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As The Year Draws To A Close

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As we go through the motions of bidding 2018 bye bye, we cannot but reminisce on the steps and missteps of the year.

Many things, big and small, happened in this nation in the year 2018, which many of us hope will never happen again in 2019.

One of my personal pains is the unrelenting blood bath in Zamafara State. It is almost as if the people of Zamfara are living in a world devoid of value for their lives. It is sad to read of drive-by and ride-by shootings by bandits and killers who seem to take pleasure in the terror, deaths and chaos they create.

And the fact that they don’t have any purpose for their killings other than killing, how can one understand people who simply ride through communities shooting and killing whoever is unfortunate to be out on the streets at that time.

It is told that these killers often visit markets where they proceed to kill as many people as they can. Everyone knows that a market is a meeting place, a concourse of economic interaction, but in Zamfara, it is often a place where the innocent meet death. Mind you, the unarmed citizens are often more than willing to hand over their goods without resistance, yet, these bandits prefer to kill an already traumatized and impoverished citizenry.

One hopes and prays that this horror in Zamfara will end with the end of 2018.

On the good side is the completion of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. This airport ought to be the premier airport in Nigeria to befit the status of Abuja. This column is therefore glad that it has been completed and commissioned. Kudos to FAAN and the federal government for this feat even though some claim it is belated.

There is also good news coming out of the universities where some students have surpassed all expectations. This is in spite of the general apathy to education in our country.

At every recent graduation, dozens of brilliant students come out with well deserved first class degrees in various disciplines. And many a time, these thespians turn out to be women and girls. For instance, there were more females with first class at law school than males. This feat by females is being repeated in every zone of the country. At University of Ibadan, females did the magic, even at Ahmadu Bello University of Zaria.

One hopes and prays that this excellence by women will lead to the opening of more opportunities for women in our dear country. It has been proven that women are better managers of resources and better at achieving set objectives. We really do need more women in high offices in Nigeria if we want to make progress. Rwanda is harnessing the power of women and it is reaping the dividends of allowing women run strategic state agencies.

In the year, we were declared the poverty capital of the world. That is the most dubious distinction that we were unfortunate enough to earn this year. It simply means that there are more poor people in Nigeria than in any other country of the world.

To become the poverty capital, we failed in the Human Development Index (HDI). We failed in education, we failed in employment, we failed in infrastructure and we failed in building a society that cared for the downtrodden. To be the poverty capital and yet be the biggest economy in Africa is a sorry paradox.

It means that we are big for nothing. It means that income distribution is so bad that the wealth of the country is monopolised by a few elite at the very top who monopolise access to resources while putting the resources so cornered to little or no use at all.

The minimum wage debate is an indication of the economic illiteracy of the Nigerian elite. You cannot grow an economy in which the majority of buyers earn next to nothing. If a nation does not pay a meaningful minimum wage, its citizenry therefore will have no buying capacity to keep industries productively busy. As one man famously said, what can a man who earns N18,000 as wage buy? In what way will his purchases aggregate in such a way that his demand will attract foreign investments?

Low minimum wages tends to lead to a sluggard economic atmosphere. One hopes that the New Year will see a situation where a minimum wage regime is constructed at a level that can lead to economic resurgence through Keynesian algorithms.

Thankfully, the Christmas season did not witness fuel scarcity anywhere. Christmas travels have become a season of mass cross-country migrations, which hitherto had led to fuel hoarding and fuel scarcity. There have been no reports of fuel queues this travel season. Whether by accident or design, this column gives kudos to the authorities while hoping that adequate supply will continue in the New Year!

As an optimist, I do sincerely hope that 2019 will hold a much better prospect for Nigerians. All the prognosis of violence due to the general elections is not doing much to reduce the fear and tension in the polity. This column however believes that election violence is over rated. While we know that our elections tend to be violence prone, the new electronic and digital measures recently put in place by INEC will surely minimise rigging.

Violence in elections tends to be an adjunct of rigging. When elections are fairly free and fair, violence is abated. However, the political gladiators will do well to keep their over enthusiastic followers in check.

Election violence is one economic slayer that Nigeria cannot afford at this time and one can only hope and pray that there will be no violence as a result of the 2019 general elections.

Aluta Continua!

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