From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja The decision to retain health maintenance organisations (HMOs) as part of the country’s health insurance programme caused a major disagreement between the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services and the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman. Usman, at the just concluded two-day investigative hearing…
2016. It was a year that started like no other. There was something about it that we did not fully understand. But right from the breaking of the dawn, we knew we were in for a different day. Maybe it was the way the sun set on 2015. Perhaps it was the ominous rumbles of its predecessor. Whatever we couldn’t put our fingers on still did not make 2016 appealing. But we are a people of faith. We braced ourselves for a mean downpour. And guys, was there a mean storm all through the year! Oh dear, it rained cats and dogs. There was flood, so close were we to a tsunami. The earth even physically in Kaduna, as if to remind us that 2016 was no ordinary year. But here we are, drenched but not drowned, faith shaken but not faithless. Here we are, all the Nigerian survivors of the year 2016, right on the porch of 2017. We have come a long way, waded through a threatening flood to get here and that is why we are encouraged. Because of where we are coming from, what our national eyes have seen, the adversities that have united us, we know we will be here this time next year and the year after that and the years further up the road.
Need I make a list of what went down in 2016? There is neither space nor time and anyway, who needs the dreary details? We are here already. Better to just brace up for 2017 and ask God to make it a better year.
I also do not think any new year resolution will provide a shield for what lies ahead, considering that both the poor and the rich cried in 2017. From the richest to the poorest, everybody missed a step or two, stumbled a few times. Some even had full sprawl in the dust or mud. The only people who cannot join in this 2017 prayer are those who died in 2016. Sad, but then they have gone to their final full rest. They will not be worrying about exchange rate and bills they cannot pay. They are free from unpaid salaries and pension. And EFCC can no longer invite them for questioning. They are free from nightmares where masquerades wearing masks with ‘rising cost of living’, ‘unaffordable anti-hypertensive drugs’, Magu or DSS are inscribed on them. Let those of us who are fully awake, fully aware, offer prayers for 2017.
Here we go.
Oh Lord, let 2017 be a year of real job creation. We want real jobs, jobs that we can be proud of as a nation, as a people. Yes, in 2016, 200,000 graduates were employed under the government’s N-Power scheme. The Nigerian Police also recruited thousands of rookies but Lord you know, more jobs were created in the Crime Sector. ‘Fone’-speaking kidnappers, armed robbers, ritual killers, child molesters, pipeline vandals, among others were recruited in their thousands in the crime sub-sector. When you add the figures in each department, what we have are millions of newly employed Nigerians in the wrong areas. This year, let there be positive recruitment in positive areas of all of our national life.
In 2016, we moved from politicians using political thugs to do their dirty jobs to politicians using law enforcement agents, uniformed security men and women to perpetrate evil on election days. Almighty God, this is a mighty trouble. Please deliver our security men from whatever demons have taken residence in their hearts that are making political thuggery attractive to them. I am particularly afraid that since those we entrusted with protection of ballot boxes have started snatching them, if they are not quickly subjected to by-fire-by-force deliverance, they might soon find snatching bullion vans and attractive and from there ADCs might soon start abducting their principals for rituals or ransom or both. Please Lord, do something urgently here.
In 2016, the nation witnessed an unprecedented falling out among the ruling class both in the ruling party and in the opposition party. Ordinarily, we, the people, ought to be happy because when members of a family of lions are swigging whisky and laughing uproariously, the lamb ought to know they are discussing which part of him is most delicious. So, we should really, as lambs, be happy that the Presidency is at loggerheads with the National Assembly and the governors and that indeed everybody is fighting everybody. We ought to be happy that PDP elders are stabbing one another in the open but we are not. All their fighting is hurting us.
The National Assembly did not pass the budget when it should. It kept MTEF in a drawer and generally did exactly the opposite of everything the Executive asked of it. And the PDP impasse means Nigeria is stuck with the brawling APC. What kind of life is that? Lord, you need to intervene. I do not know how you will do it but the APC people need to know that the demystification of some of them is actually demystifying all of them. It is increasingly looking like the difference between Transformation and Change is not more than the difference between six and half a dozen. As for the PDP war, Lord can you arrange for Ahmed Markafi’s son to marry Sheriff’s daughter? And then let Governor Wike be the Chairman of the reception and let Governors Fayose and Okowa be witnesses. Let the engagement party take place in Port Harcourt and the after party in Lagos. My humble suggestions, Lord. You know how you answer my prayers. I prayed this same prayer years ago concerning Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola….Ah ah, and now everybody is living happily ever after. The headline then was ‘Happiness is…’
And Lord, did you hear one of the chieftains of APC saying that the party was not moved by the threat of a mega party? Aaah, and I thought when an elder trips, he looks back to see what made him stumble. Obviously, not Nigerian politicians. They do not learn from others’ mistakes. Were we not here when PDP said it would rule for 60 years and then set about doing everything that would undo it? God, please open their eyes in APC so that pride will not lead them into the pit that consumed dear old PDP. I
n this new year, please teach all political godfathers that they are not God and they should therefore stop trying to re-order what you, Lord, had predestined. Another round of elections will soon be here. You know in Nigeria, 2019 is around the corner , even if this is the first day of 2017.
Teach all godfathers that when they try to alter destinies, they start a war with you, their maker and that is always a story with no good ending. In the Bible, those steal from the poor died shameful deaths, like King Ahab who killed Naboth for his vineyard, Lord, I do not wish anybody untimely death, but it is hard to pray for those who steal money meant for IDPs. It is difficult to wish the children of those who stole N500million meant for the rebuilding of schools destroyed by Boko Haram in the North East. Touch their hearts before evil relocates to their houses.
Lord, it is not that there was nothing to thank you for in 2016. Apart from the gift of life, last year was the first year I actually saw states in Nigeria truly taking diversification of the economy seriously. It is totally a shift I can’t get over. I mean there is Lake Rice, a product of a partnership between lagos and Kebbi states. Imagine rice uniting a northern state with a south west one. In our recent past, only religious riots got North and South doing anything together. And ‘reprisal attacks’ was more the operative phrase, not ‘rice’.
Now we have Ebonyi Rice, Anambra Rice and Lake Rice, all forcing Thai Rice to keep its price down. Lake Rice was N12,000 in December! Finally, there is a price that went up and came down. In Nigeria o. Somebody shout halleluyah. But Lord, that testimony has given rise to a good problem.
This affordable rice can’t go round. We have to queue for it like ‘essential commodities’ of 1984. God, please help the states that have started this good thing to excel at it and produce more rice, employ more hands so that we can buy Lake Rice and Ebonyi Rice for N8,000 at Easter.
Here’s wishing all readers of this back page 365 testimonies each in 2017. Happy new year all.