Let me start by wishing Nigerians who are Moslems a belated Barkar De Salah. To those Nigerians who are pagans, may the almighty God bless you people this Christmas Season. To Nigerians of other faith(s) and religion, may God bless you people as well. To the Nigerian Christians, of which am one of them, I wish you all a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year (2010). Please permit me to also pray for all Nigerians using Psalm 91 verse 11, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways”. May the good God continue to give his angels charge over our great country.
A lot of activities take place every Christmas period, especially the fact that people at home and abroad visit loved ones. This involves a lot of traveling either by road, sea or air. For those people that will be driving this period, please kindly drive with care and more importantly, avoid drink driving. The state of our road network should be a recipe for careful driving. I expect the Federal Road Safety Commission to do more work in enforcing road safety measures this Christmas period. There is need for the enforcement of road safety measures; this is in order to ensure compliance with the rules or deterrence from committing traffic offences.
For those traveling by the water ways, I urge total compliance with all safety measures. For our airline pilots, please be kind enough to observe all safety rules including observing the alcohol limit. Many airline pilots have violated the alcohol limits. In October 2008, a pilot working for United Airlines was arrested on a flight heading from Heathrow airport (United Kingdom) to San Francisco (America) for having over the limit alcohol level in his system. In May 2009, an American Airlines pilot bound from Heathrow to Chicago was arrested for failing a breathalyzer test. Alcohol can impair pilots’ abilities to operate an aircraft effectively. In the United Kingdom, the alcohol limit for pilots is the equivalent of a glass of beer. It is stricter in the United States of America.
Many airline operators in the developed countries maintain strict alcohol policies. United Airlines claims its alcohol policy is among the strictest in the airline industry. These and many more other safety measures should be replicated by the Nigerian airline operators and pilots. Safety should be the watch word especially now that a lot of people are traveling. Pilots should avoid being under pressure.
This season (Christmas) usually call for reflections on the year (2009) that is almost ended and resolution(s) for New Year (2010). For the New Year (2010) resolution(s), I will urge Nigerians to love one another. Let us love each other and above all, let us love our neighbor like our self. There is so much animosity and hatred in the land. We need to love one another, because love begets love, and love brings peace. Lets preach peace wherever there is misunderstanding. The nation and the people can only prosper in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. Same should apply to various communities/villages that are at war with each other.
I will also advocate togetherness among Nigerians. There are more to gain by being one big country. Nigeria is in no way near the population or the complexity of China and India, yet these countries have not broken up. United States of America is also a multi cultural country but still remains one country. I also know the case of former Yugoslavia and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Ironically, most former countries of Eastern Europe/USSR (Poland, Czechs, Hungary, Romania, etc) and Yugoslavia have joined the European Union. The European Union is a typical example of what togetherness can bring. European Union is made up of twenty seven (27) countries, with headquarters in Brussels. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is also an example of togetherness in the making. Late Kwame Nkrumah (former President of Ghana) propagated one Africa, whereas late Nnamdi Azikiwe (first Nigerian President) preached one Nigeria.
There are free movement of goods, services and personnel within the European Union. There is a common monetary union and the use of common currency (the euro). Many more countries like Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, etc have applied to join the European Union, but politics and other strategic considerations are hindering the admissions of these aspiring nations. The European Union remains the main trading partner of all African countries including Nigeria. While advocating togetherness, I will not fail to point out that our togetherness should not be at the detriment of one group/tribe/region or the other. I will want to see justice, fair play, and equity in our togetherness. I had earlier called for the abolition of quota system and federal character. We cannot make a head way as a nation with those systems in place.
I want to see more synergy among Nigerians in business, researches, community services, etc. I believe two heads are better than one, and three should be better than two. I want to see more Nigerians cooperating to build massive business conglomerates so as to create employment opportunities for our brothers and sisters who are unemployed. It will be a good idea to have business mergers that will survive, than having a sole proprietor that will close business. Let us work together to offer community services to our people. There are a lot we can do for our people without the government. Synergy should also apply to our political parties. Let like minded and “true” political groups merge together to form a formidable opposition party. As it is, the opposition parties have not truly taken its position in Nigeria.
I will also propose the United Kingdom form of shadow cabinet for all third tier system of government in Nigeria, that is the local, state, and federal government. I will suggest that all opposition parties should form shadow cabinets in all the 774 local governments, 36 states and also at federal level. The idea will be to provide constructive criticism and provide alternative and better policy framework. Opposition parties/groups are an essential part of every democracy. Lets challenge and change those things that are hindering our development and progress as a people. Let us stop complaining and put efforts together to change our society. Every little effort counts. Let us also remember that its better for us to try and fail than fail to try.
Finally, I wish to appeal to Nigerians to participate and join the fight against global warming. Turn off your electrical appliances/lights when not in use. Plant a tree or sponsor one to plant on your behalf. Government and companies should send less paper work and do more email, telephone, and sms. Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year (2010) to all Nigerians. May God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK