I have always clamoured for the youths to take over power at the centre. My belief is anchored on the inexorable fact that our grandfathers, having already used their times, also made incursions into our fathers’ own political times. Then, they went ahead to gatecrash into our own very times. Now, they are even using our children’s times, the next generation. So, where is the saying that the future belongs to the youths?
I cannot understand why Nigerians who are septugenerians, octogenerians and nonegenerians are still ruling us today, thereby sidelining our vibrant youths. In some other countries, presidents and prime ministers had been elected in their 30s. So, I was quite elated to see 41 year old Senator Elisha Abbo (Adamawa North), the young Senator who dislodged very hard working and brilliant 51 year old Senator Binta Masi Garba of APC in the last senatorial election. Ironically, Abbo is a young Advocate of the masses, from Gova in Muchaka Village, Mubi LGA of Adamawa State. He has been educated and lived in Lagos, U.K and Sydney, Australia, Canada and Abuja. He headed a multi-national consultancy firm that deals with political matters; and has served as Senior Special Assistant to Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa state. Again ironically, the youthful Senator is regarded as detribalized and identifies equally with the Christian and Muslim Communities in his state. Added to his having headed the Adamawa state Sports and Youth Council, he was easily the right choice for the Senate.
My elation at the youth taking over power at the highest level (never mind that Dr Mathew Mbu, king Diete-Spiff, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, Samuel Ogbemudia, et al, all became military Governors, Head of State and Ambassadors in their 20s and early 30s), is therefore understandable. But, my exhilaration was almost completely marred by an ugly incident that involved Abbo.
In a video that has since gone viral, the youthful Senator was caught assaulting and attacking a hapless woman with several slaps. The woman was not even the primary cause of the fight. She had merely intervened to tell the angry Senator to “take things easy” with the intended victim.
In the video published by Premium Times, Senator Abbo is seen accusing the Shop Attendant of a sex toy shop of insulting him. He asked a Policeman with him (obviously his orderly), to arrest the female Attendant. Scared about the unfolding happenings, the Attendant is seen making frantic calls to inform the persons on the other side of what was happening at the shop.
This self-preservative step appeared to anger the Senator the more and he immediately ordered her to stop the call. One of his Aides (a male) attempted to snatch the phone away from the Attendant lady. A standing-by woman (who later became the punching bag victim) intervened, obviously to make peace. Boom! The infuriated Senator launched an unprovoked attack on her, slapping and hitting the poor defenceless woman severally. It was so ugly, so nauseating, so ungentlemanly and so disgracefully unsenatorial. The Senator even ordered the Policeman to drag her away, despite the pleas of the initial Shop Attendant target. Power, brute, raw power, won!
This disgraceful incident happened on May 11, 2019, though Senator Abbo claimed it was on March 11. Whatever the date, the truth is that as at February, 23, 2019, Abbo had already become a Senator-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And he knew this. By the way, what was a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria doing in a sex toy shop at about 6pm? Couldn’t he have respected his new found lofty status, discarded his burning teenage desires, and quietly sent one of his aides to pick up the preferred sex toys? Did he need to boast openly that he is “the youngest Senator in Nigeria”, an act that actually gave him away to the unwary, but stunned onlookers? The unfortunate incident has expectedly generated public rocus and outcry.
A litany of condemnatory critiques have since taken place. Amnesty International called on the Nigeria Police Force to investigate the disgraceful act. Many others have done same. To douse the tension, the Senator appeared to have realized his terrible faux pas. At a Press Conference in Abuja, the young Senator, close to tears (he actually wept silently), prayed for forgiveness from the victim, the Senate, his political party (PDP) and all Nigerians. He said it was not in his character to assault women. His words were measured with touching solemnity. He apologized to the victim, Bibra, her family, women generally, all men of good will and conscience, and all Nigerians, for insulting their sensibilities. He even sought for forgiveness from God, saying his life cannot be defined by the anger of “five minutes”. To the church of God, everywhere in the world, I am sorry”, he pleaded. As an Ambassador of the body of Christ, a Senator, he profusely apologized. He said he had fought on the side of the weak, for good causes, and for humanity, before now. He pleaded for forgiveness, because “to err is human and to forgive is divine”. He even sought for forgiveness from God Almighty and people from all over the world. He believes he is expected to live like Christ. The incident, he says, has taught him a good lesson, promising “good conduct and behavior henceforth”. I was deeply touched by his self-recrimination.
I watched the video over and over again. Senator Abbo appeared genuinely full of compunction. He appeared sincerely repentant, remorseful, regretful, heart-broken, guilt-ridden, dejected and sorrowful. This is one of those incidents you wished you could turn back the hand of the clock and repeat your life all over again. I can state categorically that if he had another chance, Abbo would have kept 10 kilometers away from that Sex toy Shop, given the same circumstances.
Fellow countrymen, let us forgive Senator Elisha Abbo. I personally do. He made mistakes. Terrible mistakes. He has realized them and has tried to make amends, atonement and recompense. He did not swagger, grandstand, exculpate, exonerate or sought self-righteousness or justification, over his infamous conduct. He prayed for forgiveness from the victim, her parents, womanhood, Senate, PDP Adamawa North, the youth, and all men and women of goodwill across the world. Please let us forgive him, he having realized his mistakes. True, to err is human and to forgive is divine.
The Policeman who stood by and even aided the assault scenario should equally be made to apologize to the victim and all Nigerians, or be disciplined pronto. Says Romans 3: 23, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. In the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, he would, on such an occasion, simply have shrugged his shoulders and said (Luke 23: 34): “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. And he would insist in Mathew 18:22, that, we “should forgive each other seventy times seven times”.
In preaching that all Nigerians, especially Bibra, the victim, should forgive Senator Abbo, Romans 12:17-19 makes it clear: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone… Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, it is mine to avenge. I will repay”.
One quick assignment for Senator Abbo: go, pacify and treat the brutalized lady. Make full and adequate restitution. Write her a letter of apology. Senator Abbo, you now have a golden opportunity, a lifelong one at that, to mend your youthful ways. You are now a leader. Our Elders tell us that when a child washes his hands clean, he dines with Elders and Kings. Providence and Nigerians, especially Adamawa North people, have dressed you with the glittering garb of an Elder. So, you must act and live it. Old things have passed away, as you are now a new creature in the political equation of Nigeria (2 Cor. 5:17). You must now respect the dignity of your high office, and its onerous demands.
Begin to respect womanhood more. They are our mothers, sisters and daughters. They serve as the channel through whom we are born. Women are the weaker vessels (1 Peter 3: 7). Says Luke 1: 45, “In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trust worthy in everything”.
Let me end this piece as a take-home for the youthful Senator Abbo, and the way I humbly plead that angry Nigerians see him henceforth: “forgiveness is the economy of the heart… Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits”.
So Abbo, go ye and sin no more (John 8:11) God bless Nigeria.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Live a life full of humility, gratitude, intellectual curiosity, and never stop learning.” (Gza).
I thank Nigerians for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s treatise.