Monday, October 18, 2021
Home Blog

N.I.G.E.R.I.A: BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD

0

Nothing is more shocking than to see a Nation which supposed to be very fruitful in every aspect continue to deteriorate in the face of crime, debauchery and crude religious mentality. I grew up to inherit a bleeding Nation, a place that becomes every day unbearable for her citizens. Each dawning day, the news is broken with harsh words about the bombed Borno, about the incessant attack at Southern Kaduna, about scores of people feared dead in an inferno at Abuja. And when I listen to hear one good thing about my Nation, I am kidnapped by the numerous families who are left in tears, because they have found a new home in refugee camps.

In an attempt to define my Nation, I have sourced more fitting words that would best describe the situation pervading her, but when I find pain, I am reduced to see that what she is plunged into is far above pain. Is it torture? It speaks no better definition. Is it penury? We lived with it all day. Is it sorrow? There has never been each day we are not squeezed into it. Could it be anger, yes, everyone is indignant? Will I say that it is like a pregnant woman ripped off her baby unwanted? If that could serve as a clear picture, it is then possible, that pain, sorrow, anger, penury and death, are what swim through the annals of my Nation.

Going with the current death trolls and the despicable scenes covered in every way of the Nation, it is predictable that a cold war silently walks through the states and destroying with it, the potentials that made my Nation great. Why this makes a terrible mark in our hearts, it steals the beautiful souls we have and make us become defiant in the sound of the gun, it makes us become aggressive and at the slightest provocation, blood flows. However, there is a way resentment, lures people to be destructive, because victims of warzone rarely admit the true essence of life.

Even though as old as my country and how we have played a key role in other country’s sustainability through our natural resources, we are impoverished. Citizens barely have some more to eat, the mineral water is overpowered by the elites and the corrupt leaders who have been asked to take the mantle of leadership by our collective performance of civil responsibility, feed us our flesh for food, our blood for a drink and suffocate us with the shrill cries of our fellow citizens. And even when we stay mute to see if things would get better, we are tormented with unmanageable fists with religious fundamentalists who peel our flesh to accept their religion.

Respectively, things never get easy. For an average man in the Ladipo market in Lagos, he thinks of how he is exposed to danger in his land and while that is not enough, he fears if his children in school are safe. For a Christian in Yakowa market in Kaduna, he is left with two options: to live or to die. And to live is to be afraid of your tomorrow, not by sickness, but by circumstances, we are left to endure. For that man in Ariaria, Aba, he shuts down his shop, because he is not assured of coming back alive if he leaves to the market. Nothing inspires them, for their life has been battered with fuel with the light on its speed to consume them.

In addition, there are strange occurrences that are beyond our control. Lives are snuffed out from the citizens as if they are wild animals and when it meets the net, it is veiled with terrorizing notice. And when you speak out against the terrible attacks, you would be sought for. It goes to tell the fate of our tomorrow. It shows that as far as we live, we have lost democracy, which ought to be the prominent system that guides us. Where the people are given the voice to convey their pains, the right to challenge the corrupt government, the authority to unseat the President, especially at this time when he is incapable of achieving the Federal goals.

Above all, I goad everyone to be safe. Life is what we need to get to the promised land. Although we are conscripted to haul our voices in the darkest room of silence, to speak less of our pain, else we will die. I encourage everyone to be steadfast, to be intentional in his or her struggle, to pray ceaselessly, especially, because without prayer, we may have been doomed and our enemies would have preyed on us and our blood sprinkled on the bushes, the roads and our rooms. This is our reality and we need to be mindful of it, that even at this gruesome moment, Nigerian leaders still make merry in celebration of 61 years of abject dependence on the dictates of our colonial masters and become conquered by the debts we owe, by the religion of violence we are forced to embrace and we become at every time befuddled that we are slaves in a Nation that assumed that has Independence.

This is N.I.G.E.R.I.A!

THE CONCEPTION OF BB-NIAJA AND THE CHRISTIAN CONCERNS

0

If you are Christian, especially Catholics who condemn Big Brother Naija, I think, it is high time you stopped. Lately, I have discovered that why we speak disdainfully about the purported reality show is because a few numbers of you have preconceived the program to be a space where sexual immorality is promoted. Hardly have anyone of you, established a more tangible issue about the show. It is a sign of courageous ignorance that most of you, especially religious enthusiasts, describe that intriguing, informing and entertaining program as such, because, if you understand the peculiarity of the assignments they go through, which are very educative, you’ll shun that other side that most of you bemoan at.

One big problem with Nigerian Christian life is hypocrisy. Let’s assume they have sex, which is an infamous statement, was the program not restricted for people below the age of 18? As an adult, what can be too bad in seeing what you obviously do in the dark rooms and hotels and even on your street, at the corner of your father’s beautiful house? Why will you hungrily jump from your coven just to label that program an evil show? The promiscuity you people are against is the one, you do every period and at times use your children and maids as an instrument of sexual gratification. Why will you turn to be an average charlatan in the face of what you do? It is very destructive to live cunningly.

Let me educate you. Big Brother Naija is a pure Nigerian story staged on a National television. It is a story of a struggling Nigerian trying to get better by all means. And at times, it is very difficult to situate how anyone can be able to make his or her life worthwhile. That’s why the program comes with beautiful and inspiring tasks that keep each housemate into branding his or her best initiative in trying to win and become successful. Eventually, you didn’t succeed, there could be other consolation prizes that come with it, which are gained at the program. Do I need to emphasise how many of them, who discover their talents and who observe from housemates the uniqueness of the skills each of them possesses?

Another familiar thing we should eschew is the way we judge things without experiencing them. A good number of us, speak or write reviews of Big Brother Naija out of speculation and that’s an unhealthy way to learn and teach. To write a review of something means that you have read, or seen or experienced that thing and was able to digest very well, the components of the thing. If your ability to evaluate the event, issue or about a people or person, is generated from hearsay, then, there is probably something fishy about your learning process. Everything embodies a negative side and a positive side. Once you abandon the positive side to dwell more on the negative aspect, it is simply a new way to say that you are biased.

Think of how to get rid of your projection about immoral acts in Big Brother Naija. If you are so pious and you’d wish to satisfy your religious hunger, write to your priests, your pastors, your bishops to promote a program that distributes evenly the tenets of Christianity. How many of you tune in to EWTN to watch some wonderful programs that can quench your thirst for God? There are as many beautiful spiritual programs that will elevate your appetite for worshipping God. Unfortunately, your religious leaders may not consider making that a reality, even when they have the capacity and financial force to achieve that. The idea of defining Big Brother Naija, as something that doesn’t stimulate your spiritual antenna, could be seen as an entitlement, because the affairs being carried out in the show are not one centred. They are multidimensional.

Finally, I will suggest you keep away from feeling choked by the activities that surround Big Brother Naija. If it is not your thing, take a chill. It is not even advisable you lend a voice to everything, especially things you have control of. If you are allergic to a sexual exhibition or have been damaged by what you see from the program, I think you should blame your psyche disposition and then, you can talk to your parents who earlier exposed you to those damages. Big Brother Naija does not influence your sexual damage. It is a three months program and there is a slim chance that you would be corrupted by what you see, then what you have participated in within the nine months. Tell yourself some truth.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HUMANITY DIES

0

The story of my life in 2012 repeated yesterday after I tried to peer through the video of Dr. Chike Akuyili’s murder. The only difference is that I wasn’t murdered by a gun, but rather with negligence and unrepentant people who did their worse by using their phones to take shots and videos of someone who is gasping for life.

It was in the afternoon after I had finished having my haircut. I drove through the road, a route mostly busy with commuters, marketers and other vehicles that are making their way to different destinations. Luck ran out me that I met a very terrible bus driver, who was carrying passengers in Imo Transport Company, from Orlu to Onitsha. I was maintaining my track when the untold happened. The bus driver, who was skidding quite fast, lost control of his steering, suddenly, he was able to recover the wheel, but by then, big damage has been caused. A cyclist, who was carrying a man who was in his late forties, received the first pickle, unfortunately for the passenger, he swiped from the tricycle and had his head smashed on the tarred road. He became unconscious with his head broken so badly.

Within a twinkle of an eye, I took the next knock, from the back, the same bus driver, I was pressured by the hit that the wave placed me and the little tricycle I was riding apart. I did see that my spirit had left my body and I was spread at the centre of the road, where vehicles and trucks are steeping with force. A Catholic priest, who was driving a fine red jeep could have levelled me with his tyres, because he was driving again with speed, only to recognize very quickly that something wrong had occurred. I was saved by the careful driving of the priest.

When I managed to pull out from the centre of the road, where the bus driver shoved me, I was deeply in pain. My hands were mauled and my trouser thorn into pieces. The blood that cemented the road was much and I was scrambling between the injuries and the tattered cloth. My tricycle fell inside the gutter with the headlights, broken in bits. There were other parts of the tricycle that were terribly damaged, that it became very impossible to kick-start it.

Among the many things that happened, none of the passersby came to help me. Those who saw when the accident happened were only screaming and I could hear their screams deeply inside my head when I was striving to stand. Others were very comfortable using their cameras to snap, some were videoing. The few others were raising their shoulders in panic without thinking of how to assist me. Everything happened at the speed of light. The crowd that pulled around the scene only came to snap pictures and update the populace across the state on what had happened in their area.

When I saw that the crowd were not helpful to me, I crawled into the gutter with the unbearable pain, struggled with my tricycle and dashed out to pick up a few parts of the tricycle that had broken. By the road, towards the other end, a mechanic was there, I signalled him to help me push the tricycle to his shop. I didn’t come out with my phone and I hadn’t in mind who to call. When I got to the mechanic shop, he checked the tricycle and seeing that I was the victim of the accident that had happened, he ceased other things he was doing and fixed my tricycle in a way I can manage it home.

While I was trying to push out the tricycle after the mechanic had given it a quick check, I heard trembling cries from the other two-storey building opposite where we had the accident. I sought to understand the reason. A heavily pregnant woman, who was coming out from the building, said that the man died. He lost a lot of blood before treatment was able to commence. I came to know that the building was a hospital and the man was the first victim of the accident whose head got whacked on the tarred floor.

Humanity probably lost its bearing after the invention of phone camera, especially social media. The redundancy people exhibit in the face of accidents is appalling. People at times chose to document painful events with their phones instead of assisting the victims to get recovery. The sweetest part of humanity, where people are touched by the mere seeing of blood has been overtaken by senseless exercise. What they struggle to do is to fight who gets the news first published on the net and which media platform is the first to carry the news.

It is troubling to accept that even though we live, we are no longer humans. The part of us that is benign, concerned and ready to help, has been distorted with unhealthy competition. Nurses watch victims of accidents die in their face and they are not troubled if it is their father or brother who is in that condition. Humanity sees those who are trapped, instead of seeking for alternative, they resort to using cameras and phones to alert people overseas of what is happening in Nigeria. Where have we kept our ‘Onyeaghala Nwanne ya’ mantra? Has it been overpowered by gullibility? If we keep making this a tradition, a time will come, when brotherhood will be feared death.

IS VIRGIN MARY NOT THE MOTHER OF ALL CHRISTIANS?

0

The Catholic faithful all over the world are as a matter of tradition celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, every 8th day of September. And if you are very observant, you’d see how some Catholic adherents become so enamoured to throw a feast in commemoration of her Birthday. At times, many Catholic parishes remind their faithful of the need to usher in this beautiful feast with Novena Prayers, accompanied by the celebration of holy mass with deep catechesis concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary, properly instructed by a priest or by someone who is deeply rooted in Marian studies.

I am very passionate about Catholic Church, not so in her errors, but in the riches and tenacity of her doctrines. Although, I am not sure if any present denominations are immune to other erroneous practices, which are sown deep into their system. However, while I realize that Catholic Church has its frailties and failures, it is apt we understand that the best legacy some other Protestant Churches enjoy can be traced back to Catholic Church. Just recently, I did have a meeting with a Winners Pastor and the first thing that snatched my sight when I walked into his palatial office was the host and wine, neatly packed at the corner of his office. As curious as I am, I engaged him on how they arrived at copying the centre; the heart of the Catholic Eucharistic feast. Sadly, he was not very certain of how it came, but he could only be sure that Christ, at the Passover Instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

I don’t want to worry about how the Pastor and his cohorts arrive at the initiation of receiving Holy Communion, as the practice is mainly for Catholics and there are special classes and preparations that come with it. What is more intriguing here is how they copied this solemn practice, without strategic teaching about it. And believe me, the abuse that may follow the practice they carry out can be very sacrilegious because they invite people to participate in a ritual that they have slim knowledge of. If at all there is something very sacred they do, to mature their adherents, I believe, it is somehow, going to borrow the doctrinal teachings of Catholicism. Unfortunately, as you’d expect, the Pastor has no laid down principles or instructions that will genuinely guide people into that stage of spiritual grace.

Now, apart from the issue that gravitates towards Eucharist, it is very right I point as well that the richer some of these pseudo Churches, become with basic Christian faith and teachings, the more healthier they become. Like as I mentioned in my opening paragraph, the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, should be a Christian affair, it is not necessarily something only Catholic Church should do. If Christians are courageously aligning with their founder who is Our Lord Jesus Christ, what is very improper to celebrate the mother of their Founder? Why have some of you found anything of Blessed Virgin Mary very absurd, whereas you profess a Christian identity? Will you likely disrespect the mother of the founder of Redeem Christian Church, Winners Chapel, Dominion City, and other numerous Churches founded by an ordinary human person like you? What about the wives of these founders, do you not go out of your way to lurk the internet and spread their pictures, even in most of the non-significant things they do? So, why have you decided to have fracas at the mention of the Mother of the Saviour you call every day and night?

You see, there is a big deal to how we conceive things to how they really are. Why will you conceive the celebration of Our Lady’s birthday as idolatry, but you obviously do what you accuse the Catholics of, to some of your pastors and superficial things you admire. Why have you not accepted the fact that Blessed Virgin gave birth to Jesus and as it shows, should be honoured for being that woman that is full of grace? Is it her fault that your mum was not chosen or your sister or wife was not considered for that enviable position? Could we say you are envious of the woman’s picture, maybe because of how beautiful she is? What is really your problem?

I quite appreciate the non-Catholics, who were not veiled with sentiments and religious bigotry, who recognised the need to celebrate the Mother of Jesus. Who told you that Blessed Virgin Mary is only the Mother of all Catholics? In fact, in the Litany of Blessed Virgin, often recited after the rosary, there is where Mother of Christians is placed. If Catholics wanted to monopolize it, they would continue to say Mother of all Catholics, which is what it seems like, because the religious trajectory of Mary, has been chased by your extreme hate for a woman that gave birth to your Jesus Christ. Our separated brethren even though are propagating the gospel of Christ, should make sure they don’t deviate from that one purpose, which is to adhere to the teachings of Christ. We are that same new Church Christ handled his mother to. And I am shocked why we have chosen to leave the mother to pursue the son.

BOARDING A TRAIN IN NIGERIA IS NOT FOR THE WEAK

0

The recent petrol hike has paralysed many people who are willing to make movements to many places and cities. Journeying from Port Harcourt to Aba, which was formerly #500 has now been increased to #1,500. This is how it has affected other neighbouring states, with commuters painfully dolling out money to pay the drivers.

For an ordinary business person who often drives through Portharcourt to Aba daily, will be mandated by the current transport fare upsurge to remit at least #3000, which will probably cover the business trip, considering where he or she is going in Aba. This has become a worrisome challenge, because as it stands now, the few foodstuffs which were at an affordable price, will be expensive and may be very difficult for a struggling family to eat henceforth.

With the introduction of the train, another major means of transportation, many businessmen and women, will begin to resort to using it. Sadly, the many train stations in Nigeria has been shut down and unfortunately liquidated for no good reason. If you take time to visit some of the terminals, where these trains are expected to stop and pick passengers, you are going to be appalled by the nature of what you’d see. The considerable number of train stations that function is in a bad condition and it may likely disappoint anyone who has scheduled an important meeting or business engagement from the outskirts of the town.

Noticing that there could be a great difficulty to going to Aba, my friend and I, dashed out on Wednesday morning to make some enquiry about how the railway station at Elelenwo, works. The railroad station at Elelenwo, stood empty of people when we got there. The office was open but we couldn’t find any life there. We stayed for a few minutes to see if the woman who works there will show up, but it is assumed she has gone for a break and for the fact that she has finished selling tickets for that day, she needs to retire and come back in the evening to sell tickets for Thursday morning.

Quickly as we left the environment, a lady who used to sell a few perishable items opposite the railway station, informed us, after we must have asked if the train is still operating, that the train will be leaving at nine. This means, if we would want to join the train, we surely need to be there before nine in the morning. Truthfully, visiting that railway station was my first-time experience. I was not generally informed about its operation. We need to make extra research to know the ticket fee and how it is been categorized, because, throughout my reading, I have come across where they normally say they have first-class and regular tickets. In our more expanded findings, the woman who fed us with the information said that the first-class goes for #400 while the regular goes for #200.

Getting to the train station at a few minutes to nine in the morning, we met a mammoth crowd who were patiently waiting for the train to arrive. We paid for regular, but at a point, hearing what the passengers were complaining about how turgid the regular section used to look like, we asked for the first-class ticket at #400. After a few minutes of payment, the horn from the train began to project. Boarding the train was not a child’s play, you need to struggle to enter, as the train gradually makes a shift. If you are having bags, for instance, you need to keep them intact, to avoid losing some of your valuables. Most guys arrest that opportunity to steal phones and ransack people’s bags. It is just unsafe if you are a woman who is wearing a skirt. Before you can make your way, you may have been tossed out of the way or if you are strong, you may have to be kicking with your legs to gain your entrance. I remembered supporting an aged man with my hands. The way he was struggling made an impression to me that he would be unable to climb the train if not assisted.

The train has about nine coaches and only one was reserved for those who paid the VIP or first-class ticket. I was embarrassed to find out that passengers from Dioubi, Mile 1, Woji and others have occupied the first-class room and you wouldn’t know who pays for the first-class, except if you have to go through their tickets one after the other. Both those who paid for regular and first-class were mixed and you hardly can tell each one apart. The sad thing is that I had to start walking from one coach to another supervising if there is any vacancy left because even the regular spaces have been filled up. A first-class ticket holder was left standing, until a passenger who is to stop at Obigbo, alighted, which created a space for me.

Using the train was much easier. The journey from Portharcourt to Aba took us two hours and seven minutes and at each terminal, the train was meant to drop the passenger. I became sad that after I had paid for a first-class ticket, I was not given the chance to enjoy it. This goes a long way to show that there could be no need to pay for first-class tickets. It is a more subtle way to scam people. And for whatever reason, the use of the train, seems safe and risky, as it will save one from going through the deplorable road system in Nigeria and may expose one to being robbed of his money and other valuables if the person is not careful.

It is just an amazing first experience and I bet you, it is not easy making that decision.

ONLY CHRIST DESERVES A ‘FAN CLUB’

0

© Fr. Ferdinand Santos

My Dear Younger Brother-Seminarians,

Allow me to share with you some thoughts on our calling as ministers and messengers of the Gospel. I chose to become a priest because I wanted to live a life that would bring me closer to God and to people, and I believed that that life was one lived in simplicity, faithfulness, and brotherhood with everyone. As a young boy I also did think of being something else: a lawyer or a doctor perhaps. I did, after all, have the intelligence and commitment to be whatever I wanted to be. But I decided I wanted a simpler life, a kinder, gentler life that would bring me peace and communion with God and my neighbor. And so I chose the seminary over the university, and put my whole being into responding to God’s invitation. San Carlos was my home for five years before I left and ‘complicated’ my life with the study of philosophy and theology.

When our formators sent me to study in Louvain, I found myself both excited and anxious. I was excited because I knew I was looking forward to more adventures, and anxious, because I thought that leaving for further studies would move me farther away from the simple and ideal life I had so earnestly wanted for myself. The thing is, by the time I was in fourth year philosophy, much of my earlier interest in living a simple life had slowly ebbed away. There’s a lot of unnecessary power-play in the church; and one of the things I had to recognize quickly and guard against, even in seminary, was the fact that power, prestige, and authority are sometimes too attractive to pass by.

I still remember some of my contemporaries who even as seminarians would talk about wanting to become monsignors or bishops one day, of holding such and such position in the church, or of being assigned to this or that parish because it was big and so on. I remember one guy who spent most of our class hours doodling miters and crosiers and drawing episcopal coats of arms. Granted these are the products of still-childish minds which have not yet fully grasped the enormity of responsibility in the church—much like James and John perhaps, wanting to sit at Jesus’ right and left—still, we would be hard pressed to deny that such actions and others similar to them, speak of a manner by which some students, as early as seminary, regard ministry in the church. It is, for some, a means of upward mobility.

Even then, I used to constantly remind myself that if that were what I really wanted, if power, authority, wealth, and fame, were what I earnestly desired, I should leave the seminary and choose a profession in which my ambition would not be hindered at all by any admonition to “carry no extra shirt, no belt, no purse”. It just seemed hypocritical to profess that one were following Christ’s command to live in simplicity and trust in God’s providence when one’s life was lived in pursuit of their very antitheses.

But I cannot deny that when I left for further studies, at the back of my mind was that nagging thought that here was an opportunity for me to add a feather to my cap, a few more letters after my name, a couple of degrees to be proud of and show off—perhaps to make me feel that I was better than most. Was my going abroad going to be my ticket to upward mobility in the church? Back in 1992, at least, it was a question that seemed to get an affirmative answer.

The surprising thing, of course, is that instead of turning out to be that way, my six years away from home turned out to be an unusual ‘purification’ of sorts. For it was at the university in Belgium that I met truly great and noble people, mostly professors, theologians, philosophers, who have spent their lives in utter anonymity, and yet whose works influence the very thought, not only of the church, but of society as well. And yet these were men and women who willingly shunned the spotlight, who refused to make their lives the focus of attention, and who chose to efface themselves and “decrease, so that [Christ alone] might increase”. They were human beings who, in my mind, were of exceptional character and nobility; and they formed and solidified the core of how I have come to define myself and my ministry.

In grade school and high school, with the Franciscan Capuchins who educated me, I grew up singing the prayer, “Make me an instrument of your peace”. An “instrument”—it was an idea that embedded itself so deeply in my young mind. I am an instrument, nothing more, but nothing less either. For in my very being one, I share in the work of Christ who is in the end, the sole point and reference of everything I am and do. A poet once said that all we really do in this life is “contribute one verse to the everlasting poem written by the hand of God himself”. One verse—just one—but a verse nevertheless; as such, no less important than the entire poem, for without it, the poem would hardly be complete.

This is why even as a seminary student like yourself, I promised myself one thing—and it’s a promise I hope I can keep for as long as I live, and that is to remain as far away as I can from the trappings of power, wealth, prestige, and honor that so profoundly characterize many, even in the church. But that’s me; it doesn’t make me any better than anyone. Just different perhaps.

The Franciscan priests who taught and molded me in my early years, drilled into my consciousness the value of a simple and carefree life that was the inspiration of one of the greatest and most noble human beings who has ever lived, Francis of Assisi. It is strange—though not completely incomprehensible—that at this particular juncture in my life, the inspiration that first brought me to seriously consider becoming a priest, has found itself enkindled once again. I say it is strange because I never imagined that living and working with seminary students would become for me an almost daily reminder of the anonymity of the life of a disciple, the hiddenness of the life of one who seeks to be no more than the moon to Christ who must always be the sun.

This is also why I kept telling you while we were together, that only Christ deserves to have a ‘fan club’. People will naturally find us ‘attractive’ in many different ways. Many priests and seminarians after all are kind, gentle, and caring. Many of us are good speakers, and not a few are actually good looking. People like those qualities. The thing is, while there’s nothing wrong in receiving their praise and admiration (and we should learn to say “thank you” sincerely, by the way, whenever we are appreciated), we also shouldn’t forget that those words of praise do not primarily belong to us. They are first and foremost directed to Christ, not to ourselves. Granted that doesn’t always happen, it still doesn’t change the equation.

They’re Jesus’ fans, not ours. And we shouldn’t be going around trying to form our own groupies. One who does so completely misses the point of the whole situation. We are meant to be ‘attractive’ to people, that is true. Adrian Van Kaam the author of “Religion and Personality” suggests that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being “a little vain”, meaning keeping oneself well kempt so as not to turn people off. But neither should we forget that looking good, speaking and acting well, are not meant to draw people to ourselves. That will naturally happen. What we’re really supposed to do is to lead them—when they do come to us—to Christ. He is the chief shepherd, remember. We aren’t the point. He is.

(Published in Ferdinand Santos, Journey into the Heart of Christ: Letters to Seminary Students on Faith, Life and Formation, Claretian Publications, 2003)

FEARS OF A BROKEN NIGERIA IN THE FACE OF THESE AGITATIONS

0

It is unlike the normal Nigerians, who at times keep quiet over certain political conflicts and poor implementation of the manifesto promised by the past and present administration, the wake of other troubling political scenes and social deterioration, have begun to provoke every sensible Nigerian either to speak out or write in tears their horrendous experiences every day.

The usual conception of ‘it will get better, has been tortured by the countless killings and ejection of indigenous occupants of so many towns out from their homes. Uninterestingly, the vehicle of peace has been taken away from Nigeria with the installation of anarchy and carnage heavily mounted at various locations of the State. And for a country, that is politically governed by religious acrobatics and bias, it gets unpleasant to witness the scores of people who die out of security tensions, and the death of constitutional rights, the individual thus, has begun to employ certain measures in order to safeguard themselves, whereas a good number of other citizens are swallowed by fear and uncertainties.

The problem with present Nigeria may not be necessarily the issue of leadership, as Achebe once stated in his book ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’. Why the Nation called Nigeria often fails as populated by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson are when the Government look away from the predominant cultural differences and religious sects that pitch their tent in the country. Daron and Robinson articulated two types of institutions: extractive — aimed at excluding the majority of society from the process of political decision-making and income distribution, and inclusive — aimed at including the widest possible strata of society in economic and political life. And in the absence of these pluralistic political institutions, achieving Federal peace, security and sustainable development, will be impossible. It should not be taken for granted that the political understanding of a Northerner is unfortunately different from someone in the Southeast, because the country as a Democratic institution, is yet to see the realities of this segment. It could be however the reason why the various calamities punching the legs of the Nation, which include the suffocation of particular interest of others who are politically excluded keep making rounds. When there are fractions of people, who are deliberately extracted from political appointments, conversations on the economy, social cohesion and educational growths and most notably security knowledge, it becomes inimical that popular opinions would begin to centre on one phase of people. This exacerbates the situation of the country and draws the bars of its profound advancement to dust. 

Many states in Nigeria has been experiencing a cold war, which became very prominent lately after the stale attempt of certain unidentified gunmen and the soldiers. However, it can always be traced that the present government has been quiet over the complicating security lapses, which frequently has overwhelmed the citizens of the Nation. For an administration that guaranteed the security of her citizens, and later on, turned to feed on the blood of her citizens is quite a hostile change. The recent security crisis has initiated a terrible feeling for everyone who lives in the country. While the poor security system has frozen the movement of the people from one state to another thereby providing little access for marketers to convey their goods to many places of sales, it also posed a horrible danger on the lives of those who are professional workers in the country. And this has forced people living around the auspices of Orlu, Owerri, Onitsha, Awka, Enugu, Abakaliki and Aba either to work from their comforts or going back home as early as possible, in order to bypass the incessant shooting.

The former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan once remarked when he was addressing the issues between Palestine and Gaza that “the present conflict in that part of the world can never be resolved by nations and institutions taking sides. It can only be resolved by those living within the borders of Israel and Palestine taking time to understand each other until they come to a place where they can coexist, co-prosper and eventually cooperate”. This means, that as far as the Government of Nigeria does not put to stop to the sponsoring of a certain group of people equipped with arms and directed to fight a minority group in the country, the continuous records in the killings, may not end. For that to happen, what is needed, in the immediate term, is a ceasefire, followed by massive confidence building on both sides, Goodluck hinged.

Recently in Anambra, one of the states in the Eastern region of the country, the various communities in Ekwusigo Local Government, have been spending their nights outside their homes. The report also stated that a certain group of people invaded the local community and have started terrorising them with guns and fearful arms. If you recall, in 2018, the said community experienced such devastating effects and there was no word from any of the country leaders. A few words which appear like icing sugar, came from the state Governor, maybe because he feels that his silence may define a collection of negligence and would worsen his political career. Ibrahim Babangida, tweeted a few weeks ago one of the comments of Sani Abacha that ” any insurgency that lasts more than twenty-four hours, the government is aware of it”. It is an indication that the Buhari-led administration is aware of the genocide attacks going on in the corners of the Southeastern region, where majorly the Indigenous People of Biafra are residing. And it recently confirmed that after the President tweeted that “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. “Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.” What more could these words mean, if not that the President is collectively pushing for another war?

In the different corners of all Igbo states, the Federal government with the collaboration of the State government have imposed a mandatory curfew. This has witnessed a lot of restrictions and could be very difficult to determine what to be done in cases of emergency or a fraction of the state experiencing a tough time against their rivals. One of the disturbing aspects of this curfew is that there are poor security distributions to localities that are prone to be attacked. A few days back, a youth was sharing with a Newspaper reporter that the fear that grips the residents of his town and other neighbouring towns is unquantifiable and could cost them their mental health.

Events over the last few months of insurgency would define how the country is faced with the terrible language of divorce from every region hunting for freedom. It is very important to say that the more these concerns are not addressed, it is likely to shut down the country and that could obviously come as a repetition of what happened in 1967. And if the war would set in, it will carefully break down the walls of indifference that cause terrible havoc in the leadership of this country. Not long ago, the Senate has come with the thought of Constitutional review, knowing very well that one biggest problem of Nigeria is the lack of unification of the Constitution. A Constitution is not made to consider the religious beliefs of people while standing in the arms of one Nigeria. There are no people who continue to exist with biases and ungodly sentiments. A Constitution that has constrained other religious sects from freely practising their beliefs, is headed towards unhealthy distortion of good governance. Nigeria is not the only multilingual Nation. There are many other countries in the world that don’t practice one culture and are open to the different establishment of religions, yet they are noted for their progress and interesting advancements in all strata of their lives. Nigeria as famished of economic growth, due to poor economic strategies, are sacrificing the lives of innocent civilians who could be a better resource to the economic stagnation and these same instruments of change are butchered every day with no value to constitutional rights, which is to live.

I feel desperate to watch these events unfold and I will like to borrow from Goodluck Jonathan to say that the Government should permanently ceasefire. Every attempt to cushion this fear should be employed, insofar as it doesn’t jeopardize the interest of the good people of the country. The cost of living is on an increase and the primary cause of all these is coming from the inability of the Federal Government to lit a light of peace to every section of the country. I will like to pick a review made by Warren Bess on Why Nations Fail that “You cannot force people to think and have good ideas by threatening to shoot them,”. Of what interest would the activity of sporadic shooting and maiming offer Nigeria as a country? There is no way to development, when the country instead of evaluating other milky means to care for his people, go around seeking on how to destroy them. If the Federal government intends to depopulate the Christian people in order to populate the Nation with the  Islamic republic, they should be mindful that while they toe this pathway, they should be informed that the Christian people are like seeds planted and they keep bearing fruits, regardless of how troubled the land they are sown challenges them to death.
The country is tensed and it can only be doused if the Government of Nigeria can dole out profitable resolutions. The various institutions that are politically motivated to fight for their rights, because of the slim distribution of Federal character should as a matter of fact, given a referendum to experience their freedom.

Nigeria may be scared to another level of frustration, which certainly will be very difficult. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan would say “When you deprive people of their right to live in dignity, to hope for a better future, to have control over their lives when you deprive them of that choice, then you expect them to fight for these rights.” and this is just like an acquiesce to what Nelson Mandela said that “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

An article written by Princewell Okwuoha and published at Rex Newspaper, Aba on the 27th of June, 2021.

WITH BURNING WORRIES: A PLEA TO CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF NIGERIA (CBCN)

0

When Hitler rose to power in 1933, majority of Germans were overwhelmed with joy without knowing the reasons behind his words and actions. By 1937 the real Hitler could no longer be hidden.

People were worried but handicapped. Opposition voices were sought and completely clamped down. Those without the ‘real German blood’ were marked out for extermination. Physically and mentally challenged citizens were rounded up and never seen again. The reign of terror was institutionalized. No one was allowed to ask questions, give answers or make any comment on any of Hitler’s policies. Spies infiltrated all associations to know who would violate any of these rules. So many associations were banned. Many people were incarcerated in prisons and many others were executed. But there was one group who owing to their nature, structure and mission that could not be silenced: the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The German Bishops sent their delegates to the dying Pope Pius XI on his sick bed and made him aware of their sorrows in the hands of Hitler. Only a few days later, the worried pope issued an encyclical titled: “With burning worries” (Mit brennenden Sorge), the first papal encyclical to be written in German.

In this passionate and touching encyclical which was read in all Catholic parishes in Germany on the Palm Sunday of 1937, the dying pontiff inter alia thanked the bishops for their courage and for their love for the church and humanity. He condemned in its entirety the inhuman ideologies of Hitler. It was this encyclical that indeed exposed the nefarious acts and intentions of Hitler to the entire world. More still, it highlighted the unwavering position of the Catholic Bishops and of the Church.

Hitler saw the successful writing, printing, dissemination and reading of the encyclical as a big sabotage. But with the stance of the Church having been defined, the resistance against Hitler’s ideologies began to gather force till he was defeated.

Our dear cardinals, archbishops and bishops, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), no other group is powerful like you in Nigeria. You do not only represent the church in Nigeria but you are a branch of the Holy See, the Vatican, which is a sovereign state. You are not only the ambassadors of the Church but also that of a sovereign state. You do not only have a moral authority but a robust “political” influence too. You remain till date the most networked, stable, educated, internationally connected, respected and beloved organization in Nigeria. Not even the federal government can challenge you on these.

I must commend you for the roles you play in the defense of human rights and the promotion of the dignity of every Nigerian. I must commend you especially on your last letter to the government and also for the successful peaceful protest against the killings in Benue. But that these two actions have not changed anything in Nigeria with regard to protection of lives and property means that other strategies have to be tried out as well.

Imagine the number of people that have been killed by the untouchable herdsmen since your last letter and the mass demonstration. Imagine the number that will likely be killed before the end of this year. We cannot do anything about the lives that have been wasted than to bury them (if ever we get access to their remains), but we can really do much to protect those yet to be slaughtered and those yet to be dispossesd of their ancestral lands.

Before us the security forces have become the thugs of the ruling party. We saw the election conducted in Ekiti state recently where 30,000 policemen and women were dispatched and yet election was turned into a Bazaar where the highest bidder bought the highest votes. Where do we go from here? What do we expect from all these? Should we call such a situation an act of governance or mis-governance? Are you not worried about the future of our country? Are we not to be frightened by the implications and consequences of these events?

We are living at a time when the government (as always) has failed to live up to her responsibilities. I speak of the government who with their security arsenal has failed times without number to protect the lives of Nigerians in Benue; the same government that had security men dispatched to Ekiti during the recent elections; and the same government that controls the military that was said to have ‘technically’ destroyed Boko Haram. This same government with their security apparati will also have to supervise the 2019 elections. The same INEC that conducted a Bazar-election in Ekiti state will still conduct elections in less than one year from now. Are you not worried, dear bishops? Can we really sleep comfortably amidst all these?

Everything appears to have collapsed: security, education, judiciary, health care delivery, job opportunities, leadership. Poverty has quadrupled, crime, sickness, death have skyrocketed. Besides, the goverment has no solution to any of these.

Many Nigerians believe that restructuring is the only solution to our intractable malaise. Many others talk about seperation. What are your own antidotes? What is your position? If it is restructuring please do let us know, and if not, let us know your solution, and then you can go ahead and present it to the government. There is nothing wrong in having a well thought-out solution and position to the socio-political problems of our country especially when the protection of human lives and property are concerned. Our Christian faith even obliges us to do that; just like the German bishops saw it as a duty to draw lines during the time of Hitler.

This not time for apportioning blames or blowing big grammar or being politically correct but a time for proffering immediate but deeply-reasoned solution that will save the lives of our people. Paying a visit to the pope should also be on the agenda as a way of leveraging on your global network of solidarity.

Our dearly beloved bishops, we need you now before we all perish. If you don’t help no one else can. We all know what it means to be a prophet in times like ours. That is why we will never stop praying for you and the Holy Father. This is a time to be prophetic! It is a time to defend the wounded Jesus who came that “they may have life, and have it to the full”.

Source: Rev. Fr. Angelo Unegbu

The Victim of Bandits, A foreign Medical Doctor Today

0
  • Chukwuechefulam Okwuoha

I know a few years ago, that while we were making a decision and taking a career in fields more familiar to our yearnings, there were much of what we thought that never materialized. It didn’t nullify our ascent to finding meaning in life. It rather helped majority of us, make a proper resolution and seeking for professional counsel to arrive at a more potent result in the future. This is what I knew and that is what I feel to tell you.

When we vacated the senior secondary school many years past, I saw that what governed our minds was enthusiasm to get admission into the higher institutions. Even before we finished our WAEC, a greater number of my classmates have registered for JAMB, even when the future of their WAEC results was still bleak. I was not among the group of enthusiasts, because I already had a course.

The wind of life blew everyone to the different tent. There were respective endeavours which most of us plummeted and it created a nauseating feeling for some. I was carried away by my choice and so, I seldomly knew about those whose ship capsized on their voyage and those who continued the life amidst turbulent storms. Admittedly, some died on their way, of which I never foresaw that, because of my slim attention to characteristics of life.

One evening, when my Dad returned back from school, he told me about one young man who was going to take a teaching classes in the school he was the Vice-Principal. His name is Onyema. According to Dad, he was given Chemistry, Biology and Physics to teach and with other added responsibility. The whole description and the continuous concern to know opened the door of reality and it concluded that the new teacher was my classmate.

We fondly call Onyema “Ejpos”, a later explanation which he made that those initials came from his name. When we were having a discussion in the class and majorly during our academic laboratory experiments, Ejpos has reiterated that he wants to become a medical doctor. He was one of those who I appreciated his interest in science and he was very good at Mathematics. So, when I and my colleagues heard of his fragile resolve, gotten out of mere scientific excitement, some of us took him seriously. I did not waver of his choice of career. I was only worried about how he can become one in Nigeria, where getting admitted in the University regardless of your academic status is like migrating to Canada for studies.

In the village where he lived, on a very solemn Sunday night, he was attacked by a group of bandits, who took his phones, cart away with many valuables and left him with severe injuries in the head. His life was saved after the operation when he was rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. Unfortunately, that experience made him gave a focused thought about staying in Nigeria and how life may not be secured for him if he would continue to stay and earn a peasant stipend as an ordinary classroom teacher.

After sometime presumably two years of handling those students in the three core science courses and after multiple good recommendations my Dad published in my heart, I began hearing that Ejpos my ever-humble classmate has travelled to Belarus for medical studies. At the receipt of the news, I was astonished. It was honestly prolific to hear that the dream which he had while we were in the laboratory testing for base and acid, became fertile and progressive.

His travel to Belarus disconnected our rapports and I was eager to give him that serenity to read and get involved concretely in the field he has chosen. The only means of communication was through Facebook and he was not too active by the first three years he reallocated to Belarus. On fewer occasions, he chats and sends a word or two in our group WhatsApp. I could see how his maturity transcended, even though during our school days, he was one of the most mature folks we had.

Living in Belarus changed his mentality. He was no longer the former Ejpos, who has this traditional mindset about the world. He talks and comments with precision and with a correct volume in diplomacy. The only thing that I think that never changed was his Ihitenansa dialect. There is this uniquely appreciation he has for his mother tongue anytime he talks and I am very pleased with that part of him that remained unchanged.

It is a delight to read his Facebook update this afternoon about his induction and certification as a trained foreign Medical Doctor. I couldn’t control my frequency of joy. I ran out of my lane to embrace him from my comfort and it made me began recounting how this dream came to fulfilment after many years of it.

I congratulate you, dear Dr. Ezeanyanwu Onyema. It is a laudable achievement and I am not such a person who keeps quiet when something amazing is happening around any of my allies. As one of my classmates humorously pointed out that ” he can now get sick in peace”. This means that everyone believes in your capability and we are looking forward to hearing you break bounds and make history in the annals of Belarus.

I am going to inform my ailing Dad that his son, who was his friend has now become a Medical Doctor in a faraway country.

How Marriage Would Have Stolen My First Class

0

I met Sarah last month as I was reviewing CVs to hire an Assistant. Her first-class degree in French got my attention, and the way she executed the first trial task was impressive. I hired her and relocated her to Abuja. The following week she flew with me to Yola, her first time, and has made my life easy so far. Her ability to learn and curiosity are two qualities I find exciting. Her story, which I read for the first time this evening, is an exciting example of determination, focus and commitment. Read and be inspired.

At 18, all mum wanted for me was marriage. We argued a number of times and I was labelled a rebellious child because I wanted to get a degree before marriage. Mum would wake me up every 2 a.m. to remind me of how poor they are and how they can’t afford me a university education, and the option left for me was marriage. I stood my ground, bought a Diploma form in 2011 without their knowledge.

Alas! The forewarned unpleasant reality of not having the wherewithal for my university education dawned on me in 2011 when UNN offered me admission to read Linguistics. All my parents could raise for me was 12K. One can imagine 12k for a whole semester. Thank God for my elder sister who came to my rescue. And reacting to my elder sister’s assistance, my elder brother said to my face and I quote “I still don’t understand why our elder sister is wasting money to send you to school. Money they could use to support our younger brother’s dream of travelling abroad. Reason being that most graduates hardly get good jobs. Every other person was against my decision to get educated except my elder sister.

Notwithstanding the hitches and struggles, I was awarded a diploma in 2013 with DISTINCTION. Sadly, my parents didn’t appreciate my effort because they aren’t literate enough to understand what it means and takes to graduate with distinction. I kept my cool hoping to be celebrated by my second family in Aba because they are graduates. So I broke the news with excitement expecting congratulatory gestures from them, but all they could do was to undermine the feat with comments such as “You made it because of the leniency of UNN Aba campus lecturers. Do you think you can make first class in UNN Nsukka campus?” I felt very bad.

Not satisfied with a diploma cert, I decided to work in order to save money for degree. The highest paying job I could get with my certificate then was 12K monthly. My little earning and fresh memory of the challenges I faced doing diploma almost made me give up on pursuing a degree. With mixed feeling, I decided to try marriage but the relationship failed in 2015 because of genotype. I was so hurt and heartbroken that I decided not to get into another relationship. In fact, I cancelled marriage from mind. Same year, I got a job that paid better and I was able to save a little. But I was still troubled. Degree I no get, marriage I no get and I was 24.
Fast forward to December, 31st 2015, I left the family prayer meeting to go pray in seclusion. I told God: “I am done making decisions for myself. I won’t even plan for 2016 because all my plans in the previous years failed. I leave myself in your hands. Any direction your wind blows me to, I will follow. I am done struggling for a better life.” I wailed, groaned. I let out the entire burden in my heart for a fresh year. I decided I was not going to interfere in my own life affair because things obviously weren’t going as I planned.
Into the quarter of the year, I started having a strong urge to go back to school. To make matter worse, people began sending me job openings for graduates and/or asking me if I was done with my Degree, and those who knew I didn’t have a degree kept pushing me to go back to school.

While in the kitchen one evening with my elder sister, these words fell out of my mouth: “Aunty, I am going back to school.” Then a huge silence crawled into the kitchen. Everything in the kitchen paused for about a minute except for the sound produced by the boiling pot of soup. My sister smiled at me and said: “Sarah I don’t want to start what I cannot finish.” That was expected because “I am going back to school, literally means “Get ready to spend money. She was my only pillar of material support in everything.” I asked her to promise me that she will take care of my school fee while I take care of every other thing. She asked me how. I told her about the plan to WORK and STUDY. She was very skeptical about it and expressed concern about my overall wellbeing at school. I finally applied and was successfully offered admission to study Foreign Language [French] at UNN .

Meanwhile, the school fee didn’t come handy and I urgently needed money to beat registration deadline. It got to a point that I had to use the money my sister’s husband gave me to give a business partner to pay my school fee. This caused a huge problem between I, my sister and her husband. I was never trusted with money again.

School fee settled, registration done, however, there was no money for accommodation. I chatted Ihuoma Chizoba Stephen up begging him to allow me stay in their family house while I do house chores for them in exchange. Chizoba declined because I was just an online friend he had neither met nor known much about. Instead, he offered to help me get a female student who could squat me. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get anyone and I was left with only the option of staying with Jonathan, his friend. I agreed to stay with him. Jonathanmary Gande would leave the room for me to sleep in his neighbor’s room every night.

One month into staying with Jonathan, his landlord asked me to pay him 20k to continue staying with him or leave. When the pressure from the landlord became unbearable for me, I left Jonathan’s place for Onyinye’s place. (still another connection from Ihuoma Chizoba Stephen ). Onyinye was neither a student nor a graduate. She was an apprentice who was also struggling to survive. I had no food left. Chizoba would sneak food out of their house to bring for me. I stayed from morning to night without food. My food for a day sometimes was biscuits of N50 unless Chizoba brings food for me. Onyinye was always giving me this pity look and I became uncomfortable with it. So I left Onyinye to go stay with Chimsimdi Ibeneme Chimsimdi Ibeneme, a new friend who accommodated me until I was able to pay my own part the rent.

Life in school was so tough that several times I thought of dropping out. However, I kept telling myself that dropping out is an act of cowardice. Most times, I shed tears when I open my book to study. I suffered severe ulcer because food was always scarce at my end. This took a toll on my concentration,
On the other hand, the pressure to get married kept coming from my mum. Most of the times, I wished I could avoid travelling home after school because each time I travelled, mum will remind me of my mates who are married. Thank God I didn’t succumb to the pressure.

After all the struggles, I graduated with a First Class Honors degree as the best in the Dept of Foreign Languages and second best in the Faculty of Arts, UNN with a CGPA of 4.76 at 28.
To all those that supported me in one way or the other, I say THANK YOU. May this story be an encouragement to those that find themselves in similar situations. Keep up the fight! There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

Source: Osita Chidoka

Osita Benjamin Chidoka is a former Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of Federal Road Safety Corps and past Minister of Aviation in Nigeria. He served under President Goodluck Jonathan.He’s also a brother to Obinna Chidoka. Osita Chidoka was, until recently, Minister of Aviation in Nigeria

Recent Post

N.I.G.E.R.I.A: BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD

0
There is sincerely no way our country is filled with unity and peace, especially at this time the elementary cause of our fraction is circulating in religion, sectionalism and divide and rule. The question is; while these make very devastating effects on the citizens, the government has remained quiet over the bleeding Nation, even when the number of those who lose their lives everyday is incredibly outrageous. With this in mind, the Nation seems to have no future for her subjects and at a time a Nation can't provide the basic requirements for the progress of the people what then is the fate for a common man.