Every New Year holds a lot of promises, 2022 cannot be an exception! This New Year is a chance to plot and pilot a fresh course for our country.
There is no gainsaying the fact that this country has passed through a lot in the past few years. We have passed through storms that had broken other nations, but we are still here, limping and not exactly united. One of the challenges that has stretched our endurance is insecurity. Insecurity like never before has really pushed many a Nigerian to the limits of their endurance.
In this New Year, Nigerians would want the government and all those saddled with the responsibility of securing lives and property to do more to extricate the country from the stranglehold of insecurity.
Indeed, insecurity has dealt a heavy blow to our quest for a united and virile nation and has sowed a seed of suspicion among our people as fingers are being pointed at one another as sponsors or promoters of insecurity.
The economic cost of insecurity is enormous and cannot be overemphasized. We must do everything humanly possible to eliminate the cancer in our country in 2022 and onward. The emergence and expansion of armed banditry in the north-west resulted in the killing of at least 4,900 people between 2018-2020, many more hundreds of thousands has also been displaced while kidnappings by these armed extremist groups and bandits have become endemic in northern Nigeria, with more than 950 school children kidnapped since December 2020.
More than 200 students are still missing. According to Global Centre For The Responsibility To Protect, violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and ISWA against civilian and military targets has resulted in mass atrocities in northern Nigeria. At least 35,000 people have been killed since 2009 when Boko Haram launched its insurgency aimed at overthrowing Nigeria’s secular government and establishing an Islamic state. There are at least 2.2 million internally displaced persons in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states while health services and education have been severely disrupted. These groups have also perpetrated attacks in neighbouring countries, killing and displacing civilians in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Despite the reported surrender of almost 6,000 Boko Haram fighters following the alleged death of the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, on 19 May, the armed extremist group has recently expanded into north-central Nigeria. Nigerians, North and South, East and West, want an end to such violence!
In this New Year we expect that there would be significant improvement in our economy. We hope that there would be no reason why the economy would enter into another recession. Nigerians have been through economic dire straits in 2020 and 2021, most Nigerians hope for a better economy that works for everyone in 2022. Unfortunately what happens in the area of security would impact the economy. If insecurity were not tackled then food security would remain a challenge in the New Year. We know that many farmers in many parts of the country could not go to farms due to insecurity and that is responsible for the soaring cost of food in our markets. This has led partially to the astronomical food import bill.
In 2022, more should be done about double-digit inflation and high level of unemployment across the country. There should be radical push for job creation in both private and public sectors so as to increase productivity and grow the economy. It is hoped that government would ensure in 2022 that we cease being the poverty capital of the world.
2022 will be filled with political activities in preparation for 2023 general elections. We are likely to see politicians moving from one political party to the other as interests began to change and new political alliances built. It is important that as the political atmosphere increases, political actors must be civil and maintain decorum for the sake of the nation. Political thuggery and Godfatherism should be discouraged if we must maintain peace.
We know that money plays a big role in political parties and political organization. The situation becomes open for abuse when members of political parties do not contribute to the running of the party’s affairs thereby making it possible for moneybags and Godfathers to hijack the political process and impose their candidates on the parties and the country when their candidates win the elections. The people should take over the political parties and own it if we are truly committed to having a new Nigeria going forward. What happens this year will have serious impact on the outcome of the 2023 general elections. Nigerians should be actively involved. This is not the time for technocrats to sit on the sideline and be criticizing on the social media from their comfort zone. It is time for all hands to be on the deck for a paradigm shift in our body polity.
There is a clear trust deficit between the people and the government. The people are hard pressed to believe the government if it says or promises anything. This is because, successive governments have dashed the hope of Nigerians. This tendency to lie to Nigerians has however reached a new high in recent times. Government would bandy figures of millions of Nigerians that have been empowered with N10,000, or N5,000, but one hardly meets any of the beneficiaries in the flesh.
Those in government are yet to grasp the fact that in this age of internet you cannot lie to the people and sustain the lie for long. You will be found out. This means that government must avoid lying to the people and ensure the enthronement of transparency and accountability.
This call for transparency and accountability must be led by President Muhammadu Buhari who came into power based on his famed integrity and aversion to corruption. Sadly the two vices are still with us despite his being in power for nearly seven years and counting.
The issue of integrity and corruption came to the fore when it was revealed by none other than the president himself that the National Assembly bloated and padded the budget before passing the 2022
Appropriation Bill into law. What was even more shocking was that the president despite acknowledging the strange additions to the budget by the federal lawmakers still went ahead to sign the Appropriation Bill into law. Many, including this columnist had expected the president to send the Bill back to the National Assembly for the removal of those strange additions. It was a lost opportunity to do the right thing.
At this time that the people have tightened their belts, there should be no room for frivolities with our nation’s scarce resources! The country has been bleeding and one hopes that 2022 will bring a significant halt to the downhill slide of our beloved land.
I was one of those who firmly sought a Buhari presidency. Many others and I believed that under his firm leadership, we will tame corruption. Alas, it looks like corruption has turned out to be a real tiger. One hopes that 2022 will bring about a change in our nation’s attitude to corruption. We cannot continue to give it a mere lip service while privately cuddling it.