So, that mythical Nigerian year, 2023, is here at last? For Nigerians, 2023 is not just a year of newness as all years represent for mankind. It is a year with gross implications, political, economic and social. It is a year that is at once dreaded, expected, venerated and which evokes apprehension, as well as a feeling of de ja vu across board. It is a year of consequence to our existence as a people. A year that has been romanticized as the year of the Nigerian becoming, many analysts have even sacralized 2023 as the year that will determine whether Nigeria will break, be broken, or which will break all the obstructions on the way of the country’s underdevelopment. Welcome to that sacred year of our Lord 2023!
As I said, in 2023, Nigerians do not see what the rest of the world see in a “new year.” They do not just see the picture of a newness that the rest of the world sees or is confronted with. Nigerians’ mental picture is diametrically opposed to or hugely different from the world’s when it comes to the new year 2023. Nor is that newness of a New Year the newness which the philosopher, Martin Heidegger, conceptualized. For Heidegger, German philosopher, best known for his seminal contributions to philosophy in the fields of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism, in his thesis on the philosophy of being, newness or being, is always and continually in the process of becoming true. This then means that, for him, we can never reach the end of our completeness. In his understanding, newness will always be new; will forever be incomplete and always in process.
For Nigerians, however, 2023 holds some finite meaning. It is a year that the people hold with some magical awesomeness. Or fear, if you like. On the political landscape, for optimists, 2023 is a year that will define where Nigeria is headed, for good. For pessimists, it is a nihilistic year of destruction. If you like listening to Bob Marley, especially that diffident album of his called Uprising and the particular track entitled, Check Out The Real Situation, apparently frustrated by the slide in world affairs, Marley had gone nihilistic.
The philosophy of nihilism believes that values have failed society as they lack base or foundation. It is a philosophy of extreme pessimism and radical skepticism which even goes to the extreme of condemning human existence. It is built on an impulse of destruction of what is. So, to nihilism Bob had sauntered for an explanation of the hopelessness of the world. He had lamented how nations warred against nations. Why, for instance, a skunkhead like Vladimir Putin would want to destroy humanity in Ukraine, will fall under the nihilism propounded by Marley. Wondering when “did it all begin” and “when will it end?,” Bob philosophized that “it seems like, total destruction (is) the only solution” as “there ain’t no use” since “no one can stop them now.”
Politicians and their recruits are all over the place preaching the gospel of redemption that will come with 2023. If you listen to them as they reify Nigeria at campaign podia, you will wonder if there is a newer newness as opposed to the old newness that we have always known that will come into place in 2023. Behind the microphone, Nigerian politicians are grossly irredeemable. When they paint the picture of the Eldorado that 2023 will birth, you will wonder if Nigeria would exchange space with Jupiter in 2023. Or that it will cease to be that same country that has failed all indices of growth, development and theories of leadership since 1914.
To the politicians, that national surplus or plenty that Nigerians have always yearned for will show its beautiful face in 2023. If you have a scientific mind however, you cannot travel on the same boat with the Nigerian politician. You will wonder where the surplus will come from in a Nigeria where Muhammadu Buhari has steeped the country into a debt hole that is unexampled in national history. Recall that as at September 2022, the sum of N44.06triillion lies as Nigeria’s total debt stock. It is no news too that that same Nigeria spent N3.04trillion to service her external and domestic debts in nine months in 2022. When you ask where that magic of surplus will come from, the unscience that Nigerian politicians confront you with hits you like a mound of excrement. It is worse than the voodoo of metaphysics. However, immediately we arrive that selfsame 2023, as we just did now, and Nigeria begins to manifest her old cancerous growths, Nigerian politicians will come up with newer variants of their evergreen prognoses. Or simply run into the embrace of their usual escapism.
That is why I find Oby Ezekwesili’s take on 2023 and the infectious optimism being funneled into space by Nigerian politicians very apt. In a recent interview with the Channels Television, the former Minister of Education had said that there was the danger of a noxious and uncensored hyper-optimism that is being filtered into the Nigerian mind by politicians. They seem to make the people believe that once we land in 2023, all our problems are solved. In the process, they do not tell the people the obvious truth that, with the current rank decadence in the country, reversing the sorry state of Nigeria, beginning from 2023, may be an impossibility.
If we can even be sincere with ourselves for a minute, which of the buccaneers, the vultures on parade for the 2023 race has the capacity to bring about the Nigeria of our dream? Which one? The same people who are grossly complicit in the dross that we found ourselves? Sorry that I embraced Bob Marley in checking out our real situation.
Still on that same political plane, we have been inundated with how the three major political parties hold hope to rescue Nigeria from its present stasis. Depending on who you engage of the three, the unscience that oozes out of them is similar. Whether it is Peter Obi, Bola Tinubu or Atiku Abubakar, what is certain is that this 2023 is a year when Nigeria can never be the same again. The consequences inherent in anyone of them winning the presidential ballot are huge for Nigeria. If Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) for instance, becomes president, Nigeria’s already fragmented unity from 1914, which Buhari whimsically shredded on the altar of his pristine nepotism and cronyism, will further have its apron torn, in a more phenomenal way. This is because, I imagine how Atiku Abubakar will preach unity and togetherness to a country where a Hausa Fulani ruled Nigeria for eight years and another man of same ethnic stock takes over from him for most likely another eight years… and such preachments will hold water?
This is why, perhaps due to his hoarse and husky voice, Nigerians cannot see the primacy of a true Nigeria that Nyesom Wike and his G5 governors have harped upon endlessly. Wike is no doubt a petrel but let us peer beyond him to examine his message. In this war, Wike seems to be shooting his shot on target and naysayers like us are the laughing stock. He and his cronies’ latest trip to the UK was greeted with a baffling frenzy on the political space and even in the media, such that it cancels out what Atiku Abubakar and his fellow travelers have made us to believe was the worthlessness of their threats. While the media was collapsing on a roller-coaster of goofs about where Wike and his group were headed, Atiku seemed to be wetting his trousers.
“I am not someone who will go and see somebody and hide. Hide for who? Who is that person that will threaten me? They said Wike had a deal with so, so, and so person. Meanwhile, no video, no anything. And some of you waste time listening to such things. Don’t you know when I want to do something, I do it? You don’t need to speculate,” the Ikwerre petrel thundered and he seemed to have us by our balls.
Then he detonated the bazooka. “They said we had a meeting with so and so. What is your problem? Assuming there was a meeting, has Atiku not been holding meetings with governors of APC? Ask him. As he is in Dubai, don’t we know what is going on? So, why do you bother about us G-5, that you said you can win without us? Leave us alone,” the nuke exploded and everybody ran helter-skelter to hide from the splinter shells of the bomb.
So some APC governors too are holding meetings with Atiku? Wonders will never end. So why are the Atiku group making issues of the G5’s meeting with Tinubu and Obi? Very shortly, Wike will probably avail us information on who Buhari is talking to too on behalf of Atiku Abubakar. It is such bombastic that has marked the run-ups to the 2023 election. This crazy 2023!
With a Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Aso Rock, a party which Buhari took to its all-time low by his very opaque administration, Nigerian voters will unravel as a people always excited at being in bed with their abusers and suppressors. In saner climes, there should be no other year than 2023, the year of consequence, as a time to pay the APC back for its lack-luster leadership through a massive rejection of the party and everything it represents at the polls.
2023 is also the year of Buhari’s much anticipated departure from office. Already, the president has done what he believes was a fair assessment of his close to eight years in office. To many, Buhari’s exit this 2023 will end the eight years of the locusts which besieged Nigeria since 2015. Buhari did a self-review at an event organised by his family and associates, in celebration of his 80th birthday, tagged “Celebrating A Patriot, a Leader, an Elder Statesman” last week. There, he reviewed his administration through a documentary where he admitted that what he called his best had not been good enough for the country. “I think I’m being harassed. I believe I’m trying my best but still, my best is not good enough,” he said.
At the same event, Buhari then said he was in a hurry to go lock himself up in Daura, Katsina State. “I am eager to go. I can tell you it has been tough…I look forward to the year 2023 when I finish, go home to take charge of my farm,” he said. For Buhari, 2023 is the year to relieve himself of the Nigerian burden but does it bother him that his actions, mis-actions and inactions as president led to the deaths and incapacitation of thousands of people? Never mind. Buhari will go to Daura and he will live happily ever after.
To many pessimists, however, for Nigeria, Buhari’s exit in 2023 will only be a Martin Heidegger’s unending farce that Nigeria as a country is. In many instances, the new has always been worse than the old in Nigeria. This has then reincarnated the same farcical tale that is called the Nigerian sorry refrain. When Olusegun Obasanjo was leaving Aso Rock in 2007, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief, sure that an end had come to what they perceived as a self-centered, high-handed leadership. Umaru Yar’Adua then came and hope that he would be better was rife in the horizon, especially judging by the deodorized tale of Umaru, as Katsina governor, walking from his office and crossing to the other side of the road to go buy his favourite stick of cigarette.
Midstream, however, death struck and didn’t allow Nigerians know in-depth who Yar’Adua really was. Then came Goodluck Jonathan. By the time he left office in 2015, Jonathan was held as the worst Nigerian leader since independence. Today, those who voted Buhari in place of the Bayelsa shoeless man feel they had made the gravest mistake of their lives. Today, Obasanjo walks about, preaching governance morality and precepts with such majestic swagger that you wonder how, immediately they leave office, Nigerians spray their generally regarded evil leaders with sweet smelling fragrances. So you ask yourself, as execrable as the Buhari government has been in almost eight years, isn’t there the possibility that soon and very soon, Nigerians would beatify him too and look back to say life was better under him? It is because this is the warped judgment of Nigerian leadership history.
For me, my honest wish will be that this 2023, Nigerians will not relent in asking for the Nigeria Police to step out of the fur of bloodthirsty jackals that its officers wear and have a handshake with the rest of humanity. The more I reflect on the killing in Lagos last week of pregnant lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, by Drambi Vandi, a policeman, the more it occurs to me that if we can get this wish through in 2023, then we are beginning a new social order in Nigeria.
By the way, last week, an ally of Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Arise TV and Thisday newspaper, reacting to my piece entitled Emefiele’s Terrorism Mess, told me I goofed by submitting that Obaigbena was engaged in inappropriate dalliance with embattled Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele in the latter’s bid to run for the presidential primary of the APC. Obaigbena had no hand in Emefiele’s crashed ambition, he argued vociferously.
Happy New Year to you all, Nigerians, though I don’t see anything new in 2023!
Dr. Festus Adedayo is a journlist, lawyer, biographer and public affairs analyst.