Nigeria In 2017: The Pursuit Of Happiness — Vitus Ozoke

By Ikenga Chronicles January 14, 2017

Thank God!

Thank God that the season of wishful happiness is finally over. If anyone is just now wishing you the clichéd “Happy New Year”, the person is communicating a subtle message of B- or even C-List. Those on people’s A-Lists were extended the New Year wish on January 1st, or the morning after.

Even though there is no evidence that anybody ever became happy in the New Year simply because another wished them happiness, billions of greeting cards and messages continue to be wastefully exchanged around the world, wishing happiness in the New Year. Relationships are strained, and enmity created, just because someone is not thoughtful enough to send a Happy New Year note.

But, if there is one lesson I have learned from the seismic ground-shifting geopolitical events of 2016, it is that happiness, however subjectively and arbitrarily defined, is earned, and not wished. Happiness is real; it is not some abstract fairy-tale that inhabits human imagination. On a collective level, a people must resolve to be happy, and take concrete, sometimes painfully corrective, steps to achieve it. Happy nations are nations that have not only chosen to be happy, but have also chosen to die in pursuit of happiness.

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Arguably, one of the more repeated statements of our time is the preamble to the American Declaration of Independence. It is a statement that articulates the noble principles upon which the United States is founded. It captures the dynamic American spirit. It is a statement so profound and so enduring that Abraham Lincoln described it as “a rebuke and a stumbling block to tyranny and oppression.” Till this day, this founding creed of American democracy rings as true, loud, and inspiring as it did when it was first inked: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Now, notice that it does not say “…Life, Liberty and Happiness”. Instead, it says, “…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unlike life and liberty, which do not require effort on our part, having been granted by God himself, happiness requires a little bit of effort from us. Happiness is not gratuitous, but we have the right to fight for and pursue happiness. And if we are successful in that pursuit, we become happy.

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Truth be told, Nigerians have never had to fight for a collective cause. Unlike the Americans, we didn’t fight for our independence. We waited out the British colonial lords. We didn’t fight successive military jackals who invaded and pillaged our national treasury for long stretches of years. Even now, we are not fighting an elite band of political scoundrels who are currently raping and robbing us dry and broke. The only time we ever fought, we fought against each other, wasting well over one million lives, mostly civilians.

For the most part, we pray. We gather at the altars and tabernacles of our pastors and bishops, waiting to be blessed. Problem with that is that, most times, we are in better state of grace than our tithe-extorting billionaire pastors and bishops. Rather than give us happiness, our pastors and bishops become happy at our collective expense. We are left with an empty collection basket even as our pastors and bishops fly away, into the clouds of pleasure, in their private jets. We are suckers!

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In 2017, we must do more than wish each other a happy new year; we must go grab happiness. We must engage in deliberate pursuit of happiness. We must identify the enemies who have stolen our happiness, and go after them. Get off your knees, we have prayed enough. God has heard us already, but He is waiting for us to act upon our prayers. Faith is not enough. Without work and action, faith is dead – so counsels the big Book. So, don’t just pray for happiness, prey upon those who have held up your happiness. If it is your corrupt governor, organize and get him out of the way. If your senator is debauched in unearned happiness, toss him the hell out. If your president doesn’t care for your happiness, make life miserable for him. In all things, pursue happiness in the New Year. Don’t just wish it.

Welcome to 2017!

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