Easter: A celebration and an obligation
Today is Easter Sunday. At Easter, Christians all over the world proclaim and celebrate their faith that Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was humiliated, tortured, crucified, and buried, rose from the dead after three days in the tomb. Easter this year is being celebrated in Nigeria after a long period of insecurity in which citizens were abducted for ransom on the streets and from their homes and murdered on their farms and in their places of worship.
Easter, this year, is coming after a period in which Nigerians had no access to their hard-earned money because of a monetary policy whose implementation terribly disrupted their lives. Easter this year comes after a season of bitterly divisive electioneering engagement and election exercise; a season in which ethnic and religious differences were criminally exploited by politicians who set ethnic and religious communities against each other to win votes. From every available indication, this acrimonious election season is going to be prolonged by litigations.
Nigerians would not be honest if we were to deny that so many have been wounded by those who, because of their lust for power, would deny them of their full humanity and full citizenship. This wicked denial has been the case because of the antics of those who would elevate strategy by dethroning morality, and those for whom victory at the polls takes precedence over civility and decency.
It is no longer news that every election season plunges Nigeria into disturbing uncertainty, because of the evil intent and conduct of power addicts who insist on being in office at any cost. But the Christian proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is good news that evil does not have the last say.
For those who rightly understand the meaning of Easter as a celebration of the victory of life over death; for those who truly believe that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, unjustly crucified by a powerful establishment, is victory of justice over injustice, of love over hatred, of divine love over human malice, the message of Easter challenges humanity in general, and Nigerians in particular, to bring love of the common good into politics. In the midst of the prevailing politics without morality, the message of Easter challenges us to allow the power of love to reign over the love of power.
For many years, this country has been buried in the darkness of the tomb of injustice, and the tomb has been sealed with the heavy stone of oppression. The heavy stone of oppression weighs down millions of our citizens to the point of disabling them from actualizing the potential with which they have been endowed by the Creator. The history of our land is a history of disturbing uncertainty, a history of needless and avoidable discomfort.
Many who aspire to public office, and many who are in public office, have allowed power to inflict a peculiar kind of blindness on them, the blindness that makes them pretend not to see that injustice does not build a nation.
Amid the religious festivities of Easter, we cannot afford to ignore the fact that we have a population that has often fallen for dubious religiosity, fake patriotism, and criminally deceitful politics. Here is a land immensely blessed by the Creator but mindlessly battered by the negative attitudes of leaders and those they lead. Here is a land that is greatly endowed yet inhabited by impoverished citizens.
An increasing number of young Nigerians are unfortunately giving in to despair. They believe that their future is not in this country and they are looking for the next available opportunity to desert a land that offers no hope to her children. But this country can and should rise from the tomb of hopelessness, and the celebration of Easter symbolizes this restoration of hope.
Our hope needs to and indeed can be restored. All Nigerians – the leaders and the led, must work conscientiously to see to the restoration of hope for the young generation.
If we are to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and what it really stands for in our ongoing national circumstance, then we must make a definite resolve to do things differently. We must resolve to work to build a nation where no one is oppressed, a Nigeria where elections are held without acrimony and rancour, without ethnic profiling, without voter intimidation, without vote buying, and without the falsification of results.
The message of Easter is the message of new beginnings. Easter, therefore, challenges us to renew Nigeria by living up to the ideal espoused in the second stanza of our national anthem—the noble cause of building a new nation where justice and peace reign. Generations yet unborn deserve such a nation.
For that new Nigeria to emerge, there must be a resolve on the part of each citizen to live and operate with a totally new attitude. Easter should be seen as not just a celebration, but also an obligation.
Easter imposes on us an obligation to rise up from the dark tomb into which we have been pushed by greed and selfishness, to a new life lived at the service of all that is true, all that is good, and all that is loving. For, if Nigerians were to continue with business as usual, there would be no cause for celebration.