By Adekunle Adekoya
Happy New Year! The last issue of this column in Vanguard of Friday 31-12-2021, on used tyres, ended with the first three words that opened the first edition of this column this year.
It is deliberate, apart from the fact that these three words have been standard greeting as we see each other for the first time after the Yuletide break, year after year. Besides, life and living being the pursuit of happiness, we cannot but continue the enterprise, there being no other option since we are still alive.
The pursuit of happiness by an individual is impacted by how others around him or her do theirs, and at the level of the social collective, how groups, societies, associations also do theirs.
For instance, an association celebrating its anniversary will make purchases and conduct many transactions geared towards making the event a success, and in the process, people will make sales and be happy.
If such an association decides on a street procession or carnival, their movement may slow down vehicular traffic which might slow down the movement of others in their own pursuit of happiness.
It is a cyclical experience that we all go through, and in history, has been the cause of wars and other conflicts that have shaped human experience.
At the universal level, what one country decides to do or stop doing in the pursuit of happiness for its citizens may trigger the opposite for citizens of other countries.
Thus, as Nigeria sinks deeper into the debt trap, creditor nations and institutions will be congratulating themselves on anticipated earnings as Nigeria struggles with the debt service.
While that is a general problem for all Nigerians, it is apt to look into the future and see how the Federal Government and the 36 state governments will impact the pursuit of happiness by Nigerians in 2022.
Will our bad roads get repaired? Will new ones be constructed? Will cracked bridges be repaired? Will electricity generation go up? Will the generated power be taken by DISCOs? If they do, will the power get to consumers?
Will dead transformers be replaced? In the health sector, will our hospitals be stocked with drugs? Will they have the necessary diagnostic equipment so we stop dying “after a brief illness?”
Will doctors, nurses and paramedics stop the endless strikes? Will they also stop emigrating to climes where leadership is better? In education, will there be enough teachers? Will the teachers’ emoluments get paid as and when due? Will there be books and other instructional materials? Since this is the age of information and communications technology, will our children now have keyboards to replace blackboards their grandfathers used?
At the tertiary level, will the Federal Government ensure that ASUU will no longer have cause to go on strike? Will ASUU members themselves stop going on strike at the slightest provocation? Will ASUU’s siblings, ASUP (Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics), NASU (Non-Academic Staff Union) and others also rethink strategies of dispute resolution outside the strike option?
Regarding the all-pervading issue of insecurity, will our Policemen and other security agencies live up to their billings this year and beyond? Will we see the end of Boko Haram insurgency? Now that bandits have been declared terrorists and gazetted accordingly, can we look forward to sleeping with at least one eye open in Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Zamfara, Benue, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, and other troubled states? Will pensioners stop dying on verification queues? Will they get their entitlements?
Can farmers go back to farms and cultivate without fear of attacks by marauding herdsmen and other felons? Can we try to travel by road anywhere in our country again, without fear of kidnappers, cultists, bandits and criminals of other hues? Endless questions, right?
Answers are in the quality of leadership we get, which also goes with the quality of followership we provide. Since we, the followers, are bad — yes, the truth must be told — we are not likely to get good leaders since the leaders are drawn from among us. Citizens that will not obey simple laws have no right to expect a functioning society.
People who strive to cut corners to secure benefits for themselves by circumventing the law will remain in purgatory as we are now. Parents who pay others to write test papers for their spoilt brats should also not expect a peaceful old age as they’ve already destroyed their retirement.
The pursuit of happiness by all of us in Nigeria will be impacted severely by what our leaders opt to do, or choose not to do.
This is an electioneering year and political activities are already gathering pace towards the general elections of 2023.
That means governance will recede to the back burner as governors, members of the houses of assembly, Senators and House of Representatives members get busy with getting re-elected or sponsoring their proteges for elective offices.
From the foregoing, just how much can our leaders help our pursuit of happiness this year? With removal of subsidy on petrol looming, and a federal budget deficit of more than N7 trillion in 2021, and projected deficit of another N6.39 trillion this year, the answer is not hard. Again, Happy New Year?