The Nigerian media are once again abuzz …this time with the subject of Presidential Pardons granted to some distinguished gentry … an act of magnanimity which is expected to endear the President to blocs of interest key to revitalizing support needed for his agenda of transformational leadership. Some will accuse Mr. President of forgiving also his friends … while others simply say “what are friends for?”
Not being a politician, one does not pretend to fully comprehend the dynamics that culminated in this act of uncommon grace and it could be sadly accurate to conclude that the war against corruption by establishing deterring consequence for “untouchables” – has suffered a hard blow… more especially with the pardon of Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha – governor of Bayelsa State in Nigeria (1999 -2005) – convicted of money laundering/thefts (not quite as cryptic a crime like plotting a coup) and who only colorfully narrowly escaped the firmer clutches of British Law enforcement. Another former governor with similar talents was convicted in the British courts. Why should he also, on his return, not be expectant of a pardon … so as to be able to offer us his services in elected office once more …now that he has fully repented?
Mat_27:21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
Barabbas and Jesus were once before the Governor Pilate and the opportunity to grant a pardon arose. “Give us Barabbas” …they shouted .. and what do we do with Jesus …”Crucify Him…” Jesus was not pardoned because it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. Alamieyeseigha and the others were far more lucky …still I suspect a part played by the voice of the people driving issues like this. The citizenry have a way of imposing their preferences and leaving leadership with limited choice. I sympathize and pray for President Goodluck Jonathan as I discern this may not be entirely his proposition. Do I mean that some Nigerians pressed for these pardons? I only wonder at the unseen faces, discussions and strong representations in the compiling of the list of pardonees …and the Pharisees and other tribal elders who must have pushed their clandestine inputs.
Mar_15:11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them
We all seek to be pardoned and all may have committed one indiscretion or the other and it is virtue to wish for others as we desire for ourselves. True complete forgiveness of wrongs, amnesty and fresh beginnings are acts that we sow to one day reap bountifully in joyful harvest . But that is when we sow with the right heart and not when the seed is a mere manipulative tool to achieve a hidden agenda … like getting rid of the Savior. Indeed, if these acts of Presidential pardons (unlike the pardon of Barabbas) represent seeds of genuine kindness they will produce good harvest for the future of our nation. One should not be hasty to pass judgments.
The pardon of Barabbas as we all know was only part of a plot of manipulation to murder Jesus. Still, very little is heard of the freed Barabbas after his release while Jesus was crucified to later emerge and resurrect as the King of kings and the name above all names. The clique of Pharisees and chieftains that consulted in the shadows for the release of Barabbas also came to woes and faded into history. The people that chanted “give us Barabbas” also continued in darkness until their light came. If Diepreye Alamieyeseigha emerges as a senator or even higher office it will only be because Nigerians want it to be so … and the consequence of that flavor of leadership for good or bad will be borne by Nigerian and not Chinese voters. The people know their own well and make the choices for darkness or light.
Also, we must arrest prevailing paradigms that encourages the myth that government electoral office and titles and ability to obtain them are the only means of making societal contributions. Gandhi would have none of these but made exceptional impact in his nation. Christ had no titles, and no one would vote for Him. He went on to sow His life and the pardon, not granted, did not stop Him.
In large, expensive and corrupt democracies, the trappings of electoral office and many board/other titles make them rife with temptations too juicy for most mortals to resist – especially after having once had a taste. Little changes until government significantly shrinks in size, is made more efficient and less attractive. When electoral office is radically more accountable to the people, less powerful and lucrative and much more about sacrificial service and the judicial processes that maintain fairness and justice are permitted to independently thrive then we will see hope for a new polity. The common man on the street, paying the real price for bloated unaccountable government and leakages that will not be plugged – in the denial of basic infrastructure, affordable/decent housing, education, health-care etc…(in a rich and blessed nation), must demand for these changes. And by the way, who says an unpardoned convict can no more make a useful contribution? Jesus Christ was an unpardoned convict.
Rom_14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Pause for a minute. While sitting on the fence – consider these questions. What am I sowing as a child of Christ? Service, mischief, lies, bitterness, corruption, deception, selfishness or confusion …there is a reaping coming …and what have I done with the salvation I did not deserve – God’s greatest of pardons that cost Christ His life? How is our Christianity impacting our nation? What flavor of service are we rendering …for good or bad? What sacrifices are we really making … and what have we done with the opportunities given to us to serve… what have we done with the influence we enjoy? One senses the day of the Lord approaches …even nearer than we all think….to demand answers to these questions. Our faith remains our only hope as perhaps only this can force us to ask the questions that will lead to us breaking the mold of mediocrity and forge new contracts for our governance.
The special interest in the release of Barabbas differs significantly from the Nigerian scenario where there are intricate and different interests and relationships, but in both situations are convicts that received controversial pardons… at a time when revolutionary changes were imminent one way or the other.
Dan 5:17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
In conclusion, to remain on the path of destiny and honor and also for our life lessons to be complete, it is sometimes decent (like Daniel) to pay the full price and reject strange gifts and flee serpentine opportunities. Other times we do not question God’s amazing and immeasurable grace. But every time we receive His divine pardons we also hear Christ saying “Be free and forgiven but sin no more”.
Pray for the President – who we must continue to respect as the leader chosen by God for us at this time and his team – as the word of God commands us to do. To move forward, we should also be humble to release and forgive the past mistakes of others and envision new opportunities to start afresh as we also pray to God for our own forgiveness. Lord! Send your Holy Spirit to help, guide and comfort us.