2013: Nigeria and the Rest of Us

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Thank you for visiting my blog. While I was thinking about for this week which incidentally will be my first article on this blog, so many things went through my mind. I woke up every morning with a new thought as new developments occur in our fatherland on daily basis. Remembering that the time of the year we are influenced my choice of this topic. 2012 has come to an end and a new year is beginning. How did we fare as a country in 2012? If I may ask, how did you fare as an individual? The responses will definitely vary from person to person. Like any other year, there are things to for individuals celebrate and also things to lament about. But as a nation, 2012 was an incredibly tragic year for most Nigerians.

The year started on a very rough note with the shocking New Year present from Mr President – more than one hundred percent fuel price hike. The anger and public outrage was palpable and unprecedented. Of course the protests, probes and scandals that followed are now history but the drama is still playing out and Nigerians are yet to recover from the fuel subsidy imbroglio?

Many Nigerians would have wished that the fuel subsidy crisis be the most difficult experience of 2012 but unfortunately it wasn’t.  Terrorists continued their violent campaign wasting lives and properties; Dana Air went down and wiped out families and many of our technocrats, Nigerians went through hell while health workers and some state governments engaged themselves in one of the worst industrial crisis in the health sector. As if those were not enough, the country experienced the most devastating flood disaster in recent history; four UNIPORT students and more than 20 students in Mubi, Adamawa State were murdered in the most horrific and despicable manner and we also had a disastrous outing in the Olympics. The year could possibly not have been more devastating for the Nigerian Governors Forum whose members experienced death and severe injuries.

On a positive note, 2012 witnessed the successful conduct of gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States which was generally believed to be credible. The National Assembly enjoyed stability and has arguably engaged the executive constructively on some national issues. Power supply improved significantly  in some parts of the country. Hundreds of youths got empowered through the YOUWIN programme. There are also pockets of positive developments across various states.

Where do we go from here? How do we make 2013 a much better year for Nigerians? One major positive thing I’ve learnt from United States in the last few months I’ve lived here is how they make positive things out of tragic situations. It is also how they prepare for and manage emergencies. Nigeria has had terrible experiences over the years but we are fortunate to have the most resilient and optimistic people as citizens of the country. However, our resilience should not be taken for granted. President Jonathan and the governors should take lessons from our ugly experiences and provide better leadership. I found a statement made by the president in a recent media chat that he wasn’t working to reduce/eradicate poverty very disturbing. Mr. President claimed he is creating wealth but recent progress reports on the implementation of Millennium Development Goals indicate that poverty is increasing in Nigeria. Data from the National of Bureau of Statistics also validates the fact that more Nigerians are becoming poorer.  If I may ask, which people is our dear president creating wealth for?

As we begin the new year, I will suggest the following action points for our leaders:  The federal /state government should be creating canals during this dry season and relocate people (if necessary) from flood-prone areas to prevent the recurrence of such massive flood in 2013; the flood-relief funds should be properly utilized to help the victims regain their life and dignity. Environmental laws should be enforced especially in Niger Delta communities where oil spillage has continued to make life extremely difficult for the inhabitants.  The ongoing prosecution of fuel subsidy suspected thieves should be done with the seriousness it deserves.

More so, government at all levels must as a matter of urgency institute an effective medical emergency service system and strengthen the entire health system. The National Assembly should pass the National Health Insurance Amendment bill to provide universal health insurance for all Nigerians. Also, the National Health Bill which has been re-introduced in the national assembly should be passed without further delay and I will expect the president to give assent to the bills when passed. Local government authorities should from this year begin to improve the quality of health services in primary health care centers across the country.  Job creation will reduce crime and insecurity and should be a priority this year.

The Nigerian people also should remain good citizens and play our part in national development. Let us help the security agents by providing information that will help them make our country safer. Let us hold our leaders accountable, demand and insist on programs that will create jobs and make life better for everyone. Every individual has key roles to play to make 2013 a better year. As we continue to pray, let us match it with actions to make Nigeria great again. Happy New Year! 

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About Laz Ude Eze

A public health physician, health systems consultant and an advocate for good governance, health equity and social justice. Authored the book, "A Companion to Practical Pathology" and founded HAPPYNigeria in 2006. I'm also a Brand Ambassador of Social Good Nigeria. To read my full profile, copy and paste this link on your URL and check it out >> http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=35254652&trk=tab_pro Your feedback on all posts are welcome. Follow me on twitter - @donlaz4u.

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