• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

2022: A year to forget in Nigeria

5 things to do to close the year

Like others before it, 2022 has come and gone. But unlike others, it ended as a year to forget, especially in Nigeria. Though the country is not at war like Ukraine where Russia has been destroying what it cannot create in the past eight months, Nigeria ended 2022 badly bruised, if not broken.

Nigerians set out in the year with optimism and the usual razzmatazz reflected in new year resolutions, forecasts, predictions and prophecies by prophets and ‘witches of Endor,’ almost all pointing to a better year than the one before it.

But the frustration and misery that defined the greater part of 2022 for a large number of Nigerians demonstrated the limitedness of man’s capacity for playing god or accurately seeing into the future.

The year has proved, faultlessly, that forecasting the next 365 days in a complex nation like Nigeria, with innumerable uncertainties, is a difficult task to undertake. It follows therefore that anyone doing it successfully must be a prophet, a scientist and a crystal ball gazer rolled into one. Nigeria has none yet.

But the frustration and misery that defined the greater part of 2022 for a large number of Nigerians demonstrated the limitedness of man’s capacity for playing god or accurately seeing into the future

It is a common saying that morning shows the day. Nigerians found out early in 2015 that they had elected a president who knows very little about economic management, and who is obviously unwilling to learn. At no time have the consequences of this action been as dire and destructive as it was in 2022.

Volatile macro-economic regime, heightened insecurity, natural disaster of monumental proportion reflected in the September all-consuming flood, prolonged university teachers strike, unprecedented high energy cost, among others, all in 2022, left Nigerians only a step away from catastrophe.

We shared in the pain of all classes of Nigerians as they struggled through the crippling impact of a hyper-inflation that affected their domestic, official and business lives, destroying and rendering worthless whatever came up as reward for their daily toiling to make ends meet.

We worried also as even the rich cried that the wads of naira notes in their hands were only as valuable as a pack of cards while the poor became poorer, practically unable to afford the basic needs of life including food which, over night, became a luxury item.

The fact that 322 policemen and 642 soldiers were allegedly killed in Nigeria within the previous year reflects several facts which point to heightened insecurity in 2022. This year it was worse whether it is a case of wanton killing or brazen kidnapping for ransom which became a thriving business.

For us, nothing could have been more bizarre and frightening than the heartless attack on a moving train that left nine persons dead and well over 100 others taken away and kept in the attackers’ den for months. Their freedom, we learnt painfully, came at a price.

The rising crisis in the Nigerian foreign exchange market since 2015 peaked in 2022 when the naira exchanged for almost N900 to the dollar, reflecting a lame-duck and futile attempt by the Central Bank to tame a galloping inflation and save the sinking naira.

The Naira-Dollar equation became a case of the more it changed, the more it remained the same and so never balanced. This, to our amazement, furled the cost-push inflation that pushed commodity prices, including those of vegetables and cocoyam, beyond the reach of the common man.

The forex crisis situation, in our candid view, could have been better managed and so less punitive if the management of the apex bank had been less subservient to their self-serving pay-masters, an act we consider quite unfortunate and ill-advised.

Rainfall in 2022 was exceptionally heavy but the attendant flooding which was described as the worst in the last decade could have been less pervasive and devastating if Nigeria were not a country that is in dire need of deliverance from itself.

We have it on good authority that the flooding was made worse by the yearly release of water from the Cameroonian dam whose impact wouldn’t have been as grave if only Nigeria had kept to its agreement with the Cameroonian authorities to build its dam to contain the water released from their dam.

We have come to understand Nigeria as a country where ‘prevention is better than cure’ does not make any meaning. It is a country that prefers spending money on relief materials to putting in place mechanisms to prevent causes of disasters.

At the moment, we are not aware of any plan anywhere in government circles to prevent further occurrence of the kind of 2022 flood which affected about 1,411,051 persons; displaced up to 790,254 others and injured about 1,546 of them, according to reports from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs , Disaster Management and Social Development.

While 44,099 houses were partially damaged, 45,249 others were totally damaged. In the same vein, 76,168 hectares of farmland were partially damaged while 70,566 hectares were completely destroyed. These, we think, are enough cause for concern in a country with well over 20 million housing units deficit and on the throes of hunger and food insecurity.

Read also: FM in 2022 review

Like the preacher, we urge fellow Nigerians to “let the day’s trouble be sufficient for the day” while we look forward to a better tomorrow—look to the promise of 2023 which we see in the change that we expect to happen if we get our acts better in electing a new crop of leaders for our country.

With assured hope, 2023 beckons. But we believe that that hope can only materialize if we as a people, collectively, make the February 25 election a project. We must make the right choices this time because, as William Shakespeare puts it, “the fault is not in stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings.”

Frequently, people blame the problem of Nigeria on bad leadership. But there is bad followership too. In our opinion, it is bad followership that begets bad leadership. Otherwise, how can a man or woman, young or old, be still patronising both the progenitors and participants in a government that has destroyed our economy and foisted untold hardship on the people and still want to come back.

To a very large extent, we see 2022 as a metaphor for the ageing and fading government in Nigeria and it behoves us to urge Nigerians to forget both for whatever they represent and look forward to the new dawn that is just hours and metres away from here. It’s happy New Year from us.