…improved infrastructure, security
….fix refineries, jobs
No doubt, the high inflationary trend made life difficult for most Nigerians in 2023. This is as a result of the incessant depreciation of the Naira against major currencies of the world, increase in the pump price of premium motor spirit due to the removal of fuel subsidy, as well as increase in the prices of goods, especially food items and transportation.
Sadly, 2023, for most people, is on record as the year Nigerians suffered the most because of the incredible level of hardship the people passed through.
From the unimaginable and continued hikes in prices across transportation, food items, rent, tuition fees, and even common sachet water, which is no longer affordable, the passing year 2023 is unprecedented.
However, and as usual of a new year, anticipations and hope are high for possible respite in 2024.
The majority of the citizenry look to 2024 with hope and to the government to ameliorate their sufferings.
In the new year, many think that the government should invest more in infrastructure, especially in the refineries in the country, whose operation will reduce importation of refined petroleum products, and save foreign exchange.
They also insisted that power is critical to the economic development of Nigeria and are urging the states to take advantage of the power sector reforms, to set up power stations to provide stable electricity, and boost economic development.
Leonard Eziefula, a Port Harcourt-based electrical engineer, urged the government to reconstruct damaged and failed roads, build new roads and bridges, where necessary.
He said that the government should pay serious attention to security and to ensure that electricity supply is stable.
On health, the engineer said that the government should give the sector the needed priority including adequate financing and enabling environment private sector participation in the provision of quality healthcare infrastructure and services.
“Government should focus on projects that all eyes can see, which is why I mentioned roads first. But it should not dabble into price control,” he said.
For Boniface Ortese, a staff of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), a more stable economy is needed in 2024.
He urged the government to do more to fix the power sector, improve security and put people-friendly policies in place.
Okechukwu Amaechi, a trade expert with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said there would be hope in 2024, if the government at all levels implement its budget with sincerity.
He advised the Federal Government to fix all the refineries to start full operation, a development he said would help reduce the prices of petroleum products.
He also urged the government to create employment, fight insecurity and create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“Government should also reduce the bottlenecks in the ease of doing business, and improve non-oil exports.
“I believe there is hope for the economy in 2024,” he said.
Goodluck Ibem, director general, Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, a socio-political youth group, expects the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), from DSS custody in other to bring an end to the insecurity in the South East zone.
He observed that the alleged unlawful incarceration of Kanu is seriously affecting the business and economy of the region, as criminal elements are capitalising on his incarceration to perpetuate crime.
“We expect President Tinubu to ensure that all our refineries are working in order to bring an end to importation of fuel and other petroleum products. The importation results in an unfavorable balance of payments.
“We expect the President and our state governors to revitalise moribund industries in order to provide jobs for our teeming youth. So, many of our graduates are roaming the streets without jobs, which is detrimental to the nation’s growth and development,” Ibem said.
The COSEYL president general also expects President Tinubu and the state governors to include more Nigerian youth in their administration in order to prepare them for leadership.
“The youth can only be leaders of tomorrow when they are fully part of the government”.
“In the 2024 fiscal year, we pray and hope for a robust economy, where the cost of living will be favourable to all Nigerians, irrespective of economic and social status,” Idris Momoh, BusinessDay’s Benin City correspondent, said.
According to him, “We expect that the Federal Government will put policies and programmes in place to help address these challenges. We expect that the nation’s refineries should be fully fixed to refine crude products, instead of importing refined products from overseas”.
He said that efforts should be geared towards ensuring that the agricultural sector is given needed priority, as well as the industrial sector by the federal government.
To increase food production and raw materials for manufacturers, he urged all the tiers of government to invest more in security, stressing that there cannot be meaningful agricultural production without security.
“Investors should be encouraged to invest in the country, especially in agricultural productions,” he said.
Truly, the passing year, 2023 cannot be said to be good, especially to the low income earners and the poor masses, who look forward to a better year ahead and also hope that their hope will not be shattered.
It would be recalled that the year 2023 witnessed many events that impacted the economy negatively.
From the removal of fuel subsidy, without concrete measures in place to address its adverse effect, to the redesigning of the nation’s currency, the scarcity of cash, among others, the passing year 2023 is unprecedented and Nigerians hope not to witness such a year again.