Man Of The Year 2018 The Re­silient Nige­rian

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT -

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.

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