OBVIOUSLY, Nigeria and the rest of the world have been ushered into 2015; the year of the nation’s general elections, and the year of great expectations for all Nigerians at various strata of the society.
HOWEVER, as the year 2014 faded out and the nation enters a new calendar year, there is the need to retrospect on some of the activities that dominated public discourse in the outgone year and the lessons they hold for the New Year.
FIRST is the shocking waves which the announcement of the oil subsidy removal and the upward jerk of the oil price from N65 to N97 per litre sent to the spines of Nigerians. Obviously, the January 1st 2014 announcement became a defining one, politically, economically and socially, as Nigerians, practically without exemption became affected in one way or the other with the increment.
MORE specifically, in the realm of politics, the year 2014 witnessed a lot of activities which have continued to shape the actions, inactions, discussions of governments and political parties in Nigeria and the world at large. These include National Conventions, acrimonious party primaries, high-powered defections, factionalisation and polarisation of political parties and State Houses of Assembly, political endorsements and protests against the use of state security forces to intimidate political opponents.
IN the area of security, the Boko Haram insurgency attained its wildest zenith and perhaps, assured the status of behemoth, devouring, destroying, maiming, bombings and kidnapping of large hundreds of persons and communities. The federal Government Secondary School Girls at Chibok had the worst feel of the menacing reign of Boko Haram with the kidnap of over 200 school girls on April 15, 2014. up till date, these unfortunate girls have not been freed and re-united with their families.
THE NIGERIAN OBSERVER even lost a staff to the Boko Haram madness in the Abuja or Nyanyan Bomb Blast of April 14, 2014 with the bombing to death of Marcelina Aigbirior, a Circulation staff of The OBSERVER who was on official duty on the unfortunate day.
IT is equally noteworthy that the year 2014 devoured so many other innocent victims across various platforms, professions and ethnic groups in Nigeria and beyond, whether in terms of physical deaths or losing of positions of authorities. For instance, the year witnessed the removal or sale of impeachments of some elected government officers, prominent among them, the former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako who was impeached over charges of abuse of office, though some analysts believe his removal was politically sponsored over his allegations that the President was sponsoring the insurgency in the Northeast.
IN 2014, particularly as at last week, across the global, 66 Journalists were reportedly killed, 119 abducted and 178 others clamped in jail, according to a survey report in Daily Trust Newspaper. This impinges on our freedom to be informed in 2015.
ACCORDING to Human Rights Watch, the Boko Haram insurgents have wreaked unfathomable damage to the psyches, mind and soul of those Nigerians and President alike in the Northeast. They have killed at least 2,053 civilians in an estimated 95 attacks during the first half of 2014 in their renewed and intensified attacks on daily basis. Given their take over of Mubi town, as well as several other towns and villages in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and other recent attacks in Kano, Damaturu and Jos, the toll this year must by now, be over 5,000 deaths. The Human toll is though, difficult to verify, but very alarming and worrisome.
ALTHOUGH President Goodluck Jonathan told the UN Security Council recently, that “over 13,000 people have been killed, whole communities razed, and hundreds of persons kidnapped,” the Nigeria security Trackers, a project run by African Programme of the council on Foreign Relations, estimates the death toll from 2011, when it began its work to August 2014 at over 17,000.
MEANWHILE, as more women and girls are being kidnapped, more villages razed, more widows, 0rphans and displaced persons are being created, no thanks to the insurgency in the Northeast, the implications is that more people are being forced to witness the year 2015 in camps or even in the wilderness, homeless.
IN the out gone year, a lot of worrisome developments in the aviation sector happened. Here although Nigeria had its unfair share of the aviation hiccups, we must not fail to pray for Malaysia, which suffered three major air disasters in 2014 alone. First on March 8, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared, with 239 people on board, triggering one of modern aviation’s most perplexing mysteries. On July 17, another Malyasia‘Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all the 298 passengers and crew. They were either killed by the rebels or by government forces, no one can tell. Presently, a Malaysia-based Air Asia, owned by Malaysia businessman, Tony Fernandez has been looking for its flight QZ8501 which disappeared on Sunday, December 21, with 162 people aboard, most likely now under the South Java Sea, according to recent reports.
NO doubt, year 2014 had been very tensed, tough, challenging and engaging. In year 2015, based on the trending austerity measures now being introduced by the Federal Government, the reforms in the Judiciary, Power Sector, the Political permutations and unfolding currents in other sectors of the national life of Nigerians, THE NIGERIAN OBSERVER cannot but urge Nigerians to pray for the best in 2015.