In spite of the fond memories and the many regrets, tomorrow brings closure to 2018, writes Olawale Olaleye
By midnight tomorrow, 2018 will call in time on its 12 months’ reign across the world. Although the differing global time could see some nations bidding the year a final goodbye earlier than the others, by Tuesday, however, the entire universe would have welcomed another baby: 2019, also with peculiar hopes and despair.
For many a person, group, corporation, association and nation, the outgoing year signifies many things, mostly measured in terms of the impact the year has had on them – good or bad. Nigeria is not an exception either.
Although largely eventful, many Nigerians will not forget 2018 in a hurry especially in terms of their interpretation of the social, political and economic happenings the year under review has had on them.
The outgoing year has witnessed more killings than seen in recent years, as it was ushered in with the horrendous New Year’s Day killings in Benue State, with 73 lives needlessly wasted. What had started like a one-off, tarried almost through the many curves of the year!
The pains of this experience were not made any easy with the constant pummeling of the Nigerian military by insurgents, believed to be members of the ISIS West Africa, which melted away from Syria. This too has not subsided even though the year ends tomorrow.
Compounding these were incidences of kidnapping, ritual killings in many parts of the country, increasing cult activities and lately, banditry in some parts of the north, endlessly claiming lives.
The recent murder of Major-General Idris Alkali and a former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh were two separate incidences that gave strong indications of the weakness in the nation’s security architecture. Whilst it is true that the security agencies had made commendable progress in the investigation of the two murder cases, with a better security set-up, they could have been prevented.
There were other killings that also got the attention of the entire nation in the outgoing year. The April Offa, Kwara State, robbery was one of them. A pure robbery case was largely politicised by a rather partisan police, such that there was a conscious attempt to implicate the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki.
The killing, which claimed about 32 people, mostly policemen and led by a dismissed officer, Michael Adikwu may have been muddled up after all especially, with the passing away of Adikwu, who many believed was killed for God-knows-what.
The killing, also, of Chief Ope Bademosi, the late Chairman of Credit Switch Technology Limited, allegedly by his Togolese cook, was one death that many Nigerians would have loved to see an intelligent investigation expose the real killers. But as it appeared, the handling of it was itself a turn-off and has remained another puzzle despite the story by police that the Togolese cook confessed to the killing. The state of the cook can no longer be ascertained.
Of course, the passing on Friday, of the Second Republic First Elected President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, at the National Hospital, Abuja, after a brief illness, closes the year with the demise of a quintessential patriot. His death was confirmed by his grandson and President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCNI), Bello Shagari. He was 93.
Two major governorship elections held in Ekiti and Osun States, on July 14 and September 22 respectively. Although both elections were somewhat controversial, the poor handling of the Osun exercise had created worry even for the international community, which claimed to have witnessed a brazen manipulation of the electoral process. Many bye-elections held in many parts of the nation within the year, preparatory to next year’s general election.
The enmity between the executive and the legislature took its worst toll on government this year especially, given the failed plot to remove the leadership of the Senate led by Senator Bukola Saraki. This untoward ploy also gave rise to many afflictions, one of them, the sack of the former Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Lawal Daura.
The development further presented to the world, a badly divided nation and a heavily reduced presidency in terms of importance. Many senators and House of Representatives members have had to defect across the major parties on account of this situation and other related issues.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s acclaimed fight against corruption also suffered credibility crisis for many reasons, particularly on the case involving the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr. Usman Yusuf, which has become messy. Attempts to ‘specially treat Yusuf’ had been met with stiff resistance, which is why the matter is where it is today. A report was last week submitted to the presidency on the matter. It just might go the way of others.
Sharing closely with this was President Buhari’s certificate scandal, which denouement is even the more scandalous. After pushing back and forth on whether or not he had a secondary school certificate, a major precondition for contesting election, the president was finally handed a certificate of confirmation and attestation by WAEC, an idea that raised more suspicion in terms of discretion and cast scathing aspersions on the president and the presidency.
One of the significant markers of the outgoing year, albeit politically sculpted, is the unchanging position of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, who has always insisted that the government of her husband had been hijacked and this year, she boldly said only two people were behind it.
Aisha has been consistent over the years since her husband took over office, criticising everything considered improper in the running of the government. That her husband once dismissed her as belonging to the other room did not however change her stance but instead made her stronger. Not even the recent attempts by the presidency to personalise her stance has altered the equation.
The sentencing to 14 years behind bars of a former governor of Plateau State and senator, Joshua Dariye was one of the highpoints of the outgoing year and in a sense, a breakthrough for the anti-graft crusade of the Buhari administration. Needless to say this is being politically interpreted especially the move to jail another former governor of the state and also senator, Jonah Jang. The development is being analysed as likely to have a huge effect on next year’s election in the state.
The slow recovery of the nation’s economy from a rather devastating recession is still ongoing and is by far adjudged one important highlight of the outgoing year. Although the economy has not assumed the kind of shape that many eagerly look forward to, that it has exited from what was described as the worst recession in recent times is also not in doubt.
Thus, as the nation gears up for the national elections next year February and March, it was understandable that the international community has shown extreme concern on the need to ensure a credible exercise, coupled with the commitment from Buhari and the INEC that the elections would be free, fair and credible.
Save for life, the outgoing year came with more regrets than hopes although not surprisingly so, as many predictions had shown that it was not going to be a very good year. That many however survived the many shocks and disappointments that attended the year is the reason they look forward to an auspicious 2019.
It’s goodbye, 2018!