FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaWednesday, April 26, 2017
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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SELFISHNESS

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Selfishness has crippled us here in Nigeria, right from the grassroots. Some families are torn apart due to selfishness of the man or woman of the house. ... It is unfortunate that selfishness has also entered the sanctuary of some churches. Some selfish priests, pastors, men and women of God milk their flock dry. Instead of feeding the sheep, they feed on the sheep. Often they select only beautiful women as prayer warriors and keep vigil with them in their private houses or hotels. little girl of 9 years in primary three was called up by her teacher in English language class to define the term 'selfishness.' She stood up gallantly and said, "Selfishness is the business of selling fish in the market. My mother sells fish at Oye Nimo. Therefore she is selfish." The pupils gave her a maximum applause while the teacher burst out laughing. The teacher took her round to state the definition class by class. All the teachers in the school entered a laughter session that lasted for over thirty minutes. The promising pupil was full of joy that she impressed the entire pupils and staff. Meanwhile, the headmistress was busy in her office, supervising the class roll-call registers. As the laughter session was so loud, it shook the foundation of the school building. The poor headmistress ran out of her office for her dear life, because she thought that the building was about to collapse. As she beheld the teachers gathered under a mango tree in the school premises laughing and shouting on top of their voices, she verbally queried them about what was amiss and why they abandoned their classrooms to stage a laughter period. Seeing, they say, is believing. The teachers summoned the unsuspecting promising pupil to define selfishness before the headmistress. She posed herself proudly and repeated the definition once more. An uncontrollable laughter threw the headmistress down under the mango tree. Accidentally her skirt tore from behind as she was laughing. The female teachers made a circle of her and escorted her to her office in order to avoid the pupils and male teachers seeing her nudity. As a reward for the prompt response of the teachers to her plight, she dismissed the pupils and teachers by 10.30a.m. The pupils were happy to go home earlier. They jumped up and shout, "Hip, hip, hurray!!!" From that day the girl who made the amusing definition was nicknamed Selfish. She liked the nickname so much. Ignorance is a disease.

At home the little girl told her mother about her wonderful performance at school that day. She said, "Mummy, you are selfish because you sell fish in the market. The pupils and our teachers now call me Selfish because I am the daughter of a mother who sells fish. The illiterate mother was so happy. She and her promising daughter started singing and dancing songs of joy. She went further to reward her daughter for her wonderful performance by slaughtering a fowl for her and prepared pepper-soup with it.

Now let me abandon the above drama and enter into serious academic and practical definition of selfishness. According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the adjective 'selfish' means "caring only about yourself and not about other people." Therefore selfishness is a negative attitude of being self-minded. It is egocentric. A selfish person seeks only for his or her comfort. Others can go to blazes. When I was growing up, my mother told me and my siblings that being selfish is a bad attitude. She narrated to us the story about how the tortoise and the birds were invited to a banquet by God in the sky. Since the tortoise had no wings to fly, the birds donated some wings for it. Then they flew in a company to the banquet hall up the sky. At arrival, they sat down in the banquet hall. Before their host came out to receive them, the tortoise made a selfish suggestion to the birds that they should adopt names to be called there. The birds ignorantly took varied names while the cunning tortoise adopted the name "All of you." God presented them first with kola and said, "It is for all of you." The tortoise smiled and ate it alone because it was meant for him alone. Later God brought them delicious food and drinks. Again God said, "This is for all of you. Enjoy yourselves." God then went into his palace to watch over the world. The tortoise grabbed the whole food and drinks and consumed all of them alone. The belly burst out of its shell and was looking for accommodation. At last it was time to go home. The angry and hungry birds forcefully collected back the wings which they donated to the tortoise and flew home. The tortoise now heavy with food and drinks was abandoned to its fate. It has no option than to jump down from the extremely great height down the ground. On falling on a heap of stones on the ground, it broke its shell into pieces. Luckily a local native orthopedic doctor came to its aid and stitched its body. That is why the shell of a tortoise has different stitches as a result of selfishness.

Like the tortoise, many Nigerians (the leaders and the led) are extremely selfish. It is now 57 years after our Independence. Sunny Okosun in those better days sang, "Which way Nigeria is heading to? After many years of Independence we still have a long way to go. How long shall it take us to reach the Promised Land?" For me it seems today that we have a longer way to go. Most of our past and present leaders in civilian and military uniforms (were) are selfish. They amass the wealth of the Nation anyhow. Some of them built mansions at home and abroad. They stash away our hard earned money in banks overseas for their own enjoyment and for their generations to come. If they die suddenly, such huge sums of money are lost as the host countries inherit them.

Corruption in Nigeria started from the cradle. It is almost incurable. The present regime fighting corruption is not serious because some of those who do the fighting are corrupt themselves. In the recent time, huge sums of foreign and local currencies are discovered packed like books in shelves and cartons by greedy Nigerians here and there. It has even been discovered that they bury the hard currencies in graveyards. Nowadays these greedy Nigerians in power conceal the huge sum of hard currency in coffins, and then convey them to specified destinations with ambulance vehicles. So when you see ambulance blaring siren, the contents of the coffin inside it may be dead body, hard drugs, hard currency, or dangerous weapons. Since Eneke the bird has learnt to fly without perching, men have also learnt to shoot without aiming. Hence I recommend that the police and other law enforcement agencies should search any ambulance carrying a coffin. They should open the coffin to ascertain its contents. Some of the looters walk about freely. The sacred cows among them deny the ownership of such looted monies. Then the government looks the other way. It was on Easter Sunday this year 2017 that I was watching news in African Independent Television about the discovered huge sum of money somewhere in Lagos. The reporter commented that selfishness is the problem with some, if not most, Nigerians. I took it down in my jotter and started reflecting over it.

Selfishness has crippled us here in Nigeria, right from the grassroots. Some families are torn apart due to selfishness of the man or woman of the house. A story was told of an indigent family who rarely ate twice daily. The husband and wife had five children. The husband was selfish. On daily basis, he sneaked into the kitchen at early hours of the morning to consume the food meant for their school children. Each time the wife was disturbed on what was happening to the food. The selfish husband convinced her that wild rats were roaming about each night in their apartment. One day is for the thief. One day is for the owner of the house. The wise wife decided one night to hide in the kitchen and keep watch to attack the wild rats when they invade. Very early in the morning the selfish husband sneaked into the kitchen as usual to consume the little food preserved for their school children. Unknown to him the wife hid at a corner since the kitchen was dark. The man switched on his torchlight and opened the pot. As soon as he quickly took two spoonfuls, the wife shouted on top of her voice, "So, my husband, you are the wild rats! I have caught you today red handed." They started quarreling verbally. Then it turned into a fierce fight. The wife was holding a pestle with which to attack the wild rats. She hit the pestle on her husband's waist and he fell on top of the food pot groaning in acute pains. It was on that day that he walked last. All medical help sought was in vain. Till his death he was going on wheel-chair. This is the consequence of selfishness.

Selfishness is found at the Local Government, at the State and at Federal levels. In some State Houses of Assembly selfishness built a house. In the National Assembly, selfishness is stamped on the faces of some of our lawmakers. In the Presidency, selfishness walks about without molestation. Most of our politicians vie for political offices on the platform of selfishness. That is why Obi remains a boy and has refused to grow up. It is many years of accumulated selfishness that gave rise to the economic recession which is crumbling us today. The rich continues to get richer, the poor poorer. The effect of the rise in the cost of the American Dollar is only experienced by the common people. The average Nigerians today are on the way to Calvary for crucifixion.

Selfishness and Greed are identical twins. Both walk freely in Nigerian streets, highways and even fly on the airspace. In the Power sector, we are finished. After committing huge amount of money ranging into billions to boost power supply over the years by successive Governments, it has proved to be in vain. Changing the Company name is not the problem. No matter how many times you bath a pig, it will still go back to roll over in the mud. From National Electric Power Authority we got to Power Holding Company. From there we find ourselves in the hands of Electricity Distribution Companies whose managers are selfish. They enrich themselves while Nigerians wallow in thick darkness. Recently I went to the EEDC office in my locality to pay electricity bill which was imposed on me without enjoying any light. In the office, the workers were using generator to power their computers and machines. I shouted, "There is no hope in this country! How can Power Distributing Company use 'I pass my neighbor generator' to power their office?" I spat on the floor thrice. Looking into the office, I saw Selfishness sitting comfortably collecting money from customers who consumed little or no electricity. The imagined bill must be paid. Because the prepaid electric meter project would not benefit the selfish persons in the Power Industry, it was abandoned. Those who have paid already for the prepaid meters are waiting indefinitely to get their consignments. Flimsy excuses are given to them by the selfish powers that be.

It is unfortunate that selfishness has also entered the sanctuary of some churches. Some selfish priests, pastors, men and women of God milk their flock dry. Instead of feeding the sheep, they feed on the sheep. Often they select only beautiful women as prayer warriors and keep vigil with them in their private houses or hotels. They impose financial burden on the people for their selfish interests. Paying of tithes and sowing of seeds are preached as if they are the sole qualifications for going to heaven. They concentrate on the Gospel of prosperity. They see Jesus Christ only as a miracle worker. Such selfish ministers of God make false prophecies that would enrich their pockets. Often they engage in stage-managed miracles and induce the congregants to give false testimonies. From selfish accumulated wealth they ride series of costly cars and build mansions. From time to time, they smile to the banks while their milked congregants cry to the toilets.

We are celebrating the Feast of Easter, whereby Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered, was crucified on the Cross and rose from the dead on the third day for the salvation of sinful humanity. He is an unselfish Leader and Saviour. He came to serve and not to be served. Many of us religious and political leaders came to be served and not to serve. We fail to wash the feet of our adherents. Instead we seat majestically on our religious and political thrones while the people under us prostrate and wash our feet. It is time we make a u-turn and emulate Jesus Christ as an exemplary Leader. Leadership is a service to God and humanity. Today, tussle for power in our country Nigeria has become a do-or-die affair. Some politicians strongly believe that the end justifies the means. The Moral Law states that the means justifies the end, no more, no less.

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