By Uche Nnadozie
This is a very difficult task. 2016 was a year that made very profound impression on me; very negative impression that is. Everything about that year was negativity. Or maybe not exactly everything but where commonsense was supposed to prevail, utter debauchery held the stakes. It was that bad and it is therefore difficult for me to point to one man or one event that trumped every other. Unlike the year before when this page was spoilt for choice, 2016 was the direct opposite. This page is spoilt for choice of who takes the trophy of ignominy. Was it the Nigerian economy, the presidency or even the people? We just didn’t have stand out performance, yes or maybe there was just one that scaled . Even our businesses plummeted. It was that bad!
In my opinion for whatever it is worth, the greatest disappointment of the year was the American people. Famed to distinguish right from wrong; idiocy from commonsense and bravery from fear, America chose fear and idiocy over commonsense and what a choice they have made. Against all predictions and expectations, Americans threw caution to the wind and elected (contrary to their own values) a con artist, misogynist and women abuser as their president. A man who before taking office is already issuing orders like asking American ambassadors all over the world to resign shows the times we are in. The election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016 is the single biggest goof of the 21st century. The world will live to regret that phenomenon. But its democracy anyway, majority carries the vote.
Back home, recession and hyper-inflation combined to deal us a blow. From numerous instances, it seemed, the government I laboured to elect was as confused as the people as to the right antidote to administer and at what dosage. Everything seemed to pull apart. The government looked lethargic most of the time. They seemed bugged down by the magnitude of the troubles they met on ground. Although they told us they were busy planning, for us, it looked like they looked away…not having any strategic communication plans to deploy so as to assuage growing bitterness and suffering across the land. The politics of it was almost zero. Most political moves of the administration were simply tepid. It was as if it was not the same party that just defeated an incumbent a year earlier. The goodwill and the urgency that were apparent during electioneering fizzled out as quickly as President Muhammadu Buhari settled in.
Well, there were flashes of brilliance. The governor of Lagos state is surely a rising star. With a quiet mien, he appears to understand public administration better than his traducers are ready to acknowledge. His delivery in conjunction with Kebbi state of a branded, government owned locally produced rice within a short period of time attests to his astuteness in public policy formulation and execution. I don’t want to dwell on his urban renewal programmes. Point is Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was a bright spot in a very dark Nigerian firmament. There were others like the governors of Kwara, Kebbi and of course the out-going Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed. Her universally acknowledged exposure is in no doubt the reason the ministry though important was hitherto a footnote to federal ministries’ appraisal in the past. Not anymore, as the lady has brought attention through her work and commitment to that once despised posting.
In all of these ladies and gentlemen, I have a special regard for our military. If there is any gong or trophy to hand a deserving person of the year for 2016, that prize belongs to the Nigerian military. In spite of all the vicissitudes of life in 2016, the Nigerian military stood up and was counted. They simply made us proud. That is why they say, no matter how dark a night may be, surely light comes in the morning. Our military was our brightest light last year. They are indeed the symbol of our unity. The routing of Boko Haram from Sambisa forest is the best news Nigeria has known in the last decade or almost. In the last six years or so, that game reserve had become the spiritual headquarters of the terror organisation. That is the “camp zero” of the insurgents. In fact, personally I was not expecting to hear the news of the capture of Sambisa forest any time soon. I had thought that such place would be the last vestiges of their stronghold. I had thought it will take another two to three years to make a real attempt to enter the forest.
This is so because of the tales of the atrocities committed there; the sheer size of the place and the land mines that the murderers had laid to encircle themselves in the large expanse. Moreover, the terror group had become invincible at least around that forest which was formerly a big conservation area. The place which is as big as Lagos state was later used by the military for some covert reasons during the military regimes of Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha. Thank goodness the terrorists have been expelled from their last known fortress. Although many of the terrorists used (perhaps) the Chibok girls as human shields to escape, yet over 1, 400 men, women and children were captured by our military. Most of the captured are currently undergoing further profiling.
To this end and other gallantry of our military by more or less forcing Boko Haram out of town, leading to the return of more than twenty kidnapped Chibok girls so far, I hereby announce the Nigerian military as this page’s person of the year 2016! To Generals Gabriel Olonishakin, Tukur Buratai, Lucky Irabor, V.O Ezeugwu, including the Nigerian Airforce Chief, Sadique Abubakar and the Navy Chief, Ibok Ekwe Ibas and all your officers and men, I say thank you for your sacrifices.