By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
O! compatriots and kinsmen, when storms destroy the farmlands relentlessly for seven weeks, termites eat the crops for seven weeks, our children die in the hands of kidnappers while serving the nation, earthquakes shake the land at night and in the day, terrorists walk the land at night and in the day, bandits rule the nights, kidnappers rule the day, herdsmen carry AK-47s to harass the innocent of the land, herdsmen seize farmlands that do not belong to them, when government says we should cede our lands to foreign herdsmen so that we may live, young men slaughter ladies, harvest their body parts, rape their mothers for ritual money, when so-called pastors bury live human beings in their altar in your name, when non-state actors rule some states, when injustice sits in the court of justice, death becomes second skin, it is time to run to the divine for restitution, for divine intervention.
To whom do we cry, who do we call, when bandits become an alternative government, stronger than the army of the land, stronger than the government that claims we elected them? Do we still have the moral right, are we qualified to still call on you when there is so much pollution in the land, when blood touches blood? Do you have a controversy with us? O God of Jeremiah Awolowo, God of Benjamin Azikiwe, God of Balewa, what have we done to deserve this plague that calls itself a government, a government which stays supine in the cold luxury of Abuja while scoundrels snuff out lives with reckless ease? Is this a curse on us your poor children for rejecting good governors for ethnic jingoists? Is this a visit of the serpents which you unleashed on the stubborn Jews at Mount Hur during the exodus? When shall we have a Serpent of Brass? When shall the messiah come? Who will save us from the apostates in power? Who Lord, who? Who do we cry to when an Imam is suspended from the altar because he cries aloud about the failure of the State to stop killings?
Our nation bleeds. Our hearts fail us for fear. Too many strange things are happening in the land. There is food. There is meat. Yet, some of us kill human beings and eat flesh? Fierce looking young men and women seize informal power in some parts of the land and impose their own rule, spilling blood of the innocent? Even during the civil war, we did not live in such hopelessness. Is this the apocalypse so long in prophecy? My pastor assures me it is not yet the Great Tribulation. If this is not the Great Tribulation yet we are gnashing our teeth, the sea is boiling, the mountain is melting already, what would the Day be when you shall throw us out of the land? It is not a story to tell. It is not a good story to pass on. What must we do O Almighty father! A goat does not suffer the pains of parturition when elders are around! Who do we cry to when the locusts eat our food and decimate our farms? Who, Father, who?
Dear Father, Devil is on the loose, Fire is on the loose, this could be our noose, unless we cut the noose! Someone loves the noose, he rigidly fiddles for the noose, because he has nothing to lose, if we all face the noose, for the noose is the news he has for the mews of mewing children. Our necks are tightened by the black noose, black patriots cry about the noose, even white strangers cry about the black noose, yet fat messengers of the noose indolently remain on the loose to praise the hands of the noose till the raging fire of the noose consume us with herdsmen’s noose. Who shall tell the news of the noose?
They said they would change the land. They said they would provide power supply. The gods of Abuja said they would bring down the cost of gas. They even promised to end the reign of terror. They promised to end Boko Haram. But they have become Boko Haram to the hungry citizens of the land. They refused to call black, black; they gave it another name. They refused to brand the terrorists of the northeast as terrorists. They branded the boys in the east as terrorists and outlawed their organisation. Killers roam the land, protected by some unwritten codes of dishonour! Who shall save the land? O Lord God, arise and save your children.
So it was Chinelo, the nation’s young daughter, trained as a medical doctor, ready to leave the land to pursue her dream was bombed to death by bloodthirsty hounds. She was shot. Posted her picture. Called for help. Attack dogs of the gods in Abuja called her names. And she bled to death. Will her blood not haunt the land if her killers walk the land with impunity? What makes the gods of Abuja believe that their reign should continue in post-2023 elections? Why should they show their faces in the ballot? To deceive the people? Do they think we are morons? Is that they believe our votes will not count? That the result of the elections is written already? O Lord! Have mercy on us and send down the rain!
Everything has got its time and season. Let this be the time for restoration. Let the locusts go away. The suffering in the land has a distended stomach. It can eat up everybody except your mercy comes from above. Save us that we may be saved. Help us that we may be helped. Heal us that we may be healed. If a pregnancy could be hidden, we would hide this one. Who gave them the power to ruin lives in such an impudent manner? Who gave them this nonchalance over what matters to your children who cry to you daily? Is that an affliction from you?
Arise o Lord, arise as in Mount Perazim. Arise and bring succour to the land. Overturn, O Lord, overturn, and overturn and let your Mercy sit on the throne in the land. We have no one but thee!
Professor Hope O. Eghagha is of the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka.