The pursuit of wealth is not a bad thing in itself because without the food and comforts which wealth provides, life will be penurious and drab. But always remember that any wealth accumulated on a selfish basis, at the expense of the State in defiance of social justice helps to create a disorganised society in which everybody will eat everybody, and no one person can be safe.’ -Chief Obafemi Awolowo
He may have left us more than 32 years ago, but the above quote from the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo is still profoundly relevant in Nigeria as recent violent events in some parts of the country have shown. Incidentally, what triggered off, which was clearly pent up frustration amongst the people, was not anything here in Nigeria; but events some 4,644 kilometres away in South Africa.
Last weekend a fresh round of xenophobic hysteria began in the Rainbow nation with foreigners being on the wrong end of frustration with lack of jobs and decent living conditions for millions of South Africans, which their government had failed to provide. And thus it has become easy for the citizens to take out their anger on non-South Africans with Nigerians often being on the receiving end. Although xenophobia is not really a new scourge in South Africa having even existed when apartheid was still the order of the day, however, after majority rule in 1994, contrary to expectations, the incidence of nationalism increased. According to Wikipedia, between 2000 and March 2008, at least 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks.
In May 2008, a series of attacks left 62 people dead; although 21 of those killed were South African citizens. In 2015, another nationwide spike in xenophobic attacks against immigrants in general prompted a number of foreign governments to begin repatriating their citizens. In fact in the run up to the 2010 World Cup, many had expressed fears over a possible outbreak of xenophobia during the tournament proper, and some even appealed to world football governing body, FIFA to move the competition away from South Africa – a plea FIFA flatly rejected. And despite assurances from the government of then President Jacob Zuma that teams and visitors would be safe, many who travelled to South Africa did so with a lot of trepidation.
This writer was opportune to have been one of the journalists from Nigeria to have covered the 2010 World Cup and I still vividly remembering how even before leaving we had counselled ourselves not to move about, alone but to go out in groups (‘strength in numbers’ I guess). Luckily the tournament held without any major untoward incident that would have embarrassed the organisers and FIFA.
But the six weeks or so that we were in South Africa afforded us to see first-hand the wide gulf between the Rainbow nation and the so-called “Giant of Africa” in terms of virtually everything – hotels, roads, communication, infrastructure, you name it they are light years ahead of Nigeria. Sadly it is this advancement that has acted like a magnet in attracting migrants from not only their immediate neighbours like Zimbabwe and Mozambique but from virtually all over the continent to South Africa in search of a better life. According to reports, between 2010 and 2017 the immigrant community in South Africa increased from 2 million people to 4 million people. It is only natural that such an influx is bound to cause resentment, especially amongst the locals, who wrongly or rightly will blame the migrants for whatever woes they are enduring.
A Pew Research poll conducted in 2018 showed that 62% of South Africans viewed immigrants as a burden on society by taking jobs and social benefits and that 61% of South Africans thought those immigrants were more responsible for crime than other groups.
While the hard working nature of many Nigerians and other foreigners meant that they were able to make themselves an important part of the productive workforce in South Africa, it is only human nature that those that do not have jobs (for whatever reasons) will view the migrants as being the ones denying them work –especially if the economy is struggling! After all that is what happened in 1983 when the then government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari told immigrants without proper immigration documents to leave the country. Most of the immigrants were West Africans and mainly Ghanaians. Over 2 million men, women and children were affected. Incidentally, in 1969 Ghana also expelled Nigerians from its country.
In 1969, Ghana enacted the Aliens Compliance Order in which hundreds of thousands of immigrants, most of which were Nigerians, were forcefully expelled from the country. So disdain towards foreigners is not a new thing on the continent, although the manner they are attacked and often killed in South Africa is a new low.
But what is happening now shows how far we have fallen as a nation of choice that people loved to flock to, to now one in which its own citizens are leaving in droves having lost all hope of a better life. So much so that South Africa has supplanted us as the new honey pot on the continent. Unfortunately the latest orgy of violence in South Africa was the final straw that broke the tolerance level of Nigerians who resulted into attacking South African business concerns in the country.
But in doing so it, is a classic case of our spiting our face in order to cut off our nose, because most of those majorly affected by the assault on Shoprite, MTN, Pep and other South African businesses are actually Nigerians! Yes, while the investors will equally feel the pinch the main burden will be on the everyday folk that wake up in the morning to go and work at Shoprite or MTN and at the end of the month get paid. Now there may be no money to pay them this month because of the actions of a few.
Ironically had our leaders gotten their acts together it should have been the other way round with Nigeria protesting attacks on her business concerns in South Africa. But rather than develop the nation, our leaders have been mainly busy feathering their individual nests to the detriment of the collective good of Nigeria. We should be ashamed that a nation that only gained “independence” in 1994 is now showing us the way in terms of how to operate successful businesses.
Many will recall that in the 70s and 80s we had our Shoprite in the form of Kingsway and UTC – but what happened to them? They were run aground. For those who do not want to travel so far back in time, what about the other satellite station that birthed in 2007 to the delight of many of us who were happy that at last Multichoice/DSTV now had a rival? On November 8, Multichoice will be celebrating her 26th birthday while its rival went bust barely after just four years of operations.
One can only hope that our leaders will look beyond recalling our High Commissioner to South Africa and boycotting the World Economic Summit (WES) and look at truly holistic ways of empowering their own citizens so that the need to “flee” the country will reduce. After all the former Premier of the old Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had already said what might eventually happen if they do not!
As Kogites, Bayelsans go to the polls today
Today, the people of Kogi and Bayelsa states will go to polling units to elect the governors that will govern them in the next four years. While Governor Yahya Bello of Kogi is seeking a second term under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State is a lame duck having served two terms allowed by the Constitution but he will have more than a passing interest in today’s contest.
Apart from the governorship election in Kogi, there is also a rerun election for Kogi West Senatorial District between gadfly Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC. Sadly, in the two states, the fierce battle will be between the APC and PDP.
I used the word sadly because the outcomes of the elections will not reflect that our democracy is truly a multiple party system. There won’t be a third force that can spring a surprise in today’s elections. We have tied ourselves to the apron strings of the APC and PDP as if they are the best since sliced bread. We had seen a candidate who did far better during a debate for the governorship candidates in one of the Southwest states and obviously had better ideas of how to turn things around yet the electorate could not trust him with their votes on election day just because he didn’t belong to one of the dominant parties. It was a case of a right candidate in a wrong party, a wrong notion built on fixation on the APC and PDP.
The same thing will pan out in Kogi and Bayelsa today. Ballots will be cast based on party affiliation, vote buying, religion and other primordial considerations. It won’t be a case of the best candidate for the job. This has been the pattern since the return of democracy in 1999.
Nothing will change in today’s elections because we have failed to learn from history. One can only hope we will get there one day, I mean a day when election will be won by candidates who don’t belong to popular parties or even independent candidates that truly can deliver.
There’s nothing wrong with the political parties but obviously something is wrong with the electorate. After 20 years of uninterrupted democracy, there’s nothing to show that we have attained political maturity that will make us see the evil in selling our votes for a pot of soup. In today’s elections, people will vote based on what politicians have to offer in monetary value. The dominant parties will outdo each other. The other parties are mere participants to give a semblance of multi-party system in an ar-rangement that is just a two-party system. If party A is offering N5,000 per vote, party B will raise the bar. The electoral officials will be compromised. Security agents will look the other way when thugs come around to snatch ballot boxes or stuff papers with predetermined ballot boxes and they won’t have the courage to chase away vote buyers. They may chase some vote buyers away yet tolerate some depending on the briefs they are to work with.
The first step to successfully rig an election is to have the support of security agents. It’s for this reason that commissioners of police are often redeployed when elections are around the corner. Those who are trusted to play the ball are often retained while those that cannot be trusted are kicked in the groins. Since the Inspector General of Police exists at the mercy of the president, the party at the centre is usually at advantage in this circumstance. If you think that will change today, it means you will believe that a grandmother is a virgin.
There’s poverty in the land. So, the electorate whose purchasing power has been diminished by politicians who foist on them egregious policies that have unleashed poverty on the masses, will be at the Beck and call of the same politicians today in Bayelsa and Kogi states.As Bayelsans and Kogites begin another democratic journey today, their choices are limited in terms of quality candidates.
They will vote but there is no guarantee that their votes will count. The masses will be in the majority when it comes to voters’ outcome. The elite will stay glued to their televisions and choose to watch football instead of going to vote and those who are not sport enthusiasts will choose other frivolities ahead of going to the polling units. Yet, they will be voiceferous when it comes to criticisms. The outcome of the elections is predictable. If things are not going the way of the politicians, they will subvert the will of the people.
They will be emboldened by the fact that they had done it overtime without getting their fingers burnt. As it is now, there is no clear cut political ideology that has evolved over the years and this is tragic for our country at a time that the country is in dire need of strong political leaders. This democracy is no longer nascent after 20 years of no military intervention.
We ought to have outgrown teething problems associated with the nascent democracy. The elections in the two states provide yet another opportunity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to convince Nigerians that the future of democracy is bright in Nigeria. But there won’t be much difference between what will happen in those states and what we had in the past. INEC won’t be coordinated, some of its officials will connive with politicians to subvert the will of the people, the electorate will sell their votes, security agents will take sides, there will be violence and bloodshed.
Losers will always have reasons to complain. But how genuine will their complaints be? Elections provide yet another opportunity for people to vote their choices into elective posts without fear and intimidation. They provide opportunities for people to vote and not to fight.
There cannot be peace and progress in an atmosphere of violence and conflicts. Inspite of the obvious downsides in our democracy, the elections today provide yet another opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. For those who have made up their minds to sell their votes, they should honestly ask themselves how well those who sold their votes about four years ago are better off today. Selling your votes is a case of:”you can’t have your cake and eat it.”
However, it is in the interest of the politicians not to truncate this democracy because of their desperation to hold on to power. They are the greatest beneficiaries of the system and will be the greatest losers if anything goes wrong with this democracy.
Whatever the governed get from the government is like crumbs compared to the ostentatious lifestyle of some of these politicians. Politicians know what is at stake for them. This is why elections in Nigeria is characterised mostly by tension and violence. Getting elective posts or political appointments are like automatic escape from poverty.
The electorate cannot afford to feather the greedy nest of politicians. This can be done if vote buyers are rejected. As for INEC, it had made costly mistakes in the past. But its image can still be salvaged if the elections today are free, fair and credible.
Credible election can be relative depending on the world view of politicians, their supporters and political parties. But if an election is credible, the world view of losers will not really matter. We did it on June 12, 1993. So, this should not be a one off thing. We can do it again if the atmosphere is right and we are determined. Bayelsans and Kogites should vote and not fight as they file out to exercise their franchise.
Many liberated as Bible Standard Church takes Mission Crusade to Nasarawa, F.C.T
“And he said unto them, Go ye into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved……..” This last injunction of Christ to his followers, which he issued just moments before he was taken up into heaven (Mark 16:15-16, KJV), can be said to be responsible for much of the evangelistic outreaches that have been carried out around the globe since Christ’s ascension.
In centuries past, millions have been won for Christ even as hundreds of Christians have from the time of the early apostles lost their lives, been imprisoned, maimed or wounded while trying to take the gospel to some hostile people or communities.
It is this same injunction that has been the driving force in global evangelisation in contemporary age with many churches and Christian organisations going out there to tell the world about the love of God. Bible Standard Christian Ministry, with a church wing, Bible Standard Church and headquarters in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, is one of such churches. For close to two decades now, the ministry has been carrying out strategic evangelistic outreaches to parts of the country every October.
This year’s edition of her “Mission Crusade” held in Kabayi area of Nasarawa State, which was planned to also benefit residents of the Federal Capital Territory, F.C.T, Abuja, will remain green in the minds of all the participants.
The three-day outing, October 18-20, with the theme “Deliverance for the captives” was a rare treat to the people of the area. Clad in activities like group and personal witnessing, preaching of salvation messages, mountain-moving prayers for the sick, oppressed of society, persons trapped in the web of poverty and lack and all manner of problems, the crusade appeared to have been the long awaited antidote to issues that had wearied the people. It was a big relief to many of the crusade participants when Dr. Umoh Ekwo, general overseer of the ministry, in a sermon told them that Jesus was able and willing to solve their problems and fix their desperate situations.
Ekwo read various portions of the Bible including Matthew 5:1-15 and emphasised on the power of God to answer prayers when godly people pray through the name of Jesus. He said that God was interested in the prayers of people who acknowledge their sinful situations, denounced sin and wrong doings and turned over their lives to Christ.
He insisted that only prayers of the righteous could draw the hand and heart of God to deliver suffering people and urged the people to call on God for help and deliverance. He lamented that many pastors and prophets had resorted to replacing the power in the name of Jesus with what they term, “Holy water”, “Holy Oil”, and other substances and objects. He said: “There is no holy water. No oil is holy and can deliver people from their problems.
Most of the oil and socalled holy water used on the people with certain issues in life only go to compound the problems they were intended to solve.” He said many pastors and prophets today were involved in spiritism even as their stock in trade mainly comprised asking people to do “assignments” with most of the victims being asked to buy a number of things and bring them for the said assignments or pay certain amounts of money for prayer.
Ekwo said when Jesus was carrying out his earthly ministry, He did not give people assignment nor oil or water to drink for their salvation, healing or deliverance. He said that demons the world over, are waiting for orders from children of God, sighting the case of the man possessed with legions of demons and living in the tomb for years, that was healed when Jesus commanded the demons to quit and they, obeying, ran into swine. Many people surrendered their lives to Christ, others were healed of various sicknesses while yet another set of participants received deliverance from demonic powers and influences as Pastor Ekwo and other men of God in his team prayed for them and taught them the word of God. In the crusade team were some lead pastors and leaders of the church that travelled from various parts of the country.
They included pastors Simeon Simeon, the overseer of the church in Rivers State, who spoke to the crowd on God’s power to deliver; Edwin Ene, Magdalene Umoh, Edet Raymond, Mary Emah – all senior pastors of the church in Akwa Ibom State. Obong Akpaekong, overseer of the church in Cross River State and Lawrence Jonah, overseer of the church in Lagos and Ogun states also attended.
Pastor Nsikak Udosen, Bayelsa State pastor, Evangelist Godbless Udoh, wife of pastor of the church in Abia State and Pastor Amos Amos, the church’s national youth president were equally there. The host pastor, Asuquo Nyong, said the national mission was the beginning of a new dawn for the people of Nasarawa State and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.
•Akpaekong wrote in from Abuja
The ‘lousy’ killer (1)
Mr HY used to be a happy man until about 8 months ago when a sudden twist of events turned his world upside down. The outset was gradual, starting with having to visit the rest room repeatedly, of course this set tongues wagging in his office; one said ‘’na gonorrhea’’ another said ‘’it’s urine infection or STD’’! He also takes water excessively and eats gluttonously but ironically lost weight despite the excessive eating. The weight loss was really marked and continued to worsen over time, so are the other symptoms of frequent/excessive urination, excessive water intake and excessive eating. The tale bearers continued to have a field day; ‘’it’s AIDS’’ ‘’na cancer’’ ‘’na conc. Yellow fever’’ ‘’na typhoid’’
He was offered all sorts of ‘’remedy’’ but didn’t get better…what could this be?
What is diabetes mellitus?
Hypertension is globally known as a silent killer majorly because many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Often the signs and symptoms are misunderstood. But not so for Diabetes, it comes announcing its presence, though the person might not know exactly what is wrong but he/she knows that something is wrong! Hence the ‘’lousy’’ designation which is entirely that of yours faithfully.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic (long term) non communicable disease in which the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin or cells stop responding to the insulin that is produced, so that glucose in the blood cannot be absorbed into the cells of the body.
Blood sugar and health
Sugar (glucose) is an important source of energy
What is eaten is absorbed into the blood
Insulin is produced by the pancreas when the blood sugar is high
Insulin keeps blood sugar level within the normal range for health
Every cell in the human body needs energy in order to function.
The body’s primary energy source is glucose, a simple sugar resulting from the digestion of foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches).
Glucose from the digested food circulates in the blood as a ready energy source for any cells that need it. Insulin is a hormone or chemical produced by cells in the pancreas (an organ located behind the stomach). Insulin bonds to a receptor site on the outside of cell and acts like a key to open a doorway into the cell through which glucose can enter. Some of the glucose can be converted to concentrated energy sources like glycogen or fatty acids and saved for later use. When there is not enough insulin produced or when the doorway no longer recognizes the insulin key, glucose stays in the blood rather entering the cells.
The body will attempt to dilute the high level of glucose in the blood (a condition called hyperglycemia) by drawing water out of the cells and into the bloodstream in an effort to dilute the sugar and excrete it in the urine. It is not unusual for people with undiagnosed diabetes to be constantly thirsty, drink large quantities of water, and urinate frequently as their bodies try to get rid of the extra glucose. This creates high levels of glucose in the urine.
At the same time that the body is trying to get rid of glucose from the blood, the cells are starving for glucose and sending signals to the body to eat more food, thus making patients extremely hungry.
To provide energy for the starving cells, the body also tries to convert fats and proteins to glucose.
The breakdown of fats and proteins for energy causes acid compounds called ketones to form in the blood. Ketones also will be excreted in the urine. As ketones build up in the blood, a condition called ketoacidosis can occur.
Type 1 diabetes
In this form of diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin.
Sometimes, begins most commonly in childhood or adolescence.
It is characterized by sudden onset
Type 2 diabetes
The more common form of diabetes
It is characterized by slow onset
People who have migrated to Western cultures are more likely to develop Type II diabetes than those who remain in their original countries.
Also regarded as Adult-onset diabetes
It is considered a milder form of diabetes
Another form of diabetes called gestational diabetes can develop during pregnancy and generally resolves after the baby is delivered.
How common is diabetes?
There is an increasing prevalence worldwide. Over 5 million people suffer from the disease in Africa and the number is expected to jump to 15 million by 2025. According to data published in 2006 by the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people suffering from diabetes worldwide in 2007 is ~246 million. It is projected that by 2025 this number will rise to >380 million, with most of the increase occurring in developing countries. Type 2 diabetes mellitus represents ~90–95% of cases
The causes of diabetes mellitus are unclear, however, there seem to be both hereditary (genetic factors passed on in families) and environmental factors involved.
In Type I diabetes, the immune system, (the body’s defense system against infection), is believed to be triggered by a virus or another microorganism that destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
In Type II diabetes, age, obesity, and family history of diabetes play a role.
Individuals who are at high risk of developing Type II diabetes mellitus include people who are;
obese (more than 20% above their ideal body weight)
have a relative with diabetes mellitus
belong to a high-risk ethnic population (African-American, Native American, Hispanic, or Native Hawaiian)
have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or have delivered a baby weighing more than 4 kg
have high blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or above)
have had impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose on previous testing
WHY YOUR CHILDREN MAY NOT SERVE YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER (PART 1)
As a couple that recently started bearing children, you may have heard that many young people from Christian homes are growing up into full-fledged worldly lifestyles, contrary to what their parents propagate which is, committed service and loyalty to the Heavenly father, the Lord God Almighty.
Now, you are already panicky as to how to groom your own children in the way of the Lord. God, in his word, has provided the best approach through his instruction given by Moses over four thousand years ago.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
This commandment provides the key to effective spiritual training at home. Praying with your children each night and taking them to church is not enough, even though family devotions are important. As a parent, you are expected by God to live the principles of faith throughout the day. References to the heavenly father and his perspectives on every matter should permeate your conversations and interactions with your children. Your love for Jesus should be understood to be the first priority of your lives as a couple, by your children. You must not overlook any opportunity to teach with your words and your actions.
Dad and mum! You need to understand that the world has a lot of messages for your children in the days ahead and that the messages could take them to failure and destruction if they are not counterbalanced by firm spiritual foundation at home. You just cannot afford to be lackadaisical on the task.
“Jesus answered: Don’t you know me Philip, even after I have been among you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, show us the Father? (John 14:9).
The first way to introduce your children to the character of God is by introducing them to the Jesus Christ in you if he is in you. Your children can only serve your God if they discover him in you at the tender age. Children do more of what they see in parents than what parents say. If you are a “do what we say and not what we do” couple, prepare for a possible family crisis at old age; an old age of police cases, unwanted pregnancies and so on. May this not be your portion in Jesus name!
If as a couple, you have the lifestyle of always quarrelling with and defrauding each other or other people in presence of your children, a bleak family future looms.
If as a couple, you lack self control to the extent of having sexual intercourse right in front of your children or you are living adulterous lives involving your children in the sinful arrangements, there is trouble. Do not expect your children to honour your heavenly father that you do not honour.
If you are a couple that lie to each other, lie to your children or lie to other people, you are selling to them, the nature of another god, different from your heavenly father.
If as a couple, you live a life of prayerlessness in every endeavour, how do you expect your children to be prayerful? If as a couple, you are regular late comers to church, you are telling them that this God can be disrespected without any consequence. You are telling them that punctuality to their school and other events is important. But as for the house of your heavenly father, you can stroll in whenever you like.
For your children to grow up serving your heavenly father, you must be an example to them in “what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity” (1st Timothy 4:12).
As parents, you have been given the awesome responsibility of representing God to your vulnerable children. You must not make the mistake of failing in this responsibility because such will be translated into spiritual problems for the next generation. For instance, it is tough for the sons and daughters of oppressive or abusive parents to perceive God as being loving and compassionate. Permissive parents (that permit just any conduct in the name of love) make it hard for children to understand the justice nature of God. Representing the nature of a God of both love and justice is one of the difficult tasks mothers and fathers face. Showing your children love without authority is a serious distortion of God’s nature, just like presenting an iron-hand authority without love.
To guide your children towards serving your heavenly father in future, they need to see your heavenly father in you. Children listen closely to discover just how much their parents believe what they preach. If there is any form of ethical confusion in the parents, the children are very likely to magnify it. The job of building up your children’s character into godly nature is more tasking than giving birth to them.
May your children turn out well and may your marriage and family be a testimony. May your children turn out well, serving your heavenly father in
Religion and national institutions: Where do we draw the line?
Last week an incident at a NYSC orientation camp in Ebonyi State has once again brought to the fore a dangerous trend gradually rearing its head across the land.
It is religion!
As far back as the creation of man, the eight letter word had been a contentious issue inflaming passions for and against in almost equal measure.
The very first sin ever committed as noted in the Holy Bible was Adam and Eve, which we are all aware of.
In later years, many wars were ignited by religion while students of history will remember the terrible atrocities committed during the Spanish Inquisition with those deemed heretics often put to death in the most horrific and gruesome manner.
Many were tied to stakes and burnt alive as so-called believers tried very hard to use such infamously brutal methods to whip non conformists into line.
Ironically there is nowhere in the Bible that such barbaric acts are proscribed to be meted out to so-called heretics.
Then in 1517 the church and Christendom was further splintered when one, German priest called Martin Luther released his Ninety-five Theses, which queried many of the preconceived teachings.
Of course, this rattled the established order which tried everything possible to ensure that the status quo was maintained.
Unfortunately the more brutal their efforts the more protestants their actions seemed to bring forth so much so that more than 500 years after Luther’s “audacity”, the religious world has largely come to accept the existence of these other branches of the faith including Islam.
However, like I pointed out earlier, over time all the different religious groups have largely learnt to tolerate each other and live together.
Although occasionally bloody incidents do flare up between them, often mainly caused by deep-rooted mistrust which have still not been totally eradicated despite the passage of time.
Ironically, such issues of mistrust still looms large in Nigeria and sadly, we as a people have allowed it to fester, rather than gradually fade due to the actions we have been taking.
For those old enough to remember how the nation was in the 60s and 70s, religion was never a big issue amongst us.
Muslims had Christian friends and vice versa. The Muslims will fully take part in Christmas celebrations while Christians would eagerly be waiting for Salah so that they can go and gorge on meat and other delicacies.
Religion was not also a big issue in schools with both religions mingling freely in whichever school they wanted to attend, because having a sound education was the paramount reason for the parents putting their child in that particular school.
For instance I attended Corona School, Apapa and cannot recall religion ever being an issue amongst us students or staff.
My secondary school was Mayflower, Ikenne and with Tai Solarin religion was secondary to his primary aim of making us good students.
While he did not outrightly ban religion, he made it abundantly clear that should either ever clash there would only be one winner – Mayflower!
Parents were well aware of this his disposition towards religion and yet Christian parents and their Muslim counterparts willingly brought their children to Ikenne because what was upper most in their minds was giving their kids a sound education.
Boys and girls wore shorts because, as Dr. Solarin pointed out, he did not want the girls struggling to cover themselves when it came to doing farming and other work in school.
But sadly this is no longer the case, with religious intolerance on the rise and also not helped by the fact that children can now go through school right from nursery to university without crossing religious paths – i.e. a Christian can go all through education attending only Christian schools while a Muslim student can also do the same!
So how do we as a people meet rub minds and get to understand each other’s religion better if like apartheid, we are segregated.
The intolerance is heightening by the day.
I often wonder what the ‘Abami Eda ‘ Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would have made of the present day Nigeria.
In many of his popular songs he ‘yapped’ both Christians and Muslim leaders (often calling them by their titles) without it causing any brouhaha. He would go up North yap Muslim leaders and come to his ‘Shrine’ down south in Lagos and yap everybody without any religious bigots taking offence.
I’m not too sure in the present clime, he would have been able to get away with it.
Unfortunately, while the divide between the religions is expanding even within the same religious faiths, extremism is also rearing its ugly head as was the case at the NYSC camp in Macgregor College, Afikpo in Imo State where two female Youth Corps members were sent away after refusing to wear the ascribed camp attire.
While we all know that the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, we are also aware that there are equally certain institutions that have their own dress codes and as such should be immune to religious considerations.
And one of such is the NYSC.
Those that conceptualised the scheme some 46 years ago, realised that due to the nature of the activities the participants would be undergoing shorts would best suited for this.
Anyone that has passed through the scheme must agree that this is true as the females will not have issues climbing over obstacles and ropes using one hand while the other is trying to ensure that their undergarments are not exposed to the whole world to see.
I still remember camp days with our ladies participating almost on equal footing with the guys. In fact, if truth must be told, a lot of them even did better than we the supposedly stronger sex – the men.
I’m sure that a majority of women have no issues with wearing trousers since it is in fact only for a short while and besides it ensures that they can be proper ‘corpers’.
Although one’s personal religious conviction shouldn’t be brushed aside, when one considers the bigger picture one has to beg the question – where do we draw the line?
Will those who join the military now also insist on wearing skirts in carrying out combat functions?
Recently I felt very proud seeing the Nigeria Airforce wing two female pilots they looked so lovely in their uniforms as they made history of breaking a male dominated field.
After all it has often been the clarion cry by the women folk that “what a man can do a woman can do better!
Now that they have the chance to show it, they are now allowing religion stop their march to equality!
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!
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