Hurdles of 2014

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January, February, March, April….. October, November, December. It seems only but yesterday that the year 2014 began, with Nigerians, like peoples all over the world, embracing the then New Year with expectations, hope and suspense. Yet within the next few days 2014 would have elapsed, consigned to the dustbin of history as another year which came, saw and left its footprints on the sands of time.

For most Nigerians one of the enduring memories of 2014 is the unprecedented terror attacks unleashed on the hapless and defenseless citizenry by the radical Islamists, Boko Haram. As if in suspended animation, Nigerians watched in horror and disbelief as this rag-tag gang outwits our supposedly well-trained and well-armed troops, even as they grabbed one territory after the other with relative ease.

Elsewhere, the Ebola virus disease sneaked into the country unannounced, thanks to the infamous Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer. Thankfully, the authorities concerned responded with impressive gusto and managed to tame the raging monster before it could wreck further damage on the populace. To the admiration of the whole world, the Nigerian authorities contained Ebola in a way and pace that has continued to serve as a living example to other nations of the world.

But the triumph against Ebola is obviously one little bright spot in a tunnel padded with gloomy spots. Indeed despite all the assurances from the federal and state governments, little or nothing was done for the citizenry in terms of provision of the much talked-about dividends of democracy. Rather, the quality of governance has continued to decline at an alarming rate, even as public infrastructure keep degenerating without anybody seemingly giving a damn.

In fact, such is the criminal negligence and/or incompetence of officialdom that Nigerians have more less become a government unto themselves, as evident in the services which individuals and communities have no choice than to render to themselves. These include provision of essential services such as water, electricity, access roads, medical care, education, and so forth. With government either doing pretty little or nothing at all in these sectors, the electorate have had to bear the burden in silence.

Perhaps the most damning indictment of the government’s performance in 2014 is the abject failure to properly utilize the billions of naira budgeted for various sectors. This is evident in the countless strikes that have apparently become a way of life in sectors like education and health on account of paucity of funds and facilities. Security is the primary responsibility of government, yet the pervasive insecurity across the land which has been made all the more terrible by allegations that our soldiers are being deprived of their allowances and equipment, is a sad commentary on how not to govern a country.

That said, we must commend the resilience and seemingly elastic patience of the Nigerian people in the face of government’s unpardonable incompetence, even as we urge the electorate to make their votes count in the forthcoming general elections. The February 2015 polls offer us another golden chance to say no to lousy governance by electing leaders who have what it takes to lead us to the Promised Land.

As 2014 ends and a new year is about to begin, we as a people would do ourselves a lot of good by reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the past 12 months, with a view to moving to another level in 2015.

Bearing in mind the truism that a people deserve the leader they are saddled with, Nigerians must consciously decide once and for all the sort of people who should occupy leadership positions at the executive and legislative levels.

To do otherwise is to hasten our descent to perdition.

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