Opinion: Do They Know What It Means To Drive On A Full Tank Of Faith? – By Tony Okoroji

In recent days I have received many messages of congratulations on the recent victories of COSON and yours truly in our courts of law. Someone said to me that he is surprised that we can still get justice in Nigeria. I wish to remind everyone of those immortal words of Martin Luther King Jnr – “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice”

Let me repeat that I know that it is not yet Uhuru because evil never sleeps. There are still many rivers to cross but I insist that I will not stand at attention and salute a cow because of its size.

Very few have any idea the hell I have had to go through till these court victories came our way. Some may remember that not too long ago, I was abducted in Lagos and there were active plans to whisk me away in the middle of the night to Benin-City and probably waste me along the way. A few may remember that my health totally broke down and for weeks I could neither walk properly nor even stand.

I have been visited by a deluge of very well crafted defamatory propaganda based on manufactured falsehoods and covetousness. It has taken seven cases in different courts to beat that deluge down.

For more than thirteen months, I had no functioning bank account. I was not allowed to do any withdrawal, write a cheque, do an ordinary ATM transaction or do a bank transfer. Without my true friends and family, life would have been impossible.

I live in Lagos but my personal bank accounts and that of my private business were said to have been frozen by a little-known magistrate court in the outskirts of Abuja in a case in which I am not even a party. You may ask, why? I do not do drugs. I do not do fraud. I do not do oil bunkering. I do not do money laundering. I do not do gun running. I do not do yahoo-yahoo. I do not do any crime of any type and have no significant money anywhere. They unleashed the Police, EFCC, DSS, NFIU, against me. You may again ask, why?

They want to play God and thoroughly mess me up, destroy my resolve, drive me away and take control of the organization I have dedicated a good part of my life to build for the good of the Nigerian creative industry. Sadly, there are those in Nigeria who do not build or produce anything but verily believe that they have the right to reside in the best buildings and enjoy the fruits of the toil of everyone else.

There are those I thought were dear friends who abandoned me because they think that I am suicidal to challenge evil. I have had to protest on the streets of Nigeria for a court of law to hear my case and deliver sound and unimpeachable judgment on the facts and the law.

In the midst of the harrowing experience, I lost four of my greatest friends and supporters in a period of about one month.
When you drive on a full tank of faith, men may forsake you but God will not abandon you. I have said that no great nation on earth has been built by cowards.

Recently, I was asked by a journalist what my reaction was to the relentless attack on me. The lady seemed shocked when I said that my real focus is on the work we must continue to do for the progress of the Nigerian creative community.

I have learnt that hatred of anyone is like COVID 19. It can easily kill! If you hate someone, you will probably find it difficult to breath well, eat well or sleep well at night so I wear a mask against hatred and socially distance myself from anyone whom I suspect will transmit the hatred virus to me. As you nurse the virus called hate, unknown to you, the object of your hate may indeed be snoozing away and living a good life. Who is the loser?

Despite everything I have experienced, I have trained myself to stay away from hating anyone. We carry too much burden as it is; why do I want to add more to my shoulders? There are some of my friends who think that I am too tolerant of people that have openly betrayed me. I tolerate them because I do not want to hate them. I am not perfect myself, so rather than hate a man for his shortcomings, I give him another chance to redeem himself.
When you think of it, a lot of people should be pitied and not hated. When you analyse them, they are driven by ignorance or fear of some sort, lack of self-esteem; religious or tribal bigotry; mental poverty, jealousy or envy, etc.

Because of the passion I express for what I do, I have found myself being the victim of hate by some people who really do not know me. I am aware that there are those who pray all the time that I fail in what I do. The fact that the Almighty has not allowed me to fail drives them even more mad and makes them to even hate the more.

I have met a number of Nigerians who are driven by love and the desire to do good for the greatest number. The problem is that some people believe that everyone is like them. They cannot understand how someone can sit down and think of how to better the lives of people he does not know. They believe that everyone is a scammer like them.

I find that with such people, no explanation is good enough. No evidence will satisfy them. Crooked people believe that everyone else is crooked. The fact that you are driven by other values than lust for money makes no sense to them. They shoot at you from every corner expecting you to crumble. When you don’t crumble, they conclude that you must have a very strong juju man working 24 hours a day for you.

When you are driven by hate, you can never experience true happiness. Every day, I try to create some new and beautiful purpose to keep me busy. I make sure that love and the good of the greatest number are central to what I do each day of my life.
Yes, I drive on a full tank of faith and love is my engine oil.

See you next week.

– Okoroji is the chairman of COSON

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