Nigerians from all walks of life have expressed their expectations from their government and their leaders in this new year. In the spirit of the New Year’s Day, many ordinary Nigerians have told LEADERSHIP what they expect in 2014.
The executive director, Conscience Nigeria (CN), an NGO, Comrade Tosin Adeyanju:
In 2014, members of the National Assembly should pay more attention to oversight functions for transparency in governance. Effective oversight function would tackle misappropriation of funds in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). Federal lawmakers must realise that a reasonable level of budget implementation can never be achieved without efficient oversight.
In the coming year, we appeal to the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives, to focus more on lawmaking and oversight functions rather than attending to issues heating up the polity. It is obvious that the House of Representatives is more interested in raising alarm and constituting probe panels whenever civil society organisations (CSOs) expose corrupt acts of people in government.
There is the need for enhanced relationship between the executive and the legislature with a view to ensuring hitch-free consideration and approval of the 2014 national budget.
We continue to advocate for free and fair elections as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prepares to conduct elections in Ekiti and Osun states.
The year 2013 was indeed an eventful year headlined by political wranglings, ethnic tensions, federal government’s face-off with tertiary institutions’ unions and the Islamist insurgency ravaging many parts of the country’s north. Of course, there were the positives. The present administration scored well in areas of agriculture and power.
In 2014, I hope the Goodluck Jonathan administration would leverage on the positives and learn lessons from constructive criticism of his administration to make better the country’s lot in areas many say he has failed, corruption for instance.
Again, the outcome of the government’s ongoing privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) as well as tackling the insurgency in many parts of the north will be a major scorecard for Nigerians whether the present administration is voted in or out come 2015
I am a hair stylist and expect many things in my life. I believe God will take me higher than I expect; God is doing everything for me. Last year, I was not like this and I believe that next year will be better.
We need support from government; we need water and power because my business depends on water and electricity. We spend so much on fuel and our customers pay so little. So I expect a lot of changes from the government come 2014.
I am not expecting anything, especially from the government. They can do whatever they like. I honestly expect a better and greater me next year.
The government can do whatever they like, but they should not do anything that would affect the masses negatively. They can do whatever their conscience allows them to do.
Mrs Blessing Ugboaja:
2013 was a very terrible year for business. I have been telling God so many things and I believe He is going to answer me in 2014. I believe that my family and I will get better in 2014.
The government is on their own because I don’t even understand what they are doing. Imagine a whole Christmas Day celebration with no electricity. It is really sad.
Also speaking on his expectation in 2014, the chairman, Committee for the Creation of Ekiti State, Chief Deji Fasuan, said there must be an improvement in the economy especially in making jobs available for the teeming unemployed graduates in the country.
The retired permanent secretary in the old Ondo State also said that, hopefully, President Goodluck Jonathan would decisively deal with the corruption in the country and arrest the apparent drift to chaos it is facing.
Mrs Blessing Daniels expects the government to make more money available to both workers and business owners.
Lamenting that the prices of goods and services have gone up, Mrs Daniels also advised the government to pay workers’ salary as and when due.
Also speaking on his expectation in the new year, a lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, Mr Adetokunbo Ademola, called on every Nigerian to pray for the country to avert a political crisis in the year.
He, however, said that he foresaw a situation whereby God would raise leaders that would turn around the fortune of the country for the better in the year.
Jonathan vows to tackle corruption in 2014
President Goodluck Jonathan has listed the war against corruption, a remarkable cut in the cost of governance and significant reduction of government officials in foreign travels as his priority as the country marks its 100 years of existence and New Year today.
He said cost of governance under his administration was still too high as at 2013, even as he urged Nigerians to assist him in making the country better for good in 2014, as he alone cannot do it.
Jonathan stated this yesterday during his New Year message to the nation.
He said, “Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme”.
The president added that the success of the proposed National Conference was paramount to his government, saying that he would go the extra mile to ensure that everything works hard in this regard.
According to Jonathan, while the report of the presidential advisory committee on the conference is undergoing serious scrutiny and the approved structure, the guidelines and modalities for the conference will be made public soon as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion.
He said, “We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud.
“Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud”.
Explaining how his government intended to eradicate corruption and reduce the size of foreign travels by government personnel the president noted that he had already issued the directive which shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government.
According to him, the strategy to curb leakages would increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as bio metrics and digitising government payments.
“I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more”, Jonathan stated.
On how his administration intends to boost the nation’s economy, the president said, “In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP).
“We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond. Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day.
“We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy”.
On Agricultural development, President Jonathan assured that there would be new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country, adding that in 2014, his administration would continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector.
Accordingly, he disclosed that funds for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country would be launched in this year.
Jonathan added that peace and security was prerequisite conditions for the full realisation of his administration’s objectives, even as he noted that security agencies would be further empowered in 2014. He added that the allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget was a pointer to the commitment.
The president noted further that the task of making Nigeria a much better place for present and future generations mustnot be left to government alone, just as he urged Nigerians to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the federal government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way.
He said, “Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations.
“I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow”.
Mark wants Nigerians to work for peace, unity
Eminent Nigerians have called for patriotism, unity, prayers and hope as the country enters the year 2014.
President of the Senate David Mark saluted Nigerians for their perseverance, resilience and total commitment to the ideals of nationhood despite the daunting challenges facing the country.
Senator Mark, in a New Year message to Nigerians, praised the indomitable spirit of the citizens and urged them to continue to work assiduously for the peace and unity of the country.
He noted that Nigeria remains one of the best nations in the world, “because I do not know of any other country that is so blessed with human and natural resources. All we need do therefore is to honestly harness these resources for the good of all”.
The security, socio-political and economic challenges, Senator Mark said, are not insurmountable, pointing out that other developed nations of the world had at various times passed through such difficulties.
“The only difference is that the people themselves resolved to identify the problem and proffered a common solution; this is what we need in our own case — to reason together like one people and to solve our problems like one people”, the Senate president maintained.
Senator Mark in a statement issued by his special adviser, media and publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, counselled the political class against overheating the already charged polity through their actions, inactions as well as utterances, saying that no matter the level of anger in a man’s mind he should respect the rules of the game and rights of another.
“For me, I crave for a country where every citizen is a stakeholder, where there is justice, peace, equal opportunities and where no one is oppressed or marginalised. After all, God did not make mistake in keeping us together,” he stated.
Ekweremadu seeks new patriotism from Nigerians
In a related development, the deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, wants Nigerians to pray for the nation and demonstrate the highest sense of patriotism in the New Year.
Ekweremadu, who said that Nigeria’s future was very bright despite present challenges, noted that prayers and patriotism were essential ingredients in the nation’s efforts to strengthen her democracy and entrench peace and development.
In his New Year message, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, urged Nigerians to remain positive about their country. He prayed God for a prosperous and peaceful 2014 for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Remain hopeful, Ihedioha tells Nigerians
Meanwhile, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has urged Nigerians to remain hopeful and optimistic for better days ahead in the country.
In a message to mark the start of the new year, the deputy speaker said that the challenges of security, growth and development besetting the country only calls for greater resilience and optimism from Nigerians, noting that a defeatist mentality can only aggravate problems.
The chief whip of the Senate, Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo, also urged Nigerians to redouble their efforts at building a stable, secure and prosperous nation.
Senator Gwarzo noted that citizens should learn from the mistakes of previous years and commit themselves to ensuring that improvements are made in all facets of the country’s socio-economic and political life.
We need leaders like Mandela – Okorocha
The executive governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, urged Nigerians to pray that God should begin to raise national leaders who could be celebrated by other world leaders like the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, adding that until leaders that would be respected and celebrated by leaders of other nations begin to emerge in the country, the nation won’t move as fast as expected in terms of development and growth.
He further urged Nigerians, both the leaders and the led, to be committed to the words of the National Anthem and the National Pledge, noting that living up to the letters of both the anthem and the pledge would arouse national consciousness in every patriotic Nigerian.
The Imo State governor regretted that 53 years after Nigeria had gained independence, ethnic consciousness has been allowed to override national consciousness and political power sought on the basis of which area one comes from, and which religion one practises instead of emphasising on those factors that would make the unity of the country strong.