So, we are well into the new year and everything seems to be settling nicely into the same pattern. School fees have been paid (with great discomfort in most cases), the kids are digging into their academics and we are all back to the routine of our everyday lives of work, church or mosque, the occasional social event and so on and so on. The pleasant (and not so pleasant) Christmas and new year festivities are fast become distant memories as we look ahead for what the new year portends.

I wonder how many of you good people made new year resolutions. Keeping new year resolutions can be one of the trickiest and most difficult things to do. In the euphoria of the new year celebrations when you are feeling spiritual and repentant of all past contraventions of holy laws, you make all kinds of promises to the Almighty to be a better person.

Well, you try for the first couple of days to keep the resolutions and if you are strong enough, for the first couple of weeks and if you are really into it, then maybe for the first couple of months before the temptations of February 14 steps in.

That date, dear people, separates the boys from the men and the women from the girls because it throws up the ultimate test in endurance, perseverance, patience, inner strength and sheer willpower to resist and overcome. As I write, a couple of wicked fellows who were all acting contrite and repentant just a couple of weeks ago are already plotting “notorious” on how to “groove” February 14.

Personally, I don’t make new year resolutions. What I do instead is make a mental note of all the things I need to do to improve myself and take one day at a time. Self-improvement is never accomplished in one day and the most difficult battles to fight and win are battles against oneself. So, dear people if you have made a resolution, endeavour to keep it and keep on the good fight.

Now, for the gist of the day. Preparations for the 2019 elections are reaching a crescendo as the political actors are going on whirlwind tours across the country and drawing massive crowds in all the stop overs. A fellow said it is when you see these number of people screaming and shouting and pushing and shoving that you will question the population figures ascribed to Nigeria. According to him we might not even be the 180 million people they say we are. We are most likely more.

I tried to explain to him that you cannot ascertain the population of a country just by looking at the number of screaming, shouting people at a political rally in a small municipal stadium. But the fellow was not ready to listen and began to try to prove his theory by bringing up mathematical theories and formulas that included advanced calculus, probability theories (or theorems) and even some quantum physics. And since, none of those were my strong points (I parted ways amicably with mathematics in form one) I let the miserable blighter be.

What is not in doubt however is that political events and activities are reaching feverish pitches and one must literally be living under a rock or a bat infested cave not to be caught up in the euphoria of it all.

A discussion with some egg heads however spurred some debates as to whether the general populace is as fired up about the elections as they have been about some others in the past.

 A Professor and expert in brand promotion and management said none of the  dominant political parties have a single catch phrase that captures and sells its message. We asked what he meant and he gave two examples. The first he said was the 1993 presidential elections held on June 12th (which has now been declared Nigeria’s democracy day). The message of the campaign was simple and straight to the point; “Hope” he said was the message that caught on and epitomised all that the candidature of Moshood Abiola stood for. The second he said was “Change” which galvanised Nigerians into voting for the ruling party in 2015.

He said he was yet to see the kind of energy and enthusiasm for the electoral process for the 2019 elections as was displayed in 1993 and 2015 and this he blamed on the lack of a single message or catch phrase that tells what the entire campaign and the candidate was about.

 A few people in the group tried to take him up on his position and tempers quickly flared up with different people throwing up ridiculous and sometimes hilarious points of arguments. If saner (and sober) heads had not prevailed, there is no doubt that the professors and ordinarily well-respected members of society would have engaged themselves in fisticuffs.

Here now lies the point dear people.  Fist fights were prevented because reasonable heads prevailed. In most cases tempers overflow and caution is thrown to the wind and before you know it violence is unleashed. All you have to do to understand what I am saying is to go to the newspaper stand where members of the free readers association congregate or other public places like market places, malls or even offices.

Political discussions at this period are especially passionate and the speakers are propelled by sentiments other than the noble. Most times, arguments are based either on religious or ethnic positions which are really and truly entrenched.

We owe it a duty to ourselves and the people of our great city not to escalate already tense situations. So, if walking by the newspaper stand and you hear somebody making statements that make your blood boil or head spin in irritation, please walk on. Do not engage in political discussions that have the potentials of escalating beyond words.

In other words, when you hear or see something please say nothing and simply move on. You must resist the temptation of trying to prove a point especially in public places or to people you don’t know very well. For all you know, certain people might just be in certain places to provoke reactions from others in order to incite trouble. Please, make your point and voices heard with your votes and not your fists.

So once more dear people, if you see or hear something annoying, irrational of even outrightly stupid in the days leading up to these elections please say nothing and simply move on. And if what you see or hear is criminal in nature then report to the appropriate authorities. This is  when to err on the side of caution.

Thank you.