Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Rapist Blames His Victims

Viewpoint illustration
Many a time, when a male rapist is apprehended, he mischievously blames his victim for his conscienceless manhood. He mouths inanities like, “She made me do it because of the way she was dressed”, or, “I did it to teach her a lesson.” Or, “her body was irresistible.”
Most rapists blame their victims’ dressings, conduct, body, outlook, manners and, over all, personality.
The rapist blames everything about the victim but himself because in his tiny mind, he sees himself as the victim of his coerced victim. And, no, a rapist does not rape because of any of those external factors. He rapes because he is a despicable scum of the earth. He rapes because he is a rapist.
I borrow the analogy of a rapist to illustrate the impertinence of Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State who was widely reported to have said, barefacedly, this past Saturday, that he –and the rest of the political elite he belongs to – steal because Nigerians do not stone them. In other words, the thieving gang that makes up Nigeria’s political class would not steal if their victims were not so passive. How simplistic and unfair an assessment!
We must note that this is not the first time Amaechi has blundered in his faux-advocacy against corruption. And that his “vision” is always preceded by public fallouts with his bellicose peers. In April, he said Nigerians were too timid for a revolution. His Arab Spring generalisation was consequent of his tiff with President Goodluck Jonathan. This December -having successfully “revolted” from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress but still having running battles with the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike’s acolytes- he expostulated the same logic; again, everything is false.
If we merely high five Amaechi for his simple-minded statements, he will continue to ejaculate his guilt conscience on our already battered bodies. No, this is an obscenity that merits censure.
We need to tell Amaechi –and everybody he codified into his “we” when he made the statement- that they steal because they are contemptible thieves; vile souls destined for perdition.
What Amaechi is saying is that politicians steal because that poor pregnant woman who might become a maternal mortality statistics in the next few weeks has yet to cast a stone at them; Amaechi posits that politicians steal because thousands of children whose lives have already been shortchanged by successive governments of Nigeria and who walk around ill-equipped for any decent future are not threatening him with stones; Amaechi says he is a thief because people leave their doors open for wheeler-dealer politicians like him to walk through; Amaechi is blaming the poor and deprived people of Rivers State who cannot even gain access to where he displays his majestic opulence for allowing him spend their money on a private jet.
If Amaechi thinks the average Nigerian is so passive and will never stone their thieving leaders, why does he -and other loathsome politicians- invest so much money on security? Why can he not walk the streets of Port Harcourt in the afternoon and see if he would not be stoned? In better countries of the world, politicians ride in public railway system along with common people without the fear of being stoned. Why cannot Amaechi do the same if he is confident about Nigerians’ docility?
Amaechi’s backers will plead he is speaking the truth about the attitude of Nigerians. To a large extent, they might be right to say Nigerians do not display enough civil vigilance to keep political office holders on their toes. Undeniably, the average Nigerian does not show enough outrage at the numbing degree of impunity that goes on in our so-called corridors of power. From the corruption inbuilt into the continued fuel subsidy scheme to the recent revelation by the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido, that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has “stolen” a whopping $50bn of oil earnings, Nigerians have not done enough to engage their leaders.
There is some truth to the fact that we are easily trampled because, well, we are either high on hope-dope injected straight into our brains by organised religion or we are simply weary of pushing because previous efforts had led nowhere.
But has Amaechi asked himself why the same Nigerians who fought the military governments have largely grown colder than ice water and do not exhibit fearless agitating spirit anymore? Could it be they are tired and they do not see any difference between options? I mean, what is the point of stoning the PDP when the APC –and the other locusts who may take over from them- are no better?
Has it occurred to Amaechi that what he called timidity is one of the (dis)advantages of democracy?
Democracy tends to attenuate citizens’ revolutionary zeal because its institutions ensure citizens do not have to resort to bringing down the entire system each time things are not going their way. That is a lesson Egyptians had yet to learn when they stormed the streets and deposed President Mohammed Morsi.
Amaechi seems to be positioning himself as the lone voice of conscience in the Nigerian wilderness but we are not fooled. He seems to have read the playbook of former president Olusegun Obasanjo –Nigeria’s original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Obasanjo has a similar incredible ability to play multiple personalities in the same drama. He can stand at the ruins of the house whose faulty foundations he laid whilst yelling, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” He does this without, surprisingly, being weighed down by the irony of the whole affair. One could say the same of Amaechi who, shortly before decamping to the APC, began hollering vociferously at the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over corruption. As if he suddenly woke up one morning and found that Nigeria was corrupt.
If he had not been a beneficiary of corruption, Amaechi would have made sense. But as a member of the corrupt ruling class who has neither given up his own position nor made any restitution, he needs to shut his mouth. And, fast too. Barking at repressed Nigerians will not do any shred of good. This cloying behaviour not only divests him of personal and moral responsibilities to the people he pretends to govern, it is shamelessly hypocritical. If you need to be stoned to do the right thing as an elected administrator, why then do we have to have a democracy?

Written by  ABIMBOLA ADELAKUN for punch newspapers 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

2015 And The Madness Called Igboezue Socio-Cultural Association(ISCA)

As the 2015 general election approaches, it is natural and expected that different groups spring up in search of political relevance.
Besides seeking political relevance, it is a known fact that the economy of the country is in shambles hence, the reason for daft political jobbers.

One such conglomeration of daft political jobbers is the Igboezue Socio-Cultural Association (ISCA), whose leadership recently threatened to sue President Goodluck Jonathan if he hails to contest the 2015 presidential election. Although mere reading of the position of ISCA on one of the online news dailies was regarded a waste of precious time, this write-up serves to remind ISCA what it truly is: a collection of daft political jobbers.

In a press conference in Abuja at the weekend, ISCA president-general; Prince Elochukwu Onyekwere told journalists that several letters sent to the President and the PDP urging Jonathan to run in 2015 received no response or acknowledgement, which led to their(ISCA) decision to seek an order from Federal High Court in Abuja compelling the President to Contest.

As if the foolishness of ISCA and its leadership was not enough, they decided to insult the collective intelligence of Ndigbo by stating:

" All aspiring Igbo politicians can wait for their turn after 2015. Our decision is the decision of the Igbos and we will not shift ground "

This is arguably the highest level of insult on the collective intelligence, will and the identity of Ndigbo for a political job-seeker, sycophant and brigand to claim that his myopic decision is the decision of Ndigbo.

To further erase any iota of doubt from the mind of the public who may be thinking he was probably high on some cheap drugs when he made those statements, Prince Elochukwu Onyekwere threatened to mobilize over 80 million people to stop Jonathan from returning to Bayelsa state should he decide not to contest the 2015 presidential election.

Given that the populations of Nigeria is roughly 175 million, one wonders how ISCA plans to mobilize over 80 million people (or anything close to that figure) to stop Jonathan from returning home.
To achieve this feat, ISCA would need the total support and population of the South-east (30 million), Southwest (40 million) and the South South (over 20 million).

One thing is clear - this warped calculations and misadventure by ISCA and its leadership portrays the image of political jobbers who talk before they think. It is quite regrettable that the leadership of ISCA is out of touch with the political realities in the country.

I call on all right thinking Igbo people and Nigerians in general to neglect this group of sycophants who has no political value whatsoever. The re-election of President Jonathan should be based solely on merit and his achievements in office. Any Nigerian who thinks (s)he can handle the office of the presidency better should feel free to contest as is the norm in every democratic settings.

Onyeagba Joseph C
(Mazi Joseph)

Follow me @FemiShine

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Robin Hammond Documents the Brutal Treatment of Africans with Mental Illness

Robin Hammond Documents the Brutal Treatment of Africans with Mental Illness

Robin_Hammond_PhotographyAbdi Rahman Shukri Ali, 26, has lived in a locked tin shack for two years. He stays with his family in Dadaab in Eastern Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp, where Somalis fleeing conflict and famine have sought safety. Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya. June, 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies. Africans with mental illness in regions in crisis are resigned to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, locked away to live behind the bars of filthy prisons.
Some have suffered trauma leading to illness. Others were born with mental disability. In countries where infrastructure has collapsed and mental health professionals have fled, treatment is often the same – a life in chains.
After 12 years of documenting human rights issues I’ve never come across a greater assault on human dignity. These people are unseen and therefore their suffering ignored. This project is being produced in the hope that no longer will ignorance be able to be used as an excuse for inaction.—Robin Hammond
Known for his work documenting human rights and development issues around the world, photographer Robin Hammond has undertaken a long term project documenting the lives of the mentally ill in Africa, a project he calls Condemned. Hammond has traveled extensively throughout African countries in crisis—to the war devastated areas of Congo, South Sudan, Mogadishu and Uganda, to refugee camps in Somalia and Dadaab, and to Nigeria where he explored corrupt facilities for the mentally ill. The work is powerful, raw, heart wrenching. Condemnedunveils neglect, abuse and the stripping away of human liberty, while delivering an impact only a photograph could.
Hammond is the winner of the 2013 FotoEvidence Book Award. Currently based in Paris, he is represented by Panos Pictures.
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyAbandoned by their governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies: A voiceless minority resigned to the dark forgotten corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, living out their lives behind the bars of filthy prisons – Lives condemned to quiet misery… These are the mentally disabled living in Africa’s regions in crisis. Severely mentally disabled men and women are shackled and locked away in Juba Central Prison for years on end. The new nation of South Sudan faces a tremendous challenge to build a modern country capable of caring for all of its citizens. Juba, Sudan. January 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyThis 14 year old boy has been tied up for six years. His mother refuses to have him admitted to Gulu Hospital which is only two kilometers away. Gulu, Northern Uganda. April 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyDue to insufficient staff numbers, family members are encouraged to stay with patients at Brothers of Charity Sante Mental. This relative would often beat, tie up and drag the patient when she did not obey his instructions. Goma, The Democratic Republic of Congo. June 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyNative Doctor Lekwe Deezia claims to heal mental illness through the power of prayer and traditional herbal medicines. While receiving treatment, which can sometimes take months, his patients are chained to trees in his courtyard. One cries and says he is beaten regularly, and about how cold he gets and that he is attacked by mosquitos every night. His body is covered in bites. The Niger Delta, Nigeria. October 2012. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyReverend Apostle S.B.Esanwi, Doctor of Divinity, treats people with mental illness with prayer and traditional medicines which usually consist of roots and leaves crushed in water. He claims to have cured hundreds of patients. Many stay for months in his compound. Some are chained throughout their time there. The oil industry that has brought billions of dollars into the Nigerian economy has arguably been a disaster for the Delta region from where it is extracted. Corruption, mass inequality and violence have plagued the region ever since the discovery of the resource. In a society that cannot trust corrupt Government organizations, churches have become a sanctuary from the perceived wickedness and greed of the modern culture. In regions where both fortune and sickness are attributed to the spirit world, mental illness is considered a curse. Spiritual remedies are often sought, and chains regularly used as restraints. The Niger Delta, Nigeria. October 2012. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos

Follow me @FemiShine

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Playing the Politics of Desperation with Desperate Nigerian Electorates

"IBB is the problem of this country"
- Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

"I won't bother myself with the integrity of politicians that will fund my campaign. I will take corrupt politicians money for my campaign as far as the money is not in my pocket"
- Nuhu Ribadu.

No doubts, there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics but permanent interests. Change is constant in life and people yearn for it. When the desired change is delayed or denied, desperation sets in; it is a natural phenomenon that we are currently experiencing in this country. We are so desperate for positive change in the politics of the country that we don't seem to care about how the change will come.

As the details of the political merger between five members of the G7 rebel governors - by extension, the breakaway faction of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) is eagerly being awaited, Nigerians appear to be divided over the merits and the demerit of this political stunt by our magical elites. One of the wonders of the 21st century is the association of General Mohammadu Buhari with questionable characters such as Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Bisi Akande, Lai Mohamed among others all in the name of forming a 'progressive' party - the APC.

Prior to the defection of some of the G7 governors to the APC, the leadership of the APC has been touring the country, baptizing and renaming known corrupt leaders as "wise men" and "progressives"; while the gullible electorates cheer on in ecstasy.

But is this the change we have been yearning for?

Can there be true repentance without restitution?

Is switching between political parties the yardstick for determining how 'progressive' one can be?

What are the ideology and political philosophy of the APC?

How important are the electorates to the political quest of the APC?

These and more are some of the important questions we need to ask ourselves.

One fact we may choose to doubt at our own peril is that the political vultures are gradually assembling to feed on the APC, partly because of desperation on the part of the leadership of the APC. From all indications, it appears the APC are all out to dethrone the PDP come 2015. The facts on ground however show that they have not prepared much for governance after their coveted victory. There appears to be using the devils' weapon against him- by snatching up ex-PDP assets; but can one dance around the fire expecting not to sweat?

Given the nature of the individuals within the fold of the APC right now and those who will join soon, will there be any difference between the PDP, as we know it now and the APC?
Your answers are as good as mine.

The picture is clear now; the difference between SIX and HALF A DOZEN is the number of letters in them. 

Written by Mazi Joseph

Follow me on Twitter @FemiShine

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

And It Came To Pass... Revisiting the 1987 Zaria Crisis

I have struggled for days, trying to pick the constituent words of this article carefully given the volatile nature of an average Nigerian when issue bothering on ethnicity and religion takes the centre stage. This article is not part of the usual buck-passing game which has become one of our trade-marks as a people, but, a candid reflection on why we must re-examine our nationhood in the light of truth. Many political analyst, observers and commentators are of the opinion that the primordial problem with the Nigerian state is the "incompatibility" of its constituent nations, usually along the ethnic and religious divides. A forensic analysis of the major conflicts/crisis in Nigeria reveals that they have either an ethnic background, a religious setting or both. Beside the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, ethnic and religious crisis has cost us more lives and properties than natural disasters in the history of the country. Of course, these twin demons(ethnicity and religious extremism) are not peculiar to Nigeria alone, but, history and experience has shown that we have done(or are still doing) nothing to truly address the situation. 

The March 1987 Zaria crisis is one of the best documented religious crisis in Nigeria with the publication of "And It Came To Pass..." by the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) . The 263-page book gave a detailed chronology of the events that led to the burning of one hundred and thirteen(113) churches by Muslim rioters within 20 hours on the 10th/11th of March 1987. In addition to other things, the book revealed the culpability of the Nigerian institutions(both national and traditional) in the wanton destruction of lives, properties and the terrorization of the Christian populace during the 20 hours carnage . Twenty-six(26) after the carnage, we have gone from bad to worse. Just a few days ago, the United States of America officially designated a Nigerian Islamic movement - Boko Haram as "Foreign Terrorist Organization(FOI). Even President Jonathan, the commander in-chief of the Nigerian armed forces told the nation that he does not know if truly the purported leader of the group, Imam Abubakar Shekau is dead or alive. 

Boko Haram seeks to establish an Islamic system of government in Nigeria. If you think this movement started in 2001, i am sorry, you are dead wrong. 

In 1987, Sheik Abubakar Gumi(1922-1992) was credited with the following statements : 

* "If Christians do not accept Moslems as their leader, we have to divide the country". 

* "The two-party system of government will not be south against north, but Islam against Christianity. Once you are a Moslem, you cannot choose a non-Moslem to be your leader". 

* "Nigerian Unity is to try to convert Christians and Non-Moslems (to Islam). Until the other religions become minority and do not affect our society. Gowon was a good leader. Had he been a Moslem, (he) would have been better". 

* "According to Islam, you can't say someone is corrupt unless that person is caught... If you are not his guardian, you are not to expose what he is doing unless he exposes himself". Yes, Sheik Gumi was not the first to call for the division of the country along ethnic or religious lines. General Chukwuemeka Ojukwu started the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967. But Sheik Gumi was not just an ethnic leader, he was the Grand Khadi of the old Northern region. 

During Gumi's acceptance speech - King Faisal's certificate, he said: 

" I now call on all Muslims to emulate the jihad posture and total commitment to the cause of Allah as exhibited by the late King Faisal by carrying the banners of modern jihad beyond your country borders to foreign lands where teeming millions of Muslims are asking for your solidarity, they are asking you for schools to save their children from being enticed to pagan or other religions".

"For instance, in Nigeria where i come from, out of a total population of 100,000,000, 70 per cent of the people are Muslims who are looking up to you for proper Islamic guidance. 
Yes, i say we can, if we wish to see the return of old Islamic Empire; the return of the golden days of Islam - similar to the one seen in the 6th-9th centuries; then you should invest your wealth, your knowledge and your bottled up jihad energy in the education of your Muslim brothers in Africa, in Asia, in Far East in the form of educational jihad to all those who are desperately in need of it"

"The (Ulama) Council has also asked for fundamental changes to be made in the Nigerian Police Force so that non-Moslems police officers cannot be posted to Muslim areas, as they have become sources of corruption and moral pollution" . 

Twenty-one(21) years after Sheik Gumi's death- 

- Most arrested Boko Haram suspects are non-Nigerians. 

- An Iranian was caught shipping arms/ammunitions to(through) Nigeria. 

- Muslim extremists no longer burn churches, they bomb them. 

- We have graduated from religious extremism to terrorism. 

- Extremists still kill Christians and destroy properties up North. 

- Most Northern states are officially practicing Sharia Law. 

- People are proposing a law that can enable them marry a 5-year old girl. 

- Extremists slaughter their victims like rams. 

- We still vote along ethnic and religious lines. 

- Igbos are still clamoring for Biafra. 

- Lagos state is deporting South-Easterners 

- Abia state government is firing non-indegenes. 

- Ombatse religious sect "gallantly" reduced the Nigerian police force to a mere Boy's Scout Organization. 

- Niger-Deltans are still fighting for resource control. 

- The call for the division of the country is louder than ever. 

We have become a people accustomed to viewing national matters via our myopic ethnic or religious lens. The recent corruption cases involving Stella Oduah, James Ibori, Patricia Etteh and Faruk Lawan has shown how far we are willing to go to defend "our own". No doubt, we are gradually approaching the rubicon. Posterity will judge us all, and it won't be long before the reality of our (in)actions becomes glaring. 
We need to act now! We need to decide what we want as a nation. We need to initiate a reconciliation process that will re-examine our corporate existence as a nation. We need to stop the Cold War, pretending that it does not exist cannot invalidate it. 

In his speech titled: "Are we truly ready to develop and unite Nigeria", Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said: 

“The problem is: everywhere in this country, there is one Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and Itshekiri man whose concern is how to get his hands on the pile and how much he can steal.Whether it is in the military or in the civilian government, they sit down, they eat together. In fact, the constitution says there must be a minister from every state.”

“So, anybody that is still preaching that the problem of Nigeria is Yoruba or Hausa or Fulani, he does not love Nigeria. The problem with Nigeria is that a group of people from each and every ethnic tribe is very selfish. The poverty that is found in Maiduguri is even worse than any poverty that you find in any part of the South. The British came for 60 years and Sir Ajayi talked about few numbers of graduates in the North (two at independence) . What he did not say was that there was a documented policy of the British when they came that the Northerner should not be educated. It was documented. It was British colonial policy. I have the document. I have published articles on it. That if you educate the Northerner you will produce progressive Muslim intellectuals of the type we have in Egypt and India. So, do not educate them. It was documented. And you say they love us (North).I have spent the better part of my life to fight and Dr. (Reuben) Abati knows me. Yes, my grandfather was an Emir. Why was I in the pro- democracy movement fighting for June 12? Is (Moshood) Abiola from Kano ? Why am I a founding director of the Kudirat Initiative for Nigerian Development (KIND)? There are good Yoruba people, good Igbo people, good Fulani people, good Nigerians and there are bad people everywhere. That is the truth.”

Stop talking about dividing Nigeria because we are not the most populous country in the world. We have all the resources that make it easy to make one united great Nigeria . It is better if we are united than to divide it.
Every time you talk about division, when you restructure, do you know what will happen? In Delta Area, the people in Warri will say Agbor, you don’t have oil. When was the Niger Delta constructed as a political entity? Ten years ago, the Itshekiris were fighting the Urobos. Isn’t that what was happening? Now they have become Niger Delta because they have found oil. After, it will be, if you do not have oil in your village then you cannot share our resources.There is no country in the world where resources are found in everybody’s hamlet. But people have leaders and they said if you have this geography and if we are one state, then we have a responsibility for making sure that the people who belong to this country have a good nature.”
So, why don’t you talk about; we don’t have infrastructure,­ we don’t have education, we don’t have health. We are still talking about Fulani. Is it the Fulani cattle rearer or is anybody saying there is no poverty among the Fulani?”

Can there ever be unity and development without peace? Your answer is as good as mine. Peace is a by-product of reconciliation, and reconciliation can only be achieved through dialogue. Anything short of the above process is a scam, cosmetic surgery and deceit that will never stand the test of time. The time for a sovereign national conference is now. Every constituent nation of this country must be allowed to bare her mind on issues of national importance. Contentious issues can be subjected to a referendum to determine its acceptability or otherwise. The clock is ticking, an explosion or implosion is inevitable. It is time we stop the buck-passing game and face reality because time they say, waits for nobody. 

History has shown that you cannot solve a problem by sweeping it under the carpet. 
We have swept a lot under the national carpet, starting from the 1966 military coup'd tat to the Civil war. 
From the unresolved deaths of Dele Giwa to Andrew Azazi. 
From the "Apo-six" to the "Ezu river-eighteen". 
From the Zaria 1987 crisis to the present day carnage by Boko Haram. 

We need to sit, talk and resolve these differences if we ever truly want to unite and develop this country. 

Most actors in the March 1987 Zaria crisis are now old or probably dead, but, their souls will continue to wander the face of the earth until justice prevails. 

As they say, pikin wey say him mama no go sleep, him sef no go sleep.

Written by
Mazi Joseph

Follow me on twitter  @FemiShine

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Rob Ford "The Grass is Greener On The Other Side With Crack"

With the ongoing turmoil with Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford and the wide public outcry is an example of “Not always greener on the other side” quote, we humans have the ability to fail and fail woefully regardless of race, level of education or morals. The thrilling aspect of this context is the way public opinion is applauding the shocking act from a leader who is supposed and rightfully elected to lead by example. The mayor admitted to taking crack cocaine and as I type this, he is still the Mayor of a city of over 5million people. A Ghanaian deputy minister was recently sacked for a dirty statement that was caught on tape, the tape on which a voice purported to be that of the deputy minister Victoria Hammah was heard telling a female colleague that she will not quit politics until she makes a whopping $1m, the revelation coming in the wake of mounting pressure on Ghanaian President Mahama to fight corruption and that earned her an outright sack but in Toronto, a leader admitting to taking an illegal substance gets him public sympathy and remains in office . 
Well I guess the western world does eat out of the pie of mediocrity too. Coming from a background where corruption is the norm and a convicted money laundering politician is celebrated in a thanksgiving service in church as a hero on his return from prison I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise to me but it does in some way because I have come to realize that no system is perfect, every system has its own strengths and flaws. I am not a politician and I don’t really have a knowledge of its intricacies but I do know my right from my wrong and to me this is wrong! But oh well I would like to see how this ends after all a respected president did have his penis sucked in the white house and he remained in office so this shouldn’t be much of a big deal right? 

Follow me @FemiShine