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Nigerians speak: What we want the government to do for us this year

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It is a new year and while some are still celebrating, many had bleak celebrations due to the lingering fuel scarcity, the poor economic situation in the country as well as a host of other reasons. The Guardian spoke to some Nigerians on what they expect from the government this year.
Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, CEO/Founder, WFM 91.7
My biggest expectation for 2018 is to have a business focused thriving economy. We’ve read and heard of the various economic recovery policy implementations but it’s pertinent to start seeing the results of these reforms on our dining tables. No one has benefitted from the daily drama played out by the politicians. Every politician irrespective of her or his affiliation should stop the bickering and work together to rehabilitate our ailing economy. Our businesses must thrive in 2018.

It’s a fact that a greater percentage of Nigerian women vote during elections but remain hugely underrepresented in elective and appointive positions. Today we see more women play active roles on political issues but compensated with tokenism positions. If women are significant factors in democracy why are we not significantly represented? For Nigeria to be respected, the woman agenda must be taken seriously this year and next year. Any system that excludes women is bound towards retrogression and cannot thrive. Until Nigeria acknowledges the role and impact of the female gender, we will continually struggle. There has to be a workable balance. If women make up approximately over half of Nigeria’s population, why the inequitable representation in government and decision making roles? The role of the woman as a capable and qualified doer in 2018/2019 should be duly recognized through actions not by words. I hope a higher percentage of women will be appointed as chair and board members of parastatals, agencies and other leading positions. I hope we can see more participation of women in elective, appointive and relevant decision-making positions in 2018, qualified women in key political and leadership positions.

Nigeria has the highest number of female entrepreneurs in the world. We create employment income and account for an increase in Nigeria’s per capita income and we still have to survive like all, despite the crippling epileptic power system. Regular power will positively effect a drop in operational costs, ease business operations and contribute to economic growth. This is one area that will make life better for Nigeria and attract more foreign and local investments.

The state of our roads are disheartening, they are death traps. The government must revamp our roads to ease doing business. Fixing Arepo road will be the highlight of my 2018.

Lip service to agriculture must end; agribusiness must be taken seriously like every other serious business. The Nigerian woman has always been a fundamental part of agruiculture but less remunerated. Though women are now farm owners and managers, 2018 must see government in a more deliberate and calculative approach; work with the organised private sector and women. A deliberate strategy to increase technical and financial support for female farmers and players of agric business is crucial to Nigeria’s survival in 2018 and beyond. Local agric producers, operators and manufacturers should be encouraged and invested in. It’s good we’re producing rice but let’s have more supply than demand before banning importation of rice and other products.

A call to end violence against women, girls and children must be very loud this year, it should be zero tolerance to abuse in any form. There must be real commitment to end abuse and violence, including child marriage, female genital mutilation, pedophilia and other forms of abuse. The law must protect the victim not the perpetrator. In 2018 we must change our thinking attitudes, collectively break the silence culture, shatter closed doors, use our voices more and “whisper louder” on all forms of gender inequality.

Religious intolerance must be deliberately addressed. We must not allow religion to destroy Nigeria. We must love and live together irrespective of our faiths and beliefs.

Kosi Okeke, Trader
Not everybody can eat three square meals now and the situation of the country is becoming unbearable. Youths and graduates are suffering because there is no work. The Federal Government needs to step up and be alive to its responsibilities; they should repair the bad roads all over the country. I believe that if the government creates jobs, crime will greatly reduce and street urchins will disappear. The government should provide employment and not just ask people to learn handwork.

Emeka Akponnu, Mason
Expressing his disappointment over continuous low patronage and downward spiral of his business due to the current economic problems in the country, he said, “It has impacted negatively on me because nobody is patronizing me again, people cannot build due to the hardship in the country. The major issues that government needs to work on this year include roads, electricity, food, water, public hospitals and government-owned schools. Fulani herdsmen are killing people everyday, yet, nothing is being done. Government should take development to other states because Lagos is over congested. There is zero security; the people ruling us are using the nation’s money for themselves.”

Dora Jude, Businesswoman
One of the major issues government needs to look at critically is the issue of bad roads, especially in Apapa. “Containers are disturbing everybody especially in residential areas. We spend three hours on the road for a distance that shouldn’t be more than 30 minutes. Government should also work on electricity, food and provision of jobs.

Obinna Okoro, Businessman
Our roads are gradually becoming impassable everyday. We are calling on the government to fix the forex issue to enable people do their business in peace. Nigerians should know the candidates to vote for during next year’s elections, we need vibrant candidates and not old men. Youths are suffering because there is no job after they graduate from school except they have a godfather, this shouldn’t be so. The leaders are not doing their work, everything they promised during the last elections, they failed to do. There is unemployment, shortage of food, fuel scarcity, which should not happen. People are spending hours at the filling stations just to get fuel, this is unacceptable.

Dr Masud Fashola, President, Ahmadiyya Muslim Nigeria
The government needs to remain focused and stabilise the economy this year. There has been slight improvement in the naira exchange rate, power generation and distribution as well as the agricultural sector, but more still needs to be done for people to feel it. The nation has seen an increase in the production of cash crops but there is need for the federal government to intensify effort to boost local food production in the country.

Fashola says he expects the president not only to introduce measures that would lift the economy but play less politics with corruption, and do well to provide power, transport, employment to the jobless youths in addition to tackling insecurity among other things.

Alhaji Wale Sonaike, Businessman
Subtle campaigning has started and if care is not taken, the attention of political office holders will be totally diverted from governance and this will further harm the economy which is just coming out of recession. Government should put in place mechanisms to avoid pilling up unpaid allowance to lecturers in public universities this year to prevent strike actions. Appropriate technology and systems should be deployed with embedded checks and balances to checkmate impropriety and corruption. Infarctions should be punished without delay. When this is done embezzlement of funds will drastically reduce.

We want uninterrupted power supply, motorable roads, good public health care, quality education, safe airport and seaports and favourable ecomomic policies that will promote private investments. He called on the government to increase patronage of made in Nigeria goods in order to encourage the consumption of locally made products.

Dr. Saheed Ashafa, President, Muslim Students’ Society Of Nigeria (MSSN)
Stability is gradually returning to the country. Our dreams that appeared shattered about three years ago are now metamorphosing into hope. We are however fed up with white paper development without a corresponding comfort in both the standard and cost of living. Government needs to utilise the numerous resources of the country to secure a decent life for the citizenry this year. The government needs to remain focused and avoid distractions. There is no government without development. We are tired of promises and predictions; we want accomplishments this year, we want to start having real feelings of development.

The deplorable state of education in the country is still a source of great concern to us. Our expectation at this moment is how the Buhari government will nip in the bud, the problem of incessant industrial actions in the education sector. A way to do this is by ensuring adequate funding of the sector at all levels and close monitoring of how allocated funds are utilized. He called on the government to hasten the process of reviewing upwards the salaries of workers this year as the current minimum wage of N18, 000 is no longer acceptable. The prices of virtually everything have skyrocketed, with the purchasing power of most Nigerians plummeting daily and he called on the government to look into this.


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Toun Okewale Sonaiya
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