If Given 72 Hours To Live

By Odimegwu Onwumere

On the theme, what would you do if you were told you have 72 hours to live?” it is the tree that stands when plan to cut it down is mapped, but human being would run.

Life is so meaningful to the living. Telling a man that he has just 72 hours to live is not a tea party. But, it all depends. Assuming that the man is 90 years of age, he may not be perturbed, but a young man will be perplexed.

However, the theme of this competition is dicey and extraordinary. Such news might come, but it all depend the organization (occult) the person is a member. If the person had been given such a mandate in the form he filled before his membership, the person might not be disturbed much because he already knew what the outcome of his membership was going to be. But assuming that I was sick and was related with such news by my doctor, I will be in an emotional trauma that will not come to an end till the expected happens.

One expression that I will exhibit if such information comes to me is SHOCK. I will be in a sober mood, and will amplify same information to my loved ones. But since I could not do more than the SHOCK to revert the mandate, I will prepare my mind to accept the worse mandates in the life of any man by always praying to my God for a blissful eternity.

Life is what matters most to everybody, irrespective of our pursuits and desires. On the bed-of-death, no one remembers his wealth, degrees and what have you, but wants his loved ones to be around him. I will begin to orchestrate my life towards accepting this timely death by telling my loved ones my predicament and seek their consolations everyday, which will be balm to my soul. Since life matters to me most, I will be dying in pains if I don’t compromise the life with the death; I will engage in writing consolation notes to my loved ones and posterity. If the LIFE is made to accept the death, the death will be seen as a friend, and not as an enemy.

I will begin to right and write all my belongings, to my people. I have myself to forgive, since I am the persona who is to die. I do not think that it is necessary to think of forgiving anybody at this point because none may come to me for forgiveness. It is not easy to remember all that have wronged us, so I will forgive if anybody makes an advance to me for such.

I will apologise to myself for forgiveness, in respect to my aborted hopes and aspirations in life. I will apologise to my loved ones to accept my death in good faith, since it is not my making and will never be revocable.

I have no long lost friend to find, except my ancestors whom I will be consulting, according to my tradition, to accept my soul for a blissful rest. I have to pray to nature to welcome my spirit.

I have nothing to bother about my family because some people have died in the family before me and the family continued to exist. Again, some couples couldn’t have their own children, yet they live. This implies that whether I was born in my family or not, the family would continue to exist and move on. No one has ever died because he or she lost a beloved one. Assuming that I am living but have no money to take care of my family, it is assumed that I am dead.

However, peace of the mind depends on one’s orientation because what one calls peace might be trouble in the other person’s calculation. I have this belief that even a suicide bomber is at peace with himself, during the period of carrying out the dastardly act. So, I will be at peace with the way I lived my life, because one does not change what he can not correct.

It is imperative to state that man should not be deterred by modern syndrome of stress. After all, in the ancient times, we read about men who paid the supreme prize with their lives in the course of redeeming their community or towns or mankind from external aggression. Some even asked their kinsmen to kill them, in order for the much sorted peace to reign. Death is part of spiritual enlightenment, all depends on belief. Imagine a Muslim who believes that if he dies in a war he is going to heaven; to such a believer, death means nothing during a war. What about a Christian who believes that man should be old before he dies? Or, a Hindu who believes in reincarnation? The handling of death depends on how we understand death.

My specific actions towards accepting the timely death is because I had known that, “A construction and fulfilling society must be based on the equal importance of both material and spiritual values. Since they are inseparable, there can be no mental well-being without physical well-being and vice-versa.”

My past and present could have physical significance, but what matters most is the future. And death is one of the futures that man expects in a life time. My life, my death, my family, my loved ones etc. are all elements of mine. So, they are important because no feather that is removed from the fowl that she will not make noise.

These people, in one way or another, we have influenced our lives at a fundamental level, at an enviable manifestation.

They would help me to appreciate my life fully when they come to accept the various ways of human existence by giving rise to optimism for my determination and joy.

My loved ones would have a sense of peace or place by what I do when they appreciate the fact that within the endeavours of the mind and body, equal opportunities are given. These things would direct them to spiritual enlightenment that man’s existence on earth is only but a shadow.

They should learn from my death that anything and everything in perspective wouldn’t have great meaning if they don’t transform. Only when the desire of understanding that death could come at anytime would corruption, bestiality, cruelty, life-force etc. abate, in the direction of creativity devoid of impelling the spiritual qualities inherent in our lives. Remember: “Fire is a good example of this transformation process. We use the logs of desire or suffering to build a fire of enlightened wisdom. Without the wood, light and heat cannot be generated…”

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author and Media Consultant, is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

In Abia, Challenge Of Good Governance

TELLING the truth is not always easy in these parts. Thus, truth becomes an art of rebellion or opposition in the eyes of men and women whose only stock-in-trade is betrayal. This may explain why Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi said to Young India, 22 October 1925, “the roots of violence are wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.

Recently, Abia governor Chief Theodore Orji threw a challenge to the people of the state: to go find out what he did to his predecessor and political godfather Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, to warrant the intense criticisms of his administration by Kalu, what the governor termed opposition. I am not so sure that any one has taken up that challenge, apparently because everyone knows who has wronged the other—between Orji Kalu and Theodore Orji. And yet the question remains, when did telling the truth amount to ‘unwarranted’ opposition.

Indeed, how on earth could the governor ask to know what he had done to his political benefactor that he has spent much of his five years plus in office trying to rubbish? Recent media reports quoted Orji as saying he was at pains to find out where he had wronged Kalu.

“I challenge you—some of you are his friends—ask him to tell you what I did to him. Please, ask him to tell you one bad thing he can point at from the time I was Chief of Staff till the time I left PPA, as the wrong I did to him. But I have a litany of the wrongs he did to me. I am the only governor who has been given a query, even on the pages of a newspaper. Let him tell you one bad thing I did to him. Let him tell you, just one bad thing.”

Wonders shall never end. It is quite interesting to see Orji try so hard to exonerate himself from the shoddy web that he has entangled himself in. How apposite would it be to remind the governor that the good people of Abia State voted for him even while he was in the prison because of Dr. Kalu? Would it also be apposite to ask Orji why he gave Kalu such a bad name that he (Kalu) was draining the coffers of the state, hence he (Orji) distanced himself from Kalu and the PPA which were the platforms on which he was elected governor? Did Orji not give Kalu such a horrendous image simply because Kalu asked him to give account of his leadership due to Orji’s gloomy governance?

The height of mischief in governance is to rule on propaganda. Most people did hate Kalu then when he was given that bad name by Orji until the claim became obvious that Orji didn’t want Kalu around him due to Orji’s self-seeking reasons as people can see in Abia State today. Nigerians of good will can see this in the way the Orjis in Abia State talk and reason. For one, they have written all sorts of malicious stories against Yours’ Truly in the blogs they always create to malign the images of critics and observers of the Orji-misled government.

Perhaps, Orji thought that Kalu was not supposed to be talking in the state where he (Orji) now acts as if being a governor entitles one to act by himself and for himself (and family). See, the truth is that Governor Orji cannot substantiate his claim against Kalu, even as the former governor has remained resolute not to tackle Orji squarely, being a more politically mature person.

When the governor talks about Kalu hating him, the question people should ask him is, why would a man who brought you up politically hate you, if indeed he hates you personally? The answer is simple: Kalu hates Orji’s poor governance, not Governor Orji as a person. Has Chief Orji risen to the challenge of good governance in the state? The answer is no. Why would Kalu be pleased with him; indeed, why would any Abian be happy with the governor? The roads in Aba today are in a very sorry state, yet Orji is saying that he did not know where he wronged Kalu or, for that matter, 95% of Ndi-Abia.

How could anybody defend Orji when he has refused to get it right? Did he not once say in the media that his problem with Kalu is that Kalu asked him not to contest again because he (Orji) did not perform in his first term? That was the least that Kalu as a former governor and Orji’s mentor could do to let the good people of Abia State know that he was not in support of Orji’s poor performamce as governor.

My advice to the governor is that he should Orji should stop seeking people’s sympathy and squarely face the task of governance. He should stop drawing unnecessary attention to himself through money-wasting media blitz over inconsequential awards by unknown entities. Ndi-Abia do not enjoy his crocodile tears. It cannot help. He should stop taking Abia people’s gentleness of spirit for granted. So, he should stop complaining and read what Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi said to Young India, 22 October 1925 thus: The Roots of Violence are Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles.

Amaechi’s Ruthless Tax

By Odimegwu Onwumere

It is good for the residents of a given society to pay their taxes, but the authorities concerned with the management of the people must make sure that the people’s taxes are promptly and judiciously utilized.

I am not sure that the Rivers State Government found an alternate word when news reports had it that Governor Chibuike Amaechi said that his administration would be “ruthless” in the collection of taxes in 2013. Except that Amaechi was speaking in idiom, the word “ruthless” is known of the military. And I do not think that he is a soldier, except if he had undergone military training, and we don’t know.

As a democratically elected governor, it was known that democrats were meek and kind. They always apply due process in their business of governance. They also do not use certain words, which instill fear and altercation in the lives of those that they govern. If Amaechi made such statement that he would “ensure that tax defaulters were prosecuted and jailed if found guilty” what do we make of his government that, I do not think, had met in whole the residents’ expectations.

At least, in an area like Oyigbo, the place was an eyesore and impassable during the rainy season. This was applicable to some areas in the state. Did anybody use any deprecating statements like ‘we will cause anarchy in the state if the Amaechi administration does not see to the plight of the affected areas’? I think we must learn how to use words properly, while expressing our views, because we have those who are looking upto us as their role models. Even if we do not have followership, our kiths and kins are watching us, and might put the type of words that come out of our mouths into action by tommorrow. This is how serene society turns to an unruly one, and people will begin to shout: when did we get to this stage.

I will not rule out the fact that there are pressures that are associated with office positions. These can put unwanted statements into the mouths of the office holders, but what makes a man is not the size of his portfolio, but the content in the portfolio. It is as a result of this that my Igbo people would say that a man is not known for frivolous words, but women are known.

It was against this influence that Ram was killed in those days at the burial rituals of a full-aged man, because Ram does not make much noise, but Goat does. Goat was killed at the burial rituals of women, because she makes a lot of noise. However, I would not know from where men learn to talk and gossip more than women these days. Doubting Thomases who might say that Amaechi couldn’t have said such, they might read the following lines in Amaechi’s own words: “We will be ruthless in tax collection in the coming year; everybody must pay their tax, we will amend the law to ensure that those who don’t pay taxes will go to jail, that’s the way the law will be.”

Does Amaechi think that jailing persons can make them better persons in the society? It is obvious that there are movements to develop Rivers State, but the state is struggling with development. This could have not been yet achieved, because of the mindset that the present crop of leaders came to power with. How can anybody be using words as if Rivers State is a military cantonment? And even if there were developments, does a man sing his own praise? Despite that, I must commend Amaechi for saying that Rivers people who are known to be collecting taxes on the road will be stopped and that of any forms of multiple-taxation.

While the taxation bill is with the Rivers State House of Assembly and being expected to be passed into law, the authorities concerned with this taxation bill should not be brutish like its proponent, in carrying out their people-given functions. They should have it at the back of their heart that we are not in the military era, when people were harassed physically or with debasing words such as “ruthless” and people didn’t dare challenge.

Amaechi should borrow a leaf from his admonishment to the judiciary: the profession needed a change of attitude. I strongly believe that as individuals or group, a change in attitude should be a recurring decimal. As individuals or group, we need attitudinal change that will not instill tensions and anxieties in the environment. There are other better ways to emphasize authority without sounding like one Adolph Hitler.

Amaechi should understand that there is what is known as leadership discipline. This translates to followership or un-followership. I don’t think he expected the judiciary to be “ruthless” with its dispensation of cases in its courts of law, when he said that there had been delayed cases in the courts. Being “ruthless” in collecting taxes in the state is not the same as telling a judge to make sure that he or she sits in the court punctually.

Punishing people for the wrongs caused by the authorities, I do not think, has ever created a chastised world; it has only bred fears and hate. But when you politely address the people without aequivocation, they tend to pay heed. Can Amaechi send the taxation bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly and at the same time tell the House what laws it should or not infuse in the bill? Rivers residents are not animals, even if they are seen as animals, there are certain words or statements that are avoided in sanctified societies on animals.

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, Media/Writing Consultant and Motivator, is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV); and Founder, Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State, Nigeria
Phone: +2348032552855 (OR) +2348057778358
Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.odimegwuonwumere.com
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Ndigbo and Kalu’s call for unity

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Unity is something that is essential in the Igbo mythology. This is why every family, kindred and village in ala-Igbo always meet in their different soirees to discuss issues bothering on their welfares. The Igbo knows the importance of unity, and the forebears had a proverb that says, no one can break a bunch of broom, but it is easy to break just one broom.

For the umpteenth time, the former Governor of Abia State is calling on the Igbo to unite, irrespective of their political affiliations and associations. He has been reaching out to Igbo people both at home and in the Diaspora. From Cambodia to Canada he has not hidden his voice for this noble act. He is of the belief that the Igbo might not have gotten it right in the past, but are capable of getting it right this time. All it will take is just unity.

What makes his call unique is the neutral position he has taken in making sure that this is achieved. But this does not make him not to support any political party in Nigeria that would zone the 2015 presidential ticket to Ndigbo. This is what Kalu sees as the fundamental objective of his, since Ndigbo are not in dearth of credible and dynamic persons that the presidency of the country can be entrusted on.

Being over qualified to be president of Nigeria and with their wealth of entrepreneurship, Ndigbo can ever boast of the sagacity and dexterity to lead Nigeria. This is the bane of Kalu: why a people with such charisma cannot be allowed to mount the exalted number one seat in the Nigeria’s political positions. And it is time Ndigbo came together and avoid trading blames of the seemingly past that can never re-emerge in the existence of man.

Kalu would tell anybody who doubts the stuff the Igbo are made of that they have made name in virtually all the areas of man’s endeavours. Is it in the business, politics, academia and benevolence, the Igbo have always hold the mace, but have not been allowed the pronouncedly lead Nigeria.

In the area of doing everything humanly possible for the wellbeing of Nigeria, the Igbo have always put in their legs. They have always expressed their republican nature in the amalgam that is called Nigeria by voting people of different ethnic backgrounds overwhelmingly. Amongst others, they voted for Chief M.K.O. Abiola (when he was alive) and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the 1993 and 1999/2003 presidential elections. They have also shown the same affability in them to President Goodluck Jonathan by mobilising and voting for him without blemish in the 2011 elections and as well have stood by him till date, in affirming the Igbo aphorism that says, Igwe bu ike.

But there is chagrin on the face of Kalu that the Igbo cannot always be in unity, only when they want to support an ‘outsider’. They have to support their own and guide their integrity with every thud of responsibility. For this reason, from the USA to UK, Kalu has been mobilising for the unity of the Igbo. Many people have expressed and given him their support for this Igbo unity crusade, while few persons

are still swimming in the pool of political brigandage against their Igbo kiths and kins, because of the infinitesimal derivations they get from the powers that are, especially in Aso Rock, the Nigeria’s seat of power.

Ndigbo have to parley without equivocation for their unity. Ndigbo must solicit for the support of this unity project with unflinching support to the Igbo cause. No matter how anybody might be looking at it, Kalu has always fought for a selfless cause. One was when he rocked as the president, Student Union Government of the University of Maiduguri, Borno State.

It could be recalled that he refused the offer by the school authority to pardon him alone during the remonstration of the SUG that saw to many students being hounded out of the school.

Just as he is going everywhere telling the Igbo to come together and unite, so also he refused to be solely pardoned by the University of Maiduguri, saying that unless everyone involved in the march was pardoned. His function in shopping for the formation of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) cannot be easily forgotten. The likes of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, late S.M. Afolabi, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Atiku Abubakar and Aliyu Gwarzo, among others, would always thumb up for Kalu for his political wizardry.

Today, the party has become a party that has produced the highest political office holders since 1999 democracy was restored in the country. It is therefore very aplomb to applaud the commitment of Kalu in making sure that the Igbo is united to further the promotion of Nigeria. Kalu has got what it takes to unite the Igbo no matter any gainsaying opinion. He has got the contacts beyond party and ethnic linings.

Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV)

Abia: From God’s Own to Goons’ Own State

Odimegwu Onwumere writes that propaganda is thriving in Abia State and the reality may unravel soon

Some persons have the ability to learn from experience while others do not. The later does not make human existence unique. It is not remarkable. Such makes the world retrogress. And this is what has been playing on in Abia State.

Governor Theodore Orji and his bootlickers called aides will ever comment to the contrary, thereby deceiving neophyte-observers of the political games they have been playing in that once “God’s Own State” now “Goons’ Own State”. A fortnight ago, one of Orji’s aides spoke in an interview about how the governor has ‘restored the dignity’ of the Abia person, but one cannot nominate a place where the ‘dignity’ is restored. It is evident that the government is using propaganda as its vital tool for governance, forgetting that no government has ever survived on propaganda.

The Orji-led government of Abia State is living on such now, but definitely it has shown that it cannot survive on a platter of good governance devoid of the art of propaganda.

The rude side of this propaganda which the Orjis in the Abia State Government have been hatching un-relentlessly is their nasty dispositions in churlishing the predecessor of Governor Orji of which one cannot examine their actions and understand what they are bent on achieving with such crass media brouhahas.

It is, therefore, essential to note that the futility-war that the Orjis have waged against the immediate past governor of the state lacks substance and do not hold any water, as the person in question wields political power that spans beyond and across the Orjis’ marooned political exhibitions.

 

Governor Orji cannot be talking about having dignity when the welfare of the Abia people he was supposed to add value to is in shambles, therefore making the future of that state bleak. This is annoying because, as they say, Governor Orji was in the Civil Service before he became governor.

Imagine a man who was once a Permanent Secretary ruling Abia State like one who has not heard about the tenets of leadership before. He has further aided critics to question how he got to that position of a Permanent Secretary because his body language so far has proved that he was not competently qualified for the aplomb job. Dignity is not in name but in work. It is the good work that a person
has done that compels people to see him as a man of dignity.

Notwithstanding, this is not applicable to Orji, both in name and in deeds; he is a featherweight.

Ask the Orjis one project they have completed in Abia State, they list frivolities. They will mention Umuahia Master Plan, Aba Master Plan, and all other poppycock they have been exhibiting in Abia State and call it good governance.

A man like Governor Orji who they say was a Permanent Secretary is supposed to make Abia State functional, but the obverse has been the case. And this is the bane of the patriotic Abia people. For example, where is the N1 billion grants for youth agriculture? The Orjis would use the flood that took over some towns and villages in Nigeria as an excuse whereas Abia State was not a witness, or how have they disbursed the ‘N1B’ to the youths who were certified by their various local governments and traditional rulers for farming. Hooey!

What about the much-touted and hyped monorail project? As if that was not enough, they would tell whoever that cares to listen of how Orji pays out N2.5 billion to civil servants as salaries. They know how to draw pity to their government of how less than N1billion is left for them every month. This is an insult!

It is sad that Abia State fell in the hands of kidnappers of good governance; where the governor’s wife has been building houses for people christened underprivileged, and one is poised to ask where she got the money from and what her occupation is?

This is what the state has become, and the aides are competing for who issues out the longest press briefs on matters bothering to the governor. The cheerless side of their charade is the incessant rudeness they show against the immediate past governor of the state. This habit however shows that there is perhaps, something that is eating into the fabrics of the Orjis in government that they don’t want to say. Albeit, the masses will know in due course!

It lacks judgment by any aide serving Governor Orji-led government of Abia State not to know that down deep Orji’s heart, he feels guilty of how he betrayed the finger that fed him with abusive excuses as reason, when what the Abia people have gotten as governance is intimidation and unquantifiable taxations of the residents in a place like Aba and sundry. The sycophants do not realize that nothing lasts forever and that very soon Orji-led government will be but a history.

No doubt, Orji and his aides’ approach to things are uncivilized, makeshift and narrow-minded, with their disastrous government that has already crashed in the abyss. Those aides of Orji that are writing deconstructive garbage against the immediate past governor of Abia State today will write against their paymaster, Governor Orji tomorrow. It is a promise. What goes around comes around!