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Happy New Year 2018 -Daily Trust Editorial

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Today, January 1st is the beginning of the New Year 2018. A New Year often affords a reference point for individuals, organisations and even nations across the world to marshal their plans and plan for their development. New Year resolutions are made, just as new beginnings are embarked upon by people in different fields of human endeavor, and all in the hope of actualizing higher quality of life and better dividends from their enterprise in the new dispensation. For many therefore, the New Year day is the point of aspiring towards a renewal of sorts.

 For Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has in the tradition of the New Year dispensation raised for the country expectations of better days ahead based on signals he believes indicate an upswing in the fortunes of the country. His forecast for the New Year constitutes an extension of the very optimism he exuded during the presentation of the 2018 budget estimate to the National Assembly. At that occasion Buhari had described the economy last year as suffering from a “tepid” recovery largely due to a global political economy that was infested with serial uncertainties which impacted negatively on the country.  As he rightly observed these developments had impacted on the country significantly. Some of the developments he referred to include Brexit, happenings in the Korean Peninsula and the oil production vagaries associated with the Middle East and South America. 

The President had also in that budget speech outlined the government’s agenda for 2018 as being anchored on the consolidation of the gains of the Economic Recovery and Growth Programme, ERGP whose success seems to be boosted by the 3.7% growth projection for the economy in 2018 by the IMF. IMF projection also underlines the country’s exit from the painful recession. 

Buhari’s note of optimism in both his budget speech and New Year message to Nigerians is based on several positive indicators which include the rise in international price of oil, as well as expected higher tax revenues for government from a revived Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS). Also in the array of positive signs is the relative improvement in the country’s agricultural sector. 

However, better times for this country in 2018 should not end with positive economic indices alone, but include a higher quality of governance that is available to the citizenry. It is in this respect that the government needs to place premium from 2018 onward, to ensure that the country transits from its presently pre-democratic status to a Constitutional democracy where the rule of law remains supreme. Of note are the seemingly intractable security challenges across the country which are tasking the capacity of government to address. Yet it is trite to observe that the sundry security challenges have a direct nexus with the poor quality of governance which alienates wide cross-sections of the society, especially the youth, and creates pockets of resentment in them which easily translate into open rebellion to constituted authority. 

A key factor in this regard is the near absence of harmonious relationship between the various arms of government at the respective tiers of governance. While at the centre the relationship between the National Assembly and the Presidency can at best be described as no love lost, the executive arm at the state and local government tiers marginalize and treat the respective legislative organs with sheer disdain. Meanwhile the Constitution accords the so mistreated legislative organs the powers to define the values for governance. 

The immediate implication of this sordid state of affairs is the poor follow through in the various tiers of governance of public welfare policies by the Federal government and the vitiation of the sanctity of the Constitution. The dispensation of a new year provides the opportunity for re-inventing the Nigerian political economy and thereby transform the Nigerian story. It is on this note that we wish the country Happy New Year.

Daily Trust

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