FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaTuesday, July 5, 2016
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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t was not an easy task. I travelled far and wide searching for Comfort as I promised, to bring her home to console Nigerians who have been living with Patience for a long time. It was indeed a sacrificial mission. I nearly lost my life but God rescued me. I travelled to the East, South, North and West of this country. Sometimes I had to travel inevitably at night to meet my target. Often I had no time neither to eat nor sleep. I drove sometimes on my car and sometimes I had to embark on the journey with commercial vehicles. Also necessity compelled me to travel on Keke Napep and Okada. On certain occasions I had to walk on foot. Due to the dryness of my pocket, I did not travel by air. On one occasion I hired a wheel barrow pusher to push me through a long and narrow path. Necessity knows no shame. After all, our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ left the comfort of Heaven to come down on earth and underwent the shame of the Cross to redeem us sinners.

In the first instance, I travelled to Ogoja in Cross River State in my search for Comfort. Before anything else, I went to pay the Governor of the State a courtesy visit at Calabar and to ask for a convoy of security men to assist me in the search. Unfortunately the Governor travelled to Abuja for an emergency meeting. I sighed and travelled back to Ogoja. I went to the see the Bishop of Ogoja to see if the Church could assist me in any way. Only then did I remember that the Episcopal Seat there is vacant. Her former Bishop, Most Rev. John Aya, has been transferred to Uyo Diocese. At the same time he is the Apostolic Administrator of Ogoja Diocese. I pity him because he will get old soon for running up and down. I went round the Ogoja Catholic Cathedral premises looking for Comfort. But she was nowhere to be found. Later I went into the Cathedral itself to pray for God's grace and for the success of my mission. I closed one eye prayerfully while the other was wide open so that I could grasp at Comfort should in case she appears.

As I was coming out of the Cathedral, my mind struck me to run quickly to Ogoja main market to search for Comfort. I packed my car a little far away from the market and started trekking to the market. A stone-throw to the market, I encountered a fierce mad man with a dangerous club walking opposite my direction. He shouted at me, "Man of God, what are you coming here to do? Are you a business man? Last week I came to your church and you commanded security men to chase me away with guns. This market is my constituency. If you dare come nearer I will scatter your head with this club. I will use you as an experiment of my madness." Before I could utter a word, the mad man started pursuing me. I threw away my bag and took to my heels. Insanity was indeed pursuing sanity to kill. I folded my cassock up and develop a wing. I made the Sign of the Cross and prayed, "My God, save me!" Instantly, heaven opened and I saw Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father. A voice came down from heaven saying, "My priest, be courageous. I am the Alpha and the Omega." Courageously I glanced at my back to see if the mad man was closer to me. I saw him fallen into a ditch." I smiled and said, "Thank you God of mercy. Have mercy also on the fierce mad man. Kindly deliver him from the shackles of the evil one so that he may enjoy the Comfort I am searching for." He threw the club away and shouted, "Man of God bless me. Your God is more powerful than mine." I came closer and pulled him out of the ditch. Then I blessed him accordingly. He smiled and waved at me.

I left the vicinity of Ogoja market and proceeded towards Obudu Cattle Ranch, which is Paradise on Earth. My mind told me that perhaps Comfort might be there resting in peace. I drove up with hope the zigzag hilly Paradise in haste. As soon as I reached the top of the mountain, I went into the restaurant and ordered for a roasted chicken and a cold hero beer. I really want to become a hero if I could find Comfort for Nigerians. After descending on the menu, I was strengthened to embark on my search for Comfort in the mountain vicinity. On the second day, I was trekking within the mountain top searching for Comfort. Unfortunately the weather was not clement. It was very cloudy. Thus visibility was poor. But this did not deter me. At a spot I saw through the cloud someone coming towards me. I could not discern whether the person was masculine or feminine gender. I smiled and told myself that it may be the Comfort I have been looking for. However, as the person came closer, I saw clearly. It was a very short man from the tribe of Zacchaeus. He was also crippled on the legs. He walked straight to my face and smiled hopefully. He said to me, "Sir, I want to talk to you. I am not a mad man but a crippled beggar. It is God who brought you out now. I have been crying. Please I need your comfort." Before I could open my mouth, he dipped his hand into his big pocket and brought out pounded garri, wrapped in a visible polythene bag. Then I asked him, "What can I do for you? He replied, "Sir, I need soup to eat this garri." I told him that I have no soup with me; that I was on the mountain searching for Comfort. He asserted, "Sir I need comfort myself. Could you give me some money to make soup?" To cut the story short, I gave him a little money. He thanked me. Nonetheless he added this pitiful statement, "Sir, after eating this food, what shall I do? I am jobless. Please comfort me." I laughed loudly and soliloquized, "This man sees me as his Comfort while I myself was searching for Comfort. What a coincidence!" I told him to go and eat the food first, that God would provide. Both of us walked away in different directions. I spent three days on the mountain top. But Comfort was nowhere to be found. A security man on condition of anonymity informed me that Comfort was at the Mountain for some days but left shortly before my arrival. I bit my fingers. I looked into the sky and optimistically said, "I must get at her wherever she is." I drove down the mountain like a crazy driver.

My mind directed me to search for Comfort in Ogbunike cave and Owere-Ezukala cave both in Anambra State, my home state. I forgot that charity begins at home. I made a mistake by beginning my search for Comfort abroad. Quickly I drove first to Owere-Ezukala. I entered the magnificent cave. I walked. I crawled. Comfort was not there. I ran out and proceeded to Ogbunike cave. I entered it with every enthusiasm but my effort to locate Comfort was futile. I scratched my head. Then I drove to Shoprite in Enugu and Onitsha to seek for Comfort. There I saw a multitude of people shopping and recreating themselves. My mind told me with every assurance that Comfort must be there. I looked at every face I came across but Comfort was not found. To cool my hot temperature, I bought some ice-cream and ate. The coldness nearly uprooted my teeth.

My next trip was to Jos in Plateau State where I was born and brought up by my lovely parents. As soon as I arrived at Jos, I went into Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church to pray. It was there that I was baptized and confirmed in the Faith. After praying, I glanced around for Comfort. She was not there. I went to Kuru near Jos where huge rocks are arranged by God in fanciful and wonderful formulae, which is a home of tourists. I climbed up and down the rocks searching for my target. She was not seen. I sighed. I went and stood at Jos Terminus round-about watching to see Comfort. The five hours I spent there were all in vain.

Could Comfort be held by the dare-devil Boko Haram terrorists? I was confused. I decided to travel to Borno State to wade into the Sambisa evil forest to search for Comfort to free her from captive, not minding the consequences. I took a Crucifix, Holy Water and Prayer Book. At the entrance of the forest, I said the Prayer of Exorcism thereby binding Satan and the terrorists. As I walked through the forest, I was sprinkling Holy Water, shouting, "Evil men and evil spirits I dislodge you in the name of Jesus Christ!" I saw the terrorists and evil spirits running helter-skelter. I shed tears as I beheld thousands of human skeletons scattered all over the Sambisa forest. I saw innocent men and women held captive by the terrorists. But Comfort was not among them. I did not see the Chibok Girls also. I left the forest crying for man's inhumanity to man. Some of the captives hurried and accompanied me to safety. They thanked me for saving their lives.

An inspiration came into me to hurry to Abuja in my search for Comfort. At my arrival at Abuja, I went into Aso Rock in spite of the tight security network. I was on my cassock and red stole. The armed soldiers confronted me asking, "Man of God, show us your identity card and what is your mission here?" I answered them that I want to pray for the ailing President and to look for Comfort in the villa. I was allowed to enter. I blessed Mr. President and his Vice. But Comfort was not there despite the luxurious condition of the villa.

I came out with speed and hurried to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja. What did I see? I met Comfort boarding a flight to London. I ran as fast as possible to her and I embraced her lovely. I fell on my knees begging her not to leave us Nigerians. I polluted the air accidentally. She looked at me angrily. I apologized and admitted also that it was part of the problems I was searching for her. I asked her to cancel her flight to London and go home with me to meet Patience who has been waiting for her so that they can join hands together to bring relief to distressed Nigerians. Comfort looked pitifully at me and gave conditions that must be fulfilled before she can ascent to my request. First, there must be peace and tranquility in the entity called Nigeria. The Boko Haram terrorists and Fulani Herdsmen must be put under control to stop the wanton shedding of blood of innocent Nigerians. Also the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) should be invited for dialogue to give peace and justice a chance to reign. The use of military force is not the solution. In addition, the decisions of the 2014 National Conference should be implemented. Second, at Creation God said, "Let there be light and there was light." Therefore it is high time we had constant power supply in Nigeria. Comfort cannot live in darkness. Third, the Federal and State roads in a state of mess must be reconstructed for safety of travelers. Fourth, millions of graduates and youths are jobless; hence the rise in incessant crimes. They should be meaningfully employed. Kidnapping must be nipped in the bud. Comfort cannot live in constant fear of the unknown. Fifth, the fight against corruption must be total and not selective. Sixth, the Naira must be restored to its valuable state. Comfort assured me that if these conditions are met within a possible time limit, she would come and assist Patience, so that Nigerians would drink and hang up their cups in peace and happiness.

Having heard all the above conditions, I am back home to address all Nigerians, especially our leaders at the National and State levels. Let us all take the bull by the horn, so that Comfort will come to us soonest. I have done my best and took the risks involved to traverse the width and breath of Nigeria searching for Comfort. I owe my gratitude to God. Patience, please have patience. Comfort is coming soon with God on our side. Fellow Nigerians, do not despair! As I was coming back home, I overtook a lorry loaded with heavy rods with the inscription: "Never give up." There is hope in a hopeless condition. It took the Israelites 430 years to reach the Promised Land where they are now living with Comfort, in the midst of armed confrontation from surrounding enemies. Perfect Comfort can only be found in Heaven. My people, let us never give up in the face of the hardship confronting us today. Tomorrow shall be brighter. In God we trust!

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