According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition, tension can be defined multi dimensionally as “the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness; inner striving, unrest, or imbalance often with psychological indication of emotion; a state of latent hostility or opposition between individuals or groups; a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements.” Strictly speaking, tension is psychologically and physiologically adverse to human life. It creates uncertainties and throws one off balance. I do not need any binocular to observe the current global, national, regional, social, religious and terminal tensions. That is why I titled this write-up “Tensions Everywhere!”
Indeed, there is fire on the mountain. Run! Run!! Run!!! Where are we running to? Whenever a tortoise or a snail observes any danger, it withdraws into its shell and remains motionless until all is calm again. As a human being, I have no biological shell. However, I decided to withdraw into my spiritual shell. Also, since all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, I took off some time in my tight schedule to rest a while in order to douse the tensions around and to cool down my boiling brain before insanity sets in. That mad person roaming the street aimlessly could be you or I. Think about it.
Within the two weeks of the absence of the Wit's Corner in the weekly Fides Newspaper, some of my admirers called me on phone while some others sent me text messages asking of my where-about. Some of the text messages read: “What happened, Fr? I got my tomorrow's copy of Fides newspaper today, being Saturday, as I used to, to avoid the temptation of peeping through while the Mass is on, when I went for the Wit's Corner, I saw nothing. I searched the entire newspaper to no avail. Father, I know that this period is the season for priests' annual leave but you used to warn us ahead of time. Fr, what happened?” “Good evening Fr. I did not see your article. Hope all is well? God bless you. Your regular reader.” “No publication today. Sorry, how are you? Hope you are ok? I will not buy again if you don't write again.” “Father, I searched through the Fides thoroughly but did not see your article. What is wrong?” “Fr, good evening. Fr please I want to know what happened to Wit's Corner today. I'm an ardent reader and a very good fan of your column. I am 10yrs old. God bless.” Wonders shall never end! Behold a 10-year old girl already reading newspaper! Her future is very bright.
My humble reply to all of the above enquiries is simple: No one is indispensable except God. Life goes on with or without the Wit's Corner. In fact my pen and my thinking faculty went on break. The tensions arising from different directions made me to hide for a while in a lonely place in order to pray, reflect and to douse the following mounting tensions.
Global tension: The First and Second World Wars have come and gone but the effects remain. The atomic bomb dropped by America during the Second World War at Hiroshima is still raising a lot of dust. Tensions are rising higher for a possible Third World War, if nothing is done urgently to prevent it. North Korea led by President Pyongyang is armed to the teeth with the world's 4th largest standing military, chemical weapons, highly-trained special force and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Some of the nuclear weapons have been tested severally by North Korea in readiness for any eventuality against America and the rest of the world. The war-monger country launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan in protest against tough new sanctions imposed on her by the United Nations Security Council after Pyongyang conducted his 6th and most powerful nuclear test on September 3, 2017. The sanctions are an attempt to strip North Korea of fuel and income for its weapons' programmes and restrict her oil imports and ban her textile exports. North Korea threatens that sanctions will move her positively towards her nuclear programme. In response, the current President of America, Donald Trump, warns that if Pyongyang attacks any territory of America with his nuclear weapons, then there will be “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Can Pyongyang listen? My breathe is hanging up until this global tension is doused.
National (Nigerian) tension: Our country Nigeria was amalgamated by Lord Lugard in 1914 for selfish economic reasons. The Amalgamation had a life span of a hundred years, which expired in 2014 with 180 million people. Since the expiration, things have fallen apart (in the words of Chinua Achebe) and the centre can no longer hold. Civil War between the rest of Nigeria and broke-away Biafra Republic took place from 1967 to 1970. Millions of lives were lost. At the end of the civil war, the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon declared, “No Victor, no Vanquished.” He went further to announce the three Rs: Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. Till date there is nothing concrete done to bring the three Rs to fulfillment. Instead things continue to deteriorate. There are a lot of injustice, sectionalism, nepotism and marginalization here and there. This is the background of the current agitations emanating from the different regions of this country. Most Nigerians are fed up with the present state of affairs in this country. People are hungry and angry. Nigeria cannot afford another civil war.
In his inaugural speech at Eagle Square in Abuja on 29 May 2015, President Buhari swore, “I am for everybody and for nobody.” From his actions so far, the reverse is the case. We are experiencing bad governance, economic hardship, lopsided appointments, nepotism, hunger, anger, joblessness and hatred. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) be moaned this tensed situation in the country in her recent Communique which in part reads: “More than two years later, the reality on ground and the verdict of most of our people across the nation- irrespective of religious affiliation, ethnic group or social status- point to the contrary. The inability of the Government to address the inequitable situation in the country has provided breeding ground for violent reactions, protests and agitations, which exploit the grievances of different segments of the country. We call on Government at all levels to urgently address the anomalies, remove everything that smacks of injustice, and give everybody and every part of our country a sense of belonging. We insist that merit and ability should be the primary criteria in making appointments and genuine needs the criteria for the distribution of amenities. We also urge the Government to be always sensitive to the multi-religious and multi-ethnic configuration of the nation.” The Catholic Bishops have spoken because elders cannot sit at home while a she-goat gives birth tethered on a rope which can strangle her to death. It is only a stubborn fly that perishes with the corpse.
Some days ago, the APC led Federal Government announced that the economic recession in Nigeria has ended. That statement is only in paper. We need to see it displayed in the lives of ordinary Nigerians. There is still hardship everywhere. Hunger and anger are still mesmerizing us. The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, says that only good governance can end agitations.
The Boko Haram terrorists have been decimated but not yet defeated. They are regrouping and causing higher tension. The Fulani Herdsmen are also terrorizing the lives of innocent Nigerians going about their normal businesses. They are the second terrorist organization after Boko Haram. The Operation Python Dance should be taken to the two terrorists organizations. The proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) is not a terrorist organization as the US and well-meaning individuals and groups have countered the Nigerian Military. It is inhuman to kill unarmed civilians. The Army is trained to kill and not to restore peace and order. The Police Force is more equipped to handle such. Dialogue with agitators brings lasting solution instead of military confrontation. Dialogue douses tension while arms confrontation worsens it.
In the face of the high tension in the land, there is urgent need to restructure Nigeria as many sane groups and individuals have called for. Even in his address at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly President Muhammadu Buhari asserted, “To restructure or not to restructure is no longer the question - the United Nations must be restructured for it to remain relevant in years to come. How to restructure the United Nations should be our priority number one. Several ideas are out there. All that we need is to get them together and agree on what works for majority of the people of this world.” What a nice suggestion by President Buhari to the United Nations! But charity begins at home. President Buhari should heed the clarion call from well-meaning Nigerians to restructure our country in order to douse the tension in the land. Agitations are getting off hand. You cannot beat a baby and tell it not to cry. For instance, how can a whole South-East Region of Nigeria be excluded from federal affairs? The region is denied the present railway national project. What economic importance is the railway being extended from Kano to Daura (Buhari's town), while the commercial cities of Onitsha and Aba have none?
Social Media tension: As people were bitter over the bite of a victim by a rat, the lizard went to sharpen its teeth. The social media has contributed immensely in the enhancement of communication worldwide. But currently it has been put to bad use. A lot of false and destructive pieces of information are now the order of the day in the social media – Whatsapp, Twitter, Face Book, etc. Pernicious propaganda flies all over the world through these media platforms. Most often I do not believe some of the things I read from social media. Some of them are atrocious and can lead to high blood pressure. A lot of damaging lies are posted daily. These create unnecessary tension in the hearts of the readers. Those who post such destructive pieces of information and propaganda must account for them before the judgment seat of God, because they have killed many souls. Even the manner we eat and what we ought to eat have been altered in social media postages. As a result there is high tension in the human digestive system. No wonder the high rate of death nowadays!
Anambra election tension: As the gubernatorial poll in Anambra State is drawing closer, come November 18, 2017, there is tension in the state. All the parties involved have concluded their primaries in peace or in pieces. The contesting candidates have emerged. Some politicians still see election as a do-or-die affair. This is regrettable. For some politicians, the end justifies the means. But in moral parlance, the means justifies the end. Even I heard that a certain politician in Anambra State vowed that he would fight the forthcoming gubernatorial election with the last drop of his blood. What a costly vow! God forbid! Let us give peace a chance to reign. The only just means of occupying the governorship seat at Awka is only through free and fair election. Anyone who occupies it through the back door or by blood-letting is a criminal. The former President of Nigeria, Jonathan Goodluck, stressed that election is not worth the blood of any Nigerian (Anambrarian). Leadership is a service to God and humanity. The Bible says that when good leaders are in office, the people are happy (Proverbs 29:2).
The Anambra electorates must shine their eyes well as they go to the poll on 18 November 2017. It must be someone tested and trusted. Let us not vote for someone that would take us back to Egypt to live in bondage again. It must be someone that will lead us to the Promised Land. The water-tight security we have in this state must not be toyed with. For some years now kidnapping has been an ugly thing of the past. The standard of Education in the state is superb. Workers should continue to receive their salaries promptly. The much significant developmental progress recorded in the state so far must not be allowed to retrogress.
Terminal tension: Recently I visited a rich man in danger of death in a hospital. After praying and anointing him, he started to cry profusely. I enquired why he was crying. He tearfully said, “Father, please I don't want to die.” I replied, “Be courageous! Even if you die, you will live.” My dear people, whether we like it or not, we must all die some time, some day. Death is the common denominator for all mortals. Let us live well to die well. Heaven should be our target.