By Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
On January Nigerians joined the choirs of Angels and Saints in welcoming the year 2018 amidst confusion issuing from a troubled world and groaning humanity. We are celebrating a new year in a country in which enragement, frustration, impoverishment, dehumanization and brutal bloodshed have become humanity’s daily portion, ranging from Lagos to Sokoto, Aba and Umuahia unto Portharcourt, Owerri, Yobe, Kano and other human locations in Nigeria and beyond yet to be discovered by the national Media searchlight.
As days roll into weeks, our situation in this country gets even worse. The admixture of intolerable religiosity, at times Christians against Christians, the IPOB fight for justice and equal rights, the once upon a time python dance which swallowed up lots of our young men and women, the odious politics which often culminates into mudsling and mutual killings etc, all these and many more have kept dragging our Citizenry into unceasing shedding of tears and gnashing of teeth.
For those of us in Imo state, this year seems to be joyfully and significantly welcome. Last year witnessed many woes. It was a year that ushered in lots of brutality in governance. Our elected civilian leaders took up a military form of leadership. In the year 2017 claimed many lives and properties. Majority of our Imolites lost their means of livelihood to Utopian developmental projects.
Generally, the year 2017 marked a near watershed in the nations’ history. It was a year in which we almost reversed to the age of recrudescence in the name of governance; a year when a litter of fuel whose raw material we produce here in Nigeria sold for about 200 naira and the dollar exchange skyrocketed up to 450 naira per dollar, a year prominent Nigerians spent much of her year’s budget in overseas treatment of an unknown sickness. It was a year that the country moved from one crisis to another. At some points, it was as if the country’s sovereignty was under clear and outright dangers. At another point there seemed to be an indication that our leaders are confused when one looks at the way they were handling the issue of those who have taken up arms against innocent citizens in the name of herdsmen. The year was decidedly ominous and enormously challenging in all facets of our national life. In addition to this brand of terrorism, kidnappings continued unabated.
On another note/ our nation witnessed unchecked setbacks in sectors such as education. Public University students have been in and out of school for the least part of the year on account of the dwindling strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The health sector is worse as our Federal Medical centers have continued to face turbulent seasons of unrest.
Political strife was another major feature of last year. There has been a form of persistent break-ups and realignment of parties and interests climaxed in the unending petitions to the election tribunal. The President who came with the change mantra finds it difficult to cope with the level of corruption already installed in the society before his arrival.
On a serious note, our country should not continue to occupy the bottom rung of global human development index, particularly when it is blessed with vast natural resources and adequate manpower.
This New Year which is the last year in the Buhari administration calls for utmost caution by all Nigerians, especially politicians. The country’s interest should be foremost in all considerations. If there is no entity called Nigeria, there would be no space for the practice of democracy and the deepening of the ethos that go with civilian governance. Whatever differences that may arise should be ventilated through proper channels.
As the journey of 2018 begins, the country’s leadership should brace up to meet the challenges of this age. The president and his team must work hard to modify the widespread perception that the government is lethargic, indifferent to the cry of the poor masses and bereft of ideas on how to solve the ever mountain nation’s problems, particularly insecurity, unemployment and hunger. It appears that nothing is happening on the economic front in the country as poverty continues to ravage majority of Nigerians. Medical and educational tourism have supplanted our home based education and health care delivery systems, just as physical and social infrastructure have virtually collapsed.
In this New Year, we therefore urge the present administration to sit up and do more to improve the welfare of the people and propel the country to greater heights. Nigerians certainly deserve a better life. What is lacking in the country is commitment to good governance. Our people yearn for inspirational leadership necessary to galvanize the latent human and material resources of the country. We also advise all Nigerians to work in unison to build a better country. The task of developing a country cannot be left to one man, no matter how powerful he may seem to be. It is a collective responsibility in which every person must play a role no matter how infinitesimal it appears to be. Let us begin today to love this country Nigeria. As we hope for a better tomorrow, let us join the choirs of Angels in praising God for making us Nigerians by chorusing the Glory be to God in the highest and on Earth peace to men of Goodwill.
We wish every Nigerian a happy and prosperous New Year as Nigerians grudgingly joins the Angels and Saints in stepping boldly into the year.
By Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu