FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaMonday, August 1, 2016
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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MANAGING LIFE

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familiar female undergraduate sent me a text message last week. She asked me a common question, "Father, how are you?" I simply answered, "I am managing myself." She laughed, "Ha-ha-ha!!!" And she added, "If a priest says he is managing himself, what would I say?" I replied her, "Then you are a manager." Does it not follow that anyone managing himself or herself is a manager? If you are managing and directing others at the same time, then you become a managing director. Before you become a managing director, you must have perfected in managing yourself. If I am not right, I stand to be corrected.

The present economic hardship in our country Nigeria has made many Nigerians Managers, especially those with low income. I am among this group. That is why I am managing myself daily to make the ends meet, but they have never met. My trousers, which were tight on my waist by one year ago, have all loosened. In fact, I am eating from hand to mouth. As I wrote last two weeks, many Nigerians are hungry and angry due to our bad economy. It seems that there is no hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as the day progresses. Last night I couldn't sleep because all the organs in my digestive system were crying due to hunger. I thought that I could pacify them after drinking three gallons of water. They shouted all the more, "Give us food to eat!" I got up and ran into our kitchen to look for food. I met the rock. I could only lay hands on fried garri. I drank two cups with sugar and soybeans. No sooner had I finished drinking the emergency mixture than I developed an acute running stomach. Consequently, I slept in the toilet as river was gushing out of my waste hole continuously for over six hours. At the morning break my belly flattened like a punctured tube and the rest of my body dried up like a skeleton. Then I fell into coma. I was rushed to the hospital and was placed on life saving machine for two weeks. As of now I have regained a bit of consciousness, though I am half alive. Do not try to push me, lest I die in your hands and you will be accused of murder. If you happen to slaughter me, then you will be accused of manslaughter. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Many of the people you see now walking on the streets of Nigeria are mere walking shadows. Hunger and anger are on every face. Our economy has fallen. The worst is that there are no qualified managers to salvage the tragic situation. Do we need to hire foreign experts to handle the Ministry of Finance when we have qualified experts within the country and in diaspora? Most of our Ministers are there as political awardees. Nigeria is hiring a foreign coach to head the Football Team. Is it the answer? Will the Nigeria Football Association give him a free hand to choose talented players? Or will it be business as usual of selection by quota and oiling of the palms? There are hundreds of talented Nigerian footballers but the problem is bad management and favouritism. The out-gone coach Sunday Oliseh said that there are many witches in the NFA. Are those witches still there? Will they not witch-hunt the foreign coach?

Millions of Nigerians are jobless. Our graduates are roaming the streets seeking for non-existent jobs. The APC Government promised to be paying every unemployed Nigerian youth N5,000 per month. Has this promised been jettisoned? The worst is that retrenchment is going on in many public and private business offices. Our Naira is a subject of mocking in the world market. The oil, which is our sole hope of income, has fallen flat in price in the world market. The activity of the Niger Delta Avengers does not help matters as the oil pipelines and wells are bombed as a result of accumulated anger. The Federal Government should, as a matter of urgency, negotiate with those angry boys before the situation goes out of hand. The Avengers have given only one condition for negotiation: the International Community must be involved. Let the Federal Government consider accepting that condition so that our economy may wake up from its comatose condition. Where two elephants are fighting, it is the grass who suffers. Nigerians are suffering terribly now.

Many States in Nigeria cannot even pay their workers presently. In fact only six States out of the 36 States can pay their workers. I am very happy that my amiable Governor, Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokue Dike) is among the six capable Governors. Indeed, Willie is paying and working. Let us give him a standing ovation. He needs our prayers and our support. Anambra State has been judged as the safest State in the Country, thanks to Willie Obiano Security network. We can now boast of sleeping with our two eyes closed unlike in those horrible days. Well done Governor Willie Maduabuchi Obiano and more grease to your elbows!

The current fight against corruption by the Federal Government is on the surface. It is only based on financial corruption. Where is the huge sum of money so far recovered channeled to? There is urgent need to start the fight from within. The whole system in Nigeria is corrupt. Moral corruption is worse than financial corruption. Hence, I recommend an emergency surgery to remedy the bad situation. We need to resurrect someone like late General Tunde Idiagbon to be the chief surgeon. If I am invited, I will come and pray for the success of the surgery. The specialist surgeons in the ethnic groups that amalgamated as Nigeria should sit on a round table to sign an agreement before the surgery is carried out. The outcome of the 2014 National Conference should be retrieved from the Archive and be read in the round table before the signing. Dialogue rather than fighting with arms and ammunitions yields better and lasting result. I quite agree that there is an urgent need to restructure our country so that we can move forward and enjoy the real dividends of Democracy and a positive Change.

A hungry person does not sing alleluia. We cannot fight corruption with empty stomach. What Nigerians need now are job creation and enough food on the table. Fighting corruption with empty stomach can be cancerous. There are stories of missing foods and foodstuffs these days. Three days ago, a mother of five children was cooking soup in the evening in her external firewood kitchen. After testing the food and found that it lacked salt, she went into her store to bring salt. In a twinkling of an eye, a hungry thief just dived in and carried the soup with bare hands from the fire and disappeared like lightening. When the woman came back with the salt, she did not see the pot of soup she left on the fire. She thought it was a dream. She washed her face with a solution of salt and water to make sure she was awake. Then having discovered that the missing soup pot on fire was a reality, she raised an alarm. But it was too late. In another story, a poor leprosy unmarried man cooked his soup and kept it in his kitchen and went out to fetch water from a nearby borehole. On coming back, he observed that an unknown thief has emptied the soup and absconded. He cooked another pot of food with frogs and left it behind again and went out on an errand. The unknown thief struck again and did as usual. After eating the soup and its content, his mouth and belly swelled like a decaying corpse. He was thrown away into the bush and left to die. Vultures came and butchered him within minutes. Hunger and poverty are written in the faces of many Nigerians. Many are sick of undisclosed sicknesses. Many have gone; and many are about to die.

The condition of the Federal roads especially in the Eastern part of Nigeria is nothing to write home about. They are death traps. The Enugu - Onitsha road, Enugu - Aba road, Aba - Ikot Ekpene road, etc are worse than the road from earth to hell. Any driver plying these roads is already heading to hell. There is an urgent need for the Buhari-led Government to declare the state of emergency on these roads. How I wish I can perform miracles to transform these Federal roads. Those plying the federal roads in the East are just managing.

The prices of essential commodities in our markets have risen beyond the reach of the common man. I wept few days ago when I came across a poor man, his wife and three children crying due to the present hardship. He was retrenched as a gateman. His children were driven out of school for non-payment of school fees of N500 per head. The wife's meager means of livelihood was gutted by a mysterious inferno in her make-shift shop.

The prices of fuel, kerosene, fuel and gas have skyrocketed. Many drivers have packed their cars and resorted to trekking to their destinations. Last week a father of five children came back on foot from Lagos to Asaba due to poverty. Many families have dusted their stoves and resorted to firewood. Unfortunately the firewoods are wet due to the rainy season. Having no means of cooking, a widow and her three children few days ago ate a tuber of uncooked yam like a goat. After the eating, they oiled their throats with palm oil and grease in order to avoid the aftermath negative effects.

As we are managing life, incessant power failure has crippled Nigerians. We are now the companions of darkness. I slept yesterday in complete darkness. Having mastered the position of things around me, I woke up at midnight to answer the call of nature. I tiptoed in the acute darkness towards the toilet to urinate. I opened the door. Little did I know that it was the door of my fridge that I opened. I urinated inside it and wanted to flush it but I couldn't see the handle. I dashed back to my bed to sleep. It was in the morning light that I discovered the harm I have done. What a nonsensical nonsense! Government, all are we saying is: Give us light! The concerned Distribution Companies should wake from slumber. Many Nigerians that use electricity to earn their daily bread have folded. They are now idle, hungry and angry. We pay electricity bills without consumption of the essential utility. Indeed we have managed enough. When will the messiah come?

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