By Fr Pat. Amobi Chukwuma
As a semi-finalist in the secondary school many years ago, I heard an inner voice in me calling me to join the Order of Melchizedek. I promised that I would do so, if I obtained a good result in the West African Examination Council (WAEC). Thanks to God that I made it excellently.
Thus I applied for admission into a religious congregation. I went for interview and was successful. Three months after my secondary school career, I commenced the study of philosophy in the senior seminary owned by the congregation. Two and half months later we prepared for Christmas short holidays.
As we were leaving, my three intimate classmates who came from the same area with me concluded that they would not come back because they preferred to become diocesan priests. In other words, they would apply for admission into the diocese. I was confused because I had no idea of the difference between religious and diocesan priests by then.
The thought of coming back alone after Christmas made me to seek for admission in my diocese during the Christmas break. Luckily I succeeded. To my greatest shock, the three of them went back to continue the philosophical studies in the congregation. They confused me and went back while I left confusedly. In other words I became a victim of confusion. Because God works in mysterious ways, I succeeded in becoming a priest in the Order of Melchizedek after many years of rigorous academic and spiritual formation.
After some years as a diocesan priest, I attended a priestly ordination, in the congregation I discarded out of confusion. During reception, one of our lecturers in the congregation, who is a priest, recognized my face and asked me why I left them, suddenly many years ago.
I flashed my mind back to the scenario and replied, “Father, I left out of confusion.” He asked me, “Are you still confused?” I laughed for a while and answered, “No, father. The confusion has disappeared.” We laughed and hugged each other brotherly. Then we bade ourselves goodbye.
Thirty-nine years after the aforementioned confusion took place; another type of confusion is here. The former was a religious confusion. The present one is hydra-headed. It is both economic, political and life threatening. It is not a personal confusion like the former.
The present confusion is a national or nationwide confusion. It affects millions of Nigerians. However I am concerned about it and want this present precarious confusion to be cleared as soon as possible before many victims go to their untimely graves.
Before and after 2022 Yuletide, there was moderate fuel scarcity. The price also went higher than usual. As soon as we entered the year 2023, the fuel scarcity became severe and the cost per litre became outrageous. Presently a litre of the premium spirit otherwise called fuel is N450 or N500 per litre. I am quite confused. Nigeria is blessed with crude oil. Unfortunately our old refineries have gone comatose for many years now.
Thus the federal government who manages the God-given natural resource exports the oil in its crude form and then imports the refined content with billions of money subsidized before selling to the public. How can Obiageli die of hunger? Obiageli is an Igbo name given to a privileged female child. She is born to enjoy and not to suffer. Nigeria is blessed with rich natural and human resources. How can we die in the midst of plenty? How can someone have water in abundance in his house and then dies of thirst? I am really confused. Who can help me clear this confusion before I die prematurely?
Yesterday I filled some big jerry cans with ordinary water. I knelt down in tears and prayed, “Merciful and miraculous God, you turned water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana in Galilee. Kindly turn these jerry cans of water into fuel because I cannot afford to pay the exorbitant market price in our country today.” God replied instantly, “My son, get up. I am the Alpha and the Omega; but I cannot do this for you.
I gave your country Nigeria everything. Your government is responsible for the crushing scarcity and exorbitant price. I am annoyed with the Nigerian government.” I heard nothing more. I got up and cried for my besieged country.
Our President, Muhammadu Buhari, happens to be the Minister of Petroleum. Please who can volunteer to go to Aso Rock in Abuja and ask him the cause of the present fuel scarcity and killing price? I would have gone there by myself if not for the high cost and scarcity of fuel.
Again traveling by air is now a dream of a poor man. Few days ago I dreamed of dinning with the Angels and Saints in Heaven, but only to wake up to see myself languishing in agony on my bed in Nigeria. Suicide is not an option because Nigeria is preferable to hell fire. If there is reincarnation, I would prefer to live in another planet.
Another complex confusion that has scattered my medulla oblongata is the scarcity of the new naira notes. I have deposited the meager amount of old currency I have. I went to the bank to collect the new ones, but all to no avail. The Central Bank in her redesign policy called it Naira Swap. I couldn’t swap. They received from me and left me empty. However, I am not alone.
Millions of Nigerians are suffering from the new naira scarcity. Many queue at banks nationwide from morning to evening without getting any new money. Even collecting the old ones back is not possible. At an undisclosed commercial bank, one hungry man who came to collect the new naira notes for himself and his family slumped and died. Who will take care of his miserable wife and children? Another man, after unsuccessful strenuous hours at a bank, went mad immediately. He removed all his clothes and was crying naked inside the bank.
Many tongues are asking, “What is really happening now?” If the Apex bank can’t provide enough of the new redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes, then let them give us back the old ones. There is confusion and frustration in the country.
No wonder some youths protested in Oyo state over the new naira scarcity. In Ibadan some angry youths vandalized a commercial bank with stones and dangerous weapons because they couldn’t withdraw any money from the bank. They shattered the glasses, windows and doors. The bank is in shambles. I pity the owners and workers. The irate youths couldn’t control their rage. Indeed a hungry man is an angry man.
In the midst of the new naira scarcity, President Buhari asked Nigerians to give him a window period of seven days to resolve the scarcity. Maybe the redesigned new naira notes will be taken to the graves of despaired and departed Nigerians who died out of hunger and anger. Can a hungry man wait hopelessly for seven days?
Marketers especially in the remote areas are encountering lack of patronage. Many village men and women eat from hand to mouth. They strain themselves and display essential edible commodities for sale. Unfortunately, intending buyers have no money at hand to purchase. The sellers and buyers suffer from the same calamity. The Central Bank emphasizes transactions to be done by bank transfer.
It is an era of cashless policy. How many of the poor masses have bank accounts? How many are literate? One hungry and angry man asked, “How can I make transfer on everything I buy? If I buy sachet water, I make transfer. I buy a bottle of beer, I make transfer. I travel on okada, I pay by transfer. If a suitor comes to marry my daughter he would pay the dowry by transfer. See me trouble!” I am confused. Can the Soludo Solution be applied here? Please I need an urgent help. My confusion is becoming more complex.