Effective Parenting: Nurturing Rich Soils in Kids

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“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:8-9).

Sometime ago, something rather disheartening happened in my locality. It was the day fixed for the Primary School leaving certificate examinations. The Governor decided to pay surprise visits to some of these centres. Lo and behold, the Governor caught some Teachers right inside the examination hall copying answers for the children. In fact, in another centre, he saw parents struggling to bribe their way into the hall to help their children copy. Some parents were seen climbing the school fence.

This incidence really calls to question the nature of parenting in our society today. How are we bringing up our children? Do we realize that the future of our country depends on the sound moral and spiritual foundation we lay in our kids? One eminent professor said recently that Nigeria is producing a generation of illiterates – educated illiterates; graduates who are world-apart from what their degrees and certificates claim.

If as parents we now teach and encourage our children to commit malpractice in examinations, how do we make them understand that kidnapping, terrorism, prostitution, bribery, armed robbery, telling of lies, certificate forgery and so on are evil?

A child who is well brought up is the glory of his parents. As our Gospel passage today explains, the nature of the soil determines the nature of the harvest. Let us bear in mind that our role as parents is to cultivate and constantly manure good soils in the heart of our children so that God can work mightily through them.

Another serious problem among today’s children is the development of an entitlement mentality. This is where many parents of today’s generation got it wrong, they bring up their children to believe that they can always get what they want even without working for it. Children today do not understand that it is okay to suffer for a while, that it is okay to delay gratification, that money takes time to come by, that life is a journey.

Like the children of Israel on their way to the Promised Land, children today want it all NOW! NOW!! NOW!!! And when they don’t get it, they complain, they throw up tantrums, they get depressed and even commit suicide. There has never been a time when life wasn’t tough for the youths. In fact, I think it was tougher those days. I listen to my father and many of his generation tell me how they suffered just to pay their own school fees through school given that their own fathers were not even educated. They survived.

The murmurings of the children of Israel showed the depths of their lack of appreciation to God, a failure to look beyond their immediate circumstances (impatience) and a deep-seated sense of entitlement. These are sadly the same traits we see in the children of my generation; experts in complaining and murmuring; professionals in ranting all day on social media, insulting government officials without offering meaningful solutions or creative ideas.

Let us teach our children to develop rich soils by cultivating in them the virtues of trusting in God, the discipline of hard work, the willingness to follow the more difficult route and the beauty of patience.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help us to realize that by changing the soil (the foundation), we can change our fruits, Amen.

Rev.Fr. Evaristus  Abu

Nigerian Society and the real dangers of relativism Part 2

By Chris Odinaka Nwedo

Picture on the wall Fabriano

An Image of self destruction

Moral relativism is a term “often used in the context of moral principles, where principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only limited context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy”. A society that has no benchmark for good or bad is gravely wounded. This is because objective platforms for determination of direction for quality principle crucial for national development cannot be found. This is because, the truth of any policy and/or programmes are forced to depend on questionable claims, idiosyncrasies and/or backgrounds of the categories of Nigeria’s imprudent national elites. Relativism, as a rejection of objective truth, leads one away from moral control and ultimately to negation of justice. Relativist repudiates the possibility of absolute evil.

The statement such as “what is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me” is common with those who assumed licence to set own guidelines for morality. The relativists delete standards for moral judgement and attempt to bring the factors for determination of good or bad under a regime of personal convenience or subjectivity. Moral or intellectual relativism constitutes denial of the capacity of the human mind and reason to arrive at total truth. One of the most easily available definitions of truth is the correspondence theory, the correspondence of the mental image and the reality or the compatibility of thought and fact. Correspondence theory refers to a situation where what you have in mind corresponds with what you have in fact. It is the mind’s conception of the same fact as it is in reality. However, greatest strength in relativism is that it is all inclusive, permissive and non discriminatory. Relativism has capacity to present solutions to all perplexing conflicts, while the common argument against relativism is that it is inherently contradicting, refuting and stultifying.

There is demonstrable clear relationship between national culture of relativism and fraud. Fraudulent behaviours are national predicaments and impeding stumbling blocks to productive politics and transparent society. The unproductive politics has disapprovingly affected the ease of living life in Nigeria. The crisis of truth is responsible for the depressing states of governance, the deliberate distortion of facts and toughening prospects of meaning life among majority of Nigerians.

John Paul II noted that “once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes. Conscience is no longer considered in its primordial reality as an act of a person’s intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now”. According to the Pope, this tendency gives an individual the false impression that he/she can independently determine criteria for what is good or bad. This situation breeds and nourishes individualistic morality, where an “individual is faced with his own truth, different from the truth of others. Taken to its extreme consequences, this individualism leads to a denial of the very idea of human nature”.

It is not contestable that the courage to lie and take advantage of others has not only worsened the situations of the schemers, but are factors leading to national impasses in every ramification. Evil political ideologies are progressively taking advantage of Nigerians. Many folks have been blacked-out of any evidence of an objective and universal truth. Universal truth is the foundation of personal and social life. It has become the trend to base our judgements or choices of action not on such qualities as good or bad but on what is ‘helpful’, selfishly and capriciously.

 

For Joseph Ratzinger, the world is moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires…. Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires”. Relativism is humanity’s new prison, “for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ‘ego’”. This tendency to negativity liberates no one, but actively takes-away the dignity of collective Nigerians, bounding all in fatal self-slavery, deceit and mutual wickedness. We are devoted to the self. The endless priority has always been mine, and everything of the other is resolutely out of consideration. The eventual movement from the ‘self’ is a reluctant gravitation to ours. The circumstances of this nature effectively responded to the question why Nigeria is demobilized in the captivity of waste and indiscretion. The opportunities for proper exploitation of limitless human and material assets are squandered. Today we bemoan lack of infrastructure for meaningful development mainly because the available resources are criminally expropriated for private uses. The media now is saturated with never-ending narratives of abandoned millions of dollars, pounds sterling and billions of naira in dusty street corners, bureau dé change, and uncompleted buildings and lately in forests and burial grounds according to Lai Mohammed, the minister for information and culture. Figuratively speaking, these billions were forced to be vomited because those who swallowed them were unable to get them digested. Lack of prudence in governance is as devastating to Nigerian nation as vices of waste. The sabotages of well-intended national programmes have DNA imprints of the imprudence. Nigeria’s national census figures were falsified, therefore invalid for principled national plan, the economic progress considered the function of the government’s change agenda is false, a gimmick. It is a silver-tongued propaganda in favour of 2019 general election. In addition, if there is socio-political stability in Nigeria it is purely hanged on threat of fatal force. We have fierce anti corruption war (EFCC) based on reprisal, while federal appointments are dominated by bias. For the first time, it has become demonstrated that a section of Nigeria is more virtuous and more competent. We are grappling with enormous challenge of perilous sectional loyalty.

Nigerians are religious because religion is merely the national hobby. It is simply a hobby because we practice it without obligation. Virtue or morality is the obligation of religion. Morality or honest living is like a cord binding us through religion to God. It disposes our worship to God’s acceptance and confers grace that must make us worth before God. Our street corners are dotted with Churches and Mosques yet our society is progressively horrified by horrendous crimes and injustices. We have so much of these houses of religion that we have started exporting them. The moral quality of our people is beginning to suggest that there could be other uses we are making of these churches and mosques than places of humble encounter with God.

Nigeria’s upper classes are phenomenal. They introduced and bred the mores of relativism and they are the only beneficiaries of the ephemeral gains. This culture is springing-up as a tremendously suffocating factor in the measurable strides of Nigerian state to a long-term socio-political stability, security and genuine development. It seems in fact that an objectively affirmative clean politics is more and more problematical and harder to evolve due to essentially this contagious culture falsehood. The progressive acceptance of the descriptively rebellious predispositions steadily sends confusing ripples down the lines of our capacities as a people. At the moment, it is a commonly believed in many circles that acceptance by ones’ tribe and/or religion means an active but prejudicial expansion of the network of the subjective interest freely and absolutely in the cover of ‘patriotism and public interest’. The fate of Nigerian nation cannot be abandoned to the care of the remorselessly hypocritical and constitutionally disloyal rulers who surreptitiously use falsehood and deceit to stay on, and pretend legitimacy. Many of the rulers exaggerate large sub-national followership and nation-wide acceptance.

Nigerians learnt politics and democratisation as a treacherous game of deceit, falsehood, calumny and incrimination of other competitors, a game of mendacity and devious manoeuvrings. While the rulers use unjust structures in the polity to pillory divergent political or ideological expressions, the ordinary folks give the back-up and coverage by deceitful justification. What is happening today in the nation’s spheres demonstrates pragmatically that things are not yet right enough. The hostilities, social fractionalisations and criminalisation, the tirades, the ethnic emotionalism, the desperation for sectional dominance, the subjectivity of morals, the false propaganda, and the politicisation of critical national questions are leading to an unmistakable conclusion that the nation is deliberately railed to wrong direction.

We are in era of moral relativism and “blind politicking”. Power seekers criticize imprudently, with evident malice. The criticisms of this nature do not pretend their lack of substance and short-sightedness. The opposition prefers to maliciously and thoughtlessly harp the negative and defective parts in their assessment to destabilise and harm. It is often the case that tactical approaches by parties in power to critical issues in the state or at the federal levels are indiscriminately denigrated by the opposition without proposition of any alternative. It needs to be said that Nigeria does not have opposition parties, what we are nefarious gangs of bitter religio-tribal irredentists. We do not have principled political parties what we have is misinformed groups of chauvinists gathering at periods of elections for mischief. These folks express loyalty only to evil schemes.

Surely, neither the so called opposition political parties nor parties in power have done enough to earn the sufficient support and confidence of Nigerians of good-will. It is on account of this that most political analysts believe that Nigeria’s democratisation effort is gravely impaired. At the commencement of this democratic dispensation, Nigerians were promised responsible government and improved socio-economic infrastructures as evidences of constructive transformation, but regrettably we are witnessing unprecedented levels of corruption, impunity and political indiscretion. The aftermath of these developments is continuous impoverishment of Nigerians, insecurity and political upheavals. However, the ruling parties at various levels claim to be working so hard but there seemed nothing sufficient to justify the hard work. There is no reliable infrastructure to support individual economic efforts, most economic policies of the governments at all levels appeared elite oriented. Today, the living conditions of most Nigerians are degraded. With the growing rate of poverty and crime, Nigerians scamper to stay connected to the political power track for safety at any cost. This is why it less and less flabbergasting that job seekers are becoming eager human shield for corrupt, irresponsible politicians and influential public servants who have become so powerful and thoughtless. Elections are brutal warfare where only the most treacherous survives. Ours is leadership system devoid of truth and reciprocal partnership with the people, leadership based on false propaganda. The false leadership is leadership that hoodwink and exploit the followers. This style of leadership characterizes nation conquered in absolute terms by the ones in command and who intend never to relinquish power in spite of the cost. The demoralising situation is not devoid of hope. The hope is there, we need to activate it by blowing the whistle however we can.

Nigerian Society and the real dangers of relativism

Chris Odinaka Nwedo

Picture on the wall Fabriano

An Image of self destruction

The wide-spread assertions that Nigeria as a nation has not made commensurate progress in appropriating herself is gradually becoming less polemical. The self-inflicted pains of the malfeasance is today more evident and disapproving. The stunted aspiration of Nigeria as a nation is felt everywhere particularly in the disorienting dispositions of the rulers and in the dysfunctional national infrastructures. The pains of these self-injuries are becoming intolerable. The proves of the intolerability of the situation are graphically presented partly by the thousands of Nigerian youths forced by the suffocation into illegal migration. There are horrifying stories of how Sahara desert is littered by countless corpses of Nigerian able-bodied young men and women who were no longer able to successfully complete their escape from plight at home. However, those who survived the desert contented mortally with Mediterranean Sea-sharks and finally into the hands of slave dealers of all sorts. There is the trending dreadful chronicles of how Nigerians are sold, bought and butchered with impunity in Libya.

The effects of the hopeless situation in Nigeria are wide spread. The growing secession threats are the indices of the dissatisfaction with the state of order. More than ever, Nigerians are punching themselves in anger. The disorderly attitudes of many politicians are clearer-pointers to the nature of the degrading circumstances. The APC government by Mohammadu Buhari has demonstrated the historicity of winner takes all, thus the Nigerian society has become invariably divided between the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers’. The political gang-up, the treacherous political contests and the sabotages of collective interest in the race for power are explainable in the context of power for immunity against the sweeping of political witch-hunt in the pretext of war against corruption. Nigeria has capacity not only to appropriate herself but to excel with the infinite benefits of human and material endowments. The capacities for the excellence have become degraded by the protracted period of political indiscretion. The enthronement of deception as weapon power consolidation ‘slaughtered’ opportunities for meaningful progress in Nigeria as a nation.

Deception is the foundation for the national culture of relativism, bias and untruthfulness. These are vices swiftly infecting Nigerian society with malaise of bad ways. The vices seemed to have wholly taken over the national politics and the governance. Unfortunately, Nigerians are today more than ever inundated by propaganda of absolute lies, deliberate distortion of truth and false claims. There seemed to be an overt artificiality in the body languages of those who have assumed authority to rule over the nation. What has appeared as immediate repercussion of the evolving trend is a progressive scepticism of among Nigerians of the government’s actions and pronouncements. We may be approaching a point where believing the truth is difficult when the truth is indubitable truthful.

At the commencement of this political dispensation, it was said that the president, Mohammadu Buhari has great distrust for politicians and that he had less than 10% trust in the systems of national politics and politicians. This alleged declaration from the president was applauded and swallowed hook and sinker, uncritically. It was for the gullible the reaffirmation of the virtuousness of the president who was said to have been incorruptible, tested and trusted. By the statement, the president surely mistrusted over 90% of the politicians because they are fraudulent, corrupt, subversive and treacherous, and therefore, unworthy of his association. However, the fact that the president was given electoral victories by the machinations of the malefactors was hastily rationalised on the thesis that God uses bad people to make the good ones. In support of this off-centre hypothesis, copious citations were made from all scriptures available to validate the defected thinking.

The objectives of the citations were to becloud and diminish the values of the evidence that the president’s campaigns were paid wholistically by the Nigeria’s savage looters and with looted funds by wrong and disgruntled politicians who felt the PDP’s umbrella was no longer large enough to accommodate their intensely growing morbid ambitions. More so, these politicians were among the over 90% distrusted or despised by the ‘morally upright’ president. During the earliest stages of the campaigns, there were perfidious plots to shade off the former ruling party with heart-tearing sabotages and decampments. Some of the schemers absconded with campaign funds of the then ruling party, PDP, and conspiratorially turned it in favour of the APC and thus contributing to the electoral successes of the president. Thus the victory was engendered and fed by the faultless game of political disloyalty.

In the pervading cultures of relativism it is not necessary to make valid judgement or inventory of the processes giving us the opportunity we wanted, because our interest has been wholly served. In the bias, pretence and untruthfulness we always wanted the end to get rid of impurities the vicious means. After the swearing in of the then new President, it took disquietingly very long time for the government to hit the ground running as the Federal Executive Council took approximately one year to be constituted and there were no Ministers. The criticisms generated by the irregularity were quickly stampeded by a defence that because Buhari was incorruptible he was taking time to personally investigate, select, disinfect and to make incorruptible the ministers, appointees and the associates of the new government, and therefore the delays were necessary. And besides, the iniquities of the defunct government was so much and therefore plenty time must be needed to clean the mess ahead of the ‘minister-saints’. When the appointments were eventually concluded, they were inclusive of ‘republicans’ and ‘sinners’. Some of the appointees were allegedly common criminals with heavy allegations of corruption and varied forms of criminality. The critics were told that these politicians worked hard for the political victory of the present government because they funded the campaigns and mobilised the support that invariably produced the victory. It will be indiscretion and political suicide to leave out of consideration the enormous contributions of these wrong and powerful people.

Meanwhile, the hypothesis that the disorienting delay in the constitution of the government was to enable Buhari personally investigate, select, disinfect and make incorruptible the ministers, appointees and the associates of the new government was deflated by the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari. In an unprecedented move, Aisha overtly criticized her husband’s cabinet stressing that strangers have hijacked the government alienating those who struggled to build the All Progressives Congress (APC). According to Aisha, Buhari did not know and never met most of the top officials he appointed into offices. “The President does not know 45 out of 50, for example of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.1

It was not surprising that this honest X-ray of fact sparked fierce condemnation in Kano State. “At Jamaatul Izalatul Bid’ah Mosque in Farm Centre, Kano, Shiek Ismail Illyasu Mangu spoke to the thousands of worshipers immediately after the Jumaat prayer, calling on security agencies to arrest the first lady. According to the Shiek the comment of Aisha was “capable of inciting millions of Nigerians against her husband. We are sad about the interview granted by the wife of the President.2  The Sheik rationalized that it was the “opposition members in the country that are using her against the government. Her statement is unfair and capable of inciting violence. It is a threat to the peace of the country and we do hope the security agencies will immediately arrest her. We believed that some ungrateful elements in the country are using the wife of the president to tarnish the image of the president and the country.3 The president instead of owing the truth of the fact disowned the wife saying: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.4

In addition, the overt sectional predisposed appointments were also rationalised on the hypothesis that the president was led by the passion for best. Buhari faced criticism about lack of gender imbalance in his cabinet. Gender right is a hot topic globally. Women rights group have been at the forefront of demanding that the rights of women are respected in a male dominated world.5 It was said that the president’s concentration of almost all the appointments on masculine gender and people very close to him and from a particular section of the federation were inspired by the need for credible, efficient, corrupt free and sincere Nigerians to help him drive his messages of transformative change and corrupt free Nigerian society. There were also calls for the president to go ahead with the governance devoid of the ministers because the ministers could be unwanted distraction and proven waste of resources. The argument continued that because of the incorruptibility, capability and suitability of Buhari he was disposed to do better as a sole administrator or absolute dictator of Nigeria. This, according to the proponents creates the atmosphere for proper concentration on the urgent duty of bringing the clamoured positive changes. When the president claimed he wanted the portfolio of petroleum ministry for himself, the irregularity was applauded too. The argument was that PMB knows everything in the petroleum industry because he worked there as a defunct PTF chairman close to thirty-five years ago. And with combination of incorruptibility, he was the best man on earth to handle the technicalities in the industry and stop the leakages in the corruption prone opaque institution. The relativists made efforts to persuade credulous Nigerians that the decrepit old soldier was an expert in petroleum industry and a panacea to every problem in Nigeria.

Today, Nigerian nation is bedraggled by uncritical apologies to Buhari in which the truths of facts are turned upside down. This character has always given the Nigerians of questionable scruples opportunities to score cheap and hypocritical political points. It is as embarrassing as irreverent that the National Chairman of APC, John Oyegun told Nigerians that in spite of the poor performance profile of Buhari, the chastising conducts of his ministers, top government appointees, scandalous rivalries and trending open fight among security agencies under the president’s supervision, the Buhari’s integrity is very, very intact. In fact, Buhari is not even capable of being dishonest. Even if he tries to be dishonest he cannot.6 With the Oyegun’s position, it is no long doubtful that there are those who have deified Buhari exculpating him from common imperfection. Oyegun may have become childish and evidently out of his mind due to obsession for ephemeral political gains. By making Buhari infallible he may have effectively courted the favours to remain a permanent national chairman of APC. He may not be as dumb and old as that, for he is conscious of his needs for power but, only, unconscious that his is becoming irrational and disparaging himself. For Sam Etujoel, Oyegun, the dumb old man from Edo, what a ridicule you have become in your old age, much like Sagay and just like your brother the diminutive Oshiomole; Edo politicians seems to be biting the dust in droves. Like the almajiris, their mouth goes wild in the direction of their stomach, shame.7 It has to be noted that this blunder by Oyegun like every other blunders of the diehard proponents of Buhari’s incorruptibility are the inputs for incapacitating Nigeria for worthless gains. For decades Nigerian nation has not made significant advancement appropriate to her due to the brands of deficient politicians that are depleting her like fatal cancer.

It is a constitutional requirement for every Nigerian to present academic records for pre-qualification assessment for elective and/or appointive positions. But “Buhari failed to meet up with the basic requirement in filling CF001 form submitted to the INEC which required a candidate to attach his or her credential to the form. He was not qualified to contest the Presidential election but due to the bad systems of the country and lack of integrity he had audacity to contest the election. Buhari violated section 131 of the Constitution, which prescribes a minimum qualification for nomination to participate in presidential election and section 31 of the Electoral Act that stipulates all presidential candidates to depose an affidavit in proof of compliance with constitutional requirement to be President of Nigeria.8 Nevertheless many Nigerian ‘intellectuals’ and ‘masters of the law’ sophistically argued that Buhari should not be subjected to the basic scrutiny of certificate verification because he was a well known general in the army. These intellectual fraudsters who would corruptly approve anything in favour of Buhari insisted: “let Buhari come and rule over us even if he has no any skill in reading and writing he was better than President Jonathan, a PhD holder”. Those crooks slanting truth to favour Buhari have been ‘forced’ to accept that PhD holder as a president is progress. It is indeed blessing. President Buhari “has performed woefully by not justifying the mandate given to him by Nigeria masses during the 2015 Presidential election. All the Buhari’s policies are anti-masses and undemocratic these are against his electoral promises. Buhari has no clue for resolving the mirage of problems facing the country as the situation is getting worst since present administration came on board…9 At present, many Nigerians believe that President Buhari lacked educational requirement to become the President of this country. For these Nigerians this error has shown clearly in his style of governance of this nation in the last two years, for not being able to proffer a single solution to the one of the problems facing the country, rather, he aggravated them… President Buhari has become a disaster to the masses of this country as all the Buhari’s government policies have brought pains and pangs to the lives of the Nigeria people as Nigerians experienced in 1985 when Buhari was Head of Military junta.10

It was same Nigerians that do not need certificate from Buhari to rule Nigeria that are vilifying Dino Melaye on allegation that he was a university drop-out and therefore, lacks capacity to seat in the senate. Buhari was encouraged to move on even without the basics, expensive lawyers were contracted to argue away his deficiencies. It was reported that the revisit of the certificate saga by the court “threw the presidency into unprecedented panic, and rather than go to court with a prove as simple as just showing his certificate in order to erase any doubts whatsoever in the minds of everyone, it was said that Buhari instead chose the expensive and cumbersome option of hiring 13 high profile Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and ten other lawyers.11 For Ndukwe J, “rather than argue the substance of the case, Buhari was playing to the gallery by allegedly employing the services of a retinue of highly expensive lawyers just to frustrate a simple case through unnecessary delay tactics, the same luxury for which he and his acolytes continuously condemn their “anti-corruption” victims and political opponents, harass lawyers for choosing to accept to defend those victims, intimidating and blackmailing the judiciary for entertaining ‘frivolous’ suits brought against the government, flagrantly disobeying court orders and destroying the judiciary in the process just to get at their hapless victims.12 The Department of State Security (DSS) was praised to high heavens for indicting high profile judges but was despised for commenting negatively and realistically of Ibrahim Magu the acting EFCC chairman. There are so many other self-refuting propositions and contradictions that disparaged standards or justice system in Nigeria. In synopsis, these politically motivated misrepresentation of facts collaborate denigrations of truth and progressive cultures of relativism and falsehood. As Nigerians, we have lived too long in deceit to the injury of all. The most challenging national predicament is this mind-set, the distortion of value and detrimental disorientation.

Existential facts such as the disinclination to national integration, social discrimination, corruption, injustices, political imprudence and the comprehensible inability of the leadership to halt the spinning of the nation out of balance are rationalise subject to sectional predispositions of the individual citizens. It is therefore difficult to find objective truth or dependable fact about anything in our streets. Nigerians seemed to be manically defending or covering something always, and evidently, weighed down and disoriented by this mystical responsibility. It is simple to say as Nigerians that we are unwilling to liberate ourselves from the slavery of falsehood. Many Nigerians live on fast-lane of lies, deceiving and happy to be deceived in turn. The most fashionable expression in the streets is ‘it is well’ when in fact it is not. We decree it is well in pretence.

It is well is surely in pretence because we endlessly move round on the same denigrating point in spite of the affirmation of the faith. I assume that there is nothing our honest relationship with God cannot do through faith that is truthful. However, our natural inclinations to falsehood tended to make us repeat words of faith without commitment. In the confusion and disorientation we often turn the truth head-down and legs-up in a deliberate empty devotion. The existential fact is that as politicians disfigure facts, steal and lie for illusory material advantage, ordinary citizens cheat in the hope of accessing survival, while some ‘men of religion’ are too fraudulent, perverse and idiosyncratic. ‘Men of religion’ in this context is differentiated from men of God. Men of God are true servants of God working piously for God through passionate service. The national political and religious culture of deceitfulness seemed to have reconditioned us to hypocritical reactions to every situation. We invoke God, claim inspirations and constantly swear in God’s name even when we are intensely atheistic. Notwithstanding the duplicity, our schemes work because in a religiously deceptive society like ours the name ‘God’ is powerfully a legal tender, even the counterfeit is potent. I have been able to discover something significant. This significant thing is that there are good and bad people everywhere in the world. In the western climes for instance the really good people intentionally do good. They are reasonable and dependable; the really bad people have no pretence to their inclination. But in Nigeria the remarkable thing is that both the really good people and the really bad people are indistinguishable mostly because they both reason and behave alike. The will to take undue advantages of situations seemed to be painting Nigerians as people to patrol endlessly. The anti-graft war is declared a triumphant war because it became a potent device for victimization of political dissenters and the people that ‘failed to belong’. Long list of people under chastisement by EFCC demonstrated that the war is productively biased. However, it is applauded as successful and comprehensive even when it is overtly targeting specific individuals. Now the pertinent questions are “how many times have the presidency and other government agencies declared innocent people guilty in the media even before such people were investigated for any crime? Who is undergoing persecution today that has not been declared guilty in the media by government officials? Who is a victim of the vindictive fight against political opponents disguised as fight against corruption today that has not had his or her reputation badly maligned in the media even before being charged to court?13 Ours is a society that is progressively becoming no more fit for purpose with the drafting of religion and ethnicity in the political power struggle. This mortal political combat is staged and rehearsed in the biased media court while hapless victims are the targets.

For Ndukwe, beyond the manipulation of a section of the media to subject their political opponents to a destructive media trial, even dishing out the guilty verdict on such individuals in the pages of newspapers and online news portals, the government and its agents have actually subjected most of their victims to actual jail terms in the absence of a court verdict.14 Ndukwe noted that “these victims have all been demonized in the courts of public opinion as championed by government agents while government officials and relations of powerful individuals close to government of the day have continued to be shielded by government even when there are damning petitions supported with hard and incontrovertible facts against them before security/anti-graft agencies.15

For whatever reason, ‘relativism’ in our clime is absolutely a reserve of no class judging by the extensiveness and impact. The kind of relativism in the context of this discussion is neither ideological nor philosophical. Our narrative rises and falls on the treacherous practice of impeding the truth, twisting the truth, deforming the truth, making the truth to depend on another ‘truth’ that is untruthful. It is tagging lies with emblems of truth, the grafting or implantation of fact. This situation is dramatised more logically in the current political order, the narratives from various election theatres, the judicial arbitrations, the predetermined hostilities against allegedly corrupt politicians, the distributions of the national patrimony and the management of signals from the sick president. “Relativism’ comes in a plethora of forms that are themselves grounded in disparate philosophical motivations. There is no such thing as Relativism simpliciter, and no single argument that would establish or refute every relativistic position that has been proposed. Despite this diversity, however, there are commonalities and family resemblances that justify the use of the label philosophical “relativism”.16

There were arguments between two Nigerians Idris and Stella, and the substance of the argument was the supposed incapacitation of president Buhari. Stella noted that it was as a result of this incapacitation on grounds of ill health that the president was hospitalised approximately for many months. And it was not the hospitalisation that was the main national migraines but the enormous financial costs of the treatment, the embarrassments and the stalling of the courses of governance because the head of the government was ill and absent and therefore critical decisions are delayed or not taken. The Idris speedily retorted that the absence of Buhari has not in any way affected the courses of effective governance because the vice president was there doing everything the president should do in acting capacity. Idris continued that Nigerians should not be distracted about the health of Buhari as long as the Osibanjo is actively acting; moreover, the president’s health is a private concern of the party’s family affairs. In the main, Idris furiously accused the opposition of stoking irrelevant controversy and working very hard to cause disaffection in the country and therefore, Almighty God must destroy the enemies of the government. He continued raining curses with the strength of his voice having taken the matter personal. Idris queried the Stella for being irredeemably biased against the Buhari’s government. For Idris, medical treatment abroad has been there after all, Mrs. Patience Goodluck Jonathan was flown abroad severally for medical reasons and nobody raised the matter and Mrs. Stella Obasanjo died in the hospital abroad. Though these points raised by Idris were fallacious and inconsistent they do not matter to Idris because he displayed unwillingness to entertain anything that he considered demeaning to the person of the president.

In fact, Idris does not care about anything as long as Buhari remains the president. From facts, Idris has no concept of good governance; his interest rises and falls on where the president comes from and his religion. But how can anyone censure Idris alone because most Nigerians have perverted intellect and reason like Idris. It is this brand of distorted interpretations of fact that disparaged Nigeria and make mockery of her greatness. However, Idris is overtly biased, he is infuriated by the upsetting facts about Buhari, and Stella’s assertions may not be completely exculpated from any trace exaggeration. But the denial of the right to speculate about the national situation and the condition of health of the president in absence of reliable information from the government is particularly strange. It is very objective, and indeed, a responsibility of Nigerians to bother about the nation, the state of health and the where about of the leaders. Buhari claimed the mandate to rule Nigeria and he has constitutional responsibility to do just that. Osibanjo is not the president, Buhari is the president. Osibanjo is not known to be ‘incorruptible’, Buhari is said to be ‘incorruptible’, ‘capable’ and ‘suitable’. More so Buhari was attractive to many as the president of Nigeria on a hypothesis of ‘incorruptibility’. Therefore to shun and criminalise those asking for Buhari when Osibanjo is presumed to be doing part of Buhari’s work is that part of the ridiculing fact about the distortions in our society. The corruption in our system is not only in the use of state outfits for expropriation of funds, other funds related criminality and subversion of justice, it also involves deliberate twisting of facts for whatever purpose. Corrupt Nigerians use different criteria for evaluating same situation with the view to depreciate the value of the facts. These unscrupulous folks use politics, religion or ethnic factors to deny or cheapen the truth. The ‘relativists’ live falsely and die negating fact. For a ‘relativist’ like Idris there is no absolute fact because every fact, truth or validity is further re-subjected and re-interpreted according to religion, tribe and\or personal interest. These brands of relativists are ‘condemned’ to endless to self-denial.

                                          Philosophical views of relativism

Relativism is the view that truth and falsity, right and wrong, standards of reasoning, and procedures of justification are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment and, that their authority is confined to the context giving rise to them…17 Relativism, therefore, is the position that all points of views are equally valid and the individual determines what is true, subject to experience and the interpretations. Relativist theorizes that truth is different for different people and that different people believe different things to be true. While there are relativists in science and mathematics, ethical relativism is the most common variety of relativism.18 As a philosophical doctrine, relativism has been in the centre of blistering debates and has been recipient of bruising attacks. However, the proponents have been robust in the defense.

For typical relativist, relativism is a prove of a tolerant mind, “the only ethical and epistemic stance worthy of the open-minded and tolerant.19 But this stance is not assuaging to critics who “dismiss it for its alleged incoherence and uncritical intellectual permissiveness.20 The critics’ stand-down relativism as a vain dissipation of time and energy, and since the core idea of the movement has remain elusive, it is treacherously subversive.

Various schools of relativism found expression in the belief that truth, knowledge or justification may be influenced by hidden factors such as preconception and inappropriate parameter. For this position, the instruments for moral judgment must be accessed within the context of belief and prescription. In moral judgment, therefore, relativists maintain that truth or justification is to be seen within the content of the specific moral codes. For instance it is abhorrent to eat meat in a totemic society. Therefore, the evil of slaughtering and eating animal as meat is relative to belief in totemism. Consequently, there is no way to establish the truth of the matter whether it is wrong to eat meat without reference to this specific ethical provision. Thus on the hidden parameter account, a consequence is that the relevant claims will be true, if at all, relative to some parameter.” Advocates of relativism, particularly outside philosophical circles, often cite tolerance as a key normative reason for becoming a relativist. On this rationale, all ways of life and cultures are worthy of respect in their own terms, and it is a sign of unacceptable ethnocentrism to presume that we could single out one outlook or point of view as objectively superior to others. Moral or ethical relativism is simultaneously the most influential and the most reviled of all relativistic positions. Supporters see it as a harbinger of tolerance, open-mindedness and anti-authoritarianism. Detractors think it undermines the very possibility of ethics, and a signal of either confused thinking or moral turpitude. Ethical relativist believes that nothing is objectively right or wrong and that definition of right or wrong should be subjected to the specifics of the situation in context. “Ethical relativism represents the position that there are no moral absolutes, no moral right or wrong. This position would assert that our morals evolve and change with social norms over a period of time. This philosophy allows people to mutate ethically as the culture, knowledge, and technology change in society.21

Briefly stated, moral relativism is the view that moral judgments, beliefs about right and wrong, good and bad, not only vary greatly across time and contexts, but that their correctness is dependent on or relative to individual or cultural perspectives and frameworks. Facts about right and wrong vary with, and are dependent on social and cultural backgrounds. Understood in this way, moral relativism could be seen as a sub-content of cultural relativism. Values may also be relativized to frameworks of assessment, independent of specific cultures or social settings. Moral relativism, like most relativistic positions, comes in various forms and strengths. It is customary to distinguish between descriptive or empirical, prescriptive or normative, and meta-ethical versions of moral relativism. These views in turn are motivated by a number of empirical and philosophical considerations similar to those introduced in defense of cultural relativism.22

As in the case of cultural relativism, the imperative of tolerance is often seen as a normative reason for adopting moral relativism. Moral relativism, it is argued, leads to tolerance by making us not only more open-minded but also alerting us to the limitations of our own views. Consistent relativist can tolerant and refuses to be in a position to condemn even the most abhorrent of worldviews as he\she admits that every point of view is right, relative to the perspective of its beholder. However, if we believe that any one moral standard is as good as any other, we are likely to be more tolerant. We shall tolerate widow-burning, human sacrifice, cannibalism, slavery, the infliction of physical torture, or any other of the thousand and one abominations which are, or have been, from time approved by moral code or another. But this is not the kind of toleration that we want, and I do not think its cultivation will prove “an advantage to morality”.23 Modest moral relativists endorse the idea of diversity and plurality of ethical values and accept that such values are justified according to differing local normative frameworks, but they avoid a full blown “anything goes” relativism by maintaining that all such frameworks are ultimately answerable to conditions for human flourishing and other overarching universal constraints such as the value of accommodation.24 Relativism is the conception that existential truth, concrete fact or the truth everybody sees or feels does not exist. This position permits subjective truth and conversely the degradation and rejection of indubitable reality. The danger of this position is the denial of or subjectivity of moral principles. This position subjects the truth of morality to sheer convenience.

Corruption is a Global Predicament Part. I

By Chris Odinaka Nwedo

 Corruption is a global threat. It is a phenomenon that has infiltrated all societies with devastating consequences, notwithstanding of the level of political, economic or social sophistications. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors restricting the perversity of the phenomenon in some countries as well as factors invigorating the corruption in the others. For some well informed opinions, corruption is endemic in all governments, and that it is hardly a specific character of any continent, region and\or ethnic groups. It cuts across faiths, religious denominations and political systems. It contaminates and affects both young and old, man and woman alike. Corruption is found in democratic and dictatorial politics, feudal, capitalist and socialist economies. Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist’s Religion, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures are equally bedevilled by one form of corruption or the other. And corrupt practices did not begin today; the history is as old as the world. Ancient civilizations have traces of widespread illegality and corruption. Thus, corruption has been ubiquitous in complex societies from ancient Egypt, Israel, Rome, and Greece down to the present.1

 For Gbenga Lawal and Ariyo Tobi, ‘corruption is a term that has been perceived in various ways by various scholars. Its conceptualization has attracted in recent past, competing and numerous views and approaches. It is therefore seen as a worldwide phenomenon, which has long been with every society in the world. Incidentally, it has been identified as the bane of most political and economic societies.2 Corruption is not only found in developing countries but also in the so-called developed countries. You see corruption evident in the Offices or Work places, Schools, Security Forces, Immigration and Customs Services etc. In some climes corrupt public officers are less petty, they tend to target big corporations and sophisticated criminals. Bribing is everywhere even in Western society. A public official is corrupt if he accepts money for doing what he is bound to do under the law or abdicating legitimate responsibility because of illegal inducement. ‘Corruption is a betrayal of trust resulting directly or indirectly from the subordination of public goals to those of the individual. Thus a person who engages in nepotism has committed an act of corruption by putting his family interests over those of the larger society.3 It is an exasperating experience to have ones right repudiated because of race or natural circumstances.

The spread of the miasma, ‘corruption’, goes from a mere act of accepting bribes to a complete state of mind and way of life. It has progressed from the poor attempting to ‘make ends meet’ to a sense of entitlement for someone in positions of authority. For Agbu corruption is the behaviour of public and private officers who improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves and/or those closely related to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed. Systemic corruption also referred to as entrenched corruption, occurs where bribery is taken or given in a corrupt relationship.4 Alatas divided corruption into seven distinct types: autogenic, defensive, extortive, investive, nepotistic, supportive, and transactive.

According to Alatas ‘autogenic corruption is self-generating and typically involves only the perpetrator. A good example would be what happens in cases of an insider trading. A person learns of some vital information that may influence stocks in a company and either quickly buys or gets rid of large amounts of stocks before the consequences arising from this information come to pass.5 However, ‘defensive corruption involves situations where a person needing a critical service is compelled to bribe in order to prevent unpleasant consequences being inflicted on his interests. For instance, a person who wants to travel abroad within a certain time frame needs a passport in order to undertake the journey but is made to pay bribes or forfeit the trip. This brand of corruption is in self-defense.6 While ‘extortive corruption is the behaviour of a person demanding personal compensation in exchange for services.

Risultati immagini per corruption a global predicament

Investive corruption involves the offer of goods or services without a direct link to any particular favour at the present, but in anticipation of future situations when the favour may be required. Nepotistic corruption refers to the preferential treatment of, or unjustified appointment of friends or relations to public office, in violation of the accepted guidelines.7 Alatas noted that supportive corruption usually does not involve money or immediate gains, but involves actions taken to protect or strengthen the existing corruption. For example, a corrupt regime or official may try to prevent the election or appointment of an honest person or government for fear that the individual or the regime might be probed by the successor(s). Finally, transactive corruption refers to situations where the two parties are mutual and willing participants in the corrupt practice to the advantage of both parties. For example, a corrupt businessperson may willingly bribe a corrupt government official in order to win a tender for a certain contract.8

The corruption, according to Akindele has long been ideologically, morally, culturally, politically and intellectually elusive to the point of losing sight of its detrimental and parasitic influence on people and the society at large.9 It is alright to define corruption as a behaviour which negates the duties and expectations of a public role-player customarily motivated by private or specific group(s) related interests. ‘Even though some of these definitions of corruption have been around for over decades, the recent development in Nigeria where discoveries of stolen public funds run into billions of US Dollars, make these definitions very appropriate. Corruption is probably the main method of accumulating quick wealth in Nigeria. Corruption occurs in many forms, and it has contributed immensely to the poverty and misery of a large segment of the Nigerian population.10

 Wivendi, D. maintains that corruption fundamentally, includes nepotism, favouritism, bribery, graft and other unfair means adopted by government employees and the public alike to extract some socially and legally prohibited favours.11 Gibbons on other hand understood corruption exclusively in terms of politics. According to him, political corruption is the use of a public office in a way that forsakes the public interest, measured in terms of mass opinion, elite opinion or both, in order that some form of personal advantage may be achieved at the expense of public interest. Some scholars perceive corruption from two major broad perspectives political and bureaucratic corruption. It is political corruption when state resources are used for party campaigning and electioneering in a biased and unconstitutional way. Material support to political parties and political campaigns can also be obtained from private businesses, and will be corruption if state resources or other advantages are offered in return. One example of public money being used for a particular party or party campaign is the ‘Dashain allowance’ in Nepal and typically ‘trade money’ in Nigeria.

Routine experiences in the fields of finance management and administration readily made the concept ‘corruption’ a familiar expression. People talk about corruption in these spheres more recurrently than in any other important component of human sub-system. Corruption without exaggeration is a single concept that has attracted the greatest public outcry, vilification, caustic criticism and periodically violent reaction. Even in ordinary conversations people make corruption the center of preponderant attention and interest. It is quite common to hear people remark, ‘Roger is a corrupt politician’, a ‘corrupt manager’ and a ‘corrupt government agent’etc. It is said ‘the former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is corrupt because he allegedly solicited bribes from an arms company in return for protecting the company from investigation and giving it his ‘permanent support’.12 There are controversial assumptions that all politicians are corrupt. There are companies and countries brought to genuflecting humiliation by obstinate brands of corruption. We have seen chief executive officers of giant companies and institutions denuded and manacled as chastisements for corruption. In places like Nigeria, top government functionaries are daily dragged to the filth and lampooned on allegations of corruption. Nigerian society is unendingly fighting intense war with the political and religious elites who profoundly corrupt and overwhelmingly imprudent.

 Nigeria is a country considered crippled by corruption. Corruption is absolutely responsible for her bad leadership, ravaging insecurity and continuous impoverishment of the citizens. Corruption is responsible for poor infrastructure and dearth of sustainable investments for integral development of the nation. Corruption is the foundation of the current of the government of Buhari. This is All Progressive Congress, APC government that is heavily armoured by folks who are deeply corrupt and intensely insensitive. Corruption is wholly accountable for “an on going Islamist insurgency in the northwest, the ravages of Fulani herdsmen, the increase in sectarian crisis and organized crime, the resurrection of nationalism in the Igbo heartland, the re-emergence of violent militias in the Niger Delta and the severe economic recession.13

 With the rapidly growing spate of corruption under the dispensation, the political system, the government policies and programmes have continued to face “considerable problems regarding state coherence, institutional efficiency of the government, internal security, patterns of democratic representation and attitudes, enforcement of the rule of law and economic reform. Thus, the economy still suffers from major shortcomings: economic growth rates are down to zero, economic and financial affairs are poorly managed and the unemployment rate, especially among youth, remains high.14

 This is a government that came to power with a pledge to tackle corruption, but the reverse is the case. We are witnessing unprecedented official impunity and significant failure in bringing corrupt members of the government under control. The government condones colleagues tainted by serious allegations of corruption.15 Again, “none of the many corruption cases initiated by the administration has ended in a conviction. A former secretary to the federation who allegedly diverted 270m naira (£578,000) of funds meant for people displaced by Boko Haram to accounts linked to him was only charged recently, two years after being indicted by the Senate. It took months of pressure from the press and parliament for him to be fired; he was one of the leaders of the president’s campaign in his home state of Adamawa. At least two ministers had petitions against them for misappropriation of funds as governors of Lagos and Rivers…16 Oshiomhole the APC Party Chairman and also a former state governor, was served papers by a federal high court for fraud perpetuated in office; a month later, the secret police interrogated him for collecting bribes to subvert party primaries nationwide. “There has also been no investigation of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the Kano governor who was secretly film stuffing wads of dollars into his robes – allegedly a large bribe in exchange for lucrative government contracts. On the contrary, Buhari has been happy to appear in public with the governor, and came in person to endorse his campaign for re-election in Kano, a traditional APC stronghold…17

It is corruption that is making Buhari and his APC party to adopt exclusive government in a multi ethnic society like Nigeria and have made elevation of Hausa-Fulani over and against every other ethnic nationality in Nigeria the top priority in policy and governance in Nigeria. Today, the rustic tribe has become the lords of Nigeria and irreproachable as they terrorise, invade communities to slaughter the folks, rape and destroy the properties. It is corruption that makes the government to refuse to grow the economy, enthrone justice, breed unity and tolerance, and love for one another. Corruption is the justification for the repositioning of the security agencies by sacking all competent hands and replacing them with Buhari’s kinsmen to drive their ethnic domination of the rest of Nigerians. It seems the Buhari’s kinsmen, the Fulani were armed and encouraged to slaughter other citizens with impunity. According Nnamdi Kanu the Fulani “are coming to ensure that my people are enslaved forever. Those who do not believe me will soon see it happen before their eyes.18 Prior to the catastrophe, Kanu predicted that “… a group deadlier than Boko Haram will emerge, they will seize our farmland, rape our women, kill our people and their master will protect, defend and even arm them, because their sole agenda is to enslave us forever. Those who cannot see it now, will soon see it. The hatred in their souls for my people is legendary. They do not see us as humans. They kill, they slaughter, they burn and they destroy. Mindless bloodletting is in their DNA. My people are in trouble.19

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The Buhari’s government is without restraint in the plans of giving Nigeria away to the Fulani and its militant wing, the deadly herdsmen, with the proposed a ‘Ruga settlements’. Discerning Nigerians have described Ruga settlements initiative as repugnant, repulsive and provocative. The Fulani herdsmen’s endless fatal attacks on villages have “led to massive displacement of people in the affected communities, with death of hundreds and loss of livelihoods, posing a formidable threat to the country’s food security and long-term stability. The devastating calamities provoked by the herdsmen’s cruel assaults and the consequent predicaments undercut prospects for sustainable peace and development in Nigeria. Herdsmen who over the years, have invaded, killed, displaced and attempted to take over peoples’ homes and farmlands have adversely threatened the families and properties of Nigerians. “In the last four years, we have seen the rate at which the herdsmen have turned non-Fulani communities into killings fields, with the government turning a blind eye to all their crimes, while using the instrumentalities of state to defend and shield them from interrogation. “If the herdsmen as wanderers had perpetrated untold crimes against indigenous people on a scale that is nothing but genocidal, it is left to imagination what they would do when the Federal Government of Nigeria now forces them on these communities as landlords.20 Corruption is despicable and corrupt people are terrifying.

The media also reported the shady financing of politicians in Costa Rica. There were scandalous corruption charges involving ‘former president Rodriguez in a bribery scheme with the French telecommunications company Alcatel. Alcatel was awarded a contract to improve the country’s cellular phone system after its officials successfully paid a US $2.4 million bribe, with 60% allegedly demanded by Rodriguez personally.21 Also in a case “brought by the US Department of Justice, with Brazil and Switzerland in December 2016, Odebrecht and its petrochemical subsidiary, Brasken admitted bribery to the tune of $788m (£553m) and agreed a record-breaking fine of at least $3.5bn. The construction giant paid off politicians, political parties, officials of state-owned enterprises, lawyers, bankers and fixers to secure lucrative contracts in Brazil and abroad.22 Apart from being the largest international bribery case ever, the Odebrecht story has one component that makes it exceptional: this was a corporation that created a bespoke department to manage its crooked deals – something prosecutors in Brazil and the US had never seen before. “How a company created a whole system only to pay bribes, and how many public agents were involved. This case implicated almost one-third of Brazil’s senators and almost half of all Brazil’s governors.23 It is unnecessary to chronicle many other celebrated corruption cases. We have these few cases as pointers to global dimensions of the disorder.

 According to Oxford English Reference Dictionary, corruption is being morally depraved, wicked, influence by or using bribe or fraudulent activity.24 Corruption has on the one hand been understood very broadly as “unethical behaviour, which violates the norms of the system of political order’. This includes almost anything and may embrace all sorts of moral and political judgements. On the other hand, it has been understood as ‘the breaking of the formal rules that regulate a position of political authority.25 

To be continued

Sudanese activists seek justice for mass rapes after militia ‘breaks the girls’

Sudanese activists are struggling to document reports of mass rapes during a June 3 paramilitary crackdown on a Khartoum protest camp. But security fears coupled with Internet cuts are making it an uphill task. On the morning of June 3, Nahid Jabrallah was at a sprawling sit-in outside Sudan’s army headquarters in Khartoum when paramilitary troops descended on the protesters, marking the start of what has since been dubbed the “Ramadan massacre”.

More than two weeks after the crackdown – which occurred in the final hours of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – Jabrallah is desperately trying to soldier on, battling anguish, guilt, blocked Internet and phone services while coping with a fractured foot. The veteran women’s rights activist was with a group of protesters when members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group born out of the Darfur conflict, stormed the sit-in, triggering a panicked rush of fleeing protesters.

“They separated us into groups of men and women and they threatened to rape us. They said, ‘We will f**k you’ and things like that in a very, very bad way in the local language,” she recalled in a phone interview with FRANCE 24 from Khartoum. “They were whipping and kicking us. I have bruises on my body, I have a crack in my foot. But they released our group because the massacre did not happen in our area. They kicked us out one-by-one and asked us to run. I managed to run for a long distance and went to a hospital where I was treated for hypertension and got painkillers. I have a crack in my foot, I have to take care, but I’m fine…may be I’m traumatised, but I’m continuing,” she insisted. The physical pain and emotional trauma will not stop the seasoned human rights defender from doing her job because Jabrallah – like many of her fellow activists – have a new, harrowing mission: to demand an independent international investigation into numerous reports of mass rapes during and after the June 3 crackdown.

Taking to the streets: How women led the protest movement against Sudan’s president al-Bashir

“There are many testimonies and eye witnesses of sexual violence, including gang rapes,” said Jabrallah. “But it’s very difficult to reach people, victims feel insecure and traumatised. We need help from the international community.” The founder of the Sima Centre for Women and Children’s Studies has faced arrests and imprisonment since her student days and is not one to back down under pressure. But it’s been very hard to continue with her work since the Ramadan massacre. Armed soldiers are out in numbers on the streets of Khartoum, according to several activists who spoke to FRANCE 24 on condition of anonymity. Communication is difficult with the Internet cut or blocked for extended periods. A number of well-known opposition figures say their international phone calls are abruptly cut, which further fuel a climate of fear.

‘Toxic criminality’

Reports of mass rapes started circulating shortly after the RSF crackdown on the Khartoum sit-in, which killed more than 100 people, according to opposition leaders. A number of bodies were dumped in the Nile, according to witnesses. Sudan’s health ministry has put the June 3 death toll nationwide at 61.

Activists and journalists on the ground have been receiving witness accounts of mass rapes of women and men by RSF troops. An image of militias displaying a pole strung with underwear of presumed rape victims circulated on social media sites although its authenticity could not be verified. Another unverified image showed a room full of women’s clothing, presumably of rape victims. “We have heard cases of sexual harassment in detention to ‘break the girls’ since this revolution began [in December 2018] although the reports have multiplied since June 3. They [RSF troops] were asking girls to take out their underwear as a humiliation, it shows the extent of the toxic criminality here,” said an activist who wished to be identified only as “Huma”.

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Huma is part of a group of Sudanese women’s rights activists who are “trying to document cases of rape and sexual harassment” on and after June 3. But given the restrictions on communications and security fears, it’s been an uphill task. “Unfortunately many of the cases we’ve heard of are not able to reach us or are not able to talk. We have managed some interviews, we are trying to at least confirm the numbers and start reaching out to survivors so we can provide medical and psycho-social support,” she revealed in a phone interview with FRANCE 24 from Khartoum.

Estimates of the number of rapes by Sudanese security forces are hard to establish. Doctors from the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, which is part of the umbrella Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), told reporters that 70 rape cases were recorded by Khartoum hospitals in the immediate aftermath of the June 3 crackdown. The actual figure is likely to be higher. RSF troops arrested doctors in at least one Khartoum hospital and ordered the staff to evacuate wounded protesters shortly after the clear-up operation. Many cases are also likely to go unreported due to the social stigma, especially among male victims of sexual violence who do not have access to NGOs and specialised services catering to women.

‘A raped woman is never a hero’

Sexual violence cases are difficult to document and prosecute in the best of times and they can be particularly hard to collate during conflicts or political crises. “It’s important to differentiate sexual violence from other crimes – not because they are more important, but because sexual violence needs special expertise,” said Celine Bardet, an international criminal lawyer and founder of the NGO, We Are Not Weapons of War. “Survivors often don’t come out and talk about it, so we need to be more proactive to give them a path to expression, particularly in countries where women are not used to talking due to societal organisation.” Sudan was a repressive place for women during former president Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year-old Islamist reign. Women bore the brunt of the regime’s violations, ranging from vaguely defined public morality laws that limited their movement without male guardians to corporal punishment such as lashings for “honour” violations.

The abuse was particularly severe in the troubled hinterlands such Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where human rights groups accused Bashir’s forces of using sexual violence, including rape, as a weapon of war to intimidate communities. “The symbolism behind the rape of women is very substantial, it’s aimed at breaking society. You rape 80 women, you rape the whole village,” said Dalia El Roubi, an activist and member of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party who worked with Darfuris displaced by the conflict. “It also breaks the men. A mass rape is basically telling them you can’t protect your own. In a way, it has more of an impact than death: a killing can make icons or heroes. A raped woman is never a hero.”

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Janjaweed methods in Khartoum

While Bashir was ousted on April 11, the country’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) – backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt – has so far refused to hand over power to a civilian-led transitional body. Power has instead shifted from Bashir to one of the former president’s most reviled henchman, who is the deputy head of the TMC. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – widely known by his nickname, “Hemedti” – was a commander of the Janjaweed militias accused of committing war crimes in Darfur before he was appointed head of the RSF when the force was formed in 2013 in a bid to unify militia groups.

The RSF’s break-up of the Khartoum protest camp bear the hallmarks of the Janjaweed’s scorch-and-burn pacification measures once reserved for the country’s hinterlands. The brutality of the crackdown in the heart of the capital has led many Sudanese elites to note that “Darfur has come to the streets of Khartoum”. “On June 3, they had a glimpse of what’s been happening in Darfur,” said Roubi. “Can you imagine what happened to that society? It literally broke so many communities there. I’m sure the RSF thought this is the way to go, this is how we respond to trouble.”

‘Kandakas’ turn victims

When the latest round of anti-regime demonstrations broke out in December 2018, the protest movement was marked by an exceptional mobilisation of women, who were at the forefront of Sudan’s campaign for democratic rights. Video clips of an architect student leading a protest song at the Khartoum sit-in dressed in a traditional taub – or Sudanese robe — and sneakers went viral. “Kandaka power” — a slogan paying homage to Nubian queens who ruled the region centuries ago – became a catchphrase adopted by Sudanese of different ages, particularly the youth.

“Young women have shown so much resilience and courage, mobilising and campaigning,”  “Our voices now are louder and we’re being heard.”

Barely two months later, Roubi worries that the mass rape reports will affect women’s participation in the anti-junta protests. Since the June 3 massacre, opposition supporters have been taking to the streets at night in cities such as Khartoum and Omdurman since protesters fear violent crackdowns during daylight hours.

ICC charges fail to prevent a repeat

Meanwhile the chief prosecutor on the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday urged the TMC to hand over or prosecute Bashir and four other Sudanese officials who were indicted in 2009 for alleged war crimes in Darfur. “Continued impunity is not an option,” said ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. “The victims of the Darfur situation deserve to finally have their day in court.” But a decade after the ICC indictment, Bashir has still not had his day at The Hague, and that, activists say, has already sent a message of impunity to his henchmen who continue to hold the reins of power. “It was a great step to have Bashir indicted, but look what happened. The ICC didn’t create anything that could prevent it from happening again,” said Bardet. “I hope Sudan will move forward because after so many decades, so many crimes committed, there has to be a process, in whatever way, may be a transitional justice, or else it will just feed the next round of violence.”

Rape as a weapon of war

It’s too early to say if the alleged mass rapes during and after the June 3 massacre could constitute a use of rape as a weapon of war. “Sexual violence becomes a tool of war if it is systematic, targeted and has a specific objective,” explained Bardet. “The conflict need not be just a military war, it also applies to political crises. In Sudan, this could be the case. We’re getting information of a fair amount of sexual violence which is an element that can be used, along with others, to constitute an international crime.” Last week, the UN’s top official on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, said a UN human rights monitoring team should be quickly sent to Sudan to “examine the situation on the ground, including alleged cases of sexual violence.” But there has been no public response from the TMC. A FRANCE 24 follow-up email to Patten’s office went unanswered.

Collecting testimonies of sexual violence that can be admissible in national or international courts is an extremely sensitive job that requires special training, according to experts. Volunteers may document cases in good faith, but if they are not properly trained, they may omit tiny, but important details needed in a court of law. “When victims have to repeat their testimonies, it re-traumatises them and can create polluted testimonies not because they are lying, but sometimes they say what they think is expected of them or will get them help,” noted Bardet.

Testimonies should not only be collected by professionals, they need to be given as soon as possible before traumatic events are forgotten as a coping mechanism.For the activists in Sudan struggling against the odds to document cases of the latest horrific crimes, attracting and maintaining international attention is of vital importance. “I’ve been at the sit-in since it was set up on April 6 until the massacre. During almost two months I felt I was their mother and that this was my family. I feel this loss personally, like I couldn’t help them,” said Jabrallah, breaking down into sobs over a fading phone connection from Khartoum. “They’re trying to block us. Please focus on us, please don’t forget us.” Source France 24 news

Marry an Igbo Lady is Easier and Merrier

By Emeka Ogoegbunam

Marrying in the South Eastern Nigeria is not as difficult as it is presented. The truth is that the Igbo traditional engagement list for marriage is not as overwhelming as people usually paint it if your fiancée says ‘yes’ to your marriage proposal.

Planning to marry an Igbo lady, then forget everything they told you that you can’t afford to marry an Igbo lady because most of these things are lies. In fact, the Igbo traditional engagement list for marriage is not as overwhelming as people usually paint it. If your fiancee says ‘yes’ to your marriage proposal, then the next thing is to forward your marriage proposal to her family, through the parents. In Igbo customs, at first, this initial marriage proposal/introductory rite is known as “Iku aka” (which means knock on the door).

You’ll first, have to go alone to her parents after, which you will take your family to see her bigger family. If you are lucky to have received a positive response from the lady’s family, the in-laws-to-be will give the man and his family a list of the next steps to enable them to prepare for the customary Igbo traditional marriage ceremony.

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A groom-to-be is expected to ask and receive the consent and blessings of the bride-to-be’s parents as well as her extended family. Once they all give their consents, the groom can then proceed to complete the rest of the traditional marriage rites, which includes, the bride’s price (Ime ego) with a presentation of the engagement list, and the formal traditional party (Igba-nkwu). The list includes the gift of Umu-ada, they need to buy pieces of clothes (wrappers), shoes and bags and jewelry, etc. Another item on the list is the gift for (Umunna), which includes kola nuts, palm wine, bottles of Schnapps, carton of assorted drinks (malt, soft drinks and beers) and goat. Also on the list is the general gift (Nmepe uzo), which includes bags of rice, bags of salt, palm oil, kerosene, stock fish, tubers of yam etc.

Intending grooms should please note that the Igbo bride price and engagement list consists of gift items that are shared among different groups among the bride’s family and the extended family which is made up of (the Umunna, the Umu Ada, the youths etc). They are not only for the bride parents. Interestingly, in recent times, many Igbo parents have had to do a downward review of the cost of the traditional marriage ceremony to help their future in-laws. Unconfirmed sources also have it that such decision is also intended to allow their daughters get married early as most suitors are reported to flee the relationship once they get the list.

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Consequently, Igbo parents do this review in exchange for an intending groom to make a commitment to take good care of their daughter and her future children and this has given rise to more marriages among Igbo ladies and their suitors.

Press Freedom: Expose enemies of press, open society Dogara Urges Journalists

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Hon. Yakubu Dogara

… says Press Freedom fundamental to sustenance of Rule of Law, Democracy & good governance.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has paid tribute to Nigerian journalists who died in active service, as well as those who have survived brutal forms of censorship, saying the indispensability of Press Freedom remains key to good and accountable governance.

This is just as he charged journalists to ensure that they do not relent in using their Constitutionally provided powers to reveal enemies of open society who disguise themselves as democrats and try to use coersion to make the citizens docile and obedient.

He said these in his remarks at the opening ceremony of a conference organised by Premium Times Centre For Investigative Journalism and nd European Union’s Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme to mark the 2019 World Press Freedom Day in Abuja.

Speaking on the theme, “Press Freedom in Nigeria – Rule of Law, Media and Violent Extremism,” he stated, “It will not be out of place to dedicate today’s event to all those journalists who paid the supreme price or those that are being incarcerated for bringing information to the public or upholding the right of the people to know the truth about the way they are being governed. In 2017,  the International Press Centre,  IPC, reported that two Nigerian Journalists were killed and documented fourteen assault cases involving journalists and media houses. The slain journalists were Famous Giobaro of Bayelsa State-owned radio station, Glory FM 97.1, who was shot dead on April 16 that year and Lawrence Okojie of Nigerian Television Authority, Benin, who was shot dead while returning from work on July 8. Documented assault cases involved the invasion of the premises of Premium Times, Abuja by armed police officers on January 19 resulting in the arrest of Dapo Olorunyomi the publisher and Evelyn Okakwu, the Judiciary correspondent.

“The Committee for the Protection of Journalists, CPJ, declared the year 2018  as the deadliest for journalists in the last three years. 2018 was marked by the  high profile brutal murders of Saudi  Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi and Slovak data Journalist Jan Kuciak who was shot alongside his fiance’.  At the end of 2018, 348 journalists were in prison with more than half of them detained in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. It was also reported that 60 journalists were being held hostage across the world. Permit me on this auspicious occasion to salute the heroism of journalists who died in active service and those who have survived this brutal form of censorship.

“Press Freedom, which is the focus of this celebration, is very fundamental to the sustenance of the principles of the Rule of Law, Open Government, Democracy, societal peace and order, as well as the delivery of good governance.”

Elucidating on the theme of this year’s celebration, he said it was very appropriate as Nigeria now faces one of her worst periods of insecurity manifesting in violent extremism, rampant cases of kidnapping, cattle rustling, herder/ farmers violent conflicts and murderous campaign of bandits across Nigeria.

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This, he continued, is a major challenge to media practitioners as the media must constantly balance the need to inform the citizens with their equally weighty responsibility to ensure that their reports do not contribute to exercabating an already dangerously tense  and fragile situation.

Assessing the state of government/ Press relations in Nigeria under the present dispensation, the Speaker said, “it is fair to say that it is anything but banal.

“We are all witnesses to recurring examples of coercion, threats, brutality, arrests, incarceration and media shut down perpetrated by the state against journalists and their establishments. Instances of these draconian measures adopted by State actors abound during the recent elections held in parts of the country and the General Elections.

“These attacks on the independence of the Press greatly inhibit effective media practice and does not augur well for good governance and democracy. Governments efforts must never be to make our citizens docile and obedient, that’s what repressive regimes do best, but our goal must be to keep our citizens active and informed with the skills to questions the questions and question the answers if they so wish. This is how democracies all over the world are built by refusing to censor the free press and by escalating positive conflicts. Ours cannot be different.

“Permit me to say that that press freedom is not negotiable and direct violence to journalists is not the only threat. Those who attack the media as “fake news” or “enemy of the people” in order to erode the credibility of the press are as dangerous as those perpetrating violence against journalists.  As legislators, we will always stand up and speak out  for Pressmen and media outfits that uphold the ethics of fairness, objectivity, truthfulness and patriotism  in their practice.

“It is hope that the 9th Assembly will dedicate itself to enacting enabling laws that will prioritise the protection and welfare of journalists to enable them do the work of democracy.

“I must say that the organised press and media in Nigeria has largely acquitted itself creditably. It has waged many memorable campaigns against tyranny and corruption. Our media practitioners definitely deserve some applause. But we will do better if we never stop documenting and exposing all cases of oppression of journalist by enemies of open society who masquerade as democrats; if we never stop insisting that journalists taken hostage and those in incarceration are freed without preconditions; if we never cease to demand that those in power must halt efforts to curtail press freedom/ Freedom of expression and above all; if we continue with courage to bring the news and hold those in power to account.”

Nigeria’s undercover atheists: In their words

Kaduna, Nigeria – Denouncing God can be a dangerous thing in Nigeria, where religion is the rhythm of life.

Atheism, considered blasphemy by many, is a largely underground movement that’s hard to quantify but increasingly reported among millennials.

Atheists come together in private on WhatsApp groups and use pseudonyms on social media sites to share ideas.

The Nigerian population of nearly 200 million is split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians with sizeable followers of traditional spirituality.

“As a clergyman, this makes me sad that today we have people in Nigeria going in for atheism,” Gideon Obasogie, a Roman Catholic cleric tells A Jazeera. “The effect of this will be terrible. For one who says there is no God, he can do all kinds of horrible things … I feel this will lead to anarchy and chaos.  The rise of atheism in Nigeria is not wonderful news.”

In recent months, Nigerian atheists have registered three pro-secular organisations: Atheist Society of Nigeria, the Northern Nigerian Humanist Association and the Nigerian Secular Society.

“We need these organisations as a space for people to come out,” says Mubarak Bala, who helped to register the groups.

Bala attracted media attention in 2014 after being admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Kano by his parents when they found out he was atheist.

He says his father and uncles held him down for 30 minutes and forced him to take medications given by the psychiatrist, who told him “everyone needs God”.

“People began secretly contacting me, telling me that they too, don’t believe in Allah. Even Christians told me they don’t think Jesus is God and they just have questions about the whole religion thing,” Bala said.

Most keep their beliefs secret.

Bala is the only atheist who allowed Al Jazeera to use his real name.

Al Jazeera travelled to three cities – Kano, Kaduna and Abuja – to meet some “undercover” atheists in their twenties and thirties.

Kenneth: ‘My family told me I am possessed’

“I grew up a rebel. I grew up a black sheep in the family. If I go to church, I go because I am forced to go to church.

I’ve never believed anything, so at a point, the pastor of the church I was attending with my family told me that I am possessed with an evil spirit because I was always questioning God and the Bible.

As an atheist in Nigeria, you will be ostracised.

Up to today, I have many people who keep their distance from me simply because I ask a lot of critical questions about religion. Many of them don’t even know I’m now an atheist.”

Jiddah: ‘I realised Islam didn’t have my interest as a woman’

“I’ve always had questions, unanswered questions right from childhood.

It’s not like I was the ideal Muslim girl, because I did a lot of things that Islam did not permit me to do such as wearing men’s clothing – meaning trousers – going clubbing, having premarital sex.

Basically, I realised Islam didn’t really have my interest as a woman. As a child at the Islamic school, I would always ask, ‘Where is God? Why can’t we see him or her?’

What I got was a beating, serious flogging because you shouldn’t ask such questions.

The breakthrough came I guess when I met Mubarak [Bala]. I found him on Facebook and I sent him a friend request.

(Note: Before receiving death threats, Jiddah said she would use the site to criticise Islam and had 8,000 followers. She has now closed her account.)

Then, we began to talk about religion. Mubarak would say, ‘It’s just like me telling you there’s a cat right here and you can’t see it. Why would you believe anything like that?’

So gradually, I just rid myself of that belief in God and it’s been liberating.

But it’s heartbreaking because you really want to talk to your friends about these things and explain to them because you want them to feel what you feel. But you just can’t.”

Shehu: ‘A scholar can declare you an apostate’

“In Islam, I used to see stuff that didn’t correspond with reality. I tried to study Islam but I kept seeing more and more things that I just couldn’t believe I was reading.

I went to school in Malaysia and learned about intellectualism and what I learned blew my mind. I was learning about science that broke down the myths of religion. Things just became clear.

I came out and told my father, thinking he would understand. It backfired.

We come from an Islamic royal family in northern Nigeria.

My dad, he went to the NGO I was working at. He was a board member and told them to fire me. So they did.

Then he brought a woman for me to marry so I could just conform and be normal.

My dad prevents me from telling anyone about my beliefs. Here in Nigeria, a Mallam – a respected Islamic scholar – can declare you an apostate as an atheist and order you to be killed, just like that. So I’m undercover.”

Peter: ‘Why is it that Christianity had to come through conquest?’

My mother was quite religious. Every Sunday, we’d go to a Catholic church.

The religion, Christianity itself, came in through several tools. Slavery, colonialism and of course, the subtle colonialism, which is missionary style.

So my question has always been, why is it that something that I need had to come through in such an inhumane way? Why is it that it had to come through conquest?

Some people were put to the sword and they had to take it whether they liked it or not.

For my safety … if folks find out I’m an atheist, I could lose out on work opportunities (Peter is an IT professional). If people here in Nigeria find out I’m atheist, I think that would be the death of my reputation. Religion is a scam.”

Freeman: ‘The killings here over religion do not help’

“The killings that happen so much here in Nigeria over religion do not help.

I came back home one day from school and I learned that a lot of houses had been brought down by our people, Muslims, just thinking that they did that for God.

I watched somebody being burned to death on the road. I was coming back from school. I actually had friends, my Muslim friends, who went out to kill Christians and they asked me to join them and they actually believe they were doing it for God.

They said it’s God’s wish. They said that’s what God wants them to do and that it’s also what the Quran says. It really makes me upset.”

Nasir: ‘My father said I should leave or he’ll kill me’

“I am against Islam entirely. Not just the way it’s practised, but against it fully.

My parents, they know I don’t believe in God.

My father is an Islamic scholar and one day he called me and my mum, and he asked if it was true, [if] what he was hearing about me being an atheist is true. I said yes.

So, he brought out a knife. He wanted to kill me. I was telling him, ‘Wait let me explain to you.’

He said, ‘How can you explain to me?’ I was scared actually and we were struggling, me and him. Then my mother seized the knife. My father said I should leave the house or he’ll kill me at night. So I left the house and started living at my workplace. My father sent me away and then a relative talked to him and told him I changed my mind and told him that I’m no longer an atheist. But my father knows that’s not true. Some of my relatives keep me away from their children because they say I will corrupt them.”

Ayuba: ‘It would break my mother’s heart if she knew’

“My mother will call me and say, ‘Have you been giving your tithes to the church?’ Like, if you don’t pay, then you’re stealing from God and God will punish you for that. So, it’s like a way of indoctrinating people, trying to put fear in people. I grew up in ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All, formerly known as Evangelical Church of West Africa).

The whole story of the Bible and creation, I don’t know. My mother, it would break her heart if she knew I am atheist.”

Abdul: ‘My father started preaching against me’

“I told my father that I don’t believe in prayers any more. He was grooming me to become a mallam, an Islamic scholar, like him.

He never encouraged me to go to Western schools. Even when I went to university, I just did it on my own.

He started preaching against me a few years ago.

He’s an Islamic scholar so people listen to him. Him preaching against me, you know, someone could take action to harm me.

I see my father and other religious people as victims of their beliefs. I had to stop going to my family house.”In his sermons, he would say, ‘Just imagine, my son went to Western school so now he believes there is no creator. He thinks he is smarter than all of us and he gets his notions from a computer,’ because he used to see me on the computer.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera News