"Audu And the Vanity Of Life"

This is an exclusive blog post by political activist and motivational speaker, Usman Idris. "...He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history.  On core principles he was unyielding..."

Prince Abubakar Audu

We have in our possession a considered response to this basic question from one of the wisest, richest, most powerful men to have walked the earth. And yet even today his counsel is widely ignored or misunderstood!

"Vanity of vanities," lamented Solomon, "all is vanity!" Solomon used the word "vanity" 38 times in Ecclesiastes as he wrote about life "under the sun." The word means "emptiness," "futility," "vapour"; "that which vanishes quickly and leaves nothing behind." From the human point of view, life ("under the sun") does often appear futile; and it is easy for us to get pessimistic. But we should not mistake brutal honesty with pessimism.

It is hard to eulogize any man -- to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person -- their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul.  How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.

Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, the adoration that he so rightly earned, it’s tempting I think to remember my last encounter with Price Abubakar Audu on August 21st 2015 at his Abuja residence, full of smiles and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men.  In the words of Dr. Nelson Mandela.  “I am not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

Prince Audu admitted to imperfection -- because he could be so full of good humour, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried.  He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood -- a son and a husband, a father and a friend.  And that’s why we have to learn so much from his death, and that’s why we can learn from him still.  For nothing he achieved was inevitable.  In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith.  He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.

He believes in the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of his ideals.  But like other  giants of the Nigeria Political class, He disciplined his anger and channelled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand up for the pursuit of their right.  Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price.

Prince Audu demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough.  No matter how right, they must be chiselled into law and institutions.  He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history.  On core principles he was unyielding.

For the people of Kogi State and those he inspired around the country, Prince Abubakar Audu’s death is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life.  But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection.  With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask:  How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?

All over our country today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease.  We still see run-down schools.  We still see young people without prospects for the future. Men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love.  That is happening today.

And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice.  We, too, must act on behalf of peace.  The questions we face today -- how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and politics of bitterness -- these things do not have easy answers. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.

After this great politician is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and re-joined our daily routines, let us search for his strength.  Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves.  And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of this man and the words that brought him comfort while he strive to serve the society.What a magnificent soul it was.  May the soul ofrest in perfect peace.

General Egalitarian


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