2020: ‘Time of hope, optimism’

Now Nigeria has lazily trudged pass that gloomy prediction; the despondent forecast was that Nigeria would break up in the year 2015 – the year that brought in the Muhammadu Buhari administration. The heavily loaded country has been disfigured by a rainbow of troubles that the majority see in Nigeria an enclave beyond repairs – somewhere away from the ability of words to describe. The damage seems irreparable. The problems have been institutionalised to some others. All in all, the Most Merciful God has seen us through even though the hard time is not over yet. Many Nigerians especially those who have caused untold sufferings to this nation of ours had tied into bundle their possessions waiting for the country to explode. The reason is simple. They unjustly accumulated wealth. They could make it to any country in the world or, however sad it may be, they have dual citizenship’.Wednesday, January 1, 2020, marked the beginning of a new decade. As President Buhari said in a widely published letter he wrote to Nigerians on New Year, the new decade is a “time of hope, optimism and fresh possibilities”. Well, it is high time we renewed this hope and followed it up with action. The task of building this highly complex country is not one man’s task. We all have a role to play. We dare not pass this tattered nation unto the future generations. 

 The country has exhausted yet another decade and set up for another. It is true, 2020 was prefixed with many nerve-shattering antecedents. Prior to the 2015 general elections, we had seen and heard of how ‘prophets’ of doom, from within and without, predicted deadliest calamities for this nation of ours. Tens of thousands of bugles and trumpets of war were sounded. The country, more than ever before, was polarized, with tribes, regions, religions, whatnot – for good or bad – clinging to their respective perceived Messiah.However, insecurity threw the country’s preparations for the 2015 elections into disarray. Who thought Nigeria would overcome that trying moment? To the consternation of many Nigerians, the year seemed eternity. Ill-intentioned people politicians and their minions were peddling fake news of a looming civil war or another break up to scare away Nigerians from polls or set up one region, tribe or religion against another. Now all is history. Despite the looming violence that characterized that election year, it is good to remember that we were ushered into a peaceful handover from the Goodluck Jonathan administration into a new dispensation of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. The bloody encounter, break up and the civil war could not hold.However, in this entire decade-long journey – many might have fallen and lots more lost – one thing weathered the administrations preceded Jonathan and the Buhari administration that succeeded it: Gordian knots of corruption, economic insecurity, insecurity, and rising unemployment, among others. Except for extraordinary forgetful Nigerians, the dawn of the Buhari administration was individuated by economic recession: inflation, economic insecurity, security challenges and fall in oil prices conspired to give Nigerians one tasteless moment or the other. They weighed down on the country and Nigerians.

The result of the repeated punches from the economic recession, as it hit hard, was job lost, high inflation, decline in investment and business activities. All these connived to pauperize ordinary Nigerians the more.One may not be wrong to say ‘Nigeria as a country suffers the most from the barrage of corruption. Ever one wonders of a 2015 BBC report titled “Nigerian former minister ‘stole $6bn of public money’”? This is one out of numerous examples of high profile corruption cases. This is a country where millions live below poverty line. Some eat once a day; some don’t have nor do they know where to get food from. It is that combustible mixture: excessive richness and abject poverty juxtaposed. Millions are living by an ocean and yet wash their hands with spittle. What will they do for God’s sake? Few have accorded to themselves the powers and resources of the country; and are planning to pass these ‘self-given rights to their children’.Four years later, Muhammadu Buhari has been given another mandate. This has rekindled hope and expectations. Yet, surprisingly on Thursday January 2, 2020, Nigerians, unlike what it is used to be when Nigerians – well-meaning as well as ill-intentioned – wrote to the president, woke up to a letter from the president. The president is stressing his pledges. The letter said since the inception of the Buhari administration in 2015, the government has made security one of its primary concerns. It has rallied neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin Republics for a coordinated regional alliance to face the dare-devil Boko Haram.

Today, the country is fighting on several fronts. One interesting thing about the fight against insecurity is that Boko Haram has been demoralized. The war has been taken to them. But unfortunately banditry and kidnapping have stolen the show. It is of great concern, too, the letter is restating the president’s commitment to widen the pace of change in technological and scientific development, job creation and infrastructural development to enhance the ease of doing business. Isn’t the green revolution paying off? Many rice mills are opening up by the day. Nigerians are making millions from farming. Border drill is securing the country the more. Still one thing is absent: patriotism – that love one has for his country. The Buhari administration may have laid or be laying enduring foundations to rejuvenate the country’s economy, take millions of Nigerians out of mass poverty and enhance the ease of doing business. This will no doubt set a future for the country. I have learnt one thing – we have consciously or otherwise learnt this, too – to be a Nigerian president, even by pretension is to be a toreador. One fights by proxy and in person, engaging the bulls of corruption, vested interests, ignorance, opportunists, saboteurs, insecurity and economic challenges. The complexity is enormous.Yet, for the Muhammadu Buhari administration to succeed in its promised rapid development, as Daily Trust editorial of Monday, January 6, 2020 said there should be – apology to Martin Luther King jr, “as we are faced with fierce urgency of now’ – a stable power supply as “no progress industrial or otherwise is possible without realisable power infrastructure. 

 As we begin this decade-long journey, first we hope for attitudinal change. We expect every Nigerian to ponder long and quietly ask himself/herself that sincere question of what he/she can do for Nigeria to make it a better place to live in.To many, the future is starkly bleak. Those can only be described as pessimists, who see disadvantage in every unfolding advantage. For optimists the future is soundly promising. They see moral pattern, prosperity, stability and peace although many vested interests – politically and socially set ups – connive to deny good Nigerians of this opportunities.I have never subscribed to the notion that Nigeria’s problems are irredeemable or there is no hope for this country. The problem, I think, is that we don’t want to make the needed sacrifices.Abdulhamid writes via [email protected]Twitter: yassar201308145901322