Never have I met Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. Neither have I known the not-so-lucky Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa one-on-one. I have always admired the former for his comportment in and out of office.
As political reporters, we have followed his trajectory as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, and now state chief executive. Therefore, we, as all lovers of humanity, were hit by the sad news of his ill health.
When he wrote the state parliament that he was going on medical vacation, I felt for him and prayed that he make it back to his gubernatorial saddle. As the weeks rolled into months and he didn’t return, my apprehension heightened. Eventually, the merciful God made it possible for him to return to work for the remainder of his eight-year tenure.
However, the news I have been reading since his return is not what I expect from someone rescued from the jaws of death. The rumour mill had him dead several times.
On Sunday, September 17, 2023, all the readings in the Catholic Church, where I worship, talked lavishly about forgiveness. The most difficult request from God to Christians is forgiveness, Apostle Peter asked how many times we could allow an offender scot-free. Seven times? Jesus said, “I didn’t say seven times, but seventy times seven”…meaning as long as the offender trespasses and you are not consumed by it. Jesus further says we must pray for our enemies and present the second cheek whenever we are slapped.
Your Excellency, as the priest brought out all these instances to buttress his homily on forgiveness, the three readings from the Old Testament to the New, which I recommend as you ready to exact the pound of the disloyal deputy governor’s flesh.
Here’s the first reading from the Book of Sirach, chapter 27:30 to Chapter 28:7:
“Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, and the sinful man will possess them. He that takes vengeance will suffer vengeance from the Lord, and he will firmly establish his sins. Forgive your neighbour for the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. Does a man harbour anger against another, and yet seek healing from the Lord? Does he have no mercy towards a man like himself, and yet pray for his own sins? If he, being flesh, maintains wrath, will he then seek forgiveness from God? Who will make an excuse for his sins? Remember the end of your life, cease from enmity, remember destruction and death, and be true to the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbour; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook ignorance.”
The second scripture, taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans Chapter 14:7-19 reads:
“Brethren: None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end, Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
Then comes the gospel of the day from Matthew Chapter 18: 21 to 35: “At that time: Peter came up and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?'” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times but seventy times seven. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
“But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you. ’He refused and went and put him in prison till he could pay the debt.
“When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger, his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Even the Responsorial Psalm of the day from Psalm 103 is copiously related, making the beauty of the Catholic teaching:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all within me, his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And never forget all his benefits.
It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion.
He will not always find fault;
nor persist in his anger forever.
He does not treat us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our faults.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So strong is his mercy for those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far from us does he remove our transgressions?
After hearing this homily and with Akeredolu’s vengeance in my mind, my spirit moved me to pen down this article for the governor’s attention.
If the governor had died, the lucky(?) deputy governor would have been sworn in as a replacement and the parliament would have to live with it. Indeed, God rules in the affairs of men. So, the dream did not come true.
Your Excellency, since God made you a governor, saved your life, and made you pick this man above all Ondo citizens as your running mate, how is removing him because he disappointed you [mere mortal] and God going to help your spirituality as a huge beneficiary of God’s grace?
I know that politicians are very unforgiving. Looking back at all your successes in life, retaining this man will not diminish your relationship with your generous creator. Instead, letting the deputy governor be will enhance it in line with the above-cited scriptures.
All those pushing you to deal with Lucky and are already lobbying to replace him would have done the same thing so long as they are human beings and politicians. If I were you, I would ask myself if God would be glad. If God had looked at my sins and shortcomings would he have allowed me to return alive?
Your Excellency, if only you can hear the silent voice, you will hear the truth your aides are not telling you. Why not leave this man with a pang of conscience, given God’s mercies on you?
By coming back alive, the disloyal deputy must be battling with his conscience and you are freeing him before God by being unforgiving. I can assure you that if you punish him with impeachment, God may not be interested in his crime any longer.
Your Excellency, I hear that your middle name is Odunayo [Yoruba for “joyous year”], why not live up to your name, stopping anything that will bring sadness in an otherwise joyous year? Your death–God forbid–would have brought unhappiness to Ondo State, but God did not will so. Who are you to bring sadness upon your domain? I pray to God to help you digest and forgive and leave vengeance for God who says “Vengeance is mine.”
To sponsors and “sponsors” of Lucky, sheath your swords. God perfects all things in his own time.
Ike Abonyi was the former Group Political Editor of THISDAY, former Deputy Managing Director of New Telegraph, and Media Consultant who lives in Abuja.