We are in year 2020.Most Nigerians will begin to ask questions on how the year will differ from the preceding year. In 2019, there were lots of happenings – some were good while others were bad. For instance, 2019 was an election year. Nigerians trooped out en-mass to elect new leaders. Although, the elections were peaceful, there were pockets of violence and rejection of results by many contesters.
At last, those who lost out or alleged that the elections were rigged took their cases to courts. However, the 26 November gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa have been widely criticised due to allegation of irregularities. There were alleged cases of votes buying, ballot snatching and violence perpetrated by political thugs. The electoral umpire has promised to improve the conduct of election in the next exercise. Whether INEC will keep its promise or not only time will tell.
Another question many Nigerians may ask is how did the country’s economy perform last year? The government said that the economy performed wonderfully. It premised its reasons on the gains recorded in agricultural sector, social intervention programmes and border closure. However, Nigeria’s increased debt burden and the damning report by World Poverty Clock that 89 million Nigerians are living below the poverty line is sad reminder that much more needs to be done. With the increase of VAT rate to 7.5%, Nigerians are going to pay higher for consumable goods this year. I think the government should get its economic policies right through diversification and blocking of revenue loopholes in the new year.
On security, there was great success recorded in the war against Boko Haram in 2019.Our gallant troops have been able to contain the madness of the dreaded group in the North east. Notwithstanding, the rising cases of kidnapping and killings by suspected herdsmen are very worrying .Our defence ministry should sit up and be combat ready this year. The reported alliance between Boko Haram and ISWAP is indication that the war against Boko Haram is not yet over. What about the justice system in 2019? Did it fare well? Certainly not. It came under attack from legal experts who accused government of excessive disregard to court orders. The Sambo Dasuki, El-Zakzaky and Sowore cases are typical example worth remembering. The government should lead by example by upholding the rule of law in 2020.
The war against corruption took a good and interesting dimension last year. Some past governors who stole or corruptly enriched themselves landed in prisons. This is a right step in the right direction. The momentum should be maintained. Nigerians want to see many corrupt government officials in jail this year. This will go a long way toward sending strong signal that the war against corruption has come to stay. As the year 2020 begins, may the country witness prosperity in all aspect of human development.
––Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna State.