BY ISRAEL BULUS, KADUNA

The year is drawing to a close, and I wish all Nigerians a peaceful and prosperous New Year ahead.

2020 has certainly been a very trying year for Nigeria and the world at large. The Corona Virus Pandemic with its severe disruptions of social, economic as well as religious lives of the people; the widespread insecurity and its several manifestations that have conspired and made life very traumatic for all; the recession that has further strained the already battered economic and social life of the people; the prolonged disruption of academic activities that has slowed the progress of our youth; and worse, the apparent lack of capacity, capability and will of our current leaders to find solutions to these myriad of problems – all these have combined to make 2020 a year of many tribulations.

But as people of faith and unfettered hope, we must never despair. We must remain unshaken in the belief that the Almighty SHALL see us through these trials and grant us responsive and responsible leadership, soon.

Like I said in my Christmas message, COVID-19 is real and defeating it will require the collaboration of all. We must therefore take personal responsibility in adhering to all protocols and guidelines on COVID-19 by wearing facemasks, washing our hands regularly, keeping physical distancing during festivities and in public gatherings, and travelling only when it is absolutely necessary, among others.

Similarly, I call on the state government to take all necessary actions toward mitigating the negative effects of the pandemic by issuing grants, interest-free loans, and other forms of bail-outs to businesses, schools, and entrepreneurs to lighten their burden.

At this festive period, the government will also do well to consider settling the entitlements of its civil servants, both those laid off and those who retired. This will go a long way in cushioning the adverse effects of the pandemic.

Insecurity too – killings, maiming, and kidnappings, among other recurring incidences of crime and criminality, must be tackled with renewed zeal and tact. Both President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nasir Elrufa’i need not be reminded that they have grave responsibility before God for every life taken, maimed or unfairly treated.

Fellow compatriots, I urge us all to use this period of the new year to improve our relationships with God and man, re-dedicate ourselves to the ideals of unity and brotherhood, and intensify our prayers for God’s guidance, mercies and favour.

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