The entire human race joins the heavenly angels and saints in stepping boldly into the year 2019 amid confusion issuing from a troubled world and politically groaning society. We are celebrating a new year in a world in which brutal bloodshed has become humanity’s daily portion. Outside the untold hardships and confusions in Nigeria, there are indices of slipups and misperceptions everywhere from France to Syria, Iraq and Iran unto Ukraine, Pakistan, the United States of America, Mexico and other human locations unknown to the modern Media.
Following the charged political atmosphere in Nigeria, we the situation is worse than what see in the Western world. In addition to our politicians who are presently fighting with gun for rulership and stealing votes with violence which have continued to feed the poor with misery, there is also the admixture of intolerable religiosity; at times Christians against Christians. As the electioneering campaigns steam up, we perceive an odious style of politics everywhere orchestrated by the present born to rule mentality noticeable in some quarters.
All these solecisms often culminate into mudsling, hate speeches and mutual killings etc. These societal ills and many more have kept dragging humanity into unceasing shedding of tears. From the Igbo side of the divide, we have the popular Nnamdi Kalu and the IPOB who are seemingly fighting for justice and equal rights. These people are maltreated and killed everywhere on daily basis. In the midst of all these anomalies here comes another glorious new year.
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 new breed of would-be and must-be leaders in our country. The political parties multiplied astronomically and some candidates jumped from one party to another. It was a year in which we understood clearly the meaning of greed and big-man terrorism. In addition, it was a year of heightened tensions occasioned by the Bokko Haram insurgency and the crusade of the Indigenous people of Biafra all over the world.
We all witnessed a quake on the fabric of this curbled states called Nigeria crying daily for “nationization and patriotism” as the story of who is actually ruling Nigeria filled the air. It was therefore one of those years that spelt the make-or break of our great nation as we welcomed Atiku and Peter Obi on the political platform; a year that showcased Nigerians’ sensitivity through those we are ready to vote in this new year as governors, legislators, assembly men and women and finally president.
2018 was one significant year which offered many of the nation’s leaders, at both the federal and state levels, a final opportunity to prove to their electorates that the dreams of our fore-fathers and our collective sacrifices at the polls three years ago were never in vain.
Above all, it was a year in which many Nigerians expected our latest leaders to pinpoint the solutions to the problems that beleaguered the nation in the past years as they roll up their mats to leave the stage.
Apparently the year 2018 marked a near of watershed in the nations’ history. It is a year in which we almost reversed to the age of recrudescence as the economy of the country became worse than ever in our history. It was a year when a litter of fuel whose raw material we produce here in Nigeria sold for about 145 naira contrary to the promise made by the president during the campaign and the dollar exchange skyrocketed up to 365 naira per dollar. It was a year that the country moved from one crisis to another as most of our leaders misunderstood their mission.
At some points, it was as if the country’s sovereignty was under clear and outright dangers. At another point there seemed to be an indication that our leaders had little or no idea of how to deal with those who have taken up arms against innocent citizens. Worse still some of our leaders shamelessly engaged tugs rather than the law enforcement agencies in their shoddy outings. The year was decidedly ominous and enormously challenging in all facets of our national life.
One of the greatest drawbacks of the year was insurgency, perpetrated mainly by members of this religious sect known as Bokko Haram. The level of insurgency and terrorism were such that regular state of emergency had to be clamped interchangeably on certain states in the country. Despite the unrelenting military interventions fairly equipped by the present government, there are still pockets of terrorist activities in those usual flashpoints in the North. The climax of their devilish activities has remained the recent bombing and killing of more than a hundred soldiers few weeks ago in the North.
The burning of Churches and the killing of uncountable innocent men and women has persisted. 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 unforgettable bloody Nyanya bomb blasts few years back which recalled in a miniature form the brand of terrorism unleashed by Osama Bin Laden in the USA about seventeen years ago.
On another note, our nation has witnessed unchecked setbacks in sectors such as education. Public University students have been in and out of school for the least part of the year on account of the dwindling strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Labour union has been breathing fury uncourageously as the government continued to refuse their plea for minimum wage increase.
It is sad to note that President Buhari 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 order to facilitate their sit tight syndrome and “familiocray”. In this situation, how do we hope to hand over to a new administration this New Year?
However, the Year 2019, being the 105th anniversary of the country’s evolution, calls for greater maturity in the handling of the nation’s affairs. After 105 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.
In this New Year which is the last year in the Buhari’s first tenure, we warn the candidates seeking for votes and voters themselves to be cautious and play according to the rule of the game. 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 politics and the deepening of the ethos that go with civilian governance. Whatever differences that may arise should be ventilated through proper channels. Nobody should take the law into his hands. The 1999 Constitution (as amended) has enormous capacity to address whatever grey areas existing on various issues in the country.
As the journey of 2019 begins, the country’s political leaders and those intending to join the band wagon should brace up to the meet the challenges of this age. The president nay the incoming president and his team must work hard to modify the widespread perception that the government is lethargic and indifferent to the cry of the poor masses. They should work hard to rotate the globe of our conception that the government is bereft of ideas on how to solve the ever mountain nation’s problems, particularly insecurity 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 therefore urge the present administration and the incoming 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.
Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
Director of Communications/Media
Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri