Development plans of any sort involve deliberate efforts on the part of government to speed up the process of social and economic growth of a country. In some countries such as the former Soviet Union with a socialist ideology, the development plan efforts were usually found to be rewarding, as the government was able to intervene directly and extensively in the lives of the people.
Similarly, in other countries like the mixed advanced Western economies and many developing countries with a purely capitalist ideology, the economy is structured in such a way that though the interventionist role of the government is usually relatively small, there is always emphasis on the provision of a policy framework (i.e. through development plans) within which the economy and other sectors operate.
What this means is that in all areas of the economy, the need for a general framework in form of development plans cannot be overemphasised.
The essence of planning by government, therefore, is that it could make a conscious choice regarding the rate and direction of growth. The most logical interpretation of this is that the relative rates at which heavy industry, light industry, agricultural improvement, transport and commerce, housing and the like are to be pursued become a matter of conscious policy.
Development plans in Nigeria are as old as the country itself. The first development plan was during the colonial rule (1946-1956). During that period, the colonial masters were only interested in expanding their empire for their selfish interest. What could be called the first conscious effort at having a development plan was the one that covered from 1962 – 1968. The second development plan was from 1970 -1974, third national development plan was 1975 -1980 and the fourth and last was from 1981 -1985. After that came the rolling plans of 1990-92, 1995,1996-1998. Later, we had the Vision 2010, followed by the National Economic and Empowerment Development Strategy, NEEDS. It was followed by the current Vision 20-20:20. Majority of these plans failed to work, while the Vision 20-20:20 is being watched carefully by the World Bank and Nigerians to see its outcome.
From the forgoing, it is obvious that from 1980 till date, there has not been any serious effort at having a sustainable national development plan. It was perhaps on that note that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration launched the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, NIIMP.
With Nigeria’s present infrastructure level standing at 25 percent compared to Japan, Singapore and China with over 70 percent, this plan couldn’t have come at a better time.
It covers major infrastructure such as transport (roads, railway, sea and airports), power, (oils and gas), housing, water and Information and Communication Technology, ICT. The good thing about NIIMP is that it is designed to be private/public sector driven. While public sector financing covering 52 percent of the fund will come from Sovereign Wealth Fund, Debt Management Office, DMO, among others, the private sector would contribute the remaining 48 percent.
But like other government policies before it, nothing more has been heard after the fanfare heralding its launch. Information about its implementation remains unavailable.
On the other hand, almost four months into the life of the present administration, we are yet to see any development plan, and no mention has been made of such. One therefore wonders what the economic direction of this administration would be if a matter as important as this is not being given serious consideration. We, however, hope that the yet-to-be released President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic blue print would address the issue by putting national development plan back on track.
While we await the blue print as promised, we wish to state that for any national development plan or any other policy to achieve set targets and enhance good governance, the rules and regulations governing the conduct of government activities must be widely known and understood by the people, hence, the need to develop the culture of transparency in the running of government as an enterprise. To this end, the bureaucratic processes in Nigeria should be enhanced to facilitate effective governance.

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