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Nigerians hope for the best, as 2017 beckons

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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

Less than 24 hours to the New Year, Nigerians across the country are hoping that 2017 would usher in a new dawn of possibilities, marked by peace, security, regular power supply, improved value of the naira, a let-off from the current economic recession, youth empowerment and employment, a curb of militancy, kidnapping, herdsmen menace and other crimes, as well as return of normalcy to all troubled spots, such as the Niger Delta, Southern Kaduna, Southeast.

Atiku Urges Sacrifice, Hope
FORMER vice president and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has declared next year as a year of new hope for Nigeria and Nigerians.

In a statement to mark the New Year celebrations, the Turakin Adamawa described the outgoing as one year in which Nigeria faced a multitude of challenges, but which ended on a high note.

He said: “Our military has recorded an important victory over Boko Haram and we should be grateful for the sacrifice our men and women in uniform are prepared to make to keep us safe.

“To honour them, we should also remember that it is our collective responsibility to make peace, and not just in the North East.

“I believe we can and will work around our differences, because we know that our strength lies in our diversity. And when we make our New Year’s resolutions, I hope my countrymen and countrywomen will join me in aspiring to be tolerant and to listen with an open mind and heart to those who do not share our views.

“We should respect each other’s views and traditions, and we should remember that our humanity shows in how we treat the most vulnerable.”

On the economic front, Abubakar recalled that the federal government has given assurances of a speedy recovery, adding: “I am confident that we will see investments in key sectors and that steps will be taken to restore business confidence.

“We have been dealt a cruel hand, but things are looking up and I am confident we will emerge stronger.

“We are learning to be more efficient and effective and we are learning to evaluate what we really need and what we can afford. We are suffering, but we will become more innovative and competitive.”

He stated that hope was important to all Nigerians aim to achieve next year, as that hope and perseverance would guide them through the darkness that announces the break of dawn.

‘Government Must Think Through Its Programmes And Policies’
EXECUTIVE Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), Abuja, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said: “I expect God to bring to pass all the revelations and promises concerning next year, especially for the people of God.

“From the government, I expect change in several areas. First and foremost, government must think through its programmes and policies and ensure that they will benefit the country and citizens.

“In this regard, it will be necessary to put in place a strategy for change and a model for managing resistance to change.

“Secondly, there is the need for a long-term grand strategy for the development of Nigeria formulated in a participatory manner. Change is always a very difficult process. Government needs to put in place approaches to enlist cooperation of citizens for the change process.

“Thirdly, government should embrace transparency, accountability and participation in all its endeavours and improve its communication.

“The citizens should be educated about upcoming changes before they occur. The nature and logic of the change should be clearly communicated.

“As the change process is going on, government should listen to the people affected by the change. Training and resources should be provided to the people who need to carry out the change and perform their roles under the new circumstances.

“Incentives should be offered for cooperation and punishment should be applied to those who resist change.

“In addition, government should recruit change champions, who are passionate about change, know the nature of change required and are prepared to lead the process of change.

“They should be able to develop a vision and strategy for the change process, including a description of the state of affairs after the change has been implemented.

“The vision must be clearly communicated and the people mobilised to support it.

“Finally, government needs to be accountable to its promises to the electorate. There are many good promises made during the campaigns that can be implemented, even in time of recession.

“I expect citizens to engage the government and the leadership of the country more.”

‘Buhari Should Be A True Democrat’
From Abiodun Fagbemi, Ilorin

THE need for favourable economic situations in Nigeria next year formed the kernel of reactions of many residents of Kwara State.

But some of them said government should be given more time, citing the global economic recession.

Mr. Abeny Mohammed (SAN) said until Nigerians see food on their tables, there would be no respite for them and by implication, they would continually to groan under the pains of the recession.

“The masses don’t understand any economic language or jargon; what they want to see is food. I mean plenty of it on their tables. If this is going to be impossible, then majority of Nigerians will continue to wallow in pains,” he said.

For Chief Iyiola Oyedepo, Chairman of the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP): “Buhari should shed his toga of military affinity.

“The country’s democracy is already sliding down the slope of autocracy. It is cleverly weakening the role of an opposition under a democratic system. He should stop the harassment of opposition members by anti-graft agencies.

“So, in the new year, Buhari should be a true democrat.”

Chairman of the state chapter of National Union of Roads Transports Workers (NURTW), Aliyu Issa Ore, urged the federal government to formulate policies that would ensure drastic reduction in the cost of vehicles and spare parts, just as he said roads should be made more motorable.

“We have lost so many of our members due to the bad nature of these roads. Government should come to our rescue in this respect and make next year a prosperous one.

“The dualisation of Ogbomoso/Oyo road should be accelerated to stop carnages and make driving smoother,” he said.

Mayowa Idris, a staff of one of the federal parastatals in the state, called for the sustenance prompt payment of government workers’ salaries, “even if there will not be an increment to the stipends giving as salaries.”

KEBBI
‘FG Should Sustain Peace In Northeast, Niger Delta’
From Ahmed Idris
FORMER Financial Secretary of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and now Secretary of National Association of Road

Transport Owners (NATRO), Alhaji Umar Gulumbe, appealed to the federal government to pay their transport allowance through the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) next year as part of efforts at stabilising the oil sector.

“The President, having done well in the areas of making fuel available, security, agriculture, we want him to also end the economic recession,” he added.

A former member of the Kebbi State Hajji Committee and staunch APC member, Alhaji Issa Sahlafu, applauded Buhari on security, agriculture and infrastructure and urged him to continue the against corruption, especially among politicians.

He wants the President to maintain and sustain peace in the northeast and Niger Delta to improve Nigeria’s economic and revenue.

GOMBE
‘We Want An End To Current Sufferings’
From Auwal Ahmad

ABDULLAHI Mohammed Inuwa, a lawyer, said that every New Year brings with it excitement, hope and aspiration and 2017 comes with great expectation to be out of horrendous recession that has caused serious hardship in the country.

“Businesses have folded up, with companies running out of the country, because of the harsh economic situation. So, we are praying that next year brings an end the current suffering Nigerians being made to go through,” he added.

Inuwa said Nigerians are going through tough times with no visible hope in sight, as politicians who looted the treasury walk free, with some of them hailed as saints once they cross carpet to the ruling party, while others are told to refund a fraction of what they stole and go home to sin no more.

He stated that next year, Nigerians want to see these looting politicians jailed for stealing the country blind.

FCT
Buhari Should Get The Best To Take Nigeria Out Of Recession, Says Abonta
From Adamu Abuh

CHAIRMAN of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petition, Mr. Uzoma Nkem Abonta, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing Ukwu East/West Federal Constituency of Abia State said recession is a necessary issue for Nigeria to develop; a blessing in disguise, as “necessity is the mother of invention.”

He stated that Nigeria is in a recession because it failed to plan in the days of abundance, saying recession will now make the country to plan and look inward, apply economic sense and economic realities in most of our dealings.

“Recession is a thing we must learn to manage very well, as it would make us work harder, think better and apply resources better.”

“If we prioritise our demand and needs realistically, we will get out of recession. That is one of the advantages recession brings to us.”

He advised the President Buhari to thicken his skin and go for the best in economic planning, those who have mastered the art of financial policies and planning, if Nigeria must come out of recession.

‘Corrupt Elements Within APC Should Be Brought To Book’
From Collins Olayinka

DEPUTY President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Peters Adeyemi, while recalling that the economic recession impacted terribly on the Nigerian workers, who he said had never had it so bad, said Labour expects empowerment of workers to stimulate the economy.

“Workers should be paid their salaries, so that they will be able to buy goods and access services for activities to start to happen in the economy.

“We expect that the federal and state governments would pay arrears of salaries. When all these are done, we believe the economy will bounce back.

“Labour movement also looks forward to a year where government would take proactive action to ensure that the value of the naira is shored up. There must be a conscious move by government to ensure that the gap between the official rate and parallel market is narrowed down considerably, as the increment in the value of the naira will ensure that the purchasing power of workers is strengthened.

He continued: “Government should provide palliatives for Nigerian workers as a result of the increment in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol.

“They told us when they wanted to increase the price that they have enough money, specifically N500 billion social intervention fund, that is expected to cushion the effects of the increase, but up to this moment, we have not seen a single dime released to that effect.

“I also expect government to constitute the committee to negotiate the minimum wage structure that will ensure workers earn enough to mitigate the effects of increment in the price of petrol and inflation that is threatening their existence.”

While applauding federal government’s stride on security and fight against Boko Haram, Adeyemi added: “It still has a lot to do in stemming the tide of kidnapping, Fulani herdsmen and cultism.

“I also expect government to demonstrate the willingness to dialogue with the Niger Delta militants and other aggrieved Nigerians from whichever part of the country, rather than confrontation.

“The fight against corruption in the new year should be taken beyond the federal level to the states and local governments, where there is massive looting of the treasury.

“I expect this fight to take on those corrupt elements that hurriedly migrated from other parties to the APC for protection, while corrupt elements within the ruling party should be brought to book.”

‘FG Should Do More, Implement Changes In Security Sector’
From Karls Tsokar

TO strengthen the security sector in next year, the federal government must implement changes and enhanced strategies to tackle the myriad of challenges bedeviling the sector.

Stakeholders in the sector said besides training and retraining of personnel and operatives of the various agencies, government must ensure that new strategies aimed at enhancing security operations in the country are put in place.

Director, Naval Information (DINFO), Rear Admiral Christian Ezekobe, said more work needs to be done to consolidate on the gains recorded in the outgoing year and completely secure the maritime domain and inland waters.

Ezekobe said the acquisition of over 100 gunboats made in Nigeria in the year is one achievement that should be improved on for enhanced results next year.

Kabir Adamu, Chief Executive of Beacon Security Consultants, looks forward to Buhari’s promised changes in the security sector, starting with a greater emphasis on ensuring the civil security agencies, especially the Police and civil defence corps are restructured and reorganised to make them more effective.

“This should include retraining them on a better work ethos to serve the interest of the generality of Nigerians, while maintaining law and order and better serve the justice system through ensuring that evidence are gathered and stored efficiently.

“I also look forward to a situation where civil security agencies are given timelines and assessed, and where performances are measured based on improvement in security,” Adamu said.

He also expects completely eradicate terrorism next year by addressing the grievances that may have led to a greater support of the Boko Haram ideology in the northeast.

Emmanuel Allagh, a retired commissioner of Police, reiterated the needs to do more in training of Police personnel, as that would better prepare them for the task of carrying out their constitutional mandate, which is a far cry from the expectations of Nigerians.

He called for reforms in all the security services, especially to curb the lingering inter-agency rivalry, saying: “Where there is no mutual cooperation backed by poor coordination of security, I can assure you chaos is nearby.”

‘I Look Forward To Nigeria Coming Out Recession’
From Bridget Chief Onochie

FINANCIAL expert and former chairman, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Abuja chapter, Fred Okonta, hopes Nigeria would come out of recession soon and that naira appreciates.

“I expect that government will take necessary steps to stimulate the economy, that we spend on critical areas that will impact positively on the masses and the present anti-corruption machinery strengthened to ensure that whatever funds are brought forth go to the relevant area.

“In addition, I expect government to do something to strengthen the naira, which is very weak in relation to major currencies. With such an exchange rate, no small and medium scale industry can thrive.

“One possible option to strengthen the naira is the diversification of the economy. There are lots of impediments to the export drive of the country, which should be removed,” he said.

Okonta bemoaned that most activities in the private sector are almost coming to a halt; hence the need to get them going on again.

He added: “Those sectors that can stimulate the economy and encourage production and consumption should be spent on. If we are able to spend on these critical areas, it will have positive impact on the masses.

“We should also avoid capital flight. Rather than give money to foreign contractors who will send the money to their respective countries, we should encourage most of these monies to be spent locally in Nigeria on sectors that are necessary and have the capacity to generate employment.

“If we are able to do that, the country will be on its way to coming out of recession.”

On his part, Prof Emmy U. Idegu of the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, University of Calabar, wants justice and fairness from leaders.

“Nigerian have made a lot of sacrifices and in 2016 and it is my hope that no government should further take the people for a ride. If they push a goat to the wall, that goat can bite. It is hoped that those who have worked genuinely will no longer die of hunger and pensioners will receive their dues.

“It is also my expectation that government at all levels should come close to the people and understand the feelings of the masses.

ONDO
‘Aggressive Agricultural Policies Is Panacea To Recession’
From Oluwaseun Akingboye

BUSINESSWOMAN, Chibuzo Onyeamaka, satirised: “Indeed, we are in for change and it was not a mistake. When people were rushing for the change magic, nobody cared to ask if it was a positive change or otherwise.

“Is it not still change, though we go from fry-pan to fire: change is change.”

A commercial motorcyclist (Okada rider), who identified himself as simply Isaac, said: “We have never seen this kind of hardship before.

“I have no option after my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) 12 years ago than to eke a living for myself with this okada.

“Where is the job when the few companies we have now are downsizing? Even those who are lucky to have one, is the pay commensurate with the price of commodities in the market?”

Isaac, alongside other youths that spoke with The Guardian, lamented that their move to venture into agriculture in its present state is an attempt to incur debts and losses due to lack of incentives.

Meanwhile, Provost of Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), Dr. Samson Odedina, said the current situation should not be unexpected with the global decline in the price of crude oil, which is the sole revenue earner.

Odedina, however, noted that the economic crunch becomes more pronounced because agriculture, which was once the mainstay of the economy, was abandoned for the oil boom.

Odedina assured: “If government at all levels intensify their efforts on aggressive diversification in agriculture, there are better days ahead.”

CROSS-RIVER
‘Govt. Should Empower Graduates Through Skills Acquisition’
From Tina Todo

EDUCATIONIST and businessman, Francis Uduaka, expects government to empower people through skills acquisition to reduce the current economic problems.

“We have a lot of graduates that need to be empowered. I believe that every graduate should have an additional skill to whatever they have now.

“The problem with government is that when they train people, they don’t empower them. Some of them do not have money to start up whatever skills they have acquired.

“So, government should support them with funds after training and the funds should come with little or no interest, and they should be monitored to know how the money is spent.”

Osita Ojiejo, a businessman and musician, wishes to grow in his career next year.

“I want to be known all over the country for my music. I cannot achieve that alone without the help of my fans and the state and federal government. We upcoming musicians need all the support we can get from the government to be able to do what we know how to do best.

“I wish all youths will look inward to find what talent God has given them, and if they cannot use their talent, there are so many jobs out there they can lay their hands on.

High Expectation Amidst Current Challenges
From Joseph Wantu

IN Benue State, a social analyst and university administrator, Bem Ugo, tagged the outgoing year as a year of hardships and the incoming one year as one full of hope and restoration.

He said: “The people of Benue and Nigeria were too expectant of 2016, but they are believing that next year will offer many opportunities that will lead to a new lease of life through opportunities that will bring about economic and political stability of the country.

“So, by and large, 2017 holds great promise to the people of this country.”

Ugo advised Nigerians to first and foremost imbibe new ways of doing things to better their lots as they enter the new year.

“Life is about changes and innovations, so whatever experiences one may get today should amount to a learning process for tomorrow.

“We must desist from repeating mistakes of the past, such as reckless financial expenditures. We must imbibe the spirit of fiscal responsibility, as been preached by the President.”

He also urged the state government to strive towards attaining financial and economic independence by keying into federal government’s economic diversification policy.

Founder of Justice and Human Rights Initiative, Justin Gbagir, said next year would be a time for stock-taking as to whether the government is living up to expectations.

Gbagir recalled challenges in the outgoing year, but acknowledged federal government’s efforts to improve the wellbeing of the people.

KADUNA
Musa Sees A Gloomy 2017
From Saxone Akhaine
FORMER governor of Kaduna State and Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Political parties (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said there could be no qualitative comparison between this year and next year.

“First, the situation in the country is negative in almost all respects.

“Secondly, next year would provide a guide as to what we should expect in that year, either negative or positive.

“And to me, the expectation would be negative. Next year or the future is gloomy and as at now, government has no reasonable way of addressing the economy in the new year.

“Worse of all, recent statements from public authorities is unreliable.”

On his confidence in the economic policies of the federal government making things better for Nigerians next year, Musa asked: “Which of the economic policies? People even doubt if the government has an economic team that is independent and in control of the economy that will make things work for the country.

“With what is happening in the country today, there is no hope for the nation to be turned around next year. The same negative situation will continue.

“We only hope that the reality of the situation will dawn on the present leaders to do the right thing before it is too late.”

PLATEAU
‘Government Should Address Issue Of Herdsmen, Farmers Clashes’
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi
FORMER adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Governor Jonah Jang, Pam Ayuba Dangwom, said only honesty and transparency would bring hope to Nigerians next year.

“I am talking about human lives, the down-trodden, who are the majority of Nigerians. Government should recognise the fact that there is poverty in the land staring everybody in the face. Not many have food to eat and government must improve on this unpalatable situation in the country.”

Dangwom added that so far, there is nothing to show that this year’s budget has been religiously adhered to.

“Now, we have the 2017 budget, but government is saying that it will pull the people of Nigeria out from poverty. If this is not done, then it will be another nightmare and that is why I say government should implement policies that have human face.”

He advised governments at all levels to tackle the issue of security next year holistically, adding: “Government should also address the issue of herdsmen and farmers clashes, especially in Plateau, Benue and Kaduna states.”

He urged government to be resolute and decisive and not be seen as favouring one section of the country.

DELTA
‘2017 Would Bring About Change And Prosperity’
From Owen Akenzua
A LEGAL practitioner in Asaba, Lawrence Egodike, said while the President is busy with the task of repositioning Nigeria, it should not be a time to be vindictiveness.

He was optimistic that Nigeria would witness great things next year, noting: “I think there be will radical improvement of our battered economic. We will enjoy a stable economic base.”

Jim Aikhare, General Overseer of Pasture of Life Church, said: “I am sure Nigerians will find comfort to have true democracy if the crusade succeeds.

“2017 would bring about change and prosperity. There will be lots of harvest, cash flow and dividend of democracy.”

The traditional ruler of Owa Kingdom in Ika North-East Local Council, Obi Emmanuel Efiezomor, said: “We should not give up hope, 2017 year will improve the economy and the recession will be over.

“We should keep praying as Nigerians and our prayers will be granted. Prosperity would be shown at different levels.

“We should back Mr. President with prayers to succeed.”

Mrs. Margaret Ndukwe, head of market women in Asaba, urged prayers for the President, as she bemoaned the current hardship.

“We are sure there will be radical improvement in 2017. Nigeria needs prayers to succeed and we should stop the blame game and join hands with Buhari to improve our wellbeing. I am sure that Almighty God has taken control.

ENUGU
From Lawrence Njoku
IN Enugu, Founder of the Dan Ukwu Foundation, Chief Dan Ukwu, stated that several jobs were lost as a result of the economic situation and would like to see effective policies that could directly address the economic challenges next year and ultimately improve the living standard and earnings of Nigerians and curb the level of restiveness caused by idleness of unemployed young graduates.

Dr. Ugwu Onah added that the current recession affects various sectors of the economy, especially education, and something urgent must be done to avoid a spiral effect on society.

“As a university teacher, I will tell you that facilities that should ordinarily help academics are no longer there, because there is paucity of resources to provide them.

“I know the number of students who were doing well before now by providing their own resource materials, but presently, only a few can. The implication is that you, as a teacher, will have to work extra hard to provide the best in them.

“Should this situation continue, what you would have as university products in the next few years will be worse than what most people are complaining about presently.

“So, I would like government to seriously look at the funding gaps and education facilities, among others, to enable us continue in the part of growth”, he said

APC stalwart, Ikenna Duru, harped on the need to show more support for government policies, assuring that the APC-led federal government has so far proven that it has the capacity to turn things around for good, saying from near nothing, Nigerians are now proud that they have something to look up to.

“It is only when we come together that we can begin to talk and implement those policies that will help our country to develop”.
She observed that government’s policy on agriculture might be threatened if there was no check on the menace.

RIVERS
‘Non-Performing Ministers Should Be Shown The Way Out’

From Ann Godwin
AN economic analyst, Ignatius Chukwu, harped on the need to set up a panel of knowledgeable people to debate on all the things affecting the county and suggest a way forward.

He asserted: “All the things that led the country to where it is, none of them is economic problem, they are all social and political quarrels. So, I suggest that we first of all address social and political disputes.

“Secondly, everybody is an expert in this country. People keep talking and suggesting how virtually everything should be done. When the President listens and makes a shift, they say he is changing too much and if he refuses to listen, they say he is rigid and military.

“There is need for harmonisation of policies and to allow a particular policy to mature.”

For former chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Rivers State, Chika Onuegbu, the Senate and Executive should ensure that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed next year, as that would help to create more investments and boost the country’s economy.

He added: “We expect a new minimum wage and all the polities that comes with it and hope that this should be concluded in the first half of the year.

“In all, if things are well managed, we expect the coming year to be better.”

A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Peter Medee, said: “2016 has been a very difficult year for Nigerians, because the first three quarters experienced huge negative growth, but we are hopeful that as we enter into 2017, government will begin to implement the road maps that will drive the economy.

“We need a monetary policy direction that will complement the fiscal policy to stimulate the growth in the economy.

The Chief Medical Director of Oasis Children Specialist Hospital, Dr. Appolous Josiah, wants governments to be more sensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

According to him: “Elections have come and gone, we should stop making references of what the past governments have done or have not done, they are expected to fill up the vacuum.

“I want to see a more purposeful policy of government so that the economy will turn around things. There good technocrats who can assist to run the economy.

“Non-performing ministers should be shown the way out, so that we can start all over again on the economy. There are so many abandoned projects and the President seems not in a hurry to do things and bring the needed changes.

“I want the government to show some seriousness and urgency in doing things.”

“So, I want government to make money available and reduce the cost of items. My business slowed down because people prefer trekking to entering vehicle.”

BAYELSA

‘Niger Delta Governors Should Harmonies, Create Development Plan For Region’

From Julius Osahon
THE Ijaw Youth Council IYC) Worldwide has admonished Niger Delta governors to meet and harmonise to come up with a workable developmental plan for the region next year.

IYC President, Udengs Eradiri, said with the way the present administration of President Buhari is going, next year would look like a dooms day.
Eradiri said: “For me, 2017 is like a dooms day, because if you have a budget of N6 trillion and you could not implement 50 per cent of it, then I wonder in 2017 where we are going to start from?

“I think that going forward, Niger Delta governors must sit up. They are not working together; they don’t have any economic plan to take themselves and the region out from where they are.

“Liberation cannot come from the federal government, it cannot come external, but internally. What are we doing?”

He added: “Niger Delta governors must begin to come up with their own road map to get us out of the problem in 2017. They can no longer sit down and wait for Abuja handouts before they smile to the bank. They must harmonise.

“So, to alleviate the suffering of the Niger Delta people, the Niger Delta governors must focus back home and see what we can do as states, put our heads together, our legs on the shoulder of the federal government and do something.”

Eradiri posited that the crisis is not only a federal government or Nigeria problem, as things are getting worse everyday, saying all hands must be on deck to solve the problem, starting with the governors next year.



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