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What is the future like for Nigeria’s Come 2016

Projections into every New Year have always been one of mixed assumptions – good and bad. And which one between the good and the bad outwits the other, again, has always been a function of the peculiarity of each year. To that extent, no two years had been or can be said to have been the same.

It is no wonder, therefore, that last year ended very badly, its promises and envisaged failings notwithstanding. The cumulative rot of the past years seemed to have peaked last year and the effects do not appear to be going away soon even after a change of guards.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan was literally impossible, albeit understandably. He showed no experience or the requisite understanding of his job much less in governance and some of the results of his feckless regime are what President Muhammadu Buhari and his team had been elected to fix.

To say that the Buhari administration had a clue of what it was going to be involved with cannot be over-emphasised. What it did not know, perhaps, was the degree or propensity of the rot that had been perpetrated. But certainly, that is not going to stall the way forward.

Interestingly, it appears to be popular now – the blame shifting to the Jonathan administration – it would not suffice still in the final analysis and so, something refreshing has to give. Even though the former president himself was reported recently to have expressed shock at the degree of corruption alleged to have been perpetrated under him, continuous excuses in the name of Jonathan won’t address the issues.

Some of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, who joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) a year to the general election, cited as many reasons they left the PDP. Corruption, incompetence, impunity, lack of political will and an economy on a free fall were some of the reasons advanced for calling it quits with the PDP – the party that made them. Thus, those issues remained some of the indicators believed to have marked down the Jonathan regime, an era gone since May 29, 2015.

So, what is the new narrative? What does change mean in this context? Is it to continue to hold someone else responsible for everything months after he had left office while they do nothing or change the Nigerian story in a fashion that shows clear departure from the old order? The truth, however, is that if the attitude must change, the narrative too must reflect the change and the result carried over to other critical spheres of the system.

On the contrary, the Buhari presidency appears to be getting too comfortable with tracing its problems to the doorstep of Jonathan. It seeks to derive joy in making Jonathan its permanent basis for its poor start and the inability to get on good, delighting too leisurely in sitting back to doing nothing but seeing the public crucify Jonathan and his team for making messier, the Nigerian mess.

Unfortunately, demonising Jonathan would not make anyone a better president or his team the best in the nation’s history. But his works of change could. This is why Buhari must cease to make Jonathan his nightmare and the nemesis of bad leadership that had been the bane of the country almost since independence. Rather, he must show exemplary leadership by making sure Nigeria rises from this debilitating state to a promising one.

The challenges before the government in the New Year are too legion to be hiding behind a gangrened finger of the Jonathan administration because it may not survive the best of medical attention, orthodox or otherwise. Finding solutions and alternative to the skullduggery at hand are too compelling to be pointing fingers when it does not have the luxury of time, let alone the wherewithal.
It is therefore expected that the fight against graft would continue more ferociously this New Year.
But government must review its approach. One, it must not be seen as selective and two, it must not be done with scant regards to the rule of law. No one rights a wrong with wrong. The changing narrative starts here and government must show unrestrained commitment in this aspect. The fight against graft must be thorough, tough, clinical and conclusive. There shall be no bypassing the laws of the land in order to look good or appear working and cracking.

The challenge of security in the country is one generally agreed to have reached a point that government cannot afford to keep lying to itself about making progress or just managing the situation with the hope that it would just go away. It is at the point of decision – hard choices in collective interest. The fact that the security challenge is multi-dimensional makes it impossible for government to keep trying the same ineffective method and hoping to realise some mesmerizing results.

Presently, the escalating insecurity, especially terrorism might be a global challenge as it seems, its peculiarity however varies from country to country with strategies domesticated in view of the challenges. This is why government must thoroughly review its entire security architecture and come up with what can best addresses the Nigerian situation.

Whilst the clamour for a safe return of the Chibok girls is expected to continue even though it is becoming somewhat impossible from the look of things as well as government’s seeming weakness, the renewed agitation for the republic of Biafra is likely to continue more viciously this New Year too. Combined, these are going to compound the already strained and menacing insecurity in the country. You cannot as well rule out the threat by the Niger Delta militants to assert themselves in the scheme of things. Nothing can or should be taken for granted.

Aside these expectations, other developments expected to define the New Year include the trial of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki. This is one trial that seems to interest the Nigerian people, not just because of the person involved but more because of the issues at stake. This is why, given the allegations of instigation and interference, government must allow the law take its course in national interest and have this defined within the precinct of the law.

Also, this year, apart from the Bayelsa State election that is expected to be concluded this week, there shall be governorship elections in Ondo and Edo States too. The battle promises to be fierce because the elections that saw to the re-elections of the governors in the two states were no less one. And now that the stakes are even higher more or less, Nigerians look forward to what is coming next from the two states and who will take over from the duo of Olusegun Mimiko and Adams Oshiomhole.

Quite similar to that are the courts’ rulings on Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Taraba States governorship elections. Although the cases have been moved to the Supreme Court, the possibility of rerun elections is high in the three places and that is not going to be a walkover for any of the contending parties in the respective states. Government, in terms of security and INEC,  must pay sufficient attention to this. They can at least envisage possibilities in respect of the recent past experience.

While that is marked in view, the fate of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose also appears to be hanging in the balance following the military tribunal set up to probe the role of the army in the election that brought him to power. The governor already envisages conspiracy to see his back from office, alleging abuse and misuse of power. But it is yet to be seen how government intends to pull that through, using the back doors of the law, except of course, Fayose is merely crying foul.

The very lucky Governor-elect of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello will be sworn in by January 27, 2016. He has come to power in a most unusual way but with providence clearly at play. Although his emergence is still being challenged, the circumstances that threw him up are believed to have also made the case of his opponents seemingly impossible. But at least, the matter would be finally resolved this year.

Importantly, however, economists had predicted some serious belt-tightening this New Year because of the many economic and financial challenges facing the country and her people. While government is believe to be clear with this and equally taking steps like the removal of fuel subsidy and advising austerity measures for the citizenry, the 2016 budget is expected to give promising indications on what prosperity lies there in the New Year.

In brief, these are just a few of the interesting developments that promise to shape the New Year. But whatever happens, this New Year, President Buhari must completely do away with excuses or blame shifting to cover up for his own shortcomings. He no longer can say anything new about Jonathan.

Indeed, the issues about the former president have been exhausted and government must understand that Jonathan will not be responsible for any tactless waste of time but itself. And ultimately, Jonathan will not be responsible for the failure of the Buhari government to deliver change at the end of the day. Happy New Year!

Quote
“Unfortunately, demonising Jonathan would not make anyone a better president or his team the best in the nation’s history. But his works of change could. This is why Buhari must cease to make Jonathan his nightmare and the nemesis of bad leadership that had been the bane of the country almost since independence. Rather, he must show exemplary leadership by making sure Nigeria rises from this debilitating state to a promising land

Anti-Corruption Fight

Everything being equal the year 2016 would be a year of unprecedented fight against corruption, the hydra-headed monster that has kept Nigeria as a crawling giant over the years.
The thrust of the All Progressives Congress campaigns last year was that it would fight corruption ‎to a standstill if voted into office and considering that corruption has been identified as bane of Nigeria’s problem, the victory of the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari was easily attributable to the promise to fight corruption.

The Treasury Single Account (TSA), the investigation, arrest and commencement of legal proceedings against former National Security ‎Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki and other high profile corruption cases, the ongoing reforms in the Nigerian Nation Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are pointers to a new dawn in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Aside, telling Nigerians that monies stolen from the Nigerian coffers are already being returned, it is expected that the year 2016 will come with more revelations and war against corruption

President Buhari has reiterated his determination to continue the war against corrupt practices
Buhari said that nothing will stop him from fighting corruption and recover all stolen money from the previous administration, stressing that “The fight against corruption is total and no corrupt person will be left unpunished.”


Security Challenges

Agreeably, the Nigerian security agencies, particularly members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the State Security Service (SSS) have been working round the clock to tame the dreaded Boko Haram sect. In fact, a December deadline was given to end the activities of the insurgents but it is not certain whether Nigeria would be totally free of security challenges in the new year.

The reason for this pessimism is not far-fetched; it is because as the security agencies are ‎depleting the powers of the outlawed sect, they are also perfecting ways of carrying on with their dastardly acts, especially through suicide bombing that are claiming the lives of innocent Nigerians daily.

So, while Nigerians can look forward to a drastically reduced activities of Boko Haram, the insurgent would still make efforts to sustain its impacts into 2016 while government too will continue its clampdown on the outlawed group.  Issues of the Joint Military Task Force, international collaboration against terrorism, assistant for terror stricken countries and other international related matters will still dominate the headline in the ‎coming year.


Clamour for Chibok Girls Return

It  is exactly 625 days since the over ‎200 secondary school girls were abducted from their school in Borno State and agitation for their safe return is yet to subside.

The second-by-second countdown ‎of the period of absence of the girls have been kept alive on websites and with the efforts of the likes of Dr. Joe Odumakin and other promoters of the #BringBackOurGirls, the last is yet to be heard about the girls.

Though President Buhari inherited the Chibok girls crisis from former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, he would still have a lot of talking to do about what government is doing to facilitate the safe return of the girls.

The parents of the girls too are not quiet. They have spoken about their plight at every opportunity opened to them and they are not likely to keep quiet any time soon because nobody is talking about the girls’ ‎coming back right now.



Biafra Agitation Continues

The issue of the ongoing fresh agitation for the creation of the Biafra State will also be part of topical issues in the New Year.
As 2015 winds up, Biafran news have found prominent spaces in the newspapers headlines. More so, the federal government has filed a fresh six-count criminal charge against the leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the same court had last week ordered that Kanu should be released unconditionally and similarly, an Abuja Chief Magistrates’ Court had last week struck out the charge earlier filed by the Department of State Services (DSS) against Kanu.
But the new charge was dated December 18, filed by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, and signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, Mohammed Diri.

In the new charge, Kanu was accused of treasonable felony, maintaining an unlawful society and illegal possession of items, among others. It was also alleged that some persons who are now at large plotted to cause crises that might force President Muhammadu Buhari to concede certain parts of Nigeria to a purported Biafra nation.


2016 Budget

Some things are actually unique about the 2016 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari; it aims at cutting the recurrent expenditure and prioritises developmental projects. This initiative is in line with the position of economic experts who have argued on the urgent need to reduce recurrent expenditure that has continued to grow over the years while capital spending reduced to just 12 percent in the 2015 budget at an assumed oil price of $53 a barrel.

Another aspect of the budget is its job creating drive – with job creation focus embedded in every aspect of the execution of this budget. For instance, as an immediate measure to address the chronic shortage of teachers in public schools across the country, the federal government in partnership with state and local governments will recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders across Nigeria and they will be deployed to primary schools, thereby, enhancing the provision of basic education especially in rural areas while also creating jobs.

There is also a proposal for partnership with state and local governments to provide financial training and loans to market women, traders and artisans, through their cooperative societies.
Another talking point in the budget is that with N369.6 allocated to education, the Expectedly, the president’s 2016 budget should revive the middle class economics of Nigeria and it is the highest in Nigerian history;

The overall permutation is that in 2016, oil related revenues will contribute N820 billion. Non-oil revenues, comprising Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs and Excise duties, and Federation Account levies, will contribute N1.45 trillion and that by enforcing strict compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and public expenditure reforms in all MDAs, government could rake in about N1.51 trillion from independent revenues.

Nigeria should expect implementation of those projects that were not completed by the previous government. For instance, we should expect a significant completion of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and more to be done in federal universities across the nation. The government would be able to pay contractors they have owed for years, enabling them mobilize workers to the different sites they are required, creating more jobs. In the end, Nigerians should expect more jobs and better infrastructure.

Senate President, Bukola  Saraki also promise a speedy passage of the budget for quick delivery of democracy dividends. He said the National Assembly was willing and ready to pass only a budget that can be implemented comprehensively to the letter.
He also said the National Assembly was prepared to assist the executive arm to fight impunity and corruption within the system. In 2016, while the economy will continue to struggle even under the most optimistic scenario, there will continue to be growth in the economy even if oil prices fall to $35/bbl and average just $45/bbl in 2015.

Belt Tightening Economy
Nigeria’s economy in 2016 will be defined by economic pressures. Oil prices are expected to remain low especially with Iran’s expected re-emergence as a major oil exporter. This combined with the continued trend of a reduction in the number of buyers and quantity of buyers for Nigerian crude will put government revenues in a tight squeeze. Next year will be defined by how government at all levels will react to financial pressures. There remains a clear risk of recession and debt default by some states.

The Federal Government has a number of key economic decisions to make such as devaluation, subsidy, diversification, lending rates and capital controls and these decisions will have effects on how businesses can invest and cover their operating costs. There are clear expectations of economic slowdown and slight increase in unemployment in the first two quarters of 2016. This may be followed by an increase in entrepreneurial activities as Nigerians try to make ends meet in such situations. Another economic pressure the country may face is a late budget. The more the budget is delayed, the more companies that need to make investment decisions may delay; affecting. The Medium Term Expenditure Framework, due in August 2015, has finally been completed this December.
The government in the document recognized the macroeconomic situation and the economic pressures and made the relevant promises. Clearly, the government intends to spend to stimulate the economy. The government has said that capital expenditure will take up 30% of the 2016 budget, up from 17% in previous budgets. This is coupled with the fact that the 2016 budget figure is tentatively put at ₦6 trillion, which is the largest budget we have ever had in Nigeria, and is 50% more than the 2015 budget. Funding this budget in the face of dwindling oil revenues remains a challenge the Buhari administration will need to resolve.

The fact remains that Nigeria’s income is almost entirely dependent on oil revenue, with oil related activities coming a distant second before taxation, an even further third. Unfortunately, the price of oil, which as if the second week of December, 2015, is trading below the $40 per barrel mark, is expected to go even lower in the coming year. The  2016 budget is hinged on expectation of oil price of $38 per barrel and a production quota of 2.2 million barrels per day. The possibility of renewed Niger Delta unrest may affect these quotas, and a global oil glut will slows sale.

Corruption Trials
The trial of high profile corruption cases is expected to continue in 2016, with many new cases taken before the courts.
In 2015, some of the high profile cases that made headlines in the media were the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki , Chairman of DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi, Former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido and his sons, former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswan, Former Sokoto State Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, i, Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, former Interior Minister,Abba Moro, Godswill Orubebe, former Presidential assistant and Director-General of  NIMASA. These trails are expected to be continued in 2016 with other new cases of corruption.

The Ondo and Edo States Elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to conduct governorship elections in Ondo and Edo States. The tenure of the incumbent governors in this state will expire next year. The two incumbent governors, Olusegun Mimiko and Adams Oshiomohle would have served out their two terms in 2016 and are expected to hand over to new governors.

Court Rulings on Rivers, A/Ibom and Taraba State Governorship Election Petitions
The Supreme Court will deliver a final verdict on the governorship election petitions appeals now before it. The election petitions tribunals and the appeal court had earlier nullified the disputed governorship elections in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Taraba States. But dissatisfied with the rulings, Governors Nyesom Wike(Rivers), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom) and Dahiru Ishaku (Taraba) approached the Supreme Court as the final arbiter on the case. Therefore if the final court upholds the verdict of the lower courts, INEC may organize fresh elections in the affected states.

Kogi’s New Governor

The Governor -elect in Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello of APC is expected to be sworn in 2016, having declared as the winner of the governorship election that took place in Kogi last month. According to the INEC, Bello defeated the incumbent governor, Idris Wada, who was the PDP candidate in the election.

However, it is not clear what will happen before the inauguration date as the victory of Bello is now a subject of litigation in the courts. James Faleke the deputy governorship candidate to the late Abubakar Audu  in the inconclusive election approached the court seeking to be declare as the governor-elect having inherited the votes of the late Audu. Also, Governor Idris Wada is also in court claiming that with the death of Audu, he should be declared as the winner of the election.

Quote
“Everything being equal the year 2016 would be a year of unprecedented fight against corruption, the hydra-headed monster that has kept Nigeria as a crawling giant over the years. The thrust of the All Progressives Congress campaigns last year was that it would fight corruption ‎to a standstill if voted into office and considering that corruption has been identified as bane of Nigeria’s problem, the victory of the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari was easily attributable to the promise to fight corruption”
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