Wednesday 22nd February, 2017
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Sustaining the highs and mitigating the lows of 2016 in the new year

Sustaining the highs and mitigating the lows of 2016 in the new year

The year 2016 was an event­ful one for Nigeria. It was an admixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.
 
One crucial issue that the na­tion cannot hurriedly forget in the expiring year is the economic re­cession which plagued the coun­try and citizens.
 
The economic downturn has thus far created hardship for Ni­gerians leaving hunger, job loss­es, despondency, sicknesses and deaths on its trail.
 
Much as recession remains the dominant challenge in the year, there are some issues that could relatively be considered as high points. These, THEWILL can­vasses, must be sustained as the nation journeys into 2017.
 
The Boko Haram insurgen­cy had been one of the greatest problems, which confronted the country in the last eight years. It was therefore with a sigh of re­lief that millions of Nigerians re­ceived the news that the military has won the battle against the ter­rorists, routing them from their Sambisa stronghold.
 
Nigerians were gladdened by the announcement that Ground Zero, which was the sect’s fortress, has finally fallen to the superior force of the Nigerian military.
 
We commend the troops for this feat and urge the Federal Government to sustain the tem­po in the New Year. With the fall of the dreaded Sambisa forest, the insurgents must not be allowed to regroup anywhere, the coop­eration of Nigeria’s neighbours is critical in guaranteeing this.
 
However, having apparently prevailed over Boko Haram ter­rorists, THEWILL would want the Federal Government and in­deed all relevant stakeholders to deploy same commitment and re­sources in ending the militancy in the Niger Delta, which re-sur­faced in 2015.
 
There is no gainsaying the fact that the return of militancy has had a devastating toll on the na­tion’s economy, even worsening the recession. This was evident in the fall in the nation’s produc­tion of crude oil for export.
 
While we do not advocate a military action in the Niger Del­ta as was the case in the North East, THEWILL urges the Fed­eral Government to ensure that the issues that caused the resur­gence of violence in the oil-rich region be urgently looked into and resolved.
 
Oil spillage, environmental degradation and pollution are top among the problems that the Ni­ger Delta people have faced over the years. For peace to return to the area, all parties concerned must collaborate to clean up the area and alleviate the sufferings of the people.
 
The oil companies that oper­ate in the region must be made to comply with the international statutes that bind them to carry­ing out their social responsibili­ty obligations to their host com­munities.
 
In this modern age, there is no justification for the contin­ued spillage, pollution and deg­radation in Niger Delta lands and waters. This is more so as the Fed­eral Government has what it takes to solve the problems.
 
Agriculture is another area where government needs to ap­ply aggressive and sustainable approach, considering the sig­nificant gains made in local rice production. Within the last few months, the price of rice, which is the staple food of average Ni­gerians, has spiked.
 
But the intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and some state governments, led to the production of local varie­ties of the food, which must be improved upon in the New Year. In all, the Federal Government must ensure that the gains in the entire agricultural corridors are sustained in 2017.
 
While it is imperative that these gains be sustained, the overriding challenge is how to take the coun­try out of recession. Thankfully, the nation’s foreign reserves have been on the rise lately and should settle around $27 billion dollars at the close of the year.
 
We calls on the Federal Gov­ernment to take all necessary steps to stimulate the econo­my. The manufacturing compa­nies, many of which had fled the country to neigbouring countries or closed shop must be brought back with incentives and favour­able business climate.
 
Government must grant them waivers in the importation of raw materials to enable manufacturers in the country produce for local consumption and export.
 
Culled from THEWILL On­line Newspaper

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