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Echoes of reality

GEJ: National dialogue vs chopchopcracy
By Martin-hassan Esomchi
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The morning was a virgin and I watched my students sing the National anthem with all pride and enthusiasm, the sweet memories of my days in Saint John Bosco secondary school Doma- Nasarawa State was re-instated. As the melody of the anthem pierced my soul, I remembered that as young students we all dreamt and saw Nigeria as a baobab that will provide and protect us as we serve her after our education. However, nearly a decade behind me as a secondarian, I have realized that the taste of pudding lies in the eating. Deep within me, I pitied my student for the sorrowful mystery they will pass through only because some political wolves, their vampiric and thievery cronies have decided to turn themselves into weapons of mass looting. Why not, with corruption ravaging and masquerading right, centre and left, what will Nigeria hold for them after their academic journey?

One of the greatest legacies of my Father will be his basket full of books. I have taken time to digest most of them and have pitiably and sorrowfully discovered that Nigeria seem to have been rejected by her “chi”. Professor Chinua Achebe was more than right with his farewell package; there was a country: the personal history of Biafra. Like the mouth and tongue, my love and respect for Achebe's insightful and punchy masterpiece cannot go sour. However, I beg to differ. I make bold to say that there was no country in the first place. It was Sir High Clifford who observed that “Nigeria is collection of independent native states, separated from one another by great distances, differences of history and tradition, and by ethnological, racial, tribal, political social and religious barriers”. This quagmire is not only our trade mark. With the unholy and conspiratorial re-union of 20th February 1885 that made Africa a “cut and join republic”, nearly all African country have a share of this Western idiocy, impunity and rascality. However, ours is unique and peculiar: a British forced polygamous marriage between three strange bed fellows and here lays the genesis of our malaise. Nigeria in the first place was a conspiracy, a chopchopcratic agenda design to serve the economic interest of Britain.

The process that brought about Nigeria was nothing short of corruption and as such, corruption may remain a “sarkin barker dole”( a king one must welcome). Chopchopcracy has poisoned the life of the nation and is now an article of faith. It is so alarming that if you fail to recognize it, it will surely recognize you. Fredrick Forsyth deposited that “ corruption in public life in Nigeria is no new thing it was present under the British and had flowered alarmingly after independence” What should one expect when the civil service is now an avenue to “chop fat” from the common treasury. These ignoble quests to fill one's stomach at the expense of the masses have given birth to poverty, insecurity, bloodshed and lawlessness. Nigeria has continued to make it to the list of states crippled by chopchopcracy . For instance in may 1994, the BBC asserted that “Nigeria has one of the worst records of corruption in the world-corruption is part of everyday life”. Years later, precisely on the 26th January, 1999, Ray Ekpu, Editor-in-chief of the News watch magazine added colour to the feathers of BBC sting on Nigeria by his sarcasm on the page six of the News Watch magazine that Nigeria qualifies for a “Gold Trophy” for corruption. As far back as the seventee's, Anthony Cardinal Okogie the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos bemoaned the pathetic situation when he observed that “corruption has been canonized as a virtue,its various bastardly forms have now been distilled as wisdom and dexterity by the society”. In the Thisday Newspaper of 15th October 1997, Alhaji Shehu Musa lamented that “it is not that officials are corrupt, but corruption is official. Anybody who do not do so is seen as fool” The wave of corruption did not pass unnoticed by Chinua Achebe who told the world via the Star Newspaper of May 15, 1983 that “keeping an average Nigerian from corruption is like keeping a goat from eating yam” The above instance are just the tip of the iceberg concerning the frightening dimension that corruption has taken in Nigeria. The name Nigeria is synonymous with corruption. With the looting escape championed by our shameless and squander maniac political elites which end up in overseas, an average Nigeria is believed to have been injected with an overdose hormone saturated with corruption.

Like General Mohamed Buhari, I do strongly belief that the call for a National dialogue by Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is nothing but an instrument of gaining cheap popularity. What Nigeria of today needs is a state of emergency on Chopchopcracy championed by Jonathan and his likes in the corridors of power? For crying out loud, what happened to recommendation from other political jamboree embarked on at the expense of Nigerians? If the clueless and shameless PDP led federal government is not a vulture in search of carcass what has she done with the litanies of political recommendation heaped before her door? Does Jonathan need a national conference to turn lemon into lemonade for Nigerians? Will it fix the messy and bloody environmental situation created by oil multinational companies in Ogoniland? Will it transform Nigeria that has been openly raped by PDP for more than fourteen years into virgin? Will it equally fix our road, railway, air transport, hospitals, provide job opportunities for the teeming population, will it expel epileptic power supply from Nigeria? How are we sure that it will usher in an era of constitutionalism and rule of law in place of executive rascality and impunity perpetuated by Jonathan and his political party.

The only time Nigerians can discuss honourably about our existence is when corruption has been exorcised from the polity. Belief me you, the so called tension and bloodbath in Nigeria is a daughter born from the wedlock of corruption and bad leadership. The solid foundation for any sincere national dialogue is first and foremost a fanatical exorcism of corruption and bad leadership from the polity. I make bold to posit that when excellence and meritocracy is brought to bear in the socio-economic and political life of our country, the so called national dialogue will kiss the dustbin. A national dialogue that is rubbing shoulder with chopchopcracy, political terrorism and rascality, no doubt, amounts to fetching water with a basket. Can GEJ hear me?

Between the social media and the Azonto generation
One of the things I brought back from the seminary was the benefit auto-formation. Contrary to what is obtainable in Nigeria where Teacher, Parents and Formators act more or like the Nigerian bully rogues on black uniform. It was a formation to responsibility. We were allowed to use phones and other social media gadgets. The formation system was sophiscated such that we knew our rights, duties and obligations and carried them out within the allowed and the accepted. I can recall that a Nigerian Priest from Nnewi Diocese in Anambra State on a visit to our scholasticat was scandalized to see me exchanging calls with my Nigerian born but Urbanian trained Rector. He was startled like a man who we caught pants down with a neighbor's wife as we argue with our Rector and openly disagreed with him. In fact, I think, he realized he was a Samaritan in a Jewish temple when he saw me goggle out fact from my phone to substantiate my argument. What this Nigerian Priest brought back home after his visit is something I cannot boost of knowing.

The onus of this write-up is born from the fact that Nigerian youths have failed to realize that the social media can be one of the greatest political instrument of emancipation and a truck load of political blessing. It seems we have failed to realize that the social media can be a veritable platform to use in squaring and squashing corruption and impunity perpetuated by the political class. In Europe, in fact, among Arab-Africans the social media is a platform for encouraging, promoting good governance and democracy. While for tyrants, political vampires, buccaneers and mafias at the corridors of power in the Middle East, the fear of the social media is the beginning of wisdom. The Arab spring is a testimony to this undeniable truism.

As an Educator, I have always championed the cause for auto formation for my students. I have found myself at the other side of the bridge with formators and teacher who ban the use of phones and laptops in school. The “holy thou are” attitude of school administrators and parents is a brick wall to qualitative academic and intellectual excellence in our country. Even president Barrack Obama is in the same page with me is this issue when he observed in the centre for American progress that “let's be clear-we are failing too many of our children. We are sending them out into the 21st century economy by sending them through the door of 20th century schools”. What can be more real than this?

The social media has come to stay and refusing to accept this fact by introducing a robust academic programme on it has made most of our youth's half baked scholastics if not certified “mugus” I was a secretary of a girls mission school were the mere mention of social media is a capital sin. However, when I left the school, I got connected with most of the students that graduated that year on face book. Pitiably, what some of this students post is everything but what is expected of an enlightened mind. I doubt, if the result will be the same if these students were exposed on how to use some of this social media platform within the allowed and the expected.

Regrettably, instead of using the social media to cut into oblivion the political leg of the Trojan horses in the polity, we have preferred to chase the rat while our house burns. Methinks it is time Nigerian youths begin to make soup with goat instead of mushroom by putting a round peg in a round hole. Nigeria is crying for justice; political justice, social justice and economic justice. The social media can do a lot when it comes to cleaning the Augean stable created by our kleptomaniac, squander maniac, reclex, shameless and evil minded political elites.

Nigeria:When a coward is in charge
I was a school secretary at a Girl's Juniorate in Issele-uku, Delta State. The peanut I was paid then was could not permit me to enjoy the luxury of having a television set. That apart, electricity in the town was as rare as the elephant tusk. I formed the habit of refreshing myself after the day's work at the diocesan pastoral centre which was a stone throw from the school. As I entered the dinning of the centre that day, the scene on the television captured my attention. The Swiss guards were doing a wonderful display. Yes, the world was expecting a new Pope. As the white smoke emerged, I knew that the Bishop of Rome has been elected. Who will he be? What will he offer the church and humanity were among litanies of questions that begged for answers as I walked back to my lodge that night.

“I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a transformer in any situation, any organisation, and such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf; it requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage and faith to be a transforming leader”. The above observation of Stephen .R .covey cannot be truer with Pope Francis. His pontificate was preceded by the biggest shock of the century: the resignation of Pope Emeritus Benedict the sixteenth, the first North American Pope, the first Pope to take the name Francis, the first Jesuit Pope and so many other unique firsts. No doubt, Pope Francis has proven that he is a true shepherd and Vicar of Christ. He has relieved the most uncharitable critic of the Papacy of their job by his exemplary leadership style. within few month as the leader of the world smallest country- Vatican, he has put a round peg in around hole by opening the flood gate of transparency thereby sending sycophants, bootlickers, spiritual marabous, and all men of ecclesiastical tittles without substance to the dustbin. Apart from the fact that the Pope is our father in faith and the voice of moral, his unique and exemplary leadership is a lesson for our shameless and clueless political leaders to learn from.

I understand that the papacy comes with grace but can grace alone be the driving force in Pope Francis case? Methinks that grace does not destroy nature as such sincere efforts by leaders to correct the wrong in their country cannot be ruled out. Here lies the onus of our problems in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. With the naked dance in the political arena by the GEJ led government, the abuse of power, political, executive rascality and political terrorism by the mafias in PDP and their cronies at the corridors of power, the bloody looting of the national treasury in the most barbaric manner that seems to have become the hallmark of GEJ government, the fanning of ethnic, religious and tribal ember to cover up their loot and impunity, are all sad indications Nigeria cannot boast of roasting her rat without burning its tail. For over Fifteen years PDP led governments have shamelessly raped our country. A political party and a Federal government made up of clique of criminals, rogues and harbingers of everything evil. No doubt, we have continued to witness the ugly, the bad, the messy, the bloody, irresponsibility, lawlessness and thievery.

It is indeed regrettably that we have a president that has all the attributes of a coward. It is only when a coward rules that the majority will continue to wallow in abject poverty while the laughable minority dine and win in opulence and impunity with the tax payer's money. It is only a coward that accepts that sixteen is greater than nineteen. Who cannot tell his wife that the Nigerian constitution knows nothing like the office of the first lady if not a coward? The trademark of a cowardly government is the harvest of blood in the polity and preference for hired pen to write idiotic press statements instead of living up to expectation. it is only when a coward presides in a country that education sector will be in comatose, unemployment sky rocketing, hospital glorified mortuaries, the road death traps, the aviation sector an apology and the marine transport at the mercy of militants. Protection of life and property under the leadership of a coward is a poetic line in the constitution; an illusion more rampant in paper. What have we done to merit heaps of political cowards who must have been injected with an overdose hormone of corruption, idiocy and mediocrity?

Nigerians need a paradigm shift from poor and clueless leadership, reclex political miasma and rascality. I find myself in the same page with Fr. Goerge Ehusani when he opined that “we need a shift in leadership, focus sustained by transparency and accountability where civil society will engage the political leadership in balancing policy objectives against concrete act of governance” and not some college of cowards who have everything in surplus but transparency, vision, initiative, courage and patriotism. GEJ should please begin an extra moral class in the Vatican on what it means to be a leader. Last time I checked, he was the commander-in- Chief of federal looters.

Nigeria: Between Youths and national unity
Alhaji Abu was our landlord in the sabon pegi area of Lafia the Nasarawa state capital. We nick-named him 'yara manya gobe'(children, leaders of tomorrow) because each time he came visiting, he could encourage us to take our studies serious because we were the leaders of tomorrow. Though a Muslim, Alhaji Abu saw us as his children and played the role of a father to us.

Regrettably, we have allowed the hand of the monkey in our pot of soup to transform into that of a man. From East to west, North and South, Nigerian youths are busy fanning the embers ethnicism, sectionalism and tribalism at the expense of peace and national unity. How I wish my tears would help remedy the bloody and messy situation we find ourselves. Memories have magical powers and when it re-instate the blissful childhood I enjoyed in the North, I cannot but wish our ruinous leaders will kiss the viper and romance crocodile for their evil deeds. We need to prophet to tell us we are sitting on the proverbial keg of gun powder. One wonders what the feelings of Alhaji Abu will be like if he return from the great beyond to beyond a parlous and animal kingdom our the GEJ led government have turned Nigeria into.

The late supreme pontiff, Johnpaul ll extorted the youths to prove the importance of their youthfulness when he observed that “in your there is hope for you belong to the future and the future belongs to you”. While on a pastoral visit to Nigeria in 1982, he equally added that “youth is the age of hope, of promise, of enthusiasm, of plans. An ideal youth does not want to give up in the face of difficulties………..youths believes in the better world and determines to do something to help bring about it”. I for one, is in the same page with the late Polish Bishop of Rome but a mind boggling question remains, do Nigerian youths belief in a better Nigeria, a peaceful, progressive, proporous and unified Nigeria?

The helpless and hapless situation Nigerian youths find themselves is “such a serious matter that nobody should fiddle while Rome burns” if youths are “manya gabe”( leaders of tomorrow) and yet championing all sort vicious agenda by the shameless and heartless political wolves in Nigeria to crave an image from a rotten wood, then the old woman have every reason to become uneasy whenever she hears the mention of dry bone in a proverb. Why must we avail ourselves as instrument of destruction for bloody old men who should be thinking of their graves?

The future of Nigeria to a certain sense is measured or tied to the future of its youths. Our concern here is rather an introspective self-questioning one. How far have Nigeria youths gone in defining our collective existence as a people? How far have we championed or have addressed the socio-political, economic and religious problems that stare us daily in our faces? We may in the end answer the very important question asked by Rev. Fr Jerome Madueke “what kind of youths are we expecting to emerge from the present society to set pace for the future of our dear country: Anarchist or patriotic, lunatic or sober, confuse or calculated, indolent or hardworking depraved or well behaved”?

Here, the episode of the Burundi thirty four can be an eye opener for Nigerian youths on the need to defend our unity through thick and thin. During the Burundi civil war occasioned by ethnicism, Burundi was drunk with ethnic cleansing which pitched the Tutsi- dominated army and the armed majority Hutu rebels following the killing of democratically elected president Melchoir Ndadaye in October 1993. On Monday, April 28 1997 a soul touching incident happened. Armed Hutu rebels storm the Catholic Major Seminary in the Provincial Capital forcing the thirty four resident seminarians to the courtyard in front of the Chapel. The Rebels ordered them to separate themselves into Hutu and Tutsi. However, the Seminarians chose to die for unity and love. They refused to obey the order and were cruelly murdered. This is a pure case of love and patriotism overriding ethnicism and sectionalism. One wonders what it will be like if the same occasion presents itself in Nigeria.

Now that a President with an unprecedented mastery of deception has called for a national dialogue let me give him a coin he does not merit despite the fact that the optimist in me have refused to wake up. As Nigerian youths, the so called dialogue if not a political jamboree, will provide us the opportunity to exorcise the ghost of ethnicism, regionalism and tribalism in the polity. Ola Rotimi has said it all “not to do something is to be crippled fast, and to lie down resigned to fate is madness the world is struggle”

Nigeria: The political economy of double share
I had fallen in love with Yaoundé the Cameroonian capital. She was for me, a home outside home. Yet, I knew that home was the best. I realized that I was on my way home. Home was Nigeria the land of river Niger and Benue.

From Sangmelima, the home town of “Emperor Paul Biya” to Yaoundé, Edea, Motengene Bamenda , Tiko and limbe, the journey was sweet. It reminded me of the transit of eba and okro soup from the mouth passing through the throat, down to the stomach. I saw myself praying for a journey without end. The road was smooth and fresh like the skin of a baby coming out of the maternity ward and my joy, a mockery of that of a groom taking his virgin bride to the sacrificial bed of consummation on their weeding night. Cameroon was charitable enough that even wild animal enjoyed constant power supply. For two year of my academic sojourn in this bilingual country, if my mind is not playing hide and seek with me, I think blackout was not recorded for more than three times. One was free to move from table to toilet because the water supply was certain as the stars on the sky. Security was guaranteed as sunset after every sunrise.

As I left the shores of limbe via a passenger ship manned by a Pilipino captain, even right inside the Atlantic Ocean, I felt like a fish outside water. I realized that it was foolery trying to stop a moving train. I loved Yaoundé, adored Cameroon but what a willing can mind do when the body is captured. The moment we docked at the Calaba, I needed no magician to tell me that all is not well with Nigeria. From the bully police men, the kleptomaniac custom officers to the compromised immigration officers in the Calaba sea port, they knew nothing but corruption. My passport and luggage disappeared into the sanctuary of men who are paid with tax payer money because they were supposed to be serving our father land. That experience was hot and raw. My passport only re-appeared after I was bullied into parting with some few naira notes. Imagine, from left, centre and right, I was treated like a totem in the Republic of Cameroon but here am i in my own country facing exploitation. That was my first encounter with classified and official corruption. What could possibly make an officer who was sure of his salary at the end of every month descend to low to demand for kickback for doing his job?

The double share syndrome is the bane of the numerous challenges Nigeria is facing. It is a pity that we are enjoying an ignoble status as one of the most corrupt country in the world due to this factor. I first got the idea of this syndrome in my alma mater. The school refectorian who we nick named” kitchen boss” will each time we came for meal remind us of the schools most popular dictum “no double share” at first, it meant nothing to me. As a child, I thought from Lagos to Bornu on why the school authority would deny us limitless access to the school kitchen. However, nearly after a decade of leaving school, my encounter with abuse of power at the sea port broke the Emmaus bread. No doubt, without this dictum, my school could have turned into a jungle were the strongest and the privileged have enough to eat and the weak go on empty stomach.

The double share syndrome is the bane of numerous “kasala” that has befallen Nigeria. It is this syndrome that has reduced our politician into Oliver Twist always wanting some more of the national cake for their families and friends. They take their rightful share of the national cake and still deny the common man of his “droit absolu”, they fly abroad for treatment and still refuse to fix our hospitals, they got private jets and forgets that our road are death traps. They got wives at home but still prefer to use our girls in the universities as “conference materials”. Like the biblical rich man, they din and win in opulence and still want to keep the crumbs falling from the table. What a double share?

The fact that Nigeria is blessed with human and natural resources and yet poverty rubs shoulder with progress speaks volume about the ravenous effect of the double share syndrome. Like the recfectorian in my alma mater, we must all think, act and say “no double share” until we espouse this philosophy, Nigeria will be everything but what she ought to be.

Between C.A.N and El-rufai
Nigeria is a giant in fierce battle in many fronts. The bad the ugly and the good are always in a constant war for her soul. In a polity like ours were one is banished and rejected just because he or she is from a different tribe, religion, or political affiliation or even an adherent of a particular school of thought, I cannot but smash the cup become an exile or even a rebel. I for one, prefer the latter hence Emperor Hailie Selassie observed that “through out history, it has been the inaction of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph”

Just recently, Malam Nasir El-rufai the former FCT Minister and an arrow head of the newly formed APC (All Progressive Congress) chastised the CAN president for dancing naked in public. El –rufai though a Muslim, brought to lime light the fact the CAN President was chasing shadows. But typical of a society that shows chronic disdain for intellectuality, a society where a noble laureate is a “mad Man” for denouncing the despotic regime of the Nigerian former dictator, the 'undamic” goddess of Aso rock and the jesus of Bipi Evans of River state house of assembly, a country where the unconstitutional office of the first lady is supersedes that of a duly elected governor, a mathematic empire were sixteen is greater than nineteen, the unthinking and untutored fanatics were asking for his head.

Like Bishop Mathrew Hassan Kuka, Malam Nasir El-rufai have proven the fact that “book and all forms of writing have always been object of terror to those who seek to suppress the truth”- apologies to Professor Wole Soyinka. It was fun watching Mr Oritsejafor and his media teams make futile effort to cover the moon with their palm. Like Ikedi Ohakim( former Governor of Imo State) trying to discredit El-rufai”s book “ The accidental civil servant”, Mr. Oritsejafor and his foot soldiers failed to realize the fact that they could not rewrite history that is not exclusive to them.

Truth be told, the jet flying pastor who seems to be suffering from mouth diarrhea has brought the once revered office of C.A.N to ridicule. Viewing C.A.N from the vintage point of Cardical Okogie”s, Archbishop Akintola and Cardinal John Onaiykan juicy era when “faith in action” was displayed as pointed out by El-rufai, one cannot but weep over how messy C.A.N is under his leadership. Where is the voice of modesty, decency, love and simplicity C. A. N was known for all this while? Mr Oritsejafor and his co-travellers should know that Nigerians are wiser now. We cannot forget so soon the fact that on November 2012, while the blood of Nigerian Christians were flowing like the farin ruwa water fall, he sold his conscience to the devil and before Mr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan an Ijaw like him, accepted the gift of a private Jet worth millions of dollars. When the Eminent Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah questioned his moral compass, his foot soldiers resorted to gutter language, fanatical propaganda and idiotic logic to defend their shameful and regrettable act.

It is painful that Nigeria is a country where religion is practiced outside the law as such; every Tom, Dick and Harry is now marauding in the “name” of “God”. The polity has continued to witness the rise of hypocritical and syncretistic general overseers who than a genuine call for service of God and man have commoditized Christianity and turned Jesus into an economic messiah. Like the fake prophet of old (Amos 7;12;14) these crooked individuals wearing a borrowed or rather a stolen pastors tag have continued to swindle unsuspecting and gullible Christians of their money to live in opulence. Instead of using the pulpit to advocate for moral and ethical regeneration in the country, they prefer to host stage managed crusades in lucrative towns in order to seduce people into parting with their money while equally blessing our kleptomaniac politicians instead of chastising them for espousing” lootocracy” as a “modus vivendi cum operandi” How many of Oritsejafor's and his likes sincerely care to alleviate the guilt of social, civil and economic abuse of the poor in Nigeria with their palatial mansion, posh car, jets and fat bank accounts?

We may not like Mallam Nasir El-rufai but that does not stop civilized minds from seeing the merit of his message. I think he should be congratulated for having the courage to say boo to the goose. Mr. Oritsejafor and his foot soldiers should realize that Nigerians cannot be taken for a ride. We cannot be deceived and religious propaganda cannot becloud our sense of judgments. We refuse to be bullied by the name of a god that asked him to be flying on jet while millions of Christians and Nigerians die in penury and hunger. Like Pope Francis, I beg to say, “The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials” Mr Oritsejafor take note.

The Nigerian bride child: Between Yerima and us
Senator Ahmed Yerima did nothing new. He only re-echoed the criminality that have been celebrated for quite a long time. Many of us cannot claims ignorance of this fact. Who claim he does not know that from East to North, South or West that our girls are becoming must expensive and desired “take away”? I am not being pessimistic but will never join the crop of “unthinking” and “untutored” Nigerians. Criminality has taken a centre stage in Nigerian and will need extra-ordinary Nigerians to exorcise it form our territory. All we do is to shout! Shout and shout without doing anything positive to redeem the smelly and messy situation. Who can be more gullible than Nigerians? We don't think and when we do, we garnish it with ethnic, religious, political and regional affiliation hence, betraying the “termime ad quem” of a critical, healthy and robust thinking process.

One painful truth I have discovered in Nigeria is that our leaders (dealers) know our “fault line”. They have a mastery of this, such that even from their bedrooms. They can sweep Nigeria according to their whims and caprices. This history has repeated itself and we fell for the bait. Belief me or disagree with me, the child marriage “Buwahaha” was a well designed plot to distract Nigerians from the litanies of “unholy feast” that so called lawmaker were to celebrate. Senator Ahmed Yerima only played the scripts written for him by the powers that be.

Ours, is a Polity that have espoused the fire bridgade approach of issuer.No sooner had Yerima set the trap that we fell with our legs wide open. Every Tom, Dick and Harry becomes a senior advocate for girls, a saint and emergency activist. We failed to go beyond the surface. All we wanted was the head of Yerima on a platter. Now, like all element of “initial gragra” where are all the advocate and activist that Yerima produced? We have not even celebrated a year memorial of the slap of decorum and morality yet the issue has been thrown to the wolves.

I feel that I am now standing alone and have to bring to limelight my own perspective on the issue of child marriage which is an old as man. Apart from the fact that the proponents of this man inhumanity to man are doing great disservice to the women world, like many Nigerian projects, I wish that this debate should not be abandoned to rot away.

Walahi! At the age of nine, Halima already had a dream of becoming a chartered accountant, she would pose in her well cultured outfit and pretend to be in her office signing documents, making calls and all sort. But one day, it came to a crash, “you are getting married to Alhaji Ibrahim Atou” her father announced. She thought it was a joke, but it was far better than that. All her dreams have crumbled. Haba! Think of what will happen to young Halima and think of what will happen to countless young girls whose future are waiting to be destroyed by the issue of “Under aged marriage”.

For crying out loud, it doesn't worth it. It's a shame that our leaders are being blindfolded and can't see the truth clearly. It is uncalled for and like every other waste; it needs to be thrown into a bin.

Tell me, what parental obligations do young girls have to perform as “mothers”? Coping with the stress of marriage is very difficult, even our matured mothers find it difficult to satisfy their husbands in many ways, so what can a young girl do? Even, these girls cannot live up to the sexual desires of the man because they are not matured enough. Sometimes, the girls are even forced to have sexual intercourse. Some of these girls are not even matured enough to manage their bodies so well it's now matrimonial home they want to handle.

This issue of underage marriage, can lead to girls being widows in their prime because most of the so called “suitors” are ten times older than they are and also, some are up to the ages of their fathers or even more than.

Underage marriage does not protect a girls “virginity”, nor family honour because these are the most common excuses for it to be legalized, a girl who is not married can be raped even married women are equally raped so what's the big idea.

It jeopardizes the girl's health; young girls who are married are usually sexually active. Sometimes, they are married off before their first menstruation and they are faced with pressures from family members to bear children. There is always a complication during pregnancy because of the inadequate development of pelvic and reproductive organ. Hemorrhage, severe infection can also occur during obstructed labour. Girls are likely to get sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS/HIV.

It causes shame and social isolation in severe cases, obstetric fistula occurs. This is where a hole develops either between the rectum and vagina or between the bladder and vagina after severe or failed child birth.

Also underage marriage can lead to neglect in the Educational background of young girls. If this is passed into bill, our country would become a home for illetrate women. All these and more are the adverse effect of underage marriage.

Nevertheless, Senator Ahmed Yerima was not all wrong. You may not like his face. Who cares? Worst still there is nothing one can do about it. He will remain a Nigerian like any one of us. Yerima is a symptom of a disease menacing Nigeria. He is an undeniable indication that all is not well. We all jumped up thoughtlessly chasing the symptoms of the disease instead of digging deep to find the root course of it and the cure. Yerima is a product of the country that has thrown morality and ethic to the wolves. A good number of ugly events in the recent past and contemporary present a point to this fact. Anarchy, chaos, insecurity, indiscipline corruption, greed, cultism and nepotism, tribalism, ethnicism, deformed religiosity are litanies of vices threatening to destroy the protective buffer of our country. We need to disperse these storms that may finally submerge our country. We are dining with the devil on the proverbial keg of gun powder if we continue to profess “sidown look” as our article of faith. A new year is knocking at our door let me hope Nigerian will not continue to live in a fool's paradise.

THE ARROW OF TALAKAWA – A LETTER TO NIGERIA AT 100
Dear Nigeria, my name isTalakawa, but the English christened me poverty. I am the son of Wazobia from Lagos, Enugu and Kaduna. I write to felicitate you on the occasion of your centenary celebration. Judging from the fact that the British expansionist and economic 'wuruwuru' and'magomago' brigade lead by Lord Luggard presided over the unholy matrimony between two strange bed fellows in 1914, which gave birth to you and coupled with the fact you survived a three years bloody war is enough reason to roll out drums.

As a patriotic “Nwalala” with deep sense of purpose and responsibility this letter will not be complete if I fail to utilize it to draw your attention to some mind bugging questions menacing me. I am not ignorant of the fact that at a moment like this, many a professional sycophants and boot lickers have taken a center stage in print and electronic media to “canonize” you.

Nigeria, the great, the giant, the elephant, the eagle and the favoured a country “embarrassed” with milk and honey. No doubt, Prince Charles hearing me spatter you with the praise galore will take you for that proverbial eagle that has perched successfully and confidently on an Iroko tree. But, all that glitters is not gold says “Dede experience” yes, here comes the onus of my letter. You may take offence. Why not, it is your “droit le plus absolu”.

You were once a nation of our dreams. However, frantically, many of my friends are becoming hopeless, while few of us standing are hopelessly hopeful. Others have since married madam “Sidon de look” why not? The envious and seducing stories of economic boom is now a folk talk for many of our youths .From Sokoto – Yola, Lafia – Niger and Kano, the groundnut prepared have developed wings. From Ajegunle to Oyo, Ogbomoso to Shagamu, the once flourishing cocoa business is in coma. Nsukka to Owerri, Onitsha to Aba and Abakiliki the last stanza of the funeral dirge of our amiable palm plantation is being sung Boom! Boom! the drum sounded all were gathered and the kingmakers told us in Oloibiri that our problems are solved but 54 years after, the oil boom is sending us to doom. Is this fair Nigeria who laced our land full milk and honey laced with injustice, indiscipline, bribery and corruption flows unhindered?

In addition you are blessed with finest human and natural resources yet, husbanding it for all and sundry has remained an elusive achievement. Poverty, the Africa's “best man” is now a bonafide member of our “ime obi” with rights, duties, obligation given only to “Diokpas”. After all, with democratic terrocracy in motion, poverty now has the executive right to commercialize us, the duty to instrumentalize us and the obligation to de-humanize all talakawas's in the polity without fear or favour. We heard it's your choice to make progress a victim and poverty a victor because by the year 2020, we must have taken a step forward and a million steps backward.

Furthermore, I may use this opportunity on behalf of the pagan council of the republic to demand why every Tom, Dick and Harry is a Pastor or Imam? Why are churches established for other things other than worship? I know you hate idolatry but why have you prevented our “leaders” from worshipping at the altar of good governance? Worshippers at the shrine of rule of law and welfarism are bowed down like the stubborn grasses in Otta farm. Why? The last time our Premiere made efforts to consult the shrine of altruistic development, the combine college of Imams, Prophets, Pastors and Evangelist threatened to pencil down name as a VIP candidate to hell fire. Awo the progressive dared you but paid dearly for it because you never forgave him. He was found guilty of public assault on poverty, misery and underdevelopment, free education and security of lives and property. He was equally pinned down for aiding and abetting rule of law and enforcement of fundamental human right on a second count charge by your mercenaries. Since then, development has refused to smile. That apart, the fear of the lunatic and lootocratic federal power is the begging of wisdom for all “moneytician”. After all, it is only the tree that does not run at the sound of a gunshot. I overheard Tola heralding the gospel of liberation in the south-west. Amina confirmed it and with the silence of Isioma and Ejiro, they seem to enjoy the good news. Why must we wait so long for the repentance of your “nairamaniac” judiciary that dispenses injustice at the name of naira and kobo faster than Tom, the “woman wrapper”, can do to any Skirt that trespasses its boundary? Why do we have Ministry of justice's, Minister of justice's and Chief Justice's everywhere yet injustice everywhere?

The harvest of blood is rich in the polity. The sacredness of live has been thrown to the wolves while the sanity and dignity of the human person is on a long vocation. Why should we have more enemies when the police force is our friend? The “Presido” is so anti-blood that he has continued to stand on the grave of innocent “talakawa's” like me. The blood bank of our ruinous elites must be filled to the brim, as such; our roads must remain death traps. More blood have continued to flow yet you have not found who killed Dele Giwa, Bola Ige, Bar. Igwe and his wife, Jerry Agbeyegbe, Funsho William, Alfred Mashal, Kudirat Abiola and A.K. Abiola. Is the Slaughter of the Enugu fourteen also an unfathomable mystery for you?

Are you so blind not to see that a refusal to espouse “expo” and “sorting” is now a mortal sin in the polity? Why will you empower the citizenry through quality education and employment since that will translate scarcity of touts, Almagiris, Militants and Criminals to satisfy your mundane desires? After a swimming at the shallow water of illiteracy, your “presido” is waiting for your crops of irresponsible vice-chancellors to crown him the Academic Commander of Mathematics for his uncommon mathematics prowess he used in solving NGF (Nigerian Governors Forum)wahala. At least the mathematical political rascality and terrorism 16 greater than 19 is his intellectual property.

Most beloved Nigeria, while writing this night at the dead of night, I am making use of a twenty naira candle stick at the risk of my eye. I have to bear the pain of epileptic power supply because your Presido's kitchen was grossly unfunded last year with the meager sum of one billion naira. While other “enfant” African countries enjoy constant electricity, our “cardeau” after fourteen years of democracy is un-interrupted darkness.

If not that my Bishop, Hassan Kakah had made it clear that my alliance with you is like a catholic marriage, I should have divorced you. Now, I have no other option. Finding myself in between a lion and a tiger, why will I not fly to the kingdom of the popular dictum which says “when the desirable is not available, the available becomes desirable”. Oh Nigeria, you are my desirable and available.

Conclusively, while it is my sincere expectation that you render my questions and observations irrelevant before 2015, I owe you no apology for distancing myself from Litanies of “midnight lovers” who dish out congratulatory messages in the name of patriotism faster than “Mallam Gaskia” the magician can produce a rat from his hat.

Anyway, as optimist as a tortoise a race with Usein Bolt, I say CONGRAT make do with it. I cherish my “TULATION” so much that I can only give it you when you wake up from your slumber.

Yours Nigerially, Talakawa.

ESCAPING THE SOCIAL MEDIA TYRANNY

What a sad tale? Many educators run from pillar to post to help give a greener future to many students who don't even have an iota of concern for them. Yet, many believe that the reward of men of the chalk profession is in heaven. If not for my conviction that the value of life is measured with the degree of it's usefulness to God and humanity, I might have joined the league that see the chalk vocation is a part way to greener pasture. While it is salient I state that every reward must not be in naira and kobo, showing a chronic disregard to the plight of Educators is nothing but foolery.

I for one subscribe to the idea that life is all about caring, sharing and serving humanity. As educator, a have enjoyed the privilege of sharing the joy, fear and expectation of our leaders of tomorrow. If not for any other thing, this enviable opportunity of building great minds have given me litanies of insights and kept me in a vintage position.

Viewing from my vintage position, I cannot agree more with the African wise saying that “what an elder sees sitting down a child will not see from a mountain top”. When the late supreme pontiff, Pope John Paul II warned that soonest the falcon would cease to listen to the falconer, (we should not allow scientific and technological progress create a world without a soul) no doubt he was speaking from a vintage point. If my pen was seduced into writing this piece, it is because I am also in a vintage position to do so.

As an educator, I had an encounter in a co-educational school; I had an encounter which still runs like a tidal current in my memory. That Monday, sooner had I settled down for the business of the day, that I saw an angry looking woman from my office window with one of my students. Even before she made to my office, my thought have flown from Sokoto to Lagos yet, poor me I did not fathom the 'reason d'ѐtre' of the August visit. However, on reaching my office, the woman gave a sigh of reliefs and thundered “Thank God I met you Sir how was your night?”My son, she continued, “I am here because cocks are beginning to lay eggs and I think it is a bad omen. As a custodian of moral and decorum I felt I should share this sad story with you. Could you imagine that I caught my daughter pants down taking nude pictures of her?” The rest, as they say is now history.

After that early morning unholy baptism, I conducted a search and discovered that over ninety percent of the phones the students were using had explosive pornographic contents. What baffled me most was that eighty percents of these students were girls. Indeed, the woman was right. No doubt, with the advancement of science and technology, which we have blindly embraced, cocks are now laying eggs.

Not minding the fact that as stakeholders in the “Jet age republic” who should be major beneficiaries of scientific and technological advancement, happenings in the recent past and contemporary present is a pointer to the fact that the tyranny of social media is a frightening prospect. I am particularly worried over this pathetic situation because our “potential mother” have fallen in love with what is false, seek what is futile and celebrate in open was hitherto spoken in whisper. The erosion of our value system in the face of “social media” is on ill wind that blows no society good with our value system turned upside-down, downside-up, inside-out and outside-in every right thinking Nigerian have every reason to be alarmed.

The birth of social media is a welcomed development but this writer is bemoaning the “moraless” and “senseless”, reckless and excess use of this networks. Most of us vitiate the very aims and objectives of why social media cane into existence. The onus of the wahala is not only that we copy and consume while producing little or nothing, our marriage to the so called western “modus vivandi am operandi” is worrisome. What will it benefit a girl to post her nude pictures in 2go, face book, Twitter, Waplog etc? Where is our sense of decorum and decency?

How can our girls attain great height when they have thrown ethics and morals to the wolves? Our so called unconstitutional office of the First Lady is crippled. How can, in fact, why should a First Lady be campaigning for thirty five percent of women in the PDP led Federal Government when our girls have commercialized and instrumentalised their dignity? Imagine the inclusion of thirty five percent women with no sense of shame in our government. Can we survive it? A girl without morals is dangerous than any atomic bomb in the world, a weapon of chronic destruction. If it is true that a woman forms and deforms a nation as the French belief, then we must start now to search for the black goat before it is dark.

There is a great need for efficient and effective moral and ethical formation in face of the challenges that modernity is pilling in our door steps. If we fail to realize the need to remain African while dealing with modernity then, I am afraid. If the Arab spring was champion by youths using the social media what are we waiting for?

THE BUGGING MANARISM AND NIGERIANS
When our Ancestors used beads, cowries, shells salt, cows, slaves, elephants tusk, manilas and bars of metal as their means of exchange, it was not a do or die affair. It was more or like a legal tender in their era for buying and selling of goods and services. Thanks to science and technology that have provided us with a lot of comfort with its invention and innovations. Money was made to serve the interest of man and not the other way round. However, it is arguable that the bane of numerous “kasalas” that Nigerians is facing is due to the fact that Nigerians have not only fallen in love with money but have gone an extra mile to worship and serve money.

A classmate once told me that it is only naira and kobo that can make me great in the Nigeria of today. Actually, I was amused by his school of thought and when I failed to subscribe to his ideas by giving him examples like Late Professor Chinua Achebe, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Late Legal Luminary Gani Fayemi, Late Odimegwu Ojukwu who dared to be different and wore the crown of greatness, even when they were never people with wealth that defiled rational comprehension, he went ahead to tell me that no matter the volumes of books I write, the society will not value me if I do not own palatial mansions and ride on the latest jeeps in town while swimming in the ocean of opulence.

The recent pathetic happenings in the society is a pointer to the fact that we have succeeded in sacking “Mr. value” and replaced him with “Naira” and “kobo”. As far back as 1981, the then Arch Bishop of Onitsha now, Francis Cardinal Arinze envisaged this crazy struggle for Naira and Kobo by Nigerians and referred to the bugging infection as “nairamania”.

This philosophical school of thought that declares Naira and Kobo as a basic constituent of life is not a welcome development. The move to “nairanise” the polity is a worrisome prospect. Thus “plus pire” of the whole issue is that even religion and religious practices in Nigeria is also affected by this cakerous monster. In fact, our entirety has been pervaded by this bizarre and crazy struggle for money and things that money can buy. No wonder, most youths seek to acquire naira and kobo not minding the importance of such acquisition to their life and the society. With this erroneous and fallacious philosophy that money brings happiness, our country has turned into a jungle.

We have succeeded in reducing the value of the human person to naira and kobo. With the conspiratorial silence or moral and religious leaders and the “sidon look” attitude of our elders, the pathetic situation is now taking a frightening dimension. The cases of assassination, kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution and all sort of evil is now taking the centre stage in the society.

With the dethronement of integrity, honesty and hard work and enthronement of “chief get rich quick”, people now live in fear and sleep with one eye open. Why must we ignore the consequence of law of retribution by justifying the “end justifies the means” maxim through our actions and inactions?

The Pope emeritus, Benedict xvi, observed that “happiness is something we all want but one of the greatest tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong place”. He captures the existential reality in the polity. Despite the fact that history is full of men and women who felt that happiness lays in material acquisition and gave money a wild chase to their detriment. Many a Nigerians have insistently refused to learn from “Mr history”. Where are Idia Amen of Uganda, SaniAbacha of Nigeria, Mobutu SeseSekru of Congo-Dx, Emperor Jean BendelBokassa of Central African Republic and multi millionaire like M.K. Abiola? Indeed, like the Hausa's say- Duniabanza (the world is vanity). We must realize that man does not live by naira and kobo alone. The human life has value only to the degree to which it is offered in service to God and humanity. The lives of legendary icons like Nelson Mandela, SekonTaure, Mahatma Ghandi, Kwame Nkruma, Julius Nyerere, Queen Amina of Zaria, Gani Fayemi, Chinua Achebe and Chike Obi is a pointer to this fact.

The current reigning “nairamaniac” philosophy of accumulation is un-called for. We will be bitting more than we can chew if we don't retrace our steps and change our value system and orientations.

It was Calvin Holdege who observed that “it is good to have money and things money can buy, but once in a while let us check out if we have not lost what money cannot buy”. The glories of naira and kobo are ephemeral. Money cannot guarantee the happiness of man because the happiness of man does not come from “without” i.e. outside but “within” it is an affair of the mind and soul and not purely and squarely of the body as many erroneously believe.

It is only a fool that thinks that all that matters is naira and kobo and so such chooses naira and kobo before everything (nairanism). Pause and ponder, those who want to get naira and kobo by all means should be ready to face the consequence of their actions in all ways because, “ut severitas meritatis sic” – what you sow, you shall reap.

THE POISONED CHALICE
I was helpless as I watched the masses drink copiously from the historical chalice. Why? Why? Why? I asked. Deep within me, after cross checking facts and figures, I knew that Nigeria needed a paradigm shift from religious, ethnic or regional coloured leadership to a merit base leadership. However, the day I sold the idea at the “popular people's parliament” station market in Umuna-Orlu, Imo State, it did not go down well with “my countrymen” look at this “ofeke”{fool} the hunger terrorized dirty cyclist shouted at me. My only crime was that I refused an offer to drink of the ethnic poisoned chalice. I did not welcome his unjustified insult and did respectfully made my case known to him but rather, he responded harshly. If you are indeed a true son of the soil and not an “ofeke” , why project the image of Buhari against that of “shoeless”Azikiwe Ebele who is our kinsman. Earlier in the week, General Mohammed Buhari the Daura born ex military Junta while on his campaign tour in Imo state paid a historical visit to Rt. Rev A.J.Obinna the most respected cleric in the Heart land state and the catholic Arch Bishop of Owerri. I had wanted to explain to the crowd that after all, by that singular visit, Buhari was not a chronic Islamist but nearly used my “yanga” to wake up the “trouble” of the untutored and unthinking crowd. I looked pitifully at the crowd and took a slow but steady step back to my enclave at the Saint Joseph rectory. It could be an expensive foolery to sing “Nunc Dimitis for pushing down a drunkard I had consoled myself.

Back to my room in the rectory, I found myself in a hot romance with quietness. She was my friend and I loved her so much. She taught me how to pause and ponder. Why have Nigerian even after a Mekelzedek years of excruciating and hellish experience refused to rise against ethnicism in politics. I wished I had the powers to break the Emmaus bread so thank the blind can see the dangers of ethnic politics. I tried to shout out “reasons” but like the blind Biblical Bathimus, many ethnic bigots who claimed to be more Ebele and Azikiwe than me saw no reason why I was disturbing their messiah who was on a journey of “ethnic importance”. They saw no reason why we should not continue to swim at the shallow and dirty waters of ethnicism.

Yes, I saw the hand written on the wall. The enemy within our fold, the ruinous cabals of destroyers and their cronies has declared that things must continue to fall apart in Nigeria. They have sworn to the god of corruption that the centre cannot hold for any meaningful progress. While they engaged themselves in the idiotic business of raping publicly our common inheritance, professional sycophants, flatters, palace jetter made themselves kingmakers, seized the crown and shamelessly crowned a king without our consent.

These enemies of Nigeria poured into our national chalice honey laced with poison and gave us to drink. Their ruinous plan to take us a step forward and a million steps backward was well planned that it will take only a sophisticated alertness to detect it. Surely, they knew that due to decade of rape and pillage that have occurred over the years, many a Nigerians are suffering from “mugusm” and may remain “mugus” to the detriment of National unity and progress. They know more than Socrates that resisting a crippled leadership and a corruption infected government that is wearing a well tailored “ Ethnic Agbada” by Nigerians will akin to looking for a virgin in a maternity ward. Yes GEJ was their selling brand. From East to West North to South the melody was the same. He is one of you, a minority, once a shoeless boy, and the emperor of fresh air what a profile? With the ethnic propaganda of a “shoeless boy”, they made it to the coast. Yes they won the battles, what of the peace?

2015 is not tomorrow, but the drummer has started the job he knows how to do best. I am afraid that ethnic politics is fast becoming a “modus operandi”. I weep, not for any other thing but for the fact that we have failed to live up to expectation. If we are leaders of tomorrow, why allow shameless old men and ethnic champions to mortgage our collective future for their mundane and selfish interests? I wish that Emeka, Femi and Yahaya will realize that these propagators of ethnic politics and adherents of the old Roman practice of “Divide et empera” (divide and rule) are our common enemies. Why must we refuse to see that the so called take, flashy and false Imams, Mallams and jet flying pastors are shareholders in the looting bonanza chaired by our ruinous and heartless elites? Will Emeka, Chicheta and Isioma not sell their rights to build a peaceful, progressive and prosperous country for a pot of ethnic porridge? How am I sure that Emamuzor, Ejiro and Gaga will refuse to drink from the poisoned ethnic chalice? Will Tola, Femi and Bola make any difference? Who will not be happy if Isa, Ahmed and Aisha realize that wanton destruction of lives and properties is not the best way to defend the sacredness of the ballot or reclaim a stolen mandate?

As youths, we must realize that Nigeria is greater than any political, ethnic, clannish, regional or religious affiliation. Our ambitious actions and inactions must be within the framework of the constitution. While acknowledging the primacy of the constitution, we must also uncompromisingly reject the poisoned chalice and take the lead to the land of milk and honey. May Nigeria outlive us all and may our efforts and that of our heroes pose not be in vain.

“THERE WAS A COUNTRY” – THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO CHINUA ACHEBE

Against all expectation Dede Chinua the son of Achebe challenged the tin gods in Nigeria for an historical, literary and intellectual wrestling bout. The giant of African literature left behind a legacy that will outlive him. Achebe the proverbial eagle that successfully and confidently perched on African literary Iroko tree, the ice in the cake of African literature, our window and ambassador plenipotentiary to the world, the erect bamboo tree that the rain of tribal and ethnic rain can do harm but wash clean; our literary “lucerna lucen”, you will remain the pride of all sons and daughters of Africa and ever green in our minds.

Like Dede Achebe Warns,Nigeria, the once pride and giant of African will sooner or later if actions are not taken become a laughing stock in the comity of Nations. We have taken a step forward and a million backward by our collective actions and inactions. We have bottled literary giants and prophets like Dede Achebe. True to the expectation of ignorant we married her even against the warning of history. Who said we should not agree more with the eminent African philosopher, George Santayana when opined that “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” walahi, not even “mumu” the worlds celebrated dullard will repeat history like Nigeria. Should we agree that since repetition is for the sake of emphasis, Nigeria wants to teach the world the merits of repetitions hence she has remain a harbinger of backwardness since her birth in October 1st 1960.

Agree or reject it Achebe lit a candle in the darkness tormented Nigeria. He chose to identify with the masses instead of the master. His memoir is a “vade mecum” for Nigerians, it is an intellectual and historical “Sarkin barker dole” (A visitor one must accept). Like the Saint Paul, he has fought a good fight and may join Simeon in singing the NuncDimitis because he has given to Nigeria and Nigerians the much awaited historical messiah. There was a country: a personal history of Biafra. Yes we should not be made prisoners of the past but it is salient to state that it is only an Ofeke (fool) that does not know when the rain started bet him and as such no angel can tell him when the rain will stop; neither can he say where he dried his body after the baptism from Oluwa. History is the light from the perfect-imperfect past that illuminate the imperfect-perfecting present and gives us the direction to the robust and perfect future. History has only one victim the incurable pessimist and those who eat from the same pot with the “sins of Judas”. She smiles with optimists who are ready to shift the wheat from the chaff.

However, most regrettably, with the funeral dirge of the education sector being sung, students pass through pre primary, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions without romancing history. The resultant consequence of this educational miscarriage is a country full of Adamu's who knows Njamena more than Nsukka, Ngozi's who knows Accra more than Ibadan and Tola's who knows Yaounde' more than Zaria. The resultant effect is the litanies of educated dwarfs who are “NigerialyUnnigerians” dotting the polity. Who said Dede Achebe is not that elder that sit on a stool and sees what Nnamdi Azikiwe, Awolowo Obafemi and Alhaji Tafawa Balewa could not see from the top of Zuma rock? Dede Achebe knows more than Plato, Socrates, Kant, he knows for sure that, “until lions learn how to produce their own historians, the history of the hunt will continue to glorify the hunter”. Don't tell me that like the biblical Nebuchadnezzar you cannot see the “Acheberistic” handwriting on the wall; listen Kaduna, pay attention Enugu and Lagos, please unlock your eyes. Self pride and self awareness is a well tailored “bubanriga” we must wear to succeed in life because, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba may not respect Nigeria more than she respects herself.

History is a chalice of encounter. Every encounter is an experience that leaves an impressive mark. Encountering Dede Achebe, in his “Chike and the River” left an indelible mark on me. It was in my first year in the Junior Secondary School in Doma, Nassarawa State. After my voyage in the land of 'Achebe's memoirs, having felt to holistically assess the recent messy and bloody happening in the polity I felt I will be doing a great disservice to Dede if I fail to beat my drum to the hearing of Nigerians. Yes, I know an already wishing my hands to join Achebe in confronting the literary “Ekpu and OfeEgusi” so as to gather enough strength to climb the literary African tree: yes a good father like Dede Achebe, cannot but pray for the land of his ancestors, far! far! far!!! after the proverbial seven oceans and hill that “Chukwu” will give his sons and daughters the grace to continue the fight, win the trophy and surpass his achievement.

I can still recall that after I divorced Mrs Primary School at the magistrate court of first school leaving certificate. My father had travelled to the cathedral town of Nsukka. A town of pride which sheltered the great Zik of Africa- Dr. NnamdiAzikiwe and the famous Nigerian University (UNN) to initiate with my intellectual courtship with Saint Theresa's college Nsukka (STC). However, my parents decided against sending me to the South East. My mother particularly could not bear my absence. I was “a mum's boy”. So, I had to find a new educational soul mate in Doma, Saint Johnbosco Secondary School. It was a missionary boy's secondary school managed by the catholic diocese of Lafia-Nassarawa State.

Even though I did not understand the Alago dialect, I loved my new found love. Doma is the Local Government headquarters of Doma Local Government. It is an “Alago” two of eminent importance in Nassarawa state; she portrays the complexity and diversity of Nigeria. From the patriotic to the unpatriotic, saint and sinners, the lettered and unlettered, civil servant and merchants, workerholics and loafers, Christians, animist and muslim of course, contributors and conspirators, helpers and hinderers. Players and spectators were all swimming in the ocean of life. Few local government in Nigeria, can boast of the functional infrastructure and natural endowment that Doma parades. The historical Andoma Palace, the Doma Dam, the marvelous saint Aloysuis catholic church, the cottage hospital, a functional post office, the popular Doma Wednesday market and the over five secondary schools that dotted the high hill and low lands added colours to the feathers of Doma.

I arrived on the 11th of September, 2001 after the bustle and hustle involved in the preparation for my resumption to school. I was accompanied by my lovely mother, who never fails to shower me her love and protection. At arrival, we met a short man (whom I realized later was a Ghanaian and the school deans of study in those days we even had foreigners in my school). After packing in my luggage into the Holy Ghost house (Hostel for fresher's), my lovely Mother, after her words of advice turned to return home. You can guess what happened? I promise to continue this voyage some other time.

I had no mother, father and sibling in my new school. Yet I felt at home. Yes, a new chapter opened in my life with my admission in my alma mater which became my home for over 5 years of my life. Indeed we walked miles, climbed mountains and crossed rivers but never realized that one could be a foreigner in his own country. We had students from nearly all the middle belt state. Yet despite the difference in tribe, religion and family background, we were trained as members of a family. We lived an illuminating blissful and memorable community life; it was all about caring, carrying, serving and sharing in Bosco family. We had students from Doma, yet they never told us they were the “sons of the soil”. In fact, most of us who were not from the state became “Obas” in the school. I was made a class perfect in my first day in school, a chapel prefect in my third year and a house captain of Bishop Audu House in the fifth year (the hostel for the most senior students) yet nobody drank and smashed the cup. Igbo, Eggon, Ngas, Alago, Mada, Tiv, Nupe;s, Hausa, koro Gwandara e.t.c eat from the same pot and drank from the same cup.

We had Christians and muslims . The relations we shared and enjoyed never allowed us to stand not to talk of sitting the difference of the two monotheist religion. Even during holidays we could have our lunch with Bako Kabiru in the Nassara housing estate, drink kunu to quench our thirst in Godwin Igbagha's house in Nation supply and watch movie in Chemezie Okafor's house. With the harvest of blood in the polity nearly after a decade I left Doma, I am now faced with more questions than answer. I wonder what Ajodo Endurance, Makana Carlos and Shebu Ibrahim will be thinking over the messy and bloody situation in the country. How can I forget the hot “masa”, “miomio” and “kwokwo” I eat and drink in Ibrahim Wadas house who is a muslim classmate from Kano state. Ibrahim Wada (Wadanas). Like many of my classmates, he allowed me lean on him when the going was tough in my family.

The ravenous ethnic, religious, regional, tribal and political wolves the polity are monster that must be captured before it grasps the soul of our country. We are sitting in the proverbial keg of gun powder if nothing is done about the rampaging monster coming after the protective buffer of Nigeria's unity. Instead of flying the flag of humanity we are all singing war song with our ethnic, religious, tribal and regional flags at the detriment of National unity and peace. Why have we failed to realize that history have never smiled at any country that built its castle on the accidents of humanity (race, colour, tribe, religion, political affiliation, culture). Indeed, such castles did crumble like the biblical tower of Babel. How come that the sacred kola nut that the Yoruba's grew, the Hausas eat and the Igbo's celebrated failed to take us up to the mountain of transfiguration so that like James, John and Peter we will realize the glory of unity, the undeniable fact that we are all members of a family, one humanity. Hence, have the teeth and tongue parted ways after their quarrels?

Walahi, it was on the first of October, 1960, “our morning yet on the day”. Yet the education of a British protected child” belonged to the wolves. With wuruwuru and magomago, romancing all strata of our national life,

“Things fall apart” is a naked reality. Amina, Amaka and Ayo have remained helpless and hopelessly hopeful, because “things are no longer at ease”. Tochukwu, Tola and Turaki have become the “sacrificial egg” for our “monitician” turned politician. We can't find Margaret Ekpo, LadiKwadi, Grace Wele William, BuchiEmecheta, Akere Alaube, Queen Amina of Zaria and Mama Kuti. Truly the “girls are at war”. The masses are maimed and murdered while the masters massively looting the treasury. The majority wallow in abject poverty and penury while the lamentable and laughable minority wine and dine in opulence. Who can remedy this man's inhumanity against man if not “the man of the people”.The monsters of tribalism, sectionalism, nepotism and favoritism and corruption have destroyed the “anthill of the savannah”, and since then, “the arrow of God” is against us. “Beware soul Brother” that the latin dictum let ut severitas meritatis sic- (what you sow is what you will reap) is no child play. The “flute” the “drum” seems to have lost its relevance in the polity because we don't celebrate harvest of blood. For Ibrahim, Izuchuku and Iyabo, Nigeria is both “home and exile,hopes and impediment”, tormented in the North, deported from the West and Banished from the South. Our Kleptomaniac political class, lootomaniac, rascamaniac, shamelessmaniac and squandermaniac have failed to tell us “how the leopard got his claw” after fourteen years of “Democrazy”. How can Nigeria cross the river like Chike when Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu have refused to digest “the problem with Nigeria”.

Dede Achebe only told Nigeria and Nigerians to begin to look for the black goat before it is dark. Like a wise father embarking on a journey of no return, he beckoned on us to hold the banner aloft, keep the flag flying and the candle burning. “There was a country” yet there will always be a Nigeria if we work for It. Dede Achebe like the benevolent spirit has cracked the nut for us. He has succeeded in telling us what to do and what not to do as a people and a nation. For me, I think the Bishop of Rome was in the same page with Achebe's when he opined that “when man thinks only of himself, of his interest and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God's place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference and conflict” those where the Pope's words but the message of Chinua Achebe in his memoir.

-The grave side lies
When I heard the gun shot, I woke up from my sleep. And a battle began inside of me. I was thinking thick and thin why Dede Chinua Achebe fired the sacred gunshot surely, over the years the shots of Dede Achebe were reputed to be symbolic and carried a lot of massages and lesson to be digested by all and sundry. This time ordered Dede aimed at the notorious Nigeria. “Nigeria is not a great country. It is one of the most disorderly nations in the world. It is one of the most corrupt insensitive, inefficient places under the sun………” Haba, Dede, I thought aloud, did Nigeria merit this piercing bullet from you? I thought that I should differ from Dede and not associate myself with Dede by celebrating his gun shot. Anyway I decided to visit Chief Patriotism my long time friend to discourse the disturbing issue with him. But by the time I left Chief Patriotism's house I discovered that Dede Achebe was more than right. I returned from the house of Chief Patriotism to discover that Dede Chinua Achebe shot “Nigeria” because he wanted to deliver her from the hands of marauding leaders. According to him “the problem of Nigeria is simply and squarely the problem of leadership”

No doubt, over the years, I have not only admired the admirable qualities of an Igbo son-Dede Chinua Achebe but equally join him to reclaim Nigeria from the hands of her “ruinous leaders”. My sledge hammer is falling on us this time around. That the wahala of Nigeria is her leaders does not in any way make Nigerians saints. We cannot wash our hand sanctimoniously like Pontus Pilate and shift the blame on our political leaders. I have watched with great disdain how we take time to canonize over so called dead leaders in the print, electronic and mass media. The litanies of praises and laughable remake that greets the death of VIPs in Nigeria (very important prisoners if not that Nigeria is a banana republic) speaks volumes. If he or she is not a rare gem an Iroko tree, he or she will surely pass for a lover of humanity, an epitome of love and service. But if all dead Nigerian leaders were all saints while they were alive, where are the sinners that have succeed through their actions and inactions in turning Nigeria into a messy and bloody country? If all Nigerian leaders were accountable effective and efficient while alive, why the high level of poverty and penury in a country that is blessed with the finest human and natural resources? Yet at gravesides, even the greatest criminal and looting general amongst them becomes a saint who is deceiving who? I am very happy that our fate after death does not depend on our rudderless and kleptomaniac political leaders. It is salient we understand that praise singers, and their well conceived and packed lies in the name of funeral orations cannot lead a dead monster to heaven

It is not funny that due to the numerous dead looting general and their marauding cronies that Nigeria have produced so far, we are still battling with the issues of security of life and property, good and durable roads, electricity, good and affordable accommodation and good health care system.

No matter whose ox is gored or elephant lost, the propagators of misinformation must learn to respect the truth because truths are facts that can never be diluted and facts are sacred. If we fail to tell the living the truth of who and what they are and have done, we should be charitable enough to tell the dead truth and nothing but the truth at their gravesides for the sake of the living.

The funeral madness

Qua vadis- Where to? This is a self-introspecting question that Jesus Christ asked Peter while he was making efforts to escape through the Apian way from the persecution of the Roman Emperor. I for one, think it is time we pause and ponder over this question. It is a moment Nigerian need to sit and think critically to where our nation is leading to. It is arguable the “Mr Reason” has left over society for a long vacation or should I say that we have succeeded in dethroning “Mr Reason” and enthroning “Mr Senselessness”

Over the years I have watched with disdain the reclex frivolities that happen in the society in the name of funeral ceremonies. The sacredness and respect that Africans accord the dead have since developed wings. The painful of the whole thing is that intellectuals. Who are supposed to correct the erroneous attitude of contemporary Nigerians have either remained mute or joined the bandwagon.

In our cites, towns and villages we have seen a father or mother who died in misery because he or she was denied of all humanly cares during his or her life time but was given the so called “befitting burial” it is painful that a woman or man who never had a roof over his head will be welcomed into a lovely palatial mansion, extremely furnished and electrified according to the taste of the so called uncivilized untutored public to welcome the dead. Is it not a crime against humanity to bury someone who passed through hellish moment while alive in frivolity in the name of befitting burial?

The irony is that reclex, monumental, squandermania, pomp and pageanry, drunkenness all sort of criminalities is fast becoming a modus vivandi. It has gotten to a stage where families terrorized by poverty and cannot afford two square meals a day now run helter-skelter to acquire loans so as to execute the so called befitting burial for a man or woman who died in penury. Funeral ceremonies have turned into a moment of exploitation as some church and village officials see it as a moment to feed fat from the purse of the bereaved. I once accompanied a friend to sympathize with a family over the death of their father. After extending our heartfelt condolence, the first daughter of the family complained bitterly of how their Parish Priest used the death of the father to exploit them. Instead of consoling the bereaved family, the Priest threaten not to bury the father over a little amount of money, as if those that are not buried by Priest will not go to heaven. The most painful of the whole issue is that the mother of the family died three months before their father and the so called Priest was aware of this fact. The most scandalous of the whole thing is that the priest after extorting a huge amount of money from the family went ahead to turn the burial mass into a fund raising ceremony. What a shame? What a pity? What a sacrilege? Where are we heading to?

In a Christian context, death is a moment of sorrow and sober reflection (Mat 3:28, Luk 7:12-13 Jn 11:32-44) funeral ceremonies can be anything but not reclex squandermia and exploitation as obtained in the society now. Why have the church not spoken and taken action against this societal mess? This current Lavish and wasteful funeral ceremonies are serving the interest of whom?

Thy Lavish and wasteful funeral ceremonies in our society is not a welcomed development. If we continue to adhere to the squandermiac philosophy, then, our cry against the corruption and poverty in the country will compel foreigners into believing that we are crying wolf, wolf when there is none. When we stand for the virtues that our loved ones espoused and fought for before he or she died, then we can say we have given such a figure a befitting burial. I think the Catholic Church most take a lead against this social menace by setting out modalities for a Christian burial ceremony. Why can't we borrow a leaf from our Muslim brothers who have a simple burial ceremony for all the adherent of their religion irrespective of his or her social status and rank? It is now pertinent that we review our value system as Christians. Christianity is not a religion of rituals but a way life. If we profess to be Christian we must readily accept the punches that come from our faith by individualizing and practicalizing the tenets of Christianity.

Resisting the filthy lucre

Haba! Constitutional rule for traditional ruler, will the load not going to be heavy for them? Wait first! wait first!! What have they even done with their role as guardians and custodians of our sacred culture and tradition?

I will be telling lies if I claim not to be alarmed or baffled by the demands of our Royal fathers. In a society like ours where the value system have been turn inside out and outside in, the guest to acquire constitutional power by our traditional ruler is no news though. With the society pervaded by a bizarre rush far naira and what naira can buy, even at risk of sounding imprudent and pessimistic I dare to say that the raison detre of their demand is not far-fetched. No doubt they came out with a seducing and beautiful reason why they must acquire constitutional power. But I think it is more important that they prove to Nigerians that they are not also seeking to have their own pound of flesh from the national cake

It is embarrassing that our Royal father are chasing after constitutional role in the country while our sacred traditional institutions are crumbling like packs of card. If acquired, will this constitutional role be a miraculous one by transforming our hellish towns and villages into paradise? Why must a constitutional role be a “conditio-sine qua non” for their contribution to the progress of our country? Did king Jaja of Opobo, Pepple of Bony, Nara of Itsekiri, Queen Amina of Zaria and the Ovoramen of Benin acquire any constitutional recognition before they contributed immensely for the good of their respective kingdoms? A good number of ugly events in country prove that our Royal Fathers need to go back to the drawing board. They have thrown their prestige to the dust by joining issues with politicians. Imagine, the once respected symbol of our traditional institutional has been brought to ridicule. I doubt if that Nigerian court can resolve the member of case resulting from tussle between our so called Royal Fathers. I will be equally shying away from my pen apostolate if I fail to tell “us” that is not funny that our traditional rulers trade insult in the mass media like people with no atom of civilization. It is regrettable that Royal Fathers who are suppose to be custodian of our cultural and traditional values now Swim in the shallow water of politics. They transform themselves into “political stooges” and major share holders in the “magomago” and “wururu” enterprise. Dining and wining with every Tom, Dick and Harry that calls themselves politicians. What we now have are “Loyal fathers” who show unalloyed Loyalty to the whims and caprice of shameless politicians. It is on record that during the last gubernatorial election, a prominent “Loyal father” who was not satisfied with the role the traditional institution gave him, abandoned his palace and became the spokesman of the ruling party in the state. Did “Mr. Loyal father” even consult “Mr. Common sense” before dabbling thoughtlessly into a monumental disgrace? I doubt, because if he had, “Mr. common sense” could have advised him to stay away from partisan politics and remain neutral became his subjects belongs to various political parties. Anyway, this very “Loyal Father” is now nearing an expensive crown of shame. Even an Emir from north central state was induced by the ruling party to vacate his palace so as not to receive a prominent presidential candidate from Kastina state what a pity?

Should we remain quite while “Loyal Fathers” continue take action and decision that are detrimental to the wellbeing of their subjects? Diverting projects meant for the common good of the kingdom for personal benefit? They have contributed to the value crisis we are having now by dishing out titles and honour meant for legendary and iconic personalities to criminals and politicians whose moral credentials are questionable. Aiding and abetting the recognition and celebration of notorious criminals and inundate them with fantastic tittles at cultural festival. The irony of the messy situation is that these “Loyal fathers” dish out these tittles more easily than a magician can produce a rat from his hat.

Despite the pathetic situation, I will be unjust if I fail to acknowledge that a lot of Royal father are fighting under sunshine and rain, heat and cold to remain standing in our morally embattled.

Our Royal Father should be reminded that if they continue to chase after constitutional role forgetting their mission as custodians of African cultural heritage and values, they will be fetching water with a basket.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Martin-hassan Esomchi and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."