*Security, power, jobs, infrastructure, top demands
*Martins, Musa, Fasehun, Alile, Makinde, Ademowo, others speak
*NLC, TUC seek good governance, implementation of minimum wage
LAGOSâ€”WITH unanimity, eminent Nigerians yesterday decried the poor achievements of the government in 2012 and urged President Goodluck Jonathan to improve the lot of the citizenry with good governance in 2013.
Top among their demands and expectations are improved security and power, rule of law, job creation, keeping promises, transparency in governance and decisive war against corruption.
Indeed, some leaders doubted the ability of the government to deliver and called on Nigerians to pray fervently or else there might be more disappointments.
Notable persons, who shared their thoughts with Vanguard, include religious, political and ethnic leaders and Organised Labour.
Weâ€˜ll fight states breaching minimum wage law â€“ NLC
Indeed, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, described 2012 as most disturbing and challenging to workers and Nigerians, declaring that it was characterized by incessant job losses and unemployment, insecurity, corruption, and unparalleled impunity by political class that continued to threaten the nationâ€™s stability.
NLC believed that judging by the reality on ground, the sustenance of good governance would require re-strategising and more commitment to a peoples-focused and oriented policy thrust in the interest of the Nigerian poor.
In his New Year message, the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, lamented that some state governments were yet to pay the minimum wage at a time that official statistics put the unemployment rate at above 24 per cent and vowed to fight the affected states this year.
His words: â€œIt is rather sad that a National Minimum Wage, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the President since March 2011 is being observed in the breach by some state governments. More worrying is the spectacle of the Federal Government, which should defend its law, allowing state governments to use its security forces against protesting workers, who are only standing up for their rights as protected by the law. Such unprecedented impunity is not only malicious and base, but anachronistic to cherished democratic values. The much touted social dialogue, which should be the basis for resolving industrial disputes, has no meaning to some governments and most employers.
Power crisis should be totally tackledâ€” Peter Esele
National President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Peter Esele, tasked the government to improve power supply to drive development.
â€œOur expectations are clear. We need to improve our energy generation and distribution because power is pivotal to any meaningful planning. Steady power supply if guaranteed in 2013, would enhance investment and it would make employers and manufacturers to invest more. Without improved power supply, all the talk about foreign investment would amount to a mirage. Nobody will invest in a state of war like we have in areas that are experiencing high rate of insecurity.â€
Clerics insist on good governance
As the nation joins others around the world to usher in the year 2013, religious leaders across the country including the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, his Anglican counterpart, Most Rev. Ephraim Ademowo; Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Sunday Ola Makinde; Spiritual leader of St, Josephâ€™s Chosen Church of God, Apostle Hayford Alile; and several others have called on the Federal Government to initiate policies and programmes that will put smiles on the faces of Nigerians and help everyone forget the traumatic experiences of 2012.
In his goodwill message made available by the Churchâ€™s Media and Public Relations Officer, Rev. Oladapo Daramola, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, Most Rev. Makinde said the people need succour, relief and renewed hope and the only way of realizing such was for the Government to meet the aspirations and yearnings of the people through economic policies that have human face which will yield immediate dividends.
We must stem the tide orâ€¦ â€“ Makinde
Makinde said: â€œYear 2012 was no doubt a challenging year for the people of this country. It will go down in history as one of the most tragic and traumatic years in the life of our great nation. We started the year with a nationwide protest over the hike in pump price of petrol, which claimed the lives of some innocent Nigerians including Ademola Aderinto, a young man who was shot dead in Lagos.
According to him, â€œour quest for social justice, fairness, equality, and respect for human rights, freedom, tolerance and peace seem to be a mirage. There is palpable anger in the land and something needs to be done urgently. That is why it has become imperative for the Federal Government and other tiers of Government to rise up to the occasion and stem the tide of suffering sweeping through nearly every part of our country.â€
Alile says no limit to Godâ€™s blessing
Despite the security, poverty, unemployment and power challenges currently facing the country, Apostle Hayford Alile has assured Nigerians that there would be no limit to the blessing of God upon the nation in 2013.
Speaking at the Harvest gathering at the Kirikiri Town station of the church, Alile enjoined Nigerians, irrespective of religion or creed, to fear God and abide by the principles He had enunciated in His Holy Bible for mankind and it would be well with the nation in 2013.
Keep your promises, Martins urges Jonathan
On his part, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins called on President Goodluck Jonathan to match words with action in his resolve to make Nigeria a better place in the New Year.
Martins made the appeal in his New Year message signed by the Director of Social Communications, Very Rev. Msgr. Gabriel Osu.
He noted that the only way President Jonathan could prove that he is truly committed to better the lot of Nigerians in 2013 is by urgently addressing, in practical terms, the myriad of challenges confronting the nation such as insecurity, poverty, unemployment and erratic power supply, among others.
Obviously referring to the Christmas message of the President in which he asked Nigerians to expect positive transformation in 2013, Martins said that the past two years or thereabout was enough time for President Jonathan to acquaint himself with the numerous problems confronting the nation and come out with realistic solutions, adding that Nigerians were getting tired of listening to endless promises from their leaders without corresponding actions to show for it.â€
Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder â€“ Ademowo
To Most Rev. Ephraim Adebola Ademowo, Nigerians are becoming increasingly worried about the rate at which the nation is being dragged into debts through borrowings by the Federal and state governments, as well as the lack of safety in our aviation industry. He therefore called on the Federal Government to pay premium attention to the happenings in the aviation sector including the institution of proper investigation of the causes of recent crashes and ensure that internationally acceptable general safety laws are put in place.
On security and power, Ademowo warned that the alarming state of insecurity in our nation is worrisome. He urged government â€œto do something now to arrest this horrible situation. Lots of our youths are jobless and this is very unfortunate,â€ adding that Nigerians can still recall the billions of naira pumped into the power sector, from the past three administrations without much to show for the huge budgetary expenses.
Infrastructure and youth unemployment, he argued, are fast becoming time bomb waiting to explode.
â€œLet me make this call to our leaders that it is high time to move away from politics of promises without performance, to politics of action and service. Let all of us serve our dear nation with all sincerity. God has given to us, and thus put our nation first, let our leaders show or demonstrate their love for this nation by way of example,â€ Ademowo enjoined politicians.
Place national interest above othersâ€“Jonathan
Meanwhile President Jonathan has called on Nigerians to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in their particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations.
In a New Year message issued in Abuja, President Jonathan reiterated the commitment of his administration to ensuring that all the programmes and projects already embarked upon in the preceding years are brought to fruition this year.
According to the president, the task of making Nigeria cannot be left to government alone, noting that leaders and followers alike have critical roles to play in our march towards the fulfillment of our great national potentials.
The president said his administration had recorded remarkable progress in various fields and would consolidate on these achievements in the New Year.
He pointed out that â€˜Our objective for the year is to ensure by all possible means that more of the programmes and projects envisioned by this administration, and which are already being embarked upon are further brought on stream within the next 12 months to meet the yearnings of our people, and raise the quality of life.
It will be year of consolidation â€“ Mimiko
Also, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State has assured the people of the state that 2013 would be for consolidation on the gains of the past even as he promised to tackle unemployment and provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state.
2013 will be better than 2012 â€“Fashola
In Lagos, Governor Babatunde Fashola said 2013 would be better than 2012 if Nigerians exercise total submission to law and order and remain vigilant in their neighbourhoods.
He stressed that everyone must realize that security is everybodyâ€™s business and that those who make life difficult for the rest like kidnappers, armed robbers, suicide bombers and other criminals all belong and live in the communities.
â€œThey are not ghosts but people like you and I and so must be known by some people. It is our duty, both as individuals and as communities, to expose such people. Their activities only benefit a few while the majority of us suffer.â€
Jonathan should convene national conferenceâ€”Opadokun
Also speaking, former Publicity secretary of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Chief Ayo Opdakun, said: â€œMy expectation under President Goodluck Jonathan is that he should develop a political will to consult broadly for the purpose of convoking a National Conference where foremost questions will be asked.
Expect more disappointmentsâ€”Junaid Mohammed
To fiery Northern leader, Dr Junaid Mohammed, Nigerians should not expect much from the Jonathan administration in 2013 because of a series of broken promises.
His words: â€œMy expectation from this Jonathan government is disappointments upon disappointments because there is hardly anything they promise at the beginning of their term that they have achieved. In the first place, President Jonathan is not a presidential material, so Nigerians should not actually expect anything extraordinary from him.â€
Nigerians should resort to prayerâ€” Balarabe Musa
To wriggle out of the socio-economic quagmire, in 2013, former old Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, enjoined Nigerians to be more prayerful.
â€œI am not expecting anything good from a government that has appeared incapable of addressing the state of the nation. This is a government that cannot cope, so I am not expecting anything from them. As it is now, Nigerians should rather keep praying for the nation in 2013 because the government cannot do anything. People should resort to prayer,â€ he said.
We need disciplined governance â€“ Fasehun
Founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr Frederick Fasehun canvassed disciplined governance at all levels, saying: â€œThose who are in the position of authority should carry out their duties along the popular expectations of the nation.â€