Iyinoluwa Aboyeji: Goodbye to the disaster that was 2012 (Y! FrontPage)

The final and I believe the most important lesson of 2012 is that despite all of Nigeria’s doom and gloom, there is still incredible opportunity.

You can’t imagine how glad I am that 2012 has finally come to an end.

It was nothing short of a nasty gruesome year. Between Boko Haram, the airways and Lagos Ibadan Express Way, thousands of Nigerians souls perished needlessly this year.

To add insult to injury, we spent over 3 trillion naira on fuel subsidy this year despite Nigerians concerted efforts too early in the year to “stop corruption, not subsidy”. The jury is still out on whether or when oil subsidy crooks will face justice.

Despite the challenges of last year, I think as a country, 2012 taught us some important lessons we will do well to take to heart in this New Year.

The first lesson of 2012 is that our government doesn’t exist. It is one thing to say this in a very theoretical libertarian sense but seeing this play out in reality was quite sobering. Although, I have always believed that Governments that work the way we imagined they really should are very few and far between, this government’s failure to cater to even its most basic responsibilities alarmed me.  The government cannot be said to be working when hundreds of Christians die in Maiduguri’s churches because radical Islamists have gained a foothold on our soil. It cannot be said to exist where innocent people are killed in their own homes and students are lined up and shot in Universities because of their faith. It cannot be taken seriously when its own security agents are only up for extorting, rather than protecting citizens. The government’s primary responsibility to preserve its own monopoly of force has been subverted. It is now every man’s duty to protect himself and his households

The second lesson of 2012 is that unemployment; far from an economic issue is in fact a national security issue. Millions of young people having been spat, barely prepared into the workforce with no jobs awaiting them. Their mainstays have been ripped from under them, first by a federal government in cahoots with a dormant labor union to raise the minimum wage, and then by overzealous state governments objecting to motorcycles as a valid form of transportation. Unfortunately, for the more daring of these, new opportunities in the underworld exist like dare devil bank robberies, terrorism and high stakes kidnapping. The fact that the country is flush with illegally obtained arms and ammunition has only made things worse. If nothing is done, it will only get worse. As Nigeria’s unemployment situation gets more dire, many more of these young people will get so desperate these new but daring ‘opportunities’ will seem more benevolent than starving to death under a Lagos bridge.

The final and I believe the most important lesson of 2012 is that despite all of Nigeria’s doom and gloom, there is still incredible opportunity. In fact more often than not, the doom and gloom presents tremendous business opportunity for the thick skinned, serious minded entrepreneurs.  Our national security crisis for example raises the ante for an expertly trained private security force than can rival Nigeria’s inept police force. Not to mention it will enable unemployed youth with a heart for honest work to be gainfully engaged.  There are countless other similar opportunities where the government’s ineptitude has given rise to a need for better disciplined private actors to fill the infrastructure gaps that remain.

After what we experienced last year, it will be difficult for me to say I believe in Nigeria or even in the current government (I had certainly hoped they would be more competent than they have turned out). However, I think at the end of the day the enterprising Nigerian spirit that has brought us thus far will not fail us in coming up with solutions to our problems in spite of this government that doesn’t exist.

Here is to a 2013 where we do more than hope and pray.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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