President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday formally constituted the National Steering Committee to oversee the development of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 and Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) to replace Vision 20:2020 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.
Buhari said the composition of the committee, which will be jointly chaired by Mr. Atedo Peterside (representing the private sector) and Dr (Mrs.) Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, was to ensure a truly consultative, participatory and inclusive planning process.
The President listed other members of the steering committee comprised the representatives of one state governor from each of the six geopolitical zones, the Senate and House of Representatives, ministers and representatives of key agencies. ALGON, captains of industries, Labour Organizations, youth organizations and women’s societies, farmers’ associations, traditional and religious leaders, people with special needs and the media.
The President explained: “lt has become necessary to develop Successor Plans to the Nigeria Vision 20:2020 and the ERGP, which both lapse in December this year, in order to ensure continuity and efficiency in the country’s development planning.
“The main objectives of these Successor Plans are to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years, particularly given the World Bank’s projection that Nigeria will become the world’s third most populous country by 2050 with over 400 million people”, the President added.
Buhari said the mandate of the committee included overseeing governance structure comprising the Central Working Group and 26 Technical Working Groups for the important national assignment, adding that he also expected the Steering Committee to oversee the execution of key deliverables, including recommending measures to ensure the continuous implementation of the Plans even after the expiration of the tenure of successive Administrations – including legislation, if required.
According to him, such legislation may introduce much-needed rigour and discipline to the nation’s development planning as well as institutionalize planned outcomes for the future.
While expressing the belief thatn the National Assembly will support the government in exploring these reforms, Buhari urged the National Steering Committee not to lose sight of the important role Nigeria plays on the continent as well as in the global community.
He charged the members to ensure that the successor plans are designed to sustain national development, as well as support regional and global strategic interests, as outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063, the ECOWAS Integration Agenda 2050 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Harping on the indispensable role of d planning to national development, the President said: “lf carefully conceived and diligently implemented, it can transform the economic fortunes of a nation.
“The Chinese experience is an example. It has resulted in lifting over 700 million people out of poverty over the last four decades. ”Indeed, China’s track record of positive economic growth, since 1992, was only halted in the first quarter of 2020, due to onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“COVID-19 presents the world – and Nigeria – with a crisis as well as an opportunity. The current global health and economic crises give us an opportunity to think afresh and chart an optimal path forward”, Buhari stressed.
He recalled that in February 2017 during the launch the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), its objectives were set as including, restoring and sustaining growth, investing in people and building a globally competitive economy while the Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 was an articulation of the long-term intent to launch Nigeria into a path of sustained socio-economic development.
The President expatiated:”The ERGP shared this vision, which ensured that the country exited recession in 2017 and sustained growth in Gross Domestic Product until the recent global economic challenges occasioned by COVID-19.
“Over the decades, successive planning and visioning exercises have guided investment in human capital development, the implementation of our infrastructural roadmap, and supported social investment in our people’s lives and livelihoods”, he added.
While wishing the committee success in its assignment, Buhari said he looked forward to receiving regular reports of deliberations.
”At the heart of the Successor Plans is the partnership between the public and private sectors, with Government as the enabler of private sector investment and industry.”
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had pointed out that lately, various zones of the country had been pursuing different economic cooperation within their areas and advised governments in the six geo0political zones to consider the comparative advantages available in these regional blocs to guide their plans to build a virile Nigeria.
She said: ”Although the two National Plans are on their way out, the question that will remain on the lips of Nigerians and which we must be ready to provide an answer with little or no prompting as we progress with the preparation of the successor Plans, is how much the Plans have transformed Nigerian economy.
”As the National Steering Committee for the preparation of the new Plans, we must therefore strive to give hope to the great citizens of this country with the quality of Plans that we are coming up with”, the minister added.
In his remarks, the co-chair of the group, Peterside, who commended the President for making the committee all-inclusive, assured that the committee would work as a team in order to fulfil its purpose. He said: ”For a development plan to be successful, it has to be inclusive, people should be consulted, own it and believe it is working for them.
“We will learn from past mistakes. Although these are difficult times, it is also the best time to get people together to think about the future”, he added.