Nigeria: 2012 in Perspective

By Kabir Mato, Daily Trust

The year 2012, in my view, was a very difficult year in terms of the series of negative incidents that have faced the Nigerian people and nation. This is not to say there were no occurrences that, to a reasonable extent, could be said to be positive.

If the pendulum of measurement is anything to go by, I am of the view that those series of national crises that we faced have by far outweighed the few or any possible little achievement or benefit that might have been recorded during the year.

My take on Nigeria’s major problems is that there is a yawning gap between governance and the reality of the population. We are faced with a tragedy of gargantuan proportion in the sense that most people in positions of authority hardly appreciate the essence of research in the development process. Governance, especially in Abuja, has been reduced to the pedestrian level of fault line identification and exploitation.

Those who call the shots are unable to appreciate the magnitude of the crisis at hand talk less of deploying efficient methodologies in tackling these problems. That is why ethnicity, regionalism and religious fault lines have become the major contours of policy at the highest level of government in the country.

Failure of those in positions of authority to meet the basic needs of the common man has paved the way for the evocation of sentiments to cover up for the obvious failures of men and women in positions of power and authority. That is why today in Nigeria the pulpit has become the major avenue of making policy statements or to say the least the avenue where critical national questions and the attempt to resolve them are aired.

President Goodluck Jonathan is guilty of converting the pulpit into an arena of politics. This he did twice in December 2012 and on the 1st of January 2013. At the Redeemed Christian gathering, the president was quoted as saying that they shall crush forces of evil making an unintelligent reference to the first time he was at that congregation a few months before the elections in 2011 and the powers of light that gave deadly blow on the evil.

I am one of those who believe that certainly there is a close correlation between religion and politics. It is not true to say that politics should be kept away from religion. Yes to the extent that people like President Jonathan exploit the situation. I am of the conviction that there is an integral relationship between politics and religion and vice versa.

To that extent, it is critical that the religious inclination of every political actor must dictate his political intercourse. If truly religion is a vehicle towards emancipation, then its focus is service to God and humanity. That is the meaning of politics too – service to humanity and by extension to God.

It is dangerous when political elites indulge in the manipulation of religion for the attainment of selfish objectives in politics. This, in my view, specifies the engagement of President Goodluck Jonathan in the last few years. On January 1st 2013 during the New Year service, the president announced to the congregation that the government would deal and defeat any sect that foments trouble. He went on to announce the ‘arrest’ of those who he said bombed police headquarters, UN House and a Madalla Church.

In my view, the venue of such pronouncements should neither be a church nor mosque. It should be either in his palace or at any other function where Nigeria is represented. Such pronouncements in Church services, in my view, further compounds the existing sectarian suspicion that is centripetal and centrifuging the fragile national religious harmony.

Who are those responsible for the handling of this president? Why won’t they for God sake do a better job? Nigeria is far more complex than any tiny part of it or those tendencies that unfortunately continue to pull the nation apart. We need more maturity and effective brinkmanship in managing the affairs of our complexities. Definitely, we are in trouble.

Why crises of insecurity continues to rare ugly head in Nigeria today has a lot to do with the inability of the government high command to come to terms with the obvious national failures that have accumulated over time and are manifesting in the manner that they do today. For sure, conventional military warfare finds it impossible to deal decisively with insurrection that is fashioned out of guerrilla tactics.

There is the need to re-strategize and take informed steps in dealing with social issues. Social crises created by social disequilibrium are best resolved through enhanced social policies. Violence and brute military force can only reduce the tension but certainly the root causes of these problems are not thoroughly addressed.

From economic, social and political dimensions, the year 2012 was difficult. Economically, the worth of Nigerians didn’t get any better. There was no proper budget implementation. A budget that had over 70% as recurrent and only about 30% capital was certainly a tragedy and even at that the implementation of this 30% component was selective and partial. In an economy where dependence on the state is exclusive, it is not only difficult but impossible to achieve any growth and development. I hope 2013 will be a better life.

Politically, the nation has not been able to build institutions that will support genuine politics. What we have is the continuation of business as usual. Things can’t happen naturally. People still lack the capacity to freely choose leadership and representatives at various levels. This is unfortunate. I hope 2013 will be better.

Sociologically, security challenges are a hallmark of our national tragedy and it is my view that the failure to get it right stems from the inability to properly comprehend the magnitude of the problem. Different and more purposeful approach must be the watchword in 2013 if the challenges are to be overcome.

The year 2012 was very difficult. May 2013 be a better year but that will depend on the capacity of the leadership to do what is right.

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