BEVERLY HILLS, December 23, (THEWILL) – In a couple of days, Nigerians and indeed the world would bid year 2017 goodbye and usher in a brand new year 2018. But before the curtain would be finally drawn on the outgoing year, it is important to reflect on some developments in Africa’s powerhouse during the period, as we look forward to a better year.
No doubt, 2017 was a cocktail of the good, the bad and the ugly. It was a time of sober reflections for many citizens across the country. Throughout the year, the price of foodstuffs skyrocketed beyond the reach of the masses, people still cannot afford the price of basic staple food. For the first time in decades, a bag of rice sold for almost N25, 000 in some areas, in a country where the monthly minimum wage is ridiculously set at N18, 000 (about $50).
With the price of common foodstuffs like garri, yam, tomato and pepper way out of the reach of people, it was indeed a time for the masses to vent their anger, frustrations and resentment on the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and wished they never elected its leaders into office in 2015.
During the year also, the judiciary was thoroughly battered, as many judicial officers, judges and justices of the Supreme Court were arrested and humiliated, with some tried for alleged corrupt practices.
Governance was relegated to the background for the better part of the year, as President Muhammadu Buhari was down with an undisclosed ailment, culminating in his hospitalization in a London hospital for several months. Such was the scenario of the political turf that the agitations for restructuring and outright division got to its peak.
The outgoing year also witnessed many industrial disputes, among which were the ones by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, their associates in the non-academic sector, as well as the health sector, where the doctors, nurses and other allied health workers grounded activities in the various sectors.
THEWILL notes that there was hardly any area over which Nigerians did not suffer hardship including the current excruciating shortage of petrol; hence the year could be described as a year of lamentation. It was a period when the APC blamed virtually every of its shortcomings on the ousted Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, even as it remained widely criticized for not pursuing a defined economic direction.
Beyond all, the outgoing year was a make or mar period when the activities of pro-Biafran movement in the southeast, snowballed into threats of war, with some northern youths and other sections of the country taking various actions either to divide or unify the country.
However, it was not all a bad news in 2017. For instance, the economic recession, which had rolled over to the year from 2016 also eased with marginal growth recorded in GDP. Today, we have a relatively stable and predictable foreign exchange regime and portfolio foreign investors have returned to the equities market after fleeing due to the crash in the price of commodities coupled with unclear economic policies.
In sports, Nigeria’s Super Eagles was one of the first countries to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In boxing, Nigerian born Anthony Joshua delivered one of the most spectacular nights in boxing when he stopped Ukrainian Vladimir Klitschko in Round 11 to become the IBF, WBA and IBO World Heavyweight Champion of the world.
In politics, the Senate and the House of Representatives amended some sections of the constitution, which the state assemblies are expected to ratify in the new year. Given the importance of these amendments, THEWILL urges their speedy passage to enable them take effect before the 2019 elections. The state and national assemblies must ensure that the amendment process is not dragged into 2019, when the next round of national and state elections would take the centre stage.
As Nigerians look forward to better times in 2018, THEWILL posits that leaders as well as citizens use the coming year to address all the issues that threatened to tear the country apart in 2017. We also want the momentum for the diversification of the economy from oil sustained by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN through its Agriculture-based Anchor Borrowers Programme and commend President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele for their efforts in this regard and the ease of doing business in Nigeria.