was at the auction sales arena. The auctioneer raised a certain commodity for sale and was ringing his bell like an old village headmaster. People of unequal pockets started pricing. A pauper among the buyers, to boost his ego and to justify his presence, offered N100,000 (one hundred thousand naira). There was a sensitive applause. But the poor man became jittery and prayed that others would price higher. Indeed, no other voice was heard. The auctioneer shouted, "Going! Going!! Any ha-ha-ha?" There was absolute silence. Then the auctioneer made a wonderful acrobatic and shouted again, "Going! Going!! Gone!!! The commodity was placed in front of the poor man. To the amazement of all present the poor man started crying; telling the organizers of the bazaar who came for the money that he was just joking. He swore that even if he was sold, the N100,000 cannot be realised. He was then taken to the police station and charged with a costly joke.
Just like a joke the year 2014 is coming to an end. I went to my standing mirror to admire myself few days ago. I sharply observed that some transformations have taken place in my face between now and January this year. I saw wrinkles all over my face like tree tap-roots. I soliloquized in a loud voice, "So, I am growing older. God, if it is a joke, please stop it!" But my conscience rebuked me for my ingratitude to God. Sorrowfully, I knelt before my private Altar and prayed with a contrite heart, "Please God, forgive my rude utterance and ingratitude. Thank you that I am alive growing older. I humbly invite you my God for Lunch at my residence on 1st January 2015." I stood up and blushed my eyes and shouted, "Am I dreaming!?"
In fact, I was not dreaming. The year 2014 is going and going, but not yet gone. The Church's Liturgical Year has come and gone. It began on First Sunday of Advent last year and ended on 23 November 2014 with the Solemnity of Christ the King. Yes, Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. A new Liturgical Year began on 30 November 2014 with the Season of Advent. The term Advent is derived from the Latin word "Venire" which means "to come." It is a four-week expectation period of the coming of Our Saviour Jesus Christ. In other words, it is a period of preparation for Christmas, the Birthday of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Ecclesiastically I say, "Happy New Year!"
Brethren the 2014 Calendar Year is about to end. It is going and going. On 31st December 2014 we shall shout, "Gone!!!" We owe gratitude to the Almighty Father that we are still alive today. Hopefully we shall survive this year and enter the New Year 2015 with joy. It is by the grace of God that the year 2014 is going over us. Many have died this year. With what shall we exhibit our unalloyed gratitude to God? A Bishop of a certain church somewhere was conducting a prayer session, though he was sick. As he sat down prayerfully, sleep caught him unawares due to his ill-health. One of his assisting priests walked quietly to him and tapped him on the shoulders asking, "My Lord, are you sleeping?" The Bishop opened his eyes and sighed. He looked pitifully at the priest who woke him up and asked, "You who are awake, what have you achieved?" Indeed, that we are still alive today does not mean that we are better than the dead. We who are still alive, what have we achieved from January till date? Let us count our blessings and sorrows.
On the National level, our country Nigeria expired this year, after a period of one hundred years of trial as an Amalgamated country, 1914 - 2014. Despite the expiration, we are still managing as a Nation. On the Resurrection Day we have so many questions to ask Lord Lugard who amalgamated us for egoistic reasons. Nigeria is now contraband, because she has expired. What next?
Few months ago a biological terrorist from Liberia, Mr Patrick Sawyer, an Ebola virus disease patient sneaked into Nigeria and infected some Nigerians with Ebola terminal disease. Few Nigerians died as a result. We are grateful to God and the Nigerian Government under the Leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan. The good-luck in him saved us; otherwise Nigeria would have been reduced to a village population. We also appreciate the effort of the then Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu. The God in him rescued us. The Nigerian medical doctors did a commendable job. The Catholic Church did not fold her hand to watch Ebola enter the pews in the church to sit among the congregation. Preventive measures were taken to confront Ebola disease. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigerian directed that Holy Communion be received meantime on the hand. The kiss of peace by embracing and handshake was suspended till further notice. But ironically outside the church people couldn't avoid embracing and shaking of hands. God being so kind, Ebola was expelled from Nigeria. The World Health Organization gave Nigeria a clean bill. The restriction of kiss of peace and reception of Holy Communion can now be lifted. During God's judgement on the Last Day, we Nigerians will hand over Patrick Sawyer to God for divine discipline. The year 2014 has gone into Nigerian History book as the Year of Ebola. This reminds me of my priestly ordination in 1993, the year of Oso (run) Abiola, when our people ran home for refuge en mass from the Western States due to an impending violence arising from General Ibrahim Babangida's cancellation of 1993 free and fair presidential election won by Abiola.
The year 2014 is also the climax of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Thousands of innocent lives were wasted by the satanic terror group. The where about of more than 200 students of Chibok Girls Secondary in Borno State, who were abducted since March this year, is yet unknown. Are they still alive or dead? Only God knows. The war between the insurgents and the Nigerian soldiers rages on. I am fed up. Will Boko Haram go with the year 2014? The auctioneer says, "Yes. Going! Going!! Gone!!!"
On the field of Soccer, the Super Eagles are for sale. Who will make an offer? The Bafana Bafana of South Africa ate much banana at Akwa Ibom International Stadium Uyo last week and mesmerized the Super Eagles in their own land. With shame the Eagles flew into the bush. The Football fans and spectators went sorrowfully away. The coach Stephen Keshi couldn't fly. He walked away like a sick masquerade. That means Nigeria will be absent at the 2015 Nations Cup Football competition. Please make an offer for Nigerian football soccer. Going! Going!! Gone!!! I cry for my beloved country.
Politically, the Nigeria polity is charged. The healthy, the sick, the lame, the crippled and the blind want to be the next president, governor, senator, honourable member, dishonourable member, chairman, 'tableman', councillor in 2015 political dispensation. For some, it is a do-or-die affair. Many forces are fighting on the air and in the underworld, just to secure power to be at the helm of affairs. Last week the National Assembly in Abuja was boiling. There was pandemonium. Some honourable members sold their honour and jumped over the high fence leading into the Chambers, just to achieve their selfish aim. The Senate President to avoid breakdown of Law and Order, hurriedly shut down the Upper and Lower Houses. Rascality and ability to jump fence are now two additional conditions to qualify as a lawmaker on the federal and state levels. Please God, I pray you to be the Returning Officer in 2015 General Elections, so that peace may reign. Amen!
Back home in Anambra State, Governor Willie is Working (WW). Well done so far, Dr. Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, Ebekuedike na Aguleri. The hearts of Anambrarians and the residents are gradually cooling down (obi na-ano anyi). We are now sleeping with one and half eyes closed. Probably by January 2015 we shall sleep with complete two eyes closed. My able Governor, your security network has no comparison. Willie is working. Agriculture is gradually bearing fruit under your Administration. Our markets are booming. Very soon Anambrarians will begin to fly when the flyovers in Awka and environs are completed. I have ordered for two wings from Germany. My amiable Governor, my town Aguluezechukwu in Aguata has an arable land for any government project. Willie is working and he should work harder. By the end of your first tenure, Anambra State will be a small Heaven on earth. However, beware of sycophants and enemies of progress around you. May God help you to overcome principalities and powers that be. Do not be scared by the antics of some members of the Anglican Church who are crying wolf unnecessarily, just to distract you. So far, you have maintained an egalitarian State.
Finally, we give honour to whom honour is due. The Catholic Diocese of Awka under the leadership of the Local Ordinary, Most Rev. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor and his Auxiliary, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, the Clergy, the Religious and Laity wish to appreciate the laudable administration of the immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Chief Peter Obi, on Sunday 21 December 2014 at Saint Patrick's Cathedral Awka. We are most grateful to him for handing over all mission schools back to their owners and equipping the schools. Since the handover, education, which was at a moribund condition in Anambra in the past, has come back to life. Obi is a man. Willie is working. Amobi is writing, and you are reading. Going! Going!! Gone!!!