Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

ImageigeriaBy Prince Charles Dickson

 

In a country contentiously split among Muslims and Christians, leaders of Nigeria’s mosques and churches are united in their condemnation of same-sex relationships.

 

So, too, are lawmakers, who’ve criminalized sodomy, civil unions and gay marriages, with a 14-year prison sentence as punishment. In some northern regions, flogging and the death penalty comes into play.

 

Since the anti-gay laws were passed, stories of people being arrested for violating them are a common occurrence. At the same time, gay rights activists are becoming more vocal. Even churches formed by the LGBT community can be found.

 

So what’s life like for Nigerians who are attracted to people of the same gender? Can they practice their faith in a country where religion and culture overwhelmingly condemn their sexual identities?

 

To better understand, I interviewed a range of Nigerians from across the country who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight. They came from many walks of life – writers, ministers, government officials, food vendors, etc.

 

LGBT Spirituality

 

In Ikoyia, an upscale suburb of Lagos in southwest Nigeria, I caught up with a gay man who works in finance. He took me to party, where I observed gay men socializing.

 

“We informally gather for dinner parties, at restaurants and beaches,” the man said.

 

Wealthy gays in his suburb are said to live more openly than anywhere else in Nigeria. I asked: Did he consider himself both gay and Christian?

 

“My faith is a personnal matter,” said the man, who described himself as a Pentecostal Christian. “Besides, many people won’t understand.”

 

He’s right. Christians account for nearly half of Nigeria’s population and all major denominations denounce same-sex intimacy as sinful, at least in their doctrines.

 

Nigeria’s Anglican bishops are especially vocal. They’ve long threatened to break away from the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue, most recently at an October conference in Nairobi that drew 331 conservative bishops from across the globe.

 

The bishops want the U.S., Canadian and European members of the Anglican Communion to denounce stances on homosexuality contrary to their own. Canada’s Anglican Church began blessing same-sex couples in 2002, a few months before the U.S. Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop.

 

More recently, the Church of England dropped a ban on gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops. Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, says the West is ignoring Scripture and insisting on imposing its views on other countries.

 

“They want to push it down everybody’s throat,” he said in March at an ordination service. “And as far as they are concerned, it is a matter of human right. But God’s right is not discussed.”

 

Many of the gay Nigerians I interviewed said they didn’t abandon their faith because of the sexual identity.

 

 “I am a saved Christian and proud gay,” the man in Ikoyia told me.

 

A country divided

 

The level of openness found in Lagos wasn’t as evident just 154 miles west in Benin and elsewhere in Nigeria.  For much of the country, it seems that religion, profession, family, the laws as well as class status factor into how openly members of the LGBT community choose to live.

 

An architect in Kano who is straight and attends a Methodist Church told me that he has friends who are gay. He said he’d come to terms with their sexual orientations.

 

“I don’t see myself better than they are,” he said. “I believe that can practice their faith, even though the Bible condemns it.”

 

At the same time, he doesn’t want them showing public displays of affection. Nor does he believe that same-sex couple should be allowed to adopt children.

 

“I’m not saying being a gay is good,” he said. “I’m a Christian and I also have a culture that condemns it.”

 

In northern Nigeria, many people said they were aware of LGBT communities Kano and Kaduna, but rarely gave them a thought. A Muslim told me that he grew up with some of them.

 

“The only thing I do not like is that as Muslims, we don’t allow them pray with us,” he said. “Some of them want to, but you know we can’t allow that.”

 

In Abuja, Nigeria’s capitol city, I heard a slightly different view.

 

“I don’t care if a gay person comes to a church or mosque,” a man said. “However, for me, everything is wrong with a union between gay people being called a marriage”.

 

Ash-Shiekh Muhammad Sani Yahaya, the national chairman, Ulama’u Council of JIBWIS, said Islam condemns homosexuality.

 

“It is an abomination, it is a crime,” he said. Lesbian relationships aren’t mentioned in the Qur’an, but that’s not true of gay men, citing the following verses:

 

“Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.”

 

The global view

 

Britain and some other Western nations threaten to suspend aid to Nigeria and other countries where homosexuality is criminalized. They consider the laws discriminatory and grounded in bigotry and prejudice.

 

In November, the European Union’s top court ruled that gays and lesbians in countries that outlaw homosexual relations are eligible for asylum. Days later, the Malta Refugees Appeals Board granted asylum to an 18-year-old Nigerian teen.

 

“The dominant role of religion is widely seen as the root of the country’s homophobic culture,” the board said, quoting from a border agency report.

 

“Punishing gays is one of the few common themes that politicians can promote with equal zest in the mainly Christian south and the largely Muslim north,” the board said.

 

Homosexual intimacy is criminalized in 78 countries, including 38 of 54 African countries. That’s why Africa is often pointed to as the most homophobic of continents.

 

The death penalty is at play in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen as well as parts of Somalia.

 

 “Same-sex marriage may be acceptable in some countries of the world, but in Nigeria, the majority of the people – by words and deeds – have shown it to be an abomination that they must stand against,” wrote Emma Madaubuch, an assistant editor, in the Daily Independent.

The same sex bill passed by the Congress in Nigeria, waiting assent provides that a marriage contract or civil union entered by persons of same sex by a virtue a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be void in Nigeria.

The bill provides that persons that enter into such union are jointly liable to 14years imprisonment each, and those that administer, witnesses, screens, aid and abets, supports, operates gay clubs, societies, procession or organization in Nigeria commits an offense and liable on conviction to a 10 year jail term.

Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has aligned himself with the country’s majority view and the anti-gay laws adopted by the National Assembly.

While Nigeria has dug in its heels on the issue, attitudes and polices in other countries are softening and shifting toward greater acceptance. In 2001, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution supporting equal rights for all, no matter their sexual orientation

 

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 16 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Uruguay, and New Zealand. In addition, gay couples can wed in England and Wales beginning in March 2014.

 

They can also marry in some regions of Mexico and the United States, though President Obama didn’t support legalization until May 2012.

 

The spiritual view

 

The Rev. Rumo James, a Baptist pastor in Jos, told me that homosexuality is affliction and disease for which no compassion should be extended.

 

“Homosexualism is a virus that degrades the family and its values, corrupts human cohabitation and offends God,” he said. “It eventually leads to social decline.”

 

Nigeria’s Christian population is Africa’s largest, with 80 million followers, according to the Pew Research Center in the United States. Clergy cite Bible-passages as the God-given reason for their condemnation of same-sex relationships.

 

Two of the most frequent verses cited are from Leviticus. One states: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (18:22).

 

The other says: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (20:13).

 

Christians supportive of same-sex couples say those Old Testament Bible verses are misinterpreted, made obsolete by the New Testament or simply out of touch with modern life.

 

They also argue that all people, gay and straight, are made in the image of God. Besides, they point out, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

 

‘I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate from South Africa, said this year in response to Russia’s anti-gay laws.

 

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered and should live celibate lives. But Pope Francis also made headlines when he offered a softened tone on homosexuality than that heard from the Vatican in decades.

 

“Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” the pope told reporters. Many Catholic bishops, priests and church members take a harsher view.

 

Bishop Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese in northwestern Nigeria isn’t one of them. Like the pope, he strikes a conciliatory tone.

 

Would the bishop welcome gays and lesbians in church? “

 

“The church is a place for everyone,” he said. “I would not chase one out. I would not report that person either.”

 

It should be noted that people who help conceal same-sex couples can be punished by up to 10 years in prison under Nigerian law. Some consider those who choose not to report defiant and others see them as courageous.

Conclusion

 

As in all repressively homophobic cultures, LGBT people continue to find ways to express and to live out their authentic selves.

 

They are part of Nigerian society at all levels. Some hold prominent jobs in government, businesses, the military and even as religious leaders.

 

But it’s not a leap to suggest that the majority keep their sexuality a secret for fear of losing their families, friends, jobs, freedom or even their lives.

 

Despite Nigeria’s strict laws, the debate over LGBT rights and same-sex relationships is nowhere near resolution. My reporting reveals Nigeria’s gay culture, though largely silent, isn’t going away.

 

On this vexatious issue, I believe in windows of possibility. Nigerians and other Africans need to strike a balance.

 

Might the day come when Nigerians respect the rights of its LGBT community and the LGBT community be respectful to those who uphold heterosexual relationships exclusively?

 

Learning to live in peace doesn’t mean we will agree with one another on all matters. Nor does being civil toward one another mean we endorse one another’s behavior or beliefs.

 

Change is a part of life and throughout life we change and accommodate new understandings of behavior and circumstances.

 

As a journalist and writer, I strongly believe there’s need for understanding and that understanding is key to Nigeria’s path forward on this issue.

 

Should the LGBT community be discriminated against? Should their human rights be abused?

 

Should they face imprisonment? Should they be flogged?

 

Should they be put to death?

 

My answer is NO!

 

Prince Charles Dickson is a Nigerian Journalist. 

LGBT Rights– God’s Laws, Nigeria’s Laws is a reportorial for the ICFJ/Henry Luce Reporting Fellowship

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By Prince Charles Dickson

Sometimes, I sit and look: sometimes I look and sit: and sometimes, I just look, I don’t sit…and some other times I don’t sit, I don’t look…I just stare at the distance spaces—not looking, not sitting, just staring—Segun Oruame

The man died, he was 95 years, there would be no Mandela, I offer my heartfelt sympathies to the people of South Africa in this moment of grief.

Beautiful words have been used, eulogies are countless, in the social, and conventional media even those that cannot spell his name “Rolihlahla” have had a word or more to say.

I consider myself privileged to be part of a generation that witnessed the passing away of a man that was loved by friends and foes in different measure, for different reasons.

I cannot recall, when a prostitute celebrated a man, in like manner a president, a mechanic, a footballer, or an activist, such is the love that the world had for this one man, from India to Canada, Abuja to Adelaide.

I will not be writing a tribute, nor will this be a eulogy, I am not fit, I am not South African, and wont cry more than the bereaved. Also many persons in the last few days and weeks to come would be drawing lessons that can be learned from this great man. So there would be no need to sound repetitive and hypocritical.

Here in Nigeria, I have read the briefs of the likes of Chris Ngige, Tinubu, Orji Theodore, Atiku, Jonathan, PDP chiefs, APC maids and mere mortals, whose several lifetimes may be difficult to replicate one man’s 95 magnificent years. I have also seen some comical comparisons, and all I can say is “what a life”

I read Obasanjo talk about what Mandela told him, “Certain that his task was completed, Mandela modestly refused to seek re-election after his first term in office as his presidency elapsed. I still recall his pragmatic words when he said to me ‘Olu, show me a [reasonable] place in the world where a man of 80 years is running the affairs of his country’.

“This, to me, reflects an unequaled sense of modesty for a man who spent 27 of the prime years of his life in prison for a just cause.”

After reflecting so hard on those lines, I share in my admonition in the next few paragraphs what Madiba told me, specifically what Tata said to me about Nigeria.

Mandela shortly before he passed on, asked me if it made sense to my leaders, the PDP, the opposition, traditional rulers, and clergy, opinion leaders and the so-called elder statesmen, that Nigerian children were at home for more than six months and what was more important was 2015, the next election and the best we off, is exchanging ‘mouthicufs” while a future was being negotiated away.

He told me that he could understand that as Journalists, sometimes we are tied by words for purposes of marketing and often break the rules—but really he did not understand what we meant by…for example ‘ASUU “vows” to continue strike ‘, what kind of vow is it?

Just as it makes no sense that government issues ultimatum for universities to resume, and then teachers defy presidency and shun classes…He asked me to sit and look, or look and sit, and tell him if it made sense.

He wondered why Nigerians were carefree, and easily manipulated, we talked about Adams Oshiomhole, I was surprised he knew the governor, and I told him, I am not a fan of the opposition as currently composed. He smiled and asked can we get saints from sinners, in local parlance they say it is the same market. Talking Adams, for those that watched the soap, “go and die”, the sequel,  “N2Million and the tea breakfast”, you would understand.

He asked me where did the governor get the N2million, and what was the reasoning behind the figure, and how about other widows, what is symbolic, why do we play politics with lives and reality. Does the governor run a charity?

I told him like a number of states in Nigeria, Edo is owing arrears of one thing or the other, apart from salaries, but state CEOs are giving away widows’ mite of N2Million and more to widows, spinsters, girlfriends, etc. It is no big deal, that’s how legends are created in our own world.

He asked me, when would we get leaders that love this nation, or as they say, if we get what we deserve, it implies Nigerians do not love their country. And I dare agree with the legend, we do not: that is why we were the first nation to declare a three days mourning, leading the way for Mandela, when indeed several spheres of our national lives is in mourning and we have refused to mourn.

Thinking about Tata, as his people fondly called him, I was moved by the testimonies of the ordinary lives he touched, those calls when they had a baby, or got married. The simplicity of a great man, and the greatness of an ordinary man, reconcile that with the many that are dead because of one government convoy, or leadership irresponsibility.

The man lived as a legend, died as one, he was still human, recall when he wanted 14year olds to vote, or when he was adamant about his successor, and many other wrong steps he took, but indeed he is living a South Africa with so many good memories, a world with so much to ponder on.

Who are the legends of the Nigerian cause, so many of them, just in case we need reminders—Legend of the pension thief, legend of highly paid legislators that do nothing, legend of strikes in education, health, aviation and more. Legend of Boko Haram, legends of ghosts, the list is endless.

In Nigeria, we are blessed with very virile minds, intellects, academicians, but we lack leadership with purpose and a humane heart, in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, there is so much shouting, there is no true knowledge—will Nigeria celebrate her own Mandela, I just stare at the distance spaces—not looking, not sitting, just staring—only time will tell.

By Prince Charles Dickson

One who hears and repeats a curse of the king is really cursing the king

A few years ago, the Bureau for Public Enterprise BPE sold NITEL the nations elephant telecom company to a building in Switzerland, it was a building housing a church, all the dance and drama. We soon let go. Just a reminder it was called PENTESCOPE. Only this year, the father of a white cloth wearing former Honourable bought the NITEL house…The NITEL story remains a tales by moonlight, plenty lies, half truths, misinformation, propaganda, a pot pourri of sorts. 

How about the Steel Rolling Mill in Jos, Plateau, it was ‘racketeered’ in that sweet sounding word privatization. The likes of Andy, and his cohorts bought all the assets, renamed it Zuma, today the only functional thing is the housing estate. The factory and machines have been vandalized. 

There was that drama of Daily Times, publishers of that ole time newspaper.  Before I go far, a former Managing Director of the once pride of publishing told me “Charlie, Daily Times is like a big elephant, everybody comes and cuts his/her own and goes away.”

You need to appreciate that statement in context, at a time in point Daily Times had properties virtually everywhere Nigeria had a presence in the world. All that changed as all that was left of the elephant was sold to some clowns and the rest is history. 

Today, my admonition is on our power sector, I am sure you are wondering the ‘…masquerade’. As we round up the year, I recount 27 promises from over a dozen public official. That the power supply would get better, and indeed on some odd occasions I and many Nigerians have enjoyed more than 8hours of electricity. But don’t forget, it was not the norm, it was an exception. The President, his aides, and ministers made these pledges. 

It is an interesting masquerade, recall a top aide, who blamed witches for power outages. Have we not since forgotten the Minister who resigned and the controversies. 

And then the many Chinese loans taken, yet we are on the same track, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria has been sold and the drama has only begun. But if you know Nigerians and Nigeria, it is only a repeat episode, nothing new. 

Most of the new owners have simply bought PHCN properties for peanuts. Owners that have no required expertise, distribution companies aptly called DISCOs that see the venture as new ‘oil wells’. 

Looking at the best effort of government or the DISCOs, I simply recall those days when we read, there is this novel by Adaora Ulasi, Many things We don’t understand. It is a book I read many donkey years ago. What captivated me then, was not just in the story but that title. 

Yes I am talking about PHCN, former NEPA, onetime ECN, for those old enough to remember. Now Distribution Companies, the power sector and these Discos are just a repeat episode–things we never may understand. It’s an ‘Up NEPA’ Masquerade, nothing new, yet when it comes out it engages our fancy, our fears, and enthusiasm. 

Like why we can’t get 18hours electricity in a nation with so much resources both human and financial. Like how do we expect to get the desired megawatts with generating and transmission points that are run ala Luggard. 

How do we get electricity when a third of consumers don’t pay bills, infact stranger than fiction some state government houses owe several millions in bills. 

I kindly ask us to reflect as the year end, what matters to us. As a nation, as a people, both the led, leaders and those who are in the business of dealing with us–what are our values, what drives this nation and her people?

What is the Nigerian dream, as we gravitate towards the centenary, there are complains, grumbling, disaffection and conflicts. 

To some its Goodluck Jonathan, to others, it is the institutions, others blame the opposition, the opposition blames government. The people blame the leaders, the leaders blame leaders. 

What is the Ijaw nation’s dream, is all the political-economy of the SouthWest about the Tinubu Monarchy, and in the North, is it not a betrayal republic, one of a people that has let itself and people down and then as usual lie to its people.

Let us share this fable as I conclude: A master was strolling through a field of wheat when a disciple came up to him and asked, “I can’t tell which is the true path. What’s the secret?”

“What does that ring on your right hand mean?” – asked the master.

“My father gave it to me before dying.”

“Well, give it to me.”

The disciple obeyed, and the master tossed the ring into the middle of the field of wheat.

“Now what?” – shouted the disciple.

“Now I have to stop doing everything I was doing to look for the ring! It’s important to me!”

The ring is the masquerade, it is important to us, but it can be thrown away, and indeed it has been discarded many times. We stop everything we are doing to look for it, but we don’t even know why, yet it is important. 

Nigeria, Nigerians, don’t understand many things, we are a repeat episode, yet we desperately desire change. We have watched as university teachers’ union stayed on strike and five months counting. We have seen these same strikes in the past. Meetings, meetings, agreements, and broken promises. All repeat episodes, all masquerades. 

Finally these three things: 1) Masquerades are often from the community, the same people you eat, play, work and discuss with. Yet, they hide their faces and scare you, poke fun at you, and chase you…

2) A repeat episode, many a time, you have watched it, you know what to expect, how it will end, what happened. Yet, you are still addicted to it, like the yearly masquerade you want to see it again, even when you are being fooled.  

3) Many things we don’t understand–because we choose not to. Like the power masquerade, good governance masquerade, and corruption masquerade, ethnic card masquerade and more–Are we ready to shed the deceit, and get it right, only time will tell.

By Prince Charles Dickson

Yau da shi ya sa allura ginin rijiya (Hausa axiom) literally means doing a thing little by little made it possible for the needle to dig a well. 

In recent times I have read and watched with sadness the division in Nigeria. And this week, this is my admonition. 

For example, the one tablet-solves-it-all called the National Dialogue has not started but the feelers are ther–we won’t discuss our unity, let’s increase derivation, we shall use ethnic nationalities, no we have majority- arewa tackles ohaneze, afenifere blows arewa, middlebelt gives upper cut to allbelts. 

We are told by some who have seen the 1914 marriage certificate with a divorce clause after 100years. We are also aware of the ‘Nigeria will break 2015’ prophecy. 

Forced Marriage 
In the words of my brother Tope Fasua, what is special about Nigeria’s forced marriage, as different from other forced marriages all over the world – and is every country not a forced marriage. 

Civilization is about forced marriages, the only difference sometimes is the form of ‘force’. But substance over form, all countries have been forced to be together. 

There must then be something innately wrong with us, why you make so much hue and cry on one spot, complaining about a forced marriage and the need to dissolve the marriage, when we are all the offspring of such a marriage.

Can one liken the situation with that of a grown adult, who keeps complaining about the conditions of his birth, his ‘wrong parents’, his being born in the wrong place, rather than moving on? 

Is that not the difference between a Steve Jobs, who was born illegitimately and in penury, put up for adoption to not-so-rich foster parents, and who slept on the floor as a squatter in university, dropped out and made something global of himself, and many area boys in Lagos, Aba, and Kano, who chose to take to drugs and area-boyism because ‘their parents were not supposed to have met in the first place’..? 

Is there a possibility that even as we repeat this ill-informed, ego-induced, short-sighted, tunnel-visioned baloney about ‘FORCED MARRIAGE’, we are also telling our own children to start to put the union of their parents under the microscope, in order to find out whether the marriage was forced, or whether their parents were handsome enough, or whether their mothers went to enough school, in order to decide whether they will become street urchins or whether they will fight hard in the world to make something of themselves?

It’s the cockiness Nigerians spew out that i detest with everything in me. 

Cockiness such as when Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, alleged that  over 400 northerners may have betrayed the region after collecting money to back President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term. 

One wonders how such characters and the likes of Dokuboh, Clark, get public space, well its ‘public’. 

For ‘Worsetest’
I would tell us a fable–In a forest, a pregnant deer is about to give birth. She finds a remote grass field near a strong-flowing river. This seems a safe place. Suddenly labour pains begin.

At the same moment, dark clouds gather around above & lightning starts a forest fire. She looks to her left & sees a hunter with his bow extended pointing at her. To her right, she spots a hungry lion approaching her.

What can the pregnant deer do? 
She is in labour! 

What will happen? 
Will the deer survive? 
Will she give birth to a fawn? 
Will the fawn survive? 
Or will everything be burnt by the forest fire? 

Will she perish to the hunters’ arrow? 
Will she die a horrible death at the hands of the hungry male lion approaching her? 

She is constrained by the fire on the one side & the flowing river on the other & boxed in by her natural predators.

What does she do? She focuses on giving birth to a new life. It’s not just bad or worse–Her case is ‘worsetest’

The sequence of events that follows are:

– Lightning strikes & blinds the hunter.

– He releases the arrow which zips past the deer & strikes the hungry lion.

– It starts to rain heavily, & the forest fire is slowly doused by the rain.

– The deer gives birth to a healthy fawn.

For Better…
In Nigeria a lot is wrong, many persons with negative thoughts and possibilities. 

But some thoughts are so powerful positive they overcome us & overwhelm us like the golden eaglets victory in Dubai, or Super Eagles qualifying for the World Cup. 

Maybe we can learn from the deer. The priority of the deer, in that given moment, was simply to give birth to a baby.

The rest was not in her hands & any action or reaction that changed her focus would have likely resulted in death or disaster.

We have to roll up our sleeves and move on to a focus. The problem we have is not about any union. It is about the IRRESPONSIBILITY, THE VISIONLESSNESS, THE GREED, THE MENTAL ILLNESS, THE COWARDICE of the few who had and still have the opportunity, even me and you…but we fight Christians, fight Muslims, fight Idomas, Nupes, Beroms, and what not.  

I may not agree with you but will not deny you the right to that opinion. We certainly have a right to be wrong–but for how long, if we want change. It will come like the needle, very slowly, but do we want change and what are our priorities–only time will tell.  

 

 

By Olu G. Adeyinka

 

First. Let me do what I have never done before in this series on RLV. I want to thank, sincerely, the many people who sent me email asking me deep seated questions on the last 3 parts of the series on Tithe. Many of whom are ministers with a true heart for God. One senior Pastor said “I will find a way to readdress this issue with the Church members because I see the truth you presented tallied with God’s word”. Isn’t that a delight? Many wants to continue reading the series to see if all their questions will be answered. I do not promise to answer all questions, but will present the Biblical truths without fear or favor. Thank you for the encouragement.

We must acknowledge here that the only possible excuse that can make Tithe or Tithing appropriately acceptable or doctrinally plausible in the New Testament dispensation is to present it as an everlasting or eternal principle of God. That is exactly what the pulpit has done successfully in the last 200 years of Church history. They have successfully fixated on that aspect and  pushed it down the throat of believers perfectly with the mention of Abraham and Jacob. Some even referred back to the days of Cain and Abel as when Tithing actually began. I have heard several messages on the eternal patriarchal chain of ‘Tithers’ from Adam to Moses and to the popular misread and misapplied Matthew chapter twenty-three. The brinksmanship of the Evangelical pulpit and the competing Orthodoxy clergies in establishing the teachings on Tithe are continued from generation to generation is not totally innocent. The second tool that have helped in securing a ‘place’ for Tithe is the passage in Malachi chapter three, where God’s anger was registered around the topic (again a complete misapplication of the scripture). The final instrument being used to capture the harvest of Tithe is the FEAR tactics deployed.

 

Believers are simply fearful folks! Many of us are so afraid of the preachers that even God cannot compete with them. We do so many things right before the “man of God” and do worse things in the secret where the man is not present, yet we claim we know God who sees all things. The Church is very TIMID! We have doubts, but will rather ask amongst ourselves where such doubts could not be clarified. When we eventually get so bold to ask our pastors, whatever they say, along with an unqualified passage of the scripture is suffice for our ignorance. That is why the Church is in dark corners but claiming to be in great lights. We claim we have deep revelations when we actually grope in darkness of self consciousness

In the last part (part 3), I refuted the teachings that Tithe is even an Old Covenant doctrine. It was never an Old Mosaic law of covenant, but an appendage or an attached instruction to have enough provisions for certain people. And that in itself is enough to make it sacrosanct, but not enough to make it a covenanted law.

Here, we will look critically at Abraham and Jacob, a major link that has made Tithing seem eternal and presentable in our days. We must set some parameters of history about the two patriarchs of the faith we profess, first.

Abraham was born an Idolator. He worshipped the moon-god along with the traditions of his father Terah in the Chaldees before God called him and made him a believer in the one and true God (Joshua 24”2-3). The very common pagan tradition that is as old as man is for the army generals to consult the gods before going to war. They make ablutions and vow as to what to do for the gods if and when they return. Abraham also came from that tradition of paganism. Remember, he had learnt it for 75 years before God Almighty started with him. Here is the scripture, in the Genesis Fourteen chapter.

 

“And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’– except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion”. (Genesis 14: 17- 24).

What Abraham did was very consistent with traditions then. The encounter he had with Melchizedek, king of Salem, in this storyline was overwhelming to know that Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God. Melchizedek blessed Abraham and told him the reason why he won the war – “And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand”. A priest of God just told Abraham that God fought and delivered Abraham’s enemies into his hands, and he prayed for Abraham too. It must be a miracle for Abraham and his limited men (318) to have defeated strong armies of four powerful nations. It was just right for Abraham to be a blessing to the man of God, and he settled to give Melchizedek a tenth of all, which is now called Tithe (in the parlance of the pulpit). Here is the difference.

 

The tenth Abraham gave to Melchizedek was not a new harvest or stolen properties or added ones. It was all recovered properties stolen by the four powerful kings who were oppressors. What Melchizedek got from Abraham was not any property of Abraham, no, it was all properties of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and other three cities. The issue to consider is that the people would have lost all of their properties if Abraham had not been helped by God to recover it all. Now that all was recovered, what old tradition stipulates was to present a tenth to the gods. Mind you, the people of Sodom et al are not believers in the one true God, and they would have given the tenth to their idol that was not able to deliver them anyways. Now that Melchizedek presented himself, it was just right to present him with the tenth of all the spoils. Abraham could have been entitled to the tenth as a war merchant, but he gave it to the priest of God.

It is didactic to learn that nothing of all Abraham gave was his. Nothing! It is also important to note that the tenth given to Melchizedek by Abraham cost him nothing except the war that God gave him victory on. It is also instructional to observe that Abraham never took any of the spoils home to himself except his 318 men who were allowed to take their portion. Actually Abraham made a statement that completely makes the case a vow as he said to Bera, king of Sodom –

“I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich”.

That was a very powerful statement of vow Abraham made before the battle. He never took anything even though he was asked to keep everything, except that he gave the tenth to the priest of the most high.

Now, for those who claimed this was Tithe demanded by God, it is important to note that Abraham had nothing in the deal from the onset. For those who will claim Melchizedek represents the ministers of these days, it must be noted also that Abraham had many other enriching encounters after this episode and never again paid any tithe to anyone. It was a vow!
Let someone tell me how this story validates what the Church calls the tithe today? How is this event related to Abraham’s hope or faith for God’s provision tomorrow?

The Tithe of the era of Moses was not attached to man setting a goal and conditions. It was a mandate the farmers (only land related husbandry) were obliged to pay without condition. It does not have to do with the size of your harvest or anything. God’s promise of increase is done after you fulfill the Tithe. In the case of Jacob, God was not involved at all. It was a private dealing Jacob had with God, called a vow. Tithe is not a vow!  Jacob asked God to bless him FIRST, and then he will give God a tenth of such blessings in return. Hear Jacob.

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You”. (Genesis 28: 16- 22)

 

God appeared to Jacob in a dream and made some promises that were profound. The promises were not attached to any condition other than what God had promised Jacob’s descendants. The dream experience was very surreal for Jacob. It was the first of an encounter that is providing him an opportunity to hear God speak, and he was dumbfounded. Jacob was so reverent of that encounter that he reduced God to that location and poured oil on a stone (idolatry). However, he tied God Almighty into it, and then made a vow (which was out of doubt, really). God just made a declaration to bless you, and now you are attaching a mundane earthly reward to God who owns the earth and the fullness therein. God bypassed all the mistake of Jacob to honor His promise.
Could it be that Jacob forgot Tithe was a compulsion before making it a vow? Why was he not aware of Tithe since he grew up with a father that walked with God, and a lineage of Godly people?

The part that is most interesting is that all we know was that Jacob made a vow. We never saw where he fulfilled the vow he made. I guess, all the vows Jacob made was out of flesh, and God was not attaching any importance to that kind of vow when already a pronunciation of blessing had been made. God never asked Jacob for it because God does not feed on vows (though we should have enough integrity to stand by what we vow).

Where was this notion of Tithe as a generational eternal covenant coming from when no mention of it even when God was providing the Israelites free food in the wilderness? Joseph had the whole land of Egypt and never heard of Tithe from his godly parents or grandparents, really? The same Jacob worked for Laban for 20 years, and he kept the entire Tithe to himself and God still blessed him, right?

 

Nobody should stand on God’s word to pronounce Abraham or Jacob paid any Tithe at any time in their lifetime. The pew should also learn that the attempt to tie in Abraham and Jacob into the frenzy of Tithing was to ‘make holy what was not holy’. Until the book of Leveticus, no mention or instructions on Tithe was ever given by God Almighty. None whatsoever!

Next time we will look at the first mention of Biblical Tithe and explore what God was saying, and to who. Please do read parts 1 through 3 and this part to come along.

Olu Goodness Adeyinka can be reached at nigardgroup@yahoo.com

 

 
 
 
By Prince Charles Dickson
 
 
If the rat and the lizard are soaked by rain, the water dries from the lizard’s body but it does not dry from the rat’s body.
 
 
 
Nigerians are very dramatic people and this I have said countless times, all noise and very little in terms and focus and direction, all hot air, plenty smoke but no real fire–or at best sooner or later depending on the divide, the water dries, or the rat continues to suffer the cold long after the rain. 
 
 
 
I have followed all the noise that has accompanied the BMW bulletproof cars bought by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA for our darling Minister For Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, and quickly let me add, I have been part of the noise, but really what is the noise about?
 
 
 
Much ado about nothing, is it a case of how much do the cars really cost, was the price over-inflated, by how much, was it budgeted for, and less I forget, apart from being bulletproof, are the cars accident-proof, and do the cars fly over traffic, has the purchase improved the lifestyles of villagers from the Minister’s clan. 
 
 
 
I am very aware of a few agencies owing salaries in the aviation ministry, indeed much ado about nothing. 
 
 
 
Why are we screaming corruption, only weeks ago during the media tea-shop chat my beloved President said in one sweep, our problem is not corruption and has also said he knew those that were corrupt but won’t mention their names. On both counts I agree with him. 
 
 
 
The only difference, and my addition is I will mention names or name mentions. There is nothing wrong or corrupt with a Minister who is gifted not one but two bulletproof cars when according to her aide to the Minister on media, Joe Obi, in a media interview confirmed the vehicles were purchased for her principal to protect her from “imminent threats.” 
 
 
 
After all the last time I checked, about half a dozen ministers had bulletproof cars, some 30 governors had same, they are all under threats–I don’t know ordinary Nigerians can’t understand the threats to this leaders. 
 
 
 
Much ado about nothing–the FCTA is proposing a new city gate for N64bn to tackle the threats–two things, the gate either leads to heaven or will equally be bulletproof. Few kilometers after the current city gate is a primary school without lavatory, classes holding in makeshift rooms.  
 
 
 
Much ado about nothing, how much noise is being made, afterall  Fashola’s government purchased  three bullet proof cars- Jeeps- with bomb detector apparatus and surveillance cameras.
 
 
 
Their brand of the bulletproof cars is identified as Toyota Prado Jeep, Oduah’s is BMW–so what?
 
 
 
“The cost of each jeep- including handling, registration, insurance and other fees- is two hundred million naira. The three jeeps are valued at six hundred million naira. This is double the amount spent by Ms Stella Oduah in the current bullet-proof jeep scandal.”
 
 
 
“The three automobiles were reportedly bought for Asiwaju Tinubu and Governor Fashola on grounds of ‘security’.”
 
 
 
“My comrade James Ibori bought $250,000 armor-plated Hummer several years ago.  When the “Act of God” caught up with him, he was in far-away Dubai. The bullet-proof Hummer was thousands of miles away and useless.
 
 
 
Lucky bought, Nyame bought, Bafarawa had, Orji Kalu bought, and the earth has and will not capitulate. We make so much noise, but really we are left drenched like the rat. While the actors dry up and give us the next script. 
 
 
 
Months back, we screamed blue murder–give her panadol not postinor, even pagans became Islamic scholars, some asked when Mary conceived Jesus and swore to kill Yerima my brother with a sledge hammer forgetting the man is just a political ant–and after a few weeks much ado about nothing. 
 
 
 
Did you know 19 governors will accompany Jonathan On Pilgrimage To Israel on October 22, 2013, they will also visit Rome and Greece on the prayer spree or spiritual journey, one which its importance cannot be over-emphasized.
 
 
 
Just as another 14 governors and countless state functionaries will be coming back from Hajj yet they all need bulletproof cars. 
 
 
 
Sack her, fire him, and then appoint another to buy his/her own bulletproof Kia or Peugeot. Its a turn by turn affair. We, the people are at the receiving end. We have made more noise in few days about Stella’s bulletproof than our ‘solution-proof’ impasse between FG and ASUU. 
 
 
 
Do I really care about bulletproof reasons for the misdemeanor of our government officials or their accident prone actions? No! I am only bothered that we are the real culprits, we are the rats wet with hatred, wet with idiosyncrasies of whose religion, ethnic, creed, all is good as long its our brother involved. We are the victims–after we make all the noise, another bulletproof scandal follows. 
 
 
 
How about the jet-buying men of ‘god’, how much noise have we made, how about the billions spent eating in the villa, or the N900bn expended on ‘acts of god’ called constituency projects by the national assembly.
 
 
 
A nation with billion naira churches and mosques and yet we need bulletproof riding ministers, same ministers that have done so well, yet they are not scared proof, they forget that courage is only present where there is fear. 
 
 
 
They buy bulletproofs, they give us Keke-NEPAP without proof, and SURE-proof: are we ready to demand good governance and responsive leadership irrespective of what proof they give for their maladministration–only time will tell.

 

 

The former Secretary General of the Common Wealth of Nations Chief Emeka Anyaoku is the Chairman of the Nigeria Leadership Summit 2013 which has been announced to be held on the 11th and 12th of December 2013, at the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel in Victoria Island Lagos.

 

Chief Anyaoku who is one of Nigeria’s most respected Statesmen is expected to lead discussions and deliberations on the future of youth development and empowerment in Nigeria. This year’s Summit is focused on Job creation and its theme is “LETS GET TO WORK”. The choice of

 

Chief Anyaoku is therefore most appropriate as he is one Nigerian whose reputation for National Development and youth Empowerment is without question. Chief Anyaoku’s recognition is truly global having received the highest national civilian honours of several Nations including but not limited to Cameroon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Namibia, Republic of South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago’s Trinity Cross (TC) as well as one of the highest honours in Britain the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) from Her Majesty The Queen of the United Kingdom in 2000.

 

He has also received hundreds of awards, degrees and recognition for outstanding service to humanity from over 55 universities, institutions and organizations all over the World.

 

 

He is currently, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Council on International Relations in Nigeria. The Nigeria Leadership Summit 2012 was termed by the media as one of the most successful conferences ever held in the history of Nigeria. The event recorded over 3000 delegates, over 35 high quality speakers, and it was the very first Summit, Conference or seminar in Nigeria to be streamed live to an audience of over 35,000 people in different parts of the World.

 

“I am very excited about the Nigeria Leadership Summit 2013 because the Conveners have a unique focus and that is Youth Empowerment and Inclusion, and I am totally committed to getting our Youths into the work place using innovative strategies like the ones promoted by the Anabel

Leadership Academy” said Chief Emeka Anayaoku when asked about his role in the Summit.

 

 

Chief Emeka Anyaoku’s participation at the helm of affairs for the Nigeria Leadership Summit shows tremendous promise for the future of the Nigeria Leadership Summit and its entry into a class of its own as one of the few World Class events being held in Nigeria.

 

 

In addition to Chief Anyaoku there will be keynote addresses from His Excellency Chief Ernest Shonekan the former Head of State, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili former World Bank Vice President and a host of others. According to Nicholas Okoye President of the ANABEL GROUP and convener of the Nigeria Leadership Summit, this year’s Summit will also include three special focus panels.

 

The first one is on Women in Business, and the strategic role of women in Job creation for Nigeria, some of the Nation’s most successful women in Business have signed up to participate in this panel. A second panel will focus exclusively on Entrepreneurship in Nigeria and using the path to entrepreneurship as a solution for Jobs creation, this panel will review the challenges as well as the opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Nigeria, and how we as a Nation can use Entrepreneurship to tackle the unemployment crisis that is ravaging Nigeria.

 

The third special focus panel will be on Power; an industry in Transition, providing for the Nigerian People a deep insight into the recently privatized Power Generation, and Distribution Companies and a sneak preview of the regulatory environment, the opportunities for Entrepreneurs and the strategic role the industry will play in national development in the months and years ahead.  “ …we are focused on youth empowerment because we strongly believe that Nigeria’s future lays almost exclusively with our ability to empower our youths” said Nicholas Okoye Anabel Group President.

 

This year’s Leadership Summit is receiving support from the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NEST Oil Group, Heritage Bank and a host of others. Nigerians have been advised to monitor the web site for further announcements of speakers and participants at www.nigerialeadershipsummit.com

 

By Prince Charles Dickson

When the soap is dirty, what shall be used in washing it

Nigeria is a beautiful land; that’s  a statement of fact. We take everything and anything, infact sarcastically we take nothing. We go to bed and wake, what we see, we take, questions are not asked and when asked, very little comes by way of answers.

I get honestly amused at our attitude to life and the very essence of what makes us what we are. My admonition this week is on a rather strange phenomenon of ghost tales and how we just talk, complain, display temporary grief and move on.

The aircraft was not hired by the family, it was not hired by the Ondo state government, it was not hired by me and certainly not you, maybe Associated Airlines hired the aircraft from themselves. The ‘craft was carrying Agagu’s corpse, his son, a state commissioner, boss of the undertaking company yet it was not hired by anyone. Ghost tales!

How many of us recall the Bellview crash in Lisa Village, only few years after, remember the tales of the Lisa Village project that began, today it is in a state of nowhere.

How about that Dike led investigation panel that went to all the airports, made recommendations, billions were spent, billions still being spent, and more air disasters.

This is a nation I have come to appreciate because of its peculiarities, while we are yet to understand a phenomenon, another sets in.

Did we really forget that Sosoliso crash and those kids, for several hours, infact a day after the crash, the manifest of the aircraft was yet to be released, then the manifest was being vetted by the State Security Service (very awkward) as I ask what has the SSS got to do with the “vetting” of manifest of a plane that virtually had only school children going on Xmas vacation. 

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) even said the then Minister, Aborishade would release the manifest. When the Airport fire fighting vehicle (only one) came, it barely had water, though the authorities have come out to deny it, not that we expected otherwise, most of the dead were visibly badly burned.

Fast forward to Dana, and add Associated Airlines, same difference, except that the current Minister has allegedly added that these crashes are acts of ‘god’. Infact during Dana, while thugs stole and scavenged, others fought the fire with sachets of ‘pure’ water. 

We have an Aviation Ministry that has watched at times as an aircraft ran into a herd of cows. Plane manifests treated like WAEC expo questions. 

Does it ever strike one, that as usual again those who had earlier boarded the same crashed aircraft had complained that the aircraft was not in good shape, just like the Bellview Aircraft, just like Sosoliso, just like Dana…Truth is a hard commodity in not only the airline business, but most things in Nigeria. 

In times like these every Nigerian both those that fly frequently and those who flew last in 1976 become air and craft experts and then as is always the case it would be accusations and counter accusations…lies, and ghost tales.

In Nigeria we have a President, a Minister for Aviation, countless agencies, and experts and yet airlines do “crew exchange” borrow and lend planes like it’s a TOD (temporary over draft) bank facility. Pilots fly for their airlines and are borrowed to other airlines. Aircraft due for major routine maintenance check are left to fly. 

Big men cannot fly our airspace again, poor men cannot travel our roads, travel forty minutes from Jos to Bauchi and be interrupted by bigger boys (armed robbers), that is after the big boys (policemen) have also robbed the driver. Our waters if they do not have potholes already, are the domain of pirates, then one decides to trek to his destination a government official with his convey of 20 cars at 200 kilometers per hour blasting sirens would hit the man. 

  
If our leaders are not wicked why would an airline over-sell its tickets I remember the BAC I-II aircraft belonging to EAS that crashed in Kano on May 4, 2002 the plane was reportedly carrying over load.  Virtually all the local airlines have turned our airspace to Oshodi motor park flying planes like Majekobaje (do not let it spoil) Lagos Kabukabu with planes quaking like some ‘e go reach’ ali chikwendu transport J5. 

Ghost tales: Did you hear that ‘dead bodi get accident story’ or that ‘Agagu’s corpse dies in crash’ reported by a prominent media (not this one) or that gist about voodoo and metaphysical powers of the dead Agagu, how the coffin won’t open and wasn’t damaged…how about the wife died too, Obasanjo’s son and the first casualty figure of several hundreds.  

I was an observer at the last Presidential Forum on Aviation some years back, I concluded then that Nigerian needs a coup de people, that is a people inspired uprising…I wept profusely for this nation…because I said more will die, and yes more have died, ask the families of the Dana debacle and more will die. 

Soon someone, some government group or agency would organize the gathering of the “so-called experts” a bunch of the same people that killed the national carrier, and planning to float another, same people who supervised the buying of aircrafts that were older than our centenary. Simply put a gathering of the problem to solve the solve the problem with some ghost tales.

Who has forgotten that pilots take their simulator forms home and fill and they are re-licensed. NCAA officials get first class tickets to the Bahamas with their wives, concubines, mistress and girlfriends to go have fun, and they in turn certify the planes without seeing them. 

If a plane is so bad that passengers can notice through the sound and movement and then not even the pilot complains and even if he complains, still flies that plane because some oga@the top say so. We are in trouble that all the current ad hoc mend your trouser arrangement cannot solve. 

I love the Bible story of Noah and the ark, very few people listened, but rained it did and it rained and rained and rained. The ghost tales is going to continue, does anyone really think we are ready as a people to stop these tragedies–only time will tell.

 

By Nelson Ekujumi

Recently, our media space was awash with news about a young Nigeria Daniel Oikhena, who stowed away in the tyre compartment of an airline from Benin to Lagos, and thus, the breach of security at our airports was once again highlighted by this ugly incident.

However, one is astonished and upset that this youth, whom we all ought and should condemn for being a deviant by putting his life as well as passengers on that flight at risk is being celebrated and rewarded by the people in authority against our norms and values which recognizes and encourages reward for good and responsible conduct.

One is being forced to respond to this untoward act by the government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole because of the long time implication on the psyche of Nigerians and most especially our youths who have unfortunately been deprived the priviledge of mentorship which they should ordinarily have, but now have to cope with our distorted ways of doings and are thus left at the mercy of their own initiative about societally approved values and norms which seems lost.

I feel sad anytime I look at the vulnerability of our youths to social vices because of a dysfunctional and disoriented society that they have found themselves in. Today, pitiably, our youths are involved in all sorts of crime because of lack of guidance. At times, I wonder if this was not the same society I was given birth to and grew up in. I remember vividly well, my primary school days in the late seventies and secondary school days in the early-mid eighties when our social values had stricter control and were a means of moulding the character of youths rather than the force of coercion by the law. This was a period when as a student, the norm was ostracization from your peers if you were even alledged of academic misconduct unlike what obtains this days when you are seen as a big boy or girl if you are involved in examination misconduct.

Those were the days when people were respected because of their honesty and integrity rather than what obtains now in which societal recognition is bestowed on someone because of the amount of cash in his wallet irrespective of the means of acquisition. Truly, this are perilous times for our youths and our country, but as our people say, “Orisha bi o le gbe mi se mi bi ose ba mi” literally meaning, “The gods, if you cannot help my cause, restore me to the status quo rather than worsening my plight”

It is in the light of the above quote that I want to admonish the Comrade Governor, that what he has done by the award of scholarship instead of a referral to a juvenile home by the appropriate state organ is a disservice to the good upbringing of our youths because whatever we do today, becomes history tomorrow. By rewarding the deviant Daniel, our political authority are sending a wrong signal to our youths that the only way to be rewarded or recognized by the state is to do something against the norms and values of civilized conduct as epitomized by young Daniel.

However, one’s anger against the Comrade Governor who has an ally in recently freed kidnap victim Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has been mitigated by the public condemnation that greeted his illogical call of amnesty for kidnappers, though we can excuse him because he must still be suffering from the trauma inflicted on him by his abductors, and the most appropriate thing would have been to seek counseling rather than making a call that runs contrary to our traditional norms and values.

Thus, we must all come on board now to speak out against this dangerous trend which is capable of destroying our society, lest posterity condemn us of being culpable by conspiratorial silence.

 

By Lawrence Nwobu
 

A nation is like an individual; driven and shaped by certain values and propelled by ambition to success or the lack of it to mediocrity and failure. A few days ago I was discussing with some friends over the Nigerian quagmire and one of them suggested that “if all Nigerians were evacuated to the Unite States of America and all Americans were evacuated to Nigeria, in

a few years the Americans would turn Nigeria into one of the most prosperous countries in the world while the Nigerians would turn America to a failed state.” His argument was premised on the logic that the people and consequently the leadership of a society determine the outcome in the success or failure of that society. It is difficult to fault his logic for try as we may, we cannot deny that there are certain predominant attributes of the Nigerian people and leadership that has helped to create and sustain the tragic society and failure Nigeria is.

America has been a democracy since 1789 and since that time, there have never been cases of organised election rigging, census rigging, electoral thuggery and other such fraudulent shenanigans by different generations of American leaders. America has since its founding been an ambitious nation that set out to be the best in everything. From exemplary public leadership, democracy and the rule of law to science, technology, arts, sports, commerce, entertainment and military prowess America continues to lead the world. Ambition and the predominant values of justice, freedom, dignity and the rule law of the American people and leadership created the success story and American dream America is for the world. America is consequently the most advanced and prosperous nation on the face of the earth. The nation where your dreams can be fulfilled and you can be all that you desire to be. The nation that unleashes the best of humanity. 

 

By contrast Nigeria became enmeshed in crisis from the very beginning. No sooner did the British colonial authorities depart in 1960, than all shades of fraud and lawlessness was unleashed. Elections and census were massively rigged, political thuggery and violence became routine and just 6 years after independence there was an explosion of violence that culminated in a bloody conflict. Since then different generations of leaders have continued in the same pattern of dictatorship, brutality, election rigging, census rigging, thuggery and massive looting. Unlike America, a lack of national ambition and the predominant values of self hate and an entrenched culture of injustice, wickedness, fraud and lawlessness of the Nigerian people and leadership have created the failure and nightmare Nigeria is. Little wonder Nigeria is the most corrupt and one of the poorest failed states in the world. 

Given the abundance of human and material resources, there is no limit to what Nigeria could have been. But Nigeria has failed in spite of the abundance because the lack of ambition and predominant values of injustice, corruption and self hate amongst others embedded in the Nigerian people and leadership cannot create a successful society. Like my friend suggested; if you moved all Nigerians to America and handed America over to them with the entire infrastructure already built, the same factors would ensure that America would collapse in a few years and become a failed state. Likewise Nigeria would become functional and prosperous in a few years if all Americans moved to Nigeria because the ambition and values of the American people and leadership would create a successful society anywhere. Nigeria has thus become a failed state crippled by corruption, injustice and trapped in unprecedented social unrest because of the values of those who inhabit it. With a different set of values and fundamentals Nigeria could have the best roads, state of the art rail system, some of the best schools, hospitals and social welfare for the unemployed and underprivileged. 

Nigeria could have been an example in democracy, with free and fair elections at every level elevating the dignity of the human person and showing the world an example of best practice in an African democracy. Nigeria could have been a technologically advanced nation, producing goods and being part of technological innovations. Nigeria could have been a major tourist destination with millions of visitors each year coming to visit an African success story, a black Mecca of sorts, a proud and successful black nation taking her place among the comity of nations, holding her head high and giving pride and dignity to black people across the world. Nigeria could have been a secure, harmonious and prosperous nation enjoying modernity and life in an advanced, civilised and thriving society invested in the rule of law. Nigeria could have been a dream, just like the American dream, a nation where people are given every opportunity to succeed. A nation that invests in her people and brings out the best in them. A nation that dignifies and humanises her citizens, a nation where people from all over the world will choose to come and live. A great nation and an African miracle. 

But alas we are in Nigeria and Nigeria is a failed state because our values have made us only capable of creating a nation that dehumanises her own citizens, a nation that brings out the worst rather than the best in her citizens, a nation that is entrenched in injustice, a nation that impoverishes and destroys her own citizens, a nation that self destructs. This is the story of Nigeria, a nation that could have been one of the richest, harmonious and technologically advanced in the world, yet today lays prostrate and crippled as the laughing stock of the world, as the shame of the black race, as the greatest human phenomenon of failure, because we have no ambition and we allowed injustice to become the defining aspect of our values and therein lies the difference that gave Americans a dream and Nigerians a nightmare! 

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu

Email: lawrencenwobu@gmail.com