Let the year be truly new
A new day, week, month and year begin today. It is also my birthday and I am so happy it is so. It is a perfect day to be born. Without prompting, everybody joins me in celebration. Except for folks who observe the lunar calendar, a new year begins today in the Gregorian calendar and there is celebration almost world-wide to begin the year. And so, I do not need to specially create any elaborate ceremony, as others do, to mark the day. Everybody is staging one ceremony or the other on my behalf so to say.
Not everyone is that lucky. Some people are born on February 29 and their birthday anniversary happens once every four years. That, also, is special in a way. In a century, given such people live up to 100 years, they will celebrate their birthdays for only 25 times which is like a silver jubilee in the place of a centennial. Besides, their birthdays come with the Olympics which are held every four years. That will have been an added effect if the convention allows the games to open on February 29. But the Olympics also called summer games hold as from mid year.
The other special people are those born on December 25. In religious significance, they are up there for the simple reason that they share birthday with the Lord Jesus Christ. But since more people celebrate the New Year than they celebrate Christmas, in overall magnitude, the New Year births are world fellows. I am one. Apart from the celebrations, other rituals attend the first day of the year. Governments read budgets and talk to the people about their plans ahead.
And so, the President and the governors shall attempt to speak nicely today. About 33 or so of the 36 governors shall actually struggle to redefine hope and say it is still not hopeless when a government lags behind on its first class obligation of paying workers’ salaries by as much as nine months. They will say 2017 shall record a magic recovery that will ensure the liquidation of brought forward deficits and accommodation of arising commitments. Governor Rochas Okorocha is already acting creatively in this regard. He has managed to talk some pensioners and other creditors of the state into accepting less than half of what they are being owed. And there is a binding agreement duly signed by both debtor and creditor and their witnesses to that effect. In view of the fact that the factors that necessitated the scale-down are still very much around, the government may find a way to make the arrangement the rule in the state.
I do not have the details of the containment strategies of the man in Oshogbo and others but I am sure they are all thinking outside the box and working round the clock to hammer out solutions. I hear too that Ibikunle Amosun is applying everything he knows in accounting theory and practice to move past the quagmire. On the whole, most of the debtor governors talk and act as if the responsibility to pay salaries of workers fully and as when due belongs to someone else. In fact, on one occasion, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State also an accountant came close to telling Oyo workers to master the art of living without salaries until the economy improves.
On his part, President Buhari shall do well to sustain the understatement of the current hardship in the land. His statisticians should hold on fast to statistics already in the public domain, one of which is that inflation rate has only gone up by 18 per cent even when a tin of sardines that sold for between N130 and N150 in 2015 is now N350. A bag of rice which went for below N10000 is now above N22000 and a bag of cement that sold for N1500 now sells at N2500. The naira which exchanged N160 to the dollar is now N480.
I must confess that I wasn’t too good at quantitative reasoning in my school days which is why I am now an editor instead of being a chief engineer in some engineering outfit or the chief medical director of a teaching hospital. But lo, by what arithmetic or quantitative analysis did a price rise from N150 to N350; N10,000 to N22,000 and N1500 to N2500 translate to only 18 per cent increase? Mind you, there is no average cost here because the astronomical rise in prices is across board in the consumer market. Even the cost of garri, beans and palm oil which has nothing to do with the exchange rate from cultivation to consumption is galloping.
I am saying here that this is a New Year and the Year of our Lord (Anno Domini (AD) 2017. Old things must pass away and the tactics must change. This perpetual business of misinformation is not helping anything. For now, nothing outside good governance is at stake. The 2015 presidential election that had looked like life or death event fortunately came and passed without incidents. The new regime under President Buhari is approximately 19 months old today and will be half-way through the four-year tenure in another five months.
In terms of achievements, what stands out for Buhari is his un-diminishing capacity to explain away the challenges as being the handiwork of others. In other words, the last one year and seven months have been used by Buhari to offer tutorials on culpability and place guilt where he thinks it rightly belongs. It is enough! Nigerians have heard; Buhari didn’t cause the problems, Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP did.
All things being equal, the time Buhari has invested in this endless explanation is enough to earn a PhD from a master’s degree base. What I can add is that if the hope for change has been drunk with power and doing things the wrong way, I think 19 months is enough for the effects to wear off completely. At best, Nigerians can manage to put up with another three months of the hang-over effects, say till March ending, after which, they will be at liberty to insist on full accountability now or in 2019.
At the individual level, projections are also made. There are financial projections and somewhere along, a bigger compass called New Year Resolutions is created to safely guide navigation in the course of the year. Times are very hard and they are not going to be soft anytime soon. Government has said so. It is now left for the ordinary man and woman too to be wise. Those purporting the possession of anointing or some strange unction to cause manna to fall from heaven in the desert should remember also that, to everything, there is a season.
This is the season to conserve and it will be obvious when the season to consume comes. For instance, this is not the season to earn naira to service a dollar economy in order to be included in the bracket of persons who send their wards abroad for even secondary education or persons who must observe summer. There is no season called summer in Nigeria. It is either the season is dry or rainy. For now, the season is dry and very dry that is and it is in the interest of you and I to protect our small oasis as we wait in anticipation for wetness that 2017 promises.
For my birthday wish, I would want to say that if Buhari must booze, he should change from Power Horse to Love Horse. If he is drunk with love instead of power, change will be better assured in 2017. I would want the governors to pay salaries of workers without conditions and finally I would want my Pope and all the Catholic clerics and others to pray for me to possess wisdom instead of many tongues! I want to apply wisdom, not tongues in passing through 2017. Happy New Year to everyone and Happy Birthday to myself!