When I first conceived the idea of what to write for today, I admit that it was based on my religious and personal belief that today is nothing but another day that has been hijacked by the commercial elements in the world to make more money for themselves after making a tonne a week prior.
Not only is today just another day, the whole concept of New Year has pagan connotation linked with the Roman two-faced god, Janus (Hence, the month being called January), it basically serves no productive need in a nation like Nigeria.
However, the tone of this piece took on another note with the biting situation in Nigeria. There is this movie called “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, based on a classic book by Dr. Seuss. However, in Nigeria, no Grinch stole Christmas; there was no need to. Christmas was already stolen before December 25 with long fuel queues and angry masses that are disgruntled with their leaders.
Everywhere you look, the nation is filled with angry people bemoaning their fate. There was nothing merry about the Christmas. And, long before the fuel scarcity occurred, many of the civil servants had not been paid and as such had no way of providing the goats and Turkey required for a merry celebration. In Nigeria, no Grinch need steal Christmas for it was already stolen by corrupt leaders and their accomplices with the people bearing the full brunt of the theft.
Still, tonight, many of those who stole the merriment will gather in Churches and Mosques to pray for a “Happy New Year.” They will turn to the same civil servant that has not been paid salary for eight months and say “Happy New Year.” They will grin and waltz in their Agbada to a dinner or party that they have invited their friends and enjoy the stuff that the common man will only dream of. This is the reality of our nation, a reality that we sadly must live with. Many will make resolutions that they have no intention of keeping because everyone is in a rat race; to simply outsmart the other guy and make more money by crooked means. Well, there is nothing new in that and so, there is no new year, just another day in the life of suffering Nigerians and their not so caring leaders.
Yet, 2018 has been marked on the calendars of some as a big year and today, they bid farewell to 2017 with renewed optimism. Yet, I want to ask, what is the difference between December 31, 2016, and December 31, 2017? Last year, the same optimism greeted the dawn of a New Year, same phrase and same clichéd countdown. The hopes being expressed for 2018 was expressed, albeit hopelessly for 2017. If anything is new, it is the level of gullibility of expecting new things to come from the same old practices. It won’t happen; at least, not unless the practitioners and the style changes. This time last years, the same set of people was in the churches praying hard and doing less. I think Nigerians have gone on their knees so many times that their blessings have actually passed over them. We need to work, not just pray. The motto of my primary school, ST. Judes Anglican, Ebute Metta in Lagos is “Work and Pray”. The two must go hand in glove, not excluding the other. My Secondary School, Jibril Martins Memorial Grammar School, Iponri, had the motto “Ise Ya…” (Literally, time to work), and the interesting thing about my alma maters is that they both belong to religious organizations. Yet, they both advocate hard work and not just prayers.
Even when Jesus performed his miracles, he made people work for them. The Cana wedding? People fetched the water and poured it into jars before he turned it into wine. The fish the disciples caught in abundance? They had to go back to sea to cast their nets. Yet, people will pray very hard today for miracles that they don’t intend to work for. I might as well help them now and say, it won’t happen. Faith without works is dead, says the Bible.
So, let today just be the day you rise and tell yourself: “Tomorrow will be better.” Not because it is the start of another month or Calendar Year, but because you are deciding to do something different and chase your dreams. There is no substitute for hard work. Change begins with a change in our mental disposition towards hard work. We must put work on the top of the things we want to do to make life better.
Next, must come making our representatives accountable for their actions. Write a letter or a petition. Don’t just stand by or simply pray about your situation, be proactive. Even Jacob in the Bible wrestled with angels to get a blessing and so be prepared to do the same for your blessing. December 31 is just another day on the calendar. Make it the day that you decide to make positive changes in your life that are not attached to any calendar event.
So, my classmates from my secondary school decided to brave the fuel scarcity and hold a reunion on the school premises. Actually, the set that preceded us (1991/92) held theirs a week earlier and so they did put my school in the news twice within the space of a week. While it was an opportunity to meet old friends, it also gave many of us an opportunity to reflect on the state of education in our dear fatherland. A tour of the old library and school hall revealed just how much has changed in public education in 25 years. It was tears-inducing, but still a happy occasion.
I want to say congratulations to the organizing committee for their dogged determination in ensuring the success of the event despite the odds. Things can only get better from here on. So, to all Jibrilians, I say let’s make this school better. Ise Ya.
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