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The 'Iborism' In All Of Us

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There is this self-confession of a young pastor who came out of his self-delusion some years ago. It was and still is a funny and seeming inconsequential babbling of a self-acclaimed saint though, but instructive to many. It is the story of a lad who became

 'born again' (at least so he thought) at the age of sixteen, and was made pastor and made to serve in one of his church congregations at the age of twenty-four. Of course being given such an enormous responsibility of leading a church means that the person had been able to walk and work his ways straight into the hearts of his 'Brethren'

The young pastor as he were, whom I would want to call Pastor David Brandt, for the purposes of identity, after his ordination had gone on to preach the gospel of salvation, redemption and the kingdom of God to others; emphasizing on the bliss of inheriting heaven as the reward of being born again until he was fifty five years old. That was the age he actually became born again. He confessed that was when he suddenly realized that all the while he was still 'in the flesh'. In our own legal considerations, all his past works would have been declared null and void, and lacking in authority. But God is different. God must have taken the works by the man but not the man himself.

One fact worth noting here is that if someone had met Pastor Brandt before that confession and told him he was still in 'the flesh' despite his years of ordination, the most certain retort would have been to tag the person as his traducer and enemy of the gospel; who must be severely punished by God for blaspheming against 'the anointed'. Please note that the intention here is not to disparage any pastor-known or unknown. One derivable ingredient here is the fact that even in the supposed most sacred and secret of places; insanity still finds its way into their embers. Leaders of people are not exempted from the plaque of this holocaust.                                                          

It becomes ironic that while many leaders have often successfully dragged their nations into the water-loo of such delusions, non would ever remember, according to Theodore Roosevelt, that the chief factor in any man's, nay nation's (emphasis mine) success or failure must be his own character. A French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau furthered this thinking thus: 'the person who lives the most is not the one with most years but the one with the richest experience. Of course that should be one of the most cardinal gifts to those who opt to lead others.

That such potent ingredient is often found in short supply about humans can only be explained by categorising human characters into three distinct groups: The first category is made up of those human beings who know the truth, believe in the truth but in their conscience would always find it difficult to attempt to represent the truth. Their conscience is permanently blocked against the truth. The second category is made up of those made and destined to deliberately stand the truth on the head even when their appeals are in strict opposition with their conscience. To those in this category, truth is permanently subjective; what is truth to others do not have a place in their conscience.

The third group is made up of those who know the truth and would always attempt putting the truth into practice, but are weighed down by environmental or societal influences such that they continue wriggling, most often, unsuccessfully with the effort. But whichever group, there is something strikingly fundamental about all: It does not require human agreement for truth to be truth; just as it does not take our wishes to lift us out where we are caused to wallow in the consequences of our ineptitude. The only thing that does is the will to stand up for what is pure and true. It is the resolve to embrace a new beginning and confront that which we have always been afraid of. To some who are less prudent with their desires, that usually comes a bit too late

Truth could be trampled upon for a long time-years, decades or centuries. But truth can never die nor can it be buried forever. James Onanefe Ibori suppressed truth for long a time. He had stories or secrets Nigerians, or most Nigerians did not know. Every human being on earth has his though. Some have transient secrets that fade away with time. Others have secrets that only death could set them free. Such secrets become their burden and hunt them perpetually even in their dreams. Ibori was definitely a strong man with a heart and mind of stone. The burden and secrets he carried were enormous. He perhaps straddled all the categories above; of persons in the world that know and believe in truth but do not have anything to do with it. Ibori's heart was created and delivered for crimes.

Twice he has served jail terms in London . He started early in life and found a partner in crime with the woman he calls his wife-who should have been a mother, with the 'milk of human kindness'. Ibori's wife should have been a caring wife and adviser to the husband, a physical and spiritual guide. But no!. She rather found it more comfortable running along with him in the arcades and highway of heinous crimes.  Wherever and whenever Ibori sank in crime Nkoyo James Onanefe Ibori (Mrs) sank. They came back from the United Kingdom with a hidden stigma as ex-convicts. Nigerians danced around them. They soon put their past away, though not very safely. They became the first man and first lady of the oil rich Delta State and found enough to steal.

As far as they were concerned, they were on unstoppable mission in the state; and they did it quite so good. When an issue cropped up that Ibori was once a convict even in Nigeria , he threatened fire and brimstone and swore to defend his 'good name'. He did it through the active connivance of his friend in the police hierarchy. A man who said he was an itinerant truck driver appeared on the scene. He said he was the James Ibori that was once jailed in Abuja and not the governor, even to the shock of the very Judge that sentenced Ibori the now 'money man'. A deal was struck, and Ibori became free again; his two friends- the police and the 'itinerant one went home happy and rich men.

When eventually the EFCC said Ibori had questions to answer, many Nigerians who have come to know Ibori a little better thought it was time to unveil the 'big masquerade'. But that was not to be. The court likened him to a Saint and declared he had no blemish at all. May be the Nigerian courts do not possess the 'magic wand' of seeing 'well kept' crimes, or do not see big and multiple crimes, particularly the ones committed by those with super deep pockets. But the court in London saw some and Ibori confessed and pleaded for mercy. He got it through reduced sentence.

But the Iboris are not without sympathy though. The first way of sympathising with them is asking one very potent question, 'What manner of a family are the Iboris nurturing?' With father and mother languishing in prison in faraway clime, the Iboris both at home and in Diaspora certainly do not have any moral tale to tell anymore. All the wealth they amassed have gone sore, the siblings must have taken something unique from the older gene. Ibori knew the truth about criminality and possible penalties. He also knew the money he was squandering were from the people's collective patrimony. He know crime and consequence.

Inside him perhaps there used to be some sober moments when his conscience would go somber in recollection of the depletion he has caused his people-the very people he swore to lead and change their condition for the better. Every man has such moments no matter how hard hearted; moments when crimes must give way to reason, strong reasons that seek to return us to the Godly nature in us. Those are moments some people experience and denounce crimes and free themselves from a life of ridicule and shame.

The Iboris certainly had theirs, but ignored. The nectar of crime is tempting; and luring that many fall into its pit when they least expect, like the Iboris. Ibori did not imagine him or his 'dear wife being prisoners again in life. They must have thought that such possibility has been conquered-with a lot of money and wealth standing to their name. He went about with the Nigerian mentality that there is nothing money cannot buy, except you don't know the right market. And the time comes sooner than expected

But Ibori is not alone. There is 'Iborism in all of us. The difference could only be that either some of us have been able to control our lust or, our time has not yet come. Today it is Ibori tomorrow it will be you. Yes, you!

By Charles Etimette