Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Will 2012 be a happy year for Nigerians?

In a few days time it will be a new year 2012. I look forward to a happy new year and pray that the Almighty will endorse my request. For majority of Nigerians and indeed for the Christendom, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year are traditional greetings at Yuletide. As I watched the horror perpetrated by Islamist Fundamentalist group – Boko Haram on 2011 Christmas Day, I asked myself if the victims and their families will have a merry Christmas and happy new year. With government making the removal of fuel subsidy an irreversible decision for 2012, will majority of Nigerians have a happy new year?

With the spate of armed robbery attacks on individuals and institutions (many banks are now closing by 1 pm while in some towns they remain closed for weeks due to fear of attack by men of the underworld) will the victims of these armed robberies experience a happy new year? Will the victims of kidnappers know a happy new year? Can Nigerians enjoy the New Year in pitched darkness that Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) had thrown them? Will Nigerian students in public universities and research institutions experience a happy new year when Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is at present on indefinite strike? Can Nigerians have a better new year 2012 when our hospitals are still largely mere consulting clinics, roads remain deplorable and basic welfare services are beyond the reach of millions of Nigerian suffering masses?

Nigerians deserve a better and a happy new year but our political leaders are not convinced that we should have it, hence they promised to inflict more pains on the less privileged Nigerians. They refused to heed our plead not to remove fuel subsidy. They said electricity tariff will go up by as much as 50 per cent. They said the private sector should start to collect toll on our highway and that we should eat cassava bread and Abakaliki rice when they know that we are not yet producing sufficient quantity to feed ourselves. The Nigerian Constitution in Section 14 (2b) says “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Yet we lacked security neither do we have welfare. What impact of governance do we enjoy? Each family today is a mini local government on its own; providing for themselves light, water, security, housing and other basic needs which are taken for granted in saner climes.

Can government disappoint some Doubting Thomas’s who believe that nothing good can come out of Nigeria’s “Nazareth” by ensuring that we experience a better and a happier 2012? What better way can this be done than by making people’s money to work for them. Will the government at the three tiers use state resources to bring about developmental projects that will impact positively on the lives of millions of suffering masses? Will government consider suspending the removal of fuel subsidy until a more auspicious time when our refineries would be working at optimal capacity and members of the cabal importing fuel to the country who are found to be short-changing the country through sharp-practices and malpractices are brought to book? Additionally, if we must remove the fuel subsidy can this be done over a period of three years? To my mind, this phased removal will ensure that the cost of living does not soar above and beyond the reach of the poor.

Furthermore, government can guarantee a happy new year for Nigerians and foreigners alike when the power sector is fixed and adequate electricity is provided for productive sector of the economy as well as for daily family living. There are not many poverty reduction measures that can work outside of sufficient and affordable electricity. The simple reason being that both commerce and industry depend largely on its existence for business growth. When there is business expansion, more people will be recruited to work in those business concerns.

Will government find the antidote to these incessant killings and maiming of innocent souls by dissidents and gangsters who are gradually making the country ungovernable in 2012? A whooping N922 billion has been set aside for security in the 2012 budget. Will this humongous amount guarantee safety of lives and property for Nigerians? Will it secure our environment sufficiently to enable foreign direct investment to flow into Nigeria’s economy? We wait to see.

In the 2011 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), released by Transparency International (TI), Nigeria dropped nine places from her ranking of 134 out of 178 countries in 2010, to 143rd out of 183 countries in 2011. Likewise, Nigeria currently languishes in 156th place out of 187 countries in the UN's Human Development Index. This is an indication that standard of living of majority of Nigerians is still very poor while cost of living soars. Will the war against corruption receive a boost in 2012? Will there be a significant improvement in Nigeria’s human development index in the approaching year?

Nigerians desire and deserve a happy new year 2012 but from the look of things, they may have to trust in providence than in government. The signs are ominous that Nigerians are indeed on the threshold of another tough year. May God deliver us!