Let My People Go!

By Pat Amobi Chukwuma

There is an end to everything and every condition. The Israelites, because of hatred, suffered in Egypt from the hand of Pharaoh for many years. They were persecuted, treated inhumanly and killed like fowls. Despite these cruelties, they continued to increase in population. They were wailing and praying to God for deliverance. When the appointed time came, the human instrument of deliverance was rescued as a baby from the River Nile by the dictator’s daughter. She named him Moses; a name which means delivered from perishing in the water. (If your name is Moses, you should avoid drinking too much water because water is already innate in your system). Unknowingly she gave him to his biological mother to bring him up for her. When he was weaned, the mother gave him back to Pharaoh’s daughter to be her son. As Moses was growing up in the household of the Egyptians, he was not comfortable among them. Blood is thicker than water. So he indentified with his people, the Israelites.

One day, Moses saw an Egyptian maltreating his kinsman. Looking left and right, he saw no one. He killed the enemy. On the following day, he saw his fellow kinsmen fighting. Moses intervened justly. But the aggressor was angry with Moses. He exposed Moses for the killing of the Egyptian the other day. When Moses perceived that the deed has been known, he ran into exile in Midian. It was at the miracle of the Burning Bush in Midian that God called Moses and said to him, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying for help on account of their taskmasters. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. And I have come down to rescue them from the clutches of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that country, to a country flowing with milk and honey…. So now I am sending you to Pharaoh, for you to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7 – 10).

As Moses was not courageous enough to undertake the rescue mission alone, God gave him Aaron as assistant. When the duo approached the dictator Pharaoh, they said to him, “This is what Yahweh, God of Israel says, ‘Let my people go, so that they can hold a feast in my honour in the desert” (Exodus 5:1). Out of pride, Pharaoh retorted, “Who is Yahweh for me to obey what he says and let Israel go? I know nothing of Yahweh, and I will not let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2). Moses and Aaron performed many miracles to prove to Pharaoh of God’s demand. But he hardened his heart after his magicians performed similar wonders. Then came the plagues of water turning into blood, the frogs, the mosquitoes, the horseflies, death of livestock, the boils, the hail, the locusts and the darkness. These brought a lot of havoc on the Egyptians. Despite all these Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Then Yahweh said to Moses, “I shall inflict one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt, after which he will let you go away. When he lets you go, he will actually drive you out!” (Ex. 11:1). That last plague was the death of every firstborn (man and animals) in Egypt. It is called the Passover, whereby the Angels of God passed over the houses of the Israelites and entered the houses of the Egyptians, killing all the firstborn of man and animals. There were cries all over the land of Egypt. Out of fear, Pharaoh and all his officials before dawn summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up, leave my subjects, you and the Israelites! Go and worship Yahweh as you have asked! And take your flock and herds as you have asked and go! And bless me too!” (Ex.12:31 – 32). Later, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. Pharaoh called on his mighty Army who pursued the Israelites into the midst of the Red Sea. When the people of Israelites looked back and saw the marauding chariots coming, they were terrified. Hence, Moses encouraged them saying, “Do not be afraid! Stand firm, and you will see what Yahweh will do to rescue you today: the Egyptians you see today you will never see again. Yahweh will do the fighting for you; all you need to do is to keep calm” (Ex.14:13 – 14). At God’s command, all the Egyptian mighty army and their chariots were drowned in the sea while Moses led the Israelites out unhurt.

Something remarkable is about to happen in Nigeria. Before the 2015 Presidential Election, the present ruling party clamoured for change. Due to economic hardship and Boko Haram terrorism sucking innocent blood of Nigerians at that time, Nigerians joined the APC Government for change. The election eventually was contested and won by the All Progressives Congress led by President Muhammadu Buhari. The tensed political atmosphere calmed down as a result of the victory, thanks to the then President Goodluck Jonathan who said that his re-election does not worth the blood of any Nigerian. He accepted defeat and handed over peacefully to his successor President Buhari. The latter should not hastate to handover also peacefully to another President when the time comes. Government is a continuum. The legacy a leader leaves behind matters a lot. The late Nelson Mandela of South Africa is a good example. He fought bravely against Apartheid Regime in South Africa and won the battle. He served as the President of the country for only one term of four years and handed over to his successor. He retired from active politics and died peacefully. It is not how long a leader stayed in power that counts, but how well he served.

The promised change turned to be more economic hardship, daily bloodbath in different parts of the country by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers. The Federal Government has been under siege by the cabals. The Judiciary has been destabilized and politicized. The unilateral removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onneghen, by President Buhari without following due process has put the autonomy of the Judiciary in question. Justice has been compromised. The common man in Nigeria today is in trouble. The Legislature also has been destabilized by the powers that be. The Executive is now dictating governance. Our Democracy has been militarized.

In the 2019 General Elections, numerous concerned citizens of this country had expected an improvement in our electoral system. But it seems that the electoral process has been manipulated by the powers-that-be to favour the Pharaoh in power. The independence of the electoral body (INEC) is in serious doubt. This is because he who pays the piper determines the tune. The President appointed the INEC chairman and pays him. Thereby the umpire is compelled to do the biddings of his paymaster. The hand of Esau wrote most of the Presidential and National Assembly results while the voice of Jacob announced them. The main opposition party has rejected the results of the presidential election. It seems Nigeria will not work again as expected. The first level has been tough and bloody. What will the next level be like? From the look of things, trouble is brewing around the country. The Pharaoh in power has refused to let the people go. I hope he would not harden his heart to the extent of seeing Nigerians perish in the sea of blood. The Egyptians suffered various plagues as a result of the hardness of heart of their leader. Power corrupts and intoxicates. It is not giving the monkey water that matters, but getting the cup back from him. Dictators hardly relinquish power when given to them. From history we read about many hardened leaders who sat tight in power. They are many in Africa. Some have died while some are still in power. Most of them do not end well. Some leaders we have in Nigeria, in Africa and around the world have blatantly refused to learn from history. Thus history continues to repeat itself.

Before the onset of the 2019 general elections, Christians and Muslims all over Nigeria prayed ardently for free, fair, credible and non violent elections. Unfortunately, the elections which were postponed by one week were marred by violence here and there. Many innocent people lost their dear lives. Ballot materials were snatched and carted away at gun point to unknown destinations. Ballot papers and other materials were set ablaze in some places. Many Nigerians were disenfranchised here and there. Thousands of ballot papers were allegedly thumb-printed before hand and counted as votes. Indeed it was a do-or-die affair all over the country. Rigging occurred at different levels of the election, collation and announcement of results. Some of the electoral officers were under duress to change figures in the result sheets. Where are the fairness, freedom and credibility of the electoral process? Those who fan the embers of discord in this country should think twice before the hammer strikes. Leadership at all levels should be service to God and to the people. A good leader is a servant and not a dictator. He leaves office when the ovation is high. To choose to perpetuate oneself in power by all means is highly regrettable.

The storms are gathering, but God forbid! In the midst of all the anomalies, it appears that God did not answer our prayers. Far be it. God answers prayers in his own ways and in his own time. The Nigerian Moses will someday be rescued from the turbulent waters of this country to deliver his people from the hand of Pharaoh. Our prayer for Nigeria in distress will still yield fruit someday and sometime. All powers belong to God. God answered such prayer in the past and rescued us from the Pharaoh that was in power by then. Hence Nigerians heaved a sigh of relieve.

Nigerians should remain calm and resilient. We have the right to protest, but no one should take laws into his or her own hands. Two wrongs cannot make a right. Evil in the land persists because good men refuse to speak out. It is a taboo for an elder to stay at home while the she-goat gives birth tethered. It is regrettable that some lawyers in this country go contrary to the Rule of Law. A notable Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) openly defended jungle justice as lawful. Such a Senior Advocate should be sanctioned by outright dismissal from the Nigeria Bar Association or be demoted to Junior Advocate of Nigeria (JAN). If he is repentant, then he should go back to the Law School. A law cannot be bent to achieve selfish motives. In God we trust!

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