•Nigeria has lost confidence in NASS
•NASS’ loyalty to an individual rather than the country
•Elections are not a reflection of people’s wishes but those of the highest bidders
•Reviews 2021, suggests what Nigeria can do to avoid the mayhem in 2023
2021 cannot be said to be the best of years for Nigerians. Problems of the citizenry ranged but were not limited to banditry, kidnapping, insurgency, herdsmen menace, unbridled corruption, and a lot more. Many prayed fervently for it to become history. He almost shed tears at the disappointment the National Assembly has become. Interestingly, he made the comments before the chickening out of the lawmakers on their earlier plot to override President Buhari’s veto on electoral bills.
As the year will finally roll to an end, our Correspondent, Chidi Nkwopara, cornered the Anglican Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province and Bishop of Okigwe South Diocese, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. David O. C. Onuoha, to do a post morten of the passing year. He also spoke on other national issues. Happy reading.
A post mortem of 2021
First of all, we must thank God for His grace and favor and for His mercy which has made it possible for us to see the end of 2021.
Coming out from the lockdown of 2020, largely midwifed by the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic, was not a tea party. We sadly lost quite a number of our nationals to this pandemic.
We thank God that we have recovered and stabilized a bit, from the ravaging effect of Covid-19 and the various variants that are coming out day by day.
2021 was a year that has seen many Nigerians suffer. It was a year that made many parts of Nigeria bleed.
The problem of insecurity, which we had thought would be abating, continued even on a higher degree, in the year 2021, to the effect that some local government areas in the north, as we have been told, are in the control of Boko Haram and their allies.
Come to think of it, the number of precious lives wasted, through various acts of insurgency, kidnapping, and other forms of violence makes one very sad when we begin to contemplate the happenings of the passing year.
2021 was a year of severe hardship for most Nigerians, especially the civil servants, pensioners, and the downtrodden in our society. Most pensioners did not receive a dime as a pension, in the passing year. And we hear stories of medical doctors, lecturers, being owed arrears of salaries of between 15 and 18 months.
It was a year we had hoped that those of our children, who were sadly abducted by Boko Haram and their likes, would be released.
The most painful one appears to be that of Leah Sharibu, who was refused freedom because she refused to renounce her faith. It is sad to contemplate that this year is running out without those ones being released.
Is it just sad news all through?
Well, the government has tried in some areas like rail transportation. They deserve commendation for this area.
Again, the initiative of the present Federal Government in agriculture, saved Nigeria, especially during the period of the lockdown. If the (Muhammadu) Buhari administration had not placed emphasis on agriculture the time they did, it would have been a disaster.
You will recall that no planes were coming in. No goods were coming in. Nothing literally came in. We had to manage with what we had. It is kudos to this administration for placing emphasis on agriculture.
And our corruption index?
This is the nation’s sore toe. The failure of this government to win the war on corruption is a very big minus. Corruption is not abating in Nigeria.
Rather, it is worsening by the day. And again, what Comrade Adams Oshiomhole said some time ago, if he was correctly quoted by the press, that immediately you get into their party, your sins are forgiven.
Another way of putting this succinctly is that if you are a sinner and you find yourself in their party, then your sins are automatically forgiven!
It appears that that is the principle that is working. Those who should be in jail for acts of corruption are now moving freely, endangering the lives of others.
We are battling now with the news of the possible removal of oil subsidy completely and I ask: What have we done with the money realized from the partial withdrawal of the subsidy?
It used to be 95 Kobo. Now, it is N165. What did we achieve with the gains of this period? What has the government achieved for us, with this staggering sum?
All the refineries in Nigeria are not working, despite the huge sums of money spent on what the government calls “turnaround maintenance”. There is another one they came up with, which they call “ modular refinery”. I think it is only one of the modular refineries that have come on board.
Another pertinent question to ask is: How are we sure that whatever gains that will be realized from the total withdrawal of oil subsidy, will not go down the drains of corruption? Nigerians are bleeding.
Nigerians are suffering. Nigerians are expecting good leadership, good life and good government and unfortunately, we didn’t see that in the passing year.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, went on strike for so many months, starting from 2020, or even 2019.
It has been a strike, strike, strike and according to ASUU, the Federal Government has refused or is unwilling to do their own part of the agreement. Is that the way we will survive in Nigeria?
God has given us a whole lot of blessings in Nigeria, human and material, but the inability to harness these resources to better the lots of Nigerians has remained a mirage and it is highly regrettable.
There is much agitation in the land. There is dissatisfaction in the land. Everyone is complaining and the approach the Federal Government has used in addressing these agitations, has not helped matters.
Dialogue remains the best option in addressing misgivings and agitations. The costliest peace is better than the cheapest war. The most expensive peace has always remained better than the cheapest war.
You cannot use guns to achieve real peace. How much did America spend in Afghanistan, inhuman and material resources, and what happened after?
Look at how much we are spending on arms and ammunition, yet we are not getting the desired result. But a little change of strategy towards dialogue will give us results that the best and most sophisticated arms, ammunition, and warfare have not given us over these years.
For instance, the issue of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is a burning issue and it has raised tempers. One of the oldest and responsible men in Igboland went and pleaded with the President, to release this young man to him.
A former minister, who is over 90 years now, went to Abuja, to plead. Up till now, nothing has been heard of it.
Now, come to think of the joy, the jubilation, and the goodwill this government will receive if Nnamdi Kanu is released today. At times, it is good and better to bend backward, to stoop down to conquer.
It is better always to do what is good than what is right. We cannot be full of what is right that we forget what is good. Maybe the present Federal Government is pursuing the Nnamdi Kanu matter legally and technically, without making any headway.
But, if the government can, for the sake of peace, do what is good, it will go a long way to reduce tension. It will go a long way to reassure those who are feeling marginalized, those who are feeling not wanted. It will go a long way to reassuring them that we all belong to this place.
Life and living in 2021
So, discussing 2021, we thank God for life. Apart from life, I must say that most Nigerians are not living but existing. Most Nigerians are simply existing. For those of us in the rural areas, we know what it means to deal with people who are poor.
Poverty or hunger stared Nigerians in the face in 2021. Hunger is the necessary coefficient of anger and anger leads to violence. There is much hunger in the land. There is much anger in the land and it is not rocket science to discern these palpable facts.
Are we surprised then, that there is much violence? Government and all of us must put our hands on deck to ensure that poverty is reduced. Reducing poverty is the surest way of reducing anger, and reducing anger is also the surest way of reducing violence. A hungry man remains an angry man.
Happenings in Igboland
Here in Igboland, 2021 introduced this hard drug they call “Nkpurummiri” into Igboland, which is destroying our youths. Most of these young ones are into drugs, just to temporarily forget their sorrows.
When someone has diligently worked, studied in the university, graduated, and for 10, 15 years, he remains without gainful employment, is nauseating and debilitating. You know that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
So, most of these youngsters are into drugs now, just to have a momentary relief of their pains, sufferings, and sorrows. These are some of the things in 2021.
We must all work very hard and pray that God delivers us from the effects of this Nkpurummiri and other hard drugs, which our young ones are consuming today. We must work hard to save our youths from self-destruction and destroying society.
Nigeria’s electoral process
Looking at our electoral process, I am inclined to say that we are not getting it right. I have been involved in election monitoring, from the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, which is recognized as a body, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. In the past elections, I was always visiting polling booths to monitor or observe how these things were going.
To my greatest surprise, no electoral result in this area has reflected the wishes of the people! The results have never reflected the voting pattern. It has always been a victory for the highest bidder and if that is the case, then, we can never get it right.
I like the reforms they are doing now in INEC, with electoral processes. Not until electoral results begin to reflect the voting pattern and the wishes of the people, we will never get it right.
The best way to go is electronic voting because it will reduce a whole lot of problems. Where they do most of these things they do to change the results, is in the local government collation center or community collation center.
If we have an arrangement where the result moves from the polling booth to the INEC server or whatever gadget, then and only then, things will change for the better.
To continue the usual way and expect a new thing, remains an act of madness. Doing the same thing, the same way, all the time and expecting a different result, is not healthy at all.
I had cause to discuss the National Assembly issue during the last synod. I did an assessment of the National Assembly then. I tagged it National Assembly and the survival of democracy in Nigeria.