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