Evil has many facets: betrayal, blackmail, murder, corruption, character assassination, slothfulness, greed, avarice, gluttony, adultery, fornication, and paying back good for evil etc. These acts of wickedness offend God and diminish our self-worth in every perspective. Even though they are all sins, their degrees of severity still differ.
But, in my thinking the last one, paying back evil for good, is the worst of all. How can anybody ever think of paying the good done him with evil? What is the rationale for such an evil action? I cannot, in my wildest imagination, ever think this is possible until I experienced it personally. The first time I read about it in a newsmagazine, I thought the story was made up - that it never happened. The story I read in the magazine was about a man who was approached by his friend to lend him his car to do a trip to Lagos. At first, this man was very reluctant releasing his car to his friend. But after much pressure he gave in to his request and handed over the keys to his 2-year-old Honda Corolla car to his friend, who zoomed off immediately.
One week, two weeks, three weeks had gone and the guy did not return the car. All efforts to track him down failed, until two months after when information came from the police that the man had been seen in far away Kaduna, having disposed of the car. What is this world turning into and where exactly are we headed for?
I read another story of a man who received a lifeline from his bank-manager friend to sort out a pressing business need. When it was time to pay back the money, instead of fulfilling this obligation happily, he plotted for the manager to be killed. The manager was eventually killed in cold blood by a man hired by his debtor-friend, to evade paying back the money he borrowed. What do you have to say about this?
There are several gory stories of betrayal and blackmail in our country. Each of us has one experience or another to share in this connection. Brother is ready to betray his brother or sister for the sake of money. There is a kind of greed that has just crept into our national life: it is cancerous and consuming. It is gradually eating up the souls of many people, making them lose their sense of reasoning. Some people no longer have any modicum of conscience whenever they have anything to do with their fellow humans. Their first consideration is self. They are ready to kill, maim or deny their ancestry for the sake of money. When they are under this demonic influence, they lose their humanness and behave as if there is no tomorrow. My people call it “eat today, die tomorrow.” They care no hoot about God and have no reverence for him either. All they pride themselves in is evil.
Outwardly, they appear innocent, innocuous and saintly, but deep inside they are evil and satanic. The best way to find this out is to have anything to do with them involving money. The first thing they do is paint you black. You become like the hunter hunted. All agreements reached with them are thrown to the dogs; they deny any dealings with you and, even, brand you a thief. Thief over what rightly belongs to you! They are best at blackmailing, and can go to any length to discredit you in order to undue you.
Is it surprising that they are usually the first to cry wolf where none exists. They shout out to the whole world that you have killed them when in fact they are the villains and you, the victim. Because they have everything at their disposal to prosecute the war of blackmail, they roll out their propaganda machinery with all ferocity, with one goal in mind: pull him down. They seek alliance with other persons, who for years have nursed the morbid desire to destroy you. Together they go to town with all kinds of malicious and tendentious stories about you. They spare no resources to destroy you. They engage in these diabolical things without telling what sin you had committed. All they know is that they must cut their pound of flesh. For the reason you do not know.
Beneath their superficial actions often lay deep-seated hatred and animosity. They pretended, all along, when the going was good, that they were loyal to you and ready to lick your boot, just to show their ‘loyalty’. Unknown to you their action was a well-rehearsed, choreography of deceit and malice. Since there is no act to find the mind’s construction in the face, you accepted and trusted them. You opened your heart to them, taking them into confidence in all that you did. You told them who truly you are, believing they would respect your sensibilities and privacies. When there were shades of doubt about their disposition towards you something in you gave in: you became sympathetic and supportive all the same. You shrugged it off that the feelings you were having were borne out of your mere sense of humanity.
Perhaps, what had informed your trust initially was the outward appearance, definitely, not conviction. But who would ever believe that somebody you brought out of obscurity and placed in a position of power and trust would so recklessly and mindlessly betray such a trust too soon! Aware that loyalty has a price, you made visible efforts to change his life: you gave him assignments reserved only for trusted aides, you confided in him, you brought him to the fore, to be noticed and recognized, you placed high above others that thought they were closer to you than him, etc. You even discountenanced the warnings from different quarters about him and stuck to him like leeches. When the whole world thought that all hope had been lost, you pulled your string to save him from the foibles of his detractors who never wanted him to superintend over them. You insisted it should be him and nobody else. You staked your neck for him, even when people kept warning you about his chameleonic nature.
You vowed that nothing would come between you and the man. You paid deaf ear to all that you were told about him and rather embraced him with open arms. Why should you because of the wicked utterances of detractors throw away a man you saw as a perfect choice to sustain your vision, you had asked? Nevertheless, it did not occur to you that human-beings could change in a twinkle of an eye and become monsters and turn against you. You insisted it must be he. You staked everything you had to nurture and bring to fruition his dream.
Naturally, for all that you did for him the whole world would expect him to remain loyal and focused, no matter the circumstance he might find himself. Some people would come to you to tell you that the man you so trusted had been seen dining with your perceived enemies. How could that be possible, you had asked nobody in particular? All that you did for the man came rushing into your subconscious. You quickly wished away the thought. No, it could not have been possible, you had told yourself, considering all that you went through to make the man what he is today. But contrary to all your expectations, today the man has jumped ship and pitched his tent elsewhere. Now, he sees you as his worst enemy, for no justifiable cause. If he had his way he would blot out your name from the book of life. In utter stupefaction, you have kept asking one question:”What have I done to deserve all this?” You are further stunned when no answer is forthcoming. At least, you deserve an answer to why you are being hunted out of existence. Instead of getting an answer to why you are being persecuted, all you get are threats and underground plots to sabotage your business interests and put you in conflict with the authorities. In the presence of the high and mighty, he tells them about imaginary plans by you to destabilize their government – something you had never ever thought about.
They go about telling whoever cares to listen, wicked things about you. You have asked without any answer,” What have I done to deserve this?” Because we are human some people would think you regret your choice of this man. But unknown to them you bear no grudge against him. But who will believe you. Our society thrives in rumour and blackmail. For this reason, many people take sides without caring to find out the truth.
But for how long shall evil triumph over good? There are millions of others who have gone through the same experience in the hands of their trusted friends, colleagues and even close relations. Betrayal is a consuming furnace – it spares no one in its wake. When you point a finger against a person, remember that the other four point at you too. The evil that men do lives with them; no longer after them. And he that rides the tiger ends up in the belly of the tiger. Some people might think you are bitter and that is why you are writing this way. It is natural for them to reason this way, after all, they must have thought that what was done to you was unfair and that you were justified if you got angry. Why should I get angry? Was Jesus not betrayed by one of his beloved Apostles, Judas? Jesus trusted Judas and made him in charge of the treasury. Judas forgot the enormity of the trust that Jesus placed on him and went ahead to collect 30 shekels of silver to sell him to his persecutors.
“But you are not Jesus and the man in question could not have been Judas”, somebody had interjected. What difference does it make if the story of Jesus and Judas happened over 2000 years ago? What is important is that Judas fits properly into the character of the dramatis persona in my treatise today. Did the man not sell out because of money or influence – all products of unmerited power?
Anyway, let me ask:” How would you feel if you were the person betrayed? Would you ask for the man’s head?” I can only speak for myself: I prefer to watch and see how things work out. After all, they say that the end justifies the means. Let me ask again: “Is it not better to pray for him to repent, which is what I would do naturally?”
It is a pity that what rules our world today is betrayal in high places. There are definitely people that gloat over other people’s distress, forgetting that what goes round, comes round. Why should any person take joy in another’s sufferings when it is clear that no condition in life is permanent? Have we forgotten the story of the fowl that flapped its wings in jubilation when its fellow-fowls were being slaughtered? When its own time came, it faced the same fate. The same fate awaits those who kill, slander, and commit all kinds of atrocities in the name of politics and religion.
As a person, I have never wished anybody (even my perceived enemy) evil. My hope and trust are in the Lord who makes all things possible in my life. My life has been one of vicissitudes – both palatable and unpalatable. I even wonder how God has continued to chart my course, even when it seems all hope is lost. I had undergone terrible and perilous experiences in life and came out unscathed. This did not happen because of my righteousness, but out of God’s overflowing grace upon my life.
The best attitude to put up when men denigrate, insult and chastise you is to trust God absolutely. If you trust God, he will never disappoint you. As for man, his stock-in-trade is betrayal. He is loyal only when things go well for him and when he is seeking something from you. Once he achieves it, his loyalty becomes shaky. I have trusted God in everything I have done, believing that he will always pay each person according to his deeds.
I pray for a change of heart for those that run down their fellow human beings and derive joy from other people’s sufferings. What will it profit me if my persecutor should die? But there is joy in heaven for a soul that repents and comes back to God. I have developed a stoic heart to withstand the challenges that life thrusts upon me. I have never deluded myself that everything must remain rosy.
There are bound to be trials and difficulties everyway all through life, but how we handle them determines our ultimate fate.
I have refused to tow any confrontational line in the belief that everything that has a beginning must have an end. The bible says we should love for one another and carry one another’s burden in prayer. It is not, therefore, in our powers to seek vengeance. Vengeance belongs exclusively to God. What I have asked of my persecutors is to be left alone to face my business. I have always known that through the works of my hands I shall eat. Trying to sabotage my efforts and destroy all I spent years to build is the height of malice and unfairness.
Squabbling over material things is the most foolish thing anybody can do. This is because life in itself is ephemeral. We did not come into this world with anything and will return with nothing. This has been my attitude to material things. What will it profit you if you gained the whole world and lose your soul?
The political class should apply restraint and be fair in their dealings with others. Power is a very transient thing – it never lasts forever. I assisted many that came my way, because I had believed we would meet elsewhere someday. Who knows the head that will wear the crown tomorrow? It pays to relate peacefully to other people for you do not know where you may meet them again. While in office as governor, I assisted many people in several ways. My focus was the people. I worked to elevate their living conditions, knowing that I would still come back to them at the end of my tenure. Today, I can walk boldly through any part of the state without fear of molestation.
Some people may not like my guts. But this is unfortunate.
I have never wavered in the face of adversity, since it is a passing phase in life. I have suffered many trials and persecutions in my 51 years on this earth planet, but I am not moved an inch in my faith and trust in God. And most of my persecutions had come out of an honest effort to assist others. Those who fear to face the realities of today, live to regret tomorrow.
I am not a saint. And there are no living saints either. I might have, in the course of life, wronged some people one way or another too. I ask God and them to forgive me. To err is human, to forgive is divine. It is only in peace that we can maximize our God-given potentialities. The tasks in our hands are enormous; and it is only through collective enterprise that we can overcome them and do so much for ourselves and our generation.
Inside of me I bear no malice. I believe that all that had happened was for a purpose. The God we serve designs everything to happen at a time he has so destined. We fret over little things because we have allowed greed to becloud our sense of reasoning to see the bigger things that lay ahead.
I pray God to bless all of us and grant us his favour as we meditate over the words he had spoken to us through this column today.