If you are reading this, it means that you are alive. You survived 2010. Eyaa, thank God for you and for me. As you can see, I have included myself among the people thanking God for life or having performed the daunting feat of still being alive, even at the greatest odds, as a Nigerian. Life as a Nigerian is life of an endangered species and the only thing I must say to you is hard luck. But not everyone is seeing today in the year 2011 the way you and I see it now. So, should I begin my homily with you by wishing you compliments of the New Year and wishing you a year filled with peace, prosperity, good health and fulfillment? Otherwise, I could also ask you what your New Year resolutions are. But I will not do that just now. As one year dies and another springs up to take its place, we celebrate that rite of passage by wishing ourselves, family, friends and acquaintances well and hoping for some form of fulfillment. In some environments, these wishes actually come to pass not because of the fever with which they are intoned in the first days of the first month of the year but because these people actually work to actualize their wishes.
I have my reasons why I will not just be saying ‘happy New Year!’ to anyone in the first few days into the New Year. First, I will not be meaning it. I will just be saying the words just the way I would be saying ‘Good Morning!’ to my neighbour just to fulfill requirements of normal neighborliness. Please my dears, do not blame me for being as disenchanted and as stupid as this. As far as I can remember, I have always wished for peace, from the beginning of the year for my family, friends and countrymen. We all do. But this peace has been as elusive as ever. Many Nigerians today go to bed with their Dane guns, cutlasses or arrows nearby just in case. We live as if we are all under a state of daily siege and sleep with only one eye shut – If the Boko Haram people are not decapitating Christians, it would be bombs flying here and there either in Abuja, Jos, or Bauchi or kidnappings in the Niger Delta, in the East and West. I will not also be wishing happiness, prosperity and etcetera for you. Every New Year, we devalue ourselves and our common personality from the way we throw the words about without really expecting that things would change, or that somebody would do something somehow to engender happiness and prosperity. Look at it – Nigeria is still a poverty-stricken country despite the enormous potentials of human and oily resources. If you do not believe this, ask me and my neighbours who spent the whole of Christmas and New Year festivities in the Dark. What is happiness, progressive and peaceful about that?
So rather than mouth the Happy New Year greeting like I used to at the beginning of each year, I’d rather keep my mouth shut. And pray and hope harder. Pray and hope harder? Yes. Pray more for myself and for my country and hope that the 2011 general elections will actually be free and fair. Pray and hope that the election will not climax in a do-or-die scandal. Pray and pray and sincerely hope that the elections will not produce the kind of stalemate that will Gbagboe Nigeria. If that election produces an Ivorian or Kenyan or Zimbabwean stalemate, we all better be ready to become refugees.
You want to know why? We should not look too deep at the events leading us into the New Year to know that we must pray harder as a people. After the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, one issue took us hostage and kidnapped our sensibilities. It is zoning. Unlike a clone that does not know its father and mother, Nigerians know that IBB made zoning an issue and we know why. The specious argument was that cloning or zoning is what would break the monopoly of power by one section of the country and give everyone a sense of belonging. The people who champion this argument went right ahead to produce a clone, and have successfully polarized the country into North and South or into South and North, and everyone is ready, not for an election, but a test of will and strength. And because Nigerians are no longer interested in the merits or demerits of the zoning or cloning process, we will not continue to talk about it. But fears for the future of cloning or zoning, is no different from the fear of the future of Nigeria – just the same way that scientists are nervous about producing a human being from a lab, so everyone is apprehensive of the future of Nigeria.
I have friends who are not afraid to speak up. One of them has said that 2011 will be the year when Nigeria will standstill from dealing with post-election crisis. He supports his theory with the confusion within the polity. He says confidently that the PDP will no longer be in power in 2011, that the tide in the West African sub-region has moved from the power of the incumbent to the power of the opposition. He cites the cases of the UK, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea and lately, Ivory Coast. He also cites how Africa’s power mad and hungry politicians hardly want to relinquish power when they should and that Nigeria will not be an exception.
I don’t know what to think. All that comes to mind is how we will be able to deal with the wind of change that my friend has said is blowing through the sub-region. And I hope you can see why I will not be joining you in the euphoria of the moment. I will be hoping that change comes to Nigeria through the PDP, CPC, CAN, ANPP or whatever political party or leader that emerges. That is my hope for 2011…