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By Morak Babajide-Alabi
This is the conclusion of the three-part compilation of my views and opinions on events in 2019. It was a bit challenging getting them together for a compact presentation, especially with the recent world events. Last year was quite significant in the history of the last decade. As a result, I tried as much as possible to write on some of the events that defined the year.
In the course of achieving this, I realised that I wrote more on BREXIT than any other subject. This is understandable. I live in the United Kingdom; thus, I am more affected by events in the country than any other place in the world. For the past three years, BREXIT has been the main focus of all discussions in the country. Although I wondered the unnecessary burden David Cameron’s government placed on the citizens.
2019 is gone. 2020 is turning out to be more eventful. The activities of the last few days have aroused us to the fact that this decade will throw up more surprises than the last. There have been some natural and man-made occurrences that are threatening the peace of the world and there are no signs of these ending soon.
The Australia fire which started late last year has continued till date increasing the death toll by the days. Over 200 homes have been destroyed in the fires, and almost half a million animals are dead or injured. Prime Minister Scott Morrison experienced the backlash of his people as he was accused of doing little to assuage their wounds. He was heckled on his visits to the affected areas. You wonder if these political leaders ever have good thoughts towards their subjects. If Morrison did, he took him quite some time to show his people.
Nature came out to play last week in Puerto Rico when an earthquake of 6.4 magnitudes hit the country. This prompted the government to declare a state of emergency, and members of the National Guard drafted in for recovery. It destroyed the country’s main electricity generating facility and rendered many citizens homeless. This was a critical disaster for a country recovering from the September 2017 Hurricane Maria which, according to reports, killed 2,975 people and caused damage of up to $100 billion.
The Iranians started the year on a bad note. The country, mourning the death of the head of its elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, in the hands of United States forces, was hit by two severe earthquakes. Mother nature does not mourn. Soleimani was killed alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the militia – Popular Mobilisation Forces. The killing was the culmination of months (years) of hostilities between Iran and the US. The Iranian leaders described the attack as an act of “international terrorism” and promised “hard revenge.” The US claimed it acted in self-defence as Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
The “hard revenge” was carried out last week, but it was below the scale the world had expected. The damage was minimal and a promise that it won’t take any new military steps if there are no further aggressions from the US. The playout of the drama had melted the tension around the world. However, Iran will have to explain the crash of the Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran. All fingers point to a fatal error on their part as Western powers maintain it was a missile from them that caused the crash. These are dramatic events.
Just as we were getting our heads around the events in the Middle East, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan dropped a bombshell. They announced “resignation” from their roles as “senior royals.” Their decision is causing ripples in the royal family and the general public, but you cannot fault the couple. They have been subjects of constant negative press in recent times. I am guessing they took this decision, so they could step away from public scrutiny while they enjoy their lives. As this is a developing story, it will be in the public domain for some time to come.
2019 IN RETROSPECT (3)
The chances of Jo Swinson, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Liberal Democrat of occupying 10 Downing Street were very slim. She was a long shot, but not because she was unqualified. No. If politics works according to wishes, she would be the Prime Minister.
Swinson was elected leader a few months earlier making her the most youthful leader of the Lib Dem till date. She looked like the new deal – the modern alternative to Labour and Conservative Parties. At this time, all the drama on the modalities for exiting the European Union was in full play. Swinson perceived this as an opportunity to push her ideology. But the extremity of this shocked many people, including her supporters.
Looking directly into the camera, she said: “The first task is clear. We must stop BREXIT. And we are crystal clear: a Liberal Democrat majority government will revoke Article 50 on day one.” The rapturous applause in the hall did not, however, reflect the mood in the country. The general public thought she had lost her mind.
At the end of the gamble, Swinson not only lost her seat in last December’s General Election but also the leadership of her party. She resigned as a result of the humiliation. The steam she exhibited at the start of the campaign became painful “huffs” for her and the team. This showed how disconnected the Lib Dem was to the cause of the majority of citizens.
Swinson had company in Nigel Farage, the leader of BREXIT party. It was a show of shame as his party did not win a seat. This has left analysts wondering if the result would finally consign this “nationalist” into the dustbin of history. For the Labour Party, things will no longer be the same for Jeremy Corbyn or the party. His leadership style divided the party resulting in the exodus of loyal members. He lost all the grounds gained in the 2017 election to infighting, breakaways and lack of clear vision for the UK. He will play a backbench politics in this new decade.
In October, Nigeria marked her 59th independence anniversary. It was a time for celebrations as fifty-nine years in the life of a country is no mean feat. It was thus symbolic, especially for a country that has been through many challenges. In Nigeria, hope is never in short supply. But at no time is the currency of hope more alive than around the Independence Day celebration events.
Nigeria is on bended knees, struggling to stand straight. She is in this position as a result of the misuse of the natural and Human Resources that abound in the country. The reality of today does not reflect the dreams of opportunities, jobs, housing facilities, better infrastructures, etc. of the forefathers. The political leaders are incapable of accomplishing anything. Individuals touted as messiahs have become liabilities because the citizens like to worship the “messiahs” as “gods” and do their bidding.
The events of 2019 will be incomplete without a mention of Prince Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth. He dragged the royal name through the mud by his association with a convicted sex offender. The damage would have been minimal if the Prince had kept his mouth shut afterwards. No. He decided to go public on his denials and in the process exposed himself further.
In all, 2019 was a great year for some. It ended on a high note for Boris Johnson, Volodymyr Zelensky, Anthony Joshua and many others. Looking forward to a better 2020.
As written for the Diaspora Matters Column, Sunday Vanguard, January 12, 2020.