By Usman Abdullahi Koli
2020 is a year that will definitely remain engraved in the mind of every creature in Nigeria and across the globe, as the year came along with so many shocking and tragic events. The year is coming to an end but the events continue to ring the bell in the mind of people daily. Way back in January 2020, the beginning of a show-new decade that came with optimism and a chance at a new lease on life. But as summer progresses, many were wondering if the year could get messy and rough, following a string of wildfire, airplane crash in Iran and Pakistan, the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant occurred, social unrest erupted over the killing of George Floyd, the deadly explosion in Beirut, and various natural disasters –all under the cloud of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Still on the global shocking events —the early beginning of this year witnessed a dramatic escalation in hostilities between the US and Iran, especially after the former launched a drone strike, killing Iran’s most notorious commander Qassem Soleimani.
Here in Nigeria, on the 6th of January, the insurgency prone Borno State witnessed a very devastating moment where 30 people were killed and 35 injured in a bomb explosion in Gamboru –apparently by Boko Haram. Similarly in January, Kogi State recorded the deaths of 19 people that were killed while homes and property were burnt to ashes by unknown gunmen in Tawari. Same month, 24th of January, the shocking outbreak of Lassa Fever resurfaced in 11 states in Nigeria, including Bauchi State. The Auno attack will not be forgotten in Borno state, at least 30 people were lost.
The outbreak of coronavirus, or COVID -19, is one of the 2020 calamities that has caused significant human suffering and major global economic disruption.
On February 28, the Federal ministry of health announced an Italian citizen who had been confirmed as the first case of the novel virus in Nigeria and sub-saharan Africa. By March, the Emir of Kano Sunusi Lamido was dethroned over what was described as “disrespect to lawful orders”. Again, the Abule-Ado explosion in Lagos killed 15 people and vandalised 50 buildings. The Chad and Nigeria Massacre, almost 70 soldiers were ambushed and killed by Boko Haram in Goneri, Borno on march 24.
In April, 47 people were killed by bandits in Katsina State. 28 April, grave diggers reported an upsurge in death rate in Bauchi over mysterious disease in Azare. There were speculations that the deaths might be linked to Covid-19. In May, it was also eventual month; there was a controversial attempt to ban Almajiris schools in 19 northern states and return them back to their states of origin due to the fear of escalation of COVID-19. As 65 were tested positive in Kaduna, 91 in Jigawa, 8 in Gombe and 7 in Bauchi states. On the 18th of May, Boko Haram extremists attacked a village when they were preparing to break the Ramadan fasting, this resulted to the loss of at least 20 people. This tragic event was unprecedented in the northeast. The Gubio killing in Borno, where suspected gunmen stormed and killed 81 villagers in Borno state. Another 20 were killed in an attack in Katsina State.
Amidst the Coronavirus, an aide of the Nigerian First Lady on 11 June was arrested for shooting at President’s nephew and another aide Sabiu Yusuf when he was denied access into the Villa for flouting the Covid-19 precautionary measure.
Moreover, the 36 states governors declared a state of emergency over rape and gender based violence against younger ones and women.
On the issue of blasphemy, on 11 August, a singer Yahya Sharif was sentenced to death by hanging in Kano for blasphemous utterances against Prophet Muhammad, (SAW). Also the yearly muslim pilgrimage was not performed.
The Lekki massacre during the #EndSARS protests. Reports said armed security personnel used live ammunition to disperse the protesters. This necessitated the Lagos State Government to declare 24 hour curfew to suppress tension. Just as the hit of the EndSARS protests continued, some allegedly hoodlums hijacked the protest and caused havock on private and public properties. Eventually, palliatives rolled out by the Federal Government, private corporations and NGOs to cushion the impact of the lockdown imposed as a result of the covid-19 pandemic were not distributed as at when due by many states governments. On 31 October United States Navy seals from the Naval Special Warfare rescued an American hostage held captive by armed gunmen near the border with Niger. In December 2020, 600 students were captured by gunmen at Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State.The Zabarmari massacre in Borno State and Recession affecting the Nigeria’s economy and controversial court cases.
The prices of food stuff and other commodities have skyrocketed but, despite the ugly happenings, the Buhari administration took the bold step to increase the price of fuel. Not to mention the the natural disasters of floodings and erosions in different parts of the country which took lives of their victims and rendered many homeless, jobless and pathetically worsen the situations.
The year 2020 is, also, the year in which Nigeria lost many politicians, emirs, academicians and celebrities. In kano alone almost 11 professors and doctors were lost, the death of Asiwaju Yinka Mafe, Peter Aluma, Pa Kasamu, Dr. Aliyu Basher, Dr. Emeka Chugbo, Richard Akinjide, Majek Fashek, Abiola Ajimobi, Inuwa Abdulqadir, Tolulope Arotile Ismaila Funtua, Buruji Kashumu, Ali Kwara, Hassan Wayam Wilberforce Gongola, Shehu Idris, Abba Kyari, Emir of Bama and lots more, took the world by surprise.
These people’s sacrifices and supports to the masses could not be forgotten. We lost them and our prayers are with them.
However, way back in March 2020 the ASUU embarked upon this strike; students in tertiary institutions were sent back home due to the unending industrial action and Covid-19 break. I believe this strike coupled with lockdown triggered the #EndSARS protests, rape cases, violences and lots more of crimes in the country.
The above mentioned occurrences have indeed been what marred the year 2020 and have imprinted on our minds scars that will not be erased easily. However, as an optimistic individual, I pray we shall not see a year as catastrophic as 2020 ever again.
I must commend Nigerians for their resilience and tenacious strength. I am sure, if it were another country that experienced the Nigerian experience, depression would have been the next boiling and pressing issue.
In a humble tone of advice, our leaders should always remain focused as to what their primary assignment is. When I said our ‘leaders’ I mean the National and states Assembly in charge of law making, the President, governors and agents saddled with the responsibility of executing same, the judiciary which is the interpreter of the law as well as hope of the common man, the traditional leaders who conserve our traditions and values, and religious leaders who are God’s agents, and influential and well to do individuals who in one way or the other impact on our lives and the society in totality.
The general public, let’s remember our religions preach peace and unity as the country’s anthem. Build a great country together, so that our future children will not suffer from our own negligence.
Usman Abdullahi Koli, writes from Mass Communication Department, Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic Bauchi.