Today is the ninth day of the new year and perhaps the most auspicious day for the commencement of offices and schools at all levels after the holidays. With all the fuss and fanfare about the advent a new year, it is intriguing that we do not witness any sense of a dramatic exit of the expired year. Nothing drastic really happens in the transition. Rather, we seem to have carried over uncompleted or unaccomplished activities and dreams of 2022 into 2023.
Years do not just hop, or leap or jump neatly into another. They metamorphose. Activities of one overlap into the other. On a lighter note, a friend once told me a certain paradox that just before midnight of 31st of December, it is possible for one to eat a bowl of pounded yam across two years or for another to engage in a bout of sexual intercourse spanning two years.
My idea of carryover in this context is not necessarily in the context of a University student facing the arduous task of rolling over work of failed courses from the previous academic session. It is a way of saying that human beings are not strictly constrained by the Gregorian calendar. In fact, our problems have become so complex that the limits of calendar timelines cannot provide ample opportunity for them to be tackled. We carry them over year in, year out like a badge of human imperfection.
In our country, oil refineries did not operate throughout last year, just like they did not operate in at least 10 years or so prior to 2022. There is also no likelihood that the fortunes of these refineries would dramatically change in 2023 simply because a new year has dawned. Ditto for the fallen value of the Nigerian currency. The weak status of the Naira appears to have been rolled over seamlessly from its December 2022 position to the January 2023 position, regardless of the shift in calendar.
Years of prosperity and those of adversity have a way of rolling over and obscuring the Gregorian calendar timelines. They roll into each other and dissolve into one long stretch of sameness within a given era.
Mega plans are therefore at the heart of good leadership. Nations enjoy long stretches of prosperity because their leaders carefully embark on mega rolling plans which “Marshall”vision spans years and decades. Nigeria once had such plans like “1st, 2nd and 3rd Rolling Plans” “Health for all by 2000” and “Vision 20,20,20” before a generation of visionless politicians took over government in 1999.
The ability to link up disparate entities (years) without disrupting the symmetry of events is a mark of genius. Only God and exceptional individuals do such successfully.
God Himself sets seasons and times for us. Our compartmentalisation of timelines is not necessarily God’s time. We are told in the scriptures that His idea of one day is equivalent to a thousand years in our understanding of events. Some people get into government but shy away from appropriating time more creatively to get things done. Without a plausible plan, such people end up waiting endlessly either for God to strike a miracle or Godot to appear.
The new year for us in Nigeria is basically a case of old wine in new bottles. We appear to have celebrated a new year without much thought to the newness or otherwise of its activities. We keep recycling old ideas every year and yet expecting a different outcome. We are still saddled with the burdens and challenges of the outgone year just as we have carried over the habits of the past that perpetually retard our growth as a nation.
I sincerely pray that the year 2023 being an election year, should accord us the opportunity to elect a more foresighted leadership that could initiate legitimate rolling plans that should make us see the difference between a new era of development and the failures of yesteryears. That way, carryovers may cease to be regarded as isolated obnoxious habits inherited from the past years but a consistent pattern of civilization in a given era.
Prof. Shija writes from Makurdi, Benue State.