THE Federal Government, yesterday, shifted blames for the problem of power in the country on the 30 years of military rule, just as it said that planning was relegated to the background during the period.
Speaking when he presented his scorecard to the National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman was pessimistic on achieving the set goal of becoming one of the top 20 most developed economies by the year 2020.
Shamsuddeen Usman said: “During the military era planning was relegated and for more than 30 years we neglected the power sector”.
The minister also disclosed that the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, NIMP, designed for the next 30 years will be ready in July, even as he said 50 percent of the nation’s bilateral agreements were presently not functioning as some of them were already dead.
50% of bilateral agreement not functioning
He added that the Commission at the moment had reviewed 488 of such agreements, noting that it was quite unfortunate that Nigerians were not getting the full benefit of the signed agreements.
On Vision 2020, Shamsuddeen, who noted that Nigeria was number 44, said if by 2020 the nation rises to number 25 he would be a proud man.
According to him, “Where were we in 2009? We were number 44. By the end of 2011, we were number 39, by the end of 2012, we were in number 36, this is progress. We made quite a lot of progress. In other areas we are not.
“I don’t want any of you to meet me in 2020 and say you are the one telling us that we are going to be among the top 20. But what I am saying is that even if we are not among the 20 by that time, we were number 44 in 2009.
“If by 2020 we are number 25, I will be a very proud man. The reason is because we are consciously moving and doing all the necessary things to move up there”.
He added: “It’s not saying we must be there. What it’s saying is if we get there then these are the actions we need to take as a country. We must do this and that in governance, in human development, in infrastructure. That is what the document is saying and we are actually taking those steps”.
The minister explained that the Federal Government was on its way to transforming the power sector as the telecom sector had already been handled.
Explaining the challenges facing the Commission, Shamsuddeen, however, lamented inadequate funding of programmes and projects as well as capacity gaps in Ministries, Departments, Agencies, MDAs, due to high turnover of staff, the pooling system and current subjective training and performance measures.
Other challenges include “late feedback/communication from MDAs which hinders prompt delivery of actions; many MDAs not using officials NBS statistics; absence of strategic plans in some MDAs; inadequate Information Technology hardware for MDAs networking; National Planning and projects continuity Bill dormant in the National Assembly; absence of a legal framework for the performance contracting system,” among others.