NEEDS, National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy was Nigeria’s home grown poverty reduction and socio-economic development strategy under Olusegun Obasanjo‘s presidency. This framework for actions, developed by a 35-member drafting committee was headed by Economic Adviser, Chukwuma Soludo. As reflected in Obasanjo’s address at the launching of the nationwide consultation on the initiative, caution was being taken to base the strategies on the mobilization of internal resources.
For the development of NEEDS, a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency was received and academics engaged. Former ministers of finance and former economic advisers were invited in debating elements of the strategy, which was to develop infrastructure, particularly power generation, transport, and telecommunications infrastructure to stimulate growth of the private sector, which it proposed to become Nigeria’s engine room of growth. The civil service reform, most popular among NEEDS reform, aimed to restructure, trim, and retain service as the main engine of service delivery by government. Waste was minimized to free up resources for investment in infrastructure and social services.
It was the successful implementation of NEEDS that earned Nigeria commitment of the UK under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in advocating for Nigeria’s Paris Club debt relief. Against Obasanjo’s expectation, his favored predecessor abandoned the NEEDS policies for his own Vision 20:2020 and a seven point agenda.