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03/01/13

*Niger Delta: Science Education and NDDC’s push

By Ifeatu Agbu

“Kola nut will understand English today,” the Master of Ceremony[MC] intoned, directing his gaze at the array of chiefs from Isoko kingdom seated majestically in colourful traditional regalia. The jocular MC was obviously teasing the chiefs by asking them to allow the kola nut to be presented in English language, since they were being hosted in an academic environment. The chiefs had gathered at the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, in Isoko North Local Government Area, to witness the commissioning of internal roads built by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. The bewildered looks on their faces told all and sundry that kola nut would never understand any other language other than the local one.

Everyone knew that any important ceremony in Delta State must be preceded by the often rigorous ritual of supporting the kola nut with a repeated chant of Isoko Wa doo! Urhobo Wa doo! And all the other ethnic groups that would have to be acknowledged with Wa doo!

The ceremonies were well worth the time and effort because it was not every day that the rector and his academic constituency come out in their numbers to celebrate development programmes laid out for the advancement of knowledge.

An obviously delighted Rector of the Polytechnic, Dr. Jacob Oboreh, moved around the tables, welcoming his guests to the commissioning of the main access road to the polytechnic campus constructed by the NDDC. He commended the interventionist agency, for developing the necessary infrastructure to support the advancement of education and human capital development. He noted that the 1.5 Km road was the first road built in the campus out of a total planned road network of about 20 kilometres for the entire Ozoro community. “We regard the NDDC as the trail blazer of road construction in the polytechnic,” he said. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

Dr Oboreh also gave kudos to the NDDC for other projects still under construction in the polytechnic. He said the on-going projects included a twin auditorium and electrification project which comprised power distribution lines, two transformers and a 500KVA generating set.

The rector said further: “Recently, the NDDC supplied two hundred [200] computers, 200 UPS and 50 printers to the polytechnic. It is also gratifying to mention that NDDC has commenced the construction of a very befitting two-story building ICT Centre for the polytechnic.”

Ozoro Polytechnic is not alone in the celebration of a new boost to technical education in the Niger Delta. Four other tertiary institutions in the region also had cause to rejoice as they also got 200 sets of computers and accessories too. The Beneficiaries include Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Imo State Polytechnic, Rivers State Polytechnic and the College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt.

The NDDC Director, Education, Health and Social Services, Dr. Christy Atako, who handed over the computers, on behalf of the Managing Director, Dr Christian Oboh, said that the commission placed a lot of emphasis on education because if its intrinsic value to the society. “Education plays a vital role in societal development and ICT has made the world a global village, so we cannot afford to sit back and watch the world move ahead of us” she said.

Dr. Atako, said that the commission was partnering with relevant institutions to intervene in the education sector. The collaborations, she said, ranged from the supply and equipment of schools, to the building of infrastructure and training.

She said that the commission has so far supplied science equipment to schools from the primary to the tertiary levels. He said that 400 units of primary science kits and 700 units of junior secondary school kits were distributed to schools in the Niger Delta recently. In addition, he said, 36 units of 100kg Rotary Furnaces and 18 sets of Advanced Units of Manufacturing Technology facilities were distributed to tertiary institutions in the region.

The director said that the NDDC was determined to make the teaching and learning of sciences pleasurable by providing the necessary infrastructure and equipment to support the schools. According to her, the commission fully understood that providing quality science education required well trained teachers, thus it had accordingly expanded the scope of its Foreign Scholarship Scheme. The commission, she said, has so far sponsored over 600 students at the post-graduate level under the scholarship programme. The beneficiaries pursue Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in science disciplines.

Dr Atako said that the emphasis on the sciences was deliberate. "You know we have a lot of gaps in our oil and gas sector, and that is what we desire in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria at large," she said.

As part of its efforts to strengthen the teaching and learning of science, the commission recently organised a training workshop for primary and secondary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State in collaboration with the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure [NASENI]. The Train-the-trainers workshop was designed to improve knowledge on the use of NASENI primary and junior secondary science kits.

Dr Christian Oboh, the NDDC boss said that the special attention being paid to science education was justified because of the critical role it plays in the development of any nation. “We have resolved to demystify the teaching and learning of sciences in the schools spread across the Niger Delta,” he declared.

It was the same message which Chief Solomon Ogba, the Delta State representative on the board of the NDDC, took to the Ozoro polytechnic where students were already enjoying the facilities made available by the commission.

He said that the commission would continue to place priority on providing the necessary infrastructure for quality education in the Niger Delta region, noting that some of its university hostel projects would be commissioned soon. In all, the NDDC is building 19 hostels in universities and polytechnics in the 9 Niger Delta states.

The Chairman of Isoko North Local Government Area, Hon Samuel Idise, praised the role being played by NDDC in the education sector. “We are happy that the NDDC is partnering with the Delta State Government in promoting human capital development,’ he said.

As the Isoko people celebrated the facilities inaugurated at the Ozoro polytechnic, other communities spread across 4 local government areas of Delta State, were equally dancing to the tunes of their local drums as NDDC inaugurated 8 new roads for them. They include two township roads in Ovwian, three rigid pavement roads in Uvwie council area, two roads in Warri South LGA and a rigid pavement road in Orhuwhoron town.

The atmosphere at Izomor Street, in Ovwian town was electrifying as the youthful dancers exuded joy and happiness. Indeed, it seemed as if the entire community converged on the street for the ceremony to formally open their road. Their excitement could only be explained by the fact that the area was like a jungle before the road was constructed.

Mr Eugene Gedi, one of the community leaders, recalled that they were isolated because a big swamp covered where the road now passed. “The road has indeed brought to an end the suffering previously experienced by residents of Izomo and the Udu community at large.” He said. The joyous ambience at Izomo was replicated at Orhuwhoron town, also in Udu Local Government Area, where a rigid pavement road was commissioned. Mr William Saiki, the president general of the community, said that the NDDC did well to put smiles on the faces of his people. He praised the contractor engaged by the NDDC for the project for doing a quality job. He described the contractor as the Julius Berger of the Niger Delta.

At every stop of the commissioning train, people came out in large numbers to show their appreciation to the NDDC for giving them something to cheer about. It was a harvest of garlands for Chief Ogba, who stood in for the NDDC Managing Director at the ceremonies. Chief Ogba said that the on-going handing over of projects in all the NDDC states was meant to give the people the opportunity to see what the commission had been able to accomplish. “We want to give the NDDC a new face. We want people to see what we have done with the resources available to us.”

Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( ifeatuagbu@yahoo.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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02/22/13

*There will be No "One-Nigeria" come December, 2013

By Ikechukwu Enyiagu

There will be nothing like a continued One-Nigeria by December this year. Those who plot increased abominations but say they are planning for a centenary celebration of goodness are living in the depth of darkness and ignorance. The abominations of a continued One-Nigeria have overflown their banks and there are no more reservations to contain Nigeria's collection of doom-treasures because the land has caved in as a result of overburdening.

The cycle of atrocities in Nigeria has grown and matured just as those who have recycled leadership amongst themselves - even to their hard-hearing and blind grayness. The perpetual shackle with which these verminous entities have bound the lots of these misjudged and mistreated, as Britain did do, has worn out and cut loose. Those who have thought, believed and reserved for themselves the taskmaster's whip will be bound and tasked by their very torturous hands.

The land upon which these abominations of bloodshed, deprivation and many injustices have been perpetually, ardently and joyfully perpetrated has long lost its graces for patience and forbearance. Her vengeful resistance has birthed escalating disorderliness in the psyche of the spirit of the country and the core of those hitherto bound under it. Its revolution has created a society with the willingness and passion but no reason to shed blood - blood of many innocents.

The blood of millions of quiet souls shed in the pretext of feeding a forced but continually-resisted oneness of distinctly different peoples have clouded the clouds and compelled natural repercussions. In the west of a well-placed continent, the skies have emptied themselves - not to bless the seeds of the wicked and the righteous but to curse them in anger. The seas have borne so much concealed wickedness; now it no longer wishes to hide the abominations of these abominable. Sacrifices no longer suffice because even the skies and the seas know too well that they will be judged as well. They now throw, both the sacrifices and the atrocities, back to the surface. What men do in secret have revolted in equal reaction and are now poking their repulsive revelations before the face of all. ( Continues below..... )

Map and Flag of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria

The sane are fighting to hold their sanity, the atrocious their atrocities. But nothing suffices and the heavens, the earth and the seas would no longer keep mum lest they be counted as accomplices against their maker and keeper. But how much longer can "the sane" hope to keep their sanity by ignoring the unobliterable truth?

Nigeria - both its amalgamation and its vision - was a mistake. But who feeds his mistakes and expects it to sum up to a favorable equation? For vehemently forcing this standing impossibility, Nigeria has gravitated from a correctable mistake into an intolerable abomination. Therefore it will be stopped; and along with it will be stopped all those who have thrived and still reap from it's putrid superimposed interference to natural and spiritual order.

For nearly a century, this mistake have been given time for correction. Sadly, this seed was not allowed to die so as to produce fruits of righteousness, justice and love. It rather matured into an imposing and arrogant abomination. For this reason of unquantifiable and unqualifiable magnitude, a One-Nigerian centenary debauchery will remain a dream that will pass away with those who hide their sins and joyfully stand before God for blessings. Abraham sowed the seed that begot the beloved Israel. He did this in strict obedience to the voice of truth. Every innocent soul whose blood was shed by the Nigerian society was the seed of Abraham - sown in the spirit of Saul and against God's intentions. Nigeria, for killing the seeds of Abraham in order to oppose and stop the Israel of God, may God stop you! May He remove the bolts and knots holding your wheel together and may He throw both your horses and their riders over the cliff of His fury against an increasingly wicked establishment! May He, as was done the foolish rich man just the very night he thought himself secure on every side, gather your soul for judgement with the urgency and the swiftness of His Spirit. Amen.

Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at ike.enyiagu@gmail.com

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*From Oloibiri to Odi: NDDC Plays the Game Changer

By Ifeatu Agbu

Oloibiri, a historic landmark, gave Nigeria its first oil well in June, 1956 and thereafter seemed to have been forgotten. The mother of Nigeria’s black gold was literally sucked dry and left in a state of squalor. Oloibiri, in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, catapulted Nigeria into the prestigious league of major crude oil exporting countries of the world. But Nigeria has not been kind to Oloibiri.

Odi, another blur in our history, leapt into the Nigerian consciousness in November, 1999 when soldiers invaded the town in search of a militant group that allegedly killed 9 policemen that had gone into the community to arrest a notorious gang. The then President Olusegun Obasanjo promptly dispatched soldiers to the community and razed it to the ground.

The common thread running through these two iconic towns is their hunger for development. It is now 56 years since crude oil pipes tore through the soils of Oloibiri and pumped Nigeria’s first crude oil in commercial quantity, opening the door for Nigeria in the international oil market. Yet, what first catches the attention of a first-time visitor is an old signpost marked “Oloibiri Oil Well 1” with over-grown bushes.

Chief Belemi Ovoh, one of the community elders in Oloibiri said that the sin of neglect committed against the people of Niger Delta in Nigeria was first committed against Oloibiri. As far as he is concerned, the tokenism that is being dished out to his people is nothing to write home about. “Shell promised that it will develop Oloibiri. But the promises turned out to be lies, and by that act of lying Shell Petroleum Development Company initiated the first "rape' on Oloibiri,” he said. ( Continues below..... )

Nigeria's first oil well in Oloibiri

Photo Above: Nigeria's first oil well in Oloibiri

There is no doubt that changing the tide of injustice in Oloibiri poses a big challenge. However, The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has shown some eagerness in setting the tone for a positive change. The interventionist agency has over the years demonstrated that it is quite conscious of the historical importance of the town where oil was first discovered.

Recently, the NDDC demonstrated its interest once again when it commissioned concrete internal roads for the Oloibiri community. That was not the first time, but it was only an indication of an abiding interest to make a change.

For the people of Oloibiri, the long awaited change must begin to tumble down. So, they repeated their story of woe tothe visiting NDDC team. In an address signed by Chief Foster Inengeti Ikpesu, chairman of Oloibiri Council of Chiefs, they said: “The story of Oloibiri has been that of exploitation, rape of our natural wealth, destruction of aquatic life, environmental degradation, neglect and total abandonment. Our case is both peculiar and pathetic because exploration activities have seized in Oloibiri for some years now, which prompted the oil companies and development agencies set up by the Federal Government to completely forget the first goose that laid the golden egg.”

However, in spite of these lamentations, the chiefs of Oloibiri did not fail to acknowledge the contributions of the NDDC in recent years. Perhaps, they recognise that the years of neglect may be fading as the NDDC, continues to commission more projects in the area. They demonstrated their goodwill towards the NDDC by trouping out in their numbers to celebrate another development project executed by the interventionist agency.

The chiefs were in their best elements as they were all decked in their traditional regalia. As a way of showing their appreciation, the council of chiefs draped the NDDC Bayelsa State representative, Barr Orubo in a gorgeous wrapper as a mark of honour and appreciation. Chief Ikpesu said they were glad that the NDDC had given the people a sense of belonging. He said: "We are convinced that a new dawn has come through your commission for practical and sincere solutions to redress the past injustices meted out to the Olobiri people.” The traditional ruler said that the new direction has been demonstrated by the various infrastructural facilities provided by NDDC, such as: water project; link bridge, landing jetty, electrification project and the internal roads.

The NDDC boss said the government would try its best to redress the injustice meted to the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta. He noted that the sufferings of the people of the region could no longer be ignored by the government. He stated the resolve of the NDDC to execute programmes that would impact positively on the lives of the people who have over the years borne the dire consequences of environmental degradation and occupational deterioration caused by oil exploration and exploitation.

From Oloibiri to Odi, the NDDC continued with its redemption efforts. In the case of Odi, it had to be helped to rise from the ruins of a military invasion. Here too, things are changing through the contributions of the NDDC.

Riding through the quiet streets of Odi today, one could hardly see the “scars of war” left by the invading soldiers. Slowly but steadily, development is blurring the dark marks of destruction visited on the town. The modest bungalow, which is the palace of the traditional ruler, Chief Shine Andrew Apre, did not betray the violence that the community witnessed thirteen years ago. Odi struggled to get back to its feet with the support of some government agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. Acknowledging the important role played by the NDDC in the Odi transformation, the Amananowei of Odi kingdom, Chief Shine Andrew Apre, noted that the commission gave his people two very important keys to development. He said: “It is pleasing to note that NDDC has through her intervention projects touched the lives of people of Odi Kingdom in the areas of education, water, health and this time electricity and link road. These projects are visible and have direct impact on the lives of our people.” Waxing poetic, the king said: “With road you have given us access. With light, you have given us life.”

The people are now enjoying a steady power supply following the extension of electrification from Kaima to Odi from the Kolo Creek Gas turbine. The project entailed the installation of 33Kv transmission line and the rehabilitation of existing dilapidated networks in Odi town. Chief David Tombiri, one of the community leaders, said that the power supply from the NDDC extension project gave the town a new vibrancy and confidence in the future. “Our local economy has been energised and our people are no longer idle,” he said.

This turn-around of Odi was further given a boost with the commissioning of the ground-breaking Odi Trofani Road and bridges, which cut through a virgin forest. If Odi was given a gateway into the Nigerian nation, Trofani was liberated from topographic isolation. It would forever remain grateful to the NDDC, because before the road was opened, it was a swamp-locked community on the banks of the River Nun.

In fact, when the first set of vehicles entered Trofani last year, after the completion of the bridges, the community was thrown into tumultuous celebrations. The children ran out in large numbers shouting “moto, moto.” Their excitement was understandable because majority were seeing cars for the first time.

Performing the commissioning ceremony on behalf of the Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr. Christian Oboh, the representative of Bayelsa State on the board of the commission, Barr Eddy Orubo, noted that since infrastructure was the driving force of development, the commission thought it was necessary to help Odi overcome its chronic infrastructure deficit.

The 18-kilometre Odi-Trofani Road project traverses three major communities, namely Odi in Kolokuma-Opokuma LGA, Aduku and Trofani in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.. Naturally, it has also opened up several other communities between Odi and Trofani. It has five bridges of various sizes and numerous culverts necessitated by the swampy terrain. It now provides a veritable access to rural dwellers to bring their farm produce from the hinterland. The intervention in Odi is very significant. The military face-off with Odi youths in 1999 left the ancient town in ruins. Its infrastructures were destroyed and the people sent packing into exile. The commission played a historic role in the restoration of Odi. It has at different times, rehabilitated failed sections of its only road which links it to the East-West Road, the major artery connecting all the states in the South-south zone. The commission also constructed internal concrete roads to previously inaccessible parts of the town and its environs. Chief Asherifa Torru, who represented the Trofani traditional institution, wrapped up the feelings of his people thus: “Our hearts are filled with profound joy on the commissioning and handing over of the Odi-Trofani road.” He said that the entire Trofani community highly appreciated the efforts of the NDDC in redeeming their town.

Mr Hope Okuta, a welder plying his trade along the Odi-Trofani road, suspended his work to witness the commissioning ceremony in Odi. He said the benefits of the electricity project and the road were immense. "We have never had it so good; we thought that we will not survive the 1999 invasion. But thank God for NDDC, better days have come for us."

Obviously satisfied, Okuta said that his people from Trofani could not easily forget that some years ago they could not drive their vehicles home because there was just no road for that kind of luxury. Then, he said, both the rich and the poor could only get vehicular access to Trofani through Patani in Delta State or through the River Nun."You can now imagine our joy to see a road from Odi to our town, which has also cut down drastically on the time and money we spend to travel to other communities."

Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( ifeatuagbu@yahoo.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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02/20/13

*What Does Cloud Computing Portend For Developing Nations - Part 1

By Chris Onyishi

I said in one of my articles recently that I will try to veer off from commentaries and opinions on good governance and leadership issues for now.  I just want to, as I said in that article, break away from the jinx of landlord of an environment.  The link to that article is “BREAKING THE LANDLORD OF ENVIRONMENT JINX”.   I had done so much commentary on socio-political matters and good governance that it is looking or becoming monotonous and it was getting to a point where I was being locked up in the “Landlord of Environment” jinx.  People who have read my articles would immediately conjecture the direction I would be heading to the moment they see an article credited to me. It is a small community, I agree, but they have been consistent judging from the hits on my opinions and commentaries.

I will be depicting a topic that has been as old as the information technology (IT) itself but which has come up now and then in different cloaks or gabs.  The topic is called “Cloud Computing” in the information technology parlance and I will further attempt to foray into what its implication will be for developing nations mostly from the African continent.  “Cloud Computing”, as the name implies, simply means computing that occurs in a cloud or a pool form where computing resources are used mainly on rental bases.  Some analogies will bring out the meaning of the term more succinctly without many technicalities or technical jargons.

The insurance business is a good example of “Cloud Computing” in their mode of operation.   An Insurance company collects small amount of money annually (called premium) from a large clientele and from the resultant pool of money, they settle a few accident cases that may occur in a year.  Let us not border ourselves with various insurance products such as motor, life, burglar, money in transit, etc for now. The important thing is that if, for instance, I bought a car (for say N800,000) and by any form of computation I pay annual comprehensive insurance premium on the car to the tune of N10,000, it is said that my car is covered comprehensively by the insurance company. If there are five thousands (5000) of us that paid this premium and whose cars are covered, the insurance company will have a pool of about fifty million (N50,000,000) naira to play with annually.  The fifty million is the ten thousand naira premium into five thousands of us.

The implication is that if there is any mishap to some cars belonging to some three people in the pool annually, but you know I am only being figurative here, the insurance company will pay out two million four hundred thousand (2,400,000) naira to replace those cars since they were insured under comprehensive category – not sure if this is a good insurance term.

If you ever had any claims from an Insurance company, you will disagree with me that claims are as straight as I have depicted it here. But just take it as is given for us to coast along.  Everybody feels his/her car is covered and government has used edicts or decrees to impress upon all people to get insurance covers, at least third party category.  If after some several years you have not gotten any mishap with your car and you are beginning to feel like pooling out, the insurance marketers will come around with a booby trap called “No Claim Discount - NCD”.  This is a situation where they cajole you into thinking that they are doing you a favor by pressing their calculator, with whatever formula, to come up with the ten thousand (10,000) naira annual premium and then ask you to pay just six thousand (6,000) naira for that service since you have never had any mishap with your car.  And you know we human beings are all selfish in a way.  You are fooled to think that you a being given a service worth ten thousand (10,000) naira and you are being asked to pay just six thousand (6,000) naira. We will usually fall for that cheap trick.

This is akin to going to a super market towards a New Year period and you see a label on some items with the note “35% discount”.  We usually jump at that and we keep buying and buying.  In the first place, who placed the original price tag on the item? GOD?  No.  We just get fooled and we begin to reason like fools. Somebody was making 100% gain and because his warehouse is full of items getting to expiry date, he chooses to reduce his profit to clear his warehouse, we get carried away.  Oh well this is not the main theme of this piece. Let us not waste our time and space here anymore.

I am writing this article on my laptop with a utility program in the Microsoft Office suite of applications called Microsoft Word or MS Word for short.  This tool is residing in my laptop and the file containing this article is also residing in my laptop.  We also use the term personal computing, loosely, to refer to the computing which we carry out holistically on our personal computers such as desk tops or laptops.  At this age we all know what laptops and desktops mean and look like.  So I will not border explaining them here.

The implication is that I paid for the Microsoft operating system (in this case Microsoft Windows XP) – “MS OS” for short – which is the building block of the computer system.  I also paid for the Microsoft tools.  And of course I paid fully for my laptop. My children also have their laptops which I paid roundly for all the things I mentioned above. For any other laptop or desktop computers I procure, I will continue to pay for the various tools I use. But you may not understand what I am saying here because most of us engage or do what Microsoft calls software pirating.

You remember the regular acronym for personal computer; “PC”.  Personal computing actually started somewhere in the late eighties.  We were used to main frame computing where when a large corporation wants to pay salary, they will go to one house where large computers are concentrated in a large hall to process their payroll.  In those days, I remember, we had a main frame in Lagos Island in a building called LAPAL house.  Companies such as Coopers and Lybrand – a chartered accounting firm – goes to queue up there to get their time ledger processed for a fee.  There were other three places where there were main frames viz: University of Nigeria in Nsukka,  Obafemi Awolowo University called then University of Ife in Ile-Ife and one somewhere in Amadu Bello University in Zaira. I cannot now remember if there were others in University of Benin and University of Lagos.

The mainframe was a kind of “Cloud Computing” but in a very simplistic form compared to what we now talk about.  At least you were able to point to where the mainframe computers were located and even in that case most people carried their database in what was then called discs or disc pack. So if there was a problem in one mainframe centre you had the option of waiting or carrying your database over to another centre for processing. This is also possible in the “Cloud Computing” environment but the user may have little or no control but feeble minds may be asking what the control is for?

Now the proponents of “Cloud Computing” are advocating for something much bigger and out of touch to the users.  They argue that you do not have to buy very expensive computing hardware and attendant software, anymore, just as I enumerated above for PCs.  All you do is to engage in one form of rental or the other from Microsoft Office tools to a common solitaire game.  They argue that, just as in the insurance example depicted above, the cost of the rental will be damn too cheap for anybody to resist and very attractive for everybody to dabble into.   They argue as well that power provision will be cheaper just as security will be better in the “Cloud Computing” environment.

So there is this temptation for sectors such as the banking to be wooed into this rental booby trap.  Hitherto, banks or even the financial institution in Nigeria is the only sector that has deployed automation beyond window showing. But they have done this at a very exorbitant cost. The costs may have been imaginary or fictitious but the stake or share holders have no way of limiting them. But with the notion of rental in “Cloud Computing” setting, share holders may be told that with rentals, a bank that used to budget over a hundred million for automation may be paying only ten million, annually, and this will be juicy enough for anybody to resist.

So the banks will be hosting their data in a far away land where they may not even know the direction and I know proponents will ask me what hell the direction is needed for. And I have heard and seen enough glee from some owners of Micro Finance Banks about the concept of “Cloud Computing”.  The danger with developing nations is that any concept catches like wild fire provided it is coming from abroad.  Our people who reside abroad look out for the newest and craziest fads without considering the economic implication for their mother land. Everything is business.

Again, just as in the example of insurance, the owners of “Cloud resources” would be contending with billions of dollars.  What they have not told anybody is who takes all these billions of dollar at the end of the day but certainly it won’t end up in any African or developing country’s economy since we have not decided to think of how to organize ourselves.  Some may not know this but the truth is that about ten years ago, cyber café owner spent not less than ten thousand dollars to open shops. We repatriate million abroad to start off a cyber café business and we kept paying heavily for the internet access.

Let us go further to paint the real picture of what will happen in a “Cloud Computing” environment.  It is only after this real picture that we will understand the place of developing countries in such arrangement.  Most of my readers now should have an email address, I guess. Many more of them have Face Book accounts and some have Skype accounts and the rest such as tweeter handle, etc.  We are all quick to give out our email address and Skype account or Face Book ID (or any other electronic ID) as modern people who know “how far”.  I learnt the slang “How far” or “Weting Dey” recently.

This is just starting and I do not intend to frighten anybody. Many of us, including my humble self, have uploaded all manner of pictures and data to most of these accounts and we have never paused for a moment to ponder on where these materials are kept or stored; in someone’s or some cooperation’s computer of course.

Now how many of us can point to where our emails are residing, which continent, which organization’s hardware and things like that. Most of us have never thought of what happens if we wake up one morning and Yahoo or Microsoft decides to yank us off their network.  The most appalling thing is that when we were opening these electronic accounts, we were adequately given an End User License Agreement (EULAs) to endorse and we did that with fanfare.  We never bordered to run through these agreements because we never had time or it did not mean anything to us because it is not a loan agreement or a rental house agreement.  But the truth is that the providers of these resources have roped us all in mercilessly in those EULAs.  If they decide to disconnect us, we have no place to go for retribution.

Has anybody lost his phone once and he or she did not have a backup of the contacts and other data in it? How did it feel? Has anybody ever forgotten his email address and he could not get around it? Was the experience sweet or bitter?  If you have ever lost the key to your house, the worst that happened was that you broke the key and bought a new one to replace it.  The content of your house was there for you.  Your loss was just the cost of the new key. If you lose your phone or your email account and you cannot get around, then you lose everything. That is how bad it is.

But these are still at individual level. Now let us think of a bank. What happens if the banks’ building goes up in flames and they do not have a backup? Dangerous! We do not even want to think about that. But the bank was just carless. If the bank had a backup, they would call back the last save point into new machines in their headquarters and business would continue with minimal down time. In a “Cloud Computing” environment, you may not even know where your data headquarter is located. So your database is hanging in the air.

But we are only talking about security at the level of hardware and individual data. The owners of Face Book and all other social media will give a better age range of Africans than African governments themselves.

In the second part of this article, we will try to x-ray the various hazards involved in exposure at

a)      Individual level

b)      Corporate data

c)       National level

We will also show how “Cloud Computing” will mean electronic colonization by the west and which, by all calculations, is worse than all forms of dependence (socio-political, economic)  we have gone through and are still going through.  The electronic dependence, if care is not taken, will be the final straw that will break the camel’s back.  The developing nations will ever remain underdeveloped if they do not conscientiously resist that temptation to of becoming electronically re-colonized by the West.

Chris Onyishi (ctekchris@yahoo.com)writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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02/19/13

*Return of Anambra’s Killing Fields : A Criminological Evaluation Of The Ezu River Of Death & Related Tragedies(Part 1)

By Intersociety-Nigeria (Society Review)

(Onitsha- Nigeria, 19th February, 2013)-Anambra State of Nigeria has steadily earned local and international notoriety as a social enclave where the State-actors and non-State actors ceaselessly engage in butchering and maiming members of the human family outside locally and internationally approved and accepted processes. Any killings and maiming not covered by local and international due processes are tagged-extra jus (beyond the law); extra legal (beyond what the written criminal law provides); and extra judicial (beyond court or judicial process). Universally speaking, any killing of human being by a State actor or official security operative without the completeness of subjecting the killed to the processes of arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing by a criminal court of competent jurisdiction amounts to extra jus, extra legal or extra judicial killing. Few strict exceptions are governed by the Laws of War and the Principles of Self Defense. Any such killing by a private individual amounts to murder or manslaughter depending on the intents (mens rea) and other prescribed circumstances. In some, if not in many jurisdictions, corporate bodies, which facilitate the murder of individual citizens, are held to account under the law in the form of manslaughter. In the area of torture, which can be physical or mental, with malicious intents, the local and international norms hold the torturers, whether State-actors or non-State actors legally culpable and if convicted, faces same punishment according to jurisdictions.

In Criminology, which is a multi-disciplinary science study of crime, especially in its biological and sociological context, a Criminal is anybody who violates the criminal laws of a country or a defined political territory, whether mala prohibita or mala inse; and adjudges by a competent criminal court after going through the process of arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing. A criminal is also anybody who is in conflict with the criminal law, whether he or she is a born-criminal (biological criminal) or a criminaloid(environmental/sociological criminal) is immaterial in the eyes of both criminology and criminal law. A child usually under 12 years, who is in conflict with the criminal law, is regarded by same as a delinquent. Therefore, any killing or torture, whether physical or mental that is rooted within the confines of extra jus, extra legal and extra judicial processes, is socially, biologically, morally and legally abhorrent and culpable. Also, anybody tortured or killed within the confines of extra jus, extra legal and extra judicial processes, with exceptions to the international Laws of War and the Principles of Self Defense, is not a criminal whether accused of armed robbery, kidnapping or murder unless and until he or she is properly processed within a written law and defined penalties through arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing. Adequate and sufficient local and international safeguards against these heinous crimes against members of the universal human family abound. ( Continues below….. )

 Floating dead body in Ezu River

Photo Above: Floating dead body in Ezu River

Locally, some of such safeguards are contained in Chapters Two and Four of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, especially Sections 33, 34, 35, 36(with its relevant subs .i.e. sub 12) and 42; the new Code of Conduct for the Nigeria Police Force and relevant decided cases. Regionally, the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981, domesticated by Nigeria in 1983 in line with Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, is a competent regional safeguard. Internationally, there are the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers, the UN Basic Principles for the Use of Force by Law Enforcement Personnel, the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crimes & Abuse of Power, the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention & Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary & Summary Execution, the Law Enforcement Oath of Honour, Code of Ethics, Code of Conduct and Cannons of Police Ethics, issued by the International Association of the Chiefs of Police. Others are the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and its optional protocols, the Rome Statute for International Criminal Court and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These local and international safeguards against torture and extra legal executions have political and legal binding effects on State-actors and non-State actors as well as member-States of the UN family including the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigeria is a State party to most of these regional and international safeguards, either by way of signing, ratification/accession or domestication. The country is also the general overseer of her numerous local safeguards. Administrative and criminal penalties dominate their violations codes or chapters. Sadly, despite the availability of these local and international safeguards, killing fields and torture chambers still dot Nigeria’s strategic formal and informal security formations including the Special Anti Robbery Squads of the Nigeria Police Force. The Ezu River of Death in Anambra State of Nigeria is one of such tragedies in recent times.

Historically, the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War of 1967-1970 introduced or exacerbated the culture of mass killings and torture in the Southeast Nigeria. Most of the heinous crimes known in the country today including the colorization of violent crimes with sophisticated weaponry and technology also originated from the war. Hate crimes (systematic killing of Igbos by non-Igbo security personnel .i.e. secret killing of non-violent MASSOB members/supporters by non-Igbo security operatives and their Igbo collaborators as well as systematic massacre of Igbo nationals by Boko-Haram militant elements in northern Nigeria) and negative collective behaviors (civil disturbances and mob justice) also have their origins rooted in the war. In other words, modern trends and patterns of crimes as well as raging gun and homicidal cultures in Nigeria had their origins rooted in the Nigeria-Biafran civil war of 1967-1970.

In 1979, what looked like first negative collective behavioral action-called Boys Oyee( mob justice) took place in the commercial of Onitsha, Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria. Suspected criminals especially thieves and robbers were ambushed in their hideouts including hotels housing commercial sex workers and summarily executed. The hotels and residences housing them were also burnt or destroyed. Dozens of such alleged social deviants lost their lives. The Boys Oyee was repeated in 1989. The crude public acceptance of the socially and legally abhorrent methods by the local residents particularly traders, later led to its fully adoption in the early 1990s by the leadership of the Onitsha Market Amalgamated Traders Association (OMATA) under the leadership of one G.U. Okeke. Suspected criminals and opponents of the market leadership were routinely rounded up, slaughtered with machetes or shot with pump-action and double-barrel guns and dumped inside the River Niger usually in the night. As a result, hundreds of unprocessed suspects lost their lives. This crudity continued into the late 1990s during the regime of the Onitsha Traders Association (which replaced OMATA) under the leadership of one Paulinus Ubanozie, now late, which lasted from September 1999 to July 8, 2000. Over 1,500 unprocessed suspects including innocent citizens and opponents of the market leadership were slaughtered on major streets of Onitsha. The outfit’s modus operandi was slaughter and dump on the street. For instance, on the Xmas Eve of December 1999, many Onitsha residents were offered dead and decomposing bodies as their New Year Gifts, on their return from the Feast of Xmas. ( Continues below….. )

 Floating dead bodies in Ezu River

Photo Above: Floating dead bodies in Ezu River

The then disastrous civilian government of one Chinwoke Mbadinuju in Anambra State not only backed the OTA-killer leadership and its killing spree, but also adopted extra legal execution methodology as its official policy of crime fighting-so called, owing to its political intolerance and legitimacy bankruptcy. This was because kill at will was very popular among traders, most of who had, and still have limited education and little knowledge about law, security, crime and human rights norms. Prior to this inglorious epoch, there was Nnewi Bakassi Boys, formed in 1998 with its offshoot in Ariaria Market in Aba, Abia State, Southeast Nigeria, which, in turn, originated from an alleged shrine in Cross River State, South-south Nigeria. The Nnewi Bakassi Boys also slaughtered dozens of unprocessed suspects-labeled criminals. In July 2000, the Mbadinuju disastrous regime signed the Anambra Vigilante Service Law No 9 of 2000, making the State the first extra legal/judicial killing and torture State in Nigeria. Between July 10, 2000 and September 22, 2002, Anambra State was turned into a killing field and torture chambers. The lynching of a citizen accused of minor legal infraction or involvement in civil dispute usually got the attention and presence of the said governor and members of his cabinet. Suspects were tortured and lynched few meters away from the governor’s office in Awka, the State capital city. At the end, over 4,000 unprocessed suspects (excluding over 1,500 slaughtered by OTA Killer squad) including those in business, family and land disputes; those accused of pick-pocketing and other petty crimes; those involved in land-lord/tenant disputes; married and unmarried women who refused to sleep with Bakassi operatives; and opponents of the then disastrous government, were massacred. Also, thousands, if not in their tens of thousands, were tortured, both physically and psychologically, and out of every five citizens who came in contact with the Bakassi Boys, five were tortured and three out of the five slaughtered. The Bakassi Boys’ modus operandi was kill- and -burnt to ashes. Rape was also very high among the two deadly squads created and funded by the then disastrous government of Anambra State. For instance, late Mrs. Ngozi Oranu of Eziowelle in Anambra State was raped to death by the Bakassi Boys at the Bakassi White House located at the Onitsha Main Market in November 2001. She was fighting for her late husband’s properties including a parcel of land when she was framed up and abducted by the Bakassi Boys. Also, in early August 2002, the 17-year old SS2 Student of the Mathamavis Secondary School, Umoji Community in Anambra State, Miss Chinenye Okoye was abducted by the Bakassi Boys(AVS) and taken to its White House-so called, where she was raped in turn for 60 days. She was among those rescued on September 22, 2002 by the Nigeria Police Force during the dislodgement of the killer-outfit.

Summarized Data Of Innocent Citizens Killed By OTA & Bakassi Vigilante Death Squads:

Citizen Chuma Onwuazo-killed by OTA in April 2000 at Onitsha Main Market. He was framed up over a business transaction by a fellow businessman at the Niger Bridgehead Market and taken to the OTA office at Onitsha Main Market where he was butchered. 2. Comrade Bonaventure Egbuawa-butchered by OTA in July 2000 at Onitsha Main Market and dumped inside the Niger River in the night of July 8, 2000. He was a rights activist opposing the OTA’s killing spree. 3. Hon. Ifeanyi Ibegbu-escaped death by whiskers in the hands of Bakassi Boys in August 2000. He was rescued at midnight in Onitsha Main Market by the order of the then IGP. He was a State legislator opposing hash policies of the then government of Anambra State. 4. Edward Okeke-a popular prophet killed and burnt by Bakassi Boys in November 2000 at Ochanja Market Roundabout, Onitsha for prophetically opposing the then disastrous government of Anambra State. 5. Ezeodimegwu Okonkwo-killed by Bakassi Boys in February 2001 at the Nsugbe “33”, near Onitsha. He was a politician/musician. 6. Ikechukwu Nwagboo-killed by Bakassi Boys in February 2001. He was a personal assistant to the then member representing Awka North/South Federal Constituency at the House of Reps. 7. Rockfeller Okeke-killed by Bakassi Boys in April 2001 at his residence in Awka, Anambra State. He was a public servant. 8. Mrs. Ngozi Oranu-raped to death by Bakassi Boys in November 2001 at the Bakassi White House. She was framed up over her late husband’s properties. 9. Felix Ikebude-killed by Bakassi Boys in December 2001. He belonged to the Anambra People’s Forum (political rival of the then government of Anambra State). 10. Sunday Uzokwe-killed by Bakassi Boys in January 2002 at Ozubulu, Anambra State over a misunderstanding he had with one of his town’s men, who was a Bakassi Boys chieftain. 11. Citizen Odigwe-killed by Bakassi Boys in August 2002 in Onitsha. He worked for the then State Environmental Sanitation Authority. 12. Barnabas Igwe-butchered by Bakassi Boys in September 2002 along Oraifite Street, Awada, Anambra State. He was a lawyer and head of a local branch of the Nigerian Lawyers/Bar Association. 13. Amaka, A.B. Girl Igwe-butchered alongside her husband-Barnabas by Bakassi Boys on the same spot and same date. They were butchered because they spoke out against failed public governance in Anambra State of Nigeria.

The Resurgence Of Killing Fields Under Anambra SARS Midwifery:

The denial of any culpability by the Anambra State Police Command under CP Bala Nasarrawa in the Ezu River of Death tragedy is criminologically un-surprising. What matters most is the emptiness of his logic of denial and emerging circumstantial pieces of evidence and incontrovertible antecedents of unlawful killings by the Command, particularly its deadly Special Anti Robbery Squad-SARS with respect to extra jus, extra legal and extra judicial killings as well as torture. It is an incontrovertible fact that SARS is the general overseer of extra judicial killing and torture in Anambra State. The stark truth is that Ezu River is just one out of many killing or dumping fields in the State. The Niger River, for instance, is already angry and saturated with dead bodies killed outside the law by various security agencies in the State led by SARS, which coordinates these secret killings across the State. Even when motley of armed vigilante groups in the State, numbering up to 1000, kill their captives, they legitimize it through SARS, particularly controversial ones. This is because SARS kills at will and recklessly with impunity. As a matter of fact, it is licensed to kill and torture by the State Commissioner of Police and others before him. Transferring suspects to SARS, which is a routine in the Anambra State Police Command, expressly means a journey of no return. The sole idea of such transfer is for the purpose of infliction of grievous body battering and pretrial executions. Those battered are routinely wasted-killed for constituting nuisance in the cell. Their detention cells are horrible in that ventilation and sanitary conditions are very degrading and torturous. Tortured suspects and those inflicted with body injuries in the course of their arrests are hardly taken to hospital for adequate treatments.

Further, SARS and the entire Anambra State Police Command consider diligent prosecution of their suspects particularly those accused of kidnapping, armed robbery and murder as time wasting. To them, any suspect accused of any of the three violent crimes, which attract capital punishment is entitled to jungle justice by death. They also discretionary mark suspects and other detainees including MASSOB members/supporters involved in non-capital offences and civil disputes, for summary execution. For instance, those arrested in front of their residences, bar joints, along the streets, sporting and entertainment centers, etc, who could not afford summary bail fees, are transferred to the Awkuzu SARS Headquarters and labeled armed robbers and kidnappers with summary death certificates. Their optimum prosecutorial approach ends with Holden Charge-art of arraigning suspects with capital crimes’ accusations in courts of inferior records, usually magistrate courts that lack jurisdiction in entertaining the said accusations, with a view to reminding them to languish in prisons.

Other than Holden Charge, which is the second routine in the treatment of their suspects, torture and pretrial executions remain the SARS major routine. Diligent prosecution and effective criminal investigation of their suspects, owing to blatant lack of modern criminal investigation tools and know-how, are near-absent. Other than torture toolkits, building structures housing the deadly outfit are like ancient prisons or civil war bunkers. There are no crime laboratory, data and records. Most of its operatives lack modern requisite knowledge in crime detection and investigation technology including information technology. Many, if not most of them lack in-service training and experience including internal and external affair concept of human relationship. They look deadly and cannibalistic at all times. They are also merchants of death as they routinely use threat of death and torture to heavily extort money from their captives and their associates/relatives including engaging in dirty jobs and perfect crimes. The Akwkuzu SARS Headquarters are also the receiving points of marked suspects from their Nneni, Nnewi, Ekwuluobia, Umunze, Okpoko, CPS-Awka and CPS-Onitsha Units. Citizens arrested in various parts of the State are routinely transferred to them to be tortured and wasted as case may be. Suspects transferred to the State CID for possible effective criminal investigations are sent back to SARS. SARS also receives suspects and other arrested citizens from various armed vigilante groups in the State as well as from the Joint State Security Taskforce and other major police field formations in the Anambra State Police Command. In Anambra State of Nigeria, fear of SARS is the beginning of wisdom. Night life has virtually disappeared in the State’s leading urban cities, no thanks to SARS and its virus.

Statistics Of SARS Killings & Its Roles In The Ezu River Of Death Tragedy:

On 20th of November, 2004, Comrade Ifeanyi Onuchukwu of the Nnewi based Human Justice International, reported that the SARS operatives then headquartered at the Awka Central Police Station, Anambra State, had on 4th of November 2004, at about 7.15pm up to 8.00pm, carried out mass killing of 20 young detainees, detained for months in their cells. Comrade Onuchukwu was arrested by the Nigerian Secret Police-called State Security Service for organizing a peaceful protest against government hash environmental sanitation policies including imposition and forceful collection of outrageous levies from Nnewi traders. He was transferred to the State Police Command Headquarters, from where he was transferred to SARS in the morning of 4th November, 2004, in the form of armed robbery suspect. The Comrade, who shared same cell with some of the murdered, further reported that the young detainees were carefully selected, brought out of their cells, lined up and shot at close range, after which their remains were conveyed in patrol vans and taken to a parcel of public land at Agu-Awka(very close to the Ezu River of Death), where they were buried in shallow graves with their bodies liquidated with acid substances. Comrade Ifeanyi Onuchukwu said he heard several gun shots during the killing, but was later informed of the mass killing and shallow burial details by one of his cell-mates forced to partake in evacuating the corpses. He managed to get the names and State/community of origin of those massacred from an old detainee, who compiled the names for a SARS officer who forgot to retrieve it. The Comrade who was released on 19th of November, 2004 through the strenuous efforts of the State Rights Community via Barrister Chuka,obele-chuka, further informed us that five more detainees were later shot dead after his release, according to his insider contacts. Some of those killed were the detainees that assisted in evacuating the remains of the 20 shot bodies. This is possibly to erase any traces or implications. Several representations made to the then IGP by rights groups including the CLO and Humane Justice International for the heinous crimes to be thoroughly and conclusively investigated, were unsuccessful.

For avoidance of doubt, names and social community origins of the 20 murdered young detainees said to be in their twenties and early thirties are: 1. Samuel Odoh(Nsukka-Enugu State, 2. Ofordike Odoh(Nsukka-Enugu State), 3. Chibueze Ugwueke(Ebonyi State), 4. Ugochukwu Okonkwo(Abagana-Anambra State), 5. Chizoba Mbaebie(Mba-ukwu-Anambra State), 6. Ifeanyi Nwafunanya(Awka-Anambra State), 7. Ugochukwu(Nibo-Anambra State), 8. Ifeanyi Izueke(Enugu State), 9. Ekene Ejike(Oba-Anambra State), 10. Chinedu Okoro(Enugu State), 11.Uche Ubaka(Awka-Anambra State),12. Charles, 13. Onyeabo Anaekwe(Onitsha-Anambra State), 14. Leonard ObasI(Ugwuoba- Enugu State),15. Emeka Ofoeke(Ebonyi State), 16. Chibueze Asouzu(Agulu-Anambra State), 17. Obiajulu(Osamala, Ogbaru-Anambra State), 18.Ugonna Nwude(Enugu State). 19. Nduka Okoye ( Anambra State), 20. Ephraim Okenyeka (Anambra State).

SARS Invasion Of Umeagbalasi Family In May 2009:

On 15th May 2009, the Chairman of the Board of Intersociety-Nigeria, Emeka Umeagbalasi traveled to his community-Ezinifite in Aguata, LGA, Anambra State, for the wedding mass of his younger brother, Chimezie and in the early hours of 16th May 2009, at about 6:00am, 12 SARS operatives stormed his house, claiming that the family snatched from one of them a loaded AK-47 Assault Rifle and hid it in the family compound. All seven males in the compound including Emeka, Chimezie, Chinonso and Ebuka Umeagbalasi as well as Uchenna Uzoaga(nephew), Chike Umeosonwunne(an in-law), Donatus Ezeugwu(family friend) and Miss Chinenye Umeagu(cousin) were bundled to the SARS area office in Ekwuluobia. Eight other women including Patricia (Emeka’s mother), Blessing, Chibuzor(bride), Azuka, Uchechukwu, etc were about to be bundled to SARS office before signals from the then acting CP, Amusa Bello, reached the killer-squads. Prior CP’s intervention, Emeka and his relatives were told to be ready to be disfigured to death. They were shown four fresh graves at the back of the SARS office, where, according to them, stubborn people like them were buried. It was later discovered that one of the SARS operatives abandoned his rifle in another village in his girl friend’s beer parlour after soaking himself in a bowel of liquor. The rifle was later recovered. The Umeagbalasi family members narrowly escaped being butchered if not for surname and connections.

On March 29,2009 and June23,2009, respectively, the duo of Nonso Ayalogu(43) of Onitsha and Chekwube Okeke(41) of Nanka, in Orumba-Anambra State, went missing in the hands of the Awkuzu SARS operatives over business disputes with their accusers. Till date, their whereabouts are unknown. The leadership of the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization led by Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah investigated their disappearance and found that they have been killed extra judicially by SARS.

Investigation Of Nine MASSOB Members Possibly Murdered By SARS On 18TH January 2013: Sequel to local and international enquiries coming to us in torrents over the authenticity of the claims by the leadership of MASSOB that nine of its members have gone missing in the hands of SARS and might most likely be among some 25 to 30 corpses found floating on the Ezu River of Death on 19th January 2013, we investigated it and found the claims to be credible. The nine names are: 1. Basil Ogbu, 2. Michael Ogwa (Ogba), 3. Monday (Sunday) Omogo, 4. Philip Nwankpa, 5. Ezeh Obumneme(Ndubuisi), 6. Ebuka Ezeh, 7. Obinna Oguejioffor( Offor), 8. Joseph Udoh, and 9.Sunday Offor. They were arrested since 7th December 2012 by the Joint Taskforce Force including the Onitsha Main Market Vigilante Service, led by one Chinenye Ihemko(Okpomkpi) and handed them over to the Onitsha CPS –SARS Unit, which transferred them to their Awkuzu Headquarters and since then, their whereabouts have not been accounted for.

Our investigation revealed that: 1. Basil Ogbu is real. He hailed from Nsukka in Enugu State and lived at 100 Bida Road, Onitsha. He was about 25 years. His wife is Mrs. Uchenna Ogbu, a nursing mother with phone number-08064018819. 2. Monday (Sunday) Omogo is real, formerly of No.10, Minaj Street, Obosi, Anambra State. He hailed from Ohakwu LGA in Ebonyi State and was about 30 years of age. His wife is Mrs. Eucharia Omogo with phone number 08109957940. 3. Michael Ogba (Ogwa) is real. He lived at Johnbosco Lane, Ugwuagba Layout, Obosi. He hailed from Ebonyi State and he was about 35 years. His wife is Mrs. Susan Ogba(Ogwa) with phone number-08135564871. 4. Obinna Oguejiofor(Offor) is real. He hailed from Umuoli-Umoji in Anambra State. He was 20years. His mother is Mrs. Augustina Oguejiofor with phone number 08068262471. 5. Obumneme(Ndubuisi) Ezeh, age 25, is real. He lived at No.2, Maifulani Street, Fegge, Onitsha and hailed from Amandugba in Imo State. His mother is Mrs. Phebi Oguejiofor with phone number-07031949088. 6. Ebuka Ezeh, age 27, is real. He lived at No. 5, Anaekwe Street, Fegge, Onitsha and hailed from Amandugba in Imo State. His mother is Mrs. Philomena Ezeh with phone number-08022945380. 7. Philip Nwankpa is real. He lived at Uruowulu Village, Obosi and hailed from Ezza West LGA, Ebonyi State. He was about 30 years. His wife is Mrs. Ekene Nwankpa with phone number-08133021378. The relatives of the remaining two missing MASSOB members-Joseph Udoh and Sunday Offor are yet to be traced. Other missing MASSOB members in the hands of SARS since November 2011 are: Uchechukwu Ejiofor(Imo State), Louis Onwe(Ebonyi State), Abel Obeka(Ebonyi State), Ikechukwu Ononye( Anam in Anambra State), Sunday Obasi and Philip Ubah(Imo State).

We shall continue and conclude in Part Two.

Signed:

Emeka Umeagbalasi
Chairman, BOT, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
08033601078, 08180103912
umeagbalasi@yahoo.com, info@intersociety-ng.org.

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02/18/13

*‘Cry of A Biafran Child' Launch Unites Milwaukeans, Sets Stage For World Peace

By Masterweb News Desk

Saturday, January 26, 2013 was a rainbow day in Milwaukee as different communities in different shades of color gathered in a Church hall to honor invitation for the launch of All Hail Biafra, a song the composer’s friends refer to as “Cry of A Biafran Child”. The CD is subtitled “Cry of A Biafran Child” not only because of the reference by people but also for the fact that it was truly an inspired cry at the end of a very bitter armed conflict that wasted millions of innocent lives. The number of the dead in the Biafran conflict ranges from one million to three million, depending on compilers; most of the casualties were from starvation.

Nigerians as well as other Africans, Americans, Latinos and Milwaukee business community were present to show their support to Composer Chief Charles Okereke and his Committee of Friend’s maiden invitation. African Diaspora including but not limited to African Americans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans were well represented. Highly admired Octogenarian Mrs Europa Agwu was chairperson of the event and gave a moving speech recounting her role in caring for displaced and orphaned Biafran children under the umbrella of the international Red Cross during the war.

Among the special guests of honor were the immediate Past President of the Odua Association in Milwaukee Mr Victor Johnson, CEO of Iriluz Nutritional Consulting Services Ms Judy Andino, President of Dominicados Unidos Inc. Ms Julia Reyes, Vice President of The United Dominican Association Milwaukee Inc. Mr Julio Delgado, Hon. Uche Maduka, Alhaji Akin, Pastor Tayo Salako of City on The Hill Chapel Milwaukee, Ms Wendy Montes De Oca of the Spanish Council in Milwaukee, Mary Bryant (Milwaukee radio personality) and Vincent Awoshika, CEO, Vince Shipping Co. ( Continues below….. )

Chief Okereke flanked by Julia Reyes and Julio Delgado

Photo Above: Composer Chief Charles Okereke flanked by the President of Dominicados Unidos Inc. Ms Julia Reyes (Left) holding God Bless Africa CD and Vice President of The United Dominican Association Milwaukee Inc., Mr Julio Delgado (Right).
- CLICK FOR ENLARGED PHOTO.
- CLICK FOR EXTRA LARGE PHOTO.

The Current USA-Wisconsin State Professional Boxing Heavy Weight Champion Mr Enobong Umohette traded his boxing gloves for the microphone as the master of Ceremony for the event. The event climaxed with the lunching of the song/hymn as Charles Okereke personally distributed autographed copies to the event attendees.

Two important invitations were extended to Chief Okereke during speeches by special guests of honor. The first invitation was from Ms Julia Reyes, President, Dominicados Unidos Inc. who invited Okereke as special guest to the forthcoming independence anniversary of Dominican Republic scheduled for February 23. Reyes said she was very familiar with God Bless Africa (Chief Okereke’s African Union Award Winning Anthem) played along with the U.S. and Nigerian anthems at the beginning of the occasion and that she was pleased to meet the composer in person. The second invitation was by Mary Bryant, a renowned Milwaukee radio personality who said she would invite Chief Okereke to her radio show to share his compositions with Milwaukeans.

Chief Okereke in his vote of thanks described Africa as the tree of life since she is the origin of mankind. He said races and nations of the world are branches of the African Tree. Okereke sang God Bless Africa at the end of his vote of thanks to loud hand clap and applause. The event wound down with closing prayer. It was a celebration of inspired tune after lives were spared from heavy death-seeking artillery silenced by painful radio broadcast that halted further innocent bloodshed and death from hunger. The U.S. launch of ‘Cry of A Biafran Child' CD is scheduled for March 22-23, 2013 in Staunton, Virginia – more information on the event will be released soon. Related Article => Massive Support For Milwaukee ‘Cry of A Biafran Child' CD Launch

The CD (also God Bless Africa) can be purchased by sending $14.00 by mail to Charles O. Okereke, P.O. Box 11721, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211; and by Paypal to admin@nigeriamasterweb.com Individual tracks can be purchased at itunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/all-hail-biafra-cry-biafran/id594341032?uo=4 (you need to download itune application to be able to do this). The entire CD or individual tracks can be purchased at amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/All-Hail-Biafra-Biafran-Child/dp/B00B2WRI5K

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02/15/13

*The Church, The Vatican And The Papacy

By Valentine Obienyem

The greatest institution in the entire world is the Catholic Church. Her greatness often leads so many people to develop interest in her. Once you talk about the Church, you are invariably talking about the Papacy, that is, the system of government of the Catholic Church with Pope as the head. But who on this earth can, with his finite brain, comprehend exhaustively the phenomena of the Pope and of the church. Many claims are made, many points are raised, many objections are put forward, but the question about the papacy remains not adequately answered. This piece wishes to lend its voice to the awe-inspiring institution of the papacy, taking cognizance of its foundation, structure, problems, achievements and shortcomings; and contemporary papacy as embodied in the Popes of 20th /21st centuries. These are the current questions following the notice of resignation by Pope Benedict XVI. Very soon, the issue of who succeeds the pope will occupy the front burner and many questions will be asked about the papacy.

FOUNDATION OF THE PAPACY

Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the invisible head of their Church which, according to them, he founded. Christ, the logic goes forth, by the nature of his mission on earth could not stay ad infinitum, therefore he founded an authority to represent him on earth. Thus Christ, some believe, established the office of the Pope when he said to Simon, who was also called Peter, or the Rock. “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Later in the gospel of John (Jn.21:15-17), Christ brought out Peter’s position more vividly. Having called him three times, Christ gave him the jurisdiction of a supreme shepherd and ruler over the whole flock thus making him the first Pope. Did Peter justify this position?

How far St. Peter carried on the flock of Christ could be seen in his activities. He was always at the head of the apostles, and named first whenever the names of the twelve were mentioned. During the Council of Jerusalem (A.D.47), which deliberated on the propriety or otherwise of admitting the Gentiles into the Church, Peter presided. When St. Mathias was chosen to replace Judas as an apostle, Peter was the spokesman. During the Pentecost, it was Peter that addressed the men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem on behalf of the apostles. During the condemnation of Ananias and Sapphira, Peter was at the forefront. By all indications, Peter’s leadership was accepted by the early Church. Faithful to Peter as the first Pope, the early Church continued to grow amidst many obstacles that even surpassed what the Church is experiencing today.

The nascent Church existing first in Palestine, Syria, Asia minor and Greece, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, soon found its focal point in the capital of the Roman Empire, a centre which has remained to this day. The testimony of Peter’s residence in Rome is so abundant that renowned pegan and protestant historian, Whiston, attest to that. He says that the evidence “is so clear to Christians antiquity that it is a shame for any protestant to confess that any protestant ever denied it.” ( Continues below….. )

Valentine Obienyem

Photo Above: Valentine Obienyem, author of article.

Prior to his pontificate at Rome from A.D. 42-A.D. 67, Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch in Syria. He was martyred in Rome with St. Paul during the reign of Emperor Nero. According to tradition, Peter was buried under what later became the site of St. Peter’s Church in Vatican City.

It is almost two thousand years since Christ ascended into heaven. Thus the Catholic Church and the Papacy have existed for almost 2000 years. During these times, other institutions that started with the Papacy have all fallen. This, to some, is an indication and indeed the fulfillment of Christ word that he would be with the Church till the end of the time. This divine assistance has made the Church and the Papacy to rise above the human weaknesses of her members and to live and bury those organizations and institutions that once threatened her.

This long existence of the Papacy (2000 years) should and have produced many remarkable innovations and modifications. Many titles are now used for the Pope; many Offices, Congregations and Tribunals have been created to help the Pope in administering the Church; dogmas are continuously being defined (not invested) to meet the changing world; more dignified way of electing the Pope has been adopted after many centuries of trials and errors; so many advancement that were St. Peter to come back to the world today, he would scarcely recognize the Papacy. If in a sudden cataclysmic destruction of all institutions in the world, mankind were advised to name one institution for preservation, they would choose the Papacy. When I see it, I imagine I see Grandeur herself in person. As we marvel at this marvelous institution, let us see its structure and operation.

THE STRUCTURE AND OPERATION OF THE PAPACY

We have to “dismantle” the Papacy before we can comprehend its structure. This cannot be done without the knowledge of the Vatican City. During the struggle for unification of Italy, from 1848 to 1870 all Papal States were forcefully taken from the Church by the state. Having no standing army, the Pope was helpless. As a protest, Pope Pius IX (1792 – 1878) and three of his successors, in the next 60 years, made themselves voluntary prisoners of the Vatican.

In 1929, Pope Pius XI (1857 – 1939) and the Italian government led by Benito Mussolini settled the 60-year dispute between the Church and the State with two historic documents – The Lateran Treaty and The Concordant. The former gave the Pope full sovereignty over Vatican City while the later dealt with relations between the Vatican and Italy. These documents having been signed, Pope Pius XI emerged from the Vatican and entered St. Peter’s square in a huge procession witnessed by about 250,000 persons. His appearance signaled the triumph of the Church.

Justifying its sovereignty, Vatican City has its own Pope’s yellow and white banner as the official state flag, automatic license plates, postage stamps and coins. It maintains its own public works: mail and telephone systems, water supply, and lighting and street-cleaning services. Vatican has its own bank, a large printing plant, and a rarely occupied jail (use for something else now). Vatican does not have an army or navy capable of fighting a war. But it does have its own “Armed Forces”. The most famous are the Swiss Guards, who protect the Pope and serve as sentries. Other armed forces include the Noble Guards (body guards and escorts of the Pope); the Palatine Guard (the Pope’s militia); and the Pontifical Gendarmerie (the Pope’s Police Force).

In addition to L’0sservatore Romano, the most influential Vatican daily newspaper; it also publishes Osservatore della Domenica, a weekly publication; and the Acta Apostolican Sedis, which prints official Church documents. The Vatican Radio transmits Papal message in more than forty languages, including Latin.

Most importantly, the Pope sends and receives diplomats from other countries. Papal ambassadors and envoys are called Legates. Legates of high position are called Nuncios and those of lesser positions Internuncios. All Bishops submit to supervision of their affairs by legates of the Pope. The Pope’s seat of authority is called the Apostolic See or the Holy See.

Pope’s functions are mostly spiritual. Whenever he speaks Ex Cathedra, that is, in his position as the head of the Church on matters concerning morals and faith, he is say to be infallible. Besides, he is as gullible as the man next door. The Pope has the sole function of beatifying and canonizing saints. He appoints and deposes bishops; he creates dioceses, and approves new religious orders. Whenever the Pope wishes, he may call an ecumenical council, or a general conference of the Church to help him decide on Church affairs.

In carrying out his temporal and spiritual functions, the Pope is aided by numerous Congregations, Tribunals, and Offices in Rome. All this makes up the Curia. The Congregations have executive authority; the Tribunals exercise judicial powers; and Offices perform ministerial duties. The heads of most of these units have the rank of Cardinal.

In the Roman Curia, many offices are distinguished; some of them are the Apostolic Chancery – this office sends Papal documents to dioceses throughout the world; The Apostolic Datary – the office examines candidates for Papal benefices; The Apostolic Camera – this office is concerned with temporal goods and rights of the Holy See; The Secretariat of State – this office handles special matters including the relationship of Holy see and civil governments; and the Secretariat of Briefs and Latin Letters – this office prepares letters to civil rulers and puts Papal documents into its official Latin form.

There are many titles with which the Pope is known. All of this titles point out to his position as the Primus inter pares among other bishops. His full titles are legion: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the State of Vatican City. He is addressed as “Your Holiness” or “The Holy Father”, but the Pope speaks of himself in official documents as “Servant of the Servants of God.” (Servus servorum Dei).

The clothes of the Pope are similar to those of his brother bishops in style and colour mostly white. His shoes are low, open and red in colour with cross on the front of each. His pallium, which is a band of wool embroidered with crosses, shows his rank as an archbishop. Pope’s jewels include a pontifical ring, which is known as the fisherman’s ring.

Very important in the lives of Popes is the Sacred College, also called the College of Cardinals. This body acts as advisers to the Pope. The Pope, in the spirit of apostleship, asks their advice whenever needed. He meets them officially in the Consistories. Consistories could be secret, semi-secret or public.

In secret Consistories, the Pope meets with his Cardinals. It is there that new Cardinals are named. Pope gives the new Cardinals their sapphire rings as a symbol of their offices. If a Cardinal comes from a far country, the Pope assigns him an honorary position as the head of a diocese in Italy. At secret Consistories, the Pope appoints Cardinal Camerlengo i.e. Chancellor of the Catholic Church. In semi-public Consistories, the Pope, Cardinals and Bishops meet. This Consistory discusses candidates for beatification and canonization. In public Consistory, church officials and dignitaries could be invited.

The major function o the College of Cardinals is the election of a new Pope. When a Pope dies, a member of the college must verify his death. He touches the forehead of the Pope thrice with a silver mallet and calls him by his baptismal name. He then announces that “the Pope is truly dead” in the interim, the Sacred College takes over his functions. Though we have had Popes that resigne in the past, it was essentially due to one problem orthe other, including the era of anti Popes. With the resignation of the present Pope, it is imperative that before the date it will take effect, he would have named what the formula will be.

During the election of a new Pope, the College of Cardinals is known as “The Conclave”. Why in the conclave, the Cardinals severe any relationship with the outside world. On the day of the election, mass of the Holy Ghost is celebrated for guidance in decision. The actual voting takes place in the Sistine chapel (erected in the palace of the Vatican by Pope Sixtus IV in 1473).

The Conclave begins between the 15th and 18th day after the death of the Pope. After voting, if a new Pope is not elected, the scrutinies (ballots) are burnt with a mixture of straw) to produce black smoke. When eventually a Pope is elected, the straw is burnt alone to produce white smoke. Then, outsiders will shout “Viva il papa” (“Long live the Pope”). The Cardinals will then pay their first homage to the Pope- elect. The senior Cardinal deacon will then step out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Church and announces to the people in Latin, Habemus Papam (“We have a Pope”). The Pope makes his first appearance and gives his blessing, “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World”).

The Pope-elect chooses a day and a place for his installation – they have often chosen St. Peter’s Church. On that day, the Pope is carried in a portable throne in a procession from the Vatican to Saint Peter. After the mass, a three-tiered crown is placed on the Pope’s head. He then gives his blessing. The cardinals will pay a second homage.

However, in 1978, Pope Paul I eliminated many of this traditional ceremonies. He walked in the procession and chose to have a pallium placed over his shoulders, symbolizing his pastoral responsibilities as the head of the Church. Later, Pope John Paul II followed this Pauline example.

The foregoing represents the operation of the papacy, so terribly organized. In fact if art were the organization of government, the Papacy is the most imposing masterpiece in history. This does not mean that the papacy is trouble-free. It has its own plenty share of troubles amidst many achievements.

TROUBLES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

It is said, often with some truth, that the beginning of anything is usually difficult, thus the early Church and Popes faced monumental obstacles. In these trials, they were mettlesome enough. Almost all of them faced the opposition against the Church with heroic faith.

Since Roman Emperors were pagans, they tried to exterminate the nascent Christianity at all costs. It was so intense that in A.D. 67, Emperor Nero killed St. Peter and St. Paul. When Rome burnt (A.D. 64 – 65), Nero accused and persecuted Christians. In A.D. 96, Emperor Domitan tried to surpass the records of Nero by his brutal killing of Christians. Emperor Diocletian in A.D. 303, 23rd February, published a general edict ordering the destruction of Christian Churches and writings and reduced Christians to slave status. The list of hostility, if one wishes, could go on. ad-infinitum

A turning point was, however, recorded in A.D. 314. With the help of his mother, St. Helena, Pope Sylvester (314-325) converted Constantine to Christianity. As a postscript, he initiated the transformation of pegan Rome into a Christian state. Constantine stopped the crucifixion and breaking of leg in Roman Empire (A.D. 315); Constantine declined to celebrate the Ludi Saeculares at Rome because of their pegan association (A.D. 314). Constantine exempted the clergy of Roman Empire from taxation (A.D. 315); Constantine recognized the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts (A.D. 318); Constantine forbade magic (A.D. 320); Constantine forbade heretical gatherings and divorce (A.D. 331). The culminating act of his conversion was the building of the first St. Peter’s Basilica above the crypt (tomb) of St. Peter in 325. The modern St. Peter was however started in 1506 by Pope Julius II and dedicated in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII. Pope Alexander VII (1655 – 1667) was to erect the magnificent colonnade of the plaza at St. Peter.

Another unpleasant task of ecclesiastical organization under the Popes was to prevent a fragmentation of the Church through the multiplication of heresies i.e., doctrines contrary to the conciliar definitions of the Church creed. These heresies almost always rose in an East that had inherited the Greek passion for defining the infinite. It has always been resolved through different Councils convoked to examine specific heresies otherwise known as General or Ecumenical Councils. The first council was that of Jerusalem chaired by the first Pope, St. Peter.

Then in A.D. 318, Arius, a Libyan Priest, startled the whole world by his denial of the Holy Trinity. Christians hold Christ to be so identical in being with God (homoousious), Arius considered him only similar in being (homoiousis). In A.D. 321, Arius was excommunicated. With the help of Constantine, Eusebius of Caesarea and St. Athanasius (Later Bishop of Alexandria) and the support of Pope Sylvester I the Nicene Council was called. The Council re-affirmed the trinity and gave us the Nicene Creed, which summarizes the Chief articles of the Christian faith.

At this point, Nestorious, Bishop of Contantinople, entered the heretic scene. According to the church, Christ was God, and Mary was “Theotokos,” God- bearing, the mother of God. Nestorius thought the term too strong; Mary, he said, was the mother only of the human, not of the divine, nature of Christ.

In 429, St Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, repudiated Nestorius. Pope Celestine I (422 – 432), stirred by a letter from Cyril, called a Council at Rome (A.D. 430) The Council demanded Nestorius to retract, he refused. Finally the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) re-affirmed that Mary was the mother of the incarnate Logos, or word of God, containing both the divine and the human nature of Christ. The same Pope Celestine I sent St. Patrick to convert Ireland to Christianity, a task he masterfully accomplished.

Eutyches, head of a Monastery near Constantinople, announced the last great heresy of this turbulent period, and the most momentous in result. In Christ, said Eutychus, there were not two natures, human and divine; there was only the divine. The Council of Chalcedom (451), under Pope Leo I condemned this “monophysite” heresy and reaffirmed the double nature of Christ.

In between the above heresies, many other heresies had at a point threatened the Church. There was the Albigensian heresy. This heresy derived its name from the city of Albi, they rejected the Holy Trinity and believed that Christ was not the son of God but an archangel who came to earth as an apparition or illusion. Pope Innocent III fought them to a standstill in 1208.

In 787, Pope Adrian I condemned the heresy of Adoptionism, whose exponents held that Christ as man was the adopted, but not the natural Son of God. The Pope, in 787, presided through his delegates over the second Council of Nicene, which condemned Adoptionism and Inconoclasm.

We cannot point out all the heresies that agitated the Church in her history. In addition to those mentioned, we have the Apollinarians, Saballians, Manichism, Paulinians, Bogomiles, Pelagianism, Massalians, Priscillinists and heresies propagated by current commercial churches. Added to these heresies, there were additional problems created by differences between the Latin Church and the Eastern Church. The Church, despite its many problems and heretics attacking her, was united until after the first 800 years when a major schism began to separate the Church at Rome and the Church at Constantinpole, now at Istabul. The causes of this schism were many and its result momentous.

First there was communication problem created by differences in language, liturgy and doctrines. Greek Liturgy, ecclesiastical vestments, vessels, and ornaments were more complex, ornate, and artistically wrought than those of the West; the Greek cross had equal arms; the Greeks prayed standing, the Latin kneeling; the Greek baptized by immersion, the Latin by aspersion and/or immersion; marriage was forbidden to Latin priests but permitted to Greek priests; Latin priests shaved, Greek priests had contemplative beards. These differences and many other disagreements led to the excommunication of Photius in A.D. 863 by Pope Nicholas and Photius excommunicated the Pope in A.D. 867. In Leo’s pontificate, Greek and Latin Church were finally divorced (1054). The excommunication was removed in 1965, when patriarch Athenagoras visited the Pope in Rome. There was a follow up to their earlier visit (1964) in Jerusalem, the first meeting in 500 years.

In 1300 the papacy suffered two major setbacks: the era of “antipopes” and the “Babylonian Captivity”. In 1305 through influence of king Philip of France, a French Archbishop was elected and crowned at Lyon as Pope Clement V. Clement moved the papal court from Rome to Avigon in 1309. The papacy remained in France during the reign of seven Popes, and this greatly reduced the prestige of the Papacy. This period was known as “Babylonian Captivity” it ended in 1377 when Pope Gregory XI returned the Papal throne to Rome.

This development made the Papacy to be a subject of intense rivalry among Catholic countries. Unfortunately, it degenerated into the era of rival Popes, in other words, known as “anti-popes.” An anti-pope was he who has been improperly elected a pope. He sets himself in opposition to the pope who has been regularly chosen in accordance with canon law. The first anti-pope usually noted was Hippolytus; the last anti-pope was Felix. This schism divided the church for almost 60 years. As if the Church was recovering from it, subsequent popes posed a problem to the Church. Having obtained their election by bribe, they lived shamefully. This was exemplified in the pontificate of Alexander VI. Alexander involved himself in the political maneuvering which characterized Italy of 1492-1503. The career of Alexander VI and some other Popes of the era demonstrated that they were typical Renaissance Princes occupied with Italian politics often to the neglect of their spiritual duties, thus bringing disgrace to the Church and the Papacy into disrepute.

As an aftermath of this degenerative Papacy, many Church leaders cried out for reforms. These cries continued unheeded until Martin Luther came forth. Though Erasmus was accused of having laid the egg that Luther hatched, but he was more civilized as opposed to the rudeness of Luther. Luther was a Catholic Priest and a monk. In his 95 theses he denounced many things in the Church especially the indulgence. But let it be said here that even before Luther, Pope Boniface IX in 1392, Martin V in 1420 and Sixtus IV in 1478 had repeatedly condemned the misconception and abuses of indulgence. Luther’s concerns were legitimate. Some believe that his way of going about it was wrong, others believe otherwise. This debate continues.

In response to this protestant reformation, the Church called the Council of Trent, which met from 1545-1563. This Council re-affirmed the Catholic doctrines. It needs to be said, and I do hereby say it that the personal immoralities of priests or popes do not nullify the divine character of the Church, the purity of its doctrines or the graces and spiritual powers it transmits. The final major offensive against the papacy was the madness of Napoleon Bonaparte. He forcefully annexed the Papal States in 1809. The Congress of Vienna restored this in 1815 under the protection of Austria. During the struggle for unification in Italy, all the papal provinces were confiscated, but in 1929 the Vatican City was granted independence: this ushered in the era of the modern papacy.

THE CONTEMPORARY PAPACY

In the 1900’s the papacy enjoys a high prestige and influence. With the independence of the Vatican, the popes concern themselves with moral and social issues of the day. Pius X who became Pope in 1903 worked hard to keep peace in Europe. He was shocked by the outbreak of World War II in 1914.

Like Pius X, Pius XII who succeeded him worked tirelessly for peace during the World War II, this brought him worldwide acclaim. Pope John XXIII, known as the “rotund” Pope succeeded him in 1958 and called the Second Vatican Council, which began in 1962. This is the 21st council in the history of Christianity. This Council made changes in the Church and was completed under Pope Paul VI who succeeded him in 1966.

Paul travelled widely. He was the first Pope to visit the Holy land, the U.S. and the South America. In 1978 he died and Pope Paul I succeeded him. After 34 days, he died and Pope John Paul II succeeded him. A year of three Popes!

We must not refuse this Pope the credit of having brought the Church to her greatest height, and had never relented in his task of realization of a moral state. He was one of the ablest Church leaders in Church history. He pursued his aims with vision, devotion, inflexible persistence, and unbelievable energy.

The Pope gave himself so unremittingly to the problems of humanity that he looked physically exhausted, weighed down by the suffering of humanity. He waged war against abortion, euthanasia, oppression, with unquestionable sincerity and heroic devotion. He was called a mobile Pope because he travelled widely as part of evangelization with his message of love, reconciliation, charity and peace. These, among other things, made him the most cherished visitor wherever he visited. The Pope had some physical comeliness and spiritual magnetism that attracted millions of people wherever he visited. He remained a spiritual lion even until he died on the 2nd of April, 2005 mildly like a ripe pawpaw from its tree.

Contemplating his achievements, we marvel at the prestige he brought to the papacy, Catholic Church and Christianity. He renewed our faith in the future possibilities of the Church as indispensable to the moral health of humanity. We can always call him, without tongue-in-check, the very representative of Christ. It is a challenge to the Catholic Church to keep on producing Popes like him in future, thank God that the present Pope, Pope Benedict xvi is leading the Church along the parts of holiness.

Watching the actions of Pope Benedict XIV, one noticed that he is not after personal glory. He does his job as the Representative of Christ. In his apostolate, he keeps making reference to the work of his predecessor without any tinge of jealousness.

Presently, there appear to be organized war against the Catholic Church and we are happy the manner the present Pope has handles it. The war is hinged on clerical celibacy, ordination of women, same-sex marriage, abortion and many other contentious issues. If the Church is truth, it would have to maintain the teachings of God and not swing with the changing times. The moment the Church starts saying that because majority of the people are clamoring for this or that, let us change the divine truth, it will do more harm to her.

Expectedly form today till the 28th of February the Pope’s resignation will take effect, we shall witness a lot. the See of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome (Pope) will be declared vacant (Sede Vacante) . Normally, with the death of the Pope, all heads of Roman Curia resigns, except Cardinal Camerlengo and Major Penitentiary, will it apply in this case/ Will the Coat of Arm of the Holy See changer form the normal Papal tiara to Umbraculum? These questions will soon be answered.

Valentine Obienyem , writes from Awka , Anambra State, Nigeria.

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02/13/13

*What Obasanjo And Yar'Adua Told Prof. Charles Souludo

By Chris Onyishi

I have had some undefined disapproval of Prof. Souludo in the past, both during his tenure as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and in all the tumbles that followed after he left that position, hurriedly, to want to become a politician.

I even mentioned him in one piece I wrote way back in 2006 which I titled “Who is our President?”.  A reasonable portion of my perception of him was built on the precept that he agreed and remained to serve in President Obasanjo’s administration which at the time, from what you would realize from the linked article that I was devastated and frustrated that the administration at that time had squandered the unimaginable support that attended its emergence, which you could describe as wrongfully or a child of substance.

But with the little expose in a blog (This Day) titled "What Obasanjo And Yar’Adua Told Me", I am at this point summarily deadening that disapproval. I would say, without fear of contradiction, that when you hear a man out, you may change your perception of that man and that should not mean double speak on the part of the person who yields to superior thinking.

Prof. Soludo, even if he gets submerged in the, as he puts it, “shark-infested waters of politics” – but I pray God guides him through – I would be saying that he was overwhelmed in the treacherous gambit of Nigerian politics but not that he did not have a mission.  I entirely agree with him that politics – as is being practiced in Nigeria today – is so dirty and is not meant for  ‘decent people’. ( Continues below….. )

Prof Charles Souludo

Photo Above: Prof. Charles Souludo

Again, on my “Face Book” timeline, I had quoted one of the finest minds humanity has ever had – Albert Einstein – when he said; “All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official function. I am the more distressed over these circumstances because my relationship with the Jewish people became my strongest human tie once I achieved complete clarity about our precarious position among the nations of the world"

The above excerpt was how Albert Einstein summarized his feeling when, after the death of the first Jewish President in 1952, the then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion offered him that position.

Can you compare that with what obtains now where an incumbent will be complaining that the action or inaction of his predecessor in office has made him/her not to perform and yet would not resign?

Is there any wonder then why the Jews have sustained the entire onslaught against them? Their leaders do not aspire to lead for fun.

Politicians around the world, today, sit tight in power and oversee the crumbling of their state’s economies without remorse. They engage on all manner of intrigues while their nations get burnt, economically.

The greatest minds of humanity are never habitually remembered or are not even remembered at all and, in some cases, are not even known. What would the world have been today without electricity. What would the world have been today without airplane. What would the world have been today without penicillin or ampcillin.

Not most of our rulers today will understand what you mean when you talk about the Wright brothers (Orville and Wilbur) and yet they travel by business class and even own jets. Charles Edgar Duryea would not ring a bell as much as Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan, who made history sometime ago as the first black person to buy the 2014 model of Bentley.

Winston Churchill of Great Britain, best known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War, is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century and yet little is known of mortals such as Richard Gatling, who invented the first machine gun in 1862 which prototype was used to execute the WW2, and Hiram Maxims who muted the idea of recoiling energy in power reloading guns, neither do we mention Albert Einstein who is regarded as the father of modern Physics. Today Alexander Fleming who invented penicillin is not as popular as British Prime Minister Cameroun or the British Monarch.

When we talk about Benjamin Franklin today, many people will know more of President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria than give a thought to that name and yet what has held us down as a people is that what Franklin discovered several years ago – electricity – cannot be used today by President Jonathan to create an impact in his country.

I did a piece some days gone by which I titled “Politicians All over the World Are Gradually Decimating Organized States”. The people who dictate how the resources of man - as freely given by GOD - are shared today are not the caliber of people who really made the world what it is and this has been the bane of mankind.  The rulers we have today are mere mortals who do not understand governance beyond looting of public treasury to own properties and physical cash they will never have need for before death stifles them out of existence.

And if you realize the people Prof. Soludo is quoting and the platform upon which he was trying to emerge, you would know that he is already in between the deep sea and the red dragon. He is already felicitating with people who will become political albatross on his neck even before he takes a plunge.  And going by what is obtainable today, nobody who aspires to be the president of Nigeria and eventually gets there through the PDP structure will be different from the others no matter how visionary the person is.  But it is possible that he is only looking at the governorship level for now and to that extent, he could make an impact.

A classical example of impacting the government from the outside is Prof. Chinua Achebe who has constantly and consistently rejected the so called “national honors” award on the ground that you do not get honor from dishonorable people.  Nigerians are fast in condemning corruption but they seem to have nothing against the offspring of corruption.  So you get journalists praising individuals who in the recent past were hungry but become wealthy overnight as a result of monumental corruption and before you say anything you have the same government officials justifying such acts because it has not been challenged in any law court.  What an absurdity!

If you want to size up corruption in Nigeria, just prepare and attend an occasion where two families of these corrupt government people are playing a marriage script.

How would a corruption laden administration of Goodluck Jonathan confer honor to anybody in Nigeria today?   Except for a few who get the honors award on merit, it is proven that most of the awardees pay money through surrogates to get the award even when it is glaring that most of them have not done any special thing to attract the award to them.  I am certain of one of the awardees who was approached by some marauder s who claim to be representing Aso Rock on the honors award. They made some mad demands from this prospective person which he vehemently rebuffed and they left.  He later got the award but you would agree with me that most people just buy their way into the “Honors” list.

But instead of succumbing to pressure and jump into the river before making up one’s mind to swim, I would enjoin people of Prof. Soludo’s caliber to stay off the murky waters of Nigerian Politics but be on the sideline to continuously be generating substantial dialogue that will tend to put these adventurers, called politicians, on their toes.  I have always had the opinion that one does not really have to be in governance to contribute meaningfully to the growth of his state or country or humanity at large. And in Nigeria’s case being involved directly diminishes one’s strength to perform and he is poised to turn around to blame someone just as our President recently blamed amalgamation of 1914 for the problems of Nigeria.

If Prof. Soludo is nursing any feeling to go into politics and he cannot suppress it, he would better do that on a different platform than the PDP which has become a tsetse fly on the testicles of Nigeria.

Chris Onyishi (ctekchris@yahoo.com)Lagos, Nigeria.

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02/07/13

*Saving Nigeria’s education: NDDC weighs in

By Ifeatu Agbu

It is common knowledge that education provides the springboard for growth and development. It drives the engine of vibrant economies. Indeed, there is a positive correlation between a country’s economic greatness and the premium it places on education. Finland, for instance, invests heavily on education. This is the reason the World Economic Forum ranked the country as having one of the most competitive economies in the world. Of course, this did not come by accident, as Finland offers free and qualitative education up to university level.

Nigeria, on the other hand, is yet to give education a pride of place, in spite of the enormous oil wealth bestowed on her by nature. Poor funding and other structural inadequacies have for many years placed Nigerian students at a disadvantaged position.

Our government has consistently failed to meet the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation, UNESCO’s, prescription that national education should be funded to the tune of 26 per cent of overall annual budget. The consequence is what manifests in dilapidated and overcrowded classrooms, absence of functional libraries, laboratories and poorly motivated teachers.

The dismal performances of students in national and international examinations in recent years make a sad statement on the failure of our educational system in general. For Instance, the recent results where only 38.81 per cent of those who sat for the May/June 2012 SSSCE examination, obtained credits in five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics, paints a dour picture.

The slide in the quality of education as reflected in the poor results in examinations conducted by West African Examination Council, WAEC, has been the trend for many years now. ( Continues below….. )

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Sadly, the wobbling educational system in Nigeria is driving thousands of our students to foreign countries, including Ghana and South Africa. According to Comrade Simeon Njoku, chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Abia State, about 25 per cent of pupils and students of primary and secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Ghana are children of rich Nigerians. To quantify Nigeria’s loss to Ghana, the Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Dr. Wale Babalakin, said that Nigerians commit a staggering N160 billion to the education of their children and wards in Ghanaian universities every year. He said that the figure represents the cost of university education for about 75,000 Nigerian students in that country.

The amount, Babalakin explained, excludes huge amounts also spent on education of Nigerians in other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. This huge cost of university education in Ghana and other countries is an avoidable capital flight. Ironically, what Nigerians spend in Ghana alone exceeds what both our federal and state governments release to their universities.

The question is why have Nigerians passed a vote of no confidence on their country’s education system? Obviously there is a systemic failure which has made both students and teachers to be found wanting. Today, we are confronted with the embarrassing story of teachers in Sokoto State who could not read and write. According to the Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Mohammed Modibbo, over 50 per cent of primary school teachers in the state are illiterate. He told members of the Senate Committee on Education that "50 per cent of the entire teachers in the state cannot read, because they are unqualified.”

The situation is not any better in the universities. The opening of several new universities within a very short period has stretched the available teaching manpower to the limits. The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku expressed worry over the situation. He said: “When you create a new university, you have to look for staff from other universities. So, the situation was that even those who were not yet ripe to become professors were appointed professors.”

The same is true in some other states. Many primary school teachers cannot write lesson notes, let alone teach anything meaningful. Any serious attempt to make Nigeria globally competitive educationally, must drastically reform the primary and secondary education.

At the tertiary level, President Goodluck Jonathan, tells us that 60 per cent of the lecturers in Nigerian universities do not have doctorate degrees. “To be in the academics, you must have a PhD,” he said.

For most lecturers to get PHD, the universities must adopt best global practices, as it was in this country in the past, of having a robust staff development programme. Bright students, who made first class or second class upper division, should be encouraged to stay back as graduate assistants. After a while, the university should sponsor them for their master’s and doctorate degrees. Other government agencies and the private sector should also key into this.

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for instance, is already helping out in this area. The commission has so far sponsored over 600 students at the post-graduate level under its Foreign Scholarship Scheme. The beneficiaries pursue Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in science disciplines.

The Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr Christian Oboh, said that science education was critical to the development of the oil and gas sector and the nation in general, hence the resolve of the commission to assist in procuring high-level manpower in these disciplines.

Again, the commission is partnering with relevant institutions to boost the teaching and learning of science subjects at the primary and secondary school levels. Recently, it organised a training workshop for primary and secondary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State. The Train-the-trainer workshop on the use of NASENI primary and junior secondary science kits was put together by the NDDC in collaboration with the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure [NASENI].

The NDDC seems bent on demystify the teaching and learning of sciences in the schools spread across the Niger Delta. So far, it has supplied science equipment to schools from the primary to the tertiary levels.

According to the NDDC Director, Education, Health and Social Services, Dr. Christy Atako, 400 units of primary science kits and 700 units of junior secondary school kits were distributed in schools within the Niger Delta recently. In addition, she said, 36 units of 100kg Rotary Furnaces and 18 sets of Advanced Units of Manufacturing Technology facilities were distributed to tertiary institutions in the region. The commission also donated 880 sets of computers to all the polytechnics in the Niger Delta.

Qualified teachers alone do not make universities to produce qualitative graduates. Students need good learning environment, good libraries and laboratories, good classrooms and good hostels. Our universities have not always been in this sorry situation. Time was when they ranked among the best in the world. We should not forget that our premier tertiary institution, the University of Ibadan was once rated as the fourth best in the commonwealth. The rot set in when standards were compromised.

Lecture theatres and hostels in some of our universities are not really better than the dilapidated Police College, Ikeja, which has attracted the attention of President Jonathan. The regulatory authorities should insist on minimum standards that would make our ivory towers to be conducive for learning. They should stop approving universities for all manners of groups and individuals, whose only interest is to make maximum profit.

Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( ifeatuagbu@yahoo.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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02/06/13

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