REVISITING VISION 2020 AND ITS FALSE PROPHETS.
“The most obstinate illusions are ultimately broken by facts.”
Professor Roper, in THE LAST DAYS OF HITLER.
Most Nigerians have forgotten about all the noise about VISION 2020, an illusion which some Ministers, members of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, and even some media practitioners used to deceive governments and to fatten their bank accounts. As we approach the year which seemed so distant to the false prophets, of VISION 2020, none of them alive today, who took Nigerians for a ride can now own up to what they said then. But, I can; because as one of the few who saw through the lies being told, I repeatedly warned my Fellow Countrymen about the con men without success. There was a reason why Nigerians were easily duped.
“In times of victory, [true] prophets are unnecessary distractions.” That was Roper writing again. In the years 2007 to 2012, when the price of crude oil was going through the roof – over US$140 per barrel at one time – and the Nigerian economy was growing at 6 – 7 per cent per annum, few people, except good and honest economists, could have foreseen the predicament in which we now find ourselves with the same economy growing at less than one per cent for three to five years in arrow and cancelling all the gains made in increasing economic prosperity. If Nigeria had been growing at even four per cent per annum, we would not have become the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty today.
In February 2009, in an article titled VISION 2020 JAMBOREE, I wrote as follows:
““..How long will it take to double one’s investment if it invested to earn 15% per period? ..at 15%, an investment will double in value in just under five years.”
Neil Harlan, Charles Christenson, Richard F Vancil, in MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS, p.623.
“I find it ridiculous when people in government begin to talk about VISION 2020 meaning that Nigeria by 2020 will become one of the20 biggest economies in the world. Why do we ridicule ourselves openly like that? Are we going to take the place of Australia, or Israel or New Zealand? It is the most ridiculous type of aspiration I have ever heard in my life. A country which cannot generate power for more than three or four hours a day dreams of being the 20th biggest economy. It is the craziest kind of concept that I have ever heard,
Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, in THE PUNCH, February, 17, 2009.
I will come to Professor Sagay’s patriotic observations later because in the fight over the fraud called VISION 2020, we must deploy every weapon to stop Yar’Adua and his wasteful advisers from wasting our funds on a worthless project and from wasting a lot of high level human power on what is at best a quixotic venture. Yar’Adua being by training a chemist, might not know the truth. But Shamsudeen Usman, Professor Chukwumah Soludo, the two Ministers in the Ministry of Finance definitely know the truth. The question is: why do they continue to deceive the president and Nigerians?
Let us start with certain facts of arithmetic which are universal and timeless –the compound interest table.
Let us now turn to the questions asked by Professor Sagay and extend them by referring to a table readily available to all these eminent economists as well as anyone able to get on the internet. What we discover are the following facts which the “intellectuals” in Yar’Adua’s government will want us to ignore.
First the nation currently in the twentieth position is either Switzerland or Indonesia –depending on whose compilation methods are adopted. Those countries boast of GDP that are about four times our own. Our current position is either 41 or 47 or 49. But, even we want to be most charitable to ourselves and take the 41st position as our starting point, the countries we will have to climb over include Poland, Norway, Austria, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Denmark, Iran, South Africa, Argentina, Ireland, Thailand, Finland, Venezuela, Portugal, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Czeh Republic, Colombia, Pakistan, Israel, Algeria, Phillippines, Singapore, Ukraine and perhaps Algeria.
Our Minister of National Planning, Dr Usman while briefing the members (or captives) of what was called the Business Support Group, BSG, during their inauguration on Monday, February 16, 2009 for the first time acknowledged that 12.5% annual GDP growth will be required to achieve the goal in twelve years. Then he cynically added –“if the other countries stand still”. That was intellectual dishonesty at its worst.
To start with, eleven not twelve years are available because Usman was part of the team which presented the 2009 Budget and he should have remembered that the projected GDP growth rate is 8.2% not 12.5% for this year; 2010 to 2020 we have eleven years. Failure to achieve 12.5% this year already shifts the deadline unless we can grow at more than 12.5% in future years.
Today, ask Shamsedeen Usman and Professor Soludo about their VISION 2020 predictions in 2009 and they must change the subject out of embarrassment. The question is: how did they get it wrong? The answer is startling. Most Nigerians in government tell the President what he would like to hear and not the truth he must know to make good decisions. Buhari, like all his predecessors is already a captive of false Ministers and advisers. Under him Nigerian will get even poorer than we are now.