Politics if kept under control and within its bounds can be an instrument of social transformation and re-ordering. But when it is not properly managed, it brings destruction and desolation on other existing complementary institutions. Armed with this rather fragile philosophical oddity, Chief (Barr) Temple Owhonda Wopara, recently cautioned against the excesses of politics in any given society.
Chief Wopara, who spoke with The Weekend Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt recently, reasoned that, the unbridled antics of politicians in Nigeria have the possibility of drifting the society into anarchy. Using Nigeria as an example, the legal luminary said politics of undue interferences and dislocation of existing structures had become inevitable because of die-hard approach to securing political powers.
One of the institutions that had been severely yoked under over bearing political pressures according to the Rumuobiakani High Chief is the Traditional institution.
By these interferences, Chief Wopara said the honour and prestige that go with royalty is been whittled down to a point of abrogation. “The Traditional institution is no doubt under intense political pressures, and it cannot but bow before political forces. In the days of old, the traditional institutions were the only government and political set up that existed.
But today, that sense of responsibilities which goes with preservation of cultural values had been thrown to the winds. Our traditional institution is impoverished, politics had taken over everything and we are worse off for it.”
Chief Wopara, who doubles as the Eze Onumba I of Rumuobiakani and the Eze Manunda of Rumuluku communities, averred that the traditional institution remains the foundation of good and responsible governance. “There is always something good to be cherished about our customs and tradition. Our tradition is the foundation for good neighbourliness, communal bond, patriotism and moral edification”.
Chief Wopara attributed the decadence moral stench in our society, especially among the youths to the gross abuses of traditional institution. Consequently, youth restiveness, lack of respect and aparthy for industry and hard work are consequences of a society that is orbiting indepedently of its fundamentals. Like a house built of a sandy foundation, it certainly bows to the wind, he stated.
Another issue of critical concern to the lawyer cum royal father is the policy of youth empowerment. He reasoned that the concept of youth empowerment in Nigeria is addressed with very momentary and short term objective. Consequently, it has a reverberate effect, on society. “I don’t believe in the idea of dolling out money to the youths in the name of youth empowerment. The real way of empowering the youth and preparing them for life challenges is to develop the mind which is the fundamental resource. You have to let them go through the crucible by imbibing the virtue of hard work and industry.”
Drawing from his upbringing as a growing child, Chief Wopara said he benefited from the discipline and sense of order that was the hub of that society. “My late father was an organizing secretary for the NCNC and also a Customary Court Judge at the Obio Customary Court.
After closing from work, he carried me along with him to the bush to cut sticks for staking yam. We didn’t pay for labour, that was how I learnt how to stake yam, that industry is what should be encouraged in our youths. It requires keeping with the tradition. A situation every one wants to go into politics without any leadership orientation is totally wrong and unacceptable. Youths have to be groomed for leadership position. Our youths do not want to work hard, they disrespect the elders and these habits are worsened by the government of the day”
Chief Wopara is a major victim of the Rumuobiakani demolition. His structures on both sides of the road were demolished. Reacting to the demolition, he embraced the urbanisation policy of government but decried what he calls the grossly inadequate compensation.
“I am not opposed to urbanization, but the government should discuss with the people and make adequate compensation. Shell had taken a huge part of our land, the other side is taken by the Air Force. We are confined in between and the little one left is under pressure. We don’t have any other place.” Given the dearth of land in Rumuobiakani community, Chief Wopara suggested to government to re-plan the area by building high risers, while provision will still be made for facilities, like play ground, and other amenities. In carrying out such project, he said, it must go beyond political consideration as the people must be taken into confident and fully rehabilitated. “Urbanisation should have a human face. The indigenes should be fully rehabilitated. It happened in Finima, Bonny, why can’t it happen in Rumuobiakani? We have given out enough to government and the people deserve to be appreciated.
Stealing In The Name Of God
This appellation stealing in the name of the Lord was made popular by a renowned reggae musician MAX ROMEO some years back. In most of our churches today so many profane acts and misdemeanor take place and bring to question our Christian faith and beliefs. Many false prophets, pastors and teachers have arisen in the body of Christ; people make money and steal in the name of the Lord. There are so many charlatans and false prophets who prophess God but deny His true power- the source thereof.
A lot of these false prophets or teachers teach false and wrong doctrines, fallacies, that are inconsistent with the Christian faith and beliefs, indeed, we are experiencing the signs of the end times. Jesus Christ, founder of the world’s greatest religion, Christianity prophesied in the Bible that in the last days, false teachers and prophets, will arise, people would not endure sound doctrines and would develop itchy ears.
Nowadays, there are so many fake miracle churches all over the country and the world staging phoney miracles, signs and wonders all in the name to attract converts and make quick money. These days you have prayer contractors who are paid and contracted to pray, fast for individuals including so many of our public office holders for a said fee. And all these amplify the timeliness and aptness of the title- stealing in the name of the Lord.
In the holy scriptures, the Bible says freely you have received freely give but the rise of these wonder churches where all they preach is how to make money, prosperity and work fake miracles in order to attract followership, cheap fame and acquire all the luxuries of life. Most of the leaders of these so called wonder churches and congregations live very flamboyant and ostentatious lifestyles that their often less privileged followers cannot afford. Where is the Christ like love, sacrificing for others, sharing and caring for the flock (members-brethren) and the less privileged among us.
The emphasis ought to be on salvation, repentance from sin, holiness, loving your neighbor as yourself, living at peace with your fellowman, faith and righteousness in God etc. These are some of the strong points and pillars of the Christian faith and what Christ Jesus exemplified and taught in His sojourn here on earth and in His earthly ministry. Why is there so much difference today? Big food for thought.
We are enjoined in the Bible that these signs shall follow them that believe in my name ye shall cast out devils, you shall heal the sick, you shall raise the dead … et al.
The Bible does not preach that Christians should be poor but on the contrary, that they should live a good life and prosper. To this end, Isaiah 1: 19 says ‘If ye are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land’. Also, 3 John 2, further lays credence to this fact where it says, ‘I desire above all things that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospereth’ – source holy Bible (paraphrased).
However in the light of the foregoing, emphasis should not be our signs and wonders, miracles or healings and mainly prosperity messages but on true and sound Christian faith and tenets like love, which is the greatest commandment, faithfulness, holiness, repentance, humility, salvation and evangelism etc.
Be that as it may, there have been so many earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, Tsunamis, Cyclones and hurricanes, floodings and landslides including other natural disasters as well as economic recession etc. All of these are proofs of Bible prophecies of the end times on last days. As Christians therefore, we should be expecting and preparing for the imminent return of Jesus Christ. And the more reason why Christians should be watchful, careful and walk circumspectly knowing fully well that the days are evil.
Interestingly, the Christian faith if properly practised and applied is a true agent for socio-economic and political change. By the total transformation it brings to society and human existence, it ought not to only reform humans or society but bring about a total societal-moral and spiritual rebirth, thereby impacting positively on the entire human race and giving society a new lease of life and purpose, of which, some Nigerian churches and Christian leaders are engaged in and doing now.
Indeed like the early Christian missionaries who came to Africa, India-Asia, South America etc, who identified with the rural populace, built wells that the locals could fetch water from and mix with them. Schools to train and inculcate sound morals in the people, hospitals or dispensaries to treat and minister to the people as well as providing scholarships to the locals. All these positively impacted our communities and societies that brought about the change and transformation experienced then irrespective of their beliefs.
Consequent upon the aforementioned, Christians and faith-based organisations could do more in supporting self-help community projects and contributing as corporate social responsible citizens. Especially in the rural and urban means, micro-credit schemes could be established to assist youths and the old. Also, small and medium scale enterprises could be established to encourage and generate employment as well as support entrepreneurship in the society. These among others will go a long way in bringing about change and transformation that the world and Nigeria need Christianity does not preach selfishness but love, care and compassion. Need I say more.
Samson T. Ayooso
‘Don’t call For Yar’ Adua’s Resignation, Pray For Him’
Renowed minister of God in Rivers State, Pastor Enobong Ben, says the granting of amnesty and the subsequent disarmament by the militants was the right step taken by the government and the ex-militants towards resolving the violence and arm-struggle in the oil-rich region.
He, however wondered why the federal government and its relevant agencies responsile for the implementation of the post-amnesty programme have not been pro-active for the past two months.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Weekend Tide at Eberi, headquarters of Omuma Local Government Area, Rivers State shortly after a church function last Sunday, Pastor Ben argued that full implementation of the amnesty programme especially massive employment of the teeming unemployed youths and aggressive development of infrastructure and social amenities would bring lasting peace in the regions.
Pastor Ben who hails from Omum-Unyam Community in Akwa-Ibom State and the resident Pastor incharge of The Apostolic Church, Eberi Assembly passionately appealed to the government to be pro-active in the implementation of the issues that arose from the violent agitation if the government is determined to find lasting solution to the Niger Delta question.
According to him, the violent agitation has negatively impacted on the morals of Nigerian youths and stressed the need for the government to emphasise moral studies in primary and secondary schools to cushion the effect of the recent social vices in the country.
To achieve this, the cleric therefore advocated for the handing over of all primary and secondary schools to the churches as was the situation in the early 50’s and 60’s so as to help bring up children in the fear of God.
Apparently, the man of God suggested that religious knowledge especially Christian and Islamic religions should be made compulsory like English language and mathematics in ‘O’Level examinations in the country.
On the efficacy or otherwise of the church in fighting corruption and moral decay in the society, the minister of God said that the church of God has played significant role in reducing the rate of crime in Nigeria as most souls won for Christ abandoned their evil ways.
He however, agreed that some churches have not done much to impact the basic moral principles in the younger generation because they have devoted much time and energy on preaching miracles, healings and materialism.
Consequently, Pastor Ben challenged church administrators and leaders to re-focus their strategy and attention towards teaching of moral and value principles to the youths through Sunday School activities, Bible studies and personal evangelism.
Commenting on the significant of annual harvest ceremony to Christiandom, the man of God pointed out that the celebration reminds human race especially Christians that they are like seeds planted on the earth by God and that the owner of the farm would certainly come to harvest the crops.
Quoting the book of Genesis chapter 8 verse 18 to 22, to buttress his points, Pastor Ben urged Christians to always be prepared to bear good harvest for God, their creator.
Narrating how God encountered him, the cleric told The Weekend Tide that his father was a pastor in the Qua-Iboe Church but his friends in his secondary school days influenced him to embrace the Apostolic Church in 1981 due to unity of purpose and discipline among the students who were members of the Apostolic Church.
“More importantly, my recovery from a fatal motor accident in 2004 in which God saved my life to enable me accomplish his work on earth propelled my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour”, he emphasised.
Answering question on the efficacy of miracles and healings, the Akwa Ibom-born man of God acknowledge the existence of God’s miracles and healings, but vehemently disagreed with some pastors and prophets who attribute such miracles to themselves instead of God.
According to him, Jesus Christ in the book of Mark chapter 16 verse 15, commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel and win more souls, lamenting that some men of God today preach their ability t o perform miracles and heal the sick.
And again, he explained that the efficacy of miracles depends on the faith of the pastor and the person receiving the miracle, adding that God also uses faith to perform miracle.
On the challenges of Christianity, Pastor Ben maintained that except Christians exhibited the qualities of Jesus Christ anchored on love, huminity, submissive, obedience and joy among others. It is wrong for such person to claim to be a Christian.
He was emphatic that such qualities are lacking in most of the churches because of derailing from the original commission and focusing of attention on materialism and other earthly things.
The man of God, however, admonished Christians especially the churches to go back to their root of preaching repentance and salvation to the world so as to win more souls for Christ.
In the same vein, he supports the call for Christians to participate in active party politics, pointing out that when Christians rule, they would transform the society with the knowledge of the words of God which, according to him, is the beginning of wisdom.
On the recent call on President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua to resign following his ailing health, he described such calls as morally wrong, adding that what the president needs from Nigerians is fasting and prayers for quick recovery to enable him complete the seven-point agenda of his administration.
Ex-Militants Need Community Amnesty – Royal Father
His Royal Highness Mene Suanu Baridam, Gbenemene Bagha II and paramount Ruler of Luumene Bagha in Khana Local Government Area, Rivers State is a man that had a date with destiny. He was enjoying a flourishing career in the banking sector and equally warming up for full participation in partisan politics when providence thrust on him a royal status.
Rather than regret his compromised political chances and banking career, he opted fully for the traditional stool which he considered a privilege and honour from his people.
His regrets as revealed in an exclusive interview with The Weekend Tide is the dangerous incursion made by certain interlopers who lay undeserving claims to traditional tools.
These incursions to him, attract the wrath of the forefathers, as traditional institutions are sacred and devoid of personal interference. “It is suicidal to sit on the traditional throne of our forefathers when you are not supposed to be there, history reveal that such persons don’t last on the throne”.
The young monarch called for the review of the edict on traditional institution which currently gives impetus to certain usurping tendencies because of some existing clauses.
“Chieftaincy is not rotational; tradition should be allowed to take it toll. I believe it is overdue for the Rivers State edict on chieftaincy to be reviewed to strengthen the various traditional stools”. Noting that traditional stools goes with enormous responsibilities, the royal father said he had enjoyed the unflinching support of his people and that accounts for the tremendous achievements recorded in his domain since his coronation. Apart from the relative peace the Bagha people enjoy, he said he had been able to attract some development projects, like roads, water and healthcare programmes to the area.
“I have enjoyed the support of my people because I get them involved in everything, I delegate role to every interest groups in the community, from members of the council of chiefs, youths and the CDC.
For Mene Baridam, the amnesty given to ex-militants by the Federal Government need to be complemented with community amnesty as all the ex-militants are members of various communities. He recalled that at the peak of militancy in the Niger Delta, various communities were desecrated with sacrilegious actions and activities by the erstwhile militants. To attain full rehabilitation, he said there was the need for the ex-militants and others involved in the various acts to duly apologise to their various communities, for genuine penitence and acceptance back to the communities.
One of such abominable acts, he stated was the kidnap of Gbenemene Tuatua Tai at his palace, which is the symbol of traditional authority. “Its is important that the militants apologise to their communities, to get full acceptance back, by their previous activities they offended their communities in various ways and those actions have to be atoned traditionally to give them total acceptance.
The federal government on their own part, should comply with the terms of agreement with the ex-militants. The boys have just dropped their guns and some of them are protesting that they have been allegedly slighted in the deal. The federal government must not foot drag; they must convince every body that they are serious about the development of Niger Delta”.
Baridam also reacted to the proposed 10% equity fund to be paid to oil producing communities in the Niger Delta. While applauding the legislative initiative, he said its implementation should be based on equity and consensus interest. Basically, he said representative commissions should be set up comprising men of proven integrity and traditional rulers as the custodians of communities should be actively involved in the management of the fund.
“The 10% equity fund should not be politicised, if the fund is left in the hands of politicians, then it is going to be controversial and it is going to plunge the communities into more crisis”. The former Rivers State chairman of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions employees, (NUBIFIE) also explained why Governor Amaechi is tough with contractors handling various projects in Rivers State. Amaechi is succeeding because, he is tough with them. Amaechi personally inspects the projects at various stages and sees that the contractors are working”.
Mene Baridam is also the treasurer of the Khana Council of Chiefs. He described the demise of the Gbenemene of Babbe, His Royal Majesty, King Mark Saro Igbara, as a great lost to the Ogoni Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers.
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