The year 2016 has come and gone with its highs and lows. A new year is here. What are the expectations of Nigerians this year? What do people expect from our leaders in order to make Rivers State and the nation at large better in 2017? Our correspondent, Calista Ezeaku, was in town to talk with members of the public on the crucial issues. Prince Dele Obinna was the photographer.
Audu Daniel Audu — Engineer
I will expect that this year, we, as individuals and as a nation should be more prayerful. Last year was not very good especially for those of us in the construction sub-sector So, I will expect and pray that things will improve so that there will be enough cash flow. Here in Rivers State, I think government should pay more attention to infrastructural development, things that will better the lives of the people. We can give kudos to Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration, the roads are okay but we still need more development. For the Federal Government, I will want them to play down on politics, engage professionals, irrespective of their party affiliation, to move the economy forward. They should employ more experts especially in the economic sector to help and move the economy forward.
Mr Akoji Friday —— Teacher
My expectations are that things will get better. Last year we suffered so much. Some of us who are civil servants stayed for months without salaries. We believe that things will get better in this year, 2017. This will be achieved through the efforts of our leaders, by trying to generate more revenue for us, more money from other sources within our economy. Here in Rivers State, l expect the governor to try more in his development efforts and see that the civil servants are well taken care of. The Federal Government should work hard to see that the economy improves, especially on the aspect of the exchange rate. If the value of our currency improves, I think Nigeria will move forward. They have to loosen some tightened buttons. Presently, people are complaining of the problems encountered at the borders. They should see how they can resolve that matter and make importation less cumbersome even as efforts should be made to encourage local production of goods. They have been talking about growing our economy through improved made in Nigeria goods but we are no longer interested in the talks. We are interested in actual implementation of policies that would make that dream a reality.
Miss Edet Victoria — Legal Practitioner
This year, I just pray that God will give our leaders better understanding for them to be able to lead us well. What has been happening in Rivers State during elections is disheartening. For instance, during the last rerun, in Etche Constituency, the election was cancelled Igboland. Even the senators that were elected continue to have one or two issues. I think it’s high time we put political affiliations aside and think of the development of the state. They should look at how to give the people good governance and make sure that lives and property are being protected because to an extent, the state and the country in general are not secure. So, I pray they should have more wisdom and be able to lead us well because people are suffering. The political violence is too much. I think they should be able to cut down on it forget about their selfish interests and focus on what will bring unity, peace and development to the state. Government should be able to do all things possible to take us out of the current recession because it’s no longer funny. It should be able to come up with better policies to give Nigerians a better country. These were the things they promised in their manifestoes before they became leaders but it’s always unfortunate that when they occupy offices, they fail to remember all their promises .
Mr James Omoregie — Publisher
I think so far, the Governor of Rivers State has been doing well. Before now, this state wasn’t like this. Most of the roads are good now. AlI I expect from him is to continue his good works. On the federal level, we have the problem of mismanagement. They say they are fighting corruption while the people are dying of hunger. By the time they said there was corruption, we were eating well. Today, a bag of rice is about N27,000. So I will expect our leaders to begin to channel the resources of the country properly. I don’t think the people the President has in his cabinet are not actually doing enough, if not the situation wouldn’t have been as bad as it is today. People are hungry and hardly can you see any federal project going on. For six months, there were no ministers and all the money was going into one purse. Where are those monies? Government should step up its management policies that will benefit the poor. This banning of imported goods is not our problem. They should look for a way to step up our currency or at least take it back to where it was when they came on board . They should make cost of production in the country very minimal to encourage local production. That will bring down the cost of locally produced foodstuff. For instance, if a bag of Nigerian rice is N5,000? Am I mad? know why l should buy foreign rice N25,000n, l’m l mad? So you’ll discover that you don’t need to ban or put high tariffs on imported goods. Before you know it people will start consuming our local goods. So, my major concern is that the government should strengthen the naira because when it does that a lot of other things will fall into place. I always wish we should have true federalism. Let every state manage her resources and pay certain royalty to the Federal Government.That will reduce the agitation from Niger Delta, Igboland and all that.
Alpheaus Wisdom — Pastor
Well, the year 2016 was not so juicy as we thought it would be. In this year, 2017, we expecting the Rivers State Governor to put food on our table. For me as an individual, l realise that things are more expensive in Rivers State than other states of the federation. Talk of recession, it is not as biting in other states as it is in Rivers State. Prices of goods and services are too exorbitant here. When you go outside the state it’s a little bit cheaper. So for me, Rivers State Government should diversify into agriculture, into having garri industries so that the price of garri will drop. House rent is expensive, foodstuff is expensive, so the state government should enact a law on house rent just like the Lagos State government did. There should be a law stating what every apartment should be paid for. Secondly, they should leave banana and all the catfish production they are doing and go into garri production, palm oil industry so that Rivers people will have food to eat. The Federal Government should try and get a good economic team to run our economy.
Mr. Barry — Civil Servant.
For me, l will expect both federal and state governments to focus mainly on capacity building. There should be programmes for training of people especially the unemployed to make them self reliant. If they can create jobs for the people, I think all this youth restiveness experienced in different parts of the country will stop.