Wednesday, January 3, 2024
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hen a woman is lawfully pregnant, she feels happy that she will soon have a child of her own. She expects the child to be either a baby boy or a baby girl. In addition she looks forward to having a bouncing baby boy (BBB) or a bouncing baby girl (BBG). If she has gotten already only male children, then she prays for a baby girl. Likewise if she is already saturated with female children, then she prays for a baby boy. Furthermore, she prays ardently for safe delivery. Indeed her expectations are endless until the child is born. If the child is born still, her nine months' pregnancy ends in sadness. If the mother dies while giving birth, her story is ended. The bereaved bear the irreparable loss. Thus pregnancy can end up happily or sadly.

My own parents were filled with mixed feelings of joy and sadness because I was born on April fool day. They were happy that they got a bouncing baby boy, who came two years after they had their first birth which was a girl. On the other hand, they were sad because they thought that I would end up in fools' paradise. Fortunately I ended up being a wise fool.

As the year 2023 ends, we look forward to seeing the dawn of the year 2024. The New Year is always ushered in with pomp and gallantry. Spiritually, Christian adherents assemble in the church for prayer vigil in expectation of the New Year. It is called the night of Cross-over from old to New Year. Once it clocks midnight, joyous songs of thanksgiving rent the air. Outside the church bonfire is made here and there. People jubilate on the streets and in their homes. Various types of firework explode all over the places. Some of these fireworks fly and sparkle on the air.

As the old year ends and the new begins, people count there gain and losses. New Year resolutions are made at different levels. Some people throw away their old clothes and purchase new ones. Food cooked on the last day of the old year is thrown away by some people because it has become an old food. If it is still done till today, the hungry will thank God for giving them their daily bread. A certain mentally deranged man after eating here and there on Christmas day shouted, "If this is Christmas, then let us have it every day."

I am gradually trailing into old age. Obi was a boy. Now Obi is an old man. I had ushered-in the New Year at home for few years and in the church for several years. When I did so at home, I never went to bed until midnight for fear of passing away through sleep. This is because sleep is the junior sister of death. Six years ago I nearly passed away two days to the end of that year, when I was struck down by a sudden complex illness. Consequently I was rushed to the nearest hospital for medical attention. I thought I would be discharged on 31st December. Unfortunately the stubborn illness weighed me down on the hospital bed. Against my will I spent the Cross-over night in the hospital. Indeed it seemed to me like a dream.

Before midnight of that unique night linking the old year and the New Year, an accident victim was brought into the emergency ward of the hospital where I was lying at the border between life and death. From the window of my private medical room I overheard the accident victim shouting, "I am dying! I am dying!!" I was moved with pity as I lay my on sick-bed on that precious night. I raised my voice a bit and shouted prayerfully, "You will not die! You will not die!!" Then I closed my weak eyes and prayed for the accident victim and for myself for survival into the New Year.

As soon as it was midnight I jumped up miraculously from my sick-bed and shouted, "Praise the Lord!!!" Since I was alone in the hospital room, I complimented, "Alleluia!!!" A nurse happily came into my room and exclaimed, "Happy survival!" I smiled from my sick-bed and waved at her with my right hand and responded, "Nurse, same to you!" After this, she gave me a New Year intravenous injection. I slept like a sound baby for the rest of the Cross-over night. By God's grace I was discharged on 2nd January. I went home alive instead of going into the mortuary in body bag. God postponed my death. That is why I am still alive to give this memorable testimony. William Shakespeare is right when he says that death is an inevitable end which must come when it will come. All mortals must die.

A retired teacher from my town took up commercial driving after his retirement from civil service. He was retired but not tired. On both sides of his commercial vehicle he inscribed in bold letters: "NEW DIMENSION." Unfortunately this new dimension led to his accidental death. May he rest in peace! This is an analogy of what Nigerians are expecting in this New Year 2024. We look forward to experiencing a new dimension in the political and economic movement of this doomed country.

The just ended year 2023 was a year of great sorrow arising from our leaders' inefficiency. As a nation we are blessed with abundant natural and human resources which would have led us into the Promised Land many years ago. Unfortunately we are still a long distance away from that land of hope. Bad leadership policies and corruption crippled our movement. Unemployment and acute hunger are killing the poor masses. In other words, the cost of living is killing the living. Our current political leader, who came into office through the jungle, is pursuing a course of renewed hope. This renewed hope was dashed to the wall when he arbitrary removed fuel subsidy without adequate plans to cushion its effects. Consequently, the price per litre of fuel tripled instantly. In the same vein, prices of essential commodities skyrocketed. The poor masses cried without consolation. Hunger and anger became the trademark of the populace.

Above all, insecurity of lives is still starring us at our ugly faces. Innocent lives are lost here and there on daily basis. Terrorists, bandits, unknown gunmen and kidnappers are still on rampage. Nigerians sleep nowadays with two eyes opened. The security forces are trying their better. We look forward to seeing their best in 2024. Regrettably many of them have laid down their lives in the course of securing the lives and properties of the citizens. May their bloody sacrifice not be in vain! However, all hope is not lost because there is always hope in hopelessness. Therefore we look forward to seeing better days in 2024 by the grace of God.

In his 2023 Christmas message, President Bola Tinubu among other things said, "Fellow Nigerians, as we navigate this transition to stability, prosperity and renewed hope, I urge you once more to hold fast and be rest assured of my commitment to govern with vision, dedication and stability. Be confident that by the strength of our joint endeavor, we will shortly emerge into a new dawn of prosperity, peace and irreversible progress." The test of the pudding is in the eating. History will prove him right or wrong. The dawn of the New Year has come. Shall the above presidential promises be fulfilled so that aggrieved and hungry Nigerians will heave a sigh of relief? After almost 64 years of Independence we are still wallowing in acute darkness. May God come to our aid soonest!

Fellow Nigerians, do not lose hope. Be happy! Sadness shortens human life. Life is too short to be sad. In God we trust! Happy New Year!