Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
email@example.com | 08033077519
“May we never see another year 2020”. That is the ardent wish of 99.9 per cent of Nigerians, fashioned into a prayer. Virtually everyone is wishing that year 2020 now less than 14 days away pass by quickly so that it be consigned to the trash bin of history to be recalled in memory only occasional in passing remembrance. Most people do not even want to recall this winding year as it is replete with sad memories; memories that have left an indelible impression on us because of its resounding bang as it thumbs unrelentlessly in its march from its early weeks as we watched in wonderment and supplication. Whatever be the deep emotions it wrought on us, one thing is clear and true for all of us, we are all eager to see this year roll off as quickly as possible, to turn its husky back on us as we are in a hurry to bid it good bye. Without any empirical evidence though, we are all hoping that year 2021 would be better than this one, desperately hoping/wishing for it. It is in the nature of human beings to keep hope alive and imagine better days are ahead as a shield of sorts to weather storms.
And so one can say without any iota of doubt that the last Sunday of December/ the first Sunday of January 2021 ditto the last/ first Friday would witness unprecedented number of persons at worship places nationwide in relief that this year is finally ebbing away and in expectation that 2021 would be better. There was a similar expectation when year 2021 was being ushered in. Alas after the New Year festivities we began to hear of a corona virus that was already wrecking havoc in Wahum, China, leading to complete lock down of that city. We considered it a rumour generally speaking, and believed that it cannot get to us, not only because of the huge physical gulf between us and china but also more importantly we believed our genes are stronger than those of the white man and so can better withstand and foreign virus because we have generally survived many an illness notwithstanding our ‘messy’ environment, poor nutrition and general poverty levels including ill equipped hospitals/clinics.So, the average Nigerian lived in denial, conjuring conspiracy theories about the disease explaining off those who died of the virus as having been killed by some other underlining sicknesses as diabetes, stroke and the like. This is the case with Kogi and Cross River states which governments continue to insist that they do not have a single case of corona virus.
As at yesterday December 13, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control confirmed 73,175 cases with 66,090 patients discharged and 1,197 deaths recorded in all “36 states and the Federal Capital Territory”. Yesterday alone, there were 418 new cases and three deaths. We managed to celebrate St. Valentine Day. But by the end of February, our lives took an unexpected turn and we are yet to fully recover from its effects both individually as a person and collectively as a nation. This is because one foreigner imported the virus to our shores and others were subsequently infected in geometric progression. Thereafter the country soon joined other countries in the world in imposing a total lockdown for weeks. We could not come out outside of our houses, freely mix with others or travel to anywhere. For Nigerians that mostly live on daily income basis, it was hell of a sort as they were grounded. Small, medium and large scale businesses, unemployed, underemployed and even the employed were adversely affected as prices of consumer goods and others skyrocketed due to non production worldwide during months of the lockdown. Marriage plans and other social activities were disorganized, put on hold. Physical church and Friday Jumat congregations were banned. Moslem and Christian pilgrimages for this year were cancelled.
Our social lives became altered as new COVID-19 safety protocols emerged such as social distancing, frequent washing of hands and mask wearing. Although the pandemic is now easing off in our country as per the current statistics, these protocols are still being observed in government establishment at least. Over a thousand persons have been killed by the pandemic and hundreds others in isolaltion. Notable among which are the former Chief of Staff to President Mohammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari whose death more or less changed the complexion of the president’s kitchen cabinet, former Oyo state governor Ajumobi who was primed to be the ruling party’s chairman, billionaires and others. And now the country has gone into recession with dire economic consequences for all as the naira is devalued with concomitant debilitating results. The newspaper industry was also hit with serial deaths of notable proprietors, the latest being Sam Nda-Isiah , founder of Leadership newspaper, Isa Funtua former president of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, (NPAN), Chairman of Peoples Daily newspaper, Wada Maina, and so on and so forth; not to talk of passing on of several other journalists across the land.
Insecurity continues to haunt us even as the security agencies continue to do their best in the face of inadequate personnel, materials and poor remuneration. The insurgents in the north east contine to strike at what is called ‘soft targets’, maiming and killing people. Kidnappings and abduction for ransom continue to happen, even outright murders as in the case of the APC chairman in Nasarawa state, Phillip Shekwo, etc., etc. Only recently some students of a school in Katsina state were kidnapped, leading to the government ordering closure of all schools. This is a rather daring act, happening at a time when the commander-in-chief himself was in the state, his home state. This year’s governorship election in Kogi, Bayelsa and Edo state was replete with high drama. What with the sacking of the presumed winner of the Bayelsa gubernatorial election as he was rehearing for his inauguration the next day and also the Supreme Court’s dismissal of a governor that had already been sworn-in and was settling down to work, for his rival who was immediately inaugurated. What about the ‘EndSars protests’, a youth revolt of sorts that took everybody by surprise.
Even now there is still tension in the political firmament as politicians continue their brickbats and shenanigans, rejigging and strategizing for 2023 with attendant conspiracy theories while the masses continue to wail over their dwindling economic fortunes. Year 2020 gave us a mouthful, more than we can chew. It is a testament of the average Nigeria’s resilient spirit that we are surviving it. Hurry off please, year 2020
This column is going on Christmas and New Year break, wishing you all a happy Xmas and fruitful 2021.