The True Meaning of Easter Celebration

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By Jerome-Mario Utomi

On Sunday, March 31, 2024, Christians in Nigeria expectedly joined their counterparts across the globe to mark/celebrate the great feast of Easter.

Also called Paschal or Resurrection Sunday, the feast of Easter, as we know it, is a Christian festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD.

In reality, each time Nigerians celebrate this great feast, it’s not only a tradition but a ritual of the sort that torrents of messages from public office holders in Nigeria, and religious, socioeconomic, and political leaders fly around the country.

Indeed, while Nigerians (both governors and the governed) must adhere strictly to these expected ‘well said but not well done’ messages that shall soon flood the nation’s media space, it is, however, more important for all to recognize that we can make this year’s celebration most rewarding by graduating from the mere exercise of goodwill messages to reflecting about our nationhood and asking solution-oriented questions.

Among other concerns, we must ask; how, as a nation, we can truly achieve a people-focused leadership in the country? Accelerate economic, social, and cultural development? Make promotion of peace our dreams? And the support of our industries and improvement of our energy sector our central objective?

Most importantly, for clarity, these questions could be classified into two; one that focuses on entire Nigerians. The second is majorly public-office holders’ specific, But in all, providing answers to them all is the objective of this piece,

Beginning with concerns that focus on Nigerians, we must, as we celebrate this year’s Easter, recognize that the future of our nation is full of opportunities as it is fraught with challenges.  As it is said, “The destiny of the ship is not in the harbour but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be, not to destroy this great nation but to join hands to nurture and sustain it.

We must wholesomely admit that If we can manage the present disunity and re-order our tribal loyalty which is currently stronger than our sense of nationhood,  and navigate out of the dangers of disintegration, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme. But, then, we can never achieve such a feat without admitting that no nation enjoys durable peace without justice and stability, without fairness and equity.

To, therefore, perfectly achieve this envisaged goal, this piece holds the opinion that individuals, communities; tribes/ethnic groups must stop flaunting the qualities that raised them above others.

As succulently warned by the sage, ‘Never be so foolish to believe that you are stirring admiration by flaunting the qualities that raised you above others. By making people aware of their inferior positions, you are only stirring unhappy admiration or envy that will gnaw at them until they undermine you in ways that you may not foresee’. It is only the fools who dare the god of envy by flaunting his victory.’

With this highlighted, let’s focus more on the concern that public office holders’ must also do away with.

First among such attitudes by the public officeholders that urgently need to be dropped in the spirit of Easter is the barefaced illusion that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens. Leaders must not forget that globally, Individuals, groups and communities have a right to decision-making, planning and implementation of programs that affect them,

They (leaders) must come to terms with the fact that the government must enable people affected by its policies and programmes to participate in ways capable of transforming their social, political and economic conditions rather than merely using them as instruments to legitimise predetermined goals and priorities.

Also, within this period of reflection on Christ’s resurrection/demonstration of love, it is important for the haves (the advantaged, the rich and the nation’s politicians) with more political influence than those at the bottom, to drop attitudes like corrupt enrichment, intimidation of the poor and the less privileged.  Such behaviours we must not fail to remember not only undermine representational equality, a key feature of democracy but promote disunity and fracture the nation’s amalgams.

Within this period, our leaders and policymakers must revisit and address the unending call for the nation’s restructuring. The factors fuelling such calls are misrule and a high propensity for corrupt nepotistic practices on the part of our leaders.

The problem that necessitated this agitation is more man-made than natural. The deliberate demonstration of impunity, and superiority by one group or region, led to this burning agitation today.

These leaders, in question, have allowed themselves to become the primary reality that the people worry about their nefarious actions and inactions. What is playing out today in Nigeria is the result of the practical demonstration of the will of man against the rule of law as practised in the time past. Leaders without ‘disciplined thoughts and actions are the people holding sway on our political fronts and that informs the reason for our not having a disciplined political and socioeconomic culture as a nation.

Another issue that needs to be addressed in this season of Easter is the public officeholders’ mindless policies which daily heats the polity. In the recent past, they (public office holders) have not been able to distinguish between politics and leadership. They play politics all the way. In doing so, they use the people to further their end which is unpleasant, selfish, narrow-minded and petty. Their politics involves intimidating people, getting things done by lying or other dishonoured means’. These need to be dropped.

To make this Easter celebration enduring as well as bear the expected fruit, let us be holistic in approach. Let us commence first by restructuring the thought system as a people and through that process, restructure the nation.

This step is important as no matter how beautiful a policy appears, no matter how strong an institution tends to be, we always have deconstructionists who can undermine it.

Bearing this in mind, our primary concern should be to work out modalities for instituting a reorientation plan that will erase the unpatriotic tendencies in us as well as usher in a robust nation.  Let us bear in mind also that restructuring a political entity called Nigeria is important but restructuring our mentalities is not just essential but fundamental.

Undoubtedly, every generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it. Now that restructuring has graduated from mere rhetoric to become an issue of national concern, your responsibility and mine also come in double-fold. First, it is time for us to use our intelligence devoid of emotional attachment to ask solution-oriented questions in a solution-oriented manner.

Secondly and very outstandingly, we should develop a ‘war room’ using our resolve and powers to fight undemocratic and criminal tendencies in our consciences to usher in a truly egalitarian nation we all yearn for. This pivotal step must be taken as failure to achieve this may render our quest for a new Nigeria elusive.

Above all, the haves must learn to remember and assist the have-nots; the vulnerable Nigerians, widows, orphans, out-of-school children, prisoners and those in the hospitals among others.

God bless Nigeria and Nigerians!!!

Utomi is the programme coordinator for media and policy at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]/08032725374

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