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Opinion: A Nation In Search Of Hope- Reuben Abati

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By Reuben Abati

“Where have you been, you this guy?”

“Omo, I no go deceive you. I just meet this girl wey dey turn my head. Shey you know, I no go deceive you. You don’t need to die to discover Heaven. Heaven is right here on earth, except you have not been lucky to discover it. This my new babe hen, I am convinced that she descended from Heaven at a special moment of the Lord’s intervention”

“I hope nobody has given you vegetable to eat. You sound like you are under a spell. I asked you where you have been and all you are telling me is how you met a girl as if you are in a trance. Well, I must assume you are talking about your wife”

“Which wife? That one? You don’t get it.”

“Ï don’t. Whatever has come over you, I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus will leave you. Because I don’t know why men will see danger and embrace it with their full chest.”

“Leave matter. Don’t Pastors also see women they love and desire, and they keep their Bible aside and obey the call of flesh, the evidence of their eyes and submit themselves to their own humanity and nature? Leave matter.”

“So, when are you going to introduce me to this your new woman that you are so ecstatic about? What is her name? When do I get to meet her?”

“Whenever you want to meet her. Almost a virgin. Fresh. Innocent. Her name is Chidinma.”

“Yeh! Blood of Jesus! Blood of Jesus!”

“Are you alright?”

“What did you say her name is, just now?”

“Chidinma”

“Oh Jesus!  Ore, why are you doing this to yourself? You wan die? One Chidinma has just been paraded by the police in Lagos in a homicide case. She has been accused of killing one of your type, a successful young man with a great future, an entrepreneur with skills and talent, who gave access to a young woman, and ended up dying through her. Such a tragic story, such a sad event, it should make every man run away from any woman that bears the name Chidinma”

“Are you okay? Are you listening to yourself? You run the risk of group defamation. Every Chidinma in Nigeria should sue you, individually and collectively.”

“Na you sabi. I beg. Ï am speaking for myself. Since that tragedy was reported, I have been thinking of the pains of Michael Usifo Ataga’s family. He was someone’s son, cousin, brother, husband and a father too. He had a whole world ahead of him. It was even a day to his birthday. His family was looking forward to celebrating him at 50. And then the devil showed up in the shape of Delilah, Cleopatra and Helen of Troy, and destroyed him. I feel the pain in my bone marrows. These days, when I hear the name Chidinma or Adaora, I break out in sweat.”

“You see, this is the problem with you people. You like conspiracy theories. So, because one Chidinma committed a crime, every Chidinma has now become a villain. For your information, Chidinma means “My God is beautiful”. And Adaora means “the daughter of all,” that is the people’s daughter. What is in a name?  When a crime is committed, it is for the police to do their work, and ensure justice. The case you are talking about has nothing to do with the name of the suspect. Candidly, I no longer understand how people reason in this country. Is it the poverty? Or the bad politics?”

“After what happened last week, if I hear Chidinma or Adaora, na race be that oh. A girl of 21 years, going out with a man of 50, and yet she killed him in such a gruesome manner. The whole story does not even make sense to me. It does not add up. It is a story about poverty, greed, peer influence, drug abuse, parental upbringing, infidelity, and frustration.  Yes, every man should be careful and avoid an amoral life, but that is no reason why the Chidinma, undergraduate of the University of Lagos should kill, drug, tie up and destroy.”

 “What if you hear Mary? You go run?”

“That is my mother’s name. Don’t bring my mother’s name into this matter.”

“You see yourself then? Are you aware that the alleged murderer had a fake identity with the name: Mary Johnson.? Will you now start running away from every Mary? What has happened is not funny? Nigerians should stop misbehaving, creating all kinds of theories and misinforming people. In case you don’t know, the Ataga family has issued a statement, appealing to the public to stop turning a family tragedy into a material for malice and mischief. I think their feelings should be respected. The police should be allowed to do their work. All self-appointed detectives should be told: Enough! And that should be enough”

“Since you know all of that, then people like you should learn your lesson. Stay with your wife. If you must have a girlfriend, then Know Your Customer. It is called KYC. Stay away from girls from problematic backgrounds. Don’t get carried away by young girls with so-called innocent looks. Mata Hari had innocent looks but she was evil. Every femme fatale is a vamp. Delilah. Helen of Troy. Cleopatra. And above all, don’t play around with drugs.”

“Thank you, preacher. Let he who is innocent cast the first stone.”

“Very sad the way tragedy occurs in this country unabated. It can get to somebody, you know, and it is beginning to get to me. I was reading the newspapers the other day, just going through an accumulated pile. I was depressed. If Chidinma is not murdering Michael, Maryam is killing Abubakar, Funke kills Femi, one husband kills his wife because of N2, 000, one fellow accuses his mother of being a witch and decides to kill her,  a jealous step-mother throws her step son into a well, someone abducts another man’s wife and rapes her for five months, herdsmen kill farmers, farmers kill cows and herders and their kinsmen, a group of avengers claim they will ensure the permanent recession of Nigeria and humiliate the government, some other groups want to secede.. Is there hope? Tell me, where does our hope lie, those of us who fought for this democracy? Can someone help me make sense of this unending deluge of sad news?”

“Oh come on, there is hope. This is the way it has always been with Nigeria since independence. Things go wrong. But just when you think the country will collapse, it suddenly bounces back. What we need is Love. Unity. Understanding. The problem is that too many of our people are quick to imagine the worst. But I can tell you, Nigeria will survive.”

“But some prophets have said the country will break up. I know one or two Pastors who insist that Nigeria has come to an end.”

“You must stop listening to those spellbinders, futurologists and shamanists. Most of them do not know what they do.”

“It is the word of God. Can’t you see the signs?”

“What signs?”

“Are you not aware that a group of Southern and Middle Belt leaders have approached the African Union, the UN, the World Bank and the IMF that they must no longer do business with Nigeria, and must never give the country any loans, because the sovereignty of the country is now being disputed?”

“Don’t worry yourself. Nothing will come out of it. I can assure you that all of those institutions you have mentioned will continue to do business with Nigeria and even grant more loans.”

“But what of the restive youths of the Niger Delta who are threatening to humiliate the entire country? There is Operation Humble by the Niger Delta Avengers which is even led by a woman, former Field Commander of Operation Red of 2016 now Brigadier General Tu-ere, also known as Queen of the Creeks. A woman! There is also the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, leading Operation No Mercy Alpha Piper Zero Oil. We also have the Niger Delta Liberators. They all want to cripple Nigeria.”

“No worry yourself. Na today?”

“There are separatist groups everywhere. In the East. In the West. In the South South.”

 “Na so e dey be any time a major election is around the corner. Everything na hustle. Nobody dey go anywhere. Is it not this same Nigeria all of us dey inside?”

“Ï think it is different this time around. People are genuinely aggrieved and upset. Nigeria is at a breaking point. You make everything sound so light.”

“Too much grammar. That is our problem. And I keep saying do not focus on the moment, do a trend analysis of Nigerian politics over the years.  When people need something, they will make noise, agitate, threaten to pull down the roof but when you speak to them in the language they understand, they will calm down and Nigeria will move on”

“Of course. That is exactly how Nigerian leaders keep postponing the evil day until one day, monkey will go market he no go return. This is the root cause of the civil war, the June 12 crisis, the menace of military autocracy, the #EndSARS protests, the thinking that some people can seize the reins of power and treat the people shabbily, refuse to listen to them and simply assume that nothing will happen. But I think we are dealing with a new Nigeria. There is a new generation that has emerged that can no longer be taken for granted the way their parents were. They are fighting back in all ways, from rented slaughter beds, short-time joints, to the streets.”

“That is what you think.”

“That is what I know. The dynamics have changed. This new generation is on drugs, they are high on all kinds of substances, they don’t care, they are not afraid of any authority figures. On top of it all, they are educated and outspoken, and they have access to technological means of instant communication. My advice is that the political elite should stop daring them. They will kill and maim, and look innocent. Nigeria has created demons, waiting to strike.”

“Can I make some predictions?”

“Ï thought you just condemned prophets and pastors a while ago”

“Yes, I did. But I want to speak as a pragmatist. Stop giving yourself hypertension. Nigeria is this. Nigeria is that. For example, have you not seen the desperation with which politicians have been fighting over party primaries in all the major political parties in Anambra State? The desperation. The theatre. PDP. APC. APGA. Does that give you the impression that everyone has given up on this country? No. All the gladiators have followership. They are all convinced that there is still something of value in this country. After their crisis-ridden political primaries, they have all rushed to Abuja to take instructions from the centre.”

“The Igbo political elite do not represent their people”

“Who told you that? So do the Yoruba or Fulani political elite represent their people?”

“Ï don’t know”

“My friend, wake up. Stop getting sick over Nigeria’s problems. Spread love. Get yourself one young girl who can make you happy, and drive away your sorrows.”

“God forbid. I choose to be on the level.”

“Everything God. God. Have you forgotten that everything good and ugly, the Lord makes them? It is the way of the universe. It is the way the Grand Architect has made it all.”

“No. I am okay. And you have not answered my original question before you went off on a tangent about how Nigeria is in a safe and secure place and how the obvious signs of implosion mean nothing to you”

“What was your question again?”

“Is there something to hope for? I no longer feel safe in this country. I can just pack my bags now, take my children and relocate to Canada with all my frustrations! Arrrgh!”

“And I told you to stop panicking”

“When even a nationalist and stateman like Baba Olusegun Obasanjo is panicking. He says population explosion is a ticking time bomb in Nigeria. By the year 2050, Nigeria could be the third most populated country in the world. A time could come when Nigeria could be the country with the largest population. Imagine the crisis that will occur. There will be an explosion of poverty, criminals, separatists, decayed infrastructure and too many useful idiots in high and low places.”

“Are you sure you the former President made that statement?”

“Yes. He was very factual, analytical and on point. Brilliant submission as always.”

“Of course. But I recall once reading a book by the same Baba Obasanjo in which he listed his biological and adopted children. I believe I saw more than 20 names, his direct personal contribution to the Nigerian population, not to add an emergent family tree that includes grandchildren and great grandchildren. Baba is my role model. I will like to be like him, and when we get to that stage, can we then discuss the population of Nigeria?”

“You always like to twist people’s thoughts.”

“Listen to me, don’t let anybody give you headache in this country. Get smart. Niger Delta Avengers claim they will humiliate Nigeria. I hope they have heard that electric cars are now in Nigeria, even at the University of Lagos, and that the same Nigeria has accidentally discovered about 206 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in addition to another 600 billion cubic feet. Accidentally! And the man that disclosed that information is a son of the Niger Delta, Minister of State, Timipre Sylva”

“The gas belongs to the people of the Niger Delta. That is the elephant in the room. The accidental discovery does not change anything.”

“You still don’t get the language. Okay. Okay.”  

“Nothing is okay”

“Okay then”

 

  

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Winners Get Glo Festival of Joy Promo Prizes in Onitsha

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Several lucky and loyal Glo subscribers in Onitsha, Anambra State, were on Tuesday presented with various prizes, including a brand new car in the company’s ongoing Festival of Joy promo.
The car was won by a 30-year-old Construction Technician, Chukwuemeka Chikezie. Many other Nigerians also went home with different prizes such as power generating sets, sewing machines and rechargeable fans.
Chikezie, who was impaired in his left arm from a job related accident he had in 2019, disclosed that when he was called the previous day following the draws, he was working on a project in Enugu, far away from his Onitsha base. Despite that, he found it difficult that he could become an instant car winner just like that.
Till he got the keys to the car on Wednesday at an elaborate ceremony held at the Gloworld premises at Conoil station, Onitsha Bridgehead, Chikezie was hesitant to believe he had become a car owner.
“If anyone had told me yesterday that I would be a car owner today, I would never have believed”, he said, adding that “I love the Glo network very well and I have always depended on it for my calls and data needs”.
Hon. (Mrs) Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche, representing Onitsha South 2 Constituency, Anambra State House of Assembly, disclosed that her first number upon returning to Nigeria some years ago, was a Glo number. She commended Globacom for its support to its subscribers through the life changing prizes in the promo.
Representative of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Ezelue Nnamdi, said the Commission was happy with Globacom for its transparency in the conduct of the promo draws and the presentation of prizes to winner.
The Transition Chairman, Onitsha South Local Govt Area, Anambra State, Hon. Emeka Orji, expressed happiness that the event was held within his jurisdiction. He commended Globacom for putting the promo in place.

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We’re Not ‘Officially Aware’ of Anyone Working Against Tinubu’s Victory – FG

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the All Progressives Congress’ flag bearer, Bola Tinubu. It also said that President, Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.

“If there’s anybody who is working against any candidate, we don’t know officially,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock are working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.

El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.

He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.

According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.

“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.

“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

But fielding a question on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed argued that the Buhari-led government has been fair to all candidates regardless of party affiliations.

He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.

“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.

“Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”

Speaking in Ogun State last Wednesday, the APC presidential candidate alleged plans to sabotage the coming election.

Tinubu cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis and as part of plots to thwart the polls and his expected victory.

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2023 Elections: INEC Deploys 707,384 Presiding Officers

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The Independent National Electoral Commission will deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25.

The commission also said that since electoral education was important, there was a need to infuse it into the National Values Curriculum of primary schools in Nigeria.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated these during the public presentation of the Electoral Education Curriculum and Teachers’ Guide for primary schools.

The curriculum which was developed by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening  – Sustaining Electoral Engagement for Democracy project funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by National Democratic Institute and IFES, was in partnership with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council, INEC (through the Voter Education Department), National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and academia from across the country.

Okoye said, “We believe that electoral education is important in the goals of our nation. Electoral education is a specialized area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.

“For instance, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.

“These presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps, while the assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students from federal tertiary institutions.

“It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of electoral education in the development of our democracy.

“A national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education will prepare our children for the challenges ahead and also prepare them on how to respect other people’s races and also prepare them to assume leadership in future.”

The President of IFES, Anthony Banbury, said its contribution to the project was to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process through effective teaching and learning of civic education in primary schools.

“To catch them young, the revised curriculum is a hallmark innovation that will introduce children and youth very early to the concept, processes, ethics, and values of democratic systems and governance.

“It will be essential for the young people’s orientation to initiate a shift from the existing norms. In the long term, it will increase civic participation and knowledge of democratic systems and values, as the children of today become the adults and the voters of tomorrow,” Banbury said.

The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the aim was to strengthen the fabric of the nation’s democracy for sustainable growth and development.

According to him, since the return of democracy in 1999, citizens’ participation in elections and the electoral process had remained an issue of concern.

He also said that a known reason for this was the lack of adequate electoral knowledge.

“Hence, promoting democratic electoral culture and developing civic skills are therefore necessary for well-informed and responsible participation in elections and in the electoral process,” Junaidu said.

He said that the above informed the initiative of the NERDC in collaboration with IFES to develop the Electoral Education Curriculum for primary schools in Nigeria.

According to him, the curriculum, generally, is developed to expose young learners to the rudiments of democracy and inculcate in them the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for active citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

“Specifically, the curriculum is designed to achieve five key objectives, which are to: equip learners with basic knowledge of the concept of democracy, the role of elections in democracy and good governance.

He said the choice of primary school learners was hinged on the core principle of using education as an instrument of socialisation for the young to assume adult roles for the good of society.

“Thus, the teaching of electoral education at this level will ensure that when children reach voting age, they would have already understood the fundamentals of active participation in the political and electoral process,” Junaidu said.

While commending the management of NERDC for the initiative, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Claris Ujam, said the curriculum had become a dynamic process for sustainable national development.

He said, “Every time, there are changes or developments happening around the world, the school curricula are affected.

“Therefore, the inclusion of concepts and contents of electoral education under Civic Education is in line with the drive under the Ministry’s Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.

“This is to enable the acquisition of citizenship values and skills through quality education. The electoral education curricular contents constitute a remarkable step to create positive change in the election landscape and political development.”

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