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Persons of the Year Despite it all... they made a difference Prologue

01 Jan 2013

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Emeka Anyaoku

Okechukwu Uwaezuoke

2012 is ending with a number of our national challenges remaining acute, among which are insecurity, corruption, and dilapidated state of our roads. But the year has also seen some improvements in such areas as agriculture, direct foreign investment, railways, power and macroeconomic management. I believe that if the hopes kindled by President Jonathan’s administration are actualised, and the country’s present inefficient governance architecture is far-sightedly reformed in the ongoing constitutional review, 2013 and the year after will be the years of decisive march towards the Nigeria of our dreams.
- Emeka Anyaoku; Holidaying in Obosi, Anambra State on December 30, 2012

Spurts of optimism alternated with the gloomy moments of the just concluded year. Hats off therefore to the coterie of exceptional Nigerians who still punched above their weight amidst the obvious challenges! A recent deliberation of the THISDAY Board of Editors identified these beacons of hope in 2012 from out of the wasteland of warped values as THISDAY Persons of the Year.

A controversial withdrawal of the fuel subsidy cascaded into street protests so early in the year. The protesters’ battle cry: a return to the original N65 per litre. But the embattled president wouldn’t back down and eventually settled for a middle-of-the-road resolution of the dispute by conceding a N97 pump price. The subsequent setting up of subsidy review committees opened a can of worms. Distinguishing himself as the head of one of these committees was the Access Bank CEO/Managing Director, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

An increasingly paranoid public, meanwhile, cowered before the spectre of insecurity.  There seemed to be no stopping the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram. Its insurgency and the inter-religious strife in Jos and Kaduna continued to rile an already tense nation. Nor did there seem to be any solution to the scourge of kidnapping, assassination and armed robbery. Nonetheless, there is a need to acknowledge the counter-insurgency feats of the Nigerian soldier and state security official at home and abroad. At great risk to their lives, the Nigerian soldier, with the assistance of the state security official took on the insurgents, bandits and kidnappers. They gave hope to millions of Nigerians and kept hope alive that Nigeria will again be safe.

On the business front, the Nigerian capital market, for the first time since 2008, witnessed a rebound with a year-to-date growth of 35.4 per cent, thus our-performing most emerging markets in Africa and Asia. At the helm of the market’s rebound was the unassuming but efficient CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyema, who introduced new products in the market and solicited for new listings on the bourse. 

Ultimately, kudos for the lingering hope of a better Nigeria goes to a coterie of President Goodluck Jonathan’s promising ministers. Indeed, the efforts of these ministers wring coherence from the president’s much-trumpeted Transformation Agenda. Hence even as the country plodded on in the murkiness of incoherence, the efforts of the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina; Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, stood them out.

Their story, as well as those of the other personalities, is an odyssey in service to their country and an affirmation of the capacity of the human will to rise above the stumbling blocks that have hobbled Nigeria’s quest for greatness.

Tags: News, Nigeria, Featured, Persons of the Year

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