I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for the year 2016 to end already. It was not a good year on many fronts, from the economy to national security and the loss of dear ones. It is a year to remember or to quickly forget depending on how your mind processes these things. But for faith and how religion has taught us to insist on things we cannot actually see, there are hardly any blessings to count this year, except of course if you are the brilliant writer Abubakar Adam Ibrahim who pocketed the Nigerian Prize for Literature jackpot or if by accident of our political history you fall among the privileged few who can make a call from their garden and get as much USD as they desire at the artificially low CBN rate.
Some say it’s because 2016 was a leap year, that leap years are ‘blood thirsty’. I don’t know about that, but boy, was there an usually high number of deaths this year? Hardly anybody I know who did not mourn a loved one this year and I don’t mean aged parents, in which case it would have been a celebration of life. I mean young people, cut in their prime in circumstances that leaves the living perplexed. I am one. I lost someone too special to be captured in words. But I don’t intend to burden you with my own grief, because these things are personal. But year 2016 was the kind of year when as you grieved, you heard other stories that made your own grief seem light and you somehow drew consolation from those other stories and wiped your tears.
The roll-call of celebrity deaths has also been quite a long one, from our very own Nomoreloss, to South Africa’s Mandoza and to the World’s greatest, Mohammed Ali. There was David Bowie, Prince and Gene Wilder. There was also Rick Parfitt the Rock legend, David Gest, Alan Rickman and Harper Lee the famed author of the classic, ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’. And when you thought it was done, the year also took George Michael at Christmas.
Admittedly, a few unusual things happened this year which depending on your leaning could be either positive or negative. Like Leicester City winning the English Premiership. Or Tomato costing more than apples. Or Donald Trump winning the US Presidency. Or Yahaya Jammeh losing his seat in an election, conceding….then ‘unconceding.’ There was also Brexit and Aleppo and the push back on ISIS. But that was just about how interesting the year was.
Around here Fulani herdsmen were on rampage all year round, from Agatu to Southern Kaduna. There was hardly any state south of the Niger that didn’t feel their menace. It was a free for all – seemingly so, with a Presidential Spokesperson telling us just days ago that the President didn’t need to comment on the killing of his own citizens. Comment o. If we can’t get as much as a comment, how do we even expect any action? The action if any has been mediocre, including one state governor actually paying the killers to stop and then erecting bill boards for this. Naturally the killings continued unabated. But that will not be the best expression of the incompetence of our leaders in 2016. The Economy will take the title and perhaps the management of Forex in particular will be the star prize.
I will not bore you with how after much feet dragging we announced to the world that we had floated the naira, then in less than 48 hours we were not floating anymore. How we were doing back door manipulations and ending up with multiple exchange rates including a DSS rate. Right now, everything about the forex market is under alarm and the much desired foreign investors have taken to their heels. The everyday effect of all that anyhowness between the CBN, ministry of Finance and Aso Rock on ordinary Nigerians is the empty stomachs that roam the streets, the palpable hardship in the land, the millions who have lost their jobs, the expressions of pain whichever way you look and the growing cynicism among the youths.
Then came MMM to the rescue. Nigerians jumped with their two legs into what was clearly a Ponzi scheme. Why not when even garri was getting out of the reach of many mouths. For months the going was good and many cashed out, making exciting percentages in interest in very short time. But somehow, this only hope of the common man also came crashing down. They said it was a temporary freeze. But who is deceived?
We went to the Summer Olympics and came home empty handed. Well maybe not exactly, there was a bronze medal by the Men’s football team, the same team which made global headlines for being stranded in Atlanta hours to their first match. What was the matter? Our government couldn’t arrange to air lift the team to Brazil. The man who superintended this embarrassment would give us many more memes in the course of the 2016, chief of them being an epic misyarn about the victorious Super Falcons team whose allowances he couldn’t sort out. By the way, those ladies take my award for the Person of the year, for standing their ground and insisting that this government that now lives on daily excuses did not excuse their way out of paying them their deserved earnings after doing the nation proud. Up Falcons!
Its few days to the new year and we’ve recorded another victory over Boko Haram. El Zakzakky and Nnamdi Kanu are still in jail. Ibori is now free and not a soul has been convicted under the much taunted anti-corruption war, except of course in the pages of newspapers. Instead, we have people who sit around the table with Mr. President being enmeshed in grass cutting sleaze and the chief corruption fighter not even making it past a basic security clearance to hold the office.
I don’t know about you but honestly, 2016 has been a very bad year all round and I can’t wait to wake up in 2017.
Happy new year to all readers of this column. May the New Year bring us all better fortunes.