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IKE ABONYI
Ike's Column Opinion

COVID-19, the 2020 Award Winner

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past
Thomas Jefferson

Today ends 2020, a year like no other. A historic year when humanity found themselves and their activities drastically curtailed by an unforeseen circumstances.

At the start this new year 2020, every resolutions and proclamations centered on the year going to be a break through one where all obstacles of 2019 were dumped for a more progressive forward looking year 2020. Families, groups and even nations looked up to a very lucrative year envisaged to be far better than the previous ones. The expectations were high and soothsayers and prophets looked into their crystal balls and found the year rosy and promising.

But as the year 2020 ends today, those who made it to this point and enthusiastically looking forward to crossover to another year are in high ecstasy, praising and thanking their creator for letting them survive a devastating year.

No prophet got it right in their predictions that in a quarter of the year all human beings globally will be locked up in their homes to evade a mystery ailment from a virus code named COVID-19. Not even the most accurate clairvoyant could perceive the fact that football and other sports were going to be suspended or played globally without the required audience. No one could anticipate that soccer will ever be played without the corresponding spectators. Only a year like 2020 can produce such strange situations. For this, COVID-19 merits to be the award winner for the year 2020 as no one thing, group or person out performed it. The virus made sure it dominated the entire year.

As the ailment arrived early in the year, we saw the mightier both in wealth and influence fell, the irrepressible got repressed, science that was moving as if it could create humanity and challenge the omnipotence of God saw themselves prostrate unable to do nothing for months. Even worship centers and churches got shot as worshippers hid for their lives, even as they intensified prayers having been faced with something that was far beyond them. As communal worships ceased, supplications increased in homes because there was really a feeling of a destroyer sitting right at the doors of homes. It was a year the value of life increased because death was on rampage, eliminating the low, the high and the mighty.

In Nigeria it has always been said that revolution is not possible because of the varying interests of tribe, religion and the activeness of those who exploit them. But 2020 gave a glance of the possibility of a revolution through #Endsars protests that hit the nation like a tornado in the month of October.

As this unique year exits today by midnight in this country since geography teaches us that the New Year’s Day cannot come simultaneously globally, our expectations for the new year is with lots of apprehension.

The people are afraid to make resolutions as the ones they made in the out-going year all got messed up by COVID-19. Even as we read this there is every concern that the virus is not finished with us. If we are in second wave of it who says third and fourth wave will not come. If we are being told that the second wave appears more intense, who says that the third and the subsequent waves will not even come with something more frightening.

As great nations like America scamper and struggle under this virus, minnow nations in Africa celebrate their low causality records to the astonishment of scientists who had predicted an Armageddon in the continent.

But in truth, is causality figures in Africa low? A country of nearly 200 million population who has not tested up to a million people, can they really and scientifically lay claim to the low record they are brandishing? What of the high records of burials in villages that soared?. What of the saturation of cemeteries in cities? Are we not just celebrating our poor record keeping system and claiming that COVID-19 is low here?

But all said and done, the only thing deserving of the award of the personality of the year is COVID-19. In writing its citations for the award, we will note that COVID-19 indisputably, in the year remains the strange disease that rewrote the global history and brought humanity of all nations, of all class and creed to their knees, and who else could come before it in determining the thing that was more overwhelming in the out going year.

As we look forward to the new year in 24 hours time, A twentieth century English poet, Edith Lovejoy Pierce rightly captured it this way “we will open the book. It’s pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is the New Year’s Day.”

As we say adieu and Bienvenue to the out going year, there is really no feeling of nostalgia for 2020. There is really no wistful affection for the outgoing year. Rather than have any sentimental longing for year 2020, many homes desire it never existed in their calendar.

On December 29, 2016 when we mused over the then out going year with a piece titled “Awful 2016, and Expectant 2017 we wrote thinking we were in trouble of poor governance then almost 18 months into the reign of President Muhammadu Buhari, little did we know that what was lying ahead was darkening. Then in 2016, this regime had dragged us into a recession as a nation and expectations were high that 2017 would pull us out of it even though that year the regime had produced a directionless budget that was not pro-growth and pro-investment.

Again this year, as we march into 2021, the nation appears to be in a tunnel wishing desperately for a glimpse of a light from the other end. The general damage done by COVID-19 globally was compounded in our clime by governance failure that reached an unprecedented level.

Our governments at all levels by their actions, inactions and even body language have not given us any hope as we progress into the new year. Even if we appear hopeful as we march into 2021, it’s a hope derived from our faith that teaches us to be hopeful always as living without hope is death. And again scriptures of all religions teach us that in all circumstances we should be grateful to God as whatever situations we are in but still living could be worse.

Therefore as we march into 2021 like it was in 2016 when we were in a recession and hoping to come out of it in 2017, we must not be oblivious of 2020 recession that is already heading to a depression and requires all the graces of God to survive it. We must not be unaware of our merited new status as a failed nation.

Finally, dear faithful followers of this column, for surviving where many failed, for not being swallowed where others got consumed, for remaining ashore when many drowned, for going up at a time many were going down, I congratulate and wish you all fruitful and healthy 2021. For you, your best days are still in front of you. Let’s us therefore like Jonathan Huie, ‘celebrity endings, for they precede new beginning.’

Happy New Year!

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