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OPINION: Why 2022 matters



OPINION: Why 2022 matters

When FINGERPRINTS column returned last week we conversed about the season under the headline- ‘Nigeria’s King Herod this Christmas’. We paid no heed to anything or anybody beyond the ingredients of our conversations. We only attempted to draw parallels to facts of the Holy Bible, the era of the Biblical King Herod and the world under Rome’s rulership, and then what has been happening in today’s Nigeria.

We did not expect either that officialdom will pay heed to our musings either directly or through proxies. How wrong our thinking turned out to be. It appears everybody is on edge and hypersensitive- the rulers and the ruled. But I must acknowledge that the rulers and the ruled are reasonably accommodating of the expressions of contrary viewpoints. Not so with the extant regime’s promoters, supporters and sympathizers. Their virulence is unfathomable. Someone should please tell the insufferable gang that if they and their principals can no longer stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. Only those who lose the debate resort to name-calling and threats of physical violence. What a shame that I have allowed toothless bulldogs take up valuable space from me today.

Nigeria today is an EMERGENCY case and we should not allow patriots to be distracted by pseudo patriots. Last week we used the story of Christmas to speak to Nigeria’s dire and emergency situation. We argued that the consequential year for Nigeria is this year, 2022, and not the 2023 election year as many Nigerians are wont to canvass.

At the eve of this year two things happened, one I considered significant and foreboding, the other I regarded as laughable in spite of the fact that ordinarily it should be heartwarming and weighty.

For the significant subject, permit me to provide a little background. In May 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) adjusted the value of the Naira against the United States Dollar to N379 to one USD at the Import and Export Window. The Bank had then said we are under the managed-float exchange rate regime. In simple terms this means that the exchange rate is expected to fluctuate daily but the CBN would intervene on need basis to influence the rate by buying and selling currencies to maintain a specific range. The official value of the Naira has hovered around this rate for the rest of the year.

However, on the eve of the new year, on Friday to be specific, and in what appeared to be a pointer to the direction of the value of the Naira in 2022 and beyond, the Naira opened trading against the dollar at an indicative price of N420.67, and by the close of business that same day it had dropped to N435 at the I & E Window. I understand that the foreign exchange parallel or black market is unlawful, so I will not talk about the immediate impact of the adjustment of the value of the Naira on the other illegal market. Lift a finger: find out that yourself. I will only say that whatever happens in the Fx (foreign exchange) market whether the legal or the illegal segment impacts Nigerians, for good or for ill.

The second thing that happened on the eve of 2022 was the ‘vow’ by President Muhammadu Buhari to recover every kobo stolen from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),  and to punish the thieves. I had a hearty laughter and I am pretty sure I was not alone. What’s the President’s promise or vow worth? Probably not more than the paper it was written on. My prayer is for the President to disappoint me and many other Nigerians at least for once. This President is a legend on promise and fail.

Read also: OPINION: Ooni Ogunwusi and his Oloris!

But to reasonably look forward to a free, fair and credible general election in 2023, we must first be assured that the lingering and festering insecurity in Nigeria is brought under control. How many Nigerians can vow that this is possible under a regime that has patented serial bungling? In private, even regime supporters will tell you that it’s mission impossible. To be fair, insecurity is not the creation of the Buhari regime. It’s just that the regime inherited a bad situation and then made it worse in spite of the promises to the contrary. The security situation is a typical case of what this regime cannot destroy does not exist.

The APC administration inherited a petrol price regime that was burdensome on Nigerians and made it worse. And it’s in the cusp of turning it from worse to worst. It met a declining value of the Naira which at the time had stabilised and worsened the situation by times three or even more, from about N200/$1 to N435/$1 last weekend. It inherited four refineries that were in bad shape and somehow it contrived to kill them while at the same time spending billions of Naira on the upkeep of the idle staff. Now it’s about to ‘spend’ millions of dollars on the so-called turn around maintenance on obsolete refineries. No matter that they promised to build new refineries. Well, elections are around the corner and our history is replete with raft awards of contracts which will be creamed off by the ruling party to fund their election campaigns. In the interim we have invested our hopes and money in the Dangote Refinery and Petrol-chemical Company which completion date has become a moving target. They met troubling level of out of school children and made it nightmare and a time bomb combined. The Buhari/APC combo met a one off abduction of school children (Chibok) from their dormitories, and they have contrived to turn it into a bazaar and a trade fair. Our children are now bargaining chips in the hands of terrorists.

The regime inherited a national economy that was alleged to be growing and the largest in Africa (even if the growth appeared not to be impacting positively on Nigerians) and then made it worse. The economy slipped into recession twice in as many years under their watch. The global capital of poverty moved from India and took up residence in Nigeria.

Right now politicians are preoccupied with who will succeed President Buhari. They and we pay scant attention on how we will get there. We have christened terrorists as bandits. We find comfort in telling ourselves that Boko Haram and sundry Islamist sectarian warlords are merely uneducated and deprived and misguided youths. We rush to brand every murder in the South East as the handiwork of the Eastern Security Network, the militia arm of the Indigenous People of Biafra. We tell ourselves we are not at war, yet our armed forces and their sister security services are stretched thin and actively deployed in almost all the states of Nigeria. In parts of the country terrorists have been in charge, imposing taxes and levies in their caliphate style.

The boobytraps ahead of 2023 elections are in plain sight. They have been building up for years but have been accentuated in the last six years by the misgovernance and ‘ungovernance’ of the APC and Buhari. The conventions and congresses and primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2022 may yet throw up their own hurdles to 2023. The landmines are strewn far and wide, and the prospects should be concerning.

Happy New Year.

AUTHOR: Ugo Onuoha

Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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