (2014) of the Goodluck Jonathan administration are a few. To change the national economic trajectory, the current administration introduced the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the 2016 Budget of Change to put the economy on the path to sustainable growth and development.
The most recent was the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) designed as a medium-term intervention plan in 2017 to pursue economic diversification and ensure sustained, inclusive economic growth following the sharp fall in oil prices that affected the Nigerian economy in 2016. However, despite the many efforts, the current realities remain a far cry from projections. Whilst the past and current administrations have attained varying levels of progress, poor implementation has been the reason behind the slow progress. The rising costs of governance and debt commitments have also widened the country's infrastructural deficit, an obstacle to capital inflows and reduced private sector confidence in the economy.
In our view, the overarching theme of the proposed plan, which is to tackle misery, requires paying attention to the fundamental problems causing unemployment and poverty. Currently, over 70% of the jobs in the country are provided by medium, small, and micro-sized businesses (MSMEs). Consequently, there is a need to improve the ease of doing business in the country. While the government has provided no specific details about the proposed plan, we believe a rejig of the regulatory framework guiding businesses to accommodate contemporary ideas and innovations should be a major part. In effect, restoring the economy to the path of accelerated inclusive growth is hinged on proactive measures to correct the long-term structural issues affecting the country.