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Nigeria Independence and the dependency of Her Economy

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9ja clocks 53The journey to Nigeria’s independence started with some constitutional developments which saw the country attaining self rule in some quarters in 1957 and the total liberation on October 1st 1960 when its declaration was signed on the main constitutional development in Nigeria.

Economic independence as we know is a necessary pre-requisite to political freedom but it is very pathetic to note that Nigeria is not yet economically independent after 53 years of attainment of political independence.

Economically, Nigeria is currently hanging on the life support of a fragile and temporary oil boom without the prerequisite economic investment to support the vision. Opportunities should be created for business development in Nigeria because this has weakened the potentials for Nigeria’s economic greatness.

Since the political independence of Nigeria has been assured, the vital concern is to secure the rapid development of the machinery to enable us to assume our responsibilities to safeguard our economic freedom.

Prior to Nigeria’s nominal independence from Britain in October 1st  1960 and for some years thereafter, Nigeria’s economy was quite diversified enough that reliance on petroleum as the main source of revenue and foreign exchange was unthinkable. There were the groundnut pyramids in the North and the black gold of the South was cocoa which was a major reliable cash crop in the south and much of the development that took place in the defunct Western Nigeria was based upon the revenue from these cash crops.

Since the era of the oil boom in the 1970’s ,Nigeria has been a victim of monolithic economy without adequately evolving a sound policy that will put the nation’s economy on a firm foundation for steady growth.

The oil glut in 1978 fired the first warning shot while the weakening of the international oil market clearly spelt out the consequences of total dependence on one commodity.

Oil wealth has produced little or no economic development in Nigeria neither has it created the favorable conditions for institutional development as corn and wheat did in North America. The declining extent of earning from crude oil arising from the fall of prices plunged the Nigerian economy into crisis of depression.

There is need to augment foreign exchange earnings from oil through an aggressive expansion of non oil through industrialization not just because it ensures diversification of the economy but because it also accelerates the economic development of a country.

The realization of the consequences of total dependence in one commodity, has turned the country’s attention to the only one possible way out (industrialization). Though the country recognizes the importance of establishing industries to ensure a diversified economy, the mineral oil assumed greater and greater prominence over the years as a crucial production sector. This was to the detriment of other sectors of the economy and given the fact that the revenue got from it was not properly appropriated but on white elephant projects.

Industrialization has come to be seen as the necessary route to the economic and social development of any nation without which it remains stagnant in the fast passed technology oriented world of today. A country’s wealth , development and advancement are normally judged by its level of industrialization.

Industrialization has been seen as responsible for the economic development of the industrial nations in the world today. Nigeria has also taken steps in those directions believing it to be the prime mover of the economy.

The old Western Nigerian government over the leadership of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo realized the importance of the peasant cocoa farmers and he built the Western Nigeria marketing board and his astute economic planning gave birth to the O’dua investment corporation.

Before Nigeria gained her political independence in 1960, Agriculture was the dominant sector in the economy which provides both cash crops and food crops to the economy and accounted for the largest part of the foreign exchange of the country. But the discovery of crude oil production in commercial quantities changed the structure of the Nigerian economy.  This led to the neglect of Agric products making the economy to depend heavily on production of crude oil.

In fact, the basic promise is that if a country wishes to accelerate the overall rate of economic development, it must have manufacturing production arising faster than the overall rate of growth of the Gross National Product (GNP) and this has to be reflected in an increasing dominating role of manufacturing industry in the total economy. So important are industries that they have become the major indices for classification of nations in terms of levels of development.

Generally, the transformation of an economy from pre-modern to modern depends on the development of the manufacturing sector.

To move from the traditional level of economic backwardness to modern industrial economy  required a great spurt of industrialization.

Industrialization of a truth is the catalyst of economic prosperity and it has been a much emphasized development strategy in Nigeria as providing the basic means of overcoming their economic backwardness.

To the less developed countries like ours, taken account of the high level of industrialization and rapid economic growth of the advanced countries are making frantic efforts towards attaining it through several industrial policies aimed at encouraging both the public and the government to establish industries.

Many western countries like U.S.A., Germany, Great Britain and France experienced changes at roughly the same time and achieved partly industrialization during the first half of the 19th century. These nations started their first stage of development with the factory/private firm.

However, the greatest obstacle to rapid industrial development in Nigeria has been identified to be inadequate finance. If the country’s industrial aspirations are to be achieved, the provision of adequate finance should be accorded high priority. But regrettably, Nigerian industrialists have been badly starved of this very important ingredient for both the establishment and maintenance of Industry (ies).

The lack of funds by industrialists has greatly denied the nation of many opportunities of achieving development industrially which Nigeria has always longed, hoped and craved for.

Considering the enormous importance attached to industrialization in our economic development, any problem militating against its achievement should be of interest to us.

The Federal Government should emulate countries that have attained the pinnacle of success and take advantage of the vast opportunities in all area of human life to solve Nigeria’s socio-political and economic problems because the world leading economies are nations that are leaders in every sector of human life. The political history of our country even before independence shows that we have been pre-occupied with national unity or integration for as long as anyone can remember. Our efforts are a kaleidoscope of honest attempts and false steps. Before independence, the minorities agitated for states of their own because they were petrified of dominance by the big three tribes and would deny them opportunities for full participation in our constitutional democracy.

The military that struck on Jan 15, 1966 believed they were offering the country an alternative form of government with a greater capacity for integrating the country. Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution provides that “the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and need to promote national unity. These where created to give every Nigerian a stake in the Nigerian Nation. They are steps towards the very desirable goal of National integration. Given the overabundance of these constitutional and administrative actions aimed at national integration, have they failed to achieve its objectives?

If yes, their failure has condemned the nation to an endless search for a more effective modus operandi for national integration.

As Nigeria marks her 53rd independence anniversary, every Nigerian have a sacred duty to apply oneself to the utmost in advancing the course of creating a better society in which one would be judged more by his character and  less by his religion and tribe. We must endeavor to build a country in which the gentle wind of patriotism and unity will always tame the storm of disunity, a country in which all men and women are brothers and sisters, a country where no man or woman is brutalized and a country where equity remains the other of the day.

God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria as we count 53 years down the memory lane in the annals of our political freedom.

_____________________________

Comr Sam Nd Anyanwu is an activist,
social commentator and writes from Owerri
– 08030611815.

 

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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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