FEATURE ARTICLE

Friday, February 22, 2019
amobipchuks@yahoo.com

THE IRONY OF POSTPONEMENT

ostponement is a common vocabulary. It connotes deferral, deferment, delay, putting off, rescheduling, adjournment, shelving, suspension of an event. The Cambridge Dictionary defines postponement as "a delay to an event because someone plans or decides that it should happen at a later date or time." Similarly, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines it as the changing of an event, action, etc to a later time or date. In essence, postponement is futuristic. It can be a blessing in disguise or a total disappointment. Often it can be neither a blessing nor a disappointment. However, there must be some intrinsic reasons behind any postponement.

In a certain secondary school, all the final year students were already seated in the hall for their West African School Certificate Examination on a Monday morning. Some of the students were fully prepared for the examination while few were just there to try their luck by all means. Suddenly, the Chief Examiner walked in and announced briskly, "Dear students, due to logistic reasons, today's examination has been postponed to next Friday." The class broke into three. There were mixed reactions. The intelligent students were angry over the postponement. On the other hand, the unintelligent students were singing praises due to their unpreparedness. The mediocre ones were neither happy nor angry over the postponement. This last group's thoughts were like the male vulture who says that he is not jittery over his wife's pregnancy whichever way it goes. If she gives birth to a bouncing baby, he would rejoice. But if she gives birth to a still baby, he would happily consume it as meat. As a result of the mixed reactions among the students, the Chief Examiner intervened by appealing to the three groups to take it easy. He assured them that the Examination Council will consider their plights so that no one is disadvantaged because of the postponement. Then they dispersed quietly.

Once upon a time, a pregnant woman had complications in putting to bed. Consequently, the medical doctor booked her for cesarean section. On the appointed day, she was already lying on the surgical table in the theatre. Also the anesthetic injection has been administered to her. The assisting nurses had all been dressed in their theatre outfit. At the appointed time, the surgeon came in and said, "I hereby announce to you all that the surgery has been postponed till next tomorrow due to some medical inadequacies." The nurses reacted negatively by sighing. They complained to the surgeon that the pregnant woman lying on the table has been injected with anesthesia and had become unconscious. The surgeon assured them that he would give her a neutralizing injection that would make her wake up. This was done. In few minutes time, the pregnant woman woke up and shouted, "Praise the Lord! Where is my baby?" When she became more conscious and saw her pregnancy still intact, she asked, "What is wrong? Why was the operation not done?" One of the nurses replied, "Woman, take heart, the surgery has been postponed till next tomorrow." She sighed and said, "What a nonsensical nonsense is this? How can I enter this theatre twice? The pains would have come and gone today." The surgeon calmed her down and assured her that all shall be well. Luckily on the next day, she gave birth naturally to a bouncing baby boy (BBB). Who knows what would have happened if she underwent the caesarean section? No wonder it is commonly said, "Every disappointment is a blessing." Does this assertion apply always?

Hear this unconfirmed story. Few years ago, a middle-aged evil man died suddenly somewhere. The family members and the villagers were rejoicing that their burden has been taken away. Hence they can now live in peace. His remains were interred quickly without any respect. In fact he was buried in an evil forest like a stubborn fowl. After the unceremonious burial, the bereaved family members and villagers assembled at the village square and started celebrating with abundant food and drinks. They danced and thanked God for removing the evil man from their midst. Surprisingly, the evil dead man walked into their midst and shouted, "Praise the Lord! Please thank God with me that I am back from the land of the dead." Everyone ran helter-skelter as he spoke. They were angry over his sudden appearance. Some of the courageous men approached him and asked, "Why are you back? For the sake of goodness, go back from where you came. Your burial has been conducted. It is a taboo for a dead man like you to come back to life. Your family and village membership was terminated on the day of your burial. If you refuse to leave, we shall set you on fire." The dead man pleaded, "My people take it easy! Actually I was dead. But when I stood before the judgment seat of God, an angel of God appeared to me and told me, 'Mr. Man, you have to go back to earth. Your death has been postponed till next year. God is giving you a second chance to repent.' I am happy that I am back and alive. Do not fear. I am born again." Out of fear of the unknown, the family members left the house for him alone while the villagers ostracized him. The family rented a house in another far away village. They did not come back until the man died again at the appointed time in the following year. This time they cremated his corpse to avoid him coming back again.

In 1988 I was on a missionary work as a seminarian in a particular town. On a certain Sunday morning, I developed serious upset stomach while at Mass. I excused myself from the minister. Then I managed to stagger into the boys' quarter and lay like a breathing corpse on the bed. At the end of the Mass, my colleagues carried me like a container into the parish priest's car and off we went to a nearby hospital. I was given instant admission. The doctor diagnosed my stomach problem, but he did not tell me what he found out. The pain was so much at the centre of my belly. I was put on drip, followed by series of medication. Night came. I was sleepless throughout. When the doctor came on ward round the next day, he muted that my stomach problem has to do probably with appendicitis. Therefore I would undergo a surgery. Meanwhile he was making some sketches on a white sheet to clarify me about my health problem. Reading from his lips, I was not convinced about the surgery because by layman's knowledge I know that appendicitis has to with the right side and not at the centre of the belly. When he finally asked my opinion, I strongly asked him to postpone the surgery till further notice. Consequently, he gave me some drugs and discharged me. Could you believe that from 1988 till today I have not entered the theatre for the surgery? The postponement continues till further notice. Maybe God will perform the surgery on me when I occupy my mansion in heaven as Jesus Christ promised his followers.

As humans, we are under the threat of death every day. When we sleep and get up the following day, it means God has postponed our death. It is not because of our goodness that we are alive today. It is by the grace of God. So, no one should boast about himself or herself. We are no better than the dead. We are all moving corpses about to join our ancestors any time and any day. Therefore, when you rise from sleep each day, kneel down and thank God for your survival and postponement of your death. No one except God knows the day my death and your death is postponed to. It is even good that we do not know the day in order to save us from unnecessary worries. The only demand from you and me is readiness. Thank God for postponing your death and my death till the appointed day. Are you afraid to die? If you are afraid, kindly read Psalm 23 daily.

There was a beautiful woman who suddenly fell sick. She was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus, which is a terminal illness. She was expected to die within three days because her cancer was almost reaching the climax. She cried from morning till night. On the second day, the doctor came to see her. She was in tears. The doctor glanced at her pitifully and said, "Stop crying. By the powers conferred on me by the Medical Authority, I hereby postpone your death to three years." The sick woman smiled and waved appreciatively at the doctor. Unfortunately, as soon as the doctor stepped out of her ward, she made an awkward movement and breathed her last. The doctor rushed back and did all he could to resuscitate her, but all to no avail. The doctor overstepped his boundary. Only God has the prerogative over life and death. Only God can postpone one's death.

Coming back home, the Presidential and National Assembly Elections were to take place on 16th February 2019. All eligible Nigerians were ready to vote on that day. Most people have traveled to places where they registered. Also the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had dispatched her ad hoc workers for the exercise. Indeed everything was ready (Omnia parata). Suddenly on the early hours of 16 February, the Chairman of INEC made a national broadcast that the scheduled elections have been postponed to 23rd February. The Governorship and State Assembly elections fixed on 2nd March were also postponed to 9th March. The reasons for the postponement were hinged on logistic challenges and inadequate operational plans.

Many Nigerians and political parties reacted angrily to the sudden postponement. Huge economic losses were encountered. INEC asserted that it was a hard decision to take. Hence she apologized heartily and promised that the new postponed dates would be adhered to for free, fair and credible elections. In preparation for the elections, many Nigerians prayed ardently to God for successful and violence free elections. Who knows what would have happened if the elections took place as scheduled? Maybe God heard our prayers and shifted the elections for his will to be accomplished. We live to see if the postponement is Divine will or human manipulation. We look forward either to seeing Nigeria work again or move to the next level. The first level has been tough. Who knows what the next level will be? Man proposes; God disposes!

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