Not even the many predictions by the different men of God could aptly capture what the outgoing year represents in the true sense of it. For many, this year came with such a peculiarity that would contradict the predictions of the clairvoyants.
Starting with an ill-advised decision by President Goodluck Jonathan, to remove subsidy on petrol on the first day of the New Year, which led to a crippling nationwide strike, indications that the year was not going to be as auspicious as many had thought were strong.
Soon to follow were the many controversial economic policies, socio-political uncertainties, tales of corruption, deteriorating infrastructure, unrelenting terrorism, steady rise in unemployment, natural disaster, familiar executive/legislative sparring, political backstabbing and death of prominent persons, amongst such events that had defined the outgoing year thus far.
Of note, however, is the security situation, which is still worrisome. The menace of insecurity has continued to task the ingenuity of leadership at all tiers of government as the leaders’ ability to tackle issues of governance within the context of protection of lives and property, has pitted those in power against the opposition and the people.
But despite several changes in the nation’s security architecture and at different strata, insecurity, especially daring terrorist attacks by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has continued unabated.
Without disregard to the conscious efforts by government to contain the tide through different initiatives, which included personnel changes and redeployment of officers, Nigeria could still not be said to be a safe nation now. Some have attributed the seeming enduring insecurity to what they said was the lack of political will of government to take on those that have made the nation unsafe and their sponsors.
Yet, such leadership test was compounded by some obviously misconceived economic initiatives that many analysts have said were inappropriate, given the nation’s current economic position. The suspended introduction of N5, 000 notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was one of such steps that many deemed were not properly considered.
Budget defence of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program (SURE-P) which aims to provide unemployed graduates with job apprenticeship opportunities did not impress the Senator Magnus Abe committee much less the generality of Nigerians.
Ideas propounded by members of the Dr. Christopher Kolade-led committee on how to drive the initiative were considered utterly defective.
Perhaps, a few moves in the agriculture sector made some sense. At least, with some of the initiatives embraced in this sector, job opportunities are being created in the sector to reduce unemployment. However, despite events in the sector, the economy could not be said to be in a good shape; what with an increasing debt profile, both domestic and foreign.
The poor state of infrastructure, inherited by the Jonathan presidency, has not witnessed significant improvement. From deplorable roads across the country to the slowly improving but still epileptic power supply as well as problems in the transportation and aviation sectors, the infrastructure deficit is still worrisome.
Unfortunately, the often needless and clearly avoidable face-off between the legislature and the executive played a spoiler in some of the events that have happened in the outgoing year. This is because before the observing public, the poor working relationship between the two had become a somewhat popularity and ego contest. Even more worrisome is the fact that the two arms of government is controlled by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The tirade that followed the 2013 budget presentation was a pointer to this assertion. Until nearly the end of the year, the executive and the legislature were sparring over issues that analysts thought should have been tidied up at party level without necessarily undermining the principle of separation of power.
The outgoing year is also one where the attempts to reshape the polity through fashioning a new constitution for the country has been greeted with cynicism among many stakeholders. The more the National Assembly reassures Nigerians that it is serious with the exercise of amending the constitution to ensure that the grundnorm for operating the nation’s federalism reflects the aspirations of the people, the more many express doubts over what will come out from the exercise.
At the state levels, governors across the geopolitical zones have played defining roles in some of the issues that exemplified the outgoing year. Either as a bloc or individuals, their actions or inactions had made an impact on how the year has turned out. While they sometime disagreed with the Federal Government supposedly in national interests, the state of some of the states has not been worth the while.
Apart from regaling in sheer noisemaking on their cosmetic performance, fund allocated to many of the states are at variance with developments in the states.
Their perceived financial recklessness was believed to have informed the Federal Government’s decision to blacklist some states from obtaining more loans. The National Assembly also waded in and queried their penchant for obtaining loans.
In terms of leadership, the situation in some of the states where the governors were not available to personally drive affairs of the state has raised questions on the criteria for selecting deputies, some of whom had literally assumed full control in their states.
While in Enugu, Taraba and Cross River State, the governors have remained indisposed and their deputies are now the ones running the show in acting capacity, the former Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Ramalan Yero, has since become governor in the wake of the death of his boss, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, in a helicopter crash in Okoroba area of Nembe, Bayelsa State, some days ago.
With just about three days to the New Year, the outgoing year also recorded the passing away of prominent persons in the country. Apart from the recent death of former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Azazi, who died along with Yakowa and four others, the year also recorded the death of former Secretary General of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Lateef Adegbite; former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina; Second Republic Senate Leader and strongman of Kwara Politics, Dr. Olusola Saraki and Justice Kayode Eso, amongst others.
Indeed, it has been a year so full of hopes and disappointments in every sense of it and as Nigerians look forward to 2013, perhaps, the only consolation is to see the leadership learn from the experiences of the outgoing year, so that leaders at all strata of the society will come up with policies and actions that will improve on the well-being of the people.