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A look at some of the issues Ikedife cared about

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By Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah

“An unexamined life is not worth living.”

The above dictum by Socrates as reported by Plato in his Apologia, was innate in Ikedife when he was born  on the 24th  of August 1932 and imbued him with   such   relentless   intellectual   curiosity   that propelled  him  headlong   into   the   then   esoteric subjects    as    Classics,    Ethics,    Historiography, Cosmogony,   Philosophy,   and   Natural   sciences even before he was through secondary education.

Little   wonder   then   that   Ikedife   ended   up   in medical  sciences  obtaining  a  Bachelor  of  Sciences degree from the University of London, a Bachelor of  Medicine  and  a  Bachelor  of  Surgery  from  the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

Ikedife’s avidity and appetite for reading light and arcane works were legendry. Thus he was at home discussing epics such as Gilgamesh, Mahabharata and Ramayana, Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aenid, etc.

Where  Robert  Kennedy  found  distraction  during trying    times    by    reading    Aeschylus’    Greek Mythological    Tragedies,    Ikedife    relished    for relaxation,  the  ancient  dramas  of  the  playwright triumvirate  of  reputation;  Aeschylus,  Sophocles, Euripides.

A couple of weeks before Ikedife passed, he often made   comments,   which   with   the   benefit   of hindsight now show that he felt the end was near. Yet  such  was  his  love  for  reading  and  pursuit  of knowledge  that  he  continued  to  purchase  books till just days to his death.

Ikedife’s    life    wittingly    or    unwittingly    was influenced by aspects of stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium around 3rd century B.C.

Stoicism,  mainly  a  philosophy  of  personal  ethics, prescribes self-discipline, fortitude and the pursuit of  the  virtues  of  wisdom,  courage,  justice  and temperance  as  means  of  overcoming  destructive emotions  and   developing   in   the   process,   clear judgment,     inner     calm     and     freedom     from unnecessary  suffering  due  to  the  vicissitudes  in human experience and condition.

Stoicism enjoins us to live according to nature i.e. human nature, consisting of two propositions:

On  the  one  first  part,  we  are  essentially  social animals.  Though  we  are  able  to  survive  by  our selves,  we  thrive  much  better  when  we  exist  in healthy   social   networks   as   families,   kindred, societies,  communities,  villages,  towns,  cities  etc, living in one universal spirit of brotherly love and helping    one    another    while    minimizing    such external  differences  as  rank,  wealth,  stratification due to pedigree of birth or social standing. Thus at once       propounding       cosmopolitanism       and egalitarianism.

Secondly,  with   our   epistemological  foundation, we   are   vested   with   certainty   of   knowledge attainable  through  the  use  of  reason,  with  the mind being able to distinguish a representation of reality that is true from one which is false.

Stoic  reason  is  however  practical  and  therefore

different  from  reason  in  the  Idealism  of  Plato  for whom    the    mind    alone    was    the    source    of knowledge,   the   senses  being   the   source   of  all illusion  and  error.  Put  simply  we  are  capable  of practical reasoning, which we should apply at all times  to  improve  our  wellbeing  and  that  of  the society.

Among  the  stoic  leaders;  Epictetus,  Seneca  and Marcus  Aurelius  the  later  was  the  most  admired because  despite  being  the  Roman  Emperor,  the most  powerful  man  on  earth,  he  sat  down  each day    to    write    himself    notes    about    restraint, compassion and humility, subsequently collated in his    book:    Meditations.    These    values    guided Ikedife’s life.

Dr Dozie Ikedife was an exemplary family man, a loving  and  dotting husband  to his  dear  wife  Mrs Christine  Ikedife  Ayolugo.   He  was a good father, teacher  and  role  model  to  their  seven  children, now successful men and women brought up with those       necessary       values       of       generosity, resourcefulness,  resilience,  modesty,  self  control and humility.

The   Ikedife  household  was  usually  filled  with

jocularity    and    jocundity    mostly    because    of Ikedife’s infectious humour and dry wit balanced always   with   the   requisite   dose   of   discipline. Temperance!

In the late fifties when Ikedife earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees, the educated  professional  class  in  Nigeria  was  less than 0.1% of the population, which made most of the class type arrogant and haughty, but definitely not Ikedife.

A  quintessential  egalitarian,  he  had  no  speck  on

his shoulders whatsoever and related affably with every one on an equal footing.

Buoyed with love of culture and tradition, Ikedife maintained a strong affinity and kinship with the cultural  and  traditional  men   of  greater   Nnewi society.

For many decades Ikedife was the leading light in the  cabinet  of  Igwe  Nnewi,  availing  the  palace with  his  wealth  of  knowledge,  extensive  contacts and  material  resources  while  serving  in  various capacities   in   the   cabinet   and   participating   in Igwe’s formal travels, engagements and protocols. A  vigorous  member  of  Ogbe,  Umuenem,  Otolo and    Nnewi    communities,    Ikedife    contributed immensely    to    the    development    and    general welfare of these collectives.

Who would  forget  so soon  his  billowing  voice  of reason and logic as he spoke with flawless Nnewi dialect     during     various     meetings     in     these communities?   I  remember  with  nostalgia  one  of his  exhortative   speeches  at  Nzuko  ora  Nnewi, which he ended by intoning bunu bunu o to which the  assembly  sang  back  with  ululations  ibu  anyi danda.  (A  clarion  call  to  duty  through  collective

effort and an acceptance by   the assembly,  jointly and severally to participate in the effort).

The  public  spiritedness  and  humanitarianism  of Ikedife  were  easily  evidenced  by  the  testimonies of     numerous  recipients  of  such  his  charities  as education  finance,  medical  bills,  start  up  capital etc.

His  benevolence  was  accentuated  by  the  silent manner with which he dispensed philanthropy.

Intrinsic  in   Ikedife’s   sense   of   fairness  was   his abiding belief in the natural and equal right of the individual and the group as the pathway to justice in the society.

A  thinker  and  social  justice  activist  in  is  his  own right,  the  reggae  artist  Peter  Tosh  in  the  1977 album   titled   Equal   Rights   philosophized   that “Every one is crying out for peace, yes

None is crying out for justice

I don’t want no peace

I need equal rights and justice”

The accepted fact that each of us is created in the image  of  God  begets  equality  and  makes  equal right a natural right granted to us by God invested with inalienability and universality, amongst other natural rights.

The political philosopher John Locke in his Second Treatise  of  Government,  states,  “In  races  of  mankind and  families  of  the  world,  there  remains  not  to  one above another…” Locke  then  describes  the  state  of nature  of  mankind  as  one  of  equality  with  each person endowed with natural and equal rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness,

Locke,  Jean-Jacques  Rousseau  and  other  political theorists  posit  that  under  a  social  contract,  free persons in a state of nature consent to yield up to the  society  and  its  government  structure  some  of their   freedoms   in   exchange   for   a   social   order necessary   for   the   protection   of   the   remaining natural  rights,  these  yielded  rights  become  their civil rights.

Any  such  government  structure  must  therefore govern with the consent of the people.

The founding fathers of America adopted Locke’s political theory and declare in their Declaration of Independence  that,  “We hold these truths to be self- evident,  that  all  men  are  created  equal,  that  they  are endowed   by   their   Creator   with   certain   unalienable Rights,  that  among  these  are  Life,  Liberty  and  the pursuit of Happiness.

“That    to    secure    these    rights,    Governments    are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute  new  Government,  laying  its  foundation  on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall  seem most  likely to effect  their Safety and Happiness…..”

Thirteen years after the American Declaration, the French  issued  their  Declaration  of  the  Rights  of Man and the Citizen at once declaring the natural and civil rights of persons in one document.

Liberty, equality and fraternity subsequently became the national motto of the French Republic.

Global  acceptance  for  declaration  of  rights  came with  the  Universal  Declaration  of  Human  Rights by the United Nations in 1948, whilst the African Charter   on   Human   and   Peoples’   Rights   was adopted   in   1981   and   continues   to   guide   the fundamental      principles      of      the      Economic community  of  West  African  States  (ECOWAS)  in its dealings the citizens’ rights.

In  Nigeria  these  principles  were  domesticated  in the  1999  Constitution  particularly  in  chapter  2 sections 13-24 and chapter 4 sections 33-46.

Ikedife  was  an  activist  for  the  equal  rights  of  the individual and for the group.

On  the  individual  level,  equal  rights  to  Ikedife encapsulate the significant context of social justice defined  as  “justice  in  terms  of  the  distribution  of wealth,   opportunities,   and   privileges   within   a society”.

The   various   Declarations   of   Rights   mentioned

above   as   well   as   the   Nigerian   constitutionally mandated  Fundamental  Objectives  and  Directive Principles of State Policy include economic, social

and cultural rights such as right to and security of employment,    right    to    health    care,    right    to education,  right  to  social  welfare  and  security, freedom  from  discrimination,  equal  opportunity and government accountability.

In  1941  on  the  wake  of  Hitler’s  unfolding  World War  II,  President  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt,  in  an address  that  later  came  to  be  known  as  the  Four Freedoms   Speech,   proposed   four   fundamental freedoms  that  people  everywhere  in  the  world ought  to  enjoy,  as:  the  freedom  of  speech  and expression,  the  freedom  to  worship  God  in  their own ways, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Roosevelt   may   have   intended   to   rouse   some

Americans    from    their    naïve    disposition    to neutrality   in   the   face   of   a   fast   approaching cataclysm,    but    he    ended    up    providing    an instructive context and perspective to equal rights and social justice.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of action pointed  out  in  1993  that  “poverty  inhibits  the  full and effective enjoyment of human rights”

A  poor  person  not  availed  the  necessary  tools  of education,  training,  healthcare;  etc  would  have been denied equal rights to social wellbeing.

Governments  under  the  social  contract  principle bear the bulk of responsibility for the provision of social  justice  to  its  citizens.  Yet  humanitarianism and  voluntarism  behoove  the  better-off  members of the society to help the less fortunate, as Ikedife would say “onye aghana nwanne ya”   (Brotherhood and fraternity).

To   Ikedife   equal   rights   for   the   group   pertain mainly  freedom  from  discrimination  and  equal opportunity.

In    the    classical    Greek    antiquity,    Athenian democracy is said to have developed accidently by Cleisthenes   taking   the   ordinary   people   (demos) into his own group during his struggle for power with Isagoras, backed by the Spartans.

Fortunately,  Cleisthenes  and  the  demos prevailed and  having  tasted  power,  participation  could  no longer   be   taken   away   from   the   people   going forward.           The     ensuing     democracy     was discriminatory  excluding   all   except   adult   male citizens.

Over   millennia  democracy  evolved  in   fits  and starts   and   it   is   yet   to   fulfill   its   promise   of providing  equal  opportunity  for  participation  of peoples in the political process of the polity.

In America supposedly the beacon  of  democracy, women  achieved  suffrage  only  in  1920  with  the adoption  of  the  19th    amendment  to  the  United States  Constitution.  And  despite  the  passage  of voting rights act in 1965, poor African Americans and    minorities    are    still    struggling    to    vote unhindered.    Women  and  minorities  in  America and  world  over  are  even  more  denied  of  equal opportunity     to     political     and     bureaucratic positions,  equal  pay  for  equal  work,  access  to education, and academic positions.

Nigeria  has fared  much  worse  in  affording equal opportunity  to  the  female  gender  and  minority ethnic groups.

Ikedife  was  rankled  that  nearly  sixty  years  since Nigerian independence, Ndi Igbo a majority tribe is   yet   to   produce   the   head   of   government   or executive president of the nation, wheras the other two  majority  tribes  have  had  two  to  three  turns each at the headship of federal government.

The   fact   that   Ndi   Igbo   have   perennially   been excluded  from  the  headship  of  Nigeria’s  security infrastructure   was      also   of   much   concern   to Ikedife.

He  felt  that  the  exclusion  of  any  group  whether ethnic,   gender,   or   religious   must   stop   if   the government   desired   to   continue   to   enjoy   the consent of all Nigerians.

A   founding   member   of   the   National   Party   of Nigeria (NPN), Ikedife was appointed and served as   the   presidential   liaison   officer   to   President Shehu Shagari.

A  peer, friend and personal confidant of  Dr Alex Ekwueme,  Shagari’s  vice  president,  Ikedife  was frustrated  by  the  coup  d’état  that  brought  to  an end Shagari’s second term government just a few years   to   Ekwume’s   expected   election   to   the presidency.  He  felt  that  this  was  the  nearest  an Igbo  man  came  to  the  headship  of  the  Nigerian government.

The perceived injustice was made worse, when his friend   Ekwueme,   a   mere   vice   president   with hardly  any  executive  powers  was  thrown  into prison  while  Shagari  the  executive  president  on whose table the buck stopped, was held in house arrest. And for all that, Ekwueme suffered in vain as  the  subsequent  judicial  enquiry  found  that  he left the government poorer than he went in.

Nontheless,  ever  the  magnanimous  family,  Kene Ikedife   the   second   son   of   Ikedife   ran   for   an assembly  seat  on  the  platform  of  CPC,  President Buhari’s initial political party, while Dozie Ikedife jnr the first son  of Ikedife  contested for Anambra

deputy governorship post on the platform of APC, Buhari’s post merger legacy political party.

In  1997,  Dr  Alex  Ekwueme  convened  a  political summit   to   discuss   the   possibility   of   returning democracy  to  Nigeria.  Unknown  security  agents dispersed   the   meeting.     Undeterred   Ekwueme organized the metamorphosis of the group into a pan  Nigeria  political  group  called  G-34,  which became  the  nucleus  of  the  political  party  that  is known  today  as  the  Peoples  Democratic  Party, PDP.

There   was   a   tacit   understanding   amongst   the party  leadership  that  Ekwueme  was  to  be  the presidential   candidate   being   the   leader   of   the party    and    given    his    pioneering    role    in    its formation,    his    seniority    as    the    former    vice president,  his  dignity  and  integrity,  underscored by need to give Ndi Igbo an equal opportunity to the presidency. This was not to be as the military industrial    complex    swung    into    action    and orchestrated  General  Olusegun  Obasonjo’s  entry

into PDP, wherein they pulled all stops and levers to skew the primary election to Obasojo’s favour. Ikedife  was  sad  that  then  PDP  leadership  led  by Chief  Solomon  Lar  was  corralled  into  awarding Obasanjo   the   party   presidential   ticket   despite being  disqualified  by  the  party  constitution  by reason of his failure to win his polling unit for the party in an earlier election.

Notwithstanding       the       injustice,       Ekwueme patriotically deployed his energy and brilliance in seeing to the successful introduction of the six geo- political  zonal  structure  of  the  Nigerian  polity. This brought forth ease of political administration and  rotation  of  the  presidency  among  the  zones and was widely accepted with gratitude by all and sundry.

Consequently   every   informed   Nigerian   knows that  in  2023,  the  president  should  be  produced from Ndi Igbo of the southeast zone.

One  may  therefore  understand  Ikedife’s  chagrin and  consternation  at  the  brazen  attempt  to  deny Ndi  Igbo  once  again  their  turn  at  the  presidency

by some of the leaders of the two majority parties, PDP and APC, abetted by some Igbo leaders.

Ikedife looked on with askance as Abubakar Atiku campaign worked vigorously with Igbo leaders of PDP and Ohaneze to secure the presidential ticket of  PDP  for  a  potential  two-term  presidency  by Atiku  effectively  denying  Ndi  Igbo  their  turn  in

2023, in exchange for the so called restructuring of Nigeria.

Restructuring  stands  for  the  devolution  of  some constitutional         powers,         functions         and responsibilities  of  the  federal  government  to  the states  in  order  to  bring  government  closer  to  the people,    ensure    greater    participation    of    the citizenry, increase efficiency and service  delivery, generate  more  value  for  money,  strengthen  local capacity, and adapt requiring government policies to our rich cultural diversity.

The  notion  that  this  restructuring  as  explained above, would benefit only the Igbos as to impel us

to give up our turn at the presidency in exchange, was preposterous.

These    people    have    through    body    language,

inflection  of  tone, nuance, dog whistle and photo ops,  managed  to  package  such  a  necessary  and fitting national exercise into  a divisive  shibboleth and  sold  same  as  a  southern  quest  against  the north      rather      than      a      mutually      required recalibration of the polity to achieve its potentials.

One  may  ask,  would  this  restructuring  be  done extra      constitutionally;      perhaps      by      divine proclamation or vide a coup d’état?

Restructuring     done     constitutionally,     would require  amendment  to  some  of  the  provisions  of the constitution.  And with the South versus North body language of its propagators, it would be very difficult to obtain  the  two-thirds majorities in  the both  chambers  of  the  National  Assembly  and  of the State Assemblies necessary for passage.

Ikedife   was   also   appalled   to   hear   some   APC leaders in the southwest telling the voters to vote APC    to    enable    the    southwest    produce    the

president in 2023. He was even more saddened to see  some  southeast  stalwarts  of  APC  canvassing the      voters      on      the      same      premise      that southeasterners       required       to       vote       APC overwhelmingly in order to produce the president in 2023.

The right of Ndi Igbo to produce the president in

2023, is  an  equal right  to  equal opportunity, God given   and   natural,   inalienable   and   universal, codified as our civil right by the spirit of section 14 sub-section 3 of the 1999 Constitution, a right that cannot  be  diminished,  burdened  or  encumbered by the imposition of any condition.

Politicians and statesmen in the quest for power, often times fall easy prey to political realism, that branch  of  political  philosophy  that  assumes  that power  is  the  primary  end  of  political  action,  a theory  well  propounded  by  the  Melian  Dialogue, Nicole  Machiavelli’s best known  work, The Prince and Shakespeare’s Richard III.

Yet, it was to negate power-at- all-cost syndrome that  modern  polities  such  as  Nigeria  established the  ideals  of  equity  and  justice  for  governments and   the   nations,   protected   by   the   necessary constitutional   impetus,   the   violation   of   which would put government in a precarious position of losing   the   consent   of   the   governed   and   the consequent legitimacy.

It  needs  however  be  stated  that  while  Ndi  Igbo are  struggling  to  realize  their  full  natural  and equal  rights  as  citizens  of  Nigeria,  we  must,  as  a matter  urgency  deal  with  the  abominable  cruelty unleashed by our very selves on our brothers and sisters through the inexplicable nonsense of caste. All  of  us  adult  Igbos  share  a  collective  guilt  for dehumanizing of some of our brothers and sisters. Science  has  long  proven  through  sequencing  of DNA     that     genetically,     all     human     beings irrespective   of   race   are   descended   from   the Mitochondrial Eve.

How    totally    foolish    and    ignorant    we    look therefore,  to  regard  some  of  our  brothers  and

sisters   even   of   the   same   race   as   somehow different.

We have always found it convenient to blame our fore  fathers  for  this  inhumanity,  making  us  seem even   more   stupid   for   having   the   ocean    of knowledge at our disposal today and yet blaming our   illiterate,   ignorant   and   superstitious   fore fathers.


Ikedife’s   religion   merits   some   mention   at   this point.

He was a firm believer in God.

A   lover   and   promoter   of   African   culture   and tradition,  Ikedife  preferred  Godian  religion  as  a vehicle of worship.

Godianism  is  a  monotheistic  African  traditional religion    that    existed    before    the    missionaries brought  Christianity  to  Nigeria.  Godians  believe in  the  same  one  God,  as  Jews,  Christians  and

Muslims,  etc  the  difference  being  only  that  the focal  point  for  the  Godians  is  God,  Chineke,  the creator of all things and no one else.

Godianism was formally established around 1949 as  the  National  Church  of  Nigeria,  as  part  of  the nationalist struggle for independence in the South East.

The story has it that the refusal of the mainstream churches  to  organize  a  memorial  service  for  22 colliery   miners   shot   by   the   colonial   police   in Enugu while on strike as part of the struggle, led to  the  labour  movement  organizing  an  open  air memorial     service     in     which     patriotic     and traditional   war   songs   enthused   the   spirit   of revivalism of Igbo culture and tradition.

These  anti  colonial  sentiments  led  to  the  formal inauguration  of  the  National  church  of  Nigeria, which in 1962 changed its name to Godianism.

The  first  line  of  the  Godian  creed  is  the  same  as the Christian Nicene creed, the belief in Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, while injunctions

similar  to  most  of  the  Ten  Commandments  are also stated in the Godian creed.

Religious   tolerance   is   very   important   to   the

Godianism. Out of 18 articles of the Godian creed,

9  articles  are  devoted  to  religious  freedom  and tolerance.

Ikedife  thus  believed  in  religious  toleration  and the  rights  of  persons  to  believe  and  worship  as they pleased.   He saw religion strictly as a matter of individual faith.

Seemingly    simple    issues    of    spirituality    and religion have for thousands of years been mired in disputation. Even the almost universally accepted fact of existence of God is not spared controversy.

It was a Benedictine monk, Anslem, archbishop of Canterbury Doctor of the Church who offered the first  philosophical  argument  for  the  existence  of God  using  ontology.  He  posits  that  God  is  the greatest    conceivable    being    and    that    a    fool understands this claim even if he or she doubts the existence  of  God.  Anslem  argues  that  if  a  fool

understands  the  definition  of  God, as  the  highest conceivable  being,  then  God  exists  in  the  fool’s understanding  i.e.  his  mind.  Employing  the  logic of  reductio  ad  absurdum,  Anslem  deduces  that  if God existed only in the mind and not in reality, it would lead to absurdity because a being which a exists  in  the  mind  and  reality  should  be  greater than that which exists only as an idea in the mind. And  since  we  cannot  conceive  something  or  a being greater than God, therefore God exists in the mind and in reality.

The  French  philosopher,  Rene  Descartes  and  the German philosopher, Gottfried Leibniz with some modifications,   offered   similar   a  priori   proof   of God’s existence as a supremely perfect being.

These  ontological  arguments  drew  criticisms  and objections.  The  disputations  are  not  surprising  as all  philosophical  arguments  for  the  existence  of God    are    rooted    in    rationality;    nevertheless, spirituality  and  religion  are  ultimately  matters  of faith.

Even theology, which could broadly be defined as the  study  of  the  nature  of  the  divine,  must  make an  assumption  at  the  outset  of  the  existence  of God and which in itself is an act of faith.

The first objection to the ontological argument was that   of   another   Benedictine   monk,   Gaunilo   of Marmoutiers,   a   contemporary   of   Anslem.   He employed the analogy of a perfect island to argue that  Anslem’s  argument  could  be  used  to  prove the  existence  of  anything,  which  in  fact  does  not exist. Anslem countered that  Gaunilo,  missed the essence of the ontological argument.

Immanuel   Kant   in   his   Critique   of   Pure   Reason criticizes  Descartes’  ontological  argument  to  the effect  that  existence  not  being  a  predicate  adds nothing to the essence of a being, makes it possible to conceive a supremely perfect being not to exist.

On his part David Hume, an empiricist, disputed the  a priori reasoning in the  ontological argument and the idea that anything can exist necessarily.

The    most    critical    take    down    of    Anslem’s ontological  argument  was  by  Thomas  Aquinas,  a priest    and    the    most    influential    philosopher, theologian and Doctor of the Catholic Church. Thomas’    main    objection    to    the    ontological argument  is  that  God’s  existence  is  self–evident but not to us, therefore God may not be deduced from  claims  about  the  concept  of  God.  He  also argued  that  humans  are  only  able  to  understand concepts    of    finite    things    and    therefore    are incapable of fully understanding the concept of an infinitely   great   being   as   God,   in   the   manner suggested  by  Anslem  and   that  the   ontological argument  would  be  meaningful  only  to  a  person who  understands  the  essence  of  God  completely, an   impossibility,   as   only   God   can   completely know his own essence.

In  the  light  of  these  disputations,  we  must  hold unto  faith  ultimately  as  our  greatest  tool  for  our belief in God.

Yet  Aquinas  in  his  works  Summa  Theologica  and Summa    Contra    Gentiles,    considered    the    five arguments for the existence of God, known as the five  ways  or  the  five  proofs:  arguments  on  motion, causation, contingency, gradation and teleology.

The circumstance in each argument is different but the    logic    is    essentially    similar    in    the    five arguments,  so  lets  just  summarize  the  argument on motion.   Things in the universe are constantly moving   or   changing.   Whatever   is   moving   or changing    is    being    moved    or    changed    by something else which mover or changer is in itself also  being  moved  or  changed  by  something  else and so on. This chain cannot be infinitely long, so there    must    be    something    that    causes    the movement or change without moving or changing itself.  This is what we understand to be God.

This  argument  with  Aristotelian  origin  seeks  to prove     the     existence     of     God     by     reason. Unfortunately, reason can only go so far.

Firstly,  movement  or  change  is  empirical  but  the notion  that movement or  change  cannot continue ad infinitum is not an empirical supposition, clearly not in this era of atomic science. And if we claim to  know  it  a  priori,  we  would  be  taken  back  to realm of ontological argument.

Secondly, the fact that the unmoved mover or the unchanged  changer  is  God  has  not  be  proven  by the  above  logic in the argument on  motion, for  it may well be understood to be any other entity or being,  consequently  we  know   that  God  is  the unmoved mover by faith.

Our belief in God is propelled by faith and so also does   faith   influence   our   individually   chosen manner of worship of God.

ALL religions espouse a belief in God and a moral code, adherence to which is necessary to meet God in the after life.

The system of worship is different inter and intra religious  faiths,  but  the  moral  code  is  similar, founded  on  the  universal  ethics  of  good  versus

bad,  virtue  versus  vice with  love  as  the  principal engine.

Hillel,  the  Jewish  religious  leader,  credited  with the    development    of    Mishnah    and    Talmud, summarized  the  moral  code  of  Judaism  when  he was  asked  a  question  regarding  the  difference between  his  teaching  and  that  of  a  rather  tough leader named Shammai. He answered thus “What is  hateful  to  you,  do  not  do  to  your fellow:  this  is the whole  Torah;  the  rest  is  the  explanation;  now  go  and learn” This became known as the golden rule.

Centuries before Hillel, Confucius was asked this question:  “Is  there  a  single  word  that  can  serve  as  a guide to conduct throughout one’s life?”

Confucius    answered    “Perhaps   the   word   ‘shu’,

‘reciprocity’: ‘Do not do to others what you would not want others to do you’’

The   Confucian   and   Judaic   moral   injunction   is same as the Christian ethic. Our lord Jesus Christ issued  the  same  command,  for  us  to  do  unto others, as we would have them do unto us.

When  asked,  Christ  answered  that  the  greatest commandments  were  love  of  God  and  love  of neighbour as one’s self.

One    cannot    love    God    without    loving    the neighbour but to love one’s neighbour as one’s self is to love God.

Love of one’s self is a great love if not the greatest therefore to love the neighbour as one’s self is the basis of golden rule.

Article 2 of the Godian creed states, “…Love your neigbour  as  you  love  yourself;  do  unto  others  as you would want others to do unto you….”

Also   for   Islam,   the   proclaimed   principles   and fundamental  purpose  of  Islamic  morality  is  love: love for God and love for God’s creatures.

The  golden  rule  as  a  moral  code  is  therefore  the threshold test of what is a religion and what is not.

Nna   Nkayimuo,   my   grand   maternal   uncle,   a Godian,  was  an  upright  man  who  lived  by  the golden   rule   and   believed   that   any   infractions

would  be  punished  by  sanctions  levied  in  his lifetime as well as hereafter.

Dr  Dozie  Ikedife’s  life  was  driven  by  the  golden rule and   biri ka mbiri,   egbe belu ugo belu (live and let live) principles of Godianism.

Eschewing   religious   prejudice,   Ikedife   admired the    exhaustive    training    that    Catholic    priests undergo   before   ordination   and   sponsored   the training  of  some  priests  anonymously.  Fittingly, Ikedife’s burial rites were officiated by a Catholic priest.

How much better the world would be if religious bigots,  jingoists  and  chauvinists  could  emulate Ikedife’s toleration.

Notwithstanding  the  general  belief  in  one  God and the universally avowed love based moral code of  most  religions,  millions  of  people  have  been killed  or  subjected  to  atrocities  over  millennia, through    pogroms,    massacres,    and    wars,    on account of their faith.

These  killings  and  atrocities  have  occurred  and continue to occur between faiths and within faiths. Killing for God, on behalf of God, to benefit God, to  support  God,  to  exalt  God  etc.,  for  the  same omnipotent  God,  benevolent  God,  compassionate God,   merciful   God,   forgiving   God   etc.,   how utterly      contradictory      in      terms,      logically incompatible, and crazy. !!!

To   kill   or   inflict   atrocities   on   people   for   our omnipotent God is to deny God’s omnipotence, a grave sin. !

To   kill   or   inflict   atrocities   on   people   for   our

benevolent, compassionate and merciful God is to deny     God’s     benevolence,     compassion     and bountiful mercifulness, another grave sin. !

The   major   reason   why   intolerance   festers   is ignorance.  Most  people  are  inculcated  with  their religious  beliefs  during  their  rearing  as  children together with their psychological, sociological and spiritual    formation.    Unfortunately,    prejudices, sense   of   religious   superiority,   falsity   of   other religions  or  denominations  and  other  negatives

are  also  ingrained  in  the  child;  these  combined with    ignorance    prepare    a    potent    bed    for intolerance.

Ignorance leads to fear or hate either of which can lead   to   violence   and   if   coupled   with   a   zeal generated by the false premise of need to fight or avenge  for  God,  would  set  of  an  explosion  of extreme  violence  resulting  in  massacre,  pogroms, carnage, war  and other atrocities, all in  the name of   our   omnipotent,   benevolent,   compassionate, and bountifully merciful God.

Thankfully,   like   Ikedife   there   have   been   some leaders  and  common  folk,  though  few  and  far  in between,  who  have  shown  exemplary  behaviour towards religious toleration.

The  sixteen  century  Muslim  Mughal  emperor  of India, a culturally and religiously diverse empire, Akbar  the  Great,  fostered  unity  by  ensuring  full and    unfettered    freedom    of    worship,    equal treatment of all faiths. He believed that there was truth in every religion with none better or superior than    the    other.    Akbar    encouraged    religious

education   to   sustain   understanding   among   all faiths.

Surely, if Akbar had been at the helms of affairs in

India  at  its  independence  in  1948,  the  rancorous partition  between  Muslim  Pakistan  and  present day India together with the sectarian violence and killings   of   thousands   of   innocent   people   that attended the exercise would have been avoided.

What  about  the  heroic  efforts  of  Oskar  Schindler who saved 1200 Jews from Hitler’s extermination during the 2nd  World War; or the heroic efforts of Salah   Farah   and   other   Muslims   who   shielded Christians during an attack by Al Shabab fighters in Kenya, for which Farah ended up losing his life; or  the  heroic  efforts  of  the  Nigerian  imam  who saved  Christians  from  a  terrorist  attack;  or  the heroic  efforts  of  a  Muslim  man  from  Iraq  who risked his life to save ancient Christian texts from ISIS; or the heroic efforts of Christian aid workers, doctors,  nurses  etc.  who  risk  their  lives  daily  to helps  Muslim  war  victims  in  war  and  terrorist zones.

Very   many   of   these   aid   workers   and   medical personnel   have   lost   their   lives   in   this   noble humanitarian  effort,  and  in  some  gory  cases,  by public beheading.

Every religious faith suffers from internal schisms between the so called conservatives who insist on the strictest interpretation of its code of belief and worship,  which  in  turn  affords  them  their  much needed  moral  superiority,  and  those  much  more concerned with the essence God’s love manifest in God’s   benevolence,   compassion   and   bountiful mercy.

The     zealous     enforcement     of     the     strictest interpretation  of  some  provisions  and injunctions in  a  book  of  faith  often  times  result  in  killings, massacres,   and   indescribable   atrocities   against even  people  of  the  same  faith,  as  experienced  in various parts of the world today.

In    some    faiths    however,    the    disagreement

between  these  puritans and essentialists  does not lead   to   bloodletting   but   produces   unnecessary tension and distraction.

The Catholic Church is a case in point.

Pope Francis’ ascendancy to the papacy marked a turning  point  in  the  evangelization  focus  of  the church.  A  man  of  immense  humility,  his  deep concern for the poor led to his choice of the name of Francis in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi. He says  that  the  most  powerful  message  of  our  lord Jesus Christ is mercy and that Christian morality is not  just  titanic  effort  of  the  will  but  includes  a response to the mercy of God.

Driven by these views, Pope Francis has rekindled the effort and focus of  the  church  in  the  fight for social     justice,    particularly    championing    the alleviation of the plight of the poor, the migrants, the sick and the neglected.

He  has  reinvigorated  the  church  in  its  corporal and  spiritual  works  of  mercy  and  the  pursuit  of blessings promised in the Beatitudes.

Laying  emphases  on  mercy,  the  Pope  issued  a papal   bull,   Misercordiae   Vultus   (“The   face   of Mercy”), and inaugurated a Special Jubilee Year of

Mercy  at  the  end  of  which  he  established  the

World Day of the Poor.

Pope Francis, known to wash and kiss the feet of AIDS  patients,  promotes  an  inclusive,  open  and welcoming     church     and     which     is     neither chauvinistic  nor  harbours  a  sense  of  superiority over other religious faiths.

In October 2013 he said in an interview, “ I believe in  God,  not  in  a  Catholic  God,  for  there  is  no Catholic God”.

The so-called conservatives much more concerned with    dogma    than    social    justice,    mercy    and inclusion,  were  already  concerned  with  the  new focus,  when  Pope  Frances  issued  his  2016  post- synodal  apostolic  exhortation,  Amori  Laetitia  (The Joy  of  Love)  intended  to  review  the  question  of admitting     civilly     divorced     and     remarried Catholics to Communion.

Unsurprisingly,    these    so-called    conservatives pounced. Why not!  They are the watchmen of the gates of heaven lest one divorcee slips in when our omnipotent and omniscient God is asleep.

Articles  appeared  remonstrating  with  the  Pope and  not  to  be  outdone,  four  Cardinals  issued  a dubia   questioning   the   Pope   on   his   Apostolic Exhortation.

Just    imagine    if    men    were    God.    (Azi    bulu

Chukwu…) as Ikedife would parody.

As    Winston    Churchill    says,    we    may    allow ourselves   some   limited   joy,   for   in   the   world suffused with intolerant zealotry and its dastardly effects,   there   exist   some   men   and   women   of goodwill and exemplary tolerance.

Ikedife was one of these few, surely the man who would   sponsor   the   education   and   training   of priests  of  a religion  other  than  his  own,  deserves our encomium and eulogy.

Yet nothing describes Ikedife’s attitude to life than his death and funerary instructions.

Since  the  dawn  of  civilization, mankind has been solemnizing  and  lavishly  celebrating  funerals  of fellow     humans,     building     in     the     process, mesmerizing monuments as tombs.

From   the   earliest   pyramid   of   Djoser,   pharaoh Khufu’s  great  masterpiece  at  Giza,  not  excluding other  130  or  so  pyramids,  the  mummies  and  the exquisites  at  the  Valley  of  the  Kings  typified  by Tutankhamen’s tomb with its 5400 funerary items, the     Egyptians     led     the     way     in     funerary constructions and arrangements.

Cyrus  the  Great  of  Persia  toned  it  down  a  notch with  his  tomb  in  Pasargadae  in  present  day Iran, but that did not deter Qui Shi Huangdi, the first of emperor   of   China,   who   perhaps   felt   that   his successful  unification  of  China,  entitled  him  to build  such  a  tomb  so  vast,  complex  and  delicate that   Chinese   technology   is   yet  to   develop   the necessary   equipment   capable   of   exploring   the mausoleum.  According  to  the  Chinese  historian Sima  Qian, 700, 000  men  were  pressed into work back    in    the    day,    to    build    the    city-sized mausoleum, and for good measure, they also built the   Terracotta   army   of   about   6000   life-sized soldiers, chariots and 40, 000 real bronze weapons,

to  protect  the  emperor  in  his  after  life.  What  an after life!

Later in 7th century AD, the Mesoamericans rolled out   their   masterful   Temple   of   Inscriptions,   a stepped pyramid tomb for their king Pakal located in  Palenque  in  the  modern-day  state  of  Chiapas, Mexico.

About the same period, Imam Hussain Shrine was built  as  a  mosque  and  burial  site  of  Husayn  ibn Ali.

Other great monuments to the dead include Castel Sant’Angelo,  a  mausoleum  for  Roman  Emperor Hadrian,  tombs  for  Mughal  Emperors, Humayun and   Jahangir,   the   world-renowned   Taj   Mahal commissioned  by  another  Mughal  Emperor  Shah Jahan, for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Deserving of mention also is the tomb of General Ulysses  Grant,  the  granite  exterior  of  which  is modeled after mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

Even the then communist Russia seemed to forget the  plight  of  workers  when  they  splashed  such

huge  resources  for  the  mausoleum  of  Comrade


Closer  home  funerary  arrangements  have  ranged from     rumoured     burial     of     very     important personalities   as   some   traditional   rulers   with accompanying  human  sacrifice,  week  to  month long   ceremonies   and   huge   celebratory   events funded by huge out lay of cash.

The phrase, a befitting burial, has meant families of modest  means  go  borrowing  to  fund  funerals  of relations, mortgaging the future of their kids and their   general   well-being   just   to   meet   societal expectations, competition and rivalry.

Most  times,  to  prepare  for  these  befitting  burials, deceased  relations  are  kept  in  morgues  for  many months   on   end,   sometimes   as   long   a   year   or longer.

As usual with the prevalent gender inequality and equity  gap,  the  married  women  in  some  cultures have  borne  the  onerous  burden  of  the  death  of  a spouse much more than the men.

In  some  parts  of  India  the  burden  is  fatal  as  the bereaved  wife  is  expected  to  climb  the  funeral pyre even before her dead husband, whereon both are  cremated.  This  ancient  Hindu  custom  called Sati has largely been stopped but still happens in some rural areas now and then.

As   for   the   wife   in   Igbo   land,   she   suffers   a restriction   of   movement   and   withdrawal   from societal  affairs  for  a  period  varying  from  6  to  12 months  after  the  funeral ceremony  in  addition  to the period preceding the funeral.

The question is why all the fuss and grandeur for a dead person??

The ancient Egyptians believed in life after death, necessitating   the   burial   of   the   deceased   with everyday  objects  for  use  in  the  afterlife.  Tombs were therefore erected to provide storage space for funerary items.

Following   unification   into   one   kingdom   and consequent  increase  in  the  wealth  of  the  nation,

larger    tombs    were    built    with    bigger    store- chambers. The Pharaohs became godlike in status, thus setting off the boom in pyramid construction.

The   first   Emperor   of   China   obsessively   but unsuccessfully     sought     immortality     through elusive  elixirs  of  life,  and  so,  his  city-sized  tomb, Terracotta  army  and  huge  cache  of  weaponry, were  provisioned  for  the  continuation  of  his  life after death, i.e. if he eventually died.

In    the    main    Abrahamic    religions;    Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there are some differences of  belief  in  some  aspects  of  what  happens  after death.    There is however, a common belief in the finality of death and the promise of God to judge on   the  judgment  day,  leading  to  reward  with eternal life in heavenly paradise for the righteous or punishment with hell for the evildoers.

Adherents  of  Godianism,  the  African  Traditional

Religion  believe  also  in  the  finality  of  death,  and

that sanctions for evil deeds are meted out to the doer in his or her lifetime and thereafter.

Ever   the   philosopher,   driven   by   reason   and temperance with a hint of asceticism and impelled by  the  need  to  examine  life  long  held  notions, Ikedife stated that he did not believe in birthdays or   celebrating   the   dead   with   the   usual   lavish ceremonies and condolences.

If   one   really   thinks   it   through,   everyday   is   a birthday, for if today were your fortieth birthday, tomorrow  would  be  your  fortieth  and  one  day birthday, and so on. It does not sound so nice just because we are used to counting yearly.

Due  to  the  reality  of  finality  of  death,  Ikedife insisted  that  funeral  ceremonies  and  condolences were of no use to the dead and could only lead to unnecessary   waste   of   resources   by   the   living, pushing the bereaved into avoidable debt in some cases.  He  also  found  the  practice  of  not  burying the  dead  as  soon  as  possible  and  keeping  the corpse  in  the  morgue  for  weeks,  months,  and  in cases years as repugnant.

Consequently,   Ikedife’s   funeral   instruction   was simple  and that was, for him to be  buried within 24   hours   of   his   death   and   with   no   funeral ceremonies after that.

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I   would   bet   that   Ikedife   intended   his   funeral instruction   as   both   his   well-reasoned   proper course  of  action  and  dialectic  geared  towards  a healthy debate. It would therefore do disservice to his  memory  as  a  philosopher  to  accept  such  as truism without the attendant examination.

To  bury  the  dead  within  24 hours  of  death  or  at the  earliest  possible  time, is  without question  the proper  and  necessary  course  of  conduct,  because the  soul  departs  at  the  point  of  death  leaving behind  a  mere  carcass  for  which  no  tomb  no matter   how   big   or   how   beautifully   decorated would  be  of  use  and  for  which  no  ceremony  no matter how grand would be of use.

While  Ikedife  was  right  that  a  funeral  ceremony was of no use to the dead, I dare argue that he was wrong to deem it unnecessary on this premise  or on the premise that it would lead to waste and/or avoidable debt for families of modest means.

Apart  from  opportunity  for  collectively  praying for the dead, funerals ceremonies are more for the living  than  the  dead.  They  avail  the  bereaved emotional  distraction  at  the  lowest  moment  and provide  opportunity  for   the  commencement  of process of healing and closure.

Participation   in   funerals   helps   to   refocus   our attention    to    our    mortality,    while    speeches, sermons,  funeral  orations  and  tributes  contribute to  the  discourse  on  public  morality.  Just  the  fact that    Reverend    Father    Udemba    officiated    at Ikedife’s burial and extolled his virtues reminded people  of  the  good  in  religious  tolerance  and  of the morality of Ikedife’s virtues.

Moreover, we often forget that funeral ceremonies for  elders  as  Ikedife  are  at  once  mourning  and

celebration  of  lives  well  lived  and  are  therefore economic    activities    contributing    to    the    local economy and the overall gross domestic product.

Hardly  can  the  expenditures  made  to  attain  the above objectives be taken as wasteful, and by the same    token,    families    should    however    apply prudence on spending for funerals so as to avoid debt. Only those families, who desire to and could afford it, should undertake such ceremonies.

This  dialectic  is  one  sided  since  Dr  Ikedife  is  not available to offer his usually vigorous rebuttal.

We miss him so much.

The other vexing issue relating to burials in some parts of Nigeria is the habit of burying the dead in residential  homes.  Let  me  leave  this  for  another day.

When  Dozie  Ikedife  Jnr  asked  for  my  tribute,  I warned  him  that  mine  would  not  be  the  usual hagiography  but  a  look  at  some  of  the  issues

Ikedife  cared  about  and  that  it  would  be  longer than Pericles’ Funeral Oration

For want of time and space I have looked only at a few issues and non-exhaustively at that, otherwise I would require to write no less a book in order to do  justice  to the  intellectual  colossus  that was Dr Dozie Ikedife, thinker, philosopher, humanitarian, equal rights activist, altruist.

Nnayi  Ikedife,  Ikenga  Nnewi,  Ikuku  Ebu  Mkpu, Odezuluigbo, je nke oma, oke gi na be Chukwu ga bu OKEOMA !!


Ikenga Nnewi.

Thinker, Philosopher, Equal Rights Activist, Humanitarian, Altruist.

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