Pulse Blogger The triumphant entry of a man and the shame of a people

With five schooling days in a week, it was traditional for us to recite the national anthem in Urhobo, the largest ethnic group in Delta State at least once every week.

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The triumphant entry of a man and the shame of a people

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Underneath that big blue sky, with the morning dew still fresh on the ground and the aroma of blue banded cabin biscuits from my bags, we would stand in front of the assembly lines, socks at full stretch and shoes properly polished, with hands on our chest and scream those words to high heavens. Pride and fun filled the air.

With five schooling days in a week, it was traditional for us to recite the national anthem in Urhobo, the largest ethnic group in Delta State at least once every week. Twice a week we also had to study it in class and during social studies, we learned more about and appreciated all the people of Delta State and their culture.

When the people of Delta are described as big-hearted people, it is as true as true can be. If ever there were a more hospitable, and highly accommodating people than they are, I will never know. Kind to strangers who respect themselves anyway, for in ‘area’ if you do any how you go see anyhow. Their women are hard workers, not ‘swegbes’.

They rise with the morning sun and their work is never done till night falls. Their men strong and determined, always doing what they had to do to fend for their families. Whether as Christians or traditionalists, their value system was always worthy, of not only admiration but also emulation.

In Delta I was born, in Delta, I had my primary and secondary education; in Delta, I had my first real sets of friends and neighbors. It does not really matter how far and long gone I may be, there will always be a place in my heart for Delta, and I know Delta will always harbor a place for me in her big heart as well.

In fact, when asked about my state of origin, I usually tell people my parents are from Akwa Ibom while I am from Delta. So no one should question my interest or motive when I entangle myself in Delta-related issues. When I speak I speak not as a stranger, but as a bona fide son of the soil in all ramifications and by all known standard. Wonyo?

I always wonder what it was exactly King Solomon saw that made him lament “there is an evil under the sun, an error which proceedeth from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity.” If his eyes caught a glimpse of events that occurred underneath the once big and beautiful skies of Delta state a few days ago, he probably would have authored the second book of lamentations.

Like Edmund Burke said, “an event has occurred upon which it is difficult to speak but impossible to stay silent.” Silence on the events in the state in the last few days will amount to a deafening approval of an anomaly. God forbids we stay silent in the face of this brazen affront of our collective consciences.

Late last year in the build-up to the release of a former governor from a UK jail, convicted of money laundering and fraud, I read of the buzz and excitement amongst his people.

Like every other Nigerian politician, he is always bound to have his die-hard supporters which he is of course entitled to.  I played down the grand reception I read was being prepared to receive him as the handiwork of idle minds who were bent on misleading unsuspecting members of the public.

Delta may have a big heart, but she has no place for condoning fraud and criminality of any scale. The sight of a besieged airport, crowded streets and loud cheers sadly proved me wrong. The occasion and fun fare of his return could have been mistaken for the second and keenly anticipated triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem and should be greeted with consternation and condemnation.

For a man who presided over the affairs of the oil-rich state for eight years, to plead guilty to fleecing such, and have the drums rolled out for him after his conviction and jail term, are reflective of the extent to which things have deteriorated back there in the state and perhaps the country as a whole.

The Ibos have a saying when a taboo is tolerated once, it soon turns to tradition. Charles Colton said, “corruption is like a ball of snow, once it is set rolling, it must increase.” Are they aware of the wrong and dangerous precedents they are setting? What messages do they intend to cascade to the next generations that are observing them? That crime pays as long as you do it big?

He did not return as a political prisoner in the form of Nelson Mandela, MKO Abiola or Fela Kuti. He pleaded guilty to plundering your collective wealth. If anything his return should have been done nicodemeausly, like a thief in the night.

On the contrary and in a dangerously worrisome conspiracy with the church, that ought to be a fortress of morale and sanity, he landed gorgeously, rode triumphantly through town, was conferred with another dishonorable title before crowning it up with thanks giving service, to not only mock men but God as well.

I bear no grudge against any man that comes to church. I always advocate that the church doors be open to saints and sinners alike as a matter of fact.

However, when a sinner, especially a convict walks down that sacred aisle, every step he takes must reek of remorse, repentance, restitution, humility and broken-heartedness, all of which were conspicuously absent in last Sunday service in Delta state. The church on her part must remember that the house of God will either be a place of worship or a den of thieves, certainly not both.

Ndinanake Udom is an accounting graduate of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State who lives and works in Port Harcourt. His hobbies include writing, playing chess, watching football, swimming and listening to the best of country music. Follow him on twitter @udomndi , email him at udomndi@gmail.com or call him on 08036266754.

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