By Douglas Anele
It is not gainsaid that the year 2016 was a very challenging year in Nigeria. The fundamental problem was that improvement in the lives of Nigerians promised by the President, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has yet to materialise.
Of course, there is change alright, but it is mostly in the negative direction. For instance, the economy is anaemic, bringing in its wake severe consequences for the poor and the downtrodden. The cost of living has skyrocketed, which means that millions of Nigerians have joined the category of the desperately sick, poor, hungry and disillusioned whereas those who were already in that category before Buhari assumed power have sank deeper into the slough of despond.
Buharimaniacs and fanatic supporters of the APC government are still blaming former President Goodluck Jonathan for Buhari’s inability to perform. When Lai Mohammed and Garba Shehu run out of excuses for the President’s manifest failures, they parade the so-called war against corruption as his outstanding achievement.
However, aside from media trial and hasty conviction of members of Jonathan’s administration who purportedly stole billions of naira and dollars, genuine convictions have been extremely rare: in fact, there are indications that corruption is still going on in an industrial scale under Buhari’s watch, particularly in the shambolic exchange rate regime and public procurement process.
President Buhari and his subalterns, especially Prof. Itse Sagay, have been lamenting that corruption is fighting back to frustrate the onslaught on graft. This lamentation, in my opinion, is an indirect admission of defeat and lack of creativity in thinking through the complex aetiology and mechanisms of graft together with the methods of dealing effectively with the problem.
Even so, the one-sidedness of Buhari’s war against corruption and his penchant to defend his loyalists even when there is prima facie evidence against them has put a huge question mark on the sincerity and capability of the present administration to deal squarely with corruption.
In addition, although Boko Haram has been degraded to the point that
it no longer posed a potent threat in the north-east as it did previously, the incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping, heinous killing of people in different parts of the country by murderous
Fulani masquerading as herdsmen and other forms of insecurity is gradually getting out control. As a result of the worsening security situation, foreign investors are unwilling to invest in Nigeria whereas the ones already here are relocating to other West African countries, particularly Ghana.
To worsen matters, the inclement investment climate is asphyxiating local manufacturers and discouraging those who intended to engage in wealth creation based on the belief that APC was serious about making the country an investor’s haven in 2016. The failures of President Buhari are also evident in the pathetic state of electricity.
Media reports, and more importantly the concrete experiences of Nigerians nationwide, indicate that the power sector is generating and distributing less electricity than it did in the heydays of Jonathan’s government, which is contrary to APC’s boast during the campaigns that if Buhari wins his administration would put structures in place quickly to improve power supply.
Overall, despite the modest achievements of the present federal government, its mistakes are so serious that most Nigerians are worse off now than they were when Jonathan was in charge. In this connection, I am convinced that time is ripe for patriots to move away from armchair and beer parlour criticism and engage in creative non-violent activism to make their voices heard.
They must be courageous and willing to deploy all avenues permitted by law to impress on the ruling elite that we have had enough, that we cannot continue to suffer while top officials of government and their cronies live as if Nigeria’s resources belong to them alone.
There is no doubt that last year was a very trying period for our people; which is why they have become easy prey for fraudulent religious preachers and ponzy scheme operators. Personally, I was more financially buoyant in 2015 than I was last year, because prices of essential commodities were lower and I received honoraria for attending some important meetings and presenting papers at conferences, workshops and symposia. Now, most of my friends who assisted me in 2015 complain bitterly that there are no funds to organise such meetings and workshops and that productivity level has dropped as a result of Buhari’s medievalist approach to governance.
In these trying times, we need the help of one another more than ever before. Since no human being can achieve anything without the help of others, it is imperative that we should be grateful to those that helped us navigate through the hellish conditions of last year.
Consequently, I use this wonderful opportunity to express my deep appreciation for the great human beings who made life worth living for me in 2016. The most important of all are my wife, Ijeoma, and my two adorable daughters, Nwanyioma and Nwadiuto. To Ij baby, I cannot thank you enough for tolerating my oddities and frailties.
I know that sometimes you might ask yourself what you are doing with this rascally atheist who habitually fails in some of his “husbandly duties” to you – I do too! But no matter what, you remain the most significant woman in my life. I deeply appreciate the fact that you are a wonderful mother to our children and that after seventeen years of marriage you are still with me, still cooking great meals for the family. You have weaknesses also; please work on them so that we can have a better marital experience in 2017.
To my sweet daughters, Nwanyioma and Nwadiuto, watching you grow from tiny babies to what you are now is one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I wish both of you a brighter future as you mature into adolescents. To the hardworking Vice Chancellor of the great University of Lagos, Akoka, Professor R.A. Bello, and his able lieutenants, Professors Duro Oni (Deputy Vice Chancellor Management Services) and Oluwatoyin Ogundipe (Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics and Research) I deeply appreciate your advice and kindness to me last year.
I wish you peace profound, excellent health and lasting happiness as you strive to make our beautiful university the bastion of knowledge indeed and in truth. My big sister Ihuoma and her husband Dee Sam; thank you immensely for being there for me. I am grateful to my colleagues in the department of philosophy, University of Lagos, notably Drs. Fatai Asodun, Chris Osegenwune, Peter Oni, Peter Osimiri, Modestus Onyeaghalaji, Debo Gbadebo, Surajudeen Owosho, Chiedozie B. Okoro, Professor F.N. Ndubuisi, Mr. Dan Ekere, Mrs. Philomena Egbe, and the graduate assistants.
I thank all the administrative staff of the department of philosophy for their help. My sincere gratitude goes to the sagacious Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, the Sub-Dean, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, and Faculty Officer, Mr. Kelvin Ugwu. All my co-residents in C Block Highrise (except the occupant of flat 1 who decided to make himself an island unto himself) I hereby acknowledge you as good neighbours.
Dee Tony, Professors Ademola Adeleke, Adeyemi Daramola, Aderopo Akinsoji, Hope Eghagha, Victor Ariole, Iwu Ikwubuzor, H.O.D. Longe, Ngozi Osarenren and Drs. Fadakinte, Isaac Nwaogwugwu, Patrick Oloko, and Augustine Nwagbara; my colleagues at the department of philosophy, University of Ibadan, especially Professors Isaac Ukpokolo, Christopher Agulanna, Bola Ekanola, O. Oyeshile, Francis Offor and Amechi Udefi – in various ways you were good to me and I am grateful.
I cannot forget you, amiable Professor Princewill Alozie, and my latest intellectual daughter, Dr. Philomena Ojomo. I bear witness to your humility, kindness and diligence. Of course, Uncle Sam Amuka, publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, my good friend Fred Udueme, (AGM, Brand), and Jide Ajani (editor, Sunday Vanguard), I thank you for your kindness and for giving me a powerful platform to express myself every Sunday.
To my wonderful friends Nduka Iheanacho, Chiefs Ralph Obiduba, Emmanuel Ofodile, Innocent Egwim, Johnson Ikube and Mr. Robert Obioha – you are wonderful people and I am glad to have known you. Ikemba Ogundu, Ninja, Dr. Rotimi Omosulu, Lugard, Matthew, Stanley, Hajiyah, Jude, Abiola, Judaism, Bunmi, Helen, NG girl, Stanley, Babatee, Azeez, Debo Adeleke, and Blackman – your assistance to me is hereby gratefully acknowledged. To my confidant, Queeneth C. Agbafor, I appreciate you so much. All the readers of my column, you are the main reason why I write every Sunday, thank you for the motivation.