Necessary Evil

By Pat Amobi Chukwuma

A certain man married a woman he loved. They started living happily. God blessed them with five children – three girls and two boys. Few years into their marriage, things fell apart and the centre could no longer hold. The love they had for each other died a sudden death.

Initially the husband called the wife ‘My Baby.’ The wife used to call him ‘Sweet Honey’. Today the Baby is dead. The Sweet Honey has turned into Bitterness. The husband now calls his wife Monkey. Even before the children he calls her so. For instance, whenever he wants to give her something he says, “Monkey, take this.” The wife dislikes the name Monkey and does not answer him. However due to poverty on her own side, she accepts whatever her husband gives her while calling her Monkey. She is very sad over the nomenclature ‘Monkey’. One day she stood before the mirror to see if her face has changed into monkey face. She smiled at what she saw. Then she exclaimed, “No, the devil is a liar!” Logically speaking, if the wife is Monkey, what can we call the husband? Simply and short he who is the husband of Monkey, is equally a monkey himself. The children become Monkey Children. Their surname also becomes Monkey.

A father who says that his children are evil is the father of evil. If the mother thinks likewise, then she is the mother of evil. If an evil man marries an evil woman, then their children are intrinsically evil. The Devil is evil personified. He is also the Commander-in-chief of the Evil Forces. Anyone who is evil is begotten by the devil. Since the Devil lives in hell and operates from there, anyone who goes to hell is under the lordship of the Devil and lives in evil forever.
Something good can never become evil at the same time. Either you are good or evil. Some time ago, a couple tormented by ill-luck was blessed with a set of twins (a male and a female). The female twin was very beautiful while the male one was very ugly. On the naming day, the parents named them according to their facial appearances. The beautiful one was called ‘Good’ while the ugly one was called ‘Evil’. When they grew up they learnt the meaning of their names. The girl was happy while the boy was very annoyed with his parents for giving him Evil as name. One day Evil struck. The parents just returned from farm and were resting in their sitting room. They dosed off within some minutes. The Evil child took a machete and cut the throats of the parents, one after the other. Before neighbours could rush in, they were already lying stone dead in their pools of blood. The Evil twin was overpowered and handed over to the police, who handcuffed him and threw him behind the bar. When he was asked why he killed the parents, he simply answered, “Evil can never do good. Therefore I killed my parents to show that I am Evil as they called me. Please release me because I am innocent. It is the evil they invoked into me that did it.”

Later the case was charged to the High Court. The Lawyer to the Plaintiff (the bereaved family) pointing at the Defendant (the Evil twin) said, “I put it to you that you willfully committed murder by killing your parents in cold blood.” The Defendant replied, “And I put it off by saying that my dead parents did not die in cold blood. Their blood was hot and that’s why they gave me Evil as name. Indeed it was the evil they invoked into me that committed the murder. Naturally I was born innocent with the other twin they called Good, but my parents invoked the spirit of evil into me during our naming ceremony.” There was noise in the court room. Some were clapping at the defendant’s logical argument while some were shouting him down. The court clerk shouted, “Order in court!!!” Everywhere was silent. In his 12-page ruling, the presiding Judge argued that the Defendant was under a spell due to the evil invoked into him during the naming ceremony. Hence the murdered parents were responsible for their death. Consequently, the Evil twin was discharged and acquitted for lack of evidence. The presiding Judge used the opportunity to warn parents to beware of the name they give to their babies. The bereaved family has proceeded to the Appeal Court. Will the Appeal Court pronounce the contrary?

What is evil? Saint Thomas Aquinas says, “One opposite is known through the other, as, for instance, darkness is known through light. Evil is known through goodness, for evil is the privation of good. Evil is not a thing, an essence, a nature in itself; it exists by way of defect or failure in natures. Being as such is good; it is where being breaks off, or fails to be, that evil appears” (A Tour of the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas, Creation: Question 48, paragraph 1). Furthermore, Aquinas maintains that evil is found in things in the world, just as inequality is found there. In essence, “the subject of evil is the thing in which evil exists. Now, evil is found in things, and things as such are good. Hence, the subject of evil is good. Not every absence of good is evil, but only the absence of that good which the perfection of a thing demands” (Loc. Cit, paragraph 3).

Necessary Evil is an evil that is unavoidable. It can be moral or physical evil. You have no choice than to live with it. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines it as “something bad or unpleasant that you have to accept in order to achieve what you want.” Wikipedia defines necessary evil as “an evil that must be allowed for a greater good to result.”
When God created man, he endowed him with the gift of freedom of will or choice. Thus you and I are responsible for the choice we make, so far our mental faculty is sound. The Editors of the New Dictionary of Theology categorically assert, “Without free choice, neither good nor evil could be chosen. Hence, if man is ever to choose good, he must have the freedom to choose evil as well. Therefore, since free will is the cause of evil, imperfection (evil) can arise from the perfect (not directly, but indirectly, through freedom). In other words, whereas God created the fact of freedom, man performs the acts of freedom. God made evil possible; creature make it actual” (New Dictionary of Theology by Sinclair et al, on Evil, page 242). The conclusion is that God out of his abundant love endowed us with freedom of choice. We misused the freedom of choice by choosing evil rather than good. God is not to blame. The blame is ours.

During elections, we are presented with some candidates vying for various elective positions. Those who make the choice are known as the Electorate. From the grass-root candidates stand for Councillorship or Chairmanship. On the State level, we have Gubernatorial and State Assembly candidates. At the National level we have Presidential candidates and National Assembly candidates. The electorate make their choice according to the manifestoes of the candidates at the different levels. The candidate with the highest number of votes cast is declared winner. Constitutionally, we exercise the Right of Franchise by voting or being voted for. In Nigeria, the age of qualification is from 18 years. The Right of Franchise is something good and not evil. For instance, if I stand for any elective office and some electorates did not vote for me, I should take it as my fate. Those who did not vote for me and yet I won the election must never be regarded as ‘Necessary Evil’. In his 2019 Sallah message to Abuja residents, President Buhari regretted that they did not vote for him. He regards them as “Necessary Evil” because they voted for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Atiku Abubakar. However, he promised to protect those necessary evil men and women living in Abuja. What evil did they commit? Is there no more freedom of choice? Must everybody vote for Buhari and the All Progressives Congress Party? If there is no freedom, then there is no election. Anyone who wins an election should never discriminate between those who voted for him and those who did not. Should your wife and children be regarded as ‘Necessary Evil’ if they did not vote for you?

In his first tenure, President Buhari stated that he would only concentrate the dividends of Democracy among those who voted for him. He counted the South East and South South out. No wonder none of the new Railway project runs into the South East or South South, even though the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi comes from the South South. Also the Southerners were rarely given federal appointments. Does it mean that they are evil for not voting en masse for Buhari? They were not even considered as ‘Necessary Evils.’ In fact they are ‘Unnecessary Evils’.

The President is father to all the citizens, both those who voted for and those who voted against. A father who calls his children evil is the father of evil. Our President is widely known as a man of integrity. His integrity should affect his good and bad children. If he discriminates, then he would be loved by some and hated by some. I think it must have been a slip of tongue by President Buhari for describing the Abuja residents as ‘Necessary Evil’. He must not have known the implications of the two words. His secretary must have put the two ambiguous words into his mouth. No one is above mistake. As a lovely father, President Buhari should acknowledge the slip of tongue and then apologize to the Abuja residents. He should respect the Federal Character in making appointments and spreading the dividends of Democracy to the core North, Middle Belt, South West, South East and South South.

Governance is service to God and to the people. No wonder Democracy is defined as Government of the People, by the People and for the People. The people include everybody and not a selected few. Marginalization will be a thing of the past if no tribe is discriminated against, whether they voted for the President or not. Those who did not vote for him are not ‘Necessary Evil’ at all. The Holy Scripture categorically asserts, “When the virtuous rule, the people are happy, but they groan when the wicked are in power” (Proverbs 29:2). Will Nigerians rejoice or groan under President Buhari’s second term? He should begin by addressing the serious insecurity situation in the country. Blood is flowing like flood everywhere. Let’s watch and pray. Power belongs to God!