By Isah Aliyu Chiroma
“The truth about that past is not that it is too brief, or too superficial, but only that we, having turned our faces so resolutely away from it, have never demanded from it what it has to give.” -James Baldwin
Nothing existed at the beginning, followed by everything and life. It’s that time of the year when people start traveling through clouds to get a peek of what has already occurred, what is happening, and what might occur. By considering our past, we can better understand how we came to where we are today and how we aspire to be in the future.
The year 2022 has brought with it a wealth of instructive experiences, including insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, the Russian-Ukrainian war, the ASSU eight-month strike, fuel inflation, climate change, the World Cup, flooding, and erosion disasters, and a lengthy list that we will always remember. We were griping about the deaths of loved ones, feeling rejected or inadequate, and some of us recorded our success stories on our growth journeys.
When we paid close attention to the circumstances that surrounded them, those events had one or more lessons to teach us. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, a country that Russia abandoned for years, just as Nigeria abandoned Bakassi, and now Russia wants to take what was rightfully theirs from the start, this has been a great threat to Russian security, with the west providing support to Ukraine to fight the invading Russians. They have to do whatever it takes to make sure the country does not slip away from them. This war has affected African countries economically because there was a short supply of wheat, fertilizers and chemicals with which we use to make bread and confectionaries. One major takeaway from this war is that what you ignored in the past may come back to haunt your present because the future is unpredictable. The war may not end soon; Russia will keep hitting her targets, and the West will keep providing arms to Ukraine, but the big question is, how long will the West keep supplying those arms? The treachery is a major element of external support as war enfolds.
Insecurity in Nigeria has become a national threat. The steady rise in banditry and kidnapping in our communities is alarming. In this situation, we have to get back to the beginning, to reassess where and why the problem began. The safety of Nigerians is threatened by insecurity which cuts across cybercrime, armed robbery, kidnapping, domestic violence, extrajudicial killings, herder-farmer conflicts, ritual killings, and insurgency in the south. The Boko Haram insurgency in the north has caused a humanitarian disaster that has affected the north-east. Kidnapping, banditry, is another aspect of concern. The past was hurtful and torturous, the present is promising from what is evident to us, and we hope the future will be bright.
Looking at the struggles by the ASSU in its fight for better education, it is clear that it has been a long-term battle, which I refer to as the “unending struggle for better education.” The fight is a continual process which means it will only end only when the government is ready to invest in the education sector. Everyone thought the union fight was for their benefit in the past, but it became clear that it was through this struggle that they were able to secure some projects that are happening in our schools, which you keep imagining from the time those institutions were established as the major development. Some of the buildings have stood strangely for over four decades. And now the present shows the importance of the fight at the beginning, as it appears the increase in school fees ravaging the academic atmosphere is out of sight. What might the future look like with this increase? What will be the future for poor students struggling to pay their fees?
There has been fuel scarcity across the country. The hike in fuel prices becomes disturbing. The long lines at the filling station keep increasing. If you need fuel at a lower price, you have to sacrifice yourself and join long queues. History will not forget the time when we had easy access to fossil fuel. Gone are the days when fuel was 85 naira per liter. The government needs to put more effort into addressing this issue as the country depends on fossil fuels as its main source of transportation. If we are ready for the future, we will not so much rely on fossil fuel but rather on electric cars and steam-powered engines in our trains, and our cities will be lit up by solar energy.
Climate change has been the unfinished business of man. This year, we saw a lot of flooding, erosion, and environmental disasters. Thirty of the thirty-six states of the country have been dominated by flooding, washing away their farm produce, which is the last hope of a farmer. I think it is high time we addressed the effect of climate change in our environment, so that we can produce a better atmosphere in our ecosystem.
To some, the World Cup is a game, but t the just concluded World Cup is not only a game but a platform to bring humanity together, which cuts across people from different countries, religions, cultures, and ways of life. This has brought African countries together to support one country among them, which has made everyone proud, and the differences are no barrier. The greatest lesson we can learn from the world is the value of teamwork, where working together as a team is better than working as an individual.
Death has always played a part in imparting wisdom to humanity. Many of us have lost loved ones, and we are still working on finding solace in our grief. We must accept the fact that there will be a day when we are no longer here, just as we were at the beginning when we emerged from nothing. Our brothers, sisters, parents, and other close relatives have all passed away. It also took away our heroes, who have left a legacy to illuminate our path over the course of our journey.
Our prior experiences have had a huge impact on who we are today and who we may become in future. This will aid both one of us individually and our nation as a whole in finding our way. We will be able to get a clearer picture of the future, we want by using the mirrors of assessment to reflect on our past and present.