2014 was a very challenging year all round. It was, for the most part, characterized with a high level of violence through conflict between nations, disease caused by the near global pandemic of Ebola, and mass murder as a result of the incessant suicide bombings and beheadings by radical Islamist groups. It was also one of the deadliest years in aviation in almost a decade, with a plethora of airplane crashes and tragedies, mainly involving the Asian Malaysia-Indonesian axis based carriers. For Nigeria, it was a year that came with its promise of adversity and disasters of unparalleled magnitude but it was also a year that brought the elements of possible change together. Between world politics, disease and catastrophe, 2015 was a year colored in black and red.
On a national scale, Nigerians encountered their fair share of the misfortunes from the atrocious events that went down during the last twelve months. The year 2014 brought a torrent of dire news for a nation that is all too familiar with receiving ominous news. It was a frantic year stained with death, political intrigue and shame. It was a year for, what I call, Political-Swingers, where Nigerian political office seekers, in anticipation of their aspirations in the upcoming elections, hopped from one party to another, depending on the popularity of the party they were defecting to, in the specific area they were contesting.
It was a year that certainly took a course in reinforcing Nigerian democracy and giving Nigerians the impression that there just may be change. The tighter cohesion of the APC, its ability to knock down regional, tribal and ethnic barriers and the unconditional acceptance of the party to a broad base of Nigerians empowered the party as the most formidable opposition platform we have ever had. Whether one supports the PDP or APC, the prospect of elections in the New Year has given people hope of a future that provides an atmosphere where the wishes of the majority will be reflected in the polls. And whatever the outcome of the elections, many are confident that 2015 portrays a real scenario where Nigerians will have their say.
It was a year where the globe was forced to unite against one of the greatest enemies of humanity-disease. When Ebola began to ravage Western African countries, the world, largely, turned a blind eye. But, due to the ease of which the virus spread and its potency, the entire world was forced to take notice. In 2014, the Ebola crisis became a very real global threat. In Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the death and destruction that came with Ebola left many families and individuals devastated. As the year winds down and many affected nations have managed to control the spread of Ebola, we must keep in mind that there are families in West Africa still struggling with the devastation of the virus. Help and aid is still needed in those communities and any support and involvement to help aid the relief efforts in West Africa will be very much welcome. (One can find information on how to contribute online or through the Liberian, Guinean and Sierra Leonean Embassies in their countries).
Undoubtedly, the worst aspect of Nigeria’s 2014 was that it was a year of mass suffering and death. From the start of the year, the violence unleashed by Nigerian Insurgents saw them target innocent Nigerians from the North Eastern States of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, all the way to Kano and through to Abuja where a bomb was detonated in the heart of the capital’s metropolis, Emab and Banex Plaza, with devastating results.
The actions of the Nigerian insurgents, with their bloodthirsty abandon and turmoil, that only lunatics and unreasonable zealots possess, has sent a clear message that there is no reasoning or reconciliation with this particular group of murderers. Their level of reckless bloodletting has gone far beyond the point of any possible discussion, amnesty or reconciliation. The sooner everyone directly involved in this battle against the insurgents understands that this war has turned into an ‘all or nothing’ fight, the sooner they will be able to come up with an ‘end-game.’ The sooner civilians and citizens in the most affected area are evacuated and the army, supported by sophisticated air power, goes in and sweeps those areas clear of insurgents, the sooner Nigerian authorities can bring peace to the North-Eastern part of the country.
Just when Nigerians thought they had deciphered the modus operandi of the insurgents as sporadic bombings and bloodletting, a spade of abductions and kidnapping of school children ensued. It was then, in the wee hours of the night, that almost 300 schoolgirls from Chibok were taken… just like that!
It was a year when groups across Nigeria used their voice, banned together and stood in solidarity with the parents and kidnapped children of Chibok. Whether politically motivated or not, they must be given credit for adhering to their conscience and standing for the voiceless in a society that increasingly mulls the voice of the helpless; they found the courage to say, "I refuse." They refused to continue being conscientious objectors and spoke out for the kidnapped girls, who, no longer had a presence or voice. They stood up and bellowed “#BringBackOurGirls!” It was a cry that was heard in all corners of the world.
It was a year of Nigerian police contravention with a major civil rights violation when the Joseph Mbu led police force made an attempt to prohibit protests of the same #BringBackOurGirls campaign, under the guise of possible security threat to residents of Abuja. With ‘eggs on their faces,’ the police authorities made a U-turn after the campaigners initiated proceedings in court.
The performance of the Nigerian Judiciary in 2014 generated mainly positive reviews. While under the capable watch of Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, much needed reforms; great judicial achievements and quick dispensation of justice were recorded. Even with the unwelcome reversal of corruption cases for some high caliber political personalities through court judgments and the bungling of the case against a prominent Nigerian insurgent, the confidence in the judicial system amplified by the clampdown of Justice Aloma, was not altogether dampened. In-spite of the existence of alleged bad-eggs and reprehensible members of the bench such as Justice Abdul Kafarati, Justice Aloma did an incredible job in trying to reform and stamp out corruption in the nation’s judiciary and restoring confidence in it. However, as Nigeria’s first female Chief Justice retires, hopes are that her successor, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, will continue the reforms she initiated and to flush out those in the judiciary who have been proven to be less than ‘judicious’ and up right.
It was ‘un-arguably’ the greatest year of shock and heartbreak in sporting history. Football to be exact! As Nigerians and other African football fans watched their nations bow out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, their only comfort was that they were ‘not’ Brazilian fans! In a mighty upset that eclipsed the 1950 defeat that Brazil suffered to Uruguay, like a shaky deck of cards, Brazil came tumbling down when Germany scored four goals in six minutes to lead Brazil, the World Cup hosts, 5-0 after only 29 minutes, before winning an unprecedented 7-1 in the quarter finals. As the world watched in shock, Brazil the great champions of football…whittled into its great-dud. To add insult to injury for the shell-shocked ‘former-former-champions, their greatest rival, Argentina, went ahead to become Runners-up to Germany, who emerged as the champions, on Brazilian soil. “Painful, painful and… Ooohhhhh, painful!!!”
For Arewa, Kano specifically, it was a year where some of the most significantly great titans were lost. The death of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero and the Galadima of Kano, Alhaji Tijjani Hashim shook the center of commerce to the core and has left a gigantic void in Kano society. Their passing and the passing of so many other great Nigerians contributed to the unmatched flood of pain felt by the entire nation.
LOOKING BACK AT 2014, IT TRULY WAS ‘A YEAR!’ IT WAS A YEAR THAT SAW A MENTALLY DISTURBED URUGUAYAN FOOTBALL GENIUS BEHAVE AS IF HE WAS A RABID DOG! IT WAS A YEAR THAT CONFIRMED ‘RICE’ AS OPPOSED TO ‘EBA’ WAS THE FOOD OF CHOICE IN EKITI STATE, NIGERIA! IT WAS A YEAR THAT SAW NIGERIA’S GENERAL BUHARI EMERGE, EVEN TO HIS MAIN DETRACTORS, AS ‘THE COME-BACK-KID’ WITH THE ABILITY TO MAKE PEOPLE ‘BELIEVE!’ IT WAS A YEAR WHEN THE LUNATIC-NIGERIAN-INSURGENT-UNDEAD-FOOD-TROUGH-SPACK LEADER PROVED THAT HE HAS MORE THAN 9 LIVES! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN THE WORLD WITNESSED THE EPIC FALL OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST BELOVED DAD, BILL COSBY! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN A GREAT NIGERIAN LEADER PROVED THAT ‘DIARRHEA OF THE MOUTH’ CAN BE SPUN INTO A TALL-TALE OF FICTION IN HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY, ‘MY WATCH!’ IT WAS A YEAR WHEN AMERICAN-RACE-RELATIONS BECAME TESTED WITH THE NON-INDICTMENT OF POLICE IN THE ‘QUESTIONABLE KILLINGS’ OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN AN HONORABLE TEENAGE PAKISTANI HEROIN, MALALA, PROVED THAT ‘GREATNESS’ COMES IN ALL SIZES WHEN SHE ROSE ABOVE ALL TO ‘RIGHTFULLY’ WIN THE NOBEL-PEACE-PRICE! IT WAS A YEAR THAT WITNESSED THE ACCIDENTAL COLLAPSE OF TB JOSHUA’S SYNAGOGUE CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS IN LAGOS! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN NIGERIAN LAWMAKERS PROVED THAT, IF THEIR POLITICAL CAREERS FAILED, THEY COULD MAKE IT IN THE OLYMPICS IF THE SPORT WAS, ‘JUMPING HURDLES OVER THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FENCES!’ IT WAS A YEAR WHEN THE NIGERIA IMMIGRATION SERVICE CREATED A SCENARIO THAT LED TO A STAMPEDE WHERE DESPERATE-JOB-SEEKING-YOUTH DIED IN AN UNSAFE AND ILL-PREPARED APPLICATION PROCESS! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN THE MOST POWERFUL WOMAN IN NIGERIA RECORDED THE MOST REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT BY BECOMING THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE ELECTED PRESIDENT OF OPEC! IT WAS THE YEAR WHEN HOLLYWOOD WAS EXPOSED IN THE HACKING OF INTIMATE PHOTOS OF ACTORS AND ACTRESSES AND A SONY SCANDAL THAT UPSET NORTH KOREA! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN THE PRIVATELY RECORDED PREJUDICE OF A CLOSET-AMERICAN-RACIST BROUGHT AN OCTOGENARIAN BASKETBALL OWNER TO HIS KNEES IN NEW YORK! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN WESTERN NATIONS HELD RUSSIA RESPONSIBLE FOR INSTIGATING REBELLION IN CRIMEA, UKRAINE AND GAVE IT THE COLD SHOULDER, NOT THAT RUSSIA REALLY CARED! IT WAS THE YEAR WHEN ISIS & NIGERIAN INSURGENTS TRIED TO CONSOLIDATE THEIR BLOOD-SOAKED GROWTH WITH THE DECLARATION OF THEIR VERY OWN CALIPHATES! IT WAS THE YEAR WHEN THAT SAME ‘CLAIM-A-CALIPHATE’ OF ISIS AND NIGERIAN INSURGENTS LED TO THE BARBARIC BEHEADINGS OF SEVERAL INNOCENT PEOPLE! IT WAS THE YEAR WHEN SYRIA CONTINUED THE DECENT INTO CIVIL WAR! IT WAS A YEAR THAT ISRAEL UNLEASHED ITS UNSYMPATHETIC CLAWS IN THE GAZA CONFLICT THAT SAW THOUSANDS OF HELPLESS PEOPLE MURDERED! IT WAS A YEAR WHEN PRESS FREEDOM WAS PUT ON TRIAL WITH THE IMPRISONMENT OF HUNDREDS OF JOURNALISTS IN EGYPT, INCLUDING3 WORKING FOR AL-JAZEERA! IT WAS A YEAR THAT SAW THE DEADLIEST PERIOD FOR NIGERIA SINCE THE BIAFRAN CIVIL WAR! IT WAS THE YEAR WHEN A HEMORRHAGIC FEVER CAUSED BY A VIRUS PROVED THAT IT SPREAD FASTER, IS MORE POTENT AND MORE LETHAL THAN MAN; IT FORCED MAN TO BAND TOGETHER AS A SPECIE! IT WAS A YEAR THAT CHALLENGED EVEN THE MOST OPTIMISTIC OF OPTIMISTS. …LOOKING BACK AT 2014, IT TRULY WAS ‘A YEAR!’
In Memorium, it was the year we lost Dora Nkem Akunyili, Rilwan Lukman, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, Dr. Stella Adadevoh, Umaru Dikko, Robin Williams, Maya Angelou, Barrister Bamidele Aturu, Professor Jacob Festus Ade Ajayi, Justina Obi Ejelonu, Philip Seymore Hoffman, Peter Kassig, Steven Sotloff, Alan Henning, David Haines, Miguel Pajares, Lauren Becall, Joe Cocker, Joan Rivers, thousands in the hands of Nigerian insurgents, 298 in the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 shooting down, almost 8,000 from Ebola, 239 in the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 crash, hundreds from Air Asia Flight QZ8501 crash, hundreds from senseless terrorist attacks, scores from senseless school shootings, hundreds from natural disasters, thousands from poverty, illness and starvation and so many other precious people.
As we bid farewell to a year that, I must say, was not our finest; a year colored black with catastrophe and red with blood, many will be hoping that 2015 will bring many of the conflicts and challenges we just left behind to an end. As we look ahead, one wonders what secrets and challenges 2015 has in store.
In the Chinese calendar, 2015 is regarded as the Year of the Goat, Ram or Sheep and is metaphorically characterized as the ‘period of a passing summer’ – the period of prosperity and wellbeing. According to the Chinese calendar system belief, the year promises much more favorable times as compared to the previous couple of years. It suggests that, in 2015, the processes that have been unfolding and scattering bedlam for the past couple of years may likely come to an end and the world will witness greater stability and harmony. As a result, the general quality of life will improve and the different crisis that has tormented many will, hopefully, reduce. They envisage, that, very early in 2015, global economic issues will take a positive turn and will be replaced with stable economic growth and there will be mass recovery from some of the losses suffered previously.
In regards to political issues, the Chinese system forecasts that there will be progress and a level of harmony in the nature of interaction between acrimonious countries and disputing factions within several nations. It further calculates the prospect of significant advance in space industry, greater attention paid to environmental protection, healthy life style, ecological issues, with a better global appreciation for herbal, traditional and unconventional medicine.
If, as the Chinese calendar predicts, the Year of the Goat, Ram or Sheep will be a period of prosperity, wellbeing and high hopes, as the positive events in the year start to take center stage, people of many countries will breathe a sigh of relief and welcome it with open arms.
Whether the guesses of the Chinese calendar for 2015 are accurate, one thing is for sure-although the scars sustained in Nigeria and throughout the globe from the different tragedies will forever be visible; many are ready to move on. Many will be looking to the horizon, dreaming and praying for a golden age. In Nigeria, whether that dream will come via ‘change’ or a ‘rehabilitation of the same’ in the February 2015 elections, the dream for ‘something better’ can only be realized if and when we start working towards it.
In the next 365 days, we each have a choice to ‘know better’ so we can ‘do better.’ And as the Chinese calendar 2015, Year of the Goat, Ram or Sheep prescribes; “The creative side of the (Year of) Ram; its diligence applied to hard work ensures prosperity”
In the next year, …People of the World please, let’s all work harder to ensure prosperity to all.
“WELCOME TO 2015 FOLKS… I WISH YOU A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Written By Hannatu Musawa
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