2014 is an important year for Nigeria. 100 years ago this year, what is today known as Nigeria came into being, after the amalgamation of the territories known as the Northern and Southern Protectorates.
It is also an important year for the world, being the centenary of the start of the 1st World War.
For me personally it marks the silver jubilee of my retirement from the Nigeria Customs Service, as Deputy Director, the second highest office in the Service. On the 28th of April 1989 I submitted my resignation letter, two months shy of the twentieth anniversary of my joining the public service.
It’s hard to believe twenty-five years have passed so quickly. In that time a lot has happened. I went into full-time business, and also became a politician. And that’s what I’ve done since then. A quarter of a century on, I remain as committed as ever to seeing Nigeria prosper and take an enviable place in the global economy.
There will be a lot of things happening this year. We will see elections in Ekiti and Osun States, and we will see preparations for the 2015 elections. How time flies! All eyes are on Nigeria, and there is much nervousness at home and abroad, about how this season will play out.
I believe the political class has a responsibility to start this year pledging their commitment towards peaceful electioneering. We all must shun incendiary language, and all action that leaves the impression that the electoral battle is a do-or-die one. There’s nothing do-or-die about politics! There is no justification for the loss of even a single life, in the quest for the realisation of a political ambition.
Now is the time to start holding ourselves to higher standards. There is too much toxic language in the political space at the moment. No one ever said politics should or could happen without disagreement. It is in the very nature of politics that its players should belong to different camps. But we can compete and disagree sensibly, without descending into abuse and violence.
At the end of the day it is not the angry press statements and conferences that bring development; it is well-thought-out plans and policies.
This year, on this blog I intend to set a good example, devoting a sizable potion of my time and attention to matters of public policy and good governance. Because, at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
And politicians will be judged, not on the basis of what party they belong to, or how many pages of letters they can write, but on the basis of how they’re able to touch the lives of the people they profess to serve.
Before I close, let me cast my mind back to May 2013, when I came to Twitter. (Actually I’d been there a few years earlier, but halfheartedly, and had taken a long break). I posted my first tweet totally unsure what to expect.
Looking back it has been an interesting ride. I’ve met and interacted with a lot of interesting people, endured a lot of hostility, and generally learnt a great deal. I think it has helped that my children are active there as well; they have helped me – the sixty-something year old grandfather – better understand how it works, and how to behave myself.
It would have been a lot tougher settling in without them.
I also started writing actively, and am grateful for your feedback on my blog. To see how I did in my 2013 blogging year, the people in my office sent me this exciting link http://jetpack.me/annual-report/56179862/2013/
I look forward to an exciting social media experience in 2014. I expect that I will continue to have to deal with a lot of criticism and cynicism, and I’m more than prepared to engage with as many people as possible.
And, who knows, maybe this year I will even venture out into newer territory. My children have been telling me about Instagram. I won’t promise them anything, of course, but I’ll keep an open mind. Which, I think, is the best way to approach a new year.
Wishing you all the very best in 2014, on and off the Internet!