By Douglas Anele
Babatee my car painter and the Automedics crew, especially Sly, Gbola Oba, Manager, Kunle (the Big Boss) – you ensured that my vehicle remained in top condition throughout last year, thank you very much. Fateye Asodun and Rotimi Omosulu (up and coming scholar), Jude Nwankwo, Dennis Otto, Lugard, Matthew, Igwe, Ojo, Mrs Taiwo and the non-academic staff in Philosophy – I really appreciate your assistance.
My people in Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Drs. Udefi, Agulanna, Ukpokolo, Ekanola and others – I salute you all. Similarly, to the residents of Block C, Highrise, Unilag, I extend my sincere gratitude. My friend Rex Osagiede, thank you for your kindness. I also use this opportunity to console you on the untimely death of your daughter recently. Please take heart and move on because adversities can only make a good man like you stronger.
To my aged father, Ebere Ezekiel Anele, and my late mother, Gladys Elewechi, I owe the greatest gratitude for the gift of life and upbringing. Papa, I know you are gradually inching towards the grave. But be assured that within my limited resources I will continue to ensure that you are looked after as long as you live. My mother, who was your wife of over fifty years, sacrificed a lot for the good of our family. I will continue to remember her till the end.
For all those that were not mentioned here but who touched my life positively last year, I am indebted to all of you. Like other years, 2012 was a mixed blessing for me and for every human being on this planet, although the mixture of the good and the bad differs from person to person. For some people, the good was predominant, for countless others, the bad predominated. But no matter the situation, those of us alive to see 2013 must continue the business of living, of working hard to ensure that we improve on ourselves this year.
The big hunchback Nigerians have been carrying for decades is incompetent leadership. Since the Biafran war ended in 1970, Nigerian rulers, whether military or civilian, have failed woefully to harness our tremendous human and natural resources to make Nigeria the greatest black nation in the world. It appears that as the years go by, the quality of leadership in the country goes down.
For instance, despite the failures of the First Republic, Nigeria still fared better then than the succeeding republics. Similarly, Gowon’s military government wasted wonderful opportunities for propelling Nigeria into the exclusive club of industrialised countries. Yet it was better than subsequent military dictatorships. The leitmotif, the principal cause of our arrested development is indiscipline and corruption in leadership.
Therefore, as 2013 comes along, there is little hope that President Goodluck Jonathan and other sybarites running the country presently can deliver good governance to the people. Indeed Mr. President no longer enjoys the tremendous goodwill Nigerians had for him when he contested the presidency and won about nineteen months ago.
As usual, the President and his aides are very good on rhetoric, but there is little action to match the fine speeches. Corruption is growing rapidly; gross indiscipline and obscene ostentatious lifestyles are still the norm in the corridors of power. Top political office holders and business men and women with connection in high places have continued to exploit weaknesses and loopholes in the system for self-enrichment.
Sadly, Nigerians who bear the brunt of bad leadership are unwilling and unable to engage government in sustained peaceful activism to compel it to address urgently the problems of poverty, unemployment, insecurity, indiscipline and corruption.
If there is any certainty about Nigeria in 2013 it is this: most items in the transformation agenda of President Jonathan will not be actualised as long as he continues with “business as usual.” I will be surprised, pleasantly surprised really, if my low expectation from government this year turns out to be wrong. But I do not see that happening, because, as the saying goes “a leopard does not change it spots overnight.”
Now that 2012 has ended and 2013 has commenced, some self-styled prophets and “men and women of God” are already prophesying that so-and-so will happen in 2013. With respect to such prophecies, Nigerians are extremely gullible.
Anyone who takes the trouble to critically analyse such prophecies would notice a serious logical flaw about them: they are expressed in amphibolous propositions which make them immune to falsification. For instance, supposing Prophet Z says that “in 2013, a prominent politician or businessman will die or that a plane will crash,” it is obvious that the possibility of such an event occurring is within the realm of statistical probability – given the situation in Nigeria the occurrence of such an event is more likely than not. Such prophecy rarely contains names of the prominent people that will die or the ailment that will kill them, or says precisely which plane will crash when and where.
It is just like when a pastor, during church service, says that someone in the congregation has a headache or diabetes or is looking for the fruit of the womb. In a gathering of one thousand people or more, it is likely that someone in the crowd might have a headache or is experiencing some difficulty in getting pregnant. Clearly, such prophecies are clever ways of deceiving the unwary into believing that the pastor or prophet has extraordinary powers.
Even with all the relevant knowledge about a person, no one can say exactly what the future will hold for that person. Educated guesses and forecasts are possible. But it is impossible to predict with hundred percent accuracy details of the life of an individual in a year. What people call prophecy is guesswork couched in imprecise religious idiom. For those who believe such prophecies, I enjoin them to remember that nothing under the sun can ever be perfect; so don’t be fooled by charlatans pretending to be what they are not.
There is no good reason why one should bother oneself with such silly approach to life. The way I see it, human life is interesting because it is essentially spontaneous and unpredictable. Thus the best way to live is by optimum courageous utilisation of one’s productive powers in the service of The True, The Good and The Beautiful. If there is one attitude we should cultivate in 2013, aside from a healthy dose of scepticism, it is the attitude of tolerance, of kindness and of committing ourselves completely to any genuine task that we might lay our hands upon. I wish my esteemed readers the very best in 2013.