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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Lessons from Nehemiah (Pt. 4): Dealing with Opposition

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By Kayode Emola

Special Credit: Dr. Bethan Emola

As we near our destination of a sovereign Yoruba nation, there will be those who would seek to see it all come to nothing. Such detractors may pose as friends of the struggle whilst secretly having their own concealed agenda. Our final instalment of the series on Nehemiah considers how to deal with such opposition, both overt and covert.

Just as Nehemiah and Ezra answered the call to restore the walls and the Temple in Jerusalem, several personalities have risen to champion the cause of our people. They are advocating for the Yoruba nation to once again be granted sovereignty and allowed to determine their own future. And just as Nehemiah faced opposition, so do we, as we strive to secure our independence.

In the instance of Nehemiah, he faced opposition in the form of Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. It is worth noting that both the Horonites, from Samaria (in the modern-day West Bank region of Palestine), and the Ammonites, from Ammon (now part of present-day Jordan), had a vested interest in the perpetual oppression of the Israelites, as both historically had antagonistic relationships with the nation of Israel.

Initially, Sanballat and Tobiah treated Nehemiah’s project as laughable, without any real chance of success. Although angered by the project, their first attack came in the form of ridicule. They launched a personal strike against Nehemiah, even accusing him of treason. Nehemiah responded by pointing out that, as they are not from Israel, this has nothing to do with them, so why should they be bothered about it?

When opponents of our cause launch attacks against our person, it can slice deep and trigger a desire to defend ourselves, to protect our reputation. This is a diversionary tactic, designed to distract us from the real work at hand. When our attention is directed toward these vain arguments, we are no longer working towards the bigger goal, and so progressed can be slowed, or even stopped completely. It is better not to engage, to simply tell such people that this is our work, we are not requiring anything of them, and so it is none of their business.

When ridiculing Nehemiah personally failed to discourage him, Tobiah and Sanballat mocked the Jewish people as a whole, taunting them that their efforts would be futile, that their mission was impossible. Nehemiah did not rise to their bait, becoming entangled in a fruitless war of words that would have drawn him away from the work at hand. Instead, having already answered them the first time, he did not reply again, and simply continued with the work at hand.

We would be wise to take our lead from his response. When those who seek to antagonise us get no further reaction, and see that instead, we apply ourselves all the more wholeheartedly to the work at hand, they will cease their mocking.

When Sanballat and Tobiah saw that they could not use their words to bring down the Jewish people, they decided to take physical action to stop the rebuilding. Nehemiah prayed to God for protection, but, pertinently, did not just pray without action. He took all possible steps to protect and defend the people. He assessed where the weakest points of the work were situated and reinforced them with extra guards. Then he organised teams, half of the men continuing with the work whilst the other half protected them. Even the half that were building kept a weapon in one of their hands whilst working on the walls with the other.

Nehemiah was not complacent or lax in his defence of the project, and neither must we be. For those of us who ascribe to a religion, of course it is good to pray, but we must also take decisive action. We must anticipate our enemies’ plans, and take pre-emptive steps to guard ourselves against them. We must not drop our guard at any point, not when we are tired, nor when we think that we are safe. But we must be ready to defend ourselves at any and every given moment. It is true that this will occupy some of our resources, and this be perceived as hindering the speed of the work, but it is better to continue slowly but consistently towards our goal, than to be forcefully halted entirely.

Tobiah and Sanballat, finding their schemes once again frustrated, next tried to derail the project by guile. They invited Nehemiah to meet with them, perhaps under the guise of seeking resolution. Nehemiah was wise enough to discern that this was a trap, but also humble enough to recognise that his place was alongside all the other Jews, working on rebuilding. Although he was the convener of the building effort, he did not consider himself above doing the physical work as well.

His enemies sent the same message to him four times, and each time Nehemiah sent them back the same answer. He did not let them wear him down or distract his eyes from staying focused at all times on the end goal and so it must be with us. We must be wise and, on our guard, to recognise when those who are not part of our struggle are actually seeking to hinder it. And when we identify such plots, we must not allow ourselves to become wearied or disheartened by their repeated attempts to distract us.

We Yoruba must, as a matter of urgency, realise that each of us needs to be a watch(wo)men, remaining vigilant at all times. The people of Judah did not lose sight of their goal, even when they were tired or overwhelmed by the enormous task before them. I want to urge our Yoruba patriots that this is not the time to relent in our quest for our sovereign nation, and it is certainly not the time to give up. We are within touching distance of victory; if we all pool our resources together, we will see our end realised.

There will be times when those among us become weary, asking if there is an alternative to an independent Yoruba nation, asking whether perhaps settling for a regional Yoruba government within Nigeria could be an acceptable compromise. This is not dissimilar to that which the advocates of restructuring are campaigning for. However, this fails to address the problem of multi-tier citizenship, where the elite are viewed as being superior, above the law and entitled to the country’s riches, whilst everyone else receives only the dregs.

The days of thinking that Nigeria can possibly work are now long gone. Nigeria has passed the point of no return; no Messiah can redeem this dying country. Despite the enormous annual deficit in our budget, the government still has the audacity to borrow N4 trillion for oil subsidy. This portends that worse dangers await on the horizon if we fail to act decisively. We must realise that elections are just a distraction from the real issues. Those that would seek to have us believe that a change in political leadership is the answer are doing so as a diversionary tactic, to draw us away from the effort for independence.

The Jewish people did not relent in their effort to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem, neither did Nehemiah attend to his detractors’ call for a private meeting. We, too, must not give ear to anyone trying to distract our eyes from the main focus. We should continue to build, using our previous successes to become the foundations for ongoing work, whilst at the same time remaining vigilant to ward off those who seek to do us harm. The only viable solution is total separation from Nigeria, and the time for the realisation of an independent Yoruba nation is now. Yoruba nation is our only solution out of the current mess we have find ourselves, so it is our duty to fight for it with everything that we have.

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Removal of Fraud Subsidy

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By Kayode Emola

The week just passed saw the inauguration of the Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu. Upon assuming office, the first major policy that he instituted was the removal of fuel subsidies, causing the pump price to skyrocket overnight. As much as this policy is necessary in order to confront fraud in the petroleum industry, its implementation was handled terribly.

Since the 1970s, successive Nigerian governments have attempted to remove the fuel subsidy, with each government failing to provide the framework required to implement the policy. Resultantly, it has historically proved impossible to fully extricate the pricing of this commodity from governmental control across the country.

This subsidy has proven to be a lifeline for the majority of people trapped in poverty throughout Nigeria for years. However, it has been grossly abused, being turned into a means for oil marketers to unduly enrich themselves.

The principle underpinning the subsidy ought to be that government takes stock of the petroleum commodity and sells it on to the retailers, creating benefit for the populace. However, the current system merely requires that the oil marketers complete a form stating the quantity of petroleum they are supplying, and the government reimburses them for the difference between retail and subsidised price.

Research shows that the average consumption of petroleum products in Nigeria is around 60 million litres per day. However, the quantity on which government subsidy is being claimed is about 100 million litres. This discrepancy of approximately 40 million litres of product every day for which subsidy is being paid, yet never reaches the general population, demonstrates that the current application of the subsidy is not only harmful to the government but also injurious to the people themselves.

In her address to graduating students at Columbia University a few years ago, the former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo Iweala narrated her mother’s ordeal at the hands of four young who kidnapped her. They had requested the finance minister resign her position for the release of her mother and failure to comply will result in her death.

The kidnappers told the Finance minister they kidnapped her mother because she failed to pay the oil marketers for fuel subsidies. This is clear evidence that the oil marketers involved in the whole subsidy regime are part of a bigger problem the country is experiencing.

Obviously, the finance minister did not resign and her mother regained her freedom by sheer luck. The situation would have been worse for her family had her mum been killed in that instance or she gave in to the blackmailers and resigned from her job. It will mean that evil is given the opportunity to thrive once again in our land.

Nonetheless, her family’s victory over the kidnappers did not mean the fraud was eradicated or the fraudster was apprehended, it only meant that the oil marketers lived to fight another day and they continue to win both the people and the government.

President Tinubu’s removal of the subsidy feels like this is the time to tackle the corruption within the industry once and for all. However, whether the President is successful in his endeavour will depend on his intended approach.

Whilst I believe the removal of the subsidy was necessary, the manner in which it has been implemented is poor. A better approach would have been to announce the removal of subsidies in advance, with a timeline for its implementation. In this way, people would have had time to brace themselves for the increased price that would follow the subsidy’s removal.

Secondly, the President should have also made provisions to enable increases in workers’ salaries, helping cushion the effect of the increased pump price. Workers’ salaries in Nigeria are already too low at present for people to meet their daily expenses. Expecting people to somehow absorb the extra expense incurred by removing fuel subsidy – with its consequent rise in the pump price – without increasing salaries, is like asking a man tied and thrown in the ocean not to drown.

In light of this, it becomes necessary that the government now makes arrangements to alleviate the plights of workers, on whose efforts the growth of the country depends. The government of Tinubu must not think that this matter is concluded, as there is still much more to be done.

Furthermore, the fuel subsidy issue is not the most pressing concern that the populace seeks to see addressed by the government. The country is facing a crisis of nationalities, with numerous segments of the country feeling aggrieved over continuing forced allegiance to a country for which they feel neither identity nor affinity.

The Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw and Gbagyi nations, to mention just a few, feel it is now time for the government to address the issue of the “One Nigeria” policy. The government of Tinubu cannot just ignore the cries for a sovereign national conference, resolutely forging ahead as if, by disregarding these concerns, they would simply go away.

The Yoruba people, as well as the Biafran nation, are resolute in their determination to leave Nigeria. It is down to the President to ensure the development of a peaceful path by which this can be achieved, allowing each nation making up Nigeria to go and develop according to their own ability. President Tinubu should not stand in the way of these legitimate requests, as history will ultimately judge him by his actions or inactions on this matter.

The president must recognise that fuel subsidy is not the only problem, nor even the greatest problem, afflicting Nigeria. The country is beyond repair; everyone knows the current environment of lawlessness and backwardness is unsustainable. This is why we implore the President to do the right thing, while he still has the opportunity so to do.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: The Hand of Favour by Henry Ukazu

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Dear Destiny Friends,

Favour is one essential ingredient we need to succeed. Favour certainly mean different things to different people. To Christians, it can mean the grace of God; in the circular world, it is called the X-factor, and for professionals, it can be luck or “unmerited” access to people. In all, favour can come from God, human beings, or the society.

I chose to write about this topic because as a Human Capacity Coach, I have come to understand that in the journey of life, most people attribute their success to their abilities; hard or smart work. They fail to understand that the universe works in dynamic ways one may never understand. This is because you may have all it takes whether it is theoretical or practical experience, you may even come highly recommended, and still lose to someone with less theoretical and practical experience.

Let’s get more practical. In labour law, we have a saying that you cannot force a willing employee on an unwilling employer. You may be wondering what that means. In the corporate world, when a prospective employee is applying for a job, their biggest joy will be for the interviewers to like his or her face. This is because regardless of how qualified the candidate may be, if the panel or the head of the panel don’t like the face, it’s game over.

The hand of favour cannot be overemphasized; it trumps many factors. Favour works where man fails. In the real world, it is called the X-factor, and works in a dynamic way. It simply means a force or situation one cannot explain or imagine how it happened. When the X- factor is at work, there’s something about you that will make you stand out. In actual fact, to accomplish certain things in life, one needs favour. If everything works for you due to your strength, knowledge, or skill, you are not favored. There should be something that you can’t do, but only favour can make happen.

When you are experiencing unprecedented tough times you can’t decipher, just call on the universal power of favour to come to your aid. To accomplish great things, you need the favour of God and men. It is not your knowledge, experience, background etc. that can make it work. Sometimes, you might have all and still need favour. In my estimated understanding of life, apart from that of the creator of heaven and earth, the highest favour we need in life is that of men, because human beings are currency.

There’s usually a force one cannot explain as regards why some people will just like or dislike someone for no reason.

On a personal note, I have seen and experienced the hand of favour upon my life cause I didn’t know I would come this far. Though my mind usually tells me I will be great, but when I look at the circumstances surrounding my life, I tend to have faith in the impossibility being made possible.

Let me start from being the author of two amazing books, being interviewed on television several times, being interviewed by the New York Times, having rare, amazing, genuine family and friends in addition to having mentors who have shown me love beyond my imagination. Some of these mentors of mine were met virtually, while I met a few in person. Most recently, I was honored to pick a former Presidential Spokesman in Nigeria from the airport. The striking thing for me is that we were communicating virtually, and the communication was humbling. When this great man arrived in New York, not only did he autographed four of his amazing books for me, he lodged me in a five-star hotel and splashed dollars on me. When I specifically asked why he did that, he said he came to New York just to see me. That’s a wow for me.

To attract the magic hand of favour, your faith and altitude will have to attract the grace of favour to work for you. When you are favored, kings, queens, captains of industries, governors, presidents, celebrities, and many more will seek you.

Most times, we are quick to attract the blessings, and uncommon blessings that come our way as a result of our cerebral personalities, but that’s not the true position. Sometimes, there are things that come to you without your input. You may be even less qualified, and in some cases, it might appear technically and humanly impossible for you to overcome or succeed in that endeavour, but you might be surprised to win at the end of the day. That’s favour.

To know how favour works, consider how that beautiful and sassy girl from a decent family married you; how you got that job, how you met that great person, how you accomplished that task; how you won the election; and how you came this far. It’s called the favour of God.

When you are favored, people will inconvenience themselves to bless you. Favour works when it looks impossible to achieve a particular task; when you are sick and wondering how you will overcome this sickness. The doctors might have given you a date to die, but the date will come and go, and you’ll still be alive and, in some cases, live longer than the person who gave the date. What can one call such a situation if not favour and grace of God.

When you understand how favour works, you will thrive. For example, if someone is talented or gifted in designing, writing, singing, playing soccer, leading, among others, there’s a tendency that person or their team is likely to win just because someone is who is favored to do a particular work in the team. It is sad to note that most times, we lose opportunities and blessings because they do not dress well as we expect them. A typical example can be a young lady who has many suitors asking for her hand in marriage, she may be deceived by the looks of a particular man who may have riches, but lack the qualities of a husband or father, as opposed to a man who may not have the money now, but blessed with the desired qualities of a being a good husband, father in addition to wealth.

In conclusion, it is instructive to note that we all have this favour, but we don’t tap into it. Start by declaring and speaking favour into your life. While we waste time complaining of lack sometimes, it should be noted that the universe responds to what we give to it. So whenever you speak, just know that the walls hear, the ground stamps it, and the air carries it.  Again, the universe does not respond to lack. It responds to abundance. So, whenever you complain, just know that you are driving favour away.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate and creative writer Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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Opinion

Against All Odds: Be Ready for Effective Leadership

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“As you walk in God’s divine wisdom, you will surely begin to see a greater measure of victory and good successes in your life. Wisdom is the principal thing which opens its subscribers up to Learning, living, loving, leading and being ‘liquid’; to being Enterprising, educative and entertaining; toward reaching the greatest Altitudes with the right attitude, which is amplified by aptitude, through tireless Determination, decency and deliberate diligence; Extra-ordinary feats and exemplariness; Restitution which commands restoration, revitalization, redemption, powered by result-orientation; Sensitivity, sensibility, stability, sanity, sanctity and sacrificial lifestyle; culminating in great Harvest, with uncontrollable happiness that transforms you into a healing vessel; you gain Immunity, independence, intelligence, and becomes an instigator as well as an internal developer; thereby, exhibiting acute Professionalism  being a principal, producer, a price and the prize. Every leader has a ship, and every ship has a leader; The SHIPs you build is what makes you the LEADER.”  Tolulope A. Adegoke, PhD., MNIM, FIMC, CMC, CMS

To effectively lead, you must gain and harness wisdom. To harness means to control or use something especially resources or potentials. But it requires divine wisdom to harnessing your ‘empowered Zeros’ correctly or effectively. What is the essence of empowering your Zero if you would not use or engage it? Of what use is wisdom if it will not be engaged? For example, many people have empowered themselves by investing in a series of skills and academic programmes, yet, might still lack the capacity to harness it properly to their profiting. Even, many that are well-read are most times “walking textbooks,” they have all the relevant information or knowledge in their areas of specialization(s), yet cannot practically apply it to solving real-life situation or issues. Yes, they have the “key” to their field, yet cannot still unlock real life’s doors, they can tell you everything about the “key” and how useful it is to society. What would you say of an expert or professor of Mechanical Engineering who cannot work on his own vehicles or gadget rather, would rely on the roadside mechanics to fix the mechanical faults on his own vehicle, but can only give you theoretical explanations on information about some brand of vehicles.

It is divine wisdom that teaches us to go into actions towards solving problems distinctively and accurately because it is what makes saviour out of men; it is not just your knowledge or understanding. Knowledge gives you information but wisdom helps you to go in search of required or needful information and their application processes, while understanding would only help you to have in-depth insight about a problem or situation. But wisdom helps you to apply and not just “apply” but correctly and profit from it.

I once wrote in my previous articles about two different persons who applied wisdom as Zeros. One person benefitted from the wisdom he applied and became a HERO while, the other did not benefit from his own applied wisdom; yet, he remained the same and nobody noticed afterwards. The application of our gifts must also be well guided by wisdom through the Holy Spirit if we would seek Him. The Holy Spirit inspires us and helps us with what would seek Him. The Holy Spirit inspires us and helps us on what to do with the gifts, how to go about, what to do with it, when and where to apply those gifts to our own benefits of others and to the glory of God.

It takes divine wisdom to harness (put to usage) your empowered Zero. Let us see some of the surpassing virtues of Divine Wisdom. Divine Wisdom makes saviours out of men. Obadiah 21 says: “And saviours shall arise out of Mount Zion.”

Saviours are men that are answers to the prayers of others. Nehemiah9:27 says: “And they shall cry unto the Lord, and He will send them Saviours.” They are men who are the answers to the calamities of the earth. Romans8:19 says: “the earnest expectation of the creatures waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God.” So the whole world is waiting for you to harness your empowered Zero for their liberation, comfort, and deliverances. You carry the solutions that other people seek. When a man carries divine wisdom (solution), he becomes is the answer to global problems. Pharaoh offered everything to Joseph because he was a rare gem when pharaoh said in the scriptures: “Where will one find a man like this in whom the Spirit of God is?” which simply means that, if this man called Joseph leaves, our answers, fruitfulness leaves with him.

There are those are people who opportunities naturally look for them while so many are all out searching for opportunities and not finding one. Pharaoh and the entire Egypt saw Joseph as an opportunity, but Joseph did not see him as one. That means Joseph knew that his answers were not in any man but in the grace of God, and that grace found expression through divine wisdom.

Simply imagine Joseph’s appearance was like a job interview, but pharaoh began to look at Joseph as his breakthrough…if this man (Joseph) should go away, things will fall apart/breakdown. Pharaoh, therefore, made Joseph over his house, while he (pharaoh) only retained the title but Joseph was the one in charge of the affairs of Egypt!

 Divine Wisdom gives relevance. Harnessing your empowered Zero gives you relevance locally and globally through the unction of divine wisdom. Proverbs 8:15: “By wisdom kings “rule” and princes “decree” justice. In every group of people or society, there must be somebody to rule. What wisdom does for us as believers is that it makes a ruler out of us, and the ruler is always needed, he is always in demand. And concerning Joseph, the bible says in Psalm105:17-22: “He sent a man before them, even Joseph who was sold for a servant, whose feet they hurt with fetters, he was laid in iron until the time that his word came.” The word of the Lord tried him, the king sent for him and loosed him, even the rulers of the people and let him go free, he made Lord over his house and rulers of all his substance to bind his princes at pleasure and teach his senators wisdom. In other words, no gathering or meeting held in Egypt without the presence of Joseph during this period, because he was their answers. So, he was always in demand. Even Daniel in the scripture was relevant for 65years without running for any election, because the man of divine wisdom is a rare gift to any generation. There was unhindered release of unique wisdom upon his life which he applied!

Divine wisdom guarantees triumph. We can also see this in the life of Joseph; he triumphed over the evil intentions of his brethren. “They saw him afar off, and they said behold this dreamer cometh. Let us destroy him.” [Genesis37:18-20] But wisdom did not only preserve Joseph, but made him the preserver of their lives! “God has sent me to preserve life and to give you posterity” [Genesis 45:4-8]

 Joseph became the answer to their problems. They planned to kill him, but the wisdom of God which he harnessed preserved him. Divine wisdom brings about sweat-less victory. “A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty and casteth down the confidence thereof.” [Proverbs21:22]

“He would unfold unto us the manifold wisdom of God to us to the intent that on principalities and powers may be known the dominion that God has ordained for us in us.” [Ephesians3:8-11]

Wisdom is the divine secret for continuous triumphs. Wisdom scales the city of the mighty. It is not only the strong that wins, it the wise that wins continuously…Be wise!

Ensure that you are harmless like the dove and be wise as the serpent because no matter how harmless you may be physically when you have wisdom, you are as venomous as the serpent and most dangerous to any opposition that may rise against you.

When you know to do, you become dangerous to the enemy! Having studied the lives of David and Solomon, I have realized that David having been wise as an angel, but it was recorded in the bible that his son Solomon was the most-wise in his generation (Old Testament). David was a fighter, but Solomon was a diplomat (a wise man). All the days of his life, there was no war. Not that there were no enemies, but the wisdom of God on him scared the enemies off him and his environment. Even with the biblical description of the armies of Solomon; it says, he built cities for his armies…The wisdom of Solomon scared the enemies. It means, while the enemies were planning on how to attack, they began to observe Solomon and they became so afraid of him. Even the queen of Sheeba entered into his Palace and there was no more spirit left in her, because “wisdom scales the city of the mighty.”

Although, these stories of wisdom are fascinating, but they are not yet God’s best, as he has packaged for us.” Those are examples and patterns of what God has in stock for us. “But with to which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men. And the weakness of God is stronger than men.” [1Corinthians1:24-25] “In Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the God-head bodily.” [Colosians2: 9]

These stated scriptures above, means that Christ is the Wisdom of God and the Power of God; Secondly, Wisdom is the fullness of God inside Christ…The Wisdom of God is not partial, but in full in Christ. “And you have the mind of Christ.” [1Corinthians2:16]

So, by potential, the wisdom of God, God in His totality is available unto every believer.

God cannot be stranded; He cannot be in a position of not knowing what to do. He can never scratch His head looking for answers. Since all of the wisdom of God is in Christ Jesus, it is all available to you! That means you should never be without answers initially, which is God’s redemptive package for us in redemption.

A believer who is working by divine wisdom, even on his worst day is better than the best sinner! The day he would be counted or regarded as foolish, he would be wiser than the wisest; in as much as he is walking in his full potentials for the benefits of mankind and to the glory of God.

Wisdom cannot be acquired, it cannot be caught, it cannot be taught, but it is only received. God gives wisdom. Joseph said to the king of Egypt: “it is not in me but God shall give pharaoh an answer of peace.” So, wisdom comes from above. It is the wisdom that comes from above, that is above all. Therefore, wisdom is the latest currency for buying and wining all things, all through. Proverbs 8:15 (KJV) reveals,
“By me kings reign, and princes decree justice”.

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