Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaThursday, February 9, 2017
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ecently, fracas broke out between a popular powerful man and his wife of seven years. The husband was cruelly maltreating and beating his wife from time to time. From fighting with the eyes, they started exchanging abusive words such that the neighbours couldn't sleep throughout that night. The dogs around were barking continuously. At a time the man brought out a hurricane cane which he bought as he was coming back from business that fateful day. With it, he gave the mother of three and half children twenty-four bloody lashes of the cane. The lady who was six months pregnant started foaming at the mouth and was engrossed in dizziness. As the husband was blowing his muscle as a sign of mighty power, unexpectedly the pregnant mesmerized wife caught her troublesome husband at a bad joint and carried her twenty feet high and threw him down with his waist hitting hard on the tiled floor. He tried all he could to stand up to show his mighty prowess. But he couldn't stand or walk again. As they were tussling over power in the sitting room, the three children and the half in the womb were crying pitifully. They were helpless during the fracas. Neighbours who came to their rescue could not come in because the door was securely locked from behind. As the three and half kids were wailing like orphans and the couple was groaning over inflicted serious injuries, the neighbours broke the door with force. They rushed the couple to hospital immediately and took care of the crying kids.

At the hospital, the doctors tried all their best to save the lives of the wounded couple. The groaning courageous pregnant woman gave birth to her baby prematurely. The premature baby was placed in an incubator for few months. By God's grace it survived and was named Power Tussle by her mother. On the other hand, the crushed husband couldn't walk again till today. He is confined on a wheel chair after being discharged from hospital. His wife has rendered him powerless for life. Today he is totally dependent on his wife for survival. No condition is really permanent.

In the Hobbesian State of Nature there was neither Law nor Order. Might was power. The survival of the fittest reigned supreme. Later, that State of Nature was demolished and replaced with an organized State where Law and Order became supreme. Democratic Government was enthroned. Crimes and impunity became punishable by the Law. Respect for Human Rights became sacrosanct.

However, the abuse of power is often rampant as seen here and there. It is a common saying that power corrupts. On the other hand, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Hence the tussle for power becomes the order of the day in our society locally and universally. Even the tussle begins in the womb. Some twins tussle for superiority while in their mother's womb. Sometimes they fight with their heads inside the womb. By so doing they stick together on the head. Sometimes they gum on the legs while the tussle rages. At other times they gum together at the back or chest depending on the part of the body used to attack each other during the power tussle in the womb. This sticking together gives rise to what is called Siamese twins. They are born via caesarean operation. They end up being separated by force with knives in the medical theatre, when possible. Often both survive or die. When I was in my mother's womb I did not tussle for power with anyone. I was the commander-in-chief inside the womb. Thus I was born a bouncing baby boy on 1st April to shame the fools who tussle for undue power. I look forward to receiving a birthday gift from you my beloved reader on 1st April 2017 as sign of lovely encouragement to me.

In many towns in Nigeria, the government legislates that each town should have a President General (P.G). He runs the affairs of the town in collaboration with the traditional ruler of the town. Often controversy arises as to whom becomes the P.G. In most communities it is done by secret or open ballot. In some places it is done peacefully. In other places it is marred by violence and irregularities. Sometimes the loser fails to accept the result of the election. Such a disgruntled element becomes a thorn in the life of the community. He goes further to declare himself the parallel P.G. The rightful winner becomes the President General (P.G) while the opposing candidate becomes the Pigeon (P.G). This human pigeon flies across the breadth and width of the town fomenting trouble. Often, the President General and the Traditional Ruler do not agree with each other. As they tussle for power and money, the town burns. The few infrastructures within the town decay. Breakdown of law and order follows. Then anarchy reigns supreme. Criminals utilize the situation to enrich themselves.

There is also power tussle for the stool of the traditional ruler. In a certain town where I worked few years ago, there were two parallel traditional rulers in the same town. This brought serious polarization in the town. A portion of the town paid allegiance to one of them while the other group paid homage to the other. There was always a battle between the adherents of the two parallel traditions rulers. Progress was visibly retarded. There was serious breakdown of law and order everywhere. Unfortunately, the parallel traditional rulers confessed the same religious faith. To be on a safer side, I did not address any of them publicly as the Igwe of the town. But when I encountered any of them privately, I called him Igwe. One day the two opposing traditional rulers came for a burial Mass in my parish church in the polarized town. The Bishop was the chief celebrant. I advised him not to recognize any of them as the Igwe of the town. Welcoming the congregants, he cautiously addressed the parallel traditional rulers in these words, "Your Royal Highnesses!" I laughed prayerfully. Were they not so? I couldn't remember if they gave themselves kiss of peace during the Mass.

On their way home, their supporters engaged themselves in a battle of words and throwing of pure water sachets. Later, stones started flying up in opposing directions. Since life has no duplicate, one of the parallel traditional rulers came out of his royal car. He removed his regalia and took to his heels through the bush. The other one was disguised as a beggar and was carried home by his supporters in a wheel barrow. When the entourage arrived at the palace of the traditional ruler in wheel barrow, he stood up gallantly and raised his hands up as a sign of victory. His supporters hailed him, "Igwe!!!" From that day on, his enemies refer to him as "Igwe Wheel Barrow." The other one who ran away almost naked through the bush was referred to as "Igwe gba oto."

Leadership is a selfless service. A religious or political leader is a public servant. Jesus Christ came to serve and not to be served. As a concrete example he washed the feet of his disciples. To crown it all, he was cruelly crucified on the infamous gibbet. The power tussle is gradually rearing its ugly head into the Church. In certain places tussle for the office of the Bishop rages. Those fighting for the bishopric, are they interested in winning souls for Christ or are they interested in the social aspect of the glory of a bishop? Satan is seriously interested in the office of the Pope and the Bishop so that he can easily run down the Church which Jesus Christ promised that the kingdom of hell cannot prevail against her (the Church) (confer Mtt. 16:18).

How many of our political leaders do wash the feet of those they were elected to serve? Instead of them dying for the masses, the masses should rather die for them. Democracy is simply defined as the Government of the People, by the People and for the People. But today it is Government of the Pocket, by the Pocket and for the Pocket. Some of our political leaders pocket Constituency Allowances. No wonder the undue tussle for power and money in our society today. It touches the Local Governments, States and Country. Some see election as a do-or-die affair. A certain Nigerian soldier turned politician contested the presidency many times and failed. At the third contest he vowed that he would make the country ungovernable if he failed. That was when Boko Haram reared its ugly head. As few years went by, he contested the presidency again and vowed that the monkey and the baboon would drink each other's blood if he did not make it to the presidency. Another soldier turned politician who has ruled this country introduced the do-or-die affair into our nascent democracy. As an electorate, I was very much delighted by the former President Goodluck Jonathan who said, "My re-election is not worth the blood of any Nigerian." Bloody politicians, take note!

Some of our African Leaders perpetuate themselves in power at the detriment of their country men and women. They are blinded by undue tussle for power. They enrich themselves with milk and honey while the citizens wallow in abject poverty. In Nigeria in the recent past, one dictator tried to perpetuate himself in power but he was compelled by human and divine forces to step aside. Later, another dictator tried also to perpetuate himself in power. Unfortunately he died a shameful death on the throne. Yet another one did all he could to go for a third term which was unconstitutional. His effort met the rock. He is still angry till today for not getting that third term.

In Gambia a presidential election was held on 1st December 2016. The incumbent president Jahya Jammeh has been in office by then for 22 calendar years. When the result was released, the opposition presidential candidate, Adama Barrow, won. Initially Jammeh conceded defeat and congratulated the president-elect. But in a twist after one week, he made a u-turn for the worse. He made a national broadcast and swore with the Koran that he would not step down as president. He called for a repeat of the presidential poll because he was convinced that the former one was marred by irregularities (without proof). The Electoral Body of Gambia held the election as free and fair and declared Adama Barrow the rightful winner. African Union and the West African Body of Heads of State intervened and called on Jammeh to step down for the sake of peace and justice. The United Nations did the same. But Yahya Jammeh's heart was hardened. He refused to step down.

One of my friends in a meeting of how to tackle the problem of Neo-pagans attacking the Church in a particular town admonished us saying, "It is better to march force with force." Since appeal failed, it was decided by the West African jointed Government to force Jammeh out with force. Troops and weapons were dispatched to Gambia without delay. The military jets were hovering over the country while soldiers on machine guns surrounded Gambia. Before using the military arsenal, the last plea to Jammeh to step down was issued. Thank God he had no support at home to hold on to power. His ministers were resigning one after the other. Some went into exile to avoid the impending catastrophe. Over 26,000 Gambians left the country to seek refuge in Senegal and nearby countries. It is only a tree that stays behind as war drum beats. To crown it all, the Gambian Defence Minister and the Army authority disclosed that they were not willing to fight for Jammeh to remain in power.

It is a true saying that it is better to leave the stage when the ovation is still high. President Jammeh failed to do so. Having been rendered powerless, he left Gambia in ignominy for political exile. This is a big lesson for other African sit-tight leaders. The problem of man is that he fails to learn from history. That is why history repeats itself. Samuel Doe of Liberia perpetuated himself in office and was killed like a stubborn rat. The former President Mubarak of Egypt was forced out of power after many years of misrule. In Iraq, the former sit-tight president Saddam Hussein hid in a hole. Later he was discovered by the American Forces. He was tried and hung like a thief. In Libya, Gaddafi did the same. Eventually he was caught by the raging forces as he hid for his life under a gutter culvert. He was killed like a stubborn fowl. Examples are abundant here and there. How long have the presidents of Cameroun, Zimbabwe and other countries rulers been in power? Time is clicking. A stitch in time saves nine.

Power belongs to God.