Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaMonday, March 10, 2014
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was in the World of Ideas with my fellow occupants waiting for our turn to enter into the physical world. At the fullness of time, God would allot each one of us the continent, country and tribe to belong to. On a certain glorious day, the Holy Innocents from Heaven paid us a surprise visit in our world of Ideas. At that very moment, I and my colleagues, who were pre-humans, were reading the map of the world and its inhabitants. The Holy Innocents, who had been in the physical world, detailed us about everything. They told us that the world we were about to enter into is full of greed, selfishness and wickedness. They narrated with tears how King Herod terminated their lives from their mothers' laps in Judea as Jesus Christ the King was born to salvage mankind. It was in Egypt in Africa that the parents of the infant Jesus took refuge with him.

Immediately the Holy Innocents mentioned Africa, I took interest in it. Instantly I appealed to God to permit me to be born in Africa in order to be safe from the sword of King Herod. Luckily God destined me to be born in Africa at the fullness of time. That is my pre-history.

At the matured time, I left the World of Ideas and was born on April Fool Day in 1963 at Jos, Northern Nigeria. I was born on that day to show that the foolishness of God is greater than human wisdom.

When I attained the age of reason I became inquisitive. I learnt from my parents that we are from Igboland in Southern Nigeria, but residing at Jos in Northern Nigeria. By this time I was already speaking Igbo and Hausa languages. I widened the horizon of my inquisitiveness by making further research.

I went through historical and geographical books. I came across the origin of my country Nigeria, which was not in existence before 1914. It was the Colonial Master called Lord Lugard that coined the word 'Nigeria' by amalgamating the two independent governments known as Northern and Southern Protectorates in the River Niger area. According to Longman's Dictionary, Protectorate means "a country that is protected and controlled by a more powerful country, especially in the areas of defence and foreign affairs." These two protectorates in the River Niger area became one entity known as Nigeria. The Britons ruled Nigeria and fed on her natural and human resources from 1914 to 1960. On October 1, 1960 Nigeria got her Independence. Self rule commenced. By that time I was still in the World of Ideas, waiting to be conceived by my beloved mother in her lovely womb.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Tafawa Belewa became Nigeria's first Prime Minister while the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first ceremonial President. This maiden Republic crashed fatally in 1966 as a result of corruption and nepotism. Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu led a bloody coup which claimed the life of the Prime Minister. Major General Aguiyi Ironsi mounted the throne as the first Military Head of State in the same 1966. Few months later, the North led a counter-coup in which they murdered Ironsi brutally. A pogrom followed whereby Easterners in the North were slaughtered like fowls. Consequently, General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu led the Easterners to seceded from the rest of Nigeria led by General Yakubu Gowon, and declared the Republic of Biafra. This led to a three-year civil war between Nigeria and Biafra, 1967 to 1970. The civil war ended on 15 January 1970 with no victor, no vanquished, though Biafra surrendered formally.

The military continued to manage the affairs of the ill-fated Nigeria till 1979, when they handed over to the second Republic led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Corruption and unhealthy political rivalry became the order of the day. As a result the Military bounced back via coup de'tat in 1983. In 1999 the military reluctantly handed over to the Third Republic, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo rose from prison to presidency. He reigned for eight years. When his third tenure bid failed, he reluctantly handed over to the ailing President Shehu Yar'Adua who died after three years on seat. The Vice President, Dr Jonathan Goodluck, who has been propelled by good-luck from birth, took over and completed the remaining one year. He was however elected in 2011 to serve till 2015 for the first tenure.

That is the history of the amalgamated Nigeria, 1914 to 2014. This year is the Centenary celebration. We are celebrating our joys and woes. For the fact that Nigeria is a Nation is worth celebrating. We have been limping along the track of unhealthy Democracy. Nonetheless, the worst civilian government is better than the best military government. We thank God that we are still surviving despite the natural and human obstacles on our way to the Promised Land, which is still far from sight.

I was trying to take refuge with the infant Jesus in Africa in order to escape the sword of Herod. Little did I know that something more than Herod is laying in ambush to slaughter innocent Nigerians. It is the BOKO HARAM TERRORISTS. This Islamic sect has mesmerized and killed innocent Nigerians going about their normal businesses in northern Nigeria, especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. Who will bell those wild cats? I re-iterate again, until the sponsors of the Boko Haram insurgency are brought to light and dealt with, the fight against the bloody sect may still remain a mirage.

As if enough is not enough, there is political tension in the country on who becomes the next president in 2015. The North is restless. The South is not sleeping over it. The People's Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) are on the political battle field waiting for signal to strike. Since there is One Nigeria, why this emphasis on where the President should come from? Are we all not Nigerians? Shall the North and South part ways after this Centenary Celebration? Shall the labours of our founding fathers be in vain? Many civilians and soldiers have sacrificed their lives for peace in Nigeria. Should their blood be poured out in vain? Some say that Nigeria expires after these 100 years; has she NAFDAC number?

Thank God a National Conference is being organised by the Goodluck Jonathan led Government to take the bull by the horn. How I wish the Conference will be sovereign. However, half bread is better than none. The delegates from North and South political zones of the country are busy jotting down some vital points to be tabled at the Conference. Political parties and other interest groups are also busy gathering essential materials for the National Conference. As a Nigerian, I am also putting down some points to be presented at the Conference, even though I am not among the proposed delegates. But by God's power I must be there in my full priestly regalia to say the opening prayer and sprinkle the delegates with Holy Water, so that all shall be well with Nigeria at 100. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Long Live the citizens of Nigeria who are suffering innocently. Hopefully, the Messiah will come one day to set his people free. In God we trust!