By Hannu Afere

(Let Prodigal Son = General Insecurity.)
(Let Older Son = Law Abiding citizens)
(Let Father = the Nigerian Government)

Humor me.

The Parable of the prodigal son is one of the most popular stories narrated by Jesus in the Bible. In it, a young man demands his share of his inheritance, even though his father isn’t yet dead… then he squanders it and eventually returns home repentant– but only after he becomes a pauper dining with pigs.

He fears his father would turn him away, but the old man is only too glad to see him. He immediately goes to clean him up, clothes him, feeds him and even throws him a party! The prodigal’s elder brother is understandably unhappy with the situation. It feels like he had been wasting his time being loyal to his father.

This feeling of one’s time being wasted is something the average Nigerian has come to know intimately since power changed hands in 1999.

Today, we stand on one end of the spectrum, watching the government sell us terrorists as rehabilitated citizens, just as we watched them sell us a Military dictator in what’s supposed to be a democracy.

In barely 12 months, we have witnessed prodigious amounts of wastage– of human lives and resources. We have seen COVID-19 palliatives hoarded, seen 11% increase in fuel prices, seen 2.5% VAT rate increase, 65% hike in electricity tariff, 17% increase in food prices, 27% FX rate depreciation (a dollar is now 500 naira!) and insecurity is at an all time high.

Just yesterday, the evening news was reading: Boko Haram beheads 43 farmers in one of the most horrific mass murders in the history of the insurgency. This happened on the 28th of November in Zabarmari, less than 20 km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

In case you have forgotten, at one point, Boko Haram Terrorists were referred to as our misguided, reformed, rehabilitated, re-educated brothers who were to be re-introduced into our society.

Is there a lesson here?

When we were taught CRK in school, the notes were structured to make us feel that the older brother was being unreasonable and jealous because he questioned his father’s decision to welcome his rat bastard brother with open arms and a fattened calf.

The truth is that, the older son was right!

In the parable, his father says (to calm him down) “all that I have is yours”. But this is demonstrably false. The inheritance is already minus one calf, minus one ring, minus one robe– not to mention the feast thrown for the younger brother with him only finding out after the fact!

The elder brother is not stupid. He too could have demanded his whole inheritance, but he didn’t.

The prodigal’s motive for returning to his father was purely based on economic need– he didn’t want to continue eating hog food. In welcoming him, the father was taking away from the older son’s future property– which is an injustice. Theft, pure and simple, since it was done without his consent.

The parable might be about repentance and forgiveness but it is most importantly about LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY!

Ours is a system that allows its inmates such crutches as “divine grace and favour” where merit should be the only yardstick. Ours is a society that normalizes responsibility being deflected to “God”. A system where where repentance is like pure water, and (I might be digressing now) someone like Mr Senator who was caught on camera assaulting a woman in a sex toy store can be let off with just a slap on the wrist.

(Oh, I am really digressing now) Did you know that Senator Elisha Ishiaku Abbo recently switched parties? His letter to the senate president was titled “Movement of GOD’S People from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC…”

He was quoted as saying “…I want to also commend some PDP members that moved with me from darkness to light. Adamawa has always been APC State. We are the one (sic) that made it to tilt to the other side, please forgive us. We are now born again. We knew what we did and we will undo what we did come 2023. We shall not disappoint you Sir..’”

Is this a prime example of prodigal behaviour? Your guess is as good as mine.

My heartfelt condolences to the families of the 43 dead. The onus is now on those who are alive to continue interrogating the system and demanding justice. To hold our elected officials accountable from the grassroots to federal level. To salvage what’s left our our inheritance and shield it from the thieving fingers of the prodigals.

This is our mandate.

(c) Hannu Afere 2020