Nigeria in 2014 By Lawal Ogienagbon

It is that time of the year again when we do stock taking. We take a retrospective look at what happened in the past and then project into the future. We do this as individuals, corporate bodies and nations. We use the past to assess the present and define the future. I don’t know if this is still in fashion; it also used to be a time for resolutions. I remember those days when an old year is about winding down, we start making resolutions of our do’s and don’ts for the coming year.

It is funny recalling these things now. What were our resolutions, if you may ask? They ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. Someone will shout on top of his voice from one corner of our room then in the hostel : ”I will stop smoking next year”. Another person will take it up from there : ”I will stop chasing girls next year”. It will go on and on like that, as if these were the issues most important on earth. But for us as little as we were then, they were because they were issues which defined our very existence.

Now we are men and no longer boys. Things have changed and we too have changed. Those things that define our existence now are quiet different from what they were those days. We no longer think in terms of our individual selves but now do so as people charged with the responsibilities of managing others. We now think big, so to say, and no longer small. We worry more about our country and how we can contribute towards its betterment.

In 2013, which has about six hours left to go into oblivion as I write this, Nigeria, like other nations, went through its ups and downs. Will 2014 be better? This is the question many are pondering as the year rolls into its second day today. What will Nigeria look like in 2014? I will surmise a guess here using data available from 2013. I am not clairvoyant but I will try and gaze into the crystal ball and see what 2014 has for Nigeria. We get to a certain stage in life where we try to see the fiture if not through our powers but through the aid of those gifted to do so.

Banquo, the Scottish warrior, found himself in that situation on returning from battle with Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play titled Macbeth. After the three witches made some predictions concerning Macbeth, Banquo was constrained to ask them : ”If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear your favours nor your hate”. Can this reporter, though not a wizard, now look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not in Nigeria in 2014.

Of course in 2014, the national conference will hold as planned by the Jonathan administration, but it will lead to no where. My fear is that the planned talk may be aborted, even before it starts. Between now and February when it is expected to start, we don’t have much time left. The government is planning for a conference of over 500 delegates and for now it has not told us the modality for picking these delegates. Will they be handpicked? Will they be elected? Election is out of the matter because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has its hands full with the coming general elections in 2015. Don’t be shocked if the planned conference is shifted till 2015, that is if President Goodluck Jonathan wins a second term.

At last, in 2014, the day we have been waiting for will come when the president tells the nation about his political future. Will Jonathan run in 2015? I make bold to say here without any fear of contradiction that the answer is yes and by June or July we will know where the driver is taking us as it concerns this matter. So far, the president has resisted all moves to get him to declare his stand on the matter. To do so now, he said, might lead to overheating the polity. But his body language (ah! that again) shows that he is more than interested in a second term.

Unknown to the president, he played his hand when he deposed to an affidavit in a suit challenging his right to seek re-election in 2015. In that affidavit, he swore that he has the right to seek a second term if he so wishes after his current tenure. I quite agree with Mr President that we cannot deny him his right on the basis of the so – called gentleman’s agreement he reportedly had with his party’s governor’s in 2011. What has agreement got to do with it when the issue at stake is ambition; vaulting ambition at that? It goes without saying that Jonathan will run in 2015.

To justify his decision, he will tell us that he cannot sacrifice the right, which the Constitution grants him to seek a second term in order to satisfy the North, which is leading the campaign against his return to power in 2015. There will be more trouble for the president in 2014 from within his party. He will part ways with the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, in order to bring those against the shipping magnate to his own side, but it will be too little, too late. Whether or not he dumps Tukur, Jonathan is walking on thin ice.

PDP will continue to be depleted in 2014. Its five governors, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) are gone for good. The party is not likely to win the case it instituted against them in court, going by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Atiku case against former President Olusegun Obasanjo and PDP. Still talking politics, Governors Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola of Ekiti and Osun states may be re-elected into office based on their first term achievements. The opposition will put up a stiff challenge, but the governors are, as book makers will say, good to go for a second term.

The economy is it, any day, any time. The Federal and state governments will continue to bandy words about the management of the economy, especially the handling of the Excess Crude Account (ECA), which holds a lot of our money once there is a rise in oil price in the international market. The central government is somehow cagey about throwing the book open for the governors to see because it knows the danger in doing that. With an election year in clear sight, the government knows what it is doing by keeping the ECA under wraps.

For sometime now, the monthly allocations have not been shared among the three tiers of government because there seems to be nothing to share. This has put many states under serious strain, with some not paying salary regularly and others owing workers. Unless the government opens up on the true position of things, the matter may remain unresolved in 2014. By now, Jonathan may have made up his mind on who to appoint as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor after Mallam Lamido Sanusi leaves office in June. Who gets the job? Aigboje Aig – Imoukhuede? Tunde Lemo? Kingsley Muoghalu? I bet you, whoever gets it, will the the president’s man and not another Sanusi, who will be writing letters, on some supposed missing oil money.

2014 is another World Cup year. We are drawn in our group with Iran , Bosnia and Argentina. From the draw, one may be tempted to say it is an easy group. But the experts here say that is not so. Going by FIFA ranking, we are the least rated in our group. Despite that, as I told Ade Ojeikere, the Editor of SPORTING LIFE, our sister paper, I am sticking out my neck for Nigeria to qualify for the round of 16 from that group and go ahead to win the prized trophy. Patriotism, uh! Happy New Year.

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