Connect with us

COLUMN

NASS, electoral reform and 2023 elections

Published

on

 

 

IT is saddening that after over two decades of democracy in Nigeria, there are still aspects of our electoral process begging for reviews and reforms. More saddening is the fact that come February 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will be conducting another general elections with no legal framework to govern the conduct of the polls. It is pertinent to state that this legal framework is supposed to dictate and determine certain technicalities that would be used in determining a free and fair election, which has always been the yearnings of most Nigerians.

Equally worrisome is the fact that our lawmakers at the National Assembly do not seem to envisage this step as vital and crucial in redefining our political process to ensure that every vote counts. No doubt, if this is taken with every sense of seriousness, it will encourage potential voters who have hitherto lost confidence in the system to have a change of heart and come out to vote during the 2023 elections. In addition, it is hoped that through some of these reforms, Nigerians will have the assurance that they will not be disenfranchised especially given the cumbersome process of acquiring the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) which we have seen come into play over the years.

Accordingly, political analysts are of the opinion that a proper amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 can guarantee a positive outcome. For the Head of the electoral umpire INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the delay and nonchalant attitude of the legislators in putting their act together to urgently come up with an amended Electoral Act 2010 is exasperating. It will interest you to know that the report of  amendment after over two months is still lying before the House of Representatives and yet to be considered. This to many is unbecoming of the country’s lawmakers who should have viewed it as a priority.

You may recall that the bill for an Act to Repeal the Electoral Act and enact the Independent National Electoral Commission Bill, 2020 scaled through the second reading stage as it was passed by the House of Representatives in November, 2020. But the problem is that up till now, it is yet to see the light of day. The bill sponsored by Aishatu Dukku, member from Gombe State seeks to basically reform the electoral process. It also amongst other things seeks to ensure provisions for the restriction and qualification for elective office to the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. It will also according to the sponsor, provide specific timeline for the submission of lists of candidates.

Over the years, the issue of funds or amount of money expended during campaign has always been a source of concern. It has often been a big problem with the disclosure of funds contributed to political parties. During the last elections for instance, we saw how huge amount of monies were donated to the two major political parties, that is the APC and PDP. It was aledged that they were sponsored and bankrolled by two persons, a former vice president and a top politician party leader. By implication, it has become a norm that it is only those who have the financial muscle that can participate which has prompted calls that the money or amount required to pick forms and contest for election be reduced to make room for everyone to participate.

The bill in a nutshell, seeks to address many loopholes in our electoral system by way of amending over three hundred (300) clauses; including new provisions of the Electoral Act 2020. Another issue to be addressed is on Section (3)2 (a) of the existing Act which provides for a definite timeline for the release of funds to INEC for the discharge of its statutory duties. According to Dukku, the amendment is an insertion which states that the funds for general elections shall be released to the electoral umpire not later than one hundred and eighty (180) days to the date appointed for the elections. We have seen cases where INEC due to late releases of funds was unable to deliver election materials to polling units on time.

However, this is not the first attempt at getting the bill assented to by the present administration. You will recall that efforts to get the bill signed into law by the eight national assembly under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki did not succeed, as President Muhammadu Buhari declined his assent for three consecutive times. His first rejection was in March 2018, where he said that the proposed law would usurp the constitutional powers of INEC to decide on election matters. In September of same year, Buhari turned down the bill for the second time, asking for some clauses to be revised. Yet again, the bill was rejected in December for the third time as the President said that signing it into law could create uncertainty and confusion in the 2019 elections.

It is gratifying to say that there may be a ray of hope as just recently, the House of Representatives Chairman of the Committee on Electoral Matters who also happens to be the bill’s sponsor,  Aishatu Dukku literarily begged the leaders of the House to formally receive and consider the report of the committee dealing with repealing the Electoral Act 2010 and to enact the Electoral Act 2021. Incidentally too, the Senate President Ahmad Lawan promised to assiduously work on the bill before an onward transmission to the President for his assent, hoping that it would be passed by the end of June. It is the prayers of Nigerians that the leadership of the National Assembly would keep to their words and consider the electoral reform a vital task and do the needful.

Nevertheless, we all know that the art of making laws and legislations is a rather long process. There are still some hurdles to cross before the Electoral Act 2021 gets to its final stage. In its characteristic manner, a bill usually has to pass through not less than five stages or steps. The end point is the assent by the President, then it becomes an Act. As much as it is gladdening that the Senate has promised that these stages could be scaled through within the shortest possible time, which is less than two weeks from now however, there are definitely concerns on whether it is attainable.

For a fact, elections in Nigeria have always been characterised by violence, intimidations, vote buying, vote selling, ballot box snatching etc. This is because elections for the presidential, governoship, local governments, and every other elections are now considered ‘a do or die affair’. In every four years, the country spends billions of naira to conduct elections with little or no improvement in the system. For instance,  it was reported that the sum of one hundred and thirty nine billion naira was spent in 2011 on elections; one hundred and sixteen billion in 2015 and one hundred and eighty nine billion in 2019. Despite all these monies budgeted, the polls recorded several irregularities.

One of the striking provisions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is in Section 9 which mandates INEC to embrace the use of technology, such as keeping an electronic register of voters in addition to the hard copies. This unarguably makes it easier to collate and disaggregate data on voting patterns of different categories of electorate which will be useful when planning elections. This has brought to the fore the need for smart card readers. Section 48(2) mandates a presiding officer to use the smart card reader or any other technological device prescribed by INEC for accreditation, verification and authentication of registered voters. In view of this, incorporating technological use in the process will checkmate certain issues that have risen in the past.

Since the smart card reader is not recognised under the current act, but only provided for under INEC’s guidelines, many say that amending the electoral amendment act will no doubt give a legislative and statutory backing to the use of smart card reader and of course for electronic collation and transmission of results. This they also say will go a long way in reducing incidences of fraud, human influence through the interference and manipulation of the electoral process.

From all indication, the card reader can significantly improve elections in Nigeria and it is only wise that it be given the necessary legal backing. Doing this will make it mandatory for INEC to comply with the use of smart card reader. It is quite disheartening that in this digital age, Nigeria is still stuck with the Electoral Act 2010 that does not allow for the legality of card reader use, not to talk of electronic voting system. So the question is, why is the National Assembly dragging its feet on this important law? It is high time our lawmakers sat up and live up to their billing by ensuring the amendment of the Electoral Act 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks be unto God for His exceeding grace

GOD’S greatest gifts to us are not physical but eternal: they are spiritual. I understand that we live in a physical world and many times we need to see spiritual things manifested in this physical realm but we must remember that God’s greatest gifts to us are not material but spiritual. These spiritual gifts come in one package and His name is Jesus.

I love the tradition of the Christmas tree and the wrapped gift boxes that accompany it. This is a good tradition because Christmas is a time when we see the giving nature of God manifested in giving His Son for us. Hopefully we also are learning this giving nature and transferring it to other people.

Let me say this: be a blessing to somebody this season; just think about somebody this season. Do not just pray for them but do something tangible also. You may not be able to do everything for everybody but do something for somebody. I have this philosophy that says, instead of distributing a few gifts to so many people in such a way that may not make significant impact, I rather distribute to a few in a way that will make impact. The ones I cannot do for God will sort them out.

Greatness lies in our ability to touch somebody else’s life. God demonstrated this to us in John 3:16 which I am sure we all know very well: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

So Jesus is God’s gift; He is the gift of all gifts as inside Him lies all the other gifts that pertain unto life and godliness. The first gift I see which Jesus brings to us is the forgiveness of sin: the burden of sin rolled away. All my sins placed upon Christ Jesus on that tree and because of that I am no longer a performer but a receiver of God’s grace.

Jesus said to those people wanting to stone the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11 (and I am paraphrasing now) I agree with you guys that indeed the law of Moses said we should stone such; so hold your stones very well but let me just ask you one question sirs: He that is without sin among you let him throw the first stone at the woman. The Bible records that one by one from the highest person in the hierarchy of the Sanhedrin to the lowest, they all with style disappeared from the scene.

Then Jesus turned around and looked and said to the woman, woman where are your accusers? She said Lord they are nowhere to be found. Jesus answered her neither do I condemn you.

Now this is what people do not understand about the grace of God. The grace of God does not just forgive sin but also empowers you to sin no more. Jesus said to the woman neither do I condemn you, now go in this grace and sin no more. Glory to the name of the Lord.

Friends, no man can overcome sin without grace. A man cannot overcome sinning by commandment. You cannot make a man stop sinning by sternly commanding him to stop sinning. He will not stop sinning because it is not in the man’s power to do so. However, there is a saviour that kills your taste for sin. If you follow Him, you might struggle for a while but eventually your taste for sin will die. I love what one man of God said. He said Christianity is an impossible life to live that is why only Jesus can live it through you.

In fact, the more you try to stop sinning in your own strength the more you come into bondage because you will be confessing and repenting everyday all day. So stop trying to stop sinning and start receiving God’s grace. Find out who you are; the seed of God is in you: believe that; meditate upon that and then cut away from influences that seek to move you to sin.

If you have friends that are moving you in a way that will lead to sin you must cut away from them. This one is not by revelation but by decision. Jesus said in Matt. 5:30 if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. This is saying anything in your life that will get you sinning cut it off.

So the first gift in Jesus is no condemnation; the forgiveness of sin. Romans 8:1 there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Ephesians 1:7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

How precious is the forgiveness of sin? My God! Do you know that no human being can operate at their best in condemnation? You get people out of where they are into where God wants them to be by affirmation and not condemnation. You affirm the good that is in them.

Even the Bible talks about the love of God saying it does not count on wrongs. One translation says the love of God looks for the potential of good even in the worst of characters. This is why if you are operating in the love of God and you give it enough time with faith, you will find that there is nobody that cannot change.

And when we say God is love we are saying God does not give up on people. If you see anybody giving up, know that they gave up on themselves; God did not give up on them. Again Eph. 1:7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Furthermore, the Bible says in Psalms 130:3&4 if thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. Feared not because of His power but because of His forgiveness. Only God can forgive sin and in Christ your sins are forgiven. No more struggle because in Christ you know that heaven is your home. Glory to God forevermore.

Another gift of grace that is in Jesus is salvation. Ephesians 2:9&9 for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Many of us have been so long in the school of walking with God so much so that we subconsciously trivialise salvation. Many times when we are giving God thanks for things, we mostly start with the things that are tangible forgetting the intangible things like salvation that power the tangible things. I myself fall guilty to this and have to always renew my mind.

If we will thank God for the things that are most precious to Him, the power of God will come to change the things that are precious to us. Hallelujah! for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four hindrances to receiving from God (28)

IN the past couple of weeks we have been discussing on Unbelief and how it hinders the believer from receiving from God. Last week we left of discussing from Psalms 78 where we read about the account of the unbelief of the children of Israel. In Psalm 78:19 & 20 the people murmured and …they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?

The truth is that the problem most people have with their faith is never a question on the ability of God but on His nature. The question is never about God’s ability or His competence but rather a question about His goodness. Most people’s faith does not work because they are unsure about God’s nature: they are unsure if God is good, kind, loving etc towards them. Not knowing the nature of God is a huge source of unbelief for all people, I dear to say.

This is why I keep teaching people to say over and over, the Lord is good and his mercy endures forever; because I know that when this revelation penetrates the heart, faith will begin to work. The competence of God is not in question, instead it is the willingness and the goodness of God that Satan seeks to question. A man cannot be a giant of faith without being established in the goodness of God.

Look at this, verses 19 and 20 again, notice what the true question was: “I know he did all that, but will he do this if I ask him? Will he do it for us? To that I say to you: “Yes, He will!” Not just this one, but as long as you live and as long as your children and your children’s children live, He will! He will! He will! Glory to God!

He will clear that debt! He will pay that bill! He will meet that need! He will give you another opportunity! He will bring your stuff to you! He will deliver your children! He will heal your body! He will! He will! He will! That is His covenant to you and your generations.

You know, a man can walk with God to the extent that bequeaths the benefits of that covenant to his generations after him. An example is when God said to Solomon: You would have destroyed this thing, had it not been for David your father. I have sworn by holy oath to my servant David that he will not lack a man to sit on his throne because of what David did and how he touched me. In spite of all of David’s mistakes, God swore that Christ must come from his loins.

Psalms 78:21 & 22  Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;  Why? because they believed not in God and trusted not in his salvation. So, we see here clearly that the true problem was unbelief borne of a lack of trust in God’s goodness. Their unbelief made their hearts callus and hardened and so they became disobedient towards God.

One way to treat such a heart is by thanksgiving and praise for God’s past works. Simply making a decision to constantly count God’s goodness in your life will keep your heart tender, so that you do not fall into the deception of unbelief.

Unbelief is what will make a man question God even after seeing Him come through over and over again. Unbelief is what made the children of Israel say, ‘Yes, I know it is true that God did all these miracles in the past, but how about now? I am facing a problem now, are you sure that the God that did the miracle in the past will do it again this time?

And to that God responded, ‘You know my ability, the issue now is that you are questioning My nature. You are saying that I am an evil man. You are saying that I am not good. Or else, why would you think that I will not come through for you? I tell you God is good and you can count on Him every time. This is what we are to anchor ourselves to.

Psalms 78:23-25 says, Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.

Although the Lord had caused all these things to happen for them, yet, as the Bible says in verse 40 and 41 of Psalm 78:40 & 41 how oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Now you may ask, how did they limit God? Verse 42 tells us: They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. The answer is they did not remember! By not remembering, they allowed their hearts to fall into callousness and hence unbelief was inevitable.

They did not keep the memory of God’s past deliverances fresh in their minds. If they had, they would have had faith to believe God continually. Psalm 78:42 goes on to say they remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy…how he wrought his signs in Egypt, his wonders in the field of Zoan.

While studying these things out, the Spirit of God told me this from Isaiah 43:18 ‘Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing…now it will spring forth. Shall yon not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. So I asked “Remember not?”

Then again He took me to Isaiah 46:9 ‘Remember the former things of old…’ so I asked again, which is it Lord? In Chapter 43, you told me not to remember, now in chapter 49 you are telling me to remember. I am confused Lord, what are you saying? The verse reads ‘Remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is none else. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient things to things that are not yet done saying my counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure.’

I came to understand that if you are going to stay in a place of faith, there are some things you should remember and there are some things you should not. So you should have a sieve. What you should not remember about the past is the effect of any of the injurious parts of your past; the parts of your past that would hinder and rob you from walking in faith today. Forget the mistakes and mess-ups of your past. The Bible says you’re not to remember them as far as their ability to hinder you is concerned.

As far as God is concerned, if you have repented of them and have truly turned away from them, then they are washed away by the blood. But I have also come to discover this – that it is not totally true for you to say that you should forget your past mistakes! There is something about your past mistakes that you should not forget: do not forget the lessons they have taught you. Forget their ability to hinder you, but do not forget the lessons. If you forget the lessons of your past mistakes, you will be a fool.

So I have learnt that there are things you need to remember. So the Lord taught me saying, ‘remember not some things’ but now ‘remember some things’. There are some things that you should remember about your past; you should remember God’s past faithfulness and you should count and rehearse them. Do not forget yesterday’s miracle less you stand the risk of not having faith to believe for todays. You must keep counting and rehearsing God’s past faithfulness.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we fight scarcity

SOMETIMES one wonders whether Nigerians harbour any sense of pride and patriotism for their country at all. From whatever perspective one views it, we do not love ourselves nor place value on humanity. We often eulogise the past saying all manner of beautiful things about our country in the past and how the leadership sacrificed to ensure good things were provided for the enjoyment of all and sundry. Yet we fail to make even the minutest effort to work at making life easy for our fellow beings.

At the slightest opportunity we visit pain on ourselves. We punish our country men and women for no fault of their own. It is only in Nigeria that prices of goods and services go up and never come down. It is only in our clime that nobody listens to those in authority because they themselves take advantage of the people at every opportunity. They do not do what is expected of them so that they can make some pecuniary gains out of the ignorance of the people and grow their personal wealth at the expense of the society.

Currently, the motoring public is at a crossroads. Fuel scarcity is not only looming but has reared its head and is threatening to unleash hardship on an already distressed and weather beaten society. This is in spite of the repeated calls by the NNPC that it has a stock of reserve that is enough to cater for the needs of Nigerians through to the new year. Yet marketers of the product have decided that it was time to squeeze whatever profit there is from the gullible public without bothering about its ripple effects on the generality of the people.

But those saddled with the responsibility of acting on behalf of the society too have failed woefully because they have not been able to activate the needed response to nip the shenanigans of the marketers in the bud. They too have been compromised all because they have soiled their hands in the course of the performance of their responsibilities. So, the people are left to their fate and stoically face up to their pains without support even when we have established institutions that should stand in the gap.

Can we ever get it right in this country? Maybe. Maybe not. So far there seems to be no resolve to deliberately provide succour for the suffering majority. What is obvious is the haphazard and half hearted efforts at trying to provide the needs of the people. That has not helped in any way. We make beautiful propositions yet we seem to lack the capacity and strength of character to push our propositions to work for us.

We have all the institutions that should make life bearable for the people. Sadly we have not allowed them to run at their optimal level. Governmental interferences and meddling are common place. Institutions serve the people in power and not the society. That needs to change.

One can not imagine a resource rich country like Nigeria being a living hell for its people. Yes, Nigerians are practically living from hand to mouth because of the failure of the system that should protect them. Or how else can we explain the myriad of challenges the society is faced with?  We have so much petroleum resources but we are on daily basis being dehumanized because of systemic failures. Petrol to run our vehicles, in a society that bothers less about developing its infrastructure is near unavailable. Cooking gas that is being flared as waste is practically beyond the reach of the ordinary person. And, we have not paused to ask ourselves where we are headed?

The time to begin to do an introspection is now if we are to arrest the slide the country is faced with. We can not afford to have people’s patience running out to the extent that they start fighting back. Already, things are extremely difficult. It should not be allowed to get worse. The agitations that are being witnessed across the country is a pointer to the time bomb the country is sitting on. Both leaders and the led need to look again at their activities and decide to make a change.

No country goes through civil war twice and survives it. We must start right away to encourage and build on what binds us as a people rather than what divides us. We have a lot to be thankful for and need to start harnessing our strengths rather than harping on our weaknesses and failures. But we must not ignore incompetence on whatever basis. We must and should look out for the best not minding the sentiments that have become our moral codes.

When we are able to grow above these sentiments that have held us perpetually and consigned us to the dustbin of underdevelopment, then we would be able to make some progress and move on as a society. We have no reason to waste man hours looking for fuel to run our cars when that time could be used for adding value to our society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haba Adesina, you abandoned church for Buhari’?

WONDERS people say will never end in as much as we remain amongst the living on this mother earth. In as much as one interacts with his fellow human beings on daily basis, there will always be isolated instances or cases where and or when we are  marveled as to whether some individuals do think straight before making some commends in public space not considering the implications of such.

A few days ago, a presidential aide of Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina informed the world that he was forced to abandon a branch of his church, the Deeper Christian Life Ministry in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city due to his former pastor’s persistent attack on the  President, his boss. Fortunately and or unfortunately, the presidential aide was quoted to have said that ” I used to attend a church in Abuja from 2015 to 2018 till the pastor began to see himself as someone who must bring Buhari’s government down. Sunday after Sunday, it was all sorts of criticism from the pulpit. But I endured, since it was a branch of a church I attended for over 30 years. Till one day he overdid it.’

Ventilating further, Adesina extended his vicious attacked to other men of God who are not on the same page with him noting that, ” Irrespective of the titles they bear, I hear Bishops, Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists cursing government and issuing doomsday notices. One even said publicly that the Buhari administration was over before the 2019 elections. But the man won handsomely and that preacher still struts and frets on the pulpit every week not repenting in sackcloth and ashes.”

First and foremost,  it should be put on record that I hold in high esteem and with  tremendous regard the office and  critical prolife of the presidential aide when it comes  to his  vital thoughts while  analyzing contemporary issues  for our nation’s growth. No doubt, Adesina is a writer who has earned an unspeakable space in the conglomeration of other authors of such write-ups who have over the years distinguished themselves in the annals of our nation’s history.

Despite these accolades however, yours sincerely was taken aback following the presidential aide’s uncomplimentary remarks issued against men of God who are representatives of the Lord Almighty here on earth. Even though as a Nigerian, the presidential aide has every right to respond to any remarks seemingly affecting his boss, it is unimaginable for him to attack these men of God who are only but speaking on behalf of most if not all citizens of this country who are presently traumatized by recent ugly developments of definitive governmental misrule.

Permit me to therefore submit before reacting to Adesina’s comments that it was quite realistic that when President Mohammadu Buhari was campaigning for his election in 2015, the nation was almost at a crippling point of its historical existence as a nation. Indeed, at that time, the then President Goodluck Jonathan had almost lost control of the country to the point of pointing accusing fingers to some of his shadow-less cabinet members who were suspiciously adding to insecurity problems bedeviling the country.

During his campaign, President Buhari was emphatic that if given the opportunity, he would within six months address some of these issues squarely. Beyond this, the incumbent president while campaigning also reassured Nigerians that dissatisfied with the socio-economic and political status of the nation which had nose-dived into oblivion, he would do everything within his power to reserve the trend in collective interest of the citizens.

Though with all sense of responsibility, one cannot dump all the problems and challenges facing our country on our incumbent President, but as the Commander-in-Chief of the nation, we cannot shy away from the obvious that all the blames must end up on his table. It is quite significantly interesting that our President ought to be held responsible over all the wrong goings in the country.

Mr. Adesina, whether you like it or not, and whether you care to listen or not, it is not well with Nigeria today. Take for instance, the issue of the unabated killings of innocent citizens of this country even in the midst of several reassurances that the Federal Government was and is still on top of the situation.

Aside these ugly developments in the northeast where several communities have been held hostage by the dreaded Boko Haram fanatical set, certainly no part of this country has not experienced one form of banditry attacks and or the other making life unbearable for citizens. Even as we cannot ascertain the categorical number of lives cut short by these criminal elements, it is quite obvious that the government had no done enough to mitigate this unpleasant development.

Sad enough, we are experiencing high sense of insecurity beyond possible imagination today because many of such culprits who have perpetrated these horrible acts in the past are still walking on our streets with impunity. Mr. Adesina, there is great hunger and famine on the land.

Thus, by virtue of the fact that you reside in Aso Rock and may not comprehend that which ordinary Nigerians are going through does not erase the reality on ground. We equally know without being told that hunger fears no religion and starvation is an excruciating pain to any vulnerable nation. If you care to check the nation’s human development index and or leave your comfort zone at Aso Rock in the Presidential Villa and take a trip to even your village, you will perhaps come to terms with the reality of what a typical citizen of this country is going through in the hands of your master who is our president.

Therefore, what is wrong in speaking to power about the unspeakable situation the masses of this country are going through for God’s sake if I may ask? What is wrong if the men of God who are God representatives do not renege from their divine obligations repeatedly speaking to power that more pragmatic steps must be taken urgently to save this nation from eminent collapse and or disintegration.

Mr. Adesina, it is becoming more obvious that this administration is not always comfortable should any man of God attempt to draw the attention of the government on the nature of this inherent calamity which has befallen Nigerians as a result of some unpalatable degree of administrative ingenuity in high places. At least, we are all witnesses to the sophisticated venom unleash on the likes of the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Mathew Hassan Kukah and Prophet El Buba of the EBOMI Ministry, thus we are not surprise that you have decided to abandon a church where such truth is spoken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discipline is key in the jungle

GULDER Ultimate Search, the Nigerian Reality Television Series, has recorded its first eviction last week. Thereafter two warriors were also evicted. These ended the journey of 3 warriors in the jungle . FRANCISCA ADIDI writes.

OLAYINKA Gabriel Omoya becomes the first contestant to be evicted from the 2021 Gulder Ultimate Search season 12 Age of Craftsmanship. Sad to see him leave right? But someone must be evicted.

Just as everyone was thinking about the first eviction, another one came gbam! Mfon was evicted based on his argument with a contestant, Esitima.

Unarguably, Mfon was one of the brave and loved contestants in the 2021 Gulder Ultimate Search reality game. Mfon who was also one of the strongest amongst his clan mates while in the jungle but his journey in the race was cut short over a controversy between him and one of the female contestants, Esitima Edem.

According to narration, Esitima accused Mfon of threatening her life following a disagreement which led to his eviction last Sunday.

Less than 24 hours the warrior was sent out of the jungle, he had finally spoken and had revealed what to expect soon.

Mfon who took to his Instagram account to react to his ugly encounter at The Place of Talking Drum last week who claimed that the allegation leveled against him were not real but lies.

He further appreciated and apologised to his fans who he believes have been brainwashed to hate him over what ensued between him and Esitima. He therefore vowed to unveil the full story. “The lies, the gang ups. Just one day, I will be vindicated. My sincere apologies to my fans who have been brainwashed to hate me. I will drop the full story later” he wrote.

These two are from Akwa Ibom State participating in the Gulder Ultimate Search season 12. Mikel (Mfon) was evicted for threatening Esitima during a quarrel. Shamefully not even brotherhood could stop these two from a face off. Very sad that Mikel lost his calm but more sad that Esitima has proven to be a much loosed talker. But Mikel went too far by threatening to kill her…even after the show. No one knows what that one means.

Last week was a very emotional moment for all contestants especially members of the Iroko Clan and Irin Clan. This was because Gerald was evicted.

The Task Master Remi involved the warriors in a Focal Point Task, where at the end, they will form a three word puzzle. It was a team work and team work always makes dreams work. At the end of the task, the Iroko clan came last.

At the talking drum ground, Gerald, the pillar of the Iroko Clan was evicted. And Mikel, the critical thinker of Irin Clan both ended their journey in the jungle.

Gerald becomes the third contestant to exit the 2021 Gulder Ultimate Search. He was tipped as a top contender even by his fellow contestants. But, GUS is unpredictable. His eviction was a surprised to many people, including his fellow contestants who saw him as a competitor.

Many people reacted that he does not deserve eviction. Such method of eviction was quite ridiculous. But it is a game. There must be a looser and a winner.

In the jungle you have to observe, listen and apply. Also, the place of the talking drum is always pregnant, it is a place where anything negative or positive can come out from. What the council of elders decide will be delivered to the warriors at the place of the talking drum.

Discipline is the key in the jungle. The warriors are always reminded that there are rules to survival in the jungle. And the ability to coexist with others is for the survival.

Watch out for another titbits on how the contestants are fairing in the show in the next Edition of the Sunday Standard.

 

 

 

 

Igede Agba new yam festival

THE Igede people are a sub-Saharan people found in Oju, Obi, parts of Gwer Local Government Areas of Benue State and Cross River State of Nigeria. The Igedes whose major pre-occupation is farming and hunting are a minority tribe in the Benue belt, traditionally ruled by the “ADUTU”.

The Igedes had their own traditions before the advent of Colonialism and Christianity which has greatly influenced their way of life, with 90 percent practicing the Christian faith while 10 percent practice their traditional religion.

Amidst eroding cultures and traditions, the Igede of Benue State have maintained some aspects of their culture, one which is the annual Igede-Agba (new Yam festival) which is celebrated during the harvest of yams to mark the beginning of the harvest season.

Igede-Agba (new Yam festival) is a yearly cultural occasion that is celebrated among the Igede people at home and in Diaspora. It is a cyclic festival that comes up on every first Ihigile market day in the month of September. According to the Igede Calendar, September is her seventh “Moon” a very special number at that. The activities of Igede-Agba include, eating of pounded yam, cultural music dancing and other forms of cultural displays. The occasion also usually witnesses the drinking of locally brewed drinks from millet and guinea corn called Apio, Ogbete, Oburukutu, Ogene and others with different alcoholic content.

The history of Igede-Agba (new yam festival) dates back to the arrival of the Igede at their present place of abode. The Igede origin according to oral tradition can be traced to a great ancestral father called Agba, the progenitor of all Igede people. It is after this man that the Igede New yam festival is named.

According to the paramount ruler of Ora, HRH Chief Mathew Elijagong Imuna, the Ohain I, Oje of Orah land, Agba is the ancestral father of the Igede people, Agba and his descendants are of the royal throne of the popular Benin Kingdom, and that Agba was a renowned native doctor who travelled widely. Agba was also said to be fond of a musical instrument called “Ogede” from there the name Igede probably came from.

The Igede people are believed to have been led by one Irumanyi as they traveled east ward until they came to the bank of Oyongo River with seven tributaries. The river parted ways for the people to cross after they crossed to the other side othe river called “Utukenge”. Where the Igabu, Opirikwu, Anyogbe and Ikwuro people of the present Ogoja in cross River State, who were part of this migration parted from their Igede Kith. The Igede continued their journey to Ipinu Igede, their present abode from where each clan moved to its present location. The reawakening of this age log tradition is attributed to the formation of the group Igede Youths Assoation (IYA).

This group introduced the Igede Day to celebrate the goodness of God for a good harvest and the beginning of the planting season. This is because the major preoccupation of the Igede people is the cultivation of food crops such as yams, cassava, rice and cereals. The size of an Igede man’s yam farm is a manifestation of  his wealth and a widely acclaimed farmer in Igede is called an Ogreji.

Igede Agba festival is a special period for praising God; it celebrates hard work and dignity of Labour. Moral values such as honesty, goodness, social justice as well as respect for the culture of the people are celebrated.

Yam, the kind of all farm produce, is used to mark the occasion of harvest and the new planting season. Every Igede man is expected to celebrate the festival with yams from his farm, not bought from the market. There is nothing fetish in the celebration of Igede Agba. The Akpang deity in Igede ensures the suppression of the activities of witches and wizards. It is deity that keeps people away from harvesting their yams prematurely, however, it is not considered as the god of yams.

During and immediately after Igede Agba. Families are expected to eat only pounded yam but not the usual fermented cassava, popularly called Akpu (Fufu).

Igede Agba period, communal development projects are usually planned for execution. This is also the period households address all pending cases of misunderstandings and such are amicably resolved. Plans for next planting season are concluded, especially the arrangement for the head of the household to organize for communal planting of his yam heaps. By this all the mature male children would go to the farm on a given day. This is traditionally how an Igede man is able to plant many hectares of yam. The Igede Agbato an Igede man is an all-important festival whose relevance cannot be over emphasized. For instance, the coming together of a family brings about unification. It also mobilizes the people towards purposeful development.

Disputes that would have lingered are addressed as a family and not in proxy as everybody is present. There is no room to harbor grievances.

Secondly, the idea of washing hands together in one basin by the family members sometimes, including extended families, is an unwritten covenant. This covenant is an agreement to remain united, and not to harbor any bad feelings against each other. After Igede Agba, families unite and farm for the elders in a group one after the other. All the male children do this happily.

During the celebration, awards and honours are bestowed on the farmers who have cultivated the largest farm or have the biggest yams in the most number of yams in their barns.

This is a very open, free and fair competition and it helps to stimulate hard work and development.

Igede Agba is considered a time of peace, reconciliation and sharing. No one eats alone on Igede Agba day. You must have a friend to visit or one to visit you. Hence as part of the preparation, it is mandatory you clear the foot path between you and your neighbor’s house. This is saying “you are welcome to visit or stop over to eat.

Exchange of gifts and food is done with enthusiasm and joy. The Igede man is truly at his best during the Igede Agba period. As children come home for the celebration, parents sit them down and evaluate the progress made by the children in the cities over the year(s) and recall home those who are on the decline in terms of productivity and character.

Since the celebration comes up before schools re-open, it also serves as a forum to recognize siblings who have gained admission into tertiary institutions and those whose have graduated from such school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kilba people,  burial rites and tradition

THE Kilba people are an ethnic group in Hong Long Local Government Area of Adamawa State. They are a mixture of many ethnic groups like the Burra, Babbir, Chibok and the Marghi. These ethnic groups have integrated into original stock called Huba (Kilba). The name Kilba came as a mispronunciation of the name Kolba by the Fulani and the British Colonialists, the name thus became the official name of the people, but up till today, the people call themselves Huba.

The people are found in the northern part of Adamawa State. They occupy the whole area betweensong Local Government area in the South and Uba in the North stretching from Mubi in the East to Gombe in the West. The land is situated between the Kilanyi River, a tributary of River Benue and the Hawul River, a tributary of the Gongola River. The land is mountainous with an average area of about two thousand square kilometers, through which the road from Yola to Mubi passes, dividing the land into two equal halves, the North and the South.

Su in kilba language means send while Dufa means food. Su Dufa therefore means send food. Su Dufa is a traditional ceremony of the Kilba tribe which is performed as the final burial rite. Su Dufa is performed immediately after Tiwi. Tiwi however, is a traditional burial ceremony of the Kilba people organized for an elderly man or woman who is married and a traditionalist from the age of sixty and above. Announcement for the date of the Su Dufa is made at the end of the tiwi ceremony by the elders of the deceased family or close relations. Su Dufa starts by the relations of the deceased converging at the deceased’s house for a meeting to plan for the ceremony. After planning, they will invite friends, well-wishers, harp players “Nijir tsa Zimbol” and guitarist (Nijir tsa gulum).

The relations will prepare beer ‘Mbalda’, soft drink ‘Mbrai’ and food ‘Dufa’; they will also buy he-goat or he-goats which they will use some to prepare food and some for sacrifice. On the appointed day, all the invitees will assemble at the house of the deceased. They will be served with beer ‘mbalda’, soft drink mbrai’ and food ‘dufa’. Everyone will eat and drink to his or her satisfaction.

The Zimbul and Gulum players will take turns to entertain the audience with different kinds of music and songs. Example of one of the songs and music to be played goes like this: ‘Ah kwana amakola ada, (the gulum will sound Nujmnjum), Ana tukol wi ziwar kudaku, (the gulum will sound Njumnjum um Njum um, njum um nju um, njum njum)”…….

The song means hey woman what do you take me for, look at your buttocks like the root of a sweet potato.

Similarly, one of the popular songs and music played by the Zunbul player goes like this: “ ama mala ta Kurtunyamo (the Zumbul will sound nding nding tikinding nding ting), amah ya amatanyi, (the Zumbul will sound nding nding tikinding nding nding nding)”

The elder from the family of the deceased will request the people to proceed to the grave of the deceased if the grave is nearby, but if it is far, the elder will instruct for the construction of an earth near the house of the deceased to look like a grave which will be used for performing the sacrificial rite.

The procession of those to perform the rites will carry he-goat at least one and not more than ten depending on the popularity, status and number of male children of the deceased. The procession will also carry along beer ‘,balda’, soft drinks ‘mbrai’ and food ‘dufa’. The he-goat brought for the sacrifice will be placed one after the other on the grave, the beer and soft drink will also be poured on the grave while the food will be put in a calabash and be placed on the grave.

The Huba tribe believes that by performing the su dufa ceremony, they have sent the last food and drinks to the spirit of the deceased to appease it. The procession will return to the house and continue to carouse through the night. In the morning, one of the elders will hold water in a white calabash and call on debtors and creditors to the deceased three times if there be any. At this time, it is expected of anyone who owes the deceased or whom the deceased owes to indicate so that the relatives of the deceased can settle the debt. If there was found no debtor or creditor to the deceased or if all the debts are fully settled. After this, the elder will thank all those who contributed to the success of the occasion and wish them safe journey to their various destinations. After which everyone is dismissed and that brings the ceremony to an end.

Joshua is a staff of the National Museum, Jos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Difference between culture and heritge

“Culture is the totality of the ways of life of a people, this means that everything that a particular society or people share and do in common constitute their culture. writes GUKUT CHRISTIANA SIMON.”

 

THE languages(s) the speak the god or gods that they worship, the kinds of music they make, the kinds of food they eat and how they prepare such foods, that occupations and trade they pursue, the dresses they wear etc. Culture also includes the guiding interactions at both personal and institutional levels, the taboos that must be obeyed,  what constitutes excellence of character  and what does not, how they name  their children and bury their dead and whether they believe in life after or not, how they sit and eat etc, all these and many constitute their culture. All of them are passed down from generation to generation that is, they are the contents of the education of that society from childhood to old age and death and these contents are passed down from one generation to another.

Culture, therefore is constituted of the “values, practices, symbols, institutions and human relationship” that a society has, culture is about the intellectual, religious, artistic and material productions the means by  which they are produced and the modes, by which they are produce, disseminated and consumed. The social organization and the political system a society has are all a part of their culture. For example, the Obaship in Yoruba society was basically a political institution but an Oba was also a cultural Icon as well as a custodian of culture-an Oba who was a great dancer was admired, the one who did not was laughed at. Another example of how culture and politics connet from a very modern democracy in the USA, if Barrack Obama, the American president visits Nigeria and a gift of let’s say “Baban riga” is given to him to wear, he must  in turn give it out when he gets back home  ie  America. That “must” does not come from lack of power, but from the ethical values attached to that power. A society’s economy is also part of its culture, for the means of production, which produces them and how the products are distributed, impact very much on the cultures. By means of production here, it means the technological implements available.

Thus, some societies have only hoes and cutlasses for farming while others have advanced to tractors and combined harvesters. In other words, contrary to what we think here, technology is part of culture in two ways, contrary to what we think here, technology is part of culture in two ways; it is a product of culture and it is in turn a producer or part producer of culture; in this instance, the Yoruba people just think of two things, first is the prominent place of Ogun in their traditional religion. Ogun is the god of iron and the active parts used in their farmlands are cutlasses and holes which are made of iron. So it can be seen that there is a direct connection between Ogun and those who earn their economic livelihood from using implements made of iron. Another example is the use of computer which are used to design and produce wedding and funeral invitation cards. Some people don’t even take the trouble to print and sent invitation cards anymore; they simply sent bulk texts on their moble phones. In other words, computer and handset which are normally not considered part of our culture but are having a great impact on two activities that we consider cultural; funerals and weddings. These things have indeed become part of these activities and therefore part of our contemporary culture.

Heritage is the traditions and qualities that a country or a society has had for many years and considered part of its character. These characters (ie materials or immaterial) are transmitted from one generation to the other for the benefits of future generation in that society. It is the dynamic interface between actions in the past and those in the present;  a process which continues to affect our changing lives. Heritage constitutes man’s point of reference and the representation of human society.

There are different classed of heritage to be considered Natural Heritage; These are inheritance of Fauna and Flora, landscapes and land forms and other natural resources e.g  rocks and rock formation found in a particular society. Historical Heritage; These are historic building, books, documents, work of arts, machines, clothing and other arts/crafts that are considered worthy of preservation in a particular society eg the city walls in Zaria city and many other monument sites that have  been discovered. Educational Heritage: This is heritage from learning out comes. Heritage of education cannot be overemphasized; it it evident around us and the whole world. Everything you hand on to your children is a heritage; be it farming, cattle rearing, tailoring, engineering, teaching, artifacts and monuments and so many others.  And has to be learned. Cultural Heritage: These are traditions and customs of a people (eg language, food, clothing songs and dances, art and crafts, spiritual beliefs etc). Cultural heritage the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage is not limited to material manifestation alone, it also encompasses living expressions and the traditions that countless groups and communities have inherited from their ancestors and transit to their descendants. In other words, cultural heritage are seen in two different aspects i.e. tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Tangible cultural Heritage is that part of heritage that can be touched physically or stored like  monuments, building and sites which are worthy of preservation for future generations.

Intangible Cultural Heritage is that part of heritage that cannot be torched physically like rituals, songs, legends, myths, beliefs, dances, festival, languages etc that preserved and passed down from generation to generation, intangible cultural heritage are the practices representation, expression, knowledge, skills as well as instruments, and cultural spaces associated with that society, in some cases, individual recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history which provides them with a sense identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Private sector education as a boost

 

IT is an established fact that, an educational institution is no doubt a place where training and learning, especially to impact knowledge and develop the skills in people’s takes place at different levels of our education both in public and private intuitions, writes JIDAUNA DARING

THE significance of education which remains the bedrock of the society cannot be under measured, since it aims at providing the basic knowledge and development amongst the people.

However, the contribution of the private sector in education is a boost to the system, which needs to be supported by government at all levels.

The proprietors of the private schools should ensure that such intuitions are not turn into a profits making business but should be first seen as knowledge impacting institutions.

It therefore also behooves on the proprietors to as a matter of fact, set a standard that will always promote excellent performance from the students who should be graduating with a result that, they can defend in their future study, to prove that they are the ones that pass through the system, not the system passing through them.

In this regard, that the establishment of the St. Luke’s Anglican College Jos to further make educatio

n accessible for the young people in Plateau State and beyond by the Anglican Diocese of Jos is a huge welcome initiative and development to the education sector in the state.

What is worthy of note, is the vision statement that established the college by the Anglican Diocese of Jos, is to saturate the Diocese of Jos with the gospel of truth, love, righteousness, peace and justice, through education, media, agriculture, health and sports.

Equally too, the mission statement of the college is seeking to fulfill  the biblical mandate  of the church and to accomplish the vision of the church of Nigeria, we by desiring to be a centre for world missions and a place for authentic bible learning and teaching.

It is against this background that the St. Luke’s Anglican College Jos organized her 12 graduation Speech and Prize presentation for 2021 graduating set.

This unique day will perhaps forever remain indelible or fresh in  the minds of the graduants who have been waiting to celebrate with parents, guardians, friends, relations and well wishers in lives after six years of studying.

In view of this,  the need for parents  to always inculcate Godly values and virtues in their children has been stressed, since their training starts from the home.

THE NIGERIA STANDARD reports that a lecturer with the Department of Religion and Philosophy, University of Jos, Rev. Dr. Philip AsuraNggada stated this in his capacity as a Guest Speaker at the speech and prize giving day of St. Lukes Anglican College, Kufang Jos,  Plateau State.

Rev. Dr. Nggada who presented a paper Titled: “The making of an Eagle”, said that, the eagle has been described as a symbol of strength, brevery, zeal and courage.

He remarked that, it is much easier when the child receives formidable training at home, adding that once that breaking the fallow ground is done, teachers can easily mold and impact the basic knowledge to the child at the rightful time.

The Guest Speaker noted that, the school activities are designed in good faith in order to help the children grow and develop skills mentally, socially emotionally, psychologically, physically, academically and spiritually, saying that, all these contribute to making the ward have a great sense of maturity, responsibility and independency.

According to him, the quality of spirited life is the foundation for every lasting success, which remains the spring board for successful learning.

He told the graduants that, they have been equipped to face the outside world, saying that, their teachers have molded them spiritually and academically, urging them not to forget the training they have received while in school.

Rev. Dr. Nggada also challenged the graduants to make use of the knowledge imparted in them in a way that it would profit them and their immediate environment.

He further encouraged the graduants to be an agent of change, transformation, good ambassadors of peace, good, moral, honesty , faithful, humane and conscience with character in their new world, adding that, the quality of their spiritual life is the energy that takes them beyond their local environment.

Rev. Dr. Nggada called on people to all return to God to drive the biblical basis and principles of living that is formative, educative and transformative that would be able to change the world of art, technology, education, social sciences, and religion and politics.

“The child should not be left alone in studying, but should be encourage by the parents and guardians to always read hard and also do his or her assignment promptly he opined.

He noted that, parents and teachers do not give much attention to this side of the training. If the child is trained only on the academic, he cannot succeed to the fullness of life. He will be like the Ephraim cake with one side baked with the other side unbaked.

Speaking separately Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Emmanuel Mangset and the school Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Mr. Alex Sati Bako both showered accolades on the entire staff of the college for their commitments to work and urged them to sustain such tempo for the betterment of the education sector.

The duo advised the graduants to always have faith in God over dark moments in lives, and also encouraged the students of the college to continue working hard, so as to maintain the good standard that the school is known for in its performance.

Earlier, in her welcome remarks, acting Principal of the college, OjoOlufunke expressed delight with the large turnout of people at the occasion and appreciated the school manager, Board of Advisory Committee, PTA Exco and all parents for their various support and cooperation.

Olufunke thanked the staff both teaching and non teaching for their hard work and efforts in making sure that the students turn out to be the best.

She added that, graduation ceremony has always been a special occasion, saying that, it was a moment of celebrating God’s faithfulness for the years of hard work, actualization of goals attained and the journey that started with tentative steps.

Olufunke said that, their role as a school was not only to pursue academic excellence but to also motivate and empower their students to be productive members of an ever changing global world by preparing them to face challenges that the future holds.

The acting Principal maintained that, St. Luke’s Anglican College provides an atmosphere for their students for multifaceted development where they are encouraged to channel their potentials in the pursuit of excellence, saying that, academic excellence is their major thrust, as the school was also devoted to grooming the students.

Olufunke added that, the staffs are opened to any form of cogent and inspiring inquiry from the students to promote intellectual growth and creativity.

The out gone Head Boy, Stephen Garba who spoke on behalf of the graduants expressed joy and thanked the teachers for impacting the needed knowledge to them and also promised the school that the graduants would continue to be of good behavior wherever they find themselves, especially now that they have been send out to the wider society.

Our correspondent reports that, the newly sworn-in prefects of the college where all advised not to express the younger ones in the course of performing their duties.

THE NIGERIA STANDARD gathered that, the occasion also featured school choir presentation, chorography, swearing in of new prefects and academic award presentations among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘My constituents are my biggest motivation’

 

Hon. Daniel Nanbol Listick is the member representing Langtang North Central constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly (PLHA), and also the Chairman House Committee on Health. In this interview, he speaks on very salient issues surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, especially the vaccine, what his motivations are and some of the Plateau State House of Assembly’s agenda for 2021. Excerpts:

THE past year was full of so many challenges to us as a nation and as individuals, how would you describe the year 2020?

The past year was really challenging and the challenges came majorly due to the Covid- 19 pandemic. Apart from that, there were other challenges that had to do with our individual lives generally. It wasn’t funny but God saw us through. Our sincere prayer is that 2021 will be better than 2020. What we faced, especially those of us that have found ourselves in the position we are wasn’t easy. We were asked a lot of questions and had to provide answers. Most of the people that ran small businesses could not do it because of the lockdown and rules regarding the Covid-19 which affected their businesses. Nobody found it easy, we pray God to help us this year.

You had quite an interesting and outstanding performance despite the challenges, that is in terms of motions, bills etc. What would you say motivated and kept you going?

It is true that we were able to work on a lot of policies. We got a lot of resolutions through the motions moved, we sponsored bills. It is our constitutional responsibility to do this work. Just as it is enshrined, we are to conduct oversight, we are to make laws and we are to represent our people.

What motivated and still motivates me to do this work? Well, my constituents are my biggest motivation. Secondly, the NEEDS general assessment conducted and public opinions all spurred us into churning out people oriented motions, bills and good representation. Yes, it wasn’t easy for us last year but we had to just do our work. Space will not allow me list all of these motions and bills. You are one of us because you have captured some of them in your previous write ups and carried our stories through your medium. The motions are just too many. The bills are up to eight (8). Our representations have been done, we visit our constituents and share in their pains. We also rejoice with them in their celebrations. I also really appreciate my wife for her contributions, which is a motivation for me. She sometimes edit my work, making the home and legislative front easy for me.

Despite the fact that the PLHA Ninth Assembly legislative year will commence in June, we are celebrating the new year and the beginning of 2021, what should we expect from you?

Our 2021 agenda include campaigning more and vigorously against the Covid-19 scourge and addressing the conspiracy theory surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine. We will continue to promote peace, unity and justice that is geared towards securing our various communities, continue the fight against illicit substances and very importantly, sensitize our people on the need to do birth registration, PVC registration and NIN registration. The citizens need to be educated on the importance of paying their taxes and what the IGR entails. All these we intend to do by the grace of God.

We shall also continue to promote good political processes, the youths need to be educated and enlightened on the need to be involved in the political process and choose whatever party they want. We promise to do our best in providing quality leadership and governance to the people. We are concerned about the promotion of skills acquisition, our youths must begin to pay attention and engage themselves in skills acquisition and small businesses so as to be self reliant. The role of technical, science including all aspects of education can certainly not be overemphasized. Emphasis will be on improving the quality of our education. Last but not the least, we shall continue to sponsor bills, move motions and provide quality representation to our people.

Sadly Sir, we have entered the second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic and people are still not adhering to the protocols, what do you think is wrong? Is it because they do not believe that the pandemic is real? I have severally heard some people say so.

Covid-19 is real. The attitude of our people is the main problem. You go to the rural areas they say Covid-19 is the rich man’s sickness and that we should battle with the disease. There are so many myths going around and it is believed that it is those of us who live in the cities like Jos and Abuja that have the disease. Government has done its part, including making publications using different platforms,  those of you in the media have also done your best. The executive arm of government did its best, the legislature and the Judiciary have contributed their quota.

You know another thing is that behavioural change is a gradual process. Orientation has been conducted, we will still intensify on the sensitization aspect. Yes, some people will tell you that they don’t believe in the Covid-19 pandemic and that they do not care. What I just want to let people know is that this thing is real. There was a day somebody challenged me and the simple answer I gave him was for him to discuss with his family and if they agree, he should take the risk of making himself available for the virus to be put inside him. I was privileged to have worked in NVRI and this would not be a problem, so that he will know if it is real or not. He there and then refused and I cautioned him against misleading others if he does not believe that the disease is real.

I am aware that you have carried out quite a lot of sensitization and enlightenment programmes on the pandemic in your constituency, how would you rate the level of compliance?

Well, recall that sometimes last year say from May till October, Mr. Speaker will say that when you finish your legislative work, go back to your constituents and talk to them regarding the Covid-19. He directed all of us and did his own too in Jos East, I think I participated in one. We did the campaign and talked with the people, including involving traditional, religious, women, youth and community leaders. We also took the campaigns to schools, markets, motor parks etc. Everyone was carried along and we did a lot of things like jingles, playing it from street to street and district to district at all the constituencies.

My rating of the level of compliance is far below average. But all of a sudden, something happened. Let’s not hide it. By last December,  whether directly or indirectly, we lost relations and friends. What happened? Is it not the second wave of the pandemic? The records captured are there, those we couldn’t capture are more than those captured. Time and space will not permit me to share the exact statistics. We do not intend to cause fear amongst the citizens but this scourge has brought down so many people on the Plateau. We pray that God will help us. Let us try and follow all protocols and observe personal hygiene and if we do so, it will reduce the rate of transmission.

The Minister of Health has come out to say that the Covid 19 vaccines would be ready in the country by March. My question to you is that will you take the vaccine?

On the issue of whether I will take the vaccine or not, I want to say that I am also an expert when it comes to vaccine research, development and production. I was in the Viral Production Division of the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) Vom. I contributed my quota when it came to vaccine development and production. Yes, I will take the vaccine if quality assurance is conducted by experts in Nigeria and they tell us that the vaccine is safe and effective. We in Nigeria need to conduct our own quality assurance too.

As a health and medical practitioner, can you tell us a little about the vaccine?

Generally, vaccines are biological substances that when introduced into humans or animals have the ability to trigger responses that when similar foreign bodies, that is antigenes are introduced into the human or animal, the antibodies that are developed, will fight against that foreign body. So that is what vaccines are, whether viral or bacterial.  Simply put in  a layman’s language, the Covid-19 vaccine which has been developed to be introduced into humans is to just trigger that response that will develop antibodies or soldiers that when you have the corona infection, your body system will fight against it. Another thing to note is that for this vaccine, one dose is not enough to boost your immunity. You have to take up to two or three doses within a period of three weeks.

I am of the opinion that we should promote the development of our own local vaccine. I know that the work and process will be very hectic, I have seen it in NVRI but we need to promote our own local vaccine production in Nigeria to clear some of these doubts. So if the quality assurance is done and our experts publish it that the efficacy, safety and everything is fine, why not? But if they bring the vaccine and do not want the experts to conduct the quality assurance, some of us will fight against it. I will personally make a lot of press conferences because I am an expert in the field. So let’s ensure that the right thing is done.

Many Nigerians have expressed fear and the believe that the vaccines may contain some sort of microchip. What is your take on that?

The conspiracy theory is also affecting this coronavirus vaccine. Let me just go this way, if you open up a new business or company and you’re doing production, let’s say for example bread. After your first production, customers may come and tell you that there is too much sugar etc, and spread unnecessary rumours. This same applies to this case. Our fear is that if you produce a vaccine, the safety and efficacy of this vaccine must show that you have done your clinical trials, since you are dealing with lives. During the production, when you are doing your candidate vaccine trial, you must have used animals that have the same anatomy and physiology as humans let’s say a guinea pig for example. There may be problems here and there but this issue of microchips is just a conspiracy theory.

Lastly Sir, can you please give one or two advise to the citizens of Plateau State?

To the good people of Plateau State, I will say this again, Covid-19 is real and taking the lives of many. Ensure you stay safe by doing the needful. Do not take the laws into your hands, you have the right to protests, you have the right to express whatever you have to say, but there are ways to do it. Let’s work hard and pray hard. Let’s unite in peace and pray for the government, developing a team spirit and am sure that God will help us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reckoning time of paying school fees

By KENNETH DARENG

 

THE two letter words; ‘’School fees’’ usually comes to parents and guardians with mixed feelings depending on who can afford and at what costs.

The month of each September reminds the benefactor of the ritual of meeting the obligation of settling bills of their wards who are expected to go back to school. This is a time when some parents and guardians groan considering the hash economic down turn in the country coupled with the fact that apart from the school fees there are other responsibilities that go with such. i.e pocket money, new sets of shoes,  clothes, toiletries, bevarages, uniforms  including  new text books and hostel or rent in the case of those in tertiary institutions.

It is also a time in some cases where family peace is threatened when parents tend to disagree over certain responsibilities which could arise as a result of who will compliment which aspect of the school budget and how.  Obviously, most parents are caught by the bug of lack of early preparation or the challenges of the hard times which cuts across all strata of the Nigerian society.

However, the prevailing reality for the average Nigerian that shoulders the responsibility of paying school fees of children of school age can be tormenting with an exasperating pain in meeting  such demands of the time. For instance, a parent who is a civil servant on  less than one hundred thousand naira a month with a child in a private tertiary institution paying tripple more than his income  means paying school fees through the nostrils with other challenging home demands such as; feeding which is now difficult for most families in Nigeria. What about the costs of paying utility bills, health care, transportation and other social activities. All these are enough to knock the brain of any parent or benefactor especially where in some cases even the wages and salaries are not forthcoming as and when due.

A clear example is that of a typical employee in a local government system where staff are sometimes   owed salaries for months. What about the retired workers or those who have lost bread winners, and where lays the fate of someone who is just a peasant citizen whose source of daily livelihood depends on well wishers. In essence, the reality is that we are living in a society where the existence of a middle class has been eliminated thereby ushering us to a present day Nigeria where one is either extremely rich or extremely poor.

The implication for all these is that, for an average and hard working individual to send a child to school and meet with those obligations of the educational sector nowadays, portents the fact that most people may end up as borrowers to pay school fees, or alternatively engage in stealing money from any source or partake in other criminal acts just to see their wards go to school.

No wonder, the rate of corruption among Nigerians has continued to surge due to the common fact that some people have given up hope on the system that is supposed to cater for their needs and wellbeing as citizens and have now found respite in cutting corners in order to make ends meet.

In those good old days in Nigeria before the advent of private schools, there were public and mission schools and government provided free education at all levels and even provided subsidy to the mission schools which made it reasonably affordable. That was also the era of Scholarship Boards which provided soccour to students. Perhaps, that was the beginning of our tale of woes in the country which has now thrown the country’s citadels of learning to mere shadows of themselves and with a heavy deficit of academic excellence. Worst of all, either by commission or omission, previous governments had watched before their own eyes how public schools were strangled to the kind of dearth they are today and left the education sector in the very hands of some opportunistic individuals coupled with lack of vision for the future generations.

Unfortunately, in our today’s Nigeria ,there is a dichotomy among those who can afford to pay school fees and those who cannot which also implies that some of the wards may  likely  drop out of school simply because of lack of funds for that purpose.

However, parents and guardians should bear in mind that, providing education now is a more complex and serious business that requires meticulous financial planning which is expected to begin early by exploring avenues of savings before it dents the purse of the family.

On its part, the Plateau state Government should reinvigorate the state scholarships Board with sufficient funds in order to intervene by providing scholarship and bursary to deserving indigenes of the state while encouraging well meaning individuals, Corporate and humanitarian organisations to follow suit in other to ease the pains of parents that are finding it difficult to meet up with their ward’s school fees.

 

Plateau and need for LG election

By HOSEA NYAMLONG

 

THE local government in Nigeria is the third tier of government that is closer to the people at the grassroot. Local governments are therefore created by law for smooth operation within a small area with their elected representatives for a fixed tenure of office.

Plateau State government is set to conduct its local government elections in the 17 local government areas of the state by October 9, 2021.

The intention of the state government to conduct the local government elections was made public through the Chairman of the Plateau State independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), Fabian Ari Ntung, recently in Jos at the headquarters of the commission’s.

At a press briefing by the Chairman, he assured citizens of Plateau State of the Commission’s readiness to conduct the local government elections in the 17 local government areas of the state.

He expressed optimism that PLASIEC would deliver credible and transparent elections to the people of Plateau State, hence PLASIEC is saddled with the responsibility to conduct free and fair council elections in the Plateau.

The last local government council’s elections were conducted on October 10, 2018 with the exclusion of four local governments-Jos North,  Jos South, Barkin-Ladi and Riyom. This was because of the security challenges that bedeviled the local government areas.

Election still remains one of the basic elements that define participation in any democracy,  that is  fair and free which allows the people to choose those who should manage their affairs for a given period.

In a democratic setting, elections are used as a means to gauge the will of the people regarding their choice of political leaders. Therefore, elections at the local government level in Nigeria has been relegated to the background whereby, it’s the process to conduct a free and fair elections  which is often at the mercy of the state governments and the ruling political party.

Nonetheless, for an election to live up to its democratic standard and merit, it must satisfy the requirement of openness, transparency, fairness and credibility on the ground that an election can be judged.

Yet in situation where only one political party wins the entire local government’s chairmanship and councillorship elections which were contested by other political parties posed a danger about the relationship between the state governments and the electoral umpire that conducts the local government council’s elections.

Needless to say, the Plateau State government through its electoral umpire PLASIEC, should ensure that a level playing environment is provided for both the aspirants and the electorates which will further reflect the will of the people in choosing their candidates that would deliver the dividends of democracy to them.

The candidates that would finally emerge as winners of the forth-coming local government council’s elections should know that they would be responsible and accountable to the people that have elected them into the offices to manage the affairs of the councils.

It has been revealed that, some of the elected chairmen of  local government councils are in the habit of relocating from the local government headquarters to the urban cities where they would rule run their offices.

Before the 1976 local government reforms, Plateau State has a long history conducting election in the local government councils.

Today, Plateau state is 45 years old after its creation and the state would not want to operate anything outside of the tenet of democracy therefore, it is an important obligation as it largely pertains local governments because that is the grassroots. Because its constitute the cornerstone of democracy  in the system we presently practice. It is expected that the 325 electoral wards in the state are ready to participate fully in the forthcoming local government councils.

Citizens of Plateau State need an enabling environment under which they would exercise their civil rights to vote their local government leaders come October 9, this can be achievable when the electorates fully participate in the elections by coming out to vote in a free and fair atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A legislator’s impact in his constituency

IN Alan Ehrenhalt’s writing on the topic ‘In search of the ideal legislature’, the writer notes that it is not too difficult defining the qualities of an outstanding legislator. To him, a true legislator is someone who understands the heartbeat of his constituents basically because he or she listens, and by so doing understands their problems, while proffering solutions to them in the little way he or she can.

There is no doubt that of the three tiers of government, that is the legislature, judiciary and executive, the legislature practically reflects what democracy truly stands for. The legislature is said to be the essential ingredient for measuring the dividends of democracy because it is the closest to the people. By dividends, it simply means the basic necessities of live such as water, education, healthcare and so on, making sure that they get to the people especially those at the grassroots.

As a true representative, he or she is expected to fight for government’s attention in favour of their respective constituencies in the area of infrastructural development, provision of healthcare, education, poverty reduction through creating life enhancement programmes aimed at uplifting the living standards of the people etc. Achieving this feat may not be as easy as it seems. It entails going all out, including making a whole lot of sacrifices with the intention of touching lives and providing succour to the people who chose them as their representatives.

We all know that in Nigeria today, people seek political offices for different reasons. Some do so for their personal and selfish interest while others do so with the intent to serve. However, serving the people and delivering the dividends of democracy is a matter of choice and also a matter of one’s conscience. For Hon. Daniel Nanbol Listick who is the member representing Langtang North Central constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, his desire to serve stems from his good heart. As a first timer, his tenacity and resolve coupled with the polical will exhibited in the last two years calls for admiration.

The lawmaker who many describe as having a heart of gold did it again recently,  when all road led to his constituency of Langtang North Central as the creme de la creme of the society converged to witness the second phase of the unveiling and commissioning of his 2021 intervention projects. It will interest you to know that the first phase took place last year (2020). Langtang North constituency is made up of nine wards out of the fourteen wards in Langtang North Local Government Area.

To set the ball rolling and in line with Section 14 (2b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with alterations 2011, which  states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”,  the lawmaker in the quest to further ensure the safety of lives and property took the right step by constructing a Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps qutpost in Pil-Gani, under Pil Ward of Gani district. The completed building described as first of its kind in the community because nothing like that has ever been done by any government, individual or organisation and was commissioned by Amb. Nanpon D. Sheni, a former Permanent Secretary with the Ministry of Defence.

It is a known fact that the importance of healthcare in any community cannot be overemphasized. This is why in a bid to contribute to Section 17(3d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with alterations 2011 stating that “there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons”, the lawmaker single handedly built a primary healthcare clinic in Reak, under Reak Ward in Bwarat district which was commissioned by Prince Alfred Dapal, the Manager Upstream Business Agip Oil, Abuja. Listick also renovated another primary healthcare clinic in Shi Lur, under Pishe-Yashi ward of Gani district that will all ensure that the people  enjoyed quality and accessible healthcare services.

With education said to be the bedrock of any progressive society, the need to place it on higher pedestal became a burden for the Hon. Member. Little wonder Section 18(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with alterations 2011 makes it clear that “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels”. To add value to this section, a two classroom and office block at LEA primary school Wangwang, initiated and constructed by Listick was commissioned. Also commissioned at LEA Primary School Pagwam- Kwanpe is another two classroom and office block.

In order to boost the quality of education in his constituency, particularly in the area of science technology and cultural education which he believes will unarguably help meet future challenges in the competitive labour market, the legislator made a donation of some science equipment to support Government Secondary School Kumkwam, under Jat ward of Bwarat district. He also commissioned a handpump borehole at International College of Education Langtang. This singular gesture is to ensure that students were provided with clean and potable water. Interestingly, the borehole dug at the shool premises also provides water for residents of the community.

Hon. Nanbol Listick’s accomplishment for his constituents will not be complete without mentioning his interest in economic empowerment. While Section 16(2a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with alterations 2011  talks about “the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development”, Listick has undertaken numerous initiatives towards empowering selected members of his constituency in the area of small businesses and dry farming. He equally provided and distributed to them items that would help in starting these businesses and they include deep freezers, water pumping machines, welding machines, generator sets, sewing machines etc.

It is equally imperative to state here that in his magnanimity, he has been involved in the payment of school fees of ten orphans in primary schools, twenty five in secondary schools and thirty students in various tertiary institutions. These pupils and students cut across Langtang North Central constituency. The lawmaker is said to have also sponsored three students on international scholarships to enable them obtain a first degree in different fields of endeavour. Note that he has been of immense support to NYSC members deployed to Langtang North Local Government Area in executing some of their community development projects.

 

 

 

 

 

Irresponsible animal owners, endangering our lives

By YVONNE ISHOLA

THERE is no gainsaying that the harsh economic realities in the country has further made  feeding in Nigeria very poor. Stable foods like rice, beans and ingredients for cooking like palm oil and groundnut oil are beyond the reach of the common man. The common saying these days is: We live each day as it comes.

Foods like sweet potatoes, cocoa yam, gotai (with roughly ground maize) which were unpopular in the past are now common foods in most average homes in Plateau State. Talk about na condition dey make crayfish bend. Even garri is beyond the reach of the common man.

This makes one wonder how dog owners are managing, knowing that dogs either eat left- overs or one buys their feed which is expensive. Alternatively,one could prepare the meal by getting the following according to specification: maize, soya beans, dry bones or fish meal, slightly roasted groundnut, mix them and take them to the millers to grind. This could be very tasking.

However, considering the peculiarities of the times, how many people can afford to keep a dog and feed it as desired? Of recent, one has noticed an increased number of stray dogs roaming the streets or rummaging through garbage dumps. The consequences of this cannot be over-emphasized.

Studies have shown that one of the ways dogs get rabies is by eating what bats have leftover which is mostly found in refuse dumps. As dangerous as this condition is, once a dog in an area gets it, all other dogs in that area would be in danger of getting infected.

A worst-case scenario is the danger to humans especially children. A dog infected with rabies does not need to be provoked to attack. It silently goes after any moving object and bites it.

More than a decade ago, two sisters met their death as a result of being bitten by a rabies infected dog.They were from a humble background, and as such, the parents could not afford the treatment. The owner of the dog refused to be responsible for the treatment. Going back and forth like that, the little girls(age between 6 and 9) exhibited all the signs of rabies, including barking like a dog before finally giving up their ghost.

It was heart rendering. The parents and the owner of the dog under-estimated the ravages of rabies and lived to regret it. The death of these girls was avoidable but negligence was the order of the day. If they were administered anti-rabies in 24 hours of the bite, they would have survived it. But the issue of money came in because the anti-rabies injection is expensive but not as expensive as the life which can’t be bought.

Similar to the issue of stray dogs are stray domestic animals like sheep, goats, pigs, cows, monkeys, cats. My mother’s first accident was caused by stray sheep. She had just bought her car and wanted to drop me in school. Among some trees just before my school- Holy Cross School, Pankshin, were some sheep grazing. Just as we came upon them, mother warned them by honking. That seemed to be her undoing. They started running to and fro before the incoming car. And to avoid them, mother ramped into a tree and dented her new car.

That was the day I learnt that it would have been better to run the sheep down than for one to damage one’s car- that was what the small crowd that gathered told mother. For one thing, they pointed, they were stray animals.

A friend to my younger sister almost kicked the bucket when a stray pig ran into her car around Akwanga, on her way to Jos from Abuja. It was as if she ran into a brick wall. She somersaulted a few times but luckily, she survived.

Three months ago,my sister and other passengers in a commercial vehicle almost became history when a dog out of nowhere decided to cross the road as they took a bend around Akwanga. Instead of running into the dog, the driver swerved off the road and entered the bush until a tree stopped it. Thank God, nobody was hurt but the car will be off the road for some time.

The cases are endless.The government needs to be proactive in addressing the issue of stray animals for the safety of the citizenry. What obtains in other climes? I know for certain that strays are often taken off the streets. And if you are the owner, you pay direly to retrieve your animal. In most occasions, one has to weigh if the animal is worth the trouble.

This could be another way to generate revenue for the state and bring sanity to the system. People need to know that owning an animal means responsibility which involves spending money.

People need to be sensitive to know that one has no business keeping an animal, if one can not feed the animal or be responsible enough to care for it the best way possible. This includes keeping it off the streets and in a safe place.

The importance of information in society

By HOSEA NYAMLONG

Information plays a major role in the development of every nation. Information is the act of learning, enlightening or knowledge obtained from investigation.

Information can also  be acquired through other means of communication by listening to radio, watching television, research and other digital  and cable network platforms that provide information for the vast majority of the population.

It should be noted that, information covers every aspect of human endeavour both civil and military. The military and other security agencies needs information to defeat any act of terrorism or any criminally minded persons in our society today.

The effectiveness of the internal security, like the police and other sister agencies needs accurate and timely information that would help them to prevent and checkmate the activities of the criminals in our country.

In addition, other fields of human endeavours also need information like medical profession, journalists, civil servants, business men and women, artisan etc.

Beyond this, it is the duty of the present leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to inform and educate the citizens, with the relevant information that would unify its citizenry to greatness and as well as mobilized resources for sustainable development.

On this note, leaders must first be communicators of information that would enhance development through heads of ministries, departments and agencies Proper information dissemination periodically on the government achievement so far is necessary.

Information should also be in a language that would be understood by the citizenry.

Leaders should put in more effort to protect its citizenry from fake news. Often times fake news has caused havoc in the way information are being passed through other means of communication to the vast majority of the people that mostly turns out to be very catastrophic to the wellbeing of the nation.

Therefore, some of this information is not factual but misleading which concurrently results in violence because of the misinformation carried out which are mostly rumours.

Nevertheless, the press plays a vital role in a democracy because it is the principal means by which the people learn about the actions and policies of the government. Democracy rest on the consent of the governed, but in order to give their consent in any meaningful way, the governed must be informed.

To a great extend, the world as become a global electronic village. what is happening in Europe and other continents wuld be known within a short time, because of the platforms considered to disseminate infrmation to the vast majority of the people.

Security experts are of the views that fake news become a threat to national security, mischief makers used it to hitch conspiracy to cause crisis among people and the government. Government need to be tough when handling such information from mischief makers.

Government need to embark on concerted sensitization and enlightenment for the  general public on the dangers of fake news carried out by other media platforms without  verification or clarification whenever they are in doubt.

It would be good for citizens to be well informed, because when they are informed, they are transformed, when they are not informed, they are deformed, which gives room for fake news to thrive and  spread by ignorant citizens Government should note that, a well packaged information system would help to curtailed the effect of fake news among.

A well informed society help to reduce the level of illiteracy in individuals which help them to become literate so that they can participate positively in the nation building process. Information is important that promotes economic progress as well social development.

 

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.