2014 was indeed a symbolic year in our nation’s history! It is the year Nigeria marked her 100 years of nationhood; from 1914 when Sir Frederic Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and the Southern Protectorates in to one geographical entity with visible contour lines and elaborate landmarks on the global map till date, which the country is still struggling with identity challenge, many rivers have passed under the bridge. Hence, 2014 makes it 100 years of an improbable journey that began in 1914.
Similarly, 2014 will go down in history as the year Nigeria toppled South Africa to become the largest economy in the continent with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $510 billion. It will be recalled that since 1990 which the nation rebased her GDP, it was last year, after about 24 years of ranking Nigeria as the second largest economy in Africa, the new GDP included sectors and sub-sectors like Entertainment, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Publishing and other service sectors in the calculation of our GDP.
It is also the year the proscribed Islamic sect, Boko Haram added new dimension to its extant campaign of terror against the Federal Government of Nigeria. We are all familiar with one of the unforgettable tragic incidence that struck the conscience of humanity in April. It is the sorrowful story of over 200 promising school girls in Chibok who went in pursuit of their dreams for better lives in a boarding school, but only ended up in the dungeon of life they have never imagined for themselves.
This is one incident with many scars on the conscience of any one involved. It is also one of the constant reminders that we live in a dangerous world! The shambolic act is however one of the horrible stories humanity must get when human wrongs are turned to human laws as against the unchangeable laws of nature which governs creation.
2014 is also the year the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) now has the number 4 citizen in Nigeria’s order of protocols. It is also the year the opposition APC proved critics wrong by conducting successful convention which made Chief John Oyegun as its National Chairman. The party also conducted successful Presidential Primary which still keep it focused and on track. At the other hand, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) added a novel idea to our political development by giving the right of first refusal to President Good Luck Jonathan; a practice only found in advanced democracies like the United States. The party also held successful convention which saw the ratification of the sole candidacy of the President as well as its game changing National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu who succeeded the former National Chairman, Dr. Bamaga Tukur who resigned from office in the month of January. Unlike before, 2014 presented Nigerians with two major Presidential candidates that no one can confidently predict who will emerge victorious until after February 14. But, there is a universal principle of extra miles which any one that wants to win must adopt. Like we know, a principle is a universal law with a predicted outcome, but whereby the result goes the other way, it means the unmovable mover of events and maker history in the affairs of mortals wants it that way.
2014 is also the year Nigeria had severe diplomatic relationships with one of its democratic allies, the United States of America. This culminated in the cancellation of military training on counter terrorism the US army gives to the country’s army. The year also saw the refusal of the United States to selling military hard wares to Nigeria.
2014 also brought Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in to Nigeria. It was a Liberian, late Mr. Patrick Sawyer that brought the deadly disease to the country. Subsequently, the virus spread in Lagos, and from Lagos to Rivers State. EVD brought change of lifestyles in to the country. A part from its adverse effect on the local economy, some persons stopped the eating of bush meat, hand shake, while a ban on public gathering was imposed across the country. The religious organizations who gather for crusades were not left out. The Catholic Church in Nigeria was forced by circumstances to alter one of its tradition of shaking hands while mass was in progress.
As expected of any novel disease, Nigerians first reacted to Ebola in traditional ways. We can remember the use of salt and hot water for bathing and drinking. Some Nigerians even died out of panic because of the belief that Ebola had no cure. While ZMAPP was prescribed for its treatment, a Nigerian was said to have introduced Nano Silver, but only God knows what our health workers used for the treatment of the virus. Be that as it may be, commendation must go the Federal Government, the Lagos and Rivers State Governments as well as our gallant health workers who were fearless in fighting off Ebola from our shores. Our vibrant and ever dependable media must not be left out because of the role it played while Ebola lasted in the country. But then, the ultimate heroes and heroines are those health workers who died of Ebola in the cause of discharging their duties.
Furthermore, 2014 cannot go without the mention of its negative effects on our economy, even though it is the year Nigeria emerged as the largest economy in Africa! We can remember the Naira devaluation occasioned by scarcity of the United States Dollars. The plunging price of oil at the International Energy Market also affected our economy, especially the budgetary benchmark which plummeted from $78 per barrel through $73 per barrel and lastly to current $65 per barrel. The exploration of the Shale Oil in the United States and the decision by the global oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) not to cut oil supply also made matters worse. In the future, I will analyze the effects of oil glut on the economies of oil producing countries of the world, especially in Russia where its national currency, the Rubble is not finding it easy and in Venezuelan where the economy contracted by 2.3 percent in the third quarter of the year and a high per inflation of 63.6 percent, the highest in the world as well as which country President Nicholas Maduro of Venezuelan said was the main target of the glut.
Nonetheless, there are many woes and successes recorded by Nigeria which negatively or positively shaped the country in 2014 which chronicling them may be debilitating. Hence, barring any unforeseen circumstances which may affect the country, I must say that February 14 and May 29 are going to be two major dates in 2015 that will determine whatever direction Nigeria will take. Until then, may I humbly say Happy New Year to all Nigerians.
“Written by Comrade Edwin Uhara, an Activist and a Public Affairs Commentator’