African viewpoint: Nigerian spirit triumphs

People dance at a carnival in Lagos, Nigeria (9 April 2012)

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Sola Odunfa in Lagos writes that Nigeria has faced a series of crises in 2012 but this has not stopped people from having fun.

It still seems like yesterday when Nigerian youths and workers poured out into the streets in their millions in Lagos and Abuja in January to protest at the government's sinister "new year present" of a steep increase in petrol pump price.

The demonstrations shut down public business in Nigeria's main cities for almost two weeks, yet the demonstrators were non-violent despite extreme provocation by security forces.

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Armed robbery has become outdated... The new crime is kidnapping for ransom - huge ransom”

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The event heralded the arrival in Nigeria of the social media as a potent force in mass communication and mobilisation. Henceforth, no-one in this country will ignore the power of Facebook, Twitter and SMS, particularly among young people.

Equally importantly, "Occupy Nigeria 2012" exposed to everyone the groundswell of frustration and anger in the land.

It remains an ever-present topic wherever groups of Nigerians discuss the prevailing economic and social situation - depending, of course, on the region of the country where the groups gather.

If I were resident anywhere north of River Niger, I would be more concerned about the security of my family this festive season.

The crimson tapestry woven by bombers from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and killers in cities and villages throughout that region has been the dominant picture since the beginning of the year. Yet the towns are still alive.

Chieftaincy parties

I salute the courage of the ordinary people living in the terror-gripped region.

In spite of the activities of the marauding bombers and killers, farmers have not abandoned their daily chores, most schools remain open, Muslims still attend prayer services in their mosques on Fridays and the churches draw full congregations on Sundays, under guard by armed police.

A protester in  front of a burning tyre in Lagos, Nigeria (January 2012) The year started with protests against the scrapping of fuel subsidies

There is no stronger evidence of the courage of the average Nigerian and their belief in the survival of the country despite bad governance.

Restiveness among the youths took a new turn in Nigeria this year with the jump in the number of unemployed school graduates.

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This festive season all hotels and public halls in Lagos are fully booked”

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Armed robbery has become outdated as a survival crime. It is more risky, I think. The new crime is kidnapping for ransom - huge ransom.

In this new offensive, no-one is immune. When foreigners, rich Nigerians, and public officials and their relatives are kidnapped the reports scream out of newspaper headlines, but scores of others fall victim on a frequent basis and only their relatives and friends who raise ransom money get to know about it. Still, life goes on.

This year Nigeria suffered its worst natural disaster in several years. Floods took over large parts of the country from the central states to the shores of the Atlantic.

Harvested crops, farmlands and irrigation systems were washed away. More than 350 people died.

A busy road in Lagos (September 2012) Lagos remains a throbbing metropolis

The government says it is putting in all efforts to avert widely-predicted food shortages across the country next year.

Despite all of this, Nigerians are somehow finding the moral strength to keep smiling.

Come to Lagos and you will find that social parties are being staged every day.

From here, people travel every weekend to other cities just to join in merriment organised by friends and relatives.

This festive season all hotels and public halls in Lagos are fully booked for concerts and private parties. School grounds have been taken over for wedding, birthday and chieftaincy parties.

I tell you, the Nigerian spirit triumphs over every adversity. Have a happy new year.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    If Nigerians who love their country could put as much effort into ridding themselves of corruption instead of blatantly spending on weddings and birthdays they can ill afford,then their country might rise from poverty.
    Secondly as is wont with Nigerians they love to blame other countries or the Press for their current state of affairs. Togo and Ethiopia are poorer than Nigeria but vastly superior.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    @Lugard & Geordie

    It is said that when death wants to kill a dog, it nullifies its sensitivity. Before Jerusalem was was overrun by the Babylonians, the Jerusalemites were partying also and refused to heed the warnings of the prophets of God! There was corruption, killings injustice etc.... until the hammer struck.
    May God have mercy on us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Geordie is right. Many Nigerians have no clue how serious these problems are. In fact, many hope to become corrupt as soon as they get a chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    This year Nigerians of goodwill should unite and fight the commom foes that cripple the country: corruption in both the public and private sectors, and the lack of political will to quench the fires of terroism,and the scourge of kidnapping.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Now that Nigerians have won the fight against petro, they must not let up; they should be marching up against the other even more serious evils of Kidnapping, armed robbery, church killings and official corruption. Happy New Year !


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