Echoes of reality with Martin-hassan .E. Eze
-“The grave side lies” –
I was thinking thick and thin on why Dede Chinua Achebe fired the sacred gunshot? Over the years the shots of Dede Achebe were reputed to be symbolic and carried a lot of massages and lesson to be digested by all and sundry. This time, Dede aimed at the notorious Nigeria. “Nigeria is not a great country. It is one of the most disorderly nations in the world. It is one of the most corrupt insensitive, inefficient places under the sun……………………….” Haba, Dede, I thought aloud, did Nigeria merit this piercing bullet from you? I thought that I should differ from Dede and not associate myself with him by celebrating his gun shot. Anyway I decided to visit Chief Patriotism my long time friend to discourse the disturbing issue with him. But by the time I left Chief Patriotism's house I discovered that Dede Achebe was more than right. I returned from the house of Chief Patriotism to discover that Dede Chinua Achebe shot “Nigeria” because he wanted to deliver her from the hands of marauding leaders. According to him “the problem of Nigeria is simply and squarely the problem of leadership”
No doubt, over the years, I have not only admired the admirable qualities of this late Igbo son-Dede Chinua Achebe but equally joined him in a fight to reclaim Nigeria from the hands of her “ruinous leaders”. My sledge hammer is falling on us this time around. That the wahala of Nigeria is her leaders does not in any way make Nigerians saints. We cannot wash our hand sanctimoniously like Pontus pilate and shift the blame on our political leaders. I have watched with great disdain how we take time to canonize over so called dead leaders in the print, electronic and mass media. The litanies of praises and laughable remake that greets the death of VIPs in Nigeria (very important prisoners if not that Nigeria is a banana republic) speaks volumes. If he or she is not a rare gem an Iroko tree, he or she will surely pass far a lover of humanity, an epitome of love and service. But if all dead Nigerian leaders were all saints while they were alive, where are the sinners that have succeed through their actions and inactions in turning Nigeria into a messy and bloody country? If all Nigerian leaders were accountable effective and efficient while alive, why the high level of poverty and penury in a country that is blessed with the finest human and natural resources? Yet at gravesides, even the greatest criminal and looting general amongst them becomes a saint who is deceiving who? I am very happy that our fate after death does not depend on our rudderless and kleptomaniac political leaders. It is salient we understand that praise singers, and their well conceived and packed lies in the name of funeral orations cannot lead a dead monster to heaven
It is not funny that due to the numerous dead looting general and their marauding cronies that Nigeria have produced so far, we are still battling with the issues of security of life and property, good and durable roads, electricity, good and affordable accommodation and good health care system.
No matter whose ox is gored or elephant lost, the propagators of misinformation must learn to respect the truth because truths are facts that can never be diluted and facts are sacred. If we fail to tell the living the truth of who and what they are, and have done, we should be charitable enough to tell the dead truth and nothing but the truth at their gravesides for the sake of the living what do you think? I rest my case.
2. Between Nigerians and idiotic funerals
I for one, think it is time we pause and ponder. It is a moment Nigerian need to sit and think critically to where our nation is leading to. It is arguable the “Mr Reason” has left over society for a long vacation or should I say that we have succeeded in dethroning “Mr Reason” and enthroning “Mr Senselessness”
Over the years I have watched with disdain the reclex frivolities that happen in the society in the name of funeral ceremonies. The sacredness and respect that Africans accord the dead have since developed wings. The painful of the whole thing is that intellectuals, who are supposed to correct the erroneous attitude of contemporary Nigerians, have either remained mute or joined the bandwagon.
In our cities, towns and villages we have seen a father or mother who died in misery because he or she was denied of all humanly cares during his or her life time but was given the so called “befitting burial”. It is painful that a woman or man who never had a roof over his head will be welcomed into a lovely palatial mansion, extremely furnished and electrified according to the taste of the so called uncivilized untutored public to welcome him or her at death. Is it not a crime against humanity to bury someone who passed through hellish moment while alive in frivolity in the name of befitting burial?
The irony is that reclex, monumental, squandermania, pomp and pageantiny, drunkenness all sort of criminalities is fast becoming a modus vivandi. It has gotten to a stage where families terrorised by poverty and cannot afford two square meals a day now run helter-skelter to acquire loan so as to execute the so called befitting burial for a man or woman that died in penury.
Funeral ceremonies have equally turned into a moment of exploitation as some church and village officials see it as a moment to feed fat from the purse of the bereaved. I once accompanied a friend to sympathize with a family over the death of their father. After extending our heartfelt condolence, the first daughter of the family complained bitterly of how their Parish Priest used the death of the father to exploit them. Instead of consoling the bereaved family, the Priest threaten not to bury the father over a little amount of money, as if those that are not buried by Priest will not go to heaven. The most painful of the whole issue is that the mother of the family died three months before their father and the so called Priest was aware of this fact. The most scandalous of the whole thing is that the priest after extorting a huge amount of money from the family went ahead to turn the burial Mass into a fund raising ceremony. What a shame? What a pity? What a sacrilege? Where are we heading to?
In a Christian context, death is a moment of sorrow and sober reflection (Mat 3:28, Luk 7:12-13 Jn 11:32-44) funeral ceremonies can be anything but not reclex squandermia and exploitation as obtained in the society now. Why have the church not spoken and taken action against this societal mess? This current Lavish and wasteful funeral ceremonies are serving the interest of whom?
Thy Lavish and wasteful funeral ceremonies in our society is not a welcomed development. If we continue to adhere to the squandermia philosophy, then, our cry against the corruption and poverty in the country will compel foreigners into believing that we are crying wolf, wolf when there is none. When we stand for the virtues that our loved ones espoused and fought for before he or she died, then we can say we have given such a figure a befitting burial.
I think the Catholic Church most take a lead against this social menace by setting out modalities for a Christian burial ceremony. Why can't we borrow a leaf from our Muslim brothers who have a simple burial ceremony for all the adherent of their religion irrespective of his or her social status and rank. It is now pertinent that we review our value system as Christians. Christianity is not a religion of rituals but a way life.If we profess to be Christians we must readily accept the punches that comes from our faith by individualizing and practicalizing the tenets of Christianity
3. Traditional ruler's vs constitutional power: the lure of the filthy lucre
Haba! Constitutional rule for traditional ruler: Will the load not going to be heavy for them? Wait first! What have they even done with their role as guardians and custodians of our sacred culture and tradition?
I will be telling lies if I claim not to be alarmed or baffled by the demands of our Royal fathers. In a society like ours where the value system have been turn inside out and outside in, the quest to acquire constitutional power by our traditional ruler is no news. With the society pervaded by a bizarre rush far naira and what naira can buy, even at risk of sounding imprudent and pessimistic, I dare to say that the raison detre of their demand is not far-fetched. Despite the fact that they came out with a seducing and beautiful reason why they must acquire constitutional power, I think it is more important that they prove to Nigerians that they are not also seeking to have their own pound of flesh from the national cake so as to join the league of clueless looters in the political arena.
It is embarrassing that our Royal father are chasing after constitutional role in the country while our sacred traditional institutions are crumbling like packs of card. If acquired, will this constitutional role be a miraculous one by transforming our hellish towns and villages into paradise? Why must a constitutional role be a condition-sine qua non for their contribution to the progress of our country? Did king Jaja of Opobo, Ppeple of Bony, Nara of Itsekiri, Queen Amina of Zaria and the Ovoramen of Benin acquire any constitutional recognition before they contributed immensely for the good of their respective kingdoms?
A good number of ugly events in country prove that our Royal father needs to go back to the drawing board. They have thrown their prestige to the dust by joining issues with politicians. Imagine, the once respected symbol of our traditional institutional has been brought to ridicule. I doubt if that Nigerian court can resolve the member of case resulting from tussle between our so called Royal fathers. I will be equally shying away from my pen apostolate if I fail to tell “us” that is not funny that our traditional rulers trade insult in the mass media like people with no atom of civilization. It is regrettable that Royal father who are suppose to be custodian of our cultural and traditional values now swim in the shallow water of politics. They have shamelessly transformed themselves into “political stooges” for politicians, some of whom can pass for their grand children and thus become major share holders in the magomago and wururu enterprise. It beggars my imagination that custodians of our sacred stool dine and wine with every tom, dick and does that calls himself a politician. What we now have are “Loyal fathers” who show unalloyed Loyal to the whims and caprice of shameless and corrupt politicians. It is on record that during the last gubernatorial election, a prominent “Loyal father” who was not satisfied with the role the traditional institution gave him, abandoned his palace and became the spokesman of the ruling party in the state. Did “Mr. Loyal father” even consult “Mr. Common sense” before dabbling thoughtlessly into a monumental disgrace? I doubt because if he had, “Mr. common sense” could have advised him to stay away from partisan politics and remain neutral because his subjects belongs to various political parties. Anyway, this very “Loyal Father” is now nearing an expensive crown of shame. Even an Emir from a north central state was induced by the ruling party to vacate his palace so as not to receive a prominent presidential candidate from Kastina state.
Should we remain quite while “Loyal Fathers” continue take action and decision that are detrimental to the wellbeing of their subjects? Diverting projects meant for the common good of the kingdom for personal benefit? They contribute to the value crisis we are having now by dishing out titles and honour meant for legendary and iconic personalities to criminals and politicians whose moral credentials are questionable. Aiding and abetting the recognition and celebration of notorious criminals whom inundate with fantastic tittles at cultural festivals. The irony of the messy situation is that this “Loyal father” dishes out these tittles more easily than a magician can produce a rat from his hat.
Despite the pathetic situation, I will be unjust if I fail to acknowledge that a lot of Royal father are fighting under sunshine and rain, heat and cold to remain standing in our morally embattled nation.
Our Royal Father should be reminded that if they continue to chase after constitutional role forgetting the mission as custodians of African cultural heritage and values, they will become like some people pursuing a thief who stole huge amount of money from the bank. When they nearly caught him, he brought out some wrapped bundle of money and spread in the air. They forgot their mission and at the process, the thief made away safety. It is our prayer that our Royal Fathers will not forget their mission. We equally pray that they resist the lure of the filthy lucre called constitutional role.
4. Ecclesiastical shopping mull : between the fake pastors and the pastured
If you have not fallen a victim, then be careful and watchful. The proliferation of various sect and the success of 419ners in Roman collar is becoming a worrisome reality in Nigeria. Man must survive, yes, I admit but one question I will love to ask us is that, must man survive through deceit and exploitation In the name of God and religion? In a country where poverty knocks at doors without invitation, where unemployment ,insecurity of life and property have left the nation in a precarious state, church business have became the shortest way to make money. With life being increasingly difficult in Nigeria, men and women looking for means of survival have found a way-out of the predicament.
We are living witness to the emergence of prophets, teachers, self-appointed bishops, and evangelist and miracle messiahs. These wolves in roman collar and their fort soldiers have contributed to the reckless immorality, godlessness, consumerism, materialism and individualism we are suffering from the polity. No preacher and leader seems to be interested in the level of corruption and poverty in a country adorned with one of the finest human and natural resource obtainable anywhere in the globe. No pastor wants to sacrifice for the welfare of their flock. How many of them even care for the humiliation, exploitation and instrumentalisation of Nigerians?. All they want from us is the sowing of seed not minding if you have a cup of clean water to drink or a cup of “garri” to sock.
Things have indeed fallen apart. If not, how can a graduate of journalism who should be in a radio house turn himself into a half baked pastor claiming to have received inspiration from God without any form of formal training in theology or related field. These fake pastors turn religion and religious issues into commodity for sale and commit atrocities with impurity in the name of God and religion.
Genuine Christians seems to have fallen to the antics of these false apostles. We notice uncertainty and confusion with the proliferation of Christian sect with different degree of horrifying and economic coated messages. These pastors have succeeded in playing in the psychology of unsuspecting Christians to achieve the devilish aims. We witness undue exaggeration and misconstruction of the gospel that Jesus Christ brought some one thousand and thirteen years ago.
One cannot pass through a Nigerian street without seeing one pastor of a healing mission that promises salvation, riches and solution to all human sufferings. Are we not aware that these religious parasites are after riding the latest cars, living in the latest houses, latest this and finest that. Their preaching is channeled towards inducing the faithful to give money. If their preachment is not about cheerful givers, it is about sowing of seed or launching of this or that for God.
They use biblical passages to confuse people and blaming the reality they may be facing to one form of spiritual attack or the other. How can you promise prosperity to a Nigerian in the midst of destruction of life and property and corruption of the highest order? At time, I ask myself if Christianity is all about prosperity, success, breakthrough and miracle. Were these things actually the message that Jesus Christ brought to mankind?
We must refuse the commercialization, bastardization and balkanization of true and authentic Christian faith with the gospel of prosperity by quack, untrained and self-appointed pastors, who lack genuine inspiration but see Christianity as business enterprises for self aggrandizement. They enslave us with the false ideologies and give Christianity an economic coloration and crown Jesus an economic messiah. They think that God is a fool who can be used for material gains and dumped. No doubt most of them have only economic interest in answering the call to deception. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have become God of naira and kobo.
I do not in any way wish to bring genuine men of God to ridicule. I wish to state categorically that the efforts of men of God who have made themselves instruments of building the human person morally, spiritually and socially is worthy of praise. They toil and moil day and night; sunshine and rain under safe and unsafe condition keep evangelizing and winning souls for Christ.
I know that genuine men of God do exist but differentiating the good from the bad and the ugly is a complex and difficult thing in a polity where the easiest thing to be is what you are not. We must fight this virus before it does untold harm to our system. Beware of fake pastors.
5. Nairalization of Christianity: Before it is too late
Esomchi, “prove to the world that you have not outlived your relevance. Rise and challenge the status quo.” I was pondering over these words as I was accompanying Isioma to the major road to board a taxi. Those words were from Achiri, a close confident in the Republic of Cameroun. He gave me those words as his goodbye package when I was about leaving Yauonde. Good God, that Saturday evening made it two years I returned from Yaounde in the most unceremonious manner. I never imagined that I could fit in easily in Nigeria. Indeed dum spiro spero (where there is a will, there is a way).
Without Isioma, I could have been left solo and life in boring. As a bid her bye at the popular junction in town, I felt a sudden loneliness that engulfed me. It was then I realized that I have been leaning on the love, humility simplicity, sacrifice and companionship of this Asaba born princess and angel. I was still carrying the loving thought of her when a lady rudely jumped on me. Before I could question the raison d'etre of her action, she started bombarding me with biblical passages. it was then, that I realized that she was one of these ecclesial lieutenant suffering from “born-again madness” and to escape the voyage with her round the bible, a voyage I least needed that moment, I was pushed to accept an visitation to their “miracle centre” ,
I for one don't love disappointment after the 6pm mass at the cathedral in Issele-uku, the contented busy looking town that have been hospitable to me and seems to have a welcome song for everybody I quickly boarded a taxi for the miracle centre to honour the promise I made. However, right inside of me I knew I was on a fun making adventure.
On reaching the abandoned primary school block which they “miracle centre” used for their worship centre I felt like vomiting. The whole environment was “smelly and messy”. Despite the “unfriendly environment, I mustered enough courage and walked into the classroom and took my seat at the male section of the church. After litanies of prayers and praises that lasted for hours, one young man with a pair of worn out suite that immediately reminded me of most frustrated Nigerian graduates in the job market took the centre stage. After a merry-go-around of the bible, making kangaroo quotations to drive home his point, he finally arrived at the “sowing of seed junction a “doit faire” for miracle centre of their kind.”
At the point, I was already tired and “Mr Hunger” was seriously revolting inside of me. After the lecture from the young pastor I was anticipating the end of the service but I was far from being right. Just immediately, an elderly man whose voice sounded like the notorious “Akatakpa – masquerade in my village inform the church it was time for seed sowing. That terminology I did not understand. Imagine how I felt in the “classroom” sorry church? Startled, annoyed with the young girl for not informing of the planting season in their so called church. I quickly rushed towards her to save myself from the embarrassment and requested for some seed, lo and behold the seed the pastor meant was naira and kobo. Poor me, don't blame me it was my first time in such gathering.
Thank God I had some “naira seed” on me. I quickly sowed mine into the beautiful collection box in the church. Still pondering over the drama unfolding before me, I heard some one from the public address system requesting that everybody should come forward to harvest the seed they sowed earlier. As the choir was rendering a wonderful melody that was a match for the harvest season in the church, I was lost in deep thoughts. Yes, I knew Nigerians from time immemorial were blessed with beautiful and finest human in capacities but little did I know that we have advanced technologically to the point of sowing and harvesting what we have sowed within hours. This was for me a case of impossibility only possible in Nigerian churches.
Normally, when one harvest whatever he had planted, he came home with a lot of farm products. But after my sowing and harvesting in the church, I was left “nairaless” and had to treck back home. Thank God the pastor was such a bad farmer that he forgot the principles of “weeding” and “watering” in agricuiture. If he had remembered that, maybe I will be forced to auction my pair of shoes in the church for naira and kobo to fulfill the unholy injunction.
Anyway, I learnt my lesson that day in a hard way and promised never to “fall” for the antics of this nairalistic pastors and their foot soldiers. What a funny and tricky mode of extortion in the so called house of God? If the so called houses of God are no longer safe, where will we run to? It is quite unfortunate that these criminals in roman collars are making huge success in their church business with their religious campaign of deception.
6. Nigeria: the political economy of falsehood
Life is indeed funny. I have listen attentively and read widely funeral oration but could not find any dead man in Nigeria who was not a rare gem, an iroko, an epitome of love and service. The praise showered on the dead yard has drawn the attention of “Mr.Death”. If all the dead in this country were saints as funeral oration want us to belief. Who are the sinners? Sorry, where are the sinners?
A story was told of a young man who gave his grandfather a piece of meat to keep for him knowing fully well that the meat will be secured in the hands of the grandpa because he was toothless. The confidence this young man had on his grandpa never failed him because each time that he requested for the meat, he got it intact. Our political leaders whose stock-in-trade is deception parade, themselves like this toothless grandpa but events have proven that they are political vampires.
I can't understand why Nigerians have chosen to live in perpetual falsehood. Why can't we allow “Mr. Truth” to rule the polity? Does it mean that we are suffering from untold misery in this country because of numerous saints Nigeria has? No good roads, electricity, please don't make mention of good accommodation. What of good hospitals? They are especially reserved for the super rich. The society is “remplir” with adherents and propagator of love. Our 'mis-ruling elites are busing feeding sumptuously from the national treasury because of their love for the nation. Each time our leaders shamelessly speak of their love for Nigeria. I laugh because crying will not solve the problem. How many of us love Nigeria for what she is? How many of us will sincerely speak of one Nigeria, If not for the benefit we get from this British crime against humanity (Nigeria)?
While other countries are boasting of scientific and technological advancement which has lead to the improvement of life of their citizens, the looting generals and their allies in Nigeria have continued to perpetuate inept, senseless, visionless, idealess and corrupt leaders that are fast turning the polity into the jungle. We have been bombarded with transformation agendas from one political dispensation to another but this agendas only help the cabals in government to feed fat from the common plate. It's no longer news naming the looting bonanza going on in the PDP controlled government because we only wake up to hear of more intensified criminality from people who pretend to be saving us. To add salt to injury, these criminals enjoy the states of VIPS in government functions while they were supposed to be in prisons (very important prisoners).
It is painful that our political leaders continue to use and dump us. In 2007 I fell in love with AtikuAbubarkar- Turaki Adamawa for daring to toe the path most Nigerian politician's dread. I thought he represented the change Nigeria youths were longing for. I thought that the then ACN presidential flag bearer came to deliver Nigeria from the kleptomaniac PDP government that have turned Nigeria into a heap of rubbish, an inhabitable jungle. I was a diehard supporter of the idea Atiku Abubarkar was propagating. I was active in his campaign in lafia Nasarawa state. I can remember that
I went home bare-footed after attending the campaign of the Turaki Adamawa because I lost my foot wears to the crowd. Regrettably, the same Atiku who took the PDP to the cleaners in 2007 return to din and win with them only to run to APC now that is mouth is no longer oily in PDP.
Despite the mouth watering promises from these political elites, we have continually found ourselves in the gutter of poverty. Really the wuruwuru and the magomago going on in the political circle is something to worry about. I have taken deep interest in politics so as to discover the miracle behind the achievement of western politicians. I have equally continued to wonder why back home, is always a matter of “backward forever, forward never”. The same promises today, yesterday and forever. What we hear is the biblical voice of Jacob but the hands at work is that of Esau. If not so, why it is that poverty is now a bona fide member of most families in Nigeria?.
You only need to visit the national pages when one of these looting generals dies. The accolades that people showered on him qualify him or her for outright canonization- I am not surprised because ours is a community which celebrates falsehoods. These are politicians who when they were poor as church rats promise their blood for the progress of this nation but this same politicians once they win the seat of the governance then quickly forget their promises. These are people that at their slightest sign of sickness will fly over sea to seek for first class treatments while they refuse to fix the hospitals in our country.
I am surprised that our leaders have insistently refused to learn from history or listen to the voice of reason. Why must these heartless politicians continue to use and dump us? These friendly foes remind me of biblical accounts of the saying between Jesus and the Jews, it is pure picture of this use and dump attitude ravaging the society. The Jews who earlier shouted hosanna for Jesus Christ were the same people who shouted and advocated for his crucifixion. Was it not the same Jewish kingmaker who threw away decorum and due process and hastily concluded plans to crown Jesus king after he sent Mr. Hunger packing from their stomach? But when they felt the Jesus Christ was no longer serviceable and useable, did the kingmakers not become mischief makers? Events have proven that politicians who were pretending to be our friends while in search of votes will turn to foes once they score the mandate through our common votes. It is then that the humanity in them will disappear and the will begin to abuse our common hope and aspiration with reckless abandon. Our politicians can be sweet like cucumber, but cruel and crooked like a rattle snake.
Yes our destiny is in our hands. We must resist these vampires no matter how mighty or highly placed they appear to be in 2015. We must choose change. We need a change that will usher in an era of meritocracy in the polity. A change that can transform our value system and create a society you are valued for what you are and not what you have. we need a polity where we can dream big and actualize our dream within the allowed and the approved, a polity that will protect and promote the wellbeing of the human person irrespective of his or her political, tribal or religious affiliation.