Thanksgiving is ethereal. It is a return to the owner of the universe and maker of all things with a heart of gratitude. For such thanksgiving to be accepted by God, the thankful hearts must be in a reasonable state of self sanctity – no grudge, no pettifogging, no hate, no hurt- to qualify for the thanksgiving. The scripture itself has a clear parameter for those qualified to offer thanksgiving. It warns that if you have dispute with your brother and you have a gift at the altar, it is fit and proper to first go and settle the dispute with that brother before coming to offer the gift. That is how much God cherishes a gift from a pure heart.

The thanksgiving at the instance of the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, His Excellency, Obong Nsima Ekere viewed from al intents and purposes lacked those nuances that could reasonably corroborate the aforestated injunction. Rather, there was a concerted effort to breach all such faith based protocols and cast the thanksgiving with colourations of partisanship, murky politics, hate, discrimination, plots to humiliate and other sundry tendencies that encourage divisiveness and subject the polity to even more regression.

It is on record that the MD of NDDC, an indigene of Akwa Ibom and former deputy governor of the state has never attended any event in the state since the advent of Governor Udom Emmanuel. Every effort towards post election rapprochement has been cleverly circumvented by the former with his actions and inactions always appearing to gear towards slight and contempt to the office of the governor and the current occupant, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. Even after other sworn rivals of the incumbent have acted in manners suggestive of embracing the olive branch, the Managing Director has maintained an unyielding and suspiciously hostile position that seems to be antithetical to progressive politics. His actions are widely adjudged as adverse even to his political career, especially with his eyes set on the same office he currently seems to hold in contempt.

With the above scenario as public knowledge, many were quick to see the invitation extended to Governor Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, the home state of the Managing Director as a sinister plot for a show down. With the event perfused of crude politics, the stage was surreptitiously set for the governor and his entourage to be roundly humiliated. Thank God for the scripture which avows that those who worship the Lord in truth and in spirit would never be put to shame. This said stage of dishonour was prepared even from the programme of event. His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the incumbent governor, whose photograph was on page 3 of the programme, was merely addressed as “Udom Gabriel Emmanuel” without the complementary courtesy of “His Excellency”. “Governor, Akwa Ibom State” was reluctantly and grudgingly added for identification. To add to the mischief, a grotesque and tired picture was deployed against the official portrait of the governor which is easily accessible to anybody with good intentions. Then side by side with the mischief was the picture of the celebrant in dignified academic robes with all the complementary courtesies that decorate his name. It is unfathomable how an erstwhile deputy governor who served for a short period of 14 months could be remembered and addressed as “His Excellency” in addition to his knighthood title of “sir” whereas a sitting governor was not deemed to be deserving of the same courtesy which statutorily accrues to his office. Both pictures which were contained in the programme were indisputably set for effect.

It is agonizing to note that sometimes if not all the time, we allow politics to make inroad into every facet of our affairs – religion, politics, social and even our business lives. We often fail to admit that these things can exist separately without one interfering adversely with the other. Udom and Nsima can prosecute their political causes without allowing bile to interject and define the approaches. When we view politics as a call to service, then we will align ourselves with the scripture in Romans 13:1 which posits thus: “let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established”. If we are then the Christians we profess so profusely to be, why do we disrespect a constituted authority that has enjoyed God’s blessings by its emergence. It is pertinent to reiterate that every authority is ordained by God; good or bad – He has His purpose. A true testimony of our Christian faith is to accept the leadership God has chosen at a particular point in time and not to persistently explore for ways to hurl such authority down via humiliation.

His Excellency, Obong Nsima Ekere’s thanksgiving lost the core spiritual essence when the organizers attempted to souse the event with more politics than spiritual fervour. What ought to have been a sincere outpouring of thanks to God Almighty was used to satiate political interest and massage ego. Speeches that were made also failed to magnify God and accord Him reverence. Rather, it showed deference to a man and celebration of his office ostensibly with intent for gains. Even though the managing director in his speech attributed all his accomplishments in life to the grace of God and told the audience that God answers prayers, others who spoke eulogized the MD more than God. For instance, a notable “statesman’ who recently vowed to remain non-partisan broke his rule and veered off tangent when he said: “With the ongoing restructuring witnessed in the NDDC within the past 6 months and the success attained, HE, Nsima Ekere is an achiever and should be given higher responsibility within the coming year” How does this remark glorify God in a thanksgiving. Ofcourse, others followed with such lavish embellishments of man and not God. Perhaps, the reason why the weather refused to be clement all through the event.

A former arch rival and mortal foe of the MD then, Obong Umanah Okon Umanah also joined in celebrating Nsima rather than glorifying God as expected. Hear him: “There was a time both of us looked for governorship of Akwa Ibom State. By some evil design, not by choice, we were made to look like adversaries, not like brothers. But we are wiser; we are not just friends but brothers. I am behind my brother, Mr. Nsima Ekere. He is a star and a performer” Many construe Umanah’s embellishment to be a well rehearsed plea to Obong Nsima who suffered untoward blackmail that led to his ouster as deputy governor from the former. According to pundits, the reconciliation must look good enough to bury what had then looked like an intractable hatchet.

The event would have been a great one if it was less politicised with God better elevated. Imagine an event with manifest sincerity with the sitting governor and other stakeholders sitting together on the same table of brotherhood to thank God for the State. Imagine God’s happiness with the state over such show of love among one another. Imagine His outpouring of blessings. Imagine a society built with a strong foundation of love and bequeathed to our children. Imagine love and prosperity flourishing in boundless leaps in our State because of our commitment to the good of the State than personal gains. Imagine, imagine and imagine.

By Joe Iniodu
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst