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Time to renew hope in 2018 -Thisday Editorial

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President Buhari should reposition his administration for the task at hand in the new year 

Perhaps to press home the all-pervasive gloom in the air, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last Friday fired broadsides at the ruling All Progressives Congress’ (APC). Even when most of the accusations were on the basis of politics, the statement in some ways reflected the public mood. The party said Nigerians have become overstretched by the litany of woes afflicting the nation, arguing that it would be the height of hypocrisy for the federal government to “spew another round of propaganda and fake hope.”   

Indeed, nothing poisons the public mood better than the present hardship that Nigerians have been experiencing at filling stations due to petrol shortages across the nation. For more than two weeks, the shortages had persisted despite assurances to the contrary – a tradition that largely has become a vicious circle. What is even more alarming is that the crisis will persist because of the revelation that petrol is still being subsidised – at huge cost for that matter – a luxury that the government could ill-afford. Besides, Nigerians are increasingly becoming prisoners of the maxim, “bad gets worse.”

As we are ushered into another year, many basic services such as education, health and infrastructure are decrepit or in short supply, while a demographic crisis is looming large on the horizon. The unemployment rate, put at more than 30 per cent by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), is not only frightening but breeds the risk of social, economic and security turbulence. More worrying is that some seven million people lost their jobs in the last one year alone.

The security situation is treacherous. Boko Haram, the brutal insurgent group, still constitutes a major security issue as manifested by the quantum sum of $1b recently voted to bring it down. This is not to mention the other cocktail of crimes and criminal activities – from kidnapping, armed robbery, herdsmen-farmers conflicts, cultism to general banditry – crimes that constitute additional instability to a country already on fire.

 Thus Nigerians are being ushered into a new and difficult year – 2018 – with some diffidence. The prevalent public disillusionment occasioned by severe economic hardship is being capped by losing the dominance of the machinery of violence to non-state actors. But the situation could be worsened if politicians and other stakeholders abandon governance and related duties to the people in their bid to get re-elected into offices.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has since released the timetable for the 2019 general elections, beginning with the Presidential election in February 2019. Even if we admit that the elections are important, governance should not suffer at their expense. We cannot keep doing things the wrong way.  It is therefore important that politicians move into the election year with discipline and decorum in conducting their electioneering campaigns. They should work hard and avoid inflammatory rhetoric.

Nothing less is expected particularly because of the rising tension and violence occasioned by hateful speech, divisive comments and a polity obsessed with ethnicity and religion. We urge all political groups and their associates to steer the country from emerging political rifts and sectional conflicts.

Even though the country is officially out of recession, there are plenty of things that continue to disappoint in an administration welcomed with high hopes more than two years ago. It is therefore our hope that as we begin a new year, President Muhammadu Buhari will reposition his administration for the urgent task at hand.

As we, therefore, begin 2018, we hope Nigerians will put behind them a year that was often marked by angry and hate rhetoric so we can all embrace a new spirit that places emphasis on unity of purpose as we seek to advance our country for peace and prosperity.

We wish all our readers a Happy New Year!

Thisday

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