BY Jide Ajani
When will you die? That is a question no man, or even woman, can or want to answer. Compound the issue: Where and how? Through who or what?
These are questions that never agitate the mind of any man, or woman because they evoke fear. Death renders every effort to make it in life seemingly needless and futile. Yet, men and women persist in the daily rat race of life.
Death is the ultimate leveler of men and women.
Christians believe in Jesus Christ who predicted his death and resurrection. He was nailed to the cross. Still, every man and woman must answer the call. No one can avoid it. Then if so, why should premium be placed on one life above the other? Can one life be recreated while another cannot?
That is a question the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, may have to answer.
In the wake of the air disaster that claimed the lives of six people including the late Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa, and former National Security Adviser, NSA, Andrew Owoye Azazi, the NGF came out to call for a private investigator. Meanwhile, earlier in the year when over a hundred lives were lost in another plane crash, the NGF did not call for a private investigator.
On Saturday, September 26, 1992, about 166 people boarded a Hercules C-130 aircraft (over 100 of them military officers) at the military wing of the local airport in Lagos. A few minutes later, the plane crashed into the swamp of Ejigbo, a Lagos suburb. 20years after, nobody knows what happened that led to the crash of that plane; nor has the Federal Government of Nigeria, on whose duty tour the victims were, done anything meaningful for their families.
So, the question should be asked again: Is one life worth more than another?
That may not be the intendment of the NGF members. But it may also very well be – “one of our own is gone”; “there may be a cover up since it involves a Naval helicopter”; “it could be sabotage”. Conjectures all!
In all this, the operational phenomenon is death and it defines the ephemeral nature of life. A state governor! A former NSA!! Hmmm! Sad; so sad; so very sad. No matter, death remains something intriguing. First, if it was possible, nobody would want to die.
Yet, if you do not die, Heaven, that lovely place full of Grace, may not be attained – except, of course, you belong to the gang of men on the fringe who see suicide as the surest way to Heaven without remembering that if everyone were to make recourse to suicide, there would be no more life. For normal people, even with that promise of heavenly bliss - nobody wants to die.
Okay, now, let us animate death. Just visualize this: A middle-aged man, with no hair on his head, dressed in a black short sleeve shirt, with a black Bow-Tie, black suspenders and a three-piece suit, with a baton in hand, looking for whose head to break. If such a visage is that of death, every one who sees him would run for cover.
This is not about might or raw power. It is about a phenomenon that is indecipher- able. It surmounts comprehension. It can not be understood.
Yakowa who was consoling the family of the Douglases just some minutes earlier was himself to go the way of Pa Douglas. He was buried in Kafanchan last Thursday.
Azazi who had gone to attend the funeral of the old Douglas would also be laid to rest soon.
So, who knows who’s next? Nobody!
Just a little over an hour before the Dana Crash of last June, a passenger had been allegedly cheated by two Asians who shunted him aside to procure their boarding passes. The intending passenger raised a lot of hell at the Abuja airport but was calmed by passengers of other airlines. Just about 50minutes into the Dana Flight to Lagos, it crashed, killing all on board.
The disgruntled passenger was still waiting to board another flight that fateful Sunday afternoon when the sad news was flashed on the TV screens of the airport. He received confetti of well wishers; he was buffeted by other passengers who congratulated him for cheating death.
Could there have been anyone that day who could have prevented Yakowa and Azazi from boarding that Navy helicopter? The answer is no. But if truth be told, who could have cheated a state governor or a former NSA out of boarding the helicopter? That is the forceful pull of death. Some would have looked at the helicopter as it took off that day and wished they could afford the luxury of or be in the powerful position of governor or former NSA and be on board with them. Such is the powerful pull of death.
Indeed, death is very powerful. Interestingly, it is part of living because it concludes the cycle of life. You are born and you die.
For, once you are born, you join the teeming billions of souls on death row. Fear not! It is inevitable. It will come. John Paul II died. He was the Catholic Pontiff – the Pope.
Just on the eve of Sani Abacha’s death, two very prominent monarchs in Nigeria were to be dethroned the following day. But he died. MKO Abiola’s insistence on claiming his mandate suffered a disclaimer in the hands of death even before he could be granted freedom.
Idi Amin of Uganda, self-styled modern day Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic, Zia Ul-Haq of Pakistan, Felix Huppert Boughey of Ivory Coast, Mobutu Sesekuku Mbendu Wazabanga alias Mobutu Seseseko of Zaire, Nicolai Ceucescu of Romania, Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, in spite of all the powers they wielded as president, they all died.
Jesus Christ, the son of God as I believe him to be (but some don’t) had to die for the sins of men before resurrecting.
As the nation mourns those who died penultimate Saturday, the lessons to learn are legion. How would you want to be remembered after dying?
Those who are pursuing 2015 or any political ambition or any thing for that matter should cast their minds back to those who wanted to be part of 2011 elections but who died before the hour. Umar Musa Yar’Adua died just about three years after being elected to become Nigeria’s President and Commander-in-Chief.
At least, in this same country, a presidential candidate died just a few weeks before the presidential election.
The election continued despite him. He was Pa Ade Adefarati.
So, what to do, live a life worthy to be remembered for good because, at some point, that inescapable leveler of men would come calling – because we are all on death row.