2012 in review ...a reporter's diary
It started with the announcement of complete removal of subsidy from Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol by President Goodluck Jonathan ostensibly to rid the country of waste bred by the corruption the subsidy regime. Many Nigerians didn’t agree with their government.
At the beginning, they started registering their disagreement by signing a register at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja. That day some of the activists that started the campaign and this Daily Trust reporter were arrested.
Instead of the arrest to quell the protest, it fueled it, and major cities recorded protests in which several protesters were murdered extra judicially without any of the trigger-happy security operatives brought to justice.
Barely after the protest in February, the official National Bureau of statistics released a report to the effect that poverty had worsen in the country with about a 100 million Nigerians ( about 61 percent of the population) living in abject poverty, less than a dollar a day. As usual that provoked the momentary bout of concerns that reports of its kind provoke, and few weeks later, life went on as if nothing happened.
Later in the year, houses and Farms across the country were visited by a flood catastrophe that swept some of them away. At the beginning there were fears that the flood would lead to food crisis. The fears seem to have receded now, but abandoned people that had been displaced by the flood have continued to engage to accuse the authorities of leaving them to their fate
Even the labour unions are not left out in accusing those in authority fo negligence of duty.The staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, protested against the reinstatement of the Director General of the Commission, Arunma Oteh, over what they called her several irregularities among which is her retention of contract staff beyond the time allowed in the civil service rule and against the ultimatum given to her by the board of the commission.
But despite the protests and the pressure from the House of Representatives against her appointment, Ms Oteh retained her seat.
It was in the same fashion that the NLC led by its vice President , Issa Aremu, broke in on an African Industrialisation Day commemoration meeting being held at the ‘Yar’adua Center in Abuja in November of 2012 to press the government to bail out Nigeria’s comatose industries thereby generating employment for the teeming unemployed. The labour officials, who cited President Barak Obama’s lifeline for General Motors as a way to go for Nigeria, said as stakeholder they should be invited for the African Industrialisation day meeting later. An alert minister of state for Trade and Investment, Samuel Ortom, who was the senior government official at occasion said the Goodluck Jonathan government was thinking along the same direction with the workers, promising them that they would soon see positive change. But nothing tangible has been done in that respect whether in the 2012 or the 2013 budget.
This year started on a revolutionary note with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, launching the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) aimed at supplying subsidised agro-inputs to the real small-scale farmers without the characteristic diversion of the inputs to private use by middle men and politicians.
Though the programme started late, in some states like Benue as late as September this year, the minister believed it was no mean achievement. Several farmers interviewed in Gombe, Bauchi, Jalingo and Makurdu either said they didn’t get the input in time or at all or that they didn’t enough.