NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER

0

Sonnie Ekwowusi urges all to soldier on, in spite of the contradictions and difficulties

I don’t have a job anymore since this COVID thing started. And I am ashamed to beg. My wife is the one supporting me now. But you know women; she now treats me with utter contempt. She talks to me anyhow. The most regrettable aspect is that my children will soon be going back to school and I don’t have any money to give to them. My house rent will be due in January. On top of these calamities, they sent me a message yesterday that my mother in the village is seriously sick. They said I should come home next week to take her to the hospital. I am the first son of my parents. I don’t want my mother to die. She is a diabetic patient. Three months ago she suffered a second stroke. Even nowadays to feed is a big problem for me, unless through the efforts of my wife. My life is miserable.

I understand. Weep no more. Wipe away the tears from your eyes. Don’t give up. You can still make it. Hold your head high, stick out your chest. I understand. You no longer have a good name. People look down on you. All who see you shake their head in derision. They sneer at you.

They laugh at you and say, “This is the man who started to build but could not finish”. Don’t mind them. Don’t surrender to melancholy. It is untrue that the world is about to collapse on top of you. Take another look around you. Look up. Those birds you see flying and chirping do not store. Yet divine Providence provides for all their food and needs. I agree, it gets dark sometimes, but the morning does not delay in coming. Besides, nothing here below lasts forever. Yesterday has passed. Tomorrow will soon come and pass. After the rain comes sunshine. Suffering breeds endurance. Endurance breeds hope. And hope does not disappoint. Don’t surrender.

My friend, don’t surrender to drugs. We cannot lose you to drugs. Don’t surrender to violence, cynicism, and pessimism. Deploy hope and imagination as weapons of survival and progress.

Dream dreams. Remember the name which your parents gave you as an infant. Remember the land of your birth. Remember your home. I am often told, “Some of us take drugs as anesthesia to quench our pain and suffering. We take drugs to escape the burdens of the day which oftentimes seem unbearable”. I have heard you. I know it is tough sometimes but you are wrong. If you go on living like this you will be enslaved by drugs. You could even commit suicide. And if you commit suicide, your children and your grand-children will rain curses on you for having been a big failure in life. Don’t lose focus. You might have mastered the air, conquered the sea, annihilated distance but you have not mastered the vicissitudes of life. You have to live on this earth with your share of difficulties. Try to excel within your own little space. And let’s come together to the public space to build together for the common good. Ask yourself the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the purpose of human existence? What is reason? What is faith? If faith and reason are the two wings with which to fly to the truth, why fly only on the wing of reason or only on the wing of faith? Fly on both wings.

We stand today at a crossroads. We stand at the end of a long night of uncertainty. The good of our country is at stake. Instead of making giant strides on the path to progress our country is drifting backwards towards its precipice. At independence in 1960 there was only one national flag in Nigeria – the green-white-green flag. But how many Nigerian adults (not to talk of children) can still tell the colour of the national flag let alone recite the national anthem or the pledge? Very few. Why? Because there are many flags of different colours being hoisted and flown across Nigeria- there is the Biafra flag, Niger Delta flag, Oduduwa Republic flag, Mid-West flag, Arewa flag, Middle Belt flag and so forth. Instead of listening to President Buhari’s independence anniversary speech, most Nigerians prefer to listen to yesteryears’ speeches of Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, H.O. Davies, Anthony Enahoro, K.O. Mbadiwe, Mbonu Ojike (Boycott the boycottables) and other heroes and heroines of Nigerian independence. Governance? What is that? Forget it. Governance is virtually non-existent. Insecurity (of lives and property) is our first name. Bloodbath is our middle name.

Death is our surname. So, our full name is Mr. Insecurity Bloodbath Death (IBD for acronym).

The names of the visitors who regularly visit us to kill us or torment us are terrorists, kidnappers, bandits, night marauders, murderous cattle breeders and murderous Fulani herdsmen and land grabbers. What haven’t they done to us? A person who has consumed the stomach of a dog has gone half way into eating human faeces. Everywhere you go you will discover that their hands are stained with the blood of the innocent; blood which no water on this earth can wash away. On top of all these woes, the blame game goes on unabated. We blame the constitution for our woes. We blame the government. We blame corruption. We blame the judiciary. We blame APC. We blame PDP. We blame ourselves. We blame the day we were born. We blame our children. We blame our neighbours. We even blame God for creating us and making us citizens of Nigeria.

I understand. But don’t surrender to hopelessness. Look, don’t remain in the same place. You can still go forward. Nothing is gained by constantly sitting down and complaining about those things that do not work. Get up and move. Stop brooding over failed democracy. In case you don’t know, democracy alone cannot save us. One of the wrong assumptions about democracy is that the political office holders possess enough wisdom and virtue to pursue the end of democracy-promotion of the welfare of the people. But viewed against the backdrop of history, political leaders do not have enough wisdom and virtue to pursue the end of democracy. Besides, democracy is challenged from within by sheer ignorance and pursuit of personal interests at the expense of the common good and welfare of the people. We must begin to move away from the mentality that once we establish democratic institutions, bureaucracies and enact laws all our human problems will be solved. In principle, functional bureaucracies, democratic institutions and laws are good, but not every obligation that augurs well for proper ordering of society can be democratized, bureaucratized let alone legislated upon or codified in positive law.

Most important, democracy is not the first thing: the first thing is culture and at the heart of culture are those communally-binding ideals which make society tick. In fact, for society to function effectively there ought to be a fine convergence between public life, culture and authentic religion.