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The Purpose of Politics And The 2015 Elections (2)

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The Legitimacy of Children Born out of wedlock

Hobbes, describing man’s existence in the state of nature as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” makes abundantly clear his conception of the purpose of politics: to help man escape his barbaric natural state and enjoy the benefit of civilized society (Hobbes 70). According to Hobbes, man’s natural state is a state of war, and in this state, “the notions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice have there no place” (Hobbes 71). Hobbes notes that “where there is no common power, there is no law; where no Law; no injustice” (Hobbes 71). In a civilized society, these concepts exist, and not only do they exist, but they are of foremost concern. Politics, then, exists to counter the barbarity of nature. Men, fearing the consequences of the vulgar existence which the absence of law and order entails, enter into a social contract and relinquish their absolute rights to the Leviathan, the sovereign governing entity responsible for maintaining the peace.

Immanuel Kant concurs with Hobbes’s view of the depravity of human existence in the state of nature, noting that “if he lives among others of his own species, man is an animal who needs a master” (Kant 46). Kant’s view of the purpose of politics, however, is strikingly disparate from that of Hobbes. According to Kant, nature is the driving force of humanity, propelling mankind toward an intended end. This end, nature’s highest purpose, “can be fulfilled for mankind only in society; and nature intends that man should accomplish this, and indeed all his appointed ends, by his own efforts. This purpose can be fulfilled only in a society which has not only the greatest freedom… but also the most precise specification and preservation of the limits of this freedom in order that it can co-exist with the freedom of others” (Kant 45). Kant thus recommends a republican civil constitution based upon three fundamental principles: freedom, equality and independence. Politics serves the purpose of ensuring the eventual achievement of man’s natural end in a civilized society in which the people enjoy the highest possible level of freedom.

Kant argues in his piece What is Enlightenment? that enlightenment, defined as “man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity,” as the objective of humanity (Kant 54). Although we do not live in an enlightened age, Kant asserts, we do live in an age of enlightenment. Enlightenment is a slow, but inevitable process. Interestingly enough, the evolution of views on the purpose of politics through the ages embodies the nature of the process of enlightenment itself. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, there is a clear progression from political amorality to a just purpose for politics: the preservation of life. Kant, however, takes this a step further, assuming a far more enlightened position than that of his predecessors. The purpose of politics must never be to satisfy greed and the insatiable human lust for power, nor must it simply be escape of war. Hobbes’ view of the purpose of politics, while important, is in and of itself not enough. There is no mechanism for progress; all that society could hope for is the avoidance of conflict, and once this is achieved no other goals arise. Society is aimless and stagnant. There are no prospects for progress or enlightenment. Kant, however, was the first political philosopher to recognize the importance of enlightenment and to conceive of progress. Man should aspire for more than mere survival, and political institutions should afford citizens the freedom necessary to pursue their aspirations.

This concept, while revolutionary in Kant’s time, is practically universally accepted in our time. Because enlightened positions about the purpose of politics were adopted by Kant and others, the fulfillment of the purpose of man, whatever that may be, is possible. Today, political institutions must, as Kant prescribed, afford citizens the highest amount of freedom and the greatest level of opportunity. The assurance of these rights will ensure steady progress toward an enlightened and progressive society and a better existence for all of humanity.

 

PURPOSE VS EFFECTS.

Very few Nigerians relatively are aware and adequately concerned about the purpose of politics but their actions have disastrous effects on the polity when their votes are counted. The effects of voting incredible candidates determine the future of the state. When certain undesirable elements seek political offices, their purposes are not matters of conjectures but outright criminality. For decades now, the quality of the Igbo representation at the National Assembly is laughable and very shameful. This is why we have been kept marginalized. The likes of Okadigbo are no longer there but self-serving, half baked illiterates, mediocre and outright evil men. They cannot do anything for us because of their chains of misdeeds and records with the INTERPOL and the Police which is waved on their faces when they try to speak for Ndigbo. They are the ones who hijack federal contracts meant for SOUTH EAST award their selves and issue certificates of completion and get paid for a job that was never executed without even the state governor knowing of the award of such contracts.

They can do this because they are in the corridor of power, to which they were elected by people like you who provoked intra-ethnic sentiments, zoning, and mortgaged their conscience and the future of their children for N2000 or few cups of Rice. In my view 2015 elections offers all the opportunity for reappraisal, so that we may elect credible leaders and ensure the continuity of progress.

The  ideals of politics are barely considered in our political sphere where ignorance, arrogance, poverty, zoning ,and poor judgment undermines appropriate orientation .Here, we might say, our people vote at elections to augment the resources necessary for individual survival by selling their votes or mortgaging same on unsound values of Zoning and  irrational mediocrity. Politics in our sphere has become self serving, odouriferous and until of recent, the preoccupation of dangerous characters. The individual interest and the interest of the common good appear obscured by greed and selfishness. This explains why President Goodluck Ebele ruled Nigeria for 6 years without any real development for the South East zone and the second Niger bridge remains on the drawing board as a toll bridge. It is the reason why Buhari came to the Zone to campaign and left no concrete promises behind for what he would do for our people but a threat of what would happen if Jonathan is reelected. This is because we have not found our purpose in the politics of Nigeria and are led by clueless and visionless men who lack the ability to formulate strategies for national advancement and fell asleep when  important decisions were been taken.

 

CHURCH AUTHORITIES OR GRAND INQUISITORS?

This question is most relevant for a religious milieu like ours, the South-Eastern Nigeria (and indeed Nigeria in general), in which church authorities are not only privileged with certain ‘spiritual’ powers, but are also loaded with immense temporal powers. In no other place under heaven, not even in Medieval Europe, has serving Christ and His Church in one form or the other become this attractive! Predictably, this owes largely to the privileges, status, honor and glory that go with such services. We have always preferred the hierarchical model of running the church – and this cuts across all Christian denominations in this part of the world. The hierarchical mentality, drastically diminished in other parts of the world, still holds sway here.

The direct effect of this is the proliferation of vocations and ministries. I do not use the word, ‘proliferation’, in any particularly pejorative way, nor do I limit “vocations” to any single denomination;  actually I see nothing wrong, per se, if so many people feel ‘called’ to serve Christ by getting involved in one ministry or the other. What is undeniable, however, is the fact that there is something very attractive about doing so in the South-East (and indeed the rest of the country). Of course, the intentions are not always pure in making such choices as being priest, religious, Pentecostal pastor, evangelist and a host of other ‘callings’ people claim to have received.  Here, I make no pretensions to any for knowledge of people’s intentions, nor do I wish to prejudge their motivations.

What I find particularly disturbing, however, is that church authorities get so much carried away by the privileges, powers, politics and bureaucracy associated with their offices that they lose sight of Christ, the Master. Soon Christ gets shortchanged or pushed to the margins, and ossifying red-tape and awful politics occupy the center-stage. Sometimes the brutality and desperation that go with this is unspeakable. Sometimes, too, it appears pretty benign, a situation where they are just content with making a little ‘fiefdom’ out of their offices. They probably enjoy that subtle feeling of self-importance, the long queue outside the office, the proud tantrums they throw up once in a while as they rudely talk to people in a bid to make their powers felt. [ As a matter of fact, only a ministry in Nigeria can afford one such a luxury of throwing up tantrums and still get ‘admired’ for it]. All this makes them feel good. And, as we often hear them confess secretly, “Church dey sweet for Naijaoo!” They can’t have it any better, having probably had a bumpy ride in other parts of the world.

But the crucial question is: what place does Christ occupy in their ministries? Does the question of how Christ would have them perform exercise their ministries sometimes bother them? They perhaps do not give a hoot about Christ. All that matters is that “Church dey sweet for Naija.” They so much enjoy the “work of the Lord” that they care little about the Lord of the work. For them, the system/structure is ‘sweet’ and fulfilling in itself, better still, without Christ.  They would not want to change the status quo, since it is absolutely tipped in their favor. In fact, they would most sincerely prefer not to have Christ around, so they can do their own things and continue to enjoy the “sweetness” of the Church thereof. As it were, they areGRAND INQUISITORS!!

The Grand Inquisitor (reminiscent of the era of Inquisition) is a famous character in a legend in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. [Dostoyevsky is a Russian Philosopher and writer]. Jesus comes back to earth for a day or so and performs a couple of miracles. But the church authorities did not want to have Him back. And so the Grand Inquisitor quickly condemns Him. While Jesus was in prison, the Grand Inquisitor visits him to make certain things clear to him. He insists that Jesus should go back to wherever He came from. Jesus is clearly told that He is no longer needed in today’s Christianity. In fact, the Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus point blank that His presence would interfere with the duties of church leaders, and probably undermine their authority. He even tries to ”correct” some of the ”mistakes” Jesus made. For instance, Jesus should not have rejected Satan’s suggestions to turn stones into loaves of bread. The Grand Inquisitor regrets that, by turning down the suggestion, Jesus missed a unique opportunity to advance his politics and establish himself as the Provider for the masses. Also, Jesus should not have turned down Satan’s suggestions and offers in the last two temptations, as these would have consolidated his powers and won Him a great and ever-submissive following.

The Grand Inquisitor thinks Jesus should have been tougher and more assertive, and should have focused more on establishing His kingdom on earth rather than in heaven. He does not want to repeat the same ‘mistake’ Jesus made, not minding whether or not Jesus would take exception to his approach. He thinks he understands the business of leading a church better than Jesus. For instance, he believes that, for the faithful to attain ‘salvation’, their freedom must be restricted and their sight obscured. Regretably, Jesus did just the very opposite: he opened the people’s eyes and made them conscious of their freedom. In short, since he (the Grand Inquisitor) has shown himself a more effective leader, Jesus had better allow him to do his job, a job for which Jesus himself would be forced to kiss his hands in admiration when he is done. But first, Jesus has to steer clear!

At first, the above picture might seem exaggerated, giving room for those concerned to exonerate themselves. But, upon deep consideration, one begins to recognize the fact that what we behold today in the Nigerian church (or, at least, the part of the country we are looking at) is not anything significantly different from the state of affairs the Grand Inquisitor would advocate. I believe that no Christian denomination can safely exonerate itself.  What we have today is a church being run as a private fiefdom of church authorities, a fiefdom probably insulated from Christ’s sphere of influence.

All authority comes from Christ.  Church authorities should recognize that they are mere representatives of Christ, from whom they derive their calling and the attendant powers. But the situation we see points to the fact that church leaders have either lost sight of this fact or only pay lips service to it. They assert their authority in a way that suggests they are the authors of such powers and are not answerable to Christ. So Christ is systemically excluded and, if He is ever invoked, it is only when it seems convenient or when it is used to further consolidate their powers. Sometimes Christ is invoked just for the purposes of exacting absolute and unquestioning obedience from the people, as they are reminded that to disobey the authorities is to disobey Christ. In fact, some church authorities have become so powerful that they do not even need to mention Christ in this case; the power-structure they have created, the system of subtle intimidation and even the aura that surrounds them guarantee enough security. So, Christ is not even needed, in the first place.

To be contd.

 

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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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