FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, May 27, 2024
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HOW FAR?

imple question needs simple answer. On the other hand hard question requires hard answer. If it is a complicated question, then the answer will also be complicated. A class teacher asked a student, "Why are you sleeping in the class?" The student answered, "It is because your teaching method lacks ingredients and is boring." The teacher frowned at him and asked further, "Are you stupid?" He replied, "Yes, because my mother gave birth to me on a stupid day." The rest of the students in the class could not control their laughter. The teacher shouted, "Keep quiet!" When absolute silence returned, the teacher asked the student, "Are you mad?" The student enthusiastically answered, "Of course yes. I inherited the spirit of madness from my father who is an Abuja based mad politician. He glories in squandermania over there while his family at home is suffering from abject poverty." The teacher took up a cane and ordered, "Get out of this class before I descend on you!" Before you know it, the student in question made a corroborative signal to other students in the class. All of them rushed out of the class. The teacher shouted, "What! I don't mean all of you." Indeed the deed is done.

Last Tuesday, I was in my office for my routine weekly pastoral engagement. A certain wretched man knocked at the door. Before I could say come in, he speedily opened the door and walked in casually. I offered him a seat. We exchanged greetings. Then he asked me, "Father, how far?" I replied, "What type of question is that? Everything is far away in this country nowadays. The distance is unimaginable and it can be calculated neither in meters nor kilometers. Fuel is very far away from us. Yesterday I went to a filling station to buy fuel. It was N850 per liter. I bought some liters at ten thousand naira. Before I could reach home, my car's tank was almost empty. In fact I am contemplating selling the car to buy enough fuel.

As I was stepping down from the car, my cook presented to me myriads of home essential needs. One, there is no more food in the house. Secondly, the water for cooking and doing house chores has finished. There is no electricity to pump water for almost one month now. Thirdly, our cooking gas is exhausted. I looked up and down hopelessly. Then I excused myself to go to the Chapel to pray. The cook asked me if I would eat prayer at supper. Before the Holy of Holies I prostrated myself and said, "Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You told us to ask and we shall receive; knock and the door will be opened for us. Could you rain down manna again from heaven as you did for the Israelites in those wandering days?" The Lord spoke, "It is possible, but the Nigerian government has blocked the route in which the manna will be rained down to the hungry citizens of your country." I was totally devastated. Next I made this special appeal to God: "Please could you throw down the manna direct into my room?" With trust in God, I am still anxiously waiting for divine response. I kept the biggest 'Ghana-must-go' bags in my room to store the impending manna fall. I asked the wretched man sitting before me not to divulge the information.

The wretched man who was with me was dumbfounded after hearing my litany of problems. He came to ask me for assistance. According to him, his wife is lying critically at home and there is no money to go to hospital. There is no food to eat. The wife is suffering from acute sickness and destructive hunger. Their three children have dropped out of school due to lack of fund. Their house roof is licking seriously during this rainy season. I asked the man to approach his relatives and neighbours for help. He said that they are all wicked. His own plight touched me in the bone marrow. Despite my own basic necessities, I gave him a little amount of money for food at least. He thanked me and said, "You're the visible God in human flesh. In fact you will never die." I cut in saying, "God forbid! Do you want me to remain alone in this hopeless world? I shall die when the time comes and go to heaven to enjoy what no eyes have seen; no ears have heard nor has it been imagined." Finally before the happy wretched man left my office, I prayed for him. As I was blessing him, he also blessed me in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He shouted a big Amen such that the foundation of my office shook.

The present federal civilian administration in the country is one year in office. What is your assessment? How far? So far so good or so far so bad? Indeed action, they say, speaks louder than voice. If you conduct an interview on the streets, you will come back in tears. Millions of Nigerians are suffering from abject poverty. Hunger is the most outstanding agony. Some families eat once a day. Many manage to eat half-chop three times a day. Some have nothing at all to eat. The commonest garri drinking is now exorbitant. One painter of garri costs three thousand naira. The smallest tuber of yam is not less than one thousand naira. Many families can no longer afford rice and beans. Fruits and vegetables are scarce and costly. The other day I came across a family of four (father, mother and two children) eating palm fronds like goats. After all it is a type of vegetable. The roots and green shrubs in the forest will soon be resorted to. Animals eat them and are bouncing in health and vitality. How many animals go to hospital for medical attention?

Travelling by air has become a reserve of the rich. How many ordinary Nigerians do you see in the airport nowadays? Exorbitant transport fares and the fear of kidnappers are serious headache for those who travel by land. Insecurity is the order of the day nationwide? Why can't the federal government convoke security meeting of stakeholders to tackle the menace? The sooner is the better. The fear of insecurity is the beginning of death.

Sycophancy is the greatest hindrance to our survival today. Sycophants pretend that all is well. They give bad advice to those in corridors of power. There was a minister of Information that was notorious for lying. He lied for eight years. By now he might be grieving over the falsehood he propagated while in office. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He might now be licking his boot because the evil that men do lives with them and after them. Bad advisers destroy leadership just as bad fish destroys a pot of soup. Praise-singers are abundant in government. Their pockets are their concern.

Democracy is generally defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our critical condition shows that we are practicing Demoncracy. Our elections no more count. Selection is the order of the day. Billions of tax payers' money is wasted in pseudo elections. The Electoral Body has been compromised. The Judiciary, which is the last hope of the common man, has also been compromised. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the three Arms of Government. If you ask me, "How far?" my simple answer is that the Nigerian Nation has somersaulted fatally. We are swimming in the deep ocean of death. The chance of survival is very dim. The 1999 Constitution as amended does not help matters. If we wish to survive, the tenets of the 1963 Constitution and the 2014 National Conference must be adhered to. A sick person taking wrong drugs has little hope of survival. We are celebrating failure rather than success.

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