There is a cloned hydra-headed monster on a tiny-lined white thread seen with the third-eye only making up the 37th State of Nigeria. It is CORRUPTION. On May 27, 2012, the Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Owerri Diocese, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna celebrated a thanksgiving Mass for the State Government to mark its one year in office at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri. In his homily, the Archbishop called for an alternative Nigeria.
The alternative Nigeria, he explained would be “Nigeria that is just and fair, a Nigeria where there is rule of law and respect for justice and fairness, a Nigeria where the leaders will shun double standard life and enthrone good governance and accountability”.
He added, “efforts must be intensified to build an alternative Imo State and not an Imo State of bribery and corruption or Imo State of fraud or Imo State of one individual accumulating so much property for himself”.
He urged Nigerian leaders to live above selfishness and greed and all forms of corruption because, he emphasized, “Nigerians desire a new Nigeria filled with love, truth, justice and fairness”.
Archbishop Obinna, reflecting on the state of affairs in Nigerian nation, had this to say, “when we have the civilization of truth, civilization of justice and peace there is no limit to the greatness our nation can rise up to. The spirit of God in us will help us to no longer be bothered about earthly things and inordinate ambitions, for what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul”, he asked.
In another development, funny enough, there was an interdenominational church service held at the Ecumenical Centre, Abuja to commemorate the 2012 National Democracy Day with the immediate past prelate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Most Rev. Peter Akinola as the Guest Speaker. The service was attended by the President, his wife, Governors, ministers and top Government officials.
In his sermon, Bishop Akinola challenged the congregation to join him in the fight against CORRUPTION in the country by committing perpetrators to court of God for trial and subsequent punishment. To the judgment prayer, he said “may the Almighty God visit the perpetrators of corruption with everlasting damnation in hell-fire. He requested “Amen” from the congregation but he received a deafening silence instead of Amen. He exclaimed, “There you are! Oh, CORRUPTION! So you are not ready to fight it, because you are all beneficiaries of it? Whether you steal in a small or big way, stealing is stealing”, he told them.
Most Rev. Akinola added: “This hydra-headed monster (CORRUPTION) has literally taken over the souls and eaten up the fabric of Nigeria”. Many fighting it (Corruption) in police and judiciary have no clean hands. When any National Assembly Committee or any government agency is inviting anybody for questioning, it is because those being investigated have not yet given the agency inviting it their due share of the booty”, the clergyman said.
Nevertheless, to me, there are still some Nigerians on the contrary in the civil and public offices by employment or appointment that are exceptionally good and very God-fearing. The percentage may be small. But they are there and if encouraged, can help change the majority, though difficult. The question, however is, who encourages them?
The dare-devil called corruption is in all organized human groupings and societies in Nigeria particularly and the world in general. The worst aspect of it, is, its existence even in some churches. The governments may take the highest blame because they are elected by the people to take care of their social, economic and political welfares. Cultism in high places including the Government is the mother of Corruption. People join them in order to commit crimes and get free if caught.
Nevertheless, let us reflect on the events in Nigeria in the past and in recent times. Take a look at the AJOKUTA STEEL Coy in Kogi State, started when Nigeria was in a swaddling developing cloth and up till today it has not crawled, let alone standing because of executive in-fighting as a result of corruption.
Take another look at the Railway as an additional means of transportation which traversed through all the corners of Nigeria helping to a very large existent to move goods including food stuff from one state to another. Today, it has turned into the pocket of corruption.
The last, which has been pushing to come earlier is the “Amendment of the Nigerian Constitution especially the immunity clause that prevents the Governors and Presidents from being tried for any criminal offence, while in office Ninety percent of Nigerians have been pressurizing for the removal of that clause, but when recently the National Assembly tried to amend it and saw its unworkability, decided that their members and those of the State Assemblies become beneficiaries of the clause. What a Nigeria? If you cannot change them, join them.
It is in Nigeria that an ex-convict reigned as a State Governor for eight years. Only to be jailed later outside Nigeria for some of the offences the courts in Nigeria found him not guilty. It is also in Nigeria that a state Governor camouflaged as a woman in order to beat the British security in order to find his way home.
The worrisome aspect of this monster is its ability to permeate the Judiciary, supposedly, the last hope of the poor man, whose population is close to 90% of the entire population of Nigeria. The 90% are in anguish.
The case of the convicted police pension swindler has shown the Judiciary swimming necked in the dirty waters of corruption. The man who confessed to have stolen “ONLY” N23 billion out of the money provided for the payment of the pension of police men who had suffered during their youth serving their country.
The police pension thief used the word “only” as a prefix to the N23 billion, indicating that the amount from which “only 23 billion” was stolen must have been in trillions. But for the early discovery, he could have made hundreds of billions, whereas some owners of the money had died out of hunger, distress and inability to pay hospital bills. Every month, the poor retired officers would be summoned by so called deceitful consultants, checking and trying to discover the dead ones whose money to steal.
It becomes a hopeless condition when the hope of the poor in this world in terms of Justice and equity being the Judiciary becomes eroded by corruption. When the umbrella (Judiciary) shading the poor gets perforated by corruption and flood his hope with quick-sand, the end-time knocks. Thanks to God for the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, a woman who has decided to use a motherly care to look into what the people are passing through in the Judiciary and the courts. She will be canonized if she can sanitize the Judiciary and rescue the people.
In a democratic government which we are presumably practicing, there are three arms, the executive, the legislative and the Judiciary. The Judiciary, though appointed by the Executive and confirmed by the Legislative is spiritually empowered by God to dispense Justice without fear or favour no matter who is involved including the appointee but unfortunately corruption has taken over the Judiciary from the cleaner, messenger, typist, clerks, registrars etc., to the apex of all the human sittings. However, there are some courts manned by some eminent, God-fearing, sincere, honest Magistrates and Judges. They pass absolute judgments and not Justice according to law. They do not delay cases unnecessarily.
Regrettably, there are catalogue of unbelievable miscarriages of judgments by Nigerian judges. Corruption should not exist in the Judiciary at all.
In the recent past, the National Assembly raised alarm over the excesses of petroleum marketers and the Chief Executives of the NNPC in stealing from the coffers of the National Treasury. All ears and eyes were open but behold the dust settled down without injuring anybody. It followed the same route Bankole’s case did after court trial.
A common arithmetical division of a half trillion naira into 150 million Nigerians would give about N4 billion to each person. You can then imagine a situation where about sixteen Nigerians in the name of oil marketers are allegedly said to take home about N13 trillions as exploits from the NNPC belonging to all Nigerians.
With the EFCC, the victims would attend their invitations and after a day or two return to their bases and the wounded public, would expect in vain the outcome of the cry for wolf. Corruption may be at work.
Institutions of higher, middle and lower learning are not free from corruption. They are culpable. An enclosure for character and learning turn to be a breeding ground for a generation that lacks conscience and fear of God, is an abomination.
Today, there are proliferations of churches and so is the music of corruption. I mean that there is corruption in the house of God. Man of God preaches prosperity more than the demands for salvation. Some Bishops of the new churches own jet-planes while the poor in their mist lack food.
There is high level of corruption in the business houses, market places, the town unions, traditional institutions and what have you. Corruption is not only taking bribe to pervert the cause of Justice. It includes every negative act against humanity.
Take again another look at NITEL. The NITEL was viable and richer than any Bank in Nigeria and remained very supportive financially to organizations and the Government until the so-called privatization during which the NITEL was ceded to only God knows Consultancy Company that reaped off the NITEL during the Obasanjo regime.
It was however the then Government appointee that brought in the 419 company that impoverished the NITEL through the backdoor. Today, the NITEL has become an orphan.
Only God and God alone will intervene. The poor should however take a very strong consolation from the existence of natural laws and the ultimate end of everybody through death. The Law of Karma awaits everybody.
It is a great foolery indeed to accumulate through corruption properties, landed and infrastructural here on earth and lose one’s soul because where your properties are, remains where your soul will be attached. Say bye-bye to CORRUPTION and save your soul.
__________________________________________Wrote from Nze Louis Onwunali, 08033400774
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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