By Job Osazuwa
Indisputably, the year 2020 was quite a turbulent one, dealing many Nigerians devastating blows. Thousands of souls were dispatched to their early graves; jobs were lost and businesses collapsed like packs of cards.
As the people set out for 2021, they bared their minds with Daily Sun, speaking on how they intend to approach the New Year with caution, especially as Nigeria’s depressed economy stares everyone in the face.
Many of them expressed optimism and preparedness to hit the ground running as soon as possible. In doing so, they believe that they would be able to recover some of the losses incurred in 2020.
Those who shared their thoughts with the reporter were united in submitting that financial prudence would be one of their best strategies to succeed in 2021. Some Nigerians also called on governments at all levels to figure out a way to mitigate the suffering of the people.
In his contribution, a Lagos-based businessman, Mr Felix Osagie, said: “Without any equivocation, the year 2020 was quite a challenging one occasioned by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted negatively on our economy.
“As I look forward to 2021, I intend to approach the year with a variant mind-set of financial prudence; make the best of what one would earn and invest in something, no matter how small to ensure diversification of sources of income which is a panacea to surviving in a battered economy such as ours.”
Looking forward to the fresh year, a business intelligence developer, who is based in Delta State, Emmanuel Ohanwe said: “We were the world poverty capital before the pandemic. We are yet to know what poverty level the pandemic has brought to the world’s most populous black nation. It’s also sad that according to Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria ranks the third worst country that is highly terrorised and unsafe to live and trade in. More worrisome is the free fall of the Naira and economic recession. It is pathetic.
“Taking cognisance of these realities and the 2nd wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 for me will be a year of cushioning investments and helping vulnerable communities. I expect the government to encourage learning and teaching economic forecast and then organising for reform ahead of 2021. We can’t afford to make this political mistake again. We haven’t had it this bad.”
A financial consultant and former chairman of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Lagos Mainland District Society (LMDS), Mr Cyprian Nwuya, believed that the continued existence of human being is largely dependent on hope for a better future. He emphasised that when hope is lost, life generally becomes meaningless and unbearable.
Said he: “I am looking into the year 2021 with every hope that it will be a good year for me and many other Nigerians. This year 2020 that just ended had a lot of challenges. The effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the EndSARS protest, the tactical devaluation of the Naira, the high rate of inflation, and national security problems, all made the year 2020 very unpleasant.
“The reality of things is that year 2021 will even be more challenging because the full impact of all the problems of year 2020 is yet to crystallize.
“To survive the new year, we all need to strategize as I am already doing. From the side of governance, emphasis should be on deepening micro- businesses, providing infrastructure, especially electricity and making loans accessible at single digit rate. These will motivate entrepreneurship and also deepen the economy by paving the way for employment opportunities.
“I will advise Nigerians to focus on skill acquisition. Learn a trade irrespective of your degree or qualifications. If it’s possible, learn petty trading. Thereafter, start your own small-scale outfit. We should de-emphasize paid employment because all of us cannot get white-collar jobs.
“Nigerians must be focused and steadfast, and not to be over ambitious. Applying these basic principles and through government’s interventions, I believe many of us will survive year 2021 challenges.”
On his part, the president of Community Youths Movement of Nigeria, Mr Monsuru Kolawole Shoyombo, described the outgoing year as a turbulent and disastrous one for Nigerians.
“It is in the year that value added tax (VAT) was increased. Electricity tariff was also increased. These have dealt seriously with our pockets. At the moment, monthly electricity bill is now more than the house rent in many areas in Lagos.
“As if that was not enough, the government went ahead to announce an increment in pump prices amidst the coronavirus pandemic that was ravaging the world. All these have serious effects on the income of individual citizens without any exemption.
“In view of this, going forward to the next year, I plan to approach the next year with serious and sustainable economic policies by engaging in small scale businesses.
“I advise Nigerians, especially the youth, to cultivate the habit of engaging themselves in some businesses rather than waiting for white collar jobs that may not be available next year.
“Considering the present poor economic situation, I will cut my expenditures, jettison luxuries and always go for necessities.”
Lending his voice to the discourse, a constitutional and human rights lawyer, Chief Norah Ekwunoh said: “Certainly, approach to, and navigation of 2021, will inexorably go with cautious optimism, fear and trepidation in due consideration of the unprecedented economic nosedive.
“Nigeria’s numerous problems have culminated in recession, resurgence of COVID-19 pandemic, debilitating insecurity, which dot our entire national firmament, as characterised by relentless Boko Haram attacks, kidnapping for ransom, and policy summersaults of government, among numerous others, with their attendant grinding hardships on the citizens, particularly those within the poverty and vulnerability threshold.
“As we continue in 2021, we must accept the fact that we are still grappling with joblessness, geometrically soaring number of children, youths and adults whose access to education will continue to witness undue truncation or disruption, amongst others, in the new year.
“On the front burner of my expectations from the government so that Nigerians can live 2021 in peace include headlong tackling of insecurity; serious economic re-engineering, creation of employment for our teeming hungry and angry youths. There should be provision of palliatives for the poor masses and the vulnerable in the society.
“Similarly, section 14 (2) of the Constitution (supra) demands that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
“With all these done, peace and unity will force all hands to be on deck in the fight against the aforementioned scourges voraciously ravaging us as a nation, as we enter 2021.”
A sociologist who is based in Kaduna State, Emmanuel Eshiotse stated: “Well, due to the lessons of 2020, I plan to approach 2021 with a mind-set of probabilities. That is, nothing is sure especially with the harsh economic situation in Nigeria, coupled with the drastic effects of COVID-19.
“Every of my action is going to be geared towards the 50-50 mind-set with the intention of reducing heart breaks due to high expectations.
“As regard handling finances, my major approach will be avoiding impulse buying totally, thereby saving money that is not even available.”
A teacher and businessman, who lives in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, Amieghe Idahosa Emmanuel said: “I have great expectation in the new year. I plan to develop myself by learning new ways of doing things. I can achieve this by getting free online content materials. I plan to also improve on my business.
“The pandemic and recession in 2020 has shown that man cannot live by bread alone. Waiting for a monthly salary from the government or other employers is not enough.
“The year 2021 is the time to be more cautious. One has to obey and observe COVI- 19 regulations in public places. I will limit my travelling.”
An artist, who is into drawing and painting, Dare Olatunji said: “I don’t have any other means of income apart from my art, which I will put all my energy into. But this time, I will make it more pocket-friendly to many people because of the unpalatable economic reality on ground.
“Against my previous goal which was to produce artworks for those who can pay well according to the efforts I put into it, I hope to work on some affordable arts in order to make them more accessible to many Nigerians.
“This 2021 is not a year to be selfish but to lend a helping hand to one another so that the effect of 2020 calamities will not be felt much.”
Mr. Osas Edobor, who owns a car wash in Badagry area of Lagos, said that 2020 taught him a bitter lesson that he would not forget in a long time.
“As a businessman, I will pursue 2021 with an open heart. I don’t expect much in this coming year. It might be a year that most people, including myself will end up struggling to recover from the 2020 damage. Let’s not forget that the coronavirus is still with us. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, that is the reality,” Edobor said.