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“When Yahweh delivered Zion from bondage we were like in a dream. Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then it was said among the nations “The Lord had done great things for us and we rejoiced”. Restore our fortunes O Lord!  Like the waters in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping bearing the seed for sowing shall come home with shouts of joy carrying their sheaves!” (Psalm 126: 1-6)


Fruits of the counsel

Elsewhere, except in Nigeria, this conventional wisdom directs people’s actions. The ‘counsel’ is taken seriously. Take for example, governments and people all over the world have been working round the clock to see that their citizens are not wiped out of the face of the earth by the killer disease called HIV/AIDS. Only very tiny groups of experts and researchers are looking for a cure. So far they have not succeeded. They warn that it would take years before a true solution or cure could be found for AIDS. Now researchers have turned to EBOLA. No drug, no solution is in sight. What precautionary measures are available?

Since no good news is around governments and non-government organizations fight tooth and nail to prevent the damage being done by this disease. In many countries their efforts are yielding positive and incredible results. In some countries experts claim that the killer disease has been checked. In some cases less than 1% of their population is suffering from AIDS!


How do they do it?

You can guess. They mount intensive campaigns urging their citizens to endeavor to prevent the virus from attacking them. The emphasis is always on prevention, since no cure was yet available. Even where a cure could be found only tiny wealthy sufferers can afford what experts refer to as ‘mild treatment for AIDS’. They say the treatment or the drugs can just help defer the death of the sufferer. But the one must surely die.

“Prevention is better than cure,” nations of the world tell their citizens. They have largely applied, put into practice those preventive measures and these ‘remedies’ have worked out for them! Hurrah! A small cautious measure taken by a wise people has saved millions of lives! “What measures?” You may ask me. No.  Not me! Ask them. Write them e-mail and find out how they do it. There are many preventive measures I have read in the newspapers and heard over the radios and Internet. Writing them out here will consume a lot of space.

But I know just one, in fact very important preventive measure people all over the world have talked about. In series of lectures organized in several developed and developing countries, the most recurring title of papers presented by experts and health officials used to be: “Prevention is better than cure”. Better spelled out it directs that “you should not indulge in illicit sex.” Period. If you listen to that cautious appeal you may not contract the killer disease. You don’t need to go for a test. You should have no fear going for one. There are many other ways of preventing the disease. You can ask. I don’t know how perfect they are. But relying on the information from the experts only the measure cited above can be said to be perfect.

What of Ebola? Surely if Nigerians would take to heart all the precautionary measures our health officials have outlined for our safety there is no doubt we would not be attacked by the virus. Unfortunately Nigerians easily give up or abandon good habits when not forced to maintain them. Maintenance culture is not part of their nature. “Clean-Up Exercise” is one of them! Who will testify that Nigerians have not already abandoned the washing of hands exercise they learnt during the EBOLA WEEK LECTURES!


In Nigeria – “Cure is better than Prevention!”

Only in Nigeria is the obverse applicable; the counterfeit position is in vogue, namely “Cure is better than prevention!” There are many examples to sustain the Nigerian idiosyncrasy, or mannerism. You only need to think about it for just a while and see why we are different from the rest of the world. You can in fact unlock the mystery behind our lopsided attitudes. Let us consider just few examples, to illustrate our contention that Nigerians prefer direct ‘cures’ or ‘remedies’ for their problems. They have no time to waste on ‘experimentation’ or on what they consider to be ‘useless speculations’.


Cure for AIDS

Some time in one state in Nigeria, one big ‘Oga’ went for HIV/AIDS test after he reported some unusual feelings. Unfortunately he tested positive. When the nurses communicated the bad news to him, he was angry. “But who did it?” He shouted. Recovering from the shock of the news, he requested some drugs from the nurses, who of course told him there was no medicine for the disease. “But I thought they said a cure had been found!” the man snarled, fumed, and ordered his driver to move away.

This is a typical Nigerian way of looking at things. “Who did it? Who knows the number of unfaithful wives and wayward concubines he has! Nigerians, like the Israelites of Old always ask for a sign (if you want, cure!) Never prevention! Christ has harsh words for the incredulous (unfaithful) generation that always asks for signs and wonders. “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah….The Queen of the South will arise at a judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon…[Luke: 11:29-32]

Nigerians do no listen to the Wisdom of Solomon. They look for signs and wonders. And behold the wonder workers in their thousands all over the nooks and crannies of the nation. They are never in short supply. They are founders of churches, healing homes, occult centers where they work signs and wonders for their ever-believing clients – young and old, educated and illiterates. Master of all diseases and ailments are all over Nigeria. In the television, public squares, churches and miracle centers. If you need a solution to any problem including those the Almighty in Heaven will never venture to listen to, go to a man of God, anywhere in Nigeria, or someone who claims he has power to redeem you, wipe off your tears.

If you are a sufferer, please stop weeping; Nigerian pastors and miracle workers including priests and other ordained ministers in the mainline Catholic and Protestant Churches can cure you. They have panacea for every disease, including the one called AIDS, which they claim the white man is unable to cure. One greater than the white people and even Christ and His Father is in your midst. Look well. He is around you. But beware you must have a blind faith to find your redeemer!


Preventive Measures – “Not Spiritual Attacks”

But people in our midst who have the magic wand for all diseases have now found new name for what they call ‘incurable diseases.’ Demons and malignant spiritual forces are now responsible for diseases! One who has been bitten by mosquito may after all not be suffering from malaria. Evil spirits have simply gripped one who is dying of AIDS! He has a spiritual attack.

This is the new name for any ailment that cannot be diagnosed with the usual apparatus – foreign or local. And only a man of God claims the power to get all spiritual attacks under control! So, my friend, when you are ill or feel any sort of discomfort, do not worry. You may not have Ebola, AIDS, Malaria, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Tuberculosis, High Blood Pressure, or Diabetes. No! Why go to the laboratory to spend your money on tests.

The generic name for all diseases in Nigeria today is “Spiritual Attack”. And only one man can cure you. A “man of God!” He uses all occult means, orthodox and unorthodox methods to cure you. How do you identify the man of God? A warning! Do not be deceived by their appearance or religious leaning, namely the Church or religious movement they run. They are mixed and are found in all Church denominations and occult establishments. “By their fruits you shall know them”.

Take a look at Polio, sickle cell, and other children’s related health problems. Instead of vaccinating or inoculating their children, some Nigerian mothers resort to occult practices in order to get rid of child-killer-diseases. They claim as usual ‘diabolic attack’ as the cause. The child is an ‘Ogbanje’. Simple vaccination or inoculation could do the miracle when carried out at the proper time.

It is by paying heed to simple preventive measures that we can eventually get at the root of our problems causing sickness or ailment. Experts and men of God have little or no role to play. We need not cite many more examples and see how Nigerians ignore the clarion call for caution and dabble into expensive, primitive and costly means of getting rid of our preventable ailments. Perhaps it is not late for Nigerians to join the rest of humanity in accepting the redeeming conventional wisdom “Prevention is Better than Cure!

To be contd



The Data of Forgiveness



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



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



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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