Nigeria: Underage Marriage and the Leadership Question
By Philip Amiola
I have never been more grieved about the condition of the Nigerian state. Why do our leaders continue to make us a laughingstock before the world? We were just recovering from the Governors’ Forum fracas when we were again jolted by the show of shame in Rivers State House of Assembly. Now, the bug has moved to the National Assembly – and the legislators have done the unthinkable – a fraction of them has voted for underage marriage!
Underage marriage is just another euphemism for child abuse. Actually, it is tantamount to pedophilia. Merely contemplating the idea would have been utterly loathsome. It is therefore totally inconceivable that some sectarian demagogues in Abuja would actually attempt to give it legal backing. Apparently, these folks have been active proponents of this ignoble practice all along and were only seeking the slightest avenue to announce their shamelessness under the cloak of legislative duties. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Senator Alhaji Ahmed Rufai Sani Yerima (born July 22, 1960), Ex-Zamfara State Governor who married a 13-year-old Egyptian child in 2009.
Recently, while discussing my views on the gay rights debate on the Signorile Show – a radio programme that airs across the United States and Canada on Sirius XM Radio and globally online – I drew an analogy between homosexuality and pedophilia. It is unfortunate that the same lawmakers who condemned gay marriage now support pedophilia in a pitiable display of emotional entrapment that can very well pass for conflict of interest. While a sane legislature should be making provisions to fully execute the Child Rights Acts which stipulates 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for girls, some of our senators are seeking new ways to relieve their libido and assuage their concupiscence.
Let’s take note of these members of the Senate who are compromising the well-being of our girls. We cannot continue to commit our national destiny to this kind of people. They are misrepresenting us as Nigerians and trampling our national values! We must exercise our right to vote with greater discretion in subsequent elections. Meanwhile, let’s all lend our voices to the campaign against child marriage. A good place to start is sharing this article and similar ones across your social media platforms. You should also consider joining the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ChildNotBride.
Together, we will deliver the future!
Philip Amiola is a teacher, writer and campaigner of empowerment. He wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Rivers State House of Assembly; Another name for Animal Kingdom
By Chris Onyishi
I have tried, with difficulty, to refuse the temptation of commenting on the goings-on in the Rivers State and, most recently, its House of Assembly for some time now. I find out that the urge to think aloud increases, each time, with the news emanating from the Garden City which has now been turned into a gladiators’ arena.
When I watch a popular DSTV channel called “Nat Geo Wild”, I do see how animals eschew God and play God to each other in the jungle. I always feel bad but I understand I am watching animals. What is happening in Rivers State, politically speaking, today is not far from a “Nat Geo Wild” in real sense, the only difference is that this time around human beings – and not animals – are involved; playing God to each other and making a mince meat out of each other’s flesh.
I have chosen to relay the comments of some people on this issue. All is based on news items. I was not there and would not want to be there with the kind of news coming out. I was not trained in the art of boxing, wrestling or karate. It is now obvious that you must be fortified in one of these physical acts or arts before you can safely go near any place in Rivers State.
Before I continue, my prayers go to some of my relations and good friends in Rivers State who now live in fear. Not too long ago, Boko Haram was sending people packing from the Northern side of our country. Now, it is likely that The Rivers State House of Assembly, the Governor and with the help or connivance of the first lady, Her Excellency Dame Patience Gooluck, and her husband, our own President Goodluck Jonathan – the transformational agenda President – and, the C in C of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will start sending people packing from the South-South end of the country. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Rivers State House of Assembly
Without mincing words, to hear or see the President’s name and his wife feature in the said Rivers State imbroglio is not just absurd, it is offensive and smacks affront on the Rivers State people. But that is not to say, by any inference, that I have taken side or I am trying to take side with Gov. Rotimi Amaechi and his gang in the gangster activities that has engulfed the olden days garden city.
The other very sad aspect of the whole saga is that it all started, remotely or otherwise, after the visit of the First Lady to that state and sequel to allegations that the Rivers State Governor had pitched tent with some northern elements to run as a vice presidential candidate to a northerner. Is there anything wrong in that ambition that will warrant a deliberate attempt to bring a state down violently?
To underscore my neutrality in this whole thing, it would be pertinent to refer my readers to an article I titled “POLITICIANS AROUND THE WORLD AR GRADUALLY DECIMATION ORGANIZED STATES” and written not quite long ago. I do not have fate in the political class in Nigeria of today. It seems as if there is hardly any descent politician in Nigeria.
One "Honorable” member of Rivers State Assembly (Mr. Evans Bipi) who is alleged to be favoring President Goodluck and his wife Dame and, who was alleged to have initiated the “agboro-like” assault in the House of assembly, was quoted as saying that Madam was, or is still, his "Jesus Christ" on earth. I do not have any quarrel with this assertion but it tells much about the “honorable” member who made it.
It would be pertinent to understand when this man, who claims to have lived with Madam for several years, imbibed the idea of using brutal force in solving disputes. Was it before, during or after he lived with Madam? If it was before living with Madam and she did not do anything to dissuade him from such action when they stayed together, then the Madam has some penchant for trouble. If it was during his stay with Madam, then the Madam would also be seen to have tendency towards trouble. If, on the other hand, it was after he left Madam, it would still mean that he imbibed that life style while under Madam’s tutelage. Head or tale, Madam is implicated. I know social scientists will have a varied opinion to this line of taught but the real truth remains that our first lady’s body language does not portray her as someone who is afraid of violence and controversy.
It was also recorded that Mr. Bipi was almost snatching an AK47 rifle from a police officer. Only God knows what would have been the next line in the script, was he able to overpower the police man.
From the raw manner he expressed himself during and after the tournament, one would clearly see that the Rivers State House of Assembly – and by extension, the Nigerian State – has all the time been under the canopy of dishonorable people as their law makers.
The Minister of State for Education – Mr. Nyesom Wike – was quoted as saying that "…what is important is for Nigerians to know that we will not be scared or be intimidated; we will do what we think is right within the law. We will make sure that Rivers people have the change which they had requested for.”
But news report also gave the impression that out of the 32 man Rivers State House of Assembly, only 5 are against Gov. Amaechi. So, if democracy is about representation and number, which Rivers People is the junior Minister referring to. Who is intimidating the other? Is it the 5 “honorable” people or the 27 others? Common sense will show that the five who cannot have their way in a normal democratic setting and who seem to have the backing from Abuja is doing the intimidation.
So, normally, it could be said that the Minister of State is off mark in his remarks and that is in addition to his swaggering while telling us that Michael Chinda will be flown abroad for medical treatment. Is his government not supposed to put medical facilities back home for treatment of, at least, such simple ailment as fracture or open wound? Shameless is the only way to imagine the attitude of our rulers.
Michael Chinda, the other “honorable” man of the Rivers State Assembly who got the beating of his life with the Mace of the assembly is billed to be – if he has not been – flown abroad for treatment as we were boldly told by the Minister of State for education – Mr. Nyesom Wike. This is the most worrisome of the whole episode. That these ungrateful elements will humiliate us in all fronts and still have the recourse to using our collective resources to treat themselves abroad is the most offensive part of the insult.
We do not have roads, we do not have electricity, we do not have hospitals, we do not have schools, we do not have practically anything to sustain ourselves in our own country, and some animals in the jungle are depleting what is left to be used someday to provide these amenities, by genuine leaders, to fly abroad for treatment on a wound which they inflicted on themselves while displaying the beast in them.
The Minister of State in the Education ministry was so proud of himself when he was telling us that Michael Chinda is being flown abroad. It became a class thing to him. Can you imagine the mentality of our rulers?
In another breath, one commentator summarized the fate of this “honorable” Michael Chinda thus:
“I think the man deserved what he got; if he dies to hell. if he survives he has lessons and experience to share to his friends and his generations to come. The mace used on him is the best rod because that is staff of authority to correct lawlessness and cast out demons in the man and as you can see the man has been delivered thru the power in the authority of mace”.
Isn’t the above assertion funny enough? But what you will not deny the person who made that assertion is frustration from the actions and activities of our so called “honorable” rulers; executive and legislature alike. When the citizenry gets to the point he or she reasons as above as a result of his or her disappoint in those who determine his or her fate, then you know that the whole essence of an organized state is in the verge of collapse and the mantra becomes as relevant as anarchy song.
“Unfortunately, Soyinka betrayed moral duty in his recent diatribe against Mrs. Patience Jonathan. Of course, this would not be the first time he would reach out against the First Lady, usually from self-righteously indignant lecterns".
The above excerpt is from Mr. Ayo Osinlu’s defense of her Madam against Prof. Wole Soyinka’s press conference on the Rivers State imbroglio, where it was alleged that the Prof. advised the President to be cautious of the excesses of his wife. Here again we see how people – because of their personal gains – will bring down their pens heavily (against anybody) to defend the indefensible. When you agree to become the Special Assistant on media to a woman who has a much exaggerated sense of her relevance in a state where actors are driven by inordinate ambition, you have sold out on your integrity and professional responsibility.
On his part, The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, compared the Rivers House of Assembly crises with what happened in Adamawa State where the State Assembly was shut down for three months in the past. According to him, the crisis was an internal Rivers State wrangling within the administration which, he said, is fueled by the mischief of the State Governor. Mr. Gulak did not see anything wrong with the full tuggry that took place in the Rivers State Assembly beyond the fact that the State Governor was around at the scene.
President Jonathan should lean backwards and reflect on the overbearing activities of his wife in his government. Nigerians may tolerate his actions and inactions, but I do not think many Nigerians will be willing to stomach the excesses of his wife who does not, in any form, have their mandate to gallivant about with the taxpayer’s money. She could still be comfortable, as a first lady, without undue interference in the activities of elected representatives of the people, irrespective of how wacked the elections that brought them into power.
There is already the stench rumor that all these crises are being precipitated to get to a point where the President will declare a state of emergency in Rivers State to finally drive down the nail on the coffin of the political fate of Gov. Amaechi.
If an already fragile nation disintegrates as a result of the unnecessary interference of a sitting President’s wife, then history will tell the story in a bitter way.
Chris Onyishi (firstname.lastname@example.org)writes from Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
*Nigerian 2013 Rainbow Push Coalition Delegation Hosted in Chicago in Grand Style
By Masterweb News Desk
It was a unique and power packed gathering at the highly exclusive private dinner reception for the Nigerian delegation at the 2013 Convention of The Rainbow Push Coalition founded by Rev Jesse Jackson which was held between July 6th and July 10th 2013 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers.
The Nigerian delegation was ably led by the highly revered Elder Statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation Chief Edwin Clark who came in the company of his amiable wife Dr (Chief) Mrs Abisola Sodipo-Clark and a contingent which included Their Excellencies; former Military Governor of Akwa Ibom State Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), former Governor of Edo State Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor, Former Governor of Plateau and Katsina States General Lawrence Onoja (Rtd), Professor Saliba Mukoro, People's Democratic Party Stalwarts Aisha Ali and Mr Gadzama of Zamfara and Bornu States respectively, and others.
The Private reception/dinner was hosted by the Nigerian United States Consulate led by the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States represented by the Deputy Chief of Mission His Excellency Bassey E. Archibong and had in attendance guests from a cross section of Nigerians in Diaspora.
His Excellency Bassey E. Archibong representing the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States in his brief welcome address thanked the elder Statesman Chief Edwin Clark for honoring the Nigerian community in the United States by attending the private dinner reception amid their busy schedule. He offered the goodwill message of the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye to the visiting Nigerian delegation and admonished Nigerians at home and abroad to support the dynamic Government of His Excellency President Goodluck Johnathan who has made tremendous strides in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, enhancement of power generation, infrastructural development, enhancing the state of security amid recent challenges and implementation of socio-economic policies that has ensured Nigeria's growth. He also re-iterated that upon the successful completion of His Excellency President Goodluck Johnathan's second term in office come 2019, that Nigeria will definitely take the leadership position as the next globally emerging economy. On a more personal tone, The Nigerian Deputy Chief of mission Ambassador Bassey E. Archibong paid his profound respect and gratitude to the revered leader of The Ijaw nation, whom he described as a father not only to him but to the nation and who has personally supported and guided him all through his career in public service.
Chief Edwin Clark in his remark thanked the Nigerian mission for the reception, introduced his delegation and conveyed the goodwill of the good people of Nigeria at home who have been honored by the Rev Jesse Jackson-Rainbow Push Coalition's 2013 Annual convention. The elder statesman urged Nigerians in diaspora to continue to be good ambassadors of their home country and to continue to support the development and growth of Nigeria through individual and collective efforts.
In attendance at the event were several dignitaries which included President and CEO of The Promethius Consulting Chicago Otunba Abbey Badejo, Prof and Mrs Christian Oniwowo a Wisconsin University Alumni sporting hall of fame recipient, Chicago Cook County Comptroller Ben Olowole-Johnson, African Union Award winning anthem composer and poet Chief Charles Okereke, Dr Ewa, Ms Linda Oyewopo of The Promethius Consulting Chicago and other Nigerian community leaders in The United States. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Group photograph of Chief Edwin Clark flanked by Dr (Chief) Mrs Abisola Sodipo-Clark, Otunba Abbey Badejo, Ambassador Baseey E. Archibong, Ben Oluwole-Johnson, Professor Mrs Oniwowo and other guests.
The Nigerian Deputy head of Mission, Ambassador Bassey E. Archibong declared the dinner open and also introduced the Current Wisconsin State Heavyweight Boxing Champion; the Nigerian Born Mr Enobong Umohette to Chief Edwin Clark and his powerful delegation. He also announced that the Nigerian born State boxing Champion is about to fight for an international Heavy Weight boxing title in November this year in Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Mr Umohette in his remark thanked His Excellency Ambassador Adewole Adefuye's representative for the privilege of being invited to the event and admitted that he was completely awed to be in the presence of Chief Edwin Clarke, the leader of the Ijaw Nation whom he described as a courageous champion of human rights and social justice. The Nigerian born Wisconsin State professional Boxing champion recalled in his remark, that on March 15th, 2001 he was opportune to visit Oloibiri in Bayelsa state, which was the site of Nigeria's first crude oil discovery and when he saw the devastation and desolation of the land, he appreciated why historic leaders like Chief Edwin Clark had risked their lives fighting for the betterment of the Niger Delta region.
Mr Enobong Umohette also paid glowing tributes to His Excellency the former Governor of his home state of Akwa Ibom, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga whom he acknowledged for his selfless service to Akwa Ibom and whom he has admired for his humility and continued service to Akwa Ibom state. He further paid tribute to His Excellency General Lawrence Onoja rtd, whom he acknowledged as a great leader as he also paid tribute to the dignitaries who attended the event.
In his final remarks, Mr Umohette stated that great leaders like Chief Edwin Clark and Their Excellencies present; through their sacrifices and service to the nation are the source of inspiration which drives him in the boxing ring to inspire young Nigerians at home to get involved in sports and steer away from crime.
Chief Edwin Clark in his response thanked Mr Enobong Umohette for his contribution to promoting Nigeria's image in sports and inspiring young ones at home and pledged to be at ring side come November 2013 when Mr Umohette will battle for an International Heavyweight title in his journey towards attaining a world heavyweight boxing title.
*Intersociety writes it is “Time for Peace, Forgiveness, Harmonization & Teamwork” in Anambra
1. Mr. Peter Gregory Obi
Governor of Anambra State
Government House, Awka
2 Sir Victor Umeh
Chairman, All Progressives Grand Alliance
The APGA National Headquarters, Abuja
Time for Peace, Forgiveness, Harmonization & Teamwork
(Onitsha Nigeria, July 16, 2013)-It is recalled Sirs, that our organization wrote similar letter to you sometime in 2012 through our ADR Bureau, over the differences between two of you who were and are still great friends and pro-democracy and rule of law fighters. Sadly, that important letter for reconciliation failed to achieve its frontal aim. Nevertheless, we must commend your acknowledgement of the letter.
Today, our advice, to the effect that alternative dispute resolution, not court is the best way to go about resolving your differences, has come to fruition. Having said this, it is commendable on part of two of you for resorting to court process instead of self-help form of seeking remedies or vengeance.
It is now time for peace, forgiveness, harmonization & teamwork, which are also in line with the reported outcome of your reconciliatory meeting nursemaid(ed) by Their Lordships-the three Catholic Bishops. It is very important to inform you as pro-Igbo rights group that APGA is the only thing left after Ojukwu as an idol of Igbo Emancipation and Survival in Nigeria. Two of you must not be”Egu Jidesiri ike n’ nwata, mgbe olulu n’ okenye, ohachasia aka ya”. We profusely pray that you shelve your differences and ego and work like a team. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven. Sir Umeh as a Knight of the Church can attest to this. That is the reason why the Church made him a Knight. There should be no more court appeal, name calling, death wishing, sponsored media attacks or invocation of spirits of the dead against each other! It is a raw fact that APGA under Sir Umeh will not win the guber poll without the State political machinery controlled by Mr. Peter Obi.
Our Informed Advice
1. Anambra Local Council Poll must be held as fixed or by first week of December 2013. Anambra People deserves credibly elected LGA system.
2. There should be harmonization in your party’s ward, LGA, State and national structures. The people that make up Ayamelum, Anambra East & West, Oyi and Ogbaru who were mostly affected by last year’s flood disaster must not be disenfranchised having lost their voters cards. They must be recaptured in the forthcoming voter’s revalidation. Also those who have attained the voting age since 2011 and dead voters must be registered; and or deleted.
3. There should be a compromise between two of you in matters of zoning and anointment of candidates. While Sir Umeh should relax his perceived insistence on anointing one Ifeanyi Ubah as his sole guber candidate, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi should do same on the issue of zoning same to Anambra North. In the eyes of equity, the contest should be let open on the basis of percentage zonal chances. That is to say that Anambra North will have 50% chance to contest; Anambra South 35%; and Anambra Central 15%.
Political criminals must not be allowed a space on Anambra polity again. The riotous political era of 1999 to 2006 must not be allowed to repeat itself in the State. Two of you whose party controls the State political machinery must find ways of containing rising youth militancy in the State. We have evidence that they are being funded and supported by the PGs, traditional rulers, key politicians and some landlords associations especial in Onitsha zone of Ogbaru, Okpoko, Nkpor, Umuchiome-Nkpor, Nsugbe, Nkwere-Ezunaka, Fegge-Onitsha, Onitsha-Ado, Obosi and Ogidi townships. There are also deadly youth groups scattered in places like Aba Park, Onitsha-Owerri Road parks, Niger Bridgehead and Upper Iweka parks. Your government instituted ASTA is also peopled by militant deadly youths. Some of your political aides like office of your Commerce Commissioner make use of them to collect off-government levies.
Thank You Sirs
Yours Igbo Emancipation Comradely
Chairman of the Board & Alumnus of IVLP of the US State Dept-Class of 2013
Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
Behind a Successful Achebe, there is a Bravery Christie!
By Olugu Ukpai
Indeed, it is no longer news that Nigeria, Africa and the World over have lost a foremost novelist, an irony twister and a master of strange situations, Professor Chinua Achebe. I have been following with great interest as the torrent of superlative and unending eulogies continues to pour in from all walks of life. From Nigeria’s own former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, he was “African image to the world.” The deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha "a titan of incomparable proportion". Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iwela described him as a "movement for African literature" and a “teacher of light.” Across Africa, Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o described him as “an embodiment of universal wisdom,” South African writer and Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer called him the "father of modern African literature." Across Europe, the BBC described him as the “founding father of Africa’s literature in English.” For me, none of those tittles befits the “Eagle on the Iroko” anymore because I knew that the eagle must fly out one day. He is the “Socrates of Africa” who believed in continuity. He arrived just on time to assume “the orator of intellectual ancestors” in the ancestral scholastic chamber. While mortals mourn him, the ancestors are celebrating saying “hosanna to the most high: What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.”
Still there are those who had claimed Achebe to themselves: His colleagues, Professor Wole Soyinka and J.P. Clark described his death as a “person loss”. Professor Dora Akunyili described him as her own “mentor”, Nigerian coordinating Economic Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iwela described him as a “personal hero”. For Enyeribe Anyanwu, from UNN, he was his “academic adviser.” Chinua acclaimed Achebe’s 21st century daughter, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, summed it up when she wrote: "what I know for sure, is that I would not be the writer I am if it wasn’t for Chinua Achebe.”
Notwithstanding, a negligible few views Achebe on the contrary. For instance, Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano in his recent article titled Chinua Achebe: A Non-Romantic View, has described the author of the celebrated novel, Things Fall Apart as the “greatest anti-novel” writer to mention but a few. Responding to Bello-Kano’s low key remark, Casidy Ibe insisted that the true man of the people was "a rare writer of sublime flawlessness". Ugwutikiri Opata of UNN in his piece, All Things Fall in Place: Remembering Chinua Achebe at UNN asked that Bello-Kano should be ignored because the “…offspring of the snake afford not to be long?” Opata also pleaded with Achebe, the “Nigerian of rare-breed” that the Arrow of God should not be pointed at Bello-Kano for his flair of conventional knowledge for wisdom. He rather pleaded with the “prophet of letters” to “please pray for” Ibrahim Bello-Kano “at the crossroad.” One of Nigerians’ foremost soccer physicians, Sampson Siasia, had insisted that Bello-Kano probably suffers from a “lose canon” syndrome. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Late Prof. Chinua Achebe
Yet, I remain disappointed amidst these eulogies: Achebe’s widow, Christie, the most important woman in the life of Achebe seems to have been forgotten so quickly. Her role in Achebe’s stint of success has never been mentioned amidst these Achebe’s encomiums. To the best of my knowledge, it was only Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and Pini Jason who referred to Christie in passing. For instance, while Dr. Iweala on her face book wall referred to Christie as her "Aunty Christy" whom she knew "since she was a teenager", Jason in his article entitled Chinua Achebe: No need to mourn mentioned Christie in passing while describing a 1987 interview with Achebe in his house. “…we…strolled into the house, invaded Christy’s kitchen and chatted over lunch”, Jason said. Sadly, had Jason not ate to his fullest and rather met upturned pots in Charity’s kitchen, he couldn’t have probably remembered her. Thanks Christie for being a good cook.
Jason did not do anything extra ordinary because an Igbo proverb has it that a stomach does not forget the finger that fed it. In the Bible, the mixed crowd that followed Jesus proposed making him their king not because of his teachings, rather, they hoped that Jesus would do more food miracles for them anytime they were hungry. So, Jason did not do something extra-ordinary by remembering the woman that fed her, because even the crowd did not forget Jesus after eating to their satisfaction. Jason only succeeded in putting old wine in a new skin by reaffirming the outdated chauvinistic remark that women’s place is in the kitchen. Nigerian borne Sope Williams is right when he assert that the “Nigerian woman is defined in terms of her role as a mother and a wife.” Professor Rosemary Achmuty, a pioneer of women's studies and feminist legal studies concludes that “historical accounts have given little or no attention to the woman or the campaign of which she was part.” I know that Achebe would probably feel disappointed at Jason’s corridor remark on his widow, because he had reposed much confidence in him, having described him as an “eminent journalist and writer” in his last book, There Was A Country (p.236).
The question now is, as this eulogies pours in, how would Achebe want his wife, Christie, whom he described in his last book: There was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra as: a “leader”, “beautiful” a woman of “ingenuity” and “very articulate” (p.31, 179) to be remembered along with him? What particular message of Christie that Achebe would want the Nigerian government and the world over to hear in his eulogy?
Christie, the brave women. Achebe would like Christie, his amiable wife to be remembered a long with him as brave woman who saved his life and that of their children. Christie is a brave woman who probably might have saved Achebe’s life of which without he couldn’t have been alive to attain his feat. Besides whisking their children from various bombing scenes in the nick of time during the Biafra war, (p.182), Achebe recounted that it was Christie who woke him up from a deep sleep when they were about to be attacked in their new home at Enugu, “ At about 2.00am Christie first heard the noise of an intruder. She alerted me, and I shouted at the top of my voice, “Where is my gun?” Achebe recounted (p.180). When the Nigerian soldier intensified bombing during the Biafran war, Achebe and his family scampered for safety inside a bunker, but without Chidi, their third child. On sighting Chidi playing around, Achebe was afraid of going out and persuaded Christie not to leave the bunker. Against all odd “Christie dashed out from the bunker, grabbed the baby” bravely (p.190). Despite the fresh coup in 1966 and its attendant curfews, Christie remained brave enough and was still committed to her motherly obligation. On returning from a night movie with their daughter Chinelo, she decided to branch at Achebe’s office to see if he “was alive”. Achebe wrote: As she [Christie] walked to my office someone yelled at my wife: “Where are you going?” Don’t you know what is happening?” So she walked more briskly, because she wanted to find out whether I was alive” (p.65). The pursuit of a tall goal such as that of Achebe can be challenging. There can be moments when it looks like utter defeat and you feel like giving up. Achebe had those days, but Christie bravely stepped in. That is why a good and supportive wife, like Christie, can be what separates the successful from the unsuccessful men in today's society. The importance of a stable steady home life to Achebe’s success is not to be underrated. Christie Achebe was behind it. Achebe acknowledged that Christie is responsible for his “Staying Alive” to achieve his feat (p.179). In 1945, Meryll Frost, the then most courageous Athlete, in a remark of appreciation for his wife’s support once said “Although I am not a great man, there is a great woman behind me.” As Achebe journeys home, I heard him saying “there is a great woman I left behind.”
Christie, a voice of the voiceless. While Achebe is well remembered as a voice against colonialism, corruption and injustice in Nigeria, he would want Christie’s to be reckoned with social justice for women. During her vacation job at the then Nigerian Broadcasting Service, Christie noticed a grave inequality in payment for equal time spent at work among students. She led a delegation of students to complain this injustice to Achebe, who was the then controller of the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS), Eastern Region, Enugu. Achebe recounted: “In grave tones she announced the complaint of the students: There was one student who whose salary was higher than all the others, and they wanted “equal pay for equal time” (p.31). And the students got their request as Achebe made sure that the students received equal pay for the job they did.
There is no gain saying that justice and equal opportunities for Nigerian women remains a far cry. Achebe would want the Nigerian government to listen to Christie as he did. Nigerian women are discrimination on grounds of sex as flooded in the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended. Christie is wondering why up till now a woman is unable to confer Nigerian citizenship on her foreign husband, whereas, a man’s foreign wife may be registered as a citizen (Section 26(2). She wants to know why section 353 provides that an indecent assault against a man is a felony, punishable by three years in prison, whereas section 360 adjudges the same offence against females a misdemeanour punishable with only two years imprisonment. Christie, the then student leader frowns at the Nigeria’s personal taxation laws in which a married woman will only be allowed to claim tax relief based on the number of dependents she has if only she can show that she has separated her husband by deed or by an order of the High Court. But just as the drafters of the constitution know, the average Nigerian woman does not want to seek divorce from the court for some reasons not limited to societal ostracization, the stigma attached to it. This is besides litigation high cost and longevity of cases caused by court congestion. She wants to know why the anti-Female Genital Cutting law has not been passed. Christie is asking why different laws still apply to women differently in Nigeria depending on the state they resides despite the supremacy of the Nigerian constitution.
However while waiting for the answers to these questions she posed, Christy thanks Mrs. Funmi Falana for challenging the police “marriage permit" regulation 124. She is happy that female cops can now marry without permission from the Nigeria Police Force. This was not possible before May 16, 2012. Regulation 124 states inter alia: “A woman Police Officer who is desirous of marrying must first apply in writing to the Commissioner of Police for the State Command in which she is serving, requesting permission to marry and giving name, address and occupation of the person she intends to marry. Permission will be granted for the marriage if the intended husband is of good character and the woman police officer has served in the force for a period of not less than three years.” Regulation 124 is inconsistent with section 42 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex.
Christie, a woman in whose hand Achebe appreciated how to respect women’s opinions and perceptions on issues that affects them without necessarily reducing it to conventional “wagging…jaw” (p.33). As an epitome of humility, Achebe wouldn’t want to take any glory that is not due him. He would want Christie to be associated with the respect he had for women throughout his life and career. Achebe remembered an evening he and Christie were having conversation while Christie’s Father, Mr. Okoli watched as they chatted. During the said conversation, however, Mr. Okoli “missed something that Christie said and asked for clarification” (p.33). But Achebe responded “jestfully” saying “Don’t mind her…wagging her jaw” (p.33). Christie’s father rebuked Achebe saying “Don’t say or imply that what someone else has to say or is saying is not worth attending or listening to” (p.33). Unlike what would be an average man’s response, Achebe received the chastisement positively and moved on. He advised himself thus: “I had to be careful about the way I handled someone else’s words or opinions, especially Christies…Even when there was a strong disagreement one had to be discordant with respect” (p.33). Christy is saying “Every Nigerian woman deserves to be respected and listened to, as Achebe did to me while he lived.”
Overall, as brave woman, a voice of the voiceless and symbol of equity and excellency in Nigerian women, Christie is a good woman and a good woman is not to be confused with any woman. "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life" (Proverbs 31:10-31). A good woman is a source of strength, a shoulder to lean, and even cry on. A good woman can be the thing that motivates you to keep on trying when the chips look like they are down. To show you a new way when you're being one sided. To help you recover from your failures and celebrate your successes. Indeed, Christie helped Achebe brought home his baskets of success and we cannot afford to forget her. Contrary to Jason’s conclusion that “Achebe’s work is done” with his last book: There Was A Country, I argue that Achebe’s passage has opened yet another new book begging to be written: There is A Woman: Christie. In the book, the generation to come would always read that Behind a Successful Achebe, there is a Bravery Christie!
Olugu Ukpai writes from the school of Law, University of Reading, UK and can be reached at email@example.com
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
Ombatse Series 2: Baba Alakyo, Nasarrawa People’s Fetish Alternative to Injustice and Insecurity- another Okija Shrine
By Obinna Akukwe
Ombatse Cult, a fetish group which draws support from majority Eggon tribe of Nassarawa State is seen as an alternative to the failed social justice and security in Nigeria. Ombatse cult came into national limelight when their followers murdered over 100 personnel of the Nigerian police and the SSS. The national uproar which followed the crisis was well intentioned- if security personnel could be slaughtered like goat, then there is no hope for the common man. Everybody condemned the massacre and afterward a paltry N1millon naira was given to the families of slain policemen. The case has died down, everybody has forgotten the event, till another group rises up and kills yet more number of security personnel and another round of uproar will ensue. This is Nigeria where root causes of events are swept under the carpet.
I was expecting to hear about Federal Government Commission of Inquiries on why Eggon people of Nasarrawa see a 76 year old man, Lega Ahgu, popularly known as Baba Alakyo, from a sleepy Lakio village near Lafia, as a saint, savior and messiah of a sort. Having interacted with many Eggon politicians, administrators and professionals over the issue of Baba Alakyo , there is unanimous affirmation that the man is innocent and those who wanted to kill him are the villains. It is painful that even clerics from the state, Christians, Muslims, Pagans and their elite including professors, PhD holders all see Baba Alakyo as a persecuted citizen whom the gods delivered from the hands of a power drunken state. How can a fetish man whose followers killed security personnel be seen as a persecuted citizen?
The answer is simple, Baba Alakyo was the first person that gave the Eggon tribe of Nasarrawa State the fetish powers they needed to reverse the series of defeats they encountered in the hands of Fulani Herdsmen. Fulani Herdsmen have terrorized the people for long, killing, maiming and raping their women. They also confiscated and destroyed their farmlands until Baba Aalkyo came to their fetish rescue. When the man took over the battle, Fulani Herdsmen were severally defeated that for them the fear of Ombatse is the beginning of wisdom. Fulani Herdsmen recently have tried to avoid Eggon people and their incessant victories over communities in Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Enugu, Delta, Kaduna and Cross River states have not been extended to the Eggon people of Nasarrawa states in recent times. Thus this old juju man helped the Eggon people obtain a sort of respite from the marauding herdsmen. What the Nigerian Police, Army, SSS etc couldn’t do for them, an old fetish master did. That is the origin of allegiance to Ombatse and Baba Alakyo's rising fetish profile. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Arrested Ombatse Cult members
Baba Alakyo is revered by some persons in Nasarrawa State. According to them, he doesn’t charge money for spiritual consultations and he gives herbs for medicinal purposes. He also consults spirits on behalf of persons. This fetish priest organized his people to form Ombatse, a cult whose aim is to ensure that Eggon people live in peace with each other by adhering to oaths of morality, fairness and equity especially when dealing with their fellow Eggon tribesmen. This cult group worships a deity known as Azhili and they indoctrinate their followers that their principles tallies with the Bible and Quran, principal among which is that an Ombatse member must be holy and shun theft, adultery, false witness, intimidation etc.
Ombatse cult also metamorphosed into a spiritual court where aggrieved persons bring their cases for the spirits to adjudicate. Cases of adultery, theft, robbery, ritualism, confiscation of family properties etc which normally should have been adjudicated upon by normal administrative courts were being handled by Ombatse group because the people lacked confidence in the courts. It seems the state apparatus hates the faces of Eggon tribesmen. Eggons in the police force are also being transferred en-masse to other states. In one of the transfer letters with Ref No CH:5250/ZN.4/VOL./194 dated 19th June, about 32 policemen from the zone were transferred out of the state in one fell swoop allegedly under pressures from the state. Governor Al-Makura had performed better than his predecessors in terms of providing infrastructures to Nasarrawa people but the culture of suffocating the Eggons did not abate under his regime.
It is obvious that the failure of security agents to provide adequate protection, the failure of the courts to dispense justice and the failure of the government to secure a better life for its citizens led the Eggon people to migrate towards a fetish medicine man as a savior. Chris Mamman, the President of Eggon Cultural Development Association (ECDA) had told newsmen severally that in recent times about 259 Eggon tribesmen had been killed and over 2500 houses burnt and the government never bothered to send in single police personnel to protect them from the regime of Abdullahi Adamu in 1999 till date. Listing litanies of unprovoked attacks Mamman said that ''On March 30, 2007, the Alago Militias attacked our peace-loving people in Assakio town in Lafia East Development Area to annihilate or cleanse the area of the Eggon people for no just cause. The Eggon lost so many lives and over 200 houses were totally razed. Despite our cry to both the state government and the law enforcement agencies, nothing was done to either compensate our people over the loss of properties or even a visit from any government official to condole with us over the loss of lives.
On Saturday, April 7, 2012, a band of Fulani militia attacked our people in Yelwa Ediya in Doma Local Government Area, killing Eggon people and burning 22 houses belonging to Eggon people.
On June 1, 2012, the Alago Militia with the support of other invited ethnic militias attacked Eggon quarters in Assakio town, killing some of our people. The reason for the attack is what they called non-payment of royalty/tribute on a bag of rice per Eggon farmer as imposed by the Alago community leader. Our people defended themselves. The rest is now history.
On October 18, 2012, a band of Fulani militia attacked our people in Angwan Alaku and Kadarko Railway Villages of Giza Development Area. This led to the death of nine Eggon people who were not only butchered but parts of their bodies were mutilated and removed and their corpses deposited in the bush close to their farms''.
Okija Shrine was one of such sister cult in Anambra State where people took various cases to for strange spirits to judge. Those whose properties and family land were confiscated, apprentice salesmen whose masters refused to settle, cases of robbery, mysterious death, theft, scandals and malicious defamation of character all took their cases to Okija Shrine. The Shrine attendants then sends emissaries to invite the accused to the place within 7-21 days to clear self of all accusations or the spirits will declare them guilty and mete justice. Such was the powers of this fetish Shrine that those allegedly killed by it are taken to the place and deposited to avoid spiraling death for others.
Politicians also used the shrine to administer oaths of secrecy and allegiance from followers. Senator Andy Uba allegedly ordered his brother Chris Uba to drag ex-Governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige to the shrine to swear oath of surrendering state coffers to their family, and it took the resistance of the combined voice of Anambra people and some anointing oil Ngige obtained from an Anglican Bishop, before he wriggled out of the fetish oath. Former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State dragged his successor to the place to swear oath of subservience.
Therefore, it is shameful that a society that has up to 20 million literates and about 5 million graduates from various universities in the world cannot put forward an effective social security, justice administration and policing system. It is disturbing that a nation like Nigeria is gradually retrogressing towards allegiance to fetish organizations in search of justice and protection. Even if more policemen were killed by Ombatse cultists, it will not change the minds of Eggon people, because they believe that during their hard times, the apparatus of the law offered no defense.
Days after the Ombatse attacks, some herdsmen attacked villages in Abutu, Guma and Gwer local governments of Benue State leaving over 40 persons dead. A month later, the herdsmen attacked Nzorov ward in the same Guma Local Government where the earlier attacks took place, killing over 45 persons again and the security agents seems helpless. Thus over 85 persons dead within weeks and the state offered no security. Soon these Benue communities will gravitate towards a sinister juju man for deliverance and the fetish self help cycle goes on. These strange spirits Nigerians are gravitating towards for communal deliverance will soon make strange demands on these wards because their protection is not for nothing. All the family and town prayer deliverances all over the place is because some forefathers mortgaged themselves to strange spirits in order to obtain reprieve from attacks, oppressions and injustice.
Nigerians travel to Ijebu- Ode, Calabar, Kano, Asaba, Warri, Bauchi, Benin and different places searching for groups and cults like Okija, Ombatse etc in an effort to obtain justice, protection and security. As a result, more educated persons including those trained in the US are paying loyalty to suspicious spirits for protection and preservation. This does not make for a good social and spiritual development .Churches and Mosques looks silly in the face of all these, while faith in God is being substituted for faith in juju priests. The earlier the Nigerian government and religious leaders develops a system of effective policing, security, justice and conflict resolution based on equity and the rule of law, the better for the nation. Deliberate confiscation of electoral mandates through corrupt connivance of the executive, judiciary and security agents are giving rise to such fetish allegiance, especially for people whose faith in God had suffered fatality.
Any Nigerian who thwarts justice, delays justice, oppresses his neighbor and embezzles funds meant for the welfare of the citizenry have indirectly contributed in driving people with little faith in God to hold allegiance to fetish groups like Ombatse , Okija, Egbesu , Civilian JTF as alternative to justice and security and soon God’s judgments will fall on them.
*Bill Gates Writes Governor Obi of Anambra State
By Masterweb News Desk
Congratulations on leading Anambra State to achieve Best Performing State in South-East Geopolitical zone in the 2012 Nigeria governors’ Immunization Leadership Challenge. Your commitment to eradicate polio and.....READ LETTER BELOW
Nigeria: A Murderous Republic And Country At War Against Her Citizens
By International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
(Denver, Colorado, USA, 29th June 2013)-The Monday, June 24, 2013 public execution of Citizens Richard Igago, Chima Ejiofor, Daniel Nsofor and Osaremwinda Aigbuokhian on the executive orders of the Edo State Governor, South-south, Nigeria, is not only shocking but also savagely. Since June 1999, when the civil rule was restored on the polity, over 58,000 citizens have been killed outside the law in the country. The latest public execution of the four controversially processed convicts has brought the country thousands of years backward from being a member of the comity of civilized countries and human rights respecter countries. Nigeria is steadily descending dangerously into the abyss of savagery and cannibalism. The country now earns notoriety as a country not in war, but in war. She now records one of the highest global incidences of unlawful killings per month with monthly average of 200. When a political system is corrupt and weak to safeguard lives and property, incidence of safe-help method in inter-personal and group’s disputes grows astronomically dangerously-says Emeka Umeagbalasi today in Denver, Colorado, USA. A modern country that engages in public execution of its citizens whose actions are said to be in conflict with its criminal law, whether anachronistically or globally blended, is not only a direct descendant of the butchery of the old, but also instills homicidal militancy in the psyches of its civil populace to slaughter at will even in mere dissent verbal exchanges-further says Emeka Umeagbalasi.
Factually speaking, over 1,400 Nigerian citizens have been killed since January 2013; a period of six months. It has become a routine in the country to count not less than 200 unlawful deaths at every month end. From our empirical records, over 200 citizens were killed in May 2013 and in this month of June, 2013, the local and international media have reported over 200 more unlawful deaths including the communal killing of between 32 and 48 citizens on 27-6-2013 in the Langtang areas of Plateau State, North-Central Nigeria. Nigerian government’s reported excuses of using public execution of condemned law breakers to decongest the prisons or using same to reduce crimes clearly show how empty her security and justice policy makers and administrators are in matters of public governance, security, rule of law and accountability to the citizenry. They also remind us of similar infantile and barbarous reasoning canvassed by the promoters of monstrous vigilantism in the Southeast States of Anambra and Abia, which were repositories of the killer-Bakassi Boys that massacred over 5,000 citizens including the chairman of the local body of lawyers and his wife. It is an incontestable fact that 95% of Nigeria’s social problems or challenges are politically generated. The highest generators of violence in the country are her political leaders.
Comparatively speaking, over 2.3million jailed lawbreakers abound in USA; mostly jailed in connection with immigration, drug/alcohol and sex violence offences, yet they are being counseled, rehabilitated and substantially integrated into the American society so as to turn to new leaves and break laws no more. In Nigeria, less than 10% of her 53,000 prisons inmates is jailed lawbreakers, while only about 1000 of them are condemned lawbreakers. Up to 90% are awaiting trial inmates made to suffer from the failed and outdated justice administration or system. Revolutions and innovations have also characterized today’s justice administration or system globally. Court rules and other criminal and civil statutes are routinely upsized or downsized including expansion of sentencing and punishment options and management. To this effect, there are prisons labour, industry, community service, paroling, counseling & rehabilitation, suspended sentencing or jail holidays, foster homes, amnesty or pardoning, commutation, sporting, volunteerism, to mention a few; designed for today’s prisons inmates. The ultimate goal of modern prisons is rehabilitation; whereas that of the Stone Age was death for death, stealing for stealing and spiting for spiting.
Therefore, the traditional concept of sentencing by death is confined to the dustbin of the Yore. It is shocking that till date, the prisons facility management in the country is monopolized by one out of the country’s three tiers of government-federal government. While each of our senators crookedly smiles to the bank at every month end with N29.4million (over $190.000) in the form of allowances, which also includes a fraction of monthly basic salary and outrageous monthly newspaper allowance of N1.24million (about $8.000), in this era of internet; most of the country’s federal criminal and civil laws including the Nigerian Prisons, Police and Evidence Acts are begging for legislative upgrade with no hopes in sight. Most of the country’s criminal and civil laws including court rules were created in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The Police Act, for instance, has not seen major changes since its creation in April 1930. The Prisons Act was created in 1972.
Intersociety feels deeply pained over the rising incidence of unlawful deaths in Nigeria including State sanctioned murder and killings emanating from the failed justice system. There are available records showing that dozens of condemned inmates have in recent years, if not months, been granted pardon in the country under the Prerogative of Mercy constitutionally exercised by Mr. President, governors and strategic heads of the judiciary. It therefore surprises us as what interest the Edo Governor has in sanctioning the execution of the four incarcerated citizens. We have it on good authority that the fifth person who was to be executed alongside four others, but got spared, temporarily-Citizen ThankGod Ebhos, is kept for execution in a later date soonest. Three out of the remaining four condemned inmates waiting for execution are Citizens Cyracius Ogidi, Agbonware Omorogie and Apostle Igene. Five other condemned inmates who spoke to Intersociety yesterday complained bitterly of starvation and denial of food and water for four days. This is a gross violation of national, regional and international provisions on the fair treatment of prisoners.
It is recalled that on 18th day of April, 2013, our leadership issued a public statement, captioned: Amnesty for Eight Condemned Prisons Inmates in Edo Nigeria: A Call for Urgent Action; informing the world particularly the leaderships of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch based in UK and USA respectively, through their researchers on Nigeria, about the imminence of the public execution of the eight Benin prisons inmates. Four out of the eight are now dead. Sadly, the two world respected rights groups did little or nothing concerning the urgent appeal, except belated statement of condemnation. They neither acknowledged our urgent call nor responded swiftly which would have possibly saved the lives of the executed citizens. Their enormous quick intervention global advocacy arsenal motivated us to write them.
It is sad and unfortunate that Nigeria, through her political leaders, has chosen a path of seemingly intractable backwardness in the global scheme of things including human rights, economic management and security, to the extent that the first African born US President skipped the country in his African tour itinerary. The other day, it was some defaced characters wearing parliamentary gowns that shocked their fellow country men and women with unpardonably falsified report on Ezu River massacre. The barefaced falsified report has exposed the mercantilization of legislative oversight civil inquiries in Nigeria and hijacking of criminal investigation by same. For us in Intersociety, we are least surprised having ignored from the beginning the shambolic exercise because of not-good characters behind it. The nexus between the provocative legislative Ezu River report and the public execution of the four citizens is incontestably linked.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Board
Mobile Phone Nos.: +234 8033601078, +1 4143937972
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Much Ado About Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) And APCON's Position
By Chris Onyishi
I was glossing over a brother’s posts in the FACE BOOK recently and I stumbled over where he dropped a link to an article in the TheGuardian Nigeria, with the caption “Foreign Direct Investment: A Vote for APCON Reforms” which is credited to one Edwin Madueme.
An excerpt from that article read thus:
"The thing our government must do and urgently too, is to properly define who a foreign investor is. And for the avoidance of doubt, foreign investment does not include someone coming into the country to feed from values already developed and milk a market already ripe while funneling proceeds to his or her home country. A foreign investor is one (either an individual or a body corporate) with capital in terms of finance, technology or product capable of boosting the economy, generating income for the citizens and raising the standards of life in the country of destination. A foreign investment that dislocates and deprives citizens of opportunities must be seen as flying in the face of overriding national interest." ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)
Without any prejudice, whatsoever, to the article and the position of APCON on the matter of foreign investment, I have entirely a different opinion about this issue. But a nation that is really wishing for or posing to be inviting a foreign investor will first put its infrastructures in the most minimally acceptable level.We do not need to go to Harvard or London School of Economics to understand this.
You do not expect an investor who comes with his own power, water, road, housing, security, etc to dance around – snuff ("ataba") in his palm – with you. No. It doesn’t happen that way. I know of a company in Nigeria that spends well over eighteen million Naira monthly on energy alone.
But I know a lot of people would quickly want to tell me that coming in to install our power system for us is also an investment except we are only looking at advertising as the only area that is calling for foreign direct investment in our country.
If you dare tell me that, then I will reply and say to you that some basic infrastructures are not good in the hands of foreign investors. We have to get our energy system right. We should be able to have close to 100% control of our energy supplies and close to 100% stable energy supply. And the good thing about some of these things is that they are at the level of technology and not rocket science anymore. There is little we will need from outside when it comes to installation of power systems. But corruption would not let us be.
Nigeria, as a nation, must define how it wants to become a truly independent nation first. We must put our house in order first. All these noise of one misguided President or one obtuse Minister trotting around the globe in the name of fishing for investors is arrant nonsense. Foreign Direct Investment (or FDI as they call it to make it sound big) initiative of the Federal Government is another disillusioned swaggering of the government which does not and will never be situated around any known principle.
What our rulers fail to understand is that there are certain issues you do not wish out or dream about without clear and well synchronized initiative. What people do not know is that you do not look for investors. Investors are smart guys who know where the atmosphere is safe and ripe to locate their funds and get good returns while not hurting the environment.
Our rulers are still leaving in the past and do not know that with the advent a what is known as global village, no one needs to come to your land before he or she knows how you stand. And even without the help of the electronic information systems, most of these foreigners have their embassy and offices in our country who feed them back on the true position.
One needs to see how sympathetic their hosts feel as they watch our rulers ramble about obtrusive investment climate in our country where they know none exists. They would usually, as well informed diplomats, give them a pat on the shoulder and assure them that they may even rich our shores before them. They never come. And our naïve rulers would, after spending and saving their loots in those lands, come back to play videos of empty promises from these country leaders and government agencies and the investor groups.
You can delude yourself, as an administration, to say that your climate is good for investment but the statement being made clearly shows that you are just fooling about. Are we so harangued to forget, so soon, that a corporate organization known as Michelin once had an operational location in Nigeria? Is Michelin still in Nigeria? Has Michelin come back to Nigeria? Has the reason and circumstances that drove Michelin out of Nigeria changed? What are we talking about? And I just want to save space here otherwise I can go on and on to mention hundreds of corporate organizations that have left our shores doe to unacceptable business environment.
It does not seem to me that our rulers are yet serious "... by the stretch of any imagination", if you permit me to use one of my brothers’ words. A country where a governor gives out cars to celebrities as a wedding gift and some spend millions of Naira in society weddings – in the face of abject poverty – and the President is all over the country commissioning churches built with looted funds does not strike a chord to me as a country of creative and proactive "leaders" that understand what minimal infrastructure is needed before asking anybody to come to invest.
I feel ashamed when people who do everything, good and bad, to get to power eventually get there and they cannot even come up with pulverizing argument about what they set out to achieve. If you are a crook and you have a very creative way of being one, I do not even mind. What turns me crazy is when you are a big fool and you do not even understand how foolish you are. If you understand that your “leader” or ruler is a creative person, but only surrounded by very naïve adventurers, you will have solace in time. But the truth is that very creative leaders know how to choose the best team.
That Stephen Keshi assembled the team that brought glory to Nigeria in the recently concluded AFCON goes beyond the fact that the lads are good. The crux of the matter is that Mr. Keshi has the intuition to know which of the lads from the pack is good and has the experience, will and sincerity of purpose to galvanize the individual strengths of these lads and use same to bring about a feat which our corrupt rulers now align with to claim that they are doing well.
Can you imagine a whole Senate President leading a delegation of government to a football tournament just to underscore the fact that this upper house identifies the galvanizing force of soccer or sports? Nobody undermines the efficacy of sports in engendering national development but an administration that touts success in sports as its achievement is an idle one.
The President has severally told us that he is on top of everything including our security. But it is on record that Nigeria has never - in the annals of our country - lost more human beings in security related issues, except during the civil war, than in this regime through Boko Haram alone.
It may be easy to fool everybody in Nigeria that all is well, but it won’t be easy to fool investors who are smart guys that the country is safe for any good investment. The only investors who would be willing to come to Nigeria at this point in time are only those who are racketeers and whose investment would only be to throw themselves up as mannequins for corrupt politicians to cart away their loots to foreign lands.
Part of the proof of countries and nations that are ripe for foreign investment is that their rulers or leaders do not need to carry their wealth (ill or well gotten) to other lands.
If any investor is set to do real and sincere work in Nigeria today, he or she will end up employing Nigerians as slaves whose income would be below a living wage. This will aggravate corruption in the land and the politicians will keep wallowing in unmitigated absurdities.
Our rulers have to, first, convince themselves and the local citizens that our land is safe and ripe for investment and thereafter the modalities for foreign participation would be spelt out. Today genuine local investors are regularly suffering under various levels of government by way of dual and triple taxations when these same governments never care to play their own side of the bargain by providing any meaningful infrastructure for investment.
What you get as infrastructure is that some governors erect street lights that are powered by generators kept along the streets. Then you get some senators and representatives who have bought over all the lands in their states and the Federal Capital territories where they have erected hotels and radio stations and churches from looted funds. That is what they try to sell to the foreigners as an indication of fertile investment environment.
Chris Onyishi (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Owerri, Nigeria.
*The Struggle For The Soul of The Catholic Church in Ahiara Diocese
By Chris Onyishi
I had sometime put up a rejoinder to an article on this matter which I titled “The Struggle For The Soul of The Catholic Church in Ahiara Diocese”. I stumbled on another piece credited to Mr. Uche Ezechukwu which he captioned “Mbaise Versus Catholic Church” on The Sun – May 20th 2013. I initially felt like giving this piece the title of “Mr. Uche Ezechukwu Versus Mbaise People” before I considered that it would sound too parochial.
I will amend that piece to make it reactive to the issues Mr. Ezechukwu raised on The Sun of the above date which is also linked.
“The Church in its over 2000-year history has seen and weathered greater challenges and this one by the rabble-rousers from the Ahiara Diocese and a few of their supporters is only a storm in the teacup which will be also weathered by the Church.”
The above excerpt by Mr. Ezechukwu, in the said article, is not only arrogant but indicative of someone who does not even believe in what he is professing. Obtuse and arrogant statement wasn’t what Jesus Christ was known for. Mr Ezechukwu depicted himself as someone who is not very keen on the developments in the Catholic Church all along its evolution. I am not going to dwell on the changes that had taken place in the Catholic Church over the years which the Celibacy issue was a major one. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: A Christian Church service
It seems that as a columnist on Capital Matters – on The Sun (Nigeria), Mr. Ezechukwu has trespassed out of his known domain and has chosen to make up for his short comings in an unfamiliar terrain with incandescent arrogance. People who have the opportunity of doing columns on a respectable or mainstream print media must learn to be civil in their analysis of very provocative matters.
In as much as I am not an authority in Catholic Church maters, I have this instinct that the church must begin to accommodate the feelings of the immediate flock where it exists or it wishes to exist.
One of the strongest points in the agitation by Africans – that the next Pope should be an African – during the last search for the replacement of retiring John Paul was that, even though the seat of the Catholic church is in Europe, providence or circumstantial prudence demands that an African be made the Pope in view of their numbers within the body of Christ.
Mr. Ezechukwu, in my opinion, is an intelligent person. But my question to him is: Did Africa and Africans have any point in their demand based on their strength? The tradition of the Catholic Church should also be weighed against the population and feeling of the church. And I think the Catholic Church is sufficiently aware that followership is the strength of any church.
According to Mr. Ezechukwu, “Any Catholic, especially a priest who does not respect or accept, without question, the dictates of the Church, which, in any case is not a democracy, has automatically ruled him or herself out as a Catholic. Such a person should no longer have the right to use the institution or premises of the Catholic Church. That vocal and irresponsible Mbaise activists, currently embarrassing the very pious and active Catholics from the diocese, should be known and taken for what they are – rogue Catholics and the constituted authorities of the State should take note of their nuisance factor, especially at this time when the country cannot afford another social blow-out by selfish and self-serving deviants.”
The above excerpt, from Mr. Ezechukwu’s piece on The Sun, is most unexpected assertion from someone who believes in the doctrine of the Catholic Church and I think Mr. Ezechukwu got it all wrong. He is too abrasive. One would have expected Mr. Ezechukwu to be more civil and light hearted if he is really supposed to be seeing the event in Ahiara Diocese from the perspective of a good Catholic. Once in a while, in the said publication, he used some derogatory language on a people just because he wants to make a point and to protect the interest of the junior brother to his – “nwa nwa ibem” – maternal cousin. I guess he may be trying to secure the favor of the yet to be ordained bishop now that the coast seems clear that the ordination is a matter of hours.
Catholic Church may not be a democracy as Mr. Ezechukwu wishes people to understand, but any dynamic mind will realize that the Church of the late 19th century is far way back such that people will not want to use that time against the believers of the 21st century.
If a church refuses to be responsive to the wishes and aspirations of its members, it will discover that, in no time, it will either loose its membership to other more accommodating churches or face outright indignation from less committed members. There are cases why patients have walked out on arrogant physicians. True Democracy is inherent in people.
“Secondly, Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola of the blessed memory once said that it is unwise of someone to urinate into a pool from which one hoped to draw his drinking water”, according to Mr. Ezechukwu.
This is very correct just as the same Late M.K.O Abiola, may his soul rest in peace, did say that “… you can only shave the hair on the head of someone who is present in the barbers shop”.
I find certain excerpt from Mr. Ezechukwu’s piece a little uncomfortable because no matter what a church wants and claims to be, the location and people where it exists has tremendous impact on its success, whether these are members or not. And in most cases church members come from families who may be of different dominion.
We have had cases where churches try to ostracize the parents of the youths who are major contributors to church funds in the name of instilling one form of Catholic tradition or the other. Is Catholic Church unmindfull of the fact that time changes?
21st century churches must begin to accept the true tenets of using church as the vehicle of reconciliation and not an agent of infraction within the locations and amongst the people where they find themselves, and it would serve people like Mr. Uche Ezechukwu better to use their portfolio to bring about the beauty of churches to the fore by exhibiting piety in their public discuss.
Chris Onyishi (email@example.com) writes from Owerri, Nigeria.
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