Opinion

Shooting oneself in the foot

By Fr. Pat. Amobi Chukwuma

Many years ago, a crucial meeting was convoked in the animal kingdom. The lion was the chairman while the tortoise was the secretary. The leopard was the financial secretary while the elephant was the treasurer. The dog was the provost while the hawk was the public relation officer. On the appointed day and time of the meeting, all species of animal were present except the fowl.

It excused itself on flimsy reason and pledged to abide by the decisions taken at the historical meeting. The snake said the opening prayer and the meeting commenced smoothly. Important decisions were ratified for the good of all animals in the kingdom. The meeting came to a close at sunset with the closing prayer said by the dove. All the animals went home happily.

Due to the fowl’s unjustified absence at the meeting, it was decided that from thence onwards, the fowl would be used for sacrifices. This decision was later communicated to the fowl by the hawk. The fowl cried out for the decision to be rescinded. But it was too late because the decision has been sealed and was irreversible. That is the reason why the fowl is mostly used in sacrifice till this day. It shot itself in the foot by its absence and pledge.

In a certain village, the inhabitants live communal life. They worship together. Frequently they assemble in the village square for meetings and social events. They assist one another in good times and in bad times. During farming season, they help each other in the farm. In the time of bereavement they identify and mourn with the family of the deceased.

The young boys dig the grave and close it after the corpse has been lowered into it. The men and the women stay with the bereaved family for a number of days before dispersing and going for their private engagements.

From time to time it was observed that a certain man among the villagers never showed up during any bereavement. His business was his sole concern. When he was accosted and asked of the reason for his constant absenteeism, he boldly replied, “I have no time.” Thus he was nicked Mister No-Time.

Death has no constant customer. It takes turn in visiting every family. My people say, “E buru ozu onye ozo o dika e bu ukwu nku.” This means that we feel unconcerned when the corpse of someone else is being conveyed for burial. Unexpectedly, death knocked at the door of Mister No-Time and took away his father early on a Monday morning.

Mr. No-Time had already prepared for work on that fateful day before he was alerted that his father died in sleep. He wept and shouted for help, but nobody responded to the distress call. He decided to go from house to house to inform them about his father’s death and impending burial on that same day.

Each person he approached snubbed him and asserted, “I have no time.” He went round the whole village and no one came to his aid. By late evening the corpse started decomposing. He went to the elders in the village on his knees and asked pardon for his usual inhuman excuses when others were concerned. The elders called for an emergency meeting to consider the plight of Mr. No-Time.

The elders gave him a long list of things he must provide for them to consider burying his father. He saw himself in a tight corner. He hurriedly spent his last penny in providing those appeasing items. The elders accepted those things and reluctantly assisted him to bury his deceased father.

It was around 10.00p.m. After this Mr. No-Time learnt his lesson and vowed never to shoot himself in the foot again. Since then he is always the first person to appear in the compound of any deceased in their village.

In a certain town, there was a learned man. He was blessed with wealth. Unlike Mister No-Time he was always present during the burial and funeral ceremonies of any deceased. He participated actively in everything. However, when food and drinks are served during funerals he sat aloof reading newspaper without tasting anything.

He did this continually. Eventually his lovely mother died in mysterious circumstances. The learned rich man was highly touched. After weeping he decided to give his departed mother befitting burial and funeral. A multitude from near and far was present on the appointed day.

They prayed, sang and danced. Later the learned and wealthy bereaved man presented assorted food and drinks for the teeming sympathizers. Unknown to him, each of them came with a newspaper. Instead of to eat and to drink what was presented to them, they all began to read newspapers.

The servers dished out food and distributed drinks but nobody accepted anything. They all sat and were reading newspapers. The bereaved man read the handwriting on the wall. He regretted over his past newspaper reading during such occasions. He knelt down and asked for pardon. He promised never to shoot himself in the foot again.

Somewhere else, a wicked woman poisoned the drinking water of her neighbor out of envy. She had three children between the ages of 10 and 6 years. They went to school on that day. She locked the door of her room and went to market. Unfortunately she delayed in coming back. When her three children came back from school, they found their room under lock and key. They were extremely thirsty and hungry.

The innocent children rushed to their neighbour’s apartment to drink some water. They were not aware that the water was poison by their own mother.  The three all drank from the container. Instantly their stomachs began to swell and they foamed at the mouth.

No one was around to help. Within few minutes the three of them lay stone dead. Their mother was the first to return home. When she saw her victims, she slumped and fainted. Her heart was broken beyond repair. By this time the neighbours have gathered. She confessed her evil deed and died shamefully. Indeed she shot herself grievously in the foot.

The instances of shooting one’s self in the foot are enough for the wise. A fortnight ago I advised my enraged friend to avoid shooting himself in the foot. He looked at me stupidly and said, “How can I shoot myself in the foot when I have no gun? Please if it is a joke stop it.

Kindly give me a bottle of any cold beer (ACB) to cool my hot temper. Then I shall listen to you.” I obliged him. He drank the first, the second and the third bottle and slept off on his seat. As he was snoring, I banged very hard on the table. He woke up unconsciously and shouted, “Who shot me in the foot just now!?” Laughter strangled me seriously. According to Shakespeare, cowards die many times before their actual death.

In clear terms, any hunter, police or soldier that shoots himself in the foot is a coward. A wise person aims accurately before shooting. Let us not take an action or say something that would cause problems to us. That is the actual meaning of shooting oneself in the foot.

In our society today, many people shoot themselves in the foot. Few days ago the majority of Senators voted against electronic transmission of electoral result on partisan basis. Those who voted against were 52 while 28 voted for. 28 Senators were absent including the three Senators from my own state.

I wonder where they went to during the crucial decision. It was a rowdy session in the House of Representatives on the same subject matter. The opposition members staged a walkout. The ruling party members stayed behind and voted against electronic transmission of election results. Millions of Nigerian electorates want electronic transmission of results in order to avoid rigging at the collation centers.

Manual transmission encourages rigging. Those against maintain that internet service is not found in every part of the country. Therefore if electronic transmission is allowed, then it means that some Nigerians will be disenfranchised. Is it not possible to install antenna in those places? This group however added a clause that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) should guarantee when the Independent National Electoral Commission can use electronic voting with the approval of the National Assembly.

How can an independent body subject itself to another independent body? This is very clumsy and unconstitutional.  The minority who voted for electronic transmission of result accused the majority of having a grand plan to rig elections, especially the 2023 Presidential election. Who is right and who is wrong?  Who shot themselves in the foot? Time shall tell.

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