Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaWednesday, December 13, 2017


he he-goat says that travelling is a good venture. That was why he traveled to his mother's kindred and learnt how to point his lips upwards during heat period. Last week I traveled to Issele Uku in Delta State of Nigeria for a religious purpose. As I was speeding moderately along the Asaba-Onitsha dual road on my way back, my eyes suddenly captured a bold advert inscribed on a bill-board beside the right side of the road, which read: "Tomorrow starts today." Immediately my thinking faculty began to oscillate. This was the source of inspiration behind this write-up. If you wish to do something tomorrow, then you have to start it today. My Igbo people say that a chicken that would be a cockerel begins from the cradle. Today is the senior sister of tomorrow.

If there was no yesterday, there can be no today. Consequently, there can be no tomorrow without today. A popular business direction says, "No credit today, please come tomorrow." Tell me, when is that tomorrow realizable? English language has past tense, present tense and future tense. These three tenses are interdependent. You cannot talk about the present without relating it to the past. The present leads to the future. The present problem in the world, especially in Africa, is that man fails to learn from history. That is why history continues to repeat itself in a negative way. Unfortunately history as a subject has been removed in the Nigerian school curriculum for reasons best known to the architects. It is a pity.

In my primary school days, our class teacher asked us (the pupils) to say what we would become individually when we grow up. One said, "When I grow up I shall be a teacher." If you wish to be a good teacher, then you must be a good pupil and a good student. No one gives what he does not have. My people say that if death does not claim a pupil, he will later become the headmaster. A good pupil or a good student today becomes a good teacher tomorrow. Of recent, a disobedient student at a school in Ogidi in Anambra State was punished by her class teacher. The little disobedient girl ran home and reported to her mother that her teacher gave her some strokes of cane. The stubborn mother rushed to the school with her child and a certain useless man with a bundle of huge stick. Fortunately, the teacher in question was not available at school when they arrived. The head-teacher pleaded with the mother and her accomplice to take it easy and promised them to discuss the matter with the teacher when she comes back. On their way home, the stubborn mother and the disobedient child with the good-for-nothing accomplice met the teacher as she was going back to school. The disobedient pupil pointed her out. The stubborn mother and the useless man took the big sticks and descended on the innocent teacher. She collapsed and was rushed to a nearby hospital by passers-by. On reaching the hospital, the doctor confirmed her clinically dead. What an unfortunate incidence! What will the disobedient child become tomorrow? For me, the three murderers should face the wrath of the Law. It is your present achievements that will determine your future. A bad student becomes a bad teacher. Instead of leading, he ends up misleading the pupils or students.

Another stated, "When I grow up I shall be a medical doctor." He who wishes to be a medical doctor must for now have love for God and humanity. He must also esteem the value of human life above every other thing. Can an armed robber or a serial killer eventually become a medical doctor? Such a criminal will end up butchering lives in the theatre and sending them to their untimely graves, because his or her primary value is money. There was an emergency in a certain hospital whereby an accident victim was rushed in there. A distress call was sent to the medical director. He came very late into the emergency room and saw the dying patient. Instead of commencing treatment immediately, he demanded that the sum of two hundred thousand naira must be deposited there and then before he could touch the accident victim. Before the sympathizers could run around, the victim died. It was later discovered that the medial director when he was a school senior prefect enriched himself at the detriment of the students.

Another pupil asserted, "When I grow up I shall be a pilot." If you wish to be a pilot you must provide yourself with wings and begin to fly today. How can you be a pilot tomorrow when you cannot even climb a small tree because of fear? A person desiring to be a pilot must first of all pilot his or her life well and pilot one's family affairs. A certain pilot downed an aircraft fatally while trying to romance a flight hostess who came into the cabin to deliver a message to the pilot. He abandoned the piloting of the flight and grabbed the hostess immorally. On the process, he, the crew and 150 passengers perished in a twinkling of an eye. His antecedent portrayed that he was a womanizer in the air force training school.

Having stayed with my father in his shop at Jos during holiday period, I stood up when it was my turn and said with all seriousness, "When I grow up I shall be a trader." I really meant it. By then my father had promised to train me to university level. But in order to actualize my dream as a future trader, I began to pay less attention to my studies, so that my dad might find no reason to persuade me to study further after my primary school career. I registered for the Common Entrance Examination just to fulfill all righteousness. The result came out and I failed woefully. I was very happy to have failed. For me that was the end of my studies. My next plan then was how to move into Jos Main Market to start business immediately with my first school leaving certificate. Can a failed pupil today become a successful trader tomorrow?

But there was an obstacle in achieving my myopic ambition. That obstacle was my dad. When I informed him of my failure in the Common Entrance Examination, he was infuriated. He scolded me for my laissez faire attitude towards education. He sternly pointed at me saying, "Half education is dangerous. I wanted to further my education after my Standard Six, but I had no one to carter for me. But you are lucky because I have vowed to use my little resources to train you to any level. Opportunity comes but once. The ball is in your court." He brought out his snuff box and began to help himself. By then I was moping at him outside minded. I started to think twice. From that day I took my studies serious. The following year, I sat for another Common Entrance Examination and came out with an excellent result. A certain wine tapper from Ajalli was popularly known as "Onye amaghi akwukwo, oru ike egbuo ya." This means that lack of education leads to hard labour. Thank God and my dad that I later embraced education yesterday and became a good-for-something today. I would have become a-good-for-nothing as an illiterate.

In a couple of months I saw myself in the secondary school shining like a bright star. My eyes opened and I saw the value of education. Interest matters a lot. Illiteracy is founded on lack of interest in academic pursuit. I took my West African School Examination and got a super result. By then I was having an inner voice calling me to go for the Priesthood. I tried to resist it but to no avail. I informed my father about the divine call. He encouraged me to answer it. Hence I shouted, "Lord, here I am! Your boy is listening!" Next I found myself in the seminary studying philosophy for four years and then theology for another four years. I became a priest in the Order of Melchizedek in 1993. That was how my tomorrow started yesterday.

He or she who neglects today is bound to fail tomorrow. Procrastination is worse than cancer. Delay can be dangerous. Therefore, do whatever you ought to do today with eagerness. Today lays good foundation for tomorrow. A couple was blessed with two bouncing male and female twins. The female twin was named 'Today' while the male one was named 'Tomorrow'. The twins were fondly called 'T T' by friends and relations. If you don't have 'T T' twins in your family, then endeavour to have them in your minds so that you can succeed in life. He who lives today must also think of tomorrow. There is nothing like 'forget about tomorrow. Tomorrow will think of itself.' Tomorrow can be forgotten if today is neglected.

To be a successful man is not a day's job. The process must begin today. It requires dedication. Those who neglect today and rush to overseas tomorrow to seek for green pastures are bound to fail. Those Nigerian young men and women, who abandon their today and illegally sneak into Europe tomorrow, either end up in the Atlantic Ocean or in the Sahara Desert. Recently 26 Nigerian girls were drowned in the Atlantic Ocean for neglecting their today. Some of our boys and girls who neglect their today see themselves tomorrow in foreign lands in terrible conditions. Some of them were enticed to abandon their sources of living here in Nigeria in the guise of being sent overseas for greener pastures. Some are being tortured or sold in Libya as slaves in this computer age. They escaped from the frying-pot today and fell into consuming inferno tomorrow. A stubborn grasshopper ends up in a bird's belly. A deaf fowl hears by force in soup pot. Face your today's task and avoid mad rush into tomorrow. Many have been ruined or have encountered regrettable death.

We are into the Advent season today in preparation for Christmas tomorrow. A fruitful Advent leads to a successful Christmas. The Word made Flesh dwells in a pure heart. At Christmas, Jesus Christ is to be born not in the manger but in our hearts. Therefore we should examine our consciences and ask God pardon for our sins. Let us not postpone our repentance. We must repent today because tomorrow may be too late. We should reconcile with one another today to avoid missing our salvation tomorrow. As we prepare for the coming of the Lord at Christmas we also prepare for his second coming which may be today or tomorrow. Today we are on earth. Tomorrow we may be in heaven, if we make use of today to get ourselves ready to spend eternity with God. But if we make bad use of today, we may find ourselves in hell tomorrow. God forbid! As you make your bed today, so you will lie on it tomorrow. A stitch in time saves nine.