By Bisi Lawrence
For me, Easter Sundays have a singular association, apart from the strictly religious position it holds in Christian belief and faith. It marks another year of the absence of my elder brother, Tunde, who joined the Church Triumphant on the Twelfth day of April, 1998. It was Easter Sunday that year.
It brings back all the memories of joys, of regrets, of tiffs, of secrets shared and lost. Underlying it all, of course, is the indelible pain and anguish of the separation that one hopes will not be permanent, for that is at the core of the Easter Message – the assurance, (in fact, not just hope) of the resurrection of the dead.
St. Paul puts the import in clear perspective in this argument:
“How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not raised. And if Christ be not raised, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also in vain … And if Christ is not raised, you are yet in your sins. Then they also who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished …. but now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept”. (1 Corinthians, 15: 12)
That is the Christian hope of glory, the assurance of faith in resurrection leading to salvation. The miscreant on the cross to the right hand of Jesus at the crucifixion had that faith and was certain of the glory; Saint Stephen also saw that vision before he saw death and was sure of the glory; thousands of martyrs who followed after him shared the faith and were assured of the glory too. The number grows each day; the faith stands rampant in the face of persecution and death. Easter comes round each year to re-assure those who truly believe in Christ, that the hope will never diminish despite the evil deeds of the wicked ones who have chosen the way of Satap to discourage the faithful. But no demons, known and unknown, can touch the victory that Christ has won by the shedding of His blood at Calvary – no, not even the brazen and brassy Boko Haram. Whatever their aim, no matter their vision, they will shall prostrate under the shadow of the Cross.
It is during a festive season like this that they commit the heinous crimes against Christianity and humanity by shedding innocent blood in the name of a faith that professes a clear abhorrence of their actions. They strike at defenceless targets like demented dogs in a manner that sets them apart from other human beings. Some declare that their purpose is religious; others say they are driven by political aspirations; others yet believe that it might all emanate from a mixture of unprofitable intentions.
And when their apologists talk about negotiations, you ask about the subject on the table. Is it the freedom guaranteed in the Constitution of the land, to worship, or to associate with any person or group of people as you desire in the pursuit of your happiness, within the law? But even then, in what language do you conduct the “dialogue”? In the language of the gun and the bomb? In the language no decent human being speaks in the light of day?
But whatever they might have committed themselves to in the unceasing attack on Christians and Christianity, they are sure to fail. Easter is here again to declare the glorious Victory of Christ.
*another “faux pas”
So many events run across the scene these days that one may be hard put to sift the piquant from the petty. An Italian constructing firm by name of Gitto Construcioni Generali Nigeria Limited has donated a church to President Goodluck Jonathan. It is in the news. Several people, especially among those classified as “social rights groups”, do not think that it is a good thing. In the first place, the donation came after the President was said to have complained that the church in his village did not befit
“‘his position as the President. Well, was the church built for him, or his position? Are churches now built to the glory of a president’s position or prestige?
From that slippery premise, the downward slide was swift and sure. All the same, it has also been said that the church was actually “donated” to the Otuoke community (of Christians, of course) to which Jonathan belongs. He only accepted it, so to say, on behalf of his community. Well, is there no Muslim community in the area in need of a brand new mosque? Messrs. Gitto Construcioni Generali whatever, should be informed that they could really rouse an internecine animosity of a religious nature through such uneven-handed donations. If they have to be so magnanimous in their expression of social responsibility, they must go all the way without such a glaring act of religious discrimination. What do they think the Boko Haram may feel about that, eh?
Some people of a legalistic turn of mind have petitioned the EFCC, pointing out that the donation actually contravenes a section of the Constitution which forbids a public officer to “ask for, or accept, any benefits of any kind for himself or for any person on account of anything done by him in the discharge of his duties.” So it would appear that the President should not have accepted the “donation” on any grounds.
The Constitution is indeed very particular about “firms, business enterprises or persons who have contracts with the government”, and the Italian construction firm in question not only has business with government, but also has a reputation for shoddy performance. This is patently a customer to be kept at arm’s length.
Just go through some of the language employed to describe this scene. Some people believe that the acceptance of the gift was “morally wrong”, apart from the legal implications, constitutes a “very devastating misconduct” for Jonathan to have received such a gift. Some people believe it has created a dent on the facade of “transparency”, a favourite stance of the President, whilst others criticise it as “highly improper”. Others believe that the church should be forfeited to the government, not considering the fact that ours is a secular system, but also declaring that Jonathan has committed an impeachable offence. Some people even clearly stated that it was a bribe as a palliative for some poorly executed contract.
Unfortunately, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had no triumphant entry with cries of Hosanna, before plunging into the rising screams of “Crucify him!” He has developed an embarrassing penchant for putting his foot wrong at every step. One wonders what the battalion of advisers and special assistants are doing while they allow their principal to commit such silly mistakes in words and action. Surely, one of them must have spotted the obvious error in such an action of accepting a lethal gift that can be of no benefit to him, if only they cared.
But it seems that no one really cares, least of all Jonathan himself. He is sitting so pretty with the counter forces that happily balance each other and thus stabilize his position, that hardly any other person than himself can edge him off balance, but he seems to be doing his best to achieve just that. From seemingly (or openly?) discriminating against a section, to dabbling openly (or seemingly) in local politics, he should take more care to avoid the eventuality of crossing a bridge too far. Now, imagine having to worship in a “controversial” church like that on an Easter Sunday!
Echoes: I read your page (on the deteriorating state of our education.) But don’t you think it’s time you talked to the teachers too? The press has been very hard on government leaving the teachers – don’t they too have a hand in these mass failures? (Chief Orhokpor M.O.; 0803725761)
Of course, they do. The seizure of schools from private owners, in the first place, was responsible for turning the teachers into civil servants. And what can you do with civil servants?
Echoes: Yes, I think we have lost our identity because history is no longer taken seriously. Also, I have searched for Awolowo and Chinua Achebe’s books in vain in several bookshops and libraries recently. – (08084791903)
Keep searching. But do you know that Nnamdi Azikiwe, i,e,Zik, also wrote a number of books? You will probably find books by Lenin and Churchill sooner in Nigeria. A river that forgets its source soon dries up.