At the risk of putting a dampener on your holiday festivities, here’s a quick reminder of how badly 2014 went. Of course, we’ll rather sweep all of this under Nigeria’s Big Rug of Forgetfulness, but now that the presidential campaign is in full swing with the achievements of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in roads, bridges and other petty infrastructure, here’s a quick look at the worst tragic events, inane policies and unresolved issues that plagued us in 2014 alone.
1. The Continuing Boko Haram War which, insanely, is yet to be treated as a war. Instead, the Federal Government of Nigeria treats it as a mild annoyance while the military keeps pretending it’s a top secret experiment being conducted in the basements of Sambisa Forest. Meanwhile, tragic news from internally displaced persons tells of unbelievable horror: captured towns; wanton and brutal killings; extortion by terrorists. The year 2014 has been a kill-fest for Boko Haram: the Borno Massacre, Abuja and Kano bomb blasts, the sudden emergence of female suicide bombers, and terrorist flags raised over Nigeria territories: one would be forgiven to think that the terrorists have been handed a free pass across the North of Nigeria. There was a point in the year where it seemed that the Nigerian Army had got its game on and would soon rout the terrorists, but the Federal Government announced a one-sided “ceasefire” and, to put a cliché on it, “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”. Boko Haram is currently the biggest headache in Nigeria—and it’s also the most ignored by the Presidency.
2. The Missing Chibok Girls have made international news through the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, suitably embarrassing the Presidency and gearing them to some half-assed attempt at damage control for their initial disregard. Even worse than the disbelief was the earlier lie pushed out by the military that they had recovered the girls—a statement that wrecked whatever little trust Nigerians had in the military. Meanwhile, the Presidency, either because of its unbelievable disconnect from the military or simply through general nonchalance, didn’t believe the girls were missing, that is, until the aforesaid international embarrassment. Afterwards, the President flew to France for a problem solving meeting and later met with members of the Chibok community (in deference to Malala’s wishes—we should add), and then—nothing. Honestly, nothing else. That’s all. The girls are still missing—some of them presumed dead.
3. Abba Moro and the Tragic NIS Recruitment is a story that should have shaken the foundations of public administration in a saner climate. But, not in Nigeria. How do you connect a public service recruitment exercise with the deaths of several people while making a truckload of money too? Leave it to Abba Moro, Minister of Interior. Bad enough that the Immigration Service charged money from potential government employees; bad enough that the recruitment exercise was badly planned and fatally executed, bad enough that Abba Moro was not sacked afterwards—but utterly shameful and irresponsible that the Federal Government didn’t even consider it an issue worth stressing about. There was no sense of shame or regret. Just a casual promise to find jobs for the injured and compensate relatives of the fatal victims—a promise which I understand is yet to be fulfilled. Yet, the same government lost no time in suspending a weekly Federal Executive Council meeting following the death of—wait for it—the Vice President’s brother.
4. That Embarrassing Centenary Celebration would have been deeply hilarious if it wasn’t also a tragic reflection of the distance between the federal government of Nigeria and the reality of millions of everyday Nigerians. This was at a time when the country was in a sour mood and nobody was looking to a national celebration. But, by heavens, the Presidency was determined to party—and party it did. It ran amok with the celebrations and dashed imaginary awards to everyone who ever slept in a government house. Just to rub this indiscretion in the noses of Nigerians properly, the Abachas were also invited to dine. And that’s when even Jonathan’s supporters started to worry about the quality of his advisers.
5. A National Conference or Something Like That, which, to be frank, was neither national nor was it a conference: more like a cross between a political party conference and a bucket list for old men. The President wanted to impress some intellectuals, maybe, but all it featured was a couple or so brilliant speeches and a lot of puzzling fights. We really don’t know where the report by the Conference is headed or what benefit it has conferred on Nigeria. In short, the Conference was another brainwave of the GEJ administration that just didn’t make much sense. The best I can say is this: it started too quickly and ended too late.
6. Twenty Billion Dollars and other Sorry Tales: we all learnt a lot about numbers this year. I learnt that you can host a magnificent World Cup with thirteen billion dollars or thereabouts—ask Brazil. Which is why it’s puzzling that a figure even in excess of that amount could lose its way to the Federation Account and nobody in Aso Rock bothered to send out a search team. Well, the erstwhile governor of the Central Bank tried to raise an alarm and we all saw the President come on TV to insult the man’s intellect on the premise that a man who mistook a mere case of “stealing” public funds for one of “corruption” was unfit to be a central bank governor. A new governor was promptly appointed and that leads to the next point.
7. Rebased, Reserved, Revalued aka Economics, Economics and more Economics. Look, I’m not quite sure any single person in Nigeria can tell you exactly what the hell is going on with the Nigerian economy. First, the economy was rebased in what was supposed to translate into “Nigeria has more money circulating in its industries than we realized” and next, we learnt that our external reserve was going down faster than a belly dancer, and before we could comprehend that imagery, we saw the naira go down even faster against the dollar. All of this in 2014. Till date, the President has not told us what these economic travails mean and how he plans to handle it (except you count the dismissive explanations set out in the 2015 budget). Meanwhile, the new CBN governor has politely asked for a sixty-five naira ATM fee to save banks the trouble of stealing it directly from your account.
8. The Signing of the “Anti-Gay” Law was another indication of the total lack of seriousness by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Not content with dismissing the menace of Boko Haram across the country, the legislators and the executive decided to focus on the singular most important issue bothering all Nigerians today: the lives of gay and lesbian folks getting married in America and Europe.
9. The Military Went Gaga and not against Boko Haram—we’re all for the military going gaga against Boko Haram within the rules of engagement. Instead, newspaper bundles and public buses got a hard year from military onslaught. Front pages were slashed, trucks were waylaid, and buses were set ablaze. When all that fighting had settled for a while, the military suddenly resurrected their death penalty court-martial—not to shoot the soldiers burning buses and newspapers—but to shoot the soldiers fighting an ill-equipped war. And in all these things, the Presidency said nothing but focused squarely on running down the opposition party.
10. The Year of All the King’s Men: The President must have picked up on the criticisms that, maybe, too many women were running the government and we needed some gender balance. So, enter Oritsejafor, Alamieyeseigha, Tompolo, Dokubo, Obanikoro, Femi Fani-Kayode and so on and so forth. Of course, we’ve always had the usual suspects: Okupe, Maku and Abati. But this year was big for the new names: Oritsejafor got to run interference, Alamieyeseigha got a pardon, Tompolo got some warships, Obanikoro got to monitor state elections, and Dokubo got more Dokubo. And so 2014 was a great year for presidential retorts and responses and reactions. GEJ always had a comeback for every idle comment and serious criticism. You could actually hear El-Rufai’s silence—and even Amaechi took a breather.
Ayo Sogunro is the author of Everything in Nigeria is Going to Kill You. A lawyer by profession, he also indulges in socio-legal philosophy on this blog. Interact with him on Twitter via @ayosogunro.
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God bless you for this.
And have a merry christmas.
Before you listen to pro-GEJ’s campaign, here is a reminder in case you have forgotten GEJ’s misdeeds in 2014. Nicely spelt out! Kudos!
And my Christmas just got merrier? Not really, a nice reminder that we are indeed living a sorry tale. Nice piece Ayo
Great job Ayo but don’t you think the beating and eventual hospitalising of some judges in a state (not considered weighty enough by the presidency) deserves a mention? Up GEJ!
A way of summarizing the travails we Nigerians passed through so we don’t get carried away with the jingles and gimmicks that would emanate from the 21billion contributed by Jerry Gana n co.
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This is a brief reminder and it count alot.
Thank you so much for dilating on the very critical issues the PDP led government has always tried to sweep under the rug through their mouth-piece and town criers in the persons of Abati, Okupe, Fani Kayode and all others who are determined to take us on a backward journey. Nigeria will definitely outlive anyone who is unwillingly to support our yearnings for change and good governance .
This is a great post! Nigeria is in a serious mess! Things surely would get mercilessly messier if JONATHAN was voted in for a second term. I’m not so confident about BUHARI either, but I think if asked to choose between two evils, I’d rather choose a lesser evil, Buhari
Let me quickly point out the ills and misinformation in the hatchet and calumnious job that was done by this Ayo Sogunro of a person…
On the missing $20billion
This hatchet writer should have gleened more information before writing this trash because it appears he is not abreast of the goings-on in the country or he just wanted to criticize just for the convenience of it.
After the unprofessional prevarications of Mallam Sanusi in churning out different figures just to spite the Presidency, the Senate Committee on Finance launched an independent investigation and with the professional expertise of independent auditors (KPMG), it was discovered that no money was missing!…not even the phantom $20billion.
Excerpts from the Senate Committe Report…
… But the committee stated that all the agencies, which made presentations to it, agreed, after reconciliation, that $47 billion out of the $67 billion had been credited to the Federation Account, leaving only $20 billion yet to be accounted for. According to the report, part of the outstanding $20 billion was the $5.254 billion spent on subsidy for Premium Motor Spirit by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, which was covered by the Appropriation Acts of 2012 and 2013. The report also stated that the $3.512 billion spent for kerosene subsidy as certified by PPPRA for the period January 2012 to July 2013 was still part of the $20 billion…
The report is everywhere for honest Nigerians to pick up and get themselves informed and avoid being victims of the unforgivable falsehood being spewed by the likes of Ayo Sogunro.
Instead of scolding Mallam Sanusi for his obvious lack of professionalism and intentionally heating up the polity for selfish gains, we are busy looking for some phantom $20billion that only exists in the dirty imaginations of Mallam Sanusi and people like Ayo Sogunro.
On our Foreign Exchange Reserve…
Here goes the tragedy of making unfounded and sweeping statements!…please ma, kindly access the website of CBN or NBS for official statistics…
As at May 2007, a total of $43,130,301,995.21 was left behind in the FER account by former president Obasanjo. Between June 2007 and December 2008, the FER increased to $53,000,355,063.51, in 2009, the account came down to $42,382,493,319.69, due to the global economic meltdown. In 2010 the account was $32,339,252,389.10 after the commitment of the Federal Government to the IPP project and the Niger Delta crisis, which caused a drop in oil export. In 2011, the figure was N32, 639,777,078.09 while in 2012 the FER rose to $43,830,418,364.91 as at December and then rose again to $45.3 billion as at January 22, 2013.
Then as at December 11th, 2014 FER stood at $35,740,495,640; while as at December 18th, 2014, it was reduced to $35,196,352,296; and this was as a result of Naira devaluation which was inevitable in view of emerging economic realities!!
So where is the so-called “depletion” that rabble rousers like Ayo Sogunro are spreading?
This Ayo Sogunro is even faulting our uncompromising stance on gay law…has he forgotten so quickly that we are a nation of morals? If he has forgotten, let me remind him that our ideals are founded on our morals…these make us the people that we are…Nigerians!
So because we have boko haram issues on our hands, government should not deal with other issues bordering on our national image like the anti-gay law? This shows the kind of leader someone like this Ayo Sogunro will be…funny enough, it is people like him that refer to President Jonathan as clueless when he is even cluelessness personified!!
No wonder he also flayed the centenary celebration and the national conference…i dont blame him, because apparently, he has shown that he does not understand what governance is all about.
I can see that it is more convenient for most of us to just read the newspapers or see news headlines and just start making sweeping and unfounded statements without trying to study and analyze the details of these headlines in order to ascertain the veracity of the information being maliciously peddled.
This is a huge disservice not only to the person and office of President Jonathan, it is simply how not to be a Nigerian!!
How will devaluation of Naire deplet FER. I doubt if you know that Nigerians are not fools. That is the point at which I stopped reading your response. It is clear you may be given some statistics to post, but obviously you don’t know more than that.
A nation increases her foreign reserves through the value of her net exports…Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earner is the exportation of crude oil…the recent dip in crude oil price has caused a reduction in our FER because exporting crude in the face of falling oil prices became more expensive and the only alternative is to devalue the naira in order to make export cheaper, thereby protecting our FER as more foreign exchange will now be earned!
Do you understand now ?
Gentlechuks or what do you call urself; pls tell me why jonathan has refused to make known the report of the auditing carried out by the foreign auditing firm if, according to you, Mallam Sanusi should be chastised for blowing the whistle. If you are suffering from penchant lies don’t think WE, NIGERIANS are fools. Enough is enough of this cueless,pointless,lackadaisical,educated-illiterate,corrupt,divisive and catastrophic govt. Pls we need peace, social justice, even distribution of our wealth, true federalism, proper economic management, diversification of the economy, self sustenance, accountability, leader that gives a damn, unity etc so pls gentlechucks get that into your head even as I know that you have disguised with that name.
@chuckzy You are obviously a beneficiary of their corrupt system judging by your post. I pity posterity for having people like you who can be bought over as their root. How much did you sell your CONSCIENCE?
Hi Ayo! I love your freedom to express your mind especially in a Democratic system, but I always feel one should have a balance when writing. Firstly, I’m not a campaigner for GEJ! So, get it right. Why do we always want to point out the worst and not at least bring out positivity as the case may be in a government. All over the world, leaders have their bad and good.
You pointed out that the ‘Anti Gay’ issue is not a serious one, says who? A sensitive government would treat cases as serious as every other one. Even, Obama has his worst part and brilliant one. So also GEJ! My point is, do your research well, as you are bringing out GEJ’s worst, kindly let us into his good part. That guy has done a lot, people are not seeing. Like I wrote, I’m not giving him publicity. Keep happening Ayo! JP
Godwin, As Ayo has listed the Worst. Why don’t you go ahead and list the good? It’s simple. List it and lets weigh the good and bad. Ever government have good and bad. Obama healthcare wasn’t the best for all citizens it was critizied. But look at US economy and growth now. it’s been recorded there is increase in employement and other sector. So tell us the good please. The Railway? Commissioned on Monday and Derailed on Wednesday ? What more Ore- Benin road? built for 4 years? Wake up and call a spade a spade. if he has done well and there are few bads i know nigerias they are so easy to please and adpt.
well i wish nigeria best of luck in 2015
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