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My Dressing, My Faith

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It will be reprehensible for a female corps member to embark on obstacle-crossing and other physical training activities on camp, including parade, in skirt or gown. Those will expose her indecently, thus, leaving little or nothing to imagination”
That was part of the explanations given by the Director-General of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, following the expulsion of two female corps members, – Okafor Love Obianuju, and Odji Oritsetsolaye, from orientation camp in Ebonyi State last weekend for refusing to wear trousers or shorts for religious reasons.
Speaking through the Corps’ Director of Press and Public Relations, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi,    Ibrahim noted that the NYSC camp, predicated on discipline and decency, is a training ground for corps members and ”any other dress code contrary to the officially-sanctioned one will not promote the course of decency.”
I think the DG just nailed it. The primary reason for insisting on corps members wearing trousers and shots is for their protection and decency. Many of us participated in the scheme and know how rigorous and tasking the Man O’ War drills and exercises were and can testify that there is no way someone can do most of them comfortably and effectively on skirts or gowns. Is it the jumping of fence, rope climbing, crawling under barb wires or karate fighting? You can imagine a female climbing rope on skirt in the presence of soldiers and other colleagues, both male and female.
Yes, the issue of religion is a personal thing and our constitution grants freedom of worship, so one will not be in a hurry to condemn the two corps members for insisting on not dressing in a way they said is against their faith, but shouldn’t we be sensible even in our religious practices? Shouldn’t we weigh the pros and cons of a policy before rejecting it or protesting against it in whatever form?
And then comes the issue of obedience.  Every establishment has rules and regulations guiding it which are expected to be obeyed by anyone that has dealings with it for efficiency and orderliness. If everybody decides to flout these rules and regulations, what will our society become? One will want to believe that Obianuju and Odji were aware of the orientation and NYSC rules and regulations yet they decided to participate in it. It then behoves them to obey those rules. Or since they are not comfortable with some of the guidelines, they would have probably tabled their objections before the NYSC director or other appropriate quarters before going to camp. But as some analysts have said, obedience to the rules should be for all and sundry and not for some people. The moment the leadership of any organization compromises in the enforcement of the rules and regulations or in punishing offenders, there will no longer be total compliance by the people.
In Nigeria, we have two major religions, Christianity and Islam, and it is expected that the same consideration should be given to these two groups in formulating any policy that concerns them. If members of one of them are allowed to dress in certain way, contrary to the rules of an organization, it will be just and fair to consider members of the other group when they make certain demands in that direction as well.
Let us look at further explanations of the NYSC director-general on the scheme’s dressing code. He said that the organisation did not issue hijab, worn by Muslim women, as part of its dress code,
“Rather, the scheme permits the use of white hijab, which must not be more than shoulder length and must be tucked into the uniform.
“The policy of allowing hijab, which does not deface the NYSC uniform, is not new, as it has been there.”
Will it then be out of place to suggest that the leadership of the scheme should consider the position of some Christians who feel that putting on trousers and shots is against their faith and address the matter amicably instead of expulsion as was the case in Ebonyi State?
As I stated earlier, Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution grants freedom of religion to the citizens which must be respected. Yes, we can appeal to the corps members to see reasons why they should dress in accordance with the NYSC code, but it is their right to practice their religion the way they deem fit. Recall the case of Firdausa Al Jannah Amasa versus the Nigerian Law School. The law graduate was denied entry into the International Conference Center, Abuja, venue of the call to bar in 2017 because she refused to remove her hijab. She took the matter to court, won and the institution is said to have since retraced its steps.
So, as the Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Adebayo Oladeji, appealed, the NYSC leadership should be more tolerant and revisit the matter with a view to addressing it better. It will amount to double standard to dismiss Christian corps members for dressing inappropriately while their Muslim counterparts in the same shoes are allowed to wear hijad, going by the position of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and other concerned individuals and groups, who also noted that wearing hijab on NYSC uniform cannot be said to be promoting the course of decency as posited by Mrs Adeyemi.
It will, therefore, be wise if the two rusticated corps members can heed Oladeji’s advice and head to court to challenge their expulsion. Who knows, they might get a similar judgment like Firdausa and then the matter will be permanently settled.

 

Calista Ezeaku

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The Tomfoolery of RIVLEAF

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There indeed seems to be no end, as far as nay sayers are concerned, in the quest to frustrate the efforts being made by the Rivers State Government to ensure that the spread of the coronavirus in Rivers State is reasonably checked.
On a daily basis, this becomes more apparent to the chagrin of genuinely concerned people of the State.
Although it is not a surprise that RIVLEAF, supposedly a pressure group has always announced itself as a purveyor of ill-contrived negative information, its latest attempt to dismiss a genuine alarm raised by the Rivers State Government regarding a foreseen build-up to a declaration of State of emergency in the State, has further exposed the membership of the organisation as persons with cowardly and sychophantic intentions.
At a time like this, when the whole world is still baffled over the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only exposed even the hitherto world super powers in all spheres of their existence, but has so made it clear that everyone must be involved in order to check the pandemic, all RIVLEAF has to offer is an attempt to discredit the world acclaimed efforts of the Rivers State

Government under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike to ensure that the coronavirus does not get to the stage of Community transmission in the State.
It is indeed an irony of faith, that people who say they’re a pressure group do not actually know what it means to be a pressure group. They do not know, for instance, that one key role of a pressure group in the development of a society is to provide specialised and expert information to the government and explain government policies to the understanding and benefit of the general public. Thus they are an important link between the government and the people.
This explains their choice of caption, “Governor Wike Needs Help”, and the fact that rather than address in cogent terms the issue at stake, all they could do is to seek to raise irrelevant issues to cause rife between the President and the Governor, and with his Deputy.
What is really “funny and disturbing” about a clear statement that there is “a plan to declare a state of emergency in Rivers State? And, rather than categorically state what makes it funny and disturbing, all Onyeche Nnatah Peters could say is that Governor Wike “boasted that he was beyond the reproach of the Federal Government and, could do and undo as he so wishes”.
This statement in itself is a confirmation of the Governor’s proclamation of a plot to declare a state of emergency in the State, for reasons that have to do with Wike being seen as somebody who must be dealt with. The question is, for what reason?.
The most clear answer to this question is that from the point he started preparing to be the Governor of Rivers State, through his first tenure, and about a year into his second tenure, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had had to accept the peculiarities of Rivers State in the present State of affairs in the country, and had adjusted to the point of being able to provide good governance to Rivers people as minimally as possible in the face of unrelenting and determined efforts to frustrate him.
This is why every step of governance he has taken has turned out to be timely, and lauded in the given circumstance it is taken by all well-meaning public globally, especially as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, which the world knows is a new virus, hence decisions to combat it are mostly taken based on the exigencies of the moment. This is, of course, knowing the peculiarity of the virus as it relates to Nigeria, and Rivers State in healthcare delivery.
To say the least, Governor Wike has been setting the pace in steps taken to contain the coronavirus across Nigeria: amongst others, he was the first to set up an Interministarial COVID-19 Committee, the first to set up a palliatives committee, first to declare border lockdown, etc.
Even in the face of clear attempts to sabotage his efforts, Wike had been undeterred towards ensuring that the State does not get to Community transmission of the virus as is the case with some States. Beyond this determination to give good and transparent leadership to a people who understand his every step, and so are fully behind him, what else can the likes of RIVLEAF blame Wike of?
If the membership of RIVLEAF are truly of Rivers origin, and have the State at heart, they should be in a better position to appreciate the kind of development the State has recorded in the last five years.
Therefore, seeking to forment trouble where there’s none, such as between the Governor and his Deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, is a wasteful venture. This is because Rivers people have come to know what the interest of RIVLEAF is, and it has nothing to do with the overall interest of Rivers people.
Soibi Max-Alalibo
SA on Media to the Hon Commissioner for Information and Communications
Rivers State
May 21, 2020.
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Opinion

Dakuku Should Stop Playing To The Gallery

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Sociologists have what they call “Looking Glass Theory”. The crux of this theory is that people are prone to naming others, or something, by what they truly are, or what they have in store as experience.
For someone whose dream to be governor had been scuttled severally because of his unpopularity ,one can easily understand where Dakuku Peterside is coming from.
In his veiled attempt to be one of those who “came out openly to oppose Governor Nyesom Wike” at this point in time he exposed himself as a political toddler.
 All over the world today, well-meaning people are joining hands with their governments to check the spread of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, it is in this context that Dr Dakuku Peterside has displayed his lack of knowledge of the key ingredients of governance at crisis periods.
The need for law and order at all times, more so in crisis periods as the COVID-19 pandemic has instituted globally, compels governments  to take painful but necessary actions to save lives.
Thank God Dakuku Peterside supports “the Governor to ensure that the state is free from Coronavirus”, but how he expects this to come to fruition if people disobey directives put in place at will, raises a huge question mark.
In the light of  his latest condemnation of the Governor’s order to demolish two hotels found to have flouted a lockdown directive, Dakuku has again displayed his penchant for grandstanding.
Maybe he should learn some lessons from the role played by the  Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva who attracted Federal presence  to Bayelsa State during this period eventhough he belonged to the opposition in home State.
Dakuku’s stance in the face of an affront on an Executive Order which resulted in the demolition of two hotels in Eleme yesterday, without  considering the true circumstances that led to the demolition questions his citizenship as a Rivers son.
He should know what it means  to attack people authorised to perform legitimate duties under an  Executive Order.  Dakuku would not have declared genuine people-oriented actions by Governor Wike as “destructive” if he was well informed.
Rivers people are not foolish enough not to know that but for the stringent proactive measures put in place to check the spread of the virus by Governor Wike, the State would have entered community transmission like some other States in the Country.
Dakuku Peterside should therefore desist from the temptation of endangering the lives of the people he pontificates to care for, knowing that every act has its day of reckoning.
Soibi Max-Alalibo,
SA on Media to the Hon Commissioner
Ministry of Information and Communications
Rivers State.
May 11, 2020
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Opinion

Austin Tam-George: An Intellectual Prostitute Let Loose

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Austin Tam-George has consistently been biting the finger that fed him because he is an intellectual prostitute.
He looks for every available opportunity to lampoon Governor Nyesom Wike in order to impress his paymasters as a paid hack without conscience.
Someone like Austin Tam-George does not have the moral standing to discuss governance because his tenure as Commissioner for Information in Rivers State was a monumental failure.
A man who used his first month in office as Commissioner to throw 2O Rivers indigenes who were earning a living in the Ministry as casual workers into the unemployment market surely loves Rivers State.
Perhaps Austin Tam-George’s patriotism also led him to seize the monthly imprests meant for Departments in the Ministry.
Maybe he should explain to Rivers people and the those he is serving why a Commissioner should arm twist Heads of Parastatals under him to make monthly returns to quench his voracious appetite for money.
Was it not his kinsman in one of the parastatals that engaged him in a verbal warfare along William Jumbo Street in Port Harcourt that helped to tame his unquenchable taste for money?
His grouse with Governor Wike is because the over inflated and bogus proposals he made under the guise of upgrading the State Media Houses without recourse to the Bureau for Public Procurement were turned down by the governor who insisted on due process.
Austin Tam-George was quoted as saying that he will never forgive Governor Wike for not allowing him dupe the government.
The likes of Austin Tam-George are always available for the highest bidder that is why his recent outburst should not be taken seriously.
When he was looting the money generated by parastatals under him he never remembered United Nations and European Union.
As the proverbial dog that eats the bone hung on his neck, he milked the media houses dry before he was sacked from the State Executive Council.
He should know that the record of monies siphoned from the Media houses are still in the archives and will be released if he dares to make any more noise.
If Governor Wike did not retain him in his cabinet because he lacked character is it enough to look for any slightest opportunity to impugn his integrity?
Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. A word is enough for the wise.
Paulinus Nsirim, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State
May 11,2020.
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