New year, new hopes, new possibilities
Happy New Year. Welcome to a year of open doors. I strongly believe we have entered a season of unbridled opportunities. The things we hitherto found difficult to accomplish will now become steppingstones to greater achievements for us. And this is because God has gone ahead of us. As a nation, I believe that we are on the precipice of new and great things. What we need, more than ever, as leaders is to be willing to serve the people in earnest and move boldly into arenas of new possibilities. We have every reason to be optimistic about the year. While it is important for us to be optimistic about changing things for the better, it is important to have plans for realising same, and this applies not only on an individual level, but on a corporate and national as well.
In the book The Great Depression: A Diary, Benjamin Roth describes the optimism that attended the year of 1934. The previous year, 1933, had been a terrible year. Banks were closed, businesses were at a standstill, and over 10 million Americans had lost their jobs. But they went into the New Year with hope. The streets were filled with people in joyous celebration, hotels, theaters and clubs were jammed, and there was a sense that things were going to get better. But this wasn’t just idle optimism. The government, stoking the embers of hope, had a series of plans and policies to turn the tide. And fifteen days into the New Year the President (Roosevelt) began to engage Congress with new policy proposals, which they kept pursuing and reinventing until the depression was fully beaten back.
So, the big question is, how ready are we, as individuals, businesses and governments, to make this year significantly different and better than 2016? We can’t do the same things we did last year and expect a different result. The year calls for new ways of thinking and tackling perennial issues that confront us.
Let us keep focus on key areas and pursue their accomplishment to a logical conclusion. I was recently speaking with a dear friend who reiterated the important role agriculture could play in our development if given priority. No other sector, according to him, can solve the twin problems of employment and food sufficiency, like the agric sector can. We have land, people and environment. What is lacking are the incentives and adequate investments in production, storage in particular and marketing. The world economic giant China, would not be what it is today without the contribution of its agricultural sector.
In fact, the value of agriculture to the Chinese economy tripled, following the 1978 reforms that heralded the Chinese boom. By 2009, direct subsidies to farmers had reached 123 billion Yuan. The effect of this has been: the raising of rural incomes; production of low cost food, which keep wages down for workers in the industrial sector; production of fiber and other crops that can be inputs to production in other parts of the economy; supply of commodities that can be exported and the earning of foreign exchange, which can help finance imports of key technology packages, capital equipment and the supply of high quality labour to factories, constructions sites and the service sector.
I believe the same dispatch with which the government has tackled the menace of Boko Haram can be employed to deal with the pressing challenges of the economy and the irritating menace of rampaging herdsmen destroying lives and property. I believe the New Year will be one of new possibilities.
Nigeria Has A Great Future