By Supo Balogun, The Nigerian Expression (TNE)
Lagos, Dec. 23, 2017 (TNE) It is quite natural for a sane man or woman to wish himself or herself the best of things life can offer. So also would he want his habitat to be devoid of rancour and calamity. In other words, individuals demand good opportunities in a peaceful environment. So, ahead of the New Year, many Nigerians have been baring their minds on their expectations from government and their personal wishes as 2017 winds down.
The IMF has just issued a statement saying that in spite of Nigeria exiting the recession, the economy of the country is still vulnerable, although it welcomed the Federal Government’s actions to improve the power sector and business environment under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP).
The Fund noted thus: “Overall growth is slowly picking up but recovery remains challenging. Economic activity expanded by 1.4 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2017 – the second consecutive quarter of positive growth after five quarters of recession — driven by recovering oil production and agriculture.
“However, growth in the non-oil-non-agricultural sector (representing about 65 per cent of the economy) contracted in the first three quarters of 2017 relative to the same period last year. Difficulties in accessing financing and high inflation continued to weigh on companies’ performance and consumer demand.
“Headline inflation declined to 15.9 per cent by end-November, from 18.5 per cent at end of 2016, but remains sticky despite tight liquidity conditions. High fiscal deficits – driven by weak revenue mobilisation – generated large financing needs, which, when combined with tight monetary policy necessary to reduce inflationary pressures, increased pressure on bond yields and crowded out private sector credit.”
However, what do Nigerians have for themselves and the country?
Mr Tunde Afonrinwo, a banker, says insecurity and an economic downturn are the major challenges halting the rapid development of the country. He believes the welfare of the people, security of lives and property should be the utmost priority of government as expectations remain high for the new year.
“The strong clamour for a restructuring of the polity goes a long way to show the frustrations of Nigerians over failure in governance and a weak socio-political structure. In the year 2018, we are expecting a lot from government because 2017 was a very difficult year as most people found it difficult to feed.
“Government must concentrate on making life better by providing timely social incentives as well as the basic amenities to improve the people’s living conditions. Security of lives and the stability of the economy should also be another major concern of government,” Afonrinwo says.
An Economist, Mr Tolani Hassan, expresses the hope that a quick passage and assenting of the 2018 budget will help effect a more robust implementation.
“When we eventually get it right and revert to a January-December implementation window which will effect full implementation, things will naturally improve. A situation where the budget is passed mid-year and money to MDAs is then also released in tranches would affect capital projects aimed to boosting the economy,’’ he says.
Pastor Abraham Okunade, a Chaplain at Gray International School, Ede, Osun, desires a better economy growth and prosperity for the country in 2018. Okunade says he is praying earnestly and hoping that all the economic challenges facing the country will be a thing of the past in 2018.
On his personal desires for 2018, Okunade wants spiritual and financial growth in the new year.
Also speaking, Mr Paul Akinyemi, a retired school principal in Osogbo, prays for abundant peace, harmony and security in the country. Akinyemi , who notes that without peace, there can not be growth and development, also chooses to be more prosperous in the New Year as his personal expectation.
For Miss Afusat Alani, a student, her desire is to gain admission into a higher institution in 2018. Alani , who claims to have passed both the UTME and post UTME, says her greatest desire in 2018 is to be an undergraduate in the university.
She also expects economic growth and financial prosperity for the country in the new year.
Mr Yinka Olatunbosun, an cconomist, desires to see Nigerians patronising made-in-Nigeria goods in order to boost the economy. On his personal expectations, Olatunbosun hopes to recover all what he lost financially due to bad economy in 2017.
An academic at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti , Ayokanmi Ogundele, hopes to pursue his PhD programme in the new year.
He also expects that the Federal Government will consider and execute all outstanding agreements it signed with Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics to guarantee peace on campuses.
Also commenting, a dealer in auto parts, Mr Michael Ude, says his wish is to fill his now empty shop with different brands of vehicles so as to satisfy his customers better in the new year. He, however, appealed to the relevant authorities to address the issue of rising exchange rate to boost his trade.
A cold-room operator, Mrs Abake Omole, wants government to remove chicken and turkey from the list of banned imported goods so as to complement local production. She also expects to get a loan from the Bank of Agriculture in the new year so as to enable her.
A former student at the Ekiti State Univetsity, Ado-Ekiti, Jide Babalola, says his wish is to pursue his Masters programme in the new year. He, however, expects the state government to reduce the fees payable by students to an affordable level.
A retired army sergeant, Ajibade Okunola, wants complete defeat of the Boko Haram insurgents.He expects more money and other logistics support be made available to the military to completely defeat the terrorist group. The retired soldier, who is now into farming, says his plan in 2018 is to venture into large scale commercial farming.
A civil servant with the Ekiti State Government, Mr Bidemi Adekola, expects the committee set up by the Federal Government to review national minimum wage to conclude its assignment so as to boost his income..
But a traditional ruler, Oba Gbadebo Adedeji, wishes that Nigerians will turn from their sins and seek the face of God for a divine solution to the country’s many problems. The monarch, who is the Owa Ooye of Okemesi Ekiti and one-time Chairman of the Ekiti State Traditional Council, also canvasses for special roles for traditional rulers in governance, saying their relevance in nation building cannot be over-emphasised.
Mr Sunday Bamidele, a sociologist, suggested restructuring of Nigeria in 2018 as a viable solution to the problems of the nation. Bamidele said in Akure that restructuring remains a good idea which will solve the myriads of problems confronting the country.
“There are so many things lying fallow that needs to be addressed and needs much attention. So many youths outside there and are still unemployed. The government should find a means to cater for them. That’s why the idea of restructuring the country still remains a good idea which the Federal Government should explore in 2018,’’ he says.
Mrs Tinuola Smith, a teacher at Ilu-Abo Secondary School in Akure North Local Government Area, wants Nigerians to be more prayerful in 2018. He says Nigerians have been selfish in their prayers, noting that there should be a paradigm shift from self centred prayers to all-inclusive prayers for the country.
“We need prayers in our country, we have tried many leaders but they have failed us. Honestly, we have not be calling on God, so we should look unto him and call upon him in 2018 so that our country can move forward,’’ she says.
Another respondent and cobbler in Oba Ile, Akure, Mr Joe Enti, says he wants financial prosperity in 2018. Enti, a Ghanaian who has been in Nigeria for 15 years, also expressed optimism on his desire to his country immediately his dream comes true.
Mr Omiowaire Odusola, a lawyer based in Okitipupa, who gave kudos to the government in the fight against corruption, expresses the hope that the campaign will be sustained in 2018.
“I think the government has tried in the fight against corruption and whistle blowing policy but the judicial process is too slow. I expect the government in 2018 to do more in bringing culprits to book and channelling the loot recovered into the economy,” he says.
Mr Bobola Bamigbola, a lecturer at the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, says government should invest more in the education sector. He also urged government to invest more in research, science and technology in 2018 for the country to move forward.
Mrs Busayo Babayemi, a civil servant in the Ondo State civil service, says government should do more by making the welfare of workers a priority.
“The salary increase we heard they are proposing may turn out only for federal workers, but if a law is in place, it will favour both state and federal workers,’’ she says.
Mr Blessing Iwajomo, a youth leader, who gave kudos to the government on the N-Power initiative for youths and amnesty programme for militants, seeks sustenance of the programme. He believes government must do more to improve and sustain such programme so that more youths will get job while militants will stop vandalising petroleum pipelines.
Mr Bolaji Ikuomehin, a farmer, says that government has tried by making citizens realise that they need to grow what they are eating. Government, he says, should do more in agricultural research to help farmers in accessing cheap funds and new methodologies in order to create wealth and boost food security.
Mr Sunday Fiwayemi, a retired soldier and member of the Nigerian Legion, wants government to step up the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents.
A stylist, Temitope Olonisakin, seeks stability in power supply in 2018 to boost small scale businesses, Mrs Lateefat Kareem, a trader, urged government to help in reducing the exchange rate and high cost of transportation of goods and services.
For Mr Ismaila Adeleke, an Ibadan-based legal practitioner, the outgoing year was difficult for many Nigerians.
”An average Nigerian will wish to witness improved economy in the coming year so that the living standard of all and sundry will be better. Also government should restrategise its security architecture in order to curb the activities of criminals in the new year.” Adeleke stated.
Another respondent and pensioner, Mrs Adetutu Ishola, says government should prioritise payment of pension and gratuity in 2018. She says delay in paying gratuities and pensions to retirees has worsened their health challenges.
On her part, a foodstuff vendor, Mrs Janet Olajide, wants state government to pay its workers regularly in the new year. She observes that irregular payment of salaries has contributed to the hardship facing Nigerians.
Prof Akpan Ekpo, the Director General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, advocates for increase in wages for workers in 2018.
Ekpo, who says majority of the people still fall below poverty line, wants government to evolve economic policies that would bridge such divisive gap.
A lecturer at the University of Ilorin, Dr Mohammed Abdullahi, calls on the Federal Government to promote better economic reform in 2018. He says while government has given the war against insurgency a boost, more needs to be done in the area of economic policies.
Mr Femi Oladipo, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees in the council area, says his desire in 2018 is for full autonomy for local governments in the country.
“The issue of unpaid salary arrears in the state local government system has already dampened the morale of workers and needs to be addressed in order to aid efficiency. I will also want my vision for a blissful career in the public service to be boosted in the coming year with the desired promotion,” he added.
Pastor Emmanuel Akinloye of the Covenant Mission Christian Church of God in Ijebu-Ode solicits for continuous peace among cultural and religious groups.
“What I want and pray for is that government should strengthen the existing peaceful coexistence between the major religious groups in Nigeria. As stakeholders in the ongoing economic transformation, what we should all yearn for is lasting peace for the nation because without peace, there will be no development.
“We must continue to work and pray for the unity and security of Nigeria, with an eye on ending terrorism, religious violence, farmers/herdsmen clashes, robberies, kidnappings and the likes,” Akinloye says.
Nigerians have spoken; may their expectations come true.