We cannot escape from our emotions. We cannot â€“ either as individuals or as a nation, either as white or black. They are so much intertwined with our responses and situations. They pulsate in every fibre of humanity. Unbridled, they always make us over-react.
It is in the face of the unexpected that emotions are usually able to take over. They make us lose our â€œcool.â€ Surely, no one would have expected the scion of a respectable house like that of Umar Farouk AbdulMutallabâ€™s to involve himself in such a sinister act of terrorism as made the entire world gasps on Christmas Day.
The sheer surprise of the ghastly incident must have affected the normal posture of several groups of people, shifting them to positions of bewilderment, indignation, frustration and, in some cases, utter misery.
We are faced with a variety of reactions to the attempt of this young Nigerian to blow up a plane on which he himself was a passenger, turning himself to the quintessence suicide bomber. Many of us are appalled. That is an act entirely out of character with Nigerians even over an issue that closely affects them. No one, in this case, could have realistically affirmed that those involved with the Al Queda movement offer even the shadow of a role model to Nigerian youths of any suasion.
How then could a young Nigerian from a well-to-do family whose members have built a reputation of decency in public as well as private life, become an active member of a foreign terrorist organisation? But the evidence is heart-wringing and complete.
Of course, many of us have come out in open condemnation of the horrendous incident. No one has any kind of defence to offer. If Farouk were sentenced to be stoned to death within the first twenty-four hours after the event, a Nigerian would have been willing, even eager, to cast the first stone. But when the United States lumbered out with the heavy sanction it felt Nigeria deserved over the issue, Nigerians went off the deep end. Some even went as far as to question the right of the American Government to act in such a harsh manner.
Our Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, soaring at the height of rhetorical buffoonery, declared, â€œWe are put on a list that has a number of countries with which the US maintains very excellent, very cordial relations. Who says Saudi Arabia is not one of Americaâ€™s closest allies, or indeed Pakistan? But the fact that these countries are close allies with America does not give us the necessary comfort required for us to be comfortable with our being in the category of the so-called countries of special interest.â€
By which the erudite Foreign Minister probably wished to convey the fact that even the inclusion of countries, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, who enjoy close ties to America, in that monstrous category of terrorist countries, still offers no comfort to Nigeria. Or something like that. One searches for a wisp of diplomacy in that breath-taking declaration… in vain.
I rather warmed up to the summation of the eminent lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola. He made the point, which several others made actually, that â€œit was unfair and disturbing, to use one single case against Nigeria.â€ But he then added with the perspicacity of a legal mind, â€œIt is more disturbing because the alleged offender has not been found guilty in the face of the law.â€
And you canâ€™t gainsay that. Chief Afe Babalola then drove the point home, and I mean home, when he added, â€œBut Nigerian universities have failed in the past two decades in their duty of educating our youths properly.â€
That may be a good reason for the founding of the Afe Babalola University, in itself a highly commendable venture, but isnâ€™t it stretching things a bit far to link the apparent crime of a single Nigerian to the deficiencies in our universities, none of which was being attended by the putative miscreant anyway?
And it is apparent that Abdulmutallah would have been attending a foreign university, in any case, no matter the educational standards in Nigeria. People born into the circumstances of affluence similar to his have been doing that for, shall we say, even more than two decades.
However, Chief Afe Babalola entirely went overboard when he joined those who have called for a review of relations with the United States. That is patently counter-productive. We are no more guilty, anyway, of over-reaction than the United States too.
They were slightly negligent in the operation of their security apparatus, and had to admit it. What is called for now, after the unsettling heat of the unexpected, is a design to facilitate the mending of fences between two friendly nations caught in the grip of confounding emotions.
Out of the miasma of what must be a trying period in their lives, the AbdulMutallab family hass emerged with impeccable conduct, sitting astride of the situation and calmly riding the storm, Thank heavens; no blood was spilled, no bones broken. We can soon put all this behind us. And weâ€™d better
*farewell to jackboots
We have had a clear period of eight years, during the Obasanjo regime, when civilians were left entirely to their own devices, and we saw what a botch they made of it, especially at the State executive levels. I have never been one of those who are overly committed to any particular system of government operating in this country.
In the end, my inclinations are towards the sentiments of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who, though an avowed democrat, still felt that it was not so much the system as those operating it, whichever way you look at it. But Winston Churchill, to quote another great statesman, was of the express opinion that even if democracy was not the best government that human beings could design, it would do very well for us to be getting along with it, until a better one came along.
Well, we have had the benefit (the detriment?) Of military rule in this country on several occasions, and we are in a position to compare it with democracy, or civil rule, if you please. I think the jury is in already on that one â€“ military rule is simply not the one.
To even suggest it at any stage could be reckoned as treason. Some people have a way of putting it: the worst civilian government, they say, is better than a military government. Well, so we are in agreement with that.
All the same, one often wonders if a much more considerate stance on human rights and a deliberate curtailment of a personal excesses on the part of military personnel when they were in power, would not have made their regimes at least at par with the civilian counterpart.
It used to be that for over a period of some forty years, the military came in and out of government at the slightest opportunity. Not every one detested it at the beginning, though many did in the end. It is indeed the popular view that we have seen the end of their bullying ways, though the exasperating conduct of some of those who constitute the civilian administration could sometimes push you to begin to think the unthinkable.
They seem to forget, as that lady of elegant expressions, Funke Egbemode of the Sunday Sun, recently pointed out, that if the bubble should burst, it would be splattered over all their faces, so to say. They do not seem to have learnt their lesson.
The unfortunate aspect of it is that part of the exploded bubble would spread over some of us too.
In any case, since the civilian government has been left alone to continue on its own steam to this point, whatever the direction, we have probably said the last goodbye to a disruption in the course of our democracy.
*deliverance from demons
I am so afraid of attending any of these â€œBible-believingâ€ churches. I fear that some demons might be discovered residing in me. I do feel all sorts of movements inside me, especially after a victorious encounter with a mountain of eba and okro soup standing in my way. I never spare such effrontery.
But then starts all this crawling up and down in my innards for sometime.
I have often witnessed people who complain of such afflictions â€œdeliveredâ€ of them on television by some prophets and pastors. I am almost certain that they are indeed caused by â€œdemonsâ€, as those who seem afflicted by similar ailments claim, since I feel physically fit otherwise. But these hapless people go through the tortures of hell before they are â€œdeliveredâ€. Some of them writhe in pain all over the floor.
Others go into a series of convulsions, or actually become possessed by the demons that are said to be in them. It is all so frightful.
I have seen Prophet T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue of All Nations mysteriously (miraculously?) â€œdeliverâ€ various members of his congregation of different kinds malaise. Not many of them fling themselves on the floor like one sees elsewhere. But Prophet Joshua usually cures more physical ailments, is truly incredible. He openly tells people who line up in front of him about their individual problems, and solves them.
He also has a massive programme for helping destitute and handicapped people. He grants scholarships to poor students in large numbers. That alone makes me feel that he must indeed be a Man of God.
Going back to my ailment, my doctor, who too claims to be a Christian, listened with a quizzical smile on his lips when I recently complained to him. â€œHave you tried any medication for worms?â€ He asked, trying and failing to keep a straight face.
â€œHere is a prescription Iâ€™d like you to try.â€ Alright, let him sneer. But I am on my way to the man of God, all the same.