2015 was a year of defining challenges for Nigeria, and so will be 2016. Of the many momentous events that marked 2015, the general elections and the democratic change that ushered in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the ruling party and Muhammadu Buhari as President, is one event that would not be forgotten in a hurry.


For many Nigerians, New Year Day was a day to rejoice and congratulate one another for witnessing another calendar year; a day to celebrate the hope that survival imposes on the country, even in an atmosphere of grief and widespread lamentation.

Most importantly, it was also a day to cast an introspective look into national affairs in the year just gone by, to take stock and to chart a new course for the year ahead. Nigeria’s path to greatness is defined by the choices it makes today.

This past year was strewn with many booby traps, both literally and metaphorically. Nigeria witnessed one of the most turbulent and virulent electoral engagements in her political history; and from it has flowed a post-election period of change, hope and a national environment of great expectations.

On the whole, 2015 saw Nigeria developing into a nation in conflict with itself, a nation living in outright contradiction to its high destiny. It was a year punctuated with a stream of bombings, in an orchestrated terrorist campaign that has clearly overwhelmed the country’s national security apparatus.

Boko Haram stands out as the single most deadly and intractable security challenge followed by kidnappings and armed robberies that are a daily occurrence. Sadly, the fate of the abducted Chibok school girls remains a sore issue gnawing at the conscience of a bewildered and embarrassed nation. Dead or alive, until the Chibok girls are found, the government cannot claim any victory in the war against Boko Haram.

For the umpteenth time, Nigerians have had, at the turn of each year, the assurances of the leadership that better times are at hand. For that many number of times, Nigerians have ended up with dashed hopes, broken promises and failed commitments.

On the economic front, tumbling oil prices and economic recession continue to present enormous challenges as the government and States rack up months of unpaid salaries and other debts. Yet with serious economic, infrastructural and security challenges to contend with, Nigerians witnessed a most callous and despicable betrayal of trust by leaders and their cronies who continue to rob the nation blind.

The present administration has had its own harvest of scandals, with faltering investigations and half-hearted, inconclusive pursuit of high profile culprits of audacious corruption, from previous regimes and now. Whichever way Nigerians turn, they are confronted with the overarching presence of pervasive corruption and societal decay.

As a New Year begins, Nigerian leaders must stop and think just where the country is headed. Does the experience of the last few years aggregate to development or is the country on an inexorable slide to ruination in a land so abundantly blessed but so deeply violated and desecrated? Pathological lust for power and greed for money have rendered purposeful leadership prostrate.

It has become more and more apparent that the fortune of this country is torn between those concerned with maintaining and expanding their private economic and political estates, and those consumed by ingrained prejudices, intolerance and bigotry, whether religious or ethnic.

The country’s path to greatness is defined by the choices it makes today. Those who have had the primary responsibility to lead this country to greatness have often paid lip service to a united and developed entity. Nigeria is nowhere near its potential and it is portrayed and shaped as a jungle land to be plundered and violated with impunity. The bigger picture of the Nigerian national mosaic demands the undivided attention of leaders who, of their own choosing, have come forward to govern.

That mosaic must encompass the multi-dimensions of nation-building – education, healthcare, the economy, security, social services. These must be pursued simultaneously in an environment of social justice and equity, and it is what democracy is all about. Where any aspect is left unattended, development becomes stunted. We cannot claim to develop when access to jobs is effectively closed to the teeming products of the education system. We cannot develop when leaders go abroad for painkillers and surgery, rather than build functional health facilities here at home.

As Nigerians enter a New Year, they expect of their leaders a change of heart, a resolve to put in hard work in scholarship, consultation and legislation, in planning, execution and oversight, in prudence and accountability. What Nigerians no longer expect is the scandalous and profligate posturing that dominates the country’s leadership today.

Many young Nigerians now lack the courage to dream dreams and pursue high ideals, as their vision has been rendered opaque and their confidence shaken.

Without the hope of a better tomorrow, life would be sterile. The experiences of 2015 serve as a reminder that justice as a primary condition of human existence remains a critical undercurrent of the nation’s travails today. Nigerians need to embrace peace, which can come in an environment of justice and equity.

Until they take some other momentous steps at restructuring, Nigerians have no other country but this one to call their own. If they aspire for peace and development, they must embrace justice. The country’s leaders must renew their pledge to diligently assume a leadership anchored on integrity, principles and exemplary self-sacrifice.

Buffeted though by a myriad of woes – a stagnant economy propped up with statistics, a corrupted judiciary, decaying national infrastructure, a manipulative ruling class steeped in corruption, terrorism, an escalation of kidnapping and armed robbery, declining educational and health care delivery, a self-serving political class – redemption is still possible if Nigerians abandon hypocrisy and, instead, live out the high ideals of the founding fathers.

Nigeria may be awash with corruption and official malfeasance. It may even be tottering on the brink of collapse. But Nigerians need not give in to a death wish. They can dream dreams. Dreams of a new Nigeria with uninterrupted power supply, no potholed roads; where potable water flows from every tap; where all children of school age are in school.

Imagine a Nigeria where citizens are paid their salaries promptly and public officeholders no longer steal from the treasury, and where government business is conducted with transparency, accountability and no one has to pay a bribe. Just imagine a new Nigeria without fuel queues; where poverty, hunger, disease, and misery are things of the past; a new Nigeria where unemployment and illiteracy have been banished from public and private lives.

Nigeria can rise to new heights and regain her dignity. Nigerians can make Nigeria work for the benefit of everyone. It only takes sacrifice, discipline, determination, focus, commitment, integrity, and visionary, selfless leadership. All over the world, it is being stated that there is no excuse for poverty in Nigeria. What is required, therefore, is the political will to act!



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