By Tony Agbali
These biblical texts—Isaiah 58, and 2 Chronicles 27 and 28 speaks so much to me today about the global situation; the situation in my adopted homeland, USA; aboriginal Nigeria, and my natal homeland of the Igala. I am, however, fixated with the Igala nation.
And being Lent, the meaning of these make sense even all the more.
The lesson is eternal and lucid: You cannot pray and fast and expect results if your actions does not match what God’s expects—compassion for others, sympathy and care for the weak and vulnerable.
You cannot blatantly act arrogantly and poise insolently–especially against God and treat others shabbily, thinking your being is better than their being, and pride on contrasting persons based upon “them” and “us” and you expect to be honored. Those who act justly like King Jotham will be honored, those who act like the arrogant and odious King Ahaz will be dishonored.
Only those who have illuminative imagination can deeply understand these profound truths. There can be no politicizing of these, and the cloak of power, wealth, influence, position–whether in church and society-are no immunity to the embedded consequences contained in these truths—and these truths are profound and there’s no rhetorical post-modernizing and relativizing them that can discount their innate realities.
My people claims and intones God incessanty but they are awash in gory things. My people pray and have all kinds of religious titles, and celebrate all kinds of rituals and symbolisms but forget the basic that life is a gift—a shared gift from God with us, and demands of us to share the gifts we have been privileged.
But, no way! Rather they glory and parade being Reverends, Priests, Deacons, Arch/Bishops, Knights, Lady Auxiliaries, Presidents, Presidential candidates, Governors, Ministers, Secretaries, Commissioners, and other glamorous silly and rottening titles only rich in torturous gamings that toy with the lives and happiness of others; heavily divested and disconnected.
Enjoying their rides in fancy automobiles, residing in towering mansions, celebrating lives of inanities of so-called High but sickening cultures, often time stealing from the same suffering folks, they stampede upon others uncaring.
Yes, they thoroughly oppress people, leaving trails of immense suffering on their path, dying like vultures, and existing as walking carcassess while no one cares.
How can your prayers and fastings be answered? How, my people so bold-faced in masquerading and callous in your show-offs? Your Guccis, Rolexes, Jeeps, Aston Martins, Porches, Lexuses, Royce Rolls, Jets, will not celebrate you, when you are mangled and crumbling houses, entombed in those things that rungs our ladder of differentiations! Let’s retrace our steps.
More than anything else, on my mind is my natal homeland, Igala land, in their mournful mood over their demised son, James Ocholi, a Federal Minister of State, his wife, Blessing Fatima, and son, Joshua; victims of a wreckless Nigeria where the rules of arbitrariness predominates and different forms of lawless attitudes determine the difference between life and death—commercial and public officials chaffeurs driving wrecklessly on public road, without license, and often without order and obedience of traffic rules!
Pray, Pray, Pray, Igala land and people, but ask your public officials to act right–pay up the public workers owed their sweated salaries for many months unend (close to 8 months). Their tears is sullying our land, and their bitter prayers to God for succor will be surely heard. God will revenge on behalf of his widespread suffering people.
The land is crying out to God. Politicians are trusting marabouts and embedding their destiny in these, they are using animals and even in some cases human blood to sacrifice for elections, these will not save anyone. I ask: how many cows did Obama had to kill to win the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth? How many children have to be kidnapped and be lost? These tactics will fail you, my Igala politicians, and there’s no assurance in it.
You welcome and embrace injustices. You rob Peter to pay Paul and celebrate with false rationalizations. Continue. There’s surely a limit. God now ordain governors and Local Government Chairmen and councilors, using God’s name in vain? As your say in Nigerian Pidgin English: “Dog wey wan loss no dey hear im owner [im] whistles! Keep moving from fake glory to false glory.
These slights are causing pain, suffering, and even death of the innocent, hunger and starvation marks the lives of women and children, despair is eating deep into our land. We cannot pray with dirty hearts and soiled spirits. Something positive must be done, these positions need redressing.
The day of reckoning is slowly unveiling and it is sadly catching up with us, to our frustration and speechlessness. Unless, we reform and repent as the Attah of Igala, Agabaidu and Amideju Michael Ameh Oboni II has urged and appealed to us all to depart from our evil ways and make true amends, we will continue to wallow in grief.
The idea of prayer is significant. But the Igala need a day of atonement and repentance, more than anything else. Yes, we say prayer alone will cut if for you, but how can when many of our hands are not clean?
When you destroy one another for penury, you wish all will be well? When you take Okun rights and give to another, and you mutedly keep quiet! Does that kind of sonorous justice please God? You know the answers whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Traditional Religion practitioners!
Today, Igala has become laissez faire, anyone can come from anywhere and claim to be Igala and seek Igala titles and other privileges and bona fide Igala mutedly acquiesce. Why did the heroes of the Mahionu war put so much at stake? Plus, the God who made us Igala is not a fool. Today, we are claimed by all and aliens that were gracious to harbor laugh at us and jostle with us to our shame and insult.
Yes, Nigeria is a democracy and anyone can live where they choose, but should it be to our outright offense, detriment, and insult? The situation in Agatu also steers us directly in the face! Can my people do that so freely in their areas of sojourns in alien lands, without respect to their hosts. True, Igala is a multicultural society and we practiced plurality long before it became fashionable in the global west and the rest of the world.
We, no longer have a cogent identity as a people and even worst no more history to call ours any more? A disenfranchised people? Today, the oil from under our land belongs to another. It floats wealth-shores for others beyond our land. We can do nothing, we have done nothing. We are now claimed by a nation in embryo as part of their territory. There’s mutedness in our climes. No one speaks up.
Igala is now an exiled people, our land taken and our oil wets the wealthy appetites of another clime. Forsaken? Glutted? Weakling? Yes, we are for peace, but has things become so bad? For what did our valliant men die in years past?
We want another blitzkriegs in Idah market before we begin to scamper for safety? Run where, under River Ocheche, or is this the Maboro? Gallant Inikpi and Odoko must be tearful. Our land sobs and our people are rolling in pain.
Early Sunday, March 6th, waking up early, I heard a message that caught me unaware very clearly and surprising—that scared me. That message was succinct: “Many political officials in your land (Kogi) will die.”
I was confused and confounded and wished it away, even as it bothered me and getting back to bed, but later events and news later that evening would prove instructive and revealing a part of that message clearly. A good man, and members of his family has become a sacrificial victim.
Cry, weep, we shall Igala but seated on our butts without changing our ways, and inferior minds paving our paths is our doom. Yes for the Igala, am ready for your name callings, but this is the moment of truth. I owe you the truth. The son of Atebo, the Anu, priest and sacred royal custodian, representatives of the living and the dead (ay’egwu kp’ile) fears no one on these matters.
It is my sacred duty to Igala, hear it and act, hear it and denounce it the choice is your.
Our land cannnot continue to go awry!