Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaSaturday, February 1, 2014
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y biological father of blessed memory was a successful businessman based at Jos in the old Benue Plateau State, now Plateau State. I was born and brought up at Jos. I was among the Igbos who survived the 1966 pogrom in the Northern States of Nigeria. That time I was still a little boy blessed among two girls of my parents then. With the impending rumour and visible signs of civil war, my parents ran home for dear life with the three of us. By then I only knew about my stomach. I had not attained the age of reason. I was still enjoying myself in the world of Paradise. If I had the choice, I would have chosen to remain a child forever.

When the civil war ended in 1970, we travelled back to Jos a year later. I continued my primary career I started at home. After few years in Jos, lot fell on me to go home and assist my ageing grandmother. I accepted it with the hope of going home to eat pears and corn. Little did I know that I must get up early in the morning to fetch water from a hilly stream when my siblings were still enjoying their sleep in Jos. I instantly regretted accepting to go home. Reluctantly, I finished my primary school at home.

Already, I had made up my mind to go back to Jos to join my dad in business. I wanted to take after him as a successful businessman. I managed to finish my primary six. God being so kind, I failed the Common Entrance Examination into secondary school. I was happy that my school career has by providence ended. I sold my school bag and off to Jos. I was filled with joy when I was telling my dad that I failed the exam. I asked him to tell me any reason why I should not join him in doing business. However, I did not expect what I saw. My dad brought out a heavy cane and gave me some warm lashes on my buttocks for failing the Exam that would have ushered me into secondary school. Tears fell from my eyes like heavy downpour. My dad vowed that I must go back home to repeat the Entrance Examination with the promise that I would join the business line after completing my secondary career. I reluctantly accepted.

I went back home and studied hard. My Common Entrance result was superb. I saw myself at Aguata High School, Aguata in Anambra State. I was already counting days to become a successful businessman after my West African Examination Council (WAEC). But in my class four, an inspiration of becoming a priest came into me. I dismissed the idea, but it persisted. Then I gave God only one condition of going into the Seminary: IF ONLY I MAKE A GOOD WAEC RESULT. In 1983, I made it. God arrested me and sent me to the seminary to become a priest. That is what I am today, a sinner I am. But the grace of God propels me. I had proposed to become a successful businessman but God disposed my intention.

During the early days of the Church, Saul rose as a force to be reckoned with in fighting against the Christians. He killed, maimed and scattered the Christians wherever they gathered to worship the Lord and spread the Gospel. At a time he went to the High Priest to obtain permission to go to Damascus to terrorize the followers of Christ. He was armed to the teeth and was riding on a horse. As he was about to enter Damascus, God struck him from above. He fell down from his horse and became blind. He heard a voice asking him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9: 4). Dawn-cast and in tears Saul asked, "Who are you Lord" (Acts 9:5). The voice said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Act 9:6). The lion has been caged. Man proposes, but God disposes. From being a dictator, Saul became an Apostle; from sinner to saint.

One wicked man was threatening to deal mercilessly with his neighbour the following day. He fumed all night. He went to bed with his machete by his bed-side. Unfortunately he slept and did not wake up in the morning. He was buried with the machete. Man proposes, but God disposes.

Indeed, I laugh when I see some Nigerian politicians making unhealthy utterances about the 2015 presidential election. Some believe that it will be a do-or-die affair. Such politicians may die before then. In 1998 General Sani Abacha who threatened to rule Nigeria for life died in his sleep in Aso Rock Abuja. He never woke up again to actualize his ambition. The billions of Naira he starched away in foreign banks did not save him. The polity is now heated because of 2015 election. Politicians are cross-carpeting from one party to the other. Some of them believe that might is power. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) are waging war of domination. The latter is the opposition. Many of the PDP members are crossing over to APC as an act of sabotage to the ruling PDP. A healthy opposition is necessary in Democracy. But what we observe now is an unhealthy opposition. Some of the APC members have vowed to make the country ungovernable because of the man in power. They want him out by all means in 2015. No wonder Ochereome Nnanna in his article "APC must shine or perish" states: "If APC continues with the strategy of trouble-making as a means of demonstrating opposition, it has to bear in mind that no responsible government will sit back and allow troublemakers and anarchists to take over the public arena" (Vanguard Newspaper, Monday, January 27, 2014, page 47). I envisage the downfall of APC when the time comes to choose her presidential candidate.

There are those Nigerians who believe that they are born to rule while others are born to be governed. Others assert that power must go back to the owners. If not, heaven will fall down before, during or after 2015. A bad workman quarrels with his tools. Some selfish politicians have already started agitating over the 2015 General Election Timetable recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). They questioned why the Presidential and National Assembly Elections should come before the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly. They read meaning into it.

The Boko Haram insurgence is one of the tactics to make Nigeria ungovernable. If you see a bird dancing in the middle of the road, then someone in the nearby bush is beating the drum for it. Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth must chew with caution. President Goodluck Jonathan will not succeed in the war against Boko Haram terrorism if the perpetrators or sponsors are not brought to light. He should look within and without to discover them. Some Boko Haram sponsors can be found in his cabinet, some are in the army and police. Some are candidates warming up for the 2015 Presidential Election. They are also in the Senate and House of Representatives. Some retired Generals and past Heads and Presidents of Nigeria should be watched closely in their utterances and actions. No one is indispensable in Nigeria. The old layers should give way to new generation of Nigerians who have something new to offer for the good of all and sundry.

The National (Sovereign) Conference being proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan is imperative if the centre will still hold in 2015. Dialogue is better than the sword. Let us sit down in a round-table as Nigerians from the ethnicities that make up our country to disagree and agree. If we can no longer live together as an entity, then we split in peace with the consent of the United Nations. We have just celebrated hundred years of Amalgamation as a country. Should we exhume Lord Lugard from his grave to come and tell us the reason for the 1914 Amalgamation. In God we trust, come 2015.