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2022: Welcome to the season of battles

2022: Welcome to the season of battles
January 07
13:15 2022

I am sorry, I may not be able to wish my ardent readers a happy new year. Yes, the year 2022 is new, but whether or not it will be a jocular one for an average Nigerian, is what I cannot guarantee, the signs are there already.

The year is fraught with a whole lot of expectations, some we already have an idea, others we know nothing about, at least for now. For me, I am foreseeing many battles in different spheres of life. Some of these battles are carryovers from previous years, while others are new, but one thing we can all come to agree with is that ‘wahala no dey finish‘.

As you try to fix one problem, another raises its ugly head, while you try to take a rest from one battle, you get to kit up for another. It is what it is. We have not even yet digested and excreted the rice and stew and pepper soup and drinks of the holiday, problems have filled everywhere, this is a confirmed sign that the year 2022 will be one full of drama in politics, security, government, health, economy, labour, education, and many other sectors.

The battle between incumbent Imo state governor Hope Uzodinma and former governor Rochas Okorocha set to tone for a dramatic 2022. The Nigeria Police, like kidnappers, invaded the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church in Nkwerre, shot sporadically in the air, causing shock and panic to old and young men and women who have gone to worship on Boxing Day, all because they wanted to arrest a known figure, Uche Nwosu, who is the son-in-law to Okorocha.

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For someone of Nwosu’s status as a former governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), a sane police system will send him an invite or if any evidence is found implicating him of an alleged crime, he can be served a court notice. But as in a kangaroo system where it is the order of the ‘oga at the top’ that is followed rather than the law of the land, the police stormed the worship center and whisked Nwosu away, leaving many injured. Many thought he had been kidnapped until the police later confirmed he was arrested by their operatives.

As I was watching the clip of Nwosu’s arrest in disgust, my mind quickly flashed back to 2021. Why won’t Uzodinma do that, even the federal government did worse six months ago when the DSS invaded Sunday Ighoho’s home in Ibadan in a bid to forcefully arrest the Yoruba Nation agitator. Two people were killed in that incident and properties worth millions of naira were destroyed. So all Uzodinma did was follow in the footstep of his ‘bosses’ in Aso Rock.

With this rekindled battle was how the governor ushered Imo residents into 2022. Days later, chief press secretary to Uzodinma, Oguwike Nwachuku, said Okorocha and Nwosu have been specifically mentioned by suspects who are in the custody of security agents, as being sponsors of kidnapping and banditry in Imo state, using their relationship with former ex-militants to perpetrate the crimes. Uzodinma himself promised to publicly name Nwosu and Okorocha as sponsors of kidnapping, but he later made a U-turn. However, the battle rages on between Okorocha and Uzodinma.

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We have barely spent one week in the new year and protests have returned to Dowen College, the school in Lagos where 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni was allegedly harassed, molested, and beaten, leading to his death. The Lagos state government had swung into action by shutting down the school and arresting all five underage suspects. But in a hasty decision, absolved the students and five other staff of the school of alleged culpability in the death of the deceased.

That decision has expectedly met the resistance of Ijaw youth council who has vowed to storm the entrance of the school if it reopens for academic activities without the proper conclusion of the case. Like many people, I also think top officials of the Lagos state government have been cornered and compromised. Dowen College knows that if the school doesn’t resume latest on January 10, many parents will withdraw their children and register them in another school. This is the reason why a compromised Lagos state government that lacks empathy, will rush to a hasty decision. The battle line has been drawn between the Oromonis/Delta people and Dowen College/Lagos State government.

The Magodo imbroglio is another battle that came to the limelight early in 2022. The conflict between the judgment creditors (Shangisha Landlords Association) and their counterpart has spanned over three decades. Waving into the matter, the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had a meeting with the landlords and we were told by the government that the parties have reached an agreement to relocate the landlords by immediately identifying available plots of land within the Shangisha village scheme.

I am afraid this may just be an empty agreement because there is no land in Shangisha to accommodate 549 judgment creditors, this is the bitter truth. All lands in the area have since been acquired. The question is will landowners be willing to resell? Or will the government embark on a mission to rob Peter in order to pay Paul? The only suitable solution is to pay all 549 judgement creditors the exact current value of lands in Magodo, otherwise, the battle will continue.

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The ban on the national anthem in primary and secondary schools in southeast Nigeria by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is one confrontation that will make headlines in 2022. IPOB had on January 1 announced that all schools in the region must desist from singing the Nigeria national anthem. This is a step further after it enforced every Monday of the week as a sit-at-home for all residents in protest of the detention of its leader Nnamdi Kanu. IPOB has even asked all residents in the southeast to stop eating beef.

This group is bitting more than what it can chew and setting up a lost battle against the Nigerian state. How do you enforce the ban on the national anthem within the geographical space of Nigeria? Are you going to deploy your men in every school every day? If and when the military arrives, what will happen? Will you put the lives of innocent children on the line for things they know nothing about? IPOB is only setting the stage, albeit foolishly, for more bloodletting and destruction.

Another major battle that is looming in 2022 is the planned fuel subsidy removal by the federal government. Labour unions and Nigerians, in general, are gearing up to vehemently resist, with whatever it takes, the coming to fruition of subsidy removal. The government has insisted that it has no choice and the populace has also insisted on shutting down the country. We do not want to face the same experience of January 2012, and this is why the government must follow due process in order to cushion the effect of subsidy removal instead of just jumping into fuel subsidy removal.

The year 2022 is also pregnant with a lot of battles between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). President Muhammadu Buhari has not stopped blaming the failed system and rot in the country on the past administration despite having spent six years in the same position. On the other hand, the PDP has continued to criticize the government of the day.

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Both parties will be actively busy this year as the 2023 general elections are fast approaching. Punches will be thrown both in the media and physically. APC is watching its back carefully, Buhari had already warned that if the leadership of his party fails to get its act together on time, the PDP will take over. On the other hand, the PDP told Buhari to just go, that Nigerians do not want a successor from him. It’s nothing surprising though, it is the season of banters and counter-banters.

As we enter into 2022 proper and go deeper into the many dramas ahead, I only hope that in the midst of all these imbroglios, the average Nigerian stays safe, and can take care of their immediate needs.

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Israel is a Nigerian journalist and can be reached via [email protected]

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