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Op Ed

Lagos, Ogun & Bauchi As Niger Delta States? By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

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Hope Eghagha

One of the consequences of state capture is the predilection of a few power holders in the hierarchy to govern, no rule the polity with impunity, by subverting the very process or mechanism and instruments which placed them in office ab initio, by appropriating largesse to their constituencies in further consolidation of the same power. And because the power grab is not for the common good, it further negates the ends of progress and development of the polity, resulting in further alienation and discordance. Power itself, a notorious aphrodisiac often deludes powerholders into appropriating more and more power to a small group, flouting the rules, flaunting ‘the uselessness’ of the powerless before the world. This is worse in Third World countries where the power clique is usually, small, brutal, myopic, and self-serving. It is a recurring decimal in the power game, this capacity to use and abuse power despite extant literature which shows that ultimately the people are the real owners of power, and that power will take leave as it came, and that when the end comes it is not power that matters but what you do with it. Timeless lesson. Sadly, often lost on predators in the corridors of rotten power!

These thoughts dominated by mind recently after I read a newspaper report which stated that a Bill (A Bill for an Act to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act No. 6, 2000 and for Matters Connected therewith, 2021), in the National Assembly, precisely the Senate which seeks to ‘amend the Niger Delta Development Commission Act to include Lagos, Ogun, Bauchi and others that had attained the status of oil-producing states into the Act’. The original members of the NDDC are Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, and Ondo States. The offensive and vexatious Bill was sponsored by Senator Solomon Olamilekun Adeola (APC, Lagos), who argued that because crude oil has been discovered in Alkaleri, Badagry and Ipokia, the host states ‘are entitled to the 13 percent derivation that is due to oil-producing states according to the provision of Section 162 Sub-section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution’.

We need some foregrounding to establish a sense of history. The NDDC was created in response to strong agitations from people of the Niger Delta, the minorities whose God-given natural resources have economically sustained the Nigerian state from 1969 till date. In the 1990s the Ijaw and Ogoni people created different protest groups which confronted the federal government and the IOCs calling for the control of their resources because the region had been devastated by the many years of oil exploration. This agitation later became violent as militants took to the forests to force the government into negotiations. The people had little to show for the billions of petrodollars that had been extracted from their backyard. Indeed, one of the icons of that struggle, Ken Saro-Wiwa was martyred by the Abacha junta for his role in the agitation. To pacify the region the NDDC was created as an interventionist agency to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the Niger Delta.

To be sure, patriotic senators from the region have declared the proposed Bill a taboo to the longsuffering, long oppressed and exploited people of the Niger Delta. They have pointed out that the NDDC was created for a specific reason both in terms of time and objectives. Against the background of state neglect and environmental degradation which the oil-bearing states have suffered for decades, the federal government under President Olusegun Obasanjo created the NDDC in 2000. It was mandated to concentrate on ‘formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta area, conception, planning and implementation in accordance with set rules and regulations of projects and programmes for sustainable development of the Niger Delta area, surveying the Niger Delta in order to ascertain measures necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development, and preparing master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta region’ and many more.

The context in which the NDDC was created is clear. What Senator Adeola is attempting to do is a clear case of subterfuge. Therefore, the proposed bill must be killed immediately. I expect all legislators from the region to stand for justice irrespective of party affiliation to do that which is right. The Deputy Senate President and other ranking Senators have already spoken against the Bill, describing the sponsor as ‘a classic meddlesome interloper’. Perhaps, the ruling party, the APC will muster all its forces to achieve this obnoxious agenda that will further reduce the funding that is available to the region as it did the PIB a few months ago. But let them know that such acts tend to pull the nation apart. The nation is fractured as it is. The dissension, trenchant call for secession in the southeast and the insurgency in the northeast has pummelled our self-belief. These have raised fears whether the nation can survive the 2023 general elections as a whole unit. Added to these is the general breakdown of security, demonstrated by kidnappings and assassinations of non-state actors.

If oil has been found in those states and such finds have added to the national purse, there is no harm whatever in giving them 13% derivation from oil. But to lump Bauchi, Ogun, and Lagos States with the NDDC is counterproductive. It is an act of impunity. The raison d’etre for the establishment of the NDDC should not be submerged by the greed and rapaciousness of powermongers. It will only add to the wounds in the country. Would Sokoto, Borno and Adamawa States, for example, be added to the NDDC if oil was found in commercial quantity in those areas? Let us not elevate greed and impunity to absurd and disgraceful national levels just because some of us have the power, leverage, and legislative muscle to impose acts of injustice on the people. All legislators from the region must rise to the occasion through negotiations, lobbying, threatening, cajoling and whatever ethical means available to kill that wicked Bill. They should let their counterparts know that the Niger Delta people are already aggrieved by the deprivations and reductions in the PIB that they cannot afford another let down for their people.

All power blocs and associations in the region should rise with one voice to reject the inclusion of those states in the NDDC. The legislators could introduce a counter Bill that makes provision for the newly discovered oil-bearing states. The focal point should be 13 percent derivation funds. The Niger Delta which has borne the brunt of decades of despoilation should continue to enjoy the grudging act of restitution which the current NDDC symbolizes. NO TO THIS SCANDALOUS ANOMALY.

Source: Nigerdeltatoday

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Op Ed

New wine, new wineskins – Femi Aribisala

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Femi Aribisala

Many Christians are still living frustrating lives. We cannot live lives of victory. We cannot stop smoking. We cannot stop drinking. We cannot stop fornicating. We cannot stop losing our temper. We find it difficult to forgive and forget. We still have ungodly thoughts. We are still held in the bondage of masturbation. We are addicted to pornography. We still find ourselves telling lies.

And all the time, the devil keeps telling us that we are not Christians. Our hearts continue to condemn us, and we come to believe that we are hypocrites.

In many respects, the church has been singularly unhelpful in this regard. All that the church does is promise us hell and brimstone. The church has failed to appreciate the new wine of the gospel and continues to serve it in old wineskins.

The good news of the gospel has become bad news for many. Failing to promote righteousness, the church has emphasised regulations and the punishment of sins, and this has led to witchcraft and bondage. Many of the rules and regulations that are prevalent in the churches today are man-made and cannot lead to salvation.

God says: “These people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” (Isaiah 29:13).

The problem with man-made regulations is that they cannot change the heart. Paul says: “These rules may seem good, for rules of this kind require strong devotion and are humiliating and hard on the body, but they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires. They only make him proud.” (Colossians 2:23).

As a result, churches have become places where people’s hands are cut off in the name of religion. It is the place where people are stoned to death in the name of righteousness.

Comfort My people

The Lord has sent me to comfort you, beloved Christian, and to offer you a godly counsel. The very fact that you feel terrible, that you feel frustrated, and that your heart condemns you is actually a confirmation that you are a child of God.

“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence. Whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” (1John 3:19-20).

The reason why we keep falling short and keep feeling terrible is that we are disciples of John the Baptist. But we need to become disciples of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist himself counsels: “(Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).

Without realising it, many Christians are disciples of John the Baptist, and they put Jesus’ new wine in old wineskins. This inevitably creates problems.

Instead, we need to follow the example of the disciples of John who deserted him and followed Jesus: “John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” (John 1:35-38).

John the Baptist

John the Baptist was a powerful preacher. He spoke, and people immediately became convicted. If you were to listen to John the Baptist preach, and you would know immediately that you are finished. If you ever thought you were righteous, by the time you listen to John’s message, you would see yourself in a different light.

No arguments, no excuses. You would know that have to repent, or else. But there was a problem with the preaching of John the Baptist: it left the people worse off than before.

John was a prophet in the tradition of Isaiah. His mandate was designed to frustrate the people to death. God said to Isaiah: “Go, and tell these people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” (Isaiah 6:9).

John could not answer the most nagging question of the people: “What shall we do?” The answer was clearly beyond his pay grade.

“The people asked (John), saying, ‘What shall we do then?’ He answered and said to them, ‘He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.’ Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than what is appointed for you.’ Likewise, the soldiers asked him, saying, ‘And what shall we do?’ So he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.’” (Luke 3:10-14).

Futile prescriptions

Yes, we know that we should not do all those sinful things. We know! We know! We know! But the knowledge of sin does not promote righteousness. All it does is give us a guilty conscience. The Christian now knows what is sinful. The Christian now hates sin. But the problem is that we cannot seem to stop doing sinful things.

The reason for this is that, because of sin, God has closed the hearts of men. Thus, He gives Isaiah a strange assignment that is repeated more times than any other scripture in the Bible:

“Make the heart of these people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:10).

Accordingly, despite the many outstanding miracles of Jesus, nevertheless, the people did not believe in Him. They did not believe because they could not:

“They could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘(God) has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” (John 12:39-40).

Jesus’ Beatitudes

On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus seemed to worsen the problem. His beatitudes take the Law of Moses to another impracticable level. Before, we were struggling with fornication, but now Jesus says if we even so much as look at a woman lustfully, we have committed adultery.

Before, we were struggling with anger, but now He says if we say, “you idiot,” to someone we are in trouble with God. Before, we were struggling with the desire to punch that hateful brother in the nose, but now Jesus says if he slaps us on the one cheek, we should turn the other cheek.

Let us face it, the standards of Christ are impossible to fulfil. But with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:27).

Source: Thenewsguru

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Op Ed

Joe Igbokwe: When It’s A Crime To Love Buhari, Nigeria And Igbo Land – by Femi Adesina

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There are millions of us round the country who follow Muhammadu Buhari passionately. Some got enlisted in 1984 when the man was military head of state. Others joined along the line as the principal was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in the Gen Sani Abacha years, or when he joined partisan politics in 2002, ran for President a year later, also in 2007, 2011, and 2015, when he eventually coasted to power.

Over the years, some of the Buharists (as we are called), have fallen off, and even joined the opposition. Yet some others have stood sturdy, steady, resolute, as constant as the Northern Star. Stand up and take a bow, Engineer Joe Igbokwe, the man from Nnewi, in Anambra State.

President Buhari is possibly the most credible politician we have seen in the country in contemporary times, with a magnetic pull that draws people to him in droves. That was the point I was making last week in this column, but which an illiterate journalist with an online medium twisted to say I claimed Buhari was better than Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano etal. He succeeded in his mission: generating hateful comments against me, but I leave him to God. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God to answer for what we have done, including all forms of lie against a fellow man. Our profession, or political and ethnic affiliations would no longer matter then.

We were talking of Joe Igbokwe before the brief diversion. Yes, this man loves Buhari to bits. He loves Nigeria, and he loves his native Igbo land. And you know what? That is now a crime in our country. Igbokwe’s life has been severely and severally threatened, his family hounded, and on October 3 this year, his county home in Nnewi was set on fire.

Igbokwe is a nationalist. His education, primary, secondary and even university he had in the Southeast. But since he got posted for national service in Ogun State in 1985, he had remained in the Southwest, identifying with the people, their politics, their ways of life, while not repudiating his love for his roots in Nnewi, and the Southeast generally. No wonder he is popularly called Agbalanze, after that Onitsha cultural association.

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Op Ed

Rethinking 2023 in the light of Good Governance

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Good governance

2023 is by the corner and as expected, certain assumptions have arisen regarding the suitability of aspirants for the coveted seat of the Governor.

What many have failed to consider in the ensuing agitations for who succeeds the current Governor is that government is a vehicle through which democracy is delivered to the people. And so, those who desire public offices must have been tested and trusted to deliver democracy dividends to the people.

Moreover, given the tempo of infrastructural and economic developments established by the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, only a leader with a foresight equal to that of the present administration will effectively fit into the shoes which will be left behind.

As such, the need to look critically before leaping becomes imperative.

Among the long line of contenders for the governorship race is Sen. Effiong Bob who has been in public affairs from time immemorial.

His credentials indicate an age-long experience in governance which beats that of every other aspirant, and his bevy of connections and intellectual intelligence makes him a top preferred choice for the office.

Sen. Bob is able and ready to serve conscientiously, and should be given the mandate to do so.

Source: Thebrigdenewsonline

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