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A PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE

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BEING THE SUBMISSION OF CHIEF FELIX AMADI (WHEKUBI) TO THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL DIALOGUE SITTING IN UMUAHIA ON 30TH OCTOBER, 2013.

Protocol:

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan spoke the minds of not a few when he called for a national dialogue in his Independence Day Speech of 1st October 2013. He also expeditiously set up a dialogue committee to craft a road map appropriate for the proposed dialogue. Until the announcements, many mistook the president to be a non-risk seeking establishment man, who thrives more in avoidance than action. I join well meaning Nigerians focused on national peace and progress to commend President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the dialogue committee for the initiative and efforts so far.

Nigerians who oppose the idea of dialogue have exposed their lack of touch with the feelings of the people. Perhaps they are benefiting from the deficiencies of the Nigerian nation state at the expense of our common destiny. By rejecting dialogue, they have approved violence among the various ethnic nationalities most of which are protesting many years of domination, deprivation, marginalization and exploitation. They have also given a pass mark to the proximate consequences of a defective polity encapsulating ineptitude, corruption, poverty, insecurity, nepotism and the near collapse of core national institutions of health, education and industry. Whoever says NO to this dialogue therefore, must suggest a viable means of correcting the debilitating structural deficiencies inherent in the 1914 amalgamation that has held our peace and progress hostage in the last 99 years.

The problem with Nigeria is not its size as erroneously observed by Lord Fredrick Lugard (the very man that created Nigeria) in his book titled “The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa” (page 100) but the imprisonment of its component ethnic nationalities (Hausa, Fulani, Ijaw, Yoruba, Ishan, Ibo, etc.) by his imperial fiat in 1914. Because ethnic nationalities have grumbled in Lugard’s prison for too long, our journey to nationhood has been an uphill task. Attempts to silence or muffle the voices of dissent such as the Biafran war, the death of Ken Saro Wiwa and Ogoni activists, the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election, the punitive military expeditions at Odi and Zaki Biam, Joint Task Force (JTF) Operations in the North East and Niger Delta territories etc. have clearly not served as deterrent to agitations against ethnic imprisonment in Nigeria and consequential injustices. In the same way, such palliatives as state creation, quota system, federal character, OMPADEC, NDDC, Niger Delta Ministry, Revenue Formula, Amnesty Programme, etc. have failed to lead the nation on the path of peace and progress. For the same prison effect, our elections have not produced democracy in its true sense neither has our governance ensured the rights in citizenship. Surely this situation will live with us and in us until ethnic nationalities are honourably freed from Lugard’s prison so that they can march happily in unity to a new Nigeria. If we refuse to dialogue (as some people seem to suggest) we may experience a jail break which is an ill wind for Nigeria and Nigerians. In this dialogue, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has kept a date with destiny; the destiny of Nigerians born and those yet unborn.

Nigerians have had a plethora of dialogues in their bid to confront the realities of 1914 and the consequent national question. Much as we admit that we are yet to achieve the ultimate objective, our country would perhaps long have gone to perdition without those dialogues. We must therefore talk further in pursuit of the ultimate objective, that is TO KEEP NIGERIANS FROM DIFFERENT ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS BACKGROUNDS LIVING IN PEACE AND PURSUING THEIR NORMAL BUSINESSES, THE PROGRESS OF ONE ANOTHER AND THE NATION WITHOUT HINDRANCE.

To achieve the above objective, we need the patriotic spirit of all Nigerians, especially our Leaders (Political, traditional and religious) irrespective of social and political leaning. Let our leaders of today take a cue from the patriotic efforts of some past Nigeria leaders who on the 4th and 5th January 1967 in Aburi Accra Ghana reached a landmark consensus on how to save Nigeria from disintegration despite the challenges of the events of 1966. They agreed to the abolition of all unitary enactments and to a greater devolution of powers in the existing regions at that time. This was all that Nigeria needed to overcome its problems then and thereafter. Unfortunately the emotions of a nation buffeted by two coups (January and July) ensured that the Aburi agreements were not implemented.

Pursuant to its objectives, the presidential dialogue committee has embarked on national consultation so as to generate a viable agenda for the proposed national dialogue.

There are basic issues that the committee must resolve in accordance with the wishes of the peoples of Nigeria that are enumerated as follows:

 

a. Objective

The first of such issues is to define the basic objective for the dialogue. Nigerians want a new constitution that they will really call their own particularly after 99 years of struggle with the challenges that emanated from the 1914 amalgamation by the colonial authority. This constitution is expected to address such nagging issues as: the structure of the federation, fiscal federalism and a proper devolution of powers among the agreed federating units.

 

b. Basis of Engagement

The basis of engagement suggested here are the six geopolitical zones on the platform of equality and not the states or local governments. This choice is because the heads of states and local governments may bring undue political influence in the choice of representatives for the dialogue. Moreover, geographical affinity is key to socio-cultural bonding in every ethnic nationality or group of related nationalities.

 

c. Delegates

The delegate composition should not be more than 100 people from each geopolitical zone and 10 people from the federal capital territory Abuja. Their method of selection or election should be left with each geopolitical zone to decide. A delegate population of 100 people from a geopolitical zone is high enough to ensure fair representation from all key sections. Every zone is expected to back its delegate up with a team of legal experts for necessary advise.

 

A national delegate population of more than 610 participants may be rather unwieldy. To ensure age and gender equity, 55% of the delegates should be men, 30% women, 10% youth (men and women of more than 25 years of age but less than 35 years of age) and 5% for the special group (physically challenged)

 

d. Time Frame

The time frame for the dialogue should not exceed 10 calendar months starting from February 2014 and calibrated as follows: (a) Town hall meetings and zonal conferences in the geopolitical zones should hold between February and June 2014. This is to avoid few self appointed leaders arrogating to themselves the rights of the peoples of the zone. (b) The national dialogue proper should hold in Abuja between July and November 2014.

 

e. Dialogue Report

The report of the dialogue should be subjected to a referendum after the presidential election and swearing-in in 2015. It is important that the 2015 election does not destroy or hamper the process of the making of the first peoples constitution in Nigeria. The appropriate time should be July to November 2015.

 

f. The People’s Constitution

The President is expected to inaugurate a Constitution Drafting Committee that will put together a new constitution on the basis of the referendum. Members should be seasoned constitutional lawyers and technocrats whose duty will be legal arrangement only. Thereafter, the National Assembly which will receive a draft directly from the CDC passes a motion adopting the wishes of the people they represent. The President is finally expected to sign the draft constitution into law for the good governance of the peoples of Nigeria.

 

___________________________

CHIEF F. O. AMADI  (Whekubi)
08037254575
felixoamadi@yahoo.com
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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