Buhari and Nigerians’ grief
President Buhari has finally yielded to pressure to visit violence-ravaged parts of our land in which hundreds of our compatriots were murdered by rampaging herdsmen and homes of a great many burnt in the dark recess and ruthlessness of the wee hours during which they were fast asleep. His first port of call was Taraba State. From his pronouncements in Jalingo, the president did not sound convinced of the imperative of his prompt visit to the worrisome crisis zones. He did say in a subtle response to his critics: “As president, I have sources of getting intelligence on happenings across the country and so I should not be expected to always go out to the field to make noise and insult the sensibility of Nigerians before it would be known that I am taking actions against killings.”
What the foregoing seems to demonstrate is that the president has not got the points his critics are making, how much more internalizing them. One of the points is that timing is of the essence in matters involving calamities, in situations of deep sorrow and severe grief. In a harvest of deaths as was experienced in Benue, we can imagine what soothing balm and assurance the aura of his personal presence would have meant to the people of Benue State. The assurance of the weight of his office at the mass burial of the victims of the mayhem in Makurdi would have been that the whole country was behind them in their hour of sorrow and of their greatest need. The Governor, Sam Ortom, was visibly shaken and he could be seen fighting tears. If the president were there he would have given Ortom strength. The wailing gathering would have dispersed feeling loved and calmed that after all, the president came to share in their grief. We can see with our mind’s eye what a visit would have done to the injured in hospital. A president’s visit is always laden with hope. This is why multitudes line his route and wave jubilantly. There is the air of assurance that their leader has come and has come with healing. He himself is invested in love. The president must, therefore, demonstrate humility to recognize and accept that wrong is wrong. He was wrong to have kept away, and despite the uproar in the land, waited for two months to visit there. That he is privileged with access to intelligence report made it even more urgent and indeed compelling that he be there before the rest of us his compatriots knew what was going on in the land.
While in Jalingo, the president spoke about his campaign promises which rested on three planks. In his words: “While I was campaigning, I came here and promised to provide security, boost the economy and fight corruption. Today, even our worst enemy can attest to the fact that the APC-led Federal Government has done well in the area of security. We have decimated Boko Haram, while the fight against corruption is going on well.” Methinks this aspect of his address was misplaced. The reason he has embarked on the visits in the first place, starting with Taraba State, is because they were victims of insecurity. By his own admission, and I quote him: “There were more killings in Mambila than Benue and Zamfara States. I chose to visit Taraba first, but I will be going to Benue and Zamfara after I return from Ghana to also condole with the people.”
What a visit of this nature calls for is a demonstration of empathy, deep concern, love and compassion. Of what use is talk about winning war on corruption to women who have lost their husbands who were full of promise, but suddenly cut down and separated from their families in their prime? Of what use is war against corruption to children who have been orphaned in a most gruesome manner? What the terrified citizens need are succour and hope. Indeed, Buhari ought to have found it worth his while to visit Mambila the worst hit as he said to address the victims, and in fact being seen carrying an orphaned child in his arms with words of assurance that he was with them in their grieving moments and that they would not be abandoned. The president’s claim also rings hollow when you consider the fact that it was coming barely two weeks after 110 students, all girls, were abducted from their college in Dapchi. And one begins to wonder if the president’s speeches are vetted by his aides before he is allowed to make them.
While on criticisms, we ought to be able to distinguish critics from enemies. Critics are not necessarily enemies. Criticisms are a fact of life, which arise from differences in perception, levels of understanding of issues or of the persons driving the issues. Criticism will probably form a subject for discussion as we approach 2019. In the meantime, I wish to share what I wrote on criticisms in this column nearly 30 years ago:
In a period of disquiet, all manner of suggestions and criticisms inundate those interested in public affairs. Usually attention shifts to criticisms to see what can be learned from up-braiding, to see who is making the criticisms and to ferret the motives of the critics. Is the criticism in the normal course of duty of the professional critics? When does a critic become a security risk? In a period of unease, the friends of the king step forward to protect the king’s interest, and they regard every critic as a devil deserving of surveillance or public condemnation. In their zealotry, friends are sometimes passed as foes, felons and saboteurs. It happened 15 years ago. History, it would seem, is repeating itself today.
A decade and a half ago, a reporter from the Daily Telegraph in London happened to be an unannounced guest on our shores. He witnessed our commotion. He saw other things. As reporters are wont to do, he kept quiet. No one suspected him. Typical of detectives in the Fourth Estate of the Realm, on getting back to his desk in London, he flung his report at his editor. Echoes of the report had hardly reached Nigeria when certain friends of powers that were filed their own counter report. They accused the newspaper of ill-will against Nigeria and her people. Businessmen they were. Foreigners they were as well. Many Nigerians thought the paper did nothing wrong and its report was accurate as far as they knew.
Today, a repeat performance, it seems, is taking place. The cast is different. The actors are Nigerians. They have been seeing the dragon in every critic. But on those who see things through their own eyes, they have lavished praises. I am happy I will number among those who deserve their encomiums. I support SAP absolutely (See this column of June 15 and Eddie Madunagu is my witness) and I cannot stand riotous conduct. The President is likeable, and he can do with our love and support in the onerous task of administering Nigeria. And we should rally round him to save him from his friends, for our tribe is growing. His enemies he can take care of—apologies to Allah-De. To his friends, The Third Eye and Co. Limited, I commend Aristotle’s words: “Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed magis amica veritas.” For the benefit of those who threw away their Clarendon at the insistent urgings of Tai Solarin in the days of nationalism, the statement means: “Plato is dear to me, Socrates is dear, but truth is dearer still.”
*First published on this page on 20 July, 1989.
Back from the land of the dead
I received a post during the week. It was a story of a man who came back to life after he was pronounced dead. When he arose, he was reported to have shown his church his death certificate.The post reads: “A person died (Use any other medical term if you like), showed the church his death certificate, and came back to life, yet you say it is not true. Why?”
What concerns this column is the fact of the man dying and coming back and showing his church that he was pronounced dead, but he had come back to life. I want to believe that it was after he returned to life and went to church that he showed the congregation his death certificate as proof that he verily died. Is it possible while dead to show his death certificate to the church? Certainly not. When a person is pronounced clinically dead, it means he has discarded his earthly cloak. His animating core, which is his spirit, has exited from the body. The possibility of him returning to the body is there if total severance has not taken place. He is still connected through the silver cord to his body. The cord and radiation-connection remains depending on the nature of the person concerned.
When a person leaves the body as in this case, he is no longer in the physical, but in finer raiment a part of which makes him to be addressed as a soul. I say a part because there are other finer coverings the totality of which makes a soul with the spirit as the animating core. The spirit is the real man. We are all spirits sojourning on earth for our development through learning and mastering in doing the Will of God. The higher knowledge spreading on earth today reveals that upon stepping out of the body the person pulls along with him his astral body which is the prototype of the body the presence of which has permitted the union of the soul with the coarse mortal cloak. Other transitory finer raiments come one after the other because they are required for manifestation of the departing soul in the beyond. They are also crucially required because the consistency of the spirit is such that cannot permit a direct union, telescoped into the body. All are bolted as it were in the union through radiations.
Any weakness in the body alters the degree of radiations necessary for the union. In the case of sleep, it is only a loosening which is revitalized on awakening at day break for living to continue. It is the body that reposes during sleep. The soul is alive and experiencing. The experiencing is manifested in our dreams. We fall readily asleep when the weather is cool. The cool weather easily brings about a decrease in body temperature which in turn alters the radiations issuing and outstreaming from the body.
Because the consistency of the soul is different from that of the body, the soul that has left it, even if still close bye in the Beyond and connected to the body through the silver cored, it is not possible for it to brandish its death certificate to his church. What is possible is one who is open to absorb messages from the departed showing him where the death certificate is. The departed soul cannot by itself hold the certificate which is solid matter any longer. It is not also possible to have all members of a church open to perceive efforts or absorb messages from a departed member of the congregation. What must have, therefore, happened in this case is that it was after the gentleman came back to life that he reached out for his certificate and showed it to the church to silence doubting Thomas’s that life continues after death, and that no one rests in peace as is commonly assumed or believed. Life is all activity.
That a person who has died can return to life is no longer a novel phenomenon. There have been several instances. Many have been documented, the most widely known being Life After Life by Dr. Raymond Moody Jnr., a medical doctor who recorded the accounts of many of his patients who came back to life after they were certified clinically dead. There is How is it that we Live after Death and What is the Meaning of Life by Dr. Richard Steinpach. There is also a work titled More about Life in the World Unseen by Anthony Borga. A Nigerian journalist edited a book in 2006 on the experiences of a man who came back from the land of the dead.
What could be greater evidence than the accounts in the Bible of the Lord Christ raising people from the dead? We have the case of the daughter of Jairus, (Luke 8, 54); the case of Nain who was about to be buried. The Lord said to him: “I say unto thee, Arise” (Luke 7, 14) and the most well quoted, Lazarus, who had been in the grave for four days (John 11, 41-43).
Since those who take their exits from this world continue to live on, the state in which most of them live calls for deep reflection and concern. Are they bitter over the way they left, that is, over their gruesome murder? Should it, therefore, surprise us if we were to learn that many of the departed may be hanging around seeking avenues to avenge the harrowing manner they were dispatched to the Beyond? The country as a whole must work really hard to end the worrisome orgy of violence that pervades the land.