Thank you all, but brace up for hard times ahead

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It is not all the time we lament our woes. At times we should create some time to appreciate God and thank Him for His goodness to us. We, as individuals and corporate groups, have more than one rea­son to be thankful to God.

The outgoing year has been full of surpris­es and unsavoury incidents. From January to December it has been one tragedy or another. Though there were few gladdening cases, the year was generally not too favourable to Nigerians. Wherever I go I could feel their pulses: pain and trepidation.

The downturn in the economy coupled with mounting insecurity has made life some­what brutish for many Nigerians, leading to open agitation for a more drastic approach to strategies for national development.

I still recall alerting Nigerians of these impending difficulties. In my predictions for 2014 I advised Nigerians to tighten their belts and brace up for the difficult times ahead. I did not mince words in predicting these hard times, because the ominous signs were all over the sky. As we approached the middle of the year most of the predictions had already come to pass. In fact, I predicted that the pri­maries of the political parties were going to be tempestuous and disputable. And it happened.

What I have decided to do in this week’s edition is to thank you all for your support, goodwill and prayers for me and our soar-away newspaper, The Sun. There was noth­ing we could have done without you. We have always known that our readers and well-wish­ers are the pillars behind our success. This is why we have done everything humanly pos­sible to serve you better as a medium of mass communication. We plan to surpass the suc­cesses of 2014 and launch into the future with greater vigour and commitment in line with the challenges of the global world.

The successes we achieved did not come without a price. The year, to us, had its rough edges, and we had a generous share of those sad moments. But the solidarity you gave us made these problems look easy. It will not make much difference to list the obstacles we overcame and the many rivers we crossed to continue to serve you better.

We promise that the incoming year will be better than the outgoing year – for many rea­sons. Even though some cynics and skeptics claim 2015 will make or mar Nigeria, I have a different view: Nigeria is our country. We have no other country to call ours. Therefore, all men and women of goodwill will make the desired sacrifices to ensure Nigeria does not disintegrate as predicted by some proph­ets of doom. Those that predicted the disin­tegration of Nigeria should bear in mind that our strength lies in our ability to disagree and agree. Did we not fight a 30-month Civil War and still cohabit as one, indivisible nation?

We will have a few challenges in 2015, but they are going to be surmounted. We will use every available resource to strength the bond of unity among us, in such a way as not to give our enemies any room to bring their evil plots to fruition.

It is normal for some people to advocate change; after all, all of us are not expected to have the same viewpoints. Just as our faces differ so do our problems and idiosyncrasies! My take on the matter is that we should exer­cise our rights and freedoms with caution and dignity. We should not allow differences in tongue, religion or political party to divide us.

Nigeria is a great nation that the good Lord has made – to grow from strength to strength despite our diverse interests. So, al­lowing these diversities to impede our march to greatness in 2015 would be the worst dis­service we can do to Nigeria.

There is no doubt that those that sound the trumpets of war did not experience the ugly scepters of the Nigerian Civil War. If they did, definitely, they would be advocating unity and oneness. The untold hardships being ex­perienced by the people of war-torn Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), etc should serve as a lesson to all of us.

What might have given credence to the doomsday prophecy for Nigeria at the forth­coming elections, which many believe could lead to disastrous results. Let me, however, make it abundantly clear: this is not the first time Nigeria will hold general elections in a difficult time. It had happened in the past and Nigeria did not disintegrate. The 2015 elections will be smooth and peaceful, by the grace of God. Contrary to the pessimism be­ing expressed in some quarters the elections will not divide us. Even as much as Nigerians would love to cooperate with INEC and secu­rity agencies to ensure free and fair polls they will never tolerate rigging in any form.

This is why I would like to use this op­portunity to caution all the relevant bodies charged with responsibilities for the 2015 elections to avoid the temptation of compro­mising their integrity for a pot of portage. They should place national interest above their selfish, parochial interests. For me, that is the surest way to foster peace and unity in 2015 and put our detractors to shame.

It will be a disaster if we allowed greed and permissiveness to becloud our sense of reasoning and constitute a clog in the wheel of progress. It does not really matter how power­ful or rich we may think we are individually we cannot be bigger than Nigeria.

Book Haram has always constituted an object of fear among Nigerians. God will in­tervene in the matter and bring it a bloodless end. According to media reports over 13,000 Nigerians have lost their lives in the numer­ous attacks by the Islamic Sect since they launched their first operation some time in 2009. These precious lives would have been saved if we had demonstrated some restraint and done away with primordially-tainted agendas. Painfully, many of those killed were innocent, hapless Nigerians who got caught up in the crossfire.

Looking at the casualties of the attacks makes one’s heart sink in pain and melan­choly. They cut across tribes, religions and cultures. These were men, women, children and youth on whom the future of this coun­try lay. But see how their lives were abruptly terminated!

Our national leaders must design a strategy to contain the insurgencies that threaten our nation’s peace and unity. We cannot continue to kill one another for whatever reason. It is not worth the bill. What we are expected to do as a people is to pull resources and work for the progress of Nigeria.

Again, there is an urgent need to fight the canker of official corruption, which has per­meated every stratum of our society. Corrup­tion is like a bug whose bite spreads like a wildfire. Only a few Nigerians – I can count them on my fingers tips – are yet to be beaten by the corruption bug. This should be a col­lective fight for the survival of our people and nation. With the rate corruption is spreading we cannot achieve anything even in another 50 years.

Interestingly, corruption cannot be done by just one man. It requires more than one person to perpetrate the act. It is on these perpetra­tors – the big goons – that we should beam the searchlight. Once the big fishes that engage in the entrenchment of corruption are flushed out then the following can easily fit into the new order.

President Goodluck Jonathan may have his faults as a human being, but he is, definite­ly, not the cause of the problems he inherited. However, since government is a continuum he should partake in the blame for the seem­ing slowness in execution of government policies and programmes. I know he has lofty plans for our dear nation and that is why we clamour his return to office in 2015.

I wish to urge all Nigerians to guard their loins for the rainy day that is to come – in 2015. I am sorry for those who saw what was coming and failed to do something to protect their interests and those of the nation. They were rather lackadaisical and busy chasing rat, while their houses burnt.

I am particularly worried over the dwin­dling revenue from oil. I have always known that someday we would find ourselves in this mess. The managers of our economy seem to be overwhelmed by these challenges, judg­ing by the way they have somersaulted on a number of occasions over the benchmark for the 2015 national budget. By moving atten­tion from oil to taxes the government has not shown a strong knowledge of fundamental indices that shape the economy. I had expect­ed a more pragmatic approach to the current situation – something quite different from the cheer salutary econometrics being bandied about.

What these economic planners should ap­preciate is the volatility that governs global oil business, especially in pricing. The current crash in oil prices at the global marketplace is a function not only of demand and supply but of politics and diplomacy. The United States, as a leading buyer of Nigeria’s crude before the strain in relations between the two coun­tries, was somewhat responsible for Nigeria’s woes. By stopping placement of further or­ders for the supply of crude from Nigeria the US has put a dagger through Nigeria’s throat. The simple implication of this is that Nigeria is expected to bleed steadily and suddenly die.

If Nigeria dies, God forbid, many nations in Africa will die. Apart from being the gi­ant of the African continent Nigeria is at the centre of the growth and development of the continent. I know deep inside me that Nigeria is too dear to the world to be allowed to die like a chicken. What the U.S has done is to box Nigeria to a corner and by so doing influ­ence it to do that which is right and proper to promote peace and mutualism in Africa.

In the long run it is the Nigerian masses that will bear the brunt. The negative impact of the sharp drop in world oil prices on Ni­gerians is incalculable. Like bullet it has in­flicted a huge damage on the physical and spiritual psyche of the masses of this great na­tion. In any case, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy (CME as she is fondly called) has assured Nigerians of the commitment of the federal government to stoically protect the collective interest of all Nigerians and check­mate the free fall of the Naira – a consequence of the fall in oil prices.

As if to exacerbate the situation Nigeria has gone ahead to terminate its military train­ing contract with the United States. This lat­est incident has opened the underbelly of the crisis and shown that all is not well between the two countries. What I advocate is immedi­ate solution to whatever disagreements both countries may have in order to allow normal­ity to return. We cannot afford to be at logger­heads with the United States for any reason, after all both countries have shown each other neighbourliness and love when it mattered most.

The war against terror requires the con­certed efforts of all partner-nations to deal with it. Nigeria is particularly vulnerable to terrorism, because the problem is alien to us. Before the onset of civilian administration in 1999 terrorism was like a fairy-tale. But today all that has changed. We now live in fear and uncertainty.

Therefore, anything that will obstruct or compound the process of fighting the men­ace to clinical finish should be discouraged. This is why I am worried over the current bad blood in relations with the United States.

Nonetheless, I still believe that maturity and good conscience will prevail in the end so that together we can wrestle the canker of international terrorism and restore global peace and security.

Four days from now we will land in 2015 – a year that promises a mixed-bag for our na­tion. How ready are you to sail smoothly into the New Year? We have managed to survive up to this day by the special grace of God. I am certain he will take us safely into 2015.

Let me warn those that make life misera­ble for others to allow peace and love to reign this season. They should drop their guns and machetes and embrace peace. What will those who kill and maim hope to gain in the end? They should not forget that he that kills by the sword dies by the sword. The innocent blood they spill is the blood of people made by God in his infinite goodness.

I also urge those who engage in merry-making to be careful and do things moderate­ly. Excessiveness of anything is not good. It is better to eat and drink moderately and live than to engage in frivolity and die.

I pray God to bless our nation, bless all of us and make us remain united in his peace and love. May his light shine upon us and may he be gracious to us.

Thank you all, again, and do have a pros­perous 2015.

Last line

In the Friday, December 19, 2014 edi­tion of The Sun, the paper’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director, Femi Adesina, cat­egorically endorsed the aspiration of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. Unfortunately, some mischief-makers and desperadoes have taken his position out of context and as the corporate position of the paper. This is not true.

The opinion Femi expressed was entirely his, which he was entitled to, and did not in any way represent the paper’s opinion or mine. My position has never been in doubt – it is unambiguous, clear and firm: I have openly endorsed the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan. And I stand by it.

Those who are familiar with the operation­al modalities of The Sun should have known by now that freedom of expression is sacro­sanct. Even as the Publisher I do not influence or dictate the editorial direction of the paper or the viewpoints of its editors. Each person is free to express whatever opinion he/she has on any matter. This is the beauty of The Sun.

I wish to restate emphatically that I stand by the candidacy of President Jonathan and I believe strongly he will win the 2015 presi­dential election.