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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

2022: Rethinking future of Nigeria

By Afolabi Aribigbola

The season we are at the moment globally is that of celebrations. The period is special and unique in two different ways: a period in which Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on the one hand and a transition period in which a year ends and the world enters another new year. Of course, it is always a period in which individuals, groups and societies not only celebrate but essentially in retrospect rethink their lives and situations with a view to charting a new direction for themselves as they begin a new year. In other words, beyond wining and dining associated with the season, individuals, groups and society take stock to determine whether their lives or circumstances have improved or worse off in the passing year.

In retrospect in Nigeria, what has been the situation in the last twelve months? Are Nigerians better off or worse when all the indices of good living conditions are considered one after the other? Has the country performed well? Can she perform better that what happened in 2021? Also, what do we need to do to make Nigeria perform better to improve the lot of Nigerians in 2022? This exercise is necessary if the future of the country is to be guaranteed and enhanced.

With hindsight, 2021 has been a hard or difficult one with several destructive tendencies, activities and actions that are generally unpalatable and inimical to her growth and prosperity of the people. To change the negative narratives and events of 2021, decisive efforts must be instituted now to rethink and rework the future of the country. This definitely requires examining the major events or occurrences in 2021. This is necessary because societies that have prospered universally have separated themselves to ruminate and generate proposals and agendas to take their people out of doldrums and extreme poverty. This is the direction or path that Nigeria should go now. The reality in Nigeria is that often political leaders that should drive the task of repackaging the country are always busy trying to propagate themselves in office. They also prefer to justify why things are the way they are instead of finding solutions to the seeming intractable problems confronting Nigeria as a nation.

With retrospect, I tried in the last few days to ruminate over happenings in Nigeria in recent times and concluded that, we need to reexamine the situation of Nigeria and Nigerians in the last few years especially since January 2021. My concern was bolstered by the new national Chairman of PDP who opined that their mission is to rebuild Nigeria. Indeed, why the need to rebuild Nigeria? Has the country deteriorated to the extent that it cannot be repaired but will have to be subjected to a whole exercise of tedious rebuilding? This is a subject for another day anyway. The issue is that Nigeria is not doing well and there is need to be repositioned to improve the battered economy and poor living condition of Nigerians. Anything short of this is begging the issue and or an effort to deceive the people by playing down the multifaceted problems facing the country. The reality is that the times are hard, and the people are really suffering.

As 2021 is winding to a close, it is time to take stock beyond the ongoing dining and wining. A cursory examination of the various aspects of life and sectors in the country indicates crisis in one form or the other. That Nigerians are suffering in all areas of life is an understatement. The reality is that it seems nothing is working in the country. Insecurity for instance is pervading the entire landscape of the country. No section or parts of Nigeria is immune from the dangerous and unprecedented decimation of human lives from several irredentist sets or groups such as Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, killer herdsmen, cultists among others. Available records on the number of people killed in recent times in the country are not only very high but dangerously scaring. According to Vanguard Newspapers report earlier in the year, not less than 1,525 persons were wasted across the country in the first six weeks of 2021.

In the economic sphere, the country is not faring well at all. All indices for measuring economic performance are in the negative. Inflation is rife as prices of goods, services and essential commodities are on the increase beyond the reach of majority of Nigerians. Amid the skyrocketing inflation and unabated poverty in the country, the government is also planning to increase the price of petroleum that will invariably translate to increase in the prices of all goods and services in 2022. Unemployment is also was very high among the population. Only a paltry 33.30 percent of Nigeria’s population are said to be employed in the fourth quarter of 2020. Many young people are roaming the streets of the major cities of Nigeria without jobs.

In addition, poverty and inequality are widespread in all sections of the country. Unfortunately, while the majority is wallowing in abject poverty and want, an insignificant population of the country is living in affluence and enjoying the good things of life. The country is also beset with lack of infrastructure and social amenities generally. Social infrastructure and amenities critical to human existence, social growth and economic uplift of the country such roads, railways, waterways, housing, potable and safe water, power among others are largely unavailable or inadequately provided. One can continue to highlight the problems because they are many and biting on the welfare of the people.
Unfortunately, in the midst of all these challenges, no concrete or genuine efforts and actions are put in place to redress them. Therefore if the future of the people of the country is to be guaranteed in 2022, this poor state of things must be reversed and actions instituted to solve all these problems. Of course, we need not reiterate that government at all levels exists to provide the good things of life for its citizenry and make life conducive by ensuring availability of essential ingredient support services.

Beyond cataloguing the crisis and problems bedeviling the country, what should be paramount is how to get Nigeria and Nigerians from the doldrums to guarantee improved and better living conditions for the teeming population of the country. Efforts should therefore be made to better the lots of Nigerians in 2022 by planning and devising more proactive strategies and humane programmes to assist the people especially the poor.

Insisting on IMF recommendations to increase petroleum prices will inflict more harm than good on the people. The Federal Budget seems not to contain specific programmes to get Nigeria and Nigerians out of the current challenges confronting the country.Rethinking is being suggested because the current tactics and efforts have failed the country and we cannot continue to watch as criminal elements continue to decimate promising citizens of Nigeria. The time to act to better the lots of Nigeria is now and the country must act fast to devise the right strategies instead of relying on IMF and other external bodies that have no stake in Nigeria project.

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