Defining a National Vision can be quite a feat, you know?
We all come from different places. While a man raised in Lagos may dream of having a country having facilities that rival and/or surpass Disneyland, the O2 Arena, Old Trafford, the Sydney Opera House and the Burj Al-Arab; the man from deep in Kwara or Benue may simply want a country that will be a viable market for his harvested crops; a country where his precious crops will not die of thirst or be washed away by preventable floods; a country where he will receive full payment for his months of hard work in the sweltering heat; Still again the man from the creeks may want to come home to the smell of fresh air, to fish from rivers unspoiled, to chat freely with his neighbours without tasting the pollution that hangs in the air like clouds bringing rain; The man from the woody east who wants his business to thrive, who want to see his ingenuity on the shelves of supermarkets rather than overpriced imports. The man from the Deserts of the North may simply want water to drink, houses with electricity to beat the heat and a steady supply of fresh fodder for his cattle.
All these are stereotypical dreams.
But what should be the basic goal of the Nigerian people? Past governments have tried to create roadmaps. Abacha came with Vision2010. Yar’Adua came with vision20:2020. That economic blueprint is perhaps one of the most intelligent piece of Nigerian origin. Full of lofty goals: to be the best in this or the best in that or to be among the best 20. But these “Visions” are just hanging in the air, inexplicable and at best mysterious to the casual man on the streets of Abuja, Conpuzzling to the Shepherds in the FCT “countryside”. What does it matter what position we are ranked on paper?
Should we be in competition with other countries where statistics actually reflect reality? That would be a mere playing to the gallery. Think about it- Our GDP grows every year, we’re rated as the biggest economy in Africa, but how does that translate to a better life? Inflation is allegedly at a single-digit rate, but how has that reduced the price of ordinary commodities like bread in the market? Instead we run an amazingly expensive legislature that hardly justifies the expense.
While we confer with our elected representatives to codify our dreams, while we wait for the visionaries among us to dream up a Nigerian dream; while our chiefs and traditional rulers discuss, while our youths generate trends on twitter with the latest campaign/protest; while we wait for the bureaucracy we have promoted to a National Treasure to take reactionary steps; We need to ensure that we have a (working) temprary BASIC national plan.
Our national vision must not be comparative or competitive with other economies. Our National Vision must seek to define what is the BASIC standard of Living. we need to decide what kind of life should be normal in terms of comfort. We should have a National Agreement saying that THIS is the threshold, THIS is what every adult is entitled to; THIS is what very student in school is entitled to; THIS is the lowest level our roads should degenerate to; THIS is the highest amount of aggression we can tolerate; THIS is the highest percentage by which a lawmaker’s salary should exceed a Civil Servant; THIS is the minimum level of implementation we can accept from contractors before sending them to jai; THIS is the minimum punishment for those who dare to dip their hands into the public coffers.
We need to DEFINE our minimum living standards.