Last year was very tough and we know how difficult it was for many families to put food on their table.
As Nigeria joins nations of the world to mark the dawn of the Year 2021 today, President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented the setback the country and its citizens suffered as a result of many challenges in 2020, with a promise to tackle them in the new year, prominent among which are insecurity, poor economy, and corruption.
This came as the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki also lamented the frustration in the land.
Governors of Benue State, Samuel Ortom; Taraba State, Darius Dickson Ishaku; Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; Oyo State, Seyi Makinde; Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, also bemoaned the 2020 experiences with promises to tackle them.
Buhari described 2020 as a very tough year, with a promise to effect changes.
The President’s comment is contained in his address to the nation to commemorate New Year Day.
He urged Nigerians as they celebrate to acknowledge the passing of “our brothers and sisters who didn’t make it into this New Year.”
On security, he promised to re-energise and reorganise the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against communities in some parts of the country.
He said he would focus on revamping the economy through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency.
While stating that his government recorded substantial gains in 2020, he pledged to continue “along the path of eradicating corruption, through collaboration with all the arms of government to effectively prosecute this fight.
The woes associated with the country, notwithstanding, the President urged Nigerians to remember the good things that came with the outgone year, like the attainment of 60 years of independence by the country.
“We must remember that we also celebrated the historic occasion of our sixty years as an independent and sovereign country on October 1st, 2020. In the spirit of hope and gratitude, I would like to remind us again that as a country on the difficult journey to nationhood and greatness, we have confounded the many pundits at home and around the world who never gave the newly-born country that emerged unto the world stage on October 1, 1960, a chance of surviving much longer than a few years.”
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, stressed the need for nations to embrace peace and cooperation in 2021 towards finding solutions to global challenges.
In his New Year message yesterday, Guterres said working together would help tackle the climate crisis, stop the spread of COVID-19, and make 2021 a year of healing. “Healing from the impact of a deadly virus, healing broken economies and societies, healing divisions, and starting to heal the planet. That must be our New Year’s Resolution for 2021,” he said.
He described 2020 as the year of trials, tragedies, and tears.
He, however, expressed optimism that the New Year would erase the bad memory of 2020, saying: ‘But a New Year lies ahead. And with it, we see rays of hope: people extending a helping hand to neighbours and strangers; frontline workers giving their all; scientists developing vaccines in record time; countries making new commitments to prevent climate catastrophe. If we work together in unity and solidarity, these rays of hope can reach around the world. Both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are crises that can only be addressed by everyone together – as part of a transition to an inclusive and sustainable future.”
Lawan had earlier said that Nigeria had every reason to thank God that the impact of the global health emergency and economic recession on Nigeria was not as catastrophic as was predicted by experts.
This was contained in a message signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Yomi Awoniyi, in Abuja yesterday.
He attributed the low impact to prompt response by the government and stressed the need to remain proactive in the New Year.
On what to expect in 2021, he said critical legislations the Senate could not enact in 2020 are on the priority list of the National Assembly for 2021.
“Topmost on the priority list is the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which we need, to boost activities in our oil and gas sector. The PIB has defied passage for about two decades but we are determined this time around to break that jinx and pass the Bill by the end of the first quarter of the New Year.
Gbajabiamila urged Nigerians to use the experiences of 2020, which he described as very challenging, to work towards a better 2021.
He said he was optimistic 2021 “holds a lot of positives for Nigeria and Nigerians, hence the need for citizens to remain positive.”
He expressed the need for the populace to remain resolute towards the continued existence of Nigeria as a nation.
“Yes, we may be going through challenges as a nation, but with our collective determination, we shall overcome,” he said.
Atiku lamented the devastating effects of crises in the outgone year, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic, even as he blamed “lazy and uninspiring leadership at the centre for poor management of the challenges.”
He expressed sadness that many lives had been lost to insecurity, poverty because of “a poor management of our national economy.”
He described the outgone year as quite harrowing and attributed Nigerians’ survival to the grace of God.
“It is cheering we are entering the New Year with refreshing news of a handful of certified vaccines against the dreaded COVID-19 virus. And better still is news of commencement of vaccination in some parts of the world.”
Ortom, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said, though the year 2020 came with numerous challenges such as COVID-19, increased insecurity, and economic hardships, praises, and glory must be given to God for His grace and protection through the year.
He noted that the economic pressures and fiscal constraints of the outgoing year that prompted the 2020 downward budget revision also necessitated the adoption of new measures by governments at all levels to curtail the high rate of unemployment and poverty, insecurity, youth restiveness, and breakdown in citizens’ trust of government as demonstrated at the END SARS protests.
He reminded indigenous entrepreneurs in particular of the existing opportunities such as the state partnership with Bank of Industry, BOI, to give loans at only 5 per cent interest rate to boost farming.
He said the government was conscious of the need to strengthen the resolve of the people to recover from the economic and coronavirus crisis.
Ishaku, in a statement by his Senior Adviser on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu, congratulated the people for surviving COVID-19 and economic hardship in 2020.
He predicted the end of the virus in the New Year if the people would play their roles by observing COVID-19 protocols put in place by the government.
Besides planning to make life better in 2021 by boosting rice production, providing potable water, he assured the people that ongoing road projects would be completed, adding:
“Government remains unequivocally committed to the pursuit of peace and would not relent in its desire to ensure the safety of lives and property.”
Okowa called on Nigerians to approach 2021 with great optimism.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba, Okowa reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to providing quality and enhanced service to residents.
He said: “I salute our collective resolve to continue to live together in peace in spite of the economic and health challenges posed by the vagaries of climate and other indices, especially COVID-19 pandemic, which is still ravaging our country and the rest of the world.
“For COVID-19, which is making a rather unfortunate ‘return’ after what appeared as a respite in its ravaging effect on our people and the nation, I appeal to all residents to eschew complacence and resume full compliance with the protocols to check the spread of the virus as prescribed by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).”
He urged citizens to remain peaceful and live in peace with their neighbours which, according to him, is the core element of the Stronger Delta agenda.
Uzodimma in his message titled ‘A Year of Promise and Divine Accomplishments,’ said:
“It should never be lost on us that the economic growth of the world and our country was negatively impacted as a result of dwindling oil prices occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. But I believe God designed everything to bring out the tested leadership endowments he bestowed on us.”
Makinde described 2020 as a tough one, which was only survived by God’s grace.
He noted that though 2020 was characterised by a drop in oil prices, which led to a huge drop in revenue from federal allocations and the attendant economic meltdown, the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests, among other challenges, residents of the state could still count their blessings.
According to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the governor gave the assurance while presenting his New Year address to newsmen in Ibadan.
He quoted the governor as saying: “As 2020 closes, I am reminded of the words of the very popular 1897 hymn by Johnson Oatman Jr, ‘Count your Blessings.’ This song encourages us to take stock of the good things that happened in our lives. When we do this, we often find that we have overlooked many positives.”
He urged residents to maintain a positive outlook for the New Year.
Wike described 2020 as a very challenging year, saying it was made worse by a mismanaged national economy in recession, the coronavirus pandemic, escalated insecurity, corruption, and socio-political tensions.
The governor said, “these made life horrible for millions of struggling families and ordinary Nigerians in the face of dwindling revenues, rising inflation, poverty, and unemployment.”
He, however, pledged that his administration would create a more robust business environment that would stimulate economic growth, empowerment and create tangible jobs for Rivers people in 2021.
Saraki, the immediate past Senate President, urged Nigerians to devote the New Year to sourcing and administering solutions to the multifarious problems confronting the country.
In his message released in Abuja, Saraki congratulated Nigerians, who survived various difficulties in the just-ended year. Yusuph Olaniyonu of Abubakar Saraki Media Office signed the statement.
It said: “Congratulations to those of us who benefitted from the mercy of Almighty God and are alive today. Yet, surviving all the difficulties that we witnessed in 2020 is a testimony to the kindness of God and we deserve to celebrate and praise God for the New Year. Happy New Year to all of us”, he stated.
The former Senate President advised further that both leaders and the rest of citizens should focus on how to generate ideas towards solving the problems of insecurity, economic recession, the dearth of necessary infrastructure, the collapse of national values, a threat to national unity, lack of social welfare, and youth restiveness.
He added that the period of lamenting about the problems or trading blames between leaders and followers, between people of different faiths, ethnicity, and age groups had gone with 2020.
“We should all focus on finding solutions. We should build conversations on what needs to be done to ensure that our security agencies can work together and have the necessary facilities to eliminate insurgency, kidnapping, robbery, and harassment of innocent citizens and foreigners engaged in genuine businesses,” he said.