The reality is, since I became old enough to think for myself, the traditional refrain of “Happy New Year” has never done any magic for me.

Usoro I. Usoro

Oh man, was I very gloomy Tuesday morning. Even the weave of stew from my kitchen didn’t lesson my mood. Worse still, I had to drag myself to work. I can’t remember the first person who greeted me that morning. I think I had the misfortune of running into one of those cheerful early morning people, who obviously go to bed at 7pm and bounce up wide awake. But what got me really pissed was the funny greeting that I should be “happy” in the New Year. Somebody was again wishing me to “smile” through another year, even when it hurts!

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But I can’t fake a smile or happiness. I’m no contestant at a beauty pageant. Not that I don’t like being happy. The reality is, since I became old enough to think for myself, the traditional refrain of “Happy New Year” has never done any magic for me. Yet, typically human, we keep hoping and wishing. Not minding that in Nigeria, wishes remain, well, wishes.

The only people whose New Year would be linked with happiness are those clowns who call themselves our leaders. It’s easy for a year to bring happiness if there’s money. But no amount of empty wishes brings joy to a depressed mind. No matter your power to “cast, bind and loose”; a poor, harassed Nigerian appreciates a “cash donation” more.

Really, I see nothing to be happy about yet. Yes, I’m alive, but a walking corpse, like most Nigerians. Year in, year out, volumes and decibels of Christmas carols and preachments are churned out. Where have they led us? Except that it has made some governors funny-looking choirmasters. Even local government chairmen and lawmakers now fall over themselves in organising carols. If I hadn’t stopped “manufacturing” children, I would’ve named the next one Carol, I swear! Anyway, in the end, our lawmakers too become richer, with additional seasonal allowances.

There’s nothing to show that 2019 will be better than the past years. Already, there are fears of increased fuel prices again; and that of increased insecurity in an election year. I need not be Pastor Tunde Bakare, Prophet Olabayo or late Parapsychologist Okonzua to know that this year would be as gloomy as ever. The “star” didn’t lead us to a “saviour”. The “wise men” must have misread it. And the Christmas was postponed, especially in my house. Ask the little bird on the electric wire across my “yard”. Anyway, from the bottom of my hungry belly, here is my New Yam, sorry, year premonition, I mean, prediction:

I predict, there would be road accidents, this year. Call me a prophet of boom I mean, doom, if you dare. But the reality is, ditches in the middle of the roads are bound to bring accidents. If trenches wont kill us, then rampaging cattle will. I foresee many people dying – of curable ailments and hunger. Because there’s no food, no medicine in hospitals. Additional deaths, ah! Boko-whatever will be politically decimated; technically defeated; critically ; verbally defeated and criminally lied against. Yet, they will continue to lay places like Baga bare. 2019 will increase the death tool from 4,000 to only God knows. More denials will be issued from the police and the army over their officials said to be running away from Boko-killers. Moreover, more pensioners, many that are destitute and unpaid workers would drop death in the streets. Unemployment would visit more home. Already, over 11 million people are said to have lost jobs in the past three years. Oh, Nigeria would still remain the poverty capital of the world. You know why? Because in an election year, nobody would focus on improving the economy. Attention is going to be shifted to campaigns, propaganda and lies. I foresee Nigerian politicians selling their grandmothers to buy votes.

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The business environment still won’t be conducive for private sector expansion drive. More businesses would be grounded. Flood and El-Rufai would destroy more houses. Osunbade, sorry, Osinbajo will buy crayfish in more markets; dash out N10,000 and expect plenty votes on election day.

Now that we are gradually going back to the Abacha years, more people may be invited to watch movies in EFCC office; some may sleep in IGP Idris’ house called cells. As the police introduce Anti-Terrosits squad, some innocent persons may become “terrorists” overnight as election draws near. More of Abacha tactics may cause fire accidents, if we store up scarce fuel for the rainy day. And the nation’s epileptic power supply would destroy more of our electronic gadgets, while we pay more for not using Fashola’s darkness.

Striking university teachers would stay out of classes at least till end of January. And our children will remain home till garri prices double. Some will get pregnant and multiply the population to help vote Buhari in or out of office. Certainly, Buhari has no intention to keep any agreement with ASUU. Or any other union like NUT, SSANU, NASU, etc. And NLC may soon join the fray with the N30,000 minimum wage demand. By this time next year, our minister of Words, sorry, Works (if he’s still there) would try to convince us on why the East-West road would still be uncompleted. I can go on and on and on, like ABBA. But the crystal ball has turned black!

So, I would rather somebody wished me an “Unhappy New Year”. I would then be reminded that I have to “eat” my sweat with no time to stop to pick my teeth. I would then not be surprised if I see hardship at my doorsteps. After all, some of us are now on first name basis with the fella. We are not neighbours. We share the same bed and go everywhere together. Hardship is our companion. In fact, it’s our guide and government. For, it directs us on what to do and what not to do. It helps us to calculate our moves, with our meagre resources.

So far, there is nothing to show that there would be respite this year. More so with elections coming. Perhaps, the only thing “new” about this 2019, will be the change of calendar. Is there anything like new hardship? It may increase in measure, but it certainly won’t be new. So, we’ve no option but to brave for the gloomy days ahead!

New Year, stronger relationships


*This article, first published in Saturday Sun on January 3, 2004, has been modified to reflect current realities.