Buhari’s economic roadmap – The Nation

•ERGP document is laudable but implementation is the issue
WITH barely two months into its second anniversary, the Buhari administration finally answered to the demand for its economic roadmap with the release of a 140-page, 41,935-word document tagged “Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-20” on April 6. A compendium somewhat of the global factors that have hobbled the growth of the economy, and the way out, the three-year plan, with three strategic objectives of growth restoration, people investment, and building of a globally competitive economy, seeks a rather ambitious growth of seven percent at the end of the plan period.
Among other highlights, the ERGP seeks a new path by tackling the various constraints to growth, ranging from fuel, power to business regulations. It seeks to leverage on the power of the private sector, harness the dynamism of local business and the entrepreneurial nature of Nigerians, promote national cohesion and social inclusion, foster the role of the markets while giving vent to the nation’s core values of discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism. It is as comprehensive as one would expect.
It is commendable that the plan neither pretends that the challenges – which it aptly captures – are any new nor does it suggest that its prescriptions are particularly novel. Of course, to so pretend is to ignore similar efforts by the Obasanjo administration (National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) and the Transformation Agenda 2011-2015 of the Jonathan administration, both of which had, in their different ways, sought to address largely the same set of problems of our peculiarly monolithic, import-dependent economy.
More commendably, the administration appears to have taken a rather unfamiliar path of factoring existing sectoral strategies and plans as contained in the National Industrial Revolution Plan and the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan developed by the Jonathan administration in fashioning the ERGP roadmap.
At this stage, we can only hope that it would be faithfully implemented. This is because, plans, no matter how beautiful or lofty, are only a means to an end. Nigerians are by now familiar with grand statements at every cycle of plans only to have their expectations dashed in the end. To be sure, Nigerians have never been clearer about the kind of future they desire: a vibrant, self-reliant economy; one that is not only competitive, but can hold its own among its peers; an economy where youths are not only availed boundless opportunities to deploy their skills but one in which they can have their life aspirations met.
Although, successive plans – past and present – may have differed on the methods, they all somewhat agree on what needs to be done. They agree that power is critical to building that kind of economy; that roads and railways are inseparable from the aspiration, just as security, health and other social sectors are also interlinked.
All recognise the need for protection of local business against stifling competition from foreign manufacturers through appropriate policies and, above all, share the premise that the macro-economy requires urgent overhaul to support business. To the extent that all plans – past and present – have all these elements in them, the key to ensuring a different outcome in the end would appear to be the factor of implementation.
This is where the Buhari administration can, hopefully, make a difference. It goes beyond making a song of doing things differently; beyond the familiar refrain of seeking to put the private sector in the saddle, which can sometimes lead to abdication. Making a difference calls for strong leadership, discipline and clear-headed resolve. Without these elements, the ERGP document may just become another item in the long list of abandoned plans for which the nation currently holds an ignoble record.

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