MY WISHES FOR NIGERIA IN 2016


 We are thankful to God, that we survived 2015. It was indeed a monumental year for our Country. It was largely a year of mixed blessings. As I opined last week, we had a positive political outcome with the unexpectedly peaceful transfer of power from PDP to APC at the Federal level but we ended the year with miserable economic outcomes, fueled by the precipitous decline in oil prices and the restrictive measures taken by the government to contain the fall out. Every body that I met and every Industry that I reviewed closed the year hoping for a better 2016. I therefore wish to join all these people to express my wish for Nigeria in 2016.

ECONOMY 

First, I wish that the 2016 Federal budget is approved speedily. Though the 2015 budget has been extended to the 31st of March, 2016, it is clear that 2015 budget has no answer to the prevailing economic challenges. Perhaps the only thing left in the 2015 budget is the supplementary budget aimed at ensuring payment of Salaries and petroleum subsidy arrears.  I believe that the economy needs a stimulus to return to growth. The 2016 budget proposals sent by President Muhammadu Buhari ( PMB) to the National Assembly late December had some seeds that could stimulate the economy. The tripling of the capital budget to 1.8 trillion Naira is a good sign. The focus on infrastructure as shown by the enhanced allocation to Works and Transportation is indicative of this. Even the extraordinary allocation to social welfare will help in stimulating economic activities. Though many of us worry about the huge deficit implied in the 6.08 T. Naira  budget, I think it is a bold attempt to reinvigorate the economy. Given the anticipated more disciplined and effective utilization of the resources, Nigeria must be a better place with the expenditure of this huge sum.  Second, I wish that PMB will listen to his economic team to implement fiscal and monetary policies that will attract investment. We need bold private sector investments that will complement the bold public sector budget. In designing these policies, we must bear in mind that we can no longer depend on oil money to develop the Nation. To diversify the economy as has become most urgent and expedient,we urgently need inflow of private sector investment into Infrastructure ( through PPP), Agriculture, Mining and Manufactring. Tax revenues can only grow if companies are making money. So government must motivate enterprise development by systematically  dismantling every obstacle currently inhibiting growth. For example, the current foreign exchange controls that have hindered manufacturers must be adjusted to allow them access to needed raw materials and other industrial inputs.  POLITICSIt is a pity that the polity, especially in the Southern States of Nigeria will be politically charged this year following the election reruns mandated by the Courts especially the Appeal Courts in the closing months of 2015. Nevertheless my wish is that we will get done quickly with these reruns and the fresh cycle of judicial adjudications and settle down to good governance and good representation. For the greater part of the last two years, we seem to have done more politics than anything else. And we all know that Nigerian politics can be quite divisive and disconcerting. We have been subjected to political rhetorics for too long and the time has come to calm down and live our normal lives. The Party in power must now assume the role of the guardian of the Nation and must deliberately tone down the Political rhetorics and propaganda.While we welcome a virile opposition, we advise the opposition Parties to avoid the temptation to make political issue of every matter. Let's give the party in power some space to govern and let Nigerians see the difference. Nigerians are not that daft and nobody can fool them for too long. Without these judicial reverses and mandated reruns, some of which baffled even the Chief Justice of Nigeria, perhaps, we could have said that we are done with 2015 elections.

CORRUPTION 

  Any one who truly loves our Country should be pleased that finally, the war against corruption which Obasanjo started but which he seemed to have later suspended and which remained largely suspended since then, has resumed with fury. It is refreshing that past political office holders are being called to account. For once, impunity is being punished and discouraged.  But my wish is that the fight will become holistic. The current feelings in some quarters that it is selective and targeted at the opposition must be addressed so that all Nigerians will unite behind the fight. Also we need to take the fight to other arms of government. The saying that the judiciary is the last hope of the common Man no longer has universal relevance in Nigeria. Again the Chief Justice had spoken about the corruption in the judiciary. But nothing is happening and it seems to be business as usual. I can not believe what I hear that is happening in some of the Election Tribunals and Appeal courts in these Buhari Times. And this seems to be common knowledge. My wish is that PMB should beam the searchlight on the judiciary, the Legislature, the civil Service and the Private sector and let the battle rage across the Nation and all sectors and let us cleanse our Nation for once!.

 SECURITY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT 

Yes, we may have won the war against Boko Haram technically as the Minister of Communications announced recently. This must be good news to all Nigerians irrespective of our political and ideological leanings. We need to defeat the Boko haram technically and in reality. But Nigeria remains largely unsecure. Crimes are committed with ease all over the Nation and the criminals get away with ease. The other day, I was stunned to read the story of how armed robbers were robbing car owners, smashing their car windows between the 3rd and 4th roundabout on the Lekki Expressway( or Unexpressway according to the writer) in Lagos, while some Policemen with their beautiful patrol vans sat pretty at the 4th roundabout and when citizens contacted them, they said, the robbery was happening outside their jurisdiction, and so they could not help. What kind of Police is this and what kind of security can they provide. We used to hear of these kind of stories in the past and I was hoping that there would be change in these Buhari times. But Alas. My true wish for Nigeria is that we will have a Nation where lives and property of all Nigerians are secured and were every criminal is pursued into hell. GOD please give us this type of security arrangement in Nigeria in 2016.

QUALITY OF LIFE 

Above all, my greatest wish is that all Nigerians will have better quality of lives in 2016 than they had last year. I wish that we all have portable  water to drink and more hours of electricity supply.I pray for better trained and motivated Teachers who will produce better educated students. I wish that many unemployed graduates will be employed or encouraged to start their own businesses in 2016. I pray that no woman will die in child birth this year,  by government at levels making maternity services available to all and I truly wish that no healthcare worker or  university Lecturer would go on strike this year. I wish that in 2016 Many More Nigerians will feel proud to belong to this Nation as our leaders take deliberate actions to unite Nigeria. Happy New Year Nigerians.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR    

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