FEATURE ARTICLE

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
amobipchuks@yahoo.com

PANEL BEATING

forth night ago, the weather was very windy. As I was driving through the gate leading into the church premises, the heavy wind blew the gate and hit it very hard on one side of my car. The car became paralyzed instantly. I jumped out from the car quickly to avoid being affected, because human life is more valuable than a car. I shook my head as I saw the colossal damage on the car. A woman passing by expressed it as an attack. A police officer arrived at the scene and said, "In fact this gate accident is real transmitting transmission." I asked him, "Officer, what do you mean?" He directed me to clarify from the IGP. The gate accident just happened in few seconds. The car which was washed and incensed in the morning was in a twinkling of an eye in ruins. I had no option than to look for a panel beater.

Since the car could no longer move freely, it was towed to the panel beater's workshop. He offered me a dirty seat, which I accepted reluctantly. He took off his gentleman's attire and wore a dirty tattered clothe. He went into his workshop and came out with an extra-ordinary hammer popularly known as "Monday hammer." I thought that he was about to break a huge stone or to heat a stubborn iron. Acrobatically he entered underneath my mangled car and stationed himself on a vantage position. Without any explanation he started beating the body of the mangled car mercilessly. I emotionally stood up and shouted, "Mr. Panel beater, what are you doing? I brought the damaged car for repay and not for further damage. Please hit it with care because I have no money to purchase another." He brought out his head from underneath the car and laughed at my myopic thought. He said, "Father, calm down. This is my own vineyard. You are the pastor of souls while I am the pastor of damaged cars. I am called a panel beater. Therefore my job is beating a stubborn car's panel back to normal. At the confessional in the church you absolve sinners mercifully by raising your hands in prayer. Here I absolve a damaged car panel mercilessly by beating it strongly." Laughter pushed me down and started mesmerizing me until tears began to flow down my cheeks. I wiped out the joyful tears and sat down while the panel beater continued beating the damaged panel of the car with extra-ordinary force.

Where am I heading to? Human life is full of panel beating. The body is equivalent to a panel. We have various types of panel beaters. In the church the priest or pastor is a spiritual panel beater. He beats the worshippers with the Word of God in order that they may do the will of God always. He beats sinners spiritually by calling them to repentance. Whenever we commit sin, our souls become damaged. God is a merciful God who does not desire the death of a sinner, but wants him to repent. But God cannot coerce us into repentance. God helps those who help themselves. Therefore we ought to tow ourselves into prayer, examination of conscience, repentance and confession. Then the merciful God beats our spiritual panel with his grace. We become spiritually rejuvenated again.

The medical doctor is also a panel beater. Whenever we fall sick or be involved in an accident, we tow ourselves into the hospital for panel beating, if we can do so by ourselves. Where we are incapacitated, others tow us into the hospital. The medical doctor moves the patient into his consulting room or theatre and starts medical panel (body) beating with various instruments and medications. The sick is called a patient because he or she cannot survive without being patient during the medical panel beating. Few years ago I underwent an anal surgery. Immediately I went into the theatre, the doctor and the nurses on duty ordered me to remove my clothes. I told them that I am ashamed to stand naked before them. They laughed at me. Reluctantly I removed everything clothing on my body and climbed the surgery table. One of the nurses gave me an intravenous sedative injection. Instantly I entered into the world of unconsciousness. I was half dead during the nearly one hour medical panel beating. Later I found myself in the private hospital room, speaking in tongues. When the sedative disappeared, pains took over my entire panel.

Academically, we undergo mental panel beating in schools in order to become literate and useful in the society. We begin from nursery school to learn ABC. Then we move into the primary school. From there we enter secondary school. After, we move into the higher institution or university to graduate. At each level, the teachers involved panel-beat our brains with knowledge. During the academic panel beating, we make necessary sacrifices. We burn the midnight lamp while others are enjoying their sleep. We pay school fees from the meagre resources of our parents or guardians. Those who allow education to pass through them become useful in life while those who waste their time in school become nuisance to the society.

Illiteracy is an acute disease. Half education is dangerous. Being a school drop-out is cancerous. Once upon a time, a street illiterate panel beater was lying under a damaged car. He was seriously beating the damaged panel with huge (Monday) hammer. Unfortunately, he was beating on a spot inscribed "Warning: This spot is combustive. Do not beat." Instantly, the damaged car caught fire. Unfortunately the panel beater couldn't escape. He was burnt beyond recognition. He died as a result of lack of education. He ended up in 'transmitting transmission'.

We are now into the half year. In football match, whenever it is half time, the coach and the footballers retire into the dressing room or beside a corner of the field to strategize. The coach points out the mistakes the players made at the first half. The players themselves recount the problems they encountered in the football pitch. After all is said and done, the coach panel-beats the players by giving them corrections and encouragement. The players themselves panel-beat each other by offering useful pieces of advice, because only the woman who prepares native soup supplement (ogiri) can recognize a blind fly.

Something well begun is already half ended. It is six months now since the year 2018 began. The month of June is the mediator between January and December. The youthful age is the intermediary between childhood and adulthood. Aristotle says that an unexamined life is not worth living. Can we say so far, so good; or so far, so bad? Six months are gone. We still have six months ahead. Where we have failed, we still have time to make amend by panel-beating the grey areas concerned. The downfall of a man is not the end of his life. To despair is suicidal. Where need be, we should seek the services of specialists to beat our panels or senses to normal. Do not die in silence. We have specialist panel beaters in various fields of human life. Therefore, subject yourself to them for adequate panel-beating.

Our country Nigeria was fused into an entity known as Amalgamation by Lord Lugard in 1914, when I was still in the World of Ideas. Since then this country has been subjected to different forms of turbulence. We fought a civil war between seceded Biafra and the rest of Nigeria from 1967 to 1970. The war which consumed millions of innocent lives ended in no victory, no vanquished. Military intervention in leadership set us back. Our democracy has been tumbling now and then. Indeed things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold. There is serious tension in the land. Innocent Nigerians are being murdered in cold blood here and there. The life of cattle is now more valuable than human life. We are almost drifting to the state of anarchy. Therefore our country Nigeria needs serious panel beating for peaceful co-existence. Hence many sane individuals, groups, tribes, and geographical zones of the country have been calling for this panel beating called Restructuring. Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth must continue to chew with caution. Likewise until Nigeria is restructured, we continue to sit on a keg of gunpowder.


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