By Tony Momoh
ONE thing about this thing called time is that there are things built into its bowels that you just are unable to do anything about. Those who have watched the sun rise and set; the unchanging and unfailing coming and going of the seasons,  the sequences that we have come to associate with events like being born before you die, planting before you reap, et al, have claimed that time is the author of events.

I would prefer to see time as the recorder of events, the archives of the activities of man from which you can pluck everything you ever did, even your most hidden thoughts. There is something I also sense about time. It is a blank canvass on which you write your history – personal, family, ethnic, national, even racial. You may already begin to sense what harm even one person can do to a whole people through actions that are pollutants in the records that time harbours.

Another thing about time, to me, is that behind, or below that blank canvass are dynamic laws, giant mirrors not just reflecting, for all to behold, everything we think and say and do, but huge transmitters of the reward and punishment for everything we put into its bowels. There is, therefore, this constant teasing awareness that it is what you put into time that grows you, your family, your nationality group, your race, even mankind. So, by everything you do as an individual or in groups, you invest in what can grow you or retard your growth. How true it is, therefore, that man is the architect of his fortune and misfortune.

This intro is necessary because I see a thread running through the presence on earth of widows and journalists and voters. What they have in common is their humanity and the travails they share. Widows are deprived; and so are journalists; and so are voters. But all of them bear part of the blame, or more correctly, are authors of their sufferings.

A cruel statement to make, but it is true, especially when there is no attempt to do anything about their state. Man was not made to be a slave. He accepted slavery. The human spirit is incapable of submission.  But he says join them if you can’t beat them?  Who then is at fault? The soul of man or his own body, made of dust and that is so ignorant of its limitations that it is reduced to a mere trumpeter of sentiments and emotions that grow into customs and traditions?

So, the time is ripe to sort things out. Not only should we not accept accommodation of evil practices and reject  their celebration, we must establish strong institutions to confront evil in any form it manifests in our lives.

Three events I have been involved in within the last 10 days influenced the title of this piece today – my chairing the third Widows Organisation International at Aba; my presentation at the public hearing of the House of Representatives committee on information on a bill to establish a body that will regulate media practice (not a freedom of information bill that will strengthen the press); and another forum, this time by the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria in collaboration with the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigeria Union of Journalists to discuss how self regulation can work

The occasions were in different locations – Aba for the widows conference; Abuja for the lawmaking proposal, and Lagos for the attempt to restore order in media operations. As you can see, the different occasions had to do with activities of the human person – widows who say it is time to stop the inhuman conditions associated with losing their husbands; the lawmakers who believe that the media, being monitors of governance, do need to be monitored; and media owners and operators who, accepting that there are lapses that cause concern in  their operations, want to put their houses in order.

As you can also note, among the three groups  mentioned that I say are deprived, I did not refer to any that deals with what voters have been trying to do to liberate themselves from their acceptance of slavery. But the time is ripe for those who lost their husbands to earn the type of  respect accorded husbands who lost their wives.

The time is ripe for the media to put their house in order so that the citizens they serve through monitoring governance will not rise against them asking for fair play in the treatment of stories affecting others ; and the time is ripe when we must, in spite of possible loss of lucre, opt for  practising democracy by strengthening institutions that will ensure transparency in all the stages that lead to being representatives of the people.

My hope that the road we have chosen is the correct road was strengthened when I was at the new buildings of the national assembly on November 16.

They look so solid, boldly pointing in the direction of openness.   Because a church is people, not the massive columns of the cathedral, we must make the monuments to lawmaking the portals we rummage for what those who passed through them  did to grow our country or wreck it.  So the time is ripe when we must look at what others do, and be wise.

What I said at Aba in our treatment of widows is true in respect of other areas that suffer deprivation. There at Aba, I adapted the clear message from Ecclesiastes 3, verses 2 -8 which give the two sides of the coin of every event. This is part of what I said: “Though there is a time to be born and a time to die, we must ask when the good sides of the bad coins of life would be fulfilled. I say the time is ripe; and the time is now. The time is ripe to heal, for we cannot continue to kill.

The time is ripe to build up, for why should we in ignorance insist on still breaking down? The time is ripe to laugh because we have wept enough.

Mourning should now be a past event. Now must be the time to dance. Let us gather stones together, and embrace, for the time is ripe. We have been seeking.  But we must find now or sink into the depths without answers to our search. However late in the day, let us sew our tattered dresses of denial  and discrimination…

For ages have we kept quiet, been silent and silenced about what was being done to our fellow human beings in the name of custom and tradition. We must now speak out because the time is overripe. .. There is a time for war and a time for peace. But we have approached this issue of discrimination from the standpoint of peace. The time is ripe to wage war on man’s inhumanity to woman…”

I was given an award by the widows in recognition of what they say are my cherished services to God and humanity especially my care for the less privileged in our society. The same day, on November 12, there was another award for me which my son Abdul Rasheed collected for me in Lagos.

It was from the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria which was marking 20 years of its founding and recalled my contribution to professionalizing of advertising through lawmaking.

The time is ripe for major changes in the life of man. The records within the bowels of time announce it, loudly.  Can’t you hear it?


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