HOW NIGERIA CAN ACHIEVE HAPPINESS IN 2019


It is traditional to make wishes for a new year. And it is also normal for everyone to wish for better in a new year. Many Nigerians have wished each other many things for the new year. One common or universal wish is “happiness “. That is why almost every Nigerian must have wished many other Nigerians “happy new year” since the mid nite bell rang on 31st December 2018 ushering the new year- 2019. Indeed the same thing has happened globally, just as it has happened every year since I was a child. I cannot say when the greeting was first used but it must have been since the 1st century or so. But my earliest vivid recall of hearing and exchanging this greeting was at age 5. And that’s over six decades ago and yet these greeting remains current and indeed the major goodwill exchange every new year.
 
Thus it becomes very clear that the attainment of happiness is one the greatest needs of man on Earth. But what is happiness? Many dictionaries and psychologists have different takes on the concept of happiness.Vocabulary.com say that happiness is “the sense of wellbeing, joy or contentment, when people are successful or SAFE or lucky “Another author defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment and a good feeling about yourself and your life. It is a positive emotion that makes you feel good and satisfied. It is joy, satisfaction and wellbeing and a sense of bliss.” Another Psychologist defines a happy person as “someone who experiences frequent positive emotions such as Joy, interest and pride and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety and anger” An Ancient Greek philosopher said” happiness is the joy that we feel when striving after our Potential” and another adds “happiness comes from within you, rising into your awareness, when the mind is calm and quiet”. Finally another author concludes that “happiness is about loving yourself, while constantly changing to become better. This comes from deep inside your heart and soul. Outside circumstances may create difficulties and hardships, but true happiness prevails because you know that you will survive and move beyond this point in life”
   
From the above it is clear that there are two components to happiness- intrinsic and extrinsic. Who you are and what happens around us. While those with spiritual anchors and who live purpose- driven lives will experience more happiness than those who do not, It is indisputable that external factors do contribute to happiness. Thus while my primary Wish for Nigeria and Nigerians in 2019 is that they experience true happiness, I would wish that the external conditions are such that will help them feel truly happy all year round.  Safety of physical life is essential for sustainable happiness. When people live in fear of physical harm or death like what has been happening in many parts of Nigeria but specifically in the North East, North Central and parts of North West, it is difficult for them, no matter their spiritual strength to have complete happiness. When people in the South of Nigeria fear to sleep in their villages for fear of kidnappers and armed robbers, they are robbed of complete happiness. My wish therefore is that whatever has been causing the untimely killing and shedding of innocent blood in these regions must stop in 2019 so that these Nigerians can better experience happiness. It is indeed hard to live happily in refugee or IDP camps. I wish that all the internally displaced will return to their homes this year. 
 
Negative emotions of anxiety, fear and uncertainties detract from happiness. Many Nigerians have entered into 2019 with so much anxiety concerning what will happen with the 2019 elections. Matters are not helped by the refusal of the President to sign the electoral bill after four amendments. Only last week, INEC raised the anxiety level when an alleged blood- relation of the President Amina ZAKARI was announced as the head of the election result collating committee. Ninety one parties under CUPP have protested this appointment and many other Nigerians and observers think this is unnecessary stoking of the fire. INEC must not take any action that will increase the level of tension and suspicion already associated with the elections. Amina may never do anything untoward in collating the Presidential election result, but as they say “Perception can be worse than reality”. There are many other National commissioners in INEC who can fit the role without raising the kind of eye brows Amina has raised. The political parties are key stakeholders in the electoral process and INEC is well advised to pay attention to their concerns in a key democratic exercise. My real wish is that Nigeria will have a free, fair, credible and non- violent elections. The way we prepare for the elections, conduct the campaigns, execute the elections, announce the results and handle the post-election responses will in large measures determine if Nigerians will be happy or not in 2019. Luckily, so far we have not heard such rhetoric as ‘baboons being soaked in their blood’ or ‘we must win by all means’; but we can feel fierce competition in the air. It will therefore be appropriate to impress upon the politicians to temper their desperation to win. I encourage all to see elective competition with the eyes and demeanor of President Good luck Jonathan who repeatedly declared that his “victory was not worth the blood of any Nigerian” and when the test came, he discharged himself creditably and honorably.
 
By the grace of God, I am a spiritual person but I know how one’s spirituality can be challenged by involuntary fasting or hunger. They say a hungry man can become an angry man. And I do not see how anger can add to happiness. I know how one’s spiritual stability and equanimity can be challenged when bills are not paid and Children cannot return to school. I therefore wish that Nigeria’s economy will grow faster than our population growth in 2019 and that unemployment will significantly decrease from the high levels we ended 2018 with. Therefore it becomes imperative that the governments we install at the federal and state levels must be manned by Men and women who understand how jobs and wealth are created. The idea of putting novices or untested men in power just hoping that they would know what to do, has proven costly to us over the years. Let us shine our eyes to choose wisely and avoid” nmakwara”
 
The other major wish I truly have for Nigeria in 2019 is that Nigeria becomes a land of peace where everybody will live at peace with each other; a land where justice, equity and fair play will reign; a land where discrimination against Ndigbo in Nigeria will cease. I wish that all governments at every level will run inclusive governance where majority and minority are included and where all segments of society are treated equitably and fairly. Whatever made  Fulani cattle herdsmen turn from carrying sticks to carrying AK-47 rifles  must never be allowed to happen again.  Nigeria needs peace- builders and those who bear no grudge against any ethnic group to rebuild national cohesion and peace. This is actually my greatest wish  for Nigeria in 2019 and I pray that the Lord will grant me these wishes. I cannot hear your Amen!

Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR,FPSN




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THE GROWING MISERY INDEX OF NIGERIANS AND THE SEARCH FOR GOVERNMENT Nigerians readily point out what Governments ought to do which they are not doing. Indeed, virtually every problem in Nigeria is blamed on the government. And for many Nigerians, the government to be blamed often is the Federal government. Many are oblivious of the other tiers of government, especially the local governments. It is as if the local governments have no responsibilities or may be the people have come to expect little from them. The many years of over centralization fostered on the Nation by the military now makes most Nigerians think and act as if the Federal government is the only government in Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution sustains this misnomer by granting the Federal government a long exclusive list and the freedom to dabble into every other matter, some of which should better be left with the traditional councils in the states. This has led many Nigerians to allow the local and State governments get away with With 'blue murder' while holding only the federal government to account,even if feebly. While it is justifiable to blame government for poor infrastructure, poor education, poor healthcare, high unemployment, high insecurity, and even for hunger, corruption and traffic hold ups, it is beginning to look to me that this is an orchestrated ploy by some Nigerians to take a permanent flight from being held responsible for our individual and group conducts. In the first place, the governments we blame so frequently for failing us are run by Nigerians. Indeed the irony is that some of those who blame government for everything are in government themselves! Sometimes, it looks like that there is a mystery man called 'government'. But no, government is no mystery man, but a collection of persons who are first citizens and who run the government on behalf of and for the good of all the citizens. For convenience, they are grouped into the EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY. And that includes politicians, civil servants, public servants, professionals and non professionals of all cadres and categories; from cleaners,security men and permanent secretaries to ministers; from legislative aids to the House Speaker and Senate President; from the court bailiff to the Policeman, to the Registrar and to the Supreme Court Judge; from the gatemen to the Director Generals of Parastatals and Agencies, they are all constituent parts of the government, agents of the State. And that's why they are paid from the tax payers money.Every action, each one of them takes or omits to take reflects on the effectiveness or in effectiveness of the government they are part of. But it looks to me that this realization does not exist sufficiently. Some how, you get the impression that the President or the State Governor alone is the government and everybody else is either the governed, observer, bystander, supporter,complainant or critic. Perhaps this may explain why there is a woeful failure of the"government " to satisfy the expectations of Nigerians. It is practically impossible for only the President to satisfy the 170 million Nigerians or the Governor to satisfy all the over 12 million people in Lagos for example. Everywhere you go,you meet people who work in the government institutions who act as if they care very little about the success or citizen perception of the government they serve in. When you complain about the poor service you are getting,the same people who are part or agents of the government turn around to blame the 'government', absolving themselves of any blame and often the complaining citizen seems to either agree or empathize with the government employee that the problem is with the mystery ' Mr Government ' Early this year, I wanted to make a trip to the United Kingdom and applied for the UK Visa. Few days after submitting my visa application, I received a call from the British Embassy that there was no space left in my passport to affix the visa. I quickly collected my passport and ran to the passport office in Ikoyi Lagos to get a new one. It took me six visits to the passport office over a period of six weeks to collect a new passport.Reasons ranged from missing file to long queues, mismatch of finger prints, the absence of the engineer and late approval from Abuja. It was an ordeal. Mean while I missed the trip to the Uk and was almost missing a trip to the USA because my subsisting US visa was in my old passport which had been 'quarantined' in the passport office. At the end of this rigmarole I was still expected to show 'gratitude' In August last year, I went to renew my driving license and I was told to fill out forms and make payments. Thereafter I was asked to come back one year after in July this year at the FRSC camp in Ojodu, Lagos for what they called 'capture'. I wondered why it would take a year to come for the 'capture'. I was told that many people were on the queue and their 'capture' equipments were few. I was told that a photocopy of my form on which the July date had been written would serve as my temporary driving license until that date. I shook my head and left. On the assigned date and at the stipulated time of 7am, I arrived. First, it took a lot of pleading to let me drive in through the gate. With one year scheduling, I had expected few people but was shocked by the large crowd milling around the place. I moved from place to place and after several hours when I arrived in front of the 'capture' machine, I was told that my name had not dropped. 'From where ?' I asked. I made three other visits over a period of five weeks, because either, my name was still traveling from wherever to the 'capture' machine, or because there was no 'network' to capture me. I finally got another temporary driving license. And so I will have to return to Ojodu in 60 days when it expires or wait to be called to come and collect the permanent driving license when it is ready and who knows how many more trips that will take, because I saw People who had been called to come and collect, and they came, only to be told that the license was not yet ready. I do not know of any other country in the World where citizens are subjected to this kind of torture just to obtain a driving license. When my son-in-law heard my story, he sympathized with me because he went through an 'agent' and got his with ease! I suffered the same fate in trying to renew my plate numbers as demanded by FRSC. I have completed my registration for the National Identity card at a special unit set up by the National Identity Commission at an interaction in Lagos. I was given a temporary National Identity card. I do not know when I will get the permanent one. Now I have been asked by the Central bank to go to my bank and obtain another Universal identity card. I do not know how many trips I will have to make to obtain a temporary card before I struggle to get the permanent one. I will still go for my voters card and do biometrics and for my Pension, another set of biometrics and identity card. How many Identity cards is a normal law-abiding Nigerian expected to carry?.Why the National identity card can not suffice for all these is what I am asking. I am searching for Mr Government to ask him, because that is what I am asked to do. Can't these government agencies and officers who are asking for these many identity cards share information ? Or is it the fault of Mr government ? Why do we relish in making life difficult for fellow Nigerian citizens and then blame government. Any where Nigerians are to receive service from a government agency, the story of misery and denigration of human dignity is repeated. Who is government? What can be the problem? Is it a matter of lack of a compelling vision, or lack of motivation, or lack of empowerment or plain lack of commitment. What ever it is, I believe that something must be done urgently and in a holistic manner to remedy this anomaly which is creating a lot of problem for the citizens in Nigeria. The unnecessary suffering to which Nigerians are subjected to at every point can not continue this way. What is worse is that the pains intensify when people are doing their best to obey the laws and be responsible citizens. This backlash may seem to promote deviant behavior or corner cutting. Some are 'compelled' to 'settle' police on the highway than go through the torture of trying to get a driving license. All those who are part of government at all levels will need to undergo a fresh orientation to make them understand that point, that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. That Government is not about a single person but a chain of persons who deliver service to the Citizens and that the best President or best Governor will achieve little if all other parties are not playing their roles with the same efficiency and consistency. The leaders of our Governments must therefore take appropriate initiatives on building this consciousness in all persons in government. For empowerment and motivation, the leaders must ensure proper skilling up and motivation of all those involved in the governance process. The right persons must be put in the right positions to ensure the integrity of the chain.For commitment,the leaders must demand evidence of performance down the line. This must be measured and rewarded so that the unskilled for the assignment, the unprepared and the indolent are weeded from the system, so that the impact of good governance can be felt by citizens leading to improved quality of life and the reduction of the misery index. It seems this is perhaps the most critical responsibility of the leaders of the different tiers and arms of government and may actually be the differentiating characteristic of the effective government leaders. Sitting at the capital and hoping that all the 'beautiful' policies, projects and programmes are yielding the desired result will not do. If those who are part of government are blaming the government,one can then understand why some other Nigerians make a past time of blaming government for every problem. If the gutter overflows, it is the government that must be blamed and nothing to do with the citizens who throw pure water satchets and sundry rubbish into the gutter. When the road is blocked, it is the government and nothing to do with the indiscipline of citizen drivers who refuse to give way to each other. In those Countries that we admire and aspire to be like, most Citizens regulate themselves and accept responsibilities for the good order of the society, thus allowing the regulatory enforcement agencies to effectively contain the few deviants. If everybody is a deviant, no government can effectively manage public order. That is my point and it does not in any way absolve the government in power from its statutory responsibilities. There is a role for the government and there is a role for the citizen. Any dereliction on either side will create problems for the society, just as we are having,Period. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR