Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaFriday, May 15, 2015




ust yesterday I was going through the photo album of my priestly ordination. I saw my portrait as a newly ordained priest. I was young, attractive and handsome then. That was twenty-two years ago. A baby born in that year 1993 has now graduated from the University or is about to round up. Obi is no more a boy. How time runs.

The image of myself I saw in the picture pushed me to stand before a mirror to compare and contrast. I discovered that a real metamorphosis has taken place between now and 1993. I couldn't believe what I saw in the mirror. Was the mirror faulty? Stubborn veins have drawn a map of old age in my face. My jaws have sunk. My eyes, which were in those days attractive, have now dimmed. The hairs on my head are still black artificially by diligent maintenance. Indeed, Obi is now a man. The difference is very clear. There is a great change. In order to avoid seeing further traumatic visions, I henceforth look at the mirror only once a week. That is only on Sundays before I go to church. As we sing praises in the church, I forget the ugly change of my image I saw in the mirror.

In fact, nothing is static. Everything is changing. The philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus says that everything is in a state of flux. According to him, you cannot step in the same river twice, because new waters are ever flowing in upon you. Think about it.

Change is a daily phenomenon in human life. We change clothes from time to time. Women are specialized in this aspect. It is not the dress that most women wear in the morning that they wear in the evening. A man can wear a particular dress for about two or three days. But a woman changes clothes like chameleon. That is why when you go to the markets where second-hand clothes (okirika) are being sold, women flock there like flies. They need more clothes for change. After washing and ironing the second-hand clothes, they look like first-hand clothes. Then they use attractive perfumes to spice them into a state of originality.

In the area of diet, change is a sine qua non. A newly married girl was fed with delicious rice, spiced with costly ingredients, in the first three days she arrived at her husband's house. She frowned at it. She demanded for change of diet. They changed to nodules and eggs for another three days. Again she looked for a change. The stomach is not happy if there is no change of diet. That is why it makes noise when you eat certain things. But if you make good change of diet, you hear the stomach singing praises.

Lack of change makes life monotonous and boring. That is why we lie down, sit, stand, walk and run. Even when you are sleeping, you change positions consciously or unconsciously. Some time ago, I was turning on my bed while sleeping. I did not know that I have reached the edge of the bed. I fell like a log of wood on the floor. I painfully shouted, "Change, see where you have landed me!" I consoled myself and went back to my bed and changed my sleep to gear three. Then I started snoring like a rich man. A poor man snores hungrily.

Do you know that change is needed in your room? To keep life going, you have to change the colour of the wall from time to time. A change in the position of the bed or study table makes life new. You will be happy going into your room. Constancy irritates human life. Taste and see!

Politically speaking, change occurs in the system of Government. Our country Nigeria has tasted the Parliamentary System of Government and has now settled for the Presidential System. However, it is a bad workman that quarrels with his tools. If a worker is strong, his tools will be effective. But if he is weak or lazy, it manifests in his production. It has been identified that the problem we have here in Nigeria is bad leadership. After many years of Independence we are still far from the Promised Land. Moses brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and led them through the desert towards that Promised Land. But he couldn't make it because he failed to glorify God at the Waters of Meriba. He died on the way. God appointed Joshua who began from where Moses stopped. Eventually he led the Israelites into the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.

We have experienced military dictatorship and political instability in this great Nation Nigeria for years since our Independence in 1960. Tafawa Belewa was the first Prime Minister while the Great Zik of Africa was the ceremonial President. There was a bloody coup in 1966 which claimed the life of the Prime Minister. Major General Aguiyi Ironsi mounted the throne as the first Military Head of State. Few months later he was brutally murdered in a bloody counter coup. Then General Yakubu Gowon mounted the saddle. The Nigeria-Biafra civil war took place from 1967 to 1970. During that war, I fought as a child on the Biafran side in the Hunger sector. There was no victor, no vanquished. In 1975, General Murtala Mohammed overthrew Yakubu. He had good intentions for the country, but he was mowed down in a bloody coup in 1976. General Olusegun Obasanjo by seniority took over the mantle of leadership. In 1979, he handed over to the democratic Government of President Shehu Shagari. In 1983 Major General Muhammadu Buhari struck in a military coup and overthrew Shagari on allegation of corruption. In 1985 General Ibrahim Babangida struck and overthrew Buhari. He transformed himself into military president. He cancelled the June 12, 1993 most free and fair Presidential Election clearly won by Chief Moshood Abiola, who later died in custody. Babangida wanted to transform himself into a democratic president. But pressure forced him to step aside and set up the interim Government of Chief Ernest Shonekan in 1993. Before the latter could do anything, General Sani Abacha shoved him aside and took over. Abacha ruled with iron hand and wanted to become life president. Unfortunately he died mysteriously at Aso Rock on June 8, 1998. The mantle fell on General Abdusalami Abubarkar who handed over to the democratic Government of retired General Olusegun Obasanjo (who rose from prisoner to president) on 29 May 1999 under Peoples Democratic Party. Obasanjo unwillingly handed over to the late Shehu Yar'Adua of the same Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But the latter died after two years in office. His Vice, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, completed his tenure. In 2011 Jonathan contested the Presidential Election and won under the umbrella of Peoples Democratic Party.

The Peoples Democratic Party boasted to rule for 60 years. Unfortunately, some political parties merged to form a formidable opposition known as All Progressives Congress with Alhaji Bola Tinubu as its National Leader. Retired General Muhammadu Buhari was chosen as the presidential flag bearer. Most politicians in the Peoples Democratic Party cross carpeted to All Progressives Congress. This weakened the ruling party PDP. The conglomeration of politicians in APC clamored for change in the leadership of Nigeria. As a result, there was much tension in the land, which some saw as a-do-or-die affair. The die was cast. The incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan campaigned for a second tenure. Buhari and his men gave him a tough time. The polity was heated. I was about to relocate to another planet to avoid the roaming war.

At last the presidential election came on 28 March 2015. After the balloting and collation of results, Buhari was declared by the political umpire Professor Jega as the winner of the presidential race. APC triumphed. Thank God President Jonathan sacrificially saved the situation by conceding defeat immediately. Only God knows what would have happened if it was the other way. The President-Elect is now getting ready to pack into Aso Rock Villa on 29 May 2015, when the outing going President Goodluck Jonathan bows out from the corridor of power.

During his electioneering campaign, the President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari and his party clamored for change. They also promised to fight corruption and lead Nigeria into the long expected Promised Land where milk and honey flow in abundance. I have purchased some feeding-bottles for the milk and some containers for the honey. I am already salivating. All eyes are on Buhari and his men to keep their words. How far can they bring about the change? Indeed, Buhari may have good intentions, but those in the field may sabotage his efforts. As a civilian he can no longer rule by military decree. Ninety-five percent of the politicians now in APC are the old corrupt politicians. As I said in my article "Honourable Corruption", monkey is known for its likeness of banana. If monkey changes dress, it still remains a monkey and must surely eat banana. Likewise most politicians now in the ruling party are corrupt already. Change of party cannot wipe out the corruption in them. Can Buhari perform miracles? Let us watch and see.

Looking backwards, Obasanjo promised Nigerians constant power supply during his tenure. He committed billions of Naira into the project. After his eight years tenure, greater darkness enveloped the country. The late Yar'Adua and the out-going President Goodluck Jonathan fought the perennial power epilepsy, all to no avail. Nigerians now look unto Buhari to do the expected miracle of constant power supply in the country. If he succeeds in this herculean task, then the messiah has come. Jobless Nigerians are waiting for Buhari to employ them. The Chibok Girls are also hoping to be rescued by Buhari. Insurgency will be a thing of the past as Buhari mounts the saddle of leadership, come May 29, 2015. All that Nigerians expect from APC and Buhari are positive changes.