“My esteemed Ndi-Imo, I greet all of you on this joyous occasion of Christmas. To the glory of God, another Christmas season is here. As always, it is this special and happy season that reminds us of God’s everlasting covenant with the human race. That divine covenant made manifest by the special gift of His only begotten Son – Jesus Christ, the saviour of mankind, whose birth was foretold by the Prophets. The scriptures described the great essence of His coming as symbolising God’s gift of inestimable love to humanity.

“Therefore, Christmas should serve as a constant reminder to all of us that God is indeed Love. And through the coming of Christ, God demonstrated His invaluable love for all of humanity. As the scriptures tell us in John, Chapter 3, verse 16, “ For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son , so that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life.”

“It is this true love and peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding that I extend to my beloved Ndi-Imo, on this glorious occasion of the commemoration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I do so in the spirit of Christmas, having in mind the words of Christ Himself: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

“So, while I congratulate and rejoice with every Imo indigene and resident for the Divine privilege of witnessing another Christmas, I will like each and every one of us to reflect on this very important question in his or her mind: Have I loved my fellow human beings as Christ loved me? This is a pertinent question that all of us must answer to our consciences, knowing that Christ is watching us as we do.

“So Christmas is not just for the celebration and merry – making. Instead, Christmas is a period to soberly reflect on the reason why Christ was born in the first place.

“The fleeting nature of life itself, the ephemeral nature of power, riches, beauty and other earthly acquisitions, should make us sober enough to appreciate God for His love and grace. For no fault of theirs, some of the people who celebrated Christmas with us last year are not alive this year to celebrate Christmas. And it is by the special grace and mercy of God that we are still alive.

“Therefore, this special love of God which we are celebrating today should serve as a wake – up call to all and sundry to obey Christ’s most important commandment to us which is to love one another.

“Christ came for our redemption and this redemptive work can only be accomplished by our professing Christ – like love to one another. Never should we let the essence of Christmas, which is the abiding love of God, to be lost on us. This abiding love of God for mankind should be our guiding principle as we celebrate Christmas.

“I have often wondered why those who profess to be Christians don’t know the essence of Christmas. When we say Christmas signifies love, why then is it difficult for us to practise this love in all its ramifications, in our relationship with God and our fellow humans. It baffles me that many of those who engage in criminality in Imo State and their sponsors, claim to be Christians. Is the name a decorative cloak for them while their character is a direct opposite of what a Christian character should be?

“It is indeed regrettable that in the last couple of months, our dear state had witnessed what appeared to be a resurgence of bloodletting and arson all in the quest for power. This is more regrettable because it is happening on the eve of Christmas – the season of love. Both the perpetrators of violence and their sponsors may claim to be Christians. Are their actions reflective of the love we are celebrating today? When some people engage in payroll padding, siphoning millions of naira meant for the poor masses, do their actions reflect what we are celebrating today?

“Indeed, as we enjoy the redemptive work of God on us through the birth of Jesus Christ, we should allow love to manifest in all that we do. This Christmas season is the good opportunity for the agents of darkness in the state to repent and turn a new leaf before it is too late. They must remember that God is watching them and that His vengeance on them is coming and will come sooner than they can ever imagine.

“Let me also use the spirit of this season of Christmas to renew my plea to all those who have been unleashing violence in our state to retrace their steps and, in accordance with the love of God, give peace a chance so that we will continue to enjoy the dividends of democracy. Like I said earlier, power is ephemeral. I won’t be the Governor for ever. After me, another governor would come, but Imo State will remain. If we are indeed Christians, our love for our state and her people should moderate our actions.

“I am sure our people who have returned from other parts of the world have seen the difference we are making in Imo State in terms of provision of infrastructure, in spite of the security challenges which have been a constant drain on the resources of the state. I assure you that in keeping with the social contract which I entered into with Imo people, we will continue to do our best to make our state the pride of all of us.

“You should also be assured of your safety as we celebrate the Yuletide season with families. The recent pockets of violence are nothing but the last kicks of a dying horse. The security agencies are equipped and prepared to confront and defeat any form of criminality in our state.

“As part of government’s efforts to make this Christmas more joyous for our citizens, I have directed the Ministry of Transport to provide transportation to our people to and fro Lagos and Abuja, to enable them come home for Christmas.

“As has become our tradition, I have also directed that all government workers be paid a 13th month salary, in addition to the gift of food items. This is our little way of demonstrating love this Christmas season. Also, we shall work through the local government councils to provide some form of succour to indigent persons in various wards and local governments.

“Umuneem Ndi-Imo, while wishing all of us a very merry Christmas, I pray that the love of God will reign over us as this special child, Emmanuel, has come to be with us.

“Merry Christmas to all of us.”

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