Happening New Year – Vanguard
Nigerians step into a new century tomorrow - the country, however is not new. It is a different New Year; it is a new beginning, not just the way most years begin. The celebrations would be different, the expectations higher.
In 1 January 1914, the amalgamation of the Northern Protectorate and the Southern Protectorate formed Nigeria. It was a British creation for its administrative convenience. The main consideration was reducing cost of running the protectorates.
Nigerians are still debating whether the centenary is worth celebrating. The debates have nothing to do with the challenges of 2013.
The passing year has been challenging, possibly more challenging than the ones that preceded it, though it may be difficult to reach a conclusion, since years of ignoring challenges have seen them rolling into the future, in an endless wave of confounding conflicts.
It seemed that in 2013, the authorities expected conflicts to resolve themselves. They tore at each other, in an enthralling quest for power - power to decide who did not gain access to political relevance in elections that are almost two years away.
Criticisms of governments reached their apogee; they were targeted at making points over 2015. They became trite. Anything that any government did had the opposition party criticising it. Criticisms became an end in themselves.
In 2013, Nigerians lived in the shadow of the 2015 elections. The authorities ignored the present. The future held more appeal to them than present challenges.
Anything - even the criticisms - that had no prospects for influencing 2015 were ignored. Nigerians were concerned about the paucity of new thinking that could change their country. The alternatives were regurgitation of faded ideas or flashes of thoughts dubiously rehashed as elixirs. Governments expended a lot of time on security. In the past five years, each succeeding year has seen an increase in the demands that security makes on the country.
There were hardly any resources left to attend to other multiplying challenges of living in Nigeria. Complaints are mounting. Statistics indicate higher unemployment levels, expected in a country where production is dropping as more resources are invested in expanding government expenses.
Accusations and counter accusations of corruption made the headlines. At best, these shows minimised any efforts at tackling corruption. Neither governments, nor their accusers showed in any tangible way that the main purpose of their existence was the security and welfare of the people.
Politics overtook governance in 2013 with a stridence that shook the country. In all these, Nigerians maintained their uncommon resilience. They survived poor governance; they triumphed over the many challenges that went with being Nigerian. They expect governments to make 2014 a happening new year by caring for them.