Thomas Thomas is a big fish in the ocean of Akwa Ibom Journalism, whatever the divide you stand. His arrest and subsequent prosecution by the Akwa Ibom State Government has elicited protests in some quarters, akin to the #Bring back our girls campaign. On a personal level, I have been under severe pressure from some of, my ardent readers, fellow pen-pushers and others who adhere my humble opinion(s) on issues of urgent public discourse, to make a statement on the matter. Some even accuse me of complicity, given what they say is my known penchant, for so oft, sounding pro-Government, since Thomas is famous for his anti-establishment activism.
The case being in Court, I have decided to recline to pleading subjudice, for, I don’t have all the facts for a fair comment. Albeit, I will make suffice, the piece, first published on my rested column, FRIENDLY FIRE, on the backpage of Community Quest Newspaper, Tuesday September 14, 2010, with the same title above. Indulge me please!
True! I need help. Over the last couple of months, I have come under ‘heavy bombardment’, from few vested interests, who allege I am Pro-Akpabio. They castigate me as deliberately blindsided from seeing any evil, or hearing any evil, against and about the current administration in Akwa Ibom State. Some daring ones do not only declare, I have been bought over, they dare me to prove them wrong and write like my much respected colleague, Thomas Thomas. shortly, I shall come back to that, but not until I have shared this story, with credit to American, Lutheran cleric, Rev. Ken Klaus.
In the 1800’s, lived a man by the name Robert Ingersol(1833-1899), from the United States of America. A brilliant lawyer and orator, he was best known as an agnostic, because of his eloquent, uncompromising and consistent criticism of the Christian Faith. He campaigned vigorously against the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation in Him.
At one of his lectures, he took out his pocket watch and said, “I will give God a chance to prove He exists. I challenge him to strike me dead within five minutes.” People waited. When five minutes passed, Robert smiled and jeered, saying, “you see, there is no God. I’m still very much alive.” That’s when a christian woman stood up to the challenge and said, “your doubt did not prove there is no God. You just proved that God isn’t going to take orders from you or bother about your comments.”
Methink, it is not a reasonable thing to dignify those who doubt your abilities or confessions with a comment. But I’m constrained to tell people who care to know that, my name is not Thomas. That takes me to the Bread of life. Do you remember the man Thomas in the Bible? He was one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. His real name is Didymus, as used by Grecian believers, is a transliteration for Thomas, meaning, ‘TWINS.’
Thomas, for all the doubt traced to him, was fiercely loyal to Jesus and was even avowed to die with Jesus(see John 11-8:16). How come, the die-hard Jesuit became known as Doubting Thomas?
It was one moment of indiscretion that brought Thomas this universal distinct recognition. Jesus had died and Thomas was mourning. Soon, there were reports from women about an empty tomb and having seen Jesus alive. Shortly after, his fellow disciples made similar remark. But what rational man could believe such a thing. That a man, crucified and buried can come back alive? Thomas was not moved. He insisted on seeing for himself, a walking, talking, breathing, eating, physical and touchable Jesus.
When finally Jesus appeared to Thomas, he demonstrated no anger or disappointment to that very loyal disciple who was once poised to die for Him. Jesus came to help his unbelief and prove that, His resurrection was another promise kept. To Thomas, He said something like, “here, touch me and put your hands about me.” That done, Thomas did believe. In John 20:23, Thomas exclaimed after his comfirmatory touch, “My Lord and My God.”
Today, its almost as though his first name is, Doubting, and his second name, Thomas. Little wonder, the English axiom, ‘Doubting Thomas.’
Sad, up until today, so many people still have doubts about the authenticity of His resurrection. Some say it is a myth. Historians dismiss it as a legend. Even some theologians try to invalidate the thesis of a living Jesus. Scientists, scholars and researchers nullify the fact of this scriptural truth as a fallacy. Some Governments wage war and try to legislate Jesus and His Gospel out of existence. But, in the face of their irreconcilable cynicism, vehement opposition and unapologetic unbelief, Jesus remains Lord. The tenacity of their criticisms does nothing to deprecate His Christmas, or abrogate our Easter celebration. Jesus lives and reigns in the lives of countless hundreds of millions, who have found faith, joy and boundless peace in Him.
Friends, unlike Apostle Thomas, I have no reason to doubt the reality of Jesus the Christ. But, like him, I share completely in confessing Him, as, ‘My Lord and My God.”
Switch to accusations that I am Pro-Akpabio, here again, I reiterate my usual response. Do I believe in Governor Godswill Akpabio? Yes, I do. But not as my source or my God. I believe in my heart that he has performed excellently. That’s my conviction. I am not out to impose that opinion on those who have cause to doubt it. They have the right to disagree and canvass such contrary viewpoint. Has Governor Akpabio paid or bought me over? Not yet! But, I tell you in truth, I still pray earnestly that, this allegation comes to pass as prophetic. A largesse from him for me will be good, why not? Though I’m not expectant. Those who have been receiving from him, and pretend they have not, don’t have 2 heads.
But seriously, I will always applaud good governance. I supported Ex-Gov. Victor Attah as a journalist for all of eight years in power and after he left, though I have never met him in person, much less, got a dime from him. As a principle, I celebrate achievers, so that God Almighty can grant me grace to become one too.
So, what do I have in common with Thomas Thomas? We are “TWINS’ in Journalism, albeit, unidentical twins, with different ideological leanings and world view. I will not begrudge what many see as the excellence in his style. I rather crave to perfect the rough edges in mine.
However, mark my words. I respect him as a colleague and comrade. But please, never be so unkind as to go to him and say, ‘why not write like Osondu Ahirika?’ He can’t be me, and try as hard, I can’t fake being Thomas Thomas. We are as (dis)similar as you have U.S.A and Russia. If that makes sense. I pray and believe, whatever is wrong now will be resolved amicably soon. I find more justification to be me, and not someone else, after I read this joke by Bright Ukpong. The morale being, ALWAYS BE YOURSELF. “Two Christian missionaries, David and Michael, were lost in a scorching desert,AQW dying of thirst and hunger when at last they saw a Mosque upfront. David said: “Michael, let’s pretend we are Muslims. Otherwise, we will not get any food or water and we will die. My name will be Ahmed. What will be your name?” Michael refused to change his name. When both of them reached the Mosque, the Imam received them well and asked their names. David: “My name is Ahmed.” Michael: “My name is Michael.” The Imam turned to his helpers and said: “Please bring food and water for Michael.” Then he turned to David and said:“Ahmed, Allahu Akbar! Ramadan Mubarak..!” DAVID FAINTED. He remembered, true muslims were observing the 40 days fast. Death was now more certain.
Let me swerve from Robert Ingersol’s America to Russia for my ‘swansong,’ ending this piece. It was in the heart of the Bolshevik Revolution, precisely in 1917. One Nikolai Ivanavich BeuKharim, a very influential communist leader, like yours sincerely, was the Editor, of the Soviet official Newspaper, Pravda. A chieftain of the very powerful ruling politburo, he was privy to the state policy which outlawed religion, especially, christianity.
In 1930 Beukharim addressed a large crowd at a rally in the city of Kiev.
Speaking to the multitude of his countrymen, with brilliant oratory, persuasive arguments and enchanting communication skill, he denounced the teachings of christianity. He dismissed as a hoax, the person of Jesus, who epitomizes that faith. He rubbished as full of doubts, record of his crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection.
The silent crowd gave him satisfaction that he had succeeded in dismantling as fiction, the achievements of Jesus christ and his Gospel. Then he asked the crowd, “does anyone have any question?” There was graveyard silence. Which is why, when an old man stood up, the tension was high and everyman’s heart was pounding.
At the risk of being exiled, imprisoned or killed by the communist regime, the old man walked to the stage. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the doubting Nikolai Beukharim, the old man looked into the crowd of thousands in the auditorium as they held their breath. Then with a clear, reassuring and confident voice, he proclaimed two words: “Kristos Voskres!” Suddenly, the auditorium came alive as thousands of others, hitherto tongue-tied, gave vent to their voices, and chorused, “Vostinu Voskres!” The English translation of those words, KRISTOS VOSKRES, is, CHRIST IS RISEN, and the crowds response, VOSTINU VOSKRES, equally means, He is risen indeed. Folks, I’m sorry this is not Easter, but get used to the message. Jesus is Lord.