FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaTuesday, October 13, 2015
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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EXHUMING THE PAST

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ight from my primary school days, I was taught the English grammatical tenses. Thus, we have present tense, past tense and future tense. The past tense is further classified into immediate (simple) past and past participle. We are certain of what happened in the past. We are not very sure of the outcome of the present tense. The future is beyond human comprehension. Even the weather forecast can be altered by God who is the Alpha and the Omega. No one can boast of the future. Fortune tellers can only guess. Some of them get their daily bread by lying. If you can foretell the future, can you tell me the time, day, the month and the year you or someone will die? Even medical doctors are not sure when they pronounce that a terminal patient have so and so time-frame to live. A certain stupid sick man was told by his doctor that he has only one more year to live on earth. He went and sold all his properties and began to live an ostentatious life within the one year. After the one year frame, he became stronger and did not die. Since he has sold all he had, he began to live in penury. Do you know what he did? He went to court and sued the doctor who foretold his life span. If you were the judge, what would be your verdict?

Regarding the past, we can have clean or unclean records. When we glance over all our past good deeds, we end up smiling and wish that they happen again. But when we enter into reminiscence of our past evil deeds, we feel sad and sigh. If we count all the sins we have committed since we attained the age of reason, then we are no better than the devil. Some time ago, I took a foolscap-sheet to write all the sins I committed in the past since my childhood. I made sure the person sitting beside me was not looking. It filled the four pages and there were still more left. I shouted. My neighbor ran towards me and exclaimed, "My friend, what is wrong with you?" I told him that I missed my steps. Did I tell a lie? Is sin not missing a step towards righteousness? At last I soliloquized, "If God does not temper justice with mercy, then heaven will be empty." Please do this home work: write down your own sins starting from your childhood. How pages did you get? Make sure you burn the paper containing your sins because it can be infectious. I have burnt my own.

Something else struck my mind. If we keep record of all the credit cards we have used in making phone calls in the past till today, it can run into millions of Naira. If all the expenses made in the upbringing of a girl are put into consideration, then no one can pay her bride-price. If you had stored all the water you used in bathing and washing of clothes since you were born, then it can form an ocean.

On the political scene, if the past records of our Nigerian politicians are exhumed, then none of them can be fit to occupy any leadership position in this country, Nigeria. Recently, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) took the incumbent Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, to court for what he allegedly did between 2003 and 2011 when he was the Governor of Kwara State. It runs into a 13-count charge. According to three Correspondents Ismail Mudashir, John Chuks Azu and Abdullateef Aliyu, "The CCB alleged that Saraki made anticipatory declarations, made wrong declarations not attributable to his income, gift or loan as approved by the Code of Conduct for public officers, as well as concealed certain properties in the form" (Daily Trust, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, p.5). After reading this allegation, I couldn't help laughing at such a serious matter. I asked myself, "Why should the Code of Conduct Bureau wait since 2003 to prosecute Saraki only in 2015 when he is on seat as Senate President? Is it only now that his crime was discovered? He was governor for eight years and has served as Senator for four years, why now?" If all sinners should go to heaven to wait till the Final Judgment Day to be punished, then the holiness of the Saints might have changed them from evil to good. A legal Luminary, Dr. Ali Ahmad, has this to say, "The prosecution of Saraki is political and it is not encouraging for the current war against corruption" (Daily Trust, Sept. 20, p.5). On his own part, Senator Salihu opines, "Those trying to dig into Saraki's past because he is now Senate President will soon be tired because the Senate will not abandon him as their duly elected leader" (Loc. Cit). Already majority of the Senators have passed a Vote of Confidence on Senator Saraki as the Senate President and Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President. Recently a section of the citizenry marched in support of the duo. What next? The political cloudy sky will soon be cleared either way.

Mr. Bartholomew Maduekwe went out to seek the opinion of people on the above matter in his column "People Speak" in Vanguard, Tuesday Sept. 22, 2015, p.38). I singled out the opinion of two persons only. Miss Chika Dike says, "The fight against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, is not a true corruption fight, but a political hate fight." On her own part, Miss Sophia Osuji asserts, "The Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki should not face charges and should continue in office. I do not see any cleaner Senator that will replace him. This is a typical case of a pot calling kettle black." Emmanuel Bello on his own column captioned "President versus President" writes, "The more I examine the current travails of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who is not on talking terms with President Muhammadu Buhari, the more befuddled I get. It is a war of attrition between two presidents, yet nothing is presidential about it" (Daily Sun, Tuesday Sept. 22, 2015, back page).

The writing on the wall is clear. Since the election of Dr Bukola Saraki as Senate President, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari have not been happy because he is not their anointed candidate. But has President Buhari forgotten that he promised to work with anybody as Senate President? What is actually happening? If all the past crimes or misdeeds of the elected and selected leaders in the Presidency, Senate and House of Representatives are put into consideration, they should all be arrested and thrown behind the bar. Even President Buhari himself is not free. Did he not overthrow the elected Democratic Government of President Shehu Shagari in 1983, which was a treasonable offence? If his coup had failed, he and his co-plotters would have faced firing squad.

No one is clean as far as the past is concerned, including my humble self. If God recalls all our past as priests, no one can be worthy to ascend the altar of Sacrifice. If a man and a woman intending to marry each other reveal their past immoral escapades, then the marriage would not hold. If God considers all our sins, then no one is fit to go to heaven. In other words, if God does not temper justice with mercy, then heaven will be empty. The Saints in heaven were not born saints. Most of them were sinners on earth but they repented and made amendment of their past sinful lives before they died. There is no repentance in the grave. God does not desire the death of a sinner but wants him to repent. He says, "If an evil person stops sinning and keeps my laws, if he does what is right and good, he will not die; he will certainly live. All his sins will be forgiven, and he will live, because he did what is right. Do you think I enjoy seeing an evil person die? No, I would rather see him repent and live" (Ezk. 18:21 - 23).

Fellow Nigerians, both the leaders and the led, let us give peace a chance to reign. Tension tends to increase in our Land by heating the polity unnecessarily. No Nigerian is innocent. The fight against corruption should be fought with all seriousness at all levels. The virtue of wisdom must be our guide. Few individuals should not be aimed at, just to nail them politically. We have already many witches and hunters in Nigeria. Therefore let us eschew political witch-hunting. The dog should not be given a bad name to hang it unjustly. All animals are equal. The pigs in Animal Farm later changed the maxim to: "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." This should not happen in our country Nigeria, so that our journey to the Promised Land may be actualized soonest. As an Independent Nation of 55 years old, we are still crawling and falling. Each and every Nigerian must purge himself or herself of any corrupt practices before pointing accusing fingers on others. Repentance is the watch-word. Long Live Nigeria!

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