There were a few good things that happened in or to Nigeria in 2017. Our national football team, the Super Eagles for instance qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia; Nigerian capital markets rallied to a major recovery in the year, growing by more than 40 percent to count as one of the fastest growing stock market of 2017; the #EndSARS campaign was a positive and inspiring example of citizen action that reminder of the power of collective resolve of the populace and the impact committed and courageous citizens can have on governance; and the recovery of global oil prices provided a crucial lifeline to the Nigerian government as the oil sector proved to be the predominant factor in the country’s exit from recession; finally it became clear in 2017 that the country was heading towards having two large economies-the national economy and that of Lagos State!
Yet in spite of these and probably other good things, my sense was that 2017 was suffused with evil-the economic recession which subsisted through the end of the first quarter, and even as the recession official ended, the evidence was undisputable that for most economic sectors (apart from oil, agriculture and utilities), their economic recession continued to the end of the year; while there was significant improvement in power generation during the year (especially in the second and third quarters), the output remained sub-optimal for an economy the size of Nigeria; poverty accelerated during the year, as the related evils of unemployment and under-employment rapidly increased, with millions more of our compatriots losing their jobs and livelihoods; contrary to official propaganda, there is no evidence that corruption reduced in 2017-rather the facts on the ground suggest its increased prevalence, except that there are new (and more hypocritical!) beneficiaries!!! 2017 was the year of scandals at NNPC, with IDP funds and of $48million cash in buildings!
For many people, 2016 and 2017 was a year in which the promise of change became a nightmare in human, economic and political terms as impunity, official arrogance and sectional policies increased in visibility; the IPOB/Biafra agitation reached a zenith in 2017 until the military moved with an iron fist and crushed Nnamdi Kanu and his fellow campaigners for self-determination; the Shiites continued to suffer in 2017, with their leader in prison since 2015 (after hundreds of adherents were slaughtered by the military) and their faith repressed as the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims was brought home to Nigeria; Boko Haram staged a strong resurgence in 2017, with suicide bombings, attacks on the military and civilians, kidnappings and other acts of terror-the Nigerian government remained in denial after claiming the terrorists had been technically defeated; and 2017 was also the year in which fiscal unsustainability became a real possibility as the country acquired more debts in both local and foreign currency!
Without doubt however, the dominant evil of 2017 was the menace of the so-called “Fulani Herdsmen” who may now be officially renamed as a terrorist militia! In 2017 the militia killed, plundered and destroyed with impunity and immunity as the Nigerian government tolerated acts of mass murder, arson, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and territorial expansionism. A defacto Jihad was unleashed on non-Fulani, non-Muslim populations in the Middle-Belt of Nigeria and the activities of the militia spread across the rest of the country. I have recently accessed a partial compilation of the activities of the group from 2015 as they expanded in geography and brutality till the present and the scorecard is shocking and gory-on April 27 2015, 28 persons were killed and 3 villages destroyed in Mbedwem, Guma LGA of Benue State-this was during the transition to President Buhari’s government; on May 11 2015, 5 were murdered in Ikyoawen, Turan-Kwande LGA, also in Benue State. On May 18-19, 2015, 27 people were killed in Logo LGA in Benue State; 3 persons were killed in Ndokwa-West LGA of Delta State on September 6, 2015; the attack on Chief Olu Falae’s farm occurred in September 2015; On October 2, 2015, over 36 persons were dead or injured in Yewa LG of Ogun State; and on November 5, 37 were killed in Buruku LGA of Benue State!
The most notorious event so far happened in Agatu, Benue State on February 29, 2016 with over 500 persons dead and injured, and more than 7,000 people displaced! On April 10, 2016 over 40 human beings were slaughtered in Gashaka LGA of Taraba State; on May 2, 2016 more than 100 persons were murdered in Ukpabi-Nimbo in Enugu State; In Logo and Ukum LGA of Benue State, the terrorists held sway from July 1 to 17, 2016, killing more than 80 people and extensively destroying properties; In 2017 I counted more than 10 attacks with more than 100 victims in Benue State alone, and multiple attacks in Adamawa, Plateau and Ondo States! Chief Falae recorded additional visits in 2017! Between September 8 and October 17, the terrorists killed over 75 people in Bassa LGA of Plateau State, and destroyed 489 houses displacing over 13,726 people; on December 1, 2017 7 were murdered in Numan LGA of Adamawa State. On December 4 2017, over 100 persons were killed in Demsa LGA of Adamawa State with churches, houses and shops destroyed! 2018 is only 15 days old as I write this, and the death toll is already over 160 persons murdered in Benue, Kaduna and Taraba States, and I am certain that figure is most probably an undercount!!!