Tsunami is the new buzz word. I do not mean that in a flippant way. One is not so callous as to make light of a matter that represents innumerable deaths and unknowable suffering and destruction. I simply mean that we’ve all become very familiar with the word and the sad images it throws up.
In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami, I believe many of us have wondered what could have brought about such immeasurable calamity. Perhaps some of us are satisfied with the scientific explanations concerning moving tectonic plates and the immense tidal waves that washed away so much so quickly. Perhaps some of us, like me, are still wondering about the non-scientific part.
I am still wondering because being human, I know that the most vital part, or parts, of my life are non-scientific. Of course, like many other adults, I know a bit about the scientific workings of my person. There are organs like the heart, liver, kidneys and stomach doing fairly well understood scientific things to keep me going. If I get ill, like virtually all of us do from time to time, a medical examination may explain in scientific terms what exactly is wrong and that diagnosis ideally would engender a prescription that should fix things up.
Yet, regardless of this, I know—again like many other adults—that the totality of my wellness is more a function of the non-scientific part of my being that I only have a tiny clue about, than the scientific bits that medicine can tinker with.
The tiny clue I have about the non-scientific (I should say ‘divine’ here) part of my person is that I am the work of an Almighty Creator who ultimately decides everything concerning me in this life, not least among them the timing and manner of my exit. I do not think this is less true of the people that perished as a result of the Asian tsunami catastrophe.
In penning this piece, I am, in part, trying to put an end to my wondering about what non-scientific explanations are responsible for the Asian calamity. It certainly isn’t something I can ever hope to find an answer to. So I rest the matter by reminding us all that the Almighty Creator gives life and takes it away at will through whatever means He chooses.
I know this provides little or no comfort to those who have lost loved ones in horrific circumstances such as the Asian tsunami. But we should remember that we breathe at the Almighty’s pleasure—and breathing, to my mind, is the most important thing in life—so we should be humbled by our utter powerlessness and do the best we can while we have breath. Ultimately, whether we accept it or not, the Almighty rules our lives and our belief or disbelief does not validate or invalidate this timeless truth.
It is at this juncture that I veer off to the second reason why I’m writing this article. I am afraid that through our collective failures—as a country, as a people, as leaders, as followers—we’re more likely than not to invite on ourselves (in figurative terms, please kindly take note), a divine version of what the recent mega tsunami has done to Asia. I’ve reached this conclusion because there is such a point as ‘enough’ in everything. For the utter ruination being visited on us by those who garb themselves as our leaders, the point of ‘enough’, as we shall see presently, has been reached.
I’m going to try not to beat the dead horse by not carrying on about how our leaders have collectively failed us. This is a theme we’re all familiar with. Yet some aspects of the peculiarities that characterise this failure require some illumination if only so that in a period of rejuvenation—which, hopefully, is not till thy kingdom come—we would remind ourselves exactly how we’re falling into bad ways again.
That many of our leaders are corrupt is now passé. That some are heartless do not require crystal balls; just wait for the next fuel price increase—and you can be sure it will come—and you’ll see the sheer wickedness some delight in. Yet, for me, the most alarming phenomenon is the impunity with which they now conduct their underhand dealings in the open. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, look no further than the president’s crime of concealment and then his waxing analogically about armed robbers and the problematic sharing of their ill-gotten loot! For every Nigerian who has ever been a victim of armed robbery, or had someone close attacked by armed robbers (which brings virtually all of us under the umbrella), such insensitivity must remain an indelible affront.
If that’s not bad enough for you, please look below the surface and see how our so-called leaders are busy fanning war embers by throwing up endless crisis upon crisis in their various ‘killing machines’ masquerading as political parties. Everyone’s busy playing the usually highly inflammable ethno-religious card. And why shouldn’t they? When push comes to shove, it’ll be just you and me, dear reader. As you should know by now, they have got homes and unknowable amounts of money in Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean. So they can afford to stoke the burner, set the land ablaze and smile off into the sunset. Shame!
And pity. Pity for a nation where our elders delight in playing juvenile pranks. When the Obasanjo/Ogbeh feud broke, one expected elder statesmen and senior political figures to make reconciliatory noises, if not for any other thing, in the interest of the proverbial national unity that gets so much jaw work but little real work.
Yet, in the grandly stupefying way the Nigerian political class often goes about its business, here was General J.T. Useni (rtd) gloating publicly about how the crisis was only beginning since PDP’s closet couldn’t stand the stench from the party’s dirty linen. He rather conveniently forgot that he himself was at the time—and still is now—locked in a soul-splitting tussle with Chief Don Etiebet for control of the ANPP.
In fairness to General Useni, as factional chairman of the ANPP, one can hardly expect him to help put out the fire in the house of his party’s archrival. Yet my fear is that General Useni and his fellow travellers in the politicking business think the Obasanjo/Ogbeh feud is just Nigerian politics as usual. That there’s some element of truth in this belief cannot be disputed. But unfortunately for the rest of us, that feud marked a watershed.
To cut to the meat, President Obasanjo’s revelation that he knew through a confession by Governor Chris Ngige, that the untouchable Chris Uba rigged the Anambra elections ridiculed any iota of credibility the president once had as a morally upright leader of this nation. Our president knows concealment is a crime. Period.
For the president particularly, considering his godly posturing, this public shredding—not just shedding—of his toga of sanctimonious majesty, marks an all-time low. For the rest of us, our prayers should be, “now that we have reached the point of ‘enough’, let the coming divine tsunami pass over us.”
Crispin Oduobuk is the Group Literary Editor of the Daily Trust and the Weekly Trust