Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaTuesday, May 30, 2017



efore the year 2002, the mobile phone was used exclusively by the police and influential persons in Nigeria. It was in the form of a small radio with antenna. By then anyone using it was surrounded by admirers, who imagined how the wireless phone worked. What was mostly in use by then was the land phone controlled by the Telecommunication System of Nigeria (NITEL). Out of ingenuity in those old days, we, as children manufactured our own telephone system by connecting one matches box to another matches box with hair plaiting thread. One puts his or her ear at one end while the other child talks from the other end. It worked because sound travels through the air.

As children we thought that a tiny child sits inside a radio and do the talking. In those early days, a certain old woman was listening to the radio bought for her by her learned son living abroad. After the radio talked for about three hours, she felt sorry for the person inside the radio. She felt that the person talking inside the radio for hours might have been feeling thirsty. As a result she took a cup of water and poured it through a hole into the radio for the person to drink in order to cool his throat. Her literate granddaughter who was looking after her came out and saw what her grandmother was doing. She laughed at her and asked, "Mama, what are you doing?" She replied, "I want the person talking inside this radio to drink water because he has been talking since morning till this afternoon." Greater laughter threw the granddaughter on the floor. After wiping away her laughter-tears, she told her grandmother, "Mama, this is Technology! There is nobody inside the radio."

Technology is advancing on daily basis. The Mobile Phone, otherwise known as the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) was massively introduced into Nigeria between 2002 and 2003 during the civilian presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. As I said initially, the big mobile phone was an exclusively used by the rich. But today almost every Dick, Tom and Harry in our country has a mobile phone. Gatemen, students, pupils, groundnut sellers, hungry persons, etc. have handsets. In a certain village, an illiterate woman was told by her grandson that when she flashes somebody, it does not cost any amount of money. The grandson loaded N1,500 worth of credit for her. Later the grandson left for school. The old woman called different people with her mobile phone and talked with them for hours. After saying "Harro!" she would tell the person, "Please I am only flashing you." Then she talked with the person on the line for a long time." After two hours, the loaded credit finished and she couldn't make a call again. As she does not understand English, the mobile information always says, "You have no more credit in your mobile phone. Please recharge your phone." She heard the voice of a woman saying so. When her grandson came back from school, she angrily complained to him, "My son, this phone is having a problem. I cannot make call any more. More so, I do not understand the strange woman talking to me in English since today's afternoon till now." The son collected the mobile phone from her and dialed. The feminine voice said, "You have no credit to make this call. Please recharge your phone." He laughed and asked her grandmother, "Mama, you have finished the N1,500 credit I loaded in the morning before I left for school. What happened?" She replied in her simplicity, "My son, I did not make any call. I only flashed people as you told me and talked with them." The boy couldn't help laughing at her. Then he commented: "Illiteracy is a disease. Mama you are funny. What a costly flashing!" The illiterate woman said in Igbo language, "Nwa m jee rie nri ehihie. Onye aguu na-agu anaghi asu oyibo." (My son, go and take your launch. A hungry person does not speak English).

All I have enumerated above are preambles. Now let me hit the nail at the head. The mobile phone has many advantages. It has also some disadvantages. A certain influential Igbo man from Abagana said, Onye na-aru oru, ya na-aru uru. Mana uru akakwala oru." The translation is: "If you are doing a good work, you can also be cheating. But do not allow the cheating to overwhelm your good work." I do not believe in this philosophy of thought. Cheating is intrinsically evil and cannot be justified. Good works and evil can never go together. It is true that the mobile phone serves us so well since its introduction into our country. However, many atrocities have been associated with its use nowadays.

In my interaction with God inside the Holy of Holies few days ago, God revealed to me that He is very angry with Nigerians who use the mobile phone wrongly. He explained to me that most Nigerians now worship mobile phone. I pleaded with God to cool his temper and show mercy to us. I promised Him to that I would speak to Nigerians about the new idol worship. This prompted me to write on the Mobile Phone Atrocities in this edition. My fellow Nigerians, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. A fly without an adviser perishes with the corpse. He or she who has ears should listen to me. The Holy Scripture says that we cannot worship God and mammon at the same time. Nowadays we are distracted in prayer by our wrong mobile phone use. Many of us come to church with their phones on. At the entrance door of most churches, a written notice is placed at strategic points: PLEASE SWITCH OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE! Many who enter the church flout this instruction. As the Mass or service is going on, some church attendants make or answer phone calls right inside the church. Some others, who have little respect for the 'Holy', walk away aimlessly to make or answer phone call. Some congregants browse while the Mass or Service goes on. They divide their attention between God and Mobile Phone. Do you know that some youths browse pornographic websites inside the church? If it were in the olden days, God would strike such persons dead instantly? Some of us place their mobile phones always beside them while they are praying in the church or at home. If the phone rings, they abandon their prayer to answer the call. By so doing they ask God to wait. If you were God, what will you do? Today many of our prayers are not answered because of distraction emanating from wrong use of mobile phone.

I put it to you and to me that we are provoking God. Can we resist the anger of God? Ordinarily, when we talk to important personalities in our society we switch our phones off or put them in silent mode. When we go to see a Traditional Ruler, Councilor, Local Government Chairman, Commissioner, Governor, Minister, Senator, Honourable Member, President, etc. do we abandon him or her to answer or make phone calls? It is an insult to do so. It is also an act of not being serious. If it is so with ordinary human beings, what happens when we do so with God?

Since the use of the mobile phone device, a new sin has come into existence. It is known as the sin of Nomophobia. This is also a new vocabulary. It will be inserted into the future edition of Dictionary. In one of my past articles I wrote on the topic NOMOPHOBIA. This terminology is coined from three words: NO-MOBILE-PHONE PHOBIA. In a nutshell, "Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact" (from Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia). Many of us cannot do without the mobile phone. It is a contagious mobile disease. It is also sinful. We cannot do without God, but we can do without the mobile phone. Do you believe this?

In a moral instruction class in a certain primary school in Awka, the teacher was emphasizing to the pupils that lying is an evil. He further told them that liars will go to hell. Instantly, one of the pupils in primary three raised up his hand. The teacher recognized his hand and asked him to stand up and ask his question. The 9-year old child started shedding tears. After a while he said, "Teacher, my daddy will go to hell because he always tell liars. Yesterday he was in our house at Awka and was telling someone on phone that he was at Abuja." The other pupils laughed at him. The teacher himself consoled the pupil who was crying for his daddy who was about to go to hell. He said to him, "Stop crying my child. I will come and talk to your daddy, so that he may repent from telling lies to avoid going to hell." Children are really innocent and prophetic.

In another occasion, a creditor called at the house of his debtor to collect his money. He stood at the gate and called his debtor on phone to know if he was around. The debtor who was watching a film in his sitting room lowered the volume of the television and picked the phone. The creditor asked, "Please I am standing at your gate. I want to see you now." The debtor replied, "Sorry, I am not around. I am sick and have gone to see my doctor. Kindly come in one week's time." The creditor shook his head and sighed. As he was about to leave, the seven year old daughter of the debtor opened the gate and came out. The creditor asked her, "My little daughter, how are you? Please, is your father at home?" The innocent child replied, "Yes Sir. He is watching a film in our sitting room. But he told us not tell anyone that he is at home." The creditor called backed to his debtor but the phone was switched off at the other end. He angrily went away.

In another place, a certain married man wanted to travel out on business trip for three days. His wife was very happy that her husband was travelling. She arranged with his boyfriend (manfriend) on how they would make merry within that three days of her husband's absence. Unfortunately, the husband cancelled the trip because of unforeseen circumstances. The wife was not aware of the cancellation until her husband came back late at night on the first night that he would have been absent from the house. The wife welcomed him with mixed feelings. As they were on bed that night, the wife's phone rang. She picked it. Her boyfriend was calling. She pretended not knowing the caller. She frowned at the caller saying, "Please it is a wrong number. I am sorry." She put down the mobile phone beside the bed. After some minutes she went to the toilet to urinate. Her phone rang again. The husband picked it. The caller said, "Hello my baby, I am missing you. I wish am there with you this night as your husband is not around. Remember our appointment at Super Star Hotel tomorrow. " The husband interjected, "Please may I know who is calling." Nothing was heard any more. The boyfriend switched off the phone as he heard a strange male voice. The husband was told by the phone's recorded voice: "The number you are calling is switched off." He sat up angrily and waited for his wife to come out of the urinal. As soon as she came out, he told her that her boyfriend called. The wife was frightened with goose heat all over her body. Fracas followed between the couple that night. The husband commanded her to pack her belongings and leave his house as soon as it is 6.00a.m the following day. All efforts the wife made to appease her angry husband was in vain. She left tearfully with regrets. However, my question is: Is the husband innocent of the same offence his wife committed? If yes, then his giving the wife a red card can be justified. If not, let him recall her immediately and issue her a yellow card instead. If you are pointing an accusing finger at someone, the other fingers will be pointing at you. Let us examine our consciences.

Recently I gave a clever boy my handset to hold for me briefly. Then I opened the booth of my car to bring out some packages. After doing so, I collected the phone from him. He immediately disappeared like a ghost. I went into my room to relax. I remembered that I had an urgent call to make. Hence I took my handset and dialed. I had about three thousand naira worth of credit before I gave it to the boy. But the phone information record told me that I had no more credit to make the call. It seemed like a dream. All my efforts to locate the clever boy proved abortive. He transferred my entire credit into his phone. As I was furious over what happened, a primary school teacher came to me asking for a special favour. She was unjustly transferred from a busy city school to a bushy village school. Therefore she wanted me to use my position as a priest to talk to the Education Authority concerned to reverse the unjust transfer. I laughed at her. Surprisingly she asked me, "Father, I am in jeopardy. I came to you for consolation but you are laughing at me. Please it is not a laughing matter." I cleared my throat and complained to her that a certain clever boy unjustly transferred my three thousand naira credit into his phone just few minutes ago and disappeared. I made it clear to her that both of us were suffering from the same unjust transfer. Consequently, she should go after the clever boy to collect my N3,000 credit while I go to the Education Authority to intercede for her. Am I wrong? What is your opinion?