President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

2014 has come to an end, like a perfectly cut-out script from a Hollywood movie, the year showcased several exhilarating non-stop blockbuster thriller on Africa. The year started with the kidnapping of 273 Nigerian school girls from the Chibok government secondary school by Boko Haram; this incident invigorated a global mega-movement coined #bringbackourgirls. Followed by the three-day U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. hosted by President Obama. According to the White House, the summit was the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government built on the President’s trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and aimed to strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions. Finally, the Ebola outbreak across West Africa created a 24-hour global media sensation; considered by the U.S. Center of Disease Control (CDC) as the deadliest in history. According to several reports, by December 27 2014, as many as 7,857 people died from the disease in six countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali. Looking forward, what does the future hold for Africa? Nigeria Presidential election is scheduled on February 14; 2015 is poised to be another important year for Africa.
During the past half-century, Africa was a continent viewed with pity or contempt; the United Nations and wealthy western societies have contributed millions of dollars in aid to help alleviate Africa’s problems, but the inadequacies of this foreign-driven approach are evident in African communities where aid provided has had negligible impact. Often, donations are made to NGOs in response to specific humanitarian disasters caused by war, ethnic conflicts, disease, and famine, but the resources offered do not always reach the people they are intended to help, particularly in isolated rural villages. Furthermore, the injection of millions of dollars in aid can create false expectations, a sense of entitlement, and a mentality of dependence on foreign intervention.
Some have argued that aid programs are based on grossly misaligned objectives and that development initiatives formulated abroad may not take into account either local needs or the complex interactions among various ethnic groups affected. Others point to corrupt government officials and their cronies, who may divert aid money for personal use. Wherever the faults may lie, there is an urgent need to look beyond temporary crisis relief in Africa and to build broad-based internal support for lasting development.
The dawn of a new renaissance is upon us, Africa seemed to have awoken from its slumber. Africa today is considered as one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing region. Seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are African. African citizens are seeking a new approach, with direct involvement in the process of transforming their own countries and their own lives. They want to tackle the problems of infrastructural underdevelopment, lack of economic growth, and insufficient trade and investments. They are hungry for real progress that will transform not only their physical environment but also the social, political, and economic frameworks that support their endeavors. With the example of democratic and progressive societies around the world to guide and inspire them, they wish to become masters of their own destiny.
In August 2014, President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent to the nation’s capital for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind; the theme of summit was to advance U.S. focus on trade and investment in Africa with specific emphasis on creating an enabling environment for the next generation of leaders.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the eight largest country in the World, with a population of over 177 million in 2014. In addition to its large population density, Nigeria has now been declared as the biggest economy in Africa. According to Forbes, Nigerian billionaires dominate African rich list with a combined net worth of over $30 Billion. Given its natural resources, population and economy, on paper, Nigeria should elevate from the giant of Africa to become a global superpower, comparable to first world nations in North America, Europe and Asia; however the on-ground conditions in Nigeria forecast a grim future for Africa most populous country.
In July 2014, World Bank cites positive economic trends and progress in poverty reduction in Nigeria, however a large share of the Nigeria populace is still below poverty line. According to a December 30, 2014 article published in a Nigeria newspaper, the former vice president of Nigeria, Mr. Atiku Abubakar slammed the current Nigeria government that the level of poverty in Nigeria is growing like hurricane. According to World Bank, majority of Nigeria’s effort to reduce poverty is focused on the urban areas leaving the poverty levels in the rural areas high and untamed.
In addition to tacking the poverty rate, Nigeria is also faced with another behemoth challenge, the national insecurity caused by Boko Haram insurgence. According to public data, since 1998 the death toll as a result of Boko Haram related activities is at least 29,600. President Goodluck Jonathan have ordered an all-out war against terrorism, however given the frequent outburst of Boko Haram incidents in Northern Nigeria, it has left many to wonder about the success of the Nigeria government commitment to eradicate the insurgence.
On a positive note, in 2014 the Nigeria government was applauded by World Health Organization (WHO) for the spectacular success of containing the most deadly Ebola outbreak to-date. Nigeria government remarkable victory in containing Ebola highlights the country potential prowess; leaving many to wonder the possibilities if the same national priority and commitment are channeled towards other challenges in the country, such as providing reliable  electricity, paved road network, tackling corruption, improving education, job creation, and many more social-economic ills.
Nigeria 2015 Presidential Election: Make or Break for Africa
On February 14 2015, all eyes will be on Africa again, this time on Nigeria specifically. The popular forerunners for the office of the president are the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, and the ex-Military ruler now turned civilian Mr. Muhammadu Buhari. The country is on its edge again, and the World is watching; it’s up to Nigeria to prove and earn its political maturity to ensure a free and successful election. Would the outcome of the elections unite or tear apart Africa’s giant into tyranny? The future of Africa is on the balance, Nigeria must step up to the challenge and claim the responsibility of leading post-colonial Africa by example and not just on paper; which is to establish and maintain a stable system of government.