Archive for October, 2013

Femi Aribisala

Femi Aribisala

Femi Aribisala: The “Goodluck” called Nigeria
by Femi Aribisala

Jonathan’s biggest legacies are already unfolding. He is the first South-South president. Under him, giant strides are being taken in Nigerian agriculture yet again. The perennial problems of power shortage are beginning to be addressed with appreciable results. Under Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerians will finally get the opportunity to determine their future, under the aegis of a Sovereign National Conference.

Nigeria is the only elephant in black Africa. However, the onus is on us to ensure that this elephant does not die of elephantiasis.

As Nigerians, we are all acutely aware of what is wrong with Nigeria, especially since we are all part and parcel of the Nigerian affliction. It is quite amazing that when you visit that uncle who stole government funds to build his mansion at Banana Island, he sits you down to talk about the problem of corruption in Nigeria. When this happens, you find it difficult to resist saying: “But, uncle, you are also a thief! I know you stole the money to build this house when you were the Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Culture.”

Where two or three Nigerians are gathered, you can be sure we are busy running down our country. What we don’t do enough is talk about some of the things that are right with Nigeria. Let’s face it; there are quite a few of these as well, even if they are often quite enigmatic.

The genius of Nigeria

One of the things right with Nigeria is Nigeria. It does not matter how the country came about. It does not matter if Nigeria is an accident of history. It does not matter that Nigeria is several countries haphazardly lumped together into one. Irrespective of the ifs and the buts, the fact remains that Nigeria is a pure genius of a country. The very existence of a country called Nigeria is a masterstroke of providence.

As a graduating doctoral student at Oxford University, England, I was interviewed for jobs I did not apply for. Multinational organizations, including the World Bank and Bank of America, came on campus to interview us for jobs. In the case of the World Bank, I was even flown to Paris. There was always a sticking-point in the interviews I agreed to attend: my insistence on returning to Nigeria after having spent thirteen years abroad.

What precisely is the attraction of Nigeria? Why is Nigeria is such a difficult country to live in and yet, once we are out of the country, we cannot wait to get back? One of these days, I may be able to answer that. One thing I can say right now is that, without Nigeria, the world would be a much poorer place.

Black man’s Prometheus

The first casualty of a world without Nigeria would be the black race. Never mind the fact that Nigeria remains one big mess, and has been for the longest time. This is perhaps inevitable, as we work out the curious alchemy of this peculiar nation of over 250 nationalities. The fact remains that the black man would be absolutely insignificant in the world without Nigeria and Nigerians. With a population of over 160 million and growing, Nigeria is difficult to miss on the map.

As the most populous black nation, soon to be the third most populous in the world, Nigeria and Nigerians cannot be ignored. Nobody wonders why Barack Obama, the President of the United States, did not visit Burkina Faso on two different trips to Africa. But every student of international relations wonders why he did not visit Nigeria. If Obama visits Nigeria, he makes a statement. If he does not visit Nigeria, he makes a statement. The reason is simple: Nigeria, by its very essence, is a major actor on the world stage.

The country, and its people, command attention and demand attention. If a Nigerian is somewhere, you will know. You will hear his voice because he will be loud and outspoken. It is not easy to pretend not to see the elephant in the room, and Nigeria is the only elephant in black Africa. However, the onus is on us to ensure that this elephant does not die of elephantiasis.

Nigerian politicians

Don’t let me get carried away. Nigeria is important because it exists. Nigeria is a brilliant masterstroke, even if created by colonial happenstance. But one other thing that is fantastic about Nigeria, but that Nigerians themselves fail to realize, is that coupled with the enormous resource endowments and potentials of the country, Nigeria has some of the best politicians in the world. Yes, yes, yes; Nigerian politicians are thieves. They are crooks. They have stolen the country blind. They are leading the country into the ditch. Yes indeed! Nevertheless, they are excellent at what they do best. Nigerian politicians are devilishly excellent politicians. This country cannot do without them.

Precisely because Nigerian politicians are crooks, they have a vested interest in Nigeria. That vested interest is in the continued existence of Nigeria. If Nigeria ceases to exist, the politician crooks of Nigeria will not have Nigeria to steal from. Since there is oil in Nigeria, nobody will secede from Nigeria. To secede from Nigeria is to secede from Nigeria’s oil. Neither can anyone be allowed to secede from Nigeria with Nigeria’s oil. When that happened, even thieves and robbers fought that Nigeria must be one. Make no mistake about it: we were not fighting because we believed in Nigeria. We were fighting because we believe in Nigeria’s resources. We believe in Nigeria’s wealth. I have yet to meet a Nigerian who does not truly believe that Nigeria is a country with huge potentials.

Accordingly, our politicians form and join different political parties, but it is all one big lie. All Nigerian politicians belong to one single party: Politicians Party of Nigeria (PPN).

Northern nationalism

The Nigerian military, on the other hand, is reckless. It was under the military that the East seceded as Biafra. It would not have happened under civilian politicians. The patchwork quilt that is Nigeria would have been mended and amended. There would have been a lot of debating and horse-trading. Odumegwu Ojukwu might have been elected President of Nigeria by a landslide. He might even have been the sole presidential candidate. The Igbo would have been mollified for the wrongs done to them; and Nigeria would have remained one.

If you don’t believe me, think back to what happened when the troublesome military annulled the free and fair election of 1993. The matter was resolved by a political masterstroke of the Nigerian political class. The decision was taken that a Yoruba man should become the president of Nigeria. In that process, the much-vilified North emerged as Nigeria’s greatest nationalists. It was Northerners, after all, who voted overwhelmingly for a Southerner, M.K.O. Abiola, in 1993; instead of their own Northern favourite-son, Bashir Tofa. It was also Northerners who fished out a Southerner, Olusegun Obasanjo, from prison and then secured his election as president in 1999.

So what am I saying here? There is more to Nigeria than meets the eye. There is an invisible hand guiding the affairs of this nation, and our politicians are its instrument. Yes, we are going through fits and starts. We are seemingly floundering from one problem to the next. Nevertheless, there is a method to the madness that is Nigeria. When you stand back and take a deep hard look, you cannot escape the fact that, in spite of all our palaver, we are nevertheless on the trajectory of becoming a nation.

Nigerian “goodluck”

We have been fighting against a determinate providence out to create a united states of black excellence out of Nigeria. That invisible hand put Hausas, Ibos, Yorubas, and a host of other unlikely ethnic bedfellows, in the same Nigerian melting-pot. So doing, it gave us Maitama Sule, one of the greatest orators of his generation. It gave us Aliko Dangote, the most enterprising businessman in Africa. It gave us Chike Obi, one of the greatest mathematicians the world has ever seen. It gave us Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s Nobel laureate in Literature. It gave us a country with by far the most enterprising people on the entire continent of Africa.

That invisible hand also gave is Goodluck Jonathan. The message is written in his name. I am convinced Goodluck Jonathan never imagined, growing up, that he would one day be the president of Nigeria. I doubt if he ever thought he would even be the governor of Bayelsa State. As a doctoral student, he probably aspired to become a university professor or even a university vice-chancellor. However, “Goodluck” propelled Goodluck Jonathan to be Nigeria’s president literally overnight.

What are we to make of this? A decision was taken somewhere and somehow that a South-South man needed to become President of Nigeria at a precise moment of our history. For some absolutely ridiculous reasons, a terminally-sick man was “installed” as president. He promptly died in office. That unfortunate comeuppance was Nigeria’s “goodluck.” There is something incongruous about having the whole country benefit from South-South oil, without thinking it imperative to have a South-South president at some juncture. Therefore, the time for Nigerian inclusiveness of the South-South was decreed. Out of the blue, a South-South man, by the name of Goodluck Jonathan, became president of Nigeria. We must not lose the message of this inclusiveness. If pioneering Barack Obama was re-elected as president of the United States in 2012, pioneering Goodluck Jonathan should be re-elected as president of Nigeria in 2015.

Misguided militancy

This has nothing to do with the nonsense of some South-South militants who declare that if Jonathan does not remain president until 2019, Nigeria will cease to exist. That kind of bombast and blackmail should be ignored. Nigeria is not going anywhere. But in the interest of Nigeria, the South-South should retain the presidency until 2019. Even the APC should also consider fielding a South-South man as their presidential candidate in 2015. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians. Therefore, our acceptance of a South-South president should not be grudging. As a matter of fact, Jonathan’s South-South presidency is well-positioned to advance the Nigeria project significantly.

Jonathan’s biggest legacies are already unfolding. He is the first South-South president. Under him, giant strides are being taken in Nigerian agriculture yet again. The perennial problems of power shortage are beginning to be addressed with appreciable results. Under Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerians will finally get the opportunity to determine their future, under the aegis of a Sovereign National Conference.

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The Coffin Maker

Posted: October 19, 2013 in Dairy of a Freeman, Naija Scene, Opinion
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Forgive my impudence and naivety Sir, you who must not be questioned! Forgive me if I ask: Did you also create death, you who created life?

“I have come to understand that when people die, nobody has jumped into the vault and said: ‘bury me along.’  So it makes me see things differently.  At the end of the day, when they say everything is vanity, I am in a better position to talk about it because I have seen it all.”

“I have come to understand that when people die, nobody has jumped into the vault and said: ‘bury me along.’ So it makes me see things differently. At the end of the day, when they say everything is vanity, I am in a better position to talk about it because I have seen it all.”

By death, I mean this debt collector, who comes unannounced to collect his debt. This respecter of no persons, who takes the rich and the poor alike, who takes the young and the old, who takes father and son who have no reason to die soon on account of their trade as makers and sellers of coffins. If death cannot respect a coffin-maker, a man who described himself as the ambassador of death, who will it respect?

By death, I mean this solitary reaper, this messenger of doom and gloom, this bringer of tears and sorrow. This old, ancient witch that curses and causes planes to fall from the sky. This red-card-carrying referee that cannot be bribed with all the money in the world. This referee in black who hears no complaint or protest from players. Once he blows his whistle, it’s all over. You are out of the field for life. No suspension. No review of your case by FIFA. Nothing. Just sorrow, tears and blood. Like our friend Fela would sing. Fela who himself is resting somewhere after being shown a red card. Fela who sang long ago about dead bodies getting accident. What Fela meant was a “dead bodi” involved in road accident. He couldn’t even have conceptualized the idea of a coffin in a fatal accident in the sky, in flying coffins that our planes are today. Who would have imagined the irony of a casket remaining intact in a plane accident while the makers of the casket die in the same plane? A casket remaining unbroken while accompanying souls die in metallic chaos of fire and brimstone of a flying coffin plucked from the stars. Which poet will help me write this? Which new age Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would help me sing this tragedy? I would have invited Kofi Awonoor to write, but he is gone. He died in Kenya in the hands of brutal terrorists.

Beloved members of Press Clips Pentecostal Church (PCPC), our sermon today is on death, the unconquerable foe that takes every man born of woman. The Bible says so much about death. I am not going to quote from the Bible today. Instead, my sermon is taken from the posthumous interviews with a father and son coffin-makers who were snatched by death in the flying coffin tragedy that recently shook our nation.

I am talking about Tunji Okusanya Sr. and his son Tunji Okusanya Jnr. who both perished in the air disaster. Father and son were individually interviewed by Kemi Lawal of The Punch—as if they knew they were going to die. Let’s hear first from the father.

“I have since realized that whatever you do, your children would copy from you,” said this man who took over coffin-making business from his father and whose son in turn joined him in the business even though they all have degrees. As a kid, death didn’t scare him. “I would even play and hide inside a coffin,” he recalled. As a merchant of death, he was death itself. “I am synonymous with death,” he said. “If I tell somebody today that I am travelling to the East, the first question, he will ask me is ‘who died in the East?’ Even if I am going there for leisure.”

“I am close to 60. I was born at Massey Hospital some fifty-something years ago. I go to church and I relax on the job. Even when I am carrying a body, I am relaxing. I wish I can go to the gym because I am getting a bit fat now that I am close to 60.

“In all my years of business, I have never seen somebody who died and woke up. I do not even have nightmares because I am used to seeing dead bodies in my dreams. So, what nightmare will I have again? I treat them well so they have no reason to knock my head. I will not scream and say I saw a corpse in my dream and head to a spiritualist. What cannot talk cannot have power over you because the soul is gone.” That is the end of the father’s short sermon. Now, let’s turn to the son.

For Tunji Okunsanya Jnr., life is a field of sorrow. “For the funeral director, every day of his life is about people mourning and that is tougher. You get emotional but you do not betray emotions. Primarily the funeral director is a human being. The Bible talks about the fact that it is good to go where they mourn. When you go to places like that, you are reminded about the fact that life ends one day. It helps you to move closer to God.

“I am a Christian, I have my faith in God and it is unshaken. He has given me power to tread paths that people fear. Superstitions do not come to play in my life. My faith tells me that what cannot talk has no control over me, so if someone dies and you wrap up the person, I did not kill the person. I was only contracted to give the person a befitting burial, so there is nothing to fear.”

As a man in the business of burying the dead, he is like a boogeyman. A man to be feared. “Some people do not even want to shake your hands because they believe you have ulterior motives. If they think deeply, they would realize that we actually run an institution that should be celebrated. Death is the only constant thing.

“The only constant thing they would put after everybody’s name, learned or not, is RIP. Therefore, if someone has taken the bold step to take care of the only constant thing in life, we should be given some credit.

“As an ambassador of death, I do not have time to relax. I am always in the middle of a new challenge. I wear black most of the time, maybe because I am used to it or because we deal with many people that mourn. If I wear a yellow shirt or tie to where people are mourning, I will look out of place. But I am not always in black.” The son who will soon die, paid homage to his father who will also die the same day:

“My father is a success story. He has been able to transform an industry from something to everything. I cannot even step into my father’s shoes because they are too wide. When your hobby is your work, nobody can come close to you.”

Brethren, this is the final message from the younger Okusanya to the children of the world: “I have been to morgues and there are no escorts or sirens there. There is no posing in the morgue, there are no celebrities there. You put people under six feet and you realize that the cars and the houses do not fit.

“I have come to understand that when people die, nobody has jumped into the vault and said: ‘bury me along.’ So it makes me see things differently. At the end of the day, when they say everything is vanity, I am in a better position to talk about it because I have seen it all.”

Beloved members of PCPC, let’s remember the words of the Okusanyas. Words rooted in the Holy Book that say everything is vanity in this world. Let’s meditate once again on the words of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes who says: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever…What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

May the Lord bless you as you listen to today’s message. And may the souls of the departed rest in peace. RIP.

There have been a number of claims by the opposition in Nigeria as to the health of our economy. These claims have been calculated to alarm and so it is imperative to put these claims through a test of the truth. Are the opposition correct when they say that Nigeria is broke, that hunger levels are rising or that the Transformation Agenda is failing?
In answering these questions, I will not make reference to any governmental data because the government is the accused in this case and I believe that the accused should not be a judge in its own case.
A month ago, some politicians held a press conference and told Nigerians that their nation is broke and asked the minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, to resign.
These claims have been echoed and re echoed by their political operatives in sponsored write ups, political party press releases and on Social Media.
In addressing these allegations, I would be calling as witnesses objective parties. An objective party would be a party that is not connected to any of the dramatis personae and does not benefit from the situation having no dog in the fight.
Firstly, Standard and Poors, one the world’s preeminent ratings agencies which is not affiliated to any government or to the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund last week rated Nigeria’s economy as “strong and positive”. It should be noted that Standard and Poors advertises that it uses detailed “financial research and analysis” in making its judgments.
To show the accuracy of S & P, it should be noted that on August 5, 2011 the group downgraded the U.S. and predicted that America’s long-term credit rating was poor. Today, S & P’s vision is vindicated as the world watches the government shutdown in America occasioned by the debt crisis the U.S. faces.
Now, who are we to believe between those opposed to the Goodluck Jonathan administration, who presented no data or evidence to back up their claims and S & P’s who undertook research and analysis as well as audits to come up with their conclusion?
On Wednesday the 16th of October, 2013, Fitch Ratings, another independent ratings agency which is universally recognized and acclaimed rated Nigeria’s economy as “stable”. Fitch unlike S & P relies on risk analysis. They consider things like a nation’s balance of trade, her Foreign Reserve, her debt to GDP ratio, Per Capita Income, and her inflation rate to come to a conclusion. And their conclusion is that Nigeria’s economy is sound.
Again, who do we believe between Fitch and those opposed to the government?
I just mentioned inflation rate in the previous paragraph, and it is pertinent to note that the Composite Price Index (CPI), released just last week shows that inflation in Nigeria is down to 8.2%. President Jonathan is the only leader in this fourth republic under whom Nigeria has had single digit inflation. This is attested to by local and international bodies.
Do we leave these verifiable figures and begin to panic at the cries of wolf from those who provide no evidence?
Okay, let us for the sake of argument say that those crying wolf are correct and that these figures by world class rating agencies are bunkum. What do we now make of the report, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute, whose 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI) released last week indicates that hunger levels in Nigeria have fallen and that Nigeria is one of the few nations in Africa to have achieved this feat?
Is this a coincidence? Remember that Albert Einstein said there is no such thing as coincidence.
For years Nigeria has routinely performed below par on the Global Hunger Index (GHI). Why is it now when President Goodluck Jonathan using his judgment appointed a professional in the person of Professor Adewunmi Adesina to implement his Agricultural Transformation Agenda that we have witnessed an improvement in the GHI?
I must add that the International Food Policy Research Institute is not in any way affiliated to the Nigerian government. Given that their testimony in the 2013 GHI runs counter to the doomsday scenario painted by the opposition, I must again ask, who do we believe between expert institutions of decade long standing who have provided research based analysis and an opposition that provides nothing in support of its allegations?
On a preponderance of evidence, it is clear that Nigeria’s economy is healthy. This does not mean that our economy is perfect. This does not mean that everybody has a job. It does not mean that there are no hungry folk in Nigeria. If you want a perfect economy, then live a good religious life and when you die you may enter heaven, but on this side of eternity, there is no perfect economy.
And on Social Media, these opposition politicians have sponsored elements masquerading as patriots to sow seeds of discord amongst Nigerians in order to turn them against the Federal Government and in truth, the gullible are buying their story that the reason why their states are broke is because the Federal Government takes the giant share of allocations.
First of all, this is simply an excuse because the issue of allocations is determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, which is not controlled by the President. Secondly, the cost of maintaining the executive is not the issue as records indicate. The Nigerian President is not among the highest paid presidents in the world neither are his aides.
These Social Media mercenaries try to blame President Jonathan for the salaries and emoluments earned by federal Legislators without taking into cognizance the theory of Separation of Powers which a democrat like President Jonathan must be bound by. They also conveniently forget to mention that opposition Legislators have not for once turned down their salaries.
But it would be irresponsible of me to talk about a problem without suggesting solution. If opposition governors feel that they do not have enough funds, would it not be an opportunity for them to demonstrate their leadership abilities and look within by generating funds internally. Can any of my readers imagine a situation where the governor of any U.S. state would blame President Barrack Obama for his state’s financial plight?
They should think nationally and act locally. On October 11 2011, President Jonathan launched the Youth With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) initiative. Since then, YouWIN has created 15,000 direct jobs and probably hundreds of thousands of jobs created by the multiplier effect. In the Agricultural Sector, at least half a million jobs have been added. By virtue of the Local Content Act signed into law by the President three years ago, thousands of jobs have been provided for Nigerians in the oil sector. On November 1, 2013 history is to be made as the nation’s power sector has been privatized with the new owners set to take over their privatized assets and $2.5 billion has been paid into the government coffers. Only last week the Federal Government slashed the cost of registering a business by 50% to encourage Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
These and other initiatives of the Goodluck Jonathan led Federal Government have added billions of non oil dollars to the Nigerian economy proving that if you are creative you can generate revenues and increase the wealth of your people.
This is what I would recommend to those crying wolf. Change your tactics. Think nationally and act globally.
However, if they continue to throw stones at President Jonathan and the Federal Government on the state of the economy, they should know that the President does not get upset when people throw stones at him. He takes it as a compliment because he knows that no one throws stones at a tree that has no fruit!
Reno Omokri is Special Assistant to the President on New Media.


by Emmanuel James Ibe-Anyanwu  Image

Bombs are evangelical loudspeakers that kill. For the Islamist terrorist, the ideology is simple: all men must convert to the ‘truth’; nations must implement the ‘true’ laws of God, the Sharia, or be sorry for themselves.

Yesterday, my teenage cousins were arguing to establish who qualifies as world’s most powerful man. “It’s Obama”, said one. “No, it’s Putin”, said the other. My walking in was a timely intervention. They asked me to settle the matter, but were  disappointed by my judgment: “It’s the suicide bomber.”

For me, no man is more powerful than that creature who despises his own life. Whoever has no regard for his own life is the master of that of another. To kill the suicide bomber is to assist his own design. A few years ago, some Islamist terrorists in Chechnya held people hostage in a cinema. Their message to the authorities was clear: “We are more keen on dying than you are on living.” Contempt for life and death is the worst insertion in terrorism.

No, it’s not completely true – that the contempt for life and death is the worst invention in terrorism. It’s also not very true that poverty and malicious politics are the causes of terror. These may qualify as assistant scourges but we must reach at the bottom of the hierarchy of evil, in trying to understand how we got here. At that bottom lies the chief menace, ensconced in pure safety,  wreaking havoc without the interference of discourse. I call it ‘the hubris of religious truth.’ Let me explain.

Every religion insists that it holds the ultimate truth: other religions or worldviews are evil, false. Each religion knows, for sure, how man came to be; how phenomena came about; how the world will end; etc. Each has no doubts about the certainty of its truth claims. People who dispute any such claims are going to hell: Christians are going to the Muslim hell; Muslims, Buddists, Judaists and the rest are going to the Christian hell. Each of them is brandishing the ultimate truth, yet these truths are divergent.

Let us understand first, that religion, just like science, philosophy, mysticism, etc., is one of man’s early attempts at making sense of the world and explaining the human condition. But science and philosophy, for instance, even with their conquests in explaining life, are hardly arrogant: they admit their errors and limitations, and accept that the quest for the ultimate truth is an ongoing enterprise. They understand that phenomena and Nature evolve; they know that to reach absolute certainty in our knowledge of the world is to have retrogressed, not to have progressed. For, reality is a journey, not a destination.

Not so with religion. It knows precisely everything. It does not admit error or accept that reality is relative, that most people in contrary belief systems are there out of their innocent pursuit of the same God. Armed with this arrogant certainty, religion sets forth to demonise contrary worldviews, and has succeeded in dividing the world into competitive kingdoms – or rather, ‘wardoms.’ Everybody is trying to save everybody. The Catholic Christian is trying to save the Muslim, and after the Muslim is saved, the Deeper-Life Christian goes to re-save the same Muslim. And it goes on. Some Muslim sects do not have the time for door-to-door or street evangelism. They know that bombs are louder than loudspeakers. And they get busy.

Bombs are evangelical loudspeakers that kill. For the Islamist terrorist, the ideology is simple: all men must convert to the ‘truth’; nations must implement the ‘true’ laws of God, the Sharia, or be sorry for themselves. The male suicide bomber is not only arrogantly certain about the truth of his religion; he is also certain that seven virgins are cached in heaven for him, though we have not yet been properly briefed on how he intends to ravish such a population when his manhood would have been shattered by the bomb. Whether that is even a fair deal remains to be seen but let it pass for now – that a woman who has been virtuous with a lifetime of celibacy is rewarded with the gift of a terrorist, not even for her alone but to share with six other women. The suicide bomber’s impatience to be lodged into this heavenly orgy is understandable. Men have killed people over a singular woman. Seven virgins are enough to kill and die for.

While it is true that virtually all religions are blighted by this truth arrogance, Islam, either by design or misrepresentation, appears not to be content with mere arrogance. As its scholars try hard to present it as a religion of peace, terrorists continue to contradict that effort by blitz of terror. Perhaps it is true what some say, that belligerent Islamism is merely an Arabian input to the faith, occasioned by what has been identified as the prevalent character of anger and violence in that region. Be that as it may, religion’s hubris of truth is the fundamental cause of religious terrorism. If religions, from start, had accepted the validity of contrary others, knowing that everyone was just trying to reach truth in ways open to them, we would not be having this problem. The Muslim would know that the Christian and the others, just like him or her, are partners in the quest for ultimate truth. The Christian would not term anyone an “unbeliever.” Just like one large extended family, humanity would be sharing ideas about life and death, phenomena and Nature, etc. We would be more united, and would know that religious truth is relative, that certainty is what we are seeking, not what we have reached. And God would be less busy.

Religious branding, a product of this truth arrogance, is part of what we have to fight against in our effort to contain terrorism. It’s unrealistic, I know. Everyone is going to continue insisting on their truth claims. But while we deploy military solutions in fighting terror, let us begin also to preach, in our different religions, that we are all on the search for ultimate truth. Little by little, we could get more people to understand the relativity of religious truth. A lot of people on the social media already share this belief. We could change the world one person at a time.

Be anxious for nothing. Turn all your worries and cares into prayers today (Phil 4:6).

The exciting performance of the song ‘Africa Rapper No. 1’ by M.I. (Nigeria) and HHP (South Africa) on Coke Studio Africa, Season 1, Episode 1 is something i will never forget. It was a Show of how well both acts can work with the ensemble of live-band. It is a sign of how well African Music has grown. Even though the Song was in 3 different Languages(Igbo, English and Swahilli), the delivery of these Musical Heavy weights will keep you in a constant state of Awe, whether you understand the lyrics or not. Enjoy

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

I was greeted this morning by the words in this scripture, then it dawned on me, how eager The Lord is, How urgently someone needs to make up the hedge and stand in the gap. We are here today simply because some people saddled with the responsibility of mending the hedge, decided to break it instead. We can’t continue to wait on them to come to their senses, we must start up the work they abandoned. Our future doesn’t rest on their shoulders anymore, it is our responsibility to shapen it as we deemed it fit.

Will we be the generation that sings; “we are a Choosen Generation, called forth to show His excellence”, and then fold our hands and watch Non-challantly as Apathy steals our future from us. If I may ask, ” Where is the excellence in that?”. We must rise up to the occassion and rebuild the Walls and stand in the gap for our Land.

Incase you don’t know, 97% of the problems in this country affects us directly. From ASUU strike to the “Unsure SURE-P” funds, even the failing aviation sector and the unfulfilled promises of steady Electricity, all affects us directly and we must do something about it or we will regret it in the nearest future.

The present brookers of political strenght and economic schedules are not our age mates, so they won’t even know how it feels to be us. The only opportunity they have to feel our pains was suppose to be the educational sector, but we all know where their Children School. So they escaped it and we are still here waiting for them to react. What a waste of time.

I can’t begin to express how annoying it is to see young people treating the problems in this country like its a “right of passage”. It is not. Some Old fowl failed to lay the right eggs now we can’t have omlets. That’s what it is.

It is time to rise up from the slumber we have been forced into and find solutions to our problems.

This is the time to awake and Pray, it is time to call upon The God you Serve, it is Time to Let your God know that you mean business, it is Time to Prove that all the Religious rights, Sacrifices and Reverences are not falling on deaf ears, call on your God and make sure He answers. Afterwards take up your hoes and let’s rip the harvest.

It is time to rise and save our Land. Our salvation is in our Hands, don’t be slow to save yourself and others too. Be the one that would be found, be that trail blazer and Build the hedge and stand in the gap for our Land.

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A great man once said that a thing that must be done, should be done properly. Ok, I made that up. But it is true. No point flopping at something you can’t escape. Somehow we all must die. Don’t ask me the cause of that product defect. Even if you cheat death like Mugabe who at 120 is still insisting on ruling Zimbabwe, someday it must all end. This no one can control. But how we die, this is more important than dying itself. Because to die without a ripple, without some stirring in the air, is to never have lived. Death is not a noun or a state. It is an event, the success of which requires proper planning.

This is how to die in Nigeria.

One way to die is to ensure that in life, you did something worth remembering. This action need not be good or exemplary. In Nigeria no one cares if you were good or evil when you die. The only crime is dying without having done anything worthy of note. Like dying so poor no one knows your name. In Nigeria death, especially the death of someone rich or powerful, confers sainthood that cannot be challenged. Coup plotters and government thieves assume the title of elder statesmen and heroes of the nation. It will become forbidden to dig into your wicked past and you will be beatified. You may even get a posthumous national award. And most importantly, the newspapers will carry ads about your unfortunate exit or ‘Call to Glory’. In this way your death will have a meaning. So, please, if you must die in Nigeria, acquire power and wealth. I don’t care how and if you do, no one will. 

Do not die in the company of important people if you yourself have not attained importance or notoriety. This is crucial. If you go and die in the company of an ex governor or ex militant, the news will say Governor so-and-so has died in a ghastly motor accident. Then the report may add that ‘also among the casualties were two persons traveling in his convoy’. No one will know which of the two unidentified persons you are. Or if you are male or female. You will pass on into oblivion without so much as an ad in the paper. Because in Nigeria, you are a number unless you are important. God forbid that this should happen to you.

The only exception to this is dying in a plane crash. This is the most respectable death for persons without a title to their name. The flight manifest- one of the few records that are consistently available on demand in Nigeria- makes it possible to have a full list of everyone on board. Usually this list is published and somehow the world will receive notice of your untimely death. Your name will appear in full in newspapers and news reports. Your death will matter. 

Do not make the mistake of dying in a luxurious bus accident. You do not want to go out with the headline ‘Dozens perish in bus crash’. Because to die is one thing and to perish is another. If you are unfortunate the reporter will say something like ‘25 crushed to death’ with an emphasis on the crushing instead of the dying. All people will see in their heads will be human flesh being crushed. No face. No identity. No names. 

Dying in a flood, a cholera outbreak, a collapsed building, these things are unacceptable. Rather than that, it is even better to die while having carnal knowledge, in which case at least one of the tabloids or gossip blogs will find out your name and carry your story. Your family may not like it, but at least people will know your name.

One of the worst places to die however is in a terrorist attack. Nigeria is not Kenya that respectfully identifies people by name in a terrorist attack. We cannot afford such luxuries. Here, when a terrorist kills you whether as a student in a school or a traveler on the road, you become a summarized number. An official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was once quoted as saying that when fatalities occur in a conflict situation, they feel duty bound to reduce the figures, so as not to escalate the crises. What wise thinking. So if there are 200 deaths, NEMA may report 60. Imagine being summarized. Not even counted as a whole dead figure. So if you run into a terrorist bent on taking your life, beg the man. Tell him you are not opposed to dying for his cause. Plead with him to try something else, maybe make a video or something. Because it would be a tragedy to fade into oblivion, unannounced.

One great way to go is to die on camera. Hundreds, including school children may die or be slaughtered every month in Maiduguri and Nigerians will go about their daily activities. Because in their heads Maiduguri is one faraway North Eastern state that could pass for Chadian or Nigerien territory. In their heads 160 killed in Borno is what it is, a number. But if you have your death captured on tape, perfect. Then you can have hashtags with your name on Twitter and NGO’s calling for legislation to outlaw whatever type of knife they used to stab you. People will grant interviews and there will be hundreds of badly written blogs about you. A hashtag and a badly written blog post with a link to your death video or a photo of you gotten from Facebook is better than dying as a number. 

You cannot leave your death to chance. Because, as they say, to die is human but to die properly is divine. Ok, I made that up too, but you catch my drift, no?

Elnathan John

follow on Twitter: @freemanslounge

Posted: October 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

follow on Twitter: @freemanslounge