Every New Year, the temptation is to dream big. To fantasize about a sudden turnaround of poverty to wealth, from despair to hope, from curse to blessing, from bad governance to good governance etc.
So, this year just like previous years, what many Nigerians yearn for, is an end to bad government, end to kidnapping, end to banditry, end to carnage, end to ASUU strike, end to non-payment of salaries and pensions, end to bad leadership, end to buck passing, end to hike in petrol pump price and other commodities, end to everything that is bad about the country, Nigeria.
Indeed, last year did not go down well with many of us. There were lots of disappointments from both friends and foes, colleagues and associates, politicians and even the government of the day.
From ASUU strike to lockdown. For Nigerian students, their dreams were shattered and hope, lost. Both the government and their lecturers failed them. They were denied of one academic session orchestrated by the striking varsity lecturers and federal government that failed to reach a common ground. The negative impacts of that industrial action is one too many. The hope of final year students graduating last year hit the brick wall. And those that were hoping to go for the mandatory one-year youth service were not mobilized for the exercise owing to the fact that schools were shut down. The fate of Masters and Ph.D students hanged on the balance. No hope of graduation in sight. The irony of it all is that all students must pay fees for lectures they never received and exams they never took. Only in Nigeria. Shame!
Last year also, there was lockdown and as such, movements of people and vehicles were restricted, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic. Needless to mention that we lost many of our great sons and daughters to the novel virus. Our former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari died of the virus. He was the most powerful of the President’s cabinet and was dubbed de-facto president. He died of the virus just as Senator Abiola Ajimobi, former Governor of Oyo State also did. This dreaded virus killed millions of citizens and till date, is still threatening the world. At the wake of the virus, economic activities were shut down. Churches and markets were closed. There was no inter-state movement. Citizens were asked to practice physical distancing and as a result, those that planned events such as weddings, birthdays and occasions alike were disappointed and had to postpone their ceremony in order to stay safe. These were harsh measures put in place to curb the spread of the dreaded virus. Oh yes, harsh measures, because the government of Nigeria never gave commensurate response. People were asked to stay at home on empty stomach. Palliatives disbursed by the federal government never got to the people they were meant for as some State Governors hoard the items in their warehouses. Some warehouse palliatives were discovered and looted during the ENDSARS protest – a time Nigerian youths damned all consequences and said ‘NO’ to police brutality. But for the protests that rocked the nation and spread like wildfire to other parts of the world, we wouldn’t have known the true characters of our governors. They are wicked, brutish and insensitive to the plights of their subjects to say the least. This year calls for a change of attitude.
Despite all these challenges, bandits and terrorists never pitied our condition as they were having a field day up north. There was no day that passed without the ugly news of deaths by bandits/terrorists. They killed without mercy and trekked to their hideouts after each assignment. Presidency oftentimes blamed opposition politicians, sometimes, security operatives who appeared clueless, helpless and hapless amidst the whole war. Statistics have shown that no fewer than 10,000 Nigerians died to insurgency in year 2020. Up until today, the murderers of our fellow countrymen are still inflicting serious harm on our innocent citizens. They have neither been caught nor prosecuted for the killings of last year.
Nigerians expect changes this year just as they pray for the repose of the souls lost to banditry, terrorism and kidnapping.
Last year also, insecurity appeared to be Nigeria’s major problem. In October last year, Boko Haram militants killed 22 farmers working on irrigation fields in two separate attacks in Borno. Sometime in June last year, about 81 people died to insurgency. In November, Nigerians woke to the sad news of the gruesome murder of 43 farmers working on rice fields at Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. And why we were yet to recover from the shock, over 300 school boys got kidnapped in our President’s home state, Katsina. It took a public outcry and demonstrations of sort, for a Buhari government to negotiate the release of the school boys. Some said, huge ransom was paid to secure their release. What a shame! Let there be a change this year.
Last year, there was also a troubling news that the country had slipped into a second economic recession in five years and, also its worst economic decline in four decades. As a result, prices of food items skyrocketed. A bag of rice sold as high as N22,000 as against N15,000 we used to pay for a bag pre-Buhari government. Petrol was sold at N162 as against less than N50 the government promised us. Dollar exchanged at the rate of N500 as against One naira the government promised during electioneering and many more. All this nonsense must stop this year.
So, as we welcome every Nigerian including our darling President to year 2021, our dreams of a better country should not be denied us. Last year, Nigerians expressed fears about the deterioration in their living conditions, the ubiquitous security challenges, the mounting unemployment and the economic acrobatic dance. Let there be a change this year. The government of the day should know that citizens have made enough sacrifice including losing their loved ones to better the country. Therefore, our leaders must be proactive and take responsibility. They have failed enough to fail again.
All hands must be on deck to ensure that Nigerians get a better life like their friends in other countries.
Time to act is now for delay is dangerous.