By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
Few years ago, my eyes saw my ears when I was pasturing the flock of God at Abagana. I was trying to keep the sitting room of my residence in order after breakfast on that fateful day. Having broken my fast, I was energized after eating like a king. Hence I tried to lift one huge heavy cushion chair to another position. My effort landed me in hot soup. I collapsed like a three-storey building. My waist was dislocated and I became paralyzed instantly. Then I cried for help. My cry attracted my vicar, seminarian and two of our houseboys. They carried me like a breathing corpse into the vicar's car. The next moment, I saw myself being carried in a stretcher into an ecclesiastical hospital. The doctor on duty gave me first aid treatment and sent me for urgent X-ray. A nurse rushed out and brought a wheel-chair. I was carried helplessly from the stretcher into the wheel-chair. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I shook my head sideways and exclaimed tearfully in the hearing of those around me: “No condition is permanent!” Two nurses conveyed me into the X-ray room in my wheel-chair. I was x-rayed and admitted in the private ward. For four days, I was unable to sit, stand or walk. Indeed I was totally disabled. Any movement from one place to the other was in the wheel-chair. It was that time that I learnt practically the meaning of disability. From ability I entered into disability in a twinkle of an eye.
It is not an overstatement to say that everybody is a potential disabled person. Hence I hereby recommend that we should practice how to live in case of sudden disability. Once in a while close your two eyes tightly and walk from your compound gate into your room, in case you become totally blind. Learn how to walk with crutches should you become lame. Often make use of one hand to do everything, in case you are amputated. We should also learn how to die by lying motionless in bed for some time and asking your family members or friends to pay their last respect to you. Even one can buy a coffin and keep it in a strategic position to remind you always that you a potential corpse. There was a man who dug his grave while he was alive. From time to time he visited the grave to pray and reflect over death and of the life to come. Eventually he died but he was not taken unawares. We are alive today but may be dead tomorrow. Therefore we must never take things for granted.
During the late General Abacha junta as the Nigerian Head of State and potential Life President, General Olusegun Obasanjo (retired) was arrested as a result of a phantom coup. He was court-martialed and sentenced to life imprisonment. Obasanjo languished in prison for about four years. From the prison he wrote Abacha a passionate letter titled “No Condition is Permanent.” Abacha paid no attention to the letter. Within a short time, Abacha died suddenly under mysterious circumstance. His remains were flown immediately from Lagos to Kano and interred. Obasanjo himself was set free by the then Head of State who succeeded Abacha, General Abdulsalami Abubakar. Abdulsalami stayed in power for a year only and organized the 1999 Presidential Election. The ex-prisoner Obasanjo contested and won. Thus he was transformed from prisoner to president while Abacha transited from the throne to the grave. Indeed no condition is permanent.
Those in power should know that it is not permanent. Whether they like it or not, they must someday relinquish power willfully or unwillingly. Therefore they should do all they can while on seat to render good services to the people so that their names would be written in gold forever. It is better to leave the stage when the ovation is still high. Indeed power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Arbitrary use of power is suicidal. Look at how Abacha ended his five years of the reign of terror. Do we talk of Field Marshal Idi Amin of Uganda, Mr. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, General Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Mr. Samuel Doe of Liberia, et cetera. All these cruel leaders ended badly. The leaders who sowed good seeds in power reap the reward of their labours in this world and in the world to come.
The Nigerian politicians should imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and play by the rules of the game. Election is never a-do-or-die affair. I always remember the fatherly admonition of my principal in secondary whenever we were about to go on sports competitions. He, Mr. Nwobi Okoye of blessed memory, would say, “If you win, you win honourably. But if you lose, you lose honourably.” Shedding blood to win an election is before God and man condemnable. Violence does no one any good. In the past a presidential aspirant was quoted to have said that if he loses the election, baboon and monkey would suck each other's blood. Once again I doff my cap for the former President Goodluck Jonathan who stated that his political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. May our politicians vying for different state or national offices in the 2019 general election imbibe the good political spirit of Goodluck Jonathan. Let there be peace. It has been found out that the only problem we have in Nigeria is bad Leadership. A good leader is one who has the fear of God and renders honest service to the people who elected him or her into power. He is a leader who knows that no condition is permanent. Even if he serves for only one term and is no more wanted by majority of the electorate, he should relinquish power peacefully as Jonathan did in 2015.
General Abdulsalami Abubakar served meritoriously for only one year as military Head of State and handed over power willfully to a civilian government. By so doing he knew that no condition is permanent. Presently, he is the Chairman of National Peace Committee for free, fair and non violent 2019 general elections. He advises the political gladiators of the different political parties to play by rules of the game and indulge in issue based political campaigns, devoid of bitterness, character assassination and violence. He states that those they want to lead must be alive for them to lead them. The 2019 elections will come and go but Nigeria will remain for good or bad. Those who play the politics of selfishness will face the consequences sooner or later.
A married man who does not know how his wife will look like in her old age should view the face of his mother-in-law. The man who is handsome today may look like a vulture tomorrow. Likewise a beautiful lady today may become ugly tomorrow. There was a very beautiful lady who was married to a very poor man. The beautiful lady's inordinate ambition to acquire wealth landed her in trouble. She was dating a rich married man. One day the wife of the rich man caught her in the very act of adultery. She bathed the beautiful husband-snatcher with a highly concentrated acid. Instantly the beautiful lady became like a vulture that has just come out of water. Ugliness met ugliness. To avoid public shame, the acid bathed lady committed suicide by hanging. Also recently, a married man travelled and came back suddenly. On entering his bedroom, he caught his wife and an amorous unmarried man having sex in his matrimonial bed. Angrily, he locked the doors and rushed into his kitchen. He came back with a sharp kitchen knife and cut off the penis of the wayward visitor from its root. The man was later rushed to a nearby hospital by sympathizers for medical attention. Today he is without manhood. He now urinates with the aid of a tube and has been rendered a perpetual helpless bachelor.
The bush fowl told her chicks to feed on yam tuber as well as on ordinary root, so that if the farmer harvests his yams they would feed on ordinary roots. If you drive a car, try also to ride okada. Often I trek to some places. Some people wonder and ask me, “Father, where is your car?” I normally laugh and say, “No condition is permanent.” A bus conductor can become a driver tomorrow if he is duty conscious. A rich man can become poor. A poor man can become rich tomorrow. There was a boy who came from an indigent family. The family was so poor that they barely ate once a day. The boy could not go to school due to lack of sponsorship. Instead of stealing he went about begging for little amount of money at motor parks. He was maintaining his mentally deranged mother and three siblings from the charity of people. At the same time he was saving for his future. Later he bought a fairly used bus and drove it himself for commercial purposes. As time went on he bought a second bus and gave it out on hire. Things began to change for better in his family. He is now married with five children and has built his personal bungalow. In fact, a patient dog eats the fattest bone.
If you are looking healthy now, do not brag about it. Sickness can catch you any time. Often we should visit hospitals and see people suffering from different ailments. Some are eating from the nose. Some are lying unconscious for months or years. Do we talk of those suffering from protracted and terminal illnesses? Some years ago I went to the Orthopaedic hospital at Enugu to see my colleague who was suffering from spinal cord injury. His two legs were tied upwards and he has been in that position for some weeks. I went round the wards to pray for other patients. In the process I saw different degrees of orthopedic cases. I could not control my tears. I saw living bones. I rushed out of the ward with tears and sighs. I entered into my car but couldn't drive due as it shivered as a result of what I saw. You or I may be in one miserable condition any time. Thank your God if you are healthy today. Count your blessings and do not grudge over your misfortunes. No one knows tomorrow. In whatever you do, always bear in mind that no condition is permanent. A medical doctor can turn into a patient any time. A lawyer can become a prisoner. A magistrate or judge can lose his seat. Make good use of your talents to serve God and people well when you have the opportunity. You will reap what you sowed. That person you assist today may be your saviour tomorrow. Do you not know that a maid can become Madam? Therefore be careful how you treat your maids or wards. Indeed no condition is permanent.