You be thief (I no be thief)
You be rogue (I no be rogue)
You dey steal (I no dey steal)
You be robber (I no be robber)
You be armed robber (No be armed robber)
Argument, argument, argue
Everybody dem argue
Dem dem argue
Up and down them argue
– Fela Anikulapo-Kuti – Authority Stealing (1980)
When the late great Afrobeat musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti released his monster hit “Authority Stealing” way back in the early 80s little did he realise that 38 years after it will leap from just being a song to becoming a major topic for discussion across the land.
For those not familiar with the track let me summarise what the late “Abami Eda” said in the album. The late musician accused those in authority of being worse than armed robbers and deserving of hanging because the impact of their stealing is felt more than those of armed robbers’.
According to the late musician, those who steal by abusing their positions of authority take from the commonwealth of the people while armed robbers just rob a few.
In the past couple of weeks Nigerians and indeed the whole world have been treated to the theatre of the absurd as the two prominent parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have exposed their dirty linen in public by revealing their looters’ lists
The APC set the ball rolling by releasing what it dubbed the names of those who had brazenly looted the commonwealth of the people while they were the party in power.
Of course, the list was made up totally of members of the opposition party with no APC member’s name on it.
This immediately brought howls of derision from not only the PDP but a number of other commentators who wondered how it was possible that not a single member of the APC had been caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar.
However, the PDP immediately fired back, first claiming that many of the “thieves” had already left the “umbrella” to pick up the “broom” ahead of the 2015 general elections and then followed up by releasing their own looters’ list with all the names expectantly belonging to those in the APC.
But while the slanging match makes for good copy and headlines for the traditional and social media, the truth is of what purpose has the “looters list” served?
Sadly, long gone are the days when a “good name” meant the world to people. Now it appears that wealth is more important than reputation.
That is how far the nation has degenerated as the years have gone by. If not after what the military did to the politicians when they struck again on the night of December 31, 1983; the new generation of politicians should be terrified of touching money not meant for them for fear of what might happen to them.
But since they (politicians) believe they are above the law and will never have their day in court they continue to dip their hands into the nation’s cookie jar to the detriment of the development of the nation.
Is it little wonder that many of the major infrastructural developments in the nation took place when the military was in power?
It is not as if there was no stealing or corruption; but the simple truth is that those dipping their hands in the cookie jar were not as many as the hands now, which means that in spite of the theft there was still enough money left to carry out major developments across the land.
Thus it was under the military that the nation’s new capital city, Abuja, sprung up, expressways built all over to make connecting cities very easy and such ways which readily spring to mind are the Lagos-Ibadan, Benin-Sagamu, Oshodi-Apapa, Abuja-Kaduna, Enugu-Port Harcourt and Onitsha-Enugu to mention but a few.
But sadly decades after being built, successive civilian governments since 1999 have failed to maintain them leaving many in terrible states of repair.
In fact the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway is virtually a no go area for many, which has prompted many companies and businesses to move out of the prime locale; government is still struggling to finish the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, years after the contract was first awarded during the time of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whose tenure ended in 2007!
Some other key roads yet to receive major attention include the Onitsha-Enugu and Enugu-Port Harcourt expressways; while the Benin-Sagamu Expressway is yet to be completed, having only been done up to Ore. The stretch from Ore to Sagamu is in a very terrible shape. The Second Niger Bridge, which has been awarded a “million times”, is still a mirage.
Is it in health, power or education or what? The list is endless of failed promises by the various political parties to improve the lot of their people only to leave the stage with the people worse off than when they came into office!
Alas, despite all the of problems besetting the nation, the country’s most prominent parties, which have held sway since the return to civilian rule 19 years ago, are busy engaging in mundane issues – a reflection of the type of personalities ruling us.
It is sad that the same APC, which had for long resisted attempts by the opposition to cajole it into releasing the names of supposed looters on the grounds that it could jeopardise legal actions against them, finally backed down and opted to release the names.
However, in doing so I believed the APC goofed because what they have simply just done is to open a Pandora’s Box of “You be thief, I no be thief”!
Following this example, what stops the next government, should APC lose the next elections, from also coming up with its own list of looters?
Like Fela said in “Army Arrangement,” government can always come up with “evidence” to prove one’s guilt even in the face of obvious facts to the contrary.
Since both parties have opted to fight dirty let’s see where this will lead the nation at the end of the day. However, rather than resulting to mudslinging I would have loved them to come together to tackle the monster once and for all – because like their catch phrase, “if we don’t kill corruption; corruption will kill the country!”
Kidnapping: Finally, the chickens have come home to roost!
For a very long time our security outfits, mainly the police consistently made public statements that flied in the face of reality. What I am alluding too here is the statements made by the men in black whenever a kidnapping case was finally resolved with the abducted person or persons being reunited with his/her/their loved ones. Until recently in virtually all cases, the police would insist that no ransom was paid, and that the case was settled solely due to their tenacious pursuit of the kidnappers, or the sudden ‘benevolence’ of the abductors, who had a change of heart and just decided to free their victims without collecting anything in return.
Incidentally while this public posture had become the order of the day, I’m sure that even the police were also very well aware that most people took such pronouncements with a pinch of salt. I never really understood while they (police) opted to toe this line especially in a country like ours where news (both real and fake) spread like wildfire. Which meant that a victim of a “successfully” concluded kidnap situation would immediately have told family members, friends and colleagues what they did in order to get their loved one back safely. And that news would now spread across the length and breadth of the land, especially in this age of social media. Of course, the “bad boys” would also be privy to such information, (even though they would also get the news first hand from fellow members of the underworld), and while the police were busy giving the impression that there was nothing to be made from carrying out such dastardly actions, they would know it was not true.
Armed with such knowledge, one does not need to be told that what would follow would be an explosion of more people going into the “business” of kidnapping for the simple reason because it was so lucrative and in Nigeria where money is “king” it would bound to attract the many of the army of unemployed to the fold. If the police were living in a world of denial all that was to change some two years ago when more than 20 security operatives stormed the Fred Shoboyejo home of vicious kidnapper and robber, Chukwudubem Onwuamadike – aka Evans, less than a month after the police announced a N30 million bounty in return for information leading to his arrest.
For at least seven years prior to this, Evans had co-ordinated bank robberies across Oyo, Port Harcourt and Abia, as well as numerous high-profile kidnaps whose ransoms amount to hundreds of millions of naira. Now tell me in all honesty, who would not want to live the flamboyant life style of the kidnapper, who lived amongst the affluent in the upscale area of Magodo in Lagos? Pictures of the mansion he was living in and what he had inside coupled with his fleet of cars is the stuff millions of us will dream about but might never ever achieve throughout our lifetime. But here was a young Nigerian who hardly went to school and yet was able to live a very good life not based on his education ability but through anti-social activities in the name of kidnapping.
An unfortunate premise that perhaps crime does pay after all if abducting people is so lucrative why not join the “business” after all the rewards are usually instant since there are a lot of “chips” to be cashed in for a quick riches beyond the wildest imaginations.
But back to my original path, perhaps had the police acknowledge this scourge from the get go rather than basking in selfdenial maybe the problem would not have assumed such alarming dimensions across the length and breadth of the country because they (police) would have drawn the necessary attention to it with possible support from government. However, that opportunity has been lost and the police will now have to now come up with fresh strategies to mitigate the problem, which the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike recently pointed out the main reason for its proliferation – the commercialisation of kidnapping!
Wike, who made this remark on Monday during a courtesy visit by the Rotary International District 9141, to the Government House in Port Harcourt, explained that since kidnapping had become business, it could only be reduced to the barest minimum. He said: “It is now impossible to stop kidnapping in Nigeria; it (kidnapping) is now a business. It has been commercialised.
“It is now a major business. Everyone must partner with the government to ensure that we reduce it to the barest minimum. But it cannot be totally eradicated.” He said that those involved in kidnapping from security reports ranged from 16 to 22 years in age. “Look at what is happening across the country. Kidnapping has taken over all states.
When it started here, it was politicised. But today, it is negatively affecting all states of the federation. “A few days ago, a Court of Appeal judge was kidnapped in Benin. Before that, a Federal High Court judge was kidnapped. All of us must work together to stop this scourge,” he said.
In a previous write up titled: “Crime fighting: Beyond operational names”, published on June 8, 2019, I pointed out how the US federal crime agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was set up to help the nation tackle crime headlong across the land when it was getting out of hand.
This was the situation at the turn of the 19th Century, prompting the government of then President Theodore Roosevelt decided to set up the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 26, 1908 with its main goals “to protect and defend the United States, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners.” Of course while the FBI has not been able to completely eradicate all federal crimes in the US, it has gone a long way in making the “bad guys” think twice before carrying out their nefarious activities. Although the FBI has also been given all the necessary manpower, tools and equipment needed in order to carry out their task in keeping the people safe, their main weapon is still good old intelligence.
The Nigeria Police Force used to be outstanding in this regard with their CID operatives, who seemed omnipotent, able to infiltrate anywhere in their quest to frustrate the bad guys.
This is an area I believe they will again need to devout a lot of time and energy on because without good intelligence there is virtually nothing even the world’s best mobilised and equipped police force can do. Thus unless and until the NPF can come to grips with this very important aspect then the chickens will continue to come home to roost with tones of money made from kidnapping.
Insecurity: Time to step up the fight
It made for captivating viewing on television and compelling reading in newspapers and social media, the impressive display put up by the Nigeria Airforce (NAF) during its recent counter-terrorism exercise, code-named Exercise Na Zo, in Kaduna.
The exercise, which held on Tuesday along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road, saw the youngest member of the nation’s military (having been founded on April 18, 1964) deploying military jets, helicopters and other air assets in an attempt to assure the populace that the Airforce was up to the task of ensuring the safety of lives and properties of Nigerians.
One was quite impressed seeing men in Nigerian uniforms making fast exits from helicopters hovering metres above the land with their K9 dogs in tow from ropes; while Special Forces also carried out mock search and rescue operations.
The Airforce was spot on in choosing the very notorious Kaduna-Abuja Expressway to display their new found wherewithal to show the men of the underworld that they will no longer be operation with impunity on that axis.
Speaking afterwards a very elated Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said the exercise, organised for the first time, was for both the ground and air elements to understand the usual challenges that are associated with air-ground integration in operations.
Abubakar said from now till January 2020, the NAF has put together a number of such exercises that will be conducted in different parts of the country.
“The whole idea is for us to be able to understand and provide answers to some very critical questions including the challenges and issues that are likely to interfere with the effective air-ground integration as well as the critical role that joint planning and execution has in successful conduct of operations.
“We want to also be able to answer the question such as, what roles that Force Protection in Complex Air Ground Environment elements is expected to play in order to ensure that our assets are fully protected, so that they can learn and conduct their mission safely.”
He noted that the K9 (dogs) elements of the Air Provost also have a very crucial role to play.
Abubakar disclosed that the NAF Special Forces elements are currently involved in operations in the North East and North Central, while the Armed Forces Special Battalion had also been deployed to the North East.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olanisakin, who was physically present to see his forces in action, said the NAF has set the trail by ensuring that its personnel are engaged in exercises that evolve lessons, tactics and doctrine in the conduct of Counter Terrorism Operations.
The CDS said, as a service vested with the enviable role of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria by air, the timing of the event was apt, “as it affords the NAF the opportunity to assess the physical and combat readiness of its personnel with a view to making some adjustments and changes where necessary.
“Even more important is the fact that an event of this nature is being organised at a time the Nigerian Air Force and its sister Services are engaged in Counter Insurgency Operations in the North Eastern part of Nigeria and banditry in the North West as well as North Central.
“In line with my vision for the Armed Forces of Nigeria which is to ensure well-motivated, trained and equipped armed forces that is responsive to national security commitments, the DHQ has facilitated conditions necessary for the Services to operate.
“This has helped in Services’ effectiveness towards curtailing the myriad of security challenges bedevilling the country presently.
“This resolve is hinged on one of the drivers of the key drivers of the CAS Vision. That is, Human Capacity Development through Robust and Result Oriented Training for Enhanced Professional Performance.”
But while it is no doubt something to be celebrated, however, there is need to look at the bigger picture as to why if our military can put on such an impressive show, it is still finding it difficult to subdue militancy, especially in the North East where Boko Haram have been causing havoc since it kicked off its bloody campaign in 2002.
If truth must be told, our military is also not helped by the fact that it is always quick to trumpet perceived successes only for the militants to continue to inflict terror on innocent civilians like a sore wound that refuses to heal.
Of course such propaganda is not limited to the Nigerian military as even their counterparts in more advanced climes often fall victims of the same attempts at slanting the media to give the impression that they are on top of their game.
For instance before last Sunday’s final confirmation of the death of ISIL’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an operation carried out by US Special Forces in Syria’s north-western Idlib Province, there had often been reports of his demise, especially after his so-called ‘caliphate’ fell and his failure to appear in public or propaganda video clips.
However, this time around not willing to take any chances that they had killed the wrong man, the US troops collected some of his remains (he was said to have blown himself up rather than being caught) in order to carry out DNA analysis, which confirmed that it was al-Baghdadi.
Before him, the world’s former number one terrorist, Osama bin Laden had been reported killed on a number of occasions before he was finally shot dead by US Special Forces, after a 10-year hunt, on May 2, 2011 inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where he lived with a local family from Waziristan, during a covert operation.
Again, like the ISIL leader after him, before releasing the news to the world that they had finally gotten rid of the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, DNA was carried out to confirm that it was the Saudi terrorist.
So why this short history about the deaths of foreign terrorists? Because for long our military has not only been claiming victory over insurgency, but more importantly claiming that they have “neutralised” Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, without providing a shred of evidence to that effect.
The so-called “dead man” would then go on to mock the military’s claims through propaganda videos of him threatening more carnage across the land.
However, from what I saw on display on Monday it is obvious that the nation has the manpower and equipment to take on these insurgents, all that is missing is perhaps quality intelligence that will lead them to their hideouts.
There is need for the military to take the fight to the insurgents by taking out the leaders which will go a long way in disrupting their operations, which will go a long way in ensuring that citizens will really appreciate all the efforts the military is putting in in trying to keep us safe.
And then they too will be able to show the world that they are not only on top of their game, but more importantly have finally killed their number one enemy – Shekau just like the US military did to bin Laden and al-Baghdadi.
How to obtain grace for marital success (Part 2)
“Submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ephesians 5:21-29 KJV).
The challenge with most marriages is that people are resisting God’s definition of marriage. Naturally, a man loves the God that he serves and the wife below that serves him. This is God’s order. When you as a wife, decide or attempt to break this order, the grace for marital success disappears.
The first element of beauty of a wife to any husband is submission and obedience. Once this is missing, the beauty of such wife disappears. He no longer sees your beautiful hair do, your beautiful dress or your sweet food. Even your gift to him on his birthday may be rejected. His attention for you begins to wear out and the grace for marital success disappears because of frustration. May you not frustrate the grace of God in your marriage in Jesus name (Galatians 2:21).
Maltreating or physically assaulting your spouse must be avoided to obtain grace for marital success. As a matter of fact, your prayer to God as a married person can be hindered because of marital conflict.
“For after this manner in the old time, the holy women also. Who trusted in God, adorned themselves being in subjection unto their own husbands. Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord; whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement; likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, THAT YOUR PRAYERS BE NOT HINDETRED” (1st Peter 3:5-7).
There are several kinds of marriages that the grace of God does not cover, except the grace is obtained or God offers mercy. If your marriage was conducted in your absence and dowry or bride price was paid, you may not be aware of demonic sacrifices that could have been made on your behalf. In this case, you need to ask questions and the blood of Jesus that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel has capacity to break or nullify whatever evil pronouncements had been made against your marriage.
If your marriage to your spouse involved a blood covenant in which you cut yourselves and drank each other’s blood, your union needs deliverance and you can be saved by grace through faith.
If satanic agents or spiritualists were consulted before decisions were made concerning your marriage, you need to seek divine grace. If your marriage got contracted based on demonic prophecy or you were brought together by a false prophet or an occultic seer, you need to obtain divine grace to cover that relationship
If your marriage was contracted out of any form of personal fears, coercion from your spouse or your spouse’s relatives, that marriage requires grace to survive.
If you got married out of parental pressure or any form of pressure with the absence of love, divine grace and mercy are required for your marital success. If you are married to an unbeliever, your marriage needs the grace of God to enjoy peace.
Examples of marital relationships that require God’s grace to survive are just too many and cannot be exhausted here. But there is a solution.
The truth is that you cannot be guaranteed obtaining grace for successful marriage without first, gaining entitlement to obtain such grace. If you are yet to surrender your heart for Jesus Christ to possess, you are still very far. By this time yesterday, God knew that by this time today, you will be reading this write-up, receiving this message. You may wish to surrender your heart to Jesus right now.
Say this prayer from your heart: “Lord Jesus! I come to you as I am. Please, forgive me my sins. Wash me with your precious blood. I confess you Jesus Christ as my Lord and saviour. Grant me the grace to succeed in marriage. Thank you for taking over my life in Jesus name. Amen! Congratulations!
Now, receive the grace for a crisis free marital relationship in Jesus name.
Much ado about Monkeypox
Our planet is full of Pox diseases; Cowpox, a rodent disease that can infect cattle, and also transmissible to humans; used for vaccination against smallpox ,Goatpox, also Sheeppox, an infectious disease of sheep and goats. Horse pox, an infectious disease of horses, Smallpox, an eradicated infectious disease unique to humans. Mousepox, an iatrogenic infectious disease of laboratory mice, Rabbitpox, an iatrogenic infectious disease of laboratory rabbits, Squirrel pox, an infectious disease of squirrels, Monkeypox, an infectious rodent disease than can infect primates. Canarypox, a disease of wild and captive birds, Pigeon pox, an infectious disease of pigeons, Fowlpox, an infectious disease of poultry, Plum pox, the most devastating viral disease of stone fruit from the genus Prunus. White pox disease, a coral disease. Chickenpox, a highly contagious illness caused by primary infection with varicella zoster virus (VZV) . Syphilis, also known as grande verole, the “great pox”, a sexually transmitted disease. Rickettsialpox, a rickettsial disease spread by mites. Since 2017, there has been recurrent outbreaks of monkeypox infection in Nigeria with the latest occurring in some states a few weeks ago. What do we do to stem another wave of infection?
What it is
It is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The disease was first identified in laboratory monkeys, hence its name, but in its natural state it seems to infect rodents more often than primates. The disease is indigenous to Central and West Africa. Monkeypox virus is a zoonotic viral disease (spread between animals and humans) that occurs primarily in remote villages of Central and West Africa in proximity to tropical rainforests where there is more frequent contact with infected animals. Monkeypox is usually transmitted to humans from rodents, pets, and primates through contact with the animal’s blood or through a bite, it has limited secondary spread through human-to-human transmission. Human monkeypox can be difficult to distinguish clinically from smallpox (to which it is closely related) and chickenpox (to which it is not).
History of Outbreaks
According to W.H.O. factsheet, Human monkeypox was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire) in a 9 year old boy in a region where smallpox had been eliminated in 1968. Since then, the majority of cases have been reported in rural, rainforest regions of the Congo Basin and western Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it is considered to be endemic. In 1996-97, a major outbreak occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the spring of 2003, monkeypox cases were confirmed in the Midwest of the United States of America, marking the first reported occurrence of the disease outside of the African continent. Most of the patients had had close contact with pet prairie dogs. In 2005, a monkeypox outbreak occurred in Unity, Sudan.
Infection of index cases results from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or skin or mucosal sores of infected animals. In Africa human infections have been documented through the handling of infected monkeys, Gambian giant rats and squirrels, with rodents being the major reservoir of the virus. Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is a possible risk factor.
Secondary, or human-to-human, transmission can result from close contact with infected respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials. Transmission occurs primarily via droplet respiratory particles usually requiring prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts household members of active cases at greater risk of infection. Transmission can also occur by inoculation or via the placenta (congenital)
What may give it away
According to WHO, the interval from infection to onset of symptoms (incubation period) is usually from 6 to 16 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. The infection can be divided into two periods: the invasion period (0-5 days) characterized by fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph node, back pain, muscle ache and an lack of energy; the skin eruption period (within 1-3 days after appearance of fever) where the various stages of the rash appears, often beginning on the face and then spreading elsewhere on the body. The face (in 95% of cases), and palms of the hands and soles of the feet (75%) are most affected.
Usually via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), antigen detection tests, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and virus isolation by cell culture.
It is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 14 to 21 days. Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and severity of complications. There are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, but outbreaks can be controlled. Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.
• Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission. Close physical contact with monkeypox infected people should be avoided. Gloves and protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill people. Regular hand washing should be carried out after caring for or visiting sick people.
• Reducing the risk of animal-to-human transmission. Efforts to prevent transmission in endemic regions should focus on thoroughly cooking all animal products (blood, meat) before eating. Gloves and other appropriate protective clothing should be worn while handling sick animals or their infected tissues, and during slaughtering procedures.
• Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
• Vaccination against smallpox seems to afford about an 85% chance of avoiding monkeypox because of the close relationship between the two. However, there is no commercially available vaccine specifically for monkeypox.
• Anyone who has been exposed to monkeypox in the past 14 days should get the smallpox vaccine, including children under 1 year of age and pregnant women
Now that government wants to regulate social media
Last month, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, had during an interactive session with some editors in Lagos expressed concern about how fake news and hate speeches were having ample spaces on social media and what could be done before they become dominant in the mainstream media.
The IGP recalled how the social media was set on fire over the “killings” that were ongoing in a part of Kano some time ago. He said he quickly called the commissioner of police to find out the situation of things since the topmost policeman in the state did not deem it fit to brief him as the IGP.
But to Adamu’s chagrin, the senior police officer in the state just laughed over the reported “killings” in Kano State and assured him that all was well in the state. While the IGP believed his man who was on the ground, he felt there was need to tell Nigerians who had family and friends in Kano and who must have read about the “killings” that the state was peaceful.
The IGP instructed the senior police officer to get a cameraman and a reporter who would interview him in the area where social media users said was boiling so that Nigerians could see situation of things for themselves. The truth was that people were going about their normal businesses when some claimed people were being killed in the state. In other words, the “ killings” were fake.
I also recall how a man who lives in the U.S. posted the photograph of people who got burnt when they went to scoop fuel from a ruptured pipeline somewhere in the Niger Delta some years back and claimed that they were Igbo burnt in the north. Expectedly, a lot of people from the South East were enraged by the supposed “carnage” visited on their people by the northerners.
Temper rose and some people called for revenge. It took the effort of one person who posted the link to the photograph for people to know the exact thing the photograph was all about. There were so many instances where people posted fake news that generated a lot of tension in the country on the social media.
The most recent were photographs that had nothing to do with xenophobic attacks in South Africa posted as such by some social media users in Nigeria, thereby creating unnecessary tension. Since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in which hate speeches spawned violence leading to racial extermination of at least 900,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and the killings of no fewer than 1,200 people in post -election violence in Kenya in 2007, there have been debates whether free speech could be treated in isolation without taking into cognisance whether such speech is capable of inciting violence or not. As part of the debate, a political scientist, human rights teacher and director of the Dangerous Speech Project, Susan Benesch, came up with five key qualitative variables to recognise hate speeches and the attendant danger in them.
The variables are: the level of a speaker’s influence, the grievances or fears of the audience i.e. whether or not the Speech Act is understood as a call to violence, the social and historical context and the way in which the speech is disseminated. Hutus and Tutsis have lived together for centuries in Rwanda. They speak the same language, practice same religion and have the same culture.
What could be considered as the major difference between the two is that the Tutsi minority are mostly aristocratic herders of cattle while the majority Hutus are mostly peasant farmers. This explains why some analysts feel strongly that the genocide in which almost one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed within 100 days was not an ethnic conflict but a tragedy precipitated by hate speeches.
In 1990, Kangura Magazine was founded and funded by politicians purposely to stoke ethnic hatred in Rwanda by publishing anti- Tutsi articles and graphic cartoons. These lowered the esteem of the Tutsis and subjected them to hate and opprobrium. The choice of the word ‘Kangura’ was deliberate. It means ‘wake others up’ in Rwandan language.
The hatred was complemented with the establishment of a radio station in June 1993: Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLMC). The radio chose street language as its medium of broadcasting, a ploy, which made it to attract large audience within a short period of time after it was founded. It targetted mostly the unemployed, street urchins and thugs.
It hired some DJs, played pop music and even had phone-in programmes. But its establishment was for a sinister motive and it was meant to fan embers of hostility and sow seed of hatred and animosity in the hearts of Hutus against the Tutsis and their sympathisers among the Hutus otherwise known as moderate Hutus. Some of the announcers often got drunk before coming on air.
They mostly encouraged Hutus to take up arms against the Tutsis. Some people including the then Belgium ambassador to Rwanda and staff of several aid agencies raised the alarm early enough, urging the international community to help shut down the hate station. But the western diplomats argued that the contents of the radio station were mere jokes, taken out of context.
Shutting down the station in their views, would amount to stifling freedom of speech and gagging of the press. The listeners of the station grew by leaps and bounds not necessarily because of its contents but because Rwandans wanted to be sure that their names were not mentioned by the announcers whenever they came on air. Once people’s names were mentioned and were labelled as cockroaches, they would be fished out and killed. Those who were lucky to hear their names on time would quickly relocate before they were found. But again, roadblocks had been mounted in every nook and cranny of Rwanda.
There were killers already waiting. People would be asked to identify themselves with their national ID cards, which carried individuals’ ethnic group. When people whose names were mentioned on the radio were found anywhere in the country, they would be killed.
This was how some Rwandans derived pleasure in killing fellow human beings on account of hate speeches they listened to on RTLMC. They would sharpen their cutlassses before leaving their homes in the morning and resume at designated spots just to kill fellow Rwandans. And in the night, they converged to discuss how they raped women and killed their husbands.
Young men celebrated savagery and monstrosity with enthusiasm and great élan in an unprecedented way that potrayed Africa as “heart of darkness.” Politicians convinced the killers through their hate speeches and divisive rhetorics that the only option left for the Hutus was to kill the Tutsis otherwise they would be returned to the dark age of Tutsis’ autocracy. By the time the theatre of absurdity stopped, almost one million people had been slaughtered. In 2007, an influential radio broadcaster with Kalenji radio station, Kass, Joshua Arap Sang, was arraigned at the International Criminal Court for using his radio programme to incite post-election violence in Kenya.
His audience who were mostly Kalenjis believed that their candidate, Ralia Odinga, only lost the election because he was rigged out in the presidential election. Sang, a Kalenji, was accused to have during his programme incited violence using statements like “the war has begun,” “the people of the milk should cut the grass,” a veiled reference to Kalenjis, who are predominantly cattle rearers and Kikugie, who are mainly farmers. This led to the killings of 1,200 Kenyans. Although Sang was freed, his freedom was on account of the failure of the prosecutors to marshal enough incriminating evidence against him during the trial. He was freed but not acquitted, an indication that the case could be reopened if there are fresh charges against him in the future. Hate speech and its attendant consequences have proven over time that every war starts with words. War of words can lead to war of guns. Fake news carriers are enemies of the people.
Their intention is to cause disharmony and hatred. The carriers are usually low in thinking but high in mischief. Things have gone out of control because nobody regulates what goes on on social media and some people still don’t see the need for them to do self-regulation and be socially responsible. We don’t have to wait until we have a repeat of what happened in Rwanda before acting. People can no longer hide under the pretext of freedom of speech to perpetrate evil on social media in form of hate speeches and fake news. The government has kicked the can down the road for too long. So, it was pleasing when the Federal Government said it would now regulate activities going on on social media. However, the government should use the extant laws in dealing with the situation whenever the need arises and should not misconstrue constructive criticisms to be hate speeches. The truth is that we don’t sometimes constructively criticise but only take delight in biting people’s heads off and behaving like a bear with a sore head. We have had enough of such insinuations and it is time to cut them out. If Rwanda that is not as complex and heterogeneous as Nigeria paid dearly for encouraging hate speeches, one can imagine the kind of disaster our country will be in if the government is not doing anything to curtail these unbridled utterances. A stitch in time saves time!
Joy as Ewet students’ Invention wins at NTA Arts & Science Expo, Abuja
Students of Government Technical College, Ewet, Uyo, in Akwa Ibom State, have once again proven that they are truly engineers in the making. They emerged overall winners in the NTA ETV National Children’s Arts and Science Expo 2019, held in Abuja from October 20 to 24 with the Hydro and Power Control System, which they designed and constructed in their school, and took to the competition.
Earlier, the school had taken the first position in the state selection exercise organised by the NTA in Uyo, which paved the way for their participation at the Abuja exhibition. The school has in its effort to develop science and technological skills in the students helped them to form what they call Explorers Company, in the school. The company aims at solving many human, social, health and educational problems of society, using electronic, electrical, scientific and technological ideas.
The Explorers Company has in the past designed and created a number of products and put them in the market and exhibited some at different shows. Among them are Explorers lamps – used for charging lamps; mosquito repellants – to check the spread of mosquitoes and water level controller; all of which they exhibited at a recent Junior Achievements Nigeria show in Lagos and took the fifth position. They plan to exhibit their products and present papers at a national conference of Nigerian Society of Engineers.
The integrated system may soon become the desire of every home and office for its offering of several solutions in the areas of water supply and power switching from different sources of water supply. Before the invention, the students had noticed that water pumped to the reservoir in their school overflowed, with the water direction causing erosion, water wastage and excessive burning of fuel or consumption of power while the reservoir itself was rusting. This made them decide to create a system that could fix the problems.
Thereafter, the students designed and constructed an automatic water level controller – a device that could detect and control the level of water in a water tank or a similar water storage system. Their invention was amazing! The devise senses the level of water that is available in the tank through the detector level.
It will then adjust the state of the water pump in accordance with the water level information, achieving automation through sequential logic attained by a flip-flop. The electronic design has a LED indicator and a relay-based motor pump driving circuit. During demonstrations, the students would showcase the system which pumps automatically and turns on when the tank is empty (green LED indicator turns on during this process.) But when the tank is full, it turns off the pump (the blue LED indicator turns on). When the devise was showcased at the Uyo competition, it beat the inventions of other schools and groups. It was the celebration of their work at Uyo that encouraged the students to improve upon the quality and attributes of the automatic power controller to include automatic power change-over and automatic starter circuit.
Their success at this invention prompted them to carry out the design and construction of an automatic power changeover switch. The switch helps in changing automatically the source of power supply at the home, eatery, business centre or office. “With this device, there will not be any need for manual change-over.
This means that whenever there is power outage in any electrical appliances, the device will automatically switch over to a standby supply without causing any noticeable distortion”, explains Master Peter Isidore Bassey, the student CEO of Explorers Company, who was at the Abuja exhibition with his colleagues – Sampson Sam Sampson, Ndiana Christopher Sunday and Rutherford Edet Ekop, all vice presidents of the company. Volunteer teacher, Mrs. Joyce Emmanuel Manoah, who accompanied them to the Abuja event and school principal, Dr. Udo Etukudo David, were full of gratitude to the students for their proud representation of their school.
The school has been celebrating the students ever since. Manoah said of the students’ feat “They (students) have been able to translate information into something that could be seen, thereby activating disruptors.” It was learnt that various organisations including NTA Uyo have been celebrating the students since their return from the Abuja exhibition.
But GTC, Ewet, Uyo, is not new to winning trophies. In 2015, they won one as the first runner-up for a choreography performance on Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Dakkada slogan. In 2016, during the 40th anniversary of National Council of Arts and Culture, the school won the first position prize for its art and sculptor presentation.
- Akpaekong wrote in from Uyo
We versus them!
Most of us are very very selfish and this is the big yoke holding back the country from achieving its full potentials. Be it tribe, tongue, work, or benefits, we, or most of us always put our selfish interests above every other consideration including the wider interest of the entity called Nigeria. Recent developments in the country have only reinforced this. Last week states kicked against the alleged lopsided allocation of slots by the police authorities in the on-going recruitment of 10,000 constables.
The list of successful candidates indicates that Nasarawa, the home state of the Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had the highest number, with 528 candidates, followed by Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s state, with 435 candidates. It was learnt that the states were directed to put their complaints in writing after they pointed out that they were short-changed in the exercise, which awarded the highest slots of 528 to Nasarawa, which has 13 local government areas. Based on the approved allocation of 12 candidates per local government, Nasarawa was meant to get 156 slots instead of 528 recorded in the published list. Borno State with 27 local government areas had 274 candidates instead of 324, while Bauchi with 20 local government areas was given 232 slots instead of its entitled 240 candidates.
If this was not enough, the police scandal happened against the backdrop of the recruitment scandal rocking the National Assembly in which job slots were given to lawmakers by federal agencies and ministries. In the National Assembly case, rather than ensuring that the jobs are provided for the generality of the people that voted them into power, the Assembly members were busy sorting themselves out with slots given to them by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
And as is often the case where there is no honour among thieves, sharing this brought to the fore the ‘I myself tendencies” of our people with the Senate President Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) alleged to have unilaterally corned 26 out of the 100 slots given for only his constituents. A senator, who spoke to a national daily on the incident, accused Lawan of “hijacking the 26 slots without considering other senators, not even from his state.”
A youth association from Lawan’s constituency, Unity for Collective Progress Forum, recently said all the beneficiaries had received employment letters and were expected “to commence work in earnest”.
The association gave the breakdown of the beneficiaries’ local government areas, from Lawan’s constituency as Nguru, 5; Karasuwa, 3; Machina, 4; Bade, 7; Yusufari, 4 and Jakusko 3. As if these were not bad enough, all through the arduous and often rancorous negotiations for a new N30k minimum wage, not once did we hear any of our so called people representatives offering to give up part of their stupendous monthly salaries and allowances as their own contributions to helping the economy. Even the executive branch is not left out of this “we versus them” position; with the presidency opting to expand the cabinet rather than reducing it in keeping with the stark realities facing the nation squarely in the face concerning the economy.
Of course in moving from 36 to 42 ministers, this will also mean those being taken care off by the taxpayers will also increase with more aides on the federal payroll. Even the Office of the First Lady, which was non-existent before, has returned with the First lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari thanking her husband for being “magnanimous enough to approve six assistants for her office”. Despite the hue and cries over the decision of the NASS to spend N5.5 billion on the purchase of SUVs the spokesman of the Upper Chamber said it was an “insult ” to allude to the fact that a ‘Senator of the Federal Republic ‘ was not entitled to such items in a country where millions are struggling to enjoy the very basics of life – like a decent meal.
But then, to add further insult to injury, and also show the total disconnect between us and them, a minister of the Federal Republic went public to say that there was no hunger in the land, insinuating that it was more of a media creation than reality. According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sani Nanono: “We are producing enough to feed ourselves. I think there is no hunger in Nigeria; there could be inconveniences.
“When people talk about hunger in this government, I just laugh. “In this country, it is fairly cheap to buy food!” These are the people ruling us and promising that things will soon improve for the generality of the people – promises we have been hearing since 1999 without any corresponding improvement but rather more pain for the generality of the people. But then can we actually blame them? The answer is an emphatic no!
This is because politicians either in the former ruling party, PDP or new kids on the block, APC, have always been united by one common binding factor – their selfaggrandisement. Which is why we often see people who were struggling to pay house rents or living in nondescript houses; suddenly moving into stunning mansions without any visible sources of enhanced income apart from the fact that they are politicians. And rather than we the people raising eyebrows over the stunning transformations; instead embrace them and return them during the next election.
Any one old enough will remember that this was also the pattern during the 2nd Republic when the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) ruled the roost. One recalls that when opposition leader, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) warned that the economy was heading into turbulence, the ruling party dubbed him the “prophet of doom”. In total disregard of the warning, a leader of the ruling part was already planning to celebrate his 70th birthday in grand style and had already produced special branded champagne from abroad before the military pulled the rug beneath their feet. Less than a year after Awo raised the alarm the bottom fell out of the economy and free dealing politicians were forced to acknowledge the folly of their ways by introducing austerity measures in an effort to rein in excessive spending.
However, the simple truth is that we are all guilty because years after walking into economic disaster we are once again toeing the same path, largely because we refused to check our politicians. And the only way we can do that is if we can subjugate our selfish interests for the collective good of the country by not only ensuring that the right people emerge as candidates, but more importantly voting the right people into office. Once the politicians know that we the people have become wise to their antics they will then realise that only their good deeds will ensure that they will get a second chance at the ballot box.
When the hair falls off
The scene Baba OGN just finished gulping another round of ‘’kainkain’’ aka ‘’ogogoro’’. He’s been on this routine for more than 2 decades! He looked frail, unkempt and shrunken with thin, sparse, fluffy hair. Gossip has it that he actually does his morning teeth cleaning with the erosive liquid! His hair tells the detailed story as it has been deprived of protein over the years.
The Hair Cycle Hair starts its lifespan in small, sack-like structures in the skin known as follicles. Each follicle produces a single hair shaft composed of a hard protein called keratin, which is arranged in long, tightly bound strands.
New growth begins in the follicle and pushes outward so that the oldest part of the hair is furthest from the scalp. Each hair has a distinct growth cycle — active growth, maturation, and rest. During the resting phase, the follicle relaxes its hold on the shaft, so hair can easily fall or be pulled out. Every hair on your head goes through the growth cycle, but not at the same time. At any given moment, about 15 percent of all the hairs on your head are resting, and therefore capable of shedding . . . in your hairbrush, in the shower, on the bathroom floor.
This is totally normal, and is not a harbinger of baldness. Conditions that affect hair health It is estimated that we each lose about 100 hairs a day.
The actual number you’ll lose on any given day depends on how abundant and healthy your follicles are, what medications you’re taking, and many other factors, some of which are beyond your control. 1. Hormonal Shifts Both male and female hormones affect hair growth. Male hormones known as androgens — a category that includes testosterone — stimulate hair growth on the face and body, and create fuller, thicker hair on the head. In women, ovaries and adrenal glands naturally produce androgens, but only very small amounts.
If a woman suddenly starts growing facial hair, she should see her doctor — it could be a sign of a hormone-related health problem. For some men with a genetic susceptibility to baldness (like yours sincerely) normal testosterone is converted to a more potent form of testosterone (dihydrotestosterone, or DHT), which binds to cells in the follicle.
DHT alters the growth/shed cycle and eventually kills the follicle. These men find themselves becoming bald in their 20s, a few years after their testosterone levels peak. In both men and women, levels of androgens decrease after about age 40, which leads to thinner, slower-growing, less luxurious hair as we get older.
In contrast to androgens, the female hormone estrogen slows hair growth and creates a finer, thinner shaft of hair, which is why women are, on average, naturally less hairy than men. After menopause, levels of estrogen fall off dramatically, causing some genetically susceptible women to lose significant amounts of hair. But male and female hair loss aren’t identical. While men tend to bald in a distinct pattern that includes a receding hairline and hair loss at the crown, women tend to lose hair evenly, leaving them with a sparse head of hair instead of a totally bald scalp. 2. Stress Stress is one of the most common causes of unusual hair loss. Accidents, major illnesses, severe psychological stress, or other traumatic events can send hair follicles into the resting phase prematurely.
Around three months later, when those resting follicles release the hair shaft, large amounts of hair can seem to fall out simultaneously, and for no discernable reason since several months will have passed since the event that triggered this whole episode.
Again, getting through this is simply a matter of waiting it out. Your hair should begin to regrow almost immediately.
3. Lack of Protein Hair is made of protein. All basic nutrients contribute to keeping us whole and healthy, but protein provides the building blocks that allow us to repair, replace, or grow bones, skin, muscles, and hair. People who don’t get enough protein in their diets, such as those with anorexia nervosa or who follow any extreme weight-loss diet, will slow the rate of new hair growth. As hair is naturally shed, it won’t grow back as quickly. With enough hair loss, the scalp will start to show through. Starvation and alcoholism also depletes the body of other nutrients important for hair growth and quality. And over the long term, starvation and extreme weight loss will lead to a reduction in hormone production, which can also lead to thinning hair.
4. Medications and Supplements Most people understand that chemotherapy treatments for cancer can cause widespread balding, but many other commonly prescribed medications may lead to less extensive hair loss.
These include anticoagulants (such as warfarin), antidepressants, oral contraceptives, and medications for blood pressure, gout, or arthritis. In addition, very high doses of vitamin A and selenium are toxic and can cause hair loss. Once you stop taking the medication or supplements, hair will usually begin to grow back within a few months
. 5.Thyroid Gland Malfunction and Other Disorders Thyroid hormones affect the metabolism of all cells, including cells in hair follicles. Too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroid) or too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroid) can result in thin, brittle hair or hair loss. With uncontrolled diabetes, body cells (including cells in hair follicles) starve because glucose can’t get in; and in systemic lupus erythematosus, the body attacks its own collagen, including the collagen in hair follicles.
These disorders and many others — including celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease — may cause hair loss or damage by altering cell metabolism or structure. Once the underlying disease is treated, hair growth should return to normal. Advice Please visit the doctor for proper investigation of all cases of hair loss
Calabar stands still for late Major Eyo Esua
October 12, was one day that Calabar stood still for one departed soul. The very large number of personalities that flooded the city to commiserate with the family of the late Major Eyo Ita Esua (retired) during funeral activities marking his departure confirmed that he touched many lives in his life time. Human and vehicular movement were practically shutdown around Beecroft Street, where the funeral service held at Wesley Cathedral of Methodist Church, Nigeria; Esua’s compound on Oma Street and Marian Road, which passes by the “Dome” reception venue on Calabar Municipal Council premises.
“Having passed away 45 days short of his 92nd birthday, he was not young but we know that you will all miss him – his voice, his mannerisms and his good judgement. His was a prominent name in Lagos medical circles, especially Surulere, Lagos Mainland where he tended to the health needs of a horde of people as the sympathetic physician, who lived up to the Hippocratic oath.”
That was part of the brief but very touching condolence letter that Baptist Academy Old Students Association (BAOSA) Obanikoro, Lagos, sent to Esua’s family. Titled “An illustrious old student”, the letter spoke the minds of thousands.
They said he was their doctor, their model, their judge and one that provided them with living water – a reference to his Blue Rose Water Project. The story of his life and times is interesting. The late Eyo Ita Eyo, chairman of Federal Electoral Commission 1964/1965 and secretary of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) was his father.
His mother’s name was Ada. Born on October 12, 1927, he began his kindergarten education in 1933 after which he attended Baptist Academy on Broad Street, Lagos, for his primary and secondary education. In 1950, he sailed in a mail boat to United Kingdom for the pre-medical programme of University of Durham.
His successful performance there helped him to proceed to Newcastle-upon-Tyne Medical School, which was then a college of the University of Durham. He later in 1957 undertook his housemanship in Surgery at the Park Hospital, Davyhume, Manchester University and in Medicine at the General Hospital, Altrincham. Esua returned to Nigeria in 1959 and worked with the Federal Ministry of Health, which posted him to Apapa Dispensary, General Hospital, Creek Hospital and Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.
In 1962, he joined the Nigerian Army Medical Corps in the rank of a captain but left as a Major in 1965 to establish Ada Hospital in Surulere area of Lagos. The hospital became one of the most famous privatelyowned medical facilities in Lagos on account of his commitment to efficient medical care, availability of competent workers and consultants and willingness to treat some very poor people who could not settle their bills.
However, the brilliant doctor was compelled by advancing age and the fact that none of his children followed his footsteps into the medical profession, to retire from active medical practice and to sell Ada Hospital franchise to a younger doctor in his employ. On his return to Calabar, he decided to contribute to development of Cottage industry in Cross River State by establishing Blue Rose Water in 1996 – the first brand of table and sachet water in the state.
The product became very popular in homes, workplaces and hotels. “If you have not drank Blue Rose Water, then you don’t know Calabar or even Cross River State”, Pastor Okon Ndiok, a staff of University of Calabar, told this writer. Luckily, his widow Theresa has assured that the water project will continue.
“By God’s grace, we will maintain your wish to provide good clean water for human consumption and also provide jobs for our youths”, she said in her tribute to the husband. Late Dr. Esua was also a good judge. One of his relations, the proprietor of Ikpeme Medical Centre on Ambo Street, Calabar, recounts when one-time head of Central Bank of Nigeria, Calabar, wanted to cause another medical facility to take over the retainership he had with the CBN over “some trivial matter” and he informed Dr. Esua, who contacted the chief medical director of CBN that arrived Calabar to handle the investigation himself and he got back his retainership.
Dr. Esua was also known to be a devout Christian and a pillar both in the Wesley Cathedral, Olowogbowo, Lagos, where his father is said to have been instrumental to the establishment of English Language Service and the Calabar branch where he had the position of patron of the church and of the men and women fellowships. A lover of Christian music and hymns, the last song Major Esua was heard humming before his passing on August 28, was “Lead, kindly Light, and the encircling gloom”
- Akpaekong wrote in from Calabar
Of journalist, journalism, grateful and ‘greatful’
Two incidents aroused my interest of recent: the first was the banner carried by some officials of the Federal Ministry of Education during a march past to mark Teachers’ Day last Saturday. The banner reads: ‘FEDERAL MINISTRY OF EDUCATION WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY MATCH PAST.
The problem is the word “MATCH.” The appropriate word is MARCH not MATCH.A lot of Nigerians were taken aback by this error and wondered why nobody in the ministry that supervises and perhaps formulates our education policies did not spot the error before it became a national embarrassment on a day meant to celebrate teachers worldwide. Just a few days after the ministry’s World Teachers’ Day banner with the error went viral on the internet with its attendant backlashes, came another one from the judiciary workers in Akwa Ibom State.
The plaque on the wall of the staff clinic “commissioned by His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom, on Tuesday, the 8th of October, 2019, has Judiciary spelt as ‘Juduciary.’ Surprisingly, nobody saw it before the clinic was commissioned by the governor.
Expectedly, Nigerians feasted on it on social media. Some even blamed the governor for the error. But for me, that is politics. But if I were the governor and saw the error, I would have pointed it out and possibly give a short deadline for it to be corrected. It may be the fault of the sign writer and it is possible that the ‘Juduciary’ workers did not pay attention to the embarrassing error and got carried away by the frenzy of the governor coming to commission the project and preferred to dissipate energy on how to impress the governor as good hosts.
The problem might have been caused by a man who dropped out of school and found a vocation in sign writing or the plaque was made by somebody who assumes he knows when he is only intoxicated by his half knowledge. This may even be the case with the maker of the Ministry of Education’s banner.
I often tell people that as second language speakers of English Language, we are bound to make errors due to a lot of factors, which have been highlighted by socio- linguistics experts. But some errors should get us worried if they are made by university graduates or people in some professions who use English language as a mode of communication. It’s even more worrisome when such people assume they know when in actual fact they are ignoramuses. I cannot forget in a hurry the experiences I had with two ladies at different places last year.
I went for an event somewhere on the Lagos Island. A lady was asked to register attendees. She had a paper and a pen to register us. There was a column where occupations of attendees should be written, she asked for my occupation and I told her ‘journalism.’ She gave me a disdainful look and shook her head.
I couldn’t fathom what she was up to. I initially thought may be journalists were not expected at the event. I quickly checked my phone to be sure I was invited for the event since the invitation was sent to my phone. But before I could stop fiddling with my phone, she yelled at me:
“Oga, your occupation?” I responded:”journalism.” She rudely interrupted me and yelled again: Journalist not journalism. I did all I could to differentiate between journalism and journalist. I even used some other professions to explain the differences between occupations and those who practice them. I remember talking about teacher and teaching, police and policing, nurse and nursing etc. however, she had made up her mind she was right and I was wrong.
Perhaps, she would have rated me as the worst “Alakowe” (educated person) she had ever seen in her entire life. Since she had the yam and knife, in form of the paper and pen, she had her way and wrote that my occupation is journalist. She missed the opportunity of learning what she didn’t know.
Such person won’t get home and check the dictionary to know if she was right or wrong because she assumed she knew what she was talking about. Last year, I went to a fast food place and asked that a cake should be made to celebrate my birthday.
After making payment, the cashier, a young lady, asked if I wanted to inscribe words on the cake. She later handed a paper and a pen to me. I wrote: ‘A grateful heart’ on the paper. After reading it, her countenance changed. But I already knew where the problem was.
As I was descending the staircase with my wife, who had accompanied me to the place, I told her that the word ‘grateful’ would be misspelt and I gave her my reasons. I knew she didn’t believe me and might have felt I was unnecessarily underrating the girl. In fairness to my wife, she didn’t overtly say she doubted my rating of the girl.
However, when I went to pick the cake a day after, ‘grateful’ has been changed to ‘greatful’ boldly inscribed on the cake. I screamed and this attracted the manager of the eatery. He approached me and wanted to know what the problem was.
I demanded to see the girl whom I gave what I wanted written on the cake so as to compare my ‘grateful’ with her ‘greatful.’ But she wasn’t on duty. After the manager apologised, I suggested that the inscription should be scrapped from the cake.
However, I was convinced that doing so would deface the cake. I was confused because I didn’t want to take it to the newsroom. I was afraid some of my subordinates might think their editor didn’t know the spelling of ‘grateful’. I grudgingly took the cake with the error. What saved the day was that my colleagues in the office made another cake for me.
This was the cake I eventually cut in the office. So, I took my ‘greatful’ cake home where I knew I can have the luxury of explaining the error if I was asked. My wife was shocked that what I envisaged truly happened. But I wasn’t surprised because I am a journalist and my profession is journalism.
So, I often come across situations like that. I witnessed another one a few days ago on a WhatsApp platform group. A colleague mixed up “tasking” and “taxing.” He wrongly assumed that the correct word in the context was “tasking” and not “taxing” as correctly used by the writer. He thought and even argued that “taxing” is about “tax” and “taxation.”
When he was told the writer was right and he was wrong. He wouldn’t take such. When he was advised to check the dictionary for the meanings and usages of the closely related words in sound and written forms. His response was that at ‘his level’, he should not be checking the dictionary for such words. Of all my English Language teachers, Prof. Oko Okoro of the University of Lagos, stands out. But at his level, he didn’t enter our class as ‘Masters students’ without coming with his dictionary.
On a few occasions he forgot, he would ask one of us to go to his office and bring his dictionary before teaching. He said one thing he discovered was that he learnt new things each time he opened the dictionary. So, when in doubt, checking the dictionary is not a bad idea instead of assumption. It wasn’t a surprise that whenever a student said anything that sounded strange, Prof. Okoro would always insist on using the dictionary to either fault or corroborate that “strange” thing said by a student in the class. He always advised that we should not assume we know but should always rely on the dictionary.
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