THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE: PROGRESSION, WASTE OR WHAT?

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‘The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labour’.

These words of the French philosopher, Albert Camus, featuring the absurdist tale of poor Sisyphus inevitably bring to mind the pitiable story and futile circumstance of some 496 individuals, most of them advanced in years, who, on the 17th day of March, were ‘conscripted’ to partake in the on-going national conference.

President Goodluck Jonathan has said the conference is a medium where high-standing national stakeholders will ‘engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all’. The question that crosses ones thoughts then is; what comes next after the resolutions have been charted?

It is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that the conference is an utter waste. Reasons being: one, despite the fact that the whole venture is meant to be a service to the nation; and many of the delegates are pensioners with enough wealth to suffice their whole village and numerous progenies, the government still finds it appropriate to fund the conference with ridiculous generosity. At a time when various abandoned projects daily cry for attention, we find the government bold enough to spend as much as about 7 billion naira on a ‘talk-shop’.

If it were to end there, the situation may still be manageable as the funding, though unnecessary anyway, can be deemed a sacrifice for a worthy cause. But then, the whole process is just ‘vanity upon vanity’, waste upon waste, because the conference, from all indications, lacks any iota of efficacy. This is because the conference is not sovereign and fully autonomous. It is, at the end of the day, answerable to the President. In essence, whatever the resolutions reached, no matter how laudable, they are still subject to the whims and caprices of the government of the day which is the quintessential exemplar, if not origin, of the decay in the nation. This is a pointer to the sad fact that the national conference is nothing but a façade of seriousness and an incapacitated gathering of honest patriots. As Tony Blair aptly puts it; ‘power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile’.

The national conference is not the panacea we seek. It was set up to find solutions in issues such as fiscal federalism, resource control, regional autonomy and security of lives and property. And even if it actualises this, it definitely cannot serve as a means of tackling political corruption, abject poverty, miscarriage of justice etc., as these are problems only sincerity on the part of the supreme authority in a country can solve. It cannot be, as the President has said, ‘a means of resolving differences and tensions that may exist in the country’, because the delegates were not popularly chosen. When it ends, it does not mean the average Ibo man will cease to hate the average Hausa man, or that the Yoruba Ijaw man will be comfortable handing his daughter in marriage to the typical Yoruba man.

Fred Allen once said that ‘a conference is a group of people who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing can be done.’ How true this is. The reports of past conferences and committees, a good instance of which is the National Political Reforms Conference constituted by Former President Obasanjo in 2005, are still gathering dusts wherever it is they were dumped.

To conclude, I would say the national conference can definitely not be regarded as a form of progression. In fact, it is a means for retardation. It is not a step in the right direction; instead, it is many steps on a vain path. It is not a thing of value; rather it is a big joke, a diversionary and pointless activity; a waste, of time, money and, most saddening of all, lives. To suggest otherwise is to live in fanatical denial.

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INSECURITY AND AMNESTY: A JOLLY RIDE TO LAWLESSNESS

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ABDUL FATTAH ADEBAJO ADEKUNLE, LAW, 100 LEVEL

Winner of the 1434AH superior pen writing competition

[Published on pages 38 and 39 of Adh-Dhikr Magazine, February, 2014]

Written: several months back…

At times, I wonder how it is that we find ourselves in the current predicament. What have we done or failed to do as a nation that causes us to deserve this ‘punishment’? Are Nigerians that distinct from those in other lands, that we are bedevilled with insecurity?

It is quite demoralising that, today, the word ‘Nigeria’ is coterminous and equated with fear, insecurity and loss of lives. Nigeria is, today, a no man’s land. No tourist wishes to see our mouth-watering cultural artefacts. No company holder dares attempt to extend his investment to Nigeria. In fact, the ones already here are, so to say, running for their dear lives. That is not all; presidents and government officials now publicly announce their apprehension in paying Nigeria a visit. A quintessential instance is the recent case whereby President Obama of the United States visited African nations such as Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and deliberately put Nigeria aside.

The pivotal genesis of their lugubrious status-quo is not far-fetched. It all started with militant activities in the Niger-Delta region, which perhaps was made possible during the civil war of 1967-1970 that left myriad arms in the hands of individuals. As an offshoot, we also have innumerable cases of high-profile kidnappings; those being most rampant in the South East and South West on the other hand are infamous for harbouring petty thieves and notorious armed robbers. With the intervention of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s regime, the militants in the Niger-Delta, and activities of MEND were considerably checked. This was mainly due to the introduction of amnesty, which is a process in which violent individuals are disarmed in exchange for education, employment or wealth. This recession brought untold joy unto the hearts of Nigerians, but little did we know that we are yet to get to the end of the beginnings of the burdensome quest.

In 2009, a group popularly referred to as Boko-Haram came into the limelight. Jama’atul Ahlis-Sunna lidda’awati wal-jihad (Boko-Haram) is believed to have originated from the activities of Maitatsine in the 1970s and 80s. its fame also rose when Mallam Alli was heading it around 1995. Thereafter, he passed the leadership to Muhammad Yusuf, a radical whose extra-judicial death in 2009 gave rise to the blood thirsty side of Boko-Haram and the death of more than 10,000 Nigerians – most of the innocent.

The federal government has for too long a time turned a blind eye to the activities of the sect, allegedly because some of the members have rich backgrounds with links to top government officials. However when the situation appears to be getting out control, albeit it never was in control; the government deemed it fit to offer a friendly arm to the sect; taking as precedent the Niger-Delta militants saga. This offer was, sadly and unexpectedly, harshly turned down, with the remarks that it is the government that actually needs amnesty.

Relentless, President Goodluck Jonathan shows that he is still ‘on top of the situation’ by putting to use another trick up his sleeve, a declaration of the state of emergency. This he did on May 14, 2013 in four states of the federation including Adamawa, Bornu and Yobe states. He imposed a 24-hour curfew in these states and sent thousands of military personnel, with the aim of fishing out and crushing the sect members. In addition, telecommunication and GSM were disabled to disorganise the sect. despite the strict measures, we still hear incidents of bombing (of religious institutions and market places); a very fresh case is the killing of juveniles in Yobe by setting a school ablaze. Up to 20 people were reportedly killed. Those who fled from the inferno were shotdown in cold blood. This is to point out that, truly, no real progress have been made.

All said and done, what can we say is the panacea to this precarious situation? The answer to this is very simple, but the implementation, not quite so. Indubitably, the root cause of Boko-Haram and other shapes insecurity is taking in Nigeria is simple and straightforward: poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. In the case of Nigeria, these are most obtainable in the North.

At this juncture, it would be apt to cite one of the remarks of a famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle – he said: ‘poverty is the parent of revolution and violence’. A hungry man does not think of anything but his hunger; and an idle hand, they say, is the devil’s workshop. The only rational explanation for a case in which a teenager in Lagos killed another individual with a knife for 10,000 naira is poverty.

I hereby submit that no level of military expedition or amnesty can salvage us from our predicament; Muhammad Yusuf was able to gain supporters and disciples because people were ignorant and because he strongly preached against corruption and police brutality. Thus, if we must restore sanity, safety and self-dignity in this nation we must set out to tackle corruption, fight illiteracy, and combat poverty with all available means, lest the aftermath becomes ineluctable: a jolly ride to lawlessness.

I KNOW MY COUNTRY

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I KNOW MY COUNTRY.

Entry for the 100-word TGIC Centenary essay contest.

Imagine a tall Iroko tree, cut away from its roots. It, inevitably, shall collapse, wither and die. Imagine the Nile without its source, the Kagera River. It loses its glory. Now imagine a man isolated in thought from his place of birth. What a pitiable spectacle, he is.
Nationality is but an eleven-letter word if it does not entail appreciation of one’s environment, acknowledgment of one’s birthplace and a familiarity with essential traits of our home.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo said that no matter how tall a tree is it cannot forget its roots. What excuse do I, still struggling on the ladder of life, now have to forsake my dear nation? None, I believe.

WHAT MAKES ME A TRUE NIGERIAN

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WHAT MAKES ME A TRUE NIGERIAN.

Written For The Diamond Bank 100-word Limit Centenary Essay Contest…

What makes a Christian a true one? Nothing but the mere fact that he believes in the Gospel of Christ and practises it to the letter. What makes a philosopher a true one other than the fact that he believes in the significance of truth, rational thinking and he acts in accordance with his deductions? So what makes a Nigerian a true one? The answer is simple: belief and practice.

I am a true Nigerian! Why? Because I belief in the unity, I belief in the struggle, I belief in the great future of this land. I am equally working tirelessly to make sure that my dream for Nigeria comes to light. So help me God.

CURBING IMMORALITIES AND DEGRADING TENDENCIES

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CURBING IMMORALITIES AND DEGRADING TENDENCIES.

More than 14 hundred years ago, the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) foretold of a time when there will be widespread corruption, men will mate with men and women with women, wars and homicides will be on the high[1], female singers and musical instruments will become popular, nations will be ruled by the worst of their citizens[2]. A time when adultery will be committed openly and with impunity[3]. A time of chaos, when normality will become abnormal, when good deeds will be frowned at and evils rewarded. A time, of ‘immoralities and degrading tendencies.’ Sad to say that that time is here. It is staring us in the face, poking its filth into our lives and it has, in fact, managed to gain our acquiescence.

These days, a lot of upsetting spectacles meet my eyes that I fear they will sink in, in shame and disgust. No day passes without one being greeted with depressing news reports. If it is not of a man getting married to a dog[4] or of a union of prostitutes fighting for their right to operate openly[5], it will be of ‘men’ of God and school principals defiling children young enough to pass as their grandkids[6]. The situation, no doubt, is not just getting out of hand; it has already got out of hand. However, is it so bad to have gone beyond redemption? To this, I reply again with the words of Prophet Muhammad: ‘there is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment.’ [7] Thus, for every problem, no matter how seemingly gigantic, there is a solution. So what is the solution to this pressing problem? How may we curb the immoralities that have enveloped our society?

Allah says in the Qur’an; ‘surely Allah does not change a people’s lot unless they change what is in their hearts[8]. This verse is similar to the age-old saying that ‘heaven helps those who help themselves’, and it goes to show the importance of self-evaluation and individual development to societal reformation. And like a Greek philosopher [9] once said; ‘the city is what it is because our citizens are what they are.’ In other words, the change has to start from every individual, if we are ever going to get anywhere. We all need to collectively resolve to know what is evil, shun it and return to the will of our Lord.

In addition to this, the family also has a key role to play in this movement. It is widely acknowledged among scholars that the first agent of socialisation is the family. Whether a child will grow up to be an ‘Abu Bakr’ or an ‘Abu Lahab’ is primarily a function of his/her background. Today, the family system has become a shadow of its former self. We are in a world where fathers are busy 24 hours with sustaining the family. And mothers, whose duty it is to look after the home, are even busier than the family head. We are in a world where the closest companion of the young ones is not the chest of their mothers but that of teddy bears. We are in a world where majority of what children learn is got from social networks. In such a world, how can immorality not skyrocket beyond our control? Hence, we will achieve nothing unless we restore the efficacy of the family.

Finally, it is the case that all other establishments can merely recommend what is appropriate; only the government of the day that can enforce it. It only, can legitimately penalise what is wrong and harmonise legality with morality. If after all is said and done and we still have persons who contravene the common ethical code of the society, then the corrective hand of the law is needed to restore balance, effect justice and eradicate corruption from the land.

I wish to conclude by citing the flawless words of Allah (SWT) in the Holy Qur’an where He says: ‘Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what  is wrong, and believing in Allah[10].’ Therefore, each and every one of us must take it as our responsibility to do good, enjoin good and forbid evil. We must all strive to put an end to the immoralities and degrading tendencies in our society, lest they be the one to put an end to us.

REFERENCE
1. Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6903.
2. Narrated by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, in At-Tirmidhi.
3. Ibn Hibban and Al-Bazzar.
4. California Allows First Ever state Recognised Human-Animal Marriage: http://nationalreport.net/california-allows-first-ever-state-recognized-human-animal-marriage/ and Woman Marries Dog In Romantic Wedding Ceremony: http://mirror.co.uk/news/wierd-news/woman-marries-dog-romantic-wedding-3225948
5. Nigerian Prostitutes Demand Recognition: NEWS EXPRESS and Nigerian Prostitutes Strike: “We Demand Our Rights”: Pulse Nigeria, http://pulse.ng/gist/we-demand-our-rights-id2713674.html
6. ‘Pastor Raped Me Countless Times’ – Victim Tells Court: Nigerian Eye, published March 4, 2014 and Pastor Rapes 9-Year Old Girl: P.M. NEWS Nigeria, published July 29, 2010.
7.Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 582.
8. Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rad, 13:11. Translated by Yusuf Ali.
9. Dialogues of Plato.
10 .Qur’an, Surah Al-Imran, 3:110. Translated by Yusuf Ali.

15-year old Omoyeni IbukunOluwa wins Int’l Spelling contest

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Picture showing Ibukun and A’ishat with Professor Soyinka and President Goodluck.

After correctly spelling 37 words live
on-stage, 15 year-old Ibukun
Omoyeni of Prince of Glory College,
Lagos, spelt the word myxomatosis to
win the 2012 edition of Spellbound
Africa recently held at Abuja. He beat
children from 13 other states and the
FCT to successfully defend the Title
won by Gbemileke Oyefeso also of
Lagos State in 2011.
In second position was 12 year old
Hauwa’u Lawal of Jigawa State
Academy For the Gifted and Talented,
Bamaina. She spelt 37 words
correctly. Adaeze Williams of Divine
Mercy Secondary School, Abuja came
third, while Olivia Okechukwu of
Community Senior Secondary school
Oyingbo, Rivers State, came fourth.
The children studied 3,000 english
words for 3 months from which
words were chosen for them to spell.
Words like phantasmagoria,
arteriosclerosis, neuroinformatics,
discombobulated, higgledy-piggledy
etc were spelt.
At this event, the Guest of Honour,
the Governor of Jigawa State,
represented by Alhaji Isa Audu,
received the annual SUPER-DAD
AWARD from organisers of the
competition Ski-Hi Entertainment for
his contribution to education in
Jigawa State. He restated his
commitment to education as a
means of preparing the young
generation for the challenges ahead
of them. Aero Contractors also
received the Most Supportive &
Reliable Brand Award 2012 for
consistently supporting this project.
Spellbound Africa is an annual
spelling competition for children
studying in the English-speaking
African countries. It is for children
between 10 and 15 years old and has
run for four years now.
The Chief Executive of Ski-Hi
Entertainment, Mr. Ifeanyi Ogbu,
called on corporate brands and
media houses to consider sponsoring
academic events like this if Nigeria is
to have any hope of prosperity in
future. He also, pointed out that
football, music or acting is not the
only war to fame and fortune; but
that everyone should cooperate to
present academic excellence as a
sustainable route to the top.
15 States of the federation as well as
Ghana and Sierra Leone participated
in the 2012 edition of Spellbound
Africa.

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IbukunOluwa with his just-earned trophy.

Posting on his wall on facebook, IbukunOluwa said; ” I tried to remember 34 words from the
manual, which I was asked to spell. In no
particular order, they are;
1. Speleology
2. Dyspepsia
3. Pusillanimous
4. Protuberance
5. Anthropomorphism
6. Psephology
7. Ptomaine
8. Ulaanbaatar
9. Baksheesh
10. Aetiology
11. Quinquagesima
12. Thingamajig
13. Insouciance
14. Rhubarb
15. Sarajevo
16. Kanchenjunga
17. Chappaquiddick
18. Chimichurri
19. Formaldehyde
20. Phishing
21. Surreptitious
22. Mnemonic
23. Salopettes
24. Chrysanthemum
25. Asphyxiate
26. Ionosphere
27. Quadriplegic
28. Synaesthesia
29. Tagliatelle
30. Bougainvillea
31. Psoriasis
32. Philology
33. Kookaburra
34. Myxomatosis ”

Hmmn. How many of those do you know how to spell?
Actually, Ibukun and I are friends, and we both participated in the 2010) edition. I would have applied again in 2011 if not for the fact that I was a school leaver then.

I SAY CONGRATULATIONS TO HIM ON HIS VICTORY.