Praying for a better future at this New Year
Today human race joins the company of angels and saints in stepping boldly into the year 2017 amidst confusion issuing from a troubled world and groaning humanity. We are celebrating a new year in a world in which brutality has become humanity’s daily portion. Overlooking the sad situation of things in Imo State and in Nigeria one stretches his imagination unto France, Syria, Iraq and Iran, unto Ukraine, Pakistan, the United States of America, Mexico and other human locations unknown to the modern Media. In all these places, confusion stands tall.
Here in Nigeria, the situation is worse than ever. The admixture of intolerable religiosity, at times Christians against Christians, the IPOB fight for justice and equal rights, the odious politics which often culminates into mudsling and mutual killings etc, the excruciating poverty in our midst etc, all these and many more have kept dragging Nigerians into unceasing shedding of tears. The regular demonstrations in most Eastern States stemming from non payment of workers’ salaries, pension arrears and joblessness on the part of our youth all over the country are gory scenes of how unfortunate our human situation has become. In the midst of all these confusions, here comes a new year which presumable will translate our overstretched hope for change.
For those of us in Imo State and Nigerians in general, this year seems to be particularly significant. Last year witnessed many woes. It was a year that ushered in the worst economic melt down in our country. The leaders who came in with a CHANGE mantra seemed to have lost the battle.
It was also a year of heightened tensions occasioned by economic recession, non payment of workers’ salaries and the crusade of the Indigenous people of Biafra. 2016 was a year in which we all witnessed a heavy quake on the fabric of this curbled states called Nigeria crying daily for “nationization”. A glance on the federal appointments says it all. It was therefore one of those years that spelt the make-or break of our great nation; a year that showcased Nigerians’ insensitivity on the part of those we elected into positions of authority.
2016 was one significant year which offered many of the nation’s leaders, at both the federal and state levels, an opportunity to prove to the electorates that the dreams of our fore-fathers and our collective sacrifices at the polls in 2015 were never in vain. Above all, it was a year in which many Nigerians expected our current leaders to pinpoint the solutions to the problems that beleaguered the nation in the past years but all to no avail.
Apparently, the year 2016 marked a near watershed in the nations’ history. It was a year in which we almost reversed to the age of recrudescence. It was a year when a litter of fuel whose raw material we produce here in Nigeria sold for the highest naira and the dollar exchange skyrocketed up to about 490 naira per dollar. It was a year that the country moved from one crisis or one man-made odd to another. At some points, it was as if the country’s sovereignty was under clear and outright danger. At another point there seemed to be an indication that our leaders at all levels had little or no idea of how to deal with those who have decided to worsen our economic situation like the popular MMM saga. The year was decidedly ominous and enormously challenging in all facets of our national life.
One of the greatest drawbacks of the year was the rubbles from the insurgency, perpetrated mainly by members of the religious sect known as Boko Haram years back. The level of insurgency and terrorism were such that regular state of emergency had to be clamped interchangeably on certain states of the federation. Despite the unrelenting military interventions formidably equipped by the present Buhari government, there are still pockets of terrorist activities in those usual flashpoints in the North. The climax of their devilish activities has remained the regular bombing of Churches and the killing of uncountable innocent men and women including our military personnel. We cannot forget with ease the incessant bomb blasts that took the lives of many great citizens of this country. Worthy of mention is the consecutive bloody Nyanya bomb blasts which recalled in a miniature form the brand of terrorism unleashed by Osama Bin Laden in the USA about sixteen years ago. In addition to this terrorism, kidnappings and brutal armed robbery have continued unabated.
On another note, our nation has witnessed unchecked setbacks in sectors such as education and health services. Public University students and federal medical centers have been in and out of school and hospital for the least part of the year on account of the dwindling strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and health workers respectively. The health sector seems to be worse as the Federal Medical center Owerri has finally been closed after unceasing turbulent seasons of unrest.
Political instability was another major feature of last year. The persistent break-ups and realignment of parties and personal interests climaxed in the unending petitions to the election tribunal was the order of the day. Almost all the sitting governors, assembly members, senators etc. continue to have their positions hanging on weighing balance. None was sure of maintaining his position to the next month. The President who came with the change mantra finds it difficult to cope with the level of corruption already installed in the society before his arrival. The Governors’ Forum which was already factionalized in the former administration has gotten worse that almost every party now has its own caucus. In this situation, how do we hope to advance?
However, the Year 2017 calls for greater maturity in the handling of the nation’s affairs. After 103 years of existence, Nigeria should be a true continental leader – not dogged by negative tendencies, corruption and underdevelopment. The country should not continue to occupy the bottom rung of global human development index, particularly when it is blessed with vast natural resources and adequate manpower.
This New Year which is the third year in the Buhari administration calls for utmost caution by all Nigerians, especially politicians. The country’s interest should be foremost in all considerations. If there is no entity called Nigeria, there would be no space for the practice of democracy and the deepening of the ethos that go with civilian governance.
As the journey of 2017 begins, the country’s leadership should brace up to the meet the challenges of this age. The president and his team must work hard to modify the widespread perception that the government is lethargic, indifferent to the cry of the poor masses and bereft of ideas on how to solve the ever mountain nation’s problems, particularly insecurity workers salary and unemployment. It appears that nothing is happening on the economic front in the country as poverty continues to ravage majority of Nigerians. Medical and educational tourism have supplanted our home based education and health care delivery systems, just as physical and social infrastructure have virtually collapsed.
In this New Year, we humbly urge the present administration to sit up and do more to improve the welfare of the people and propel the country to greater heights. Nigerians certainly deserve a better life. What is lacking in the country is commitment to good governance. Our people yearn for inspirational leadership necessary to galvanize the latent human and material resources of the country. We also advise all Nigerians to work in unison to build a better country. The task of developing a country cannot be left to one man, no matter how powerful he may seem to be. It is a collective responsibility in which every person must play a role no matter how infinitesimal it appears to be. Let us begin today to love this country Nigeria. As we hope for a better tomorrow, let us join the choirs of Angels praising God for making us Nigerians by chorusing the Glory be to God in the highest and on Earth peace to men of Goodwill.
We wish every Nigerian a prosperous and happy new year.
Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
Director of Media and Communications Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri