New Year Preview
Certain events are sure to define the New Year and its expectations, writesShola Oyeyipo
Perhaps, not a few were ushered into the New Year with great expectations. The year that just ended, 2016, was no less a huge disappointment for many. And since the elemental control factors are practically one and same, the expectations of a defining change appear forlorn even before the year was ushered in. Although optimism is still very much operative as it is with an average Nigerian, it however comes with a cost – cost of perseverance, long suffering, endurance and darkened hope.
Without much ado, 2017 came on this trip with its peculiar baggage – those issues that will inevitably tell of its prospects and failings, regardless. Typically, it came with its positive linings as well as its negative hemming too. But, whichever outweighs each other between the good and the bad will be determined by their handling, ultimately. These issues are a legion but a few are identified below.
One thing that will certainly define the way forward for the President Muhammadu Buhari government is an imminent and inevitable cabinet reshuffle. Although there is no clear date as to when it is likely to happen, it is long overdue. Clearly, not all the ministers are going to run 2017 with the rest of the team and this is expected to happen soon if government must show that it was ready to make up for its mistakes.
Already, there have been complains about the abilities of some of the ministers to properly man their duty posts, like the Minister of Sports, Solomon dalung. In fact, the changes were expected to have come in 2016, but for reasons best known to government, it was postponed. There are also vacant seats to be filled like that of James Ocholi, a former Minister of State for Labour, who died in an accident last year and his substantive counterpart in the environment ministry, Aminat Mohammed, who is going to the United Nations.
Nigeria made several negative headlines globally due to the spate of violent crimes perpetrated by different interests in 2016 and these are likely to continue in the New Year. It is however expected that government will rise to the challenge more determined.
No doubt, Boko Haram has been decimated significantly and thanks to the Nigerian military; particularly with the final onslaught in the Sambisa forest. But not even the government can boast that the last has been heard of the outlawed anti-social group. Even till the tail end of 2016, there were still reports of suicide bombings and foiled bombing attempts in some parts of the North-east.
Also, serious steps are expected to be taken by appropriate security agencies to prevent the acrimonious relationship between herdsmen and farmers in many parts of the country. Where efforts are not made in this direction, Nigerian can surely brace up for another round of farmer-herdsmen bloodletting in 2017 and those ruthless killings that won the herdsmen the reputation of fourth most dangerous terrorist group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index, which put them at the same level with the Boko Haram sect will continue.
The Biafra agitation is on and it will continue, even beyond 2017. The continued detention of the current symbol of the agitation, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu will further stoke agitation by people of the South-east. Overall, the Biafra agitation will remain an albatross that the Buhari administration continues to carry.
There has been a lot of religious violence over land disputes in the southern axis of Kaduna State resulting in killings, allegedly committed by nomadic herdsmen from neighbouring African countries. Aside the loss of lives, villages, churches, houses and schools have been severally cleaned up.
The leadership of the Catholic Church has put the death toll at over 800.Something urgent must therefore be done to address the carnage, or else it persists in 2017. Combined efforts by the federal and state governments to addressing the problem is expected to make the headlines.
The worrisome activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) currently bombing petroleum facilities in the oil producing region is another negative tendency likely to project beyond 2016. This is more so because none of the FG-militant negotiations has worked. The destructive activities of the militants will continue and the brutal force of the operation ‘Crocodile Tear’ will continue to hit newspaper covers.
Endless Chibok Girls Debate
The issue of the over 200 school girls abducted from their school in terrorists-afflicted North-east about three years ago has refused to subside since it happened. Parents, human rights groups and concerned Nigerians mounted pressure on former President Goodluck Jonathan and subsequently on President Buhari to bring back the girls.
The success of the current president in reportedly freeing about 21 of the girls has been commended and is spurring Nigerians to demand for the release of the remaining girls. Since there are indications that government is in talks with their abductors, expectations are high that some more girls will return this year. Whatever may be the case, the last is yet to be heard of the Chibok girls.
The word that dominated the Nigerian economy in 2016 was recession – a period of temporary economic decline that brought about sharp decline in trade and industry – a general state of low income earning.
Though President Buhari promised that the current economic recession will ebb in 2017, a number of Nigerians, including former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, an economist, Odilim Enwegbara and others have contrary views.
To them, the 2017 budget is not indicating that the trend would abate. Hence, the word recession is not about end in the nation’s national economic vocabulary anytime soon as government would continue to work round the clock to fathom a lasting solution.
Politics of 2019
Believe it or not, the skeletal work for the 2019 elections has already been drawn in 2016. It will however be perfected in 2017 by way of laying the foundation. Ultimately, 2018 will usher-in the final sketch. There will continue to be alignment and re-alignment of interests and forces, while the power tussle within the political parties will form parts of the political events of the year.
It is not clear yet who and who would eventually be part of it but talks on the proposed mega party is expected to take a central place in political discourse at a later date in the year.
The internal wrangling within the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not addressed in 2016 and so, it will continue in 2017. The subtle war on the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu will also persist as well. How this would eventually pan out in whose interest is still in the realm of guess because those who know Tinubu, know that he knows his onions in politics and therefore, the way he would fight back would be intriguing.
Since 2015, Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has remained a shadow of its old self. Worse still, the party has been unable to play its role as an opposition party due to incessant leadership crisis. As at today, the former ruling party is factionalised in two camps of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi factions. Since all previous peace moves have not succeeded, certainly, Nigerians will still savour more intriguing stories from the PDP stable.
Anambra Governorship Election
This year will witness yet another governorship election and that will be in Anambra State. The election will be of interest to many for the following reasons. One, how easy would it be for Governor Willy Obiano to retain his seat? Two, the election will be another battle field for the ruling APC, PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and thirdly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will once again come under huge national scrutiny either as an independent institution or an appendage of the APC.
The Anti-graft War
one of the main hooks for the APC as at the time it was campaigning for the presidency was the promise to fight corruption to a standstill and no doubt, the government has taken some bold steps in trying to reverse the ugly trend. But how the anti-graft war continues and its success are of keen interest to many Nigerians and as such, quite a number of people will follow the anti-corruption crusade throughout the New Year as they did last year.
Of particular interest is how the federal government handles the issue of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal. Nigerians are anxiously waiting to see the report of the investigation ordered by the federal government to be carried out by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami. Moving forward in this area, these two developments are a major test.
FG’s $30bn Loan
Issues relating to the proposed $30bn loan are not over yet. The federal government is yet to secure the approval required for the loan from the National Assembly. Interestingly, a lot depends on the loan, if government must pull through a lot of its challenges in the New Year. It is also believed in some quarters that if government fails to secure the loan, then, it would be unable to achieve anything and subsequently, the nation may slip into depression from this ugly recession. This is why the issue pertaining to the loan is of interest to the people and the operators of the system.
The Atiku Tendency
For those who may think that a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is no longer interested in the presidency, 2017 will prove them wrong or right. Already, a former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was Atiku’s principal from 1999 to 2007 had dropped the hint when he gave his condition to support the proposed mega party, saying except Atiku did not get the party’s presidential ticket, an indication of what is in the offing.
Not only that, going through the former VP’s Twitter handle, it is easy to identify a shrewd politician waiting to capitalise on the restructuring debate to launch his presidential bid. Though he may not come out fully to announce his interest yet, the truth is, Atiku will play notable national politics in 2017.
All Eyes on the Judiciary
The year that just ended was a terrible year for the judiciary, the custodian of the nation’s laws and constitution. The darts of corruption that was thrown at some of the justices and judges was a critical and low point in the history of that all-important arm of government.
For a long time, the judiciary is going to live with this stigma but the New Year provides an opportunity for a rebound. The judiciary will have a rare chance to cultivate its independence and refuse to be a pawn in the hands of politicians and at the detriment of its image and name. Perhaps, some of the judges and justices have learnt their lessons with their ugly experience of 2016.
Still Waiting on CHANGE
Generally, Nigerians reposed a lot of confidence on the President Buhari government and are eagerly waiting to see a better Nigeria in terms of their per capital earning. While the government is said to be working round the clock to make things better, the people too have continued to wait on the government for the promised change.