Teddy Ezirike – Prior to 1st. January, 1900, there was no country known as Nigeria. It was after the Berlin Conference of 1885 which partitioned the continent of Africa amongst the most powerful European nations, that Britain started to take active interest in colonizing the areas now known as Nigeria, hence the Amalgamation of 1st. January 1914 by Sir. Federick Lord Lugard, with the name “Nigeria” coined by flora Shaw (who later became Lugard’s wife.) This is to say that between 1900 and 1914, the British Colonial Administrators came and declared “protectorates” over a large scattered communities that were occupying those areas. And they were all brought together for ease of administration under one name – Nigeria.
Today after a century, Nigeria is a federal republic that operates three layers of government, namely: the federal government with headquarters at Abuja; the state governments of 36 states and the local governments of about 774 units. As a nation, Nigeria came into being on 1st. January1914, following the so-called Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates and the Colony of Lagos. Subsequently and consequently, Nigeria was declared a formal British colony when the territory’s administration was taken over from the Royal Niger Company of George Tubman Goldie on 1st. January, 1900.
Therefore, that controversial gathering of world’s leading European powers during the 1885 Berlin Conference if we have not forgotten precipitated what we now call “Scramble for Africa” which created new boundaries that did violence to Africa’s ancient societies and resulted in tension prone states. By this, the West African countries were lured to the exploitative hands of Britain. It took place without African consents, consultation and representation. Much the same way, if the said Berlin conference sealed African’s fate, then the amalgamation of 1914 inextricably complicated Nigeria’s destiny. Animists, Muslims, Christians, violent, peaceful, un-conscientious and conscientious people alike were held together by a delicate, dangerous, artificial and flimsy lattice called amalgamation, which became a pointer, bane and prelude to Nigeria’s choas. For a hundred years now Nigeria has been suffering as a result of an unreasonable and unguarded experiment.
We would not expect a soothsayer to tell us that there has been a looming wave of an impending civil war hovering over Nigeria all these while. The restiveness in different segments of our national life has never been so volatile since the amalgamation saga, mostly since after the Nigeria Biafra civil war, even those in government are openly warning against the likelihood of a civil strife in the country if things continue the way they are. Prime on the list of the causes of this impeding doom is the internal insecurity and insurgency orchestrated by the nefarious and inhuman Islamic sect – the Boko Haram. The murderous activities of this sect have practically brought Nigeria to the brink and verge of war. Not only the Boko Haram quagmire, Nigeria has experienced a lot of political instabilities since independence. The Kano riots of 1953; Census riots of 1962/63; Action Group crises of 1960; Federal election crises of 1964; Western Nigerian election crises of 1965; General elections crises of 1979 and 1983; Kaduna State Executive/Legislative crises of 1981; Civil war of 1967; Abiola crises of 1993; Sharia crises of 2000; Jos riot of 2001; the endless Boko Haram bombings and killings, etc. All these civil disturbances in one way or the other have northern/Islamic affinity.
Some resource persons posed that it is as a result of the disadvantaged position in education, human and infrastructural development that the core North would not let go political power. The fliar northern Nigeria have anchored on power revolves round this deficiency. Perhaps, that is the major reason why the core north can do anything to capture power and go on to hold, retain and consolidate it. Records, revelations and research show that northern political office seekers do not fight head on with their opponents, rather use human-shield and subversive elements to do such. The north camouflage a love for democracy. If such means something for them, why was 1993 June General elections won by MKO Abiola of SDP annulled? Had the election been won by TOFA of NRC- a Northerner, would it have been annulled? The problem with the north is the “born to rule mentality” which is the brain-child of the amalgamation posited to them by the British. And that is why they cause havocs and confusion when they are not in power. But north easily forget that since the political independence of Nigeria (whether on civilian or military regime,) it was only an Igbo-man (Aguiyi Ironsi) that has became a head of state-that of Azikiwe was ceremonial – still the north are not satisfied.
Worried by the spate of insecurity in the country, especially the upsurge in bombings and killings of Ndi Igbo in the north, governors of the southeast geo-political zone in one of their meetings in Enugu on Sunday 22nd January, 2012 resolved to convene a meeting of Igbo leaders to take a position on the civil disaster in the north. From all indications, it is glaring that nobody is comfortable with the break of security situation of the country with the Islamic Mafia maiming and killing people at will, especially the Igbos. Facts show that all attacks are targeted at the Igbos and their property, but how many northerners have lost their lives or property here in the East. We even protect them. The eastern governors, let the action not end in your meetings. Together with the Ohaneze and Igbolites let us take concerted steps in a bid to ameliorate the situation. We know that if one wishes peace, he has to prepare for war. Let the action starts now, because when things have fallen apart, the centre cannot hold. We cannot be strangers in our land.
How can we continue to live with a kind of people who are totally different from us under the guise of “One Nigeria” which Zik selfishly lured us into. If the idea of Mbonu Ojike was heeded by the Nationalists in their uncontrollable quest for independence, I do not think we would have experienced what we are experiencing today in Nigeria. It was gathered that Nigeria was supposed to have had her independence in 1957 alongside Ghana, but for Mbonu’s view that “the geography and boundary of Nigeria should first of all be well ascertained,” our independence was deferred to 1970 still Mbonu’s view was ignored. And today we are suffering because of the inability of the nationalists to define Nigeria’s boundary well. Mostly, ZIK saw Mbonu’s point as unpatriotic because he (ZIK) was much interested in ruling a “united” and big Nigeria without knowing that he was dining with his enemies. As nature would have it, ZIK learnt his lesson during the second republic, otherwise how would Shagari from nowhere defeated ZIK of Africa in an election. It is because Shagari is from the north.
How can Lugard brought us together with people who are totally different from us just because the system of amalgamation worked for him in Congo and Uganda where he was Governor-General before coming to Nigeria. Are these countries as big and multi-lingual as Nigeria? How many ethnic groups and tribes are there in these countries? Do these countries behave the way northerners do? Let every Igbo man rise to the challenges of actualizing the Biafran Nation. No matter what you seem to be benefitting in Nigeria today, if you are from the East, the truth is that you cannot enjoy it when your people are being roasted, unless you are not human. If you are the type that prefers your comfort to the plight of your people, then you are an anti-Igbo emancipation, and the spirits of our forefathers and the innocent victims will always haunt you.
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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