By Emeka Etiaba
Attained the age of knowledge of good and evil in the very early 70s. I was in primary school when the then head of state, General Yakubu Gowon declared that Nigeria was so rich that money was not our problem. I have been around and I saw our now moribund national critical assets being constructed and celebrated. They include the bridges in Lagos, National theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, expressways, buildings in different shapes and forms, our cities generally. I saw the universities springing up in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. I saw hope. I saw university professors looking dignified and respectable. They went on sabbatical leaves and resumed work with brand new Mercedes benz cars and Citroën cars. They enjoyed the best of lives. Then, a professor cannot accept to act as INEC election returning Officer talkless of rigging election for anybody. Those days, the churches and mosques were not this plenty but nobody sold fake products. There was not much of wickedness in the society. The different Christian denominations co-existed in love. They shared common fences in some locations. In some cases, one gave the other some part of their land to dwell and propagate the gospel. Interest rates in the banks were not this high. The rich cared for the poor and paid school fees for the disadvantaged and not so rich. My father who lost his father at the age of 6 (six) and was a lawyer was sponsored through school by a rich auntie and her husband ( Chief Benson Okoli aka Okoli Agwuagwu then in Onitsha) and he found himself in England where he graduated as a lawyer and was called to the Grays Inn. In those years, foreign companies found Nigeria an investment haven. Bata, Kingsway,Volkswagon etc. were doing serious businesses in Nigeria.
I can go on and on to tell my story but the question is: What has gone wrong? Where did we get it wrong?
The answer is simply that we have lost our humanity. Most of us are placing priority in the wrong places. Material acquisitions now defines us. Morality has gone and moral instruction is out of our schools’ curricular even in most mission schools. Our history as a subject has gone out of our syllabuses in schools. This unfortunately was in accordance with our national plan. It was designed by the succeeding federal governments.
How did we manage to get here. Humanity has gone. The sight of blood now looks normal. The boko haram fighters claim they are fighting for God. Those killing and maiming in the South claim it is a just cause. Where is our humanity? God have mercy! Is this the end times. Can the blood letting stop? Can we love one another again? God help us!
In all of these, have Nigerians been aloof? No, they have been praying but not out of love. Nigerians are turning into praying machines but their hearts are devoid of charity, reasoning and humanity. Are the politicians, lawyers, judicial officers, engineers, doctors, administrators, clergy etc praying, yes but with strife, envy, greed, selfishness and worse still without humanity.
Humanity connotes love, compassion, sympathy and generosity. Can we try and live within these words and precepts? Can we for now break down the walls (barriers) of religion, denominational christianity, ethnicity, class segregation and live in unity, equity and love? It is possible. If we do, hate will go, gear will go, killings and violent crimes will go. A new nation will emerge. A new and stronger Anambra State will emerge.
It is time to try the jettisoned ( love).
This is a season of love. A time that our Almighty God sent His son who knew no sin to die for our sins. No wonder the Bible tells us that there is no greater love than that which occurred that a man would send His only begotten son (who knew no sin) to die for me and for you that we may live.
Happy Easter and may the power of resurrection resurrect the humanity in us now and going forward.
• Emeka Etiaba SAN writes from Nnewi, Anambra State .