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Harvest of deaths

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The rate at which deaths occur in several parts of the world must be troubling to anyone who can just observe the trend and reflect a little. The compelling question that will assail the mind is, “What is going on?” Wither our world? Death is not a new phenomenon anywhere. It is the other end of the pole of life. We were born and a day must come when we take our exit. In other words, birth and death are both ends of the same pole of life. How long each is to stay before he takes his exit is not given unto us to know. Consider it, a man who was in a lively conversation the previous night could be announced to have been called away before the break of dawn. The exit occurs in different forms and at different times. People are known to have died behind their driving wheel. Many die after a prolonged struggle with their illness, while a great many pass away from just being under the weather for a brief moment.

People die from old age and a great many young men die in war, on the battlefield. Death occurs when there is imbalance in the exchange of radiations between the soul and the body, either due to weakening of the body from old age and by extension weakening of radiations; or attack by diseases and the body is no longer able to fulfill its own side of the bargain. As for young men, they die more in violent encounters. In a violent storm, the wise one puts it succinctly, both ripe and unripe fruits fall! So that there will always be the right balance in the radiation emission, doctors and nutritionists admonish us on what to eat, and what to avoid, what food provides what vitamins. They speak of balance between work and rest. We are told to take plenty of water for its medicinal value. We inhale to exhale. We inhale oxygen and expel carbon.

Within this month, two prominent persons departed this earthly life: former American First Lady Barbara Bush who was a matriarch of a political dynasty who had the fortune of her husband being a President, a son, George W. Bush, also President and another son, a former state Governor. The other prominent person was Winnie Mandela, the heroine in the struggle for the dignity of the Blackman in South Africa. Both died after prolonged illnesses. Seeing a body in the chamber of death and funerals could be sobering . Because Barbara Bush was wife of a former President and mother of another President and another son a governor who attempted to also vie for the presidency, it was said of her that she was “the first lady of the greatest generation.”

Her son, Jeb Bush who was governor, said of her: “We learned to strive to be genuine and authentic by the best role model in the world.” Her close friend, Susan Baker, said, “Thank you, dear Lord, for bringing Barbara Pierce Bush, this vibrantly beautiful human being into the world. And especially for bringing her friendship into our lives.” Online publications reported that six of her grandchildren each read from the Book of Proverbs that goes thus: “Her children rise up and call her happy, her husband too, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” And President Trump said: “Today, the world paid tribute to a woman of indisputable character and grace.”

As for Winnie Mandela whose life was a turbulent one from when she married at the age of 22, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, said of her, “Even at the darkest moments of our struggle for liberation, Mam’Winnie was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free. In the midst of repression, she was a voice of defiance and resistance. In the face of exploitation she was a champion of justice and equality. As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone. She bandaged our wounds. We did not do the same for her.”

That was the passage of elderly women. But then young people are dying and painfully, violently for that matter. On Tuesday, two young Roman Catholic priests together with their parishioners were killed in their church during early morning Mass. The director of communications, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, naming the priests as Rev. Father Joseph Gor and Rev. Father Felix Tyolaha, said, “The attack on the priests is an attack on everything that we ever stood for and believed in.” Vanguard online reports that Rev. Fr. Gor had had a premonition of the attack, but they were helpless. He had written on Facebook: “Living in fear. The Fulani herdsmen are still around us in Mbalom. They refuse to go. They still go grazing around us. No weapons to depend on ourselves.”

Yesterday when protesters poured onto the streets of Makurdi to protest the killings, report claimed that there had been fresh killings of more than 100 persons between Tuesday and yesterday. Earlier in the month, in one night alone in Benue and Taraba, no fewer than 66 persons were killed by herdsmen, shared as follows, 41 in Benue and 25 in Jandeikyula village in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State. In Benue, the killings were in Logo and Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State. The inescapable question to ask is, “How many more such gruesome deaths are we to have before the government curbs the carnage?” The Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Benue alone were about 80,000. There had been 15 deaths in the five camps set up in Benue and 20 births as of January.

For the first time in a long while, President Buhari rose to respond promptly and in a robust statement since the killings and destruction of property began to sweep through Benue and Taraba. He spelt out the implications of what he called the satanic attack on a place of worship and gave the commitment to hunt down the perpetrators. He saw it as “a plot to stoke religious conflict and plunge communities in the country into endless bloodletting.” What is the next step he should take? He should put an immediate end to his own inexplicable obstinacy on the establishment of state police which has led to frightful speculations of a veiled agenda whirling and spreading in the land. Such speculations can only divide the nation the more!

The most uninitiated in security matters can see that state police is the simplest and most practical out of this holocaust engulfing the nation. The police are overwhelmed and the soldiers are over-stretched and over-tasked. The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, raised our hopes the other day when he said state and community policing is the way to go, to effectively police a country of the size of our country. What does it take for the President to invite the Senate President Bukola Saraki and House Speaker Dogara and Malami and ask for an emergency bill moving the establishment of the police to the Concurrent List in the constitution? How many more lives will go before an end is put to this calamitous foot-dragging?

Having said that, we can’t but ask ourselves the ultimate question? What is the purpose of life on earth? Who am I? Where did I come from and where do I go when I leave this world? Does life continue after death? What is the Beyond? How is life on earth governed? What is the nature of life in the Beyond and how is life in there governed? Could we have been left to our own devices, our whims and caprices to fashion out our own ways in spite of self-evident limitations of we human beings, or there is an ordered lawfulness by the Creator? Can those who kill get away with their heinous crime regardless of whether the long arm of the earthly laws catches up with them or not even after the warning: Thou shall not kill? These are questions that are bound to, or rather ought to, agitate the minds of every one of us regardless of the manner of departure and when we take our exit.


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