Barabbas Ended Up In Nigeria. BY RICHARD ODU

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Penultimate Sunday which was Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, was the kickoff of the Holy Week for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Termed Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, the day is very significant in the Christian calendar because, during the Holy Week, Christians reenact and reflect on the ugly experience of Jesus Christ in his last days on earth.
We all agree that it was indeed a harrowing experience. The world truly exposed its stuff when it hung an innocent man on the cross to die for the truth that he said. Imagine if Jesus was an ordinary man, how his family would have felt the injustice, the cold-blooded murder of their relative. Would they not have been clamouring for redress all these years. And if a millionaire had emerged from that family, would he not engage the best lawyers on the face of the earth to make sure the perpetrators of that killing paid dearly for it?
That this did not happen proved to the world, just as He said, that He was a king, but His kingship was not of this world. His was a celestial royalty that descended to the earth for a purpose, to redeem mankind from sin by teaching how to live the Life, by saying the Truth and by showing the Way to eternal abode. Once the purpose was achieved and confirmed in His assertion on the cross that “it is finished” He got called back to the heavenly abode, although His spirit hovered a few days on earth thereafter, as a mop-up operation.
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, the world celebrated His resurrection from the dead, what no one else, not even the propagators of any other religion on earth could do. Everyone, especially the Christians, celebrated, some oblivious of the import of Jesus Christ’s sojourn on earth.
During the Holy Week, the bible readings in the Catholic Church usually takes the form of drama, where one lay reader does the narratives and another acts the other characters. The priest plays the star part of Jesus Christ, the protagonist in the redemption act. As the reading progressed up to the time Pontius Pilate asked the Jews the crucial question, who do you want released for you, the innocent Christ or Barabbas the robber? The thunderous reply came in favour of Barabbas.
What did the Jews want for Christ? Crucify him! Crucify Him! And Pilate had to wash his hands off. He was interested in doing what was politically correct, not in doing justice to a clear case before him.
Events in Nigeria, many times, tend towards the presupposition that the world learned nothing from the trial of Jesus Christ. Our Judiciary have found love in, like Pontius Pilate, giving the politically correct judgements to remain in the good books of the feudal lords of Nigeria. Many times, they have condemned the innocent and set the guilty free. In the symbol of justice found in courts is the blindfolded maiden with the balance and the sword. The significance is that the Judiciary recognizes no king nor peasant as it dishes out its impartial judgements. That maiden’s eyes are wide open today and the judgements come with discrimination.
As I sat in church, ruminating on the trial of Jesus during the Holy Week, at the reenactment of the tragi-comedy on the altar, I felt so strongly that as soon as Pilate unleashed Barabbas, he ran straight to Nigeria to train his likes in large numbers. The result is millions of armed robbers, night marauders, bandits, kidnappers, Yahoo Yahoo boys, unscrupulous politicians and so-called ĺ sending monkeys and snakes to swallow billions in the vaults and return to spew it out for them.
On the part of Judas Iscariot, we can conveniently say that that character is many times better than the Nigerian politician. Judas sold Christ but felt a pang of remorse that pushed him into returning the infamous 30 pieces of silver before committing suicide. There are serious speculations that he felt Jesus wouldl disappear after being caught by the soldiers, having performed greater miracles during His ministry on earth. It did not turn out so, and Judas painfully watched his innocent master tortured like a common criminal.
Nigerian politicians have many Judases that have no scruples as they pursue power and money at the expense of the common good. So do we have them in big businesses. The result is a wobbly economy in the midst of plenty, laws and policies skewed to gratify personal and group sentiments, mass migration of youths out of the country in search of better living conditions.
As we celebrate this year’s Easter, lovers of this more than 60-year-old giant of Africa should pray that it shakes off the crooked cloak it has donned since the Lord Fredrick Lugard days when it was named Niger Area by the colonial master’s girlfriend, preparatory to wear a decent attire befitting of a giant of a blessed continent. Africa waits patiently for a repaired Nigeria.

Dr. Odu can be reached through

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