Monday, May 15, 2023
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y memory is not yet moribund. Few years ago, one of my primary school friends approached me in my first place of assignment as a pastor. I had just celebrated the morning Divine Sacrifice and morning Divine Office of Prayer. Then I went to the refectory to perform the office of the stomach in order to maintain healthy spiritual and bodily equilibrium. From there I proceeded to the sitting room to allow the digestive system perform its crucial work. During the process, I dosed off and was having sweet morning dream. No sooner than later I was interrupted by a big knock at the door. It was my houseboy. He informed me that someone was looking for me. In fact, I was not expecting any visitor by that hour. By then the mobile phone was not common as it is today. I unwillingly went out to see the person.

Who did I see? It was my primary six school classmate who joined the line of business after his secondary school career, whereas I joined the line of Catholic Priesthood. It had been long we saw. He was smiling with tears. We embraced each other cordially. I ushered him into the sitting room. I offered him food and drink before enquiring about his early morning mission. He ended the heavy breakfast with excessive appreciation. I asked him about his business and family. He sighed seven times before he spoke. Then he uttered, "Father, if I had known that life would be difficult for me like this, I would have become a priest like you. My business is no longer flourishing and I married a bad wife. My burden is too much." Tears dropped down his cheeks. I was highly touched for a man to cry like a baby that early morning. I consoled him physically and spiritually. I told him that there is no wall without a lizard. I made it clear to him that I am carrying heavy burdens as a priest with fortitude which he might not endure. I prayed for him and advised him to go home and manage his burdens, because human life is not a bed of roses. He went home satisfied. Today he is a happy man.

A burden is anything, anybody or any condition that weighs you down. In other words, it can be a living or a non-living thing. It can also be an adverse situation one finds himself or herself in. To manage any burden well, you must let go certain things or overlook certain conditions. An instance can throw more light on this point. Some time ago, I was behind the wheels as I was travelling back to my ecclesiastical house. About half kilometer to my destination, I came across two elderly women from my parish going home from their farms. They were carrying some loads on their heads. Since they had worked the whole day, weakness and the loads they were carrying weighed them down. I slowed down to pick them for the sake of charity. One of them was carrying a complex and very heavy load that it couldn't enter my car's booth. She was even carrying some useless and ant infested woods that were burdensome. I asked her to jettison those useless things among her load so that it can be contained in the booth. She refused to do so. The other one was carrying only useful and light load which the booth comfortably accommodated. I had no choice than to leave the naughty woman behind and moved with the one having light load. She felt so bad by my action. Who is to blame? Did I manage her burden well?

It is really a heavy burden to have married a bad husband or a bad wife. Marriage is a life-long covenant between a man and a woman. During the solemnization of the marriage at the Altar of God, the intending couple in the spirit of unconditional love promises themselves fidelity. Also they vow to love and respect each other all the days of their lives, for better for worse. Marriage is like a parcel that is tightly wrapped. When you open it, you have no choice than to manage what you see. A definite period of courtship and pre-marriage course are indispensable before the 'I do' promise. What you learnt within the period will surely help in managing your marriage. Those who skipped the two essentials are in hot soup as far as their marriage is concerned. However, there is no perfect marriage because no two persons are of the same character. Therefore you must overlook certain negative attitudes in each other. Forgiving spirit and patience help to manage your life partner. Prayer is a sine qua non before contracting marriage and you should remain prayerful all the days of your marriage, till death does any of you part. If you are happily married, then you are a good manager. Bad management from any of the spouses leads unhappy or broken marriage.

The burdens we are facing in Nigeria since Independence is largely due to bad management of natural and human resources by our leaders at all levels, especially at the federal level. Most of the past and present leaders are corrupt and inefficient. The long military dictatorship we had set us many years back and created heavy burdens for us. The civilian leaders themselves promise us heaven on earth during their political campaigns. When eventually they win elections or rig themselves into power, they make bad policies that bring heavy burdens on the citizens, such that the dividends of democracy become a mirage. Our seemingly survival today in Nigeria is due to our ability as citizens to manage the burdens created by those at the helm of affairs. Some of the burdens are economic hardship in the midst of plenty, hunger, hydra-headed insecurity, acute corruption, marginalization, lopsided appointments, poor health system, lack of vision, ego aggrandizement, etc.

Just recently, a general election was held in our burden laden country. There was hope of drastic reduction of our chronic burdens with the choice of a prospective president. The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission also promised before the whole world that the whole election would be free, fair and credible. At many occasions he emphasized that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine would be applied at all levels of the election to guarantee free and fair elections. Also he reiterated that the results of the elections would be transmitted electronically in order to avoid manipulations. We thought that a good electoral manager has come. Enthusiastically we went to the polls and voted on 25 February 2023 for the best presidential candidate that would take our country to the next level. We waited to see the results being transmitted in INEC portal, but all to no avail. The next thing we saw was the results being transmitted and collated manually as usual at INEC's headquarters at Abuja. They were manipulated and doctored in favour of a preferred candidate. It was the highest election rigging ever witnessed in this country which engulfed billions of tax payers' money. The electoral manager derailed and went on to announce his personal President-Elect. Darkness fell over the whole land. He asked the aggrieved presidential candidates to go to court.

Now the aggrieved candidates are in court. The Election Tribunal has commenced sitting. We look forward to the Learned Men to manage our presidential election results and justify who actually won. Our protracted burdens shall be reduced or increased by the outcome of the Presidential Election Tribunal. All eyes are on the Supreme Court to be really supreme. Above all, we place our trust in the hands of the Almighty God, who is the highest Arbiter. Man proposes, but God disposes. God never sleeps. May His Will be done!