BY RICHARD ODU
Could it be seen as fortuitous that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal ( PEPT) chose to deliver their much expected verdict on the Atiku and Obi petitions in an ’ember month?
’Ember months are months of horror in Nigeria because of the volume of road accidents that occur within those four last months of pressure and pleasure. And we are just stepping into the season for 2023, the “bulaba” year during which subsidies that were beneficial to the poor and the rich among us were abruptly withdrawn, sending prices of essential commodities to the rooftops.
What this means is that travellers are going to think twice about moving from west to east, or from north to east and vice versa this season as the cost of transportation has risen astronomically due to the removal of fuel subsidy.
Perhaps, the roads are going to witness far less traffic and so far less road mishaps, as well as far less pressure and pleasure this year. That’s going to be one of the good things about the fuel subsidy removal.However, it might not be safe to bet on this prediction which, of course, was not made by Nostradamus. Everything is possible in Naija. Situations might take a dramatic turn the next minute and the people could return to their old, boisterious ‘ember months’ habits.
Nigeria’s ‘ember months mayhems occur almost regularly and they spin money for pastors who cash in on the jittery masses to “sell” prayers to their adherents and urge them to seek divine protection from the seasonal confusion.As soon as September steps in, there is the hype about the period which sends most people into a search for spiritualism. Of course, the smart and business-minded pastors psyche up the people into coming for special prayers against accidents during these months.
Directly or indirectly, that means money for the “men of God”. The people are made to believe that some demons and occult grandmasters are usually awake during these days, ready to suck blood of accident victims, and prayers, prayers, more prayers are the answer. Although prayers and supplications to God are the ultimate solutions to problems, we should be aware of the fundamental causes of frequent accidents and road crashes during this period. Nigerians often run into frenzy any time December approaches, perhaps in response to the approach of Christmas and New Year festivities. Everyone appears to be in a rush to make as much money as possible to be able to withstand the pressures of the season. Such pressures as the desire in home-comers to show that they have made some fortunes on leaving their homes for foreign lands, chains of fundraising activities confronting them at home, new clothes for family members, and many more. All these, coupled with bad roads, disobedience to traffic rules and poorly maintained vehicles combine to multiply the number of crashes on our roads in the ’ember months.
The Christmas and New Year are global festivals celebrated in many other countries. Why don’t these other countries suffer the heavy loss in men and materials occasioned by road traffic accidents during this season?
Last Monday, September 11, America commemorated its most devastating crash in history, which happened in an ’ember month. That was on September 11, 2001, often referred to as 9/11, when Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida group piloted two passenger planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre (WTC) buildings, killing more than 3,000 people and rendering the WTC site that housed about the tallest building in the universe to what was referred to as Ground Zero.
From a distance, it appeared that the Nigerian ’ember months jinx had caught up with Uncle Sam. That misfortune which befell America only 22 years ago had been seen more than 300 years before by Nostradamus, the greatest prophet ever to tread the earth. Many Nigerians may have had one or several ‘ember month experiences, some may not have seen anything untoward in these last months. I remember my experience in this period a long time ago when God put a barrier between death and I after a car crash. It was my first consciousness of the myth and jinx surrounding the period.
However, mature reasoning demands that we see accidents as natural occurrences that are instigated by man, perhaps inadvertently. In any case, the link between fate and faith is left for the mystic and other related experts to educate us on.To some Nigerians, no surprise about it, what happened at the presidential election tribunal on September 6, when the lords in our temple of justice read out their judgment on the controversial presidential election to a sleeping courtroom, was akin to an ‘ember month jinx. To others, it was a beautiful moment. Whichever camp you belong to, just remember, we are in bulaba ‘ember months. As you get busy figuring out what that means, I plead that we should be careful on the good and the bad roads our politicians have laid out for us. We must not be caught in the jinx of the season.Seriously, let’s wish ourselves a hitch free season, this year. Shalom.
Dr. Odu can be reached via email@example.com, or, SMS, 08115711108.