2016 and its guilt
The representatives of Nigeria’s business communities were not left out. They painted a damning picture, backed by facts, figures and statistics from authoritative sources. They declared that economically, Nigeria remained doomed. By December the country was, authoritatively and officially pronounced by the government as being in recession, facing its first full-year contraction for almost three decades. The IMF they said, expects Nigeria’s economy to further shrink by 1.7 per cent. The rate of inflation hitting nearly 20 per cent is something that has not happened for well over a decade.
They pointed out that in recent times, and especially, with the raging economic recession, there has been an upswing in the emergence of mini industries of kidnapping for ransom or for rituals, baby factory gangs, among other cruelties. There is also, booming commerce around adulterated food stuffs and drugs. Not leaving out circulation of sub-standard cement and other building materials resulting in the frequent collapse of buildings. In other words, it is not only established terrorist militias known to the government that are sending Nigerians to early deaths. 2016, due to intrinsic malfunctions on ground and in the very atmosphere itself, has also birthed uncivil segments in the society actively engaged in this business of adulterated consumables – resulting for example, in the alarming number of deaths through cancers and other diseases.
The Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), declared, in a UN Multi-sector Assessment Joint Report declared: “In the northeast 480,000 children are suffering severe acute malnutrition; 800,000 people are severely food insecure; adding that without interventions, an estimated 67,000 children under the age of five might die: 184 every day in Borno and Yobe states alone”
Some human rights organisations drew the attention of the court and the world to the fact that 2016 ensured that he took away with him, some of our most promising Nigerians, illustrious citizens and bright stars. Some of these are:
Unknown thousands killed by the bombs, guns and machetes of the Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen;
Unknown hundreds slaughtered by Islamic extremists all over the country;
Evangelist (Mrs) Eunice Olawale killed when she was preaching on a Saturday morning in the Kubwa area of Abuja in July;
Former Super Eagles captain and coach, Stephen Keshi, died suddenly in Benin City, Edo State on June 7. The Nigerian football legend was aged 54;
Former Super Eagles coach and Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amodu Shuaibu, died in his sleep in Benin City, Edo State – just three days after that of his close friend, Stephen Keshi;
One of the Nigerian Army’s bravest and gallant officers, the Commanding Officer of 272 Task Force Tank Battalion, Lt.-Col. Muhammad Ali was killed in a Boko Haram ambush on November 4, 2016. Even the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, could not hold back tears after he died.
The case for the defence of 2016 was, in comparison to that of the prosecution drab, lack luster, scanty and strictly academic. They called less than 20 witnesses, most of them government officials. Their case hinged mainly on alleged “successes” on its on-going war against terrorism; successes in the war on corruption; stability in the price of oil.
They also mentioned the high points in Nigerian sports where the Super Falcons who won the African Women Cup of Nations for a record eight out of 10 times, as well as the commendable feat of the Nigerian paralympians to Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil. They won 12 medals (eight gold, two silver and two bronze) which placed them 14th position on the final medals’ table and number one in Africa.
The final addresses to the court, by the lead counsels of the two parties, especially the lead counsel for the prosecution were heavily loaded.The prosecuting lead counsel punctured holes in the claims by the defence that 2016 had given the people some good things to cheer about. On the credit being claimed on the war against corruption, he referred to the revelation by the former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin, who had accused the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers of the House of padding the 2016 budget to the tune of over N400 billion.
The eminent lawyer declared: “My lord, it is incomprehensible to political watchers why the serious revelations by Jibrin are still being ignored by the appropriate law enforcement agents. Does that indicate a sincere war against corruption? And what is more – instead of prosecuting those accused, the lawmakers instead, persecuted Jibrin for alerting the nation to the existing and the envisaged dangers that are capable of ruining the nation’s economy, and the peoples’ well being.”
The prosecuting counsel then made a comprehensive recap of the array of the ingredients in the submissions of the thousands of his witnesses and the thousands of exhibits tendered.
Then straightening to his full height, his voice ringing and bouncing off the four walls of the giant courtroom, he said:
“From the preponderance of the totality of vivid evidence before this court, there cannot be any doubt in the minds of all well meaning citizens and in the mind of this honourable court that 2016 is guilty, my lord.”
Faniyan is a Lagos based author, publisher and communications consultant.