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Establishing Nigeria’s thanksgiving Day

Posted: Apr 23, 2015 at 4:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Bola Ajibola

The Thanksgiving has been known to be a reverently celebrated holiday in the United States of America. The U.S. is a country whose rich republican union should serve as a great example of unity in diversity to our country, Nigeria. Native Americans whom the first Europeans greeted were quite a diverse people like us in Nigeria and according to
historical records, must have spoken between 300 and 350 distinct languages, with their societies and ways of life varying in like numbers.




Intense struggles to overcome forces within and without have also been a, somewhat, permanent feature of the US as a country. Of immediate relevance in America’s war and march towards independence was the Boston riot, in Massachusetts, on March 5, 1770. This upheaval was one of the most important events that led to the great resentment of British colonialism and the resultant American Revolution 5 years later.

The 13 colonies which made up the original 13 states of the US met on July 2, 1776, with fifty six delegates to the Continental Congress, to ratify a document that had been prepared by Thomas Jefferson, severing all elements of obeisance to Great Britain. On the 4th of July 1776 the famous Declaration of Independence was made. America struggled to get it right and today, that country is a conglomeration of the human race: native Indians, Europeans, Africans, Hispanics and all manners of races which find succour in the freedom and prosperity availed by that society.

What is the drift of my discourse here? Nigeria as a nation shares many striking similarities with the United States. With a population of over 170 million, more than 250 ethnic groups and 300 languages, our country is as diverse as it can be. Many of these groups had existed as independent nationalities prior to 1914.

Many are quick to point out that the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria on January 1,
1914 was purely done for political expediency and administrative convenience and therefore a colossal mistake. The truth is that a mistake of amalgamation that has endured 100 years, 54 of which has been spent as an independent nation, deserves some other, and better appellation.
We as a nation have been through a tragic Civil War, which happened barely seven years into independence.

Forty-five years after the end of the Civil War, we have managed to trudge on albeit with many ups and downs. We have had to endure a spate of military governments, ranging from the benign to the horrendous, and we survived. We have also experienced a number of civilian administrations, ranging from one that
was inept to one that held promise and hope, and to the out rightly clueless. In all, Nigerians as a people have suffered and endured the horror of bad governance. But since the advent of the fourth republic which began in 1999, nothing has put the country more on the precipice and close to total annihilation than the 2015 elections.

The fears were not without reasons. Apostles of doom had prophesied the demise of the Nigerian nation by 2015. Supposedly the year should be Nigeria’s own apocalypse and events as they unfolded brought that awful moment nearer. Many relocated within the country and many ventured out altogether. Seeing the vast number of people that were struggling to leave the country through the international airport on the eve of the
elections, someone joked wryly about who remains to cast the ballot after everyone has fled. The fear that pervaded the atmosphere was palpable. Trepidation and uncertainty hung in the air and the atmosphere was tense.

The elections have now been held and although it was not totally devoid of infringements, the good outcomes have surpassed our collective expectations. The most credible international pre-election polls had predicted that the Presidential election would be too close to call.
That had compounded our fears for the worst. Even with the gentleman’s agreement entered into by incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and his strongest opponent and now President-elect, General Muhammmadu Buhari, fears were not allayed. What with open threats by ethnic militias, political jobbers and hangers-on? We must however commend the initiators of the peace accords, the first which was signed on January 14 and the second signed on March 26, 2015.

Although the masses were determined to express their opinion through the ballot, they nonetheless resorted to fervent prayers for the country. That was the majority who had nowhere to flee. The manifestation of the acceptance of that prayer was the concession of victory to General Buhari by President Jonathan, in a most gracious and statesmanly manner. That singular acts diffused all tensions and put the hawks at bay. But for that concession, the conflagration that would have enveloped the country as a whole would have been unprecedented; and given that the country, her psyche and social fabric could not now withstand such type of stressful horrors of the pre-Civil War years, it could have sounded the death knell for our beloved country as predicted. We must thank God now that it did not go that way, and we must continue to thank God that
it saved us the precipice; hence the idea of having our own National Thanksgiving Day.

For the Christians, this is Biblical as espoused in the Psalms, chapter 118. And for the Muslims, Allah says in Qur’an chapter 14 verse 7, “…if you are grateful, I will give you more” and He warned in the same breath, “…but if you show ingratitude, truly my punishment is severe indeed”. The need to be thankful to God is further taught in
two consecutive chapters (93 and 94) of the Qur’an, with the last verse of Chapter 93 enjoining believers to proclaim the bounties of their Lord.

Therefore, as a nation we should pick a day for national thanksgiving that would feature a multi-faith gathering at Abuja and similar ones in all states throughout the country. It should be day of practical tutoring of the young ones in developing the spirit of gratitude to Almighty God, sportsmanship, cooperation and positive compromise.  These
moral values should be incorporated into the school curriculum from nursery to university as is already been done at Crescent University, Abeokuta with a compulsory course named Global Citizenship.

Our young ones through sports and other competitions should imbibe and develop positive disposition towards losing gallantly and winning with grace.
They should know that in every competition there must winners and losers who must embrace each other at the end with losers planning to become winners next time around.


•Ajibola, is a former judge, International Court of Justice, Hague.