Every new year all over the world is usually celebrated with pomp and pageantry.
It is always heralded with exuberance and optimism, not just in celebration of life, but also in celebration of hope – that whatever was wrong in the fading year can be corrected in the succeeding year and whatever was done right before can be made better.
It is mostly a celebration of new opportunities globally.
But what is it about this year 2020?
Barely 3 days into the new year, a United States drone strike near Baghdad International Airport targeted and killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Soleimani was considered the second most powerful figure in Iran after the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Nine other high profile military figures were also killed in the strike.
Iranian leaders vowed revenge while the U.S. government vowed the harshest response in case of any Iranian attack.
The world was suddenly thrown into panic over the possibility of a global war.
Five days after the airstrike, Iran launched a series of missile attacks on U.S. forces based in Iraq. Thankfully, no American lives were lost.
But that was not going to be the end of it.
On the same 8th of January 2020, Boeing 737-800 – a Ukraine International Airline plane containing 176 passengers and crews on a scheduled International passenger flight from Tehran to Kiev was shot down shortly after take-off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. None of the precious souls on board the plane survived.
The world switched from panic to mourning. Innocent promising lives have been cut off unjustly.
On the 26th of January 2020, a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California. It was carrying legendary NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13 year-old daughter Gianna, 6 other passengers and the pilot. All nine souls on board perished in the crash.
Kobe wasn’t just a great basketball player, he was a great father, a good husband and a decent human being.
Oh Lord! Why Kobe? Why Gianna? Why not some useless political leader or some fraudulent rich man or some high profile terrorist?
After air and water, food is the next most important substance to life. Now, that is also under threat.
In late January, swarms of desert Locusts invaded Ethiopia and from there spread into East Africa. As locusts devour crops in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the insects are breeding in Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan. Swarms have arrived in Uganda and have also crossed into Tanzania.
The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned of an unprecedented threat to global food supply. The organization further stated that the number of locusts in East Africa could expand 500 times by June.
Now the desert locust is by far the most dangerous of the locust species. If a single swarm comes into a farmer’s field in the morning, it would have eaten the entire field by midday.
That one field represents the entire livelihood of a farmer.
Now that smells like big trouble for global food supply.
It appears Boko Haram terrorists came into 2020 with a new year resolution to wreak havoc on innocent lives. Sometimes in January 2020, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika local government area of Adamawa state, Rev Lawan Andimi was beheaded. Another pastor was abducted and killed almost at the same time.
The terrorist group has been killing innocent lives, especially Christians, with restless frenzy ever since.
To add salt to an already excruciating open wound, some numskulls within the Nigerian political leadership are considering creating a bill to grants heartless murderous Boko Haram terrorists amnesty.
Excuse me! Who does that?
Now to the one that I have saved for the last – the dreaded coronavirus code named COVID-19.
The coronavirus outbreak started in December 2019 and became an issue of global concern beginning from January 2020. It was first identified in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei in China.
The coronavirus is highly contagious and spread between people via respiratory droplets. The incubation period is said to be usually between 2 to 14 days and symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The virus was soon carried to other countries by international travelers and has currently touched every continent in the world except for Antarctica.
As of 24th of February 2020, about 79,364 cases have been confirmed, including in all provinces of China and more than 24 other countries. Of these, 11,569 cases were classified as serious, 2,619 deaths were attributed to the disease and 24,974 people have since recovered.
The virus outbreak. is having negative effects on global business markets and economies are spiraling down.
At first, the world thought the disease originated from some aquatic life at a Wuhan market, now there are hushed tones all over the world about the possibility that the disease was manufactured in a laboratory as a form of bio-weapon.
I hope too much knowledge will not wipe out the human race.
On the 26th of February 2020, an Italian citizen was tested positive for coronavirus in Nigeria.
In every country where a first victim was discovered, more follows. Considering that this Italian must have come in contact with some Nigerians before being tested positive, it is reasonable to assume that more cases are bound to follow.
What makes the coronavirus particularly deadly is that it is infectious even before the victim starts showing signs of infection.
Watching the interview of former Director of America’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tom Friedman, on the Amanpour programme on CNN, this was his verdict concerning the virus spread – a pandemic is inevitable.
Two things scares me when I consider that the coronavirus is now in Lagos.
The first thing is that the Nigerian state has a poor healthcare system. Ordinary Lassa fever is still shaking the healthcare table. Countries like China, South Korea and Italy with far better healthcare systems are still struggling to contain the virus with new cases still being recorded.
The second scary factor is that Lagos is a heavily congested city with poor urban management. In such a climate, the virus could have free migration like no other.
I mean, have you considered what could happen if a coronavirus patient board a BRT bus or one of those yellow buses? Those heavily packed BRT and yellow buses!
And I hear that the virus finds it difficult to thrive under heat conditions. Well, after a long stretch of extreme heat, a mild rain fell on the 28th of February 2020.
I think the rain can hold on for now. We are just fine with the heat conditions right now.
So what is it about this new year? Why is it starting on such scary and negative notes globally?
I think the world wouldn’t mind a 2020 restart.