Expectations of Nigerians from Government in the New Year
At exactly midnight of Wednesday, first of January, Nigerians joined the rest of the world in the euphoria that New Year attracts.
Characteristically, people, were beaming with optimism at the advent of a new year, hoping for a turnaround where there had been dashed expectations, the previous year.
At the national front, 2019 provided the nation with mixed fortunes.
On the brighter side, elections were successful in some states of the federation, litigations that arouse from some were settled by the judiciary.
With series of pleas, government eventually acceded to calls to release Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki from detention.
Return to January-December budget cycle, border closure was enforced to bolster local production and domestic market, actualization of the minimum wage and consequential salary adjustment were part of the pluses in 2019.
The year also saw government ramping up its anti-corruption crusade with the conviction of a serving senator and former Abia State governor, Orji Kalu for seven billion naira embezzlement, the dragnet also caught Abdulrasheed Maina for allegedly involved in two billion naira pension fraud.
However, the year also witnessed spates of kidnappings, ritual killings, herdsmen assaults and terrorist attacks.
This year, Nigerians no doubt expect more from government. Internal security is one of such key areas as 2019 witnessed the brazen attack on former president Goodluck Jonathan could not go without being mentioned.
President Buhari seems to have had this in view in his New Year message when he said that his government would work tirelessly at home and with allies in support of policies to protect the security of life and property.
It is therefore crucial for the Federal Government to strengthen synergy with state governors to tackle domestic crimes, while also collaborating with international partners in fighting violent extremism and their financial networks, as well as giving prompt attention to acquisition of modern weaponry and training of security forces.
The scourge of unemployment remains hydra headed, no doubt, border closure has witnessed a surge in local production of crops, for example, rice cultivation has abated the rate of smuggling while the step towards agric rejuvenation is laudable.
However, government still needs more investment towards adaptation of foreign technology, and evolvement of local one, which is actually the crux of development.
It is equally high time the country strategised the more on infrastructure growth, as projects often get unnecessarily prolonged or abandoned midway, defeating the original purpose.
Efforts should be redoubled on the second Niger bridge, Lagos – Ibadan expressway and the Abuja – Kano highway, Apapa-Oworonshoki express way, Lagos to Kano rail line, as well as Kano and Lagos international airport terminals, which are no doubt crucial to business operations and investments in the country.
As to power supply, it could be argued that government has made some appreciable level of progress. Nigeria recorded an increase of one thousand, eight hundred and eleven point three megawatts in power generation in January 2019, as the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, transmitted over one hundred and twenty seven thousand mega watts as against over one hundred and twenty five thousand mega watts in December 2018.
More investments on the part of government and private sector is essential, considering the fact that the country is endowed with large oil, gas, hydro and solar resources.
Tapping into these along with proper management of power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions would no doubt ensure fiscal sustainability for the sector, and help redress a situation where the country which has the potential to generate over twelve thousand megawatts of electric power from existing plants, only generate around four thousand mega watts most days, which is insufficient.
Question of the rule of law and the future of democratic governance dominated the last lap of 2019. Nigerians hope to see this issue concretely laid to rest this year.
President Buhari has set the tone in his new year speech where he said his government actions at all times would be governed by the rule of law, and that he was determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across west Africa, where several ECOWAS members were expected to go to the polls this year, while assuring that he would be stepping down in 2023, as he had no intention of a third term bid.