By PRINCE EMEKA OBASI
At the peak of the Igbo/Yoruba brouhaha recently, many of us elected to keep our peace and watch the burlesque run its doomed course. I felt it was needless to jump into the fray and trot out my own pan Nigerian credentials as evidence that I am a Yoruba loving non-Igbo irredentist, willing to cohabit pliantly in Lagos and knowing my place! I have often associated my views with the words made famous by Samuel Johnson to wit; patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrels! And indeed, as Oscar Wilde observed, “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”
My basic premise is that all human beings are essentially the same. Our sensibilities may differ, largely on account of nuture and geography, but in the main, we all, from Cape Town to Cairo, are all one. That is the main import of the Biblical provision “There are therefore, no Jew or Gentile… We are all one in Christ Jesus.”
From early childhood, I learnt to love all peoples; men, women and children alike. I don’t have any room in my system to discriminate. I believe in the maxim that if you stretch out your arms to the world, the world will stretch out its arms to you. I have benefitted immensely from the friendship, love and support of multiple people from all across the Nigerian divide. The greatest of such benefits is the gift of my gorgeous wife who was not Igbo at the time of our marriage, but who has become even more Igbo than I am today.
Two weeks ago, Femi Otedola, business avatar and would be civic leader, put a smile on my face and brightened the faces of fellow pan Nigerians when he reached out to the coal city, to give a helping hand to an authentic national hero; the football icon, chairman Christian Chukwu. Otedola’s gesture is a further affirmation of the beautiful and noble in Nigeria. It is an acknowledgement of the supremacy of the universal man. If it were a golf shot, that gesture would be an eagle put! I hail Otedola, a real quintessential Nigerian and I pooh pooh Enugu State Government and the Federal Government, especially, the Federal Ministry of Sports.
Chairman Christian Chukwu represents one of the best faces of Nigeria – humble, accomplished, patriotic and honourable. He spent his youth and indeed life, serving our country and bringing boundless joy to us. And yet, at this critical period, the government he served are looking idly as he wilts. It is simply tragic! Consider if Chukwu was a former lawmaker, minister or governor. To begin with, he would have stashed away looted funds and then he would be on life pension.
Chukwu’s health challenge was an opportunity for the Enugu State government, whose governor, I understand is genuinely popular, to shine even more brightly. In the event, he elected to count his pennies, while the Federal Government looked the other way. It’s a shame!!!
By reaching out to help, Otedola has scored a bull’s eye and put a lie to all the purveyors of ethnic bigotry and irredentists, including, especially those masquerading in our various Pentecostal churches as, “Born again Christians”. I have often wondered, “is it possible for an ethnic bigot to be a genuinely born again Christian?” Hopefully, my pastor KunmiAdeyemo, at the Redeemed Christian Church, City of God Parish, Ikeja, will help me out!
Now, can all genuine patriots in the house rise up and hail Mr. Femi Otedola, a true Nigerian and a greater tomorrow…….?