An illiterate lady whose name is Patience suddenly fell ill. She found her way in a specialist hospital and took her turn to obtain patient’s card. Then she walked majestically into the doctor’s consultation room for proper medical examination. The medical director welcomed her warmly and said, “My patient please sit down. What is your problem?” She replied, “Doc, point of correction. I am Lady Patience and not patient. It is not a problem but sickness that brought me here today. Since three days ago, something is walking inside my body from head to toe. It makes me restless. I used to eat two plates of pounded yam and egusi soup, but now I can only manage one plate. Indeed I have lost appetite. Every night I dream of masquerades pursing me. Yesterday I was in heaven. I don’t know what brought me back to this world.” The doctor interrupted her saying, “It is enough! Your case is complex. From all indication, you are suffering from protracted spiritual and physical illness.” The sick lady shouted, “I am healed already since it is a protracted illness. That means I have won a contract because it is protracted. Please give me the contract before I go.” The doctor removed his eye glasses and asked, “Woman, are you suffering from mental imbalance? Protracted illness has nothing to do with contract.” She shouted, “Doc but they sound alike. Ok, give me the balance! I need money seriously.” The doctor read the handwriting on the wall and synthetically disappeared through the back door. Indeed the lady is not only illiterate but mentally deranged.
Protracted illness is an illness that has lasted for a long time or more than usual. It often ends in death. The patient who suffers from protracted illness prays for death. Recently I visited a twelve-year protracted ill patient for spiritual anointing. He was so worried and tired of living. He asked me to tell God to take away his life so that he may go and rest. Even those taking care of him have become desponded. After all said and done, I anointed him in the name of the Trinity. He died the following day.
The antonym of protracted illness is brief illness. Often brief illness also leads to death. In obituary announcements we sometimes hear that the deceased died after protracted or brief illness. If you have a choice, would you prefer brief terminal illness or protracted terminal illness?
A certain giant woman was born on 1st October 1960. When she was six years old only, her blood pressure became extraordinarily high, which resulted in total stroke. Her doctor tried his best to cure her, but all to no avail. She became paralyzed instantly. During the process, her doctor lost his life through assassination. Another doctor came on board to rescue the sick woman from paralysis. He undertook an urgent medical trip in order to secure an effective medication against the ailment. On his way he was ambushed and assassinated as well. The woman’s condition became worse. She battled for survival for three years with millions of casualties on her trail. Medical experts later diagnosed the stroke as a protracted illness.
Despite the protracted illness, she got married and was blessed with 12 children from three husbands. The third husband later absconded. Then she married a soldier was who gave her seven more children to make the total nineteen. This husband was assassinated in a bloody coup. After a period of mourning she remarried another soldier. This one did not produce any child for her. The marriage lasted for three years and they separated amicably. Next she married a civilian husband for only five years, when the husband was chased away by a soldier who married her by force. This fierce military husband produced eleven children for her to make it 30. Due to pressure from the people as a result of high handedness, this military husband stepped aside and transferred his marital right to an innocent civilian who married the protracted ill woman for only few months and was brushed aside by another fierce soldier who became the woman’s husband. Against the sick wife’s will, he produced six more children to make the number 36. Some of these children are presently suffering from malnutrition. Some are bankrupt while some others are terrorists. Unfortunately, a group of bloody herdsmen from nowhere have filtrated the rank and file of these thirty-six children. Hence things have fallen apart in the family of the protracted ill woman. She is restless and about to enter the state of coma if nothing urgent is done.
The protracted ill woman celebrates her 60 years birthday this year 2020 in sickbed. Shall we congratulate her or pity her?
Who is this 60 years protracted ill woman? Your guess may be accurate as mine. She is no other woman than our country Nigeria. She got her Independence on October 1, 1960, when I was still in the mind of God. After three years of independence, I appeared into this country on 1st April exactly at 12.05 p.m. It was April Fools’ Day but I escaped being a complete fool just by five minutes. If God had consulted me, I would have chosen any other country. Like Martin Heidegger, God created me without my consultation and threw me into Nigeria. Nevertheless I thank God for the wonders of my being. But I would have been more productive if I were thrown somewhere else. If there is reincarnation, my God will make a better choice for me. That’s by the way.
Now let me go back to land. After six years of self rule, things fell apart. The military struck as a result of high corruption by the leaders on the throne then. Blood flowed. In the same year there was a counter bloody coup. Unfortunately pogrom broke out in the North and many southerners especially the Igbos were slaughtered like fowls. The Easterners broke away to form Biafran country. Consequently, civil war started in 1967 and lasted till 1970. Millions of people lost their lives therein especially on the Biafran side. The regrettable genocide ended in 1970 with no victor and no vanquished. The military war leader then proclaimed the famous 3 Rs: Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. Till date they have not been accomplished. The causes that led to the unfortunate three years genocide have not been addressed. Thus the protracted illness continues.
In 2014 there was an attempt to heal the protracted illness. Opportunity comes but once. The 2014 National Conference diagnosed the causes of the protracted illness and saw that it is curable. Some political medications were stipulated by experts who attended the botched Constitution Conference. Unfortunately the recommendations were not implemented. Hence the protracted illness of our mother Nigeria is worsening day after day. A dog that is destined to get lost ignores the hunter’s whistle.
In this ill-fated year 2020, the protracted illness is 60 years old. If care is not taken, entering into coma will be the next stage. At 60 we have nothing tangible to celebrate. Instead we are celebrating failure. Many thinkers have adduced that Nigeria is a failed State after 60 years of Independence. It is very shameful that the protracted ill country Nigeria ranks the third in World Terrorism and ranks the first in Continental Terrorism. Our Economy is dwindling daily. Corruption rate is increasing rather than decreasing. Hunger is now mesmerizing millions of Nigerians. The Coronavirus pandemic disease worsened everything. Our leadership profile is nothing to write home about. We are borrowing without any prospect of repaying. If care is not taken, Nigeria may be annexed to another country due to her high debt. Our protracted ill country is now more divided than united. Once she becomes comatose, the result will be death. Nigeria is about to die. Who will save her from this imminent death? In God we trust!
By Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuma
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