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If you are reading this piece, you have a lot of reasons to thank God. Particularly, that you are alive as we approach the finishing lines of the year 2018. The year has been eventful in many ways. On the international scene, we saw the reelection of Vladimir Putin to commence a fourth term in office as Russian President. In Cuba, Raul Castro stepped aside as President ending nearly six decades of Castro leadership on the Island. Iraq organized the first legislative and provincial elections since after the defeat of the Islamic State in the Country. In England, United Kingdom, Prince Harry married US Actress, Meghan Markle. The world witnessed an epic World Cup finals staged in Russia.

On the local scene, exchange rates, inflation and gross domestic product have told various and different stories. While oil price rises and falls, Nigerian economy continues to struggle to find the right balance. Naira has depreciated from N331.16/$ in December 2017 to N363/$ in December 2018 on the NIFEX window. We have seen improvements in inflation rate from 15.37% in December 2017 to 11.26% by the end of October 2018 according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published by tradingeconomics.com.

Insecurity continued to pose significant threat throughout the year as the Boko Haram terrorists and their comrades in Islamic war – the Fulani Herdsmen – held sway in the North-East and North Central parts of the Country. Thousands of lives have been lost and many displaced in various incidences of terror attacks starting with the killing of fifty persons on New Year day in two local government areas of Benue State.

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The Political Party primaries have come and gone, while the dust raised by the process which was full of intrigues and obstinate ambitions have yet to settle. The campaign jingles for the 2019 general election have started rending the airwaves. It is the time to make promises that will not be fulfilled and plan bridges that will never be built.

In 2018, it was reported that Nigeria had outpaced India in the poverty prevalence. Recently our government confirmed that Nigeria ranked second in open defecation, better than only India. It was reported that India was on her way to exiting that group in which case by 2020, Nigeria would rank highest on that index. Although reports had it that the nation improved on the “Ease of doing business” ranking, the results have not impacted on employment and national productivity indices. Nigeria is still highly import dependent while many businesses continue to relocate from her shores to other African Countries due to weak infrastructure, justice deficit and poor governance.

As the year draws to an end, it is a good time to re-examine how each one of us has impacted society and lives. A nation is only but a reflection of the people that make it up. Each individual is like a soldier commissioned to watch or protect a part of the fortress (the world or the society). If any one of such sentries falls asleep, the enemy will definitely have access to the fortress and what a bad story it shall be.  So how have we as businessmen and woman, professionals, Academics, civil servants, political office holders, house wives, technicians, taxi and bus drivers, and market men and women lived out our Christian callings (vocations)? How have we upheld the basic Christian virtues in the middle of the world?

The lecturer, for instance, who demands sex for marks (and there are many of such by the way) is not an atheist, neither is the man or woman who insists on one gratification or another before carrying out the responsibility for which he/she gets paid for, a worshipper of Satan. The Judge who perverts the course of justice because his conscience has been bought over, and by so doing unleash criminals on the society or willingly and knowingly convict the innocent, or even deny another person his legitimate right to an asset, cannot say he has never heard about Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the challenges we as Nigerians faced up to 2018 and the ones that are loading for 2019 are largely products of our own individual and collective decisions. The way we make our beds, that is how we lie on them. The painful part is that in our penchant for dirty personal wealth, adult Nigerians are exposing our innocent children to the uselessness and hopelessness of the nation. Imagine where a child of sixteen who worked so hard to make good results in secondary school is denied admissions because the parents don’t have money to pay bribe, or refused to so do. What sort of a future will such a child hope for his or her Country?

We need to utilize the opportunities presented by this Christmas season to evaluate where we stand on the scale of justice. What have we done to heal this ailing world? Each one of us has a lot we can do. In our immediate communities including our workplace, among our colleagues, associates, family and relationships.

As Christmas beckons, lets us come close to one another and understand what life really is like. Bette Medler in her popular song “From A distance” sang:

“From a distance, we all have enough and no one is in need;

and there are no guns, no bombs, and no deceases,

no hungry mouths to feed”.

The world is full of hungry mouths to feed. Meanwhile some people have more than enough to throw away, without sparing the slightest thought for those who are in need. Until we develop an attitude of consistent Christian witnessing by the little things of this life, we cannot truly regard ourselves as the followers of Christ (Christians), sons and daughters of God, a chosen generation, a holy nation, God’s own special people (1 Peter 2:9).

As we celebrate Christmas and New Year, let us lay aside and in fact cast out of ourselves permanently every trace of selfishness and avarice. There is need to reawaken the desire to positively impact the world we live in. All that is required is little effort from each and every one. If we carry out our respective duties diligently without cutting corners or seeking inordinate and selfish interests, then the system will work for everyone. Society is a network of interconnected functions. It will not thrive until all the linkages work in commonality and unity of purpose.

The Christmas period cum end of year is always characterized by chaotic and desperate activities – the good, the bad and the ugly things – people do to make the festive period count for them. Looking at the velocity of social and economic activities during this period one begins to wonder if the people suddenly realized that the year comprises of twelve months. Some members of society assume that whatever they have been unable to accomplish in the past eleven months must be achieved in the last fourteen days of the three hundred and sixty-five (six) days of the year. This is unhealthy and unreal. Little wonder the rate of crime and all forms of evil sky-rocket during the “ember” months. In the contrary, this season should be a period of spiritual rebirth, preparation and reverence for the “expected” king of the world.

As we wave “goodbye” to the year 2018, we welcome the new year with joyful. We are hopeful that the new year shall be a year of total renewal and rejuvenation across the land. We must all put our hands on the deck to create a new nation, a new people wired for sudden and lasting positive developments. No matter how highly or lowly your calling, you have something you can offer to achieve this dream. We need a new Nigeria come 2019.

One of the ways to work towards creating the much desired new Nigeria in 2019 is to actively participate in the electoral process. The election of 2019 requires that the citizens eschew all ethnic, religious and other primordial sentiments and vote conscientiously for the right candidates. The electorate must reject every effort by the political class to entice them with their lucre. The consequence of our compromising our rights to vote the right persons is so much all over us that it will be foolish for us to continue in that trajectory.

Take a look at the Nigerian educational system, the health care system, transport and power sectors, the financial system, the prisons, our road network, security, civil service, the judiciary etc. The developmental gap is so wide. Those of you who have had the “misfortune” of traveling abroad can attest to the fact that our land is desolate. I don’t know about you, but I am always heartbroken when I get into other nations and see how such societies have been well organized for the good of all. In such climes, the Bank executive, does his job with professional decorum and at the same time, the street sweeper takes his/her duties with care, attention, passion and dignity. When shall our help come?

The electoral umpire, the justice system and all those who have oversight over the process must play their roles with integrity and honesty, recognizing that such positions they occupy are God’s gifts to them. It is at such posts that they are mounted as Sentries to watch this fortress of the Lord called Nigeria. On judgement day, the Guardian Angels shall give evidence to God on how you discharged your duties while on this journey. We are the ones that occupy these positions. Let us use them to serve humanity and promote the kingdom of God on earth.

I wish all my readers a very joy-filled Christmas season, and a prosperous and peaceful 2019. Let us all decide to make the difference we crave beginning from the New Year. See you then!!!

Mark Oguh, a Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Financial Management Expert wrote in from St. Anthony’s Parish, Gbaja, Surulere, Lagos. Contact mark.oguh@gmail.com


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