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Crude Politics: Have we failed to Learn from History?

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One Nigeria not really by force

A Look at the Current Status Shaping the Contours of Leadership/Followership in our society

The Federal Republic of Nigeria obviously remains the “baby giant” of Africa. Nigeria remains the most populous Country in all of Africa and occupies a strategic position in the world in terms of population statistics. Nigeria is a rich country blessed with huge human and natural resources. Despite the abundance of these resources, it is still faced with many challenges and has been rated so poorly in terms of poverty level.

This article takes a critical and psychological look on the contemporary trends in the leadership/followership in the administration of the Nigerian state. One of the major threats to world stability is the leadership and administration of human institutions.  Nigeria is beset with many socio-economic, political cum religious challenges. Above all, the challenges of insecurity and terrorism in the Nigerian state have so well positioned Nigeria in the international scene as a country to watch out for.

Obviously it is without doubt an enormous task to govern a society, even so much and it becomes much more daunting in a society such as Nigeria with uncertainties surrounding her socio-politically and economically. The state of the society therefore has been so much shaped to by the ineffectiveness of our political leaders and the poor social institutions that have crippled the economy and impoverished the people. The numerous problems in the society are exerting untold pressures on the people who have utilized every opportunity to pour out their anger and frustration before any person who is willing to listen.

Nevertheless, solving these problems and many challenges would be a far cry if not impossible without exemplary leadership. Unfortunately, the Nigerian leadership and administration story has been one built on a shallow foundation of lies and deceit. The Nigerian economy has not been something to write home about. Recent developments and current situations in Nigeria have made a review of the health of the nation’s economy rather fascinating. The ‘political’ leaders now and again raise the hopes of the citizenry, poor and helpless masses with their whitewashed manifesto by painting glowing pictures of their development plans and how to take the nation to the ‘Promised Land’ of true democracy and economic prosperity. They swore on their lives that citizens’ empowerment would become their top priority every now and again and yet they refuse to fix the infrastructure and institutions that would propel the economy and create employment for the millions of graduates churn out by the educational institutions year in year out.

It is about that time again, hopes have been raised, people are been deceived, bribed with Greek gifts  and youths have been fortified as political thugs, a lot have been brain washed to sale their votes and remain perpetually impoverished for the next administrative term. The famous quote of George Santayana kept resounding in my mind while writing this article; “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” While we must always look forward, we also have to understand our history, events of the past, in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past which would come back to haunt us. Sometimes we end up pursuing wrong courses of action because we have not taken time to think critically about the events of the past.

If the 2011 general election both at the Federal and state levels of the country was taught us anything, it was that half the nation has a radically different notion of leadership than the other half. It should have been clear to us now that most of the people we shouted “Hosanna” on the streets for during the electioneering campaign for offices have turned back and crucified us with their selfish hidden ambitions. It is about that time again to be wise and not repeat the past. Because if we do, we would surely repeat it. In about four years now, we surely must have seen that most of those candidates we saw as the embodiment of a strong leadership have thrown that back at our faces and proven to us that they are indeed poorly qualified at best and dangerous at worst.

While we prepare to go to the polls in little or no distant time, it is pertinent to know that leadership in a great deal affects the quality of our lives. In bad times, which have been plentiful over the years, twisted leaders have been the leading cause of death, more virulent than plague. Even in relatively tranquil times, national leaders determine whether we struggle through our final years, and whether our courts protect the rights of minorities and the powerless, etc. Corporate leaders have almost as much power to shape our lives, for good or ill.

During the great recession and the economic meltdown that wreaked havoc in the world economy, the corrupt executives at Enron, WorldCom etc., as well as other suspects were not just mere symbols of corporate greed and malfeasance. Their bad leadership impoverished thousands of employees, stealing their livelihoods, gutting their retirement accounts, and tearing them apart with stress.

While reflecting on these events, it is important to call to mind one of the healthy developments in the study of leadership. This great development in the study of leadership is a new appreciation for the lessons taught by bad leadership. Bad Leadership distinguishes between incompetent leaders and corrupt ones. The unfortunate aspect of this situation according to Lipman-Blumen in the Book The Allure of Toxic Leaders is that most of the time, we choose our bad leaders, they do not kidnap us.

Indeed, our leaders as well as we the citizenry (followers) need some psychological testing, an in depth thorough questioning of the intention and motive behind our actions and inactions. Leadership is always in some great sense a matter of values. We should ask ourselves; “Leadership for what?” or “Followership for what?” Every leader has an agenda, and analysis of that aim, that intent, often should be called into question to determine the objectivity or subjectivity of it. A major challenge facing the Nigerian polity is the conglomeration of Political Parties without meaningful Ideology.

Be that as it may, politicians thrive on ignorance, lies and deceit to get what they want at all costs.  In organized and truly democratic countries, there are essentially war of ideologies among politicians and political parties which helps to propel democracy and economic development. The reverse is the case with Nigeria where politicians have become political party harlots, shuttling from party to another in the bid to achieve their selfish and ungodly desires, and many of them would vanish into thin air when they must have cut a sizeable portion of the ”national cake” that would last them and their unborn generation. Our law makers or law breakers as the case has been are not willing to make any sacrifice necessary for the development of the nation. They have on the contrary become public nuisance both within and outside the nation. There is total disrespect for the rule of law, manifested in selective justice, with a set of rules with a set of laws for the rich and well-connected and another for the poor

In this entire scenario, the people  still have a role to play. Democratically, power belongs to the people and they give it to whomever they choose and believe that can lead them aright. This is a clarion call for our people to be politically enlightened and educated, to rise up and take our own destiny in our own hands, to make the political leaders to listen to the voice of reason and act right. Our action or silence today would make or mar our country. Without good governance and transparency in leadership, the economy will continue to shrink with high unemployment, poverty and crime. The naked truth is that Nigeria has enormous economic problems that would require time and effective leadership to be solved.

And because of governmental inefficiency, incompetence and corruption it is certainly unlikely that we are where we want to be as a sovereign state any time soon. May “the labors of our heroes past never be in vain”

 


By Flavian Igbokwe

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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