Sunday, 20 April 2014
Ekweremadu’s Church Gift By Charles Ofoji
Perhaps, the worst tragedy that could befall a man is to have the misfortune to be born a Nigerian. It was Easter Monday; I had just read the news of the opening of Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s church gift to God by President Goodluck Jonathan. The Commander-in-Chief squandered taxpayers money flying with the presidential jet with his army of aides and sycophants to Enugu (including the advance party of aides and security personnel who travelled by road to the coal city) to glorify impropriety and give an immoral presidential approval to a public servant’s grave misbehaviour. Both Ekweremadu’s brazenness and the President's thoughtlessness sickened me. Also appalling was seeing men of God, who should condemn evil act, as accomplices.
I sat on the sofa in my living room and ruminated over this madness. Nigeria continues to dip. When you think you have seen the worst, you are soon jolted by another outrage. Welcome now to the era when politicians no longer hide the fact that they stole money or misused their office to acquire illegitimate wealth. How did a senator get the money to build such a multi-million Naira church? The answer is simple. Either he stole public funds or abused his office to enrich himself. Apportioning to himself and colleagues in the Senate bizarre salaries and allowances, when the average Nigerian they are representing is battling each day to eke out a decent meal, also falls into the last category. A wise president would have stayed away from such shameless show of prosperity and piety.
Ekweremadu said that he built the church in fulfillment of a covenant he made with God. He had promised to build God a church if he succeeded in life. But as a public officer, his success will not be measured by how huge his pocket has become because he is not a businessman, but rather by the impact the leadership he provided has had on the lives of the people. Using this benchmark, Ekweremadu remains a total failure. Okay, even if we grant it to him that he has unlawfully succeeded, must he make a show of the redemption of his pledge to God? Were we there when he made the covenant with God? So why should we witness its fulfillment? Didn’t God say in the Bible that he takes no pleasure in the righteousness of Pharisees and Sadducees? The Senator can fool himself and undiscerning Nigerians, but certainly it is unconscionable for him to think he can fool God. The All-Seeing God requires a man to be just and fair before being generous. You cannot cause the children of God to suffer and die and think that you can wash away your iniquities with a gift to Him.
Anyway, my cogitation was interrupted by the chime of my telephone. I was not in the mood. However, the ringing persisted. When I eventually picked with reluctance, it was my friend, Ken. He also lives in Berlin. He wanted to know if I could escort him to Moritzplatz in Berlin-Kreuzberg. He got an SOS from a relation of his who finally made it to Germany, he said. He had survived the war in Libya and survived the crossing over to Italy in a wooden boat. Hundreds, including Nigerians who were forced into exile by the misrule at home did not make it. They drowned in Mediterranean waters. This is still unknown to their families back home. I also later gathered from Ken’s relation that over five hundred Nigerians were massacred by the Rebel and Gaddafi forces during the revolution. Till this day, no action has been taken by the federal government. Not even summoning the Libyan Ambassador. How could a small country like Libya exterminate citizens of a powerful country and there are no consequences?
I obliged my friend’s request; we drove down to Moritzplatz. What I saw when we got there nearly made me cry. In the middle of a ruthless winter, his relation and many other Nigerians, who came from Italy, were among dozens of homeless immigrants who took refuge in a tented camp. No kitchen, no toilets, no bathrooms and no heaters. Only a gas fire in the middle of the tent provided some kind of heat that hardly warmed the place. The occupants have no legal claim to anything better. They were not even refugees in Germany. Most of them benefitted from the amnesty granted to illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in Italy and came to Germany to seek a better life.
When Ken eventually saw his relation, he barely recognized him. A man in his mid-forties now looks like someone in his late sixties. He did not need to tell you that he has seen hard times. It was written all over him. I watched with pleasure his uncontrollable joy and relief when he saw Ken. For him, it was like God has come to save him.
God would have been pleased if Ekweremadu cared for his fellow Nigerians. Ken’s relation is just one of over ten million Nigerians who are going through untold hardship abroad because of the type of leadership Ekweremadu and Co provided at home. Life in exile for them is hell, unfortunately home is not better.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters