By Aliyu Isma’ila

1. Nelson Mandela before leaving the prison had said: “As I stand before the door to my freedom, I realise that if I do not leave my pain, anger, and bitterness behind me, I will still be in prison.”

This quote speaks to us all today in view of the experiences that have dotted our individual paths in the out gone Year 2021. But many of the things that happened to us in 2021 actually had their groundwork laid in 2020, especially where the factor of public health had a hand.

So a meaningful and reasonably apt review of Year 2021 would demand a little background setting prologue from the impacting events of 2020.

2. Quite clearly, the Year 2020 cannot be counted among the most benevolent to mankind. We opened with a catastrophic pandemic, COVID -19 that scared the skin out of the body of everyone, sending shivers down the spines of the bravest. In the absence of any clinical response, we were hulled into our houses and isolated into small units in compliance with the only prescribed antidote – the non-pharmaceutical measures.

3. The pandemic raged and impacted the nation’s health care taking several hundreds of lives and thousands of hospitalization and medical isolations. However, it is in the economic dislocation that the devastation of this unfortunate plaque was awe inspiring and subduing. The months of shut down dealt heavy blow on different sectors of the economy – from the aviation, hospitality, education, health, agriculture, to transportation, sports and entertainment, and particularly emasculated and ruined the small and medium scale enterprises, including the teeming population of artisans and other low income strugglers who daily depended on their meagre earnings from supply of direct labour.

4. The nation emerged from the darkest of this inglorious period to a grim reality of wanton business collapse, despondency, mass loss of jobs, deepened poverty and unprecedented rise in misery index. In a country that was already hard pressed by endemic poverty arising from harsh economic climate, widespread insecurity, and rapidly trimming socio-economic opportunities and narrowing prospects, the pandemic was like a nail in the coffin.

The transition to the new Year 2021 was therefore that of a thoroughly sapped society eagerly angling to make a recovery taking the advantage of another beginning of time.

5. At the start of that year, many of us planned and proposed hundreds of things of what we wanted for the year and how we wanted to do things but looking back on how the year ended, we know that sometimes we can only do our best but only God can tell what the future holds.

The saying that man proposes and God disposes thus continues to remain a truism. Within the realm of human appreciation, our pitfalls can be decoded to have been less of public health challenge, notwithstanding the various waves of the pandemic, than insecurity.

Actually, 2021 would go down as one of the most deadly in Nigeria, no thanks to the threats proliferation with staggering loss of life, wanton destruction of property and livelihoods and entrenchment of debilitating climate of fears.

Nevertheless, we must commend the gallant efforts of our security forces and agencies who gave their all to roll back the momentum of the rampaging criminal gangs.

6. Given this background, we have cause therefore as the New Year just began to be grateful to our creator who kept us through the dark hours. It would be expedient that we see it as a new opportunity to be appreciative of friends and family for the good things we enjoyed, as well as, for the challenges we encountered, for they are the things that make us strong.

Let us all see the New Year as an opportunity for sober reflection and the renewal of our commitment to God and also to fellow humans.

7. In the spirit of this disposition, I would like to take the opportunity to call on all citizens of our great nation Nigeria and our dear State, Adamawa, to look back at the year that just gone and appreciate God that we did not degenerate into chaos and confusion.

Let us be thankful that in the midst of our scarce resources, inflation and economic depression, we still did not vacillate and that despite the widespread insecurity, we were not consumed by it.

In Adamawa State here especially, we have been able to go about our daily lives notwithstanding the snares of insurgency, banditry and the traumatising effects of the notorious “Shila Boys” activities.

8. I urge that we commend and pray to God for our dear State and Governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, who together with the members of his Executive Council, traditional institutions, elected representatives, and indeed all loving citizens have devoted time and resources, to make Adamawa a safe place for all and also for his commitment to make Adamawa a true land of beauty and sunshine.

As we enter a new chapter in our lives with the New Year, let us be committed to making Adamawa and Nigeria a great place. All hands must be on deck to support the rebuilding of our faith in God, one another, and the people God has placed over us as leaders to reclaim our lost glory as a people and bring back our dignity.

9. Finally, let us face this New Year with this unyielding Nigerian attitude of “Never Giving up”. We can overcome all our security challenges, we can surmount all our economic woes, and we can win the battle for decency and dignity for our families and our State if we press on towards the better part of who we are as people. We are the beautiful people of the great land of beauty and sunshine. I wish you all a happy New Year and the best of the 365 days of 2022.

Aliyu Isma’ila writes from Numan, Adamawa State.