What Happened on December 24, 1967?

On this day, the head of state, General Sani Abacha, in his goodwill message to Christians in the country on the celebration of Christmas, said that there was no better time to complete the on-going national reconciliation than the season of Christmas. General Abacha’s message acknowledged that that year’s Christmas coincided with Nigeria’s trying time. According to him, there were serious challenges in Nigeria’s march to nationhood founded on social justice and revitalized economy, which his administration had incorporated in its policies. “However”, he said further, “the socio-political difficulties confronting us as a nation can best be faced in unity and faith. As you celebrate, therefore, you should spare time to reflect on the dangers which continued questioning of the basis of our national unity poses to the country.”

The head of state restated, “for the avoidance of any doubt” that “having expended so much toil, sweat and blood to keep the country one, the Armed Forces of Nigeria have no intention of presiding over its dismemberment to satisfy the narrow and selfish ambitions of a few.” He said that the proposed national constitutional conference “will soon be convened to discuss the various national questions.” General Abacha hoped that the conference “will give Nigerians the opportunity to participate in working out an acceptable and durable framework for governance in the light of our experiments with the parliamentary and presidential systems of government.”

Noting that the message which Jesus Christ brought to the world was that of salvation and joy to all men, the head of state urged Christians, as they celebrated Christ’s birth on that day, to “remember that our national salvation lies in your observance of His teachings and injunction to love your neighbour as yourselves.” He appealed to Nigerians to give a thought to their less fortunate brothers and sisters wherever they may be and lend assistance to such people “in the true Christmas spirit of caring and sharing.”

The head of state wishes all Nigerians ‘a future full of hope and filled with happiness,” adding that this was “a time to reach out in love and friendship to all our fellow countrymen in keeping with the teaching and examples of Jesus Christ.” “Above all, we should all learn the virtue of humility which was one of Christ’s strongest attributes,” he stated, adding: “With humility comes discipline, and discipline is a necessary ingredient for the well-ordered, happy and progressive society we seek.” He urged Nigerians to eschew religious bigotry and learn to live together with one another in harmony.

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