“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Sir Winston Churchill
The Chinese have a saying which envisions a desire to live in interesting times. Indeed the 2015 general election is very interesting and speaks volumes of the Nigerian peoples and how much they despise each other and still want to live together!
It also reveals to a remarkable degree how much the Igbophobia in Nigeria has become a multi-ethnic policy adopted in Nigeria in the backdrop of the Igbo apparent marginalization. The repeated slaughter of Ndigbo in the north by the sponsored BOKO HARAM without reprisals and the threat of the Oba of Lagos to drown Ndigbo in the Lagos Lagoon without a sustained response to try him and or sanction him through local, and or international channels clearly define the Nigerian political system as violable.
The 2015 general elections have also shown that with appropriate motivations, the Igbo can be properly organized into a force in Nigerian politics. This is so in Lagos where they were able to clear three federal house of representatives Seats. I am certain that if APGA had fielded a candidate, they would have won the governorship elections with the Yoruba votes split between the PDP and APC. Indeed, there is the need for the Igbo to seek representations in states where they have large numbers so as not to be alienated and thus have a voice in government.
The 2015 elections is remarkable also, especially with the uses of professors which afforded us the opportunity to rate our egg heads. Their conduct of the 2015 elections clearly demonstrates the level of their academic vulnerability. The mere fact that they can endorse the incredible election results in such states as Kano and Katsina states flawed by incredible ballot stuffing, underage voting and generalized disregard for the card readers . Professor Jega in his attempt to give credibility to the flawed elections conducted by INEC has used these professors but only succeeded in exposing their inability to add up votes as in the case of Akwa Ibom. Under these professors, Card readers that have worked in other countries refused to work in our clime because of the Nigerian factor. Sadly, ADHOC staff that were trained with millions of Naira were pre-determinedly, abandoned overnight by INEC to facilitate the uses of manual voting without warning to the south. It must also be asked, how can Jega have conducted a fair election when he was of the same ethnic Fulani as Mohammadu Buhari? Would the North have allowed an Ijo to have been the electoral umpire against Buhari?
How could Jega have spent billions on card readers and only abandoned its use on the day of the election to the disadvantage of the south in the presidential elections whilst Kano recorded 1.9m millions without determinable void votes inspite of its high illiteracy level? Anyone, who says that the Nigerian 2015 elections conducted by these professors are free fair and credible needs to have his head examined. It is perhaps the greatest electoral fraud that has been perpetrated against the Nigerian polity and only excused because of domestic violence, terrorism, intimidations; international pressure and a highly charged inter ethnic rivalry. In fact Jonathan was forced out of power – the international conspiracy of the west created a favorable atmosphere for his exit because of his signing the ANTI SAME SEX LAW. At home the growing fear of the BOKO HARAM and their trails of destruction, made the need for change inevitable.
It is therefore upon reflection that I have come to the conclusion that elections in Nigeria can never be credible if conducted under the threat of violence; in so far that voters cannot be established as existing persons in spite of our adoption of Biometric format. There is no central data base upon which we can evaluate the INEC electorate to determine their real existence. The voters have no records of tax payments, education, and access to social services. They are issued PVC merely on the basis of the unverifiable data supplied by them.
In another vein, the time has come for the Old eastern Nigeria to reemerge and assert its economic and political independence through the ballot and join the rest of Nigeria in their perversion of democracy. The entire electoral system of Nigeria is inevitably flawed because it has been designed to fail. The use and application of the card reader was designed to fail. In subsequent elections in Nigeria, fishes and ‘Nwankpi’ in the Niger delta and eastern region should get issued with PVC cards just like the goats and cows of the North. We should design policies to improve on our numbers before we are dominated into irrelevance.
Another element of the 2015 general polls is the tributes accorded some eminent politicians. One of such persons that have received so many tributes for his gallantry in accepting defeat, even before all the results were fully announced is, President Ebele Jonathan. But the action of president Ebele Jonathan in the thick of the elections and without consultation with his Party infrastructures was detrimental to the PDP and positioned the party for the losses it encountered in the gubernatorial and state house election. In my view, President Jonathan ought to have waited till the end of the gubernatorial elections to announce his acceptance of the outcome of the presidential elections.
However, the president deserved to be praised for his bold attempt to save the lives of innocent Nigerians from mayhem that would have been unleashed inspite of the apparent view shared by many that he was rigged out and or forced out of power. In that light he remains a statesman, who has made it possible for the Nigerian semblance of democracy to thrive, and perhaps gain the opportunity of maturity.
My greatest tribute however is dedicated to Ndigbo for their resilience in the face of adversity. The many that died because of this election and Inspite of the tyranny and contempt of the Oba of Lagos and the policies of marginalization, our people have stood for Jonathan and democracy. They did not deny him because he was Ijo or used the bitterness of the war memories and the losses they endured when their assets were confiscated and deemed abandoned to repay him. They stood with their ethnic cousins in the struggle and remained committed to the ideals of the eastern brotherhood, inspite of the fact that President Jonathan did not recognize our Nation in the scheme of things.
Justin Cartwright and many other writers, In their review of there was a Country echoed the lament of Chinua Achebe on the decline of Nigeria, which he relates directly to the Biafran war and the marginalisation of Ndigbo. According to him: ” the Igbo aroused hostility because of their intelligence and success; they had always been a democratic, well-educated and progressive people, and they flourished in the bigger context of Nigeria; jealousy of their influence built up and led to measures that echo the persecution of Jews in Germany.”
The learned reviews went on to state:
“As much as I adore Achebe, the Ibos have outlived 1967 and Biafra. Ibos have moved on, it is time we stop reminiscing the Biafran war. Agreed it turned the table against the Ibos and took them back at least a century behind their peers, at least if you remember the fact in the late 60s, the economy of Eastern Region (present day South Eastern Nigeria) was ahead of those of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil and India.
But that’s only one aspect of what the Ibos lost during the war. But then didn’t Germans and Japanese lose everything at the end of WW II? Today Germany is Europe’s biggest and most viable economy. Japan’s development gathered speed after they lost the great war.
Yes the Ibos lost the war but they haven’t lost one bit, their legendary industry, their canny entrepreneurial knack nor the aptitude to generate income from nearly the impossible.
Today, Onitsha and Aba are about two of the most important fully independent commercial centres in Nigeria, both in the heart of defunct Biafra, these completely operate autonomously without any shred of dependence on Nigerian governments at all levels. Onitsha and Aba are a reflection of the strength of the Ibos, their unique humanism, their expression of independence, their stubborn republican leanings, and their uplifting egalitarianism. ”
Ndigbo are the heroes of the 2015 polls and the fearful Oba of Lagos has confirmed it. We have become the Nigerian power house. We shall make it to the top and one day when Owelle Rochas or any other of our sons shall lead this Country beyond the dreams of the founding fathers, NDIGBO nation shall become the China of Africa. The only thing I ask is that Ndigbo should forget about Biafra and stop developing other parts of Nigeria to the detriment of their Zones. Our investments abroad undermine our political negotiations and rob us of our human capital necessary for the development of our region. The first step is for the return of our peoples to their homeland to develop it for their future generations. The Time has come to restore the South Eastern Nigeria to its past glory and it takes courage to sit down and listen to these rationalizations.
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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