By UbongAbasi Ise
Akwa Ibom State government has received hard knocks recently over its involvement in the Christmas celebration as Fr. Donatus Ukpong, a Catholic priest and the Head of Department of Religious and Cultural Studies in the University of Uyo, says it is affront on Christmas for the state government to be organizing Christmas jamboree while the citizenry are not provided with the basic necessities of life.
Fr. Ukpong, who spoke with our correspondent Wednesday, said it is totally contradictory of Christmas when the state government has no respect for the citizens maintaining that Christmas celebration is purely a religious activity outside the sphere of government’s responsibility.
“There is no need for street jamboree when we cannot pay salary; there is no need for festivity when the aged persons are dying in the rural areas; there is no need to celebrate jamboree and organize Christmas festival by the State Government when there is no respect for citizens. It is totally contradictory of Christmas.
And above all, we cannot celebrate Christmas when we don’t know how to respect our children. Any child on the street that is not well-fed is a contradiction to Christmas; any child that has no cloth to wear is a contradiction of Christmas; any child that goes to school without shoes is affront to Christmas,” he said.
The cleric said he is very satisfied with life as a catholic priest but if he was to be a state governor, he would never celebrate Christmas in official capacity but would respect it as a religious festivity.
“If I am a Governor of Akwa Ibom State, I would never celebrate Christmas, I will respect Christmas Why I would not celebrate Christmas is that Christmas is a religious festivity which is supposed to be celebrated by religious people and honoured as a religious festivity. As a governor, I am a politician; I am a secular leader,” Ukpong said.
He stressed how state governments in Nigeria delve into religious activities. According to him, “These are the people that swore that they would maintain the secular nature of the state and don’t get mingled with the religious affairs. These are the very people that are very disrespectful of Christmas; these are the people that turn Christmas into consumerism; these are the people that turn Christmas into materialism that has no rootedness in spirituality; these are the people that have made nonsense of religion completely; these are the people that openly the whole world that they don’t have respect for the constitution they swore to protect,” said the head of department.
Ukpong maintained that all Akwa Ibom State government needs to survive is the law made by the legislature as well as the tax paid by the citizens, and not the miracle.
“The state government does not depend on the miracle of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to survive. The state government depends on the intelligibility of the law made by the House of Assembly and the tax paid by Akwa Ibom to survive. It would be nice for Akwa Ibom State government to celebrate a Taxpayers Day because it is not going to heaven, and it is not going to hell. Akwa Ibom State government is expected to make heaven here on earth for the citizens.
“So I don’t need Akwa Ibom State government to tell me how to go to heaven. I need Akwa Ibom State government to tell me how to be a good citizen and live happily and fulfil my life here in the state,” “My advice and information this holy season is that Akwa Ibom people should celebrate with all amount of sincerity with the presence of light in their lives. As we are celebrating and make merriment, we should not forget that we are celebrating a human being in a human person: God in our midst – Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Honour the celebration; acquire light; acquire fire, be happy and walk in that same light. The light will not allow us to commit examination malpractice, and election fraud. The light would let us respect the dignity of every human person; the light would help us to see the need of our brothers and sisters; the light would help us to know when to give people their right and their dignity.” he said.