Let winners take note. Nigerians are very critical, unforgiving, often merciless in judgment, easily disappointed, very impatient with their leaders. Very soon you may hear “regrets”, “Had we known”. Winners should remember how the people (the Israelites) murmured against Moses: “Why did you bring us out here to die. Why did you bring us out here, no water, no food…….It would have been better to die in Egypt as slaves….! Winners, if you do not perform from ‘Day One’, Nigerians will murmur. If you procrastinate, they will grumble!……..
Coming to the concretes, the writer addressed the president:
President, Goodluck Jonathan can never fail Nigerians in the area of power and electricity. Petroleum products must remain cheap and flowing everywhere. President Jonathan, whatever other programs he may have, must not close his ears to the people’s protests against the activities of law makers. Their salaries are said to be too high and scandalous and must be slashed to the minimum! The Bible says it all, “By their fruits you shall know them”. Nigerians are tired of “business as usual”. They want change. They voted for change. They don’t want old faces, crooks and 419’ers in new administrations. Any administration that does not begin with anti-corruption campaign is already a failure. The ‘people’s army’, ‘unhired and unpaid agents’ of their loved ‘Moses’ and ‘Messiah’ and candidates at the polls are watching the winners, and big brothers very closely. They cannot be disappointed!
LAWMAKERS EARN N338.6 BILLION!
It is unlikely that our voice was heard or that the outcry ever captured the attention of the president and the lawmakers, hence the cry is loudest now that many more Nigerians, the great majority, still find themselves in the camp of the marginalized, and operating much more on an intolerable poverty line.
Most Nigerian newspapers have also thrown light to Nigeria’s utmost predicament, injustice and callousness on the part of our leaders: It is not hard to draw conclusions that it ‘s on account of the type of jumbo pay package that Nigerian lawmakers receive in the business of lawmaking in our country that politicians are always ready to go to any length, even to kill to grab a seat in the National Assembly. “Jumbo Pay: Lawmakers earn N338.6 billion” was a Newspaper (Daily Sun) headline, Friday, June 3, 2011.
According to a breakdown, 469 lawmakers will earn N338.6 billion in the next four years, investigations revealed, and that was an authoritative report. It will cost the country that whopping sum in taxpayers’ money to keep the 469 members of the seventh National Assembly in office for the next four years.
The amount which covers salaries and sundry allowances (accommodation, vehicle, furniture, house maintenance, domestic staff, entertainments, utilities, constituency, leave allowances, newspapers, periodicals and so on) to be earned by the lawmakers does not, however, factor in the deferential pays and other gratuities that go to the principal officers of the two chambers of the federal legislature. It does not also include expenses incurred on duty tours. It is also silent on the unverifiable lump sums that come from ‘oversight functions’ and ‘lobbying’.
Whatever these calculations might come up to, one thing is clear to the ordinary Nigerians. The amount is too large to imagine. The bottom line is that apart from other additional ‘remunerations’ an average Nigerian lawmaker takes home at least a monthly pay package of sixteen million naira (N16,000,000). If true, that is odd news for more than 50 million jobless youth in Nigeria.
I would not blame the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who has asked the Federal Government to downsize the labor force if it must achieve anything meaningful as far as economic resuscitation is concerned in the country. The downsizing of the labor force will however be meaningless if it is only the civil service, we know that will be affected. Malam Sanusi might be right when he tried to make his case against the civil service. To Sanusi, it is illogical for a country to have its economy developed when it spends 70 per cent of its revenue in servicing salaries and gratuities of workers. He maintained:
“At the moment, 70 per cent of Federal Government’s revenue goes for payment of salaries and entitlements of civil servants, leaving 30 per cent for development of 167 million Nigerians. That means that for every naira government earns, 70 kobo is consumed by civil servants,” Sanusi contended. The solution, according to Sanusi is that: “You have to fire half of the civil service because the revenue government has is supposed to be for 167 million Nigerians. Any society where government spends 70 per cent of its revenue on its civil service has a problem. It is unsustainable,” he argued.
Many will surely get angry and differ from Sanusi’s call for mass retrenchment, arguing that the country is already battling with the menace of unemployment. Such measure may increase poverty, armed robbery and state of insecurity. There may be need to consider other areas from which the government’s spending cost could be downsized. Malam Sanusi hit the nail at the right spot, when he wondered with millions of other Nigerians the sense in the jumbo pay for Nigerian lawmakers The CBN governor has here rightly taken the political system of the country to the cleaners. He wondered what manner of country would elect over 100 senators and about 400 House of Representatives members in the name of lawmaking. He said a cursory mathematical summation of the expenses of the executive arm of government, the lawmakers and the civil servants would reveal the fact that these three arms of government are the ones taking the lion’s share of the nation’s revenue.
It is not only Sanusi who has bemoaned this tragedy. The British man, Richard Darden, an expert in African affairs could not comprehend the situation. He pointed out while addressing Nigerian politicians during the 51st independent anniversary celebrations in Abuja that the staggering margin of income disparity between the highest paid Nigerian politicians and the have-nots, languishing in man-created misery throughout Nigeria is no doubt alarming. It can cause the staunchest of hearts to break, he asserted. He continued:
It is even more unacceptable that in a country with the above statistics, that the politicians are the highest paid in the world. $1 million dollars for a parliamentary position as salary, with another $1 million in expenses is obscene.
(8) THE AFTERMATH OF INSATIABLE LUST FOR WEALTH IN NIGERIA
(a) ‘We slaughtered hunchback to live big’
This newspaper headline: “Suspected ritualists confession: ‘We slaughtered hunchback to live big’” may help drum the ugly lesson hard into the heads of Nigerian leaders, the young and old in Nigeria. The future looks really bleak if the number of billionaire clubs in Nigeria is allowed to proliferate.
“We also want to live big after seeing other young boys that are not even our age group living in affluence, riding good and exotic cars, living in good houses and enjoying the good things of life”. These were the words of Samuel Olatunji, paraded by the police authorities in Akure, the Ondo State capital, for the ritual killing of a 25-year old, Adeoye Dovo, a hunchback. Adeoye was an SSS3 student in a private school and lived with his parents at Bashorun Quarters at Ago-Alaye area in Odigbo local government area of the state.
The suspects, three of them – wanted to get rich by all means; they were ready to kill to achieve this purpose. So they approached a herbalist, Oluwatosin Elebile for money ritual. The death of the Adeoye led to violent reaction from youths in the community who set ablaze vehicles and houses of the suspected ritualists. Parading the suspects – Olatunji and the herbalist Ondo State police commissioner, Sani Mogaji, said Olatunji had confessed to the ritual killing. The two other suspects, Dayo and Holo, are on the run. Such stories are reported daily in Nigerian newspapers.
The Data of Forgiveness
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.
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.
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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