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Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

November 03, 2020

OpEd: He Never Listened BY CHIEF RAY MORPHY

 




1. I told him to concentrate on citizen-enhancing projects spread across the LGAs, he ignored, he never listened. 


2. I told him to forget his MoUs and concentrate on skill acquisition for our youth. I told him to use the Togolese model and the Indian model where they trained their youth and then export them as skilled-trained labor who will in turn repatriate Dollars and help boost the economy. He never listened.


3. I told him to forget those grandiose impossible projects such as super highway and concentrate on fixing and improving the rural road networks. He ignored, he never listened. 


4. I told him that our school standards were low! I told him to embark on a massive teacher recruitment and education upgrade program. He ignored, he never listened.


5. I told him to appoint experienced hands who would look him in the face and correct him. He didn’t want that, he knew all things. He never listened.


6. I told him to reduce the greed and the playing around. I told him that government was a serious business that requires thinking and thinkers, not just a food-on-the table approach. He ignored he never listened.


7. I told him that he will regret his approach to governance. I told him that the thing will rotten and smell in his hands and he will be cited as the worst governor ever. He ignored the sane free advice, he never listened. 


8. I told him to concentrate on projects such as roads and finish them before embarking on other ones. I told him it was wrong to scrape off existing roads and destroy people’s roadside shops when he had no intention of speedily doing the roads, of course he ignored. He never listened. 


9. I told him that our people needed rural hospitals and rural roads, boreholes and enhanced markets. I told him our people needed to be empowered through cooperatives. I told him to stop his obvious family-based nepotism since the entire state voted for him, the entire state should benefit from government. He ignored, he never listened. 


10. I told him not to abandon the nearly completed roads of the previous Liyel Imoke's administration, he ignored, he never listened!


Now he knows that I was right. And I am still right. What a wise gifted thinker sits down to see, a comic on a tall tree can never see it. 


Now you you know WHY I RESIGNED THAT APPOINTMENT! Today, I stand tall because I am vindicated! But I am saddened by the wasted years!


I am Chief Ray Morphy

Mgba Ntol, Njoram Mfan, Ovar Okan, Nkpume Utonkor! Shaman! 

Former Special Adviser to Gov Ben Ayade on Strategy and National Contact




DISCLAIMER:

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s)s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grassroot Reporters 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

October 31, 2020

OpEd: Value Re-Orientation: A Panacea to Moral Decadence BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA



Different schools of thought consider values to mean traits, practices, acts, ideals, beliefs, attitudes and principles that an individual, group or society acknowledge to be of merit, worthwhile, dear, acceptable and right. Values, therefore, are basic beliefs and attitudes in a society whether of individuals or groups which are considered worthwhile and serve as a guide to choices and behaviours in one's daily life. Values help to inform one on how he or she can conduct one’s life in a meaningful way. In other words, values are deep seated beliefs that influence people’s actions and behaviours. It is therefore essential that every individual, group and indeed the entire nation must have core values which serve as the driving engines for growth and development.


Our value system therefore is the sum total of our ideas and beliefs. It includes every opinion we hold about life. Each thing we like or dislike, and the importance each one has to us, merges to form our unique value system. Our value system develops through what we are taught and experience, combined with our reactions to them, forming our preferences and our unique perspective on life. Ultimately, every opinion we have in life is based on something in our value system.


Our actions are the first indicators to ourselves and others about the values we hold because the values that we live by are connected to what is most important to us. However, we can sometimes have other desires in our hearts that differ from our actions. To be completely at peace within ourselves, there must be conformity between our deepest values and how we actually live. That is, you must be committed to your deepest values and seek to live according to them. Otherwise, you will experience inner conflict because you have not determined which values are most important to you, and every choice you make will not flow from a firmly held belief about that area of life.


If we are honest with ourselves we’d mostly agree that all is not well with our nation and that the values we once held dear sadly belongs in another era. Where are values like honesty, integrity, good neighbourliness, religious tolerance etc. that once characterized our society? Whatever also happened to being our brother’s keeper? Today, we’ve grown so numb and we’re no longer shocked when people are slaughtered in a senseless terror campaign by some deranged individuals. As a result, we now have internally displaced people in Nigeria, yet we carry on as if all is well.


Once upon a time, Christians and Moslems mingled together celebrating Christmas and Salah, but today bigotry reigns supreme. We perpetuate the worst kinds of ethnic and religious chauvinism you could ever think of. Driven by greed and inordinate lust for the “good life,” we seek the shortest possible route to riches. We revere criminals and treasury looters as our “best of men” bestowing upon them honourary degrees, chieftaincy titles or even “purchase” election forms for them.


As I write, everything continues to go wrong as we forsake the values that ought to matter. Police officers still terrorise ordinary citizens, bankers still pilfer the life-savings of poor and struggling compatriots, hoodlums continue to run amok in communities, minority “lawmakers” ride roughshod over the majority, internet scammers and advanced fee fraudsters are still at their beats. What about armed robbers and kidnappers? They are all having a field day. The concept of equity has all disappeared from our lexicon, so is benevolence and the Rule of Law which permits no perception of justice except for the rich. 


Religious and ethnic sentiments have taken pre-eminence over brotherhood. Gone are the times when Nigerians were their brothers’ keepers, irrespective of tongue or creed; gone are the days when every adult member of society could instantly discipline any erring child to the happiness of the child’s parents. The traditional institutions on their own were faithful custodians of culture and moral values. Our music and folklore then had a good moral hold on the youths. Those were the days when Sallah and Christmas were celebrated together by both Muslims and Christians, be it in Kano, Onitsha or Lagos. This was the Nigeria of yesteryears before our slide into the current perfidy. 


The society has become characterized by high level of distrust and everybody has become a suspect of misplaced value. Immorality and lack of sanctity of life have increased as murder and kidnapping have become a daily occurrence. The malady of corruption has polluted the character and personality of every Nigerian. It is worrisome as well as regrettable that vices have taken the place of virtue in our society.


The crisis of value system in Nigeria suggests that the growth and progress of the society is being retarded in many aspects through outburst of materialistic tendencies. It is beyond doubt that materialism has taken over government, political institutions, invaded traditional and cultural institutions, while the church seems to be more materialistic than the secular society. The malady of value crisis has predicated Nigeria as open society in which anything goes. In Nigeria, we seem to be grabbing the worst and getting very little of the best from the rest of the world.


Value re-orientation is the best way to address the myriad of societal problems confronting the Nigerian society. The message of value re-orientation and social harmony should dominate our polluted psyche. By and large, the strength of a nation does not rest merely in its material or scientific achievements but it lies rather more in the moral qualities of the individuals and in the level of moral consciousness of the entire society. There is no doubt that our future really depends on how successful we are in fighting the orgy of negative values. Values are products of the mind which are manifested in behavioural patterns. The values of citizens on national issues is a two-edged sword capable of enhancing development or crippling it.


We cannot continue to sound like a broken record about our youth being leaders of tomorrow when we have not adequately invested in the all-important value re-orientation meant to inculcate in them good moral values while also purging them of all kinds of primordial sentiments of religious extremism and ethnic jingoism.


However, how ready are we as a family in preparing the child/youth to take over this responsibility of being leaders of tomorrow. Are parents now ready to question the source of the sudden wealth of their children who sometimes engage in armed robbery or Advanced Fee Fraud (419) and suddenly come home to exhibit stupendous wealth to the admiration and celebration of their parents? How prepared are our traditional institutions and religious leaders to stop the rampant and indiscriminate award of chieftaincy titles and religious honors to the people with questionable wealth? These are the issues and until they are tackled decisively, the fight against corruption in the polity, violence, drug abuse and other intolerable social vices will not be won.


Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

October 07, 2020

OpEd: Politics In My Country BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


The verity of the saying, “if you want to steal without being arrested, become a politician” is incontestable in our dear country, Nigeria.


Politics is rightly defined as a dynamic process whereby human and other human resources are managed, directed after due mobilization to ensure the enforcement of public policy and decision in the bid to regulate social order but in the Nigerian context, it is the art of diverting public funds for personal use while enjoying special immunity that places you above the law.


Over the years, politics in Nigeria has become associated with embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, bribery and corruption. You cannot be a politician in Nigeria without being fantastically corrupt!

When counting the problems of Nigeria, I count bad leadership twice. Bad leadership is the reason the giant of Africa has remained crippled after sixty (60) years of independence. Nigerian politicians see public offices as an avenue for self-aggrandizement and fattening of their bank accounts. This explains the reason they defect from one political party to another when their political interest is no longer guaranteed in the present political party. This is why indiscriminate party defection have become the hall mark of Nigerian politics.


In Nigeria, people go into politics and contest for elections into public offices for the sole purpose of siphoning the nation’s resources and looting the nation’s treasury. However, this selfish and greedy motive is hidden before the elections. During the political party’s campaign, they would make many promises that would portray them as the saviour of the people. The story changes once the mantle of leadership falls on them. The promise to fight corruption is forgotten and corruption gains momentum right under their nose. Misappropriation and embezzlement of funds becomes the order of the day. Policies that would favour their ethnic and religious groups to the detriment of other groups are enacted. They surround themselves with fellow thieves as ministers and advisers who would assist them to tactically divert funds to their personal accounts. Nigerian politicians are a cabal of criminals whose sole aim is to loot the nation’s treasury and they have been doing this wonderfully well.


It is ironic that the ones saddled with the responsibility of maximizing our welfare are the ones subjecting us to penury. Instead of representing the collective interest, they champion their personal and selfish interests. P.O.C Umeh rightly called them “Ambassadors of poverty”.


It is funny how Nigerian leaders frown at and commit themselves to fighting crime without realizing that the various crime being perpetrated by the younger generation reveals a failure of leadership. The youths steal because those at the helm of affairs steal. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the Nigerian society because the leaders are fantastically corrupt. Honesty is gradually going into extinction because those in authority are liars, deceitful and stifle the truth. In other words, the vices of the followers mirror the vices of the leaders. Thus, the frightening crime rate in Nigeria is only a symptom of the criminality of the Nigerian ruling class.


It is disheartening that our leaders are bereft of ideas on how to curtail the insecurity, curb the threats of secession, resolve the issue of epileptic power supply and improve the health and educational sector in the country but they are second to none in rigging elections to favour their political party, mobilizing thugs to fight their political foes and stealing from the nation’s treasury.


Politics in my country is an opportunity to get access to the vast resources of the nation and the art of mismanaging the resources, appropriating it for personal use thereby leaving the masses in squalor, penury and impoverished.  


Politicians in my country are patriots in reverse order, having their head abroad and anus at home. They are merchants of loot who loot our treasury. They are barons of incompetence, position occupants and enemies of service. They are corrupt masters of the economy whose sole aim is to siphon the nation’s resources. They are kleptomaniacs who embezzle and steal public funds with impunity. They are office loafers who occupy positions they do not deserve. They contribute to the political, economic and social malaise of the nation by their greed, selfishness and ineptitude.


Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628


 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

September 27, 2020

OpEd: The Change Begins With You BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


 

Man: You dey go Maryland?

Keke Driver: Make we dey go.

Man: How much?

Keke Driver: (Scans him and realizes he is new to Enugu): #1,500.


Teacher to Students: As you know, your Chemistry exam is coming up next week. If you want to pass in flying colours, all that is required of you is to pay the sum of #2,000. If you want to fail, don’t comply. By the time WAEC result is out and you see others making A, you will wish you could turn back the hands of time. 


Student: Mom, we were asked to pay #2,000 for our chemistry teacher to help us during Chemistry exam next week.


Mom: That’s great. That’s what the teachers are supposed to do. Are you paying for Chemistry alone? What of other subjects?

Driver: Na who get this load?

Woman: It is mine.

Driver: Madam you go pay for this load o.

Woman: Haba! Na clothes full that bag, driver.

Driver: Na only clothes full am and the bag dey heavy like this. Madam, abeg pay.

Woman: How much?

Driver: Your money na #2,000.

Woman: For bag wey clothes full?


The three scenarios depicted above is not strange to us. In the first instance, the tricycle (keke) driver wanted to extort money from the man solely because he is new to the city and was ignorant of the right cost from Holy Ghost park to Maryland. I am certain the man fell for it and was taken on a rendezvous drive before getting to his destination to make the journey seem worth the amount he was charged. In the second instance, the teacher is encouraging examination malpractice. He probably thinks he is offering a great help whereas he is inadvertently helping the students cultivate the culture of examination malpractice because they would believe examination malpractice is a prerequisite to passing any exam in future. Parents even encourage this yet we wonder why the reading culture is going into extinction. Do you now see the reason for the high rate of examination malpractice among students? In the third story, the driver charges an exorbitant fee of #2,000 for a luggage. I would love to ask: is the boot not meant for luggage? Why do we need to pay for the boot to serve its purpose? Is that not a mild form of extortion? 


I watched a video of a man addressing a crowd. He asked, “Who wants change?” Everyone’s hand was raised. He then asked, “Who wants to change?” No hand was raised this time. It is ironic that everyone wants change but no one is willing to change. This may be due to ignorance – we do not know that change begins with us. We want an end to extortion yet we extort from people in silly ways. We want students to take their studies seriously yet we expose them to examination malpractice at an early stage in their educational background. We criticize and put the blame on the government officials for the mess we are into, forgetting that we also contribute to this in our own little ways – we are as bad as the government officials!


Our desire for change made us vote the APC into power in 2015, thinking Nigeria would be better. Is it any better? Answer for yourself! We desire change but we do not intend this change to happen. Our actions often betray our intentions. We say we don’t want bad politicians but we still collect money from them and vote them in. If a politician gives out money for the mobilization of thugs, he finds thugs more than he actually paid for. If he gives out money for an election to be rigged, it will be done and he will emerge the winner. Are we not his accomplices? I once followed a discussion on a certain Facebook group. The question asked was: If you become the governor of your state, what would you do? I am sure you won’t be surprised to know that everyone’s comment revolved around, “the kind money I go pack no be here”. That is the mindset of the supposed leaders of tomorrow. Are we not as bad as the politicians we criticize and condemn daily? Little wonder, our criticisms does not yield any positive result. It is the case of the kettle calling the pot black!


We are opportunists. We are always on the look out for an opportunity to exploit others, infecting the society with greed and inordinate desires.   Transport managers inflate transport fare during festive seasons. Drivers would demand hundred naira for a journey of fifty naira once it is raining. Policemen enforce the giving the fifty naira on drivers not minding whether or not they perform their basic duties. A manager of a company would increase his/her earnings by manipulating figures. Yet we want change!  


I was once told the story of a man who tied his donkey to a tree with a rope and afterwards tries to pull it forward. The donkey refused to move. He thought the donkey was resisting to move and he started to hit it with it a stick. “The man is a fool”, you might say and you are probably right. And we, Nigerians, can be likened to that foolish man. We want Nigeria to move forward whereas we are also pulling it backwards, hindering progress. Afterwards, we wonder why the country is not progressing and lament.


The change beings with me. The change begins with you. Building the Nigeria of our dream is our collective responsibility. When you do your part and I do mine, we will have a Nigeria we would be happy to bequeath to generations after us.


The change begins with the man in the mirror. With united effort, sincere commitment and patriotism, we can evolve a better society. Nigeria will become great if we all do the right thing. The ultimate power to effect positive change lies with us and us alone.



Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  


Monday, September 7, 2020

September 07, 2020

An Open Letter to His Excellency, The Executive Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade.


I have always doted on Cross River state. The annual Calabar Carnival always gave me goose bumps and made me dream to be here. I have always wished to experience the serenity and tranquility in Cross River state. Luckily, my dreams came true when the mandatory National Youth Service availed me the opportunity to be here in Cross River state. I would not be exaggerating if I chip that the opportunity was given to me on a platter of gold. I have interacted with the accommodating, friendly and lovely people of Cross River state. I have had a taste of the yummy Afang soup and the mouth-watering Edikang Ikong soup. I have fallen helplessly in love with periwinkles and I am eagerly anticipating this year’s Calabar carnival to witness the rich cultural heritage of the people. I hope the Covid-19 pandemic would be at its barest minimum by December.

His Excellency, I must admit that I am impressed with your works in the state. It is amazing how Cross River state transformed from a traditional economy to a digital economy under your leadership. Your laudable projects (completed and ongoing) shows that you truly understand that leadership is all about selfless service to the people. The zeal and zest in which you work towards promoting the welfare of the people of Cross River state is highly commendable. You deserve some accolades. You are indeed a digital governor. I have one question though. Are you called a digital governor because you digitalized Cross River or you digitalized Cross River because you are digital person? I look forward to getting an answer.

His Excellency, I am convinced that you are a man who wishes, above all things, for the welfare of the people of Cross River state to be at its maximum. The manner in which you  have worked arduously to provide good road networks within the state, amusement parks, good water supply, security and electricity attests to this. I am equally convinced that it would sadden your heart to know that a section of your population is being deprived of one of the essential utilities of comfortable living.

His Excellency, I wish to use this medium to draw your attention to the pathetic situation that the people of Bakassi Local Government Area has been subjected to for the past six months – lack of power supply. You would agree with me that electricity is one of the social amenities that promote the welfare of the people of any society. Thus, it is a prerequisite for a comfortable life. As a caring father who has the interest of his children at heart, however, I am bamboozled to think that you would be nonchalant about addressing this situation and allow your children to live in darkness this long. What kind of a father is he who cannot stay a day without electricity but allow his children to live at the mercy of generators for six good months? Where is the love he claims to have for them. It is written that a son cannot ask the father for a bread and he would be given a stone. He cannot ask for a fish and receive a snake. Yet, your children asked for a steady power supply but they were given generator sets!

His Excellency, Bakassi Local Governemnt Area needs your digital touch. Like the biblical blind man in need of the touch of Jesus cried out on hearing that Jesus was passing by, the people of Bakassi cries out, “Do not pass us by, His Excellency. Hear our humble cry. Let your wind of digitalization blow over Bakassi.”

His Excellency. I implore you to use your good offices and address this issue as urgent as practicable, just like a father would rush out of his bed on hearing that his child was drowning. I look forward to the day I would hear the chants and shouts of “NEPA!” at every corner in Bakassi.

Warm Regards,
Ezinwanne Onwuka
(A Corp Member)

Friday, August 28, 2020

August 28, 2020

OpEd: Education: The Weapon Of Mass Salvation BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


Formally, a general theory of education can be said to have one aim only: to produce a certain type of person, an educated man. The interesting question is how to give substantial content to this formal aim. To do this, there is need to work out in detail the criteria which govern the actual use of this term. The criteria will be those which enable us to mark off the educated man from one who is not.

At the outset of this enterprise, we meet with a complication. The term ‘education’ can be used in more than one way. In a restricted sense, it is used to describe what happens to an individual in specifically educational institutions like schools or colleges. In this case, to talk of a man’s education is to talk of his passing through a system. ‘He was educated at such-and-such a school’ signifies that he went to the school in question. A more restricted sense still is one which imports into the notion of education some reference to value. Education, on this interpretation, is a normative or value term, and implies that what happens to the individual improves him in some way.

According to the normative use, an educated man is an improved man, and as such a desirable end product, someone who ought to be produced. It is this normative sense of education which provides the logical starting-point of a general theory, the commitment to produce something of value, a desirable type of individual. Such a person would have specific characteristics, such as the possession of certain sorts of knowledge and skill, and the having of certain attitudes themselves regarded as worth having. The educated man would be one whose intellectual abilities had been developed, who is sensitive to matters of moral and aesthetic concern, who could appreciate the nature and force of mathematical and scientific thinking, who could view the world along historical and geographical perspectives and who, moreover, had a regard for the importance of truth, accuracy, and elegance in thinking. A further requirement is that the educated man is one whose knowledge and understanding is all of a piece, integrated, and not merely a mass of acquired information, piecemeal and unrelated.

Education, then, can be seen as the total development of the individual through acceptable methods and techniques according to his abilities and interests to meet up the needs of the society and for the individual to take his rightful place and contribute equally to the enhancement of the society. For Herbert Spencer, the educated man is one who has acquired knowledge and intellectual development sufficient to enable him to support himself in an industrial and commercial society, to raise and support a family, to play the part of a citizen in such a society and to use his leisure wisely.

Education, in the life of a nation, is the live wire of its industries and also the foundation of moral regeneration and revival of its people. It is also the force and bulwark of any nation’s defence and it has been observed that no nation rises above the level of its education. Education plays an indispensable role in the society, no doubt. Education supplies the needed manpower for national development. Education is an indispensable tool which will not only assist in meeting the nation’s social, political, moral, cultural and economic aspirations but will also inculcate in the individual knowledge, skills, dexterity, character and desirable values that will foster national development and self-actualization. From the definition of education given above, it is clear that education trains an individual to be useful in the society and to meet up the need of the society for national development. Therefore, it should be clear that without education, a nation cannot get the needed manpower for material advancement and enlightenment of the citizenry. The trained engineers, teachers, medical doctors, inter alia are all the products of education. This explains why it is argued also that the quality of a nation’s education determines the level of its national development.

Education also promotes the culture of productivity by enabling individuals to discover the creative potentials in them and apply same to the improvement of the existing skill and technique of performing specific tasks, thereby increasing the efficiency of their personal societal efforts. In other words, Education teaches or trains people to be useful to themselves and the society they live. By this, they have to be productive and discover their creative abilities and use this to perform specific tasks to attain self-actualisation.

Education also develops in individuals those values which make for good citizenship, such as honesty, selflessness, tolerance, dedication, hard-work and personal integrity, all of which provide the rich soil from which good leadership potential is groomed. As already noted, education trains an individual to be responsible in the society. From this, it is clear that education gives moral training. Disappointedly, Nigerian leaders are morally bankrupt and have nothing to offer in terms of national development from their leadership style. This therefore demonstrates that education has not fully impacted positively on Nigerian leaders.

From the above, it is clear that education has a critical function in the development of any society. But in the Nigerian context, education has not fully played its roles in the regard. This is as a result of certain inherent problems in the Nigerian education system. First among these problems is inadequate funding. Education is no doubt, directly linked with the processes of nation building and development. Education in Nigeria has not been properly funded and this leads to poor infrastructure developed in the universities, secondary and primary schools. This poor infrastructure makes the environment very hostile. This shows that products of this underfunded educational sector will be very poor and teachers will not be adequately remunerated for them to perform their duties effectively. This explains the incessant strike actions embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities. This also explains why pupils and students in the school system sit on bare floor and under mango trees to receive lessons and lectures. This utter disregard for quality education which is informed by poor funding appears to have bedevilled the academic qualifications obtained in Nigerian universities today.

Still in the same vein, education in Nigeria has been bastardized by the grade-system. Grade and/or mark is the determining factor to know whether one is educated or not. This explains the sex-for-marks scandals ravaging our higher institutions of learning. This also explains the level of examination malpractice among students. Students are no longer interested in learning, they are interested in boosting their grades. Little wonder, the perplexing problem facing our society today is that a greater percentage of students study only to pass exams which is leading to the mass production of graduates who are 'academic misfits' in their specializations. It won’t be wrong to say that one the maladies facing Nigeria today is not unemployment. Rather, it is 'unemployable graduates' - graduates who can't do what their certificates present, graduates lacking in 21st century work skills, and it is getting worse by the day. The greatest challenge of employers in today's Nigeria is unemployability. This is the bane of our educational system! It revolves around reading only to pass exams. There is very little concern for the practical application of what is being learnt. This is the reason many uneducated graduates flood the labour market annually. The emphasis is only on the paper (certificate). They think that the certificate certifies them as being ‘educated’. Not knowing that it is not just about the certificate, it is about the certification! Because they are so certificate-minded, they indulge in all sorts of examination malpractice just to get a pass mark and get the certificate at the end of the day. We have so many graduates with certificates yet they are uncertified! Many live in the delusion that to be literate (being able to read and write) is to be educated without knowing that education is broader than literacy.

Despite these challenges, the importance of education is overwhelming. In a democratic society like ours, education should serve democracy by producing democrats. This is because a democratic society depends on democratic men. Plainly, if it is in the public interest for society to be democratic, it will be in the public interest to provide whatever is necessary, education included, to sustain a democracy. This would involve some kind of political education, an initiation into the practice of group decision-making and the inculcation of a commitment to such principles as the adherence to majority decisions, toleration of differing opinions, and an introduction to the institutional structure of democratic society. This will go a long way to groom and train the leaders of tomorrow. 

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

August 19, 2020

OpEd: If I Become The President Of Nigeria… BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


Since independence, Nigeria has been dogged by several problems. By October 1st, 2020 (less than 100 days from now), Nigeria will turn 60 years as an independent country. A man that has attained the age of 60 has come of age. He would have been married, maintained a stable family and has reached the apex of his career. This age, for any reasonable man is an age when he looks back at his youth and calculates his failures and successes. It is the age at which a man sets in motion the last part of his plans for survival, having with the aid of hindsight, identified areas of failures and successes.

The same could be said of a country that has attained 60 years of age as Nigeria has. Such country could be said to have survived the vagaries of infancy, the exuberance and crisis of adolescence and has established a functional and effective socio-political system that will ensure stability. However, it is a different ball game when a country that is stupendously endowed, as Nigeria is, fails, as Nigeria has failed miserably, to utilize the experiences of her infancy and youth as building blocks for a better future. 

In 60 years, centripetal and centrifugal socio-political forces seems to have become dangerously sharpened in Nigeria, with each contending socio-political group becoming increasingly suspicious and subversive of the other(s). In 60 years, Nigeria seems to have enthroned corruption and charlatanism as articles of faith in her political leadership. In 60 years, Nigeria has consolidated a dubious political culture that emphasizes the primacy of sectional interest over and above national interest. In 60 years, Nigeria’s political leaders have become so immersed in flaunting their ill-gotten wealth, in upbraiding the primordial public at the expanse of the civil public. 
Our dear country, Nigeria is stuck in the miry clay of leadership ineptitude. It is always bad with each change of government. The past and present leaders have exhibited shameful cluelessness in addressing the insecurity challenges in the country, resolving the country’s epileptic power supply, dealing with unemployment and corruption and so on. In fact, they have demonstrated nauseating lack of vision on how to move Nigeria forward. Dr Arthur Nwankwo (2018) described Nigeria perfectly when he wrote, “Nigeria is a lumbering behemoth in search of a safe berth; a country with awesome potentials for global dominance but frittered away by sustained and unmitigating ethnic pariahs, leadership inertia and mindless looting of the commonwealth.”

Nigeria has become a theatre of the absurd – all thanks to our clueless, visionless and kleptomaniac lootocrats! That Buhari and other past leaders have failed is not arguable. The philosopher, Plato proffered that an ideal state is one whose policy makers are philosophers. That Nigeria has become a fantastically corrupt state with a collapsed economy goes to show that none of the past policy makers and present president is Nigeria’s ‘philosopher king’. 
Nigeria as it is today is a lopsided colonial creation where the resources of the state are continuously being hijacked by a predatory but insignificant class of oppressors – the political leaders. What Nigeria needs now is a ‘philosopher king’ who is also a clinical economist who will meticulously and painstakingly study the patient – a crisis-ridden economy, like ours – in order to prescribe a course of treatment; performing a surgery, if need be.

If I become the president of Nigeria, to nib the sharp rise in ethnic separatism, incandescent ethnic nationalism and collapsed economy suffocating the country in the bud, I will restructure the country. I am not ignorant of the fact that the present administration of Muhammdu Buhari has turned Nigeria into a treacherous environment where truth is unwelcomed and stifled; and where a public opinion on a delicate issue such as this could be easily misconstrued and mischievously interpreted as a felony. This notwithstanding, I will proceed.

Restructuring does not refer to the merging of states as most people erroneously assume. Rather, it is a call for the restoration of federalism – the foundational constitution structure to which all Nigerians subscribed as encapsulated in the independence constitution of 1960. This constitution was violated in 1966 and the violation set in motion a chain of events that has culminated in the present abnegation of a 36 states structure against the four regional structure that emanated from the independence constitution. All the ills presently plaguing the country are directly or indirectly a consequence of the wrong anti-federalist diversion Nigeria took in 1966.

For Nigeria to be pulled out of the miry clay of disintegration, it needs both political and fiscal restructuring. This would be my number one political agenda. Politically, there would only be two tiers of government  — the central government which will have exclusive responsibility for common services such as the central bank and monetary policy, foreign affairs, defence and the armed forces, and immigration, and regional governments which will now have direct supervision over the zones (the present 36 states). Local governments should be abolished as a tier of government. It would be the responsibility of regional governments to create and administer local governments. 

The existing six geopolitical zones would be constituted into federating units with equal constitutional rights. A restructured Nigeria with the six geo-political zones as federating units will work much better because these zones each have economies of scale. Trade and manufacturing can happen inside each zone with a market large enough to meet demand, as well as to trade effectively with other zones in the federation.

The states as presently existing will make up the zones. Each zone will have its own constitution which will not be in conflict with the federal constitution. The State’s Houses of Assembly will remain as they are but there will be Regional Houses of Assembly that will function as the highest legislative organ of the regions.
Each region would have its own police, courts; and sustain its educational and other sectors. Each region would have a Governor who would coordinate the activities of the region and report to the President. 

In terms of election, INEC would still conduct federal elections, while each region would establish its own electoral body for the purpose of regional and municipal elections. The Office of the President would be for a single term of six years.

Nigeria today is called a “federal republic” but in reality it is a unitary state in which the federal government wields overarching powers. Like the United States of America, Nigeria is structured as a federation with 36 states, a federal territory, and 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), including Abuja. However, unlike the United States, the central government controls the revenues and nearly all of the country’s resources, especially oil and natural gas. Revenues accrue in the Federation Account, where it is allocated monthly to the states and the LGAs, by a federal executive body, the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

On fiscal restructuring, there would be an overhaul of the Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual legislative lists as contained in the constitution. There are, for example, 68 items on the Exclusive Legislative List in the 1999 constitution, and a residual list that is far too small – the latter made up of a few items such as cemeteries and burial grounds, births and death registration, healthcare, traditional and chieftaincy titles. I would move mines and minerals from the Exclusive List to the Residual List as an exclusive preserve of regions. Also, insurance, police and security agencies, prisons, taxation, trade and commerce, and water would be moved from the exclusive to the concurrent list. This way, the powers of the central government would be significantly reduced to issues of immigration, currency, military/defence and foreign affairs. Power, in essence would devolve more to the federating units.

The regions would be in charge of the resources within their space, which is to be exploited by the regions and an agreed percentage paid to the central government. In other words, the present revenue sharing formula would be discarded. 
Restructuring will compel the regions and states to look inwards to identify and develop their internal economies and by extension the national economy. In the first republic, the North was famous for its groundnut pyramids, the West was known for its cocoa, the Mid West for rubber, the South-East for its palm produce and the South-South of lumbering and fishing. In addition to this vast agricultural profile which presently is lying fallow, each region has mineral deposits. 

With proper restructuring, each region, not the central government, will control natural resources found therein, but pay a certain percentage of the income from those resources to the central government for the functioning of the federation. This will spur development because the regions will now take on responsibility for how they use their natural resource income, and indeed whether they choose to depend mainly on such income or build a more complex and productive economy. In a true federation, the central government should have no business owning the country’s natural resources and “allocating” revenues to sub-national units.

The best arrangement for Nigeria is neither the “unitary federalism” the military leaders imposed on us, nor a confederation, but a real federation with a finely calibrated balance of powers and responsibilities between the central and federating units. In this scenario, the federating units can look after themselves more effectively without the “feeding bottle” of the central government. The centre becomes less powerful, but not weak, because it will retain core sovereign responsibilities such as the armed forces and security services, citizenship and immigration, foreign affairs, and the central bank.

The reasons restructuring is vital are as follows. First, the case for justice, fairness and equity. The truth is that the current constitutional structure of Nigeria and concentration of power at the centre favors some parts of the country and disenfranchises others, in particular, those parts of the country from which the natural resources rents support the current structure. It disenfranchises them because they have no control over these resources (which should not be the case in a truly federal state), and because the arrangement places excessive political power in the hands of whichever groups control power at the centre. Additionally, restructuring is essential because it will help our democracy achieve better governance. This will be achieved in two ways. One, restructuring will bring greater accountability and transparency to governance because power and responsibility will devolve closer to the people. This will help evolve a better culture and quality of leadership, and will foster competitive development between the regions. Two, restructuring will result to a reduction in the costs of governance at both the centre and the regions.

If I become the president of Nigeria, the proactive steps I would take to restructure the country are: First, I will meet with the National Assembly and intimate the lawmakers about my plans to restructure the country and painstakingly explain to them the need to come to a broad agreement on the National Assembly’s critical role in constitutional restructuring. Second, I will appoint a Commission on Constitutional Restructuring. The Commission will be comprised of distinguished personalities with impeccable records, and will include a member from each of the regions. The responsibility of the Commission will be to review previous reports and recommendations on constitutional restructuring and to analyse the various positions, arguments and recommendations. It can also craft further recommendations of its own. Third, the report of the Commission will be followed by a widespread sensitization and consultation with citizens and stakeholders in all parts of the country. The aim will be to foster a participatory government where the citizens freely express their opinion on a public policy. The final step will then be the submission of the Restructuring Bill to the National Assembly.

Restructuring is the panacea to Nigeria’s epileptic development. I believe that restructuring will have a proactive effect of positioning Nigeria for real development. 

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Thursday, August 13, 2020

August 13, 2020

OpEd: 9 Things You Need To Know About Introverts BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


Most of us find extroversion as a quality to reckon with. We see extroverts as easy-going, people-loving individuals while introverts are often tagged as weird, snob and nerd.
Just because extroversion appears to be a more popular and dominant personality trait does not mean that being an introvert makes one a ‘weirdo’.

Having differences is not a hurdle in a bond, knowing how to respect it is. Knowing these few things about introverts, then, will help to foster a healthy relationship with them.

Introverts need ‘alone time’ and we want you to respect that: Our ‘alone time’ is our ‘life potion’. We will literally exhaust ourselves to death if we are not allowed a minimum of, at least, 30 minutes solitude everyday. We need time for recharging. Don’t force us to join you to outings, movies, group chats etc. after an already overdose of socialization. If you do, we will politely decline your offer and we expect you to respect that without further question.
Introverts do not like to party: Sorry, but introverts are not the party types. And this is mostly for two reasons. Firstly, the need to unnecessarily socialize with people, even if they are absolute strangers. Secondly, the need to avoid unnecessary noise. If you are one of those who think inviting or dragging an introvert to a party will put an end to his despondency and make him come alive, have a rethink. Partying will only add to our gloom. We are not ‘people’ persons. Introverts detest parties for the sheer amount of people they get to meet all at once!

Do not urge us to be more extroverted: Often extroverts try and make us behave like them, fit in their lifestyle and also impose their opinions and choices on us. How annoying! We find it disrespectful and annoying to face situations when extroverts will come and tell us to ‘be bolder’, ‘be more expressive’. Introverts and extroverts are quite opposites. We can still exist alongside each other, even if we apparently have contrasting traits. There is no need to force us to change; just like we don’t force you to keep quiet when you start to ‘shout’. We must just embrace each other’s uniqueness. Introverts experience the beauty of the world in a way different from extroverts. But that does not make an introvert an ‘odd creature’. They are beautiful in their own way as you are in your own way, as an extrovert.

Introverts do not share their personal details in front of a group of people: Sharing personal information in the presence of a group of people is an absolute nightmare for introverts. However, if you are really interested in us and wants to know us better, follow the following steps. First, gain our trust and sneak into our circle of friends. Second, have the patience to create that comfortable space for us to open up. Lastly, and most importantly, meet us alone. Our personal life is a very treasured part of us and we do not want to share it with random people.
Do not force us to speak up: Have patience with us. We do speak. And we speak a lot. We just need the right comfort, the right dose of understanding, the proper listening skills from you and we will keep going on and on. The more you force us to speak, the more we will retire into our shells. Introverts need some time to process and contemplate before they speak.

Introverts do not like to be interrupted: 
Introverts are deep thinkers and need substantial time to process information. That, however, does not make us ‘slow-witted’ beings. Thinking is just our most favourite hobby. And when we are replaying a scene in our mind or are engrossed in our imaginary world, we would not like to be disturbed. We want to be left by ourselves. That helps us to focus on one out of the number of thoughts in our minds.
Talking over the phone is torture for us: You will be disappointed to the core when you try to talk to us on the phone; we are likely to stare at our phone until the call ends, especially when you are not in our circle of friends. It is better you send us a voicemail, text, email or better still chat us up on social media rather than dial our number. Even if we answer the call, we will fervently wish you to disconnect as soon as possible.

We do not want you to add us to group chats on social media: ‘Groups’ are not our thing. ‘Solo’ is our thing. We can still manage group outings periodically with our intimate buddies. But keeping track of the conversation going on in group chats on communicative apps is not just our thing! It is exhausting. We simple suck at it. Most importantly, the constant inbox notifications interrupt us from our focused thinking.

Do not complete our unfinished sentences: Opening up, for introverts, is a bit difficult. So, when you witness us performing our masterstroke of opening up, carefully pouring our hearts out, do not interrupt us by completing our sentences. It cuts our conversation flow. It makes us feel like you have violated our boundary; thereby reducing our chances of ever providing you with a glimpse of our inner world.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

August 05, 2020

OpEd: Cross-carpeting: A Challenge To Nigeria's Democracy BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA





A generally accepted definition of a political party is that it is an organized group of people with similar political aims and opinions that seek to influence public policy by getting its candidate elected to public office. Political parties are important institutions for developing policies and platforms and providing critical oversight and accountability of government action. Through their elected representatives, political parties implement policies that reflect the ideology of the party. However, this is not the case in Nigeria. Changing from one political party to another is common and seen as a way of gaining an advantage over other political parties.

Nigeria face a major and persistence problem: incessant cross-carpeting among elected political actors which tend to impede the democratic process. Cross-carpeting, otherwise known as party defection (I will be using the two terms interchangeably) is a situation where politicians cross from one political party to the other due to myriad of reasons such as personality clash, power tussles, crisis or division within a given party, disagreement on party's position on an issue, realization of one's personal political ambition, and divergent views on the operations of a political party's philosophy or ideology. 

In other words, party defection is any situation in which a member of a legislature who had been elected on a certain party platform changes his political allegiance before or after a general election. In this regard, political party defectors are usually regarded as political prostitutes without political principle, morality, conscience and lacking in political ideology to champion the cause of leadership for the wellbeing of the society and political development of the country.

Cross-carpeting have become the underlying attribute of party politics in this present democratic dispensation and have become frequent toward and after election periods. To be certain, the word “cross-carpeting” does not exist in the English language. It was, however, coined to describe a common phenomenon by which politicians, almost unashamedly, switch political allegiance just to achieve their own personal political goals.

One of the challenges to the sustainability of democracy and the evolution of a robust political system and process in Nigeria is the gale of party defections in the country. Developed democracies like the United States, Germany, France and United Kingdom have politicians with over 3 decades of experience in politics without wavering in party affiliations and ideologies. However, in the Nigerian context, a politician will defect from one political party to another, when his or her political interest is no longer guaranteed.

In 1951, the first known case of cross-carpeting occurred in Nigeria which robbed Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe the chance to become the Premier of the Western Region. This happens to be the most celebrated cross carpet episode in Nigeria. Yoruba members of the National Council for Nigerian and the Cameroon (NCNC) were lobbied to cross over to the Action Group (AG) to stop Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo man, from becoming the premier of Western Region. This heralded the massive cross over to the AG. As the leader of the NCNC, Azikiwe was to be the Premier of Western Nigeria following the elections of 1951 with Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba man and the leader of Action Group, as the leader of the opposition in the Regional House of Assembly. The NCNC won 42 seats out of 80, but within 24 hours, 20 of them had cross-carpeted to AG.

While President Muhammadu Buhari was never a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he did move between various political parties in his quest to become the number one citizen of Nigeria. In 2003 and 2007, he contested for president as the candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). In 2011, he was the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which he founded. In 2015, he contested under the umbrella of the APC and won.

The political calculation in the country took a dramatic turn by 2013 with the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC) through the merging of four political parties - Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) - formed just to garner more supporters over the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the build up to the 2015 general elections. This development led to the defection of five former PDP governors: Murtal Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wammako, (Sokoto) and Chibuike Amechi (Rivers), to the APC ahead of the 2015 general elections. Also to cross-carpet to the APC is the governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, from the All Progressive Grand Alliance and the PDP senators: Senator Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central), Umaru Dahiru (Sokoto South), Magnus Ngei (Rivers South), Wilson Asinobi (Rivers West), Bindawa Muhammed (Gombe Central), Aisha Jummai (Taraba North), Mohammed Ali (Borno South), Mohammed Shaba (Kwara North), Abdulahi Adamu (Nasarawa West) and Ibrahim Abdullahi (Sokoto East), as well as thirty-seven members of the House of Representatives who cross-carpeted from PDP to APC.

Moreover, with the mantle of political power turning to the APC after the 2019 general elections, politicians continue to defect to the party in a bid to further their political career. Unlike other parts of the world where politicians defect for ideological reasons, politicians in Nigeria defect mostly for selfish ends. All they are concerned with is simply associating with those with whom their personal political objective stand a better chance of being achieved. The series of indiscriminate party defection is such that Nigerian politicians defect from their political parties to another party only to leave that other party for yet other parties before eventually returning ‘home’ to their original political party.

One reason for the occurrence and prevalence of party defection in Nigeria is the nature of party formation. Party formation in Nigeria is often driven by political careerism rather than ideology. Personal ambition and ethnic loyalty, as opposed to social and economic issues, tend to drive Nigeria's political parties. The deprivation that opposition politics might engender often make it unwise for politicians to remain in opposition parties. This is perhaps so because the party in power often discriminates against the opposition. Thus, owing to the winner-takes-all nature of Nigerian politics, political opponents usually had to choose between crossing the carpet to join the ruling party or suffer exclusion, repression and lack of access to resources.

Cross-carpeting no doubt has telling effects on the process of consolidating democracy, especially when it affects state and federal elected political office holders. This trend is fast making caricature of democracy in the Fourth Republic and seriously belittles the spirit of opposition parties. This often breeds the emergence of new political parties that lack strength and focus to compete reasonably in the polity. In other words, incessant cross-carpeting weakens opposition parties which have a telling effect on democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Furthermore, it tends to promote money-bag politics rather than ideological oriented political parties. According to the News Magazine of February 2014, a ‘‘mouth-watering'' offer of money were outlined for the legislators that cross-carpeted to the APC in the build up to 2015 general elections. According to the same report, the then ruling PDP was said to have promised $2 million to each senator who returns to the PDP, $1 million to each member of the House of Representatives and $10 million to each ‘leader' who abandoned the APC for the PDP. Although, this is considered a rumour in some quarters, one cannot completely dispel issues like this in any polity that is not ideologically driven, where possession of political power is viewed directly as economic empowerment.

Indiscriminate party defection have become the hall mark of Nigerian politics. A pre-requisite to curtail the incessant party defection is to de-emphasize the excessive premium placed on political power. When politics becomes less lucrative, ideology will begin to gain popularity across the polity. This will keep political practitioners back on the track and guide against incessant party defections.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Friday, July 31, 2020

July 31, 2020

OpEd: The Troubles That Plague Nigeria BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


The trouble with Nigeria is, undoubtedly, multifaceted. However, the following stand out prominently and has crippled the nation like no other could.

High Unemployment: Unemployment refers to a situation whereby qualified and employable able-bodied adults are not employed due to non-availability of job opportunities. Nigeria, for instance, is a country in which the vast majority of the potential workforce is either workless or marginally employed. The twin problem of unemployment is underemployment. There is underemployment where, for instance, a skilled and educated job seeker is employed to do a job that is less remunerative and dignified in status i.e. the employment of a university graduate as a clerical officer. In other words, when an employee earns an amount that is not commensurate with the position he is qualified for in an establishment or institution, such employee is under employed. This situation is very profound in this part of the world. The phenomenon of unemployment and underemployment is most endemic, rampant and problematic in our dear country.

Bad leadership: While a culture of stable, good governance and democratic rule has taken root in developed nations, stolen democracy or botched civil rule is the lot in Nigeria. Bad leadership exasperates the problem. It is a truism that most of those at the helm of affairs in our country are visionless, corrupt and bereft of ideas and leadership qualities. The prevailing order is that of primitive accumulation of wealth, corruption and get-rich syndrome. Thus, the resources meant to better the lots of all and sundry have been or are being diverted and converted into private pockets. Leading a country involves making policies and finding solutions to problems, ensuring stability of the polity, and guiding the society to prosperity. But a large number of the political leaders of Nigeria lack the vision, the passion, and the character to effectively govern the state and deal with the crumbling economy.  It is a fact of history that we are blessed with corrupt leaders with intimidating vast financial empires whose excessive acts of exploitation, dictatorial wield of power, ill-gotten wealth have aided underdevelopment.

Lack of infrastructures: This refers to the absence of the basic necessities of life; necessities that are imperative to realize the good life. Good roads, uninterrupted electricity and efficient communication system etc., are some infrastructural facilities needed to make the lives of citizens a pleasant one. The reality of the day is that these infrastructural facilities and others are hardly available in our country. Where there are available, they are either in short supply or epileptic in service to the people. Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is a good example.

Human rights abuse and fragrant disregard for the rule of law: Certain rights are conferred on the citizens of a country. Such rights include rights to life, right to free association, right to free expression etc. Also, citizens are supposed to be equal before the law of the land. In other words, the rule of law ought to be supreme in order to bring about justice and peaceful coexistence in an organized society. However, in a country like ours, there is gross human rights abuse. The rule of law is neither reckoned with nor obeyed. Nigeria is a country where the principle of equality before the law exist only in theory and not in practice. It is axiomatic that our rulers and elites are above the law. It is a social reality that the Nigerian government is reputed for human rights violation and abuse, curtailment of political freedom and fragrant disregard for the rule of law. Our leaders are quite god at eliminating opposition elements and activists. Cases abound where leaders have denied their countrymen of their rights and freedom with the instrumentality of state power as well as obnoxious laws.

Egoism and Greed: Egoism has to do with selfishness. Egoism in a nation refers to selfish acts on the part of citizens at the expanse of the nation. Greed, on the other hand, refers to man’s tendency to possess what does not belong to him and gain unnecessary advantage over others when citizens and leaders are infested with the spirit of egoism and greed, it follows that citizens as well as leaders will only pursue their selfish interests and gains to the detriment for those things that would put the nation on the path to progress and greatness.  

Corruption: The greater democratic challenge facing Nigeria is “corruption”. Transparency International defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private benefit (Transparency International, 2006).  The attempt to break the cycle of underdevelopment has been hindered by the high level of corruption in the country. Unfortunately, after years of independence, Nigerians still harbour the mentality that public money belongs to no one and that any person who has access to it should convert it into his or her personal use. Corruption is a social menace that has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian polity. Today, Nigerians applaud and tolerate ill-gotten wealth which in reality is money stolen from public coffers. This is a pointer to the fact that corruption is endemic in Nigeria. It has permeated into every facets of the society; the family, the church and even the traditional systems are not left out of this contagious disease. The debilitating effects of corruption on the country are enormous. It affects the routine processes of governance both in public and private sectors, and it pollutes the business environment generally. It also undermines the integrity of government and public institutions. It is clear from the foregoing that corruption is a bane of development and the major cause of economic paralysis.


Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Thursday, July 16, 2020

July 16, 2020

OpEd: My Dream Of The African Renaissance BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


The saying that "knowledge is power" is indeed an eloquent and forceful idea. Lately, I started to juxtapose the meaning of this adage with the pitiable African situation.

If "knowledge is power", why is Africa investing more on frivolous things than on information and more on the military than on education? If the pen is mightier than the sword, why does a politician in Africa earn more than teachers, lecturers and professors? If knowledge is, indeed, power, then Africa should curtail its brain drain and promote the African Renaissance which will lead to the rebirth of the continent. To speak of an African Renaissance is to speak of renewal and rebirth. It is to recognize the need for African countries to literally reinvent themselves. 

The current discourse on the African Renaissance is not new. The first international conference on the African Renaissance was held in Dakar, Senegal, between 26 February and 2 March 1996 where African intellectuals gathered to celebrate the works of Professor Cheikh Anta Diop, ten years after his death. The theme of the conference was ‘African Renaissance in the Third Millennium’. Similarly, the first African Renaissance Conference in South Africa took place from 28 to 29 September 1998. Thabo Mbeki, the then Deputy President of South Africa, read the keynote address on ‘Giving the Renaissance Content: Objectives and Definitions’.

When Cheikh Anta Diop first coined and pioneered the concept of “African Renaissance”, he addressed the fact that Africa would need to revive its languages and cultures, develop its political structures and ideologies as well as reach economic independence in order to attain prosperity. It is the concept of “African Renaissance” that looks at the potential of the continent and declares that with the right mindset, vision and outlook, Africa can and will revitalize its structures and systems in order to create opportunity for all, and positively change her narrative. Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, later on popularized this concept, reiterating the fact that Africa must reach a point of restoration i.e. restoring our economic freedom and independence, as well as restoring our identities in order to build foundations for sustainable growth and success.

To speak of an African Renaissance is to begin with the transformations that took place in South Africa. Much has been written about the South African miracle and the Mandela magic, but the renaissance in South Africa should be seen as a historical moment that must be cautiously nurtured and continuously supported far into the future, rather than simply celebrated as an event in the continent’s past. What happened in 1994 was the beginning of a process and not the end of a struggle.

Speaking both as a son of Africa and one-time Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan described the momentous changes in Africa over the last five decades as part of three waves. “First came decolonialization and the struggle against apartheid. Then came a second wave, too often marked by civil wars, the tyranny of military rule, and recent economic stagnation. I believe,” he argued, “that a new era is now in progress, Africa’s third wave.”
The narrative that has often been associated with Africa (especially by the western world) has been one of doom and gloom. It is always about wars, poverty, alarming illiteracy rates, economic corruption and leaders who fail to be accountable to their citizens. Consequently, Africans now believe that the West is a land flowing with milk and honey. Most Africans believe they cannot 'make it' in Africa and so they look for every opportunity to flee. The African culture is slowly becoming extinct because we have been bamboozled to think that everything African denotes backwardness while everything European is good and should be embraced. Little wonder, there are more African professional soccer players in Europe than in Africa and African literature is more at home abroad than it is at home.

It is time for us to purge our minds of the stereotypes and biases that we have been fed about Africa. To paraphrase W.E.B. DuBois in The Souls of Black Folks, “Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that some people are poor– all people know something of poverty; not that some people are wicked — who is good? Not that some people are ignorant – what is truth? No, the tragedy of our age is that we know so little of each other.” If Dubois were alive today, he would certainly say that it is time to get to know Africa, to understand the magic, not just the myths, of this wonderfully diverse continent. It is time to reverse the image of Africa as a continent in crisis, a place of poverty, a region of failed governments and missed opportunity.

This is inadvertently a clarion call to every African leader. If democracy is to have a lasting meaning in Africa, political empowerment must be accompanied by economic empowerment, alongside with cultural renewal and reaffirmation. The time has come to shift purposefully and deliberately from a focus on political party feud and war of vendetta against one's political foes to a focus on information; from exporting natural resources to exporting knowledge and ideas; and from being a consumer of technology to becoming a producer of technology. 

Sadly, African women and men of ideas have fled (and still fleeing) to London, America etc. Until the men and women of ideas - the healers of Africa - who have fled start returning home and those at home develop a patriotic spirit, the African Renaissance will remain an empty slogan. The role of African intellectuals is crucial in making the dream of the African Renaissance come true. After all, renaissance refers to a rebirth of ideas; and knowledge and ideas are the engines that drive economic growth.  

Unless Africa significantly increases its intellectual capital, the continent will remain irrelevant in the near future. Africa needs innovators, producers of knowledge and wise men and women who can discover, propose and implement progressive ideas. We need people from diverse backgrounds who are willing to synergize ideas, and come up with the best possible solutions to solve African problems from an Afro-centric point of view. We need to build African unity and have one voice, that way the continent can have much more power and influence in the international arena. The fate of Africa lies in the hands of Africans!

The African Renaissance is the dream of Africans who have a bold, new futurist vision for their countries and their continent; but who live for the moment between two worlds, an old order that is dying but not yet dead and a new order that is conceived but not yet born.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  

Thursday, July 9, 2020

July 09, 2020

OpEd: “Las Las, School Na Scam!” BY EZINWANNE ONWUKA


I am sure the slogan will not appear strange to you; not with the way it reels out the lips of the average Nigerian youth. It won’t be an overstatement to say that the slogan has turned out to be the national anthem among the youngsters. At a first glance, you might think the words are mere nonsensical and that the youths are just being misled to abandon their education. After all, education is pivotal. 

I am sure you will agree with me that in every nonsense, there is an iota of sense. Based on this, let me reveal to you, in the paragraphs that follow, that our educational system is not only a scam but also a sham.

Financial education is not taught in schools. Each time education is mentioned, what usually comes to mind is school and this is because we assume that school should teach us everything necessary about life. However, the reverse is the case. For instance, you can be a medical student and know lots of things about the human anatomy and medicine or a law student and know everything about the law profession. Unfortunately, that does not mean that you know anything about money. Also, you can be an accounting student who presses calculator every now and then to calculate millions of naira but that equally does not mean that you know anything about money. The reason why most professionals don’t know anything about money is because school wasn’t designed to give education about money; and it doesn’t matter how long or how many years or how many degrees you get in a formal educational system, I am sorry, you may know nothing about money and because you know nothing about money, you may be dead broke even with five degrees. Permit me to say, school na scam!

In Nigeria today, emphasis is no longer on the core element of true education, which is critical thinking and ability to proffer solutions to real life problems. The focus in most of our institutions of learning today is not knowledge acquisition but basically on degree acquisition. Thus, the joy of learning is being sucked out and education is reduced to a soulless process of ‘delivery’ of prescribed syllabus. The result being that students raised in this system are ill equipped to face real life challenges. They are not trained to think for themselves. The emphasis is just to pass some certain examinations. Consequently, students employ the la cram la pour method where they cram to pass exams and afterward they can hardly discuss the subject matter. Is school not a scam?!
Teachers are insistent on good academic grades. They make you believe that without a degree or a certificate, you will not be successful in life (we know, however, that this is erroneous).  They do not care if the student is actually learning any valuable skill or not. Without mincing words, it is our primary and secondary education that instils the textbook education obsession in students form a young age. Our school system judges the potential of a student based on his/her performance in a written exam. Universities filter out the ‘best minds’ from the lot with high cut off marks for admission entry. The school system do not take into account the non-academic competencies of the students. Students who excel in theoretical exams may not necessarily perform well under job pressure or have an innovative problem-solving approach during crisis. School na scam!

The majority of the courses studied in schools are designed to cater to textual knowledge, rather than foster and encourage practical and logical thinking. This is one of the main reasons that the quality of work force even from the reputed institutions is not up to the required standards. Fresh graduates hired for various industries face difficulty in dealing with the work demands. Sooner or later, they find out that most of the concepts learnt in school are hardly relevant for the job at hand.  Today, there are a lot of graduates who did not learn any relevant skill during their studies. The system tricked them, because they were busy reading textbooks only to obtain certificates but without knowing the applications of what they read. School na scam!

School prepares people to be good employees. Our school system do not teach students to make use of their hands, head and heart (the 3Hs of education). Teachers tell students that getting good grades is a prerequisite to getting quick employment after graduation. They make you believe that certificates are ends in themselves. They make you forget your passion. School, however, should help us to know ourselves better, nurture and develop our gifts and talents. Teachers should be able to detect the unique contribution each and everyone of us will make in life based on our unique abilities and give out relevant knowledge that will help us in this quest; not subjecting writers, public speakers, artists, journalists, musicians, models, etc. to the same syllabus, curricula and examination. School na scam!

From the foregoing, it is evident that our educational system needs to be overhauled and reformulated for the better. Until this is done, school remains a big scam and a sham.

EZINWANNE ONWUKA writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a Corp Member serving in Cross River state. She writes informative, creative and research-driven contents on topics about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected] and +2348164505628.  


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