“Nigeria is what it is because its leaders are not what they should be.” Chinua Achebe
Nigeria was recently ranked as one of the foremost countries were children are killed for going to school following the Yobe message of 29 school children.
More recently, the senate has made a downward review of the age of consent for girls from 18 years to advance religious sentiments. It is clear that under Islamic practices amongst fundamentalist Muslim countries, it is a stricture of law to validate the marriage of children often, between the ages of 8 to 13 years.
A child is termed a woman when she experiences her first menstrual flow, a development that has become a subject of terror for children from poor families, and countries where their rights are taken for granted leading to the deflowered innocence of these poor creatures.
These children often end up dead within three years of marriage or survive the so called marriage with lifelong traumas and medical deformations. A girl under the age of 18 years cannot be given a voters card, yet she can by a warped logic be given out in marriage by pedophiles.
Under section 29 (4)(A) of 1999 constitution, “Full Age ‘ means the age of 18years and above. The constitution goes on to say under 29 (4) (b) “Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”
The intention of the constitution review is to provide for the deletion of the latter clause to harmonize the Constitution with existing International treaties and Obligations under which Nigeria is subject as to preclude child marriage. This however met a Road Block with extremist pedophiles in the senate who have sustained the clauses of approval of Child marriage.
According to an expert,
“One wonders where the Nigerian senators place the concept of maternal mortality which is so much higher in societies that fail to protect prepubescent girls from exposure to the dangers that come with being a child bride and the medical safety of young girls.”.
It is absolutely medically unsafe for a child to be exposed in a way that makes them candidates for Vesico-Vaginal fistula (VVF). When a young girl, whose pelvis is too narrow to give birth, is exposed to carnal acts or carrying and bearing a baby before her body is ready, pressure from the baby’s head blocks the circulation in her anatomy, destroying her tissue and forcing a gape which allows for involuntary urine flow. These and other pregnancy and labour complications are the fatal and painful realities faced by young girls who are forced to marry before or as soon as they reach puberty.
Let us look critically at the section of the constitution that was reviewed that gave rise to this outcry.
S.29.of the NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION provides:
(1) Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.
(2) The President shall cause the declaration made under subsection (1) of this section to be registered and upon such registration, the person who made the declaration shall cease to be a citizen of Nigeria.
(3) The President may withhold the registration of any declaration made under subsection (1) of this section if-
(a) the declaration is made during any war in which Nigeria is physically involved; or
(b) in his opinion, it is otherwise contrary to public policy.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section.
(a) “full age” means the age of eighteen years and above;
(b) any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.
According to senator Sani Yerima, the provisions of section 29(4) (A) violates the tenets of Islam. Generally Muslims believe that the Koran is superior to the constitution.
Although marriage under Islamic law possesses most of the features of customary law marriage already discussed, it is necessary to consider, that system separately.
The parties to Islamic law marriage must freely consent to the union. But under the Maliki School of Islamic law, a father has the right to conclude marriages on behalf of his infant sons and virgin daughters iljbar). The exercise of this right results in child marriage which is fraught with the danger of facilitating slave trade. But the rule may be ameliorated by the fact that the child has the option to repudiate the marriage contract on the attainment of the age of puberty. However, a father loses his right of Ijbar where he allows his daughter to choose a husband from among her suitors.
The position of Islam conflicts seemly with Nigeria’s International and regional commitments on UN conventions, The AFRICAN CHARTER ON CHILD RIGHTS AND THE CHILD RIGHTS ACT.
Briefly; the United Nations adopted convention on the rights of the child which stipulated the age of maturity of a child at 18.This was followed by the O.A.U (AU) Assembly of Heeds of states and governments which adopted the strictures of the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child. Nigeria as ratified these documents Under the Child Rights Act which provided that no Nigerian child shall be subjected to physical, mental, emotional injury, abuse neglect, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment , attacks on their honour and reputation. This law makes it an offence of five years imprisonment to marry an under Age girl.
However only 16 out of 36 states in Nigeria has domesticated the CRA.
What the senate has done is to open the way for valid child marriages. The rule now is that a child is still presumed to be of full age at the time of marriage which is ambiguous to the 18 year rule. The debate at the senate has illuminated once again the problems faced by the child in Nigeria and further calls for legislative and constitutional reviews which was done without cognizance to existing laws
Under S. 3 (1) (e) of the matrimonial causes Act 1970, a marriage is void where either party is not of a marriageable age” which s not defined under the Act. But the Act (marriage Act) 1949 states that the marriageable age is fourteen years for a boy and 12 years for a girl.
The international federation of woman lawyers in response to this tragic development expressed utter dissatisfaction with the resolution passed by the senate to wit the Provisions of section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 constitution which deems a married underage girl as an adult” This in their view negates the national commitment to different international and regional treaties such as the convention on the rights of the child, the African Chapter on the rights and welfare of the child and the AU protocol on the rights of woman in Africa. Which all prohibit child marriages.
FIDA was of the view that section 29 4(b) does not deserve to be retained and should be deleted in the ongoing constitutional review process.
But the senate like the parliament of Sodom has lost not just its conscience but has turned a moral infidel to the causes it was forsworn to protect. My take is that the constitutional amendment is an ongoing process and the senate should review its review.
The words of Blaise Pascal has never sounded more true: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
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.
Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices
USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas
Covid-19 robs 2020 Owerri Archdiocesan Day/Odenigbo lecture of usual festivities
Newspaper holds public lecture on Imo at 40
Archbishop Obinna Vs Col. Tanko Zubairu (1)
Dunamis condemns burning of traders’ goods along Abuja Airport road
EVENTS4 years ago
Newspaper holds public lecture on Imo at 40
ARTICLES6 years ago
Archbishop Obinna Vs Col. Tanko Zubairu (1)
NATIONAL NEWS2 years ago
Dunamis condemns burning of traders’ goods along Abuja Airport road
FEATURED2 years ago
SCHOLARSHIP THIRD EDITION 2019 – World Free Educational Programme: NGR 2019
Crowd14 months ago
How to Earn in Crowd1 (Explained)
ARTICLES7 years ago
LAND LAW: FIVE WAYS OF PROVING OWNERSHIP OF A LAND IN A DISPUTE
ARTICLES2 years ago
The Integrity of the Bar and Bench: A necessity for the Economic Development of Nigeria
LOCAL NEWS3 months ago
No relief yet for Uzodimma: As Senior Advocate exhumes Imo Supreme Court case