By Sam Eleanya
Why is Nehemiah’s story in the Bible critical for every person connected to Ndi-Igbo and every stakeholder of the Nigerian nation? Why have we chosen it as the transition plank to the destination: Obi-na-Obi Ndi-Igbo? [Heart and Hearth [Individuals and Families] of Ndi-Igbo? It is this: Nehemiah exemplifies the way no leader connected to Ndi-Igbo, cultural, political, historical, militant or criminal has ever engaged the Ndi-Igbo situation.
This is how The Stewardship Bible summarizes Nehemiah’s intervention in the history of his people at a bad and sad time:
“Inspired by word of the broken down walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah gave up a comfortable position as cup-bearer to the king of Persia in order to lead a dangerous reconstruction effort. Upon his arrival, Nehemiah encountered both intense opposition from the surrounding peoples and social uproar caused by issues of injustice within Judah. A famine had swept over the region, leading to an economic crisis that caused many of the poorer members of society to become vulnerable to high interest rates set by their wealthier country-men.
Nehemiah responded not only by instituting political reform but also by setting an example of personal generosity in public service.
The book of Nehemiah focuses on the stewardship principle of modelling generosity. Nehemiah led the returning exiles to Jerusalem. As Governor, Nehemiah had the right to collect taxes and receive a large food allowance as part of his gubernatorial pay. But he relinquished those rights and refused to own personal property in Judah. Furthermore, he set an unprecedented example of generosity in his role as leader by personally paying for over 150 people to eat at his table on a daily basis “because the demands were heavy on these people”.
All his predecessors had enjoyed their pay and their privileges, but because of the great need among the people, Nehemiah saw personal sacrifices as the way to show reverence for God”.
Those are timeless nuggets applicable to Ndi-igbo as to any set of people anywhere however organised. Every morning, as far as the Lord would give me strength, I intend to share principles, values, ethics and common sense on public service and governance lived by Nehemiah which Ndi-igbo need today.
The ongoing militancy led by Kanu with his IPOB and other self-promoting rabble-rousers chanting “Biafra” lead to only where their ilk has led in the past: theft, death and destruction of destinies, seasons, posterity and opportunities for decent men and youth to answer the call of history so as to remove this cobweb of 1965 – 1970 that has become a beloved cursed crutch for far too many to masturbate themselves into a false sense of historical satisfaction over and over again. And then disappear like mist.
There is a better way. We owe ourselves and children the duty to find and break it up as an ancient fallow ground overgrown with the weed of neglect while we wasted time and energy beating ourselves against the prick. I want to ask Nehemiah the cup-bearer to lead us into Obi-na-Obi Ndi-Igbo with pleasure.
See you tomorrow. Ya dikwara gi nma.
Sam Eleanya, is Executive Director/Managing Editor of Tree & Trees JusticeMedia, Facilitators of LawNigeria.com, The Nigerian Constitution Hub, Children and Women Law Project, Standards & Enterprise Development Center and Obi-na-Obi Ndi-Igbo Foundation. He is also the Author of We, The Young People (Constitution of Nigeria Translated) and Preambles Before The Preamble (Collection of Poems). You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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