Every year is unique as each one comes with its challenges and prospects. Today is another New Year. As usual, many people will do a kind of post mortem on the past year and make projections on what the New Year portends for the citizens and the nation. Sometimes, certain events and schedules make some years more important than others. The year 2023 is very crucial for our sovereignty. For us in Nigeria, it is a make-or-mar year and how it is handled or managed may determine the future of Nigeria.
The past year stood out because of the socio-economic challenges that confronted us as a nation. They included, among others, insecurity, poor economy, and corruption. Simply put, we were at the top of everything that was bad. And at no time in our recent history had we faced the amount of challenges we faced in the past few years.
The economy was at its worst state. Inflation was and still is at its peak. As of the last quarter of 2022, the rate of inflation was over 21 per cent, the highest in over 17 years. Unemployment, poverty and hunger were on a steady rise. In almost all the indices of development, Nigeria lagged behind.
The education sector also had it rough. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was on strike for the greater part of last year. This crippled activities in the nation’s public universities. Our government must resolve in this New Year to take education seriously. We must beef up our budget for the sector because education is the bedrock of our national development. We cannot afford to play with it.
We cannot also afford to toy with the general election coming up early this year. One major promise of President Muhammadu Buhari is to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and credible election to Nigeria in 2023. The President should maintain his promise. The onus is on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the election is free, fair and credible.
We urge politicians to dwell on issue-based campaign and stop this campaign of calumny and character assassination. They must give us the timeline and target on what they intend to do when elected. Nothing outside electing a competent candidate will do for Nigeria. Whoever will be elected will have a lot of burden on his shoulders. He will represent the symbol of all our hopes and aspirations.
Before then, we expect that this government will do everything in its power to change the narrative within its remaining period in office. Among the major issues President Buhari must look into is corruption. It is obvious that though he did his best to combat corruption, the monster still refused to be defeated. The amount of money some public servants reportedly embezzled is mind-boggling. For instance, the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, allegedly siphoned over N109 billion. So far, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, said the commission had recovered over N30 billion from Idris who is already facing corruption charges with other co-defendants at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja. President Buhari must recommit himself to doing everything possible to curb corruption to the barest minimum before he leaves office.
Rejigging the economy is another promise the President must fulfill before handing over in May. The best way to do it is to provide stable electricity. This will have a multiplier effect on other sectors. With stable electricity, for instance, small businesses will spring up. This will help in job creation, which the government desperately needs to take youths off the streets.
The President had also promised to fight insecurity. So far, his efforts have not yielded much dividend. We are all living witnesses to the spate of kidnappings and killings that have enveloped many parts of our country. In the past years, terrorists and bandits held the nation to ransom. Our military is trying but there is need to put in more efforts in the New Year. The relevant authorities must find a way to motivate troops, provide the necessary military hardware and crush the terrorists. We cannot afford to continue losing precious life and property to the dregs of the society.
Everybody must get involved in the efforts to reposition Nigeria. We must get it right in our leadership recruitment. If we make the mistake of electing a wrong person in 2023, we may not recover as a nation. We urge the politicians and their followers to play the game by the rules. A lot of things have gone wrong. That is why getting it right in 2023 is a task that must be done. The election must be handled with utmost care and patriotism. If it is bungled, there may be insurrection that nobody can control. We pray things don’t get to that point. We wish our numerous readers a happy and prosperous New Year.