From the Archives: What Happened to Abacha’s Vision 2010?

Nwachukwu Egbunike

(Originally Published in 2010)

Sani Abacha of abominable memory donated Vision 2010 to Nigeria. While it is not my goal to peep into the intention behind Abacha’s vision, the fact is that he championed a dream which was flushed down the sewer by subsequent governments. The magical year – 2010 – which seemed to dwell in the realm of a futuristic impossibility has finally dawned. Unfortunately, we appear to have remained rooted on the same spot. Who is to blame, the vision or the visionary?

The Vision 2010 council, a mosaic of 248 sages headed by Ernest Shonekan, was inaugurated on November 27, 1996. “The committee’s mandate, set out in a 14-item Terms of Reference, required it to develop a blueprint that will transform the country and place it firmly on the route to becoming a developed nation by the year 2010.” The NigeriaExchange posits that “the committee worked for 10 months using the following methodology: plenary sessions, held in the form of 12 workshops, spread over the period; sub-committees on particular problem areas; 57 external workshops; specifically commissioned studies; consideration of 750 memoranda from the general public; presentations by guest speakers, and Intensive brainstorming among committee members.”

This is neither an apologia nor an assault on the merits or demerits of Vision 2010. My aim is simply to use it as a pedestal to emphasis the lack of remembrance in the nation’s public space. Ours is an institutionalised absence of collective national memory. Quite often, we allow ourselves to be hoodwinked by the repertoire of visions, agenda, missions and other slangs that dominate governance in Nigeria. Since we fail to recall, we cannot foresee things nor think. We give the impression of living only in the present.

It’s 2010, and yet we anticipate the manna from an ailing president who has sworn to die in power. By the way, I still await Yar’Adua’s last laugh on his seven point agenda. The criticism of the president’s aimless seven point disorder was seen as affront. The response from the establishment was that, “our reluctance to join issues must not be interpreted to mean a yielding of the civic space to those who do not even know the names of their councils”.

We are a people with no sense of history. Either that we choose to forget or that we have selective amnesia. If Vision 2010 was the deal for pulling Nigeria out of the gulag, why was it abandoned? True that Obasanjo could not stand anything initiated by Abacha, nonetheless that did not absolve the media and civil society from acting.

For if we had held our leaders accountable, then there would have been no need for Vision 2020:20, the inept seven point agenda or the illusion of rebranding Nigeria. The quandary remains that Nigerian politicians think that the mere adoption of slangs and drumming up of infernal drum beats will necessarily translate into action. Time and time again, this mentality pervades our public sphere.

The same attitude has seeped is pretty obvious in the projects that are conceived and executed. We are never afraid of de novo plans, however monstrous they may appear. What is always lacking is the maintenance culture that will keep them alive. Our national landscape is littered with failed or abandoned schemes.

We cannot pretend to forget. For there can never be a present or future without the past. No nation ever develops without an ingrained national memory. Humans differ from animals by their ability to pass down the history of their linage to their offspring. No matter how an animal tries, it can only communicate about the now and here. The Nigerian state is no animal kingdom. Let us not fail to remember.

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