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Credible Polls: Footprints, Not Footnotes

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No doubt, the recommendations of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee (footnotes and all) presently before the National Assembly is a worthy document, capable of ushering in the much desired electoral reforms and the envisaged credible polls.

   However, the credibility of the human beings needed to drive the electoral process and the involvement of credible persons who would contest in the polls are the most crucial. The task before us at the moment therefore, is not so much to adhere strictly to the footnotes of the electoral reforms, as a document, but to go all out, without further delay, in search of credible hands that would execute the promise of credible polls made by the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in near and far away places.

  To kick-start the process, in line with his promise, the President recently appointed the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and other credible Nigerians who would run the electoral process. The credibility of these referees has been lauded at home and abroad, but what about the credibility of the players or candidates at the polls?

Sadly, there has been a paucity of credible candidates in elections in Nigeria and the reasons are obvious. From 2003 to 2007, to be precise, elections in the country were dominated by violence, money politics and one-party syndrome. These ills have chased away some credible contestants who could not muster the required violence, as a credential, for contesting elections. Money politics has also pulverised elections in the country; thus, only the rich could qualify for the polls, chasing away credible persons who could have contested elections, but could not do so because of financial constraints. Again, the one party syndrome that characterises present-day Nigerian politics has not only led to the emergence of feeble-fisted opposition parties, but also put credible contestants at bay, since they do not belong to the ruling party.

Certainly, Nigeria needs credible polls, but what is needed most, right now, is to woo credible contestants to the race. If the political thuggery, money politics and one-party syndrome that usually characterise the polls are removed by 2011, more credible contestants will emerge and join the race with confidence. On the contrary, if the status quo remains, only  “tough-heads” and “money-bags” who may not be credible persons; yet, tailor-made for the turbulent and murky waters of Nigerian electioneering, will still emerge in the forth-coming elections, and this will only give birth to incredible leaders, even if the polls are free and fair.

What then is credible poll? In the Nigerian context, do credible polls centre on an impeccable character, or logistics, or both or none of these? Certainly, an impeccable character drives credible polls, and not the other way round. Perhaps, the problem with Nigeria is not so much the constitution, or electoral reforms or even documented guides that read as a riot act of democracy, but the general lack of the right attitude or a befitting human character. The day Nigeria finds noble, humble, sincere, self-less, God-fearing, dedicated, compassionate men and women to run the machinery of government, every other thing will work overnight-credible polls, abundant power supply, transparency in office, etc, etc. Nigeria needs footprints, not footnotes! The quest for credible polls must therefore begin with the search for credible persons who have left their footprints on the sands of our time. The man-hunt must begin now, before posterity again leaves us behind by 2011. We must immediately point the torch in all directions and search for genuine leaders, in all spheres, who can truly deliver the dividends of true democracy to our estranged people. Let us look for these patriots everywhere: in the political arena, in the universities, in our churches and mosques, and even in the market place, if need be. Closely associated with the effort to source for credible contestants in the polls to ensure the emergence of credible leaders, is the need to revitalise the battered psyche of the Nigerian electorate. The electorate also needs to leave its footprints on the sands of time by voting right in 2011, without being vulnerable to the ills of political thuggery, money politics and the one-party syndrome which usually dominate our polls. Perhaps, the name of the ruling party should be re-examined as the present one apparently connotes despair for the electorate. Biblical wisdom even cautions against putting new wine in old skins. A mere change of name might do some magic. Besides, new contestants in the race could believe that the goal-post has shifted, so they could now play with confidence and aim at scoring good goals. The general consciousness of the electorate and that of the contestants in the new dispensation in 2011, therefore need to be overhauled, not just through propaganda but through convincing enlightenment of the citizenry.

Nigeria is on the threshold of history in 2011. What matters now is not so much accuracy or perfect figures of credible polls, or footnotes of the recommendations of the electoral reforms, but the concerted effort of all Nigerians, in all walks of life, using the ballot-box as a mere metaphor, to source and install sincere and compassionate leaders who would salvage our dear country from the shame of a mismanaged destiny.

Bobo Agava, resides in Port Harcourt.

 

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Opinion

Open Letter To Nigerian Politicians

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Dear Honorable Politicians of Nigeria, events taking place in the country in the recent times demand that you hear how those that you represent feel about you hear how those that you represent feel about you and your activities. In the first place, Nigeria is larger and greater than a few powerful individuals who represent the masses. Secondly the task of political leadership is a serious responsibility meant to be undertaken with patriotism and a volition to serve.
Money and power rarely on their own make a good and responsible leader, but personal integrity comes in as a strong factor. Politics as a calling is obviously being debased and distorted considering the way it is being practised in Nigeria. If you would be perceptive enough to look into the souls of those that you lead, you would see disillusionment, disappointment and hunger. There is a longing for a change for the better. There is a need to bring down the level of anxiety and frustration in the land.
One of the key responsibilities of national leadership is to manage the economy in such a way that the masses can be motivated to strive diligently and honestly to earn a living and contribute positively towards an up-building of the nation. To beg or steal in order to live would not be an ideal situation in a well-managed economy, for any citizen.
Unfortunately, Nigerian citizens have the impression that politics is a means of personal and sectional aggrandizement rather than opportunity to serve and make personal sacrifices for the sake of the well-being of the masses. Ordinary Nigerians feel that politicians constitute a part of the problems which they have. Money and power cannot be the key issues of life, but those who possess them can utilize them, with maturity, for the well-being of the struggling masses.
There is the story of Timon of Athens whose misapplication of his wealth through over-generosity resulted in his fall and banishment. In his dying statement he wondered: “What a god is gold, that he is worshipped in a baser temple than where swine feed!” There is also the story of Macbeth whose ambition for power led to a personal and national disaster. One of his dying statements was that “There’s nothing serious in mortality, all is but toys: renown and grace is dead …”
The purpose of the two examples cited above is to remind those who possess wealth and power that material possessions and positions are transcient. One great man who had tasted wealth and power left or will which contained the following statement: “There are two things to aim at in life; first, to get what you want, and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.”
The nature of Nigerian politics was portrayed in an unguarded statement as a “do-or-die affair,” by an ex-president. Majority of Nigerians would have wished that politics should be about service to the nation rather than a gangsterist affair or “dirty game”. Through monetization it has become a “cut-throat business” whereby huge financial investments must be recouped in a gansterist manner. There must be some good politicians who have the interest of the masses at heart.
There is a general impression that politicians are oppressors rather than friends of the masses. This perception should be altered through patriotic and exemplary service which would not be difficult for the people to observe and appreciate. It is obvious that the task of nation-building is enormous and demanding, but there would be a focus on providing an enabling environment wherein the masses can put in their best willingly.
Perhaps, unknown to many people, there is a global cleansing process, meant to correct past imbalances brought about by human greed and ignorance, largely. A few people who are permitted to perceive the trend of this global phenomenon, see that Nigeria is a flash point where there must be diligent care with regard to the practice of politics. Politics should not degenerate into conspiracies and gangsterism.
Without being specific, it is necessary to advise Nigerian politicians generally to bridle personal ego, vanity and vaulting ambitions. To plunge a community into anxiety and instability cannot be described as good politics. There is an old prophecy that those that the gods would destroy, they first make mad. A “do-or-die” system of politics can be described as politics of madness. May be time will unfold what cunning intrigues hide away now. The military and police should stay away from the growing madness.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

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Opinion

Combating Human Trafficking In Nigeria 

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Nigeria is a source, transit point and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons in which they are subjected to forced labour and prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders.
Women and girls are for voluntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation while boys are for forced labour in street vending, domestic servitude, mining and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries like Ghana, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Gambia for the same purposes.
According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Nigeria is one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking. Human trafficking is a way to exploit women and children for cheap labour and prostitution to help themselves out of poverty.
Human trafficking always occurs within Nigerian borders, in neighbouring countries and many European countries as well because they are able to ship women and children for human trafficking to expand the market or the industry. Human trafficking gangs Nigerian have sent thousands of women into the sex market within Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Research shows that about 10,000 Nigerian prostitutes in Italy are subjected to human trafficking.
Human trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy began in the 1980s because of the demand for low skilled labour in agriculture and services. Nigeria has a history of hearing financial issues causing significant unemployment and poverty. Given the underground nature of trafficking, its consequences are hidden and difficult to see.
Trafficked persons often do not have unlimited access to basic necessities such as safety, food, sleep, hygiene and medical care. The effects of trafficking vary depending on the type of trafficking and specific situation. Given that trafficking is based on the exploitation of individuals, all victims of trafficking may be subject to physical, psychological and social impacts.
Victims of trafficking often experience harsh physical impact due to excessive work or the use of force by traffickers. Victims may be exposed to health risks like HIV/AIDS as well as a serious mental health risk. Anxiety, insecurity, fear and trauma are all products of trafficking. Research indicates a high level of Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) in formerly trafficked persons which can also lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss, depression and even suicide.
Trafficked minors are all the more vulnerable due to their age. It may greatly impact children’s emotional, physical and overall psychological development. Trafficked persons may also experience social ostracism and often isolated from their social circles, leaving individuals unable to engage socially or reach out for help. Victims may also be trafficked internationally and, therefore, may not be able to engage due to a lack of linguistic capability or geographic and cultural familiarity.
Sex trafficking has some consequences for victims and society. It affects women and girls in reported cases. Despite law protecting them, victims of trafficking are often criminalized; this exacerbates the physical and psychological trauma they experience and causes economic harm that limits their ability to break free from their traffickers and rebuild their lives.
Human Trafficking is seen as an endless cycle with a global economic crisis on the horizon as the demand for cheap labour is on the rise. People looking for jobs far away from home are often deceived. This places the poor at a higher risk of being trafficked, as victims of human trafficking are often poor and illiterate.
Sex and human trafficking could be curbed through learning the indicators of human trafficking to help identify a potential trafficking victim. Human trafficking awareness training should be made available to individuals, businesses, law employees, among others.
One should be able to report suspected traffickers to law enforcement agents. Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community. The government should endeavour to create employment for Nigerian citizens several of whom are unemployed and have no livelihood.
Skills acquisition should be organized in every State to enable youths to learn at least a trade. Nigerian borders should be properly guarded while other agencies should be set up to arrest human traffickers in order to reduce the rate of trafficking in the country. The media have a role to play in shaping perceptions and guiding the public conversation about human trafficking.
Harry, a freelance journalist, is based in Port Harcourt.

 

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Opinion

Gleaning From Akashic Record

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Issues raised and discussed during World Sickle Cell Day (June 19) would not be adequate to throw open deeper knowledge into the phenomenon of Sickle Cell Anemia. It is necessary that we take some gleaning from other quarters too. There is nothing abracadabra about so-called Akashic Record, because it is all about Natural History; namely, the evolution, development, pilgrimage and the travails of the human species over a very long time. Nothing is erased or arbitrary therein.
Sickle cell anaemia is a serious genetic illness which affects mainly the black race, in which the blood cell changes shape, causing weakness and fever. The normal cell has a circular shape while the sickle one has a hook-like shape. The anaemia associated with sickle cell is the lower level of red blood, whereby a child becomes more prone to illness.
Some Ill-disposed persons took the prevalence of sickle cell anemia among the black people to say that the Blacks are an inferior or cursed race. Because Sickle Cell Anaemia is known as “Undine’s curse” and is hereditary in nature, there are lots of superstitions associated with it. However, there is a need to delve into the reason why sickle cell anaemia is associated with the “Undine”.
There is a widespread ignorance, superstition and misconceptions about this matter and a lot of people look in the wrong directions or make unfounded claims over the phenomenon. In many cases more guilts are incurred in the process of seeking solutions to personal problems, especially with individuals and organizations that take delight in exorcism.
Definitely there are hereditary diseases and other afflictions, some of which arise from curses and imprecations whose origins are decades or even centuries old. Undines which can also be called Nixies are one generic species of innumerable Nature beings. However, the Undines as Nature beings, do not place a curse upon any human being, rather, the activities of all Nature beings have to do with working and serving in various elements, such as air, water, fire, soil and all that constitute Nature.
There are other species of beings whose activities have to do with the weaving of the fate of humans, referred to in the Scriptures as “Watchers”. Therefore, there is a need to make a distinction between various Nature and Elemental Beings serving in different spheres of creation in line with the Will of the creator, and artificial entities created by human thoughts and emotions. What human beings create through their activities would continue to haunt them.
Because of human misconceptions about the mechanism, weavings and laws in creation, there is the tendency for individuals to judge events and experiences from grossly myopic perspectives. For example, the phenomenon of sickle, cell anaemia or Undines curse, has nothing to do with Nature beings. Rather, human beings may not remember the origin and starting points of what they experience in life, neither is the issue of continuity of life considered as a reality by many people.
The striving to find meaning in life is a vital motivating force in man, and the experiences and challenges which we encounter are some of the means of finding deeper meanings. Unfortunately a good number of people would dodge rather than face life’s experiences and challenges boldly and seek to learn what lessons they mean to convey. Thus, the escapist syndrome expresses inability of man to stand up to the demands and responsibilities of life. Dodgers and weaklings can hardly have a glimpse into the Akashic Record!
To run to prayer houses, occult and witch doctors for the removal of personal afflictions for a fee, would be to refuse to dig deep into the perplexities of life. Truly, there is no mystery in creation but ignorance, fear and indolence, but those who seek diligently and earnestly can always find the truth, hidden from the majority of humans. Would anyone deny the fact that we reap what we sow, in spite of our clever scheming?
All hereditary diseases and afflictions which may appear inexplicable or unjust can be explained from the light of the operations of the law which demands that those who sow singly or jointly must also reap what originated from them. The “Watchers”, not the “Undines”, weave, knot together and connect the threads and radiations of fate so that at the right time, those who are bound together by the threads of fate can experience mutually what they had set in motion long ago.
There are a number of people allegedly tormented by evil spirits, mamy-water, etc, but whose plight can be traced to some personal negligence or wrongdoing of a distant past. Nature beings cannot be held culpable for such woes, but what torments humans are artificially created thought-forms which can also be called demons, which are products of human volition and emotions. The links between such evil centres of energy and those connected with them do not take place arbitrarily; rather, the contents and blood cells of individuals serve as microchips. The storage tank or bank of all human activities is what is referred to here as Akashic Record! Blood is an identity fluid, like finger print! DNA technology is a valid science.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

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