By Douglas Anele

Still, we must keep hope alive and begin to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps since politicians do not really care about us, a reflection of their extremely low mental magnitude. It is sad that elections in Nigeria have mutated into the caricature of recycling some of the worst citizens in positions of power.

But since nothing under the sun lasts forever, the possibility of positive change remains. But wishful thinking and prayers will not bring the kind of change Nigerians are yearning for. It can only be brought about by a moral and attitudinal revolution led by a few dedicated people who are willing to be the vanguard of the oppressed and downtrodden. Who knows – 2020 may herald the dawn of a new era in Nigeria’s economic and socio-political evolution.

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On a more personal level, my private and professional life was relatively stable in 2019 except for few challenges which made me to appreciate better the precariousness of human existence. I had a successful surgery to remove a small ulcerated lesion on my face. But generally speaking, my health condition was good notwithstanding the occasional malaria caused by mosquito. Of course, the inclement financial situation particularly for those of us receiving salaries was a source of concern for me. It is depressing to note that in terms of real value my emoluments as a full Professor is somewhat less than what I was paid a decade ago as a Senior Lecturer. In fact, a senior journalist who visited me late last year was shocked when he saw my salary. He told me that senior journalists earned much more than that, but Nigerians do not know that lecturers are among the most underpaid people in the country today.

Now, without the help of others I would not have achieved anything last year. Human beings are fundamentally social beings, a fact confirmed by our greatest invention, language.

We need each other to be fully human. Indeed, at the very beginning of our lives conception requires something from a woman and a man, which implies that at least two people are needed before a human being can be formed. Our inexorable social nature entails that we depend on another to thrive and achieve our ambitions, and dreams. This means that we cannot develop our potentialities without the assistance of others.

Therefore, we be humble and grateful to the individuals who assisted us in the journey of life. It cannot be overemphasised that thankfulness is at the very core of respect for others. Just as gratitude is a sign of intellectual and emotional maturity, ingratitude is, in an important sense the negation of what makes us civilised human beings. Ingratitude is inimical to genuine friendship; it blocks the flow of kindness by discouraging the desire to lend a helping hand when the occasion demands. Consequently, there is no end to the expression of gratitude for acts of kindness and support. Unfortunately, even among family members and friends, there is a tendency to take kindness for granted. This natural but irrational attitude stems from thinking that, since he is my wife, husband, father, mother or friend as the case may be, such act of kindness is “not really a big deal” because it is what is naturally expected of him or her. In my opinion, taking kindness for granted is wrong. So, if someone does something for you irrespective of how close the relationship you share with the person might be, it is always right to thank that person. By so doing, you are letting the person know that you value what she or he did and that you are not taking it for granted. The world would be a more humane place if everyone lives by this simple principle.

As is the tradition in this column for some years now, I wish to thank those who contributed positively to my life in the preceding year. I begin from the place where I earn my legitimate “stomach infrastructure”, namely, the University of Lagos, Akoka, an institution I have grown to cherish since my undergraduate years in the mid-1980s. I am grateful to the amiable hardworking Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe. Prof. Ogundipe has always been nice to me and I appreciate it. I wish him resounding success in his efforts to make our university among the best worldwide. I thank Prof. Ben Oghojafor and Prof. Oluwole Familoni, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services) Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics & Research) and Prof. L.O. Chukwu (Director, Academic Planning) respectively for their assistance and friendly disposition towards me. Prof. Andrew Ugboru, a plastic surgeon at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, is hereby acknowledged for the surgical expertise he displayed in my treatment at the Medical Centre. Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. E.O. Adeboye; Profs. Muyiwa Falaiye (Director, Institute of African and Diaspora Studies); Iyoola Oni, Obasoro-John, and particularly Dean of Student Affairs, Ademola Adeleke, were really gracious to me and I thank them. My sincere gratitude goes to Simon, Dee Tony, Prof. Dave Aworawo, Drs. Henry Ogunjewo, Isaac Nwogwugwu, Seyi Kenny, and Obi Iwuagwu; Profs. C.C. Anunobi, N. Nwokoma, Chimdi Maduagwu (Co-Director, Confucius Institute, University of Lagos), Uche Udeani, (Director, Distance Learning Institute), Adeyemi Daramola, Oko Okoro, Hope Eghagha, Iwu Ikwubuzo, and Victor Ariole. I deeply appreciate staff of the Philosophy Department (both teaching and non-teaching), especially members of the Accreditation Committee led by Dr. C.T. Osegenwune, for their wonderful work during the exacting accreditation exercise last November. The visiting accreditation panel led by Prof. Jerome Okonkwo handled the exercise very professionally: as the Chief Servant of the Department I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Other good friends who made last year a relatively pleasant experience include, but not limited to, the following: Jello, Chief Raphael Obidubah, Nduka Iheanacho, Emeka Udeani, Stevoo, John Jogging, Bede Egbufor, Bishop Njoku, Jake Epelle, the entire staff and Board of Trustees of The Albino Foundation, Bunmi, Otumba & Mrs. Meshioye, Hajiyah Ajoke, Hajiyah Mariam, Kalu Onuma, and Dr. Robert Obioha. My co-residents in Block C, Highrise – thank you very much for your good neighbourliness. I sincerely appreciate the assistance I received from my doctoral students – Waheed, Kelechi, and Sufiyanu. Lugard, Matthew, Ben, Debo, Lekan, Wasiu, Eko-For-Show, and James were good to me and I thank them. My elder sister, Ihuoma, who has just been appointed a Judge, and her husband, Dee Sam, are hereby wholeheartedly acknowledged for being there for me. Congratulations big sister for your well deserved elevation to the elite rank of the bench. I wish our parents were alive to witness our elevation to Professor and Judge. Now, it is with regret mingled with sadness that I remember the death of my immediate elder sister, Miss Felicia Ngozi Anele, who died late December 2017. She was a good woman, but unfortunately she allowed undesirable elements, including wolves in sheep’s clothing called “men of God” to mess up her life. From her death I learnt that it is not just enough to be a good person; one needs to be mentally vigilant and alert at all times also. Uncle Sam Amuka (Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers); Eze Anaba (Editor, Vanguard); Adekunle (Deputy Editor); Wale Akinola (Editor, Sunday Vanguard) and all the staff of Vanguard Media Limited – I wish you all the best.

My dearest wife, Ijeoma, and my two sweet daughters, Nwanyioma and Nwadiuto; words cannot capture fully what you mean to me. Ij baby, evidently I am not a perfect husband. But there is no perfect husband (or wife) anywhere for that matter. About twenty-one years of living together is not a joke, because it shows commitment and resilience. Because three of you are in my life, I have good reason to be happy and thankful. To my readers, particularly those that criticise my views with sound reasoning and relevant facts, I am grateful for you are part of the reason I write every Sunday. To those who insult me for criticising President Muhammadu Buhari, I can only say that you are still at the intellectual level of Homo Neanderthalis and, as such, cannot grasp the underlying rationale behind my attitude to this lousy caricature of a democratic government. Anyway, you are wasting time because your ad hominem criticisms cannot stop me from speaking out clearly against mediocrity and incompetence. I wish every person of goodwill, peace, profound excellent health, contentment, and lasting happiness.

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