It’s already the first of January. Another 365 days has passed; 366 if we consider that 2016 was a leap year. Like every other year, 2016 had its highs and lows, times of rejoicing, and times when we wondered if things could ever get worse. Despite all that happened, the important thing is that we pulled through the bad times and immersed ourselves in the joys of the good times. As the usual annual greetings continue around the world, here’s 2016 summarized from my viewpoint. First, let me say, “Happy New Year”.
When I told someone that I had to write an article about 2016 and post it before today (1 January 2017) ends, giving me less than three hours before midnight, I had no idea what I was going to write about. Unlike an academic writing or some other official composition where some form of structure is essential to keep things orderly and precise, my articles for this blog have no predefined “direction”. I simply write a title and start writing, hoping to come to some sort of ending later. So, that’s how this article would go down. The only thing that is certain is that somewhere below, there would be a closing paragraph.
Let me begin with Nigeria. For many Nigerians, the year began with pointers that the newly inaugurated, fast-aging administration was having some stability issues. The president’s famous “body language”, a key part of his administration’s game plan, had begun to lose its hitherto non-existent efficacy. Then the unbelievable happened— Nigeria’s federal budget was declared missing; the over 1800 pages long document “stolen” from the Senate. After the unending memes crafted by Nigerians over this shameful episode, the budget reappeared, coming along with a new word for the Nigerian Advanced Political Dictionary. “Padding” became a popular word known to most Nigerians, both those adamant that Buhari knew about the insertions, and those who swore on his pure white kaftan that he ignorantly presented a budget gruesomely padded by corrupt civil servants unknown to him.
After the accusations and counter accusations, the budget was passed. Then came the removal of fuel subsidy, as the government finally agreed that the haemorrhaging subsidy had to go. While Nigerians watched helplessly, the dollar reached for the heavens, while the naira continued digging in search of crude oil to rescue it. As at the end of 2016, the country has five different exchange rates for the dollar. With the highest rate going for as much as ₦495/$, who you are cum who you know determines which rate you would get.
For most Nigerians, 2016 proved that recession was not “just a word”. It was real; as real as the feeling when a soldier ant climbs via one’s legs and quietly reaches the place of judgement. 2016 showed that the six months President Buhari “spended” to diligently select the best people for his cabinet were not “spended” well. For those who went months without pay, who lost their jobs, or who sought for jobs in an economy where hundreds of thousands of jobs had been cut, 2016 was not a good year. However, for some, it was a year of opportunities, with some thriving within Nigeria’s choking business environment.
At this point, you may be wondering why virtually everything written so far has been negative. “Why hasn’t he said anything about the defeat—technically or otherwise—of Boko Haram, and the capture of Shekau’s Koran and ugly black flag”? “Why hasn’t he said anything about the released Chibok girls”? Well, in my view, 2016 was generally a bad year for Nigerians. More so, for the thousands who lost their lives in senseless acts of genocide across the country. The latest iteration of the murderous rampage by the world’s fourth most deadly terrorist group, Fulani Herdsmen, has resulted in over five hundred deaths in Kaduna State, wrapping up a year of lethal expeditions across Nimbo, Agatu and other communities in Nigeria. Maybe that’s something for the chief security officer of the nation to address.
Leaving Nigeria, the main highlights of 2016 were Brexit and Trump. These two events showed a shift in national thinking across the world, and in 2017, the world would be watching countries holding elections to see if the nationalist trend would continue. That’s definitely not a good scenario for proponent of the pro-integration “new world order”. If the establishment is watching, no matter the misgivings about Brexit and Trump and the role of fake news in birthing them, a lesson to be learned is that many ordinary persons are unhappy. An adage says that “a hungry person is an angry person”. It is this anger that led to 2016’s global highlights. Maybe it’s time for those in the political class who still lean towards global integration to see how they can listen to their voters and make their economies work for them while avoiding isolationism.
2016 saw a reduction in the landmass controlled by ISIL. The Iraqis have finally gotten their act together and are pushing to get the murderous Islamists out of Iraq. It is hoped that 2017 would see ISIL reduced to a best-case scenario of only being able to launch suicide attacks, but without the firepower to control any territory. In Syria, the principalities and powers continued their global chess game. No one talks about the continuing violence in Yemen. There is just too much going on in the world to bother about another global chessboard. The Israelis and their Arab neighbours were unable to find a way to make peace, and terror continues to strike around the world. People cannot even go to markets in peace nor go to nightclubs without being hit by terror bullets. 2016 ended with over thirty persons losing their lives in a senseless attack in the closing hours of the year. My condolences to the Turks starting the new year on a low note.
On my personal front, 2016 was a good year. This is the part in church where someone says, “God is good!”, and the congregation replies, “All the time!” I had disappointments in the course of the year, but they did not shake me. It was an honour getting selected to attend the Venture in Management Programme at the Lagos Business School, an event organised by Junior Achievement Nigeria. The honour was doubled when I was elected as the president of the 2016 class. It has been an interesting ride with my classmates since then.
2016 also saw me concluding the mandatory one-year national service. In 2015 I had been posted to Fadan Karshi, a rural community in Nigeria’s north. Despite fears about an impending attack by Fulani herdsmen, I safely finished my service year in mid-April and returned home to the south. The community was attacked about two weeks later. You can now see why I detest those criminals brandishing AK47s as herdsmen.
Finally, 2016 saw me starting my master’s degree programme in the United Kingdom, all expenses paid. For the first time since I can remember, I went one year without needing malaria drugs. The only thing that came near ill-health was a disrespectful boil on one eye. So, while Nigeria and the rest of the world were dealt with a bad hand, I had a great year. I hope to say “2017 was a great year” when I write another review next year, a great year not just for me and Nigeria, but also for the unlucky child currently starving in one war-ravaged region somewhere on earth. May 2017 do us good.
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