TODAY, December 31, we bid farewell to the year 2019, the tail-end of the second decade of the new millennium, during which we see a new world ruled by the Internet foisted on us by information and computer technology.
Like every other year, the year 2019 had its unique ups and downs but the most outstanding events for Nigeria were the general elections of February/March, and the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states held on Saturday, November 16, 2019.
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These elections left a bitter taste in our mouths because of the extreme violence deployed to thwart the right of the people to freely choose their leaders. They stood out for the wrong reasons unlike the 2015 elections that brought pride and good name to our country.
In spite of the massive mobilisation of all our security agencies and threats by the President that those caught tampering with the people’s right to vote would “pay with their lives,” armed men dressed in military uniforms and hoodlums were very visible and active in states like Rivers, Bayelsa, Kogi and Kano.
Though the military authorities denied that the men shown on television running riot in people’s homes and collation centres were their men, no one has been arrested and brought to book till date. The same scenario played out in Kogi and Bayelsa.
In spite of over 66,000 police personnel deployed, the Inspector General, Mohammed Adamu, later claimed his men were “overpowered” by “fake policemen”! Till date, no one has been arrested!
The elections of 2019 were nightmares that Nigerians do not wish to experience again.
The outgoing year also witnessed the continued contraction of the democratic space, with more Nigerians languishing in detention in spite of court orders for them to be released on bail.
The Federal Government and some state governors have been helping themselves to this impunity, but the media, social media and civil society groups have embraced the struggle against impunity. This has led to the release of Col. Sambo Dasuki and Omoyele Sowore.
The outgoing year also saw the closure of Nigerian land borders to curtail the dumping of banned foreign goods in the country by smugglers. While poultry and rice farmers are happy with it, local industries are groaning while the populace have been forced to endure astronomical rises in the cost of foodstuff, especially rice.
Happily, the security situation appeared to have improved particularly with the apparent lull in attacks by armed herdsmen terrorists.
The nation’s economy, after rising out of depression about two years ago, remains fragile at 1.94 per cent GDP growth rate year-on-year in the second quarter for a country of about 200 million people, which means an increase in the poverty rate.
Goodbye 2019. We hope for better times in 2020.