Recently, the GEJ administration came up with the idea of a national dialogue which in my view is a distraction from the present Civil war he is prosecuting against the Boko Haram rebel group and charges of Corruption against his administration in the backdrop of the cohesive belligerence of the APC. Not many Nigerians are aware of the fact that Nigeria, in the view of the United Nations, the international court of Criminal Justice, The World Bank and the international community is a Nation at War just because, the war has religious connotations.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we need to have a round table conference with the rest of the Country to determine our contract with Nigeria in the backdrop of the unclear benefits of the defunct Oputa panel known as the Peace and Reconciliation Commission whose recommendations are gathering dust in, Aso Rock shelves, perhaps unread and discarded.
It has neither brought peace to the troubled Nation nor reconciled the ethnic federating units that hate and distrust each other passionately, more now, inspite of the parley.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE TO THE NDIGBO.
The need for a sovereign National Conference has given way to the national dialogue. And for such a dialogue, it is important that the agenda should not screen out any issue and or prevent meaningful dialogue that may bring about national healing, true reconciliation and a better Nigeria where “though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand “
Such a dialogue will afford the Igbo Nation the Opportunity to rise up In Unison and condemnation of the federal policies of marginalization of Ndigbo by institutional Policies which undermines their collective growth by land locking them through state creation, creating strives and distrust in Eastern Nigeria, facilitating ethnic pogroms, preventing the institutional development of the Zone, and their under representation in the armed forces and the federal civil service amongst other things and examine related issues of war crimes and genocide committed against the people in the past decades. Such a dialogue will also proffer solutions and create a contract with Nigeria and or with the other federating units Irrespective of what it is called or nomenclature, hopefully under the proposed constitutional amendment. I have also in the past agitated for post war policy of reconstruction of Igbo lands in the South South and South East with the payments of appropriate compensations for the genocide and a war, Nigeria made inevitable which should be canvassed at such a dialogue.
This will be with a clear understanding, that the situation of the Igbo in Nigeria is caused by two primary factors, to wit, their role in the Nigeria’s First civil war and the failure of their leadership which has fallen asleep, indifferent, greedy, self serving, clueless, visionless, irresponsible at material times when decisions are been taken about the Country and the apportionment of human and natural resources. It is therefore in respect of the National Dialogue that the Ohanaeze seeks to represent Ndigbo under a united front as reported by a national daily, and I ask why? Do we not have institutional framework for our National representations independent of an influential but exclusive ,non accountable and non public socio cultural organization?
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF OHANAEZE NDIGBO
The organization was Co established by the legal Icon,Professor Ben Nwabueze as a Post war rallying point for Ndigbo as the Apex Socio cultural Organization, a self styled acclamation which became deserved in time under his leadership. However in its enthusiasm to be relevant, the Organization has attempted to eclipse the advantages of socio political pluralism provided by such upcoming competitive Igbo pressure Groups Organizations like the Ikenga, and the Njiko Igbo which has played meaningful roles in the short history of their existence. Ben Nwabueze on his part has formed a new group to frame his agenda for Igbo development under the proposed national dialogue which perhaps has sent the wrong signals to the public.
In the past, the open support by the Organization especially at the peak of Anti Jonathan insurgency and election bids without recourse to public sensibilities was unnecessary and showed its lack of prudence and political circumcision, giving support without asking for something in return for their people, and perhaps justifying the neglect of the Zone by the presidency. The Organization cries more than the bereaved and has also in the Past without consultation called for negotiation with the Boko Haram Terrorists and the grant of amnesty to them by the presidency inspite of the fact that the Christian Igbo were the main targets Up North and our Nation still grieving. How can such an Organization steer the Igbo Agenda and speak for us in such a national discourse of redeemable value, of legal and constitutional implications when it has demonstrated incoherence in political discourses and lack of agenda for Igbo development?
However, the main reasons for my objection against the representation of Ndigbo by OHANAEZE are legal and commonsensical.
WHY OHANAEZE NDIGBO SHOULD NOT SPEAK FOR THE IGBO.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo cannot speak for Ndigbo to the exclusion of the elected and traditional leadership of Ndigbo because it lacks the institutional mandate to so act, either by the constitutional, local, or regional enactment in force. It is merely a socio cultural Organization and not even registered as a political Party. Its delimitations to partisanship are clear under the corporate affairs commission regulations. It is also an exclusive body whose leadership is not subject to election by the public and therefore does not answer to the people. It cannot speak for a people in a representative capacity under a democracy because it is not recognized as a political Organization and or elected and accountable to public ethics and trust.
It is not a consultative political association of Ndigbo because if it were so it would not be registered by the corporate affairs commission but under our electoral laws. That been so, it cannot exceed its purview of registration and even going as far as barring Orji Uzor kalu and any prominent sons of Igbo from contesting the presidency according to Newspaper reports for reasons unclear to us.
The Organization is not the institutional mouthpiece of Ndigbo and should stop weeping more than the bereaved as its actions have legal, constitutional and political implications on our people whom they are positioning for likely reprisals on the event of GEJ victory in 2015.We support GEJ in the South East but we don’t need the Ohanaeze to holler that everywhere as if we are the only one supporting him in Nigeria.
WHO SHOULD REPRESENT THE IGBO IN THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE?
The national dialogue is a political parley to determine chiefly the contract with Nigeria and not essentially a socio cultural summit. It requires a formulation of issues and the collation of intelligence which persons outside of the government of Ndigbo and its politics may not know and or may otherwise be ignorant of.
In my view, those to represent us must be the elected representatives of the people and their traditional political leadership including but not limited to the conference of religious leaders, traditional rulers, student bodies, Women Organizations, Labour unions, commercial Unions, leaders of thought, Socio cultural Organizations like the Ohanaeze, Njiko Igbo, Ikenga., the online Ogbako Ndigbo, elders, Political parties and politicians. These persons and institutions should come together and form the Igbo National Consultative Assembly, from all the Igbo speaking Communities of South East Zone, and Akwa Ibom, Cross River, rivers, Delta, and Edo. The INCA will then align with the South South and the strength of our oil politics to form a common EASTERN NIGERIA CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY to channel their grievances in strength where possible.
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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