Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Promises of Bright 2013

editorial

WORDS are cheap. No wonder people use them without considering their impact or consequences of not keeping them, when they are promises.

Goodluck Jonathan has added a more general promise "things will be better in 2013" to the 91 promises he made running for office in 2011. While the unfulfilled promises of 2011 were specific, Nigerians cannot be sure what a better 2013 means.

Surely, 2013 would be more challenging than 2012, which by every index is a tough year. Here are some challenges that await Nigerians in 2013:

Every Nigerian who wants to travel abroad would take mandatory oral polio vaccine from May 2013, whether a child or adult.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, said the measure was necessary "to reduce the substantial risk of the virus spreading to polio-free countries." Two other countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the same league with Nigeria.

Rural poverty (which would also affect urban dwellers) would rise. The impacts of the devastation from the floods would reflect more in 2013 when the assistance to victims dry up and they face the realities of losses of their businesses and means of livelihood.

The infrastructure deficit would increase. The uncurbed decay of infrastructure has resulted in the stretching of the few that work. Without meaningful plans, things would get worse.

Security is a revolving concern. The bombings and killings in the North are matched with kidnaps and armed robberies in the South. There are no signs that the criminals are letting go of their prized portion of Nigeria.

Unemployment has been addressed with words for long. We now have people who leave school uneducated, unemployable, and remain so more than five years after graduation.

When organisations want candidates with relevant experience, it is difficult to find them. The coming year bears no indications of tackling mass unemployment, particularly among the youth.

Words on their own are empty. It is action behind them that makes the difference. Too many promises have been made to Nigerians - it no longer makes sense to continue making more empty promises.

Nobody expects the President to work miracles, considering the enormity of the challenges he inherited. However, if he decides to compound the situation through promises he would not keep, then he has no right to expect the understanding of the public, which has been at the receiving end of dashed expectations.

Economic indicators coupled with unabated corruption in the country do not flash signs of a healthy environment with the resources to fulfil the President's promises. The most reasonable thing now is to keep Nigerians abreast of the challenges and tackle them. Anything else is deceit.

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