Precisely this time last week, fellow Nigerians donned anxious looks as they lay in wait to usher in the New Year, of course, the very first day in 2019. Amidst the apprehensiveness was a huge circuit of confidence that their fortunes would advance greatly over and above their ordeals in 2018.
With that, Nigerians applied their minds to their own activities in the immediate past year with a rather singular purpose of amending their ways to accomplish better things ahead. But whether such better things will be effectuated in the new year is entirely left to the vicissitudes of fate and time.
Last year was brusque for Nigerians. It was a period when a living hell was generously witnessed in all spheres of the country’s life – economic, political and security. The health sector, education, power, industry, rule of law and so on were unspared.
It is well corroborated that Nigeria exited the economic recession it plunged into after attaining an impressive and consistent economic growth. But despite quitting the recession, there are remarkable howls that a good number of Nigerians still experience pallid fortunes.
Same year, our beloved country fell far short in every parameter for measuring a country’s performance in global development index. For example, we tumbled down precipitately in human development; that positioned the country as the worst place on earth for babies to be born as well as the poverty capital of the world.
However, it wasn’t all bad news about the economy last year. The laudable programmes of the federal government in agriculture are beyond all praise. Empowerment for farmers by way of loans to rice cultivators enabled the country to achieve a high level of food sufficiency and export.
Insecurity, in all likelihood, troubled Nigerians so badly in 2018. The deadly activities of bandits in the north western state of Zamfara, herdsmen and farmer’s clash in the north central and the exacerbated activities of Boko Haram that once came close to being decimated after repeated raids on them in the Sambisa Forest set Nigerians on edge.
Other variegated forms of insecurity such as armed robbery, kidnapping, cyber crimes, assassinations, ritual killings, cult violence, among others, posed direct and deliberate challenges to the nation. Although security agents put up a most commendable feat, the bale is very much with us.
Being the twilight of an election year, Nigerians developed election-related effervescence. The period was characterised by defections from one political party to the other by politicians. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wasn’t left out as it upped preparations for the 2019 general election.
Political begums like the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, were in the checklist of those who deserted the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Then state governors like Aminu Tambuwal, Samuel Ortom and Abdulfatah Ahmed of Sokoto, Benue and Kwara States respectively, also budged from the APC to the PDP.
In the industrial sector, 2018 was marked by strikes, especially in the medical and tertiary education cantle. The strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and its polytechnics coordinates, ASUP, have kept undergraduates at large for weeks. This poses a legitimate threat to the viability of higher education in the country.
We may be substantiating bad omens this new year if Nigerian workers, who are mobilising for a general strike on January 8, following what they perceive as deliberate delay in the implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage negotiated last year, proceed on the planned action.
There were many other egregious events in 2018 I am constrained by space to highlight. However, to have animated and prosperous 2019, there are a few essential areas that have to be managed. The first is the forthcoming general election. INEC, political parties and security agents have to play their roles excellently. As it were, the electoral umpire and security agents in particular are expected to exhibit neutrality.
As for the economy, it has to be variegated to end the long years of finely-crafted rhetorics of diversification. We urgently need the government to activate the power sector to enhance the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Crude oil era is winding up and therefore ineluctably bound to be replaced.
Industrial harmony is obligatory for the country to work more effectively. If workers continue with the customary walkouts for any and every reason, the country will soon convulse with inevitable tragedy. So, the new minimum wage embranglement needs to be untangled. Other labour concerns that excruciate the higher education sector must be examined appropriately.
If the progressive series of nagging and fussing incidents in the country are resolved, one will be confident and hopeful of a better Nigeria, and Nigerians will indeed savour at least a relative normalcy in 2019.