The year 2015 has come and gone and we are now in a new year 2016. Everybody agree that 2015 was a difficult year, but predictions are that this year will be worse if urgent measures are not taken by relevant government agencies to alleviate the sufferings of the masses.
Having spent seven months to study the system and lay the structure for governance with the appointment of key personnel and ministers and presentation of 2016 budget, President Muhammadu Buhari’s real test in office will be this year. The numerous challenges that will manifest themselves would no doubt test the strength and resilience of Nigerians.
One major challenge is that of accurate data. Nigeria is a large country where correct and accurate data driven systems have not been allowed to play its useful roles. A data driven system would work with facts and figures including participatory roles from the public by collecting opinions on local or national issues. It is unfortunate that the 2016 Population census will not be conducted this year due to scarcity of funds.
Another challenge is the way politics is played in Nigeria. Ordinarily, politics is an art of grabbing and accumulation but also has a component of horse trading. A politician ought to know when to quit the stage and make room for a new entrant; not here in Nigeria where the game is a do or die affair. Hence the challenge is that even if an election is to be free and fair none is ready to believe the results. There is no template with which to compare any result, no public opinion, the registered lists are inadequate, the officers compromise their positions, and the politicians are hell bent, and so on. This difficult challenge can still be viewed as an opportunity for correction by allowing modern technology to play a large role in the electoral processes. The priorities the politicians must focus on in this new year is the breaking away from the old style of “Do or die” and lose everything to a more realistic approach of “Give peace a chance” for continuity.
The Nigeria economy is by far a factor that will create another major upheaval this year because we envisage that many states and even the federal government will fail to pay staff salaries as, at, and when due. Already, the federal government has been rumoured as eyeing the money workers have been saving with pension administrators under the new pension scheme. Workers must protect their savings. The price of petroleum is going down further not only because of economic slum created by the feud between the West and Russia but much more because nearly every country has got some oil in its backyard to export. The quantity of oil in circulation will increase to keep the price low. In advanced economies this should have been some good news except in Nigeria that has so far failed even to account for her daily production and has been unable to refine and distribute within and outside the Nigerian shores. Whereas we expect economic challenges to be defined around ability or inability to acquire or adapt new technologies and other indices, Nigeria remains primarily an economic importer.
Our currency, The Naira has been on a steady fall for months, to its present rate of about N260 against the dollar. One of the biggest challenges for president Buhari this year is how to stop the continuous decline of the naira, which ripple effects can affect the economic policy of his government.
Unemployment remains a fundamental issue in Nigeria making it the greatest challenge to the development of the country. The number of graduates seeking employment is greater than the number of jobs our economy is creating. There is also a large collection of idle hands that want to work but can’t find job annually. The consequences are a social menace. Nigeria has a backlog of all classes of unemployment such as total unemployment, under-employment, under-paid workers, unrelated employment to training, unemployable graduates and the others.
Boko Haram insurgency has ravaged parts of the North-East and sent many people on refugee. At the end of December 2015, a marked improvement in the fight against insurgency by the military was recorded which is a major departure from the past, when the insurgents controlled and hoisted their flags in many local governments in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. But despite the successes recorded, insurgents have continued to launch pockets of attacks, including suicide bombings, especially on civilian targets. Similarly, thousands of Nigerians are still being hosted in IDP camps in various parts of the country, because their communities have not been declared safe for them to return. One of the challenges Buhari will face this new year is setting a realizable time-frame to clear the North-East of Boko Haram remnants for the displaced persons to return home. Closely related to this, is the handling of the problems of kidnapping and cattle rustling that are on the rise in other parts of the country.
President Buhari made fighting corruption a key component of his administration. Although pockets of arrests of mostly politicians and former security chiefs have been made, the way and manner the anti-corruption war is been pursued has drawn the ire of local and international observers. The litmus test for the war will be the number of cases uncovered, investigated, prosecuted and convicted, as well as the money recovered.
Other major challenges this year are those of epileptic power supply, removal of petroleum subsidy, resolving the issue of the agitation for state of Biafra by youths of the south-east, respect for human rights and rule of law, allowing the independent national electoral commission, INEC, unfettered powers to conduct free and fair polls in affected states of the federation and refocusing the economy from a mono to multi-product.


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