A Presentation At The Nec Meeting Of The Catholic Laity Council Of Nigeria (CLCN), Held In Kafanchan; 6-7th. March 2015, at the Cathedral of St. Peter Claver Kafanchan
The 1999 Federal Constitution (as Amended) Is Quite Explicit In Its Stand For Liberal Democracy As Against Dual Ideology When She States: The Federal Republic Of Nigeria Shall Be A State Based On The Principles Of Democracy And Social Justice,…the Security And Welfare Of The People Shall Be The Primary Purpose Of Government…. (cf Sec14:1). At The Heart Of The Many Social Upheavals We Are Having In This Nation Is The Clash Of These Two Ideologies: Liberal Democracy And Dual Ideology. In A Diverse And Plural Society Such As Ours, What Is Required For Peaceful And Harmonious Coexistence, Is Not An Agitation For The Introduction Of The Full Blown Laws Of Any One Religion (be It Canon Law Or Sharia Law) In The Constitution Of Nigeria (as It Was Surreptitiously Done Under Past Military Dictatorships), But A Legal System That Is Made Up Of The “reducible Minimums” Of All Existing Religions And Cultural Orientations, Into What Is Called A “common Or Civil Law”, That Is Applicable (equally) To All Citizens, Irrespective Of Religion And Ethnicity. We Should Begin The Second Centenary Of Our Nation By Establishing Such Sound Foundations Grounded On The Principles Of Natural Justice That Have The Advantage Of Enhancing National Unity, Promoting National Ethic And Engendering National Integration. Therefore, Those Seeking Elective Offices Today, Whose Past Actions, Utterances And Body Language, Have Shown Them To Possess Instincts Of Extremism, Fundamentalism And Religious Bigotry, Should Not Be Trusted With Exalted Offices In Our National Life, For Fear Of Them Tinkering With These Fundamental Principles Of Our Quest For Nationhood. While The Main Issues Of This Election May Include Good And Virtuous Acts Such As: Enthronement Of Enduring Peace & Security, Fighting Corruption, Providing Employment Opportunities For Our Teeming Jobless Youths And Other Welfare Packages – What Truly Speaking Is At Stake, Far Transcends All Of These. It Is About The Future Of The Church, And How The Present Generation Of Christians Can Leave Behind A Country Where Generations Yet Un-born Will Take Their Rightful Places As Equal Citizens Of Nigeria, With The Right To Live And Practice Their Religion In Any Part Of Nigeria, Without Being Discriminated Against. This Fundamental Human Right Is Under Serious Threat Today In Our Country, As Many Nigerians, Especially In The Northern Axis Of The Nation Suffer Different Forms Of Discrimination Leading To Mass Displacement Of Persons, Systematic Killings With A View To Total Annihilation Of Entire Communities On The Basis Of Ethnicity And Religion. This Brings To The Surface Again The Basis Of Our Existence As A Corporate Entity Call Nigeria. When The Church Is Under Threat As We Are Witnessing Today Through Violent Terrorism Flowing From Radical Islam, We Should Therefore Play Politics In A Way That Will End Intolerance And Other Forms Of Exclusivist And Closed Mentalities. The Fundamental Issue Is Whether We Are Committed To Growing/building One Nigeria For All Nigerians, A Truly Democratic State Grounded On The Principles Of Liberal Democracy. We Want A Nigeria Where Christians And Muslims May Freely Choose To Live In Any Of Its Parts And Practice Their Faiths/religions In Peace And Security, Without Any Molestation Or Discrimination. A Nigeria That Is Just, Where Corruption Enjoys Zero Tolerance In Both Our Individual, Communal And Institutional Life. We Yearn For A Country Where Our Diversity Is Not Viewed As A Curse, But Is Intelligibly Mobilized For National Prosperity. Put In Another Way, Are We Truly And Really Committed To The One Nigeria Project, Symbolized By The 1914 Almagamation Of The Northern And Southern Protectorates, Where Our Collective Existence As One People Irrespective Of Religion Or Ethnicity Is Guaranteed? The Quintessence Of “goods” That This Election Represents Is The Enthronement Of Religious Liberty For All. Religious Liberty Is The Mother Of All Liberties As Many Popes And Official Church Documents Have Been Quick In Pointing Out To Us. So, While Security And Zero Corruption Are Values To Be Cherished And Pursued, Freedom To Live In Any Part Of Nigeria And Practice Your Religion Without Molestation Is For Us More Important And Should Take Primacy Over All Others. Closely Related To This Is The Respect For Fundamental Human Rights Including That Of The Inviolability And Sanctity Of Human Life Which Is In Serious Deficit Today In Our Country. We Are Alarmed With The Violent Terrorism Which Is An Offshoot Of Radical Islam That Is Prevalent All Over The World And Is Symbolized In Our Country By The Boko Haram Islamic Sect. What Promotes This Kind Of Intolerance That Eventually Leads To The Persecution And Systematic Extermination Of Others Is The Philosophy Of Dual Ideology. Those Who Obstruct These Fundamental Human Rights In Favour Of Their Narrow World Views, Are Advocates And Sympathizers Of This Reductionist Form Of Philosophy (dual Or Multiple National Ideology), Which Must Be Discountenanced In A Plural And Heterogeneous Society Such As Ours. Any Insistence On This Is A Recipe For Conflict, Chaos And Consequently, Anarchy. It Is For These Reasons That The Church Cannot Take The Position Of Neutrality Or To Simply Tell Its Populance: Vote Your Conscience. Unfortunately, One Of The Presidential Candidates For This Year’s Elections (by His Utterances And Body Language) Epitomizes This Philosophy As Was Demonstrated Recently When He Reiterated His Position On The Sharia In A Speech That He Delivered At A Seminar Organized By The Supreme Council Of Sharia In Nigeria In August 2001 When He Said: I Will Continue To Show Openly And Inside Me The Total Commitment To Sharia Movement That Is Sweeping All Over Nigeria … God Willing, We Will Not Stop The Agitation For The Total Implementation Of The Sharia In The Country…” (the News, 19 January 2015). It Is Our Considered Opinion That Candidates With Extreme Views Like This Should Not Enjoy The Support Of Liberal Democrats Or Of Those Interested In True Federalism And True National Integration. Such Candidates Should Be Rejected Not Because They Are Muslim Per Se, But Because They Hold Tenaciously To Views That Will Not Augur Well For A Diverse And Complex Society Such As Ours. The Likes Of Sule Lamido And Namadi Sambo (who Are Ardent Muslims), Will Not Generate The Kind Of Feelings And Utter Disgust That Some Of Us Have Towards Some Current Candidates With Presidential Ambition.
It Is Also Common Knowledge That (these) Candidates With Extremist Tendencies Had In The Past Exhorted Muslims To Vote For Only Muslim Candidates. We Do Not Encourage Anybody To Vote Along Religious Lines. Our Vote Should Be Along The Lines Of The Core Values That Hold Or Will Hold A Diverse And Plural Society Such As Ours Together. Mallam Nasir El-rufai Rightly Observed Some Years Back That Candidates With Extremist Tendencies Remain “perpetually Unelectable” As A Result Of Their “insensitivity To Nigeria’s Diversity And Their Parochial Focus.” (see Vanguard, 18 January, 2015).
We Have For Instance, In Our Diocesan List-serve, (the Telegram) Published A Write Up By Silk O.austin, Titled, 20 Reason Why People With Extremist Inclination Should Not Be Given The Mandate To Govern Our Nation. This Write Up Can Still Be Found On Page 60 Of November 2014 Edition Of The Power Steering Magazine. The Purpose Of Referring Us To A Write Up Of This Nature, Is To Help Us Come To The Point Of Being Able To Make Well Informed Judgments And So Freely Take Decisions, Without Being Forced Or Coerce To Doing So By Anyone. All These Put Together, We Have Every Reason To Be Worried, And So Draw Attention To The Issues That Guide Our Voting Pattern At This Election. It Is My Considered Opinion That A Person With Extremist Tendencies Should Not Enjoy The Support Of Those Who Have Preference For Liberal Democracy As The Surest Guarantee For Religious And Ethnic Harmony In A Plural And Diverse Society Such As Ours. To Feel Otherwise Will Be The Height Of Political Irresponsibility And Puerility.
The “mumu Syndrome” By Chinweizu
In A Write Up On Daily Sun, Wednesday, January 21, 2015, Titled: Caliphate, 2015 Elections And Our Mumu, One Chinweizu Said: Many Who Do Not Truly Understand The Issues At Stake Regarding This Election, Regard The Jonathan-buhari Contest As Just Another Contest Between Two Nigerian Democrats. Not Recognizing That Buhari Is The Candidate And Agent Of The Anti-democracy Caliphate And Agent Of Anti-democracy Colonialists… Buhari (he Continued), Is Hypocritically Posing As A Democrat, Who Will Sweep The Political Stables Clean Of Corruption Etc. From His History We Know He Won’t. Enemies Of Democracy Have Been Known To Get Into Office Through Democratic Election Only To Turn And Destroy The Democracy By Which The Won Power… Recall His Transgressions When He Was Military Head Of State And Learn Your Lesson. Can The Leopard Change His Spots Or The Cat Stop Mounsing?….
Let Me Reiterate Here Again, That We Have No Problem With A Muslim Seeking To Be President Of Nigeria, No, Not At All. Our Fears And Trepidations Are With People Who Possess Some “defective World View”, That Is Narrow And Exclusive In Nature, Seeking Elective Position In Plurally Complex Societies Like Ours. We Have In The Past Lived Under The Rule Of Moderate Muslim Leaders Both Within And Outside The State. Our Leaders At All Levels Of Governance Can Be Devout Adherents Of Their Religion Of Preference, But They Must Have Sound Disposition To Respect Our Diversity, To Respect Our Common Humanity As The Basis For Relationship In A Complex And Pretty Heterogeneous Society Like Ours. Those With Extremist Ideologies Do Not. On The Contrary, They See Others Outside Their Religious And Ethnic Folds As Second Class Citizens. They Will First Want To Conquer, Subdue And Reduce Them To The “dhimmi” Status And Then Place Them Under Their Mercy Or What They Call “under Their Protection”. (google Dhimmi To See More). This Is What Advocates Of The Caliphate Society Want To Reduce Us To. It Does Not Matter Whether It Is A Shekau (leader Of The Boko Haram Terrorist Sect), Who Wants To Bring This About Through The Slashing Of Throats Of Innocent And Vulnerable People, Or A Religious Bigot In An Exalted Political Office, Who Wants To Bring This About Through The Ballot Box. There Are Certain Values Which Are Non-negotiable In A Plural Society Such As Ours And It Seems Advocates Of The Caliphate Do Not Respect This. A Dual –ideology-driven Nigeria Cannot Be The Nigeria Of Our Dream. We Want A Nigeria, Where Citizens Are Treated Equally Before The Law At All Levels Of Our Existence.
Incongruency Between “non Partisanship And Neutrality”
The Decision Of Twelve States In Northern Nigeria To Adopt Full Blown Sharia In The Year 2000 Contradicts The Multi-religious Liberal Democratic Character Of Our Nation As Is Enshrined In Our Constitution. Therefore, Following The Counsels Of The Sages, We Should First Secure The Land Before Laying The Mat To Sleep. The Victory Of A Party That Respects Liberal Democracy Will Give Advocates Of This Ideology Added Time To Continue The Liberation Struggle To Consolidate Liberal Democracy Both In Our Books, Our Psychic And In Our Socio-political Life. We Should Therefore Vote Wisely In This Crucial Election. We Should Also Educate And Sensitize Our People On The Political Direction To Follow. This Political Direction Is Contained In The 17page Document Produced By The Christian Social And Christian Elders Forum Under Can And Also The Recent Communiqué By The Middle Belt Dialogue Forum. I Posted These Documents In Our Diocesan Priests Telegram Website. These, In Addition To A “directional Statement” Such As This One, Should Give Us Clues On How To Vote. We Have Listened Enough To The Campaigners From Both Sides Of The Aisles. Now Is The Time To Exercise Our Franchise In Voting. Non-partisanship, As I Have Had Course To State Firmly At Different Fora, And Severally So, Is Not Synonymous With Political Neutrality Or Being Position-less In Political Matters. In Advanced Democracies Such As Usa And Europe, The Church, After Studying The Manifestoes Of Contending Political Parties And Having Followed Their Campaigns On The Issues Being Canvassed For By Politicians, Have Often Move Out From The Comfort Zone Of Neutrality To One Of Taking A Position. It Is Not Right That After Reading The Manifestoes Of Parties And Following Their Campaigns In An Election That Has So Much At Stake, Such As The Current One, Because Of The Kind Of Issues Being Canvassed, For The Church To Come Out And Say We Have No Position. Every One To His Tent O Israel, Vote Your Conscience. This To Say The Least Is Not The Best Option For Her And The Nation. I Have Many Examples To Buttress This Point Even As It Affects Politics In The Usa And In Italy And Many Parts Of Europe. The Churches In These Advanced Democracies, May Speak In The Open Forum Of “vote Your Conscience, But At The Internal Forum, They Take Time To Educate The Consciences Of Their Members On How To Vote. At Critical Moments Such As The One We Are In Presently, The Threshold Of An Election, To Say We Have No Position As The “body Of Christ” Will Amount To Some Serious Disservice Not Only To Their Flock But Also To The Larger Society. And If They Are Prelates, Then They Are Guilty Of Jesus’ Indictment Of Shepherds In Mark 6:34… Jesus Had Compassion On The Crowd For They Were Like Sheep Without A Shepherd. We Cannot At This Critical Moment Be A Church That Is Neither “cold Nor Hot” (rev. 3:15). Neutrality At This Time Is Tantamount To Pitching Our Camp With Evil. As It Is Said, The Only Thing Necessary For Evil To Triumph Is For Good People To Say Nothing. In Other Words, It Is For Them (good People) To Remain Neutral And Indecisive, Allowing Themselves And Their Flock To Be Hobnobbing Now On The Right Leg And After On The Left Leg. When We Want To Talk Of Serious Sins In The World Today, We Are Tempted To Talk Only About: Fornication And Adultery; Murder And Stealing; Deceit And Corruption. But There Is One That Is Worst Than All These: It Is Obedience And Acquiscence To Evil. It Is Submission Either Tacitly Or Openly To The Biddings Of The Forces And Perpetrators Of Evil. As St. Felix Iii Said; Not To Oppose Error Or Evil Is To Approve It. And To Defend The Truth Is To Suppress Evil And Error.
It Is Important To Note That, No Party Is A Holy Or Saintly Party. All Of Them Have Large Dosage Of Deceit, And Propensity To Avarice. They All Stink. Just Get Closer To Any And You Can’t Stand The Stent Of Corruption In Each Of Them. But We Still Have To Judge From Among Them, Which Can Provide Us The Liberty And Freedom To Practice Our Religion Unhindered. I Am Not Saying Taking A Position At An Electioneering Period Like This Will Necessarily Make Us Carry The Day At Elections. No. The Republicans In The Usa Have Lost Severally To The Democrats, Even When The Church Will Come Out And Say, Catholics Should Vote For The Party That Is Pro Life And Pro Family. Here We Are Saying We Should Vote For A Party That Stands For These Two, But More Importantly For Religious Liberty. I Am Not Oblivious Of The Fact That We Have In Our Midst, Some Who Hold A Different Opinion To The One Being Presented/canvassed For Here. Let Me Say Here That, We Respect The Views Of Those In Our Midst Who Hold An Alternative Position. However, We Have A Duty To Forewarned And Educate On How To Responsibly Exercise Our Franchise In Voting. It Is Better To Take A Position Based On Facts Regarding This Election Than To Take None At All. If At The End Of The Day We Lose, It Will Still Be On Record That We Played Our Role As Sentinels Of The People. I Therefore Wish To Call On All Of Us To Ally Ourselves On The Mainstream Position, As Articulated By Can And Mbd. Please Note That The Election Result Can Go Either Way. But It Should Be On Record After The Election That We Had A Position Based On Certain Principles That Are Sacrosanct, And Not On Expediency. It Should Be On Record That We Voted On The Side Of Liberal Democracy And Not On The Side Of Promoters Of Dual Or Multiple Ideologies. For The Elections At The National Level, I Recommend We Ally Ourselves With The Position Of Can And Mbd. At The State Level, This May Be Different. As A Church, We May Not Need To Adopt Any Party As Our Party, However, We Want Our Members To Vote Generally In Line With These Very Important Issues That Concern Christians In Nigeria.
- Vote For Liberal Democracy That Guarantees Level Playing Ground For Adherents Of Every Religion And Not Dual Ideology Sympathizers, Who Give Preferential Treatment To One Religion Over And Above Others
- Vote For A National Ethic That Promotes National Unity And National Integration With The Common Law Made Up Of The “reducible Minimums” Of All Religions And Culture Inspired By The “golden Rule”
- Vote For The Survival Of Christianity And Any Other Religion That Exist In Nigeria
- Vote Against An Insidious Agenda Of The Shariazation And Islamisation Of Nigeria As Hatched By Saudi Arabia, Oic And D8 Nations In Collaboration With Willing Cronies In Nigeria
- Vote For The Survival Of Christian Values Which Accommodates The Interest Of All Irrespective Of Religious And Ethnic Affiliations By Its Irrevocable Commitment To Principles Of Fairness, Justice, Respect For The Dignity And Inviolability Of Human Life, Respect For The Family As Cradle For Civilization.
- Vote For The Survival Of The Christian Heritage And The Heritage Of Other Religions
- Vote For The Survival Of Freedom Of Thought, Conscience And Religion
- Vote Against The Enthronement Of A Theocratic State As Is Advocated By Fundamentalist And People With Religiously Extremist Instincts In Their Un-repentant Commitment To The Shariazation Of Nigeria.
- Vote For A Free Society That Will Guarantee Liberty For Citizens, Freedom Of Expression, Freedom Of Religious Conviction And Not A Restrictive Society In Which Freedom Of Choice Will Be Confined To The Annals Of History
- Vote For The Establishment Of Ranches And Their Operation In The States Of Origin Of Normadic Cattle Rearers As A Way To Ending Fatal Clashes Between Farmers And Cattle Rearers.
Allah Ya Tabatar Mana Da Wannan Bukata
Most Rev. Joseph D. Bagobiri is the Bishop of Kafanchan
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
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