How they want to govern eight billion people

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Owei Lakemfa

Eight billion human beings entered 2024, four days ago with hopes of a better world. But that may be largely determined by rulers across countries who may not even share the same vision.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, whose forces have sustained some 70,000 deaths and over 100,000 injured does not seek a peaceful resolution. Rather, he desires the intensification of the war even when it is clear some of his international backers are getting weary or are diverted by the Israeli-Palestinian War which began on October 7, 2023.

In his New Year Message, Zelensky seeks not for or industrial production in his war-torn country, but of military hardware “All of which we will generously use.”  Perhaps in anticipation that his allies may supply Ukraine fewer arms in his clearly unwinnable war, Zelensky told Ukrainians that in 2024: “the enemy will feel the wrath of domestic production. Our weapons, our equipment, artillery, our shells, our drones, our naval ‘greetings’ to the enemy and at least a million Ukrainian FPV drones.”

In contrast to Zelensky’s twenty-minute message, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year message was four minutes during which he avoided direct reference to the war with Ukraine. He simply wished   ”every Russian family all the best.”  He added:”We have proven time and time again that we can tackle the most difficult tasks and will never back down, because no force can tear us apart. We say goodbye to 2023, which will become part of history, and we need to move forward to create the future.”

United States President Joe Biden, who is clearly more concerned about his re-election and the possible challenge of his predecessor, Donald Trump, than international matters, struck a similar cord as Putin.  In a New Year interview, he simply hopes: “everybody has a healthy, happy and safe New Year.”

In what may be an indirect response to Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, Biden arrogantly said: “I hope that they (Americans) understand that we’re in a better position than any country in the world to lead the world.”

Similarly, Biden ally, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain is bogged down by electoral challenges more so when his Tory Party is lagging behind in the polls.  His message was primary on his claimed achievements in 2023: “We’re getting the economy growing. We’ve cut inflation in half. We’ve delivered the biggest business tax cut in modern British history.” He added that in 2024, the Conservatives would “keep driving forward” with tax cuts, lowering inflation and “cutting the cost of living for everyone.”

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, like Putin and Biden, also addressed local issues:”This year, Canadians stood strong through some difficult times. Despite geopolitical instability, global inflation, and Canada’s worst wildfire season on record, Canadians didn’t give up. We rolled up our sleeves, looked out for our neighbours, and were there for each other.”

However, Germany which had been dragged into the Russo-Ukrainian War  after striving to avert the conflict, is understandably worried about peace. Its  Prime Minister Olaf Scholz  lamented: “So much suffering, so much bloodshed. Our world has become a more unstable and a harsh place. It is changing at an almost breath-taking speed.” Scholz added: “As a result, we also have to change. This is worrying for many of us. For some people, it also causes dissatisfaction…Our strength lies in our willingness to compromise – in the efforts we make for each other.”

The President of the United Arab Emirates, UAE, Sheikh Mohamed whose country is enjoying prosperity is understandably for peace. He said: “As we welcome the New Year, let us stand united and pray for peace and progress for all people in the UAE, region, and the world.”

Pakistani  Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said his country cannot celebrate the New Year given the situation in the Palestine. He called on Pakistanis to “show solidarity with the oppressed people of Gaza” by shunning festivities.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea President Kim Jong Un said: “2023 was a year of great turn and change both in name and reality when the DPRK left a great footprint in the glorious course of its development in the efforts to improve the national power and to enhance the prestige of the country.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim told his people: ”The true measure is the well-being, welfare and prosperity of the people … for those facing hardships in their lives and with the cost of living, it must be promptly addressed.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who has played a salutary role  in the strive to stop the genocide in the Palestine, in reference to internal challenges told South Africans “not to lose hope,” adding  that 2024 is “an opportunity for positive change and progress.”

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel told his people to embrace 2024 with “passion and joy.” He added that with socialism: “ each goal is a new starting point.”

President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria whose people are witnessing unprecedented inflation rates, told them that hard times don’t last. In 2024, he promised them reliable electricity supply, a  restart of  local refining of petroleum products, boost in food supply  and making Nigeria a preferred location for both domestic and foreign investments.

Maltese   Prime Minister Robert Abela said it is forward ever for his government and people as: ”We believe in people, we believe in peace.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro  who scored a diplomatic victory on December 20, 2023, when the US released  his country’s ambassador, Alex Saab in exchange for ten jailed Americans, highlighted ”the struggles and successes” of his in country. He is hopeful that 2024 would bring “prosperity and new opportunities.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said 2023 witnessed bloody wars in Ukraine, the Middle East and Gaza.  He said 41 French citizens were killed and some taken hostage.  He said the new year would be one of hope and pride as his country hosts the Paris Olympic Games.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the wars in the Palestine and Ukraine negatively affected lives. He added: “Perhaps people will feel sad when they look back on the past year. But we should continue to stay united and support each other in the New Year.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke confidently about his country’s  achievements in 2023. The list   included the  introduction of the C919 large passenger airliner into the market,  the trial voyage of the Chinese-built large cruise ship,  Shenzhou spaceships continuing their missions in space while in the sea, the submersible Fendouzhe reached the deepest ocean trench.  Internationally, Xi says his country wants a shared future for mankind.

In analysing these messages by world leaders, little or nothing will change in 2024; the hope is some progressive movement for the better.