ERGP IMPLEMENTATION AND THE PLACE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT.
Our plans will remain wishes unless we imbibe the culture of execution through the discipline of project management
Photo: The ERGP Implementation discussion panel at the 23rd National Economic Summit
The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is the Federal Government’s Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020 which has been developed for the purpose of restoring economic growth. The ERGP has three broad strategic objectives: (1) restoring growth, (2) investing in our people, and (3) building a globally competitive economy.
The ERGP builds on existing sectoral strategies and plans such as the National Industrial Revolution Plan, and the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, which rather than re-inventing the wheel, it promises to strengthen the successful components of these previous strategies and plans while addressing challenges observed in their implementation.
The ERGP is said to be different from previous plans because of its focus on implementation which is believed to be at the core of its delivery strategy. The Ministry of Budget and National Planning, with a full-fledged Monitoring & Evaluation Department will coordinate plan-implementation, while a Delivery Unit has been established to drive the implementation of key ERGP priorities.
But for a nation with such a rich history of poor implementation culture, the Government’s focus on implementation give the ERGP a rare hope of success. However, without a proper implementation roadmap and disciplined execution the ERGP will remain just another document.
The Problem of Execution
Since the return of democratic rule in 1999, the Nation has grappled with a particular deficiency which is our inability to implement/execute policies, strategies, initiatives, projects/programmes, and even the national budget. This deficiency is not deliberate but a direct result of the operational nature of our public institutions.
But to solve this problem, we need to understand the gap. The gap is the lack of project/programme management culture: knowledge, skills and competence which leads to poor execution of projects and initiatives across the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
However, and very interestingly, most of the iconic national projects and programmes were executed during the military, so what does the military know that we lack? And the answer is simple: The military institutions are wired to execute.
So the question is how do we close the gap?
Having worked in the public sector and now in private sector, and having the privilege to discuss the implementation of the ERGP alongside other Resource Persons at the just concluded National Economic Summit, I believe the Federal Government has the opportunity now, to create a change with the ERGP, which if properly executed stands the chance of becoming a case study or set a standard for government policy execution. But there are palpable fears with the ERGP implementation:
- Without clear milestone deliverables, metrics and KPIs, the ERGP will remain a wish.
- Without citizens’ ownership of the ERGP through proper stakeholders’ engagement and effective communication, change management may be difficult.
- Without the required leadership and authourity, the Delivery Unit may turn out to be another unit in the Presidency.
- Without implementation capabilities built across MDAs, implementation may be unattainable.
The Presidency through the Ministry of Budget and National Planning may consider the following:
- Create a projectised environment for the ERGP Delivery Unit and project management capabilities for its team.
- Ensure the development and implementation of a strategic change management action plan for the ERGP.
- Upskill the existing Project Implementation Units (PIUs) and M&E units across the MDAs with project/programme management capabilities to deliver on not just the ERGP but other subsequent government plans.
- Engage the private sector and civil society players with knowledge of Project Execution know-how to support the ERGP implementation.
- And lastly, upgrade the existing M&E Department to a National Programme Management Office, to be charged (beyond M&E or Implementation) with the responsibilities of project/programmes design and initiation, project selection and benefits determination, project execution support, risk management, change management, controlled closure and archiving of lesson learnt of national projects, amongst others.
In conclusion, I believe that more than ever before the government needs the help of project management professionals to help with the implementation of its plans.