“When beggars die, there are no comets seen; heaven themselves blaze forth the death of princes” – Williams Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar.
These days, a Nigerian life is worth very little; it has suffered a steep depreciation in value far worse than that experienced by the Naira under the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Hell is let loose when a citizen is lost to disasters in countries where premium is placed on life but here in Nigeria, multitudes perish and no eyebrows are raised.
It is both ironic and comical that the same government that feels unconcerned with the death of hordes of Nigerians is quick to issue statements commiserating with foreign countries that lose one or two persons to disasters!
Is it that the occurrence of disasters here is nowadays so commonplace that they have become habitual?
The agents of death stalking the land are too many to be numbered: Armed robbers; ritual killers; kidnappers; rapists; vehicular accidents; fire disasters; homicides; suicides; suicide bombers; ethnic clashes; Fulani herdsmen; Boko Haram insurgents; Police and other armed men’s brutality as well as accidental discharge of bullets; name them.
Innocent lives are lost at an alarming rate on a daily basis. It may be that government has become overwhelmed.
If they are to commiserate on every occasion, they will have to issue multiple condolence messages on a daily basis!
The number of deaths caused by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen alone is mind-boggling. While government is fighting the former, it ap- pears to have given the latter a free rein.
They are not only sacred cows which must not be touched; the joke now is that a cow’s life has more value than a non-Hausa/Fulani human life! Mind you, a cow costs hundreds of thousands of Naira; what is the cost of a human being?
We have heard stories of parents selling their babies for a bag of rice or even less!
This could be the economic justification for the obvious partisanship of the Federal Government in favour of the herdsmen and their cows!
The Federal Government’s scanty regard for life has also been demonstrated in the way it has treated the “Fanta” and “Sprite” issue. Not only the two beverages mentioned here but also all beverages should be investigated to determine their level of harmfulness to the human body.
Our laws must be reviewed regularly to bring them abreast of new medical discoveries. Regulatory authorities should also note that life is involved and the cankerworm of corruption should be kept at bay. Officials who compromise should be severely dealt with.
Thanks to social media, we now have the list of malaria drugs which have been banned elsewhere as a result of new medical discoveries but which are still on the shelves here.
I was alarmed to see the name of a malaria drug I recently purchased off the counter on the list. We are now also aware that virtually all the so-called “soft” drinks contain substances injurious to health.
The sugar content in them is alarming; for a society with an increasing rate of diabetes, we should not ignore this danger. In other countries where control is rigorous and conscious effort is made to protect public health, “soft” drinks are not as sweetened as the ones we consume here.
Even the malt drinks are not spared; apart from the advertised presence of fake malt drinks, the chemical composition of these drinks should constantly be examined and they should be kept within safe limits. One expert after another has pooh-poohed the Federal Government’s “clearance” on the raging “soft” drinks issue.
Is it true that the “soft” drinks in question contain Vitamin C? Is this in itself harmful to health? How about the other chemicals that are said to be in higher proportions than those approved by authorities in the UK and even in neighbouring Ghana?
If the “soft” drinks produced in Nigeria are deemed unfit for human consumption in the UK and Ghana; if they are injurious to health in those countries, how come they are fit for human consumption here?
It is better to err on the side of caution and apply the most rigorous of health safety standards than take chances and ruin the health of our people.
The more health issues we have, the more budget we run on health as a nation and as individuals. The authorities must also act on the indiscriminate way Nigerians consume herbal mixtures and so-called energy drinks.
These drinks contain chemicals that cause gradual but certain damage to people’s health. Nigerians must note that the best drink available to man is water; not only is it cheaper than all those other drinks, it is also safer.
Two considerations that drive the “drinks” industry are profit and entertainment. The producers are driven by profit and what guarantees them higher profit, even if it damages people’s health, is to be preferred.
The consumers, on the other hand, have the erroneous impression that they are “enjoying” themselves and deriving benefits when they gulp those damaging and disastrous liquids.
Selfish motives are the same reason why people will insist on citing petrol stations in residential areas, not minding the hazards involved and the dangers that accidents can cause to inhabitants.
There is one such petrol station in my neighbourhood of Fagbola Street, Oke-Koto, Agege, Lagos State.
A few months’ ago, an accident at a petrol station in Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State, nearly wiped out a whole street; had it not been that they were lucky that the tanker was loaded with diesel and not petrol, hundreds, if not thousands, would have lost their lives as well as means of livelihood.
Yet, when Governor Ayo Fayose moved last week to demolish such petrol stations, otherwise sensible people, who should have buried their heads in shame for their atrocious activities, rose to challenge him, declaring a strike to the bargain! It is time Nigerians began to place premium on human life.
Where are the Awoists?
Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo, GCFR, was born on March 6, 1909 in Ikenne, Ogun State, Western Nigeria and died on May 9, 1987. He attended various schools including Baptist Boy’s High School, Oke-Egunya, Abeokuta; he then became a teacher in Abeokuta. Following his education at Wesley College, Ibadan in 1927, he enrolled at the University of London as an external student and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Commerce (Hons).
He went to the United Kingdom in 1944 to study at the University of London and was called to the Bar by the honorable society of the inner temple on November 19, 1946. He founded the Nigerian Tribune in 1949 at Adeoyo, Ibadan as a private Nigerian newspaper, which he used to spread nationalist consciousness among Nigerians.Nigerian Tribune is still publishing in Nigeria. Chief Awolowo was Nigeria’s foremost Federalist. He advocated Federalism as the only basis for equitable national integration. As the leader of the Action Group party he led the damans for a federal constitution which was introduced in 1954 Lyttle Constitution, following primarily the model proposed by the Western Region Delegation led by him.
He was first Premier of Western Region. He proved to be and was viewed as a man of vision and a dynamic administrator. He introduced free primary education for all in Western Region and free health care for children. He established the first television station in Africa in 1959 and the Oduduwa Group of Companies. He built the first skyscraper called Cocoa House in Ibadan and the Liberty Stadium also in Ibadan.
When Chief Awolowo was alive, a group of young Nigerians called themselves ‘AWOISTS’ to feather their political interest. A few of them were columnists in the Nigerian Tribune newspaper. One of them became the Governor of Oyo State later in his life. Many of them got federal and state government appointments, especially when Chief Awolowo was the Vice Chairman of Federal Executive Council under General Yakubu Gowon.
After the death of Chief Awolowo, many of these so-called Awoists, thin away from weekly journey to Ikenne. Only a few of them kept fate with Mama H.I.D Awolowo.
As soon as Mama H.I.D Awolowo too passed to the great beyond, the so-called Awoists were nowhere to be found. That is human nature for you.
Many of the so-called Awoists did not imbibe the culture and nature of Chief Awolowo. All the three children of Chief Awolowo I know (they do not know me) attended public schools, like other children in Western Region as soon as free primary education started. Even though the first private primary school in Ibadan was just across the road to the residence of the Awolowos, instead, they attended N.A. Teachers Training Practicing School Oke-Ado, Ibadan. Chief Awolowo did not employ a private teacher for his children, Tola, Tokunbo and Oluwole. The three of them always trek from Oke-Ado near Ibadan Boys High School to Oke-Bola, Seventh day Adventist primary school under Mrs. Ogunsola and trek back after lessons.
Mama H.I.D Awolowo would come and check the progress of her wards. I remembered day the ball we were playing off the field and stopped between Mrs. Ogunsola and Mama H.I.D’s legs. We were afraid to go and get the ball. Mama H.I.D Awolowo threw the ball to us on the field. Her remark that day is still ringing in my ear. She said, “We may not know Thunder Balogun may arise amongst these children.”
When Chief Awolowo’s contemporaries were celebrating their joy of becoming billionaires, he celebrated 25 years of free education in Western Region.
Many of his contemporaries were not remembered again in history. But, free education introduced by Chief Awolowo continues to put him forward as the real Asiwaju of the Yoruba.
λDr. Ajai writes from Lagos.
Edo’s political conundrum (3)
The Edo political narrative has become a poisoned chalice, a broken record with cracked rhythms that easily unveil the outer clothings of men to see their dirty, stinking linen on the inside. The soundbites are disturbingly annoying. The level of political witch-hunt is gaining traction while political differences are no longer settled with convincing and superior argument but by exchange of cudgels, blunt scalpels or fire power. The number of politically motivated attacks is growing by the day, and further complicated by the governor’s hard stance and breathing down the throat of those who are not ready to toe his line of thought.
Only recently he told us of the efficacy of mosquito bite that can cause anyone malaria. The only catastrophy in the mosquito fable is that it is an enemy of all. Whether the governor’s allegory fitly captures his intended message is another kettle of fish, but it suffices to state that insecticides have proven to be ready response to stubborn mosquitoes. If the governor is speaking from the point of view of claim that he was being referred to as a mosquito, and for him to think that his mosquito bite can cause maximum damage, also conveys the impression that he is speaking from the point of view of political combustion. As a governor, he should see the entire state and its people as his constituency. There should be magnanimity in his leadership evocation. It should not be a concept of we versus them. Gubernatorial power has limitations.
Each time I watched the governor speaks, I see the marrows of frustration all over his face. That is what you get when you enter into a needless political battle within the same party with actors that midwifed your election. An intra-party crisis fulfils the attributes of the proverbial saying that the kolanut eating insect or weevil resides right inside the kolanut. Once suspicion is planted as a new seedling within a party, it grows with time and thereafter assumes the status of the main discourse. Trust is broken down. Friendship is built on the pedestal of political exigency and not on the platform of any intrinsic or altruistic value for friendship.
Obaseki’s response to the legion of issues confronting him exposed his political naivety, and I mean no derision here. But, to think that sacking political appointees because you feel their political loyalties reside somewhere and to some other political idols, is to miss the point squarely. Pretenders in politics occupy a higher percentage. In life, the hardest prison to escape from is the mind. There is no art to deconstruct the mind from the faces of those who gladiate around Governor Obaseki. And reappointing or trying to weed out certain persons on account of building your own army of supporters or loyalists is a classic case of undiluted contradiction. How can a man who has just broken the thin line of loyalty to his benefactor, be the one seeking to cultivate loyalists? Does it sound logical?
When the walls of loyalty are broken, what you get are emergency persons and stomach infrastructure supporters. Since the last one month that political appointees were relieved of their responsibilities, the cry of “hunger day” has become the lyrical ballad of Osadebey Avenue singers. They tell you without any prompting that they need to collect their own reward for their dispensed labour in 2016 when they were given a hard product to sell. You hear some say “I beg no take your reggae spoil my blues oh”, “we just dey tag along oh, man must wack naa”. Others will tell you, Obaseki is too stingy with money, but if fanning the embers of this political discord will make him spend the money, so be it. Some people are already making a fortune out of the scenario and the longer it endures, the better for those who are profiting from it. In fact, the Governor’s Deputy, Phillip Shuaibu has become comfortable now monetarily compared to 2017 December, when he reportedly walked out on the governor over issues bordering on frugal budget under his purview. The first two citizens are now in bed and united by the same guilt.
Using Governor Obaseki as my guinea pig for experimenting with loyalty, I doubt if he would use his templates as model for getting loyalists on his side. Having broken the bond of loyalty, imprisoned the allure of friendship, arrested the quintessence of good naturedliness, and constantly search for victims and villains in a political conquest with predictable prisoners of war, I doubt if Governor Obaseki can actually trust even his own shadow, let alone the legion of his appointees who have become political scavengers in search of daily bread in a country where poverty is elegantly dressed in three-piece suit. When I saw the chieftains of the pro-Obaseki APC lined up in the inner sanctuary of the church, on Sunday, 10th November, 2019 to accord praises to God for a journey of three years, it underscored God’s unequalled patience at tolerating human frailties, lies, chicanery, deceits, subterfuge and mischief. Deep in the heart of man is wickedness, depravity, cunny, pretentiousness, and sheer platitudinousness. If Oshiomhole was told three years ago that the man he fought tooth and nail to sell to the Edo people, would turn around to now haunt him like the tale of the devil and the blue sea, a plague kind of, Oshiomhole would most likely keep malice with anyone coming up with such introspection. But the reality today has become a moving story that is a compelling read by all.
The virtue of gratitude must not be lost on us no matter the provocations and the temptations. We must, as good Africans with a rich tradition and culture, imbibe the subliminal humility to say thank you always for the good done to us. When I hear people talk about Obaseki providing the funding for an Oshiomhole governorship in 2007, I often laugh with helpless awe. How can a man whose businesses had nosedived be the one sponsoring Oshiomhole? Where was Afri-Invest in 2007 and 2008 when Obaseki was running helter skelter to bail himself out of economic quagmire and financial gooble-de-gook? The truth is, when Oshiomhole realised that it was becoming difficult to sell a Godwin Obaseki candidacy, he decided to hand over all his achievements and ascribed his successes to him. If possible, he wanted people to see Obaseki as a cloned version of himself. He preached and sermonised in the homes of those who make things happen. He visited chiefs, traditional rulers, Enogies and told them pointedly that they should trust him. He was the guarantor and Dangote was the chief guarantor. Oshiomhole danced “azonto” with starcato steps to whet the appetite of party supporters. He exhausted his energy on the podium, betraying the supposed strength of his age, just to make sure that no stone was left unturned. But today, all that has amounted to pouring water into a basket of trouble.
Little did Dangote and Oshiomhole know that the man they were guaranteeing had a different plan altogether. He had no collateral. He doesn’t care a hoot about sustaining friendships. A movie trended about a certain Chief who tried to betray the Benin Kingdom and the palace in the 18th century. The movie trended for a long time but Oshiomhole was undaunted. He moved from house to house, reached out to the youth and the elderly just to make the point for an Obaseki success. Obaseki on his own path was in some kind of cul-de-sac because he was relatively unknown across the state. He hadn’t played politics in Edo State and hardly voted in previous elections. He was standoffish and remarkably self-effacing. He presented a picture of someone who was not desperate for power. He stood as bestman on May 15, 2016 when Comrade married Iara, his Cape Verdean Queen. Comrade thought he had found a true friend and brother but the reality in Edo State now is a deep cut in the heart of man. No one is expecting Obaseki to behave like an Oshiomhole. They surely nurture different idiosyncrasies. But gratitude has no synonym. Gratitude is gratitude. It is the wickedness of man that two political and social friends would turn apart like sworn enemies.
Barely 24 hours after the victory of Obaseki, he had allegedly informed the Accountant General of the state to halt any payment of approvals coming from Oshiomhole’s table. Work done were never paid and typical of civil servants, the Accountant General complied by using delay tactics to halt those payments, while at some point, the banks were blamed for the delays. One month later, Obaseki was sworn in and the full script of the real Obaseki began to unfold. When laughter does not emanate from the heart, it adds ugliness to the conduct of men. Pretentiousness is not only insanity by other means, it is the most disturbing character indices that lower the bar in character profiling. The dubiety of it is what kills relationship and hurts friendship. I feel a sense of lost watching the ugly scenarios from the inner fortress of Osadebe Avenue, where Osarodion Ogie, Phillip Shuaibu and Godwin Obaseki called the shots, and supported by a horde of visionless youths who have been converted to mobile army to visit mayhem on anyone that stands in the labyrinth of opposition. I have received phone calls from concerned persons that I should stay away from Edo State, my place of origin. So, an expression of opinion has now become sacrilegious and the only way to respond is through mayhem and assault. This is what you get when leadership is not cultured and schooled.
I am being reminded every now and then that Governor Obaseki wants to seek re-election. I find it hard to believe. A man seeking re-election should seek votes, not cutlasses, gun-powder, assault and mayhem. Democracy is an inclusive and participatory game where votes count based on campaign promises. Fighting against the electorate is a dissonance that cannot be ignored. This is why I feel strongly that Governor Obaseki wants to cause maximum damage, destroy the structure that birthed him, uproot the canopy that provided cover for him ab initio, and surplant a regime of radicalised and militarised youths on a fragile system, just to make the point sink that he is the new sherrif in town. Any politician that truly wants votes, will tone down on assault and verbal warfare, especially one that has not delivered substantially on his campaign promises. But if the war we witnessed in Kogi State on 16th November, 2019 is anything to go by, elections will no longer be decided by votes, but by cutlasses, gun powder, AK 47, Pump Action, and a combination of other dare-devilry confrontations to railroad everyone to conquest. And Nigeria will gradually be plummeting to an abysmal cesspool of inanities and butt of jokes around the world. Very soon, and very soon, elections will no longer be conducted by the electoral umpire but by armed robbers in a desperate bid to install whoever they desire to enthrone. This is where democracy will now assume a new name; demonstration of craze….
To be continued next week…..
Bayelsa poll: APC’s roller-coaster continues
een watchers of the polity didn’t expect otherwise, and weren’t disappointed when the Federal High Court in Yenagoa nullified the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Saturday, November 16, 2019, governorship poll in Bayelsa State.
The judgement by Justice Jane Inyang, barely 48 hours to the balloting, was akin to those delivered during the 2019 general election. Then, the courts, ruling on the conduct of primaries, had returned decisions against the APC, leading to the disqualification of its candidates in several states.
That’s how it lost out in the states of Rivers, Zamfara, Taraba and Cross River, as the courts ruled that the party couldn’t field candidates there due to “improper conduct” of its primaries.
Although the APC presented candidates in Zamfara for the governorship and legislative seats, the courts voided its sweeping victories at the polls. And in the governorship in Taraba and Cross River, in which it participated, and results declared for it, the courts ruled the party had no candidates.
It’s a total blackout of the party in its Rivers chapter, as the courts prevented it from the governorship and legislative elections.
So, ruling the party out again very close to the election in Bayelsa was a recipe for chaos for the APC, whose running mate in the poll, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, was disqualified, a few days back, by an Abuja Federal High Court.
In a judgement by Justice Inyang Ekwo, the court invalidated Degi-Eremienyo’s participation in the election after “it found him guilty of supplying false information” to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Thus, disqualifying its flag bearer, Chief David Lyon, would have been “double jeopardy” for the APC had a stay of execution of both judgements not obtained on appeals, and the status quo ordered to be maintained by all parties beyond the November 16 election.
Besides, the INEC had declared that any 11th-hour judgements disqualifying candidates would not affect the conduct of the poll.
The APC primaries, in early September 2019, produced Chief Lyon as its candidate. But a dissatisfied aspirant and former Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr. Heineken Lokpobri, approached the court to vitiate Lyon’s nomination, and recognise him as the “authentic” winner of the shadow election.
However, following the November 14 court decision, many have raised issues with the judge’s rationale for fixing the court verdict just 48 hours to the crucial and highly-contentious election.
As insinuated, was the decision influenced by external forces or “fifth columnists,” to put a spanner in the works of the party seen as capable of halting the 20-year unbroken rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa?
Without attempting to dismiss or diminish the stand of the critics, as anything goes in politics, particularly in the Nigerian variant, the alibis advanced, at best, are sentimental.
First, the critics have forgotten that the power to fix a court ruling is at the discretion of the judge, who, nonetheless, should avoid causing confusion in a tensed political terrain as in Bayelsa.
Second, courts don’t adjudicate in a vacuum. If the aggrieved members of the APC didn’t approach the court with application, the judge wouldn’t have had discretionary power over nothing.
It’s the APC members, who brought an ant-infested wood to the court, that invited the lizards to a party, and they should be put on the spot. Their naïveté and ambition beclouded their sense of propriety to accept the party’s entreaty to sheath the sword.
That’s why it’s ludicrous, and infantile the positing of Lokpobri that he didn’t pray the court to nullify the APC primary election, but to declare him as the winner.
In other words, the judge, like a Father Christmas, went outside the issue(s) placed before her, and gave a “travesty of justice” that stopped the APC and its candidate, Lyon, in the election.
For that reason, and before the votes were cast, Justice Inyang had literally handed “victory” to the PDP, which the APC accused of abetting disgruntled members, such as Lokpobri, to go to court, which it (PDP) could influence its verdict.
Plausible as this allegation is, it’s plied to malign an opponent that wasn’t part of the primaries. If the PDP had “induced” dissatisfied APC elements to go to court, shouldn’t they object if truly they’re loyal and committed party members?
Lokpobri thought using the court to stop Lyon from contesting at the poll would be a walkover, a picnic. But by a twist of fate, the “unintended” happened: The court held he wasn’t also qualified for the election since the internal poll was not conducted in line with the party’s constitution and guidelines.
As Justice Inyang noted, the APC, rather than constituting a seven-member panel, had a one-man committee of Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, while the results of the primaries were declared by the Secretary of the committee, Senator Emmanuel Ochega.
Accordingly, the judge held: “It has been established by judicial authorities and several judgements that political parties are bound by their own rules, (but) the committee that conducted the primaries threw caution to the winds, and it is my ruling that the primaries stand nullified.
“The results announced by Senator Emmanuel Ochega are not valid, as he is not the returning officer for the election. And I make an order, restraining INEC from recognising any of the aspirants that participated in the said primaries.”
Lokpobri wanted to stop Lyon from parading, and presenting himself as candidate of the APC, but the court also barred him from holding himself out as such. It’s like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face! So, no need for Lokpobri to shed crocodile tears!
But it should be stated that the Bayelsa chapter’s debacle is yet another example of the failure of the APC to put its house in order. The internal schism began in 2015, culminating in the party’s shameful “defeat” in the 2019 general election.
While it retained the Presidency, and majority in the National Assembly, the party lost key, and electorally-promising states due to the disputes arising from the governorship and legislative primaries it’s failed to resolve.
With the Bayelsa, and Edo State chapters boiling, members, worried that the APC may disintegrate ahead of the 2023 general election, have resurrected the agitation for the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to resign his position.
Perhaps, the omens, as predicted by political pundits and the opposition, may still come to pass unless urgent steps are taken to break the free-fall of the APC!
FAAN’s proactive solution to bird strikes challenge
or a very long time, a number of issues have occupied the public discourse in Nigeria’s aviation sector. These issues have been considered crucial and urgent for the attention of the aviation authorities.
Some of the issues border on security, safety, standards, convenience, ambience and so on, depending on the perspective of the critic or reviewer.
As a person of interest in aviation reporting, I have played the roles of both the antagonist and the protagonist well enough to appreciate the concerns of the users and the regulators alike. By my reckoning, I can categorically state that the Nigerian aviation growth and development is destined for greater heights.
While we envy the depth and quality of the industry elsewhere abroad, Nigeria has certain organic and environmental features which cannot be replicated easily. The industry is lying there, waiting to be exploited maximally. I am positive that the right breed of entrepreneurs are already on-board or on the fringes, awaiting the right opportunity and moment to jump into the fray.
It is this perspective that gives me great delight to discover an ingenious set of activities by which the new management of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has quickly and decisively addressed the age-long risk of bird strikes at the Lagos hub of the Nigerian aviation industry.
It gladdens my heart that the new management of FAAN has adopted a natural solution to the endemic challenge of migratory birds to our airspace. To the uninitiated, the popular saying that “the sky is wide enough for every bird to fly” will just suffice. However, to the aviator, there is a potent threat to his artificial bird posed by the natural migratory birds.
Birds in flight pose danger to an aircraft in many ways. The most serious is when a collision impacts the windscreen enough to cause a breach. Another is when a bird or two get sucked into the jet engine and damage the fan blade such that the engine goes down. This may not be critical as such planes are designed to cope with a single engine. However, where it occurs during take-off or landing, it can become critical at some point! Bird strikes against windows and wings can also lead to costly damages!
This is why the successful completion of a six-month bird removal project undertaken by the Bird Hazard Control Unit of FAAN under the directive of the new Managing Director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu (himself a pilot of repute) is a feat, worthy of note.
With a painstaking environmental survey, the FAAN Hazard Team discovered the factors sustaining the “den” of some 5,000 or more assorted birds which have been terrorizing in-bound flights into the MMIA. For about two decades, these birds occupied a tactical strike position (2 miles in the direct line of flights for in-bound operation) during which the birds carried out about 700 sorties against innocent civilian aircraft.
As widely appreciated in the aviation industry, birds removal operation is quite delicate. The operation could actually catalyse or instigate the very danger being prevented if the birds are stampeded. The danger is more real with such a large population of diverse breeds. The breeds include the egrets, herons, whistling ducks, the common moorhens, open bills storks, and the long-tailed cormorants. All these species were fully represented in this extra-ordinary assembly of birds.
Interestingly, rather than adopt the simplistic solution of eliminating the birds, the Hazard Team in full recognition of the rights of these birds decided to naturally dislodge them by changing the environmental characteristics of the habitats, thereby making the birds relocate voluntarily. This feat is exemplary and a clear departure from the fire-brigade approach of Nigerians that I have come to be accustomed to.
More delightful is the fact that a project sustainers team has been constituted to further monitor the success recorded to ensure the birds do not return.
We believe this feat has been recorded so early and so seamlessly because at last a square peg has been fitted in a square hole as most Nigerians have been advocating.
Also worthy of note is the fact that this success story is not without the collaborative efforts of other stakeholders, especially safety managers like Captain Jide Bakare of Arik Air who had helped to pinpoint the focal area of the birds’ colony. This synergy among stakeholders is definitely a good recipe for advancing development in the aviation sector. Now that this example has become successful, we trust the FAAN management will quickly consider replicating this project across the nation’s airport facilities.
We also hope the Nigerian Government will begin to get lucky in shopping for similar men of pedigree to head critical national assets and take Nigeria to the promised Next Level.
•Aibangbe, a media relations expert, writes from Lagos via firstname.lastname@example.org
Appeal Court judgment, Makinde and Oyo’s medley of songs
On October 29, Governor Seyi Makinde ticked off the fifth month on the 48-month calendar of the administration’s term of four years.
On that day, there were no drums or fanfare, as not much attention is given to landmarks like five months in office. But there were songs, even if they were acapella. Yes, there were songs. The teeming people of Oyo State, who have had a new song on their lips since the May 29, 2019 inauguration day of the new administration, which has brought a different approach to governance in the state, continued their songs of adulations for Governor Makinde.
These songs cut across different spheres of Oyo State’s life; they are a medley of inspiring songs about how Governor Makinde is restoring Oyo State, a once-so-glorious state nearly run aground by politicians without foresight. The songs on the lips of Oyo State residents and those outside it continue to commend Governor Makinde’s efforts across different spheres, especially based on the four point of his administration – education, health, expanded economy and security.
But barely less than two weeks after that date, the Court of Appeal gave its judgment on the Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, introducing a strange sound to the medley of songs in the state. The court gave a judgment that legal experts and laymen now consider confusing in that it affirmed the election of Governor Makinde while at the same allowing the appeal against the upholding of same by the Election Petition Tribunal to stand.
Undeterred, however, the residents of the state and lovers of its progress have continued their songs, this time adding songs of solidarity in support of the People’s Governor.
Why the songs? In just five months in office, Governor Makinde has laid a solid foundation for a greater Oyo State, with strategic vision and action plans as well as a style of leadership that puts the people first and at the driving seat of their own affairs.
In five months, GSM, as he is now fondly called, has put Oyo on the trajectory of accelerated development in various sectors, with the latest being the innovative idea on budget planning known as the inclusive budget initiative, which allows citizens engagement and involvement in budgeting and economic planning.
As of 29 October, the government had approved a grant of N526 million to primary and secondary schools in the state in replacement of the N3,000 education levy, which Governor Makinde scrapped five months earlier on assumption of office.
The governor had given the people of the state something to sing about on May 29, when he announced the scrapping of the levy, noting that the decision was in tandem with his agenda to restore Oyo State’s glory through free qualitative education. He had followed that up with the downward review of the 2019 budget in which he increased the budgetary allocation to education to 10 per cent from a paltry 4 per cent. With the introduction of policies such as the distribution of textbooks and exercise books to all Oyo State students in public secondary schools, the immediate turnaround of education infrastructure, organisation of extra-mural classes for SSS III students in the state and the recent approval for the recruitment of teachers for public schools, the Makinde administration had also set the state on the path to greatness in education.
The Makinde administration’s achievements in the education sector, no doubt, gave Oyo State residents a reason to sing. Indeed, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) had recently joined in the singing, in recognition of Makinde’s achievements on free education when he commended the governor for taking up the challenge of free education.
Beyond education, there are other reasons for Oyo State residents’ songs. In five months, Governor Makinde has not missed an opportunity to make pensioners in the state sing to God for giving them a new dawn. By October 29, all the workers in the state had been paid their October salary in full, because the Oyo State governor has brought a tradition of salary payment on the 25th of every month, which the workers have now christened the GSM Day.
In the area of infrastructure, a few days ago, the Oyo State Governor raised the songs of praise for his administration several decibels when he announced the awarding of the contract for the total reconstruction of the 65-kilometre Ibadan-Iseyin Road. The last administration of Abiola Ajimobi awarded a contract for the rehabilitation of the road but that contract turned out to be a sham, as nothing was done on the road since February 2018 when it was first awarded. This was after N2 billion of Oyo State’s resources had found its way into the election expenses of some evil-minded politicians and into the pockets of their selfish accomplices.
But Governor Makinde, who had since his first week in office, made a commitment to fixing that strategic road, came through for the people of Oke-Ogun, when he re-awarded the contract to do a full reconstruction of the all-important road.
Across different sectors, residents of Oyo State are singing in praise of the many policies of the Makinde administration, which are targeted at reviving the economy of Oyo State and making life better for its people. But Governor Makinde himself had recently proven his mettle as a master of songs. He had lyrically fired canon shots into the camps of the detractors when he borrowed the words of the late philosophical musician, Bob Marley: “You can fool some people sometimes, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
The governor, piqued by the daily-unfolding rot left behind by the Abiola Ajimobi administration and the millions of Oyo State people’s money committed to projects that have brought no value, stated this at the Jericho Specialist Hospital, Ibadan.
Of course, those conversant with developments in Oyo State would remember how supporters of Ajimobi’s profligate administration never miss an opportunity to sing like canaries on the policies of the Makinde’s administration. They have continually sung songs of hate and regret that they lost Oyo State, the cow they mercilessly milked for eight years, leaving the people in massive suffering. They had come for the governor on his decision to scrap the N3,000 levy; they attacked him for distributing textbooks; they pilloried him with criticisms for improving the standard of the State Hospital, Ring Road; the attacked him for daring to construct the Iwo Road interchange. They aimed shots at him for insisting on several occasions that Oyo State people must get value for their money on projects instituted by the previous administration. Day in day out, Oyo APC members sang daily in sadness that Governor Makinde was succeeding where they failed.
So, when the Court of Appeal gave its judgment, which the APC members in Oyo State and outside, in their feeble minds, misread for a victory, they thought it was another opportunity for their ludicrous singsong. Their intention, as usual, was to pervert the songs of hope and joy occasioned by the Makinde leadership by confusing the public, but that song of deceit could not last, as the Court of Appeal’s decision was clearly and unmistakably an affirmation of Governor Makinde’s landslide victory in the March 9, 2019 election.
Sadly, the APC managed to forget how it was roundly trounced in the election, with Governor Makinde, backed by the people of Oyo State; polling 515,621 votes while the APC, with federal might and the support of political desperados and political buccaneers in some states of the South-West, only polling 357,982 votes.
They are in town with songs now, they sing about reclaiming a mandate that no one gave them; they sing about Supreme Court giving them a mandate that the people of Oyo State did not give them. They met and are still meeting across the country, planning evil against the God sent, the People’s Governor, but someone has to tell them that their songs will never be heard again. No, the loudness of Oyo State people’s songs of hope and a new beginning; songs of inspiration that Oyo can move from poverty to prosperity and songs of freedom from the ruinous APC government will deaden their voices.
Governor Makinde, like the orchestra leader, had borrowed from Bob Marley’s medley of powerful and philosophical songs, to send a note of warning to the APC in Oyo State and outside it sometimes ago, but before then, the Oyo State people seemed to have been singing another Marley song entitled “Redemption Songs”.
“Old pirates yes they rob I, sold I to the merchant ships minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit. But my hand was made strong by the hand of the almighty. We forward in this generation triumphantly. All I ever had is songs of freedom, won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom. ‘cause all I ever had redemption songs…,” Marley had seemed to be reflecting the situation of Oyo State, where the APC, like the old pirates, robbed the state for eight years and nearly sold it to the merchant ships from Lagos. Thanks to God, the people’s hands were made strong on March 9, 2019 and forward, with Governor Makinde, the state has begun to move triumphantly.
The enthronement of Makinde has brought about the redemption song, which the APC and some spent forces are now struggling to stop through the backdoor, using their best weapon against the people, the judiciary. Tufiakwa! The redemption songs will never stop.
Alao is the Special Assistant (Print Media) to Governor Makinde
Social media regulation and free speech
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was proclaimed by the United Nations’ General Assembly in 1948, and adopted as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights 1981 is a milestone document in the history of human rights.
Accordingly, Nigeria as a member nation domesticated it as chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. Amongst them is the right to freedom of expressions and the press enshrined in Section 39 of the Constitution.
Section 39(1) provides, “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”. Subsection 2 expansively provides, “Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions”.
On the other hand, the Criminal Code (Laws of the Federation – 1990) criminalized provoking breach of peace by offensive publication in Part 2. Section 88A (1) (b) provides, “Any person who publishes or circulates publications either in the form of newspapers, or leaflets, periodicals, pamphlets or posters, if such publications are likely to provoke or bring into disaffection any section of the country shall be guilty of an offence…” Similarly in subsection (1)(c).
Emphatically, the Criminal Code includes sedition as an offence under the law. Section 51(1) provides, “Any person who – (b) utters any seditious words; (c) prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distribute or reproduce any seditious publication; shall be guilty of an offence ….., and any seditious publication shall be forfeited to the State”.
By the way, what is sedition? It simply means organized or deliberate incitement of rebellion or civil disorder against authority or the state, usually by speech or writing.
In R v Sullivan (1961) US 254, the word ‘sedition’ was described as, “a comprehensive term which embraces all practices, whether by word, deed or writing, which are calculated to disturb the tranquility of the State”. And in IGP v Anagbogu (1954) 21 NLR 26, it was held that the act of writing an article with a seditious intention is tantamount to the offence of sedition.
Now, the crux of the matter is whether the right to freedom of expression and press is an absolute or qualified right? Under permissible circumstances such as is necessarily expedient for public order and security, arguably, freedom of expression and the press cannot be absolute rights instead must be exercised with restraint subject to law.
Article 29 (2) of the UDHR 1948 provides, “In the exercise of these rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and general welfare in a democratic society”.
Synchronically, Section 45 (1) of the1999 CFRN provides, “Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40, and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society (a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons”.
In the civil jurisprudence, the freedom of expressions and the press, interestingly, are controlled by libel and slander. Logically, freedom of speech is not an unconditional right.
The right to life, for example can be encumbered by judicial death sentence; right to free movement can be hindered by lawful arrests and jail terms, and the right to own movable property cannot be exercised by theft or stealing. Ditto on others. In other words, human rights are fundamental but not absolute rights.
Suffice to say that putting restraints on social media activities through regulations cannot fairly lead to brouhahas. Events in recent times have shown that such intervention is indispensable, and without regulations, social media will do more harm than good to the society in no distant time.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). 08023184542 – SMS only. Https:carlumegboro.com
Remebering 18th Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki (1923-2016)
n November 14th, 2016, Nigeria lost former Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki, a revered Islamic leader, diplomat and great – grand son of UsmanuDanfodio. The indelible imprints and legacies he bequeathed are still quite visible for future references, while his contributions towards the development of Islam, human development are still fresh in our memories.
The mere mention of his name would indeed evoke nostalgic feelings both in Nigeria and outside. As a matter of fact, his exit had created a huge vacuum yet to be filled since his departure.
When he was chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), where he championed a policy of decentralization and the creation of district offices, he was the brain behind the Local Government Administration Unification of 1976. He served as a member of the 1977 Constituent Assembly and contributed towards Nigeria becoming a member of the Organization of Islamic Country (OIC), and also contributed towards completion of the Sultan Abubakar III Central Juma’at Mosque in Sokoto and Jama’atuNasarul Islam headquarters in Kaduna, National Mosque Abuja and MashoodAbiola Central Mosque Ijebu – Ode.
He upgraded the Sokoto Orphanage Home and modernized the Sultanate Palace. He introduced salary and allowances for the Chief Imams and deputies of the Jumu’at Mosque in Sokoto State and also made an unexpected visit to Jakarta, Indonesia for (OIC) Meeting and completed the compilation of Islamic literature and logical work by the founding fathers of Sokoto Caliphate and disciples.
In addition he made Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto the center for organizing Quranic recitation competition globally.
To keep the memories of late Ibrahim Dasuki alive, because he left unforgettable significant footprints, the appropriate authorities should make efforts to immortalize him because, he spent most of his productive years serving his fatherland. While it is commendable that Sokoto State government should name the State University after him, the federal government should also immortalize him
May Allah (SWT) make his grave one of the best gardens of paradise.
Agulu Declaration and Police Image (1)
he Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Adamu, made a confessional statement at the Police Public Relations Officers’ (PPRO) Conference which took place on October 9, 2019, at Agulu, Anambra State.
Adamu, in his address at the inaugural session, delivered on his behalf by AIG Baba Tijani said, inter-alia; “it is the realization of the bad image of the NPF that informed the decision of my administration to embark on Image laundering activities to reposition the Nigeria Police Force”. The Police Boss went further to say: “Unarguably, certain indiscretion and perceived inaction by some personnel of the force as well as the security challenges in some parts of the country impact negatively on the image of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). I urge the NPF Image Makers to do everything humanly possible to correct the situation.”
The IGP deserves commendation for publicly acknowledging the poor image of the force under his command, even though the fact that the police has a bad image is actually a matter of common knowledge. The Police Boss deserves commendation because many leaders in Nigeria, today, would rather want everyone to believe that all is well with the organization under their purview. This attitude of covering-up, accounts for why the institutional problems of our government establishments including the Police continue to defy solutions. Therefore, this public admission of the IGP goes a long way to show that the IGP is a humble and courageous leader desirous of making a meaningful change in the NPF.
However, a serious critique of the IGP’s postulations on why he embarked on Image–laundering as a means of getting the PPRO’s to be more efficient within the overall security apparatus of Nigeria shows an errorneous perception of the real challenge.
I perceived the IGP driving the point that an improved public-presentation of the NPF as it is today would seriously improve the worrisome NPF image and by implication the security situation in Nigeria. For sure, no one can fault any attempt of the IGP to improve the image of the NPF under his watch. However, I beg to differ that this assumption that the improvement of NPF image by hook and crook would improve the worth of the police security situation in Nigeria cannot be true. Thus, that assumption is tantamount to over-simplification, under-rating and down-sizing of the nature and enormity of the NPF challenges. The word “launder” means false presentation, white washing or superficial clean-up of the object in question.
The real subject of concern to the IGP and indeed to all Nigerians is not the image but the way the NPF really and practically is, and not how they are made to look, or portrayed by the Police authorities. It is compelling to make this point because, like we all know, a good material sells itself and hardly needs any advertisement. Let me put it succinctly that no one can package a bad or unmarketable stuff. Even if the NPF succeeds in such futile exercise, it would only be short-lived because fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit can only be short-lived. It therefore means that the marketer would sooner or later earn a bad name for deceiving the populace. On this note, therefore, it must be clearly stated here that no matter how well the IGP pushes the issue of “laundering” or “re-branding”, the fact remains that he would achieve nothing without first putting in place a credible and efficient force, worth the re-branding. The IGP should therefore discard the idea of “laundering the image of NPF altogether, because it portrays a negative meaning to the public. Indeed no amount of re-branding would be sufficient to transform the NPF as it is today into a worthy asset for efficient National Security Management.
Nigerians and the world at large are interested in seeing the NPF become a veritable law enforcement agency visibly capable of maintaining law and order throughout the country. Nigerians and foreigners alike want law and order maintained and guaranteed round the clock. The only way to winning the confidence of people is to have a police force properly executing its constitutional duties with maximum proficiency and expertise. In other words, no such injunction as “doing whatever is humanly possible” from IGP or any government functionary for that matter, would provide remedy to the NPF security lapses unless the real issue of capacity and capability of the NPF to discharge her lawful duties professionally and efficiently is first addressed.
By blaming the poor image of the police on “indiscretion” and “perceived inaction” by some personnel of the force, the IGP ppears to be saying that the security situation in North Eastern Nigeria is traceable to mere indiscretion and mere inaction and that these are the causes of the bad image of the force. It must, therefore, be pointed out, that it is not only in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria that the dangerous phenomenon of insecurity is prevalent. It is a nation-wide-phenomenon.
Secondly, the poor image of the Police predates the current wave of insecurity as being witnessed in the North East and other parts of the country. Therefore, the words indiscretion and perceived inaction tend to over simplify or whittle-down the enormity of the lapses in the operations of the Nigeria Police Force.
Brig. General Idada Ikponmwen, a retired military strategist and lawyer, writes from Benin-City.
As Kogites, Bayelsans go to the polls today
Today, the people of Kogi and Bayelsa states will go to polling units to elect the governors that will govern them in the next four years. While Governor Yahya Bello of Kogi is seeking a second term under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State is a lame duck having served two terms allowed by the Constitution but he will have more than a passing interest in today’s contest.
Apart from the governorship election in Kogi, there is also a rerun election for Kogi West Senatorial District between gadfly Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC. Sadly, in the two states, the fierce battle will be between the APC and PDP.
I used the word sadly because the outcomes of the elections will not reflect that our democracy is truly a multiple party system. There won’t be a third force that can spring a surprise in today’s elections. We have tied ourselves to the apron strings of the APC and PDP as if they are the best since sliced bread. We had seen a candidate who did far better during a debate for the governorship candidates in one of the Southwest states and obviously had better ideas of how to turn things around yet the electorate could not trust him with their votes on election day just because he didn’t belong to one of the dominant parties. It was a case of a right candidate in a wrong party, a wrong notion built on fixation on the APC and PDP.
The same thing will pan out in Kogi and Bayelsa today. Ballots will be cast based on party affiliation, vote buying, religion and other primordial considerations. It won’t be a case of the best candidate for the job. This has been the pattern since the return of democracy in 1999.
Nothing will change in today’s elections because we have failed to learn from history. One can only hope we will get there one day, I mean a day when election will be won by candidates who don’t belong to popular parties or even independent candidates that truly can deliver.
There’s nothing wrong with the political parties but obviously something is wrong with the electorate. After 20 years of uninterrupted democracy, there’s nothing to show that we have attained political maturity that will make us see the evil in selling our votes for a pot of soup. In today’s elections, people will vote based on what politicians have to offer in monetary value. The dominant parties will outdo each other. The other parties are mere participants to give a semblance of multi-party system in an ar-rangement that is just a two-party system. If party A is offering N5,000 per vote, party B will raise the bar. The electoral officials will be compromised. Security agents will look the other way when thugs come around to snatch ballot boxes or stuff papers with predetermined ballot boxes and they won’t have the courage to chase away vote buyers. They may chase some vote buyers away yet tolerate some depending on the briefs they are to work with.
The first step to successfully rig an election is to have the support of security agents. It’s for this reason that commissioners of police are often redeployed when elections are around the corner. Those who are trusted to play the ball are often retained while those that cannot be trusted are kicked in the groins. Since the Inspector General of Police exists at the mercy of the president, the party at the centre is usually at advantage in this circumstance. If you think that will change today, it means you will believe that a grandmother is a virgin.
There’s poverty in the land. So, the electorate whose purchasing power has been diminished by politicians who foist on them egregious policies that have unleashed poverty on the masses, will be at the Beck and call of the same politicians today in Bayelsa and Kogi states.As Bayelsans and Kogites begin another democratic journey today, their choices are limited in terms of quality candidates.
They will vote but there is no guarantee that their votes will count. The masses will be in the majority when it comes to voters’ outcome. The elite will stay glued to their televisions and choose to watch football instead of going to vote and those who are not sport enthusiasts will choose other frivolities ahead of going to the polling units. Yet, they will be voiceferous when it comes to criticisms. The outcome of the elections is predictable. If things are not going the way of the politicians, they will subvert the will of the people.
They will be emboldened by the fact that they had done it overtime without getting their fingers burnt. As it is now, there is no clear cut political ideology that has evolved over the years and this is tragic for our country at a time that the country is in dire need of strong political leaders. This democracy is no longer nascent after 20 years of no military intervention.
We ought to have outgrown teething problems associated with the nascent democracy. The elections in the two states provide yet another opportunity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to convince Nigerians that the future of democracy is bright in Nigeria. But there won’t be much difference between what will happen in those states and what we had in the past. INEC won’t be coordinated, some of its officials will connive with politicians to subvert the will of the people, the electorate will sell their votes, security agents will take sides, there will be violence and bloodshed.
Losers will always have reasons to complain. But how genuine will their complaints be? Elections provide yet another opportunity for people to vote their choices into elective posts without fear and intimidation. They provide opportunities for people to vote and not to fight.
There cannot be peace and progress in an atmosphere of violence and conflicts. Inspite of the obvious downsides in our democracy, the elections today provide yet another opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. For those who have made up their minds to sell their votes, they should honestly ask themselves how well those who sold their votes about four years ago are better off today. Selling your votes is a case of:”you can’t have your cake and eat it.”
However, it is in the interest of the politicians not to truncate this democracy because of their desperation to hold on to power. They are the greatest beneficiaries of the system and will be the greatest losers if anything goes wrong with this democracy.
Whatever the governed get from the government is like crumbs compared to the ostentatious lifestyle of some of these politicians. Politicians know what is at stake for them. This is why elections in Nigeria is characterised mostly by tension and violence. Getting elective posts or political appointments are like automatic escape from poverty.
The electorate cannot afford to feather the greedy nest of politicians. This can be done if vote buyers are rejected. As for INEC, it had made costly mistakes in the past. But its image can still be salvaged if the elections today are free, fair and credible.
Credible election can be relative depending on the world view of politicians, their supporters and political parties. But if an election is credible, the world view of losers will not really matter. We did it on June 12, 1993. So, this should not be a one off thing. We can do it again if the atmosphere is right and we are determined. Bayelsans and Kogites should vote and not fight as they file out to exercise their franchise.
Many liberated as Bible Standard Church takes Mission Crusade to Nasarawa, F.C.T
“And he said unto them, Go ye into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved……..” This last injunction of Christ to his followers, which he issued just moments before he was taken up into heaven (Mark 16:15-16, KJV), can be said to be responsible for much of the evangelistic outreaches that have been carried out around the globe since Christ’s ascension.
In centuries past, millions have been won for Christ even as hundreds of Christians have from the time of the early apostles lost their lives, been imprisoned, maimed or wounded while trying to take the gospel to some hostile people or communities.
It is this same injunction that has been the driving force in global evangelisation in contemporary age with many churches and Christian organisations going out there to tell the world about the love of God. Bible Standard Christian Ministry, with a church wing, Bible Standard Church and headquarters in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, is one of such churches. For close to two decades now, the ministry has been carrying out strategic evangelistic outreaches to parts of the country every October.
This year’s edition of her “Mission Crusade” held in Kabayi area of Nasarawa State, which was planned to also benefit residents of the Federal Capital Territory, F.C.T, Abuja, will remain green in the minds of all the participants.
The three-day outing, October 18-20, with the theme “Deliverance for the captives” was a rare treat to the people of the area. Clad in activities like group and personal witnessing, preaching of salvation messages, mountain-moving prayers for the sick, oppressed of society, persons trapped in the web of poverty and lack and all manner of problems, the crusade appeared to have been the long awaited antidote to issues that had wearied the people. It was a big relief to many of the crusade participants when Dr. Umoh Ekwo, general overseer of the ministry, in a sermon told them that Jesus was able and willing to solve their problems and fix their desperate situations.
Ekwo read various portions of the Bible including Matthew 5:1-15 and emphasised on the power of God to answer prayers when godly people pray through the name of Jesus. He said that God was interested in the prayers of people who acknowledge their sinful situations, denounced sin and wrong doings and turned over their lives to Christ.
He insisted that only prayers of the righteous could draw the hand and heart of God to deliver suffering people and urged the people to call on God for help and deliverance. He lamented that many pastors and prophets had resorted to replacing the power in the name of Jesus with what they term, “Holy water”, “Holy Oil”, and other substances and objects. He said: “There is no holy water. No oil is holy and can deliver people from their problems.
Most of the oil and socalled holy water used on the people with certain issues in life only go to compound the problems they were intended to solve.” He said many pastors and prophets today were involved in spiritism even as their stock in trade mainly comprised asking people to do “assignments” with most of the victims being asked to buy a number of things and bring them for the said assignments or pay certain amounts of money for prayer.
Ekwo said when Jesus was carrying out his earthly ministry, He did not give people assignment nor oil or water to drink for their salvation, healing or deliverance. He said that demons the world over, are waiting for orders from children of God, sighting the case of the man possessed with legions of demons and living in the tomb for years, that was healed when Jesus commanded the demons to quit and they, obeying, ran into swine. Many people surrendered their lives to Christ, others were healed of various sicknesses while yet another set of participants received deliverance from demonic powers and influences as Pastor Ekwo and other men of God in his team prayed for them and taught them the word of God. In the crusade team were some lead pastors and leaders of the church that travelled from various parts of the country.
They included pastors Simeon Simeon, the overseer of the church in Rivers State, who spoke to the crowd on God’s power to deliver; Edwin Ene, Magdalene Umoh, Edet Raymond, Mary Emah – all senior pastors of the church in Akwa Ibom State. Obong Akpaekong, overseer of the church in Cross River State and Lawrence Jonah, overseer of the church in Lagos and Ogun states also attended.
Pastor Nsikak Udosen, Bayelsa State pastor, Evangelist Godbless Udoh, wife of pastor of the church in Abia State and Pastor Amos Amos, the church’s national youth president were equally there. The host pastor, Asuquo Nyong, said the national mission was the beginning of a new dawn for the people of Nasarawa State and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.
•Akpaekong wrote in from Abuja
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