Gazing into 2024

THE year 2023 has gone down in history as we stepped into 2024. This notwithstanding, the events of the year gone by should be kept in retrospection as a template for forecasting into what the new year holds for our national life. Year 2023, no doubt, had come and gone but the memories of its ups and downs linger. On a positive side, 2023 was a great year to Nigeria and Nigerians. It was the year the country successfully transited from one civilian administration to another after a long contested presidential election both at the polls and the courts.

THE year also witnessed the  resuscitation of the Port Hacourt Refinery which began production in December and inauguration of Dangote Refinery, arguably the largest private enterprise in the global oil industry. Though not fully operational, it is hoped it will come up stream this year. The year also witnessed Nigerian soccer stars clinching the best African player awards in both male and female categories: Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala,  and Falcon’s  Chiamaka Nnadozie, who was crowned the CAF Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year.

IN spite of the gains of the year 2023, Nigeria and Nigerians witnessed torrents of ills in terms of insecurity, economic downturn and acute hunger. As a matter of fact, the high hopes of Nigerians on the Bola Tinubu administration fell off by the debilitating effects of the removal of fuel subsidy which the new president announced at his inauguration. This singular policy brought hyper inflation, loss of jobs, and hunger in the land as many Nigerians continued to groan under the high and unbearable cost of living. The nation’s dependence on importation for its fuel consumption, food and other items further weakened the naira to an all time low of over a thousand to a dollar rate. To worsen the situation, insecurity peaked towards the end of the year with the massacre of hundreds of villagers in Plateau State on Christmas day beside several kidnappings, bank robbery, and insurgencies.

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THE Sunshine State also had its own share of the turbulent year with the political upheaval that characterized the Ondo State cabinet occasioned by the ill health of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu which culminated in his death on December 27 throwing the state into mourning. The eventual inauguration of Akeredolu’s deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, as substantive governor brought normalcy and a glimmer of hope to governance in the state. All these made 2023 a tough year.

HOWEVER, all hope is not lost as government continued to reassure the citizens of better days ahead. President Tinubu has consistently told Nigerians that the hardship they are going through will be worth it afterall going by the dividends his economic policies would yield in due time. To this effect, he has promised to implement the N28.7 trillion 2024 budget with all commitment it deserves to bring the desired relief to Nigerians. Consequently, the president said local oil refining will increase to reduce importation, students loan disbursement would commence, and agricultural intervention will come into full swing among others.

WE therefore call on the president to walk his talk in addressing the myriads of challenges facing the country. The education, healthcare, energy sectors and road network should be given priority in contrast to the criminal neglect by previous administrations. President Tinubu should take decisive steps in addressing insecurity which has been the cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s progress as many have been killed, rendered homeless and fled farmlands leading to acute food shortage. As we had written in our previous editorials, it is time Nigeria decentralizes its security command in terms of policing as the central command seemed incapable of addressing insecurity in the nooks and crannies of the country. Besides, government should ensure the local refineries function to gradually reverse the excruciating pains of Nigerians occasioned by high cost of fuel. Nigerians have endured enough, and they should not be stretched beyond their elastic limits.

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IF year 2024 is significant to Nigeria, it is more so for Ondo State for obvious reasons. First, it is a transition year in which the new governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa is expected to consolidate and complete the four-year tenure he started with the late Governor Akeredolu. Second, it is the year of decision in which another gubernatorial election will be held in the state as well as in the neighbouring Edo State.

THE HOPE calls on Governor Aiyedatiwa to be focus minded and resilient in implementing the good policies of this administration without fear or favour. He should note that to whom much is given, much is expected. Therefore, he should remain steadfast and avoid any form of distraction in running the course of governance for the benefit of the citizens who he is accountable to.

WHILE not shying away from the fact that this is another year of politics in the Sunshine State, we call on the political class to put the interest of the state above their personal and primordial interest by playing the game by the rules. First, we enjoin the political parties to up their game and allow internal democracy to thrive as they warm up for the primaries slated for April. Parties should ensure that their primaries produce the best of candidates for the November gubernatorial election in which a new governor will be elected. We join Governor Aiyedatiwa to state that this year’s election should be “a contest of ideas and choices” rather than a do or die affair. Politicians should be reminded that election will come and go and the state remains but their actions and inactions will shape what happens afterwards.

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NIGERIANS should note that the benefits they will derive from 2024 will never be based on wishful thinking but on positive ideas and steps taken to actualise their dreams.  The Hope insists that our fortunes or otherwise are dependent on the choices we make and the actions we take.

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