The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba, has disclosed that the steering committee for the new national economic development plan would be inaugurated latest by the first week of next month.
This is coming as Agba also declared that the problem confronting Nigeria over the years was not caused by lack of good leadership but by the followership, who vote wrong people into power.
The minister made the disclosure yesterday during his familiarisation tour of the facilities of the Centre for Management Development (CMD) located at Ketu, Lagos State.
The new economic plan when drafted, passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President, would replace the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERPG) which came to an end in December last year.
He said a lot of work on the plan had been going on since November last year, adding that for the steering committee, the federal government wanted to ensure that all segments of the country were duly represented.
Agba said: “We have actually gone very far and we have identified those people but we need to reach out and get acceptance. So I do believe the latest by the first week of March we should be inaugurating them.
“But already some of the technical committee members are working. So it is not as if there is no work going on; a lot of work started sometime in November last year, and then the real technical work is done at the technical working group.
“The central working group is already working because most of them are in government. But at the steering committee level, we want it to be truly national. So we are reaching out. You know we want to be able to capture all the diversities, most of the diversities that we have in the country.
“We don’t want it to be a federal government plan, rather we want it to be a federation plan, and if it is a federation, it means that you have there the sub-nationals, the private sector, the Civil Society organisations, the religious groups, the physically-challenged, the women.
“So we are trying to identify who these representatives should be, so that as the technical committee works, and the central working group brings everything together, there is a team that is truly national before we can go to the Federal Executive Council, the National Economic Council and all of that.”
The minister also said that an evaluation study of the short-term plans of the ERGP was ongoing, pointing out that such study was necessary as the results would be needed as a guide in the formulation of the new plan.
“Those studies are ongoing, and you know before you even do any plan you must review the old plans. You must understand what has worked and what didn’t work. So the things that worked, you reinforce them; those that did not work, you find out why they didn’t work, and then how to improve them. And it is going to go beyond the ERGP,” he said.
According to him, “we are even looking at very old plans that we have had before. We are already asking the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to review their sector plans and we are currently receiving them with a view to consolidating them and also giving them to the technical working groups to work on”.
However, he noted that the country needed to have a very long term plan which will guide its economic development priorities, stressing that a 30-year long term plan would serve Nigeria better.
The minister also stated that the government had performed well, having been able to rescue the nation from the recession that plagued it in the past, stressing that for eleven quarters, Nigeria has recorded positive growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Meanwhile, Agba, during an interactive session with the CMD staff and after receiving their complains, wondered why in spite of huge monies allocated and released for the centre, nothing could be shown for it.
While blaming the past leaders of the centre as well as the nation’s past leaders for such failure, he, however, blamed the followership in the country as the bane of its development.
According to him, “it is the followers that vote the wrong people into power. And they found it difficult to speak truth to power. During the election you people will go and line up behind them, thinking they are good people.”