Monday, 24 February 2014
Christmas; Occasion To Engage By Hannatu Musawa
Yes, it’s Christmas time again. For every Christian and some non Christians, it’s a time of generosity, a time to serve, to feed, make memories, a time to be with family, to celebrate, to rest, a time to clothe and care for the needy and a time to wish a stranger Merry Christmas with a smile. Within the next few days, many communities across Nigeria will hold their different traditional Christmas celebrations and festivals and gather to renew family bonds. But as loved ones and friends gather, the ensuing ambience in Nigeria today resulting from the persistent ineffectiveness of government is sure to cast a damper on the yultide merriment.
The Christmas period has always been an expensive time, but as time goes by in this country, due to the economic hardship, the challenge of observing this holiday to it’s full capacity is greatly diminished. Many breadwinners have become victims to the dearth of money in the system. Familys hoping to travel to their hometowns and villages are faced with the prospect of the high cost of the trip home predictably as well as possible elongated fuel queues. The traditional meal of rice and chicken is no longer widely available to many homes across the nation.
Needless to say, in addition to the individual trials Nigerians face in making this Christmas a half way decent one, the political atmosphere abound has forced the average Nigerian to ponder further about the future of this country. Whether we are talking about the zoning malarkey, or the intended manipulation of the populace with several political sit tight gimmicks, splitting up the country or whether we are questioning ourselves as to whether we were ever a nation of laws and constitutional democracy, Nigerians remain mystified and in the dark as to the genuine intent and purpose of our brand of government.
While hardly anyone in this country is under any illusions as to the sincerity of most government officials and their engagement to the plight of the masses, the means and manner of most of them has been, needless to say, quite pathetic. Since our independence, when the first set of government officials came on the scene, they were still practicing the brand of governance that the colonialists left with them. That was a kind of governance where officials communicated with the public in order to ascertain the real issues that underline the relative problems of the day. Government officials back then considered the people’s mandate and asked questions from the masses in order to map out formidable strategies that had the capacity to revitalize the nation. But alas, that is not the trend we witness in the governance of today, because our brand of governance as it stands now is one of power grabbing and control of the treasury of the nation, without any consideration for the Nigerian people. The original way of communicating with Nigerians is not evident anywhere in the States or at the Centre. Instead what we have are government officials and politicians who are more or less regional chiefs, who only believe in getting into office by the power and might of their insulated cartel.
In the present day economic and political situation in Nigeria, there is need for our leaders to map out a strategy where the various national issues are dealt with using people oriented solutions. The Nigerian people live in agony. The pertinent questions that are peculiar to all Nigerians, the downtrodden and the oppressed are the following; how are we going to be provided with a decent standard of living, good roads, good schools, food, adequate healthcare, power and electricity, security of life and property, employment for all our children that have passed out from the various tertiary institutions and have unity and peace? These are some of the questions that have been left unanswered by the government. These are the questions that the government has to debate and discuss with the Nigerian people for the people to have a meaningful existence and for them to have their very basic entitlement.
Every Nigerian has a right to exercise their God given potentials to the fullest, regardless of their place or standard of birth. Nigerians are yearning for a better means of living and it is time for us to have a vitalized political and social environment that will create an atmosphere whereby Nigerians will have sound mind and sound body. The Nigerian people are yearning for a social order where the nation will be self sufficient so that we can have an abundance of food, constant power supply, good roads, unity, peace, understanding and essential facilities obtainable in all other reasonable environments. That is what the Nigerian people are yearning for. Those are the issues that are still to be addressed.
Currently, government officials are not accountable; they do not need to sell their values or policies to the people. As long as they have made the cut to be in government, as long as they and their families are properly catered for, the rest of the population can go to the netherworld. As stake holders in this country, we should not accept the things we constantly complain about and know that we have the power to take our future into our hands; once we are organised and objective.
Nigeria stands at the precipice of its existence as a confused and splintered nation. As we approach Christmas, move forth towards New Year and catch a glimpse of what we should expect in these few years leading up to the elections of 2015, we must display the initiative to take control of our future. We must douse our anxiety and any justifiable concern we feel over our prospect and the issues that continue to plague our communities. We can do this very simply by having a clear vision and direction as to where we plan to steer the country and by using that vision to stand up and reject the oppression of a certain political class. As we move on, Nigerians must put their efforts together in progress in order to be a people who have the integrity, value, capacity and good intent to take Nigeria from whence we are into a bright new beginning.
Borrowing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, whose advise was that Christmas was a special time of great joy, love, fun, an occasion for deep reflection and a time for Christians to engage with the world, one hopes that all Nigerians take the time to engage in Nigeria. Christmas time is always a special period, a unique and thrilling time for families, for children, men and women who celebrate it. It is a time of great fun and a time when many Christian families huddle together in front of the television to watch the captivating drama of how Jesus was born in a Manger in Bethlehem, the Shepherd boys taking care of their cattle and their sheep, the wise men from the East on their camels and gentle Mary protecting her baby in the crib.
One prays that all Christians will embrace the spirit of the season and the hope of the New Year and all of us of other faiths will work towards the peace, togetherness and progress of this our great nation. Despite the fact that many Nigerians who will be celebrating Christmas will not be able to afford the scrumptious Christmas meal they desrve, will be unable to buy that new Christmas dress they want or exchange the kind of gifts they desire, I will cease this opportunity to wish each and every one of my Christian brothers and sisters a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.
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