Adieu 2020 … Never again

BY VICTORIA N. IKEANO

“May we never see another year 2020”. That is the

ardent wish of 99.9 per cent of Nigerians, fashioned into a prayer. Virtually everyone
was in a hurry to consign 2020 to the trash bin of history to be recalled in
memory only occasionally in passing remembrance. Most people do not even want to recall or
look back at it as it is replete with sad memories; memories that have left an
indelible impression on us because of its resounding bang as it thumped un-relentlessly forward in its march right from its early weeks while we
watched in wonderment and supplication. Whatever be the deep emotions it
wrought on us, one thing is clear and true for all of us, we were all eager to
see 2020 roll off as quickly as possible, to turn its husky back on us because
we were in a hurry to bid it good bye. We
are all hoping desperately that 2021 will be better than 2020. It is in the
nature of human beings to keep hope alive and imagine better days are ahead as
a shield of sorts to weather storms.

There was a

similar expectation when year 2021 was being ushered in. Alas after the New
Year festivities 0f 2020, we began to
hear of a corona virus that was already wrecking havoc in Wahum, China, leading
to complete lock down of that city. We considered it a rumour generally
speaking and believed that it could not get to us, not only because of the huge
physical gulf between us and china but also more importantly, we believed our
genes are stronger than those of the white man and so can better withstand any
foreign virus because we have generally survived many an illness
notwithstanding our ‘messy’ environment, poor nutrition and general poverty
levels including ill equipped hospitals/clinics. So, the average Nigerian lived
in denial, conjuring conspiracy theories about the disease, explaining off
those who died of the virus as having been killed by some other underlining
sicknesses as diabetes, stroke and the like. This is the case with Kogi and
Cross River states which governments continued to insist that they did not have
a single case of corona virus.

We managed to celebrate St. Valentine Day on

February 14, 2020. But by the end of February, our lives took an unexpected
turn and we are yet to fully recover from its effects both individually as a
person and collectively as a nation.
This is because one foreigner imported the virus to our shores and
others were subsequently infected in geometric progression. Thereafter the
country soon joined other countries in the world in imposing a total lockdown
for weeks. We could not go outside of our houses, freely mix with others or
travel to anywhere. For Nigerians that mostly live on daily income basis, it
was hell of a sort as they were grounded.
Small, medium and large scale businesses, unemployed, underemployed and
even the employed were adversely affected as prices of consumer goods and
others skyrocketed due to non production worldwide during months of the
lockdown. Marriage plans and other social activities were disorganized, put on
hold. Physical church and Friday Jumat congregations were banned, Muslim and
Christian pilgrimages for this year cancelled.

Our social lives

became altered as new COVID-19 safety protocols emerged such as social
distancing, frequent washing of hands and mask wearing. As at December 29,
2020 the
Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 85,560 cases with 71,937 patients discharged
and 1,267 deaths recorded in all “36
states and the Federal Capital Territory”. Hundreds of others are in isolation centres. Notable
among the victims were the former Chief of Staff to President Mohammadu Buhari,
Abba Kyari whose death more or less changed the complexion of the president’s
kitchen cabinet, former Oyo state governor Ajumobi who was primed to be the
ruling party’s chairman, billionaires and others. And now a new strain of the
corona virus has been discovered in Nigeria, just as a second wave of the
pandemic approaches us. The NCDC confirmed that Week 52 of 2020 recorded the
highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single week. And so in the twilight of
2020 several other prominent Nigerians including top politicians, professors,
heads of traditional institutions, business gurus, etc., have been felled by the
pandemic. The newspaper industry was also hit with serial deaths of notable
proprietors in 2020,/the latest being Sam Nda-Isiah, founder of Leadership
newspaper, Isa Funtua former president of the Newspaper Proprietors Association
of Nigeria, (NPAN), Chairman of Peoples Daily newspaper, Wada Maina, and so
on and so forth; not to talk of passing on of several other journalists across
the land.

Unsurprisingly the country went into recession with

dire economic consequences for all as the naira was devalued with concomitant
debilitating results. Inflation was at an all-time high in 2020. And insecurity
continued to haunt us even as the security agencies continue to do their best
in the face of inadequate personnel, materials and poor remuneration. The
insurgents in the north east continue to strike at what is called ‘soft
targets’, maiming and killing people. Kidnappings and abduction for ransom
continue to happen, even outright murders as in the case of the APC chairman in
Nasarawa state, Phillip Shekwo, etc., etc.
Some students of a secondary school in Katsina state were kidnapped,
leading to the government ordering closure of all schools. This was a rather
daring act, happening at a time when the commander-in-chief himself was in the
state, his home state. The boys were later “rescued” by security agents. The 2020
governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Edo states were replete with high
drama. What with the sacking of the presumed winner of the Bayelsa
gubernatorial election as he was rehearing for his inauguration the next day
and also the Supreme Court’s dismissal
of a governor that had already been sworn-in and was settling down to work, for
his rival who was immediately inaugurated. What about the ‘EndSars protests’, a
youth revolt of sorts that took everybody by surprise.

Even now there is

still tension in the political firmament as politicians continue their
brickbats and shenanigans, rejigging and strategizing for 2023 with attendant
conspiracy theories while the masses continue to lament over their dwindling
economic fortunes. During the winding
days of 2020, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) called off their
nine-month long strike action. That is to say that that the strike lasted for a
whole academic session during which the students had nothing doing and
literally roamed the streets. Thus 2021 would begin on a good note for these students
as they are expected to resume school/classes after having wasted an academic
session due to the ASUU strike. However, with the threat of another lock-down
due to the surging COVID-19 this expectation may be delayed. Year 2020 gave us a mouthful, more than we
could chew. It is a testament of the average Nigeria’s resilient spirit that we
survived it. Bye bye 2020…never again!

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