There is something magically renewing about a new year. The evocation of a crisp blank page, a fresh start, a re-birth, a chance to start over, makes things right and end situations or habits we know are unhealthy. No wonder there is so much excitement about the New Year – the explosion of lights and sounds, the pops of celebration- pure hope and energy. Never mind that the good intentions and resolutions are soon forgotten under the harsh lights of reality– here are some of the resolutions I wish Nigerians would make.
I will leave religion out of public issues
This resolution should ideally read ‘I will stop being a hypocrite’ but this tag applies to so many things that it is better to be specific about the particular hypocrisy. Its application would be a little different for those who work in government and those who do not. At most ministries, agencies and departments across federal and state governments and in the National and state assemblies, meetings usually start and end with prayers and it is unnecessary. Not just because corruption, debauchery and other social ills thrive in the hearts of most of the participants and even within the meetings, but because we live in a country where religion influences way too much of our politics, policy and public discourse. It is virtually impossible today to speak to any politician for more than five minutes without key religious phrases being thrown ostentatiously into the conversation – even if you are talking about fertilizer.
For others – who wage pseudo religious wars on Twitter, Facebook, BBM, WhatsApp trying to outdo each other with the verses of the Quran and Bible which apply to every scenario…please stop it – the way you live your life is example enough. A friend from one of the more developed countries where Nigerians love to shop, live and educate their children once confided that the level of religion evoking words (God, prayer, worship etc.) in the most casual conversation of the average educated Nigeria is startling and would be considered most impolite and suspect in her home town. Every time you are tempted to dump half of your religious text in a BBM message or send alarming ‘our religion is under attack’ messages, please think of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation that ‘the louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons’.
I will be content…
This resolution is not an attempt to take away personal ambition, women’s rights to Botox or men’s’ rights to performance enhancing drugs – it is merely an acceptance that engineer, architect, deaconess are not the right prefixes to your name. Admittedly, this resolution should ideally be “I will be content with my name” but it might not evoke the right amount of curiosity. I am not aware of a single place else where ‘Pharm’ is added on a business card before the person’s name. Ask most Nigerians with a profession what their name is and you’ll hear my names are Chief Mrs. Accountant Folorunsho Mohammed or Barrister Bode Obi. This is a sign of insecurity, delusions of grandeur and even low self-esteem – what is wrong with just your name? For women married to public figures, the new thing is to drop your name all together and say ‘Hi, I am Mrs. Tony Ekumeku or Mrs. Jim Opia. For Pete’s sake…is that your name? Mr. or Mrs. is not on your birth certificate. Why do you feel your name is not enough? I promise you all that angst you feel about people not being impressed enough by you will evaporate with the adoption of this resolution.
I will stop being an asshole
This is the last resolution because who could possibly undertake to make more than 3 changes to their life in one year? This is a tricky one because you might not know that you are one but everyone else does. According to Aaron James in the national (you know that means USA) bestselling book ‘Assholes- A theory’ – the quintessential asshole question is ‘do you know who I am?’ Enough said; the guilty and innocent are now aware. I will go out on a limb and add that if you drive a car and act like the road will be rolled up and pulled away from under your tires if you act courteous and let a car or two get ahead of you – then you are an asshole too.
Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 (minus 5) page book. Write a good one – Brad Paisley (& Ayisha Osori – I added the ‘minus 5’).
Happy New Year – make 2015 special.
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