MAJOR TALKING POINTS FOR NIGERIA IN 2017

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Nigeria

Here we are again, a new year with new expectations and the hope that things will turn out for us even better than the previous year(s). Even more so as a nation, we expect that Nigeria would only march forward and not take further backward steps in regression – abi na recession we dey call am. Enough stock-taking as already been done in 2016 and there were positives, not many I’ll admit but we’re still here.

Nigeria has seemed to crawl, slip and stumble over under the reins of the new administration. How the poor lady hasn’t yet broken her neck is beyond me. It took ages getting the legislative arms running and ministers appointed. We endured crippling fuel crises, increasing fuel prices, economic mishaps with the Nation’s finances and ability to remain one called into question time and again but we pulled through 2016 in the end.

As citizens, we’re still hoping and working towards individual and collective progress. Most are praying though (not that I object to that but shebi one bible somebody said work and pray? Or was it watch and pray? I don’t know again jare.)

Everyone is paying close attention to the direction the country is heading in and amongst the range of concerns, specific areas would be up for discussion more than others. Here are four key areas we believe Nigerians will be really passionate about in 2017.

ACCOUNTABILITY

On this endemic issue, I sometimes think out aloud, “Corruption, why don’t you just die already.” It’s as if we only talk more about it but do very little. However, there’s hope. The new government was elected, largely on the ‘integrity’ of certain key figures and their track record in ensuring accountability during former stints in power. A number of public officers, past and present have been rounded up for mismanaging public funds and there are new revelations of corrupt practices on an almost daily basis. Even judges were not spread and the budget on more than one occasion was said to be wearing Always. When our national budget started menstruating that it required padding is beyond me though.

There was enough noise about ‘winsh hunt’ (why be a witch anyway?) so we hope that this fight against corruption is not as one-sided as it appeared to be in the beginning; it must be all-encompassing, cutting across all sectors and it shouldn’t be partisan too. Will 2017 be better than what we’ve seen so far?

SECURITY

I believe Nigerians have slept with ‘one eye open’ for long enough. We would like to move and gather freely without the seemingly ever-present fear of being robbed, abducted, bombed or killed in our sleep. Just as Nigerians were waiting to see if 2016 would be the end of the deadly Boko Haram menace, herdsmen armed with AK’s and all sort of weapons lay waste in many parts of the country and the East wasn’t spared too. Will 2017 be the year when Internally Displaced Persons can finally go home and build a life in Nigeria again? Will every law-abiding Nigerian be made to feel safe again? I hope so.

ENERGY

I don’t know about other places but from May 2016, I rarely had to buy fuel to run the generator at home. Much hasn’t changed now except the transformer blows a fuse.

No, I won’t tell you where I live. Bad belle people be many in these streets.

We know some things cannot just change overnight but it’s not too much to ask for if companies and individuals get to spend less on fuelling generators as the year goes on. We’re tired of losing productivity in the name of queuing and jostling for fuel at filling stations for hours on end. Will new refineries be built? Will the bloody fuel price reduce rather than jump? Will Nigeria finally stop importing this fuel that she effortlessly produces?

This year, I hope there will be more active light bulbs than dark nights, less generator noise and less queues. It can be done.

ECONOMY

With the way 2016 went by, Nigerians are earnestly praying that we’ll fare better economically in 2017. Business men and women are looking forward to seeing a drop in the Naira/Dollar ratio, a general improvement in our national income. We hope to see new industries springing up; less waste of finances by those we entrust to manage our resources and an actual shift from an oil-dependent economy to more diverse ventures.

Of course there are other concerns; we’ve got roads, schools and houses to build, children to educate and diseases to vanquish. There are lots of issues to contend with but we also have to be smart and prioritise. It’s also important to note that success in these key areas will most likely ripple and positively impact other sectors. More than ever before, Nigerians believe that we can do better in 2017 and overall, there should be more things to smile than frown about.

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