Insights on Edo 2024, By Michael Ovienmhada
Michael Ovienmhada

“Against all odds and projections of doom and gloom—we stand.”

These were the words of the most unlikely hero of the year 2022, Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine as he addressed the United States Congress on December the 21st, 2022.

It was a beautiful way to wind down a year that began with Putin huffing and puffing, breathing threats against a much smaller country, an old friend, an old foe, depending on which decade you want to look at or which century you want to examine. Between Ukraine and Russia, it has been a ding, and dong affair for hundreds of years. On February 24th, old animosities boiled over as Putin began to amass forces of Armageddon on the borders of Ukraine. The world begged him to leave the smaller country alone. He said no.

They left him alone.

Here we are, ten months later. As in Afghanistan, mighty Russia is bogged down in Ukraine with an army that knows not why she fights.

Therein lies the difference between Russian and Ukrainian fighters.

Russia had forgotten the lessons of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it would never have gone ahead to invade Ukraine willy-nilly.

Here’s my analogy in street-speak. Russia is a big bully. Ukraine is a tiny boy who has an uncle who is big and strong and indestructible. His name is Mike Tyson.

In many ways, the war in Ukraine came to define much of 2022 as it created a cog in the supply chain of food and energy products thus fueling inflation across the world, and a palpable fear of recession despite strong employment growth in the US.

The year thus winds down with as fine a quotable quote as it began: “I do not need a ride,” Zelensky had said in February, “I need guns.”

In Israel, the return of Netanyahu holds as much hope for peace as there is, hope for snow, in the Sahara desert. The Middle-East region will continue to be a hotbed for Hamas to do its havoc as it continues to expect no less of a brutal response from Netanyahu. He does not take prisoners. Bibi having snubbed Obama in 2015 when he worked out a deal with Speaker John Boehner to address the US Congress, I do not think he should be expecting a red carpet from Biden.

Let no one be deceived by Biden’s outward frailness. He had been preparing for this job for a long time. Biden is tough as nails.

The predicted red wave to annihilate the Democrats in the midterms failed to materialize. The Republicans barely took the House as the Democrats gained one more seat in the Senate. The rejoicing was short lived as Kristen Sinema of Arizona put a pin in the balloon announcing she was switching her Party affiliation to Independent. She loves drama. She delivered drama.

In what seemed like a Grand Finale, the January 6th Committee concluded its work and released its final report. Having made referrals for criminal charges to the Department of Justice, it is to be seen if some people are above the law or if Lady Justice is indeed blind.

Elsewhere around the world in my beautiful, and beloved country, Nigeria, preparations have been in top gear for next year’s presidential elections. Whoever wins among the top three candidates will have their job cut out for them. The mainstay of the Nigerian economy, Oil, has been hijacked by unknown oil thieves. The country is over borrowed both internally, and externally. Nigeria must make itself over to become a production oriented country if it is to dig itself out of the hole.

Who will do it for us?

In Iran, the resistance against authoritarianism continues even as rioters are being tried in overnight constituted kangaroo courts and sent to the Hangman. The people are undeterred. It will be interesting to see who will be first to blink—-the people or the Ayatollahs.

As the senseless war raged on in Ukraine, and the Ayatollahs rained bullets on their people, Qatar was putting on a spectacular display, hosting the world to a gathering of superstars. The finale was an epic battle, a Thriller in Qatar. The world sat on their seats’ edge as the match went into extra time and then, penalties. The end was bitter for a surging Mbappe, and sweet for Lionel, who, on the cusp of aging out of the game, finally got to the mountaintop to establish himself in the pantheon of soccer gods.

Good job, Messi. You showed us the virtue of never giving up.

I was a mere boy when Pélé and his team visited Nigeria for a game on the invitation of our sports-loving governor, Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia.

I made it to the vicinity on that day at the Ogbe Stadium, but could not make it inside as the crowd was overwhelming. It was a pleasure all the same to be within a few hundred yards of one of the greatest humans God ever placed on this earth. A man of immense talent, deep faith, and plenteous in humility. He would always say:

“God gave me this talent.”

Bye-bye Megastar—King of Football, inventor of the Samba game, the most beautiful game of 22 humans chasing a round object around the field.

King Pélé, adieu.

On a personal note, let me tell you this: 2022 was a most beautiful year. I hope it was for you too, my friends. As we waltz into the New Year, 2023, it is my prayer for you, that all the desires of your heart will be established.

Carry on with hope, and as Winston Churchill once said whilst delivering probably the shortest speech ever recorded in history—-he walked up to the podium—everyone had been waiting for this great man to finally deliver a long speech of hope and advice. He said: “Never, never, never give up.”

Happy New Year!!!!

Michael (O’meekey) Ovienmhada.
Author, Poet, Playwright, and Public Affairs Commentator.

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