By Banji Ojewale
It is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another, as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not! – Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) English writer and journalist.
MOST of those who look into the future, close or distant, talk of the shape of things to come. They hardly speak of the shape of things that won’t happen. Why? It is assumed that we should be led only into the world of the good life awaiting us after today, the prosperity that will take place hereafter, the gilded age hid from us, the world of what we are not seeing at the moment.
Why are we afraid to talk of the other world, a sunken world of jaded values? The point is that the future is a déjà vu. We’ve been brewing it all along. Our stew is really several pre-existing independent constituents come together in a cauldron passing through the fire. What emerges in the process isn’t new at all. What you’ve always held on to can’t be said to be new. Can it?
We are responsible for what comes forth: a trip to the market, where there are transactions that give us pepper, fish, meat, tomatoes, oil, seasonings, vegetables, etc. They all assume a new life when they eventually become a delicacy; still, we know their history, their past, their source, their distinctiveness. However, they lose their individual disparities in the stew. But they can’t hide their individual distinctions from discerning observers.
That is also the way with considerations of the future, any future, nearby or out of sight. Therefore, we shouldn’t be fooled, frightened or felled by false prophets with flat, deflated crystal balls pretending to have heard from God about what’s in for Nigerians in the New Year. Whatever is going to happen in 2020 has its roots in 2019, in the years before it. We were all part of that past. And, therefore, we are members of its offspring, the future, which has become the now. As lawyers often say, you can’t build something on nothing. But religionists, taking advantage of ignorant compatriots scared of the so-called uncertain future, engage in a lot of manipulation of the people, especially women and play the Omniscient. Only He sees through the opacity of the ages, far and near.
He permits man a glimpse, though. All it takes to locate what Heaven allows of the entrails of the immediate future or to picture it, is to have a luxuriant mind watered by facts and reality of current affairs and history and muscular analysis.
Nothing arcane about it as Nigeria’s mercantilist pastors want us to believe. It’s only God Who knows it all, not these lucre-loving deceivers who have their ears tied to their bank accounts. The enduring and believable predictions are in the Word of the LORD, not in the word of man.
So what does 2020 have for us? We have shown, through the culinary analogy, that the year has nothing to present more than what we give it. Nor can it offer what we didn’t give its predecessor. It is safe then to assert that in Nigeria of 2020 nothing will change from what we had in 2019, just as there has been little change in the country in nearly 60 years of Independence from Britain.
In 2019, we were negligent, as we have always been, in handling our politics and electoral process. The outcome was outcry of foul play. Some citizens are even saying they didn’t ask for those they have as their leaders at the moment. Hence, the clamour for the country to be restructured reached a crescendo in 2019. The decibel, it seems, will be higher in 2020, given the mass disenchantment with the order of the day, according to some predictions for 2020. Will these futurologists receive a gold medal if their forecasts come to pass? No way! 2019 and the years that came before it posted an anomalous federal arrangement into the future now arriving in 2020.
We must be prepared to live with the killer by-products of a killer federalism: an indolent centre giving birth to correspondingly indolent centres and local councils. Still more distressing consequences: a land with the economic and social potential to outstrip such global prodigies as Britain, Germany, France, Cuba and Japan through its population and elemental natural resources, has neglected its virile youth and women and driven them into drugs, despair, destitution and death.
Does anyone need a Nostradamus to announce that a country that had this mix in 2019 would fare well in 2020 if it does not abolish its anaemic system?
Now, Bismarck Rewane, Nigeria’s neoliberal economic expert, has simply looked at what obtained in 2019 to predict that the sufferings of his countrymen will be worse in this successor year 2020. He says Nigerians’ income “will shrink in 2020” on account of the central government’s policies. His forecast: “2019 was a year of political trepidation and growing uncertainties…For Nigeria, consumers will groan about the hike in VAT, the restoration of tollgates and cost-reflective electricity tariffs.” He adds that the VAT hike (from five per cent to 7.5 percent) would lead to higher commodity prices. Rewane says “other challenges (in 2020) would include low income per capita (currently at $2,236), high income inequality and rising poverty rate in the country.”
The omens, from the foregoing exegesis, are that the New Year will not bring any new thing, since we threw nothing refreshing into it ahead of our arrival into it. Garbage in, garbage out! GIGO!
Since Independence, we’ve always talked about bad roads, unstable electricity supply, inadequate funding of tertiary education leading to yearly lecturers’ strike, poor wages for our workers, millions of out-of-school children, under-empowerment of the youth, wide gap between the haves and have-nots, primordial do-or-die politics, neglect of our rural dwellers, nonexistent welfare and medical care for the vulnerable, thieving, insensitive and selfish political leadership etc. There’s never been a radical attempt to battle these demons and ostracize them. So they return year after year to torment us.
They are here with us again in 2020. They will not be evicted by the jejune and unscriptural prophecies of happy-go-lucky, sky-domiciled, sybaritic, signs and wonders-seeking pastors disconnected from the deprivations of the flock. These men and women of God must come down from their jets and return to their “first love” to “watch and pray” with the people to rescue the country.