Here are the last three entries we can accomodate. We remain grateful even to those whose work was not published, no thanks to space or the lack of it. To begin the end, let’s hear it for Uyo-based Mr. Kenneth Anwana, who emerged first runner-up. ‘What if Nehemiah had honoured that invitation?
‘What if he had been a bit more positive? What if they were not scheming against him? Just what if Nehemiah was only just paranoid? Then again what if he wasn’t?
‘Now, what if it had been you? What if you had received ‘this message’? What if, for just a fleeting moment, you were Nehemiah? What if you could rebuild a ‘wall’?
‘What if your work worked against you? What if your best efforts warranted persecution? What if good in itself is overrated? And what if it isn’t?
‘What if you kept at it? What if Nehemiah had got distracted? What if he had allowed fear grip him? What if he had caved in to the pressure?
‘What if you stood your ground more? What if you just wouldn’t be derailed? What if Nehemiah hadn’t rejected those invitations? What if you prioritised commitment?
‘What if, even for once, you plain said no? What if you said no again, and again, and again? What if all you could do is pray? What if all you got is God?
‘What if you committed those afflictions to Him? What if you trusted him more? What if that ‘God says’ is actually ‘man lying?’ What if you reached God directly, yourself?
‘What if you listened more to own inner voice? Just what if you were own best counsellor? What if you had finished that good project? What if you meditated more on Nehemiah’s extraordinary experience?
‘The biblical builder teaches me that sometimes -most times- good works could be a harbinger of pain for the doer. Close reading of the chapter reveals a need for the wall, yet people -spearheaded by Nehemiah’s very compatriots- plotted to stop him. We witness even today among us that no matter how good and beneficial you are, people exist who plot your failure. And death.
‘Most impressive though is Nehemiah’s foresight and restraint, plus his unwavering faith and constant supplication to his God. I have learned to remain steadfast and refuse to be derailed once convinced. I can never be gullible nor lack the gumption as to exult in everything we are fed, no matter the packaging. The case of the false message from the prophet to Nehemiah is proof that we must listen more to our intuitions.
‘Go ahead, build walls (not Donald Trump’s kind of wall, though). Create, innovate … and hold fast. Stay on the path of good. Never lose focus even if everyone else does!’
University of Uyo student, Miss Nse Kani, also concocted another literary cocktail that has drawn rave reviews. Here you are: ‘What if Sanballat et al were not really enemies? What if Nehemiah was just paranoid? What if Sanballat and Geshem really meant to help?
‘What if Nehemiah was himself the actual enemy? What if he had simply given them audience? What if Sanballat had no evil intentions? Now, what if Nehemiah was right to be cautious?
‘What if Sanballat and the other enemies meant harm? What if Sanballat and Tobiah sent Shamaiah to give the false prophecy? What if Nehemiah had listened to Shemamiah and had become scared? What if fear makes one sin?
‘What if Nehemiah hadn’t been cautious and intuitive? What if he had no close relationship with God, and as such was not inclined to his word? What if Nehemiah had not rebuilt the wall and filled the breaches? What if?
‘The Boss, before I share lessons I have learned from Nehemiah 6, please permit me to take you on my own WHAT IF ride. What if human beings are aliens and so-called aliens are the real human beings? What if the earth is not the right planet? What if Mars is?
‘What if oxygen is only but slow poison that takes 50 to 80 years to kill? What if Q was the acceptable spelling of Queue? What if we all have seven lives and this is our sixth? Or, what if this was our last?’
‘Going forward, I am super-thankful to Nehemiah for a number of reasons two of which should suffice here and now. Understanding that when I make a decisive move, enemies will definitely hear and thereafter try to distract me, I now know exactly what to do. Also, I need God on my side twenty-four-seven if I must emerge victorious per time as happened in my dear state, Akwa Ibom, during the last governorship ballot. No matter the political thunder and principalities that raged on all sides, the only-God candidate, Gov. Udom Emmanuel, still prevailed big time.
The last -certainly not the least contribution- came from a secondary school teacher, Mr. Anthony Gregory aka AG: ‘What if the person that is supplying my enemies vital information about my progress is within? What if that frenemy wines and dines with me and laughs in a ‘frenemic’ way but I am not careful enough to see? What if all the special invitation is just a Hamanic scheme to hang innocent Mordecai? What if the lack of discernment is responsible for most premature deaths?
‘What if we stopped being afaid of what people will think? What if there’s a special project begging for attention in us than the insignificant distractions diminishing our flame of greatness? What if all we need is to activate the spirit of stubborn faith we were created with? What if we ignored that still small voice for fear of what does not exist?
‘What if blackmail was the sole stepping stone to greatness? What if glory and honour so divine is embedded in trials and temptations so earthly? What if your most powerful response to satanic attacks is shrouded in the mystery of bended-knees, not argument? Lesson-wise, I have learned one, that God (not federal might, not propaganda) rules over the affairs of men and two, that challenges are only to prove God can rubbish every Ahithophelic counsel!’
With that, the curtain falls on the series, which aimed at pointing out possibilities in impossibility. What if hate did not exist? What if you had all the power and all the money, would you have overreached yourself? God bless Nigeria!