By Nnamdi Okosieme
During one of our lectures as students of the University of Benin in the mid 1980s, our lecturer, a brash, swashbuckling USA trained fellow whose name I will leave out, drove home to us the importance of freedom as a private individual.
In the middle of his teaching on what it means to be free, he paused and blurted:
“I can walk into any pepper soup joint in this town, sit down, and order a plate of pepper soup and a bottle of Gulder, and proceed to do justice to them without anyone troubling me. But you see that young man over there ( pointing in the direction of the palace of the Oba of Benin) cannot do so no matter how much he craves it because there are certain restrictions on him as a leader”.
Truly, leaders and other individuals (celebrities) are constrained by their positions to adhere to some unwritten moral and ethical codes. They are expected, no matter how inconveniencing it is to them, to abide by these codes. To violate or flout them is to court trouble and public censure.
It was for this reason that Paul the Apostle in 1Corinthians 10:23, said:
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”.
Our Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and his colleagues in the Senate, broke this code yesterday by paying a visit to their colleague, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Governor of Abia State who was released from Prison yesterday, and causing photos of their visit to circulate widely.
To be sure, by Nigerian laws and as things stand, Senator Kalu is not a convict, the Supreme Court having invalidated his conviction by a Federal High Court. He is entitled to visit and be visited by any one.
That said, in a country where perception is a far stronger force and trigger for action than reality itself, Senator Lawan and his colleagues committed a faux pas by celebrating their visit to a man with a N5 billion plus Federal charge of fraud dangling over his head.
It sends the wrong signal particularly at a time the nation is grappling with the after effects of the decades of pillaging of national resources by public officials.
Even though Senator Kalu has yet to be convicted, there questions to be asked as to where the billions he appropriated for public works and infrastructure during his time as Governor of Abia State went seeing that the state remains largely backward in terms of infrastructure and social amenities.
The message millions of Nigerians may get from the visit of Senator Lawan and his colleagues is that they are in support of crime.
Is Senator Lawan in support of crime? Did he have to make that visit? If it was imperative that they do so, could they not have done so Nichodemously?
No one is in support of them visiting their colleague. One should not abandon one’s friends when the suffer misfortune but it should be done with wisdom. The Bible says that wisdom is profitable to direct.