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Boosting education through SBMC synergy

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Boosting education through SBMC synergy

The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible”. These were the words of a British statesman, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill who was a two-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and 1951 to 1955 . Arguably, the capacity to combine the two ways of thinking; creative and critical thinking equips one to produce robust actions. Whilst creative thinking looks at problems or situations from a fresh perspective to conceive of something novel or unusual, the latter looks at ideas by discerning and deciding how realistic they actually are.

 

 

The pair, without any doubt, could be said to be yielding positive results in the education sector through the School-based Management Committee (SBMC) template conceived and massively supported by UNICEF-Nigeria in collaborations with Federal Government and the Department for International Development (DFID); the official development agency of United Kingdom’s government managing aids for the poor, developing nations.

 

 

Imperatively, SBMC is a unique template which brings communities; parents, non-parents, teachers, artisans, school children and governments under one umbrella for synergy towards addressing challenges in the basic education sector particularly funding, infrastructure and service delivery rather than waiting solely on the government. By this, communities automatically become stakeholders and actively participate in management of public schools in their environments in partnership with government for judicious and timely cogent actions.

 

Its exceptional feature is that the communities freely participate as stakeholders in managing, identifying projects of premium significance in schools in their neighbourhood and present budget to government for funding where their treasury is incapable of meeting the bills unlike the preceding pattern where governments execute projects uniformly without carrying grassroots along let alone considering impacts and peculiarities. Thus, this ultimately gives powers back to the people; communities being part of the management of schools in their respective environments in partnership with government.

The remarkable results compellingly necessitated this ‘expo’ for other states, perhaps still reluctant to take the SBMC seriously. Evidently, few states that accorded the robust attention it deserves particularly Kano is making significant impacts.

 

 

For example, through the interventionist mechanism, a primary school presently owns a car-wash centre, flower-garden and other business ventures put in place by SBMC and prudently managed for revenue generation for projects in the school. Through it, school uniforms are periodically acquired for pupils from purse and various enrolment drives. It therefore implies that the era of collapsed classrooms or lack of necessities in schools is gone unlike in the past minor maintenances like roof leakages were ignored until they deteriorated to complete collapse.

 

 

Instructively, Kano State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) compliantly domesticated National SBMC policy in 2009 and produced State specific SBMC policy 2010 with support from Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN), a DFID funded project.

 

 

From records, ESSPIN progressively supported SBMCs development in selected 320 pilot primary schools across Albasu, Fagge and Kumbotso LGAs in line with state SBMC policy in 2010 through Civil-Society and Government Partnership. In 2013, while the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) facilitated the establishment of SBMC in 264 schools, Kano SUBEB (State Universal Basic Education Board) rolled out SBMC development in 4505 primary schools across 44 LGAs. This is remarkable.

 

 

Apart from SBMC’s boost on infrastructural development in the schools, various groups in the communities that make up the SBMC including artisans, mothers, make their respective valuable contributions accordingly. For instance, in Government Junior Secondary School, Ja’en Co-Exist in Gwale LGA, Kano State, mothers association spearheads skills acquisition programme to the girls which has contributed immensely in reducing girls hawking and begging in the streets.

 

 

Vocational skills like sewing, beads-making and others, resultantly, have been incorporated into the school curriculum which equips pupils for productivity. Visibly, essential projects including boreholes, chairs, landscaping of school compound were also impressively put in place by the SBMC scheme.

 

 

Outstandingly, by the template which is an all-inclusive system, even parents that patronize private schools for their children also belong to SBMC thereby making them contribute to improvements of public schools in their environment, unlike PTAs (Parents/Teachers Association) that is merely for parents and teachers. Obviously, SBMC is a pillar for school development and support-tool for child education.

 

 

An American author, Hillary Hinton Ziglar once said: “One small positive thought can change your whole world”. Possibly, SBMC is the positive innovation that can change the face of the society if enthusiastically adopted across the nation. Thus, UNICEF and DFID deserve commendations for championing the project.

 

 

Similarly, UNICEF since May 2012, has been implementing the eight-year GEP3/EAC (2012-2020) blueprint funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) which aims at contributing to improved social and economic opportunity for girls in northern Nigeria. The major focus of Girls Education Project Phase-3/Educate-A-Child is to get school-age girls to schools without neglecting boys’ enrolment. Before now, the GEP3 is being implemented in five northern states, namely; Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara states, and now Kano. Sensibly, other policymakers should take it from there.

 

The impacts are phenomenal. The improved social and economic opportunity for girls which make more children especially girls in target states in northern Nigeria complete basic education and acquire skills for livelihoods, indisputably cannot be overemphasized. In fact, with target one million additional girls in school, improved literacy and numeracy skills of children, with focus on teaching and community support, using evidence based strategies for literacy in multiple languages, it’s good to go.

 

In a nutshell, SBMCs are established by governments as essential link between schools and communities as they serve in providing good governance and assist schools with basic needs and support for improvement of teaching and learning environment, rather than abandoning all responsibilities to the governments. The scheme is a desideratum and should strategically be replicated across all the regions; southeast, southwest, southsouth and the remaining parts of the northern region by their respective state governments.

 

Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). 08023184542-SMS only Https:carlumegboro.com

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How did we get here?

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How did we get here?

I am writing this in a hotel room in St. Louis, Missouri at 3:00 am, deeply saddened by recent developments in South Africa, a country that still holds a very special place in my heart. There are South African friends and colleagues that I have known for years, decades in some cases, and they know that I have nothing in my heart but love and respect for them and their beautiful country.

 

 

 

That country has always been shrouded in an aura of mystery in my imagination dating back to my higher school days at one of Nigeria’s elite boarding schools. Nigerians of my generation will remember that our then military government brought hundreds, maybe thousands, of young South African boys and girls through the ANC to attend school in Nigeria.

 

 

I do not remember the names or even the faces of the ones that joined us at Federal Government College, Ilorin, where I did my A Levels, but I remember that our government supplied them everything they needed, including full-ride scholarships.

 

 

Those young boys and girls went on to pursue higher education opportunities within and outside Nigeria while in exile from their own country. Many of them will now be leaders in South Africa occupying positions of influence both within the ANC and in the wider society.

 

 

They cannot remain silent in the face of the atrocities and xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African immigrants that we continue to witness on the streets of South Africa. Let’s remember Edmund Burke’s admonition: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

 

 

Fast forward three decades, that shroud of mystery about South Africa that I referred to above was lifted when I had the opportunity to live and work in that country. By this time and through God’s providence, I already had a very solid reputation as one of the continent’s foremost climate scientists and serving as Department Chair at the University of Missouri Kansas City, U.S.A. When South Africa came calling, I did not hesitate. I took a leave of absence from the University of Missouri to lead the environment and natural resources division of what was, and still is, Africa’s foremost contract research and development organisation in Pretoria. It was, as I saw it then, my opportunity to make a personal contribution to the growth of the New South Africa, Mandela’s homeland – our homeland; Africa’s homeland.

 

 

I lived in Pretoria and as the division’s Executive Director, I had offices in Stellenbosch and Durban, overseeing and providing leadership to over 200 scientists, engineers and researchers. I travelled across the country often and engaged intensely with a broad spectrum of folks during those two years from the State House in Pretoria to the slums of Flamingo Crescent and Santini in Cape Town.

 

I touched the land, felt the people, took in the sights and sounds of that wonderful country. It did not take long to see why descendants of the Dutch settlers and colonialists held so tightly to that precious land for so long, shed as much blood as they did, and only gave up political power after ensuring that they will continue to control the levers of South Africa’s economy in perpetuity.

 

 

I made lifelong friends, both white and black, and continue to cherish the memories we made together. These friends of mine cannot afford to be silent today. I need to hear your voices loud and clear. Africa needs to hear your voices condemning these senseless acts of violence and reassuring every African that calls South Africa home that they are, in fact, part of the Rainbow Nation envisioned by Desmond Tutu and Mandela. Again, let’s remember Edmund Burke’s admonition: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

 

 

 

Let me end this heart wrenching piece by addressing the Global African Diaspora. We cannot remain silent. A blot on South Africa is a blot on us all. This is not the South Africa that we collectively fought for and sacrificed to make happen. We need to make sure that President Cyril Ramaphosa hears us loud and clear. The buck stops at his desk. Period! If we have to take to the streets of Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Norway, Moscow, Beijing or Tokyo in peaceful protest to make make our voices heard, let’s do so!

 

 

This cancer called xenophobia must be excised. Immigrant Africans seeking opportunities to make a living in South Africa are not the enemy. They are not responsible for the pervasive poverty and suffering that continues to be the every day experience of millions of South Africans – 25 years after Apartheid was brought to its knees. The absence of bold, selfless and transformational leadership is the culprit. Corruption at the highest levels of government is the culprit.

 

 

We, the Global African Diaspora, need to link our voices to those of our brothers and sisters in South Africa and amplify the urgent call to bring these xenophobic attacks to an immediate and permanent end. We need to call for reason and calm where we are seeing reprisal attacks against South African citizens and interests across Africa. Two wrongs, we’ve been told, don’t make a right.

 

Prof Jimi Adegoke writes from Kansas City, USA

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Xenophobia: Why Nigeria cannot afford a stand-off with S’Africa

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Xenophobia: Why Nigeria cannot afford a stand-off with S’Africa

 

Since the images and videos of the maiming and killing of black foreigners in South Africa began to emerge on various social media platforms last week, Nigeria has been an emotionally frayed place. Tens of thousands of Nigerians live in South African cities and in recent years, they have become frequent targets of xenophobic attacks.

 

 

This time, anger in Nigeria boiled over and young Nigerians took to the streets protesting South African aggression and unleashing some of their own on South African-owned businesses.

 

 

The Nigerian government felt pressured to act and subsequently recalled its ambassador from Pretoria and announced it was pulling out of the World Economic Forum meeting on Africa which was held in Cape Town. While some Nigerians welcomed the move, others thought it was not enough and called on their government to intervene and rescue its citizens.

 

 

Examples abound of powerful countries going to great lengths to protect and repatriate their citizens who have faced danger abroad.

 

 

But Nigeria is not one of them. Indeed, in the past, the country has stood its ground on a number of occasions when defending its national interests. In the 1960s, for example, Nigeria had a face-off with France over the latter’s continuous tests of nuclear weapons in the Sahara desert. The government of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa acted decisively, breaking diplomatic relations with Paris, expelling the French ambassador and imposing a full embargo on French goods.

 

 

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Nigeria led the international effort to isolate and pressure the apartheid regime in South Africa. It threatened economic action against Western powers for refusing to sanction the regime and supported the national liberation movements in Southern Africa, including the African Nation Congress (ANC), with millions of dollars annually.

 

 

In the 1990s, the country, under the leadership of military ruler Sani Abacha, defied international sanctions and welcomed a visit by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It also directly intervened in the Liberian civil war, dispatching Nigerian troops to fight.

 

 

Most of the reactions to the violent attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa reflect a yearning for Abacha-style diplomacy. But as recent developments in its relations with the United States demonstrated, Nigeria can no longer wield such diplomatic power. Last month, the Nigerian government was spectacularly quick to react to the US’s reciprocal rise in visa fees by reducing the charge for Americans applying for a visa to enter the country. And last year President Muhammadu Buhari decided to “keep quiet” on President Donald Trump’s alleged “s***hole” remark about African nations.

 

 

At present, it is clear Nigeria does not have the military, the intelligence capability or the diplomatic clout to pursue a serious escalation against even a regional power, such as South Africa.

 

 

This diplomatic “standoff” with Pretoria has exposed the weakness Abuja has masked in parading itself as a self-styled “Giant of Africa”. South Africa used to be a bully that Nigeria could restrain through its support for proxies inside the country and its neighbourhood. But since the end apartheid, this relationship has evolved into a regional competition, which Pretoria is winning.

 

 

After the sanctions and international isolation were lifted, South Africa quickly became the continent’s more favoured ally of developed economies and foreign investors. Pretoria emerged as the recipient of the largest share of foreign direct investment in sub-Saharan Africa and in 2011 joined the BRIC countries in an economic pact formed to challenge the domination of Western economic policy.

 

 

It is also an important trading partner that Nigeria cannot afford to lose. South African businesses have major investments in the country, including the DSTV cable service, MTN telecom, the Shoprite supermarket chain and others. Nigeria exports $3.83bn worth of goods, mostly oil and oil products, to South Africa. By contrast, it imports just $514.3m of South African products, which accounts for less than one percent of total South African exports.

 

 

The more contrasting feature of the two economies, and which again highlights Nigeria’s weakness is that while Abuja levers around a commodity-dependent economy, Pretoria has built a highly-diversified economy with a superior industrial structure. In other words, Nigeria needs South Africa economically, much more than South Africa needs Nigeria.

 

 

Nigeria’s geopolitical power has also waned in recent years, while South Africa has remained a major regional power. Abuja has been battling with a rebellion in the north for years and has struggled to put a stop to flares of tribal violence regularly killing dozens of people. In its neighbourhood, Nigeria continues to feel largely insecure, surrounded by Francophone countries whose allegiances to France threaten the commitment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to stability and non-aggression in the region.

 

 

The Nigerian government has also been unable to muster enough influence in the West to become a trusted partner. In 2014, the Obama administration, for example, blocked the sale of arms to the Nigerian military. The Trump administration decided to proceed with it but under heavy conditions which Nigerian officials have deemed “unacceptable”. Western reluctance to sell weapons to Abuja has pressed it to seek arms on the black market. South Africa has embarrassed it twice in recent years by intercepting large arms shipment bound for Nigeria.

 

 

In this sense, the Nigerian government cannot do anything about the violence against its citizens in South Africa beyond making a few symbolic diplomatic moves and bringing up once again the Nigerian role in liberating South Africans from its white oppressors. It is clear that in doing so it is addressing Pretoria from the position of weakness.

 

 

Indeed, using persistent references to sub-Saharan African commonality and solidarity as a result of shared history, race and geography is not an effective foreign policy tool.

 

 

The idea of One Africa is a farce taken too far, and successive Nigerian elites have pandered to this fantasy to the detriment of national interests. The legacy of this pan-African misadventure is a geopolitically weak Nigeria which cannot stand up to for itself and for its citizens

 

 

This very much has to do with mismanagement of the economy. The redemption Nigeria needs is one that moves the country away from dependence on oil exports, foreign imports and interventions and towards diversification and industrialisation. We cannot afford to glorify the idea of producing pencils in the age of artificial intelligence any more.

 

 

Only if the country becomes materially secure and industrially productive will it be able to regain its soft power and international clout and stand up to the old bullies in its neighbourhood.

 

Gimba Kakanda is a postgraduate student of International Relations at the London School of Economics.

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Perspectives

P&ID’s $9.6bn judgement: ‘Who Done It?’

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P&ID’s $9.6bn judgement: ‘Who Done It?’

 

 

F

or those not only old enough to know, but also fans of television series; they will immediately (or not so immediately) recall that the above headline I am using for my piece this weekend strikes a chord – stirring up something that might had receded in their memories because it happened a fairly long time ago!

 

 

So let me end your struggle to recall where you had come across it – it is the headline of the one of the episodes of the television series, Dallas.

 

 

It was one of the 1980 episodes of the very popular series than ran on the American television network, on CBS from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991; and was syndicated all over the world including Nigeria.

 

 

In fact this particular episode still remains the second highest rated prime-time telecast ever and got viewers scratching their heads trying to find out who actually shot one of the main characters, J.R. Ewing before finally revealing the culprit.

 

 

But what is the title of one of the longest lasting full-hour prime time dramas in American TV history, which in 2007 was included in TIME magazine’s list of “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time”, doing in a very recent event which has captivated the headlines and been the main talk around town?

 

 

The answer is very simple: Because millions of Nigerians want to know how those in government and who are to protect the interests of the citizens have allowed the nation to get into this mess involving British engineering firm, Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) and its $9.6billion judgment against the country in the first instance!

 

 

While not in a position to apportion blame on anyone directly, from what has been gleamed about the case, it is clear once again how inept those saddled with the responsibility of looking after our collective commonwealth have been – either naively or deliberately.

 

 

It also raises the spectre of which other contracts are lurking out there that we do not know off until they come out of the shadow to haunt the nation or some other shoddy decisions have been taken without being properly thought through.

 

 

A classic example of the later is the decision of authorities to allow the siting of various tank farms around Apapa without proper environmental impact assessments being carried out.

 

 

And because of this failure on the part of our bureaucrats and politicians, the once tranquil Apapa, which used to be home to many upper middle and rich class, has been turned into a living hell for the residents.

 

 

Even businesses that were already in the vicinity before the arrival of the tank farms have been impacted negatively.

 

 

John Holt, Niger Biscuits, banks and many others have been forced to relocate or have been squeezed almost to death.

 

 

I remember many occasions, when I was still with This Day Newspapers, of not being able to take my car to the office because tankers waiting to load at the tank farm located on Creek Road would have taken over all the three lanes leading to both the farm and Apapa port proper.

 

 

There were times, on the occasions we were are able to take our vehicles to the office, that we were forced to sleep in the premises after finishing production because the truck drivers would have totally blocked the company’s entrance.

 

 

On a number of occasions a frustrated Publisher, Nduka Obaigbena in a classic case of the “baby wey say him mama no go sleep, himself no go sleep” would use his SUV to block the road leading to the tank farm.

 

 

Members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) would come to beg and appeal to him to allow their members get to the tank farm and in return he (Obaigbena) would squeeze concessions from the NUPENG officials that they would not use theirs to disturb his own business by taking over the road thereby preventing newsprint from getting to the press or even allowing the printed paper leave for distribution because of the antics of their lawless members.

 

 

Of course for the next couple of days after the “truce meeting” we will enjoy some semblance of normalcy with the trucks keeping to one side of the road allowing other road users ply the road before total confusion returns and we are back to the bad old ways.

 

 

A number of people living in Apapa that I know have finally thrown in the towel packed up and left fed up of government’s inability to safe guard their own rights to living in a decent environment.

 

 

What makes the Apapa situation even more poignant is the fact that despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s order of more than two months ago to get the issue fixture it is still business as usual. So if a President’s directive cannot be enforced in this country, then what hope is there for the ordinary man?

 

 

But if one can genuinely argue that this Apapa problem affects just a “few” Nigerians and is limited to just a “small” section of the country; the same cannot be said of the mammoth $9.6billion judgement the nation is now facing and which is enforced will affect everyone living in the country called Nigeria!

 

 

Although moves are already on to find a way out of the logjam, it is also very imperative for government to get to the root cause of how the nation got into the mess in the first instance.

 

 

All the dramatis personnel and the roles that they played in the infamous contract scandal must not only be exposed but must be severely dealt with in order to serve as a deterrent to others who might want to put their selfish interests above those of the collective good of the nation.

 

 

The investigation should not end up like the Halliburton scandal in which the company paid Nigerian officials some $180 million in bribes between 1993 and 2004 in order to secure a construction contract for a liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny Island in the Niger Delta.

 

 

After making headlines for a couple of weeks just like this P&ID scandal, ostensibly because of the “big names” involved, the case quietly blew over without any Nigerian being made to pay for their indiscretions even though a number of foreigners involved in the scandal were prosecuted.

 

This act of impunity by our so-called “big men” is one of the reasons for why we have found ourselves in another messy situation 15 years after that one.

 

 

Thus unless a number of these “big men” are made scape goats; it is clear that such scandals will continue to be a reoccurring decibel in the nation’s history.

 

 

Speaking to the media in Abuja on the issue, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “We will find those involved in this scam, either inside or outside government.”

 

 

Well, Nigerians and indeed the world is waiting to see if for once this will actually be the case and we will not end up being treated to another episode of the now rested “Dallas”! 

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Perspectives

Marriage in The GAME OF THRONES (Part 2)

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Marriage in The GAME OF THRONES (Part 2)

P

lease, understand that the devil is not winning this GAME OF THRONES as is being perceived. Making many believe that he is winning, is part of his strategies being employed in the game. If you are among those who believe or have been deceived to believe that the devil is winning this GAME OF THRONES, “you are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

 

 

One of Satan’s lies is that no one is reliable for marriage anymore. My dear! Don’t fall for this lie. There are dozens and dozens of faithful and reliable young men and ladies out there.

 

 

Because of media reports about church leaders whose marriages are in crisis, many are being deceived by the same attacker to believe that successful marriages hardly exist. He is even painting a picture of “all men of God have become suspects. After all, we hear reports of those indulging in adultery, fornication, rape, sodomy, etc.”

 

 

Satan’s projected VERY BIG LIES are attempts to win THE GAME OF THRONES. The big question (the truth) is “what percentage of men of God ever have their activities reported on the pages of the newspapers? Secondly, what percentage of priests, pastors and other church leaders are actually interested in having their private activities in public domain? Thirdly, who conducted a census of Christians and achieved a scientifically researched evidence that a significant percentage of church leaders have fallen into such sins?

 

 

Please, don’t fall for cheap lies and error of generalization. There are millions of clergy out there with exemplary successful marriages.

 

 

The media reports that husbands and wives, including church goer couples now all kill each other, is part of Satan’s exaggeration and engineering strategies to expand fears for the marital institution, while promoting sexual intercourse outside marriage, so that more people will join him to suffer in hell fire after rapture and white throne judgement.

 

 

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

 

 

Dear reader! Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see that there is a GAME OF THRONES going on. Satan wants to secure by all means, your loyalty to his throne. So, he makes you believe that money alone is requirement for marital success. May I deflate this lie by informing you that many millionaire couples file for divorce every day? Divorce is not usually an overnight decision. It is the absence of Christ at the centre of a relationship that pilots the relationship towards divorce. Satan knows that your marriage wields a great influence over your personal relationship with God. So, there is currently, a massive satanic attack against Christian marriages, including those involving public figures. This also, is a gimmick being applied to contend for victory in the GAME OF THRONES.

 

 

It is the devil that tells you as a wife never to submit to your husband as scripture commands. Society applauds your errors as of course, sin is sweet and the road to hell fire looks easier to glide through.

 

 

It is Satan that tells you to forget about the Bible when it comes to marital issues. Your true enemy is not your spouse. Your true enemy is Satan who is doing everything to win more loyalists to his throne in this game. Jesus Christ warns you again not to switch camp in John 8:34-35.

 

 

Loyalty and faithfulness to your spouse is loyalty to God’s heavenly throne. Doing the contrary is to leave the winning team that the world thinks is losing (God’s team).

 

 

Avoiding premarital sex is loyalty to God’s heavenly throne. Doing the contrary is to denounce the winning team of godly people, loyalty to the heavenly throne.

 

 

There are millions of faithful, loyal and happy marriage partners in your society. Don’t fall for the devil’s gimmicks to get you, by forming analysis based on frequency of negative media reports. Publishing a church leader’s sin of adultery is fun and helps media houses to sell their products, especially when that church person is popular. That cannot become a representation of a larger silent population of loyalists to God’s heavenly throne.

 

 

Right from the day of your wedding where you were taking your marital vow, Satan was busy swearing to ensure that your marital vow never comes to fulfillment. His permanent focus is to ensure that your loyalty to the heavenly throne is broken (John 10:10).

 

 

What you are reading now is intended to help you ensure that you do not conform to this world’s standards but be transformed by the renewing of your mind to know the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

 

 

So, if you are a born again Christian, when next you go to the social media or any medium and receive an intimidating or tempting message from Satan’s throne, remember there is an ongoing GAME OF THRONES, and that you belong to, and must retain your position in the wining team. It can take just one second to give up your loyalty to the heavenly throne. Be careful that you do not sell your divine entitlement for the sweet pot of portage that is being shared by the father of all liars.

 

 

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

 

 

 

 

God’s heavenly throne is, and will forever remain the winning throne in the GAME OF THRONES. Don’t be deceived or lured out of the winning team.

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The yellowness of a fever

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The yellowness of a fever

 

 

T

he colour yellow relates to acquired knowledge. It is the colour which resonates with the left or logic side of the brain stimulating our mental faculties and creating mental agility and perception.  Being the lightest hue of the spectrum, the color psychology of yellow is uplifting and illuminating, offering hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun.  In the meaning of colors, yellow inspires original thought and inquisitiveness.  But it can be critical and judgmental, being overly analytical, being impatient and impulsive, being egotistical, pessimistic, an inferiority complex, spiteful, cowardly, deceitful and non-emotional.

 

 

When a fever is labeled yellow, it’s devoid of all the bright sides but entirely the negatives. This recent outbreak is linked to the death of four students of the College of Education, Waka-Biu, Borno. They had gone on a field trip to Yankari Game Reserve, in Bauchi State as part of their course work.

 

 

What it is

 

 

Yellow fever (also called Yellow jack, Yellow plague or Bronze john) is a serious, potentially deadly flu-like disease, it is an acute viral haemorrhagic (bleeding) disease (like Ebola and Lassa fever) transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected with the virus when they bite an infected human or monkey. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another. It’s characterized by a high fever and jaundice. Jaundice is yellowing of the skin and eyes, which is why this disease is called yellow fever. This disease is most prevalent in parts of Africa and South America. It is not curable.

 

 

How is it transmitted?

 

 

Yellow fever virus (an RNA virus) is mainly transmitted through the bite of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, but other mostly Aedes mosquitoes such as the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) can also serve as a vector for this virus. Like other arboviruses which are transmitted by mosquitoes, the yellow fever virus is taken up by a female mosquito when it ingests the blood of an infected human or other primate. Viruses reach the stomach of the mosquito, and if the virus concentration is high enough, the virions (the infective form of a virus) can infect epithelial cells and replicate there. From there, they reach the haemocoel (the blood system of mosquitoes) and from there the salivary glands. When the mosquito next sucks blood, it injects its saliva into the wound, and the virus reaches the bloodstream of the bitten person. The transmission of the yellow fever virus from a female mosquito to her eggs and then larvae, are indicated within A. aegypti.  This infection of vectors without a previous blood meal seems to play a role in single, sudden breakouts of the disease. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another. However, large numbers of cases (epidemics) can also occur in urban areas when a human with yellow fever infects the local Aedes mosquitoes (mainly Aedes aegypti) resulting in transmission from human to human via infected mosquitoes.

 

 

What may give it away

Yellow fever begins after an incubation period of three to six days. Most cases only cause a mild infection with fever, headache, chills, back pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting. In these cases, the infection lasts only three to four days.

 

 

In 15% of cases, however, people enter a second, toxic phase of the disease with recurring fever, this time accompanied by jaundice due to liver damage, as well as abdominal pain. Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vómito negro (“black vomit”). There may also be kidney failure, hiccups, and delirium.The toxic phase is fatal in about 20 to 50% of cases, making the overall fatality rate for the disease about 3.0 to 7.5%. However, the fatality rate of those with the toxic phase of the disease may exceed 50%.

 

 

Surviving the infection provides lifelong immunity, and normally no permanent organ damage results.

Laboratory catch

 

 

Yellow fever is most frequently a clinical diagnosis, made on the basis of symptoms and the diseased person’s whereabouts prior to becoming ill. Mild courses of the disease can only be confirmed virologically. Since mild courses of yellow fever can also contribute significantly to regional outbreaks, every suspected case of yellow fever (involving symptoms of fever, pain, nausea and vomiting six to 10 days after leaving the affected area) is treated seriously.

 

 

If yellow fever is suspected, the virus cannot be confirmed until six to 10 days after the illness. A direct confirmation can be obtained by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction where the genome of the virus is amplified. Another direct approach is the isolation of the virus and its growth in cell culture using blood plasma; this can take one to four weeks.

 

 

Serologically, an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) during the acute phase of the disease can confirm yellow fever.

 

 

Treatment

 

 

There’s no cure for yellow fever. Treatment involves managing symptoms (in a hospital setting) and assisting the body (immune system) in fighting off the infection by:

getting oxygen

maintaining a healthy blood pressure

getting blood transfusions if necessary

getting treatment for other infections that may develop

Prevention

Yellow fever is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable. A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed. The vaccine provides effective immunity within 30 days for 99% of persons vaccinated. Vector control taking measures to avoid mosquito bites (active in the day) are equally important.

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Judiciary was good in Zamfara but bad in Abuja?

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Judiciary was good in Zamfara but bad in Abuja?

The outcome of judicial pronouncements are usually two sides of the same coin. This, perhaps, explains the praises and criticisms that have trailed the outcome of the tribunal’s judgement that affirmed the election of President Muhammadu Buhari and threw away the petitions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for their inability to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. The onus of proof lies with whoever alleges to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt if the pendulum of justice must swing in his favour, especially in matters that are criminal in nature. Law is what it is and not what it ought to be.

 

As a result, judges are not expected to act like Father Christmas and can only adjudicate based on evidence before them. However, we have seen situations where judges brought opprobrium to themselves by soiling their hands in iniquities. Year 2016 was a very bad year for our judiciary.

 

The judiciary was thoroughly bruised and broken. That arm of government was like a hen with broken beak. In October of that year, the Department of State Security (DSS) in “sting operations” raided the homes of some judges and arrested seven of them including two from the highest court in the country- the Supreme Court. It was unprecedented. During the operations, the DSS claimed it recovered N363 million from houses of three of the judges, a sad reminder of the alarm raised by a former Supreme Court Justice, late Kayode Esho, that there were dirty men and women in the temple of justice. The late justice described them as “millionaire judges.” The raid and its attendant consequences confirmed the suspicion that not all our judges come to equity with clean hands and confirmed the level of rot in the system.

 

While there was argument on the rightness or wrongness of the action of the DSS, there was a consensus that a corruptfree judiciary is a necessary ingredient if our democracy and the rule of law must thrive. There was also a general agreement that judicial rascality and recklessness must be tamed if found as a guarantee that the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man. For those who felt the judiciary should be left alone even if corrupt so as to maintain its independence.

 

Then, I reminded them of the evocative words of late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa that: “If you are a judge and you are corrupt, where do we go from here? Then everything has come to a halt. If the legislature is corrupt, you go to the judiciary for redress.

 

If the executive is corrupt, you go to judiciary for remedy. If the judiciary itself is corrupt, where do we go from here?” Themis, the statue of woman of justice, found in courthouses and some law books, represents the Greek goddess of divine justice. Even those of us who are not “learned” as the lawyers call us, know that the statue has a very deep meaning beyond a mere symbol. The scale on Themis’ left hand symbolises fairness and balance. The black ribbon she is blindfolded with is a constant   reminder to judges that judicial pronouncements should be guided by evidence and law. In other words, judgements and rulings of court should not be determined by mere sentiments. Any court’s pronouncement that is not based on evidence and law is a travesty of justice.

 

However, some of our judges have shamelessly removed Themis’ blindfold so that they can see the faces of litigants and give judgements and rulings based on social and economic status of the parties before them. As a result of which, parties with higher monetary offers sure carry the day in courts. When people lose hope in the judiciary, they will resort to self-help, which can come in the form of people taking laws into their hands.

 

This is not good for the polity. It is an invitation to anarchy when people lose hope in the judiciary to find solace in self-help. Just as there are bad people in the temple of justice, there are also good people in the system.For this reason, it is extremely wrong to make sweeping statements that the entire judiciary is corrupt just because of a few bad eggs.

 

It’s a cause for concern when we bad mouth our judges each time the pendulum of justice does not swing in our favour or the way we expected it to be. While those of us who are not learned could be pardoned when we are aggrieved over courts’ judgements and rulings, how do we explain situations where lawyers who are learned lampoon judges on national television and on the pages of newspapers just because they disagreed with courts’ positions on some matters? This has been the case since the tribunal gave its judgement on Atiku/PDP’s petition. Some of us have gone back to the narrative of how the Buhari administration has ‘caged’ the judiciary.

 

‘The judiciary is now on trial.’ But when the same judiciary made pronouncements that put all elective political offices firmly in the hands of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) just because the All Progressives Congress (APC) did not conduct its primaries according to its own rules in Zamfara, the judiciary was okay and not caged then. Perhaps, the judiciary forgot then that the president belongs to the APC when it gave final verdict on Zamfara that in the eyes of the law, APC had no candidate in the election and could not have won any election as such would amount to building something on nothing. I am a firm and unrepentant believer in the rule of law.

 

This is what informed my position that Atiku should seek redress in court if he feels strongly that he won the February presidential election. I maintained that asking him not to seek redress so as not to heat up the polity is a bunkum talk that won’t fly. My insistence on Atiku to go to court was based on the fact that the outcome, irrespective of whatever it is would strengthen our jurisprudence and in turn help our democracy.

 

 

On Wednesday, the tribunal did affirm that Atiku has the right to petition against Buhari’s victory. The court said it was not a pre-election matter as claimed by the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The court hinged its position on the provisions of the Electoral Act, specifically Section 138 (1) (a), which allows for filing of petition relating to allegation of false information. We may never have known this if Atiku had not gone to court.

 

The same court said the former vicepresident is not a Cameroonian as claimed by the APC and that tradermoni is not for vote-buying. Imagine if the court had said tradermoni is being used to induce voters, of course that would have been the end of the programme until a more superior court pronounced otherwise. More importantly is the aspect of the judgement, which laid to rest the qualification of the president as the court insisted that “there’s no doubt that he (President Buhari) is not only qualified BUT EMINENTLY QUALIFIED (emphasis mine) to contest the election as shown by the EVIDENCE (emphasis mine) presented by the petitioners.

 

 

“No evidence that Buhari submitted false documents to the INEC,” the tribunal declared. We have also known that when criminal allegation is raised against someone or agency, the person or agency must be joined in the suit as failure to do so will negate the principle of fair hearing or akin to shaving someone’s head behind him. The tribunal said the PDP/Atiku should have joined security agents accused of rigging for Buhari if they feel strongly about such weighty allegation. Also of importance is the aspect which says the use of card readers and other electronic devices are valid component of the electoral process but there was ” no provision for electronic transmission of results.” All we need to do is to strengthen the process as such is capable of giving us credible polls in the future.

 

Just like I was happy when Atiku approached the court to register his disatisfaction with the outcome of the presidential election, my mood has not changed when I learnt that he is going to the Supreme Court to upturn Wednesday’s outcome. It is his right to do so. He should not be put under pressure or blackmail to rescind his decision. Whoever asks Atiku not to go to Supreme Court is definitely not a lover of democracy. The fact that that Nigerian court has not upturned presidential election victory does not mean it is impossible to do it. If there is need to do so. But the court won’t do it if it’s not approached by aggrieved party or parties. In everything, there is always the first time. Whatever the outcome is, at the Supreme Court, our jurisprudence and democracy stand to benefit immensely.

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Xenophobia: Time for cool heads to prevail in Nigeria, S’Africa

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Xenophobia: Time for cool heads to prevail in Nigeria, S’Africa

The latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa have ignited the long-standing tensions between the country and Nigeria. These are captured in the retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria and the diplomatic outrage by Nigerian authorities.

Nigeria also boycotted the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town. More critical was the temporary closure of South African missions in Abuja and Lagos and Nigeria’s decision to recall its ambassador.

But in the larger scheme of things, xenophobia is a distraction from the leadership role that Nigeria and South Africa should play on the continent on fundamental issues of immigration and economic integration.

Accurate figures are hard to get. But Statistics South Africa put the number of Nigerian migrants at about 30,000 in 2016, far below Zimbabweans and Mozambicans.

Xenophobia has remained a constant irritant in Nigeria-South Africa relations since the major attacks on African migrants in poor neighbourhoods in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg in 2008 and 2015. But, contrary to popular perception, xenophobic attacks do not disproportionately target Nigerians. Nigerians often exaggerate the effect of violence on their citizens. That is probably because Nigeria has a better organised, savvy, and loud diaspora constituency in South Africa.

Unfortunately, the loudness of the Nigerian diaspora transforms victimhood into foreign policy, generating the reactions that have been witnessed recently. It also plays into the naïve narrative of the “liberation dividend”. This entails Nigerians seeking to be treated uniquely because of their contribution to the struggle for majority rule in South Africa. There were no such expectations from the other countries that supported South Africa’s liberation struggle.

This narrative has taken on an equally economic tinge. South African companies are heavily invested in Nigeria. So, they often become targets of Nigerian ire in times of xenophobia.

The accurate picture is that xenophobia affects all African migrants. These are mostly migrants from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and, increasingly Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis. Nigerians are affected. But they’re not on top of the list.

The Nigerian responses are understandable in light of the frequency of these attacks. But, it is important to probe the drivers of xenophobia to understand it more deeply.

What drives xenophobia? First, some studies reveal that the intrusion of foreign migrants into vulnerable communities beset by joblessness and despair inevitability produces a tinderbox that sparks violence.

Migrants are easy targets. That’s because they are seen as being better off by the locals. They therefore become targets of people who feel their circumstances have not been addressed by government. It is no surprise that xenophobic attacks have typically occurred in poor neighbourhoods that have been affected by service delivery protests since the mid-2000s.

Second, xenophobia thrives on ineffective policing in South Africa. Barely two days after the Johannesburg attacks started, the national police spokesman admitted that the police were running out of resources to manage the violence. This prompted the Premier of Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, to threaten to also deploy the army if the violence continued.

Examples of the police’s inability to maintain order and respond to threats to property and livelihoods are legion. This, in part, forces people to take the law into their own hands.

But the police are sometimes complicit in stoking anti-foreign sentiments. The July 2019 raids on foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg in apparent efforts to stamp out illicit goods added to the current climate of xenophobia. When some business owners retaliated against the police, some local leaders appropriated the language of “threats on South Africa’s sovereignty” to justify the police response.

Reforms are urgently needed to create a competent, less corrupt, better-resourced, and civic-minded police service.

Xenophobia is also an outcome of a rickety migration and border control regime. Efficient border controls are one of the hallmarks of sovereignty and the first line of defence against xenophobia. Broken borders breed criminality. These include human and drug trafficking. Human and drug trafficking feature prominently in the discourse on xenophobia in South Africa.

How, then, does xenophobia distract South Africa and Nigeria from what should be their leadership on core African issues?

Overreaction. The weighty issues of creating a humane and just society for South Africans and migrants alike will ultimately be led by the South African government. Outsiders can make some diplomatic noises and occasionally boycott South Africa. But these actions are unlikely to drive vital change.

In fact, the overreactions by Nigeria and other African countries simply undercut the South African constituencies that have a crucial stake in wide-ranging reforms that address the multiplicity of problems around xenophobia.

In the previous instances of xenophobic violence, Nigeria urged the African Union (AU) to force South Africa to take action. But such unhelpful statements only inflame passions and prevent civil diplomatic discourse.

Instead, the best policy would be for Nigeria to engage South Africa through their existing binational commission. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to visit South Africa next month.

Rather than the perennial relapse into shouting matches and hardening of rhetoric, it is essential for Pretoria and Abuja to take decisive leadership at the continental level. The two nations must articulate immigration policies.

The newly-inaugurated AU Free Movement of Persons Protocol will not be implemented if South Africa and Nigeria do not join hands to make it a reality. More ominously, migration to South Africa as the premier African economy will only get worse in the coming years. This, as Europe and the United States tighten their borders against African migrants.

Also, without the leadership of its two major economies, Africa is not going to make any traction on the new treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Ironically, the WEF meeting in Cape Town addressed ways to boost intra-African trade. Nigeria should not have boycotted it because of xenophobia.

  • Khadiagala is a Professor of International Relations and Director of the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS), University of the Witwatersrand. The article was first published by The Conversation.
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A tale of two countries

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A tale of two countries

Whatever the late reggae legend, Robert Nesta Marley aka Bob Marley (1945 – 1981) was, one thing is certain – he was not a prophet. In his protest song “War,” one of the hit songs in his album “Rastaman” released in 1976, he missed both the African narrative and the African plot. He crooned in his velvety voice:

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes

That hold our brothers in Angola

In Mozambique

South Africa

Sub-human bondage

Have been toppled

Utterly destroyed

Well, everywhere is war

Me say war

War in the east

War in the west

War up north

War down south

War war

Rumors of war

And until that day,

The African continent

Will not know peace.

The countries he referenced are now free of the white racist apartheid regimes which held them in a suffocating strangle hold; but still Africa does not know peace. There is still war in the east, in the west, in the north and in the south. The apartheid rain storm is gone but Africa is yet to see freedom. Joshua Nkomo, who led the struggle to free Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and paid his dues in 10 years’ incarceration under the white apartheid government in his country, put it aptly, succinctly and bluntly, “the hardest lesson of my life has come to me late, it is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free.”

Like Bob Marley, Nkomo had hoped (and fought for this hope) that if the yoke of apartheid and the bondage of the white supremacist regimes were yanked off the necks of African countries, their citizens would breathe freer and the tide of bleeding occasioned by apartheid and colonialism would be stemmed. In finer prose: “Africa would know peace.” He was wrong!

Nkomo took his disappointment to the grave as he had to flee the beloved country he fought for on self-exile. The late Robert Mugabe accused Nkomo’s party (Zimbabwe African Peoples Union) of being a “cobra in a house (and) the only way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and destroy its head.” He unleashed his Fifth Brigade on Nkomo’s Matabeleland in Operation Gukurahundi killing up to 20,000 Ndebele civilians. Nkomo became sadder but wiser and learnt the so-called “hardest lesson of his life.”

The morale of the story is that several decades after Africa was rid of the scourge of apartheid and colonialism, human right in Africa is still as mythical a concept as Pegasus, the flying horse. Africa, as a geographical entity, is free, but Africans cannot yet sing the songs of freedom. Admitted the scars of apartheid and colonialism bore too much tissue to be wiped clean; but modern governments have cut open the scars to release unbearable pain upon the people.

Two countries provide contrasting case studies of what is wrong with Africa and why Bob Marley’s prediction has not materialized. They are Nigeria and South Africa. The burning issues surrounding the xenophobic riots in South Africa and Nigeria’s reaction to them are not only interesting and paradoxical but worthy of investigative analysis. In this regard. South Africans are currently rioting and killing foreigners. It is a recurrent decimal in South Africa’s history for her citizens to target foreigners and blame them for every economic woe in the country. Still the recent rioting has shocked the world as scavenging crowds, which would remind you of a National Geographic portrayal of a pack of howling hungry hyenas or wild dogs, have burnt and looted the properties of foreigners. It is an ill-will which does not bode well for South Africa.

Nigeria has expressed outrage over the targeting of Nigerians in these riots, and recalled Nigeria’s top diplomat in South Africa. Justified as the government’s reaction is (and one proudly endorses same), one is concerned that a government that does not seem to be the least perturbed by the massacre of Nigerians by Nigerians in Nigeria is so outraged and incensed by the massacre of Nigerians in a foreign country. This portrays an odd sense of proportion. We are trying to enforce in a foreign country what we are not enforcing at home.

To their credit (if you permit the usage) South Africans do not kill themselves. They do not attack themselves. When they attack, they attack foreigners. Nigerians (Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, rioters…) target Nigerians – not foreigners. The calculus is that it is safer to be a foreigner in Nigeria than to be a citizen. If in doubt ask the relatives of the tens of thousands who have been killed by Fulani herdsmen without any herdsman tried or convicted. Or consider the Boko Haram menace. The reverse is true in South Africa; it is safer to be a citizen than a foreigner in South Africa.

So the diplomatic row could be reduced to a basic common denominator: a clash between xenophobia and xenomania. Nigeria’s xenomania (love of foreigners) is the reason DSTV (a South African company) does not only enjoy a monopoly in the Nigerian market, but is protected by the powers that be. The same thing can be said about other South African companies which were small players in South Africa but struck gold in the Nigerian market. However, one should not begrudge their good fortune.

This is a case of a country which hates itself confronting a country that hates foreigners. The solution is that the country which hates itself should put its house in order so that its citizens would not be forced by insecurity to travel to the country which hates foreigners.

An ancient Chinese proverb says that crisis and opportunity are different sides of the same coin. The obverse side of this crisis is that the Federal Government should commit itself to fighting internal insecurity with the same commendable zeal it is fighting the “xenophobic” attacks in South Africa. If we cannot bear the sight of a Nigerian killed in South Africa, why should we bear the sight of a Nigerian killed in Agatu?

  • Ukpe, a journalist, writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
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Xenophobia, fears as consequences of ignorance

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Xenophobia, fears as consequences of ignorance

The letter X in English language alphabets is a difficult one. Difficult in the sense that only few words representing person, animal, quality, idea, place or thing can be started with it. In this wise, 21st Century Dictionary has words starting with X contained in just one page. This shows the near insignificance of this word for the expression of man’s most distinctive feature which is the power of speech. How then did it, xenophobia come to be so powerful with the consequences associated with it. Xenophobia, like several terms of arts and even science originated from Greek. It is a double-barrelled word which when broken into its original Greek words stands for Xenos meaning stranger while the second part, phobos stands for fear. When combined, they stand for fear or hatred for strangers, which in England language is now called xenophobia. And one is said to be xenophobic if found to be suffering or susceptible to this condition.

I should think that xenophobia is a kind of social ailment which may not strictly belong to the medical field but rather to sociological and physiological maladies. In any case, most diseases or ailments originate from the principal source which is ignorance. Ignorance is the source of all evils. It was Aristotle who in the earlier time said that no one knowingly does evil. This Aristotelian statement was sealed with divine approval when Jesus Christ at the point of death on the Cross prayed God to forgive his crucifiers for they knew not what they were doing. The emphasis of that statement by Aristotle is that ignorance is the source of all evils. On the other hand, knowledge which is the opposite of ignorance is the source of all goodness. Actually, ‘Xenophobia’ is one of the several strands of fear: there are other phobias that afflict man.

Fear is as dangerous as it is beneficial to man. Fear makes man to obey the law as the fear of possible punishment or shame constitutes deterrence. But the danger is when fear transcends to negativities thereby breeding terror and horror. It is in this zone of negativities that fear leads man to do the unthinkable, such as murder, lies, betrayals, sabotage, etc. Fear for one’s life can lead to horrendous act of bestiality. It was the fear of the ever-growing population of the Jews in ancient Egypt that induced pharaoh and his people to subject them to horrendous enslavement, ethnic cleansing and genocide. What was the offence of the Jews in Egypt? They were strangers! Nobody remembered the great act of patriotism which their patriarch, Joseph executed by interpreting and translating the pharaohic dreams to magnificent resource-management that saved Egyptians from famine and starvation. In modern times, after the conquest of Jerusalem and Palestine by Roman Empire and consequent dispersal of Jews in AD 70, those Jews that migrated to Europe were subjected to anti-Semitism that has its root in xenophobia. The Jews faced xenophobic treatment in Europe culminating to the death of over six million Jews in Hitlerite-concentration camps’ gas chambers.

The fervour with which we talk of xenophobia in South Africa appears hypocritical. We are concerned with the South African xenophobic-speck forgetting the xenophobia-log in Nigeria is worse, and most dangerous. The formation of modern nation states in Africa by European colonial powers resulted in the lumping together of hitherto different tribes to form one political community. This state formation process was most noticeable in Nigeria where over 200 ethnic nationalities were forcibly amalgamated into a political unit. No effort was made to solidify the formation into a coherent whole rather the British in the guise of preserving native communities’ cultures, sowed seeds of hatred, suspicion and mutual distrust. This apartheid policy assured the colonialists and the colonized separate communities and developmental trajectory in compartmentalized habitations in Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) for white colonialist, Sabongari (strangers quarters) for settlers in Northern cities while the indigenes were quarantined in the old cities. This apartheid system effectively posed a herculean challenge to the growth of an organic nation or society.

Tribal separation bred mutual suspicion, hatred and xenophobic attacks from time to time. It was not a surprise that towards Independence regions became governing entities with tribes compartmentalized to the exclusion of other Nigerian settlers; xenophobia stalked Nigeria so that regardless of the number of years one had spent in such region, such Nigerian remains a stranger. For instance, there were heated debates in the Northern Regional Assembly between February and March, 1964 about the place of the Igbo people in Northern Nigeria’s political economy. Very acerbic statements were uttered against their migration, settling and habitation coupled with citizens’ rights in the region. Most of the speeches reeked of hatred and rejection. It was no wonder that the 1945 Jos riots happened or the horrific Kano riots of 1953 or the pogroms of 1966 in Northern cities, all against the Igbo by Northerners.

Xenophobic attacks spring from fear. One fears what one knows not. Ant it was the British colonialists that sowed these seeds of mistrust, suspicion and hatred between the Nigerian tribes. The tribes were made to think of themselves as different people and that stuck in the socio-political fabric of Nigeria. The Igbo man cannot be trusted to represent the interest of the Hausa just as the Yoruba is seen as being incapable of representing the best interest of the Igbo or any other tribes. Every tribe lives in suspicion and distrust of the other and every inch of Nigeria quakes in perpetual fear and hatred. It is this xenophobia that leads to quarrels, misunderstanding and ultimately violence against each other. The attacks on foreigners in South Africa did not start today. Remember there was black-on-black violence just before the end of apartheid. After apartheid was closed with a new free society, emergent political economy left so much economic opportunities gap yet to be bridged by the new majoritarian rulers led by black Africans. Many citizens from Southern African countries and sub-sahara Africa migrated to South Africa and the South African nationals felt threatened especially if these new migrants seem to be doing better economically.

This façade of well-being attracted hatred which culminated in sporadic and organized attacks on the migrant communities. The South African experience is not the first of its kind in the world as this type of xenophobia has happened in USA where Latinos from Mexico, Peru, El-Salvador, Chile, etc. for no other offence than that they were migrant-settlers competing for economic opportunities and social desiderata. The central theme to this condition boils down to fear by the host communities of strangers which upon the slightest tingling of the seismic volcanoes of anger, hatred and distrust degenerate to violence and destructions.

World leaders talk of globalized village without working to realize the dream of common humanity where all mankind will inhabit the earth where one found oneself. Until this globalized world and globalized human-citizenship founded on true freedoms is achieved with requisite structures similar to Yalta Conference that led to the adoption of the half-hearted Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the end of World War II in 1945 the world will continue to witness xenophobic attacks and the destructions that follow them as consequence. Perhaps, this dream of freedom from fears may happen after World War III, that’s for those that may survive the nuclear holocaust or Armageddon. That is my worry, and hope!

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Atiku, ambition and the endgame

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Atiku, ambition and the endgame

So, after all his thunderous imprecations and venomous profiling of the Wazirin Adamawa as “hopelessly corrupt”, OBJ could not resist the temptation of a N50m “egunje” from the same tainted hand. Perhaps, our ever sanctimonious patriarch never reckoned the secret would leak.

 

 

No less amusing was the explanation offered by the giver when the EFCC hound uncovered an assortment of fingerprints and footprints of beneficiaries of a staggering 150m Euros (N60b) moneybag Atiku allegedly laundered ahead of the 2019 polls of which a consortium of local and foreign marabouts were said to have assured him, with oracular certainty, of a landslide victory. If the last hurdle to Aso Rock was cash, the free-spender from Jada was ready to break the bank, whether in local or hard currency. Without the least regard for logic or shame, Atiku’s spin doctors told us the strange N50m found in the account of Obasanjo Library was only “a donation” to a “non-profit organization” involved in humanitarian work.

 

The gods are surely wise.

 

 

Of course, only kindergarten pupils would buy that. Coming after OBJ had literally declared war on APC and virtually parlayed any forum available to hurl personal insults at President Mohammadu Buhari, it must have finally dawned on the more discerning why prescient Professor Wole Soyinka chose to christen Obasanjo’s mammoth Ota edifice “a Laundromat” at its founding more than a decade ago.

 

 

How tragic then that those who now wish to be looked upon as the harbingers of Nigeria’s ethical rebirth are, alas, still unable to prove to the nation they had in any way outgrown their old vice of money-sharing rackets.

 

 

Well, the danger of astrology is its addictiveness. In his most recent autobiography entitled “My Watch”, OBJ had, based on stated “research and observation”, characterized his deputy (while president for eight years) as both perennial captive and slave to sorcerers.

 

 

So, once assured of the presidential crown by fortune-tellers, it would appear Atiku has become rather obsessed with becoming king, even if that meant sedating himself into a nirvana and dreaming up a magic-realist kingdom in which he is both lord and lone inhabitant.

 

 

Only such fixation could indeed explain the desperation lately of Atiku and his enablers – mostly lurking in the shadows of cyberspace – to foist the fable of a coming coronation, not based on facts but sheer fantasy.

 

 

This psychosis partly manifests in the juvenile twisting of facts by a mob who, apparently scarred by the prospects of languishing another four years in the political wilderness, now conveniently choose to not only inhabit that fantasyland, but also luxuriate in its numbing make-believe.

 

 

It explains their desperation last weekend to exhume the light-hearted words uttered by Lai Mohammed in 2015 as APC spokesman on the needless controversy around Buhari’s certificate, package and re-present same in a totally different context, just to prop their lame argument which similarly failed to fly five years ago.

 

 

It is also the reason the Atiku people would lie shamelessly before the election tribunal that the otherwise thoughtful and compassionate TraderMoni and MarketMoni schemes initiated by the Buhari administration was a bribe to induce voters ahead of the 2019 polls.

 

 

Apparently failing to do their research properly, they even declared, with a ring of authority, that the funds being disbursed to market women and the vulnerable in our society were extra-budgetary spending. Seriously? But the last time I checked, the twin programmes were approved by the Federal Executive Council and duly funded by the Appropriations Acts of 2017 and 2018.

 

 

To be sure, it is quite within the democratic rights of the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party to contest the outcome of the February polls which gave APC 15,191,847 votes as against his own distant 11,262,978. But it is debatable if the arguments marshaled so far in the past few months by his legal team are convincing enough.

 

 

Given the cold letters of the law and legal precedents, it would be herculean indeed to prove the claim of electoral malpractices in a presidential poll. That means the petitioner is saddled with the arduous task of producing witnesses to give testimony proving such infraction in more than 100,000 polling units where the exercise took place.

 

 

This requirement is already well stated in the decision of the Supreme Court in Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) thus: “The very big obstacle that anyone who seeks to have the election of the President or Governor upturned is very large number of witnesses he must call due to the size of the respective constituency. In a country like our own, he may have to call about 250,000 – 300,000 witnesses. By the time the court would have heard from all of them with the way our present law is couched, the incumbent would have long finished and left his office and even if the petitioner finally wins, it will be an empty victory bereft of substance.”

 

So, PDP’s present case at the presidential election tribunal is anchored primarily on two main legs viz INEC server and Buhari’s “lack of school certificate”.

 

 

But rather than persuade, the argument on the server has been most amusing. From the outset, no one disputes that the entire polls were premised on the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Relentless pressures mounted on President Mohammadu Buhari to assent to a raft of amendments proposed by the Bukola Saraki-led Senate seeking electronic transmission of results did not succeed.

 

 

The President’s action was informed by the superior argument that for the purpose of the 2019 polls, much as desirable as electronic transmission would conduce to the sanctity of the ballot, the sad reality was that a considerable ratio of the over 100,000 polling units in 774 councils across the federation and Abuja was yet to be covered by digital networks to experiment with such innovation.

 

 

What’s more, an authority no less than the nation’s chief electoral umpire himself did attest, before hand and without ambiguity, that only manual transmission of results was applicable in the exercise.

 

 

Despite all these unassailable facts, it remains a big puzzle why the Atiku people still chose to gamble with the theory of electronic server. By the curious calculations of the fictive server, PDP polled 18,356,732 votes ahead of APC’s 16,741,430.

 

 

 

Fine. But the devil is actually in the details. It turned out the Kenyan the petitioner had touted as possessing the “smoking gun” himself admitted, under cross-examination, that the data he tendered was gleaned from the website created two weeks after the results were announced by a faceless “whistle-blower”.

 

 

Worse, it was discovered that the IP address of the website is a commercial one patronized by all manner of businessmen in many countries across the world.

 

 

More comedy. Again invoking the same “server” like a talisman, the Atiku people had pooh-poohed the INEC results announced in Borno in favor of Buhari on the grounds that the high numbers were unjustifiable given the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the area. But wait a minute – it turned out that the figures allocated to Atiku in the same Borno by the all-knowing “server” are far higher than those of Buhari which they had faulted vigorously as impossible because of security issue!

 

 

However, the “server” was not bold enough to discredit the figures from Atiku’s own polling unit in his native Adamawa where Buhari entered a symbolic victory by polling 186 to the former’s 167.

 

 

On the issue of Buhari’s academic credentials, it is perhaps a measure of PDP’s infinite capacity for mischief that the bogey of “no school cert” is still being retailed till date, having failed woefully to gain traction back in 2015. To begin with, isn’t it amazing that a nation could even be beguiled into entertaining such a doubt about a man who records clearly confirm had not only attended numerous official courses conferring higher academic status during a career spanning over three decades, but also had the uncommon privilege of leading the country as head of state between 1984 and 1985?

 

 

Perhaps the easiest way to validate history is to cite witnesses. Luckily, some of Buhari’s classmates at Provincial Secondary School, Katsina in 1961, are still alive. To prove doubters wrong, the President has even gone the extra mile by making public a black-and-white photograph showing him then in company of classmates including now retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi.

 

This truth has not been disputed, nor has Justice Abdullahi denied.

 

 

On the contrary, it is open secret today that, in their last-ditch effort to rake up muck but in abject ignorance of the confidentiality principle of English system, PDP’s agents had approached University of Cambridge in the U.K. to ascertain whether Buhari actually sat for school certificate. But seen as “busy-bodies”, the authorities at the British institution declined the applicants. The request was only granted when Buhari’s representative duly applied for the results which was later tendered before the court.

 

 

Against this overwhelming backcloth, the rationally minded cannot but wonder what may be giving Atiku and his crowd confidence. Maybe, it is the metaphysics of the marabouts.

 

 

Odion is Senior Technical Assistant (Media) to the President.

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