We often say a “happy New Year”. But this is more a wish than a fact. It also suggests that the previous year wasn’t a happy one. In a sense, therefore, 2022, for a majority of Nigerians, was a year to forget. No surprise, therefore, they literally rushed into, not “walked over” to, 2023.
The New Year is a week old today. The federal government declared a two day public holiday. But the fireworks that often light up the skies to welcome the new year were not seen. The streets were empty and few neighbours shared meals because there was no feasting. So the melancholy spirit of 2022 never really left us as entered the New Year.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in the twilight of his presidency, himself admitted in his New Year’s message that the old year was a difficult one. He said “Inflation around the world is at an all time high (and) 2022 brought a combined impact of ongoing wars (Russia-Ukraine, for example) and Covid-19 side effects.” Domestically, insecurity peaked in 2022 when gunmen attacked a passenger train in March and took away over 200 passengers, demanding a hefty ransom for their release. A maximum security prison in the heart of Abuja was also attacked and several inmates were released, including high profile politicians.
However, though 2023 holds out no certainty of happiness and prosperity, it will not be without some excitements. After all, this is an election year. It is Buhari’s last year in office and he has promised to make the polls successful. He pledges “my personal commitment and executive promise to ensure that the 2023 elections, which are diligently conducted by INEC, are free and fair. The collective electoral will and the votes of Nigerians will be fulfilled, even in the twilight moments of my turn.”
Indeed, whether or not 2023 will be “happy and prosperous” will depend on how transparent the polls are conducted and the quality of new leaders they produce. It means we hold the key to our happiness in our hands. Use it well and the door opens but lose it and we shut out our happiness and prosperity.