By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
The Principal is the head of a secondary school. I passed through two principals during my secondary school career at Aguata High School, Aguata. The first was cool and was over tolerant. He was also a man of peace. He never wanted trouble at all. Whenever we were going out for any sports competition, he admonished us in these words: “If you win, you win honourably. But if you lose, you lose honourably.” He left after my class three. Then his successor came. He was also a good man but never tolerated any nonsensical nonsense from the students. At his arrival, he observed that the senior students were bulling the junior ones. Often they gave them capital punishment like digging of trenches, carrying blocks on the head and kneeling down, carrying locker full of books on bare head, etc during class hours. A class two student in those days could wallop a class one student 24 lashes of cane or even more on bare buttocks or all over the body while the victim lay on a table. Addressing us at the morning assembly on his second day in office, the new principal sternly warned, “I came here to maintain an egalitarian society.” There was a lot of murmuring and noise among us. Many of us were ignorant and scared of the word 'egalitarian.' In Igbo 'iga' means handcuff. So we assumed that the new principal came with a lot of handcuffs for ailing students. From that day we nicknamed him “Ega.” We dreaded him so much. To help him in maintaining that egalitarian society he appointed a disciplinarian prefect whose nickname was War. Thus Ega and War combined as a force to discipline stubborn students.
Ignorance is a chronic disease. A student was asked in a Religious class to define the terms 'Principalities and powers.' He stood up courageously and answered, “Principalities are the spirits that propel the principal of a school in his work. Our own principal here is full of principalities. On the other hand, powers are the various energies inside the principal. In this case, our principal is very powerful. Teacher, how I wish you will become a principal soonest so that you will be filled with principalities and powers.” His classmates gave him a standing ovation. The teacher himself frowned at the student in question and shouted, “What an insult! Common, kneel down there, stupid boy!” The students were confused and dumbfounded. They were saying in low tones, “What offence did this boy commit? Did he not give wonderful definitions of principalities and powers? Maybe our teacher is angry because he is not a principal and also not powerful.” In obedience, the poor boy knelt down. However, after a while he asked, “Teacher, what have I done? My classmates clapped for me while you are punishing me for answering your question well.”
Coincidentally, the school Principal came into the class for his routine inspection. The teacher knocked on his table and the students exclaimed, “Good morning Sir! Welcome to our classroom.” The Principal smiled and cheerfully replied, “Thank you my dear students. You can now sit down.” When all have sited, he asked the teacher, “Why is this student kneeling down while class is going on?” The class teacher sighed and replied, “He committed the offence of insult against you and me.” The principal then asked, “What for? An insult?” The teacher ordered the student in question to repeat what he said before. The student still kneeling asserted, “Sir, the teacher asked me to define Principalities and Powers. I told him that Principalities are the spirits that propel you as a principal to do your work. Hence you are full of principalities. On the other hand, powers are the various energies inside you. Thus, you are very powerful. Also, I wished our class teacher to become a principal like you, so that he would be filled with principalities and powers like you.” The Principal became furious instantly. He looked at the student with consternation for the insulting definitions. Finally, he decreed: “You are hereby expelled from this school with immediate effect. May principalities and powers follow you as you leave!”
What are then Principalities and Powers? Principalities and Powers are the two biblical names or titles given to spiritual forces. As Christians we are engaged with the evil forces in battle every day of our lives. Saint Paul clearly states, “Our battle is not against human forces but against the rulers and authorities and their dark powers that govern this world. We are struggling against the spirits and supernatural forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12). When God expelled Lucifer from heaven, he cast him down here on earth. How I wished that he was rather cast down into any of the uninhabited planets to live with his co-fallen angels. Even our Savior Jesus Christ was not spared by the mischievous mechanization of the devil. After Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert in preparation for his saving work, the devil struck. First, Jesus as an incarnated Savior was hungry after the fasting. Satan found an opportunity to tempt him. He told Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, order these stones to turn into bread” (Mtt. 4:3). As Almighty God, Jesus had the capacity to do it. But if he had done so, it would have been for the glory of the devil. Hence Jesus replied, “Scriptures says: man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mtt. 4:4). In furtherance, the devil took Jesus up the temple pinnacle and asked him to jump down from there, for God has commanded the angels to hold him firmly lest the stone down there would hurt him. Jesus resisted. Next, the devil led him to a high mountain and showed him the precious wealth of the world. He promised Jesus those pleasures if he would kneel down and worship him. Jesus made it clear to him that it is only God who is to be worshipped and served. When the devil has exhausted his traps, he went away sad (Mtt. 4:5-10).
As followers of Christ, we encounter temptations frequently from the hands of principalities and powers that be. Our duty is to resist. Saint Peter himself admonishes us: “Be calm but vigilant because your enemy the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him strong in faith and prayers” (1 Peter: 8-9). Similarly, writing to the Ephesians Paul advises: “Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that in the evil day, you may resist and stand your ground, making use of all your weapons” (Eph. 6:13). The weapons are watchfulness in prayer and strong resistance. Even in the Old Testament we are advised:“My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Keep your heart upright and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time of adversity” (Sirach 2:1). When we are tempted by the devil and his agents and are overcome, there is much gladness in hell.
In our country Nigeria today, we are at war with various principalities and powers that be. Boko Haram terrorists top the list. The North East has been ravaged by this evil force for some years now. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost, not counting the destruction of houses and properties. At a time, the present Federal Government told us that the evil sect has been defeated. But that was not to be. They have regrouped and are killing our soldiers and defenseless civilians here and there. To worsen the situation, the evil sect has linked its forces with ISIS. Where do they get their powerful weapons? I even guess that some of their sponsors are living comfortable here in Nigeria. Some of them may be in government.
The Fulani bloody herdsmen are another principalities and powers raking havoc in this country. The irony is that the Buhari government has neither condemned the evil forces nor declared them a terrorist group. Also none of them has so far been arrested and brought to book. They attack and kill villagers, farmers and innocent people going about their businesses. They also rape women, rip open the belly of pregnant women and cut the unborn child into pieces. In addition they destroy and burn houses. Yet the Federal Government has been making frantic moves to settle the bloody herders and their cattle in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory through the RUGA policy. Thank God the Middle Belt and the Southern States said no to the RUGA settlement policy. It seems we are no longer practicing Democracy but 'Cattlecracy' (Government of the Cattle, by the Herders and for the Cattle). The non violent IPOB and the Shiite Islamic Movement have been proscribed by the President. Why has he not proscribed the violent Fulani herdsmen? Principalities and powers are indeed at work.
Principalities and powers are also inherent in the kidnapping for ransom taking here and there in the country. Sometimes the kidnappers maim and kill their victims, even after collecting millions of ransom. Bandits are also striking in the Southern, Northern and Western parts of the country. The North has the highest share. Cultists of different forms are also causing Nigerians sleepless days and nights. They kill as well. There are serious tensions in Nigerian now. Insecurity is the greatest challenge we are facing. President Buhari seems not to have the capacity of training the insecurity situation. Many have called for the overhauling of the country's security apparatus. Also, the current Service Chiefs are overdue for change. They have no new strategies to tackle the principalities and powers mesmerizing Nigerians. It is high time new visionary Service Chiefs are appointed. The appointment should have a federal character, because all Nigerians are concerned. The Senate has even approved a Security Summit to be held soonest. Actions rather than words are needed immediately. Delay is dangerous.
Principalities and Powers have pushed Nigeria into being the capital of poverty in the whole world. Hence Nigerians are hungry, angry and desperate. No wonder suicide cases are rampant these days. Principalities and powers are also responsible for the surging of our youths into the worship of idols. It is highly recommended that the sane citizens of this country, no matter the tribe or the religious affiliation, should as a matter of urgency, fall down on their knees to ask for Divine intervention and deliverance from known and unknown principalities and powers. Up, up, up Jesus!!! Down, down, down Satan!