Vanguard (Lagos)

4 January 2013

Nigeria: Breaking the Vicious Cycle of New Year Resolution

opinion

The new year is a time to reflect on the changes we want or need to make in our lives. CHARLES ADINGUPU writes on the many challenges that confront Nigerians while engaging in this near futile ritual in a society in transition.

Again and again, Peter Oteh, (not real names) recalled with pains the frequent failed attempts to stop cigarette smoking. Last year, he vowed never to go back to the old habit. But before the middle of the year, Peter was found with a packet of cigarette tucked at his breast pocket. Just like a fading shadow, the year 2012 has come to an abrupt end with Peter, yet again, making a bag of new year resolutions.

First, he bought packet of his brand of cigarette and exhausted all at a go. Thereafter, he vowed never to resume the habit. But how long can he go this year, will become a discourse for another day.

But this is contrary to Michael Henchard, the protagonist of Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge who is annoyed that his career is not developing as fast as his ambitions. After drinking heavily at a fair, he auctions off his wife and young daughter to the highest bidder, a passing sailor.

However, Henchard gradually wakes up to the realisation of is own faults and he proceeded to a stream, and made a vow never to drink alcohol again. Although, Henchard later regrets this action, his wife Susan has by now disappeared and Henchard moves off to another area to make his fortune as he emerged one of the richest corn merchant in Caster-bridge.

But for most Nigerians, making new year resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and ultimately reinforces humility - breaking them is part of the cycle.

Generally, new year means new beginnings and everybody wants to start it right. This has made new year resolutions to become almost like a tradition. These new year resolutions are made and must be achieved within the year. Ordinarily, resolutions are motivations to achieve different goals.

Funny New Year Resolutions

No doubt new year heralds hope, optim-ism, aspirations and the realization of ambitions. Hence, everyone loves new year, something new to look forward to. It has become a tradition to make new year resolutions for the upcoming year. These resolutions are not far from what we want to change in our lives. What do we want to improve and so on.

For 32 years-old Essien Ufok, his repulsive habit of turning his wife into a punching bag is what he has vowed to stop. "This is a new year, I promise not to beat up my wife again.

Though, she's a mischievous woman but I'll try to control my temper. It's true I hit at her at the slightest provocation but I've come to the realisation that my son is gradually growing up to become a man who may see my action as justified. I treasure the future of my children,"he told Vanguard.

But people in the neighbourhood said that Essien has taken the spanking of his wife as a regular part-time. On several occasions, the wife has been rushed to the hospital after her husband beat her to coma.

However, for most Nigerians, new year resolutions only involves doing away with perceived old habits that are often difficult to jettison. Hence, Adesola Bose, a member of the Celestial Church of Christ in Lagos told the Vanguard that she will no longer eat okro or ogbono soup as it's aginst her religions belief.

"We cele, don't eat draw soup because of the spiritual implications in our lives. Although, it's delicacy I enjoy eating but as it is today, I've come to the realisation that it affects my spiritual growth," she said.

Fortunately, this may not be the first time, Bose resolved never to feast on this special delicacy as she has failed in her two previous attempts to keep her vow only to fall back to it less than few weeks after she reached a compromise to put on hold her large appetite for okro soup.

For most Nigerian men, drinking spree has become an established part time, another way of calming frayed nerves. Old habit, they say, die hard, most times, some Nigerians resolved never to go back to drinking again but before the cock crows the next day, a bottle of beer will be seen sitting comfortably in front of them.

I've tried unsuccessfully to stop drinking but all to no avail. I can't imagine myself making another new year resolution when I know I can't keep to it, says Anthony Nwafor, a Lagos based banker.

But 38-year-old Justine Iroh said that his major concern is how to establish harmony among his family members which over the years has been enmeshed in series of domestic crisis.

"I'll be a happy man if only my two wives will reconciled their long years of differences. This is my new year resolution irrespective of what I will cost me to achieve,"he said.

The best new year resolutions

As the year 2012 eventually closes its eye, to usher in a new year, we all begin afresh to jettison those aspects of our lives inimical to our individual growth and development. This, ordinarily, is perceived as new year resolutions. Even though we didn't write everything down, at least, we do know in our minds that we're striving for change and improvement in this 2013. But how long do we hold unto to this resolve is another kettle of fish.

As for Michael Uzezi, a computer scientist, new year resolution is all about trying new things and forging ahead if mistakes were made in the process.

His words: "I hope that this year, you make mistakes because if you're making mistakes, then, you're making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world, you're doing things you never done before and more importantly, you are doing something," he said.

Also for Musa Haruna, the loftier the new year resolution, the tougher it is to hang on to. It takes steely nerves to live by what you resolve.

Therefore, for Haruna, it's better to make simple but plain new year resolution that will not be difficult to adhere to.

According to him, experience has shown that the more complicated the resolutions are, the more difficult it becomes to keep.

Ordinarily, people make new year resolutions to change themselves in the year ahead but what good thing will they do to others next is a question that nobody has attempted to answer.

But for Emmanuel Uwadiegwu, new year resolutions have become pointless because most people only stick to them for about a month after they were meant and then go back to their old habits.

According to Uwadiegwu, the problem at the moment, is breaking this vicious circle of new year resolutions which has become a ritual among Nigerians.

New year resolutions, he noted, though, help to reshape our lives but are not by force as they help us forge on better, help us avoid the mistakes which tried to hold us back in the past.

Investigation has shown that most new year resolutions are only repeated by those who indulged in the habit of making them. However, for those who failed to keep to them, blamed their inability to do so on the dwindling fortune of the nation's economy.

Problems of new year resolutions

Usually, every new year resolutions had to do with doing away with old dirty habits as smoking, drinking, keeping late nights, clubing and womanising.

Barely two years after Clement Godswill resolved to stop cigarette smoking, he reclined to it after he lost his once robust banking job to the Mallam Sanusi Lamido's reform. "Since then, getting a new job has become a problem. I can't cater for my immediate family talkless of hordes of my extended family members who still need one assistance or the other from me.

For now, I only take solace in smoking cigarette just to bury this ugly past experience, even though the relief is only momentary,"he said.

Until recently, 58-year-old Samuel Adeniran drinks only beer and assorted hot drinks. Just five years ago, he agreed to quit the habit with the prompting of his wife, Mrs. Alice Adeniran who had repeatedly complain of his uncontrollable drinking habit that gulp so much money. But in less than two years afterward, Adeniran was visited by tragedies. First, he lost his most beloved wife in a mysterious circumstances, leaving him to cate for their three children all by himself.

However, while he was yet to recover from that shock, he lost his job. All efforts to get a new job hit brick wall. Left with no option, he resolved to do menial jobs just to keep his children alife.

Today, the fast aging Adeniran who resides at Ajegunle in Apapa has fallen back to his old habit - drinking uncontrollably, but this time, not beer and assorted hot drinks but local gin otherwise known as ogogoro commonly referred to in local parlance as paraga.

Though, Adeniran has often defended his drinking habit by claiming that the local gin has medicinal value.

Norbert Ofuani is a bubbling youngman but reputed in his home base as a polygamous bachelor. Like most men whose romantic escapedes are no longer secrets, Norbert, sometime two years ago, attempted to put his unflinching womanising habit to check, only to fall back on it again after a night party away from his neighbourhood.

"Many times I've tried unsuccessfully to stop womanising but something always come up to put that resolution to test. Unfortunately, I always fail. For reasons beyond my understanding. But this year, I hope to stick to my resolution until I get married anytime soon," he said.

For unknown reasons, most people failed to keep their new year resolutions only to repeat the same a year after and repeat them again the preceding year, perhaps until success attains their efforts.

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