Wrong Time To Die

Casmir Igbokwe

First Bank sent me a miraculous credit alert penultimate Wednesday. It was N200,000. The value of the money may not be much. But in today’s Nigeria, every kobo counts. Incidentally, I do not know the sender, Gimbiya Benjamin. And so, I felt it would be premature to start singing Abraham’s blessings are mine.

Some friends advised that I rush immediately to withdraw the money. They said it was God’s miracle seeing that it’s a period of heavy expenditure for me, especially school fees and burial of my mother-in-law. I wanted to believe it, claim it, and receive it as they chant in prayer ministries. But first, I needed to confirm the miracle as I do not take what does not belong to me.

Last Monday morning, I was on my way to the bank when I got another alert. This time, it was a debit of the same N200, 000. And the message was straightforward: wrong posting as advised by Gimbiya Benjamin.

That word ‘wrong’ reminded me of similar ‘wrongs’ in my life of recent. A few days back, my daughter overheard me lamenting that my mother-in-law died at a wrong time. “Is there really a wrong time for someone to die?” She asked. “You will not understand, my daughter,” was all I could say.

Or is 60 years a right time for one to die? That was the age Mrs Philomena Ijeoma Muogbo, who hailed from Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, departed this world. The painful aspect of it was that there was no advanced warning. She was not that sick. She only had waist pain which resulted from the little accident she had about two years ago. This affected her gait. We brought her to Lagos last year and got a physiotherapist to treat her. She later felt better and started moving about again.

However, in the morning of Tuesday, July 17, 2018, she spoke with her daughter and my wife, Ifeoma, on phone. Her voice was clear and strong. She said she was going to the hospital for check-up as she was feeling somehow. In the afternoon of that same day, my wife called again. She was told that mama’s blood pressure was low but that she was responding to treatment. Ironically, it was high blood pressure she had been suffering from. In the evening of that same day, a call came that she had passed on.

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I am not superstitious. Otherwise, I would have suspected something about this death and the figure ‘three’. Three years ago, my biological mother died three days after my birthday. My own father died three years before, that is, in 2012. And now, my mother-in-law has gone to join them, three years after my mother’s death.

Ijeoma Muogbo, nee Okeke-Akpunonu, was a mother like no other. Each time I visited home, I was sure of eating sumptuous local delicacies like ‘ukwa’, washed down with my favourite beer. I would go back to Lagos with some local food items and snacks. Now, I will be at the mercy of local restaurants whenever I visit home.

Very accommodating and kind hearted, Ijeoma trained and nurtured many indigent children. Two of such children currently live in her house. She was always ready to counsel people who consulted her for one thing or the other. To these people, it is wrong time for her to die!

Besides, the harsh economic situation in the country today makes it a wrong period for one to die. Burial ceremonies in Igbo land attract a lot of expenditure. Many families struggle to do this because if you don’t, it will look as if the current hardship is only resident in your house.

That is why some towns and groups have tried to cut down on burial expenditure. The Catholic Diocese of Awka, for instance, has banned printing of brochure for burials. And once someone dies, you have maximum of two months to bury the person. Some dioceses have even shortened the period to two weeks. I understand that plans are at an advanced stage to also ban indiscriminate use of mourning clothes (aso ebi) in Awka Diocese. When the law is passed, the clothes will only be for the immediate family members of the deceased.

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Muslims appear to understand this concept of death better than Christians. Once a Muslim dies, his relatives bury him immediately because they know that life is vanity.

Thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari, many Nigerians now pinch their pennies. Although some privileged few still squander money during burials as if it is too easy to come by, the majority of the people are going through hell. Even some of the people you think have the money may only just be managing to survive.

A few days ago, one of my readers wrote: “Uncle Casmir, please I need your help to start up a small business so that I will be able to take care of myself and as well go back to school. Uncle, I’m so sorry to disturb you with my problems but nothing is too small and I promise you that your help towards me will never be a waste. I’m so frustrated that I don’t know what else to do. I’m one of your fans in Sun newspaper. Please rescue me…”

Life can be so cruel. Some have billions of dollars to spend as they like; some others don’t even have just N100 to eat. Today, life is sweet; tomorrow, it is bitter. Today, you are full of life, making plans on how to buy a limousine. Tomorrow, you are a food for maggots.

I have come to realise that the most important thing in life is to serve humanity and to find happiness and fulfilment in what you do. The ultimate happiness is when you leave this earth in peace and also have peace wherever your soul finds itself.

Mrs Ijeoma Muogbo died peacefully. She may be happier where she is now. But for those she left behind, the death is painful. It came too early and unannounced. Her husband, Prince Ben Muogbo, is still crying. Her children and siblings have cried their eyes out. But we cannot question God. As we commit her to mother earth this Thursday, September 13, 2018, I can only say, may her soul continue to rest in peace!

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Re: Saraki, Tinubu and Buhari’s 800-metre relay

Nigerians are not naive, they are wise and intelligent. Buhari’s 800-metre walk is not news. Any person can do that as exercise. The truth is that our president is sick and it is affecting the masses. If it were to be an advanced country, the president would resign to take care of himself. Leave Saraki alone; the sin of Saraki and others is that they left APC and PDP to other political parties. Let us face the realities and stop chasing shadows.

• Bishop Uzoma Emmanuel, Owerri (mouth of Nigeria), 08037748145

Igbokwe, it is God that gives men their daily bread not man. Man is only a channel while God is the source. For now, power rotation is the name of the game in place. This is why APC and PDP zoned their presidential candidate slot to the north so as to complete their 8 years mandate/gentleman’s agreement. Merit was jettisoned after June 12 election due to lack of trust of the northern military/civilian oligarchy. In the course of time, the merit system would find its way back when enough trust would have been built.

• Mike, Mushin Lagos, +2348161114572

‘Buhari and quest for president of Igbo extraction’: Your people are the main problem of your inability to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Other issues are secondary. The cult-like and religious cohesion entrenched in Yoruba and Hausa politics is not known in Igboland. Rather your people destroy good materials like Orji Uzor Kalu who wears a nationalistic outlook like Zik, saturate the system with many aspirants, speak with discordant voices and allow all manner of parties into your system. Imagine APC, PDP, and APGA all there for what! Blame not Buhari and what happens, first look inward for solution.

Imagine an NBA election for presido magnanimously zoned to east and two Igbo candidates, Arthur Okafor and Ernest Ojukwu, were seen sharing votes meant for one thereby making a relatively unknown Paul Usoro who’s even a minority to zoom home. Nigeria is a peculiar country. We must apply peculiar methods in doing things. I’m non-partisan and detribalised in my views and deeds. Justice is what matters to me. You can’t believe that I am Akwa Ibom, yet I champion the Igbo cause whose political growth is also stagnated by your very people. The presidency must go round. An Akwa Ibomite now leads NBA because the Igbo votes were shared.

• Edet Essien esq, +2348037952470

It is nice write-up. Our orientation must change for better Nigeria.

• Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 10, 2018.

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