By NBF News
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Do you recall the story of that mysterious man called the Pied Piper of Hamelin? How I loved the story as a kid. And when my own children were much younger, how I also loved telling them the story. Evening after evening, they urged me to tell the tale of the man with the magical pipe in the German town of Hamelin.

Well, here goes the story. In the year 1284, Hamelin had a severe rat infestation that was driving the inhabitants nuts. When they slept, rats nibbled at their feet, eating up a whole chunk. Another would wake up, and his earlobes would be gone, consumed by rats while he slumbered away. If they put their food on the table, and closed their eyes to pray, rats had fled with the plate before they opened their eyes. Rats, rats, everywhere. They were the nemesis of Hamelin, and soon the town stood the risk of being sacked completely.

The people were in dire straits, contemplating a sorry, sordid future. Then walked in a man in pied (multi-coloured) clothing with a pipe in his hand. He told the leaders of the town he could get rid of the rats. After much incredulity, they negotiated a fee, and he set to work. The Pied Piper of Hamelin began to play his flute. As the mysterious but sonorous tune wafted out, all rats, small, big, hefty, skinny, began to run after him. Even the ones that were just delivered jumped out from their holes, and hobbled after the Piper. It was a clean sweep, as the man led the rats to the Weser River, where all but one drowned.

Payment time, and the leaders of the town reneged. They baulked, saying the work the man did was too easy and he couldn't to be paid such handsome fee. They offered a pittance, and in annoyance, the man left the town, vowing to come back for vengeance someday. They laughed him to scorn.

The day of reckoning came. It was a Sunday morning, and the covenant breakers were in church, with majority of their children at home. The man began playing his pipe, and all the children began to dance after him. Young, old, babies, even toddlers, 130 of them, boys and girls. Those who were ill in bed jumped off, and danced after the man, who led them into a cave, were they were never seen again. Another version of the tale said he led them into a river, where they drowned, just like the rats.

Moral of the spine-chilling story? Don't be a covenant breaker. Don't renege on promises. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Don't sign an agreement (as number 35 on the list) and then turn round to say such agreement never existed. Be a man who swears and keeps it, even to your own hurt.

There's a man like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, bestriding the length and breadth of the country today. He's Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). But this time, a positive piper, who wants to bring change to the country. He wants to reduce, if not eradicate corruption. He wants to straighten Nigeria out. Spend every kobo that comes into the treasury for the good of the people. And we can believe him, because he keeps his words. Come hell or high waters, he stands by whatever he has promised.

Wherever Buhari campaigns in any part of the country, he reminds me of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a positive one this time. Like swarm of bees, people flock after him. In Kaduna, Maiduguri, Gombe, Minna, Lafia, Ibadan, Zaria, Benin, Makurdi, Kano, wherever, the story is the same. This Piper will draw away all rats that eat up our treasury, that turn our hospitals to abattoirs, that turn our roads to death traps, and drown them in the river.

The countdown has begun. Will we berth at fair havens, at a halcyon harbour? A lot depends on us. With our hands, we can re-write the story of this country for good. And the time is now. Or don't you think?

From my mailbox
They need to team up
I agree with you totally. Opposition parties need to team up with Buhari for the presidential election. Run-off may not take place as being speculated considering the rigging mastery of the PDP.

•Tavershima, Benue State
A man who cares
Seeing Gen. Buhari at the stadium on Sunday, looking so relaxed and cheering the Super Eagles to victory, I knew we had found another president who cares.

•Ordue Kyaande, Gboko
Questions Buhari must answer
You are too decent to be closely or distantly associated with anything or anyone that connotes violence. The difference between violence and storm is the difference between six and half a dozen and the dictionary keeps talking of storm (or violence) each time it defined the three words hurricane, typhoon and cyclone, which in the 4th paragraph of your March 25, 2011 column, were used to qualify Buhari. I agreed.

His countless number of dagger, axe and cudgel wielding supporters sent the rest of us who don't carry weapons and who love our lives scampering back indoors the whole of Monday March 21, 2011, what with the freedom with which they daringly scratched or sharpened their weapons, not in their bedrooms but right on the public highway. Why? Because Buhari was in town (Jos) as was the case when in 2007 the man came campaigning. Must blood always flow because someone is campaigning to rule? Please help me to tell the man as follows:

Compensate me for trekking to St. Murumba College about 3 kilometers away just to vote him in 2007, and his ANPP candidates who I didn't even know but I voted them just to enhance Buhari's chances. Succeed in controlling only his supporters before dreaming of controlling the whole Nigeria.

Convince us clearly that he is not just another common violent religious fanatic masquerading as a statesman.

Femi, you may confirm my allegations from anyone in Jos living near Polo field or Joseph Gomwalk Road.

•Joseph Okolo, 08057452745
I'm afraid
I'm afraid we've lost another opportunity again to liberate ourselves from political vampires. Just as we lost it in 1966, 1983, 1999, 2003, and 2007, and now again. We lost and are still losing it to the rigid egos of our Progressive leaders. It's painful and sad.

•Sadiq IBK
If we vote PDP…
A vote for PDP is a vote for lack of electricity, continuation of rioting etc. CPC is the vehicle for change.

•Pastor Ray Opara
For PDP to crumble
Sadly, no strategy can uproot the PDP for now. Let us weaken it first by voting out many of their governors. If we do this, PDP at the centre will certainly wobble, fumble and crumble.

•Iyke Austin Mbodo, Owerri
Suffering amidst plenty
Every patriotic Nigerian should dislodge the PDP oppressive government forever. Is it not absurd for the fish to go thirsty in the sea? That's the similitude of our existence in Nigeria.

•Tayo Omoyele, Agege, Lagos
Forget run-off
Forget run-off and alliances. It's only a matter of time before others defect to the PDP. You see, PDP is an evil spirit.

•Shehu A. F, Jos
Things may fall apart
With my little political knowledge and what is happening in the world today, I'll say whoever will win the election will win, but things may fall apart.

•Remi-Okeke Johnbosco, Aba