His excellency the Executive Governor of Plateau state, The Rt Honourable Simon Bako Lalong Esq, the Deputy Governor, Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, the Speaker Plateau state House of Assembly, other legislators here present, The Chief of Plateau State, Justice Man,  the Secretary to the Government of Plateau state, Prof Atu, Commissioners and other government functionaries in attendance and the church of God here assembled, we say a welcome and good morning to you all as we facilitate with Nigeria and Nigerians on this occasion of her 62nd anniversary celebrations. Happy independence to Nigeria. 

Thank you for choosing to make this sanctuary small as it is as the venue for this year's independence Anniversary Thanksgiving. This gives us impression that you want it low keyed. This is the first of its kind in our fifteen years of existence as a diocese, and this we do not claim a right to and therefore do not take it for granted. We pray that we will all relax and generously open our hearts and be abundantly, individually blessed by God and go back home the richer for it. 

Prayer and reading of the passage. 
Text: EXODUS 11:9&10-12:14

The way to real freedom could be long and snakily winding and not the one of ease by any means, yet one that is accomplishable so long as those looking for this freedom get united about it. For though our darkest hours may seem to cast an uxliftable cloud over our future, yet no cloud no matter how thick cannot be rolled off by God when faith, courage and patience attain the collective effort of a people in their freedom pursuit. 

"The Lord said to Moses, 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..." 

Exodus is the story of a people who longed for freedom after spending some 430 years in slavery. The situation they were passing through had become so perennially painful and unbearable that they resorted to crying to the Lord in the quest for freedom. What was the end they sought? And what means did they employ? The end they sort was freedom and the means they employed was cry (prayer). They cried to the Lord and not to man, they appealed to God and not to gods. Their cry then reached the Lord and he responded by arranging the deliverance of his people. The passage clearly tells us that freedom was the plight of the Israelites and they badly needed it. And to have this come their way, it took one miracle and ten plagues all of which spanned five chapters of the Bible-Exodus 7-11. And though these plagues are captured in five chapters, we still cannot tell exactly how long it would have taken the Israelites softly fighting this battle of freedom. But some scholar has said that of 430 years, and at the point when the plagues were employed and deployed, 40 and probably 50 days at the tail end of it was used by the Israelites to unleash this plague arsenals to secure their freedom. 

The plagues were meant to frustrate and weaken the antics of the powers that be and especially that of Pharaoh, following his stubborn refusal to yield to gentle and peaceful pleas and persuasions.  Pharaoh had so tightly held onto the freedom thirsty and freedom agitated Israelites. And in spite of the progressive unleashing of these threats in plague form, we will notice that with every new plague, Pharaoh's heart was only temporarily soften and his hand temporarily weakened but with a quick rebound in a more hardened heart. Once he pleaded with Moses and a plague was taken away from the land, his heart quickly turned harder than it had previously been, just as he got his grip on Israel tighter than it was in the last plague. And this was the scenario that played out plague succeeding plague. This drama then continued until the last straw that broke the camel's back. This had come so devastating on the land in the one and final first born-man and animal killer plague. This very night the tide changed and the fortunes recast. There was then, the distinguishing of the children of God from the children of the gods, the masters from the slaves, the Israelites from the Egyptians. While this night of horror lasted, the Israelites were protected, preserved and saved this gory experience and nightmare that came with it, conversely however, the Egyptians were hard hit. And this was the very night that ushered in the Passover. This same night that was of loss and pains, the night of mourning and wailing for the Egyptians gave birth to the morning that ushered the freedom of the Israelites and the morning of their joy and rejoicing. This then leaves us with the lessons that a patient godly person will always experience God's intervention, while a stubborn and godless person will at the last day, always meet with God's devastating wrath. May Nigeria never see such a day in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every individual and human group is at its best when independent. You want to hinder someone's growth, deny them freedom. For freedom curbed is progress denied. 

Like the Israelites then, Nigeria at a point in the cause of life under her colonial masters, yearned for independence. And our founding fathers rose to the occasion, our independence hard fought and won and we had it come on the first of October, 1960. This must not have been a mean fight fought by our founding fathers. They must have doggedly gone about it pouring their all into it. And sixty-two years ago, this was gotten from our white colonial owners and officially given to us as the papers were signed and countersigned we set free. 

Since independence and through the years however, Nigeria has had her mountaintop experiences, just as she has had her valley-bottom experiences. Through these 62 years, we have at some point, sincerely celebrated but have equally sincerely struggled at other times. And not to be stingy with the truth that we must tell and remind ourselves of , it has been more of struggles than celebrations, yet God's presence, love and grace have been sufficient in keeping us through these thick and thin of our life as a nation. And for these and other mercies, how else could we thank the Lord? 

And dear people of God, just look at Nigeria as if you were looking at your personal life. If God were to ask you to give an assessment of our years of independence, what will you say about it? What will be your honest rating of our performance? Will you give it a pass or a fail? Do remember that whatever we say of it, will determine how we behave subsequently and where we go and find ourselves next. Note that the only way to progress is an objective analysis of your situation. 

"The Lord said to Moses, 'Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you-so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.' Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country." 

The Pharaoh in Egypt would not let the Israelites go in spite of the multiple wonders and the very terrible plagues God brought to bear on the land of Egypt. Pharaoh had held the freedom and independence of Israel bound but that was only temporary. It was only for a season. In the same vein, Nigeria's true independence has been withheld for 62 years; for before these years we had the the Pharaoh that is the United Kingdom holding us bound, but since then and through all of these 62 years of our independence, a new set of Pharaohs have emerged that like the biblical Pharaoh and the Israelites, will not let Nigeria go and progressively go forward. As such, though we have secured a colour and racial independence from our coloured and racial colonial masters, some merciless Egyptians and slave masters have emerged and are still bent on holding us bound and therefore real independence we have not yet witnessed let alone enjoyed. Consequent upon this therefore, the struggle for this real independence have raged on year succeeding year for sixty-two long years today. And Nigerians in this struggle on a general note, have demonstrated faith, courage and patience in their quest for this genuine independence. They have patiently gone about it with every government, whether it is such as goes with them at a snail's pace, or one that drives them fast and hastily moves them forward, or one that  gets them stagnated and stranded or still yet, such as even lets all the wall of their protection collapse leaving them exposed, vulnerable and consumed,  we yet have seen Nigerians gone through six decades of championing their struggle for real independence on the high pedestal of decorum, dignity and discipline. And this, they have done as if alluding to Martin Luther King Jnr's counsel to the people of his days while championing the equal rights struggle in America when he said to them that as long as this struggle lasts, "We must forever conduct ourselves on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence" 

And we must say that Nigerians generally, have done very well keeping off violence in seeking real independence. And this, in spite of the fact that over the years, there have been some Pharaohs that have held Nigeria's true independence bound. Their hold on her has been so tight that the voice of reason long, loud and clear as it has sounded, has not succeeded in touching and converting their hearts. Therefore, plague succeeding plague-the plagues of Book Haram, Fulani militia, banditry and kidnapping to mention a few, have not sufficiently shaken them either to letting them release her to her freedom. 

But who or what are these Pharaohs? These are the Pharaohs of bad governance, the Pharaohs of political manipulation, the Pharaohs of corruption, the Pharaohs of regionalism, the Pharaohs of religionism, the Pharaohs of tribalism, the Pharaohs of nepotism, the Pharaohs of feudalism etc. These have taken her by the neck and over time, have had a firm and near strangulating grip on her and will not let go of her. For sixty-two (62) long years then, she has languished on in self slavery, suffering as a result of the stubbornness of those who should know better. For all of these Pharaohs are self-raised, self-coronated, self-crowned and internal enemies of their own mother land. Yet like the case of the Israelites, we believe, this is also for a season and the end to all of it is in sight. 

Dear child of God, beloved brother and sister, who are you in the Nigeria project? Are you an Israelite or an Egyptian? A Moses or a Pharaoh? Working for Nigeria's true independence, her progress or against it? With all the privileges God has given to you in life, what layer of blocks have you added to building the Nigeria that will be honouring God and which will be our common heritage and pride? 

"On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every first born-both men and animals and I will bring judgement on all the he gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is the day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come, you will celebrate it as a festival to the Lord-a lasting ordinance." 

It took the Israelites crying to God to secure his intervention and to work out their deliverance and freedom. And Nigerians have been crying. Their cry has risen to the heavens and the Lord has been listening to it. And when a people bitterly and genuinely cry to the Lord, then their Passover is near. For God will respond. He will soon go into the search and will find some Moses in the wilderness diligently on duty and by the burning bush and detail him to go deliver the Nigerian people and launch them into the realm of freedom and real independence that for 62 years have eluded them. For an independent nation enjoys economic stability and freedom, promotes electoral transparency and political dexterity, ensures law and order, upholds and sustains a working justice system, ensures developmental progress, takes the education of its citizens seriously, guarantees the security of its citizens and values merit above mediocrity. Independence anniversaries are then occasions when a truly independent country showcases her achievements. Progress therefore should excite and ignite our celebrations and this in the areas of scientific and technological breakthrough, agricultural advancement, infrastructural transformation etc. 

But what have we to show as a nation year succeeding year? Accept for the abundance of God's mercy in keeping Nigeria one, ain't we always just about tradition and fulfilling all righteousness? Yet beloved country men and women, dear brothers and sisters, distinguished Nigerians, fellow compatriots, so long as there is life and the will for mindset change and the unquenchable zeal to champion the cause of a better Nigeria, all hope is not yet lost. For I belief in Nigeria. I truly see her a lying giant with inexhaustible endowments and a potential world power in he waiting. Therefore, one day and only one day, her story will change for the better. But this change must begin with the people-you and me. For it takes us getting there, for nothing good meets you while sitting still. You need to wake up, get up and walk there employing worthwhile means to pursuing your desired ends. And cleans means are the best medium to seeking clean ends. We must resist the temptation to employing any means in contraction to the ends we seek as a country. Our progress will only be arrived at through a progressive means. At this point, and on this occasion of celebrating our 62nd independence anniversary as a nation, I must doff my cap for Nigerians for their resilience in the peaceful search for true and genuine independence. For the agitation for this has have been rife and all over the Nigerian landscape. And this is right move to make and a right course to tread. May we then, ever ensure that the means we use in the pursuit of this ends-our independence, unity and advancement as a nation, remain as pure as the ends we seek. Let us resist every temptation to use violent means to attaining a free and peaceful Nigeria, for that may only give us a graveyard sort of peace and further block the advancement we seek. And since true independence is what we crave as a people, the only way to get there is to be deliberate in setting apart that one day, the "Day when we must grow restless and throw away this yoke from off our neck"  the yoke that everyone of the Pharaohs of bad governance, corruption, regionalism, religionism, racism, tribalism, nepotism and feudalism have placed on our neck as a nation.  For this was Isaac's counsel for his son Esau when Esau felt so deprived having had his blessings stolen by his brother Jacob, (Genesis 27:40). 

Dear Nigerians, beloved compatriots, be assured that God is not sleeping but is ever working out deliverance from our self imposed yokes. He would never have missed it to make us exceptionally endowed just leave languishing under incarcerating situations. No! He does desire the perishing of Nigeria. Therefore, He is putting together a Passover night for Nigeria. Nigeria's Passover shortly comes when the night of out incarceration will give way to the morn of our liberation, the night of our pains will give birth to the dawn of our gains, the night of our wailing with translate to the breaking of the new day of our praise-worship and whistling, and the night of our weeping will break forth in the morn of our joy, singing and rejoicing. "For though weeping may last a night, joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). 

Through life God gives us several Passovers. Some of us have been so ill that we thought it was all over, then suddenly God set in a passover, and our night of hopelessness birthed the morn of a rebound and second chance to live. Some have had a close-shave with death from an accident, but God miraculously put together the passover of deliverance and delivered us. 

And these passover arrangements we have seen come through severally in our context and existence as a nation. For many times when it had seemed, and the predictions were rife that Nigeria will be broken into pieces and scattered; at the worst and nick of the moment, God will just visit us with a passover night and at the wake of a new day, a new dawn of hope birthed and Nigeria lives on. And this has been the experience until this year when she is 62. May we not waste but take advantage of God's passover nights to actualise our independence as a people by waking up the giant that is and truly make her great. 

May God give  Nigeria true and genuine independence; may he give us a wholistic transformation anger and by it make us self reliant and free from debt and an importation dependant economy. 
Happy 62nd Independence Anniversary 
Long live the church of God 
Long live Plateau state, 
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria