FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaWednesday, May 25, 2016
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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ew days ago, I saw myself at Enugu. I parked my vehicle beside the road at Emene district, waiting for a friend. As my anxious mind was searching for knowledge, accidentally I saw a tipper loaded with fresh river sand moving across. At its rear was inscribed in bold letters: "Struggle continues till the last day." I shook my head sideways and laughter kicked me from behind. I saw the driver of that lorry sweating behind the steering as he was struggling to negotiate a turn by the left. He was also struggling to make the ends meet. The tipper lorry itself was struggling to move with the heavy load. The sand load was struggling to reach its destination as water was still dripping from it. From where I packed my car, I was struggling to see everything by myself and to put it in black and white for public consumption.

As I was struggling to write this article at the night of that very day, there was a-breaking news on the television. It was announced that the Federal Government has removed the subsidy on fuel. Hence the new pump price for a liter of fuel is now N145 per liter. Then I struggled to go to the white house to urinate. The urine was very hot, which shows that something was amiss. Indeed I am not quarrelling with the removal of the subsidy on fuel and the increment in pump price, but it was ill-timed. Nigerians are still struggling to secure three square meals daily due to the high cost of living and depreciation of the Naira power. We are still wobbling in darkness due to National Power Failure. We are yet to overcome the menace of Boko Haram terrorist. As if enough is not enough, the Fulani Herdsmen came on rampage and started killing innocent Nigerians going about their normal businesses. The kidnappers and armed robbers are here and there threatening Nigerians with the gun. In the midst of all these atrocities, Nigerians were struggling to survive when the sudden increase in fuel pump price was announced and implemented with immediate effect.

In reaction, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) gave the Federal Government one week to rescind its decision or else they punch at each other. The Nigeria Labour Congress has vowed to shut down the whole country if the Federal Government remains adamant on her decision. We have all been advised to store enough food items at home for consumption as long as Nigeria remains under lock and key as a result of the NLC and TUC impending indefinite strike. Personally I bought three bags of garri, five packets of sugar and five bottles of fried groundnut to fight hunger during the period. Also, yesterday I went to Onitsha and bought a bicycle for my travels. It needs no fuel. Even I am planning to travel to Abuja very soon on my bicycle, if the cost of fuel remains on the high side. I shall struggle to arrive at Abuja within one week. Let us embark on trekking once more. Our fore fathers did a lot of trekking and that was why they lived long. To be on alert is not cowardice.

By the time of my going to press, the Federal Government went to the National Industrial Court and obtained an injunction stopping the NLC and TUC from going on strike. Notwithstanding the court injunction, the NLC insisted on defying the court injunction and to go on with her planned strike. The TUC remained indecisive. It is struggle upon struggle. The deliberation between the Federal Government and Labour to find a peaceful solution to an accepted price of fuel ended in deadlock. Consequently the Federal Government warned the Labour Congress to respect the Rule of Law by not embarking on the impending strike action. Who will blink the eyes first: the Federal Government or the Labour Congress? I am struggling to live to see the end.

Yes, human life is a struggle. At conception the foetus struggles to survive in the womb of its mother. It develops from one stage to another. It spends nine months in the womb. After completing this stage, it struggles to get out of the womb to see the world as it looks like. This struggle to get out puts the mother into serious pains such that she cries and pants. Often she curses her husband for putting her into this trouble. As she struggles to give birth in pains, the assisting midwives shout, "Pull! Pull!! Pull!!!" She pulls with her last breath to get the baby out of her womb. The baby itself struggles not to be pulled to death but to life. When my mother was doing her own pulling during my birth on that blessed April Fool's day at Central Maternity Jos, I told her to take it easy. When the baby finally comes out, it cries and cries. The mother herself laughs and laughs for the joy of giving birth successfully to a new baby. The baby cries because of the harsh new environment it sees itself in. It is not conducive like the womb environment. This world is not a bed of roses. If I were given an option, I would have preferred to stay in my mother's womb until I attain the age of seventy. Then I would come out and spend thirty more years on earth before going to meet Jesus in Galilee.

After birth the baby struggles to survive the harsh conditions of this universe. When the baby cries, the mother consoles it and feeds it on her breasts. After some months the baby struggles to eat solid foods. Later the baby struggles to seat on its own, to craw and to walk. Immediately the baby starts to run, another stage of life begins. From thence, the baby becomes he or she. He runs for errands. He runs to market. He runs to farm. He runs away from dangers. He runs to school and struggles to pass examinations. He runs to the church because he is a citizen of the earth and the citizen of heaven. He struggles with good and evil on a daily basis. At times human weakness pulls him down and he struggles to rise to his feet again.

Man struggles to make the end meet every day. Saint Paul warns, "We urged you when we were with you not to let anyone eat who refuses to work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness and interfering with other people's affair. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we urge and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat" (2 Thess. 3:10-12). A lazy man does not struggle. That is why this saying goes, "No food for a lazy man (woman)." In the Book titled "Things Fall Apart" the lazy Unoka went to consult the oracle on his unfortunate failure in life. The oracle priest blamed him for being the cause of his own failure due to acute laziness. The priest dismissed him in these words: "Unoka, go home and work like a man!" While other villagers were struggling to go to far distant lands to farm, Unoka being a loafer stayed at home playing the pipe in the morning. Later he planted his yams in sandy soil at home, which yielded no fruit. He blamed the gods for being the cause of his failure. In the same manner, some people do not struggle to survive. Instead they blame someone or even God for being behind their failure. During my WAEC in my secondary school, one of us never sat down to study for even a day. But he took the examination by all means. When the result came out, he failed totally in all his nine subjects. He blamed God for not granting him success.

Since the unfortunate fall in Genesis Chapter Three, human beings have not rested. It is struggling that leads to success. Some who encounter failure in life take the laws into their hands by committing suicide. A certain man who hanged himself left a suicide note behind. He wrote: "I am tired of this world. Everything I put my hands in fails. Therefore I have decided to end it today. We shall see again over there. Goodbye!" An adage says that the downfall of a man (a woman) is not the end of his (her) life. If one door closes another opens. My dear, do not despair, no matter what happens. Struggle continues.

As we are struggling for material things, let us remember that we are made of body and soul. The body should not be fed at the detriment of the soul. The body is mortal while the soul is immortal. At death, the body decays while the soul goes before God the Creator for judgment. After judgment comes eternal reward or eternal punishment. Jesus Christ himself asks you and me: "What shall it profit a man (woman) if he (she) gains the world and loses his (her) soul?" (Lk. 9:25). The pursuit for materialism has blinded some, if not most, of us. Struggle begins at birth and ends at death. Hence the tipper driver tells us: "Struggle continues till the last day." Then one either Rests in Peace (R.I.P) or Rests in Pieces (R.I.P). At this junction, I struggled to put down my pen till next time.

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