By Laju Arenyeka

Crucify him, but release Barrabas to us!” the Jews screamed, and Pontius Pilate was shocked to his toes. He had assumed that the Jews would want Jesus instead, him being blameless and all, instead of a robber who had terrorized the entire city.

Rumours had it that when the international police tried to catch him, he dressed up as a woman to deceive them…oops, wrong theology, that was Former Bayelsa state governor, ‘His Excellency’, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who after stealing large amounts of public funds and sentenced to jail on corruption charges, now roams the streets of the world freely.

He is Pilate’s, sorry President Goodluck Jonathan’s early Easter gift to all Nigerians. Only this time, we could have sworn we asked for Jesus…you know, the thousands languishing behind prison gates many of whom have waited for more than ten years without being tried; the poor  who have been sentenced to jail for years for stealing a goat or vegetables in the market; convicted robbers who had a confession beaten out of them in police cell; the thousands of Bayelsans who lost access to free education and health provision because of the money Alamieyeseigha stole; the Bill Gates who pump billions into eradicating polio in a country whose leaders seem to care less; the security agents home and abroad who spent their time, energy and money to catch this thief; the Nigerian children we leave with the legacy “steal as much as you can, if you get caught, you only have to pay a fine or call your friends in high places. You can also come back and run for public office.”African China was right: “Poor man wey thief money, dem go show im face for crime fighters,” beg to add, Rich man wey thief unco? Dem go see im face for forbes.

Nigerians seem smarter than the crowd in Jesus’ time; if Pontius Pilate were president, he would understand us better. Pontius Pilate was a poor judge of character, a wimp, who washed his hands after declaring the crucifixion of an innocent man. But at least he listened to the people…and they weren’t even in a democracy! Many Nigerian leaders think this is a synonym for the other nine letter word that takes place in 2015-e-l-e-c-t-i-o-n-s.

Oh! What do simple minds like ours know about the inner workings of leading a nation? Let’s just stick to the Bible stories. So, by this time next week, it will be Good Friday, and just as Barrabas’ wrists were free when Jesus was being nailed to the cross, Alamaseiygha can wave his hands in freedom. The few who felt he should have been punished did not dare question Pilate’s decision, and the night ended. But over 2,000 years later, Jesus has more followers than ever, but whatever happened to Barrabas?


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