[ Masterweb Reports ] - The National Coordinator, Initiative for National Rebirth, Mr. Patrick Okpomu had declared that Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, Nigeria’s Minister for Health, had been acknowledged the worldwide as a round peg in a round hole for his giant strides in HEALTH CARE REFORMS of the TRANSFORMATION AGENDA of the current administration.
He stated this in a birthday message on behalf of Nigerians, the National Working Committee of Initiative for National Rebirth and Nigerians in Diaspora to felicitate with his friend and British Secretary of State for Health, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt (MP) in marking his 48th birthday celebration in London on 1st November, 2014. He used the opportunity to pray for the British Secretary of State for Health that God Almighty would continue to grant him divine health, wisdom, happiness, progress, peace, golden opportunities and divine favour.
Mr. Okpomu thanked the British Government’s intervention on the organization’s call by collaborating with Nigeria’s Health Authorities in curtailing the Ebola Virus Disease and appreciated Hon. Jeremy Hunt’s hardwork, dedication to duty, valuable and enduring service to humanity as encapsulated by his massive reforms in the British Health Sector.
The National Coordinator of INR who composed the “Diamond Anniversary Song” for Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen of England (and the song performed in London on the 5th May, 2012 as part of commemorative events on the occasion of the sixtieth Anniversary of Her Majesty’s Accession to the Throne) further made a passionate appeal and request that more grants and support services be made available to the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria to deliver better results, giving patients more choir and Doctors and Nurses more freedom to shape services that meets patients needs. And concluded by urging the British Government and its Western Allies to support the TRANSFORMATION AGENDA of the current administration led by His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR the NIGERIAN CONSENSUS CANDIDATE for the 2015 Presidential Election.
*Photo Caption - From Left: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria; Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, Nigeria Minister of Health; Jeremy Hunt (MP), British Secretary of State for Health.
[ Masterweb Reports: Marelise Van der Merwe reports ] - Let me begin by stating that this opinion is not solely based on my own personal ruminations but rather on a relatively collective notion opined by South Africans of varying degrees whom I have discussed this salient topic with.
If truth be told, a certain negative connotation is unfortunately attached to the image of Nigerians in South Africa, formed by some unsavoury antics of her kinsmen within our nation such as drug pushing, internet fraud, armed robbery and illegal overstaying. I am not in anyway branding all Nigerians under the same illicit banner – but there are sufficient numbers who have done significant damage to arouse caution from the average South African.
In fact, Prophet T.B. Joshua’s rise to popularity within South Africa has proven a key player in the ‘rebranding’ of the Nigerian image for many South Africans, buoyed by Emmanuel TV’s brand of refreshingly practical, unorthodox Christianity. As many Nigerians living in South African can readily attest to, a question revolving around Joshua is almost certainly asked once their nationality is ascertained, exuding the influence he has within South African shores.
BBC’s Chief African correspondent Will Ross recently reported how an uneducated local in rural Botswana identified Nigeria as ‘T.B. Joshua’s country’ after learning Lagos was his base. It is an assertion similarly shared by many here, particularly in the rural areas of South Africa who automatically associate Africa’s most populous nation with its most controversial pastor.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian government’s response in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse at The SCOAN last month has done little to assuage this already precarious image. The private jet debacle whereby Nigerian money was illegally carried to South African soil for the purchase of arms, coupled by the painfully slow process of the repatriation of our fallen brethren in the collapse have only served to fuel an atmosphere of distrust and distaste.
It is unfortunate also that the inquest set up by the Lagos State Government into what truly transpired at The SCOAN has aroused equal qualms, its political undertones breeding scepticism within South Africa towards the genuineness of its intentions. From the initial sessions, it appears to be more of a platform for Lagos State Government to cover-up their own inadequacies in the rescue operation while ensuring a predetermined agenda is played out, ultimately bringing culpability on the part of The SCOAN for structural failures.
I have closely followed media updates surrounding the coroner’s inquest, most of which came from Nigerian media sources as media coverage in the aftermath of the tragedy has reduced in South Africa. The propensity of focus toward debunking the claim of explosives being behind the collapse, alongside the insistence that T.B. Joshua himself appears at the inquest, certainly calls for questions. I am not saying such information is not valid but the sensational media headlines and lopsided reports suggest the outworking of a negative agenda against Joshua, orchestrated by both the Lagos State government and media houses reporting the incident.
For example, it was widely reported on Tuesday that pathologist Professor John Obafunwa ruled out claims of an explosion as the cause of the building collapse, saying none of the victims had blast injuries. However, a report from the following day’s inquest where Obafunwa admitted he had only conducted autopsies on two bodies and could not authoritatively determine what was behind the collapse was barely mentioned.
Similarly, the apparent ‘refusal’ of church authorities to cooperate with external rescue bodies such as NEMA was disproportionately accentuated, to the extent that media commentators suggested such callous attitude actually increased the death toll. This was highlighted by the testimony of NEMA spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye at the inquest on Tuesday who claimed his team were not given access to the site until Sunday evening.
However, in Wednesday’s session, a spokesman for the Nigerian Red Cross shared his own version of events, praising The SCOAN for their co-operation and efficiency and directly opposing Farinloye’s claims. “When we got to the place, we met NEMA and LASEMA there, but we didn’t see them carrying out any rescue operations,” Ige Oladimeji told the court. Contrarily, he said the church officials were the ones who were championing the rescue mission, buoyed by The SCOAN’s 10 ambulances and heavy duty rescue machinery provided by several local construction companies. Why was it that this aspect of the inquest was completely downplayed to barely a mention by the majority of media reports yesterday? Perhaps because it revealed shameful inadequacies within Nigeria’s rescue team – both in attitude and action?
I recall reading an article by Nigerian-based journalist Simon Ateba, who was at The SCOAN on the day of the incident, sharing similar sentiments. “The truth is that NEMA has no equipment needed to rescue people,” he bluntly stated. “All NEMA was doing was to release the number of the dead and the injured to the media. NEMA is a failed and incapacitated agency that cannot rescue anyone… They should shut the hell up and get enough funding and equipment to do their job rather than playing to the gallery and claiming that they “just coordinate “. Coordinate what? Interviews when people are trapped?”
In Thursday's session, Lagos State Commissioner for physical planning Olutoyin Ayinde was quoted as saying the airplane seen bypassing the ill-fated building on four occasions on the day of the incident was simply on a flight path towards Lagos airport. Why is it, however, that nearly two months after the incident, no official statement whatsoever has been made by the Nigerian government or aviation authorities concerning this? If indeed there was nothing sinister or suspicious in its movements, why wasn’t there an immediate statement to that effect since this is an incident of grave international proportions?
Yesterday, a Nigerian lawyer called for the halting of the inquest, arguing that several agencies from within Lagos State had already made indicting statements against The SCOAN to the effect that structural inadequacies caused the collapse. He submitted that the inquest would ‘seriously occasion miscarriage of justice’ as it would base its decision on the testimonies of the same agencies. In the light of the above, I believe he has a very valid point.
As I wrote in an earlier article berating South African media’s coverage of T.B. Joshua in lieu of this tragedy, I am an Emmanuel TV viewer and have visited The SCOAN once last year in what I would term a spiritually enhancing pilgrimage. The latest incident has not blighted this belief, although many pertinent questions still remain unanswered concerning the exact cause of the catastrophe.
It is unfortunate that the Lagos State inquest is not providing these answers but provoking even more questions, especially within South Africa.
Marelise Van der Merwe ( Email: email@example.com ), social analyst based in Johannesburg, South Africa reports.
*Photo Caption - Rescue workers Tuesday September 16, 2014 search for survivors in the rubble of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Lagos- Nigeria collapsed building. The building collapsed September 12, 2014.
[ Masterweb Reports: Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu ] - Chinua Achebe had in his book the “trouble with Nigeria” declared that leadership was the bane of Nigeria’s underdevelopment. In the book “why nations fail” Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, had likewise used the analogy of the city of Nogales one part of which is in the United States and the other part in Mexico to highlight how leadership and strong institutions can make a difference in the success or failure of a society. Nogales happens to be a city situated on both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico with same geography, same climate and same ethnic make-up; but that is where the similarities end. The city of Nogales on the American side of the border has a higher life expectancy, good roads, high levels of affluence and very low levels of crime and corruption while the same city of Nogales on the Mexican side of the border has dilapidated infrastructure, high levels of poverty, high crime rates and corruption. Both cities with practically the same environment and ethnic make-up has vastly different outcomes on both sides of the border and the only reason for this difference is the leadership, institutions and systems that differed in both nations.
The experience in the then demarcated East and West Germany after the 2nd world war with same people and geography but vastly different economic and social outcomes due to different political and institutional structures also lends credence to how a leadership, institutions and systems can advance or retrogress a people or society. So much thus depends on the newly invested governor of Anambra state Chief Willie Obiano to provide the kind of leadership and institutions that will fundamentally change the outcomes in Anambra state. In truth, he has already gained some popularity not only for his admirable vision but also for the gusto with which he has undertaken his duties thus far, but in the murky waters of Nigerian politics it is sometimes common for once determined actors to become swallowed by the rot of the status quo and consequently become complacent.
The recent distraction occasioned by the unnecessary politics of APGA, Peter Obi and Victor Umeh is already threatening to drag him into such soiled waters. I don’t believe it demonstrates political maturity to become estranged or to engage in conflicts with Peter Obi, insofar as he has not constituted himself a godfather. In saner democratic climes political opponents work together. A constructive working relationship with Peter Obi irrespective of the party platform he now finds himself would be a win-win for all. Willie Obiano will do well to put an end to such unnecessary brouhaha, resist the negative forces of the status quo and concentrate in the zealous pursuit of his advertised development programs.
Time is also something that is not too friendly with government as it seems to fly with ever increasing speed. It is already more than a hundred days and counting since he was inaugurated. It won’t take too long before the end of his tenure looms and the necessary stocktaking begins. It is thus necessary that the governor move with deliberate speed in getting his projects off the ground so as to be in a position to showcase a new Anambra state by the end of his first tenure. In this regards i wish to highlight a few projects that need to be given priority.
Establishment Of Self Serviced Dedicated Industrial/Agro-Technology Parks:
Small and medium scale enterprises remain the greatest area of potential growth and job creation in the immediate short term and long term. In order to make this possible and to harness the abundant human resources and entrepreneurial spirit in the area the government should urgently create special economic zones and establish dedicated self serviced industrial parks in designated areas within the state. Modalities for the establishment of industrial parks with adequate incentives will include the provision of land for industrial clusters, the construction of access roads, construction of industrial units, warehouses and other necessary infrastructure. Because of the challenges of inadequate power supply from PHCN, the industrial parks will be self serviced with industrial generators that serve only the industrial park. While each industrial park will be connected to the national grid, the backup industrial generators will ensure the servicing of the industrial park as required. Service charges to be contributed by all operators in the industrial clusters and some level of government subsidy or aid will provide revenue for the funding of fuel or diesel for the running of the industrial generators in the interim.
The industrial clusters will aim for the production of agro allied products/food processing and goods such as footwear/shoes, bags, toys, clothing, pharmaceuticals and others as part of the overall initiative for industrialisation.
Establishment of an Ultra-Modern International Cargo/ Passenger Airport:
The construction of an Airport in Anambra state has long been in the planning and has for reasons of its importance featured prominently in every election campaign. It’s time for Chief Obiano to fulfil that long yearning by urgently commencing through public/private partnership the construction of a modern Airport that will possibly be operational by 2015 or latest 2016. As a state with a large enterprise base and with the expectation of rapid industrial and infrastructural development, Anambra state urgently needs an ultra-modern cargo and passenger airport as part of the process to build capacity for the expected increase in industrial activity and its attendant increase in passenger and freight-cargo traffic. There can be no development without infrastructure and an airport is a strategic infrastructure that will significantly open up the state.
A major cargo holding area where containers can be stored should be established within the airport industrial complex to double as a dry port and storage centre where containers can be stored by entrepreneurs. In the long-term the airport should host ultra modern facilities, including aircraft servicing and repair facilities as a strategy to market the airport as a regional hub for stop over flights and aircraft repair and maintenance location. The Airport project could be actualised cost effectively through a public private partnership. Having long yearned for an Airport, the construction of one in Anambra state will be one of chief Obiano’s lasting legacies.
To Be Continued.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu ( Email: Lawrencenwobu@gmail.com ) reports.
*Photo Caption - Governor Willie Obiano
[ Masterweb Reports: Emeka Umeagbalasi reports ] - (Democracy & Good Governance, Onitsha Nigeria, 30th October 2014)-In the first part of this publication, dated 28th of October, 2014, the inevitability of social contradictions in human and other social interactions was clearly pointed out likewise their positive and negative handling styles. Social Contradictions lead to greatness and social harmony when handled positively and bring about destruction and backwardness when handled negatively. In modern warfare, solutions to social contradictions have replaced interstate warfare with intra state warfare. Technological advances brought about by information technology have also created crimes without borders such as cyber terrorism likewise “positivities” and negativities of globalization.
It was also social contradictions inherent in human society and its social environment that brought about the Hobbessian state of nature where life was said to be short, nasty and brutish. This nasty state of nature later gave birth to government; which in turn gave birth to social contract. The primitive or Hobbessian state of nature was characterized by sundry social vices such as crimes, violence, politico-economic exclusion, murder, intimidation, hunger and starvation, slavery and servitude, suppression and denial of religious freedoms, etc. Social contradictions also abolished divinity of monarchies and replaced it with supremacy of the people’s voice. These were captured in the British Bill of Rights of 1689, USA Independence Declaration of 1776 and the French Declaration of the Right of Man and Citizen of 1789.
Social Contract is understood to mean irrevocable memorandum of understanding between the peoples who took their destinies in their hands following the escalation of the nasty state of nature imposed on themby their few wicked fellows who were militarily and economically advantageous. The irrevocable memorandum of understanding or social contract was designed to be permanently binding between the peoples and a body of noble personalities charged with the responsibility of overseeing the collective affairs of the society particularly provision of social basic amenities, services and security. The peoples, in turn pledged to be bound by a code containing civic responsibilities. In a nutshell, social contract means the agreement between the governed and those chosen by electoral and appointive processes to govern in the context of shared or mutual social responsibilities.
The phrase social contract has since been called different names by different ages, groups, individuals and institutions. In nongovernmental and inter governmental circles, it is called human rights (civil, political, social, economic, cultural and environmental rights). In governmental circles, it is called public or social responsibilities. In business/social enterprises’ circles, it is called corporate social responsibilities. The famous social contract concept has been enacted as a social responsibility guide into thousands of global, regional, sub regional, national and local documents. In the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended in 2011, the social contract as a guide for publicly elected and appointed officers is located in the Chapter Two (sections 13 to 21). It is commonly called the Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State or dos and don’ts of the public office holders. On the other hand, the civic responsibilities as a guide for the citizens are contained in Section 24.
The role of the mass media as a bridge linking the government and the citizens is contained in Section 22. The mass media is also tasked by the same provision to ensure that the social contract provisions are upheld at all times and not violated by the government and the citizens. In the Chapter Four of the Constitution under reference (sections 33 to 46), the other aspects of the social contract are captured as Fundamental Human Rights. While the citizens are empowered to enjoy them within constitutional moderation, the government is constitutionally commanded to protect them at all times and is prohibited from abusing them as well. To ensure full compliance to the obedience of the social contract by the government and the citizens, judicial, legislative and executive bodies are put in place. The notion of violence is also recognized as social contract enforcement mechanism. The use of it is contradictorily divided into legitimate violence and illegitimate violence. The use of former is approved for the government, while the use of latter by the citizens (except in legitimate and clearly defined self defense) attracts criminal punishment.
It is important to remind that the title of this publication is: Making of Anambra Social Contract & Detoxifying Its Polity: Understanding Intersociety’s Stabilizing Roles. The roles of a vibrant nongovernmental organization like Intersociety in ensuring strict adherence to the dictates of the social contract by the government and the citizens have exhaustively been captured in the part one of this publication. Part of the explained NGO (Intersociety) roles particularly in Anambra State under the prevailing socio-political circumstances is to work towards detoxifying Anambra Polity in the context of playing stabilization and public interest roles or saving the State from the toxic substances of Anambra’s wicked and mercantilist political players.On the other hand, we hold a firm belief that when harlotry and stomach politicians of Anambra extraction gather to scatter, we gather to gather; when they tell lies, we correct and reinforce facts; when they loot, we expose; when they misdirect and misinform, we inform and direct; and when they direct and inform, we concur.
This publication of ours is wholly brought about by the need to remind the major political players in the State particularly the present and the immediate past democratically elected governments not to lose the sight of the fact that they are still under irrevocable social contract with the great people of Anambra State. This firm reminder is sequel to our observation that their camps appear to have been infiltrated by anti democratic and good governance forces that held the State hostage and brought untold social sufferings to the State and its people particularly between 1999 and 2006. They are reminded that the great People of Anambra State have no time for political frivolities, but real and consolidated development and transformation of their beloved State. The People of the State are deeply in a hurry to develop humanly, materially and socially and consolidate the gains of such developments.
Politics of distraction and misdirection have wrecked havoc in several States in Nigeria in recent times. In Rivers State, real governance has lost direction and media/propagandist governance has taken over. In Imo State, roots to social contract and its governmental obligation have long been lost. In Lagos State, productive or economic governance has eluded the State. Despite being the epicenter of opposition political activism with its social development and civilization dating back to 153 years ago or since 1861, Lagos State is now a N400Billion plus deficit loan based economy with over 75% of its residents wallowing in poverty.
The priceless fortunes of Anambra State must not be lost to political distraction and misdirection. For no matter how eruditely a professor is, once he or she loses his or her professorial direction, he or she becomes a professorial moron. Anambra State cannot afford to lose its new pride of place as Nigeria’s newest epicenter of economic governance. The last eight years saw the State witnessing great infrastructural transformation and massive deployment of non-loan fiscal resources for multi-sectored development of its social structures and services; yet it ended its financial records with only N10.7Billion local and foreign loans and N86Billion worth of fixed cash and investments or credits. The State is also credited with over $300Million worth of direct foreign investments between 2010 and 2013 with thousands of direct and indirect employments. In Nigeria’s justice sector, the State also triumphed over others by inventing staggered electoral calendar in the country. In the electoral process, the State fought poll rigging in the country to a standstill and ended the infamous era of demographic poll roguery.
In the past thirty years or more, no State in Nigeria has recorded these great feats. Intstead, fiscal recklessness has become messier in many States including the super oil States of the South-south zone. They are not only grossly indebted locally and internationally, but misapplication and misappropriation of public funds have become second to none. At the Federal level, similar rots hold sway. It is also heavily indebted locally and internationally. While internal debts of the Federal Government increased from N1.8trillion (roughly $13Billion) in 2006 to N10trillion ($72.5Billion) in 2014; its external debts have risen from about $3.5Billion in 2006 to about $10Billion in 2014. These explain why we are deeply worried over these triggers of social backwardness rearing their ugly head in Anambra State. From every social index, Anambra State has made giant strides and cannot afford any form of manmade setback. The woes of the State in the past were traced to the doorsteps of harlotry politicians. They misdirected the like of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju and he failed in governance like Somali Currency. It is our firm position that they must not be allowed any room in Anambra State of present time.
Having carefully studied the current turn of events in Anambra State, we have come to a conclusion that the people of the State will not tolerate their State and governance being delayed, distracted or toyed with. Political frivolities must give way for political realities and consolidated development of the State. In case the two camps have forgotten, art of governance is not a private liability company; rather it is a social contract concept that must be strictly adhered to at all times and inexcusably. Fundamental governance requirements in Anambra State are rested on development and sustenance and these require beyond the border resources mobilization approaches without exposing the State to serial indebtedness. Certainly, good governance has no place in the atmosphere of political distraction and uncertainty. Allowing the exit of one person or a group of persons from one political group to the other to endanger the course of public affair in a State does not augur well for the society. Governance, at all times, must be separated from party politics.
Finally, the incumbent government in Anambra State has mountainous tasks before it that give it no time for distraction and misdirection. Governance is clothed in the layers of social contradictions and the way they are handled make or mar political leaders. Years ago, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, with his basketful of university degrees, was faced with the task of handling Anambra’s social contradictions as Anambra governor; he lost focus and failed disastrously.
Today, he is not counted among those whose names are written in the Anambra’s Gold Register. Similar social contradictions laid on electoral roguery brought Dr. Chris Ngige to power in the State and it was a handling style brought by Obi and Company that changed the course of social events as we are seeing them today. Mbadinuju has come and gone, Ngige has come and gone and Obi and Company have also come and gone with history taking note of their activities in office and treating them accordingly. Now, it is Willie Obiano’s turn to shine or darken himself in the eyes of people, history and God. Our support for good governance in Anambra State remains irrevocable.
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (41, Miss Elems Street, Onitsha Nigeria). Emeka Umeagbalasi is also a Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies; and MSc candidate in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution
*Photo Caption - Emeka Umeagbalasi (Left), speaking at a conference.
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Sports loving governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji, has congratulated the Super Falcons for thrashing the Lionesses of Cameroun 2-0 to emerge winners of the 9th edition of the African Women Championship finals played at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek, Namibia.
In a press statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Ajunwa, Governor Orji who thanked the seventh-time African champions for doing the country proud, said their hard-won victory over Cameroun showed that the players trained very hard for the just concluded championship.
According to him, the indomitable spirit of the players coupled with their courage contributed immensely to all the victories the team recorded during the championship.
He called on the football authorities and handlers of the Super Falcons to ensure that the players are kept together for future tournaments especially as they qualified for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup that will be played from 6th June till 5th July in Canada.
*Photo Caption - Governor T. A. Orji
[ Masterweb Reports: Emeka Umeagbalasi reports ] - (Democracy & Good Governance, Onitsha Nigeria, 28th October 2014)-Solutions to social contradictions have always produced heroes and villains right from the time of the Yore. This is because the entire global community and its environment have at all times been clothed with social contradictions. In the laws of the nature, contradictions abound. Among all living things including animals and plants, there are contradictions. The moment philosophy gave birth to natural and social sciences, contradictions set in leading to the birth of more philosophical children (disciplines). Science gave birth to technology, but today technology is its greatest headache and the environment’s number one enemy owing to its hazards. The biblical genesis is inherently contradictory. In modern Christian and Muslim teachings and practices, there exist contradictions. There are inherent contradictions in cultures, values, mores, traditions, customs, etc. In international political and legal systems, there are contradictions.
In the early eighties, when Aids/HIVs erupted, Christianity and other religious bodies saw them as end time punitive divine viruses and they offered total sexual abstinence as a solution and declared their victims as hell fire candidates, but science thought otherwise and swung into action to find its cure. While religious bodies followed them up with global stigmatization campaigns, science countered them with counter-stigmatization campaigns added to its feat in successful invention of their therapies. As recently as few months ago, when Ebola virus erupted in Nigeria, the Nigerian Christian clergies including the Catholic clergy changed their orders of service and introduced segregated service proceedings with their service sermons on the deadly virus centering on end time divine affliction to sinners. Science responded with curable solution leading to the recent declaration of Nigeria by the World Health Organization as ebola free country.
Very close to the year 2000 when it was popular among Christian populations that Jesus Christ might come in that year, most of the ICT appliances and applications ranging from television sets, mobile phones, internet or world wide web, creation and use of website; to social media like facebook and twitter were declared satanic devices or marks of biblical 666 by the said Christian preachers including their Nigerian counterparts and a ban for their use was handed down to their followers. But after the year 2000 passed and Jesus Christ elected to remain where he is, the reverse became the case. Today, another popular tone replacing the former is that Christ comes the day someone dies with instant judgment that follows it. Social contradictions in Nigeria have also created a culture of opulent clergies and impoverished laities. They have also led to total elimination of middle class and existence of a spiral gap between the haves and the haves not. Instances of the menace of social contradictions in the country’s polity are too many to mention.
In the laws of man, there are a whole lot of contradictions. In the art of government and its concepts, contradictions exist. Among natural and social science scholars, contradictions exist. The hallmarks of theories are their ability to contradict themselves. In art of governance, there are contradictions. As a matter of fact, contradictions are solely responsible for the birth and invention of government, laws, cold-war, world wars, civil conflicts, crimes and social vices, IGOs, NGOs etc.
Contradictions also divided criminal laws into mala inse and mala prohibita. In human rights, contradictions abound deeply. In family right of marriage, for instance, a cousin is granted a constitutional right to marry a fellow cousin in certain States in the USA, but denied in a number of other US States. Open exercise and enforcement of gay rights are not permitted in Nigeria, but they are the other of the day in the United States and other advanced countries.
Handling of social contradictions have made or marred families, persons, groups, religions, governments and societies. Once two persons or more start interacting, contradictions set in resulting in dispute, conflict or harmony. An individual is also confronted by contradiction leading to either self immolation or self harm or even self harmony. Social contradictions are usually noted with negative effects but when transformed, they are the best path to greatness. Those who transformed social contradictions inherent or implanted in their societies and localities always have their names written in gold. From Martin Luther, Pope John Paul 2, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Ms Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Comrade Xanana Gusmao, to Nelson Mandela; the list is endless. On the other hand, they also produce villains in the context of those that failed woefully in handling them. From Mobutu Sese Seko, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Adolf Hitler, Mohammed Farrah Aidid, to Omar Hassan el-Bashir; the list is also endless.
In Human Rights Community, the ability to understand these social contradictions is a fundamental step towards exhibition of competence in handling them. Understanding the theoretical and practical meaning of nongovernmental organization-NGO is also as important as understanding its roles in civil society. The fundamental role of a vibrant nongovernmental organization is to serve as a bridge through which the government and the people can reach and interact with one another. This includes narrowing the wide gap between them, getting government’s attention towards making people’s lives better and improved by way of delivery of social amenities and services. It also means getting people to act and live according to the dictates of the laws and popular policies as well as getting them to perform their civic responsibilities like common and community services, payment of legitimate taxes and utility bills and participation in electoral processes and art of governance.
The second most important function of a vibrant nongovernmental organization is to play the role of societal watchdog at all times. This includes critically and seminally studying and assessing government policies and actions to ensure they are in tune with legitimate popular demands. Where such policies and actions wholly or in part are considered inhumane, it is the duty of the NGO to blow its whistle with solutions consistently until its voices are heeded. In practical sense, no serious minded and vibrant NGO can separate itself from people and government; instead a balanced relationship is the best. This is because human rights and good governance are interwoven. There can be no human rights without good governance and no good governance without human rights.
When an NGO is too attached to the government or people, it loses its ability to be credible and powerful. Effective thematic areas of activity make it very difficult for an NGO to lose its focus and direction. Any NGO lacking these is a riff-raff NGO. Also any NGO that forms the habit of partnering with any government in power particularly in Nigerian context is doomed. NGOs must be part and parcel of enthroning democratic governance in Nigeria or any part thereof.
This is to ensure that the person chosen to govern does not emerge crookedly. NGOs and human rights fare much better under a popularly and credibly elected government be it at local, State or federal level. NGOs must change with changing circumstances including periodic modification of their thematic areas of activity. The world’s first NGO-Anti Slavery International formed in 1839 died or fizzled out with abolition of slavery in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most of the cold-war era anti nuclear and chemical warfare NGOs have died or fizzled out except those that changed into their post era. Self sustenance both for NGOs and their leaders as well as choosing sizeable areas of advocacy is another good feature of vibrant and focused NGO. For an NGO to be able to function well and handle social contradictions in its fold and between government and people or among political actors without seemed compromised, these attributes are fundamentally needed. Public interest must be at the center of NGO’s activities at all times.
Our organization-International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law has since its formation in 2008 carried out all its activities in accordance with its clearly defined mandates (thematic areas). These mandates, defined for advocacy convenience are: democracy & good governance, civil liberties & rule of law, security & safety and international justice & human rights programs. Under the immediate past regime of Mr. Peter Obi in Anambra State, we functioned as a development partner and a bridge between the people and the government. While the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization left an indelible mark in the State owing to its successful fight against poll rigging and stealing of poll mandate culminating in Obi’s Appellate Court victory in March 2006 and his gubernatorial enthronement, Intersociety also left a “legacious” mark in the area of partnership for good governance leading to unprecedented positive turn of social events in the State including massive infrastructural, educational, health and other social transformations.
The highlight of the governance style under reference (economic governance) was the ability of the former government under reference to go beyond borders in search of positive and huge resources mobilization leading to massive resources deployment for multi sectored development without incurring huge public indebtedness. Loan regime governance in the midst of plenty and huge wealth potentials is worse than governance regime failure.
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (41, Miss Elems Street, Onitsha Nigeria). Emeka Umeagbalasi is also a Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies; and MSc candidate in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution
*Photo Caption - Emeka Umeagbalasi
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*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Ihechuckwu Njoku reports ] - Nigerian Prophet T.B. Joshua has explained the secret of his calm demeanour even in the face of the calamitous events that have recently shrouded his controversial ministry.
Speaking to the congregation at The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) on Sunday 26th October 2014 in a service broadcast live on Emmanuel TV, the cleric referred to the tragic building collapse last month that left over 100 dead, stating that God would reward people according to their actions and reactions.
“What do you think is keeping me here?” Joshua questioned his congregants. “You see me laughing and I still stay because I have seen beyond the situation at hand. What I am seeing - you that are silent about the situation will be rewarded by God. You that are for will receive reward from God. You that are against will receive reward from God. It is all about God!”
The embattled pastor preached extensively on the subject of destiny, counselling worshippers to not be led astray by their challenges. “Whatever situation you are facing, don’t let it overwhelm you,” he advised. “Stay focused because there is something far more important than that situation – your dream and your goals in life.”
Basing the message on his own life experiences, Joshua continued, “I am here today because I know my goal and my dream; I am in line with it. Even though I pass through the fire, the valley of the shadow of death – the question is where is my dream and goal? It’s there.”
The popular Nigerian pastor then relayed how internal peace has kept him going throughout life’s ups and downs. “If not the peace of heart that I have in this world, I would have been zero by now,” he admitted to the congregation comprised of local and international worshippers.
“The peace of heart is so much that when I close my eyes, I can sleep,” he explained. “If I go out now, I would just walk on the streets alone because I have peace of heart. When I want to eat, I eat. If people keep disappointing me, that will not discourage me – I still keep believing that I should carry on because I have peace of heart.”
The cleric opined that desperation to achieve material things hastily had left peace elusive for the majority. “After you have achieved all you are looking for, it is so painful without peace of heart,” he stated, adding that it was not better not to achieve material success than to do so without peace of heart.
“If you don’t have anything in this world but you have peace of heart, the peace of heart will give you everything in need… You need peace of heart to enjoy whatever you have,” he stressed.
“Everything you gathered by desperation, where are they today,” the cleric then asked the sombre audience. “Without peace of heart, you will make a wrong choice; you will choose in a haste; you will always be desperate in choosing. Everything that will last long demands for time and preparation.”
Joshua challenged congregants to examine whether they really believed in their respective businesses or career choices, stressing that the evidence of such lay in their resolve to persist despite challenges.
“If you believe in what you are doing, why should disappointment separate you from it? If you believe in your business, why should failure cause you to abandon it? If you believe in your marriage, why should crisis separate you and lead to divorce,” he asked.
Speaking further on the increasing rate of divorce and separation among married couples, he added, “Today, marriage crumbles because marriage seems to be competition whereas it is supposed to be co-operation.”
Joshua then took a swipe at politicians who deceived people with wild promises, counselling the congregation to not quickly judge by appearances. “We judge people by their actions. That is why today, if a politician comes out to promise Heaven and earth and spray money on you, you are ready to vote for them. When they win the election, they turn around.”
He continued, “The world is upside down because we judge people today by their actions. We don’t know that actions on the outside can be different to actions on the inside. Because of this, we don’t know our friends and our enemies.”
The cleric concluded by advising people to seek God alone in order for their destinies in life to be actualised. “When you are connected to your destiny, nothing and nothing can stop you,” he declared.
During his prophetic ministration, Joshua later spoke of a dark cloud hanging heavily over the nation of Nigeria, explaining the crowd symbolised an impending trouble for Africa's most populous nation.
Ihechuckwu Njoku ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ), a freelance Nigerian journalist, reports.
*Photo Caption - Prophet T.B. Joshua
[ Masterweb Reports: David Onwuchekwa reports ] - In a recent interview, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh allegedly called the former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi an empty bag. Some journalists tracked down Obi’s aide, Mr Valentine Obienyem for an
interview with his boss, Obi. Obienyem insisted that his boss only responds to issues that would contribute to national development and does not have the time to exchange words with men he described as ‘political irritants’. After much prodding, Obienyem ended up speaking to the press himself, with the warning that the views he expressed are strictly his. Excerpts:
Welcome back to Anambra State.
Thanks. I always visited with my boss, only that it’s been more of sneaking in and out.
Why do you have to sneak in and out?
When I say sneaking in and out, I only mean coming in quietly and leaving quietly.
How has life been outside government?
Well, I think it has been busier. I was lucky to serve a man who is adjudged to have performed excellently as governor of Anambra State. We are all proud of him, because he served so well to the point that institutions that worked with him are all trying to celebrate him. We are now busier, traveling from one part of the state to another and from one part of the world to another.
In the last three months for example, we have been to the USA and the UK three times. We attended the 69th United Nations General Assembly session during which he spoke at one of the side events on the post-MDGs agenda, because he was the best governor on mainstreaming the MDGs in Nigeria. We also attended the World Bank Spring meeting. Obi also spoke in one of the sessions because they recognize his expertise in financial management. One can go on and on.
Locally, institutions beg him to come and speak to them basically by way of sharing experiences on what made him succeed as the governor of Anambra State. What is interesting is that most of these institutions offer to pay for his trips, accommodation and honorarium. He often agreed that his transportation and accommodation should be taken care of, but not honorarium, on the basis that sharing experiences is a way
of contributing to the progress of the country without demanding anything in return.
Of course he has other activities that occupy his time. He often solicits assistance from institutions with which he assists churches to set up faith-based revolving micro credit schemes and for the rehabilitation of schools, especially those in the remote parts of the state.
What can you say about his recent defection to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)?
As far as I am concerned, that is a non-issue. When has exercising one’s right to association become a subject of inquisition?
Some think it’s normal, others see it as betrayal. What can you say about this?
We shall soon know who betrayed who. I have watched with amusement the wry humour some people have made out of it. Some are showing videos, others visit Ojukwu’s grave to dance, others speak in tongues and I ask is it because one man decided to exercise his right of association? In fact, I celebrated the reactions, because to me, no defection elicited such reactions in Nigeria perhaps since the evolution of parties with the exception of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s membership of NPN. It shows how important Obi is in Nigeria. To have elicited such
reactions means that the man is an institution, a colossus.
I sympathize with APGA people for crying and rolling on the ground on the loss of a man regarded as the face of APGA in Nigeria. The implication is that since this man has left, APGA is as good as dead, but it is not like that. Being his own person, he left alone and that means APGA can still reinvent itself. Moreover, they should understand that he left APGA because he was not wanted, and because the party had
since lost track of its advancement because of the greed of one man.
The chairman of APGA, Sir Victor Umeh was quoted as saying that Obi should not be called the face of APGA, because APGA made him and not the other way round. Do you agree?
If Chief Victor Umeh wants, let him declare that the sun rises from the west and people will merely laugh at him because he cannot change existential truth by mere mortal pronouncement. Why worry yourself about what Victor says when the other 99% believes that Obi was the face of APGA in the world?
As for Obi making APGA or APGA making him, Obi has not thought along that line. It’s Nigerians, based on what Obi did for APGA as a political party that submitted that he made APGA, so Victor’s point is laughable as it is baseless.
Umeh even claims that he also contributed in making Obi. He shares the faults of garrulous people everywhere. When you encounter people that talk a lot, you will see that they do so without circumspection.
Before Obi went into politics, he was chairman of many quoted companies, including two banks. Obi succeeded in APGA not because of wolves like Umeh who are perpetually after their selfish gains, but because of his inherent character which his pedigree before he became governor would substantiate. Obi is good, Obi has character , he is humble and trustworthy. He did not learn these virtues , because he was an APGA member and will certainly not depart from them because he
joined the PDP.
Each time Victor talks, his purpose is not to pass information, not to instruct, not to correct inexactitudes, but to diminish Obi. How can he say that APGA made Obi? Between him and Obi, who would we say that APGA made? The other day, I was in London with Obi, and he was trying to pack into one of his buildings in London from another one. He acquired both before he became the governor. As we were going through documents, he showed me one document that contained the amount he used to secure Victor’s first international passport for him, and the one covering
his first overseas trip. I know that his first car, a Mercedes Benz V-boot, was bought for him by Obi’s younger brother. I knew the two-room apartment where he lived before he built mansions all over the place and now living like a king. Gentlemen, you can judge who benefited from who.
He said it himself that without Obi’s faithfulness, APGA could not have reached where it is now. I remember the day he presented the Most Trustworthy Party Man Award to Obi, and said if not for his consistency in going to court and fighting his impeachment, APGA could not have succeeded. Juxtapose it with what he says today and your only conclusion will be that the man is only guided by the dictates of the time and not by truth.
In his last interview, I even read where he chronicled what he did for Obi to return to power after his impeachment. I was at the centre of it all and, I can tell you that the only man that believed in Obi was Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. If not because of Obi’s tenacity or if he depended on people like Umeh, he would not have come back. I remember during his impeachment, some people went to meet Umeh and he told them that their brother was gone for good. It was when the first judgment restoring him was delivered that Umeh started to lean towards him again.
I remember the day the Court of Appeal delivered judgment, I came back from Singapore that morning with Obi and had to board a 7 am Sosoliso flight from Lagos to Enugu to be in court. The moment the judgment was delivered, Umeh asked us to wait at Enugu that he would come there with Dim Ojukwu who was paying a condolence visit to the Akpamgbos in Enugu-Ukwu. On a second thought, Obi decided to call Ojukwu himself, who asked to know the wordings of the judgment. Obi told him the judge said he should take over immediately, and Ojukwu said if it was so, he should move to the Government House. That was how he left, contrary to Umeh’s own position, from Enugwu-Ukwu to the Government House, and that was
how Obi eventually was reinstated. So, in all his travails, the only man that followed him and not motivated by lucre, was Ojukwu. In fact that was why Obi was touched over the lamentations of Ojukwu’s wife, Ambassador Bianca and decided to explain to her what happened, and assured her that a change of platform is not change of principles. That is also why Obi said he would not reply to any other person on his
reasons for leaving APGA, because others are not sincere at all.
What would you say is APGA’s problem?
I think APGA’s problem is 90% caused by Chief Victor Umeh. He is not a good party man. APGA started dying the day he was made the chairman. We wished that Chief Chekwas Okorie continued. As Mrs Ojukwu said, the dismissal of Chekwas Okorie and the appointment of Umeh is like chasing away a cat to bring in the tiger. Dim Chukwumemka
Odumegwu Ojukwu saw this coming, because he actually advised against the
empowerment of Umeh and warned that the party should monitor the “little tiger being fed with milk closely to know when it grows teeth.” Look at the party and its history and you will discover that his idea of leadership of a political party is to expel anybody that dared question him in any way. Look at the national chairman of the PDP, he has been able to win those that left the party back and even more people for the party because he understands what party leadership is. The man is like a chief priest, appeasing different gods with what they need. On the contrary, Umeh sees himself as a god residing on the Olympian that should be appeased by many chief priests. This is why he always celebrates people leaving APGA.
When Obi was forced to leave the party, what Umeh said was that 7,000 others entered the same day. What is amazing and wicked about Nigerians is that while all attention is directed at Obi, nobody remembers those 7,000 that he boasted he received into APGA.
Umeh is the problem of the party because he has not allowed internal democracy to work. He is the chairman, the publicity secretary and everything of APGA. When the party went to the national conference, he was the delegate. As chairman, he is also the senatorial candidate. I mean, how can a party that tolerates such a circuits show survive? I am sure that deep inside him, he does not believe in APGA and whatever it
represents. He is a nihilist who only sees APGA as a means of livelihood and amassing wealth.
Since he is not contented, APGA would continue to lay on the ground under him.
Are you aware that the same Victor Umeh aspires to be a senator?
That one is not my business. If the people of Anambra Central, having known his character, feel that he is fit to represent them, so be it.
Could you comment on your boss’ successor, Chief Willie Obiano?
No word on him. He does not need to be distracted.
*Photo Caption - Chief Victor Umeh
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Chief Press Secretary to Abia State Governor, Mr. Charles Ajunwa, has faulted an assertion by "one faceless group masquerading as Save Abia
Group " which in a recent media publication alleged that "Abia is the least developed state in Nigeria."
He dismissed the group's claims as a cheap blackmail aimed at ridiculing the governor's efforts to transform the state while accusing his political opponents of sponsoring the said publication to cause disaffection in the polity ahead of the 2015 general election.
Mr. Ajunwa who stated this in a press release made available to journalists in Umuahia, said "it is only the blind" that would accuse Governor Orji's administration of non performance after looking at the galaxy of legacy projects he had posted.
He accused the group of publishing old pictures of some roads in Aba which had since been rehabilitated by Governor Orji's administration in its desperation to disrepute him for selfish political reasons.
He said the group was being sponsored by the opposition to twist facts and create wrong impression that his administration had failed "when in fact it is the same administration that is working tirelessly to rebuild the state after years of dilapidation."
According to him, "common logic shows that if the previous administrations had done better, the so-called infrastructure they built would not have rapidly collapsed within seven years of Governor Orji's administration".
The release reads in part: " There is no basis whatsoever for any one to say this administration has not performed considering the number of tangible and verifiable projects fairly distributed across the state.
" It is a fact that Orji is not the first Abia governor but he is the first to build workers secretariat for the civil servants; first to build Abia government house; first to build international conference centre; first to build diagnostic hospitals and renal centre; and first to kick- start infrastructural revolution in the state."
According to him, government had since initiated remedial measures on some bad roads in Aba including federal roads to make them passable pending the time something permanent would be done as funds improved.
*Photo Caption - Governor T. A. Orji