On Sunday, December 06, 2009, my church, Lifeline Assembly Owerri, held its annual Harvest and Thanksgiving Service. On this year’s occasion, the presiding Bishop asked all in attendance to meditate on trivial issues and no matter the situation, there is always a reason to thank God. As a nation, let’s count our blessings.
One of the usual issues that we always forget to thank God for is the favorable weather that supports the growth of virtually any crop. We act as if good weather is our birthright such that if the weather conditions are not favorable or desirable, we can sue God! Countries in Asia, North America, Europe and some parts of Africa are frequently recording weather meltdowns. Geographical jargons like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, earth tremors, whirlwinds, monsoon rain, wild forest fires, volcanic eruptions and the likes are unsung in our nation. The only geographical aberrations we witness are man- made and they include erosions, deforestations, potholes and others. In all, Nigerian soils are fertile and could support the cultivation of any crop with or without the overhyped government fertilizers; our seasons are also fairly stable and less harsh when compared to the freezing snows in the west, and the whirlwinds blowing sand dunes from the Sahara deserts that are characteristic of the north.
The Nigerian economy is another reason to be thankful. Since time immemorial, the affluent and the nouvaeu riche are the ones in the main stream of the economy. They are the ones that trade in stocks, forex, crude oil, and other merchandises traded on the international market. The larger part of the nation is made up of those whose businesses and incomes are unaffected by any government interventions, or consumed in any economic meltdown. While other countries of the world, especially the developed ones, were hit below the belt, our citizens, except those in the banking industry, were unaffected by global economic recession. Some even recorded more profits. People like beer parlor operatives had more customers than before as research showed that in recent times, more Nigerians had sort solace in alcohol as a means of forgetting their woes.
Another issue to be thankful for as a country is the Sanusi Tsunami that befell the banking executives. Prior to the event, most Nigerians saw the ‘debtors’ as epitomes of wealth and well- being. Struggling husbands were taunted by their wives with the unimaginable wealth of the recalcitrant lenders who used their wealth to ridicule truly dutiful Nigerians. Now we know the sources of their wealth: interest- free loans. In addition, they’ve made perpetual debtors realize that like crying, the rich also borrow.
Since the oil boom in the 1970s, Nigerian economy has been solely based on the revenues generated from the black gold, which in turn has created more problems for the country especially since the advent of democracy as militants engaged in kidnappings, hostage taking, acts of vandalism, and several other anti- social acts which prompted the president to institute an amnesty program, seen by most as a gamble.
The success of the presidential amnesty program is another reason for us to be thankful as a country. At the outset, few gave it a chance while the majority saw it as another failed project. But the result is quite surprising. Unlike the past when the Niger- Delta region is a no go area for oil magnates, expatriates and foreign citizens, tranquility and serendipity are gradually returning to the oil- rich regions. Vandalizations of pipelines are currently rarely reported in the dailies, and few weeks ago, we read in the news that our refineries will soon become fully functional. These are more than enough reasons for us to be thankful.
Freedom of speech is another reason for us to be grateful. Although the freedom of information bill (FOI Bill) is yet to be signed into law, Nigerians like me now have means of having our voices heard, and views aired on several national issues. There is an unusual proliferation of journalists and aspiring ones with the carte blanche to beam their searchlights on virtually any sector of governance. Although there is also a selective clamp down on some media houses, the nation is gradually transmogrifying from one that is eclipsed by shady deals of bad leadership to one under the full light of the media, that the presidency and other tiers of government cannot overlook. Ask Coach Shuaibu Amodu.
The Super Eagles is another point of reference in our thanks stock- keeping. The teeming fans that beseech TV- viewing houses weekly for the Barclayard’s English Premier League are more than enough to convince any doubting FIFA official that we are a football- loving nation. It is therefore something of unimaginable joy that despite their luster- lacking performances, the team still qualified for the global mundial, South Africa 2010, much to the amazement of several pessimists and realists, including authoritative football authoritarians. This is a sign that 2010 won’t be an entirely boring year has our minds could wander off to the former apartheid country as we try to forget the travails of Nigerian citizens collectively, and individually.
Still on sports, the successful hosting of the U- 17 World Cup tourney is another reason to thank God. From the fan- filled stadia to the lush green pitches, Nigeria was saved the agonies of international embarrassment. The controversial over- aged John Obuh- led team was also a sensation to behold at the tournament as they went all the way to the final where they bowed to the Switz. Although there were few skirmishes like torrential rainfall that led to a record- breaking extra time (15 minutes), water logged pitches, several accusations of financial misappropriations and innumerable loss of valuables, we should thank God for not disappointing Jack Warner and few others that still believe in Nigeria despite our numerous shortcomings.
The circumstances surrounding the president’s illness is yet another reason for Nigerians, both rich and poor, to be thankful.
Before the revelation, we all knew that the president has an ailment which was not disclosed to Nigerians, an action that was widely condemned by all and sundry. We thank God that we now know what Mr. President is suffering from and can now direct our prayers more specifically. Aftermaths of the illness also enabled us to identify the ‘concerned members of the public’ who wanted to usurp power from Umaru Musa Yar’adua. We also have every cause to thank God for exposing the meanness of some citizens like the pen- happy writer who published Mr. President’s obituary online while we were praying for the speedy recovery of the nation’s number one citizen.
Nigerians should be thankful that the president survived what seems to be the greatest attack on him both medically and humanly. It is of utmost thanks that we appreciate God for not plunging the country into another round of national mourning.
The aviation sector is another reason why we should be grateful and thankful as a nation. In the past regime, Nigerian airlines were dreaded by all as the planes preferred falling to flying, taking down several illustrious citizens and young ones in whose hands the destinies of the country might have lied. It is therefore not out-of-place to thank God that sanity is gradually returning to the airlines as fewer plane crashes had been recorded in recent times.
Lastly, the long arm of the judiciary is another reason for us to forget our sorrows and roll on the floor in adoration of God’s faithfulness. Thanks to God, some erring past leaders are currently held at the prisons notably Chief Bode George (PDP former National Vice President). Although the jail term is seen by some as not enough a retribution for the atrocities committed by the ex- NPA boss, we should thank God that at least, justice is not entirely dead.
Nigeria is filled with issues th
at sometimes make one doubt God’s preeminence in the country. On a second thought however, deep insights are not needed to fathom the evident presence of God’s mighty hands in our affairs as He has kept us together as a country, surprising the proponents of the assertion that the country will soon scatter. It is in lieu of these that I will request that every Nigerian should set all grudges aside and thank God for His utmost interest in our nation. And what better time can we do this than the current season of harvests and thanksgiving.