Expectedly, 2012 has receded into history to unfurl a New Year. It was a unique year that will never recur in human history. The year of 12-12-12 that many made a fetish out of. Some had even predicted that the world would end in the year. But in His unfathomable ways that has marked His superiority over earthly creations, God is still not done yet with one of his most complex creations.
Last year started on a bad note following the social upheaval occasioned by the rise in petrol price and the attendant nationwide strike that paralysed socio-economic activities for a while. This elicited distrust between government and the people that the President Goodluck Jonathan administration has been battling to redress.
But more instructive is the fact that this year will determine so much in the life of the administration and in all spheres of the system. Whilst the political turf is expected to be crowded with activities, much is also expected in the economic arena that will significantly affect the polity.
In the New Year, the government must hit the ground running since this year’s budget has been passed towards the end of last year by the National Assembly. This may be considered a deliberate act by the lawmakers because excuses will not be entertained for delays in project execution in the New Year.
Memories of the drama that literally overshadowed the 2013 budget presentation in October last year and its eventual passage are still fresh. Such needless muscle-flexing at the expense of budget performance, however, remains unacceptable to the Nigerian masses that are usually the most affected each time the two get in the ring.
The fact that the National Assembly expressed strong reservations about the poor releases of the 2012 budget, a development it claimed was responsible for the poor performance of the budget, is enough reason for government to get cracking in the New Year with a view to maximising the opportunity the early budget passage has provided.
Another area government cannot afford to fail is security. The experience of last year, despite efforts to contain the tide, was still not palatable, hence the need for government to firm up control in this all important sector, embracing as many initiatives as possible, all in the bid to give the Nigerian people a fresh breath and at the same time create a more conducive atmosphere for the business community, foreign investors especially, to thrive.
Consequently, government must come out more courageous and determined this year to stem the menace of insecurity. Although several options were touted and tested last year, government must decide this year if holding dialogue with the faceless terrorists is the way to go or embracing other methods deemed effective within the context of a civilised society.
The power sector requires utmost attention, both in terms of investment and operations. The near-concluded reform in the sector must be capped this year with results trickling in as quickly as possible. The usually bandied improvement in term of power generation must translate into steady supply to homes and factories. That, without much ado, will speak for itself as part of the feats recorded on the economic front.
The sleaze in the oil and gas sector of the economy last year has already drawn the necessary attention to the industry and government must do all it could to clean the Augean stable. Those already indicted must not escape justice irrespective of their connections in government.
Whilst corruption is still pervasive as evident from experiences of last year, Nigerians want to see surefooted moves at completely stamping out the blight while at the same time ensuring that the many probes set up last year to unravel cases of graft are not swept under the carpet. Nigerians are itching to see significant improvement in the current state of infrastructure. Cases of death arising from auto crashes in the wake of deplorable roads must witness sharp decline. Also, better safety measures must be upheld in the aviation industry as the spate of air crashes last year is nothing to be proud of.
The embarrassing drop in education standard should be of concern to the authorities as it is to the people. The need to review and improve some of the subsisting policies in that sector with a view to addressing fresh challenges is imperative.
Whilst there were obvious moves to address the rising cases of unemployment, government must sustain as well as improve the tempo. That may help to contain the rash of unrest in different parts of the country.
There is no doubting the fact that the ongoing constitution amendment is primed to dominate discourse during the New Year, much as it would stir interest across board. The clamour for state police, new states by some geo-political zones, council autonomy and tenure of elected public officials would ignite a more heated debate as the exercise enters a critical stage that would culminate in the amendment this year.
The amendment also speaks a lot about the roles the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would play in the New Year. INEC has a major assignment this year which is the Anambra State governorship election. It is expected that the experience would also serve as guide for what to follow in Ekiti and Osun States next year as campaigns commence in full swing in the two states this year.
That aside, the jostling for 2015 would go a notch up this year even though it would only serve as distraction to those presently in office, since proper campaigns for the 2015 elections would not assume top gear until the following year.
Thus, as expectations are high in the New Year, government must get its acts right and put in as much efforts as possible because whatever defines this year would certainly set the tone for the coming year.