By Alex Enemanna
It is no more news that as you read this piece at this moment, some of our compatriots in Anambra are in pain, deep pain. They are observing a festival of sorrow and anguish. Their bread has been soaked in the vinegar of agony and their water polluted with acid of grief. They look with piercing surprise and utter disbelief how their means of livelihood has been reduced to mere debris and dust. Like the cloud, their eyes are green with tears and their hearts heavy with trouble and sadness.
Like every other day, some of them came to buy and sell to keep body and soul together but little did they know it was a day to bid their goods an inglorious permanent farewell to a raging conflagration. Others had come with the hope of returning home to the waiting arm of their loved ones, little did they know it was their last day on this troubled sphere called earth.
At the risk of sounding like a prophet of doom, there will be several other October 16, 2019 in our journey as a nation. The indicators that we are a people with utter disdain for safety culture are there for all to see. The Ochanja harvest of losses is not the first time a petrol tanker will spill its content and unleash a lake of fire and hellish pain on our people.
Interestingly, beyond the rain of hypocritical condolences from those in leadership positions, that radiate nothing but a frail and ineffective system, no measures will be taken to forestall a repeat of Ochanja carnage just like many other similar incidences in the annals of our chequered history.
Still fresh in our memory is the June 2018 Otedola bridge fire in which a tanker loaded with petroleum product fell, leaked and exploded, leading to a transfer of flames that consumed the lives of no fewer than 25 of our compatriots and burnt about 54 approaching vehicles.
The constant fire outbreak in our various markets and streets, from Lagos to Aba, Kano to Benin, Onitsha to Asaba and everywhere have assumed a customary dimension. Hardly is there any year a catastrophic inferno is not recorded in any major Nigerian market. The losses our traders shoulder on the account of this are humongous and unquantifiable.
To assume that some of the traders affected in Ochanja and other markets ravaged by inferno or any other form of human or natural disaster accessed their funds from financial institutions or co-operatives at a very exorbitant interest rate makes their troubles a thousand times complex. Sadly, we live in a society where it is easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a trader with a genuine interest and buyable business idea to access a loan as a result of deliberate stringent and obnoxious conditions attached to accessing such facilities by the lending houses.
Instructively, these disasters would have either been totally averted or mitigated if we had in place effective emergency response mechanisms to tackle incidents of this nature. Again, this casts aspersions as to what essence the government is in an environment where the protection of citizens’ lives and property occupy a back seat, in sheer negation of the constitutional provision that the security and welfare of citizens shall be the primary objective of the government.
Ponderously, this speaks volume as to how much our citizens have been mindlessly shortchanged by those entrusted to preside over our collective welfare and corporate development. Virtually all areas of our national life are dotted with indices of perennial neglect by those in leadership position. Our public education system is in a bad shape, our public health institutions are nearly in comatose, our infrastructure is at the brink of total collapse, social injustice has continued to erode citizens’ trust while poverty and economic depravity are holding our citizens by the jugular.
What happened in Ochanja market is an open advert of a government abdicating whatever is has accepted to be its responsibility. A situation where the fire reportedly raged, ravaged and had a field day in the sweat and blood of citizens for nearly about seven hours before a belated help could come is to say the least unacceptable. Worse still, a distress call had to be placed faraway Delta, a neighbouring state before the fire could be brought under control after a humongous havoc had been wrecked.
The question that readily comes to mind is this, what happened to taxes and levies being paid to the government of Anambra state by these traders? Of what essence is their fund to the state government if it cannot be deployed to fostering their welfare? Why is there no virile fire station in a market as big as Ochanja? Why does it have to take the intervention of a neighbouring state before any form of help could come the way of the troubled market?
No thanks to the activities of petroleum marketers whose cardinal focus is permanently throttled to profiteering with little or no attention to safety of our citizens. It is an iron cast fact that some of the tankers being used to ferry petroleum products from one state to the other are not road worth. They lack the primary worthiness to ply highways.
The irresponsible habit of the tanker drivers who see themselves as the kings of the roads over the rest of us has continually constituted worry in the minds of citizens. They throw caution to the winds, undermine all known road safety cautions and intimidate the rest of road users like second class citizens. This again necessitates the reinforcement of the call for a psychiatric test on the articulated vehicle drivers to save our compatriots from further losses.
Adequate attention should be paid to fire fighting the same way the government has devoted an appreciable energy to fighting tremor, flooding and other natural disasters. Every market in Nigeria should have a functional and well equipped fire station in line with global best practices. There is no reason every street in the country should not have its own fire station in readiness for emergency situations. In other climes, there are more fire stations than police stations but in Nigeria, the reverse is the case, even as crime continues to assume a more dangerous and organized dimension.
Lastly, shop owners must put in place primary safety approaches that will see to a reduction of the constant fire incidence even though it cannot be totally eradicated. They must develop a culture of switching off all electrical appliances at the close of the day’s business. All shops must be equipped with fire fighting kits including fire extinguishers and be tutored on steps to take whenever there is a fire outbreak. A stitch in time saves nine.
Enemanna is an Abuja-based journalist.
HELP! RAPISTS ON RAMPAGE!
By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin
“It’s not consent if you make me afraid to say no” — Anonymous
RAPE is a condemnable, despicable and unjustifiable act; No justification at all for rape, it is a sheer act of wickedness!
We Say No To:
R – Repression
A – Against
P – Poor girls by
E – Eccentrics
The harrowing experience of sexual assault and rape is not peculiar to the female sex, it can indeed be unleashed on any member of society; male or female, boy or girl. However, for the purpose of this write up, my main focus is on sexual violence and rape against women and young girls.
Sexual violence is defined as “any sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or act to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victims, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work”.
Rape is a form of sexual violence; it is defined as “physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – no matter how slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object”, (World Report on Violence and Health).
Under the Criminal Code of Nigeria, “Rape is defined, as having unlawful and carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false act, or, in case of a married woman, be personating her husband”.
Harassment of girls by the opposite sex is in all likelihood a global problem. According to data from Justice Systems and Rape Crisis Centre’s in Chile, Malaysia, Papua, New Guinea, Peru, and the United States, about one-third and two-thirds of all victims of sexual assaults are aged 15 years or less.
The Nigerian social media has been flooded with fierce calls for justice, from different corners of the country, following the news of a 22 years old 100 level Microbiology student, of the University of Benin, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa who was raped and gruesomely murdered after the dastardly act inside a church in Benin, Edo State.
Quite a handful of reactions has trailed this sad incident; nevertheless, we shall continue to mount pressure on the appropriate quarters until the culprit is brought to book. We just cannot take it any longer. We are really sick and tired of watching abnormalities become the order of the day in our society. How long shall we fold our hands and watch injustice triumph over our helpless girl-child?
A random case of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa which attracted the attention of the world might have been numbered among the countless unheard and wounded cases if not for her gruesome murder. Cases of rape that are reported cannot be compared to magnitude of such that had been swept under the carpet or allowed to die a natural death in different parts of the world. This few reported cases may be viewed as an iceberg floating in water.
Sexual violation is the greatest injustice anyone could experience, especially in a country whose law on such violations seems to be partially blind to the ills being done to her citizens. Not dishing out deserving punishment to rape culprits will be tantamount to denial of the inalienable rights of the victims.
Spaking of what could be the trigger for such evil acts from the male folks, some have attributed it to indecent and provocative dressing by the females folk which the male counterpart often misconstrue as a subtle and irresistible cue. Other noted triggers according to the male folks are; peer pressure, societal failure, drug abuse, early exposure to X rated movies such as pornography and social media promotion of nudity, as well as joblessness, amongst others.
While responding to Vera Uwaila’s rape case, a Facebook user commented that, ‘Eighty per cent of guys today are rapists; they might not be the serial rapist on the street, but most guys raped their partners on the first date.’ (Emphasis mine)
For those who claimed that indecent and provocative dressing by the female folks is their turn on, please I have some questions for you;
- How about the innocent girl-child you defiled? Was she seductively dressed?
- How about the voiceless baby in nappy? Did she arouse the rape demon in you with her innocent nappy?
- How about the lady in flowing gown you violently raped? Was it her long dress that turned you on?
- How about fathers who sexually abuse and rape their girl-child with impunity? What is the moral justification for this?
- How about the married woman whose husband violates her body against her wish? Oh yes! Don’t be surprised, rape happens even in marriage.
For crying out loud, Vera was raped and killed while studying inside the church, what justification has the rapist and murderer?
Let us face the fact head on; most times when a girl/lady/woman is raped, it has nothing to do with her dressing. Rape does not just happen; it takes a state of the mind. A rapist rapes because he has no self-control. So stop selling me the provocative/seductive dressing bullshits!
Listen up, all the above-listed supposed triggers do not provide a substantial justification for rape. If only the culprits were aware of the overwhelming damages and horrific life-long mental torture their victims would have to grapple with, I am persuaded they would have a re-think.
Sexual violence has a profound impact on physical and mental health of the victims. Rape victims are made to suffer immeasurable anguish, some become diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation from reality, depersonalization. They also sometimes get infected with sexually transmitted infections, have unwanted pregnancies, and it ultimately leads to untimely death.
Studies have consistently proved that gynecological complications are related to ‘forced sex’. These complications includes: vaginal bleeding, fibroids, decreased sexual desire, genital irritation, chronic pelvic pain, and urinary tract infections.
The social approbrium that is attached to rape victims has promoted to a large scale the ‘Silence Culture’, among the victims who are often helpless. It is high time we freed rape victims of rape from our critical hooks; stop the blame game, and encourage them to speak up.
Many victims of rape and sexual assaults do not report these violations to their families or the police because they are ashamed or fear being blamed, not believed, or otherwise disparaged.
Societal reaction that blame rape victims and exonerate the culprits will always create a thriving environment for rapist to walk away with impunity; this ought not to be so.
“We need to listen to survivors when they gather the unspeakable amount of courage it takes to speak up and say “me too”. We need to fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves. Something has to be done to make a change”. – Molly Given.
Charity they say begins at home; the onus is on parents to teach their boy- child to always relate with the female gender with respect and self-control; it should be instilled in them that the fact that a girl/lady/ women walks about naked is not a reason to harass, molest and abuse her.
On the flip-side, parents should teach their girl- child: dignity, self-respect, self-awareness, and decency in all areas, because freedom without caution is tantamount to suicide.
For both genders, the above-mentioned morals and values should be established early by parents for the sake of humanity.
It is high time we came together to fight this menace against our girls/ladies/women. No rapists should be allowed to walk freely in our society without facing the full wrath of the law; as this would curb the crime and signal a warning to intending rapists.
~ Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE
A Post graduate Student, University of Ibadan.
Racism: Let’s Condemn The “Act” And Not The “Skin”
By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
The recent unfortunate death of George Floyd in the hands of some men of the Minneapolis Police which has resulted in raging protests all over the United States and beyond could be said to be the hottest news across the globe today. The scenario of the incident could best be described as barbaric and inhuman. This article will choose not to give a graphic description of that scenario as captured by the clip trending on the social media in order not to further prick the emotions of millions of people whose hearts have been wounded by the cry of “I CAN`T BREATHE”. This incident is so gruesome that it would provoke ferocious anger from the gentlest and meekest person in the world. Expectedly, people have wasted no time in condemning the act; and, many have concluded that it was purely an act of “racism”. In as much as one cannot “blame” anybody for so labeling it as a racist action because of the parties involved (“white policemen” and a “black victim”); I am of the opinion that there is the need for us to tread cautiously so as not to throw the world into unimaginable chaos due to the sensitivity of the subject matter. Racism is a phenomenon that has attracted global condemnations over the years because of its dangerous tendencies to tearing humanity apart. As a result of the foregoing; and, in line with my style; this write-up will analyse the incident from a different and unique perspective with the aim of drawing inferences that will be beneficial to all.
Formostly, there is need to peruse the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident to enable us understand the “intentions” of the perpetrators. Obviously, the policemen (perpetrators) were carrying out their “legitimate duty” to “arrest” the victim; but, they “overstepped their bounds” in their approach (especially the one that used his kneel on the victim) because the victim never conducted himself in a violent manner to evade arrest; harm the policemen; and, or cause insecurity to public lives and properties to warrant such a “hard” and “cruel” tactic. In this situation, there will be no justification(s) whatsoever to support the overbearing action regardless of whether their “intention” was never meant to “cause” the “death” of the victim or not. It is rather unfortunate that his distressed plea of “I can`t breathe” was taken for granted and this led to the irretrievable and regrettable outcome. I am almost certain that if the video of the incident is played to the culprits; they will be remorseful and wish it never happened that way. Be that as it may, it will be most appropriate to see the atrocity from a broader perspective as a “crime against humanity” (and not just narrow it down to “racism” per se) regardless of whether the perpetrators where “whites” or “blacks” or whether the victim was “black” or “white”.
Therefore, the “focus” should be on the “act” and not the “colours of the skin”. So, we will be doing ourselves and the world a lot of good by purging our minds of the dangerous insinuation of seeing it as a deliberate or premeditated act aimed at the extermination of “BLACKS” by “WHITES”. It will also be an “incontrovertible act of racism” on the part of everyone who hinges the fight and calls for justice on the difference in the colours of the skin of the perpetrators and the victim. It means such persons would have pretended as nothing happened if the perpetrators and the victim were interchanged; and or, if the parties were all “whites” or “blacks”
As a result of the foregoing, it is very imperative to appeal to everyone of us to be calm and to try as much as possible to gradually purge our minds of the pains and resentments. I know it’s going to be very difficult because of the irreversibility of the deed; but, we have to do it for the sake of the departed and us. Strong and crucial statements have been made by the “peaceful protests” and the outpouring of condemnations over this crime against humanity; it is now incumbent to wait for the authorities to do the needful. Allowing the protests to escalate into looting and other undesirable conducts is demeaning; and, it depicts a defeatist tendency to the justice we crave. Though getting justice for Floyd and other victims of crimes against humanity is incontrovertible; our demands become “unjustifiable” if our approaches and actions portend insecurity to others. The jettisoning of “social distancing” under the guise of protests at this period of raging coronavirus is extremely dangerous and inimical to the wellbeing of everyone. Several lives have been lost to Covid 19 in the recent past and still counting; and, it will be disastrous to compound the situation. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to let bygones be bygones for the benefit of all.
As it is presently, the damage had been done and grievances have been expressed. This is a very difficult situation in the history of the US in particular; and, the world in general; but, I am of the conviction that the situation is still redeemable. It is time for us to have a rethink and do all things possible to discard any act of antagonism, prejudice, hatred, bigotry, ill feelings, and discrimination directed against our fellow humans. We should always see and treat ourselves as one. The US has always played vital roles in supporting countries across the world in their fights against criminality; and, one can only hope and pray that it will come out of this setback stronger. Thus, I am passionately appealing to our “protesting brothers” to sheath their sword and give peace a chance again. We should not sow seeds of discord in our minds that will pitch us against one another. Let us not be partakers of any act that can tear the world apart on racial lines.
Consequent upon the above, I want to also use this medium to implore the US government not to take any actions that are capable of aggravating the situation. Though, it is understandable that no responsible government will fold its hands and watch people constitutes threats to the lives and properties of the generality of its citizenry; the authorities should try as much as possible not to create any avenue that will degenerate to “bad blood” between the people based on the colours of their skin.
LET US ALL CONDEMN THE “ACT” AND NOT THE “SKIN”.
RAYMOND Oise-Oghaede WRITES FROM SURU-LERE, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA.
He can be reached via email: email@example.com
Backslidden Pastors Patronizing Occult Breast In Port Harcourt
By Obinna Akukwe
There is disturbing news within pastoral circles in Abuja concerning some backslidden colleagues whose recent patronage of a certain Port Harcourt based occult woman is a source of concern. This woman fabled with the ability to make people see visions of people’s names, phone numbers, bank details, colors of ladies underwear and sundry secrets. After reading my recent article ‘New Style Prophets : Visions of Phone Numbers and ladies Underwear’, a pastor who was about to be initiated into the Port Harcourt Cult of Prophets, out of little fear of God, sought a second opinion on the issue. This pastor who has a small church in Abuja believes that the numerical strength of his church is not commensurate with his efforts and is desperate to try other means of succeeding in ministry. Therefore, he intended joining the group loyal to the mystery woman before my meeting with him.
Some pastors have confirmed to me that actually there is a woman in Port Harcourt who gives power to see visions and they mentioned the names of some colleagues that patronized her. This woman whom they claimed is so powerful that she can appear and disappear, will firstly demand some indecent sexual gratification from the prospective pastor as signs of loyalty, including sucking of certain organs. After the sexual affairs, she will make some animal cry and administer some other materials and the eyes of the patrons will open to see the spirit world and discuss with some strange beings. She indoctrinates them that there is nothing like heaven, hell or sin and that God kept lots of treasures in the water kingdom to help humanity in fashion, music, movies, politics, finance, health and pastoral work and only those bound by oath of loyalty and secrecy are eligible to access the treasures of the spirit world. They described pastors who are yet to join as slaves who will soon bow to the children of the illuminated.
Many pastors, both young and old ones are being lured into this Port Harcourt cult and within weeks what appears like miracles, prophesy and prosperity becomes regular feature in their congregation. Some notable pastors in Abuja have shamelessly joined the bandwagon while a others stuck to their other sources of powers. One of the recently initiated pastors mentioned the names of a bishop and a prophet patronized by top government officials within the presidency among those who convinced him to visit the woman. Rather than see the entire operation as demonic, he sees it as business and advised others to connect before the window closes.
Another pastor who renounced membership of the cult earlier in the year had to ran away from his base to Abuja when he received constant death threat from the group. He was advised to subject himself to days of fasting at one of the deliverance churches in town which he promptly did.
The situation has become alarming that the aforementioned pastor who was approached for membership, out of indecision and fear of hell fire, sought my opinion, and subsequently paid a visit to a recent initiate. According to the recently initiated pastor, the consultation and oil fee was initially N100, 000 naira but due to the surging crowd, they have increased the consultation fee to N200, 000 naira. Then there are prices for different types of oil. The most popular is called ”seeing oil” which empowers people to see into other peoples secret. The next most popular oil is called ‘do as I say’ which makes it possible for the congregation to do whatsoever the pastor says without any compulsion including surrendering all live savings. There is also oil called ‘touch and follow’ which they use to hypnotize any beautiful lady who comes their way into sleeping with them. There is oil for falling under anointing called ‘slaying oil’. There is ‘crowd pulling oil’ used to increase membership strength. The payment for the oil is different from the consultation fee.
This oil must be serviced and refreshed by constant homosexual, fornication and adulterous activities especially shortly before preaching. The second condition is that the pastor must emphasize on prosperity and motivational messages above the message of righteousness. The pastors will also return to give back a part of the proceeds as thanksgiving.
I had weeks earlier confronted a pastor of a church who recently patronized the woman and was excited that he now sees into people’s future. This man whose attempt to draw crowd to his church and enter the league of super rich failed repeatedly despite numerous efforts, got tired of the situation and decided to help God. His submission and affinity to some senior colleagues for transference of anointing through seed sowing and impartation equally failed until a bishop introduced him to this powerful woman in Port Harcourt. This once firebrand pastor now indulges in homosexuality and adultery and does not feel any compunction about it.
This issue of pastors getting powers from occultist kingdom was first experienced by me as a young pastor in a church seventeen years ago and we observed strange things which we didn’t understand but rejected because it didn’t look spiritually clean. Years later during a retreat at Scripture Union Camp of Faith Okigwe, I came back to the hostel around 2am after prayers and overhead a very senior pastor of a church in Owerri at one corner behind the hostel sobbing and telling God that ”if you do not give me power now to do the miraculous, I will go to where others go to get theirs…” This pastor, oblivious of my presence, went ahead to mention in his prayers ,the names of pastors colleagues who have gone to get powers from different places and threatened God to either show up or risk losing him to the other side”.
One of them who recently joined this Port Harcourt cult , in response to my disapproval said ”man of God, if hunger have wired you, you wouldn’t be talking like this ” while the other one said that he cannot continue to tolerate the sight of little pastors making waves while he continues to be a spectator.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have not effectively monitored pastoral activities while some pastors have rejected membership of the body; therefore everybody is his own master. This overemphasis on prosperity is killing the churches that now some pastor flock to strange places for spiritual empowerment in order to belong to the class of super rich pastors, accompanied by lots of homosexual bodyguards. The generation that started the Pentecostal revival in Nigeria immediately after the Biafra war, gave birth to pastors like Uma Ukpai, Paul Nwachukwu, Austin Nwodika, Nicholas Ezeh, Williams Kumuyi, Enoch Adeboye, David Oyedepo, Mike Okonkwo and the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa , Prophet Gabriel Oduyemi, among others. The current generation is birthing pastors who flock to bar beach Lagos, Calabar, Kumasi, Ashanti, Tamale and some parts of Cameroun to receive powers.
If these Pentecostal fathers do not hasten to address this evil trend and arrest the influx of strange powers into the church, within the next five years, the Nigerian Church will become a branch of the Marine kingdom and the little fire of the Holy Spirit still remaining will be extinguished. The history of strange powers infiltrating the church started from Simon the Magnus (Acts 8 vs 9-24) who repented at the preaching of Philip but later according to church history as illustrated by Iraneaus and Justin Martyr became the author of strange signs in the church. However, the early church rose against it and temporarily checkmated it.
It is worthy to note that majority of pastors in Abuja who have been approached for membership rejected it outright and it is only few misled ones that appear excited about this Port Harcourt Occult woman. God still performs miracles in churches and pastors in need of such grace should wait upon The Lord in prayers instead of seeking the assistance of unclean spirits. Genuine pastors should shut down spiritually all these manifestations of strange powers before the anger of God falls on both the guilty and the innocent with disastrous consequences.
Obinna Akukwe , columnist via firstname.lastname@example.org, @obinnaakukwe
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