What was regarded by many as the most anticipated year turned out to be the most dreaded year that people would want to forget in a hurry.
Many had hoped that the new decade would kick start an era of revolution in global technology and human innovation. Plans for the new decade were at an all-time high as the long-awaited 2020 was viewed with robust and cheerful outlook.
However, it seems the year already had some ulterior plans well laid out and the world just couldn’t swim against the tide. There was no room for escape as the global pandemic prevailed worldwide and every person experienced the constraints that accompanied the year.
Discover Magazine stated that the year 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the toughest ever.
We would always link 2020 with a pandemic that caused millions of deaths and led to the shut-down of countries. The impact has been gravely felt on the world economy as borders were closed impeding trade. It has also revealed how connected we all are, interdependence is really what sustains the world. This has led to a recession in some countries as the pandemic has put millions of people out of work.
The global pandemic has taught us that the large world is still a small boat. We all will be affected by what goes on in other countries. Over the years, nations have turned a blind eye to the plight and challenges of other nations. The COVID-19 infection has painfully taught us of the need to globally cooperate early enough in fighting whatever seems to be a threat to humanity as it will in the long run spread to other countries. ‘An infection anywhere is an infection everywhere’, says Governor Cuomo of New York. In the early season of the pandemic when it was only prevalent in China, if all nations had responded to the urgency of the situation, there could have been fewer casualties or an earlier cure.
Many Nigerians have been made unemployed due to the Covid-19, 27% of Nigeria’s labour force (about 21 million Nigerians) are unemployed. Also, there have been lower volumes of exports such as oil. This has made the economy contract by 6.1% year on year in the second quarter. World Bank forecasts that Nigeria is now in her worst recession in four decades, revealing little sign of a quick recovery.
The year 2020 will also be remembered for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest over George Floyd’s death in the U.S. Floyd was abused by a police officer, Derek Chauvin who kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, even as Mr. Floyd repeatedly said ‘I can’t breathe’ and eventually died.
Mr. Floyd’s death is one of the myriads of abuses suffered by the black race in the USA. Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner were also victims of racism by the police. It elicited reactions all over the world. Thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest against racism. The demonstration was across all 50 states and DC, including in cities and rural communities that are predominantly white. The protest was the largest in US history. Arson, vandalism, and looting between May 26 and June 8 were tabulated to have caused $1–2 billion in insured damages nationally—the highest recorded damage from civil disorder in U.S. history.
Another tragic incident of 2020 was the Australia fire that burned down 46 million acres in March, destroying the habitats of more than 800 vertebrae species alone. Over 5900 buildings including 2,779 homes were destroyed and at least 34 people were killed. Economists estimated that the Australian bushfires may cost over A$103 billion in property damage and economic losses. This is Australia’s costliest natural disaster to date.
Tourism sector revenues fell by more than A$1 billion. Nearly 80 percent of Australians were affected either directly or indirectly by the bushfires.
The #ENDSars protest in Nigeria against police brutality in October 2020 will always be remembered as one of the events that shook the country. The nation is yet to recover from the rippling effect of the protest.
The protest was a call for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses. It later became a protest against bad governance.
The protest was taken over by hoodlums who vandalized shops, raided warehouses and targeted the businesses of prominent politicians.
According to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, 73 persons died as a result of the violence among whom were 22 police officers. These statistics were collated between October 11, 2020, when the #EndSARS protest assumed a national dimension, and October 27, 2020, days after the protest but different reports claim over 100 lives were lost to the crisis.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed that an estimated N700bn was lost in economic value by Nigeria but some other economic experts put the loss beyond a trillion Naira.
After the rampage, 205 critical national security assets, corporate facilities, and private property were attacked, burnt, or vandalized. An estimated 71 public warehouses and 248 private stores were also looted in 13 states after the largely peaceful protest was hijacked by miscreants. Out of the 36 states in Nigeria, southern states were most hit by the carnage. The states are Lagos, Edo, Delta, Oyo, Kano, Plateau, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, Imo, and Ekiti states, as well as FCT.
The year 2020 has been a call for an evaluation. Marcelo Gleiser of CNN Opinion stated that ‘the year 2020 will be remembered as a turnaround point in human history’. According to him, ‘it’s not just because many died, but because the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was offering us a chance to reinvent ourselves.’
Despite the dark cloud that filled most of the year, there is every reason to be grateful as we have survived a year that claimed the lives of millions. We reflect on the people long gone, loved ones, influential personalities, and realize that we have been allowed to view life from a different perspective. We have been granted the opportunity to think about what counts, the reason for existence, our contribution to society, and appreciate the blessings of friends and loved ones. We enter into the year 2021 with a clear focus and new appreciation for life.