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Happy New Year Nigerians or Not: What’s Happy About The New Year?

January 12, 2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by Tolu Okunade

On the 1st of January 2021, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari addressed the Nation in his usual fashion at the start of each year. What was different, however, was that this year’s address was laced with empathy and words of succor and was relevant to the current day situation facing Nigerians. 

However, many Nigerians failed to pay attention to it. For all they know, 2020 has been the year the Government failed them. While the Buhari and Osinbajo led administration has done poorly according to the common man’s rating, 2020 was a rubber stamp as to the colossal failure that the government had become.

Do not be mistaken by the joyous and friendly tone an average Nigerian greets you with. Our Nation has been dubbed as the with the Happiest People on the Earth. An outsider would think all is in order and this is the best place to live after the Garden of Eden. Well, that nation that according to a CNN report in 2018, has about half of the population living on less than $1.90 a day. Ironic, isn’t it? Why then are people so happy?

This simply because Nigerians have just found ways to make themselves happy without looking at the colossal failings of the government. I would in this piece below, I would highlight a few key sectors and why the new year isn’t a Happy One Indeed:

  1. Security

For over a decade, Nigeria has been in a constant prolonged battle with the dastardly Sect Boko Haram. However, one of the campaign promises of the Buhari campaign in 2014 was to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency and end the insecurity in Nigeria’s restive northeastern region.

Many believed him because he is a former Military Head of State and a War General. But five years after assuming office, it seems insecurity has taken a spike. Boko Haram still operates at will and has the audacity to target Governors Convoys now.

SARS officers that swore to defend and protect the citizens have been killing and extorting them. Kidnappers have been having a free day, especially on our highways. Armed Robbers are having a good time. Citizens have now become their own security and in many communities, they have organized local vigilante groups or taken turns to stay awake to watch their families. All this while we have a Commander in Chief?

  1. Economy

This is perhaps the most depressing. Nigeria is in an economic recession. And as if that isn’t bad enough, the recession is the worst in 36 years as data obtained from the World Bank. The National Bureau of Statistics in its report for the third quarter of 2020 said the GDP, the broadest measure of economic prosperity fell by 3.62 percent in the three months up till September 2020.

This is the second recession in five years. All these amid a rising debt profile, increased rate of inflation, and skyrocketing rates of unemployment. In a nation that is supposed to be the Continent’s ‘Giant.’ Yet, with this, our budget is still the same. We aren’t trying to save, diversify the economy, or cut governmental running costs. We’re still heavily dependent on oil. Political office holders are still given Estacodes, Welfare packages, and new vehicles. 

  1. Education 

What more do I need to say? We all know the story. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was on an academic strike from March 2020 and it was only called off in December 2020. This strike was one of the longest spanning and worst since 1973. Many of our kids sat at home for 9 months. These are the supposed leaders of the next generation. Kept at home, Jobless because the Government refused to heed to the Union’s demands. 

  1. Health Care

Nigeria too has fallen short in the healthcare sector. Although she currently spends less than 5% of its federal budget on health, the Federal Government cut the 2020 budget allocated to health care by 40%. This was right in the middle of a Pandemic. Yet, 37b Naira was set aside for renovations to Nigeria’s National Assembly buildings. 

  1. Transport.

Have you traveled on Nigerian Roads recently? Then you’d agree with me that they death traps. The roads themselves are accidents waiting to happen. The government’s focus has been building railways and train stations but they forget that not everyone would travel by train. Why ignore the roads then? The Lagos Ibadan expressway project commenced when I was a toddler. I’d become a father soon. If perhaps my son asks, what do I tell him? Half of the road accidents we have in Nigeria are caused by bad road conditions.

For many Nigerians, 2021 means they have two more years to endure in the hands of this administration before the next. It isn’t a happy year for them, after all. 

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