• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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My wishes for Nigeria in 2015  

We must really thank God that we survived 2014, both as individuals and as a nation. The outgone year was a busy one for the nation. There was so much to cry about and some opportunity to rejoice. In my view, three critical issues characterized the year: the continued onslaught by the Boko Haram insurgents and the overall feeling of insecurity engendered in the nation, the escalation of political activities as Nigeria prepares to go to the polls early in 2015, and the significant drop in the price of the nation’s main export, crude petroleum, with its attendant destabilization of the economy. The Federal Government announced a new austerity regime as the year closed, signposting a tough year ahead. During the Christmas and New Year celebrations, we all received and sent goodwill messages to our friends, acquaintances and family and some to our enemies as well. In addition, many of us have made our wish lists or New Year resolutions. I am using this opportunity to make my wish list for our beloved country in 2015.
1.) A nation where every citizen can feel safe and secured
I wish to see the bloodletting and insecurity in parts of Nigeria cease in 2015. The primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives and property of its citizens. No individual, group or sect should be allowed to kill Nigerians indiscriminately as we saw in the last years and get away with it, appearing in videos, threatening to kill more. The federal, state and local governments must do everything possible to see this does not happen this year. To me, there is nothing more important than this. The momentum we noticed in the closing weeks of last year that led to the recovery of occupied territories must be aggressively intensified to completely rout the insurgents. And to achieve this, the state must receive the maximum cooperation and support of all citizens. We will never have enough police or military to stand on every inch of Nigeria’s territory. Therefore, we must transform ourselves to civilian security men and women, just as the ‘civilian JTF’ is doing admirably in parts of the North East. To stand aloof or, worse still, to encourage criminal elements and then turn around to blame the government or make government look weak is counterproductive. What can be more important to any rational human being than life? What is the worth of the lives of all the Nigerians that have been killed in the last four years? Only a living man can pursue any objective – social, business, financial, professional, vocational, political or even religious. Those who want to convert Nigeria to any particular religion must first be alive to proselytize or preach their faith or doctrines. Then the Nigerians they want to convert must be alive to be converted. Dead men, women or children cannot practice any religion. Or am I mistaken?
2.) Free, fair and orderly elections
To be fair, our electoral processes have been on the upswing after the debacle of 2007. 2011 elections were adjudged to be the best in recent times. It was a major promise by President Goodluck Jonathan and he largely delivered on it. Since then, except for a few snags here or there, the other elections in the last four years have been adjudged fair to good. The glitches in the Anambra elections, though they did not invalidate the elections, were a significant setback to INEC’s competences. Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun elections went well, and in these five states (Anambra inclusive), opposition parties won in four at the polling booths, not in the courtrooms. Those who have any sense of objectivity must acknowledge the independence of INEC and the visible and measurable improvement on the integrity of our elections.
Having said this, it must be pointed out that the stakes in the 2015 elections seem higher than ever. Since 1998, we now have two major parties with national appeal and spread. The dominance of PDP in the last 16 years will come under serious challenge this year. Naturally, PDP will do its utmost to retain its dominance and the challenger, APC, will deploy every ‘arsenal’ it can procure to wrestle power from the reigning champion. In this scenario, desperation and self-help may emerge and could tempt both parties to tamper with the electoral process.
My wish is therefore that they will resist this temptation, both at the federal and state levels. I appeal to the president and the incumbent state governors to allow INEC total independence and work to protect the integrity of the electoral process. I am pleased that Mr President has reiterated his promise in this wise and I wish to appeal to him to keep his eyes on all political and administrative functionaries in the electoral chain. As is usual with many Nigerian politicians, some who already know that they will lose the elections have got their petitions written of how they were ‘rigged out’ and their thugs prepared to protest (non-violently and violently). If the elections are made to be free, fair and orderly, these losers will cause minimum damage. But if true winners are denied anywhere, then that could be cataclysmic.
I wish that INEC would deliver a perfect (or near-perfect) election. There should be NO stories and excuses. They have had many years to prepare for 2015. They have had many opportunities to hone their processes and strategies and they have heard and read all the predictions about Nigeria and 2015. May God grant them grace to deliver a professionally conducted elections where electoral materials will arrive all polling booths early, where elections will start at the appointed time and close at the appointed time, where no one will be allowed to sabotage the process or steal ballot boxes, where all registered voters will find their names on the voter register and where results will not be switched. Let Jega stand up and improve on his 2011 record and by all means avoid a repeat of the recent disappointing and poor show in distribution of permanent voter cards (PVCs), especially in Lagos State. Should we say more?
3.) An economically buoyant 2015
Yes, the prognoses are dire: oil prices may still drop lower; national income will be constrained forcing us to spend over 80 percent on recurrent expenditure at the federal level, leaving little for capital expenditure; tax rates will spike and new levies introduced to shore up government revenue; austerity measures will be introduced, all portending tightening of belt and increased economic hardship, but I still wish Nigeria would have an economically buoyant 2015. I believe it is possible at individual, corporate, community, state and national levels. At national, state and community levels, what we need most is to aggressively diversify our income source, re-prioritize our expenditure, and KILL corruption. At individual or corporate levels, we need to enthrone multiple streams of income, focus on needs and necessities and avoid waste. With God’s wisdom, we can have a buoyant year, the presenting challenges notwithstanding.
4.) An ordered, law-abiding nation
Truly, my greatest wish for Nigeria is to have an ordered and law-abiding nation; a nation where people know the laws and obey them; a nation where those who choose to break the laws are brought to book speedily and shown that it is not profitable to be an outlaw; a nation where the law applies equally and our leaders and lawmakers obey the rules and laws which they make. I wish Nigeria to be a nation where due process is applied in dealing with every issue, a nation where impunity has no place, a nation where no single man will be the accuser, the judge and the enforcer, a nation that will be respected by other nations because we enforce our laws diligently and impartially. God please give us an ordered nation in 2015. Happy New Year, Nigerians.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa