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New Year: Carryovers From 2021 That Mustn’t Be Glossed Over




NSCIA Commitee Chair, Sheikh Ibrahim Loses Eldest Son- Buhari Reacts

Smarting from the year 2020 pangs of economic lull occasioned by the devastating impact of Covid-19, Nigerians went into 2021 with strong optimism of a better year. This buoyancy showed in the numbers as the National Bureau of Statistics reported that the Nigerian economy grew at the rate of 5.01 per cent in the second quarter of 2021. Before the Federal Government can make political capital out of the framing of the story in some sections of the media as the highest economic leap in six years, analysts explained that it was a case of life and death comparison. Their cynicism was because the year-on-year GDP growth of Nigeria’s economy happened as a result of a low base set in 2020 when the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 was at its peak. The Federal Government would have to prove these financial pundits wrong by repeating the same feat by the second quarter of 2022.

This seems like a tall order with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria taking their cry to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the serial challenges they are facing, chief among which is the shortage of forex to aid the production of goods in the country. If despite all its fiscal and monetary policy measures MAN had to take their lamentation to the President then the Central Bank of Nigeria must do better or find a more efficient and effective means of mitigating the challenges faced by local manufacturers. Beyond platitudes, President Buhari and his administration must guarantee ease of doing business in Nigeria and empower manufacturers in the country to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement that is now in force.

It is good that the administration has maintained the culture of having the budget ready before the new year with the 2022 budget now ready for implementation. This is good as spending from the N17.12trn budget will go a long way in buoying the economy. Despite his expressed discontent with changes made to the appropriation bill by the National Assembly, the President must use the budget to complete and make critical projects ready for use, as well as improve the general living conditions of Nigerians in 2022. Nigerians are greatly displeased that a substantial part of the expenditure in this budget is on debt servicing with the Buhari government sinking the country more into debilitating debt. 2022 must be the year for the government to find more sustainable ways of funding its budget and cutting down on borrowing. It is for this reason that loopholes for revenue leakages must be blocked. It is worrisome that the country is saddled with a federal budget which, according to the President, contained 6,576 new projects that are basically the responsibilities of state and local governments and do not appear to have been properly conceptualized, designed, and cost.

As electioneering and politicking get to a fever pitch in 2022, Naija News expects that political leaders and managers of the economy do not get distracted. The country requires all the attention it can get to be salvaged from the doldrums. It’s unfortunate that the ruling All Progressives Congress has not been able to put its house in order. The party which has failed to put in place a democratically elected leadership after sacking the Adams Oshiomhole-led national working committee has now scheduled for February 2022 for a national convention where it will elect those to steer its affairs. With the fractious fallouts from its ward, local government, and state congresses, it is hoped that the ruling party will be able to pull off a successful national convention despite the pushes and pulls in its various power centers.

The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party had its share of internal wrangling in 2021 with the erstwhile national chairman, Uche Secondus throwing all the political muscle he could muster to remain in charge of the Wadata Plaza. Despite the institution of new leadership, Secondus is still challenging his removal at the apex court of the land. While this helps to enrich the nation’s jurisprudence, we hope that it will not distract Iyorchia Ayu and his team from providing the virile opposition and credible alternative which the country badly needs at this time. The third-largest party in the country, the All Progressives Grand Alliance didn’t prove to be any better in terms of political nuisance experienced in its fold ahead of the Anambra governorship election in 2021. Members of the party just like their PDP counterparts were embroiled in the rash of conflicting court orders which made a mockery of the nation’s judiciary. Thankfully, the National Judicial Council rose to the occasion by barring the three errant high court judges from elevation to either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. Naija News hopes that this serves as enough deterrence to judges when forum shopping politicians attempt to use them to undo or outdo their opponents.

Key learning from the Anambra governorship election will be quite useful to elections managers and stakeholders in the country, particularly as Osun and Ekiti go to the poll to elect their governors in 2022. These elections will equally have a major bearing on the 2023 general elections. Unfortunately, President Muhammadu Buhari recently withheld assent to the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill which would have provided a credible framework for the conduct of elections in the country. All the innovations introduced into the Act by this amendment risk not seeing the light of the day due to the insertion of Clause 87 which mandated the sole use of direct primaries by political parties in the nomination of candidates. Having picked this as his grouse with the proposed law, Nigerians expect President Buhari to sign the amended Act into law once the National Assembly does the needful. They must act fast in concert so that the time factor won’t be the reason Nigerians will be robbed of the other beauties of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill. Naija News calls on the President to treat this amendment with the same celerity he attached to the Petroleum Industry Act which was signed into law in 2021.

The problem of insecurity in Nigeria metastasized in 2021 with 3,125 innocent persons were killed and 2,703 others abducted by bandits in northern Nigeria in 2021. This is according to figures obtained from the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ an American think tank as well as quarterly reports released by the Kaduna State Government from January to September. Other parts of the country experienced varying levels of insecurity with the unknown gunmen running amok in the South-East. The situation is so bad that the governor of the President’s home state of Katsina called on residents of the state to arm themselves against bandits who have been killing, raping, maiming, and kidnapping locals at will. Lately, presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina asserted that the remaining 17 months his principal has to stay in office is enough to solve Nigeria’s security problems. Since the bulk of these 17 months are in 2022, the President must get cracking.

In the war against corruption, the President yesterday spit fire over the looting of the Niger Delta Development Commission. He vowed to recover every kobo looted from the interventionist agency and punish the culprit. How will Nigerians believe this when despite the numerous drama including “off your mic” and the “fainting professor”, nothing has been heard of the forensic audit report which was submitted in September. Also, the board of the Commission is yet to be constituted despite pleas and protestations by the Niger Delta people for the right thing to be done. The fight against corruption has been lacking in substance and Nigerians expect the President who was cast as an anti-corruption champion to live up to one of three agenda of his administration.

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The official ban of Twitter from Nigeria’s blogosphere happened in 2021 and has remained in force despite the Information minister, Lai Mohammed, saying in September that the ban will be lifted “very soon”. The Nigerian economy is estimated to have lost nearly N600bn for the 209 days this ban has lasted. Naija News expects the Federal Government to hasten its negotiation with the tech giant so that Nigerians for whom Twitter is a source of livelihood can get a reprieve. In November 2021, Buhari hosted a group of South-East leaders under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats and promised to consider the release of Nnamdi Kanu. This consideration should be concluded already and lean towards a political solution that will lead to the restoration of lasting peace in the South-East. Happy New Year to all our readers.