Today is Christmas Day 2017. All over the World, Christians and non-Christians, believers and unbelievers, Men and Women, mono-sexuals and bi-sexuals, young and old are observing the Christmas holidays; many in joyful moods, most celebrating, even if some do not quite know what the celebrations are about. Particularly in Nigeria, the whole Country is bursting with activities following a month long build up. In many cities in Nigeria but more so in Lagos, it has been very difficult to move around in the last couple of weeks as Christmas approached. Nobody has been able to provide me with convincing reasons why this happens every year. I am told that every body wakes up around this time to ensure they do business (good & bad) before the year expires. For some, they must get money to complete their new houses or buy new cars. Why would people wait till a few weeks to year end to wake up and start running around and clogging the streets? Difficult to answer. Then I am told that people come from out of State to buy things in Lagos at this period. And then I ask, from where? and they say from Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode and from such far flung places like Port Harcourt. Then I check with my contacts in Ibadan and Port Harcourt to see if the towns were empty as many of their people are alleged to have migrated to Lagos to shop and to my utter surprise, my contacts complain that they too were having problems with traffic congestions in their own cities. And that worsens my confusion.
Motorists ueuing to get fuel
Indeed somebody says that the congestion is caused because
both human beings and spirits mingle together at this time. And I ask Spirits from where? And they say aliens from outer space. And I say why? And I am told that some thing stirs both the living and the dead at this time as the World marks the remembrance of the greatest event in human history- The birth of Jesus ChristThen I ask  who is responsible for the regular
fuel scarcity that happens at this time which helps to worsen the traffic congestion in cities across the Nation, and which reached a new peak this year, Man or spirit? I am told to ask the Minister of Petroleum Resources!
Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources
   You may not believe any of these explanations or conjectures as to why these things happen at this time all over the World including New York, Beijing and Moscow. But you can not deny that the Christmas period is usually unique as no other time, no other observation, no other memorial, no other holiday is like Christmas. And that is the first reason, you must be Merry. The Birth of Jesus Christ and the yearly remembrance - Christmas is the most unique thing that ever happened to the World since creation. And if as alleged that even spirits and aliens from outer space try to enjoy this period and in the process help to clog our roads, then why should any one living not be Merry at Christmas?

  For us in Nigeria , the second reason we must be Merry this Christmas is that Nigeria is recovering from economic recession. In the last two years, we had lived in a contracting and declining economy which truly affected many families' ability to celebrate Christmas as they would have loved. Though it is not yet uhuru as overall poverty level has not improved significantly, we can not deny that things are somewhat better for the economy thereby reflecting on the People. For example,at this time last year, many public sector workers in many states were owed several months of salary, but this year, after several bail outs from the Federal Government of Nigeria, including three rounds of Paris Club refunds, I want to assume that many workers would have been paid some arrears recently and so should be in a better position to provide a few things to make the family Merry this Christmas. The number of Christmas carols held by corporate organizations and public sector groups this month indicates some lifting up!

 Thirdly, by this time last year, the health status of our President was causing concern to the President and many Nigerians- especially his admirers, party members and other sundry supporters. But now, we can see that our President is fit as fiddle, and while many wondered if his health would allow him finish his first 4-year term, it is now clear that the President will do his second term and if possible and allowable a third term. That to me should be enough reason for all Nigerians (except perhaps Atiku Abubakar, Ayo Fayose, Sule Lamido, etc who are eyeing his job) to be merry this Christmas. We are enjoined to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn. The size of the cakes at PMB's recent low key 75th Birthday indicates that PMB is very happy with his health and the Country and with the apparent vanquishing of IPOB, he smiles often these days.

Fourthly and related to the improved Economy is that the price of Rice- the most consumed food item at Christmas has drastically come down. Last Christmas many families could not buy a bag at over twenty seven thousand Naira per bag, but today a bag of rice is sold around thirteen thousand Naira or even less. What is more is that the local variety of rice is effectively competing with imported rice and many average families can make a choice. EBONYI Governor recently gave 2000 bags of EBONYI rice to PMB as a gift and I hear he has been very generous to his brother governors and hopefully to his constituents. Fifthly, by this time last the dollar was "ahia iwu"( illegal market!) and many families that planned holidays abroad, either shelved their plans or paid through their noses. Air tickets were over the roofs as exchange rate was crossing the five hundred Naira mark for one US dollar. But today, the dollar has stabilized and trending down as supply has vastly improved .Though the the one dollar to one Naira promised us by PMB, is yet to arrive, a few more families can travel this year and if you ask me that should be cause to be Merry, especially for the children who love Christmas travels abroad.

  The sixth reason we need to have a Merry Christmas this year is that 2019 is on the horizon. 2018 will see the real escalation of political activities and with it, more money will begin to circulate in the local economy. The congresses, the primaries and the political campaigns will throw cash into the economy. Also the governments at all tiers will also throw money into the economy. That is the way of Nigerian politics. The elections will be funded largely from government sources, so do not be fooled. Very many contracts and projects will surface- budgeted and unbudgetted. Things like the governors' forum granting permission to the federal government to draw one billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account( ECA) and the expected reciprocal gesture of the federal government to the State governors. So you can just be Merry, knowing that 2018 will be awash with cash. 

Seventh, we must have a Merry Christmas as the Python dancers and the Crocodile tearers have accomplished their tasks of intimidating the people and shedding some drops of tears and blood. With them out of the way, Nigerians in the South particularly should have some space to be Merry this Christmas.

  Well, if some how you do not find any of the reasons I gave above enough justification to have a really Merry Christmas, can I just simply suggest that the fact that you are alive this day,25th December 2017,is something to celebrate. If you check well, you will notice that not all who saw Christmas last year are alive today. And it is not just because you are more righteous, or because you have been more careful. I make bold to announce to you that it is by the grace of God. And the bitter truth is that not all those who are alive today, will see next year's Christmas. Now you see my point? Merry Christmas Nigerians!

 Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR



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