Man Of The Year 2018 The Resilient Nigerian
They called him the man on the street. In our lingo, that includes women. For me, it should actually be the woman on the street. Except in the northern parts of the country where women are religiously protected from the elements, Naija rural women stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.
But this is not a gender war write-up; it is about the ordinary Naija. Those people that live in areas not usually captured by social or mainstream media, nor in the annual budget rituals. They have no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. In 2018, the wall clock hardly featured in their daily existence, the rooster remains their most accurate clock. They know how many times it must crow before it is safe to start moving. Yet, they never leave until they have swept clean the hovel they call homes and its surroundings.
They either till the ground or trade in wares. Their head or shoulders work better as means of transportation than rickshaws and wheelbarrows. They know every turn on the road, and where to lift their tired feet in order to avoid being wounded by a tree stub or an exposed stone. No frown creases their brows. They listen to stories of politics and politicians with expectation but never rely on the promises that come with electioneering.
Everything that dots their surroundings they have worked for. From the community school now appropriated by the local government; the church or mosque that is the only picturesque edifice in the community and the basic health center with neither drugs nor staff. These have no hope of being impacted by the budget. In the 19 years of democracy, they have heard nothing but broken promises; the onetrack roads to their settlements have remained or been worsened by erosion.
They do not understand the language of subsidy or improved power generation. Where cables passed through their community, they could have used it as clotheslines. They still struggle to put kerosene in the bush lamp that lights their huts every night. For cooking, they are adapted to firewood even where multinationals have pipes ferrying gas and fuel. They are the real victims of climate change. Yet, they are faithful in paying taxes.
They know that education is worth more than illiteracy, so they struggle to send their children to schools where teachers sometimes go on strike for months. Sometimes their children have to trek long distances for heigher levels of schooling. Even when these kids make good grades, they hardly have anyone to push their admission to federal institutions. Where they have managed to graduate, the jobs are hard to come by.
The average Naija does not complain. They genuflect before their deity, paying their tithes or zakat as and when due. They cannot see the divine but they beseech him for the needs their government has ignored. But they do not count on it believing that - heaven helps those who help themselves. Day in day out, they could be seen in the same garbs, suffering and smiling as they feed on hope.
2018 has denied ordinary Nigerians their due. As it winds up, the politricians are again knocking their doors with their empty bags of promises. Always welcoming, they deserve to be named - Person of the Year 2018. 2019 is another year of hope, the year in which they’d be forced to take a break, queue and have their fingers dabbed in black ink for votes that would not count even if it is counted. May their hopes bear fruits in 2019! Events of 2018 The outgoing year leaves several landmarks. It was the year that herdsmen spread their harvest of deaths all across the nation, unchallenged. 2018 was the year that exposed the codeine epidemic ravaging our youths. Ritualists and kidnappers remained kingpins of the crime scene. The technically defeated Boko Haram unconscionably executed two female health workers - Saifura Hussaini Khorsa and Hauwa Mohammed Liman. It was the year that we lost two retired generals to assassins. Zamfara counted another year of orphaned existence.
In 2018, government confirmed that fraud is not corruption as two ministers, Kemi Adeosun and Adebayo Shittu, who committed NYSC fraud initially retained their seats. Adeosun resigned but Shittu sits in.
In our tales of the unexpected, a snake swallowed N36 million while a monkey ate N70 million. A sitting governor remained unshaken by series of videos clips showing him stuffing dollars into his pockets. These things shocked the world so much that a tremor happened in Abuja. Joshua Dariye earned more as a prisoner than any civil servant could have earned as pension.
It was the year that the #MeToo movement claimed it’s first national casualty in Prof Richard Akindele. However, it was not all doom and gloom as Dr. Paul Enenche built a 100,000 auditorium, the largest in the world in Abuja, shattering an earlier record held by his rival, David Oyedepo. Oyedepo was in the news quoting satirist, Dr. Olatunji Dare, on his pulpit like scripture.
On the political front, Atiku clinched the PDP presidential slot and picked Peter Obi as running mate. The big question was whether Atiku could enter the US without facing prosecution. Adams Oshiomole unseats John Oyegun as chairman of the All Progressives Congress and walked into storms of controversies. Ayo Fayose’s party lost in Ekiti as Obasanjo and Doyin Okupe’s sons walked into camps different from their parents.
At the continental level, South Africa buried the mother-symbol of the apartheid struggle, Winnie Madikizela Mandela. No story beats the gruesome murder in Turkey of columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.
Here’s wishing the world better than it could wish itself in 2019.