POROUS SECURITY

IN VIEW OF THE REPEATED SECURITY LAPSES IN NIGERIA, PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN SHOULD BE ADVISED TO RESHUFFLE HIS SECURITY MACHINERY. FOR MAJOR SECURITY INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA TO BE BOMBED IN DAYLIGHT WITHOUT ANY TANGIBLE ARREST, IT SHOWS THAT OUR SECURITY IS LEAKING SOMEWHERE.HOW CAN YOU TELL ME THAT MOGADISHU ARMY CANTONMENT,LAGOS AS WELL AS POLICE NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS,ABUJA AND THE UNITED NATIONS OFFICE IN ABUJA COULD BE EASILY PENETRATED AND BOMBED AND SECURITY CHIEFS ARE STILL THERE DRINKING TEA AND COFEE.IF IT WERE IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES,MANY OF THEM WOULD HAVE RESIGNED.THERE IS NEED FOR MAJOR SHAKE UP BECAUSE NIGERIA HAS NEVER HAD IT THIS BAD.PRESDO PLESAE ACT FAST BECAUSE IT SEEMS NOW THAT OUR SECURITY IS POROUS

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UN ATTACK-IT’S A SHAME

IT IS SHAME. A VERY BIG SHAME FOR THAT MATTER THAT NIGERIA HAS TURNED INTO A FULL SCALE TERRORIST COUNTRY. IT IS HOWEVER MOST UNFORTUNATE THAT THE SECURITY AGENCIES( ESPECIAALY THE POLICE), WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IT IS TO PROTECT THE CITIZENS, HAVE LEFT THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES.

THEY HAVE RATHER OPTED TO ROAD BLOCKS, WHICH IS MOST PROFITABLE TO THOSE OF THEM WHO LACK INTEGRITY. IF NOT,WHO CAN TELL NIGERIANS HOW MANY TERRORISTS, KIDNAPPERS, ARM ROBBERS,BOMBERS,BOKO HARAMS ETC THEY HAVE APPREHENDED AND PROSECUTED IN THESE ROAD BLOCKS.DO THESE HOODLUMS NOT PASS THROUGH THESE ROADS WHERE THE POLICE BLOCK? WHY THEY CANNOT BE CAUGHT IS THAT ONCE THEY GET TO THE ROAD BLOCKS, THE HOODLUMS WILL “DROP” AND WILL BE ALLOWED TO PASS,WHILE THE INNOCENT ONES WHO DO NOT PART WITH THEIR HARD EARNED TWENTY NAIRA ARE SHOT AND KILLED. THE NIGERIAN POLICE IS SO CORRUPT. NEMESIS HAS CAUGHT UP WITH NIGERIAN POLICE.THEY CANNOT CONTAIN THIS TERRORISM UPSURGE. THEY SHOULD BE COMPLETELY OVERHAULED.

MOST OF THEM LOVE MONEY SO MUCH THAT THEY CAN DO ANYTHING FOR NAIRA AND KOBO. PRESIDENT JONATHAN MUST ACT FAST NOW. IT IS ALREADY BECOMING TOO LATE. THE BOMBINGS ARE TAKEN MORE NEW DIMENSIONS. NOBODY COULD EVER IMAGINE THAT A WHOLE POLICE NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS COULD BE BOMBED,MUCH LESS THE UNITED NATIONS BUILDING IN THE HEART OF NIGERIA’S CAPITAL.IT IS ACTUALLY A SHAME

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REFINING NIGERIA’S REFINERIES

It is no longer news thatNigeria is the sixth largest producer of oil in the world. What is news, however, is that Nigeria cannot use its enormous wealth to better the lives of its citizens, due largely to corruption and mismanagement.

No doubt, the economic woes of Nigeria started with the discovery of oil about fifty years ago. Before then, agriculture was the mainstay of the nation’s economy. There was dignity in labour. Graft and other corruptive tendencies were minimal. Tax payers’ money was used to better the lots of the people.Nigeria was the pride of others. Citizens of other countries were rushing to Nigeria for greener pastures.

Unfortunately, with the discovery of oil, Nigeria and some of its citizens threw decency and decorum to the dogs. Leaders did not know what to do with the God’s gift to the land. Today, among major oil producing countries around the world, Nigeria is seemingly the only country where its citizens are begging for bread, whereas its privileged few are wallowing in stupendous wealth. Resources of the nation were used to settle loyalty, friends and relations.

The recent shocking revelation by a former Nigerian Minister of Defence about how he sold an oil block for one hundred and fifty billion naira was a confirmation of how few people in position of power benefited immensely from government while millions of Nigerians are dying in abject poverty, squalor, unemployment, power outage and lack of infrastructure. Worst still, the Ex-Minister confessed that he did not know what to do with the money. Yet, no refinery is working in Nigeria, most of the federal roads are death traps, most factories in the land are in comatose; pushing millions into the already saturated labour market. Erratic power supply, high cost of petroleum products such as fuel, diesel,   kerosene and cooking gas catapulted the cost of production to high heaven. These factors  made most goods, especially staple foods, unaffordable to most Nigerians. Yet some Nigerians did not know what to do with money. What an irony of life!

Many Nigerians are dying today because they cannot afford healthcare service; some are not in school, not because they are not intelligent, but because they cannot afford the skyrocketing cost of education in the land. No doubt, all hands are not equal. However, it must be stated that the gap between the rich and the poor inNigeriais too wide and must be bridged.

Mention must also be made of the huge money pumped into the power sector without any meaningful result to show for it. Additionally, in spite of the billions of naira sunk into  Nigeria’s refineries, hope seems to be eluding the country. For instance, the refinery in Kaduna remains comatose after spending a whooping seventy-five million dollars in its recent Turn Around Maintenance. Warri Refinery has gulped over one hundred and fifty-one million dollars, while its Port-Harcourt counterpart has consumed about one hundred and thirty-seven million dollars belonging to Nigerians. And in spite of the huge spending, government has not been able to make the refineries work. Nigeria still imports oil.

It is sad and shameful that more than fifty years after crude oil was struck in this country, the nation is still dependent on other nations for the supply of all its refined products.

From all indications, the problem of Nigeria may not be deregulation or not of its downstream oil sector, but the problem of management. After all, what did the government do with the proceeds of previous increases in the prices of petroleum products? Nigerians will like to know how many roads, schools, hospitals among others they built with the proceeds.

For now, let the federal government probe the huge amount of money spent fruitlessly on power and refinery repairs. Though, anything beneficial may not come out of it. Previous probes failed to produce any result. This is because the refining system and its maintenance was an important means of patronage. Nobody should expect results from a system that is meant to enrich party financiers or compensate loyal members.

Federal Government should therefore embark on radical social reformation. Houses, jobs, uninterrupted electricity, roads, water, health care and free education at all levels should be provided to the people of Nigeria to cushion the effect of the present stringent economic predicament.

Above all, our refineries should be subjected to sincere turn around maintenance, devoid of the past experience where the maintenance used to be a draining pipe.

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“ANAMBRA STATE AT TWENTY”

Hurray! Anambra state of Nigeria is twenty years old today(27/08/2011). The state was created on Tuesday, August 27, 1991 by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, along with eight other states.  It was created from the old Anambra state, which is the presentEnuguand some parts of Ebonyi states.  The state derives its name from Anambra River, which itself is a tributary of the majestic River Niger.  Anambra, situated on a rolling flat land on the eastern plains of RiverNiger, has a population of over four million people, according to the 2006 census.  Its capital is Awka but it has Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka and Ekwulobia as its Awka but it has Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka and Ekwulobia as its major commercial hub.

Anambra is sharing boundaries with; Abia, Delta,Enugu,  Imo and Kogi states.  One of the special characteristics of Anambra state is the immense resourcefulness of its people, who carry on a most animated relationship with people who come across them. Anambra people are unarguably the brain box of Ndigbo.  This is because the state produced the likes of late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, Nigeria’s former Vice President, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Professor Chinua Achebe,  Professor Philip Emeagawali, the computer wizard, Professor Chike Obi, the great mathematician, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of Commonwealth, among others.

 The first military administrator of the state was Commodore Joseph Abulu, then a Naval Group Captain.  He was replaced by Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who was elected as the first civilian governor of the state in 1992.  The Ezeife administration was terminated in November 1993, when it was barely one year in office, following the overthrow of the third republic, ex-governor Ezeife was briefly succeeded by former police commissioner Dabo Aliyu, who after a few week was replaced by retired Col. Mike Aattah in December 1993.  Colonel Attah was later replaced with Group Captain Rufai Garba in 1996.  Group Captain Emmanuel Ukaegbu came on board as Military Administrator in 1998

 Consequent upon the return of democracy in Nigeria on May 29, 1999, Group Captain Ukaegbu handed over the reins of power to Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju.  Dr. Chris Ngige governed Anambra state from May 29, 2003 to March 16, 2006, when the court of Appeal, Enugu ruled that Mr. Peter Obi was the actual winner of the April 19, 2003 governorship election in Anambra state.  Governor Peter Obi was sworn-in for the first time on March 17, 2006.  During the unconstitutional impeachment of Governor Obi, his Deputy, Dame Virgy Etiaba mounted the saddle till February 2007.  On May 29, 2007, Dr. Andy Uba was sworn in.  However, few days into his stay in office, the Supreme Court declared the election that brought him illegal.  With that landmark judgment on tenure interpretation, the history of the country was rewritten, paving way for scattered governorship elections in the country.

 Governor Obi was re-elected and sworn-in for second tenure in March 17, 2010, making him the first governor to be re-elected since the creation of the state.  His re-election however, was not unconnected with his outstanding contribution towards the socio-economic and political emancipation of the fortunes of Anambra state.  This has been manifesting in the unprecedented delivery of democracy dividends in the state.

 During his governorship campaign in 2002, Mr. Obi’s question was, “Is Anambra state cursed or are we the cause?” Not many people at that time gave serious thought to that poser.  Happily, few years into his first tenure Governor Obi provided answers to the questions he posed.  With a unique approach to governance, encapsulated in his blueprint, the Anambra integrated Development strategy (ANIDS),   which allows for simultaneous development in all sectors of the state economy, the Governor has demonstrated that Anambra is neither cursed nor are Ndi Anambra the cause of the state’s underdevelopment since its creation in 1991. 

Given his antecedents as an astute business man and his prudence in the management of resources, Governor Obi has delivered verifiable democracy dividends that have broken the jinx of under-development in the state.  The ANIDS formular has become a success story, resulting in landmark achievements in all the sectors of the state economy.  The formula has enabled the state government to plan, budget appropriately, allocate resources, monitor the implementation and receive feedback from the people for whom the various ANIDS project are being executed.

ANIDS has touched all sectors, including good governance, security, law and order, judiciary, education, health, information and culture, works, Transport and agriculture.  Other sectors massively touched are Environment, Public utilities, water resources, lands, Housing, re-orientation, revenue generation, commerce, industry and tourism, women development, youth and sports, local government and chieftaincy matters as well as economic planning.

 Governor Obi   has equally given our children a brighter future.  Jobs have been provided, while computer and accessories, buses, boreholes have been provided to almost all the schools in the state.  The Obi administration has equally reconstructed over seven hundred kilometers of roads including the 165 meter long Odor Bridge, the longest bridge ever built by any government in the state. He has built three new gigantic Secretariat complexes and enhanced the welfare package of workers since he came on board.  Governor Obi administration equally built the Anambra state ultra Modern Fire Service Headquarters and state Emergency Management Agency complex, Anambra state University Teaching Hospital complexes  in Awka, built the first modern e-library in the state, constructed over four thousand classroom blocks across the state among other numerous gigantic projects.

 Governor Obi’s style of leadership, characterized by prudent and frugal management of resources, has attracted many accolades from both within and outside the country.  Many donor agencies such as European Union, UNICEF, World Bank etc, which hitherto left the state, are all back. Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Governor Obi as his Honorary Special Adviser on Financial Matters and a member of Nigeria’s Economic Management Team.

 Having gone thus far, the people of Anambra state should never relent in praying for and supporting the government as well as living up to their civic and social responsibilities.  The government, on the other hand, should continue with its purposeful leadership.  In the years ahead, Ndi Anambra will like to see more roads, pipe borne water, independent power plant and happier workforce so that the state will continue to be the Light of the Nation.  Anambra Adibago Mma, Nyeaka ka Odi mma.

 

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THE DANGER OF NIGERIA’S MONO ECONOMY

As Nigeria approaches fifty-one years, every rational thinker should shrug in utter disbelief about how the country is surviving under a mono economy. Realists, on the other hand, are saying that this is not survival, that some people are merely managing to live in Nigeria. They believe that the stark reality is everywhere that the nation is in a disparate condition.

 Infact, the country and its citizens are sitting on a time bomb, which can explode anytime. Poverty is dealing with the masses of this country unceasingly. Social infrastructure services are in shambles. The question is, in fifty-one years of Nigeria’s independence how many people have public water running in their kitchens and bathrooms? How many people have six hours of electricity in a week, much less roads, security, health-care, employment and education.

The Nigerian Realists have also asked, why is Nigeria in this messy state, years in year out, without respite? Why can’t there be glimmer of hope in the horizon to, at least, breath life into desperate souls and enliven frayed nerves? Why are things getting worse every year despite all the promises made by governments across the land? Why are government promises not fulfilled? Check out the slogan, “health for all by the year 2000; education and water for all by the year 1990 and electricity for all by the year 2009.

The answer to all these is in the disoriented and stunted economic environment that is badly tainted with corruption. It is common knowledge that what is stolen from government coffers is more than what gets to it. Infact, some have argued that sixty per cent of oil and its revenue is stolen. Then, out of the remaining forty per cent, sixty per cent again is lost to corruption. While the remaining forty per cent is used in running the government. Again, that remaining portion is siphoned by all manners of people in government with their cronies. Hence, all the money meant for the provision of social services like roads, water, electricity, hospitals, schools and factories are diverted. At the end, what gets to the people from the sum total of government revenue is less than ten per cent

.Aformer Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, once estimated that over three hundred and eighty billion dollars has been lost to corruption in Nigeria since independence. He lamented that the amount was enough to replicate Europe with its development six times in Nigeria. Nigerian leaders have wonderful ideas but their major problem is implementation of the ideas and corrupt tendencies. That is why a particular project will continue to appear in budget year after year without execution. Worst still, Nigerians are “sidon look”; they do not ask questions.

Apart from corruption, another cankerworm dwarfing Nigeria’s economy is sole dependent on oil. The Nigeria economy is as unstable as the fluctuation in the global crude oil price. The economy that depends solely on one product would be unable to meet the basic social and infrastructural needs of the people or develop like others. Therefore, Nigeria should be talking about going back to its roots that ensured economic sustainability which it abandoned in 1975 at the wake of the oil boom. The oil windfall has been grossly abused and mismanaged that it would be foolhardy for anyone to rely on it for the development of this country. The era when Nigeria would have developed with oil money has passed. The country has got to a stage where there are too many greedy mouths craving for the oil money that it is not even enough to satisfy corrupt tendencies much less anything remaining for development !

Reviving agriculture will therefore enable Nigeria get back to where she was in the sixties and early seventies. At that point, she will regain her position as exporter of major agricultural products, and be self-sufficient in food produce to be able to save the huge money expended on importation.

No doubt, all the G-20 countries Nigeria desire to join in its vision 20-20-20 are not importers of food and industrial products. If care is not taken, soon, Nigeria will start importing yam, cow, sheep, garri, cassava, millet and beans, just as it is now a major importer of rice and poultry. Already, Nigeria is the world’s largest importer of food and industrial products.

As Nigeria hopes to be one of the twenty most developed nations by the years 2020, the county should know that, for now its economy is in contrast with what obtains in those countries. We are not on the path of belonging there yet, not even by 2020 unless radical measures are taken to change the mono-economic system. Nigeria should know that other developed countries it is hoping to join are not static, waiting for Nigeria to meet them.

To meet the 20 20 20 target, Nigeria must re-order its priorities and put first things first. We cannot jump the gun. Nigeria must come back to where it derailed. Nigeria must come back to cocoa, Rubber, timber, palm oil, groundout, cotton, hides and skin as well as the farm settlements. Except these are done, the magical transformation maybe impossible in a country with mono-economy and concentration of corruption.

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THE OGBUNIKE CAVE IN ANAMBRA STATE OF NIGERIA

Recently, Chief Edem Duke, Nigerin Minister of Culture and Tourism, revealed that tourism in this modern time provides six out of every eight new jobs created .  Coming at a time the federal, as well as most state and local governments in the country were shadow-boxing with organized labour and trying to figure ways out of the hoopla created by the strident demands for an eighteen thousand naira national minimum wage, this valuable information is worth subjecting to thorough scrutiny.

 Fortunately, there is hardly any state in Nigeria which cannot look in her backyard and find natural endowments with which the Almighty has so richly blessed this country. AnambraState, for instance is blessed with many potentially revenue-yielding tourist attractions such as theIgboukwu Museum, the Agulu lake and caves located in Owerre-Ezukala and Ogbunike.  Sadly, the potentials of these tourist sites have not been fully tapped to yield the much-needed revenue to drive the developmental agenda of AnambraState.

 Located about twelve kilometers from the commercial city of Onitsha on the old Enugu-Onitsha road, theOgbunikeCave lies roughly three kilometers off the Saint Monica’s College, Ogbunike Junction.  The cave, described by geologists as millions of years old, is the yet undiscovered cash cow of Anambra state.  One of the cave tunnels exit at theOgbunikeTown Hall, about six kilometers away from the cave proper, and another tunnel, according to folklore, terminates at Obosi in Idemili North Local Government Area.

 The much talked about employment generation will find ready expression in the cave, if a perimeter fence was built to secure the cave grounds with a gate to be manned by revenue staff, working shifts.  The gate will serve as entry and exit point for thousands of individuals, groups, and bus-loads of knowledge-seeking pupils, students, researchers and excursion groups which daily stream into Ogbunike to feast their eyes on the wonders of this God-given gift toAnambraState.  The inscriptions, carvings, drawings, signatures and etchings on the cave walls over the years bear testimony to the thousands of visitors the cave has played host to over the centuries.

 The Anambra State Ministry of Commerce and Industry can partition and allocate the grounds in square meters to restaurant owners, fast food and drink retailers for a fee renewable annually.  Ground rents can also be charged sellers of local delicacies like “Okpa” and local drinks like “ngwo” and “iti”.  For those who wish to pass nights and weekends in the cave to further savour its delights, the Anambra State Government needs only construct safari-type pre-fabricated bungalows with thatched roofs to harmonize with the cave locale and eco-system.  The interior of these bungalows can be plumbed, wired and tiled for modern comfort.  Who says the Peter Obi government cannot throw in a capacious conference hall, also to be thatch-roofed but interiorly-modernized for conferences, brain-storming retreats and wedding receptions, all for a fee!.

 The Obi administration must dust the files and re-open this venture, both as a revenue generating initiative and employment generating gambit.  Unemployed and qualified but idle locals, who know the rich folklore of the Ogbunike cave and its dark and dank bat-infested tunnels, can find ready employment as tour guides.  Anambra State Government should look in the direction of the Ogbunike cave to boost its IGR and offer employment to production hands.  With the recent disturbing announcement by the Central Bank of Nigeria that forty one per cent of Nigerian youths are unemployed, idle youths can be encouraged to start families and put food on their tables by becoming operators of tricycles, better known as “Keke”, to shuttle cave visitors from the Saint Monica’s College, Oye-Olisa and Afor-igwe market junctions on the old Enugu-Onitsha road to the cave; a three to five kilometer distance.  All that is needed is to re-surface these roads to make the ride smoother and less bumpy.  Visitors wishing to approach the cave through the Enugu-Onitsha expressway could equally do so if the government could blaze a trail from the expressway straight to the cave. 

 European, American and other first and second world countries, which do not have crude oil deposits, still reap huge returns from tourism by maximizing and show-casing natural, man-made monuments and national land marks as tourist attractions. 

These European countries are the richer for it. The Peter Obi administration should take a good hard look at the Ogbunike Cave Project, develop and post it on the internet and it will be only a matter of time before adventure – seeking Nigerians, Africans, Americans, Europeans and Asians will come calling for it.  It was not for nothing that Almighty God, in His wisdom, gift-wrapped and deliveredOgbunikeCaveto Ndi Anambra.

 

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NEW YAM FESTIVAL IN IGBOLAND OF NIGERIA 2

New yam festival, celebrated annually by many communities in Igboland outh Eastern part of Nigeria and beyond has over the years remained a rallying point and unifying factor among the various communities.  As one of the most prominent platforms for the enactment and actualization of socio-cultural ideals, the new yam festival has continued to enjoy tremendous popularity because it often attracts people from far and wide.

 In most traditional societies, new yam festival is often celebrated with pomp and peagantry as most of the farmers use it as an avenue to show their appreciations to God for His kindness, protection and love for the crops and general agrarian successes recorded during the year.  Farmers, who had bumper harvests often make handsome sacrifices and pour libations to the Almighty for giving strength and prosperity to mankind through the instrumentality of the hoe and matchet.

 The new yam festival is a historic event and epochal moment of get-together, happiness, enjoyment and overall reflection on family performance, challenges and prospects.  Many people, especially the titled men and avowed defenders and protagonists of cultural norms and values, do not eat the new yam until the new yam festival is held.  This is borne out of the belief that the sacrosantity of the new yam should not be profaned by premature consumption.

Some communities even use the new yam festival to ascertain the advancement of agriculture in their communities, the major problems facing farmers and how best to ensure food security in future.  Today, the uniqueness of the new yam festival has assumed a more elaborate and transcendental dimension.  Now, many see it as an avenue to show-case their cultural potentials.  That is why events like masquerade display, traditional wrestling, cultural dances and title-taking,  are usually held in most communities to mark the occasion.

 Besides, the festival has provided a strong platform for fund raising and other development – oriented projects.  In some areas, for instance, launching and held for the building of town hall, renovation and rehabilitation of collapsed public places, health centres, rural roads, markets, provision and maintenance of community security and vigilante groups.  This is because that is the time when many who had returned from the urban areas and beyond for the festival are usually seen in large number.

No doubt, Ndi Igbo cherish the new yam festival as a moment of re-union and demonstration of oneness among the various communities.  Elders and Age grades often take advantage of the gleeful atmosphere that usually pervade the system to reconcile warring groups, listen to genuine complaints, handle cases and petitions of volatile nature as well as punish those who were accused of crime and theft as well as hand down sanctions to erring and recalcitrant house wives or husbands as the case may be.  One thing very remarkable about new yam festival is that any action taken must be in the spirit of corporate existence and in accordance with the demands of tradition.

 While the new yam festival is a potent barometer and credible yardstick for the measurement of the social and cultural legacies in most Igbo traditional societies, it is hoped that this festivity should be fined-tuned to reflect the aspirations of the contemporary Igbo nation without loosing its traditional substance and irresistible developmental ideals to the intimidating and overbearing influences of modern civilization.

 

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NEW YAM FESTIVAL IN IGBOLAND OF NIGERIA

New yam festival, celebrated annually by many communities in Igboland in the South Eastern part of Nigeria and beyond has over the years remained a rallying point and unifying factor among the various communities.  As one of the most prominent platforms for the enactment and actualization of socio-cultural ideals, the new yam festival has continued to enjoy tremendous popularity because it often attracts people from far and wide.

In most traditional societies, new yam festival is often celebrated with pomp and peagantry as most of the farmers use it as an avenue to show their appreciation to God for His kindness, protection and love for the crops and general agrarian successes recorded during the year.  Farmers, who had bumper harvests often make handsome sacrifices and pour libations to the Almighty for giving strength and prosperity to mankind through the instrumentality of the hoe and matchet.

 The new yam festival is a historic event and epochal moment of get-together, happiness, enjoyment and overall reflection on family performance, challenges and prospects.  Many people, especially the titled men and avowed defenders and protagonists of cultural norms and values, do not eat the new yam until the new yam festival is held.  This is borne out of the belief that the sacrosantity of the new yam should not be profaned by premature consumption.

 Some communities even use the new yam festival to ascertain the advancement of agriculture in their communities, the major problems facing farmers and how best to ensure food security in future.  Today, the uniqueness of the new yam festival has assumed a more elaborate and transcendental dimension.  Now, many see it as an avenue to show-case their cultural potentials.  That is why events like masquerade display, traditional wrestling, cultural dances and title-taking,  are usually held in most communities to mark the occasion.

Besides, the festival has provided a strong platform for fund raising and other development – oriented projects.  In some areas, for instance, launching are held for the building of town hall, renovation and rehabilitation of collapsed public places, health centres, rural roads, markets, provision and maintenance of community security and vigilante groups.  This is because that is the time when many who had returned from the urban areas and beyond for the festival are usually seen in large number.

 No doubt, Ndi Igbo cherish the new yam festival as a moment of re-union and demonstration of oneness among the various communities.  Elders and Age grades often take advantage of the gleeful atmosphere that usually pervade the system to reconcile warring groups, listen to genuine complaints, handle cases and petitions of volatile nature as well as punish those who were accused of crime and theft as well as hand down sanctions to erring and recalcitrant house wives or husbands as the case may be.  One thing very remarkable about new yam festival is that any action taken must be in the spirit of corporate existence and in accordance with the demands of tradition.

While the new yam festival is a potent barometer and credible yardstick for the measurement of the social and cultural legacies in most Igbo traditional societies, it is hoped that this festivity should be fined-tuned to reflect the aspirations of the contemporary Igbo nation without loosing its traditional substance and irresistible developmental ideals to the intimidating and overbearing influences of modern civilization.

 

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Women and their August meetings

 

 

The Women August General Meeting is a forum borne out of best intensions to raise women’s consciousness about themselves and the society in which they belong. The meeting did not just start; rather it is a brain child of the general home coming or mass return of various communities in the South Eastern region of Nigeria when most communities, in collaboration and consent of their traditional institutions, massively come home to celebrate the New Yam Festival. The New Yam Festival is usually celebrated in the month of August.

The usual practice is that during this period when children are on long vacation, parents travel to their hinterland for the celebration. During the New Yam festival, indigenes of some communities seize that same opportunity to come together to discuss important matters concerning their community. This was usually done by the male folk.

 As years went by, the women decided also to form their own separate meetings at the same time. Initially, it was an annual conference or gathering for all women in the community. It later culminated into village, clan and church levels as well for only married women. Before this time, it was like a child’s play but now the Women August general Meeting has taken another dimension. It has now become a strong binding force for all women in a community, irrespective of class or political affiliation as matters of importance are discussed and treated for the betterment of the society and women in particular.

 At inception, most women saw the August Meeting, popularly called home and abroad meeting, as a forum to show off ornaments of gold, jewelries, shoes, handbags, lace, Abada (hollandaise) and/or gorge materials and expensive gorgeous head-ties. Others use the forum to display their husband’s wealth. Those whose husbands could not afford such, engage in immoral acts in order to belong. However, today, the music has changed. Leaders of these women meetings have prescribed uniform of various types for such meetings. For instance, church women have their Diocesan uniform, while villages as well have their general uniform. Any woman that wears anything contrary, is punished, ranging from fine to suspension..

 August Meetings last between four days and one week, depending on the size of the community and kind of activities wrapped for it. At community or village level, this involves all women, irrespective of religion and or class. What this means is that, both Christians and traditional worshipers are involved. Here, they come together to discuss issues concerning the position of women in the society, their roles both at home and the community. Plights of women are also looked into, especially in areas where women are sidelined in the scheme of things.

In communities where there are strife and land disputes, women play prominent role during the August meetings to ensure peace, especially through the “Umuadas” and the “Isiadas” among them. Women also embark on some development programmes, ranging from contributing money to build oil mills, Garri processing and skill acquisition centres. They also empower the indigent ones among them to eradicate extreme poverty by giving them grants among others. They also assist the male folks in building town halls or civic centres where there are none.

 In recent time, some groups organize free medical treatment for women at home. This is a way to promote healthy living for the rural dwellers in appreciation for the efforts in the village. At the church level, women use the occasion to embark on seminars and some development activities for their various churches aimed at improving the lives of women and children. For example, women engage in building and completion of church buildings, rectory and parsonages for their priests.

They also build church halls and even feed their priests and catechists as well as train children from indigent homes. They as well feed and cloth the aged among them who have nobody to take care of them among others.

 In addition, women at the August meetings, engage in seminars that touch lives such as how to be a good mother, how to keep a descent home, assist their husbands in keeping the families. They aequally discuss health issues such as prevention of HIV/AIDS, exclusive breastfeeding, descent dressing, family planning among others.

 On the other hand, Women August Home & Abroad General Meeting also has its attendants challenges like any other human endeavour. Women spend more money paying this or that dues for such development ventures. they equally  travel long distances to the hinterland. However, they cannot be deterred. It is a welcome development which needs to be encouraged.

Every right thinking man should allow his wife to enroll and participate  in the August meeting because of the accruing benefits that abound. Women Leaders in August Meetings need to be encouraged for their relentless efforts to the progress of the family, the church and the society at large.

 

 

 

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THE NEED FOR CHANGE OF VALUE IN NIGERIA

     

Before independence in 1960 and even up to the civil war in 1967, Nigeria was very peaceful, progressive and safe. Nigerians were morally upright. They exhibited communal spirit in whatever they did, showed love to one another and demonstrated a deep sense of patriotism. Nigerians were sending money to their relations abroad.

At that time, life was not as difficult as is the case today. Armed robbery, kidnapping, 419, corruption, Niger Delta and Boko Haram palaver and other social misdemeanours were either absent or at the lowest ebb. Parents and guardians paid greater attention to the upbringing of their children and wards. Indeed, it was a time when parents chose to spoil the cane to save the child. Church sermons were basically on righteousness, heavenly race and moral rejuvenation.

Everybody was conscious of his environment and did everything to safeguard it. Governments appointed Sanitary Inspectors then to superinintend the environment and ensure the strict enforcement of the law regulating it. The sanitary inspectors could never be compromised for whatever reason, while tenants were conscious of their responsibilities to the environment. How dare you dump refuse indiscriminately or in the gutters? Those who abused the environment were severally dealt with in accordance with the law.

Cost of living was quite manageable. It detracted from the distress and pain that characterise life inNigeriatoday. There was no serious dichotomy between the salaries of state and federal workforce. Political office holders were not amassing the cake alone. Children were not exposed to obnoxious films, indecent music and dress as well as flamboyant lifestyles. Children looked forward to eating rice on Sundays and drinking soft drinks on festive days like Independent, Christmas and Easter. It was not like these days when children can afford to buy drinks of their choice.

Going to school then was fun. Absenteeism attracted stiff penalties. Teachers taught with commitment, dedication and altruism. Their main objective was to give their students and pupils the best of education. Indiscipline was almost non-existent because of the heavy penalty it attracted. Cultism was unthinkable. Teachers were not fought by parents whose pupils were punished. Pupils and students went to school to learn. Physical Education [PE] and manual labour were the main extra-curricular activities. Children were taught basic lessons in farming, moral instructions and hygiene. It was compulsory for every child to participate in these activities, failing which a stiff sanction would be visited on the person, no matter whose child. Teachers were particularly adored and respected. Their words were law and they exercised the authority with pride. Only the geniuses were sent abroad to study on scholarship.

Communities were committed to ensuring that community infrastructures, such as roads, schools, drainages among others were regularly maintained. It was the norm for youths to be drafted to engage in manual labour to keep the communities clean. It was equally a taboo to engage in stealing of any type or murder. Life was generally secure. There were seldom policemen on the roads then. No doubt, the peace and tranquillity that ruled our society then were engendered by strict adherence to family tradition, religious teachings and respect for social values and norms.

Unfortunately, what we have inNigeriatoday is complete opposite of those things that edified and strengthened the moral fibre of the nation. The greed, avarice, corruption, embezzlement, stealing and looting that pervade our national life today have eroded whatever is left of our culture, tradition and religious belief. The most nauseating development is the disappearance of communal and enterprising spirit that fired the zeal of people to contribute selflessly to the development of their communities. Erosion is ravaging many communities across the country, because people are apathetic about their environment.

In the good old days, little erosion portions were quickly filled by the people each time they occurred. Nowadays, people allow such spots to develop into large ditches and gullies, requiring billions of naira to rectify. Community roads were not allowed to deteriorate. Even though they were not tarred, they were still being maintained regularly by the people. It is regrettable therefore that people no longer want to make sacrifices for the good of others. Selfishness and egocentricity have constituted a cog in the wheel of progress of our dear nation. Nobody wants to suffer again. Communities fold their hands, waiting for government to do everything for them, even those things they can do on their own. Even if government mobilised them, it leads to rancour, acrimony and disintegration.

Indiscipline and corruption, no doubt, constitute the most debilitating cankerworm that has destroyed the fabric of our society. There are indiscipline and corruption in every aspect of our national life: schools, families, churches, organisations, governments among others. These institutions, as key socializing agents, influence the society negatively and positively.

Buhari/ldiagbon’s War Against Indiscipline and Corruption worked because they were committed and determined to change our way of life. They knew that nothing concrete would be achieved without first uprooting indiscipline and corruption from our national life. For the period they were in power, there was a semblance of discipline and this had far-fetching impact on the way we lived. The federal government though, has designed the Rebranding Project to revolutionalize Nigeriaand build a new image for the country. This project may however turn into a nightmare, if we failed to address the recurring problem of indiscipline and corruption.

The basic amenities that make life worth living are lacking inNigeriafor the simple reason that those charged with their provision and maintenance are indifferent and inept. The world is wallowing in economic melt down, but inNigeriasome are fingered in looting billions of naira.Nigeriais the sixth largest producer of oil, yet its citizens cannot afford the product. The country has one of the best soil and climate in the world, yet hunger is killing its citizens. It supplies energy to some neighbouring countries but rampant power outage has become a culture inNigeria.

Worst still, some Nigerians behave as they like: they hardly obey laws or exhibit patience in the face of adversity. Every day, they engage in all kinds of anti-social behaviours that impede growth and development and show intolerance for queues. The rich pushes the poor into the bush to pass. Hence, people steal, kidnap and loot to meet up and belong.

Realists weep forNigeriawhen they travel outside the country and see the way everything works. They wonder why things do not work inNigeria. Governments budget trillions of naira every year, yet poverty stirs millions of Nigerians in the face. The nation earns huge money in foreign exchange and yet many of our people are sick, ignorant and defenceless. Nobody talks about what he can give toNigeria. All everybody is keen on is what he can get fromNigeria.

Americais a rich, industrialised nation because of the attitudinal disposition of its citizens. Every American owes his allegiance to his nation. Their patriotism is like a way of life for them. Thousands of American troops are fighting today in various parts of the world and sacrificing their lives in the process, out of sheer patriotism. How many Nigerians can freely ask their children to go to war in defence ofNigeria? IfAmericawere to beNigeria, Parents would bribe to prevent their children from going to war for fear of losing them.

The Nigerian society is so bad today that it can derail completely someday if nothing urgent was done to remedy the situation. There is need for Nigerians therefore to re-orient themselves and place the nation above self. Nigerians must abide by the tenets of their faith so that the country can be saved again. Religious groups and family should go back to the basics and imbibe in their members, especially the young ones, the virtues of hardwork, honesty, patience and discipline. By so doing, we can all say, “Nigeriawe hail thee“.

EMEKA ARINZE     

 

 

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