FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaMonday, August 22, 2016
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NIGERIANS: DO NOT DESPAIR

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ew days ago, a sad event took place in Asaba, Delta State. A certain middle aged man was suddenly and unjustly retrenched from his sole means of livelihood without any benefits in this time of economic crunch. He was married with seven promising children. Three are already in higher institution while the other four are still in secondary school. The wife is a petty trader specialized in cold pure water and fried groundnut. On that fateful day, the family breadwinner came back so early from work unlike before. He wore a gloomy face and was walking without focus. As usual, his wife came out to welcome him with lovely embrace. Repulsively he pushed her aside without any word. She was so much embarrassed and speechless. The dejected husband walked briskly into his private room and banged the door furiously. In addition, he locked the door from behind. He sat on the bed glancing aimlessly at the ceiling. After some minutes he removed his shirt and then took a bottle of dry gin on his table. He drank all like water. Next he brought out a rope he bought at the road-side while coming home that fateful day. With the aid of the table he tied it on the ceiling fan and hanged himself. Using his two feet he pushed the table away and started dangling between the ceiling and the floor. Within some minutes, his tongue stretched out and he gave up the ghost. On the bed he left a suicide note which read: "I am tired of this country Nigeria. I was unjustly retrenched without benefits. How can I carry out my family responsibilities in this hard time? Please my wife and children, take good care of yourselves. We shall see in the next world. May my troubled soul rest in peace. Good bye."

The confused wife waited outside for over one hour and decided to enter into her husband's private room to ascertain what was amiss with him. She knocked curiously on the door many times. No response came. She then pushed it with all her strength but all to no avail. It was securely locked from inside. She raised her voice and called six times, "Papa Gabro!" No answer came. Sensing danger she alerted the neighbours. They rushed like anxious flies into her apartment. After a group banging at the door, a carpenter was invited to undo it. Within some seconds the door fell apart. The wife and sympathizers were filled with awe as they beheld the body of the breadwinner of the family dangling left and right. Every effort to rescue him came too late.

As this was happening, the children in secondary school came back and saw their father stone dead and hanging on a rope; the man they joyfully interacted with before he left for work on the morning of that day. They wept hopelessly. Their mother fainted. After being resuscitated, she stood up and was running towards the Asaba - Benin expressway to end her life by jumping unto a moving vehicle. God being so kind some young men were there. They went after her. Getting hold of her before her target, they carried her like a log of wood back into her house. Thus double tragedy was averted. Their children would have been transferred to the department of Orphanage with immediate effect.

The breadwinner who committed suicide by hanging wrote: "May my troubled soul rest in peace." What is your opinion: Would he really rest in peace? Is suicide the best answer to a hopeless condition? Do we not believe that human life is changed and not ended at death? Do you believe in the theory of Annihilation? The mother vulture after taking a hot bath asked her little ones, "How do I look like?" Unanimously they responded, "Mummy, ugliness has met ugliness." My deduction from this is that a person who commits suicide in order to end his suffering, does he know what comes next over there? Indeed earthly suffering will meet eternal suffering. Earthly Suffering plus eternal suffering equal to damnation. Is it not better to endure suffering in this world than to suffer eternally in the world to come? The downfall of a man is not the end of his life. Once there is life, there is hope. A word is enough for the wise.

The suffering in our country Nigeria since our Independence from the Colonial Masters seems to reach its climax in the present political dispensation with Buhari at the helm of affairs. The change we were promised during the electioneering campaign has proved to be in the negative. Millions of our jobless youths are roaming about aimlessly. An idle mind is a devil's workshop. Hence the rise in crime wave: kidnapping, armed robbery, pick-pocketing, house breaking, prostitution, militancy, etc. Almost all the federal roads especially in eastern part of Nigeria are like roads leading to hell-fire. The other day I was travelling in my gospel car from Onitsha to Enugu through the broken death-trap expressway. After driving past Ugwuoba, the road became so impassable. My car stocked into a tank hole on the jagajaga expressway. I couldn't move again. Worse of all there was neither on-coming nor on-going vehicle to transport me further. I had no choice than to trek from there to 9th Mile where I got a tipper lorry lift to Enugu. I was so tired and was breathing like someone hungrily passing away to the world beyond. I regained myself after drinking Holy Water for three consecutive days. My car is still lying on that spot till date. In fact it is for sale. The highest bidder should look for a towing van. Who is that lucky man or woman?

Again and again, I say that most Nigerians are hungry and angry. The prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed. A business man from Yenagoa cries out, "The difference and inflation level in this so called change government is too much. There is no electricity, no potable water while fuel and kerosene are beyond the reach of the common man" (Vanguard, August 13, 2016. Page12). There is no food on the table. A butcher from modern market in Kaduna State laments: "They say he is fighting corruption. Let him fight hunger first, let him provide security too. Let him stop selection in fighting corruption, let him do something about the value of the Naira, jobs etc. Everyday prices of things keep going up and there is even no money to buy them. I'm angry, sir" (Same Vanguard, page 11). Just a couple of days ago I went to the market to purchase a bag of rice. I bought it N17,000 last week. I came with the same amount to take another bag. I gave the sales girl the amount. After counting she told me it was N17,000 and was giving it back to me nodding her head in disapproval. I asked her what was wrong. She answered with a business face, "Father, you are indeed in the ancient world. A bag of rice now sales at N20,000 and N21,000." I shouted, "What?" My blood pressure rose to the highest point. To avoid imminent death, sympathizers standing by rushed me to the nearest hospital.

Some Christian leaders who gathered in Abuja last weekend during the inaugural meeting of retired leaders of major denominations in Nigeria under the auspices of the After Service Leadership Forum (ASLF) concluded that insecurity, hunger, despair and hardship in the land were becoming unbearable. Also they warned President Buhari that they would resist any attempts to Islamize Nigeria as his body language shows. Speaking to journalists after the summit, the immediate past Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Sunday Makinde, said, "I will advice the president to listen to the voice of Nigerians. He should not be partisan in his appointments. He should avoid religious or political partisanship. He said he does not belong to anybody. Let us see that statement in practical terms. Nigeria belongs to all of us. Nigerians voted for him" (Daily Sun, Monday, August 15, 2016, page 8). The incumbent Service Chiefs (Army, Air force, Navy and Police) are all core Northerners and core Muslims. Likewise most of Buhari's political appointees and Personal Assistants are from his tribe and religion. All portend to a hidden agenda.

Fellow Nigerians, let us not despair. The bug told her offspring to exercise patience because what is hot will eventually cool down. On their way to the Promised Land the Israelites who despaired died in the desert. Some of our jobless youths take the risk of searching for a greener pasture in Europe through Morocco on foot. Many of them dry up in the desert and die. Some who travel by boats are drowned in the high sea. A few who made it are languishing in Europe without any means to come back. Some of our youths look for quick solution by pushing hard drugs. Many of them are behind the bar at home and in various prisons all over the globe. Those who are unlucky are sentenced to death in certain countries, especially in Indonesia. Some have been executed; others are awaiting execution.

Our country Nigeria is really in great distress. All hands must be on deck to rescue her from sinking into oblivion. The Presidency, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Judiciary, the Church and the entire Nigerian citizenry must rise to their responsibilities. Many voices are calling for the restructuring of the country. Unless this is done, we continue to live in fear of the unknown. Nigerians have spoken for what they want in the 2014 National Conference held under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration. The Buhari Administration should listen to the voice of the people for peace to reign and for Nigeria to progress. If we want to go apart, then let it be done in peace and not in pieces. No country survives two civil wars or religious war. A stitch in time saves nine. All Nigerians should fall on their knees and pray for God's intervention in the current impasse in the political, economic, religious and ethnic affairs of our dear Nation. President Buhari, the enduring legacy you can leave behind is good governance. It is time for you to write your name in the Golden Book. Do not be like other African tyrants and sit-tight rulers. A stubborn fly perishes with the corpse. In God we trust!

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