By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
Two weeks ago, I was driving along a busy road. My phone rang. I slowed down and picked it. I heard the voice of a lady saying, “Hello!” I replied, “Yes! Good day. Please who is speaking?” She told me her name. It was a familiar person. I asked her to call me back in one hour time because I was on transit. She asked sharply, “Transit to where?” I opened my mouth and closed it again. I didn’t give her a definite answer. Immediately my mind started oscillating on those words ‘Transit’ and ‘to where’. I entered into philosophical and theological reflections.
We are on transit every day. From Plato’s World of Ideas (God’s mind) we transited into our mothers’ wombs through the reproductive acts of our parents. Each and every one of us spent nine months in the womb, preparing for transition into this physical world. Through the process of birth we transited from the womb to life outside the womb. Most of us came out with the head, which signifies that we must be intelligent in order to survive in this world. Some cultures regard coming out of the womb with the hand or with the foot as a taboo. Far be it so. Coming out with the hand from the womb indicates that the baby will be a handworker or a goal-keeper. To come out with the foot is an indication that the baby will be a good footballer. A baby who comes out with the buttocks is a sign that he or she will work in the lavatory (toilet). Any baby that attempts to come out of the womb with the stomach is an indication that he or she will be a glutton. How did you transit from the womb to this physical world? How does it relate to your present profession? A handsome reward awaits a correct answer. Also, to receive the handsome reward you must be handsome.
Immediately we transited from the womb to this world, transition continues in stages. From sitting, we started crawling. From crawling, we transited to standing. From standing we transited to walking. From walking we transited to running. The race to school, to work and to market began. Every human being is always in motion. The German word for motion is ‘Bewegung.’ The Germans rightly says, “Sich Bewegung.” This means ‘self movement.’ In other words each person is always in motion. To be in motion is synonymous with being on transit. Where are we moving or transiting to?
We can transit (move) from one place to other by land, sea and air. Transition by land can be on foot, on wheel barrow, local truck, bicycle, motorbike, car and train. In the sea, we transit by swimming, with a canoe or ship. Transition by air can be done by flying in aero-plane. Birds transit by using their wings. Imagine how the world would have been if God had endowed human beings with wings. Without wings, we have tainted the world with evil. It would have been worse if we have wings. Border control would have been very difficult. Terrorism, kidnapping, cultism and banditry would have been deadlier than they are today in Nigeria. Thank you Almighty God that you did not endow us with wings. The feet you gave us are misused to perpetrate evil in the good world you created. With only hands and feet human beings attempted to build the Tower of Babel. If they had wings, they would have attempted to drive God, the Angels and Saints out of Heaven. God forbid!
Every day we see people, cars, lorries, trains and planes moving up or down. Where are they going? Every transition has a destination. Only a mentally deranged person travels without any destination in mind. If you have a destination, then you know the correct means and route to follow. When you go to motor parks, you will be hearing the touts shouting different destinations. I overheard an illiterate tout shouting, “Lagos one chances! Ijebu Ode two chance!” I couldn’t control my laughter. No one forces you to embark on transit in the destination you do not intend. You book your destination freely with the correct fare. Then the journey begins. When you reach your destination, you disembark.
You will be stranded when you embark on transit to the wrong destination. In 1983 when I was searching for my vocation, I was at Claretian Institute of Philosophy Nekede, in Owerri Municipality. On our free day, my bosom friend and I embarked on transit to our hometowns with the intention of returning on the same day. At a motor park in Owerri, we entered the wrong vehicle unintentionally. After loading, our bus set off. Our destination was Ekwulobia. Incidentally we saw ourselves at a strange motor-park in Okigwe, Imo State. It was like a dream. We asked the driver to take us to Ekwulobia because we entered the wrong bus at Owerri. He said, “Boys, I cannot help you. This is my last destination. You better find your way.” The most annoying thing was that he laughed at us. We became dejected, angry and hungry. We bought two loaves of bread and two bottles of Cocoa cola and consumed them like bad men at the motor park. Out of desperation, we poured water into the bottle, rinsed it and drank. Since time was against us and to avoid expulsion from the seminary, we traveled back to Owerri. It was a transition to shame. We lost our time, pleasure and money. We came back to the seminary looking dejected.
When we are on transit to a definite destination, we often take risks. It is a common saying that a good traveller cannot because of the roughness of the road abandon his journey. It is with wisdom that a snail craws through thorns. The joy of reaching our destinations should make us forget the suffering encountered on the way. If my friend and I had reached the correct destination on that fateful day, we would not have counted the cost and time. We regretted because we missed our destination.
Once upon a time, I embarked on a journey from Onitsha to Lagos. I stood with the passengers on the queue to buy a ticket. It was the turn of the passenger in front of me. The cashier asked him his destination. He replied, “No destination.” The cashier looked at him with consternation and shouted, “Are you mad? Next please!” I crisscrossed the no-destination man and booked a seat to Lagos. On reaching Lagos, I took a taxi to Festac Town. Other passengers went to their own final destinations. One of us without a final destination in Lagos was wandering about the motor park. He slept there and travelled back to Onitsha the following day. Everyone was asking, “Why did he make such a costly transition to Lagos without a final destination?” Maybe he came to set foot in Lagos. I see it as a shameful transition.
Our country Nigeria is about to enter into another political transition, come 29 May, 2019. Since our Independence on 1st October 1960 we have not had it easy. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the ceremonial President while Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became the Prime Minister. The Military struck and seized power in 1966 due to corruption, with General Aguiyi Ironsi as Head of State. There was a counter bloody coup in the same year. General Ironsi was killed therein. General Yakubu Gowon took over. He was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1975 by General Murtala Mohammed. On 13 February 1976, Murtala was assassinated in a military coup by Colonel Bukar Suka Dimka. Dimka and his co-plotters were arrested and publicly executed. General Obasanjo being the most senior officer in the Nigerian Army took over as Head of State. He handed over to a civilian President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, in 1979. In December 1983, Shagari was overthrown in a coup d’etat by General Muhammadu Buhari. General Ibrahim Babangida cut the Buhari regime short in 1985. IBB became the Head of State till 1993 when he stepped aside, after annulling the June 12, 1993 Election won by Chief MKO Abiola. An Interim Government was headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. After few months on the saddle, General Sani Abacha shoved him aside and became Head of State.
Unfortunately, Abacha died on the throne in 1998. General Abdulsalami Abubakar was made Head of State. Just after one year on the hot seat, he organized an election and handed over to President Olusegun Obasanjo on 29 May, 1999. Hence, it became Nigerian Democracy Day. Obasanjo reigned for 8 years. He handed over to President Musa Yar’Adua in 2007.
Unfortunately Yar’Adua died of a terminal illness on 5th May 2010. Constitutionally, the Vice President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took over and completed the regime of the late Yar’Adua. In 2011, President Jonathan contested the Presidential election and won on the platform of People’s Democratic Party. He re-contested in 2015 with retired General Muhammadu Buhari and other presidential candidates. Jonathan lost.
Buhari won the Presidential election on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) with the Change mantra. For four years, Nigerians experienced little or no change. Things did not improve as expected. From frying pan, the citizens entered into fire. The economy is not worth writing home about. Insecurity was worsened by the Boko Haram terrorists, bloody Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, cultists and various sophisticated bandits sucking innocent blood all over the country especially in the North. In the midst of all these, the 2019 Presidential election was contested by numerous candidates including Atiku Abubakar of PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of APC. The election was purportedly won by the latter. Atiku faulted the result declared by INEC and has gone to court. We look forward to the Election Tribunal to declare who really won. But the question is: Will justice prevail? While we are in this political quagmire, the expected political transition from Buhari to Buhari for a second term is about to take place on 29 May 2019. The Democracy Day will henceforth be celebrated on June 12, when Abiola posthumously becomes President. Are we really transiting to glory or to shame after all these years?
Finally, all mortals must die. We shall transit from mortality to immortality. On that destined day of death, each and every one of us must give his or her stewardship account to the Almighty God on the judgment seat (Romans 14:12). Will it be a transition to glory or to shame? According to the Holy Scripture, “Many of those who sleep in the Region of the Dust will awake, some to everlasting life but others to eternal horror and shame. Those who acquired knowledge will shine like brilliance of the firmament; those who taught people to be just will shine like stars for all eternity” (Daniel 12:2-3). This is a delicious food for thought for you and for me. Let us make haste while the sun shines. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2).