• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

A look at some events that shaped Nigeria in 2014

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2014 was indeed a symbolic year in our nation’s history! It was the year Nigeria marked its 100 years of nationhood. From 1914 when Frederick Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates into one geographical entity with visible contour lines and elaborate landmarks, many rivers have passed under the bridge. Hence, 2014 marked 100 years of an improbable journey that began in 1914.

Similarly, 2014 will go down in history as the year Nigeria toppled South Africa to become the largest economy in the continent with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $510 billion. It will be recalled that the last time the country rebased its GDP was 1990. However, last year, after about 24 years of being ranked as the second largest economy in Africa, the GDP was rebased and sectors and sub-sectors like entertainment, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), publishing and other service sectors were included in the calculation.

It was also the year the Boko Haram insurgents added new dimension to their extant campaign of terror against the people of Nigeria. We are all familiar with the unforgettable tragic incident that struck the conscience of humanity in April: the sorrowful story of over 200 promising schoolgirls in Chibok who went in pursuit of their dreams for better lives in a boarding school, but only ended up in the dungeon of life they never imagined for themselves. This is one incident with many scars on the conscience of anyone involved. It is also one of the constant reminders that we live in a dangerous world! The shambolic act is, however, one of the horrible stories humanity must get when human wrongs are turned to human laws as against the unchangeable laws of nature which govern creation.

2014 was also the year the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) gained the position of No. 4 citizen in Nigeria’s order of protocols. It was also the year the party proved critics wrong by holding a successful convention that saw John Oyegun emerge as national chairman. The party also conducted successful primary elections which still keep it focused and on track.

On the other hand, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) added a novel idea to our political development by giving the right of first refusal to President Goodluck Jonathan, a practice only found in advanced democracies like the United States. The party also held a successful convention which saw the ratification of the sole candidacy of Jonathan as well as its game-changing national chairman, Adamu Muazu, who succeeded Bamanga Tukur.

Unlike before, 2014 presented Nigerians with two major presidential candidates that no one can confidently predict who will emerge victorious until after February 14. But there is a universal principle of extra miles which anyone that wants to win must adopt. As we know, a principle is a universal law with a predicted outcome, but whereby the result goes the other way, it means the unmovable mover of events and maker of history in the affairs of mortals wants it that way.

2014 was also the year Nigeria had severe diplomatic relationships with the United States of America. This culminated in the cancellation of military training on counter-terrorism the US army gives to the country’s army. The year also saw the refusal of the US to sell military hardware to Nigeria.

2014 also brought Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) into Nigeria. It was a Liberian, late Patrick Sawyer, who brought the deadly disease to the country. Subsequently, the virus spread in Lagos, and then Rivers State. EVD brought change of lifestyles into the country. Apart from its adverse effect on the local economy, eating of bush meat, handshake became some kind of anathema. The Catholic Church in Nigeria was forced by circumstances to alter one of its traditions: exchanging handshakes at Mass, popularly called the kiss of peace.

As expected of any novel disease, Nigerians first reacted to Ebola in traditional ways. We can remember the use of salt and hot water for bathing and drinking. Some Nigerians even died out of panic because of the belief that Ebola had no cure. While ZMAPP was prescribed for its treatment, a Nigerian in the US was said to have introduced Nano Silver. Be that as it may, commendation must go the Federal Government, the Lagos and Rivers State governments as well as our gallant health workers who were fearless in fighting off Ebola from our shores. Our vibrant and ever-dependable media must not be left out because of the role they played while Ebola lasted in the country. But then, the ultimate heroes and heroines are those health workers who died of Ebola in the course of discharging their duties.

Furthermore, 2014 cannot go without the mention of its negative effects on our economy. We can remember the plunge in the price of oil at the international market, which affected especially the budgetary benchmark, and the naira devaluation. The exploration of shale in the US and the decision by the global oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), not to cut oil supply also made matters worse.

There were many other successes and woes recorded by Nigeria and Nigerians which negatively or positively shaped the country in 2014. Chronicling all of them here may be debilitating. Hence, barring any unforeseen circumstances which may affect the country, I must say that February 14 and May 29 are going to be two major dates in 2015 that will determine whatever direction Nigeria will take. Until then, may I humbly say Happy New Year to all Nigerians.

Edwin Uhara