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For a worthwhile New Year

Today, a new year has dawned on the entire humanity. As is usual with occasions like this, people are brimming with hope and aspiration. They are looking forward to the new year with renewed vigour and commitment to the ideals and ideas they hold dear. Nigerians as a people are part of this global fervour. As a country, Nigeria has had its ups and downs in the year just gone by.

The new year will certainly present new challenges, and the government and people of Nigeria should be girding their loins with a view to confronting them. However, for the country to get its bearing right in the new year, it is imperative that it takes into cognizance its successes and failures in the year that just ended. By so doing, the government and people of Nigeria would be in a good stead to know where to consolidate their gains or engage in new thinking and strategies. It is a matter for utter regret that Nigeria does not have cause to cheer in 2012. The atmosphere that pervaded throughout the year was one of despondency and even despair.

Since democracy is tailored towards ministering to the needs of the people, the good life and good governance that the government of the people is supposed to bring about ought to be taken for granted. But needless to say that the people’s expectations in this regard have remained unfulfilled.

We note with regret that electricity, a very basic ingredient for economic growth and progress, has remained elusive. As was the case in the years gone by, government still failed, yet again, to deliver on the promise to make electric power available. By mid last year, there were signs of improvement in the quantum of electricity supply in the country.

Unfortunately however, the then Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, left at the time Nigerians were beginning to heave a sigh of relief in the area of electricity. With his exit, the improved power supply returned to the old, unimpressive era. The government of Nigeria is yet to deal with this snag. Security of life and property, the primary reason for the existence of government, is yet to be a part of governance in the country. In the year just gone by, insecurity almost wrestled the country to the ground. Government proved incapable of dealing with the terrorist insurgency in the land. Kidnapping took place every other day with reckless abandon. Armed robbers also had a field day. The people were only fed with empty assurances that government would deal with these vices. The country’s commitment to the fight against corruption has also remained laughable. Corruption and corrupt practices have become so entrenched in the system that Nigeria was ranked last year as the 37th most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.

In fact, Nigeria has a myriad of social, economic and political problems. Regrettably, there does not appear to be any real commitment towards tackling them by our government. Therefore, as President Goodluck Jonathan outlines his thinking and projections for the new year, he needs to be reminded that platitudes and slogans will not do. Nigerians have had a surfeit of these in the past. At this stage of our national development, the people have grown in awareness.

They can longer be taken in by antics. They cannot be led by the nose. They are interested, not in platitudes but in concrete steps that can translate into visible programmes and projects. Nigeria cannot continually remain in a state of potency. It has to mature to fruition. The leadership cannot continue to speak on the hunch. It must deliver on its promises. The government of the day cannot get away with the old habits that have kept the country down.

It must strive to make a meaningful impact on the life of the people through the delivery of democracy dividends. Government must shun the tendency of seeing the dawn of a new year as a mere ritual that must be celebrated. While recognizing the significance of a new beginning, we must realize that it is also time to renew our commitment to the goals that we have set for ourselves as a people.

Since government does not exist for its own sake, but for the purpose of delivering service to the people, it must see the occasion of the new year as the time to rededicate itself to those ideals that will improve the lot of the people. It is therefore imperative for our governments at all levels to recognize that a new challenge has presented itself. Such a challenge must be tackled with renewed impetus and commitment. That is how best to make the new year worthwhile.

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February 2016
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