We survived! Contrary to the prediction of the Mayans, the world didn’t end in 2012. Yes, the Mayans got it wrong, 2012 was not the year of the final disaster, destruction and mayhem. But even though the deadline for the prophesized end of the world has passed without any fire storm or killer tsunamis ushering in the demise of our species, in Nigeria, at times, it felt as if the world was ending. This is because 2012 was the year that we could truly confirm that the soul, spirit, and humanity of Nigerians had been lost as evidenced by the bombing mass murders by extremists, the constant kidnappings and the burning and butchering of University students by a whole village community. 2012 was the year where our government flirted with disaster, thanks to their impiety towards Nigerians with the callous fuel prize increase. 2012 was the year Nigerians barely survived their suffering and saw the repeat of severe tragedies; from air crashes to mass road accidents. No doubt, it has not been a year of joy and jubilation for Nigerians. 2012 was even the year Nigeria was ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister company of The Economist publication as the worst country in the world to be born.
So as we wave goodbye to a year filled with calamities and usher in a new dawn, as we ease into 2013, it’s time to craft those ritualistic projections, predictions and resolutions. Hot on the heels of an incredibly turbulent year, we hope 2013 will bring with it a combination of events that will soften the hardship felt by Nigerians and by extension minimize the cynicism felt towards government. As the horizon dawns, it may be useful to take stock of the past year, see if we can detect any precedents and learn any insight from the events that have come before us.
At the helm of the challenges Nigeria faced in 2012 is the deficient security situation. From church bombings, to kidnappings, to outrageous crimes, 2012 was the year of the criminal; the year where villains who were ready and set to cause pandemonium ran about their business as if they ruled the world. Helpless we watched as innocent men, women, children were blown in their places of sanctuary. Outraged we were subjected to terrorist footage of intimidation and threats. Powerless, we observed as Nigerians were one by one kidnapped by gung-ho criminal buccaneers. Shocked we held our breath as several of our University youth were tortured and burned, shot in their hostels and lured on Facebook, raped and strangled. Helpless, outraged, powerless and shocked we watched! Meanwhile our authorities, our police, our security forces stood clueless, sat gridlocked almost as if suffering from some sort of self-induced stagnation, unable to bring sanity to our security situation.
Other avoidable incidents include the condition of our air safety. Suffice to say; never again do we want to see a repeat of this kind of chain of air disasters. The painful lessons learnt, and there are many, must never be forgotten.
On the international front, things have not been that different. One may have thought that, six years after the global financial crisis first broke, the recession would be well behind most markets and the global economy would have pulsated back to life. Instead, huge swathes of the world seem to be embarking on a path with long-term stagnation. Then there’s the drama that is still playing out in the Middle East. The Middle East may have seen a season of the Arab Spring, but none of us could have foreseen how persistent and fierce the conflict in Syria would become. Hot on the heels of the late Gadhafi, many of us never would have thought that President Bashar Assad would make it another year in office.
So much has happened in Nigeria in the last 365 days, yet nothing has happened at all! And even though one can only hazard a guess as to what the next 365 days has in store for us, based on past actions; there are some probabilities and based on folklore; there is one calendar system with a reputation for the depths of its wisdom and accuracy of its character analysis and prediction; the Chinese calendar. The system is the oldest timekeeping system in existence and although the actual Chinese New Year is yet to begin, 2013 according to the Chinese will be known as the year of water snake. So what does the water snake predict for us this year?
According to the Chinese calendar if, after the frenzy of 2012, the year of the dragon, we thought we were out of the woods, then we have another thing coming. In Chinese myth, the year of the water snake is a year of obstacles and shakes-ups that traditionally brings many challenges and disasters. It is imagined that it will be a very slow year but at the same time, there will be a lot of unexpected events in 2013. It’s a year when quick manoeuvres are going to be needed in order to avoid unexpected obstacles. In general, snakes are tricky creatures which move in a manner where its body undulates making it difficult to tell which direction it is moving in. Apparently, that is what can be expected with any year that is represented by the water snake; it will seem to go in one direction, and then, very unexpectedly, it will veer in completely another direction. Legend has it that those who do best in the year of the water snake are the people that have a natural ability to move at the velocity of the snake and who are able to traverse tricky waters.
True to the Chinese Calender, judging from the events of 2012, reading from the body language of the president, it would be fair to say that Nigerians can expect a year filled with colourful commotion as far as politics goes. This is to be expected because for every active politician in Nigeria, in the run up to the dreaded 2015, 2013 may well symbolize a make or break year. All the backbiting and politicking we have witnessed since the last election will appear to be child’s play compared to the subterfuge we are about to witness as we move towards 2015.
And subterfuge it certainly will be, especially given the fact that the machinations and intrigues for the second, or is it third, coming of President Goodluck Jonathan has already started. Rather than perform their official duty of which they were appointed into office, a number of the Presidents band of merry men appear to be more interested in transferring national wealth to their private accounts and prancing about with indicted criminals and thieves. Amid exposés of grand embezzlement, sleaze and mismanagement, the President and his cabinet seem to care very little that the nation around them is crumbling piece by piece.
How about the opposition parties, what if anything will they do to stem the behemoth of the ruling party as we approach 2015? Well, the opposition party have only one option and that option is no other than the great merger we have been hearing about. For the first time, since 1999, it looks like the opposition may finally be in a position to marshal a counter movement against the ruling party, even win in 2015. But that can only become a reality if in-house cleansing, strategy and perception is applied by each of the merging parties. Individual members of the opposition must put their personal ambitions aside in the interest of the greater good and merge as one whole entity. Thereafter, they must put the issue of a zonal presidency aside and consider adopting a consensus candidate based on achievement and popularity not tribe. A candidate that comes from any part of the country, a candidate that is ready, willing and able to transform this country to the level it deserves should they be victorious.
So only time will tell if the predictions of the Chinese will produce any truth, but as long as it is not as incorrect as the great 2012 Mayan prophesy, then Nigerians had better brace themselves. As a people who thrive for development, Nigerians need to make a new resolve to take charge of their destiny as they did in the beginning of 2012. Occupy Nigeria must always be on standby in readiness for the call of duty.
Whatever happens in this great land, we must look to our future with hope notwithstanding the fact that according to the Chinese, the year of the snake will surely produce a ‘shake-up’… or shall I say ‘snake-up!’
Welcome to the Year of the Water Snake folks. Welcome to 2013!