2020: A YEAR NIGERIANS WILL HATE TO RELIVE
By Okofu Ubaka
In the year 2020, the world stage never seemed to be so empty. From the deadly Covid-19 pandemic which took its origin from Wuhan in China to the barrage of protests the world over, particularly the crooning for racial justice in America, indeed, the year 2020 has staged a major global upset, and it has been pathetically draining for the world’s more powerful countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
Among other tragedies, mass-murders became a new normal. The spread of insurgency and other religion motivated attacks across the globe are ominous signs that exceedingly tough times await us even after here.
Specifically, the year has been more tragic for the continent of Africa, needless to mention Nigeria which also doubles as the epicentre of all the tragedies that have bestridden Africa in the last 12 months. For instance, in the northern part of Nigeria, whether you live or die the next minute was somewhat at the whims and caprices of the deadly and outlawed Boko Haram sect.
Beside a few scientific breakthroughs, of which the 5 gigabyte internet revolution is one, actually, there is nothing tangential to celebrate about a year that has witnessed the dearth of global cooperation and fecundity. The ‘cult like image’ of the outgoing US government led by President Donald Trump is emblematic of all that has set a new world order in motion. From the inception of that administration, President Trump has been unpretentious before the rest of us that global cooperation was no longer the fad. America was going to be for only Americans! Henceforth, weaker nations were to rot away in the cocoons of climate change, civil war, insurgency and economic upheavals. And uncharitably too, the Trump administration withdrew US aid to struggling nations.
In Nigeria, the cause for grief seemed to multiply during the year 2020. But the sheer courage and resilience of Nigerians in weathering the storms of inept leadership and the attendant economic woes thereto has kept the country a step farther away from being a failed state. In 2020 alone, more Nigerians had been killed in circumstance which would have been avoided if the Buhari government was simply competent.
It might be argued that the present government inherited the scourge of insurgency from the previous administration. In as much as this might be true, it is indisputable that more ‘territories’ in the North have been afflicted by Boko Haram and bandits than there were before the present government came on board.
Maybe it will be the last tragic news in the year, maybe not. Whichever way the pendulum swings, the recent abduction of over 300 boys from a public boarding Government Science Secondary school in Kankara, Katsina, President Buhari’s home state, even at a time that the president was in town is a slap on the entire security architecture of this country. This, and more are what ordinary Nigerians pass through on our highways where armed robbers and kidnappers are lords of the manor! The impunity with which bandits operate along the Abuja / Kaduna highway indicates that the Northern region of the country is under siege, and the killing of over 46 rice formers in Zabarmari, Borno state had further gone down to confirm the state of statelessness of Borno and other adjoining states.
Nigerians, like those in the developed world had engaged in protests to express their discountenance in the face of bad governance. Never had Nigerians confronted any democratically elected government with the demands to step down from office like President Buhari has been, and is still being asked to.
In 2020 alone, the country witnessed two major mass actions which had since placed the Muhammadu Buhari’s government on the watch list of the international community. It suffices to say that both protests were some of the most successful in the array of protests that had rocked this country since the inception of the Buhari government. Without mincing words, the #ENDSARS protest which witnessed the attacks on hordes of Nigerian youths at Lekki by the country’s military had further ferried the plights of Nigerians across borders to countries with the influence and power to caution the Buhari government. Let me quickly add here that the convener of the #REVOLUTIONNOW protest is currently standing trial for felony as a result of protests held in Abuja and other states in the South-western region of the country after the 2019 presidential election which the incumbent won in unclear circumstances.
2020 may go down as one of the most hopeless years for Nigerians. There is no gainsaying that Nigerians were made to pay more for petroleum products even with the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market where Nigeria gets its supply from. Not only in 2020, all the refineries in the country had been comatose as far as one could remember. For the first time in 10years, the gap between the rich and the poor had increased beyond all expectations. The hitherto middle class or middle earners have regrettably slipped out of economic consciousness. Today in Nigeria, you are either rich, poor or the poorest.
Virtually every sector of the Nigeria state had, and still suffers from one form of sordid neglect or the other. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country late February was not responsible for why lecturers in government-owned universities are not in class. The problems raised by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU are surmountable! The best successive governments have done was to pay lip service to tertiary institutions in the country. If anything, the recent faceoff between ASUU and the present administration indicates that the interest of ordinary Nigerians is not the business of those in power. While the strike lingered, children of the rich were in school. Not even Covid-19 stopped their academic calendar. Lectures in private institutions in the country were being held online. Students and their lecturers met on Zoom and other electronic generated media. The crux of the logjam between ASUU and the federal government has been finance and the latter’s poor sense of administration.
The health sector has not been any better. The story is still that of inadequate hands to handle tonnes of health challenges. Nigerian trained doctors are migrating to the developed world in droves. The same is the case for nurses that are in high demand in Europe and America. Both countries have high numbers of aged persons to care for.
Our roads are death traps. Carnages had since doubled what it used to be as a result of failed portions on these roads. The Buhari government was over rated by Nigerians. He was eulogised as the messiah to come. Those who knew him in the days of his obnoxious decree No.2 had warned. Nigerians were not in quandary. However, a large population, particularly from the northern part of the country where Buhari hails from were rather too angry with the Peoples Democratic Party, ( PDP) than to listen to such warning. Buhari’s All Progressives Congress won the election in 2015, and gradually, Nigeria began to sink steeply only to emerge as the poverty headquarters of the world. Factories packed up. Electricity supply became intolerable and epileptic. The value of the Naira steeped downward, yet foreign investors were not attracted. The government seems to have been caught in a vortex of nothingness, and those in charge are bereft of how to get the country back on course.
There have been persistent calls asking the President to step down. Such calls are not out of place considering the poor management of the country in the last 5 years. The debt profile of the country kept rising without any improvement on our infrastructure. Little wonder, one is compelled to ask what the billions of dollars borrowed so far have been expended on.
In all of these, Nigerians have been able to walk out from the silhouette of their old self to stage one of the ever successful protest in the history of this country. After the ill-fated #ENDSARS protest, and particularly the tragedy at the Lekki tollgate, the government has come to a realization that it was no longer going to be business as usual.
May 2021 be better.