European football leagues’ popularity and increased internet access make football betting attractive among young people in Nigeria. Catherine Ivill/AFP via Getty Images

A ban on football betting Nigeria is not the answer to the problems it creates

European football leagues’ popularity and increased internet access make football betting attractive among young people in Nigeria. Catherine Ivill/AFP via Getty Images

By Saheed Babajide Owonikoko, Modibbo Adama University of Technology

In Nigeria, football betting has a long history that can be traced to colonial times, when pool betting was popular, especially among older adults. Since then, more younger people have taken up betting on the results of football matches, including European league football.

The country has many betting outlets where people can place a bet manually. They can also open an account online with a betting company, using a debit card, and place bets on the website or app.

A report revealed that about 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 are involved in active sport betting. They spend almost ₦2 billion on sports betting daily. This translates to about ₦730 billion annually. In an economy where the 2020 national budget is almost ₦11 trillion, this is huge.

Two factors are responsible for increasing football betting among youth in Nigeria. One is the increase in poverty and unemployment. Among Nigeria’s estimated population of around 200 million, around 87 million are said to be extremely poor. The youth unemployment rate in 2018 was put at 36.5%.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 29.7% of youths between the ages of 15 and 34 were unemployed at the third quarter of 2018. Betting may appear to be a way to make quick money, either as a betting operator or as a gambler.

The second factor driving and enabling football betting in Nigeria is the growing use of the internet and smart mobile phones. In 2017, 84% of Nigerians had mobile phones. The number of internet users in Nigeria is 122 million based on figures from the Nigerian Communication Commission. This is more than half of Nigeria’s estimated population. The increase in internet users in Nigeria can be attributed to affordability of internet access; with less than ₦100 (less than US$1), internet connectivity is assured. It is easy and convenient for people to place bets online using their phones.

I was interested in the potential consequences of this situation for Nigerian society and particularly for young people. I wanted to know whether the ease of online betting for economically hard-pressed young Nigerians was creating any social problems such as conflict, crime and addictive behaviour.

For my study, I collected data from in-depth interviews with fans of European football clubs, betters, parents and guardians of fans and betters, security personnel, owners and operators of betting outlets as well as football viewing centres in Lagos, Ibadan, Oyo State, south west Nigeria and Yola, Adamawa State, north east Nigeria. In addition, I observed betting activities and collected data from recent online news reports and other published works.

From the various interviews conducted and my observation, I found there was a link between football betting by young Nigerians and a perceived increase in violence and criminal activities. But in my view the answer is not to ban such betting but to address the unemployment and poverty which propel people into it.

Behaviour around betting

My interviews and observations in the field show that there is a concern about teenagers stealing to fund their football betting. I was in a security meeting in Adamawa State where parents complained to the police that they had noticed unprecedented theft of their money by their teenage children/wards to fund football betting. A parent interviewed in Adamawa State explained that:

I noticed that money was getting lost in our house on daily basis. At first I thought it was mere misplacement. Later I started to hear from my neighbours also complaining of loss of money within their homes. We later got to know that our sons were the ones stealing the money to play football betting because we always see them with receipts of bet and we know that they do not have business from where they can get money for betting.

Interactions with these teenage betters show that they spend between ₦1,000 (about $2) and ₦3,000 (about $7) on betting daily. But the jackpot rarely comes. At football viewing centres, customers are routinely warned about fighting. One operator of a viewing centre in Yola told me:

In recent times, we have witnessed outbreaks of violence among our viewers. Some of these fights are over unresolved longstanding issues. Sometimes, it is as a result of anger sustained from major loss in football betting.

Football betting may also sometimes promote ritualism, especially the use of “good luck charms”. I spoke to one gambler who said:

You cannot just go and put a huge amount of money into betting without any form of spiritual enhancement that will guarantee and insure you. If you do that without spiritual enhancement, you will just continually give your
money to bet companies with their managers and staff to feed fat on while you continue to stay broke. Even bet company operators use spiritual power to ensure that their clients do not win…

There have been calls from moralists, especially in religious circles, for the government to criminalise betting, especially football betting. I witnessed two such discussions during an Islamic preaching in Yola, Adamawa State. In fact, one state has been urged to take the first step. I believe this is unlikely to be effective. It would only push betting into the background and make it more difficult for the government to regulate and control it. Government should instead pay more attention to widespread poverty and unemployment.

Saheed Babajide Owonikoko, Researcher, Centre for Peace and Security Studies, Modibbo Adama University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Africans are concerned about ills of social media but oppose government restrictions

Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock

By Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz, Michigan State University

When it comes to fighting COVID-19 in Africa, the internet and social media have been a double-edged sword. Governments and public health officials have used Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media to reach large numbers of people, quickly and efficiently, with information on how to stay healthy and limit the virus’s spread. And digital networks have allowed people to stay in touch, and some businesses to operate, in the face of lockdowns and social-distancing guidelines.

Yet these technologies have also facilitated the spread of misinformation. Messages disseminated on WhatsApp claimed that people could self-test by holding their breath for more than 10 seconds, that “African blood and black skin prevent COVID-19” and that inhaling steam or drinking alcohol could kill the virus.

Misinformation can be dangerous, as evidenced by hydroxychloroquine poisonings in Nigeria. And in the longer term, it undermines public confidence in guidelines and treatment information supported by robust scientific evidence. Misinformation, in other words, poisons the well.

Concerns extend beyond the COVID-19 crisis. In Africa, where messaging was often centralised and speech freedoms were limited in the first decades after independence, the internet and social media provide individuals and organisations with new opportunities to share points of view and information that holds governments to account. On the other hand, they have been widely abused as political weapons.

One study found that political misinformation is pervasive in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Foreign actors, including some from Russia, have been increasingly involved in attempts to influence African politics using disinformation in social media.

What do Africans think of the promises and perils of the digital age? Preliminary data from Afrobarometer, which is a non-partisan research institution, suggest that many have mixed feelings.

They see the value of social media and use it extensively. They are also wary of its negative effects, but don’t want curbs put in place.

Digital sources of information increasing

It’s important to recognise that digital media remain beyond many Africans’ reach. According to newly available data from the eighth round of the survey, in 2019, nearly half (48%) of Africans used radio daily for their news, while about a third (35%) used television. Only 19% and 22%, respectively, used the internet or social media that frequently.

And there is a pronounced digital divide. Younger, better-educated, wealthier, male and urban-dwelling Africans are much more likely to access social media and the internet.

Nevertheless, the use of digital sources is increasing across eight countries for which both Round 7 (2016-18) and Round 8 (2019) survey data is available.

Daily use of the internet is up five percentage points, while daily use of social media is up seven. Most countries saw substantial increases; in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, everyday use of digital media roughly tripled during this brief period. One of the exceptions is Uganda, where a “social media tax” launched in July 2019 may have served as a barrier to digital access.

While more people are using the internet and social media, they aren’t entirely happy with what they see. On the positive side, most respondents who are aware of social media say it “makes people more informed about current events” (87% on average across nine countries surveyed in 2019) and “helps people have more impact on political processes” (72%). On the negative side of the ledger, however, strong majorities say social media usage “makes people more likely to believe false news” (74%) and “makes people more intolerant” (60%).

A majority (54%) of those aware of social media say that the overall effect of social media usage is positive. The exception is Botswana, where only 35% see social media as positive.

Conundrums

If “false news” is a problem, who do people think is responsible for spreading it? Two-thirds (66%) of respondents blame politicians and political parties. A staggering 83% in Kenya blame this group, but in every country except Angola (36%), majorities point the finger at political figures. Still, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Six in 10 respondents (61%) attribute misinformation to “social media users” in general, while substantial portions blame government officials (53%), the news media and journalists (50%), and activists and interest groups (44%).

For all their potential dangers, respondents are generally opposed to government restrictions on access to the internet and social media. Across the nine countries, only 34% agree that “information shared on the internet and social media is dividing (our country), so access should be regulated by government”, while 51% endorse unrestricted access. Support for open access is strongest in Côte d’Ivoire (63%), while only minorities support it in Ghana (48%), Kenya (44%) and Malawi (40%).

Support for open access is particularly strong among people who use the internet every day (67%), youth (56%), urban residents (55%), men (54%) and respondents with post-secondary education (65%).

A complicated problem

These findings highlight the ambivalence that many people – not just in Africa – feel about the emerging digital era. People want broad access to the tools they have used to gather information and keep in touch with family and friends. Internet and social media shutdowns of the types that have hit almost half of the continent’s countries since 2015 are likely not popular. These tools have become even more crucial because of “social distancing” and lockdowns.

On the other hand, unfettered internet and social media have a dark underside, with messages designed to misinform, discriminate and polarise. When fears are heightened, at election times or during pandemics, these threats are magnified. Fact-checking and “digital literacy” initiatives will go only so far, and calls for government censorship will likely grow. The danger is that governments will use these very real concerns as excuses to target their opponents selectively, in ways that stifle opposition, fair elections and accountability.

This article was co-authored with Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye Sanny. She is Afrobarometer regional communications coordinator for anglophone West Africa, based at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Governance. Email: jappiah@afrobarometer.org

Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz, Associate Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Slavery. We know why Covid-19 is killing black people in the US

People waiting for a distribution of masks and food in Harlem, New York City.Credit…Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

By Sabrina Strings
Dr. Strings is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine

About five years ago, I was invited to sit in on a meeting about health in the African-American community. Several important figures in the fields of public health and economics were present. A freshly minted Ph.D., I felt strangely like an interloper. I was also the only black person in the room.

One of the facilitators introduced me to the other participants and said something to the effect of “Sabrina, what do you think? Why are black people sick?”

It was a question asked in earnest. Some of the experts had devoted their entire careers to addressing questions surrounding racial health inequities. Years of research, and in some instances failed interventions, had left them baffled. Why are black people so sick?

My answer was swift and unequivocal.

“Slavery.”

My colleagues looked befuddled as they tried to come to terms with my reply.

I meant what I said: The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy. It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods, safe working conditions, medical treatment and a host of other social inequities that negatively impact health.

This message is particularly important in a moment when African-Americans have experienced the highest rates of severe complications and death from the coronavirus and “obesity” has surfaced as an explanation. The cultural narrative that black people’s weight is a harbinger of disease and death has long served as a dangerous distraction from the real sources of inequality, and it’s happening again.

Reliable data are hard to come by, but available analyses show that on average, the rate of black fatalities is 2.4 times that of whites with Covid-19. In states including Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C., that ratio jumps to five to seven black people dying of Covid-19 complications for every one white death.

Details of the death certificate for a black man who died of the coronavirus in April.
Details of the death certificate for a black man who died of the coronavirus in April.Credit…David Ryder/Reuters

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding these findings, one interpretation of these disparities that has gained traction is the idea that black people are unduly obese (currently defined as a body mass index greater than 30) which is seen as a driver of other chronic illnesses and is believed to put black people at high risk for serious complications from Covid-19.

These claims have received intense media attention, despite the fact that scientists haven’t been able to sufficiently explain the link between obesity and Covid-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.2 percent of white Americans and 49.6 percent of African-Americans are obese. Researchers have yet to clarify how a 7 percentage-point disparity in obesity prevalence translates to a 240 percent-700 percent disparity in fatalities.

Experts have raised questions about the rush to implicate obesity, and especially “severe obesity” (B.M.I. greater than 40), as a factor in coronavirus complications. An article in the medical journal The Lancet evaluated Britain’s inclusion of obesity as a risk factor for coronavirus complications and retorted, “To date, no available data show adverse Covid-19 outcomes specifically in people with a BMI of 40 kg/m2.” The authors concluded, “The scarcity of information regarding the increased risk of illness for people with a BMI higher than 40 kg/m2 has led to ambiguity and might increase anxiety, given that these individuals have now been categorised as vulnerable to severe illness if they contract Covid-19.”

Promoting strained associations between race, body size, and complications from this little-understood disease has served to reinforce an image of black people as wholly swept up in sensuous pleasures like eating and drinking, which supposedly makes our unruly bodies repositories of preventable weight-related illnesses. The attitudes I see today have echoes of what I described in “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.” My research showed that anti-fat attitudes originated not with medical findings, but with Enlightenment-era belief that overfeeding and fatness were evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.

Today, the stakes of these discussions could not be higher. When I learned about guidelines suggesting that doctors may use existing health conditions, including obesity, to deny or limit eligibility to lifesaving coronavirus treatments, I couldn’t help thinking of the slavery-era debates I’ve studied about whether or not so-called “constitutionally weak” African-Americans should receive medical care.

Fortunately, since that event I attended five years ago, experts focused on the health of African-Americans have continued to work to direct the nation’s attention away from individual-level factors.

The New York Times’1619 Project featured essays detailing how the legacy of slavery impacted health and health care for African-Americans and explaining how, since the since the era of slavery, black people’s bodies have been labeled congenitally diseased and undeserving of access to lifesaving treatments.

In a recent essay addressing Covid-19 specifically, Rashawn Ray underscored the legacy of redlining that pushed black people into poor, densely populated communities often with limited access to health care. And he pointed out that black people are overrepresented in service positions and as essential workers who have greater exposure than those with the luxury of sheltering in place. Ibram X. Kendi has written that the “irresponsible behavior of disproportionately poor people of color” — often cited as an important factor in health disparities — is a scapegoat directing American’s attention from the centrality of systemic racism in current racial health inequities.

Evaluating the inadequate and questionable data about race, weight and Covid-19 complications with these insights in mind makes it clear that obesity — and its affiliated, if incorrect implication of poor lifestyle choices — should not be front and center when it comes to understanding how this pandemic has affected African-Americans.Even before Covid-19, black Americans had higher rates of multiple chronic illnesses and a lower life expectancy than white Americans, regardless of weight. This is an indication that our social structures are failing us. These failings — and the accompanying embrace of the belief that black bodies are uniquely flawed — are rooted in a shameful era of American history that took place hundreds of years before this pandemic.

Sabrina Strings is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.

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Who said churches, mosques and synagogues are not essential services?

By Tope Fasua

Let me start with a caveat. I am not exactly religious. I could attend church like 4 times a year and no one could compel me to. I also cannot be intimidated by some of the scare tactics employed by those who want to lure me. I believe one can have a relationship with God on his own. I am not arrogant enough to call myself an atheist, and though I could engage anyone on the subject, I am aware that there are grey areas in life that even the most ardent atheist or agnostic has to leave in the realm of some superior being. Science has not explained a lot of things about life no matter how it tried.  I therefore respect anyone’s belief systems.

One of my issues with religion is the proselytization bit. The constantly jostling for souls among the Abrahamic religions. It reminds me of Nigerian banks seeking endlessly for customers that they don’t intend to assist but take from. I don’t like the idea of some people trying to convince others that their own ways are right and others are wrong. I detest even more some of the tactics and languages employed against the other side by the born again or ‘izala’ (true muslim) members of each side.

Well, we are in very odd times.  I was a bit surprised at how easily many religious people folded and took it on the lam the moment Covid-19 was announced. Most of them did not even try to exercise their faiths. Some smart ones have been trying to justify behind their laptops on many a Zoom-talk how their steps were logical and how the church is not the building and so on, but clearly, many of the miracle claims have been revealed to be pure shams. We cannot compare 2020 with 1918. Churches were closed 1918, but they laid no claim to curing the lame, the blind, the deaf, or even raising dead people to live again. These new churches especially, have done just that. Anyhow, they shut their doors, and but for a few whimpers here and there, the monstrosities they built have remained symbols of helplessness, and a departing era.

Then Donald Trump, the POTUS, spoke a few days ago, announcing that in his view, churches, mosques and synagogues are essential services, and that got the world thinking again. It also got a certain section of the liberal press into a flap. Trump accused some state governors for categorizing abortion clinics and liquor stores as essential services, while locking down firmly on these religious houses. For me, the argument is water tight, even as many people believe that Trump is as usual, playing to the gallery and trying to win some November votes. Add to the liquor stores and abortion clinics, large malls where hundreds have congregated, touching trolleys and items on the racks for the past 4 months, have remained open as ESSENTIAL SERVICES, while religious houses are closed. Yet, no word had been said as to how the religious houses can begin to resume howbeit gradually. Liquor stores are there for people to stock up on their booze. There is a new culture among those who prefer to remain at home, to get drunk by 10am. This has increased incidences of child abuse and domestic violence. Idle ‘Uncles’ are preying on kids.  Small crimes are climbing due to hunger and idleness.  Marriages are crashing the more, and the alcohol is only weakening the immunity of hundreds of millions of people around the world. I would have put this down to some deliberate desire for some powerful people to reap more cadavers, but I think the strategy so far – especially after data has emerged – is down to simple stupidity. Those who say they are smart are just not so smart anyway – Michelle Obama said as much that she had been in many top-level thinktank meetings and been disappointed at the level of thinking of those who run the world.

I am interested in one question and one question only; why do people think religious houses are NOT ESSENTIAL while these other centres of mass gathering (markets, malls etc) are essential for a time like this? Do we really understand what people get when they visit their religious houses and how important they see these contacts?  Are we being merely elitist and dismissive, from a public policy angle, seeing issues only from our ivy league perspective? Is there any representation from the really vulnerable or are we shutting down their voices from afar?

Abortion clinics sometimes provide essential services, but also their prioritization could encourage promiscuity among the young who know that there is a place to terminate pregnancies around the block, round the clock. It seems the world is working hard at devaluing the worth of humans by the choices we have taken. Is this deliberate? Again, real data has emerged, enough time has elapsed, and it should have since been time to recalibrate our strategy. What is going on? People love to bash Trump naturally, but I try not to follow the herd; the herd is usually wrong. Thinking about the goings-on again, I think there is a need to point out to the world, using some short points, that indeed religious houses may be essential services. Recall that I am no religious fanatic. I however believe that subject to limits, religion has played and continues to play a good role in organizing society, offering succor to billions around the world, and indeed, religion has been central to the evolution of science and innovation the way we know them today. The end of religion has not arrived, and may not in a while to come.  We can reform religion, but we must not hold religion in disdain because we have the power of bureaucracy or the mob on social media. I personally like the fact that people head to churches and mosques and billions actually get calmed down by doing so. Perhaps it is the best that humanity can manage. Let us see just how essential religion is, especially from a Nigerian perspective:

PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES: In a country like Nigeria where visiting the ‘shrink’ is not as popular as it is elsewhere, only our religious houses offer such services. There is a spike in mental cases presently. People trust their pastors and imams more than they do the odd psychiatric doctor or psychologist. Many churches I know serve as rehab centres for poor drug addicts where governments have no provisions. Okay, why are these religious leaders not being actively pressed into service to assist the medical doctors in a world going into total mental meltdown at this time? Why are they shut out and told they don’t matter?

MARRIAGE COUNSELLING (OF COLLAPSING MARRIAGES, SPIKE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE): There is a spike in domestic violence lately, including serious strains on many marriages. Many men in our clime, are wired to be on the road – hunters and foragers. Now they are at home, dissecting the behaviors of madam and the children in microscopic fashion and also being dissected and cheapened. Well, mostly the religious houses offer this service in our country. Yes, you could say the pastors are still otherwise available at home or via the internet. But with the fear around this disease, they are discouraged from seeing anyone – except if their services are rightly recognized as essential and their counselling considered as value-adding. There should be a way of continuing this service. And no, Zoom cannot help very well in many bad situations. Perhaps the goings-on at this time is meant to damage the family institution. The liberals seem more in favour of same sex marriages, no marriages at all or any arrangement that do not product children.

SUICIDES AND DEPRESSION: This is part of the mental issues mentioned above but these two needs to be specially emphasized. You see, the promises of the hereafter is what gets billions of people hopeful around the world. Atheism cannot explain what happens hereafter. Atheists are unsure of the hereafter but religion offers some ideas, even if one can pick holes in them. More people believe in the explanations of religion and this saves many from suicide and depression around the world. Already there is a spike in suicides and depression because of COVID19. Many people ‘offed’ themselves and still do, because of the fear sold with the disease. In Bangladesh, USA, India, peasants, ordinary folks and medical doctors have been killing themselves while medical doctors are mainly focused on COVID. The medical personnel could use the help of religious bodies.

FOOD AND SHELTER FOR MILLIONS: Many religious houses provide food for millions of hungry people, and shelter for millions of homeless. Yes, they could still provide cooked food, but they are just mostly now dismissed as charlatans, not people who provided a service even if in the recent past. Some of them have provided these services on a large scale in the past but now find this difficult to do because of strict lockdown rules. Their staff cannot make it to work, and even markets open only a few times in a week. To make matters worse, this is the time that more Nigerians are going hungry and in need of such services. Some religious organizations have been dismissed as mere criminals and this is not encouraging to them to continue the work they have been used to. I think as much as we want them to be more responsible and we want to weed out charlatans we are often being very unfair to these people.

EXTRA-MEDICAL ISSUES (AND WHERE HOSPITALS REJECT PATIENTS): In the USA and elsewhere (including Nigeria), hospitals were told to cancel elective surgeries and people were told not to go to hospital except they had emergency the moment this covid thing showed up. Most people even elected not to go near hospitals anyway, especially given the fear with which the disease was enveloped no thanks to mainstream media. Religious houses have always been a half-way house; somewhere people in our kind of country go for pre-medical services, succor and advise. Many go to their pastors for some encouragement before embarking on surgeries for example. The jab in the arm often offers the hope that sees them through. Even medical doctors agree that a bit of hope helps in the healing process. Many doctors tell patients to put their faiths in God when they are about to go through a difficult and risky procedure. So, even though covid is a dangerous disease and no Pastor, Imam or Rabbi should interfere or expose themselves, we should at least acknowledge that they had a great role to play in the medical value chain in peace time. No, religious houses are not useless; they are essential.

FIRST LINE OF SUCCOUR: Religious houses are the first lines of succor for hundreds of millions of people especially in Africa. They are where our people find peace, succor and calm, away from the maddening crowd. They offer an escape, some offer tranquility. Others, a spiritual connection. Yes, our people need to visit churches and mosques less frequently but the succor that weary souls get in these places, is simply priceless, and often helps to save society from more trouble.

INCOME REDISTRIBUTION: Some of the religious houses offer a great income redistribution service. Some of the leaders are modest people who understand that they need to constantly lift up the vulnerable with the resources they get from the more affluent. That service seems to be in abeyance presently. Millions of Nigerians are able to meet some of their obligations through what they get in the religious houses. A certain Pareto principle plays out. Only the top 10% provides the resources which sustains the churches and the bottom 30% who give next to nothing also benefit from the largesse of the 10% especially in the good religious places.

SOME RELIGIOUS HOUSES MORE EFFICIENT THAN GOVT: That is a fact. Some of the religious houses have a better handle on resources compared to government. Some have created whole, efficient communities out of the resources they get, and some are far better focused than government could ever be. They operate like private-sector enterprises. They are not all useless. The resources given to them go a lot further than it could ever go if given to government. That is why millions of our people don’t miss their obligations to these religious houses. Whereas this is odd, but our governments must do better in resource management in order to reverse the distrust of the people.

CRADLE TO GRAVE SERVICES:  We disparage religion as being useless and religious houses as being a bore, but whether we like it or not, life’s most important events have been colonized by them. They offer cradle to grave services. One of the sadder episodes of this covid disease is that many have died in the epicentres of America and Europe, without the normal consecration of their souls to God by their religious leaders, who have been kept out of reach and rendered into nothingness. Many of the sick and infirm who later died in the hospitals have been treated no better than experimental lab rats by the medical ‘experts’. A number of them died frightened, confused and disappointed because they couldn’t get those final assurances from their religious leaders, about a better hereafter. Life’s most important events are the forte of religious houses – childbirth and christening, coming of age, marriages, death. No secular institution can replace these roles except we want to turn human beings to mere machines.

SOME OTHER POINTS

BETTER CROWD MANAGEMENT IN RELIGIOUS HOUSES

I aver that there is better crowd management in religious houses, more than there could ever be at malls. So why the continuous victimization? I was at Abuja’s NEXT supermarket today (23rd May, 2020) and it was filled to capacity, with everyone roiling around the alleys, touching goods, replacing them and shopping. Why are malls more important than churches, mosques and synagogues? Is this more than the business of stopping covid in its tracks? Can one catch the disease in a church but not in a mall? A scientific explanation is urgently required please. I believe if we cannot manage more than a hundred per church, per service, or 200, now is the time to start.

EVEN THE BUILDINGS ARE IMPORTANT

Many have said the people are the church and not the building. Top pastors have also said it. They are only half-correct. The building is also important. I personally like the tranquility of a Catholic Church when I attend. People are usually very nice to each other inside churches (except in a few I have been in times past where they get all rude and aggressive when trying to collect offerings and tithes). I personally like the history that stares down on me in the more traditional and orthodox churches. Whereas in Europe they have turned most of the old churches into bars and pubs, I don’t believe it is the way for us to go here, even though I detest the competition for whose cathedral is largest in a country whose people are dying of hunger. Europeans, Americans and others, are generally more depressed than we are here, in spite of their stratospheric GDP per capita. They are not happy. For pastors who think internet or TV services are just as good, they should remember that the poorest amongst us cannot find electricity or internet data money and so have remained cut-off. We must not boil down religious services to mere elitism.

MEN OF LITTLE FAITH

I grew up listening to sermons about a day that will come when Christians will have to worship in secret lest they be killed or arrested. I didn’t see most pastors referencing the possibility of this when the covid lockdown started. They aren’t even writing now. Many have shown up to be total cowards. Why are they not engaging the governments very logically on this matter? Why me, a non-church goer?  Some are busy talking up a storm on the internet, devising ways of optimizing tithes and offerings using internet banking in the ‘new normal’. For those ones, it is still all about the Benjamins.  The danger is that even if this present lockdown is justified, can the same strategy be deployed in the future; announce a big disease and lock religion down? If COVID does not clear early, do we lock down religious houses forever? Does it also count for anything that yesterday May 23rd, 2020 Nigeria lost nobody to COVID? Or that our fatalities in Africa are so few? Are we locking down in solidarity or subservience to the West counties?

THE EXCESSES OF RELIGION IN NIGERIA

Some believe it is a good time to punish religion for its excesses, especially in Nigeria. The flash, the bling, the boasts, the conjobs. The proliferation of religious houses as if they were mamaput joints. Chances are religious houses are more ubiquitous than mamaputs in Nigeria. The Abrahamic religions are often in a mortal combat. As the Christians vow that they heard from God himself that there should be a church in every Nigerian building – and don’t forget the hotels – the Muslims (especially up north) don’t joke with building their mosques. Most of the palliative monies sent up north end up being used to build mosques.  Political leaders embezzle, but ensure they put these buildings in place to mesmerize their people. What do we do about the pastors who acquire fleets of Rolls Royces and pay no tax because ‘thou shall not touch my anointed’? What do we do with the private jets? What do we do with regulating false claims of miracles on TV? Don’t we now need a Charity Commission as proposed earlier but shut down by the same pastors who have since gone limp? What do we do with proliferation of sects up north? Or the fact that many religious bodies just spring up spontaneously in Nigeria, with no registration at the CAC or anywhere, leading to non-traceability of their prime movers when trouble starts?  Can we direct the attention of the rich churches back to Nigeria’s futile economic diversification quest? Can churches lead the next industrial push for Nigeria? It will not be odd. Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the past have been majorly catalytic to the opening of new epochs in development, science, the arts, knowledge at different periods of history. Perhaps they can try again

It is a new day. Let us refrain from punishing and lampooning religious houses. If they aren’t useful to us now, they surely were in the past. And they would usually be there when we finally close our eyes and depart the world. Yes, I support Trump on this. Religious houses are essential services. In Nigeria at the peak of the lockdown, essential services became a political matter. Those of us left at home couldn’t help but feel useless while a few ran the nation. It was a classic case of ‘if you are not seated around the dinner table, then you are most likely on the menu’. Thank God we can now go to work.  Let’s get the religious houses off the menu. They are literally being carved and made ready for gastric digestion presently. Religious houses are very essential services; they save a few million lives yearly.

Why covid-19 seems to spread more slowly in Africa

It was not what fishermen usually mean by a good catch. Last month a worker at a fish factory in Tema, a port city in Ghana, infected 533 people with the virus behind covid-19. President Nana Akufo-Addo linked the “super-spreader” to about 10% of the country’s 5,408 cases.

That Ghana could identify the person is a tribute to its response. It has tested more than 155,000 people, the fourth-highest per-person rate in Africa, according to data from cdc Africa, a public-health body. Elsewhere a lack of testing makes it harder to assess the true course of the disease. But what data there are, and new analysis by the World Health Organisation (who), suggest the virus is spreading more slowly in Africa than elsewhere—and that its path will vary across the continent.

Africa, which contains about 17% of the world’s population, has less than 2% of its confirmed cases of covid-19. By May 13th cdc Africa had counted 69,947 cases and 2,410 deaths. Over the past month reported cases have doubled roughly every two weeks. Until recently American cases were doubling about every three days.

This may partly reflect insufficient testing. Africa has checked just over 1m people—a day’s work for officials in Wuhan. South Africa and Ghana account for nearly half. The Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to Covid-19, a public-health consortium, notes that “the true number of infections is likely to be much greater than currently known.” Its rough estimate suggests a tally eight times higher.

Another sign of undercounting is the share of covid-19 tests coming back positive. The “test-positivity-rate” is an imperfect guide. But assuming those being tested have covid-like symptoms, a rate above 5-10% suggests there are many uncounted cases, says Jason Andrews of Stanford University. At least 22 African countries have rates above 10%, including Algeria (91%), Sudan (87%) and Tanzania (78%).

John Magufuli, Tanzania’s president, does not believe his country’s results. “We only see them releasing positive, positive, positive results,” he said. He claims that the national laboratory was sent papaya, goat and sheep samples that tested positive. (The lab denies this.) No new official data have been released since April 29th.

Opposition activists and ngos say that there have been dozens of burials of covid-19 victims in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. On May 12th the American embassy said that hospitals there were “overwhelmed”. “It is a cover-up,” says Zitto Kabwe, an opposition leader.

There are similar reports of undocumented surges in other countries. In Kano, in northern Nigeria, hundreds of unexplained deaths have been alleged by gravediggers. In Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, medics claim that the deaths they are seeing do not chime with official totals.

Nevertheless there are few signs that these “ghost hotspots” are ubiquitous. Some countries, including Mauritius, Namibia and the Seychelles, have not reported a new case for two weeks. Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda have fewer than 700 cases between them and positive-test rates below 1%. Nor are there reports of surges. “In a society like ours there’s simply no way this could be kept secret,” says Berhanu Nega, an Ethiopian opposition leader.

Crucial in slowing the early spread of covid-19 was the swift introduction of containment measures. Most African countries implemented lockdowns far earlier than rich countries did. By the end of April at least 42 African countries had done so; 38 of these were in place for at least 21 days.

So despite undercounting, official data are still a rough reflection of reality in many countries, say those leading the response. “While covid-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots,” says Matshidiso Moeti, the director for the who in Africa.

Her view of a slower, longer pandemic is explained in a paper by who colleagues, published by bmj Global Health on May 14th. Unlike other models, which tend to apply patterns seen elsewhere in the world to Africa, theirs claims to make assumptions based on the continent’s “unique socio-ecological context”. For example, it takes into account the fact that Africans travel less, thanks to sparse road networks.

The authors reckon that without containment measures 16-26% of those in the who Africa region would be infected in the first year, with higher shares in well-connected countries like South Africa. About 29m-44m people would be symptomatic. This is a lower estimate than other models yield. The who also calculates that there would be 83,000–190,000 deaths without mitigating steps—implying a lower rate of infected people dying than in rich countries, mostly because Africans are younger. However, Africa does not have rich countries’ hospitals. Surges in cases would overwhelm health systems.

Because the model assumes no mitigating measures such as lockdowns, the actual tallies should be lower. Yet many African governments are in the midst of loosening restrictions, as they try to balance the harm of covid-19 with that to their economies and public health more broadly. Researchers at Imperial College London reckon that in some countries the knock-on effects on treatment for hivtb and malaria could be of the same order of magnitude, in terms of years of life lost, as that of covid-19.

Many rich countries are easing lockdowns after reaching, in theory, peaks in new cases. African countries may be doing so while case-rates accelerate. Africa seems to be suffering a slower pandemic, but the risks are still immense. ■

Why malaria treatment shouldn’t take a back seat to COVID-19

Children are a high-risk population prone to severe complications from malaria.
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By Jaishree Raman, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

Ridding the world of malaria in the near future is a very ambitious goal. Efforts to achieve it have already been weakened by governments shifting resources from malaria control and elimination initiatives to the fight against COVID-19.

And those efforts were recently dealt another sucker-punch.

Catharina Boehme is the chief executive of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and adviser to the World Health Organisation (WHO). She reported that financial incentives have encouraged many companies to dramatically downscale – or even stop – the production of tests for a number of infectious diseases, including malaria. Instead, they are now focusing on the mass production of novel tests for COVID-19.

This decision could erode the gains made against malaria over the past 20 years.

Malaria rapid diagnostic tests are easy to use at the point of care. They produce a result within 15 to 20 minutes. Their widespread deployment, particularly across Africa, expanded access to prompt, quality diagnosis. This enabled early treatment so that severe illness and death could be avoided.

It is widely accepted that the global uptake of this innovative tool played a significant role in the reduction of malaria-related illness and deaths. The decrease in the global malaria burden by over 60% since the early 2000s is very impressive. Yet it remains a major health problem in Africa, where a child dies from malaria every two minutes. This is an unacceptable reality for a treatable and preventable disease.

In 2018 over 90% of the 228 million malaria cases and 405,000 malaria deaths reported were from Africa. This shows why interventions to control this disease must continue.

Malaria control

When there is a break in control activities, malaria rebounds rapidly – with catastrophic effects. This could be seen when the WHO-led malaria eradication campaign in the 1950s ended. More recently, it was evident during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. A detailed review of the data collected during the Ebola outbreak revealed that more people died from malaria and HIV than from Ebola virus disease.

The WHO is well aware of this. It has issued an impassioned appeal to malaria-endemic countries not to compromise on the delivery of malaria control activities and healthcare services as they battle COVID-19.

Maintaining malaria services during the COVID-19 epidemic, however, comes with challenges. Control practices and protocols have to be modified. This is because of restrictions on the movement of people and supplies, and the close contact required for malaria testing.

But modifications must not compromise the safety of the healthcare workers, malaria programme staff and community at large, or the efficacy of the interventions.

Urgent messaging

Now more than ever there is a need for focused malaria health awareness and education campaigns. It is very important to remind communities and healthcare workers that a fever does not always mean a COVID-19 infection.

Fever is a symptom of many different diseases, including malaria. As malaria often rapidly becomes very severe, individuals with a fever should test for COVID-19 and malaria as soon as possible. This is particularly true in malaria endemic areas.

It is even more crucial that children with fever are tested for malaria. Children are a high-risk population prone to severe complications from malaria.

Africa’s fragile and under-resourced health systems are being stretched thin by the responses required to address the COVID-19 outbreak. The continent can’t afford a massive influx of critically ill malaria patients requiring specialised intensive care.

African governments – with the support of the relevant stakeholders – must therefore take a leading role in ensuring that there are minimal disruptions to the delivery of appropriately tailored essential malaria control activities and services.

South Africa has adopted an innovative strategy to ensure the continuation of its malaria test and treat campaign. In malaria-endemic districts selected for community-based COVID-19 screening, all patients presenting with a fever will be tested for both COVID-19 and malaria. Any patient found to be malaria-positive by malaria rapid diagnostic test will be treated on site.

And African governments and international organisations like the WHO must lobby hard to ensure that there’s no downscaling in the production of tests and treatments for non-COVID-19 infections like malaria.

In the interim, countries should consider stockpiling supplies of malaria rapid diagnostic tests, malaria treatment and essential malaria control commodities. This would include insecticides for indoor residual spraying, and personal protective equipment.

We all must play our part in ensuring malaria is controlled and eliminated so a malaria-free world can be achieved during our lifetime.

Jaishree Raman, Laboratory for Antimalarial Resistance Monitoring and Malaria Operational Research, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Ban on begging in Nigeria is not fit for purpose

An Islamic school in Nigeria.
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By Dr Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman, Bishop Grosseteste University

Earlier this year, begging bans were announced in two states – Nasarawa and Kano – in Nigeria. There are some similarities as well as some differences between the two bans, and to a prior one in Kaduna state.

I have been reminded several times that the bans are street begging bans rather than a ban on the practice of Almajiranci – a system of Qur’anic schooling predominant in Northern Nigeria which sees young boys sent off to live with a Malam (teacher) to study the Qur’an. The boys often end up begging on the streets.

Nevertheless, based on my insights into Almajiranci during the course of my research, I would argue that the bans are really aimed at the practitioners of Almajiranci. In the case of Kano, the statement by the government went as far as to make this clear.

The issue has been back in the news in Nigeria again recently following the Northern Nigeria’s Governors forum coming together to insist on a ban in the light of COVID-19. States have started the process of repatriating young almajirai.

Almajiranci-related begging hurts the sensibilities of Nigerians. This is not without reason. The sight of young boys on the streets, shivering in unseasonal temperatures and sleeping in the open, is very hard to take.

In my research I examined the mainstream discourses around Almajiranci. Populist policies such as the recent begging bans fit into mainstream narratives that seek to represent the Almajirai only in a negative light. What I found is that sensationalist story lines that portray Almajirai as beggars and violent misfits can cause the young men – and the system of education – to be viewed antagonistically. The COVID-19 pandemic and the headlines reporting that some almajirai have been infected also fits into this scenario. Almajirai as ‘vectors of disease’.

The point here is: if almajirai are only conceived as beggars and as a nuisance then a ban, to many, takes care of that.

In this clip, I acknowledge why people would advocate for a ban. Almajiranci as it stands can be quite ugly to watch.

A look at the ban

There are lots of similarities in the structure of the bans announced by three different governments, with the focus appearing to be on all beggars on the streets rather than young almajirai per se.

But in the case of the Kano state ban it specifically sought to penalise Almajiranci. According to the Kano state government

when almajirai are caught begging, it is not only the beggar caught but his parents or guardians, and they will be taken to court to face the full wrath of the law.

In the course of my research, I found that young almajirai often beg for sustenance and that as soon as they reach a certain age, would much rather work than beg. There is, therefore, a temporal nature to this begging and it is something which can be stopped given other alternatives.

Many of Nigeria’s urban poor also get by working in the informal economy, often for pittance. It’s sometimes a wonder that the country doesn’t have more beggars. In this light, why find creative ways of increasing the suffering of the already suffering?

The issue with the bans is not only that they are ill thought through, they are also premature and not enforceable. Not in a society that has no welfare system in place to care for its most vulnerable. Or a society which doesn’t have the justice or prison system to accommodate those who will inevitably fall foul of the law. There are many steps to be taken first, before we get to a ban.

Recommendations

The logical steps would be to make sure every almajirai has been accounted for, and taken basic care of, before moving on to a ban in the long term. To use the cover of a pandemic to quickly rush through a ban seems disingenuous.

My argument as a scholar remains that, if you have a system of education in place with an estimated 8 to 10 million boys already in it, the logical thing to do would be to modernise these schools, widen the curriculum, improve living standards, improve the Malam’s pedagogical skills, feed the boys and provide extra vocational training.

Even though it is quite problematic as it stands, the Almajiranci system was once functional. It did not deteriorate to what it is in a day. A ban will not undo decades of decay, so the government needs political will and continuity. It needs to acknowledge the need for a more holistic reform across its education system, to find a way to integrate Almajiranci. Northern Nigeria governors also need to act with one voice on this.

I consider a ban a knee-jerk reaction that would drive the system underground. This might work for some of the governments of the states in northern Nigeria, if all that they want is for the poor to go and be poor elsewhere. A case of out of sight is out of mind.

Using the cover of a pandemic to push through an Almajiranci ban only panders to populism, it does not address the system’s many other drivers and sustainers – social and economic. The country’s groaning public school system is also incapable of absorbing millions of young Almajirai. As the schools stand, they are the preserve of the poor and the choiceless anyway.

Dr Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman, Lecturer in Inclusive Education, Bishop Grosseteste University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Coronavirus: the big question most people are afraid to answer

By Inyiama Neche

No doubt since the discovery of coronavirus in China since December 2019, the virus which has gotten a rapid fame and spread to other countries including UK, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Germany, Iran and many other including African nations like South Africa, Ghana and even Nigeria whose first case was discovered on 24th February, 2020.

Now about the big question everyone is afraid to answer about the coronavirus case, there are more possibility it’s a negative answer.
Many will deny about having such feeling but is that the truth behind the reality?.

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Businesses are shutting down every day, schools and educational institutes have closed down too. International Airports are on lockdown. Government are left with strict measure to handle the case even at deadly cost. Nothing, absolutely nothing is left out.

UK government begged its citizen to work from home. People are dying in thousands in Italy. Germany has deployed soldiers to its border to non-resident from entering. The USA, Israel, Brazil government has mass lighted its citizens from Nigeria on discovery of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Not even that, Donald Trump had to calm down American citizens who were trooping into the airport in mass number to leave USA their home country amid Coronavirus case. The government of many great nations has even ridiculed themselves about the Coronavirus blaming it on each other.
Coming to Africa, many countries like Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco has impose strict travel ban on entry of foreign travelers. 

Even Nigeria is not left out, the government imposed travel ban on entry of people coming from those affected areas has adopted a strict measure to avoid the outbreak of the virus by imposing quarantine measure like other countries. 


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Even foreigners living in Africa before the outbreak of the virus has refused to go even at this stage their visa has expired. Chinese government has sent medical experts who helped battled the pandemic in China to Nigeria on it’s growing list of COVID-19 patients. Many government, organization, businesses and individuals has sent relief to help Nigeria battle this pandemic.

All these leave us with one question “Are people panicked and afraid about this deadly virus even when nobody is admitting it”.
I would like to know your thoughts on this.
See you in the discussion.  

Shaping Africa’s urban areas to withstand future pandemics

Urban areas are a fertile ground for contagion
Getty Images

By Astrid R.N. Haas, International Growth Centre

The power of cities comes from the number of interactions they enable, between people, firms and markets – they are centres of social interaction. For all their virtues, however, cities have a major downside. They are a fertile ground for contagion, such as the rapid spread of COVID-19.

This is because cities are by definition places of density, with large numbers of people living and interacting in close proximity. Furthermore, many cities are deeply embedded in national, regional and global networks. This is embodied by infrastructural features such as airports, ports and other transport terminals ferrying goods and people at a high frequency. As such, the potential for transmission rates of COVID-19 within them may be far higher relative to national averages.

This is aptly illustrated by New York City, which already accounts for approximately half of all known cases in the US. Perhaps even more shocking, it accounted for 5% of all confirmed cases in the world – and it is just one city of about 8.6 million people.

Contagion in African cities

Given the characteristics of many African cities, the situation, without appropriate mitigation measures, could be far worse. For example, density levels in certain parts of African cities, most notably in slums and other informal settlements, may be even higher than New York’s. It is estimated that about 2/3rds of Nairobi’s population lives on just 6% of its land. In Kampala, 71% of households sleep in a single room.

These congested settlements have few amenities. Only an estimated 56% of the urban population in sub-Saharan Africa have access to piped water. And even those with access, they can spend 30 minutes or longer sourcing it.

This begs the question whether frequent hand-washing – one of two of the main measures to prevent transmission – is even feasible. The same goes for social distancing, the second recommended preventative measure, both given density and also because it runs contrary to many African societal norms, which are inherently deeply communal.

At the same time, one of the drivers of rural-urban migration in Africa is the relatively better access to services in the city. This includes health services. Data from the countries with already well-developed and funded health systems show that they are experiencing immense strain with COVID-19 patients. In the US, it is predicted that at least 200,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds will be needed in the case of a moderate outbreak. The whole of Uganda on the other hand has 55 ICU beds in 12 operational units. It is clear that with similar infection rates African health systems would collapse. Yet people are still more likely to be treated in urban areas. In Uganda’s case, 80% of these ICU beds are located in Kampala.

Economic distress from lockdowns

To reinforce social-distancing, many governments in Europe and US are enforcing strict temporary lockdown measures. African governments, which still lag behind in terms of the known infection rate, are quickly following suit – some with even harsher measures. Given that urban centres are major economic nodes they will naturally bear a disproportionate economic burden of any lockdowns. This effect will rapidly percolate through the whole economy.

Urban dwellers working in the informal sector will be the first and potentially some of the hardest hit. About 85% of workers do not receive a reported wage. Rather in many African cities, the majority earn their daily keep from the informal service sector, particularly selling or providing manual labour. Here there is no option to work from home: both because of the lack of necessary infrastructure such as power and more importantly because their jobs are predicated on face-to-face interactions.

Even though they are working, their daily earnings are small. In Kampala, for example, a survey of informal sector firms showed that 93% of them are already operating below the poverty line. Therefore lockdowns, for these populations, will mean not earning a wage and affect their survival.

This is exacerbated as urban populations are largely beholden to food prices, given in general they are not able to grow their own food. Early indications already show that some countries like Ghana have seen rise in food prices by nearly 30% already due to panic buying and disruptions in food supply chains.

This is particularly worrisome for some countries already concerned about a food crisis this year, due to the plague of locusts affecting supplies. With the timelines of the overall COVID-19 crisis remaining unclear, feeding one’s family, particularly in urban areas, with no income and rising prices is already becoming an increasing struggle.

Lockdowns may support curbing transmissions, but by potentially pushing millions more people across the continent below the poverty line, it could have other detrimental, and potentially worse, longer-lasting effects beyond the health impact. Therefore, reshaping African cities in the pandemic’s aftermath to ensure they can be engines of economic growth in the future, will be key.

Shaping the urban future

Cities across the globe and throughout history have adapted and reinvented themselves in the face of crisis and disaster. Some analysts are predicting that cities in the US, will emerge and be reshaped by this crisis, for example, as a result of people working from home. This means the need for centrally located offices will diminish.

The nature of jobs is different in African cities. Working from home is not likely to be an option. Rather, it may even be that, in the aftermath of the crisis, rural-urban migration actually increases as people flock to cities in search of more economic opportunities.

Preparing for this by ensuring urbanisation is well managed will be critical to providing the engine to ramping up national economic growth.

A critical element of this and in particular to prepare for the next pandemic, is the need for cities to invest in productive infrastructure, focused on improving health outcomes. This includes water and sewage infrastructure as well as increasing the number of health facilities.

The density of cities that make them susceptible to disease, also make them more efficient to provide infrastructure to a large number of people. In managing and shaping Africa’s urban future there should be a central role for public health officials, working alongside planners, economists and others. This can help reduce the potential of contagion whilst maintaining the power of cities.

Astrid R.N. Haas, Policy Director, International Growth Centre

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Buhari, Buratai: Best gifts to Nigerian army

PRESIDENT BUHARI MEETS SERVICE CHIEFS 2A&B. President Muhammadu Buhari receives the Chief of Army Staff LT Tukur Yusuf Buratai during a Security meeting at the State House Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. FEB 24 2020

BY ABUBAKAR TSAV

The world is replete with very many tinges of experiences. A man’s bad deeds lives long after his demise, but his good deeds are interred with his bones.

President Muhammadu Buhari accepted the burden of leading Nigeria at a time in its history every aspect of existence in the country was in extreme shambles.

It is repeating the obvious to say, the Military is the strength of every nation. The Army is its first treasured gold and hub of preserving and securing the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a nation from external aggressors.

The Army is the foremost in many ways and ought to pass fitness test all the times to respond to security emergencies.

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Unfortunately, President Buhari met a Nigerian Army that was completely in disarray and neglected in infrastructural development; signposted by defaced and dilapidated barracks, ill-equipped armouries and populated by unprofessional and undisciplined soldiers.

Worse of it all, the Nigerian Army was politicized, enmeshed in partisanship and polarized along Nigeria’s faultlines of ethnicity, religion and regionalism.

Equally saddening was the reality that Nigerian soldiers who were formally famed nationally and globally for their gallant exploits in wars and Peace-Keeping Missions could no longer boast of such accomplishments.

Even combating the menace of Boko Haram terrorism and other insurrections in the country was a big challenge to soldiers. Troops disgracefully faltered many times on the battlefield in the face of enemy forces.

The dignity of the Nigerian Army was rubbished by a basketful complaints of favoritism in postings, stalled promotions, unpaid salaries, denial of basic allowances, poor or non-existent welfare packages; lack of motivational incentives to soldiers deployed on special assignments on Internal Security (IS), absence of a reward system for excellence, brazen abuse of Rules of Engagement (ROE), widespread professional misconduct and constant mutinies.


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In effect, Nigeria operated and paraded a demoralized and depressed Army, where promotions were earned based on a soldier’s link or affinity with the President or other top notchers in Government.

A soldier’s hard work was not recognized and appreciated with a promotion as reward for excellence unless he either knows ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo or former President Goodluck Jonathan, the serving Presidents of Nigeria at that time.

Military Guard rooms were looking better than barracks where soldiers and their families were living. Army offices across the country were pigsties, and like dwelling places for animals.

The most fatal blow on the Nigerian Army was the deep-seated issue of religion and ethnicity.

They became strong factors in the force to the extent that it gravely affected the operations of the Army as an institution; shattered the coherence and the cord of comradeship among soldiers.

Infinitely politicized, the Nigerian Army was more enthusiastic in performing political duties than their constitutionally assigned professional roles.

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So, officers and soldiers had redirected their loyalty and patriotism to specific political parties which their brothers and sisters professed. It was not to Nigeria, the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Army leadership or field Commanders. The productivity of soldiers was on a steady, generous and dangerous decline in a sphere of the Nigerian Army operations.

President Buhari could not accept the eroded values and degradation of the Nigerian Army. He knew he owes Nigerians and the Nigerian Army a sacred obligation to change its status of a degenerated Army to a responsive, responsible and professional Army.

But the President needed a marksman for the job. Thus, came the appointment of Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, as the Chief of Army Staff and leader of the Counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria.

The COAS was briefed by his Commander-In-Chief on the task at hand. But ab initio, Gen. Buratai was also aware that he needed a standard Nigerian Army to deploy as solution to the countless security challenges which were tormenting the nation.

Having carved a niche for himself as a professional soldier of enviable standing, Gen. Buratai, also a notable administrative guru, launched far-reaching reforms and innovations in the Nigerian Army. And he followed their implementation reverently and meticulously.

Within a short time, the Army began to recover its lost glory and trampled shadows. Today, and with every sense of pride, the narrative of the institution of the Nigerian Army has changed for the better.

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Its reputation has soared incredibly. It is attested by the sustained successes of troops over Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism in the Northeast; soldiers’ professional candour, discipline and adherence to the appropriate code of service loyalty anywhere they serve.

And as long as Gen. Buratai is on the saddle, he has maintained the tempo and is improving it with each passing day. One can assert with certainty, that so long as Gen. Buratai continues to remain on the saddle, the Nigerian Army will keep getting better and excelling in all tasks assigned to it, as it sails gradually to the destination of perfection.

A peep into Gen. Buratai’s leadership of the Nigerian Army shows a pleasing reversal of all the aforementioned odds and negativities, which demoralized, afflicted and hindered our soldiers from performing their professional duties. He has succeeded in insulating our soldiers from partisan politics.

Even when on Election Duty, soldiers remained apolitical and neutral in the exercise of their duties as recently confirmed by the Ebonyi state Governor, Chief David Umahi while assessing the Army’s participation in the 2019 general elections.

Salaries and allowances of troops are paid regularly and promptly; almost every Army Barrack in the country has undergone renovation; new offices have been built for the Army and old ones renovated; the reward system based on excellence has been restored and very active. Even on the battlefield, Gen. Buratai decorates soldiers who have displayed exceptional courage and gallantry in terrorism combats.

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Soldiers need not to know Mr. President or have affinity with him to have their promotions effected and timely. All that is required of a soldier is his loyalty, dedication to duty and hard work to earn what he deserves.

Army Hospitals have been animated and stocked with drugs and other modern medical equipment for soldiers and their families. In -service training of soldiers is open to all indiscriminately and once a soldier qualifies or is due for refresher courses, he does not lobby anybody to get the approval.

New training institutions like the Nigerian Army Aviation School and the Nigerian Army University, Biu have been established under the leadership of Gen. Buratai.

Gen. Buratai has introduced multiple incentive packages for the Nigerian Army. These are initiatives that ginger performance enhancement for soldiers.

Interestingly, the Army Chief has repositioned the Nigerian Army in a manner that it has developed its internal capacity to contribute to the economic development agenda of the present political leadership of Nigeria under President Buhari.

Besides establishing new Army Divisions and Units, Gen. Buratai’s leadership has ventured into economic initiatives like the Nigeria Army Farm and Ranches; the Nigerian Army Post-Service Housing Development Limited; the Command Engineering Depot; the Nigerian Army Property Limited and the Nigerian Army Welfare Guarantee Limited among others.

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These economic concerns are the first in the history of Nigerian Army and designed to serve both the Army and the Nigerian public.

Therefore, the arrival of President Buhari on the leadership podium of Nigeria and the right choice of Gen. Buratai as the COAS have been the saving grace of the Nigerian Army, which was fast sinking into oblivion. The duo have remained the best thing to have ever happened to the Nigerian Army.

Every soldier today looks at himself with pride and dignity. Troops no longer shirk at the warfront, but fight the enemies even at the cost of their lives. It is not controvertible that the Nigerian Army today stands as one of the best in Africa.

There is every optimism that it can still be the best in considering the various limitations in terms of technology. Nigerians believe it can be the overall in the world one day and Gen. Buratai can make it possible as evident in his determination to leave a legacy for the nation.

Tsav who was commissioner of police in Lagos and served at the Public Complaints Commission, Abuja wrote from Makurdi, Benue state.

There’s something ‘suspicious’ about Abule Ado explosion

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the federal government to carry out a forensic investigation on the explosion that rocked Lagos on Sunday.

Scores were killed and more than 50 houses destroyed in the explosion. 

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had said the explosion happened when gas cylinders were hit by a truck in the area where NNPC has its pipelines.

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But Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA/FoEN deputy executive director, said the explosion could be likened to some military aerial bombardment and does not sound like pipeline explosion.

“There is something suspiciously different about this explosion. The scale of destruction is nothing like any of   the pipeline explosions we have monitored and documented for several decades,” the statement read.

“The Sunday incident’s scale of destruction could only be likened to military grade explosions or aerial bombardment. We can’t treat this casually as an accident caused by a truck.

“With the current security without conducting forensic investigation on this particular blast. Not even the accidental detonation of bombs at the Ikeja cantonment caused this scale of destruction and ruins. Government must conduct comprehensive investigation to establish if this was a crime or an accident.


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“And there are questions begging for answers: Who drove the truck? What is the truck doing on a pipeline on Sunday morning? Was the gas plant opened on a Sunday? Was the content of the truck weaponized? And for the NNPC that has admitted some level of culpability by confirming that the primary explosion came from its gas truck, it should immediately initiate the process of providing remediation for the affected families and businesses while its officials found to have through negligence orchestrated this massive destruction should be made to face the law.”

The group asked the federal government not to conclude that the incident was an accident, adding that the accounts of the NNPC on  the real cause of the blast is “unconvincing and raises some questions.”

How do we survive Coronavirus in Lagos without Okada?

Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu disappeared (from active duty) just after the elections, and by the time he reappeared, Okada got banned, coronavirus arrived.

Bloomgist by unsplash.com

By Ahmed Olufemi

In Nigeria one of the things newly elected political office holders are known for is releasing their projects with a target to complete them in the first hundred days in the office, but in the case of Sanwo-Olu who till date, is still regarded as a ‘child of circumstance’ seem to not have made up his mind on what to work on in the first hundred days and what not to.

He has been so relaxed like his predecessors have finished the work and left him with nothing else to do but pay salaries (he isn’t paying the salary even, the secretaries are), in fact, he is acting like someone that’s been given a clear instruction on what to do outside the usual job description of a governor of a state.

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Lagos is Africa’s most populous city and one of the most crowded in the world, and with the challenges of bad roads in the city which, combined with movement of too many people towards same direction at same time, leaves us with motorcycle popularly known as Okada as one of the fastest ways of getting to your destination in the city without being stuck in traffic.

With the reappearance of the governor, the first thing he did was to ban Okada and tricycle, causing panic in the commercial city, and with no solution in sight.

Following the ban on Okada came the news of the arrival of the deadly coronavirus in the commercial capital of Nigeria, which begs for the question, “How do we survive this virus while sharing same vehicle with hundreds of people in commercial buses every day?” Maybe the poor is about to be wiped out.


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Since the ban on Okada, which would have been the best alternative in avoiding crowd while going about your normal activities, we have been faced with three options – Go with small bus (Danfo), which carries about 10-12 passengers, with no sign of detecting who among them is sick of the virus. With BRT that carries dozens of passengers, or, the best alternative as it is now, trek.

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Is it a coincidence that Okada was banned by this time the world is trying to solve Coronavirus case? or it is the selfishness of our politicians that is about to cost us massively? whichever the case, we need Okada back, at least for now till we know we can be self riding with strangers.

Nigeria: why having fewer political parties isn’t enough

Electoral commission officers count votes after the polls were closed during the 2019 General elections. Luis Tato/AFP via Getty Images

By Olayinka Ajala, University of York

During the last general elections Nigeria in 2019, about 28 million of the 84 million registered voters filed out to elect the president, vice president and members of the national assembly.

In addition to security concerns in some areas, allegations of rigging and the generally tense atmosphere in several states, the other major issue that bogged the electoral process was voters’ complaints about the long ballot paper which had to accommodate 73 presidential aspirants. And there were 91 political parties presenting candidates at the national, state and local government elections on the ballot.

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Voters complained about how difficult it was to locate their preferred choice because ballot papers carried the names and logos of all the political parties, some with similar acronyms. Some voters also noted that they spent a long time voting, sometimes resulting in mistakes and eventually invalid votes.

Since the election a year ago, there has been a growing clamour for reform. In response, the Independent National Electoral Commission recently announced the de-registration of 74 out of the 92 registered political parties in the country. The electoral umpire based its decision on the provision of the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended in 2018, which, it says, empowers it to de-register political parties.

This suggests that reducing the number of parties is an important step in streamlining Nigeria’s electoral system. But the actions of the electoral commission might not be enough to solve some deeper systemic issues facing the country’s electoral processes which result in the abuse of the system.

Electoral commission officers and voters discuss while votes are counted.
Luis Tato/AFP via Getty Images

The drivers

Since the country returned to democracy in 1999, floating a political party is sometimes viewed as a “business venture”. This is for two main reasons.


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First, the Independent National Electoral Commission provides funding to political parties. Section 228c of the Nigerian constitution allows for the disbursement of annual grants to political parties to assist them in discharging their functions.

For instance, ahead of the 2003 general elections, the electoral commission disbursed N420 million to seven political parties including the People’s Democratic Party at an average of N60 million per party.

Problem is, the money is often difficult to account for. This is in spite of the fact that the electoral commission is expected to audit the account of registered political parties.

Second, nobody can stand in an election in Nigeria unless they’re attached to a political party. What this means is that parties sell nomination forms to any candidate who wants to contest under their banner. This system has led to a situation in which application forms to contest electoral positions are believed to be one of the most expensive in the world. Some parties charge more than N25 million ($69,000) for the purchase of presidential nomination forms. This encourages corruption as would-be politicians try and rustle up the money.

Different schools of thoughts

There isn’t unanimity among Nigerians about the problem. Opinions about the number of political parties are often split along at least three main lines.

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The first group argues that the number of political parties in the country is an indication of the strength of its democracy. The basis of this argument is that more political parties result in more participation.

A second group believes that many parties are formed only for personal aggrandisement and not in the interest of the electorate. They don’t believe they’re electable and are quick to form alliances to support larger parties. This is usually done closer to elections and often after personal benefits in form of cash rewards or promise of political patronage have been promised.

A third group argues that some of the political parties are too small to have any national significance or the resources to reach out to over 200 million Nigerians. This argument has it that they should either merge with other parties or be deregistered. The electoral umpire falls under this category.

The electoral act sets down certain conditions under which parties can be deregistered. It was on the basis of these that the electoral commission deregistered 74 political parties. Its chairman argued that most of them could not garner up to 20,000 votes in the last presidential elections and, thereby, fell short of the electoral Act. The decision has been challenged in court by some of the affected parties.

Lastly, there is the issue of voter apathy. Millions of Nigerians stayed away from the polls in the last election.

A presiding officer counts ballots after voting ended at a polling station in Kano.
Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

What to do

A survey of Nigerians showed that voters were pleased with the step taken by the electoral commission. But not everybody was happy. Some, including party leaders, kicked back against the action stating that it posed a threat to the country’s democracy.

The bigger question is whether the commission’s decision will solve the abuse of the country’s electoral system. I believe not. This is because the criteria for the registration of political parties remain loose and there are over 100 pending applications. The criteria for the registration of political parties must be clarified and tightened to prevent politicians from continuing to use political parties for their personal gain.


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In addition, the electoral commission needs to address three key issues. First, it must stop the payment of annual grants to political parties. This would allow parties to find sustainable means of funding themselves. One avenue could be through party membership contributions.

Second, the commission must put a cap on the prices of nomination forms for electoral positions.

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Third, there is a need to criminalise the “cash for stepping down” practice, whereby larger parties induce smaller ones with cash incentives and political patronage during the election cycle.

Deregistering political parties will only lead to registration of new parties by the same people if these key issues are not addressed.


Olayinka Ajala, Associate Lecturer and Conflict Analyst, University of York

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Should Nigeria release Boko Haram suspects?

Military commanders inspect arms and ammunitions recovered from Boko Haram jihadists.
Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images

By Jideofor Adibe, Nasarawa State University, Keffi

The Nigerian government recently announced that it had released about 1,400 Boko Haram suspects. The reason given was they had repented and were to be re-integrated into society. The government said the releases – which happened in three tranches – were part of its four-year old de-radicalisation programme called Operation Safe Corridor.

The announcement generated a lot of angst. Opposition leaders attacked the decision, as did soldiers fighting the terrorists.

These reactions mask a fundamental challenge facing governments in conflict situations: how does it deal with defectors? Simply executing combatants, or detaining them indefinitely, aren’t viable options. De-radicalisation and re-integration programmes therefore become unavoidable.

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As several commentators on the Boko Haram conflict have repeatedly maintained, such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a purely military solution won’t defeat the group.

Generally ‘de-radicalisation’ is understood to involve having people with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies adopt more moderate and non-violent views. The approach is predicated on the assumption that terrorists, and others with extremist views, can be engaged in a way that can reduce their risk of re-offending.

But there are a number of questions that ‘de-radicalisation’ and ‘re-integration’ programmes raise. These include: is it possible to screen the combatants well enough to measure what level of threat they pose? This is a problem in a country like Nigeria where the basis of selecting those who are being released isn’t transparent. For example, there are allegations that criminal elements in the military have colluded with Boko Haram to secure the release of unrepentant terrorists.

Soldiers inspect a damaged Armoured Personnel Carrier recovered from Boko Haram jihadists.
Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images

And is it fair to rehabilitate the combatants without also rehabilitating their victims?

Most countries faced with violent extremism and terrorism have adopted one form or another of de-radicalisation programmes. Whether they have worked or not is hard to judge because assessments are very often made by people responsible for the programmes. But one thing is clear: governments don’t have many viable alternatives.

Nigeria’s programmes

Nigeria has three main de-radicalisation programmes. One is located in Kuje prison, Abuja, and was set up by the Nigerian government in 2014. Participants are combatants convicted of violent extremist offences and inmates awaiting trial. The aim of the programme is to combat religious ideology and offer vocational training as a prelude to re-integrating them into communities.


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There is also the Yellow Ribbon Initiative which is located in communities in Borno State, in the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north of the country. This is organised by a not for profit organisation, the Neem Foundation. It was set up in 2017 and targets women, children and young people associated with Boko Haram.

The third is Operation Safe Corridor, which was set up in 2016 by the government. It targets Boko Haram combatants who have surrendered. This approach targets three key issues: religious ideology, structural or political grievances and post-conflict trauma.

The project engages Imams to work with those in the programme on religion. Participants are also offered training in rudimentary vocational skills. And they are offered therapy to overcome the trauma they faced as members of Boko Haram.

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Experiences elsewhere

A wide range of countries have introduced de-radicalisation programmes.

In Africa, the four Lake Chad basin countries – Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad – have their own versions. In Somalia, the Serendi Rehabilitation Centre in Mogadishu offers support to ‘low-risk’ former members of Al-Shabaab.

In Northern Ireland, the Early Release Scheme ensured the conditional release of convicted terrorists under the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. It was deemed essential to sustaining the country’s peace process.

In Colombia, former guerrillas who fought for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were invited to join a peace building programme called the ‘collective reincorporation’.

Do they work?

There is no consensus on what constitutes success in reforming a terrorist.

There is, however, general acceptance that a narrow focus on recidivism as the key metric has been discredited. This is because the reasons for peoples’ behaviour isn’t always understood. For example, re-offending could well have been stimulated by new impulses after release. On the other hand, not re-offending does not necessarily mean the person has abandoned extremist views.

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There is also confusion about whether any kind of rehabilitation is necessarily brought about by the de-radicalisation programme. For example, it could be more about the desire for freedom, or to access some benefits that go with a rehabilitation programme.

Measuring success isn’t easy. Official information is likely to be biased as the state and groups running programmes are wont to paint a rosy picture to justify the expenditure.

Inmates walk in a line after they were handed over to state officials for rehabilitation.
Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images

Additionally, whether a de-radicalisation programme is deemed successful or not may be subjective depending on what metrics are used. A good example is the research done for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. It praised Nigeria’s Operation Safe Corridor to the high heavens, arguing that it was a model of rehabilitation for Africa as well as the Western world. Yet a report for the Carnegie Foundation was very critical of the programme on several grounds. This included a lack of clarity on eligibility and as well as how former combatants would be re-integrated into civilian life.

Not many options

The question often not asked about de-radicalisation programmes is: what’s the alternative?

Framed this way, it’s obvious that governments facing challenges of terrorism and violent extremism have virtually no other alternative.

But that shouldn’t stop criticism of the way in which programmes are run. The Nigerian government’s release of 1,400 former Boko Haram fighters is a case in point. It was handled badly, not least because the public was told after the event.

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The timing was also inauspicious. There is currently a resurgence of attacks by the terrorist group. At the same time President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is facing a declining sense of legitimacy . These factors helped harden attitudes and drove the push-back from Nigerians.


Jideofor Adibe, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

How radio is giving voice to the people in Ghana

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

By Jacob Nyarko, University of Cape Coast

The roots of broadcasting in Ghana – particularly radio – are traced to its former colonial power under Sir Arnold Hodson who was British governor of the Gold Coast in 1935. The short-term objective was to enable the crown to communicate with its subjects in the colonies and to spread propaganda.

But, over time, radio served a wider and more significant role. By the 1940s it had earned the accolade of being regarded as ‘theatre of the mind’ because of the music, drama and news broadcasts it offered.

The transition to a post-colonial environment wasn’t easy. Like print, the new government inherited the assets of the colonial media, as well as its liabilities, which included control mechanisms to constrain their operations.

As a country that has had more military than civilian administrations, the major challenge to the growth of radio in Ghana has been political.

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For a start, radio is the quickest medium through which ‘coup-makers’ can announce that they have seized power, and successive administrations have monopolised the airwaves. Even after the 1992 Constitution enforced privatisation of the airwaves, the ruling Peoples National Defence Council couldn’t give up control. The shutting of Radio Eye in Accra circa 1994 was a case in point.

More recently, some radio stations were shut down because their licenses had expired under new rules introduced in 2017 . This triggered an angry response as some people believed the shut-downs were political. Most of the affected stations were affiliated to the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress.

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The growth of the sector has also been hampered by poor infrastructure. For instance, frequent power outages, called dumso in the Akan parlance, have threatened operations. A lack of money has also led to some engaging the services of laymen as journalists, which has led to many radio stations becoming increasingly unprofessional.

Despite these challenges, there has been a steady rise in radio production in Ghana over the past 20 years. It is the most consumed medium in the country, with a penetration rate of about 90%. According to the National Communications Authority, in 2018 Ghana had: 31 public radio stations; five foreign radio stations; 71 community radio stations; 22 campus radio stations, and 358 commercial radio stations.

This illustrates the growing democratisation of Ghana’s airwaves, where private radio has outstripped state-owned radio. With the ongoing transformation from analogue to digital terrestrial transmission, radio in Ghana is expected to become even more vibrant.


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Reach and impact

Radio continues to have an immense impact on Ghanaian society.

Firstly, its reach has improved the dissemination of information on matters of national interest, especially in an emergency. Radio has been used to deliver messages to the public in mass registration campaigns and health education around HIV, Ebola, polio, malaria and, most recently, coronavirus.

Secondly, radio has boosted the private sector. Three-quarters of radio stations in Ghana are commercial operations.

Thirdly, radio production has offered employment opportunities. And stations pay taxes.

Fourthly, radio has enhanced pluralism through the use of a multiplicity of languages. These include Ga, Hausa, Twi, Dagbani, Nzema and Fanti. Radio stations also facilitate diverse viewpoints being made, and, unlike other media – such as print and television – is able both rural and urban listeners are reached.

All these factors make it an important medium in the political terrain.

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Integrated approach

The relevance of radio in Ghana cannot be underestimated amid the advent of social media. A 2018 report by Afrobarometer showed that 56% of those interviewed in the survey listened to radio, 42% watched television, 13% had access to the internet and 15% to social media.

This pattern of consumption calls for the need for integrated strategies. Almost all radio stations own websites and have links to social media platforms enabling them to stream live online. This has ensured a two-way discourse through phone-ins and online postings.

With this convergence, the question of which medium is used to source news hinges on affordability for the consumer. With a smartphone and bundled data, users can also access social media.

But there are dangers. Social media is besieged with the fake news epidemic which defeats the purpose of professional journalism.

Writing on fake news, Ghanaian blogger and social media entrepreneur Ameyaw Debrah notes :

Fake news is very much a problem in Ghana. The challenge is that I don’t want it to get to a point where people no longer believe what they’re reading or seeing online. People are already tending to describe news in the digital space as fake, and are reluctant to engage with it.

In comparison, radio is deemed more credible due to its meticulous gatekeeping procedures coupled with the ease of identifying the source of a story – both the station and the reporter.

In addition, both public and private radio have provided the information needs of people, especially during elections. In particular, private radio has been an alternate voice and contributed immensely to the vibrancy of Ghana’s airwaves.

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But it’s not all plain sailing. According to Mamolise Martha Falatsa , a Public Relations Officer of the Department of Teaching Service in Lesotho, a major drawback is that

most radio stations, both government and privately owned, are controlled by politicians who use them as mouthpieces for advancing their political agendas.

Another concern is that the syndication of content tends to defeat the concept of community radio because material from mainly major cities is imposed on smaller communities.

Nevertheless, radio has overall served Ghana well.


Jacob Nyarko, Lecturer of Communication Studies, University of Cape Coast

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Nigerian students still don’t have good knowledge of safe contraception

Emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy after sex.
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By Anthony Idowu Ajayi, African Population and Health Research Center and Meggie Mwoka, African Population and Health Research Center

Nearly half of pregnancies among adolescent girls in developing countries are unplanned. In Africa, about 46% of these pregnancies end in unsafe abortion. Deaths from abortion account for 10% of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Nigeria, nearly 28% of women were found to have had an unwanted pregnancy. The rate of unplanned pregnancy is especially high among young people. But women can only get a legal abortion if the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of a woman or in cases of rape or incest.

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Emergency contraception can help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Emergency contraception includes the use of drugs or devices to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, contraceptive failure, coerced sex or rape. Some, like the morning-after pill, have been in use for four decades.

We asked female university students in Nigeria about emergency contraception and what practices they used to prevent pregnancy after sex. Our study explored barriers to the use of emergency contraception.

We found that their knowledge about conventional methods was patchy. And that most used unconventional and unproved methods. These included douching with mixtures of salt and hot water as well as a selection of soft drinks.

Our studies confirm earlier findings in Nigeria that found that knowledge of after-sex contraception was low and unprotected sex common among young people, especially students.

Our research

We conducted 20 in-depth interviews and five focus group discussions with unmarried female students in two universities in southwestern Nigeria.

Our analysis shows that female students in sexual relationships consider themselves to carry the risk of unintended pregnancy. For example, they said there was a chance that their partner might not inform them if the condom they were using burst.


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All the students interviewed considered unplanned pregnancy to have dire consequences, including stigma, alienation from parents, a high likelihood of school dropout or delay in attaining their degree, and financial implications.

Most indicated that they knew about after-sex contraception methods and had used them. When asked to name the specific methods they knew or had used, many of them mentioned unconventional methods. Respondents who did not have any knowledge of after-sex contraception were relatively young and mainly in their first year of study.

Some interviewees relied on what was locally termed “concoctions”. These included mixtures of substances with unproven efficacy, such as salt and hot water, soft drinks, a local brand of analgesic known as Alabukun, lime and potash, and lime and Alabukun.

Respondents were convinced that these concoctions were highly efficacious as after-sex contraceptives.

A 24-year-old fifth-year student said:

If unprotected sex happens, instantly, there are some drugs like lime and “Alabukun” at the same time; they work in most cases.

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An 18-year-old first-year student:

A nurse once told me that you can drink the mixture of cold “7UP” [a brand of carbonated drink] and “Alabukun” to wash the womb.

Beside concoctions, at least half of the participants said they could personally testify to the efficacy of certain non-emergency contraceptive drugs. These included antibiotics and Cytotec which is used to induce labour or to induce abortion, and Menstrogen injection which is used when a period is missed.

The study found that students used combinations that could prove quite dangerous. One 22-year-old respondent said that such a combination eliminated any chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex:

Menstrogen first, then lime and potash, can be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. I have used this combination and it works.

Another method that worked for some was removing semen by vaginal douching immediately after intercourse. As this 28-year-old fourth-year student stated:

I stand up immediately and go to the bathroom and try to bring out the sperm.

Most of the participants knew about approved emergency contraception pills, such as Levonorgestrel or Postinor, that are available without a prescription for less than $2. The majority (63%) were familiar with Postinor and 27.4% had used it.

This 23-year-old fourth-year student is one of them.

I have used Postinor and it works.

But some participants had doubts about the efficacy of medically approved pills. They also exaggerated the side effects of these drugs and associated them with infertility.

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Some respondents thought a combination of emergency and non-emergency contraceptive pills worked best. Others, like this 21-year-old third-year student, preferred the combination of emergency contraceptive pills and concoctions.

I will use Postinor immediately and then use very hot water and plenty of salt – just to be sure.

Looking forward

It was clear from our study that knowledge of emergency contraception was inadequate among these Nigerian university students. There is a need for comprehensive sexuality education that begins early, before the initiation of sex, and continues into their university years.


Anthony Idowu Ajayi, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Center and Meggie Mwoka, Policy research officer, African Population and Health Research Center

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Exposed: Britain’s shameful role in the Biafran war

It is a good thing to be proud of one’s country, and I am – most of the time. But it would be impossible to scan the centuries of Britain’s history without coming across a few incidents that evoke not pride but shame. Among those I would list are the creation by British officialdom in South Africa of the concentration camp, to persecute the families of Boers. Add to that the Amritsar massacre of 1919 and the Hola camps set up and run during the struggle against Mau Mau.

Starving children in a refugee camp near Aba in 1968. Photograph: AFP

By Frederick Forsyth

The northern and western regions were swept by a pogrom in which thousands of Igbo were slaughtered

But there is one truly disgusting policy practised by our officialdom during the lifetime of anyone over 50, and one word will suffice: Biafra.

This referred to the civil war in Nigeria that ended 50 years ago this month. It stemmed from the decision of the people of the eastern region of that already riot-racked country to strike for independence as the Republic of Biafra. As I learned when I got there as a BBC correspondent, the Biafrans, mostly of the Igbo people, had their reasons.

The federal government in Lagos was a brutal military dictatorship that came to power in 1966 in a bloodbath. During and following that coup, the northern and western regions were swept by a pogrom in which thousands of resident Igbo were slaughtered. The federal government lifted not a finger to help. It was led by an affable British-educated colonel, Yakubu Gowon. But he was a puppet. The true rulers were a group of northern Nigerian colonels. The crisis deepened, and in early 1967 eastern Nigeria, harbouring about 1.8 million refugees, sought restitution. A British-organised conference was held in Ghana and a concordat agreed. But Gowon, returning home, was flatly contradicted by the colonels, who tore up his terms and reneged on the lot. In April the Eastern Region formally seceded and on 7 July, the federal government declared war.

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Biafra was led by the Eastern Region’s Oxford-educated former military governor, “Emeka” Ojukwu. London, ignoring all evidence that it was Lagos that reneged on the deal, denounced the secession, made no attempt to mediate and declared total support for Nigeria.

I arrived in the Biafra capital of Enugu on the third day of the war. In London I had been copiously briefed by Gerald Watrous, head of the BBC’s West Africa Service. What I did not know was that he was the obedient servant of the government’s Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO), which believed every word of its high commissioner in Lagos, David Hunt. It took two days in Enugu to realise that everything I had been told was utter garbage.

I had been briefed that the brilliant Nigerian army would suppress the rebellion in two weeks, four at the most. Fortunately the deputy high commissioner in Enugu, Jim Parker, told me what was really happening. It became clear that the rubbish believed by the CRO and the BBC stemmed from our high commissioner in Lagos. A racist and a snob, Hunt expected Africans to leap to attention when he entered the room – which Gowon did. At their single prewar meeting Ojukwu did not. Hunt loathed him at once.

My brief was to report the all-conquering march of the Nigerian army. It did not happen. Naively, I filed this. When my report was broadcast our high commissioner complained to the CRO in London, who passed it on to the BBC – which accused me of pro-rebel bias and recalled me to London. Six months later, in February 1968, fed up with the slavishness of the BBC to Whitehall, I walked out and flew back to west Africa. Ojukwu roared with laughter and allowed me to stay. My condition was that, having rejected British propaganda, I would not publish his either. He agreed.

‘Weapons and ammunition poured in quietly as Whitehall and the Harold Wilson government lied and denied it all.’ Photograph: Wood/Getty Images

But things had changed. British covert interference had become huge. Weapons and ammunition poured in quietly as Whitehall and the Harold Wilson government lied and denied it all. Much enlarged, with fresh weapons and secret advisory teams, the Nigerian army inched across Biafra as the defenders tried to fight back with a few bullets a day. Soviet Ilyushin bombers ranged overhead, dropping 1,000lb bombs on straw villages. But the transformation came in July.

Missionaries had noticed mothers emerging from the deep bush carrying children reduced to living skeletons yet with bloated bellies. Catholic priests recognised the symptoms – kwashiorkor or acute protein deficiency.

That same July the Daily Express cameraman David Cairns ran off a score of rolls of film and took them to London. Back then, the British public had never seen such heartrending images of starved and dying children. When the pictures hit the newsstands the story exploded. There were headlines, questions in the House of Commons, demonstrations, marches.

As the resident guide for foreign news teams I became somewhat overwhelmed. But at last the full secret involvement of the British government started to be exposed and the lies revealed. Wilson came under attack. The story swept Europe then the US.

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Donations flooded in. The money could buy food – but how to get it there? Around year’s end the extraordinary Joint Church Aid was born.

The World Council of Churches helped to buy some clapped-out freighter aircraft and gained permission from Portugal to use the offshore island São Tomé as a base. Scandinavian pilots and crew, mostly airline pilots, offered to fly without pay. Joint Church Aid was quickly nicknamed Jesus Christ Airlines. And thus came into being the world’s only illegal mercy air bridge.

On a visit to London in spring 1969 I learned the efforts the British establishment will take to cover up its tracks. Every reporter, peer or parliamentarian who had visited Biafra and reported on what he had seen was smeared as a stooge of Biafra – even the utterly honourable John Hunt, leader of the Everest expedition.

Throughout 1969 the relief planes flew through the night, dodging Nigerian MiG fighters, to deliver their life-giving cargoes of reinforced milk powder to a jungle airstrip. From there trucks took the sacks to the missions, the nuns boiled up the nutriments and kept thousands of children alive.

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Karl Jaggi, head of the Red Cross, estimated that up to a million children died, but that at least half a million were saved. As for me, sometimes in the wee small hours I see the stick-like children with the dull eyes and lolling heads, and hear their wails of hunger and the low moans as they died.

What is truly shameful is that this was not done by savages but aided and assisted at every stage by Oxbridge-educated British mandarins. Why? Did they love the corruption-riven, dictator-prone Nigeria? No. From start to finish, it was to cover up that the UK’s assessment of the Nigerian situation was an enormous judgmental screw-up. And, worse: with neutrality and diplomacy from London it could all have been avoided.

Biafra is little discussed in the UK these days – a conflict overshadowed geopolitically by the Vietnam war, which raged at the same time. Yet the sheer nastiness of the British establishment during those three years remains a source of deep shame that we should never forget.

  • Frederick Forsyth is a former war correspondent and an author

How did Nigerian and Kenyan media handled Cambridge Analytica

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta recently signed into law the Data Protection Bill. Passed after several years of debate and delay, the new law places restrictions on the collection and use of digital data by governments and private corporations. The restrictions are similar to those included in a new data protection regulationpassed by Nigeria this year.

There’s a growing awareness that Cambridge Analytica harnessed social media and personal data to influence elections. Shutterstock

These protection laws are welcome advancements in the light of investigations that revealed that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had worked on presidential campaigns in both countries.

It’s been widely known for some time that the firm helped elect Donald Trump in the US and worked on the Brexit referendum in the UK. But in March 2018 a number of startling exposés were published by The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 showing the firm’s dubious campaign practices in Nigeriaand Kenya. An ongoing leak of tens of thousands of internal documents is set to show in great detail Cambridge Analytica’s work in 68 countries around the world.

What is the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

The legal responses to the revelations suggest a growing awareness that social media and personal data are being harnessed by outside actors to influence elections around the world.

In a recent article we analysed press coverage of Cambridge Analytica in Nigeria and Kenya. We wanted to see if local coverage reflected international media coverage of the scandal. To do this we focused on three key themes: data privacy and protection, unethical political campaigning on social media, and foreign involvement in African elections.

We found that most newspaper articles focused on data privacy and social media campaigning. The Nigerian and Kenyan press focused on Facebook and data. But very few stories wrestled with the role of foreign actors in national elections. Important questions about campaigning and election interference received less attention.

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This could mean that the door has been left open to ongoing foreign involvement in future elections, given that Cambridge Analytica used African elections as a testing ground for campaign tactics it later exported into more lucrative markets. It did this with little regard for the negative consequences on the emerging democracies.

Cambridge Analytica in Africa

It is easy to overstate the impact of Cambridge Analytica in Nigeria and Kenya. So let’s review what the March 2018 exposés revealed.

According to a detailed report, Cambridge Analytica was hired by a wealthy Nigerian to support the 2015 reelection campaign of then-president Goodluck Jonathan. During the campaign, the firm worked with the Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube to acquire hacked medical and financial information about Jonathan’s opponent Muhammadu Buhari.

Cambridge Analytica also promoted a graphic anti-Buhari video. It suggested Buhari would support the terrorist group Boko Haram and end women’s rights.

Jonathan eventually lost the 2015 election to Buhari. Earlier this year Buhari was reelected to a second term.

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In Kenya, the firm worked on both Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2013 presidential campaign and his 2017 reelection campaign. To date, it is unclear exactly what it did during either campaign. One bit of evidence emerged in an undercover video of executive Mark Turnbull in which he made a number of claims. These included claims that the firm had rebranded Kenyatta’s party twice, had written their manifesto and had done two rounds of 50,000 surveys.

Cambridge Analytica Uncovered: Secret filming reveals election tricks.

Covering Cambridge Analytica

To gather articles for our study, we searched the archives of two Nigerian newspapers — Punch and Vanguard — and two Kenyan newspapers — Daily Nation and East African Standard. We looked for mentions of Cambridge Analytica in relation to Nigeria or Kenya.

We found 31 articles in the Nigerian newspapers and 74 articles in the Kenyan newspapers published prior to December 2018.

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All 31 articles in Nigerian newspapers were published after March 2018. In the case of Kenya, 17 of the 74 articles were published prior to this. Cambridge Analytica was little known at the time of the 2015 elections in Nigeria. But the firm had garnered significant public attention in 2016 because of its connection to Trump and Brexit. As a result the Kenyan media was paying attention when the firm joined the Kenyatta campaign in 2017.

After March 2018, national newspapers in Nigeria and Kenya published several articles that summarised what Cambridge Analytica did in their respective countries.

But none of the articles we examined provided any further details on specific activities by Cambridge Analytica. They simply repeated what had already been reported in the international media.

Nigerian newspapers quickly framed the Cambridge Analytica scandal as a partisan issue between two competing political parties.

Kenyan newspaper coverage, on the other hand, was more comprehensive in quantity and quality. For one, the Kenyan press was covering Cambridge Analytica prior to March 2018; the first story appeared in May 2017.

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Because Cambridge Analytica had become known for its work with Trump and Brexit, Kenyan journalists and writers were discussing the implications of the firm working in their country early on. They cautioned readers that the firm might be involved in targeting sensational messages and misinformation on social media. They also considered the ramifications of foreign actors interfering in local political campaigns.

After the March 2018 revelations, Kenyan newspapers responded with more news and opinion pieces. These wrestled with the implications for data privacy, political campaigning on social media, and Kenya’s democratic institutions. For example, a column asked plainly whether the firm undermined democracy and made a mockery of elections by manipulating people’s emotions. The column also questioned whether the firm deepened ethnic division in society.

Digital colonialism?

Recently, the Kenyan writer, political analyst and activist Nanjala Nyabola asked whether Africa was entering a new era of digital colonialism. By this she means a form of exploitation in which foreign actors use African nations for their own benefit without regard for the safety of citizens and the stability of institutions.

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In the context of Cambridge Analytica’s work in Nigeria and Kenya, the answer may be yes. It’s important that African countries update their data privacy and protection laws. But as the ongoing document leak demonstrates, the Cambridge Analytic scandal runs deeper than access to Facebook data.

How do we talk to boys about sex?

Teenagers and young men still don’t have the right vocabulary. Can we help them get there?

A while back, during a discussion I was having with a group of high school students about sexual ethics, a boy raised his hand to ask me, “Can you have sex without feelings?” The other guys in the room nodded, leaned forward, curious, maybe a little challenging. Strictly speaking, of course, even indifference is a feeling, but I knew what they meant: They wanted to know if they could have sex without caring:devoid of vulnerability, even with disregard for a partner. To put it in teenage parlance, they wanted to know whether it was truly possible to “hit it and quit it.”

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I thought about those boys this week as I watched Harvey Weinstein, in an Oscar-worthy performance of abject harmlessness, hobble on his walker into the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan. The #MeToo movement has exposed sexual misconduct, coercion and harassment across every sector of society. But shining light on a problem won’t, in itself, solve it, not even if Mr. Weinstein ends up with (fingers crossed) the longest prison sentence in history. To make real change we need to tackle something larger and more systemic: the pervasive culture that urges boys toward disrespect and detachment in their intimate encounters.

Despite a new imperative to be scrupulous about affirmative consent, young men are still subject to incessant messages that sexual conquest — being always down for sex, racking up their “body count,” regardless of how they or their partner may feel about it — remains the measure of a “real” man, and a reliable path to social status. As one high school junior explained: “Guys need to prove themselves to their guys. So to do that, you’re going to be dominating. You’re going to maybe push. Because, it’s like the girl is just there as a means for him to get off and a means for him to brag.”

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I never intended to write about boys. As a journalist, I have spent over a quarter of a century chronicling girls’lives — that has been my calling and my passion. But four years ago, after publishing a book about the contradictions young women still face in their intimate encounters, I realized, perhaps inevitably, that if I truly wanted to promote safer, more enjoyable, more egalitarian sexual relationships among young people, I needed to have the other half of the conversation. So I began interviewing young men — dozens, of different backgrounds, in their early teens and 20s — about sex and love, hookup culture and relationships, masculinity and media, sexual consent and misconduct. #MeToo wasn’t the impetus for my work (I began well before the Weinstein story broke) but it quickly underscored the urgency.

Few of the boys had previously had such conversations. Certainly not with their parents, most of whom would rather poke themselves in the eye with a fork than speak frankly to their sons about sex. I can’t say that I blame them: It’s excruciating, and it’s not like our own parents offered a template.

Yet that silence has troubling implications. According to a 2017 national survey of 3,000 high school students and young adults by the Making Caring Common Project, a large majority of boys never had a single conversation with their parents about, for instance, how to be sure that your partner “wants to be — and is comfortable — having sex with you,” or about what it meant to be a “a caring and respectful sexual partner.” About two-thirds had never heard from their parents that they shouldn’t have sex with someone who is too intoxicated to consent. Most had never been told by parents not to catcall girls or use degrading terms such as “bitches” or “hoes” — this despite the fact that nearly 90 percent of the girls in the survey reported having been sexually harassed.

Adults may assume those ideas are self-evident, beyond the need for comment, but given the rates of coercion, misconduct and assault among men both young and old, boys are clearly not getting the message by osmosis. The vast majority of teenagers, though, who did have conversations like these with their parents — and boys even more than girls — described them as at least somewhat influential on their thinking.

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Nor will schools pick up the slack. Most states still require sex education to stress abstinence (a legit option, for sure, as long as it’s one among many: not a mandate that equates sexually active teens with, say, chewed pieces of gum). But many more progressive, supposedly comprehensive classes aren’t much better, often focused predominantly on risk and danger: avoiding pregnancy and preventing disease. Increasingly, sexual consent is being added to that cautionary to-do list, as it should be. Too often, though, that question of yes or no becomes a stand-in for all conversation about sexual decision-making: another way to dodge more nuanced discussions of personal responsibility, open communication, establishing relationships, understanding gender dynamics and — the third rail of sex ed classes — reciprocal pleasure and the L.G.B.T.Q.+ perspective.

I found gay boys, by the way, to be notably more willing and able than others to negotiate the terms of a sexual encounter — they had to be, since who was going to do what with whom could not be assumed. They often seemed puzzled by heterosexuals’ reticence. “I don’t know why straight guys see consent as a mood-killer,” one college sophomore said. “I’m like, ‘if we’re talking, that means we’re going to have sex — this is great!’”

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Dan Savage, the syndicated sex advice columnist, refers to “the four magic words” gay guys will use during a sexual encounter: What are you into?” That’s a very different perspective than that of straight boys, who usually aim for one-word assent to options they define. I do fear, though, that since girls, as I’d previously found, are so often disconnected from their bodies’ desires and responses, their answer to an authentic conversation-starter might well be, “I have no idea.” What might happen, though, if teenagers learned to start talking to each other that way early on?

Absent guidance from trusted adults, boys look to the media as a default sex educator, where they are bombarded by images of female sexual availability and male sexual entitlement. With the rise of the internet, smartphones and video-sharing sites like Pornhub, parents worry about the potential impact of pornography on teens’ sexual expectations. Let me be clear: Curiosity about sex is natural. Masturbation? Great! What’s more, there is all kinds of porn — ethical porn, feminist porn, queer porn. But the most readily available, free content portrays a distorted vision of sex: as something men do to rather than with a partnerand women’s pleasure as a performance for male satisfaction.

Boys frequently expressed ambivalence to me about their porn habits. “I think porn affects your ability to be innocent in a sexual relationship,” a high school senior commented. “The whole idea of exploring sex without any preconceived ideas of what it is, you know?”

Even if parents could block all the triple-X sites (and good luck with that), the reality is that exposure to sexual content in media consumption of anykind — TV, movies, games, social media, music videos — is associated with greater tolerance for sexual harassment, belief in rape myths and the objectification of women. “I think music has some of the biggest impact on how guys treat girls,” another high school senior told me. “In the car, my friends and I listen to all this stuff that’s just” — he rattled off several oh-so-unprintable lines about women and sex. “When you hear that, like, five, six, 10 times a day, it makes it hard to escape having that mind-set.”

The promise of hot sex with a cold heart animates college (and increasingly high school) hookup culture — which is why, according to Lisa Wade, a professor of sociology at Occidental College, getting wasted beforehand is so crucial: Alcohol girds young people against the near-fanatic generational fear of the awkward while creating what Ms. Wade calls the “compulsory carelessness” necessary for a possible one-off. Most of the guys I met knew that sex with an incapacitated person is assault. Yet because, in their minds, you need to be hammered in order to hook up, the trick became being (and finding someone who is) drunk enough to want to do it but sober enough to be able to express a credible “yes.” And who is to be the judge of that?

Drunk boys, as it turns out, tend to vastly overperceive a girl’s interest in sex, often interpreting expressions of friendliness as It’s on. Alcohol has also been shown to diminish their ability to hear “no” or notice a partner’s hesitation. Wasted young men are more likely than they would be sober to use coercion or force to get what they want and — still looking at you, Brett Kavanaugh — they are less aware of their victim’s distress.

In consensual drunken hookups, the sex still tends to be meh. It “can feel like two people having two very distinct experiences,” a second-semester college freshman who’d had multiple partners told me. “There’s not much eye contact. Sometimes you don’t even say anything. And it’s weird to be so open with a stranger. It’s like you’re acting vulnerable, but not actually being vulnerable with someone you don’t know and don’t care very much about. It’s not a problem for meIt’s just — odd. Odd, and not even really fun.”

According to Andrew Smiler, a psychologist specializing in adolescent male behavior who surveyed over a hundred teen boys about dating and sex, most guys, in fact, prefer physical intimacy with someone they know, trust and with whom they feel comfortable. I found that to be true, too, though they seemed to view it as their personal quirk, not shared by their peers. Mr. Smiler suggests, then, that adults can ask boys what kind of sexual experience they want. “Not just whether they are looking to have an orgasm,” he said, “but about the context and quality of that orgasm. If we’re willing to be more vulgar and pointed, we might even ask, ‘Do you want a partner who’s more than just someone to masturbate into?’”

It occurs to me, after a quarter-century of talking to teens, that the activism on behalf of girls could offer a model to better guide boys. Back in the 1990s, when I first began writing about young women’s quandaries in a changing world — loss of confidence, stunted ambition, negative body image, sexual shaming — there was both a desire for and an apprehension about change: Some parents worried, not irrationally, that raising a daughter to be outspoken or sexually empowered would come at a social cost, that she would be labeled a bitch or a slut. Others raged that girls were being pushed, against their nature, to become “more like boys.”

But years of attention to girls’ experience, of work by parents and professionals, has reduced some of those fears, eased constraint, expanded girls’ roles and opportunities: Things aren’t perfect, not by a long shot, but they are better. Nonetheless, I found myself wishing, in my conversations with girls, that their early sexual experiences did not have to be, as they so often were, something they had to get over. That will require reducing the harm boys cause, whether out of monstrous venality, entitlement, heedlessness or even (maybe especially) ignorance.

For their own well-being, as well as their partners’, they need a counternarrative to the one that elevates the transactional over the connected, the sensual, the kind; boys need to value mutual gratification in their sexual encounters, whether with one-offs or long-term partners. That won’t be accomplished in a single “sex talk,” nor, really, any one easy fix, any more than you could teach your child table manners in one sitting. But at the very least, listening to their struggles is a start. I think about a guy I talked to early on, a rising college junior who’d equated a girl’s invitation back to her room with sexual consent. “I want to do the right thing,” he told me, “but I don’t know what the right thing is. I just know what I know, which is a lot of really confusing and wrong” stuff. He pressed forward unthinkingly, one might say manfully — or as he described it, “boom, boom, boom, boom” — until she put a hand on his chest, saying, “Whoa! I don’t want to do that.”

“And in that moment,” he said, “I could see just how wrong it was. The utter lack of communication that took place in those five to 10 minutes. And even realizing that I didn’t feel great myself about what we were doing. I just…” He shook his head regretfully. “I thought that was the only option. I thought that was the way things were supposed to be.”


Let’s Talk About Sex

Readers, we want to hear from you. Your responses may be used in a follow up article.

Young adults, what was missing from your early education about sex? What messages did you receive from parents, friends and society, and how did they influence your approach to sexual encounters?You must be 13 or older to have your submission considered for publication; those younger than 18 must have a parent’s permission.

How Reinhard Bonnke, the ‘Billy Graham of Africa,’ Died at 79

He was a German-born evangelist whose open-air Christian revivals drew millions of followers, many of them hoping to be healed of their afflictions.

The Rev. Reinhard Bonnke speaking in Lagos in Africa in 2017. “From Cape to Cairo for Jesus” was a rallying cry of his organization, Christ for All Nations.Credit…Pius Utomi Ekpei/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Rev. Reinhard Bonnke, a German-born Pentecostal faith-healer whose open-air revivals in Africa attracted so many followers that in one case people were trampled to death hoping to be cured of their afflictions, died at his home in Florida on Dec. 7. He was 79.

The evangelical organization that he founded in 1974, Christ for All Nations, confirmed the death but did not give a cause of death or specify where in Florida he lived.

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In a petition for prayers posted on his personal Facebook page last month, Mr. Bonnke (pronounced BON-key) said he had undergone “a right femur bone surgery” and was “learning to walk again.” Followers from Nigeria to India responded with 41,000 prayers.

“Heavenly Father, remember this man, a great general of the faith,” wrote one follower, Nugari Mugi-Irenge, from Kikuyu, Kenya.

From the time he left his home in Hamburg for the kingdom of Lesotho in 1967, by his account, Mr. Bonnke felt called to bring the word of God to the people of Africa. Often called the “Billy Graham of Africa,” he asserted that he had inherited the mantel of a healing evangelist from the British preacher George Jeffries (1889-1962), whom he had encountered in London.

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“From Cape to Cairo for Jesus” was a rallying cry on which Mr. Bonnke founded Christ for All Nations, which grew to become a multimillion-dollar operation that claims to have brought more than 79 million people to follow Christ, first in Africa and later in Asia, Europe and North America. It also claims to have brought a dead man back to life.

“I am interested in bringing Africa to the foot of the Cross,” Mr. Bonnke said in an interview with The New York Times in 1984. “I believe that the preaching of the living word of God is something that Africa hungers for.”

Nigerians attending one of Mr. Bonnke’s outdoor revival meetings. His organization said more than a million people would show up for any one of his events. Credit…Markus Matzel/ullstein bild, via Getty Images

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said in a statement posted on Twitter that Mr. Bonnke’s death was a loss “to Nigeria, Africa & entire world.”

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Reinhard Bonnke was born on April 19, 1940, in the historically Prussian city of Königsberg. (Today it is known as Kaliningrad, Russia.) His father left the military for the ministry after World War II, and the family settled in northern Germany. Mesmerized by tales of 19th-century missionaries like David Livingstone, Mr. Bonnke studied at The Bible College of Wales.

From the earliest days, technology was part of his preaching. His sermons, held in the 1980s in a giant tent that seated 35,000 and stood seven stories high, incorporated flashing lights and videos shot by camera teams that would accompany his journeys throughout Africa.

The videos were sold to followers eager to take the message home with them. The advent of the internet allowed him to increase his outreach through daily messages posted on social media, and a 10-part film series recounted his journey of faith.

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But his refusal to take a political stance against repressive African leaders earned him criticism as well as praise. While living in and maintaining his ministry’s headquarters in an all-white area of Johannesburg in the 1970s and ’80s, he refused to join South African church leaders in speaking out against the country’s apartheid regime, insisting that politics and faith did not mix.

As many as 1.7 million Africans at a time would flock to one of his revivals, requiring them to be held in open-air locations. Many of those attending were ailing with AIDS, cancer and other maladies, drawn by promises of being healed.


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In 1991, at least eight people died in violence that broke out in the northern Nigerian city of Kano after thousands of Muslims took to the streets to protest a decision by the police to grant Mr. Bonnke permission to hold a revival meeting. In 1999, also in Nigeria, at least 14 people were trampled to death trying to reach the stage to receive Mr. Bonnke’s professed healing powers.

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Two years later, a Nigerian minister, the Rev. Daniel Ekechukwu, was pronounced dead after the car he was driving smashed into a stone pillar. His wife, saying she had had a vision, took her husband’s body in its coffin to the basement of a church where Mr. Bonnke was preaching. During his sermon, the man’s wife said, her husband sat up in his coffin and spoke.

“The raising of Daniel from the dead is a story that will offend some people,” Mr. Bonnke wrote in his book “Raised From the Dead” (2014). “I can guarantee it.”

He added: “I tell of the miracle now because it towers over my life and ministry like the steeple of a great cathedral. It points to the heavens, and to the God I serve.”


In 2013, at the age of 73, he took his ministry to the United States, which for decades was the source of most of his organization’s funding. Although he never attracted a following in America as large as he had in Africa, he made regular appearances on Christian television and spoke to conferences. The Associated Press reported in 2014 that he lived in a roomy $3 million Ritz-Carlton condo near West Palm Beach with prime ocean views.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Ann (Sülzle) Bonnke; their three children, Kai-Uwe, Gabriele, and Susanne; and eight grandchildren.

Mr. Bonnke’s organization is now led by Daniel Kolenda, an American living in Florida whom Mr. Bonnke designated as his successor in 2001.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Melissa Eddy is a correspondent based in Berlin who covers German politics, social issues and culture. She came to Germany as a Fulbright scholar in 1996, and previously worked for The Associated Press in Frankfurt, Vienna and the Balkans. @meddynyt • Facebook

Time to fight against oil companies causing deaths

Repentance, reparation and remedy for the terrible damage done to the people of Bayelsa state in Nigeria is long overdue.

‘Bayelsa produces approximately one-third of Nigeria’s oil wealth, but its two million people are some of the poorest in the country.’ Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters
  • By John Sentamu

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins: “All human beings … should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” It is now widely acknowledged that human rights cannot be enjoyed without a safe, clean and healthy environment. The right to a healthy environment is enshrined in more than 100 constitutions all over the world because human and environmental rights are intertwined.

However, despite the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, oil companies exploiting irreplaceable resources in the Niger Delta are callously flouting fundamental human rights. That is the conclusion I have been forced to draw from my work as chair of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC).

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In numerous recent visits with my commission colleagues, I have had first-hand experience of the chronic damage being inflicted on the people of Bayelsa state and their environment. Colossal oil spillages across the land have contaminated the air they breathe, the water they drink and fish in, and the food they grow. As many as 10m gallons of oil may have been spilled over the past 50 years. That’s equivalent to an Exxon Valdez disaster, an oil tanker that ran aground off Alaska in 1989, causing one of the worst environmental disasters.

Bayelsa, in southern Nigeria, produces approximately one-third of the country’s oil wealth, but its 2 million people are some of the poorest in the country. Estimates suggest that pollution may be causing 16,000 infant deaths a year. Unique ecosystems have been destroyed, resources depleted and communities destabilised. It’s getting worse every day.


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The burgeoning worldwide demand for energy, with its adverse impact on the world’s climate, is now well documented. But insufficient attention is being paid to the price paid in terms of health and welfare by the communities who live in the shadow of exploitation.

Human Rights Day offers a prime opportunity to tell the world about the Bayelsa people’s hitherto unpublicised plight. We owe it to them. The degradation of their environment is directly linked to the loss of their universal right to “a standard of living adequate to health and wellbeing … including food, clothing, housing and medical care”, asserted by article 25 of the Universal Declaration. Article 26 refers to the duties we have to the community to protect one another’s rights and freedoms.

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The BSOEC has been set up to investigate the regional catastrophe in Bayelsa state and to propose solutions to end the pollution crisis and resultant human suffering. The BSOEC comprises leaders from government, NGOs, faith communities and international experts. It has collected evidence from more than 500 individuals directly affected and has visited polluted sites across the country. An interim report was published in November 2019. The full report will be published next year, with recommendations for changes to the legal, policy and regulatory framework.

Nearly 50 years ago, Dr EF Schumacher wrote the prophetic book Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered. Among his conclusions are these spine-chilling words: “In the excitement of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man.” I cannot think of a more apt description of what has been happening in Bayelsa state.

‘Those who bear the immediate cost are the people of Bayelsa, where human life appears to be disposable in the pursuit of wealth.’ Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

The legal system in Nigeria is cumbersome, costly and inefficient. Victims are rarely able to afford the means to justice and redress. While governments must accept a share of responsibility for this catastrophe, the onus lies largely with the multinational oil companies that dominate the scene. They drill and export the oil and gas. They own the inadequate and poorly maintained and poorly guarded infrastructure that have allowed oil spills and other forms of pollution to become systemic for people in Bayelsa.

All too often they do not respect their fundamental human rights and are getting away with a pollution footprint with global consequences, including climate change. Yet those who bear the immediate cost are the people of Bayelsa, where human life appears to be disposable in the pursuit of wealth.

Opinion section | Read more


Repentance, reparation and remedy for damage done for decades is long overdue. Too many people treat distant parts of the world like giant rubbish dumps. If you or I behaved like that in our locality, albeit on an infinitely smaller scale, we would be rightly prosecuted for fly-tipping.

We are all temporary tenants on this planet and will be held accountable for its management. Future generations will look at the state of their inheritance and will want to know who in the past benefited from its irresponsible exploitation and who paid the price for it.

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If there is still an opportunity for the present generation to make amends, we had better get on with it with the utmost urgency. Otherwise, history will judge us as planetary vandals and abusers and our subscription to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be mere lip-service.

• John Sentamu is the archbishop of York

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Sowore Vs Dss: unending dance of shame

I saw the various viral videos of scuffles in and outside the court premises, and I said to myself, this is really bad!

  • By Gbenga Adesanya, a Bloomgist Columnist

That, added to the comment of Femi Falana, SAN, it was a bad day for law and order in Nigeria. I said to myself, it’s better not to premise my opinion on a one-sided story, so I waited for the othe party to affirm or deny the claim that the court was invaded by the DSS operatives to rearrest Omoyele Sowore. Some hours later, a statement was issued by the DSS Spokesperson, giving a different account entirely. I said haba, how could the revered Femi Falana be this economical with the truth! Still something didn’t look right.

Again another yet to be confirmed story came up that Falana admitted he was informed Sowore was to be rearrested, hence a drama to forestall it was quickly concocted, starting with Sowore whose case was already concluded for the day, to run back into the court wherein another session had already begun. The latest story went as far saying the DSS official purportedly shown in the video was actually a Sowore man. The biblical injunction to seek out and affirm truth made me wait again. I watched, listened and questioned.

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Few hours later, another story was in the air that the DSS had apologised for invading the court. I wanted to say, finally, but I cautioned myself again that we might not have seen the end of this ‘dance of shame’. That was the title of a television serial drama that aired on Galaxy television many years back while I was a staff there.

Anyway, all these actors know more than we all, so whether we like or not, we are a willing part of a play we do not know the full story, and we will continue to be until the very end of the fatalistic story line. That’s not to say Nigerians don’t have a sense of right or wrong, it simply means, in my own understanding, that we have learnt a bitter lesson of betrayal since the old days of labour unionism when we followed and trooped onto the streets the moment a call to action was made. It stopped with Adams Oshiomole when we realised we were simply being sold from one selfish interest to the other. Does anyone remember George Orwell’s Animal farm?


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The animals thought the pigs, so soft spoken and articulate, were messiahs and would bring relief, but they turned out to be tormentors-in-chief. My point is that Nigerians have grown to know the diffrence between the needed and the necessary. Plus or minus, I am hoping innocent Nigerians wouldn’t be drawn into some people’s personal wars, because they always come out to ask the masses to fight for them when they need, but who fights for the masses when we need it?

Do we see the members of the house of representatives or the senators fighting for Nigerians? Do we see the ministers, governors and or local government chairmen fighting for Nigerians? Do we ever see their children or family members near protests? Do we see any of them leading a campaign for genuine change and standing by it? Those who pretended to do so in the name of activism, when they got a taste of money, did they not turn against us? Yes, of course, their wars are always personal until we see a clear and genuine thrust in desire for a meaningful change. Noted though, there is no saint anywhere.

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We just need someone that has a measure of genuine will. This is the point where I think Sowore’s biggest mistake came from. The revolution now became a personal fight, otherwise he would’t have made some questionable moves he made immediately after elections.  Note this, a political party offered some truce and alliance to Sowore”s party, AAC during the 2019 general elections in a state, can’t remember if it was Rivers State or not, but he declined and preserved the party integrity. Great. It was a smart decision, not just for that moment, but for a foreseeable future. Then, he lost the election, which everyone knew he couldn’t have won, anyway, an his arms were suddenly open to every dick and harry? Hmmm, that  bothered and still  bothers a lot of people.

Revolution now, with the way it was being touted would not have gained the people’s support, except for those on social media who would also not step near protests, but would allow the willing tools of chaos who were waiting on the sideline to start a war that benefited their patrons alone. Personally, I believe Sowore corrupted his activism and tainted his motive with some ill advised alliances.

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With all the bitterness flying around at various corners for losing out on elections, even an idiot would interprete Sowore’s actions as troubling. Anyway, whether he has actually done anything wrong or not is for the court to determine, and not by the DSS. The questions that truly bother me now are numerous, but I will make them few.

Does the DSS have the power and right to rearrest Sowore wherever and whenever?

Why would the DSS take such a drastic step to rearrest Sowore alone?

Would the DSS not have known rearresting Sowore in such manner would cause uproar?

What would the DSS gain by bringing itself to disrepute over Sowore?

What happened between the hours Sowore was released and was rearrested?

What would Sowore gain or lose if his rearrest had not been fought?

Would Sowore and Falana be capable of staging such drama, and to what purpose?

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Why did Nigerians not rise up in support of a fight expected to make Nigeria better?Some of these questions already have my personal opinions inferred earlier,  and some are begging answers yet. Nevertheless, it would be in the interest of everyone to tread softly, obey the rule of law and abide by every judicial decisions. What is at stake in this matter is bigger than Sowore, DSS or the presidency.

sideline to start a war that benefited their patrons alone. Personally, I believe Sowore corrupted his activism and tainted his motive with some ill advised alliances. With all the bitterness flying around at various corners for losing out on elections, even an idiot would interpret Sowore’s actions as troubling.

Anyway, whether he has actually done anything wrong or not is for the court to determine, and not bythe DSS. The questions that truly bother me now are numerous, but I will make them few.

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Does the DSS have the power and right to rearrest Sowore wherever and whenever? Why would the DSS take such a drastic step to rearrest Sowore alone? Would the DSS not have known rearresting Sowore in such manner would cause uproar? What would the DSS gain by bringing itself to disrepute over Sowore? What happened between the hours Sowore was released and was rearrested? What would Sowore gain or lose if his rearrest had not been fought? Would Sowore and Falana be capable of staging such drama, and to what purpose? Why did Nigerians not rise up in support of a fight expected to make Nigeria better?

Some of these questions already have my personal opinions inferred earlier, and some are begging answers yet. Nevertheless, it would be in the interest of everyone to tread softly, obey the rule of law and abide by every judicial decisions. What is at stake in this matter is bigger than Sowore, DSS or the presidency.


Gbenga Adesanya is a Bloomgist Columnist. He’s been writing for over 20 years, with his many of his works published.

The Bloomgist is committed to publishing stories that our readers care about. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: infobloomgist@gmail.com.

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President Buhari recently held a closed-door meeting with Governor Nyesome of Rivers state as regards the recent activities of the Niger Delta Avengers

Buhari loves Nigeria, believe me

President Buhari has in recent years tried very hard to make known his love for Nigeria in so many ways. Some of these ways we have denied to see and understand even when it’s obvious they are meant for us and of the good of pour failing country.

  • By Sade Olakunke

Like since coming into power, he has approved so many new laws that past presidents has refused to approved, and gone after so many political powers that many are afraid of going after, and is still doing more.

It’s, from all indications, his love for the country that President Buhari even came back to power, knowing that he is definitely going to drop his former title “General” which sounds more of who he is and who he is known for, to bowing to the democratic founders who rather take up the title “President” as their titles. That is not an easy decision to make, you think it is? Now let’s see it this ways.

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Dropping that title [general] while in power obviously means you have to do away with so many things you can do, and what you really crave for, even though those that don’t understand it calls it ‘tyranny’, but it’s not, it’s just a way of seeing things done in a country where its people don’t have regards for the president and don’t plan to obey whatever he says.

Another reasons to show His love is to forget about what it feels like giving command which doesn’t need any validation from anyone or approval from anybody, to subjecting himself to a position where he needs the approval of the house of assembly to execute his plans. who does that, if not one that love his country?

Another view of his love for the country is how he quickly warned of foreign nations from interfering with our politics and to allow us settle our fight in our own house.


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The Nigerian government said it will not accept “foreign interference” in February’s presidential elections after the EU, UK and US spoke out against the sudden suspension of the chief justice.

The three western powers issued statements voicing concern over how President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend the judge might affect the conduct of elections in Africa’s most populous country. As Nigeria’s senior judge, Walter Onnoghen would have played a key role in deciding any legal challenges to the results of the presidential race between Mr Buhari and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar.

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In a statement, Mr Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, warned that the government “will fiercely and assiduously promote the will and the right of Nigerians to choose and elect their leaders without pressure or assistance from persons or entities that are not constitutionally empowered to participate in the process”.

He added the security forces were ready to confront any attempt to interfere with the process “whether by elements within or from outside the country” and reiterated the government’s “insistence on free and fair elections”.

Buhari’s love for Nigeria has continued to make manifest through different policies he has introduced in recent times, like the bother closure, which despite the suffering and not-so-good strategies and no serious plans to improve life at this point of the president is still in place.


The president said the activities of the smugglers threatened the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies.

In the statement to explain the bother closure, the presidency made a statement saying “Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves.

“We cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,” he said.

The Nigerian President said the limited closure of the country’s western border was to allow Nigeria’s security forces develop a strategy on how to stem the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.

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There are more ways to note Buhari mean well for Nigeria, like how he quickly go against anyone spewing hates on social media on the politicians which he is doing through the introduction of the hate speech bill. How he is making sure that people can’t speak any time they want and express themselves freely on the only platform where everyone has a voice by introduction the Social Media Bill.

Other ways include the clamp down on the media houses and its journalists who dare to speak evil of our beloved President and His colleagues in Abuja, arrest of opposition who have made it difficult for our dear president to come change the situation of the masses from bad to [worse] good, and how he is doing His best that everyone get what they deserved either by the SSS going after the big boys, or the SARS after our young entrepreneurs doing their best, or the EFCC going after some rich guys that can’t afford a lawyer, whichever ways, this is all but for the love of the country, Nigeria.

The identity of the joke-teller matters more than you might think. Jamesbin/Shutterstock.com

Funny or offensive joke depends on who’s telling it

In September, before the start of its 45th season, “Saturday Night Live” brought on some new cast members. The decision to hire one of them, Shane Gillis, was roundly criticized after disparaging jokes he’d made at the expense of Asian and gay people quickly surfaced.

The identity of the joke-teller matters more than you might think. Jamesbin/Shutterstock.com

A week after announcing Gillis’ hire, the show fired him.

On the other hand, critics widely lauded the addition of comedian Bowen Yang. Ironically, Yang also tends to poke fun at Asian and gay people during his sets.

So, why did Yang get to keep his job, while Gillis lost his?

We study why some jokes land and others don’t – and why the identity of the person telling the joke matters. Yang, it seems, can “get away” with this sort of humor precisely because he is both Asian and gay, while Gillis is neither.

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Being ‘in’ on the joke

Many of us intuitively understand that it’s more permissible for people to openly judge or criticize social groups they belong to than those they do not belong to.

For example, many Americans may feel justified in calling out the country’s faults while lambasting a non-American for doing the same. This phenomenon is called the intergroup sensitivity effect, and we wondered whether it applied to humor.

To test this, we ran a series of studies in which we examined whether people’s reactions to disparaging jokes would change based on who was telling the joke.

In our first study, we showed participants a mock Facebook profile belonging to either a gay or a straight man who had posted a joke about gay people. We then asked the participants to rate how funny, offensive and acceptable they found the joke. Participants considered the joke funnier, less offensive and more acceptable if the poster was gay.

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We wanted to know whether this effect also applied to jokes about race. So, in a second study, we showed participants a mock Facebook profile belonging to an Asian, black or white man who had posted a joke about Asian people. Here, participants rated the joke as funnier, less offensive and more acceptable when the owner of the Facebook profile was Asian.

We then ran a third study in which we directly asked participants how acceptable it was for members of different social groups to make jokes about their in-group or various out-groups. We found that participants, on a consistent basis, were more receptive to humor based on gender, race and sexual orientation if the person making the joke was also a member of the targeted group.

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Why might group membership matter?

So why, exactly, does the group membership of the joke teller matter so much? We think it may have something to do with how an audience interprets the joke’s intent.

Some humor researchers distinguish between what they call “antisocial intentions” – in which humor is used to inflict harm and reinforce stereotypes about a social group – and “prosocial intentions” – where humor is used to empower the group and challenge stereotypes about it.

When humor is deployed in a self-referential way, perhaps the audience is more prone to perceive it through a prosocial lens.


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For example, when Bowen Yang speaks with an exaggerated Chinese accent, audiences may more readily construe this as coming from a benign place. Maybe he’s satirizing the racist ways in which others portray Chinese people, or perhaps he’s affectionately parodying his own culture. But no matter the real reason, he certainly wouldn’t want to inflict harm on his own group – or so the thinking goes.

On the other hand, when Shane Gillis does the same, audiences may be less likely to give him the benefit of the doubt – and more likely to infer malign and racist intentions. He doesn’t identify with his targets in any way. Maybe he truly does harbor disdain.

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Alternatively, it may simply be the case that people are given greater “license” to make disparaging jokes about groups they’re a part of, irrespective of their motives.

We plan to test these potential processes across a new set of studies. Nonetheless, our findings show that comedians and humorists, professional or otherwise, should be ever mindful of group dynamics. They could be the difference between a joke being met with rollicking laughter or awkward silence.

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Why has Obasanjo stopped criticizing Buhari?

On December 12, 2013, I woke up to Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘Before it is too late’; a caustic letter to former President Goodluck Jonathan. In the 18-page missive, ‘Ebora Owu’ diced Jonathan like a sushi chef. 

By Fredrick Nwabufo

Obasanjo delineated 10 reasons he chose to drag Jonathan before the public square for some good spanking. He said the former president ‘’must move away from advertently or inadvertently dividing the country along weak seams of North-South and Christian-Muslim’’, and that ‘’nothing should be done to allow the country to degenerate into economic dormancy, stagnation or retrogression’’.

He also said, ‘’some of our international friends and development partners are genuinely worried about signs and signals that are coming out of Nigeria’’.
Really, Obasanjo said something profound in the letter – profound for its appositeness in the current administration. 

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He said, ‘’Those who advise you to go hard on those who oppose you are your worst enemies. Democratic politics admits and is permissive of supporters and opponents. When the consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there to help carry the can. Egypt must teach some lesson.’’

Arguably, that mordant letter to Jonathan sealed the coffin of the administration nail by nail for it handed the opposition the mortar for combat and mobilised mass consciences against the government. 


However, I have observed that ‘Ebora Owu’ may be losing prolificacy, or perhaps, he has cowered to intimidation by the Buhari administration. Could this ‘Orisa’ be afraid? 


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Although he wrote a less virulent open letter to President Buhari on the parlous state of security in the past and did not dither in bellowing the President’s incompetence, he suspended the pastime, and even stopped making critical comments on the administration after agents of the regime went for Atiku Abubakar’s in-law. 

Obasanjo supported Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last election.

In August, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Abdullahi Babalele, Atiku’s son-in-law, for allegedly laundering $140,000 in the build-up to the election. 

Obviously, Obasanjo is the target of this case.

Now, here is the story.

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On November 12, Bashir Mohammed, an associate of Babalele, told a Federal High Court in Lagos that Atiku’s son-in-law gave Obasanjo the naira equivalent of $140,000.

Mohammed, who was the first witness of the EFCC, described himself as a “close friend” of the accused.

While being led in evidence by Rotimi Oyedepo, EFCC prosecutor, Mohammed detailed how he delivered the money to the former President at his residence in Ogun State.

He said Babalele called him sometime in February, asking him to deliver a message to “an elder statesman”.
He said on Babalele’s request he supplied two bank accounts, which were credited with the said sum.
“When I got to the gate, somebody came and took me inside where I met former President Olusegun Obasanjo and delivered the message.”

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If my hunch is right, this case and other devices of the regime are what is obstructing the voice of the ‘Orisa’ from rebuking the evil in the land. 

I believe Obasanjo now has an assuring experience of how lethal and ruthless the Buhari administration can be. In fact, Buhari once vowed to investigate the ‘’$16bn’’ Obasanjo allegedly spent on power.

He said, “The previous government mentioned on their own that they spent $16bn on power but you are better witnesses than myself. Where is the power? Where is the money? We will follow them; eventually God willing, we will catch them and get our money back.”

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The government was reported to have spent $16bn on power projects between 1999 and 2007 when Obasanjo was President.

The Buhari administration brooks no opposition. It employs scare artifices and threats to win submission, and most times, it dispatches violence to coerce surrender. 

Strong critics of the government are either held in DSS custody against an order of the court or they are threatened, scandalised and harassed. More vigorous voices are needed in the face of this relentless assault on the collective hull. 

But really, it now appears the ‘’wailing’’ days of Obasanjo are over; the few comments he has made on the Buhari administration recently are complimentary.
In Yoruba cosmology, the Orisas are a fount of power, justice, order and balance. I do not think Sango will run away from a fight. Obasanjo should not be an ‘Orisa’ that whimpers. 


Fredrick Nwabufo is a journalist and writer @FredrickNwabufo

No one is listening to calls to use Nigerian languages at schools

The recent statement by Nigeria’s Imo State government making it compulsory to study the Igbo language at all levels of education in the state is one in a string of similar pronouncements since Nigeria’s political independence in 1960.

Igbo is already spoken widely in the country, but efforts to promote it in education have been resisted.

The three major languages in Nigeria are Hausa (60 million native speakers), Yoruba (40 million) and Igbo (25 million). The Igbo are found everywhere in Nigeria and their language is commonly spoken in major markets and trading points. But Nigerian Pidgin, spoken by about half the population of the country, is widely used by young people in Igboland. English, the official language, is also gaining entry into domains of use previously restricted to Igbo.

In 2009, the Anambra Igbo Language Bill was presented to the state House of Assembly, to encourage the use of Igbo in all spheres of social life. The present governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, pronounced in 2017 that it was mandatory for all school pupils to study Igbo. Other Nigerian languages have been similarly promoted in education, for example Ibibio and Yoruba.

By making local languages compulsory in education, the government hoped to stimulate pride and discourage the encroachment of English and Nigerian Pidgin. It’s also reasoned that a widely spoken language will be more efficiently taught and a more effective tool for mass communication.

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But studies have shown that educators are not adhering to the policy for indigenous language in education.

Policies in place

The 1999 Nigerian Constitution is one of the documents that promotes the use of Nigerian languages. It refers to the need to use indigenous languages in all state houses of assembly and to use Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba in the National Assembly.

The 1988 cultural policy makes statements about the essential role of language in the transmission and preservation of cultural values. The Nigerian Broadcasting Code makes it mandatory for some programming to be done in indigenous languages.

The National Policy on Education considers the teaching of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba in all schools to be a necessity for national unity. It stipulates that children should initially be taught in their mother tongue but gradually introduced to the language of the immediate community, and later to English.

Problems in practice

Calls for the compulsory teaching of Igbo have not been effectively implemented, however. Not only is there a severe shortage of Igbo teachers and teaching materials, it also seems that students are not interested in learning the language. They don’t see it as being useful to them. They don’t need a credit pass in the subject to gain admission to a university or to get a job.

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A number of studies have shown that many students and parents of Igbo extraction find ways to avoid the subject.

Studies have also shown that many Igbo teachers lack training in how to teach the language. Teaching Igbo is not regarded as prestigious and even qualified teachers often decline such jobs.

The governments in Igboland do not lead by example in this regard. Speaking Igbo is usually reserved for partisan political activities and socio-cultural events. Government officials hardly ever speak Igbo in serious government business that deals with economic matters, state security and the judiciary.

Competing languages and identities

Nigerian Pidgin is used more widely than any of the three major languages. It is spoken across all ethnic groups and easily accepted for its perceived neutrality. Pidgin is used in all forms of media and all spheres of national life. Nigeria has radio stations that use Pidgin exclusively, and the British Broadcasting Corporation has a pidgin language service.

This spread of Pidgin may be adding to the fear that Igbo will be lost.

The various calls for the promotion of indigenous languages are not unconnected with the idea of maintaining ethnic identity in the face of multiculturalism and globalisation. In Nigerian political and social life, ethnic considerations overrule the national interest. Language is the most potent form of identity politics in Nigeria. So the promotion and greater use of Igbo or any indigenous language may have political tones.

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The way forward

If governments in Nigeria want to counteract the growing dominance of English and Pidgin, they will do well to use indigenous languages in government business. For example, they could be used in reading the yearly budget speech, giving state broadcasts and performing other important government functions in the judiciary and legislature. The Lagos State House of Assembly does sometimes conduct its proceedings in the Yoruba language.

These efforts should be supported with budgets to produce teaching and learning materials for education. Students interested in studying these languages at advanced institutions of learning should be given full scholarships. Making a credit pass in a Nigerian language compulsory for admission to university would enhance the prestige of these languages in education.

In making pronouncements about the compulsory teaching and learning of Igbo, the government and people must help create the enabling socio-cultural milieu for the promotion of the language. Otherwise the latest call will just be ignored – as previous have been.

Christmas celebration starts in November, how about that?

For some, “Christmas creep” is about enjoying holiday music and movies as soon as we are in November. Let them do so in peace.

By Aisha Harris

Like clockwork, Mariah Carey was on it. In the early hours of Nov. 1, the singer posted a video on Instagram marking the end of Halloween and the official start of the Christmas season, falling asleep in her ’80s glam rock costume and awakening in holiday-themed pajamas at the stroke of midnight.

In the video, “Santa” calls Ms. Carey’s phone, and she answers immediately. “It’s t-iiiiime!” she exclaims, giddily.

Comments below the post, which has been viewed more than two million times, were overwhelmingly ecstatic. (“YESSSS!” wrote Reese Witherspoon.) A new music video for Ms. Carey’s indelible hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” featuring previously unreleased footage, was released the same day, and just under three weeks in it has more than one million views. This month, Ms. Carey will embark on her annual Christmas concert tour and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the song, presumably to crowds of screaming fans who are more than happy to delight in the spirit of the season, even if the turkey feast has yet to commence.

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The rest of us are not Mariah Carey. We’re still a week away from Thanksgiving, and should you dare express your unbridled excitement for the return of Christmas music, Christmas trees and Hallmark rom-coms about high-powered, big-city single women who return to their hometown for the holidays and fall in love with a local small-business owner, be prepared: You will be shamed. You will be judged. Your homeowners’ association will demand that you remove the inflatable snowman from your front yard because it’s “too early.”

I used to be one of those irascible grinches, appalled by the encroachment of an early Christmas. Now I embrace it.

For some of us, marking the Christmas season well before Thanksgiving counters the early-onset winter doldrums and the work-related chaos that usually accompanies the end of the year. My mood annually takes a noticeable dip once the sun begins setting around 4:30 p.m. and it’s too cold to do anything outside except scuttle hurriedly from one building or mode of transportation to another. The arrival of Christmas-themed aesthetics are crucial to maintaining my happiness during the shift between fall and winter.

P-square's 2014 Christmas Celebration
P-square’s 2014 Christmas Celebration

The instantly recognizable opening notes of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” are soothing to have on in the background as I scramble to complete my surplus of end-of-the-year tasks at work. Rewatching for the hundredth time, say, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or the delightfully choreographed performance of “Turkey Lurkey Time” (from the Broadway show “Promises, Promises”) at the 1969 Tony Awards makes me temporarily forget how much I hate the weather and makes the darkness a little easier to bear.

I can bask in memories of my childhood, a time when I wasn’t concerned with student loans or the impending death of older family members. It’s a much-needed festive escape.

Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t have to be the only reason to embrace the season early. Some people just don’t see the point in waiting for practical reasons. December can whirl by quickly because of work, travel and an endless parade of holiday parties, and getting a head start on decorations can make the effort it takes to pick out and set up a tree and other festive accouterments seem worth it.

Above all, the Halloween-to-Christmas handoff exists because Thanksgiving’s cultural markers are so lacking. For all its noble intentions, Thanksgiving just can’t compete with the powerful signifiers of Christmas. Its aesthetic roughly translates to a generic notion of “autumn”: pumpkins; brown, orange and red color palettes; harvest baskets. Turkey aside, Thanksgiving’s imagery is all about Native Americans and pilgrims dining together — a watered-down, largely inaccurate interpretation of the holiday’s origins that erases the much darker history surrounding it.


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As for movies, there’s no real Thanksgiving canon to speak of — “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” following the misadventures of an executive (Steve Martin) in his quest to make it home in time for dinner with his family, is funny, but it’s an anomaly. (So much so, it seems, that according to Google’s “People also ask …” feature, a lot of us wonder whether it’s actually a Christmas movie.)

The memorable Thanksgiving-related TV specials are just as few and far between: There’s “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and … that one episode of “WKRP in Cincinnati” where live turkeys are dropped from a helicopter? Even the annual Macy’s parade — which was originally called the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” when it debuted on Nov. 27, 1924 — is awash with Christmas-themed balloons, floats and musical numbers.

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And ask someone to come up with a Thanksgiving playlist, and they’ll inevitably resort to songs that have nothing to do with the holiday but just so happen to conjure the idea of food or invoke the phrase “thank you.” It’s no wonder so many of us consider Thanksgiving a pit stop on the sleigh ride to tinsel and ornaments.

I suspect that when people call out others for going all in this time of year, they’re really railing against “Christmas creep,” in which businesses inflict holiday-themed advertising and merchandise on consumers well before most of us have had a chance to buy a Halloween costume. I get it: Retailers’ bold attempts to entice us into spending too much earlier and earlier every year is exactly what Charlie Brown was so anxious about. And to the retail workers forced to hear the same playlist of 15 Christmas songs for two months, my sympathies are with you.

But we shouldn’t put down individuals for hanging those lights up early or live-tweeting their annual viewing of “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” on Nov. 10. Let us embrace our inner Mariah Carey in peace — all we want for Christmas is to enjoy the spirit how we want, for as long as we want.


The original reporting was written by Aisha Harris and published on The New York Times on Nov. 20, 2019.

A mother walking her child home from school in Uganda. Shutterstock

What’s driving Africa’s population growth?

A mother walking her child home from school in Uganda. Shutterstock
A mother walking her child home from school in Uganda. Shutterstock

Population growth rates continue to pose lingering challenges to development efforts on the continent. The population of Africa is expected to roughly double by 2050. This will add 1.2 billion people to Africa’s 2019 population of 1.3 billion people.

What’s driving population growth on the continent, and what can be done to slow the trend, is one of the subjects that will be addressed this week at the 8th African Population Conference in Entebbe in Uganda. A focus of the debate will be the role of behavioural nudges – interventions designed to change people’s behaviour – and incentives in achieving demographic transition in Africa.

On the table will be the question: can, and should, incentives and nudges be used to effect changes in fertility patterns on the continent? Some of the issues that will be considered include: the ethical implications of incentivising behaviour; whether incentives and nudges work, and under what conditions; which specific incentives and nudges are recommended; who incentives should target, and why.

These questions can best be answered by considering the key drivers of population growth in Africa. The main one is high fertility which is driven by multiple factors, including high desired family size, low levels of use of modern contraceptives, and high levels of adolescent childbearing.

The drivers

The average woman in Africa today has about 4.7 children. This varies significantly from 2.5 in southern Africa to between 5.5 and 5.8 in central and western Africa. The average in other parts of the world is 2.2 or less, with a global average of 2.5 children per woman.

One of the reasons women in Africa still have so many children is that the average age at which they become mothers for the first time is more than 4 years earlier than the global average of 26. And adolescent birth rates are very high. In central and western Africa, for example, it is almost three times the global average.

The role that an early start in childbearing plays in rapid population growth is generally ignored. This is a mistake because of its multiple effects in increasing population growth. For example, it directly affects fertility through increased duration of exposure to the risk of childbearing.

It also has indirect effects. Firstly, women who start childbearing earlier may have less capacity to decide on, or negotiate, their reproductive outcomes. They may also lack opportunities such as formal education, because it competes with childbearing.

Secondly, the early onset of childbearing leads to shorter inter-generational gaps. This is defined as the age difference between mothers and daughters. This compounds population growth rates.

Delaying the start of marriage and childbearing – which largely occur together in most African countries – could significantly reduce the rate of population growth. This would be the case even without any change in fertility behaviours.

Another driver revolves around family planning.

About one in four women on the continent have an unmet need for family planning. Unmet need refers to the proportion of sexually active women who want to stop – or delay childbearing for at least two years – but are not using any modern contraceptive methods. Supporting women to achieve their fertility intentions can significantly reduce population growth.

There’s also evidence that half of the differences in fertility between countries in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions is due to differences in family planning programme efforts and social settings. Changing social settings can significantly improve the impact of making contraceptives more available in reducing population growth.

Ways in which social settings can be changed include providing support for family planning as well as community-based distribution of contraceptive services. Making family planning services available can stimulate use of such services even among disadvantaged, poor, illiterate and rural women.

Addressing these gaps can help meet women’s needs in Africa and significantly slow population growth rates on the continent.

The debates about nudges

Globally, efforts to support changes in individual reproductive behaviour have emphasised the value of individual choice. But in some instances, attempts have been made to induce changes in fertility behaviour through different incentives – and disincentives.

At the extreme are coercive policies. Examples include the one child policy in China and involuntary sterilisation of mainly poor women in India. But most of the attempts at (dis)incentivising fertility behaviours are more subtle. They can include financial disincentives and incentives to promote family planning or paying for performance to improve the delivery and uptake of family planning. In some countries, such as Kenya, Malawi and Zambia, cash transfer programmes have been tried.

Other attempts, largely nudges, aim to influence fertility behaviour without forbidding any previously available courses of actions, or making alternatives appreciably more costly in terms of time, money, or social sanctions. These interventions also don’t deny individuals freedom of choice.

Using financial incentives and nudges to effect changes are not without concerns. Ethics, for example, are a big issue and continue to be debated.

The fact that high fertility behaviours are rooted in strongly held religious and cultural beliefs and narratives needs to be taken into account by those in authority.

Another ethical issue is around economics of incentives. Incentives can affect differently the decisions that poor and rich families make. It’s therefore important not to impose interventions that force people into impossible situations, as was the case in India.

Governments also face ethical dilemmas because of the contradiction between ensuring protection of the rights of individuals to decide on the number of children to have, and protecting the welfare of the larger community and achieving national development goals that may require slower population growth rates.

It’s imperative that African policy makers use interventions that are effective, practical and ethically sound. Contextual information should be sought before implementing incentive-based – and potentially controversial – programmes.

Prof Chukwuma Soludo

Nigeria needs to ‘innovate, commit or die’ — Soludo

Charles Soludo, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says Nigeria needs economic restructuring and heavy lifting from its current economic condition.

Prof Chukwuma Soludo

Mr Soludo also said the country is in dire need of innovations and competitiveness at all levels.

The professor of economics, who is a member of the Economic Advisory Council just inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari, said this at an economic summit to commemorate 59 years of Nigeria’s independence.

The summit was organised by Platform Nigeria, a vision of Poju Oyemade, the senior pastor of Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos.

The 2019 economic summit was tagged “Re-designing the Nigeria Economy with New Ideas.”

Mr Soludo said the game of the future is ”innovate, commit or die.” He said Nigeria needs to start preparing for a world without oil, which calls for innovations in diverse aspects of the economy.

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“We need to start preparing for 400 million people that will soon be upon us in a world without oil. We have been living on the life support of oil, when oil goes up, the economy goes up and when oil comes down, the economy comes down.”

He said Nigeria needs to be committed to equipping its people and youth with technology.

“The misery that will befall us is to continue to churn out millions of semi-illiterates youth and largely unemployed citizens,” he warned.

He called for a devolution of powers, which means giving powers back to the people.

While reconising the importance of governance, Mr Soludo said Nigeria requires new mechanisms rather than “the constitution and command and control institutions concentrated in Abuja.

“There is need to liberate the choking hold of Abuja on the country so that innovations and competitiveness can thrive.”

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He said to create a new trajectory for the economy, something different has to happen. He urged Nigeria to begin to create a progressive institution for a world without oil.

Other speakers at the Summit were Bismarck Rewane, the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company Limited; Anil Gupta, a leading expert on Strategy and one of the world’s “most influential management thinkers; Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State; and Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the governor of Lagos State.

Critical reflections on internet fraud and the cyber crimes act: too many chiefs, not enough Indians

By Destiny Osayi Ogedegbe

At the risk of over-erestimation, no less than ten out of every dozen of Nigerian people are actively involved in cyber fraud as of now. The negligible remainder of guys consists of heavily distraught individuals who lose sleep as a result of serious contemplations in that regard.

This is bad enough. But, what is worse is that cyber fraudsters have brazenly suffocated the atmosphere with unquestionable profligacy, choked non-indulgers with regrets and traumatizing ambivalence and worst still, they have repeatedly received the red carpet treatment in Nigeria. From being completely demonized to receiving indifference, the act of cyber fraud together with its perpetrators appears to have assumed a position that enjoys open validation from the public. This disconcerting trend is pretty much the most conspicuous lack of a moral touchstone against which practices in Nigeria are examined. 

To ebb it, modest parents have warned, concerned individuals have evangelised the need to desist from cyber fraud but, adamantly, this criminal upsurge appears to have spiralled like cancer into deep tendrils of the society to the extent that it has exemplified the slippery nature of our moral lines. As it is obtainable in every society, where social opprobrium can no longer impair the continuance of a menacing practice, the law and the machinery of its enforcement become the recourse that sheds off deaf ears. Hence, there is a need to evaluate the crime from a legal perspective. 

What has been unfashionably styled as “Yahoo” or “G” in Nigeria is the colloquial term for CYBER IDENTITY FRAUD”. It involves most times, the impersonation of a person other than the perpetrator and the misrepresentation of facts with a view to gaining economic benefits. It is criminalised in Nigeria under the Cyber Crimes Act, 2015 (Hereinafter referred to as the CCA.) Consequently, this work focuses on the law on cyber fraud particularly the model adopted by Nigerian fraudsters and the endemic prosecutorial hiccups. It is the modest view of this writer that there are profound difficulties in securing convictions for cyber fraud in Nigeria given the following bumpy rides:

1. THE INCONCLUSIVE WORDINGS OF THE CRIME IN THE ACT

For a start, this tenuous yet important detail has to be addressed. Cyber Identity Fraud, which involves fraudulent impersonation and calculated set of misrepresentations geared towards fraudulent acquisition of economic benefits, is defined under Sections 14 (2) and 22(3-4) of the Cyber Crimes Act. 

The genesis of prosecutorial challenges bedevilling cyber fraud is that the Act restricts the offence only between parties in Nigeria. The definition of the crime makes no mention of any person other than a Nigerian whereas, in Nigeria, the most pervasive cyber identity frauds have foreigners as victims. Thus, an allegation of cyber identity fraud between a Nigerian and an American will be very much debatable since it appears, by a community reading of the sections of the Act, that it only intends to criminalise cyber crimes committed by Nigerians against Nigerians. While the defrauded American cannot sue the offender in America, the defrauding party enjoys from the debatableness of the Act’s silence with regard to the class of persons which could fall under the purview of the crime.

Adekemi  Omotubora in his work on “Comparative Perspectives on Cyber Crimes Legislation in Nigeria and the U. K” which featured in the 2016 version of the European Journal on Law and Technology, argues it is superfluous to include foreigners in the definition of cyber crimes under the Nigerian Act as victims as the lack of it occasions no jurisdictional complexity. It is believed by this writer that his point is fair but to the extent of its prosecutorial implications, he respectfully disagrees for two reasons: First, such lousy craftsmanship is a ridiculous display of absentmindedness to the practical realities of the offence in Nigeria. If cyber fraud must be curbed in Nigeria, a legislation that fashions an opportunity for defence lawyers and criminals to leverage upon must be put paid to. Yahoo Boys defraud foreigners and hardly ever Nigerians. Thus, in proving that a crime has been committed, there is a connection between the crime committed and the victim. In fact, the absence of knowledge of the victim’s plight automatically implies no crime has been committed. If all evidence of a suspects fraud leads to a foreigner and the latter is not contemplated by the Act, then a can of worms is opened and the chances of securing a conviction recedes to the footnote. The United Kingdom Computer Misuse Act, 1990 carefully uses the term “any person in the UK or elsewhere” in order to avoid situations where criminals go home smiling like cats that ate canaries because of an avoidable inconclusiveness of verbiage. Secondly, the commission of cyber fraud against foreigners is heavily in contravention of Section 24(b) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 which obligates citizens to uphold and enhance the good name of Nigeria. Since the implication of cyber fraud in Nigeria is a soured national integrity, it follows that the foreign victims, in order to ensure a consummate legislation, should be included in the spectrum of persons against whom the crimes spelt out in sections 14 and 22 of The CCA may be committed. 

It must be emphasized that what is said above does not imply that a person found wanting of the offence of cyber fraud in Nigeria cannot be prosecuted in Nigeria. Section 50 of the Cyber Crimes Act gives the Federal High Court the jurisdiction to entertain any matter relating to cyber crimes in so far as the offender committed the offence in Nigeria, is a citizen of Nigeria and it is immaterial whether he lives permanently in Nigeria or not. 

2. ARREST AND SEARCH BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

Methodologically, cyber fraud is a covert operation. Those who engage in it do so within their privates. But,  knowing full well the rampant nature of cyber fraud, police officers and members of other law enforcement agencies harass every passerby who,  to their minds, suffers a personality attributable to criminal insinuations. Some are arrested because they parade with ostentatious cars, have tattoos and dreadlocks or for having foreign contacts on their phones. While it may be morally salutary to restrain delinquent-looking persons from improper behaviour, these things do not constitute any  evidence of cyber fraud nor can a legal arrest be hinged on them.

The tenor of section 45 of the Cyber Crimes Act of is to the effect that a police officer or any other law enforcement agent can only effect an arrest and or search upon application to a judge whom in turn issues a warrant of arrest or search. The Act does not provide circumstances in which an officer can arrest without prior issuance of a warrant. Even upon application to a judge, the judge may refuse to grant the warrant under Section 46 if he is not satisfied by the grounds proffered by the officer. There must be reasonable grounds to suspect the commission of the offence before a warrant can be issued. Thus, it is obvious that the unwarranted stoppages and searches conducted by law enforcement agencies, to the extent that they confiscate gadgets and operate them, is unlawful. 

Mere suspicions that a person with a funny hair cut and a deluxe car is not enough. Morbid anxieties and suspicions can only be followed up by an arrest and search upon having been granted a warrant by a judge. The omnibus provisions of the Police Act 2004 which gives the police the right to arrest without a warrant upon reasonable suspicion of the commission of a crime does not include searches and certainly does not apply to passersby who give no reasonable suspicion of the commission of any offence. Arresting suspected cyber criminals without warrant probably explains why the popular Club 57 raid by EFCC officials in Lagos is questionable.

The implication of an arrest without a warrant in this circumstance is that the apprehended party has a legal right to institute an action against the arresting law officer for breach of his fundamental rights to privacy and movement under sections 37 and 41 of the constitution of Nigeria, 1999. As a matter of fact, not only is the officer open to litigation but also the entire police force can be sued, under the authority of Hassan v Atanyi (2002) 8 NWLR Pt. 770; 551.

In June 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)  in the United States went on a world raid of cyber criminals, an operation that was styled “Operation Wire Wire”. With impeccable information and investigation from Homeland Security followed by warrants from Federal Courts, the FBI secured a neat arrest of over 70 criminals from different countries, 24 of whom were traced down to Nigeria. Evidently, the unsophisticated nature of police arrests and amateurish investigations in Nigeria will always constitute a problem to the prosecution of cyber criminals.  Some officers are deft only with the use of physical might. Technological investigations is so much to ask of such not to mention that they don’t even know that a warrant is necessary before an arrest of a suspected cyber criminal. Only swift, covert bails are sublimely executed.

3. LITIGATION AND EVIDENTIAL PROOF 

Not only a few persons will agree with the fact that our legal system was forged in the physical  world, for physical crimes. Thus, the impalpability of cyber crimes strengthens the impracticability of its suability. 

First, section 135 of the Evidence Act, 2011 requires that all criminal matters must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Cyber crimes are no exception. Now, Under Section 22 of the Cyber Crimes Act 2015, the ingredients of cyber identity fraud are that: (a) the criminal must have fraudulently impersonated (b) he must intend to gain from the fraudulent impersonation, some personal benefits. Under Section 14, the ingredients are that the person must have intended to defraud, and he must have in fact defrauded the person by means of electronic misrepresentations which the other person acted upon under the misapprehension. 

Take the scenario of an arrested undergraduate who engages a white lady in a whatsapp chat. They enter a romantic affair, he uses a display picture other than his actual picture, uses a different name and location. She sends money with a mindset equipped with the belief in a productive relationship. But how can these things be proved beyond reasonable doubt when all a defence lawyer has to do is to puncture the charges? How can it be proven that the person relied on the misrepresentation? Where it is a romantic affair, it has to be proved that if they  victim were seised with the true identity she wouldn’t have sent the money. They may require the physical presence of the  victim which is hardly ever gotten. Cases abound where the true identities of the  fraudsters came to the  fore and it had no change to the unflinching love of the  moneybag. Misrepresentation and fraud are cumbrous to prove in criminal cases. What if some messages containing the actual misrepresentations as to identity have been deleted? Can it be retrieved from the  other party or the service providers? If they can, how about their admissibility? What if some of the incriminating messages were not sent by the arrested person? A friend could have, without his knowledge, sent some of the messages. Can he be tried for those messages if he denies sending them himself? Will the ownership of the gadget raise a presumption that he sent all the  messages? If so, in the presence or proof that the chain of messages came disjointedly from different persons at different occasions, without the knowledge of one another? What does the prosecution do? The accused could altogether deny sending all the messages, putting the defence to the  strictest of proofs. To worsen all of these,  the accused cannot be compelled to testify to any of these claims. This will violate one of the fundamental rights of an accused person as enshrined in section 36(11) of the constitution of Nigeria, 1999. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court in Igabele v State (2006) All FWLR Pt. 311; 1797, the Supreme Court held that the constitutional right of an accused to remain silent equally implies that not even that  court may compel the accused by a subpoena to testify in his own trial. Sadly therefore, a prosecuting counsel who was unaware of how the whole process commenced has to tediously prove facts largely beyond his ken. 

While the prosecution is battling to smart out of the jackboots of an insufferable burden to prove the allegations, he is faced with the hellish difficulty of admissibility. The real trouble with cyber crimes in terms of proof is that they are carried out through the help of electronic devices and their contents are incredibly difficult to admit in courts. Section 84(2) and (4) of the Evidence Act,  2011 require that the person relying on the electronic evidence (in this case being the prosecution trying to secure a conviction of the “Yahoo Boy”) must lead testimony to show that the device or devices containing the evidence were used regularly, properly for the purposes of activities regularly carrier out by it in the ordinary course of these activities and a certificate of authentication must be before the  court. Although the Court of Appeal in Brila Energy Ltd v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2018) LPELR – 43926 held that oral testimony may be adduced in place of the certification, the true problem is that the only person that can satisfy Section 84 of the Evidence Act, is the accused or any person in whose custody such device has been regularly and consistently operated. Yet, the accused cannot be compelled to testify to these facts. 

Evidently from the above, prosecution of cyber crimes is never a run-of-the-mill. This explains why Nigeria has not secured a single conviction for a cyber crime until date. The United Kingdom has secured over 60 convictions while the United States has secured countless of convictions. In all these countries,  Nigeria is the only country littered with an immeasurable number of cyber criminals. Recently, in April 2018, the US.News reported that two Nigerians,  Alu and Austin were tried in the Federal Court in Texas for cyber identity fraud and were convicted accordingly. The following month, eight Nigerians were tried in Minnesota and convicted accordingly. One is forced to ask, “which way Nigeria?”

It can be easily mistaken that this work is quietly intended to bolster criminal proclivities as it exposes the absurdities of the law and defeats prosecutorial pretensions. But, in actual fact, this writer seeks to demonstrate that the interplay between legislations as they are increasingly made, can occasion difficuties. The Cyber Crimes Act, when its provisions are interspersed with the Evidence Act, Criminal Code and Police Act, could wrest off vitality from the criminal system in respect of cyber crimes and that is the gravamen of this work. Hence, the following recommendations. 

RECOMMENDATIONS

It is often easier to secure convictions in foreign countries especially America because of the relaxed criminal justice system over there. Extradition and call for international support is very much needed. Nigerian Police officers are largely confronted with the temptation to be corrupt and indeed they fall, every so often. Investigatons, arrests and prosecution will all remain far cries without foreign intervention to cure this malaise. This is because even law enforcement agents, a good number of them fish in these troubled waters and make good fortune out of mutual understandings 

It should be lawful to arrest and search suspected criminals without warrants and the grounds should be clearly spelt out. These days, cyber fraudsters in Nigeria emblazon their trademarks in popular clubs and hot spots. An ordinary trader can spot a number of them as they have, with impunity, assumed distinctive attributes setting them widely apart from the others waiting on God’s favour. Thus, arrests and search should not be subject to bureaucratic shibboleths – warrants. 

Although recommending that the Act should be amended to expressly relax the rules of arrests, search, evidence and proof with regard to cyber crimes is almost like flogging dead horses. While it is needed, it is far more expedient to call on judicial authorities to seize their moments and set rules of admissibility and proof of cyber crimes when they ar  faced with it. Nobody sues the jidiciary for interpreting the law or setting guidelines which are in the interest of the public. Not even the legislature. Judicial legislation should be encouraged as far as cyber crimes are concerned. Else, this cancerous leach will soon become an uncontrollable octopus with tentacles imbued in every and any Nigerian. 


Destiny Osayi Ogedegbe is a recent graduate of the Nigerian law school, Abuja Campus.  He is also a graduate of law from the University of Benin. He is a prolific writer and a vocal activist. He can be reached on 09039000318 or by his mail address: possibleosayi@gmail.com.

Race still overshadow South African politics 25 years after end of apartheid

It would be surprising if race played no part in South African elections.

The country’s colonial and apartheid past ranked alongside the America’s Deep South as among the most racist social orders in the world. If religious polarisation is also considered, South Africa often compared with Northern Ireland and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The slogan “rainbow nation” seems to have retired along with Anglican archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu. Personal racist incidents still make the headlines and class remains hued by colour at the structural level. Although slightly over half of the country’s middle class is now black, deep poverty is an almost exclusively a black experience.

Race continues to divide. Take just the best-known parties among the four dozen contesting the country’s general election this month. They all represent radically different perspectives on the race issue. And – at the extremes – there is no crossing the colour line.

For example, almost no black Africans will vote for the minority Freedom Front Plus. Almost no whites will vote for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the third-largest party. Strident racial rhetoric from some EFF leaders. And its election manifesto envisages for massive tax rises, a proviso that’s alienated white voters. For its part, the Freedom Front Plus’s campaign to defend minorities against affirmative action and black economic empowerment doesn’t attract many black voters.

But, when moving towards the leading parties of the centre, the governing African National Congress (ANC), and the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), are making serious efforts to reign in racial rhetoric among their leaders and members. They also have manifestos that promote non-racialism.

Non-racialism

The ANC and DA documents and speeches have repeated their long-held goals of non-racialism. Both try to ensure that people of all colours are represented in their executive structures.

Recently, ANC veterans condemned a statement by their powerful secretary-general urging a vote against “whites” and for “blacks”. And the party’s election campaign, particularly in Gauteng and the Western Cape, chooses issues and rhetoric which include white voters.

The DA too has more than once disciplined leaders, or got members to resign, because of racial comments on twitter or elsewhere

At a deeper level, the DA is attempting a strategy so difficult that it has only been accomplished twice before in South Africa’s history. The party seeks to change from an overwhelmingly white party to a predominantly black party. The South African Communist Party achieved this during the 1920s. The Liberal Party followed a similar path during the 1960s.

Historically, the ANC’s Freedom Charter affirmed that

South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.

The ANC’s alliances from the 1950s included organisations centred on coloured – people of both European (white) and African (black) ancestry – , Indian, and white members. It incrementally opened its own membership to supporters of all colours before 1990.

At times, a few commentators have criticised the ANC as being dominated by either isiXhosa speakers or Nguni language speakers, but these complaints found little traction. The ANC’s membership embraced a nation-wide representivity among black Africans, and included activists from all of the race-based definitions entrenched during apartheid.

Strategically, the ANC is the only African nationalist party that has had to accommodate – in policy and rhetoric – a significant white minority.

More than nine-tenths of white settlers fled Algeria after independence in 1962; the same in Angola and Mozambique following independence in 1974. This also happened in Zimbabwe between the 1980s-1990s. White Algerians had the right to French citizenship; white Angolans and Mozambicans had the right to Portuguese citizenship. Over half White Zimbabweans had the right to either South African or British citizenship.

By contrast, the overwhelming majority of white South Africans have no rights to other citizenships.

The people

White South Africans are only make up 7,8% of the population. But they remain strategically important. They still own most capital and most companies. They constitute a significant proportion of management and in most of the professions.

The western powers, investors, and media remain sensitive to their concerns and anxieties.

Interestingly, statistics show that white living standards have risen higher than anyone else’s since 1994. That is not exactly the “genocide” proclaimed by the global alt-right.

There is a wide range of black views on colour and race relations. Some activists in the Rhodes-must-fall and Fees-must-fall movements expressed total alienation from whites and “whiteness”. Simultaneously, there are many interracial friendships and some interracial marriages.

Tensions bound to remain

The world’s oldest democracy, the US, and the world’s largest democracy, India, also have to grapple with the contradictions between nonracial or non-caste ideals in their constitutions, and affirmative action and preferential procurement laws and regulations.

In South Africa, the issue has the subject of a host of by a range of institutions in the country. These range from the Human Rights Commission, to the Equality Court and similar quasi-judicial entities, in addition to test cases decided by the Constitutional Court..

Given that the country has the world’s largest white minority living under black rule, colour line tensions will remain a fairly permanent feature of the country’s political landscape. The same can be said of the US, where the world’s largest black minority lives under white rule.

Indonesian students pay tribute to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings.

The world has been bent on putting all Muslims in one category

It’s clear that Islamophobia is on the rise globally. This antipathy towards adherents of the Muslim faith is often presented as a violent reaction to terrorism committed by the Islamic State. This suggests that if terrorism by so-called Islamic groups ends, Islamophobia will too.

Indonesian students pay tribute to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Indonesian students pay tribute to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings. BAGUS INDAHONO/EPA-EFE

Academic and author from the University of Birmingham Chris Allen has correctly discarded this thesis. He argues that it’s extremely dangerous because it ultimately legitimises indolent stereotypes which describe all Muslims as terrorists.

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And it plays into racist views held by individuals and parts of the media. It amalgamates Islam, terrorism, and all Muslims, which means that the faith is viewed as a threat.

A study conducted by Pew Research found that, even in more supposedly liberal countries such as France, nearly half of respondents thought that some Muslims supported the Islamic State and its aims. Other research has found that a majority of people in several European countries – among them Poland and Austria – supported a ban on immigration from majority-Muslim countries.

In my book, New Horizons of Muslim Diaspora in Europe and North America, I explored how people living in Muslim societies view this growing prejudice. I also interviewed numerous Muslims: some were still living in majority Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East; others had emigrated to Western countries.

I found that Islamophobia has changed how certain Muslims portray themselves to society. The people I interviewed considered themselves targeted and vilified by Islamophobia; many hid their Muslim beliefs and identity or pretended to be less devout than they really were – some women, for instance, have stopped wearing the veil.

My respondents felt that Muslims in Western countries aren’t treated fairly. They also worried that the rise of Islamophobia had badly damaged Islam as a religion of peace.

Diaspora experiences

The book argues against an approach to the concept of culture that reduces all Muslims to one category. Such a reductive approach ignores other important factors that shape the attitudes and behaviours of Muslims all over the world. These factors include their socioeconomic status, their gender, age, level of education, social class; as well as their attitudes to religion and to Western lifestyles.

I interviewed 116 people and held less formal conversations with more than 100. They lived in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, the US and Canada.

Those living outside majority-Muslim countries were heterogeneous: they had diverse cultures and ethnicities. They were actually divided, rather than united, on issues related to Islam and to their new, Western homes.

The most conservative, traditional Muslims in the diaspora tend to be marginalised. They don’t work, or work low-income jobs. Many turn to religion and traditional values and practices as a reaction to their socio-economic exclusion from European or American society.

But the majority of people I interviewed described themselves as only moderately religious. They were open to other cultures and principles such as secularism.

Working together

Governments in Europe and North America should be working with such people to reach others who could be taught about a moderate, progressive approach to Islam rather than one that tends towards extremism. It has already been shown that Muslim Europeans and Americans are often the first to respond to radicalism – by rejecting it. They could be drawn into programmes to help new arrivals in Western countries adapt and learn about their new cultures.

This is especially important because I found in my book that many Muslim leaders have an insufficient knowledge of Western countries, and find it hard to fight Islamophobic propaganda. Likewise, most imams in the West do not master the language of the host country. This makes it difficult for them to explain moderate Islam to the Western societies and to fight against Islamophobia and youth radicalisation among the Muslim diaspora.

Younger, more open-minded Muslims could fulfil a valuable role in integration and in teaching non-Muslims about the religion.

SOURCE: The Conversation / Moha Ennaji is aProfessor of Linguistics, Gender, and Cultural Studies, Université Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah

Nigeria don’t have enough universities to take in all it’s intending students, but the government don’t care

By Chiamaka Kaima


Education is, around the world one of the first and basic right of everyone, but here in Nigeria, it has been abused by both the Governments and People.

During one of the Tours to the Adekunle Ajosin University in Akungba Akoko, Ondo state. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun identified Poor Funding as a major threat to achieving a Functional Education in Nigeria. He said, Poor funding of Nigeria’s Education Sector causes Setbacks for its inherent ability to compete globally even with the inferior countries to Nigeria.

In Nigeria, to enhance good Education and stop the yearly increase of Admission-seekers [from getting] out of Hand[, the] Education Sector should be given lots of attention because it gives room for the country’s development ,but unfortunately, the quality and standard of Education in Nigeria is poor because it has not been paid adequate attention to.

And due to these lack of attention, it has caused lots of Problems that the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) has [revealed] how the number of admission-seekers increases yearly but only 75% are granted admission with only 20% being admitted to Public Universities, while 55% into other sectors of Education in Nigeria like the Private Universities or Polytechnics.

And this is are drastical elements that needs to be changed. Below are the causes;

Poor Funding

The foremost and greatest challenge that triggers this is Inadequate Funding by the Federal, State and Local Government.

In the year 2017, it was recorded that the budget bill allocated to the Nigeria’s Education sector was 26% much lower than the National budget recommended by the United Nations.

The Global organization recommended the budgetary benchmark to enable Nations adequately cater for rising Education demands.

But in the proposal represented to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari allocated only 7.04% of the 8.6 trillion budget to the Education.
 The total sum allocated to the sector was 605.8 billion, with 435.1 billion for Recurrent Expenditure, 61.73 billion for Capital Expenditure and 109.06 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission. Even though, it hasn’t reduced the rise of Education yet but has yearly increased the number of Applicants to Universities.

Corruption

This is another Major problem in the Country that has also affected the Educational Sector?

There are multiple stories of how lecturers collects bribes from students in exchange for grades, some even go to the extent of harassing their female students to sleep with them. Even some university administrators demands money from students to have their Exam results compiled and submitted to the (required) National Youth Service Corps.

 Also, funds meant for paying salaries and maintenance of school facilities and so on are being diverted for personal use and mismanaged.

And these acts can cause schools to embark on strikes or riots which will not only ruin the School reputation.

Politicization of Education

The Governments at all levels, especially at the State level, attempts to run many Institutions even when they’re least prepared to do such, which thereby cause a general fall in the Standard of the initially existing ones and the available budget insufficient to cater for their needs.

In addition, State Governments gives accreditation to Schools that they fully know are not well equipped for Teaching, all in a bid to generate more revenue for themselves.

Unwillingness to study Education in Schools

Due to how Courses are being scrapped out and parents advising their children/ward to go for courses that pays much in jobs than those that gives adequate time but pays less.

In 2015, it was recorded by the Educational Board, that out of more than 1,700,000 applications submitted, only 5% applied for Courses in Education.

 To that resul,most Graduate Teachers aren’t professional and inadequately exposed to Teaching Practices which has made Learning in schools in-conducive and generated the love of doing things for money and not for passion or will.

But to solve these problems, it all has to begin with the Governments and not the Citizens because they have the powers to punish any defaulters.

Solutions

Provision of Conducive Environment to enhance Active Learning: It’s not all about teaching on Theory but also with other Teaching aids like practices, interactive sessions and Computers to exposed the students to more digitalized ways of learning and prepare them to be able to compete with their counterparts from other parts of the world. When these are provided, it gives each student the room to be well prepared for what they want and get it at their disposal anywhere, anytime.

Giving Power to those who actually knows What they’re to do and not to those who are there for the Money:To govern the Educational Board, the Government needs to Employ one who has both the Intellectual Skills not to rule alone but to apply Good measures and build up the Sector in a Striking way that will not only develop the Students but also the Country.

Contributions of Financial Funds both from the Private and Public sectors to Universities.

•There should be a Career Counselling where the Youths are been advised about Courses and similar courses when not given the first: This is a very delicate issue that should be looked into.

The Federal Government can enforce career counseling in all schools especially in secondary schools both the juniors and Seniors to avoid large numbers desiring to study one course that has Several alternatives which hinders the progress of the Economy.

 And if these solutions and many more are being implemented, it’ll give Nigeria a greater chance of competing with their counterparts from other parts of the world.


About the author.

Chiamaka Kaima is a young prospective writer with good writing skill that cuts across, education, lifestyle and living. She writes for The Bloomgist through our Academic Writers Forum “Column 60

How peaceful protests can change troubled Algeria

Peaking after Friday prayers, streets across Algeria have been flooded with protesters demanding change in recent weeks. They are demanding an end to the 20-year rule of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has now pledged – not entirely convincingly – to stand down.

Whether genuine change will now come remains to be seen. But what is most notable about this mass “hirak” (the Arabic word for “movement”) is both its distrust of any politician who seeks to speak on behalf of the protesters – and its rejection of violence.

The importance of these two factors is grounded in the long struggle the nation has faced. Algerians, although determined and hopeful, are well acquainted with the dangers of striving for a change of this magnitude. Their shared past offers many lessons about nation building, many of which came at a heavy price.

Experts are divided over the definition of a “nation”, but many agree that two factors are important. On one hand, a collective memory serves as a record of the triumphs and failures from which the nation derives its lessons. On the other, imagination helps to instil a deep bond between the nation’s different members and cultivate an enveloping sense of community. Both of these factors have played a role in Algeria’s ongoing quest for nationhood.

Independence

Algeria won its independence from France in 1962 after a seven-year war that left more than a million dead. In Algeria, the memory of the martyrs is both a source of grief over the magnitude of the loss, and a source of pride, over the willingness of some to sacrifice everything for the nation’s freedom.

The FLN (Front de Libération Nationale) played a significant role in steering the country towards independence. But the war, and the role the FLN played in it, became a means for the party to legitimise its rule for decades afterwards, and a narrative behind which it could obscure its numerous failures.

The economic crisis of the 1980s played a major role in forcing the state to move from a single party system, which had allowed the FLN to monopolise power, towards a multi-party system. And the people took the chance to express their desire for radical change.

The FIS (Front Islamique du Salut), an Islamist party, took advantage of the situation, grew in popularity and in 1991 looked like it would defeat the FLN in the elections. But the Algerian army intervened, claiming it was protecting the nation from the dangers of FIS ideology, and blocked the electoral process. The FIS took extreme measures, a militarised wing was formed, and the country was plunged into chaos and civil war during a period known as Algeria’s “Black Decade”. Around 200,000 people lost their lives.

Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. EPA Images

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose recent bid for a fifth term (despite ongoing illness) sparked the current hirak, was elected for the first time in 1999. His Civil Concord law, followed by the 2005 Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, which came during his second term in power, helped end the civil war. But this achievement yet again became a way to legitimise his rule for years afterwards.

No Arab Spring

Memories of the Black Decade also became a shackle, long hindering any widespread opposition. When the Arab Spring swept the wider region from 2011, fears of a return to the bloodshed of the civil war prevented many Algerians from seeking change which might trigger violence. Indeed, on February 28 this year, in an address to parliament, former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia tried to use the Arab Spring to caution the Algerian people against turning the nation into another Syria.

But the peaceful protests that followed have sent a clear reply: this is not Syria. Change through non-violent means is possible.

Algerians are well aware of their own past. And they don’t want to replicate the bloodshed Tunisia had to endure, the military seizure of power in Egypt, the unstable situation in Libya, or the devastation of Syria. The nation’s previous experiences, especially those of the Black Decade and the fatal manipulation of extremist ideology which sought to snuff out the diverse nature of Algerian society, are reminders of how a spark of change can easily, and often bloodily, be extinguished.

But Algerians also believe in the possibility of a different future, one that brings to fruition a nation imagined by them. The hirak is the people’s expression of this, one removed from the interference of politicians or foreign governments.

In a letter addressed to the people, Bouteflika has now declared that he will not run for a fifth term. But he has also cancelled the upcoming elections and extended his current term.

He has promised to oversee a peaceful transition to a new republic, but Algerians have rejected this and plan to continue the non-violent hirak.

Remembering their past while striving for a better future, they are determined to translate their ideals into a new state. The struggle goes on – but its medium remains “silmiya” (peaceful).

Five things that can fix Nigeria’s completely messed up Education system

Nigeria’s education system is based on the (1)-6-3-3-4 formula: one year pre-primary education, six years primary, three years junior secondary, three years senior secondary, and a minimum of four years tertiary education.

The model had been used successfully in China, Germany and Ghana before Nigeria adopted it in 1989.

But it’s never been fully implemented in Nigeria. Although successive governments have theoretically upheld its objectives, none has successfully implemented the policy.

Nigeria’s educational system is in assorted crises of infrastructural decay, neglect, waste of resources and sordid conditions of service. The country has over 10 million out-of-school children. That’s the highest in the world. Another 27 million children in school are performing very poorly. Millions of Nigerians are half-educated, and over 60 million – or 30% – are illiterate.

On top of this, many eligible young Nigerians can’t gain admission into public universities. At the same time prohibitive tuition fees, among other factors, are a barrier to the country’s private universities.

As the Buhari-Osinbajo government starts its second term it should focus on key areas that will dig Nigeria’s education system out of the deep hole it’s in. I have identified five priorities it should attend to first.

Appointment

The new government should appoint an expert Minister of Education, not a political party lackey. In the past, Nigeria’s educational system has fared better under expert education ministers who earned their stripes through the system.

Take Professor Jubril Aminu, who served in the portfolio from 1985 to 1990. The 6-3-3-4 system was inaugurated during his tenure. Aminu also introduced “nomadic education” in 1989 for nomadic Fulani and other migrant ethnic groups.

Aminu was followed by Professor Babs Fafunwa (1990 to 1992). He overhauled the national education policy. He also provided room for education in mother tongue, a universal practice which most African countries have not fully implemented. UNESCO recommends education in mother tongue because of its immense advantages.

Lastly, under Professor Sam Egwu (2008 to 2010), a controversial agreement was signed between the government and the union representing the country’s academic staff. The agreement – signed in 2009 after drawn-out negotiations – stipulated conditions of service and remuneration for lecturers, the autonomy of universities and how the government should fund tertiary education.

But successive governments have violated the terms of the pact, claiming that they didn’t have the money to meet some of its terms. Officials claimed that sections of the pact were difficult, and in some cases impossible, to implement. However, the union rejects these claims and has accused the government of using delay tactics and questionable criticisms to frustrate the deal.

Funding

Funding is the biggest problem confronting Nigeria’s education system. The percentage of the budget allocated to education annually is abysmally low. In 2018, only 7.04% was allocated to education. This is far below UNESCO’s recommended 15%-26%.

Nigeria’s experience with the commercialisation and neglect of government secondary and primary school levels has led to poorer education outcomes. Nor is privatisation the answer: it’s only likely to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. It will deny many children affordable quality education, increase the rate of illiteracy and reduce academic performance at the tertiary level.

If the government continues to privatise government-owned universities, as is already the case with the proliferation of private universities with high fees, tertiary education will become the exclusive preserve of the rich upper class. This, in a country where more than 90% of the population is currently living in abject poverty.

The government should also cut wasteful expenditure. For example, I would argue that the “school children feeding programme” is a massive drain on resources.

Government reported earlier this year that it allocated 220 billion naira for the programme and of that, about 50 billion naira was wasted. This money could have be spent on more pressing problems such as building more classrooms and equipping them, supplying teaching and learning materials and improving staff welfare and remuneration.

Money for research

Research suffers in three ways in Nigeria. First, researchers work without sponsorship, particularly in the core sciences. The Tertiary Education Trust Fund is virtually the only source of money. The Trust funds and sponsors research projects, gives grants for research and sponsors lecturers for academic conferences, among other things. But its resources are limited and its operations are slow, highly selective and sometimes politicised.

Secondly, study findings are often abandoned on library shelves because the government isn’t committed to research-oriented development. Researchers don’t have the means to promote their work and research findings.

Third, research output is mediocre and repetitive because there are no effective measures in place to track research output nationwide.

Stop incessant strikes

In 1978, the Academic Staff Union of Universities was established to represent academic staff in Nigeria’s universities. Since then, there have been strikes almost every year, disrupting the academic calendar.

To stop these annual disruptions, the government must increase budgetary allocations to the sector and honour agreements that have been signed with the unions.

The only way that strikes will be stopped is if the welfare of all staff, from teachers to lecturers, is prioritised.

In conclusion

If these priorities are successfully implemented, Nigeria’s education system would be well on its way to realising government’s commitment to its own policies and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

SOURCE: The Conversation

President Buhari recently held a closed-door meeting with Governor Nyesome of Rivers state as regards the recent activities of the Niger Delta Avengers

The end of democracy in Nigeria

A dismally low turnout in the presidential elections revealed the fractured relationship between politicians and populace.

‘Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust.’
‘Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust.’ Photograph: Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images

By Remi Adekoya

You know a democracy is in trouble when two out of three voters don’t bother to turn up for a presidential election. In Nigeria’s just-concluded presidential poll, incumbent Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected with the backing of 15.2 million voters compared to the 11.3 million votes his main rival Atiku Abubakar, was able to amass.

Although this gave Buhari 56% of the total votes cast, in a country with a population of close to 200 million, including more than 84 million registered voters, 15.2 million votes hardly qualifies as a huge mandate. The 35% voter turnout was down from 44% in the 2015 presidential election and way down from the 54% turnout in 2011. In fact, turnout for Nigerian presidential elections has been dropping at an alarmingly consistent rate since 2003. So why are increasingly fewer Nigerians feeling the need to vote in elections that decide the most powerful political office?

Poor organisation is one reason. The last three elections were all postponedat the last minute, causing frustration as well as suspicion that politicians were delaying things to perfect their rigging strategies. Voting itself often involves waiting long hours, in a cumbersome and inefficient process. For some, it’s too much hassle.

Then there is the ever-present fear of violence on election day. Indeed, violence erupted in several places across the country in this election. Politics is a high-stakes game anywhere; in Nigeria the rewards of victory are particularly high. Nigerian legislators are among the highest paid in the world, while the president controls a huge oil-money fuelled patronage system that can transform you into a billionaire overnight. Also, top Nigerian officeholders enjoy the highest prestige within society because they have money and power. Suffice it to say, the motivation to win is significant. Considering that the Nigerian state is too weak to have a monopoly on violence, some political actors take advantage of this and deploy it as a tool for competitive advantage.

‘The 76-year-old Muhammadu Buharii who governed highhandedly and often incompetently.’ Photograph: Reuters

Furthermore, this year’s choice between the 76-year-old Buhari, who governed highhandedly and often incompetently during his first term, and the 72-year-old veteran politician Atiku, who is widely considered corrupt, was hardly inspiring.

However, it is likely that the largest contributing factor to the extremely low turnout was the feeling that whoever won, nothing would change. The system is so corrupt that it makes no difference whether X or Y is president. Pew Research conducted last year showed that only 39% of Nigerians were satisfiedwith their democracy, 72% said most politicians were corrupt and 57% said no matter who wins elections, things do not change much. Only 38% felt that elected officials cared what “ordinary people think”.

And so here we are. The problem is that it is difficult for a system to maintain its legitimacy if only one in three citizens believe in it. This is the position Nigerian democracy now finds itself in. Buhari thus needs to keep his celebrations as short as possible and start focusing on restoring some faith in the system. A genuine and systematic effort to tackle corruption, including within his party, would be a good start. While having built a reputation of not being personally corrupt, during his first term Buhari was seen by many to have pursued a selective anti-corruption drive aimed solely at opposition politicians, while his own political friends conducted business as usual.

‘The 72-year-old veteran politician Atiku Abubakar, who is widely considered corrupt.’ Photograph: Reuters

For instance, one of Buhari’s main political allies, former Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu, was flippantly unapologetic about the bullion vans, which many suspected were full of cash for vote-buying, photographed entering his premises on election eve. He said he reserved the right to give people cash “free of charge” if he so wished while denying that it was to buy votes. Incidents like this only fuel the cynicism of Nigerians, who see Buhari as hypocritical for turning a blind eye to such brazenness from his allies.

He also needs to make his second-term cabinet as diverse and competent as possible. Voter turnout was particularly low in the southern states where Buhari, who hails from the north, is seen by many to favour his kinsmen and those loyal to him in political appointments while competence takes low priority. Nigeria’s economy has taken a battering in recent years and it is vital that people see Buhari as putting the welfare of the country’s economy and its citizens above any personal or ethnic considerations and sentiments.

Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust. The relationship between the Nigerian government and its people is broken. Apathy prevails. Trust is scarce. Buhari’s second term needs to be focused on tackling this lack of trust that Nigerians increasingly feel towards their political system. Otherwise, the future of Nigerian democracy looks very bleak indeed.

• Remi Adekoya is the former political editor of the Warsaw Business Journal

Not many knew Prophet Shepherd Bushiri until three people died in a stampede at his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church in Pretoria. Facebook

The growth of ‘money’ gospel in Africa and the fate of its blind followers

By Ilana van Wyk

The prosperity gospel is back in the news in South Africa, this time over the misdeeds of one of its prophets. The prosperity gospel is a religious movement that has exploded in popularity and prominence in South Africa over the last two decades but has stirred up controversy globally for more than 40 years.

Not many knew Prophet Shepherd Bushiri until three people died in a stampede at his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church in Pretoria. Facebook
Not many knew Prophet Shepherd Bushiri until three people died in a stampede at his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church in Pretoria. Facebook

The gospel first reached South Africa in the late 1970s through churches such as televangelist Ray McCauley’s Rhema Bible Church. Due to apartheid restrictions on the movements of black people, the prosperity gospel’s reach was limited. But since the start of democracy in 1994, preachers from across the continent have streamed into the country’s townships, converting large numbers to this new gospel.

Today it’s the fastest growing religious movement in South Africa. While precise statistics are lacking, scholars agree that prosperity gospel followers rival, if not exceed, the numbers of so-called mainline churches.

Not many South Africans had paid much attention to Prophet Shepherd Bushiri until the end of last year. But when three people died in a stampede at his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church in Pretoria, the “self-proclaimed prophet” received wide media coverage.

In February 2019, he was again in the news when the police’s special crime investigative unit arrested him and his wife on suspicion of fraud, money laundering and for exchange control irregularities amounting to over US$ 1 million. His R20-million private Gulfstream jet was also attached.

Bushiri’s followers also attracted media attention when they gathered in great numbers waving placards outside court to pray for his release. Many prostrated themselves on the tarmac, tears streaming down their faces as they spoke in tongues or as they cried for their “daddy”, “Papa” or “Major One”.

Paseka Motsoeneng, better known as Prophet Mboro, who is a preacher from a similar church, lent emotional and spiritual support to Bushiri’s “children”, traumatised by the loss of their “spiritual mother and father”.

These scenes led many South Africans to ask questions about Bushiri’s supporters. Were they part of a cult? Or were they merely instruments in the hands of a man who manipulated their vulnerability for his own financial ends?

Christian commentators called for urgent government intervention to protect poor people duped by the improbable promises made by what they termed as “scam” churches and “fake prophets”.

As an anthropologist, I have been studying prosperity gospel churches in South Africa for nearly a decade. I have attended hundreds of daily services, watched scores of televised ones, analysed websites and chat forums and interviewed hundreds of prosperity gospel believers. And unlike theologians who argue about the legitimacy of Biblical interpretations and questions of doctrine, I have been interested in the kinds of people who swear undying support for men like Bushiri.

Tenets of the prosperity gospel

The prosperity gospel explains poverty and illness in terms of sins against God, specifically the withholding of tithes. It also ascribes such “bad luck” to the work of demons engaged in a spiritual war against God’s kingdom. Converts typically renounce their past lives and their old churches.

They embrace spiritual “technologies” – these include offerings in church, paying tithes, praying strongly and exorcising demons – that promise to secure miraculous health and wealth directly from God. They also follow preacher-prophets who they believe have special powers to fight against the “spirit of poverty”.

Many believers are strengthened in this faith through the persistent testimonies of those who had been “blessed” with jobs, houses, cars and healing in church. These testimonies are delivered from church pulpits and in person, and are endlessly repeated in church publications and on radio, television and the internet.

What I found

My research showed that prosperity gospel churches attract people from all walks of life and a variety of educational backgrounds. While the majority of congregants, like the majority of South Africans, are typically poor and dependent on social grants, these churches also count significant numbers of professionals, business people and increasingly, politicians, in their ranks.

I also found that Prosperity gospel believers are not captive victims of so-called cult leaders. In fact, they move constantly between churches as they search for more efficacious “technologies” and “stronger prophets”. Chances are that as Bushiri faces more legal troubles, more of his followers will desert him for prophets like Mboro.

I often struggle to convince people that those who subscribe to this gospel are not simply credulous dupes. Detractors often refer to the figure of the improbably rich prophet, men like Bushiri, as proof that the prosperity gospel is illegitimate and that its believers are fools.

God and money

There’s a long Western Christian belief that money is a force that corrupts proper spiritual intentions and corrodes sacred social bonds. Stemming from the 16th century Reformation, this tradition has been very suspicious of any coupling of God and money, holding that the material world poses dangerous distractions from proper spiritual belief.

But there are other Christian traditions such as the prosperity gospel that are much more materialist in their concerns. In these traditions, money does very different kinds of work. It is the proper medium through which their God “blesses” people, through which people petition God and through which believers come into social being and connect to others through their generosity.

Some of these traditions have a long history in South Africa, going back to the 1800s. The mission record for instance shows that scores of early converts- and missionaries- demanded material proof of their new God’s power. Various Revivalists used Christianity to inform more aggressive forms of millenarianism such as the “gospel of self-help” during the 1940s and the tent campaigns of the 1960s. The prosperity gospel is a continuation of this materialist Christian tradition. For its followers, it is not a con, just a different approach to their God.

Girls beat boys at school and lose to them at the office – here’s why

Hard work and discipline help girls outperform boys in class, but that advantage disappears in the work force. Is school the problem?

From elementary school through college, girls are more disciplinedabout their schoolwork than boys; they study harder and get better grades. Girls consistently outperform boys academically. And yet, men nonetheless hold a staggering 95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies.

What if those same habits that propel girls to the top of their class — their hyper-conscientiousness about schoolwork — also hold them back in the work force?

When investigating what deters professional advancement for women, the journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman found that a shortage of competence is less likely to be an obstacle than a shortage of confidence. When it comes to work-related confidence, they found men are far ahead. “Underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in,” they wrote. “Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect.”

As a psychologist who works with teenagers, I hear this concern often from the parents of many of my patients. They routinely remark that their sons do just enough to keep the adults off their backs, while their daughters relentlessly grind, determined to leave no room for error. The girls don’t stop until they’ve polished each assignment to a high shine and rewritten their notes with color-coded precision.

We need to ask: What if school is a confidence factory for our sons, but only a competence factory for our daughters?

This possibility hit me when I was caring for an eighth grader in my practice. She got terrific grades but was feeling overwhelmed by school. Her brother, a ninth grader, had similarly excellent grades, but when I asked if he worked as hard as she did, she scoffed. If she worked on an assignment for an hour and got an A, she felt “safe” only if she spent a full hour on other assignments like it. Her brother, in contrast, flew through his work. When he brought home an A, she said, he felt “like a stud.” If his grades slipped a bit, he would take his effort up just a notch. But she never felt “safe” enough to ever put in less than maximum effort.

That experience — of succeeding in school while exerting minimal or moderate effort — is a potentially crucial one. It may help our sons develop confidence, as they see how much they can accomplish simply by counting on their wits. For them, school serves as a test track, where they build their belief in their abilities and grow increasingly at ease relying on them. Our daughters, on the other hand, may miss the chance to gain confidence in their abilities if they always count on intellectual elbow grease alone.

So how do we get hyper-conscientious girls (and boys, as there certainly are some with the same style) to build both confidence and competence at school?

First, parents and teachers can stop praising inefficient overwork, even if it results in good grades. Gendered approaches to learning set in early, so it’s never too soon to start working against them. Recently, as I read “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” to my 8-year-old daughter, I stopped at a passage in which Hermione — the fictional poster child for academic fastidiousness — turned in an essay that was “two rolls of parchment more than Professor Binns asked for.” Hermione, I pointed out, doesn’t make great use of her time. She’s a capable student and could probably do just as well without working so hard. “Right,” my daughter said. “Of course she could!”

We can also encourage girls toward a different approach to school — one that’s more focused on economy of effort, rather than how many hours they put in. Whenever one of the academically impressive and persistently anxious girls in my practice tells me about staying up until 2 in the morning studying, I see an opening. That’s the moment to push them to become tactical, to figure out how to continue learning and getting the same grades while doing a little bit less. I urge my patients — and my own teenage daughter — to begin study sessions by taking sample tests, to see how much they know before figuring out how much more they need to do to attain mastery over a concept or task. Many girls build up an incredible capacity for work, but they need these moments to discover and take pride in how much they already understand.

Teachers, too, can challenge girls’ over-the-top tendencies. When a girl with a high-A average turns in extra credit work, her instructor might ask if she is truly taken with the subject or if she is looking to store up “insurance points,” as some girls call them. If it’s the former, more power to her. If it’s the latter, the teacher might encourage the student to trust that what she knows and the work she is already doing will almost certainly deliver the grade she wants. Educators can also point out to this student that she may not need insurance; she probably has a much better grasp of the material than she gives herself credit for.

Finally, we can affirm for girls that it is normal and healthy to feel some anxiety about school. Too often, girls are anxious even about being anxious, so they turn to excessive studying for comfort. We can remind them that being a little bit nervous about schoolwork just means that they care about it, which of course they should.

Even if neither you nor your daughter cares about becoming a chief executive, you may worry that she will eventually be crushed by the weight of her own academic habits. While a degree of stress promotes growth, working at top speed in every class at all times is unhealthy and unsustainable for even the most dedicated high school students. A colleague of mine likes to remind teenagers that in classes where any score above 90 counts as an A, the difference between a 91 and a 99 is a life.

To be sure, the confidence gap is hardly the only thing keeping women out of top jobs. Women also face gender bias, sexual harassment and powerful structural barriers in the workplace. But confidence at school is one unequal advantage that we can address right now. Instead of standing by as our daughters make 50 flashcards when they were assigned 20, we can step in and ask them why. Many professional men brim with confidence because they have spent years getting to know their abilities. Women should arrive in the work world having done the same.

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Lisa Damour is a psychologist in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and the author of “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood” and “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.” @LDamour • Facebook

The Passage of the #GEOBill is long overdue

By Chioma Agwuegbo

Being female in Nigeria can be considered an extreme sport, with women and girls perpetually playing the odds in a game where the house is rigged to win. 

For over 30 years, Nigeria has paid lip service to the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls. Past governments have said one thing, hurriedly signing international treaties, but failing (woefully) to domesticate them. These treaties include the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), in 1985 under military rule, the African charter on Human and People’s Rights, touted as the most continent friendly, yet progressive document on women’s rights, which the African Union adopted in 2003 and Nigeria ratified in 2004. 

This lip service has had and continues to have severe consequences for women across the country, and even in the diaspora. 

A few years ago, a video of three women who had stolen pepper in a market in Ejigbo, Lagos State surfaced; not because they had been handed over to the market authorities or law enforcement, but because they had been stripped naked, beaten within an inch of their lives, and men stuffed sticks, and ground, dried pepper into their vaginas. One of those women died. A lot of initial outrage and arrests, shock, and heavy sentences later, the matter has died without any logical conclusion that will deter reoccurrence. 

In 2010, a former employee of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency accused the agency of firing her because she refused to abort her baby, contravening their law that forbids unmarried women from being pregnant. Her application to the agency to marry the father of her child had been denied, even though she had put in the required two years of service before marriage. 

Still within security circles, the Nigerian Police Act is rife with discriminatory provisions for women who wish to enlist. They must be unmarried, and then apply to the Police Commissioner of their Command for permission to marry. It gets worse; an unmarried woman police officer that gets pregnant will be discharged from the force, yet nothing is said about the man who impregnates the woman.

Until 2014 and the historical judgment by the Supreme Court, Igbo Customary Law barred the female child, irrespective of the circumstances of her birth, from inheriting or partaking in the sharing of the property and estate of her father.

It begs the question, what does Nigeria have against women and girls? What reason could ever suffice for the delays in immediately halting the various manifestations of discrimination against half of the population? 

How does a nation that purports to uphold the Constitution thrive in the absence of the full actualisation of the International Covenants of Human Rights enshrined in that same Constitution? Instead, it whips up the National Gender Policy, which in itself is a decent collation of the national and international treaties the government has signed up to, but without any legal backing, is as toothless and ineffective as those get.

Enter the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, popularly known as the #GEOBill, an appropriation the best parts of CEDAW, the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women and the National Gender Policy.

The #GEOBill has suffered many refusals in the hands of an increasingly and predominantly male legislature that refuses to prioritise the rights and protection of women. The 6th Assembly threw it out for being ‘unAfrican’. The Bill was defeated in March 2016, and a second, watered down version thrown out in September 2016, for ‘going against our traditional and religious’ practises. 

Which practices? Is one of them marrying children, which some legislators are wont to do? Verified statistics place underage marriage in Nigeria between 43 and 45 percent, in a country with the highest number of out of school children in the world. 

These legislators couldn’t be bothered to form a quorum on the 9th of December 2016 for the Bill to be presented for public hearing, and in 2018, two dates for public hearing on the Bill were postponed.  What does Nigeria have against women and girls? What does the Legislature have against the protection of women and girls, and the promotion of their rights to self-actualisation in Nigeria?

The 8th Assembly, and the Assemblies before them, have failed women. They will go down in ignominy as sitting within the chambers that denied women their rights to thrive in Nigeria as equal, deserving members of society. 

We hope that the 9th Assembly will pass the #GEOBill, treating it with the urgency that it has lacked, but by Jove, it totally deserves. 

Chioma Agwuegbo, a communication strategist, is founder of TechHerNG, a community of learning, support, and collaboration for women in technology. 

What the VP debate taught us about alternatives to APC/PDP

By Fisayo Soyombo

In a country of 91 political parties in theory but just two in practice, a vice-presidential debate was always going to be a hard sell. For many reasons. When the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) announced the five parties to participate in the exercise, not many Nigerians could, off the top of their heads, name the respective vice-presidential candidates. Okay, we know the presidential candidates that are Obiageli Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Durotoye, but, for many, it still hasn’t sunk that their parties are Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) in that order. Minus the press statements announcing their emergence, ANN’s Khadija Abdullahi-Iya, ACPN’s Ganiyu Galadima and YPP’s Umma Getso were unknown quantities until the night of the debate. The presidential debate, scheduled for January 19, 2019, was always going to be the real deal. 

That hasn’t changed, of course. But with the benefit of hindsight — and ignoring the big sin of overlooking one or two other parties who should have been invited — we can thank NEDG and BON for that VP debate. It offered us deep insights into the core of the APC-PDP battle, and even deeper ones into the composition, depth and structure of the alternate parties.
It helped us to know that 2019 is about the thief versus the shop keeper. To the discerning, Peter Obi’s parable of the shop and Yemi Osinbajo’s rebuttal tells a lot about what the two parties genuinely think of themselves, and of each other, in terms of their economic management potentials and their corrupt tendencies. In marshalling his argument, Obi recalls how unemployment levels have risen and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) fallen in the current administration despite the much-vaunted anti-corruption crusade. “You’re not creating jobs, you’re not doing the right thing and you’re just fighting corruption,” he says. “You can’t shut down your shop and be chasing criminals.”

Osinbajo’s rebuttal included the refrain: “…if you allow criminals to steal all the inventory in the shop, there’ll be no shop. That’s the problem. And what has happened to Nigeria in the past 16 years is what the World Bank told us, that the major cause of our poverty is corruption.” 

Obi fell short of expectations in his economy versus anti-corruption argument. His position was to justify the superiority of corruption plus economic astuteness on the one hand over anti-corruption plus economic mismanagement on the other hand. Meanwhile, the expectation was that he would revisit the corruption in the Muhammadu Buhari administration: the fraudulent NNPC deals for which Ibe Kachikwu wrote Buhari in 2017, the nepotistic secret recruitments at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the N200m grass-cutting scandal over which the President delayed sacking the erstwhile SGF Babachir Lawal for many months, among many others. In the moment when it mattered, Obi forgot all these. It’s good news, actually, because for those who have reduced the 2019 election to a PDP-APC battle, now they know that their vote is either against one of corruption and economic mismanagement, or for one of supposed economic competence and incorruptibility. Sadly, that’s nothing but a reproduction of the devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea scenario of 2015. 

The next logical step, then, would be to look in the direction of one of the smaller parties offering Nigerians an escape from the APC-PDP hegemony. But, on the evidence of their vice presidential candidates’ display at the debate, ACPN, ANN and YPP owe Nigerians an apology. Their candidates — Ganiyu Galadima, Khadija Abdullahi-Iya and Umma Getso — demonstrated unpreparedness for the debate, gross lack of understanding of national issues and utter underestimation of the enormous responsibilities that come with deputising for the Nigerian President. 

Galadima was there for the limelight. Given a few minutes to open his remarks, he goes on and on about his gratitude for the stage, then reminds us he also featured at the 2015 debate “though as presidential candidate of the ACPN”. Abdullahi-Iya tells us she is “vying for the post of VP because I am concerned about every one of the over 2.1million children in the IDP camps in the northeast, who are scattered all over Nigeria. I am also concerned about the 13million children who are out of school.” Nothing wrong about caring for children but that can’t be the number one reason for seeking that office. If Abdullahi-Iya had any sniff of the Constitution, she would have known the Vice President is the Deputy Chairman of the Council of State, the Deputy Chairman of the National Defence Council; and, most importantly, the Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC). Surprisingly, there was no single economy-related question that Abdullahi-Iya answered convincingly. She would be more remembered at the debate for her numerous “good evening, sir” when introducing her comments than for making any noteworthy contribution.

Neither did Getso fare any better. Asked what she would do to improve the aviation sector in Nigeria, her response was: “All we need is patriotic leaders. Patriotism will save Nigeria’s aviation sector.” Asked elsewhere to explain what would be the economic thrust of her administration for the aviation sector, Getso answered: “The major thing a typical Nigerian needs to look into is to see how we can rekindle patriotism in our hearts. To be candid, what Nigeria just needs is patriotic leaders, leaders that have Nigeria at heart. This is just what I’ll say about the aviation sector.” So, if we were to vote for Kingsley Moghalu, this is the Vice President he would give us? One question for Moghalu: what offence have Nigerians committed to deserve the punishment of an Acting President Getso in your absence?

On the simple but far-reaching matter of fuel subsidy, all three alternate candidates played to the gallery: subsidy must go. Even Obi supported this stance — same tune Buhari sang pre-2015 yet subsidy has remained in his four years at the helm. But no one with full grasp of the matter can advocate subsidy removal without addressing the corollary challenge of the ripple-effect spike in cost of transport, housing, food, goods and services; everything. Only Osinbajo did this.

The vice-presidential debate has taught us that the alternate parties are not ready. YPP, ANN and ACPN are approximately one-man shows incapable of running a government. If elected, Ezekwesili, Moghalu and Durotoye would struggle to constitute a proper cabinet. It took Buhari six months, it probably would take them a year — unless, of course, they want to populate it with people who have little to offer beyond their faith in their principal. None of Ezekwesili, Durotoye or Moghalu has an able deputy; that’s a sure sign of a tumultuous government that would eventually climax in self-implosion, were they to win.

It’s time alternate parties understood that the thirst for power and passion for change are not enough to succeed in the seat of governance. Beyond throwing constant jabs, however deserved, at the government of the day, these parties should spend the next four years building proper structures and propagating their ideologies within the party in such a manner that a VP candidate can discuss the party’s ideals almost as eloquently as the presidential candidate. Until then, they are not ready.

Soyombo, former Editor of the TheCable and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), tweets @fisayosoyombo

Jonathan’s ‘transition’ controversy

Former Nigeria President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

By SOC Okenwa


Former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has finally written and released the much-expected book on his stewardship and other presidential experiences. Having left power in a blaze of glory way back in 2015, magnanimously conceding defeat in a gentlemanly responsible manner to the man that electorally battered him, President Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan is apparently enjoying himself in his peaceful retirement and basking in the euphoria of having ‘survived’ Aso Rock — that is, if what Reuben Abati, his former SSA on Media and Publicity, had told a flabbergasted nation about the ‘devils’ and ‘demons’ that inhabited the place of power was to be taken seriously into account! 

GEJ, as he is fondly called, turned 61 recently and he used the auspicious occasion to launch a book about his years in power entitled: ‘My Transition Hours’. The book was officially presented to the public penultimate Tuesday. And the event witnessed a full house of who-is-who in Nigerian politics in Abuja.

Dignitaries (including ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Federal Government who represented the reclusive President Buhari, the ruling APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, retired Generals and former Heads of state Yakubu Gowon and Abdusalami Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki etc) came from far and near to honour the man from Otuoke town in Bayelsa State who made history (positively and negatively) as an incumbent President defeated soundly by the opposition. And as a sitting President who acknowledged his defeat by calling and congratulating the victor thereby setting a positive precedent in a ‘do-or-die’ politics Nigeriana (apology to OBJ).

The launch of the book attracted ovation from the different personalities present for the modest man from the Niger Delta oil-rich region whose presidential trajectory is a study in providential favour. GEJ’s political rise to and fall from the top was a classical tale of ‘goodluck’ and divine favour. During the book presentation Jonathan visibly basked in the euphoria of the glorious moment as one speaker after another extolled his patriotism and democratic ideal. Of course we cannot agree more that Jonathan is both a patriot and democrat. 

However, we cannot disagree less that he came, saw but never conquered the Nigerian infrastructural and developmental malady. Destiny smiled at him but he messed up with the uncommon opportunity he had to make Nigeria great again. Few men in the history of the world had been so blessed!

Days after the book’s presentation controversy has trailed its contents. It would appear that the GEJ narrative did not go down well with some prominent political players during his giddy stay in Aso Rock. First to fire a salvo towards Jonathan after reading the book for certain misrepresentation regarding the Chibok girls’ abduction saga was the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima. He lampooned Jonathan via a statement for trying to exonerate himself from the Chibok ugly incident while blaming others including himself the Governor. Governor Shettima described the book as “a presidential tale by mid-day, a mere fiction devoid of facts”.

The Executive Governor of Borno State was obviously livid that Jonathan never revealed the content of the presidential panel that investigated the Chibok abduction imbroglio which he said was submitted to him but about which he never did anything until he left office. Shettima may have had his own side of the story to tell someday but we hold that there was political dimension to the Chibok saga. The Borno Chief Executive cannot escape blame for the irresponsible way and manner he handled the Boko Haram kidnapping exploit in his volatile state. He was aloof quite like Jonathan and cared less because none of the girls was his daughter or relation! Shettima even jetted off to the US in the middle of the Chibok ‘rapture’!

And following Shettima’s strongly-worded dismissal of ‘My Transition Hours’ the ex-Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation under Jobnathan, Bello Adoke, equally puntured the ‘falsehood’ Jonathan peddled when he said that he took the crucial decision of phoning Buhari and congratulating him even when the comprehensive result of the poll was yet to be fully announced. Jonathan had given the impression that Adoke, Osita Chidoka, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and his ex-aide on Domestic Affairs were not favourably disposed to his conceding defeat. On the contrary however Adoke submitted that they were the ones ‘pressurising’ GEJ to rapidly acknowledge his defeat to douse the tension in the land then.

The former Minister and AGF concluded that someday in the near future he would be writing his own book to present the issue in a true manner. What he was saying in essence was that GEJ never single-handedly took the decision to recognise his electoral fall from power but a collective thing involving others with him at that moment in time in the nation’s history. 

The presidency was not left out of the fury over what transpired during and after the presidential poll of 2015 as narrated by the very man at the centre of it all. Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, had issued a strong statement denouncing Jonathan for saying in the book that corruption was worse now than under his leadership! And again for giving himself credit for the Single Treasury Account (TSA) initiative as well as Biometric Verification Number (BVN), and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPS). Shehu had dutifully countered Jonathan on those scores scoring his administration poor on fiscal prudence and arguing further that it served no useful purpose initiating an idea without the political will to implement same.

But by far the most pungent put-down of GEJ and his book came from Zainab Duke-Abiola, the obscure wife of the late Bashorun MKO Abiola. The woman dismissed the book as “monumental manipulation of historical facts and figures” going on to slam same as “a pseudologia fantastica”! For the widow: “Jonathan said corruption is not stealing and thereafter flagged off the looting spree of the treasury, which ultimately plunged Nigeria into recession when he left. Jonathan will go down in history as Nigeria’s worst political mistake”. 

 Disagreeing with Jonathan on his submission that Boko Haram, Chibok girls’ kidnapping crisis and the former American President, Barack Obama and ex-British PM David Cameron worked against his re-election bid Mrs Abiola blamed his presidential failure squarely on his “gross incompetence and ineptitude”.

Besides, the leading online news portal, ‘SaharaReporters’ based in the US, had exclusively reported online that the book had an original and fake versions! Could it be that Jonathan was not the original author of the book? Who wrote the fake version? Or could we believe then that literary swindlers are out to swindle Ebele and make money out of his presidential prerogative?

For some critics who had read the book the literary effort by the Ijawman was not a masterpiece in any stretch of imagination expected of an ex-leader with such academic accomplishment. For so-called PHD holder to have written what Gov. Shettima and Zainab Duke-Abiola described condescendingly in an unflattering manner betrayed intellectual laziness on the part of GEJ.

Yet his intellectual predicament could be understood. Goodluck Jonathan has never been known, in and out of power, to be charismatic, intellectually sound and eloquent! He is not the American Obama, the French Macron or the Canadian Trudeau. Neither is he the Nigerian Soyinka or the late Achebe. Jonathan is wholly made in Nigeria and as such a ‘Naija’ product he could not have given what he did not possess in terms of wittiness and grittiness of intellectualism or radicalism. His parental and environmental background must have played a major role in the formation and trajectory of the GEJ we know.

Conclusively it seems from the look of things lately that Jonathan is indeed happy with himself, enjoying the bliss of retirement, convinced supremely that he had delivered on the mandate Providence had placed upon him following the tragic demise of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, his ex-principal. And the one subsequently conferred on him by Nigerians (rigging or not!) He is conveniently blaming every other person but himself for his manifest failures occasioned mainly by his spineless disposition and meek attitude. 
He is clapping for himself as it were like a lunatic in the market-square with one hand! His ‘Transition Hours’ appears to be a presidential tale fraught with alleged inaccuracies and revisionist conclusions. It has failed to impress anyone, not the least those who should know better.

SOC Okenwa
soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr

We need a high wall with a big gate

With Trump using immigration simply for political gain, Democrats need to be the adults and offer a realistic, comprehensive approach.

Kamala Harris, the Democratic senator from California, recently raised eyebrows when she asked Ronald Vitiello, President Trump’s nominee to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whether he appreciated the “perception” that ICE spreads “fear and intimidation” among immigrants the way the Ku Klux Klan did among blacks.

Harris carefully worded her question around the “perception” of ICE — and it was raised in part because Vitiello had once shamefully tweeted that Democrats were “the NeoKlanist party.” Nevertheless, with Harris a likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, Republican media pounced on her with variations of: “Hey voters, get this: Democrats think the ICE officers protecting you from illegal immigrants are like the K.K.K. You gonna vote for that?”

ICE does seem to have a bad culture, but it is not the K.K.K. At the same time, I don’t think the Democratic Party is just for open borders. Alas, though, I’m also not sure what exactly is the party’s standard on immigration — and questions like Harris’s leave it open to demonization.

Since Republicans have completely caved to Trump’s craven exploitation of immigration as a wedge issue, the country, as usual, needs the Democrats to be the adults and put forward a realistic, comprehensive approach to immigration, which now requires two parts.

The first is a way to think about the border and the second is a way to think about all the issues beyond the border — issues that are pushing migrants our way. You cannot think seriously about the first without thinking seriously about the second, and if you don’t, this week’s scenes of Customs and Border Protection officers firing tear gas to keep out desperate migrants near Tijuana will get a lot worse.

Regarding the border, the right place for Democrats to be is for a high wall with a big gate.

Democrats won’t do as well as they can nationallywithout assuring Americans that they’re committed to securing our borders; people can’t just walk in. But the country won’t do as well as it can in the 21st century unless it remains committed to a very generous legal immigration policy — and a realistic pathway to citizenship for illegals already here — to attract both high-energy, low-skilled workers and high-I.Q. risk takers.

They have been the renewable energy source of the American dream — and our secret advantage over China.

But thinking beyond the borderis where Democrats can really distinguish themselves; it’s where Trump has been recklessly AWOL.

This is how we got to where we are today: During the 19th and 20th centuries, the world shifted from being governed by large empires in many regions to being governed by independent nation-states. And the 50 years after World War II were a great time to be a weak little nation-state.

Why? Because there were two superpowers competing for your affection by throwing foreign aid at you, building your army, buying your cheap goods and educating your college students; climate change was moderate; populations were still under control in the developing world; no one had a cellphone to easily organize movements against your government; and China was not in the World Trade Organization, so everyone could be in textiles and other low-wage industries.

All of that switched in the early 21st century: Climate-driven extreme weather — floods, droughts, heat and cold — on top of man-made deforestation began to hammer many countries, especially their small-scale farmers. This happened right as developing-world populations exploded. Africa went from 140 million in 1900 to one billion in 2010 to a projected 2.5 billion by 2050.

Syria grew from three million people in 1950 to over 22 million today, which, along with droughts, totally stressed its water resources. Guatemala, the main source of the migrant caravan heading our way, has been ravaged by deforestation thanks to illegal logging, farmers cutting trees for firewood and drug traffickers creating landing strips and smuggling trails.

A satellite map just released by University of Cincinnati geography researchers demonstrated that nearly a quarter of the earth’s habitable surface changed between just 1992 and 2015, primarily from forests to agriculture, from grasslands to deserts and from wetlands to urban concrete.

Meanwhile, the internet has enabled citizens to easily compare their living standards with those in Paris or Phoenix — and find a human trafficker to take them there. Also, China joined the W.T.O., dominating low-wage industries, and the end of the Cold War meant no superpower wanted to touch your country, because all it would win was a bill.

So it’s now much harder to be an average little country. The most frail of them are hemorrhaging people, like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Sudan and most every nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Others — Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya — have just fractured.

Together, they’re creating vast zones of disorder, and many people want to get out of them into any zone of order, particularly America or Europe, triggering nationalist-populist backlashes.

Why? Because there were two superpowers competing for your affection by throwing foreign aid at you, building your army, buying your cheap goods and educating your college students; climate change was moderate; populations were still under control in the developing world; no one had a cellphone to easily organize movements against your government; and China was not in the World Trade Organization, so everyone could be in textiles and other low-wage industries.

All of that switched in the early 21st century: Climate-driven extreme weather — floods, droughts, heat and cold — on top of man-made deforestation began to hammer many countries, especially their small-scale farmers. This happened right as developing-world populations exploded. Africa went from 140 million in 1900 to one billion in 2010 to a projected 2.5 billion by 2050.

Syria grew from three million people in 1950 to over 22 million today, which, along with droughts, totally stressed its water resources. Guatemala, the main source of the migrant caravan heading our way, has been ravaged by deforestation thanks to illegal logging, farmers cutting trees for firewood and drug traffickers creating landing strips and smuggling trails.

A satellite map just released by University of Cincinnati geography researchers demonstrated that nearly a quarter of the earth’s habitable surface changed between just 1992 and 2015, primarily from forests to agriculture, from grasslands to deserts and from wetlands to urban concrete.

Meanwhile, the internet has enabled citizens to easily compare their living standards with those in Paris or Phoenix — and find a human trafficker to take them there. Also, China joined the W.T.O., dominating low-wage industries, and the end of the Cold War meant no superpower wanted to touch your country, because all it would win was a bill.

So it’s now much harder to be an average little country. The most frail of them are hemorrhaging people, like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Sudan and most every nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Others — Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya — have just fractured.

Together, they’re creating vast zones of disorder, and many people want to get out of them into any zone of order, particularly America or Europe, triggering nationalist-populist backlashes.

The future of the black race; much ado on the third coming of Buhari

By Isaac Ijuo-Pio


President Muhammadu Buhari

Increased unemployment, insecurity and horrific terrorist attacks, failing health and academic sector, poor road networks, declining economy, money laundering and junketing, the country is not just in a mess, the country is itself a mess, these were the ubiquitous advances of many Nigerians against the incumbent President and ruling party towards the end of the President Goodluck led administration. The extravagant clamor and fierce desire for change was loud, firm, but ironically the kind of change was left undefined.

 A Goliath named General (now President) Muhammadu Buhari paraded himself with enormous effrontery slamming the stage that he is capable to addressing the ills in the country at the snap of his fingers. He presented himself as the holy angel of good governance, progressive and positive change. His sullenly-delightful words massaged the ego of many Nigerians and they found him as a worthy messiah to save the pillaged and delinquent country. These phrases “sai “buhari,” “saibaba”was a laudate dominus for many Nigerians, after all our future are now secured with a man who repented of his unpopular governmental ills as a military head of state. I recall his pronounciamento saying; “I Muhammadu Buhari have resolved that the task ahead of me is that of Securing our Nation and Prospering our people not looking backward to the failed policies and promises of the past. As I noted before, it is no longer a question of choice but that of the will and courage.” He emerged on the wings of people’s despair and desperation. The expectations were high and promises bogusly-plentiful and no sooner that he emerged that we all saw his bold incompetency, ill-learned policies and unrepentant tyranny. We wondered how we had successfully, proudly and gladly elected another clueless, unprogressive, dictatorial, religiously and ethnically pampered and health failed-brain leader,but the central gist remains that we as a country are like ship wrecked from different sides and by different things.

The abiding irony and catacomb agony is the obnoxious fact that during his campaign he publicly declared and acknowledged his advanced age and his consequent limitations, he thus promised to serve for only one term.Perhaps, an Honourable man (that is if at all he is) would keep to his word if not for anything, but because of his failing health and gallantly step aside,but we are in a society of sycophants, and gold-plaited old cargos who keeping fishing from the same dead ocean of stillborn promises and feeding her fickle-minded, myopic and peanut-lovers citizens with complete dosage of religious sandwiches and concentrates of partisan hooliganism. We then have this saint in human form announcing and seeking a reelection for a second term as a democrat, what for? I ask.

We neither need Donald Trump to epithet our incumbent president as “lifeless” nor a Bill Gate to remind us that Nigeria is one of the worst places to be born on earth with the highest percentage of infant mortality. We are fully aware of the distress and continuous wallowing in the non-flowing pool of vampire’s misery. The stinking wounds and non-tranquil systems which President Muhammadu Buhari campaigned against, criticized and beckoned on Nigerians world over to go against by voting out the then incumbent president and party are the very things his administration are promisingly spearheading, but amazingly his deeds are left unchecked. Beyond rhetoric and stilt of doubt we acknowledge the pastoralism and presidential expropriation of resources, lands which are matters arising in the country, the demonic ash flow of poverty, the country leading other African nations of persons in IDP camps, institutionalized corruption(where for the first time reptiles and pisces are skillful enough to join the wagon of fund looters), selective appointment and probing of fund looters,decaying health system (where from the budget a Nigerian gets one thousand six hundred naira only to treat his health, however he goes for health break in London), ineffective social services, chaotic transportation and communication system, kidnapping, armed robbery and maiming now a profession, human right abuses (disemboweling of pregnant women, raping of women particularly children,attacks in IDP camps amidst others), states like; Taraba, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau,Kogi, Nassarawa, Maiduguri, Katsina even Abuja are flowing with blood and infested with swarm of flies caused which has increased the possibility of an epidemic, economic recession, non-innovative and technological advancement,ideological impotency, decline in food production, blame game as a means of securing his government.CAN ANY GOOD COME OUT OF NAZARETH?

The second coming of Buhari was strongly built on stealth,he was projected to be redeemed; to have become an elder statesman and even a democrat, but the Buhari we have seen is anything else, but these, his sullen deeds were murky and levied with religious “fanatism,”“cobwebic”enslavement of oppositions, a tribally-soiled soul, a slow poison who lacks tact and obviously blurry invision. So the third coming of this man bide no good to the country, if these endemic acts were seen to be done in the ending regime then a re-election is not only hazardous to the country, to the continent likewise.

If common rats then could stampede the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic from his Office then well-meaning citizens especially they outh who constitutes a gross percentage of six-two could likely parade him out of the office, by refusing to cast their right and future to intellectually crippled midgets who spearhead the vanguard of anti-technicalities with mediocre thoughts and animal husbandry visage of preeminence.Actually, these old men have tried they should go and enjoy their ignominious retirement away from public glare,rather than keeping the country as baby-feed and nursed infants, who cannot manage the batons of authority with due diligence and honour of her citizens,but if the third coming of Buhari succeeds,what then is the hope for the black race?

Rather than answering this question so as not to create further problems I would only ask jurisprudential questions let each and well-meaning citizens seek answers to illuminate their ignorant mind and take action from their varying cargoes of weaknesses. What is the ideology and meaning to the chorused change of the ruling party and president? What fiscal policies has this administration enacted that it is to the benefit of her citizens and the continent? What discussions are we having as a people in our political forums, seminars,legislative, judiciary and executive meetings over the state of the country? How are we intending to pull our citizens out of party and make them viable to compete in this technologically driven era? “Are we politricking or polinnovating?”Those contesting against Buhari what political record, societal influence and impact have they?Is Buhari actually the problem of the black race? Are we actually practicing democracy orgerontocracy, autocracy or kakistocracy? Are we prepared as a people todiscover the true meaning of development? What constitutes our standard of leadership selection?Is it; merit, dictatorial capacity, economic and financial intelligence, educational qualifications, religious biases or what? What is even leadership in the African context? The questions are multifarious like the tentacles of an octopus and abyssal so each of us should be critical on the state and future of this country and continent.

In conclusion, James Freeman Clarke said “A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman, of the next generation” speaking from the tsunami party prostitution we should conclusive posit the future of the continent. We discuss 2023, 2027, 2031 elections preaching Igbo presidency,Yoruba presidency, Igede/Idoma presidency and possibly Jukun/Ibibio Presidency not considering the Leadership content, character, effectiveness and productivity of candidates. Robin Sharma said“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact,influence and inspiration. Impacts involve getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work and you have to inspire teammates and customers.”Leaving the country and the continent in the cruel hands of this unproductive old folks and expecting different results is like playing with an ebola victim or eating the meats of monkeys with pox but envisaging not to be infested with the varying ailment.Well, since the continent had donned economic religiosity and god-drinking maybe our sheer-faith should pull us out of this misery someday.Obviously, God cannot be mocked…! If you want to correctly predict the future you create it, and whatever future you create, you enjoy. Thus, whatever future we build today regardless of our thunderous and continuously acclaimed effectual prayers we would for ever rigmarole around the same vicious circle of non-importance, ash-flow of poverty, insecurity, non-innovation,economic “ding batism”and mental slavery.

Nigerian army deny attack on Biafra leader Nnamdi Kanu

Nnamdi Kanu’s sureties about to lose N300m bond – Analysis

The decision of an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court for three sureties to pay N100 million each or produce separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has continued to generate discussion among Nigerians.

Mr Kanu, who is facing trial on alleged treasonable offences, disappeared in September 2017 after his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, accused the Nigerian army of attempting to kill him during a military raid at the defendant’s residence in Abia State.

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) disappeared five months after he was granted bail, in April 2017.

Following his disappearance, the court, presided over by a judge, Binta Nyako, ordered Mr Kanu’s sureties, including a serving senator, Enyinnaya Abaribe to either produce the defendant or pay N100 million each, as contained in Mr Kanu’s bail condition.

The judge also noted that the sureties stood the risk of going to jail, should they fail to produce Mr Kanu.

“You have only three options: produce Nnamdi Kanu, forfeit the bond (N100 million), or request for time to bring him back to court to face his trial.

“Once you sign to be somebody’s surety, that person automatically becomes your responsibility,” Mrs Nyako said, shortly after Mr Kanu’s disappearance while addressing a lawyer, representing Mr Abaribe in court.

Following the recent reappearance of Mr Kanu in Israel, some lawyers viewed possible options for Mr Kanu’s return to include a diplomatic action between Nigerian government and the government of Israel.

“Such a thing (extradition) can only be done through diplomatic agreement by the two countries,” said a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Simon Ameh.

Mr Ameh added that the Nigerian courts cannot make a direct order for Mr Kanu’s return from Israel.

Another lawyer, Folarin Aluko, however, explained the role of the court in the diplomatic action noted by Mr Ameh.

“Nigeria can apply for Mr Kanu’s extradition to Nigeria, following the procedures laid down in the Extradition Law of the foreign country, and the provisions of Nigeria’s Extradition Act.

“Looking at Nigerian law, for example, Section 1 of the Extradition Act provides for the judicial determination of an Extradition Application. The Federal High Court is vested with the jurisdiction by virtue of Section 251 (i) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), while the Extradition is within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, by virtue of Item 27 of the Exclusive Legislative list contained in Part 1, Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

Mr Aluko added that extradition laws globally frown at cases where its purpose is to prosecute someone for reasons including their political believes.

During the last hearing, however, Mrs Nyako ordered the sureties; Messrs Abaribe, a Jewish Priest Ben El-Shalom and a banker, Tochukwu Uchendu to deposit the agreed bond to the court registrar within two months from November 14 when the order was made.

The sum of N300 million expected from the sureties is to remain a temporary property of the court, for six months.

The court ruled that the sureties would be forced to either produce Mr Kanu or forfeit the bond, after six months.

Lawyers have, however, expressed divergent views on the recent order.

While a lawyer Kasiemobi Oranugo views the position of the judge as “a violation of the terms of contract”, another lawyer, Monday Ejeh, says the sureties have a duty to produce Mr Kanu or forfeit their bond.

“In Kenny’s Outline of Criminal Law; bail is defined as contract whereby a person is delivered to a third person called surety on the understanding that the surety would ensure that the person is produced whenever his presence is needed.

“From the above definition, we ought to beam our search light on two important words that rear their heads, which are “contract and surety,” Mr Oranugo told PREMIUM TIMES in an attempt to explain the latest ruling on Mr Kanu’s bail.

Citing parts of some previous Supreme Court decisions, Mr Oranugo gave what he described as the apex court’s definition of a contract, as well as its pattern of determination.

“Contract is defined as an agreement between two or more persons which creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing. Its essentials are competent parties, subject matter, a legal consideration, mutuality of agreement and mutuality of obligation”.

“A contract, generally, may be discharged through the following, namely (a) By performance – if both parties have done all that is required of them, (b) By agreement – if both parties have mutually agreed to put an end to their contractual relationship, (c) By frustration – if some event outside the control of the parties take place, making performance impossible and (d) By breach – where the innocent party is relieved and the party in default may be liable for damages”.

“Pursuant to the above premises, it will be crystal clear that Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two others only entered into a contractual agreement with the court with respect to the release of Nnamdi Kanu on bail.

“It will also be deduced that the contract was not in any way breached by either of the parties, but was frustrated by an event or a force outside the contemplation or control of the parties,” Mr Oranugo said.

In a different opinion, however, Mr Ejeh views that the FHC was right in its November, 14 ruling.

“The law is that the sureties are like guarantors. They hold themselves out as collaterals and guarantee the continuous availability of a defendant in a criminal case.

“In doing this, sureties enter into a bond; which simply means they tell the court that they will always provide the defendant whenever he is needed in court. And in the event they fail in this regard, they will be liable to forfeit, to the government, a particular sum of money on the bond.

“If they fail or neglect to pay the bond, they will be liable to be committed to prison for a period not exceeding six months.

“Thus, what Tochukwu Uchendu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and Ben El Shalom; who guaranteed the continuous availability of Nnamdi Kanu for his trial need to do is to provide him on the next adjourned date or ordinarily stand the risk of coughing out the sum of N300 million bail bond to the federal government or stand the risk of, at most, six months imprisonment for failure to so do.”

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria preparing the bodies of members killed when the Nigerian Army opened fire during the group’s protests in the capital Abuja this week. Photo: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Did trump inspire Nigerian Army’s fatal shooting of protesters?

The Nigerian Army, part of a military criticized for rampant human rights abuses, on Friday used the words of President Trump to justify its fatal shootings of rock-throwing protesters.

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria preparing the bodies of members killed when the Nigerian Army opened fire during the group’s protests in the capital Abuja this week. Photo: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Soldiers opened fire this past Monday on a march of about 1,000 Islamic Shia activists who had been blocking traffic in the capital, Abuja. Videos circulated on social media showed several protesters hurling rocks at the heavily armed soldiers who then shot fleeing protesters in the back.

The Nigerian military said three protesters were killed but the toll appears to have been much higher.

Amnesty International as well as leaders of the protest said more than 40 people were killed at the march and two other smaller marches, with more than 100 wounded by bullets. A Reuters reporter counted 20 bodies at the main march.

Human rights activists and many ordinary citizens were outraged at the military’s response, which echoed a similar confrontation in 2015, when soldiers killed nearly 350 protesters from the same group, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, the largest and most recognizable face of Shia Islam in the country. The group organizes frequent protest marches.

Early Friday morning, the military responded to the criticism.

The Army’s official Twitter account posted a video, “Please Watch and Make Your Deductions,” showing Mr. Trump’s anti-migrant speech on Thursday in which he said rocks would be considered firearms if thrown toward the American military at the nation’s borders.

“We’re not going to put up with that,” Mr. Trump said in the clip. “They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back.”

In Nigeria, Mr. Trump is a popular figure among many people who praise what they regard as his straightforwardness and frank talk despite his reported insult to the nation last year when he said Nigerians in the United States would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.

Mr. Trump also referred to unspecified African countries as “shithole countries.”

Earlier this year after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, during which Mr. Trump praised the Nigerian leader’s fight against the Islamic State in West Africa, he said he never again wanted to meet someone so lifeless as Mr. Buhari, the Financial Times reported.

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria marching to demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, in Abuja on Wednesday. Photo: Paul Carsten/Reuters
Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria marching to demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, in Abuja on Wednesday. Photo: Paul Carsten/Reuters

On Friday, John Agim, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army, said the posting of the video was a response to Amnesty International, which had criticized what it called the military’s use of excessive force.

“We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International?” he said. “What are they then saying? What did David use to kill Goliath? So a stone is a weapon.”

“Our soldiers sustained injuries,” he continued. “The Shiites even burnt one of our vehicles so what are Amnesty International saying?”

The Nigerian military has said as many as six soldiers were wounded during the protest after “thousands” of members of the sect overran a police checkpoint and blocked traffic along a highway.

Soldiers had arrived to assist the police, a news release said, and were met with protesters who threw canisters of fuel, “large stones, catapults with dangerous objects and other dangerous items.”

The military posted photos of six slingshots and one pocketknife to its Facebook page as evidence of the protester arsenal.

“They wanted to take over the checkpoint with their weapons,” Mr. Agim said. “They knew it was there. We responded to them.”

Ibrahim Musa, a spokesman for the Shia group, said that on Monday security forces refused to let protesters, who numbered no more than 1,000, pass the checkpoint as they marched toward their destination. He said 13 other protesters were killed during two other marches this week, one before and one after Monday’s deadly march.

“Rocks are not equal to bullets,” he said. “The use of force is disproportionate. I don’t think President Trump is a good example — even in America many are critical of him. I am surprised that the Army will use Trump as a role model.”

Despite its history of massacring innocent civilians in the war with Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, detaining innocent citizens and raping women and girls fleeing war-torn communities, the Nigerian military has been the recipient of warplane sales and other gear from the United States.


Dionne Searcey reported from Dakar, and Emmanuel Akinwotu from Abuja, Nigeria

Cover photo: Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria preparing the bodies of members killed when the Nigerian Army opened fire during the group’s protests in the capital Abuja this week.CreditCreditAfolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Trump is getting even terrible

By Gail Collins, Opinion Columnist


Things can get worse, and with him, they always do.

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Terrible week. Donald Trump was on the road trying to rev up the country against a pitiful caravan of poor people struggling through Mexico. Meanwhile, there was a spate of bombing attempts directed at some of the president’s regular tirade targets, from Hillary Clinton to George Soros to CNN.

The F.B.I. is working on the bombs. Trump has urged the country to unify, to which the country presumably replied, “Now you tell us?”

At his rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday night, Trump did have some early words for peace and harmony. Then he demanded that the media “set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and often time false attacks.” You would think that for at least one evening he’d just mention the importance of a free press. Or even suggest that, say, body-slamming reporters is a bad thing.

This is getting scarier and scarier. The president has been on a rally marathon in which he alternates between saying things that are meant to whip his audience into rage and things that are just wildly egocentric and imaginary. He’ll never improve. All we can do is hope he sticks to his less dangerous form of awfulness.

We want the Donald Trump who yowls about wildly overestimated crowd sizes and nonexistent achievements. For instance, on Monday in Houston he bragged about Brett Kavanaugh and gave the audience a primer on Supreme Court appointments that went like this:

“Who — who appointed the highest percentage of judges? No, no, no, it wasn’t Hillary Clinton. No, she didn’t make it, remember? She didn’t make it. No, you know who it is? You’ll never guess. It’s called George Washington. And we’re after George Washington. So, a very big thing, no, George Washington, why? Because he just started. He did 100 percent. Nobody’s ever going to break that record. Nobody’s ever going to break the record of George Washington.”

Always do enjoy bringing you some Trumpian oratory.

And — wait! In actual reality, Trump is not after George Washington. Franklin Delano Roosevelt placed nine justices on the Supreme Court and Ronald Reagan got four. Trump has gotten two, the same number as George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

I am telling you all this to cheer you up.

During the rally tour, the preferable making-stuff-up Trump also announced “a very major tax cut” just for middle-income people, which would be passed before Nov. 1, or after the election, or “next week,” depending on when you were listening.

“We’ve been working on it for a few months,” he said in Houston.

This appeared to be total news to everybody in his administration. But maybe the “we” Trump referred to was Ivanka and Jared. Jared is great with numbers. Just because his company is teetering on bankruptcy due to one of the most disastrous deals in real estate history doesn’t mean there isn’t some talent. That sort of thing runs in the family.

Asked about details of his plan — like who would count as a middle-income person — Trump said they’d be coming “sometime just prior, I would say, to November.”

That would mean … next week. Well, some details. Maybe its name.

Pop Quiz: What do you think would be a good name for Trump’s tax cut?

A) Herman

B) Biggest Middle-Class Tax Cut Since George Washington

C) Thing That Never Was

I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda going for Herman. Or Rocco.

The cruel-is-cool Trump has been ranting about immigration, claiming the caravan of desperate families making their way out of Central America included bad people “from the Middle East.” None of the reporters who have been walking through the caravan have come across anything like this. The president claimed he learned it from Border Patrol officers. He quotes unnamed Border Patrol officers a lot. You get the impression that in the still of the night when everybody else is asleep and he can’t think of anything to twitter, he calls up the border police and chats about their day.

“Wait until you see what happens over the next couple of weeks,” he told the Wisconsin crowd, in one of the more ominous moments of the night. “You are going to see a very secure border. Very secure. You just watch. The military is ready. They’re all set.”

John Bolton, the freaky national security adviser, and John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, had what is known in polite circles as a “profanity-laced argument” about border policy. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about Kelly’s temper. This is sort of disturbing, since he’s supposed to be one of the not-insane people in the administration who will keep a lid on things if the president goes totally batty. Another is Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who Trump recently described as “sort of a Democrat” who “may leave. I mean, at some point everybody leaves.”

When you’re down and out, keep that last little bit in mind. At some point everybody leaves.

“I was raped at 16 and I kept silent”

When I was 16 years old, I started dating a guy I met at the Puente Hills Mall in a Los Angeles suburb.

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I worked there after school at the accessories counter at Robinsons-May. He worked at a high-end men’s store. He would come in wearing a gray silk suit and flirt with me. He was in college, and I thought he was charming and handsome. He was 23.

When we went out, he would park the car and come in and sit on our couch and talk to my mother. He never brought me home late on a school night. We were intimate to a point, but he knew that I was a virgin and that I was unsure of when I would be ready to have sex.

On New Year’s Eve, just a few months after we first started dating, he raped me.

I have been turning that incident over in my head throughout the past week, as two women have come forward to detail accusations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Christine Blasey Ford said he climbed on her and covered her mouth during an attempted rape when they were both in high school, and Deborah Ramirez said he exposed himself to her when they were in college.

On Friday, President Trump tweeted that if what Dr. Blasey said was true, she would have filed a police report years ago. But I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police. For years, I did the same thing. On Friday, I tweeted about what had happened to me so many years ago.

You may want to know if I had been drinking on the night of my rape. It doesn’t matter, but I was not drunk. Maybe you will want to know what I was wearing or if I had been ambiguous about my desires. It still doesn’t matter, but I was wearing a long-sleeved, black Betsey Johnson maxi dress that revealed only my shoulders.

The two of us had gone to a couple of parties. Afterward, we went to his apartment. While we were talking, I was so tired that I lay on the bed and fell asleep.

The next thing I remember is waking up to a very sharp stabbing pain like a knife blade between my legs. He was on top of me. I asked, “What are you doing?” He said, “It will only hurt for a while.” “Please don’t do this,” I screamed.

The pain was excruciating, and as he continued, my tears felt like fear.

Afterward, he said, “I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.” Then he drove me home.

I didn’t report it. Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police. At first I was in shock. That evening, I let my mother know when I was home, then went to sleep, hoping to forget that night.

Soon I began to feel that it was my fault. We had no language in the 1980s for date rape. I imagined that adults would say: “What the hell were you doing in his apartment? Why were you dating someone so much older?”

I don’t think I classified it as rape — or even sex — in my head. I’d always thought that when I lost my virginity, it would be a big deal — or at least a conscious decision. The loss of control was disorienting. In my mind, when I one day had intercourse, it would be to express love, to share pleasure or to have a baby. This was clearly none of those things.

Later, when I had other boyfriends my senior year of high school and in my first year of college, I lied to them — I said I was still a virgin. Emotionally, I still was.

When I think about it now, I realize that by the time of this rape, I had already absorbed certain lessons. When I was 7 years old, my stepfather’s relative touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis. Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather, they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out.

These experiences have affected me and my ability to trust. It took me decades to talk about this with intimate partners and a therapist.

Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.

I think if I had at the time named what happened to me as rape — and told others — I might have suffered less. Looking back, I now think I let my rapist off the hook and I let my 16-year-old self down.

I have a daughter now. She’s 8. For years I’ve been telling her the simplest and most obvious words that it took me much of my life to understand: “If anybody touches you in your privates or makes you feel uncomfortable, you yell loud. You get out of there and tell somebody. Nobody is allowed to put their hands on you. Your body is yours.”

Now, 32 years after my rape, I am stating publicly what happened. I have nothing to gain by talking about this. But we all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault and if we hold on to the codes of silence that for generations have allowed men to hurt women with impunity.

One in four girls and one in six boys today will be sexually abused before the age of 18. I am speaking now because I want us all to fight so that our daughters never know this fear and shame and our sons know that girls’ bodies do not exist for their pleasure and that abuse has grave consequences.

Those messages should be very clear as we consider whom we appoint to make decisions on the highest court of our land.


Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) is the host and executive producer of “Top Chef,” the author of books including “Love, Loss and What We Ate” and an A.C.L.U. ambassador for immigration and women’s rights.

A version of this article appeared on The New York with the headline: I Was Raped at 16 and I Kept Silent.

Campus journalists in Nigeria: the faults in their stars (1)

By Isaac Adeonipekun Omole


When the blockbuster American movie, “The Fault in Our Stars”, hit the box office, I fell in love with the trailer version. I just wanted to see the movie.

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Eventually, I saw the movie, and of a truth, I loved the movie. I see almost all kinds of movies. At the same time, I watch movies from different climes and entertainment industries- Hollywood, Nollywood, Ghollygold, Bollywood, South African Movies, Kenyan Movies, Mexican Movies and Telenovelas, Brazillian Movies and Telenovelas etc.

The Movie, “The Fault in Our Stars”, is one which has a very relevant theme. The story/movie revolves around two persons, a male that has health issues and a female that has health issues too. The male wants to live life to the fullest, knowing fully well that he has just a little time to spend. The female wants to see a particular author, one she has always admired. In the end, they ensure that even with their impediments, they achieve what they set out to achieve.

The Nigerian Campus Journalism sphere is one which has stood the test of time. Let’s be sincere with each other, Campus journalists are the “Soul of the masses” in their various campuses. What exactly is the fault(s) in their stars? Campus Journalists, in current times, are not given the freedom to operate freely. Choosing to inform, educate, entertain and liberate using information is the fault in their stars.

That they choose not only to be students, but to also be “Campus Journalists” is a fault in their stars, I guess. Meanwhile, let’s be truthful to each other. Campus Journalists in some Nigerian Campuses are seen as “never-do-wells” and “busybodies” by the managements. Little wonder, in the northern Nigerian Campus Journosphere, Campus Journalists cannot operate freely. Their news and reports are being censored. They are mandated to carry certain news (information/reports), and they are barred from carrying some. The strange aspect is, it is a sin for them to even give out information as regards certain sensitive/negative reports to the media. Giving them out is tantamount to the loss of studentship or more like “the giving-out of studentship(s)”.

A friend of mine, Abdulsallam Mahmud, who I fondly call “Baba Mahmud”, at one point in time analysed the situation of things in the north. In his analysis, he talks about how campus journalism in the north is nothing to write home about. It should be noted that it is not all campuses in the north that do not support the activities of Campus Journalists, or a thriving campus journalism body.

Baba Mahmud quips,

“The level of apprehension and paranoia amongst students of mass communication at several tertiary institutions in the North is unimaginable. 

Let me share an experience with you. About three or so weeks ago, bandits stormed a students’ off-campus lodge at FUTMINNA, and wrecked havoc: carting away students’ laptops, cash and other valuable personal effects. When I got wind of the bloody incident, I reached out to a student-reporter of a FUTMINNA whatsapp campus news group. With the assistance of the student-reporter, I got the necessary info to enable me file in the story for publication in The Nation newspaper, CAMPUSLIFE. 

Eventually, when the story was published with the caption ‘Three injured as robbers invade students’ hostel’ on a CAMPUSLIFE page (precisely on August 2, 2018), I chatted up the Editor-in-Chief of the FUTMINNA whatsapp news outlet, asking him to extend my appreciation to the student who had assisted me with vital information about the robbery attack. But to my utter dismay and chagrin, he worriedly asked me: ‘Hope you didn’t attach his name, together with yours, as a by-line, ba?’

For about 30 minutes thereafter that we chatted, he maintained his firm stance that putting his (the student-reporter who furnished me with vital info) name may spell disaster for his academic pursuit. But what kept on disturbing my mind was why, and how, could an ordinary robbery attack that is factually and objectively reported, fetch an expulsion or suspension for a student? 

The sheer fact is that doom is the fate awaiting campus journalism here in the North. And if that happens, Northern universities should just fold up or cancel mass communication as an academic programme they offer, because they will end up churning out every category of persons, but not potential journalists. May God Forbid!”

Baba Mahmud has said it all. Campus Journalism in the north is nothing to write home about. Only some schools in the north central can boldly assert that they allow for campus journalism to thrive.

In the south, we also have university managements that have placed “gags” on Campus journalism and have resorted to the persecution of Campus Journalists. They have ensured that they reduce the provisions of sections 22 and 37 CFRN to nothing; they have failed to allow the law have its way and take proper course.

A recent case of the Persecution of Campus Journalists is the rustication of ICIR’s ‘KunleAdebajo by the management of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s acclaimed premier university. Being premier means that you should be the first in things, positive things I guess. As for Unibadan, she has chosen to be known for “negatives”.

I sincerely do hope that our Dear ‘KunleAdebajo is reinstated soon. Law school resumes in November, and it wouldn’t make any real sense if he is delayed from going to Law school, delayed for writing a wonderful piece. I only know that the deepest/hottest part of hell will be reserved for the wicked. It is sheer evil, and maybe wickedness, for a university to rusticate a student-reporter, for two semesters, for writing a feature story; hence, causing a delay to his Law school resumption/procession.

In certain private universities in the south-west, students cannot write objectively. The managements/authorities of these universities control all activities. They are like “Big Brother”. I remember the book, “1984”, by George Orwell. The situations illustrated in the book can be likened to how university’ managements in Nigeria operate. Schools like Crawford University and the likes censor the news churned out by campus journalists. There are certain news that cannot be published.

Even in some South-southern Nigerian universities, campus journalists do not have press freedom. They can’t do their work freely and optimally. The management(s) dictates what they write and publish.

The Nigerian campus journosphere is one which needs encouragement.  The authorities of universities should please allow for campus journalists to do their jobs perfectly. I just hope that Nigerian universities can be a veritable training ground for potential journalists.


Isaac Adeonipekun Omole, a Fresh graduate of  Law from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, is the outgoing President of the National Association of Nigerian Campus Editors. You can reach him via his email address, omoleisaac12@gmail.com, or call him on +2348094414533