The Lenten period for Christendom remains a period of self-reflection and deep denial as part of Christian sacrifice in relation to the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross by dying to cleanse us of our sins. In the journey of Christians especially Catholics there is self-denial in fasting, charity and more prayers to ensure that you change your old ways for new for that is all that is required to show appreciation for the sacrifice of himself that Christ made for us.
I am Catholic and we are encouraged to deny ourselves food, renew our faith and give up anything that is an obstacle for peaceful co- existence and the path to a good afterlife. A lot of times we fast from food but other times we are often encouraged to fast from bad habits….drink, adultery, smoking with the hope that after the period of length we give thes things up permanently. We are encouraged to deny ourselves those things we think we can’t do without. I love ice-cream so I often give it up for lent and as the years go past I have reduced my craving to a minimum. Our priest would say people who are often deceitful should fast from it or those who lie or gas light other people with the hope that they would give up those things completely.
In the same breath, during lent one is to be kinder to ones compatriots and humankind and be part of contributing to ease people’s burdens. In my church, St Vincent de Paul is the church society that collects foodstuff, clothes and useful items for the most vulnerable and less privileged in the society. It goes on all year round but it is most encouraged at Lent. During the Lenten period, food is routinely given to those fasting through the generosity of church members. It is beautiful to see. But it’s interesting spiritually that oftentimes both Lent and Ramadan overlap and the tenets for adherents of both religious inclination is the same. Moslems spend this time in deep reflection, fasting doing charity and being deeply prayerful, and seeking forgiveness from God for any wrong doing while redecorating themselves to their faith.
It is even more interesting that our electoral season came on the cusp of Lent and Ramadan. Now that the elections have been won and lost, these two seasons from two of our largest faiths in Nigeria us a clarion call for politicians on either side of both faiths to be honest in their dealings with the Nigerian citizenry. As politicians already know, Nigerians are disillusioned by those responsible for treating them well.
I just returned from my community where I spent the Easter holiday. Our local governments are comatose. The question should be asked, what is the role of community leaders, local government chairmen, councillors and Governors. The question should be asked how our local governments became a place for restive houses. If there is no light and no jobs, it is difficult to get a young person to think straight. When the rich and mighty come home for holidays politicians etcetera, the vulgar display of wealth, the long convoy of cars, the shiny trinkets of madam and her smooth skin and the tall cap and luxurious robes of Oga politician makes the village youth want to be like them.
With nothing better to do they serve Mr Silk robe and shiny madam by being their regular thugs. Recruitment is cheap and easy. I walked round my town especially in the evenings and I see the hopeless faces of young people with potential walking aimlessly through the town centre as darkness falls on the plane of our town, the air thick with dust and the goggle of young boys and girls.
Only those with means begin the generator journey at 7pm. Young people are imploding across Nigeria. Restless, restive and in trouble. In addition, those giggling boys and girls will soon lay with each other, a baby would be born, a young man will deny being the father and a young woman’s life will come to a crashing halt, from a shudder of darkness to the very abyss of darkness with only a baby she does not want as a prize. The local governments need rescue. Our youths need rescue. Our communities need to be uplifted. Politicians should wear their thinking hats and rescue their communities.
Old women and their daughters still going to the stream to fetch water should no longer be a 21st century imagery. Our forefathers and forebears did it. It’s 2023 people, we can give our people a better quality of life. Light, water are not too much to ask. Getting the youths in all our local governments occupied is an important task. Being a thug is not a job. The little some philanthropic organisations do is never enough. Your children may go to school in cities, but their cousins are the majority in the villages. Improving the life of their cousins will make them safer. Politicians; the halo of Lent and Ramadan is over your heads.
You went before God and made promises in this holy season. Keep them. Be truthful. Don’t knowingly mislead your people. Provide the amenities you said you would. Don’t encourage violence. Be kind. Be charitable. Fast from deceit and lies for those of you who make it a habit. Stand with the truth. Win graciously. Lose gallantly. Do the right thing. If aggrieved follow the right path way. Be kind to one another. You promised, not to me but to your people and to God. There you have it.
In these perilous times let us do our jobs honestly. Stay above board and do not hide anyone’s file for gratification. Like I always say, give the job to the most qualified and don’t demand money before you give a job. Beyond politicians there are private sector scams, civil service scams, and scams in churches and mosques. From the three arms of government there are corrupt people. It was lent. It’s now Ramadan. Turn a new leaf for the sake of your children and the nation that has fed us all these years. You promised to be better, you made that promise to God not to me. Now it is time to keep that promise to the people, the nation, and ultimately to God.