Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Jungle Justice: Before We Become Victims

Jungle Justice can be seen as the extra-judicial punishment meted out on purported criminals. Such punishments are usually mob-induced and weightier than those which a legally constituted court would mete out when a suspect is found guilty after trials. Jungle justice usually results to death in the most gruesome ways. Jungle Justice shows, blatantly, how uncivilized a society is and, unfortunately, predominantly exists in black communities i.e. Africa and Afro-Caribbean.

In Nigeria, over the years, many have been killed and others molested/seriously injured over 'trivial' crime cases. Such cases include:
  •  In Owerri, sometime in 1996, a man who made a living out of stealing light bulbs from people's houses was caught and burnt.
  • In Owerri, sometime in 2004...a famished man stole slices of yam which were being prepared by a commercial cook (Mama Put). He was caught and the cook, who happens to be the wife of a Police officer, provided the fuel which her sons and other wicked elements used to burn the hapless man after severely beating him...even as he pleaded for his life.
  • In owerri, a man was caught as he tried to get away after snatching a lady's handbag opposite a bank. Despite the pleas of the bank manager and a police officer that the culprit be charged and punished according to the dictates of the law; the irate mob insisted that he be released to them and even threatened burning down the bank. Needless to say, the man was handed over to the mob...and he was burnt.
  • In 2011, a young man who was accused of having stolen some jewellery got beaten to a pulp and burnt in Lagos.
  • There have been repeated cases where ladies suspected to have stolen some petit items got stripped of all their clothing, molested and disgraced publicly.
  • Recently in Port Harcourt, 4 young men from the University of Port Harcourt were accused of stealing handsets and laptop computers; they were beaten and burnt.
    This is to mention but a few and there would be more in the near future.
Why Is This The Case?

Jungle justice can be attributed to certain factors which include:
  •  Failure in a society's security and judicial systems which urges people to take laws into their hands.
  • The frustration of the population by the government which makes people vent their piled up anger on hapless victims at the slightest provocation.
The Consequences Of Jungle Justice

These are so enormous that they should not be neglected. They include:
  •  The high chance of punishing the innocent: As is popularly said, 'it is better that a criminal escapes punishment than that an innocent man gets punished' and 'every man is innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court of law'. Jungle Justice makes very high, the chances that an individual gets punished for something he/she did not do. This is due to the fact that there is no trial and verification process...punishment is meted out instantly and this usually amounts to death.
  • Very extreme punishments for even trivial offences: the punishment usually outweighs the crime in the jungle justice system. People get killed for offences which would legally attract warnings or even fines. As earlier mentioned, people have been burnt because they stole electric bulbs and edibles from a pot on the fire. It is sheer wickedness to beat and burn a man for pilferage. Why on earth would a man beat and burn another unarmed man, who posed no threat of bodily harm, only on the grounds that he had committed something much less than a felony?
  • Desensitisation to brutality and inhumanity: as suspects are molested and killed publicly; the population - especially the kids and youth - are exposed to man's brutality towards fellow man. Jungle Justice is barbaric! It is even a sorry sight to see a man being bestial towards animals not to talk of his fellow man. Even if a man is found guilty and condemned to die, he shouldn't be subjected to periods of public beating and torture. It is counter-productive and only serves the purpose of desensitising spectators and spreading the virus of wickedness and inhumanity to fellow men. They watch with interest as it unfolds without flinching. Some even get spurred enough to add to the beating and probably feel like heroes...
  • With kids watching people get brutalised and burnt, they get infected with insensitivity towards fellow human beings and like a virus, this retrogressive culture is passed from one generation to the other and extreme affinity for violence is established.

    The whole thing bothers me Oracle! That someone who was not affected in any way by the said offence committed by a suspect could watch as the man get's beaten...and as he pleads for mercy and for his life...instead of feeling pity, this person picks up a stick and hits him continuously. A normal man would at first, out of, curiosity want to see what is going on. When he sees the extent of brutality going on and hears the cries and pleas of the brutalised, a normal man would feel pity, irritated or at worst indifferent; he then would either walk away or try to stop the inhumanity against his kind. But Nigerians would go straight-on from being curious to being brutal to someone whose offence never concerned them and whose cries for mercy is deafening!!! I wonder if after killing these chaps they simply went back to their homes, ate, drank and slept as if nothing happened...as if all they killed were pythons!! O God! Where are you?!

    Chief Priest...make sure those tears don't drop in this shrine...hold yourself!!

    I'm sorry, Great Oracle...Speak on...
On the flip side, I am aware that people may argue that jungle justice serves as a better deterrent to criminals than the legal system which is viewed as partial, slow and soft. I am also aware and can say that at times, victims of jungle justice totally deserved it...especially in cases where the criminals have taken life/lives. I cannot fault the recent killing, by students, of a gunman who attacked a tertiary institution, shot and killed innocent students. In the same vein, I wouldn't feel sorry for a Boko Haramist who gets maimed and killed by an irate mob while on a mission to kill innocent members of the public.

But, Jungle justice, being as lawless as it is, cannot be categorised so as to say ...'this is the right type of jungle justice' and 'this is the wrong type'. It is lawless and cannot be made to follow any order. We cannot say ‘this is the legal jungle justice’ and ‘this is the illegal’. So it is either we totally condemn it or totally embrace it.

My Advice
  • As long as the security and judicial systems are slow and inefficient; people would tend to take laws into their hands. These systems should step up their game and win the trust of the people. They should let the citizenry know that their security is assured and even where there are breaches, the involved culprits would be caught and punished accordingly.
  • Through public lectures and seminars, there should be sensitization of the people regarding the consequences of jungle justice and the need to rely on and follow the dictates of the law.
  • As we strive to become a civilised society, Jungle justice which reeks of barbarism should be condemned in its entirety and outlawed. Perpetrators of such acts should be seen as criminals and as murderers where life/lives are taken. They should be punished accordingly too.
  • Vigilantes are loosely operated and managed and this makes them vulnerable to getting transformed into instruments of intimidation by unscrupulous elements; therefore they should not be a law on to themselves...they should be put on some leash and closely monitored by the law. They should be made to assist the Police Force and other law enforcement agencies and not to serve as wanton executioners, without trial, of people suspected to be criminals.
Now pleading on the conscience of Nigerians and using the Allu 4 as an instance. It has not been established that these boys actually 'stole' laptops and handsets...the only glaring fact is that they were unarmed and never posed any threat to anyone.

Now imagine when they were caught...they begged and tried to explain themselves out of the situation yet they were beaten and stripped of all their clothes. They were paraded on the streets stark naked and they kept begging and voicing their innocence, yet no one listened. They were beaten with metals, sticks and stones; they cried and begged for their lives...they became too tired that they could only watch their tormentors put tires around their neck and douse them with fuel...so tired were they that they could no longer lift a limb to protest. They had lost their voices from a long period of crying and pleading...but their minds and eyes still pleaded that their lives be spared. At this point, the average human being should have felt pity....but no! They were still beaten with sticks and their skulls opened. Then came the matchstick which set them ablaze...

So I ask...do you still not feel sorry for these kids? Do you not see that they were murdered? Forget the christening of 'Jungle Justice'...it was murder!

If you were there what would you have done? Walked away, joined the madness or tried to save these hapless lives? 
Where was the Police while this was going on? Busy following the rich and affluent of society into their toilets and bathrooms?
Were they alerted but chose to brush off the incidence because these were just 4 kids out of hundreds of Nigerians who lose their lives in the most gruesome ways every week? 
Or is it that no one made a single effort to save the lives of these kids? So many questions!

On a final note Nigerians...even though you are angry with the Allu community, do not forget that it wasn't everyone in Allu that murdered Ugonna, Tekenna, Lloyd and Aladdin; do not forget that if you call for a reprisal attack on the community, innocent kids, women and men would be affected and you wouldn't then be any different from the beasts who killed those chaps. 

I call on the security forces to moves swiftly and arrest those involved so that angry Nigerians would not be forced to take laws into their hands and bring about a devastating cycle of jungle justice.

 'Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone'...'do not judge lest ye be judged'...stop the bestiality towards your fellow man! SAY NO TO JUNGLE JUSTICE, YOU MAY BE A VICTIM TOMORROW!!

The Oracle Has Spoken!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Nigeria At 52: The Oracle Does A Poem

My Love is accused of being barren and ugly...
They say she is beastly, dirty and raggedly. 
Please don't blame her... blame them that have treated her so badly...

They promise heaven on earth but all they give her are so deadly.

She brings forth milk and honey but is repaid with greed, wickedness and deceit placed highly.
Yes! My Love is well endowed and full of potentials but she looks quite ravaged...sadly.
In the midst of plenty, she lives so poorly.
If only my Love could take control of her destiny, I bet she would look so godly.
But alas, my Love wholly depends on crafty, selfish men and does she complain? Hardly!

Everyday, my Love weeps and she starts so early.

I look all over her body...oh! She is so sorely.
It breaks my heart to see my Love in such agony 
But what can I do? Something so barely.

Who is my Love? Who is she that I am in love with so madly?

She is Nigeria! She is 52 today and yeah, she would grow daily.
Can't wait for the day when she would be all smiles and amongst peers stand boldly.
...For that day when everyone would adore and treat her ever so gently.
But for now, I would daily patch her sore wounds because I love her so dearly.
And I pray you do so too because she needs you so badly...

Happy 52nd Independence Day Anniversary NIGERIA!!

The Oracle Has Spoken!!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Oracle On CBN's Project CURE: The Proposed New Coins And N5000 Notes

Recently, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced his plan for a Currency Restructuring exercise coined Project Cure which would bring about the introduction of N5000 notes and the minting of N5, N10 and N20 denominations as coins.

This, as expected, caused a public outcry with the common Nigerian claiming that such a move will bring about a devaluation of the Naira and cause inflation. It also made Nigerians wonder at the seriousness of CBN to bring about a cashless Nigeria if they, in the same breath, are talking of introducing a higher currency denomination which would result to higher amount of money being made portable as cash.

Sanusi and his team on the other hand claimed that higher currency denominations do not cause inflation but would aid huge business transactions. They further claimed that the N5000 notes would be mainly available for inter-bank transactions.

Having looked at the arguments of the two parties; as the Chief Priest of this Shrine; I have sought the opinion and wisdom of the Great Oracle on the issue. This is the Oracle’s message after a critical analysis of the matter at hand:

Would the Introduction of N5000 Notes Cause Inflation?

Inflation is simply a steady increase in the general level of prices of goods and services. As inflation rises, every Naira you own is expected to buy you a smaller percentage of a good or service than usual. Even though there are no universally agreed upon causes of inflation, 2 causes are widely accepted and they are:

  • Demand-pull inflation: This occurs when too much money chases too few goods. When demand for goods is pretty much higher than the supply/availability of those goods, prices would increase. Demand for goods gets higher if the consumers have access to more funds/money which may be possible because of increased income or access to readily spendable money.

    For example, Chief Priest, at present I pay you
    N154.50k a month for being my mouth piece and I am aware that with that amount of money you buy up to 10 shots of ogogoro a month from Mazi Ibu. If I should increase your salary to N195 a month, you would tend to buy more. Once Mazi Ibu notices this, he could decide to increase the price of a shot of Ogogoro especially if he has limited supply which you tend to drink up single-handedly.

    Great Oracle...why have you decided to expose me like this now? But seriously I wouldn't mind that salary increase!

  • Cost-pull inflation: Here prices of goods and services go up because the cost of production apparently went up. While concerned companies feel the brunt of increased cost of production, the consumers feel the brunt of increased prices. 
    For instance, as the Oracle of this Shrine, if I decide to increase the Chief Priest's salary to
    N195 a month from N154.50k, the divination service which was hitherto rendered for free could now cost you, my Kinsmen and Shriners, a few Naira...and I know you would not like it.

    Kai! Great Oracle! Nice excuse not to allow me drink more ogogo...sorry...not to increase my salary :(


It is also important to add that inflation is not overly a negative phenomenon as it is also a sign that an economy is growing; lack of it might be a sign that a country's economy is weakening. Most developed economies actually work towards sustaining an inflation rate of 2-3 % but this is usually backed up with increase in wages after given periods.

What Does Minting/Printing of Money Have to Do With Inflation?

Countries have the right to print as much money as they want or even share these monies to the citizenry. When so much money is in circulation (increased money supply) and citizens have access to easy/more money, there is bound to be an 'I-am-wealthy' feeling which would trigger high demands of goods and services and bring about the Demand-pull inflation.
Zimbabwe for instance adopted the option of printing and increasing money supply in the economy in order to solve their money related issues; but see them today...they have been so hit by inflation that 100 billion Zimbabwean dollar (Z$) can only purchase about 3 eggs.

Is Nigeria Heading the way of Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe's situation is totally different from Nigeria's and at the moment Nigeria is not heading down that path. To ensure that this is properly understood, let me explain one very important term: money supply.

Money supply refers to all the physical currencies and liquid instruments in a country's economy at any given time; and these may include bank notes, coins and current or savings accounts balances. It refers to the total amount of money which is readily accessible to the citizenry. Central/Apex Banks can decide to adopt one or more available options in order to deliberately increase or reduce money supply in an economy. These available options make up what is called the Monetary Policy. The Monetary Policy can allow a country's Central Bank to increase money supply by:

  •  Printing more paper currency and using same to pay people in return for bonds or to pay debts owed by government. These debts are especially local as opposed to international.
  • Increasing the lending of money by banks. Banks can be instructed to keep smaller amounts of bank deposits as cash and lend the rest out to people thereby increasing access to money.
  • Buying government securities i.e. paying people in return for bonds.
    The government itself can increase or reduce the money supply in the economy through policies that affect tax rates, interest rates and government spending in the bid to control the economy. These policies are generally called to fiscal policies. Therefore, if the government of a country wishes to increase the money supply in an economy for whatever reason; tax cuts and increased government spending are expected and the population would have more money to spend than before.
Kai! The great Oracle has become an economist ooooo!!

Chief Priest! Respect yourself...I am still speaking!!

What happened in Zimbabwe was that in 2001 or thereabout, due to a failing economy; local and international debts; salary increase of government officials and the lack of funds to complete local projects...the government felt the need to adopt the policy of hyperactive money printing with which it hoped to settle some of its debts. A glowing instance was when the government 'purchased' farmlands from certain citizens but didn't have the funds to pay; money was therefore printed in order to pay off owners of these farms. This saw to an increase in money supply and circulation and resulted to severe or hyperinflation.

With the hyperinflation, goods and services became very expensive and consumers needed stashes of money to pay for even the smallest of items. For example, let’s assume Zimbabwe had Z$500 as its highest denomination and due to inflation, an egg costs Z$10,000. This means a customer would need 20 Z$500 notes to buy an egg and 40 to buy 2. If he decides to pay in even lesser denominations, that means he would have to use more notes.

Yes Oracle! I heard they carry money in wheelbarrows just to buy a couple of oranges!

To help ease the inconveniences caused by carrying around stashes of money, the government decided to introduce higher denominations. Going back to our example, let’s assume that the Zimbabwean government decides to introduce Z$10,000 notes; this would mean that a customer needs a single note to buy an egg and 2 to buy 2 eggs unless he wants to pay in lower denominations. 

In other words, the inflation still remains; not because of increased denominations but because of so many other factors not limited to the excessive money supply in the country. The increased denomination therefore serves as a way of making the country's currencies portable.

Now in Nigeria, the government has allowed the periodic introduction of higher denominations but unlike in Zimbabwe, money supply in the economy has not seriously increased and so has not inflation.  It has never been the motive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (through monetary policies) nor the government (through fiscal policies) to increase supply of money in the economy. What CBN had done in the past and is proposing to do with the introduction of the N5000 note is to increase our currency's denomination for more portability in large business transactions according to them…

…And for easier laundering of the Naira by crafty politicians according to Nigerians.

Chief Priest!!!

I'm sorry great one…

I understand the fear of Nigerians who feel that adding the planned N5000 notes to the present denominations still in circulation would bring about so much money in the economy chasing after few goods and services and therefore cause inflation; but let me ask:
Once these monies are introduced, do you expect to pick them by the road side or pluck them from trees?

Do you think they would magically get into your pocket for you to spend?

The answer is 'No!'...these notes would be circulated through proper channels and would have no effects on the total value of money readily available for spending by the populace. After all, if before the introduction of the N5000 notes you earn N100000 a month as salary; this salary will remain unchanged even after it has been introduced unless there is a downward or upward review of your wages.

In other words, even though the new notes might increase the volume of printed/minted currency in circulation and their total value; it would not automatically increase access to money by the population which is what causes inflation.

So the difference between Nigeria and Zimbabwe is glaring...while Zimbabwe printed so much money to pay off debts which ended up increasing access to money by the population and causing inflation; Nigeria has not done that. Again; while Zimbabwe has introduced higher denominations to ease the inconvenience of carrying so much ‘worthless’ money as a result of hyperinflation; Nigeria has introduced and are planning to introduce higher denominations for more portability in large business deals, reduced cost of printing money and aesthetics.

The Actual Effects of Introducing N5000 Notes

Having proven that there would be no demand- pull inflation to be caused by the introduction of the N5000 notes as most Nigerians think, it is pertinent however to point out that the introduction of these notes may bring about a reduced 'respect' for the lower denomination in the economy. This has become the culture of the Nigerian population and one of the very significant reactions towards the introduction of higher denominations. 

The implication of this said culture is that prices of goods and service may rise in order to tap into the new big denomination and avoid the smaller ones.

Again, Nigerians have a way of respecting quantity as against quality. Here, 20 N100 notes are not the same as 2 N1000 notes...this is even more evident when it comes to money spraying during parties and ceremonies. 

If N5000 becomes a single note, within the subconscious of the average Nigerian, N5000 has lost the value it had as 5 pieces of N1000 notes. This could cause a hike in prices of goods and services no matter how minute. As this sort of inflation is peculiar to Nigeria with the introduction of higher denominations; it could be termed the ‘Nigerian-type inflation’.

My Verdict on the Proposed CBN's Project CURE

I am aware that Nigerians fear that the introduction of N20, N10 and N5 coins would cause a hike in price of those little commodities like candies, bubblegum, biscuits, sachet water, etc as sellers would try to avoid accepting those coins.

However, the truth is that historically (like 40 years ago), Nigerian coins were readily used even though they were all Kobo (½ kobo, 1 kobo, 2 kobo, 5 kobo, 10 kobo, 25 kobo and 50 kobo) which could buy a lot at the time. Due to inflation, over the years Kobos became without value and the need for them became non-existent; this brought about the poor attitude of Nigerians towards coins. As years went by and values of goods and services changed; there was no equally significant change in value of the Nigerian coins as they could purchase almost nothing in the open market.

In 2007, Nigeria’s latest attempt at minting coins saw the introduction of N2 as the highest denomination in coin and a redesign of the previously existing N1 and 50 Kobo coins. None of these, at that time, could purchase even sachet water (pure water) which sold at N5 a sachet.In other words, the population had no reason whatsoever to welcome the then new coins. 

Contrary to popular belief that the introduction of coins would bring about soaring prices of petite goods; the truth is that soaring prices/inflation brought about the poor attitude towards coins.

I am of the opinion that if coins which bear values that could purchase goods in the today’s open market are introduced, Nigerians would use them.

Great one! Nigerians would definitely use N1000 coins if they should be introduced today…

Exactly! I therefore support the plans for the introduction of N20¸ N10 and N5 coins which can purchase a number of things in today’s market. The reason for this support is because coins, unlike notes, are more durable and can last for a very long period of time. That is why they are usually made to bear the lowest denominations which are used now and again, which pass hands very often and which are susceptible to easy wear and tear. 

Using coins would at the long run save costs hitherto spent on frequent disposal of worn Naira notes and reprinting of new ones. So a change of culture with respect to use of coins would make much economic sense.

With respect to the printing of N5000 naira notes; even though it would not cause an increase in money supply which would lead to inflation as Nigerians fear; I am against it as it would bring about diminished 'respect' for lower denominations which may in turn cause some sort of hike in price of common everyday goods and services. Furthermore, I strongly believe that leaving Naira's highest denomination at N1000 is advisable especially as CBN claims it wants to turn Nigeria into a cashless economy. 

No matter how Sanusi Lamido Sanusi wants to argue it; the introduction of the N5000 notes would be counter-productive to the Cashless Nigeria Project and would bring about no significant change in the economy…it would amount to a worthless effort which can only serve the selfish purpose of remembering Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as ‘the men who introduced the N5000 note’.

The Oracle Has Spoken!!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Oracle Vs Nigeria's Clergy

Chief Priest! I am vexed at the stupidity of my people! Their stupendous ignorance is irking me!! You have to work harder to get them informed...Due to their ignorance, unscrupulous elements have decided to take advantage of my people. You find such men in government, in the civil and public service, in schools and most unfortunately, in church-which is the area that pains me the most.

Now, due to the average Nigerian’s belief (as predominantly Muslims, Christians and idol worshippers) in a supernatural being who knows, sees and has answers to everything; crafty men and women have emerged, who pose as mediators to this Supernatural being. They pose as men and women who can get the supernatural being to solve any given problem which cuts across finance; health; careers; academics; politics…name it! They even get this supernatural being to prevent unfavorable circumstances from befalling their faithful. With the average Nigerian undergoing series of hardship from all corners and the affluent needing prayers to prevent them from becoming average…everybody seems to run to these men and women for help which usually comes at a fee.

This has been the issue from the days of old, when your fore-fathers used to beckon on Amadioha, Ala-ogbaga, Ikenga etc through their Chief Priests. With the strong belief that the supernatural governs the natural; anyone who claims to connect to both sides is revered dearly, therefore giving the person so much power and authority that even kings bow before him. At one point, back in the days, Chief Priests were known to fabricate  problems and issues, claim to have the solutions and then demand that their ‘customer’ bring impossible-to-find materials for cleaning or sacrifice…if such cannot be obtained, the customer would pay in ‘kind’  or cash. The Chief Priests are known to request for things like the legs of a yam tuber; 2 ants that got wedded the previous day, the urine of a pregnant he-goat, etc. All these are needed to stop a customer’s dead child from eating up his farm produce. Fast forward to this day! Churches, especially the Pentecostal ones, are the Shrines of today; the Clergy are the Chief Priests and the congregation is the unsuspecting customers who are constantly fleeced of their money.

With problems existing everywhere, Nigerians turn to God for solutions and protection therefore making the country a fertile ground for ‘church-related businesses’.  These poverty-stricken and ignorant Nigerians might have prayed on their own without seeing signs of things changing for the better. They may previously have belonged to a denomination where the clergy do not speak in tongues to drive away evil spirits and people nor talk about ‘open-doors’ and ‘open windows’ from which God’s blessings flow in, hence the ever increasing number of people turning to Pentecostal churches.

These, so called men of God need people to be afraid of the unknown and wary of some calamity waiting for them by the corner; they need people to be poor and ever hopeful for better days through their intervention; they need people to be suspicious of their neighbours, friends, colleagues and relatives…if these do not happen; the men of God would go hungry.

They make themselves evangelists, pastors, prophets and bishops. They preach prosperity and material wealth more than anything else; they make money from the congregation and diversify into several other businesses. For instance, Oyakhilome is known to have his investments spanning across the hotel industry; music industry, real estates, entertainment and publishing. Bishop Oyedepo- Nigeria’s richest clergyman- has investments in education, real estate, publishing, manufacturing, aviation, etc. Forbes sees him as being worth about 23 billion Naira…a man who cruises around in private jets and have owned four over the years.

The Many sins of Nigeria's Clergymen and Women:

Oyedepo built his Covenant University with special donations from members of his congregation who were basically the poor of society. This set of people also worked day-in and day-out as labourers during the construction of the university. Oyedepo had hitherto told them that God instructed him, in a vision, to bring salvation to mankind via education. This ‘vision’ and ‘instruction’ from God undoubtedly gave hope to the poor members of Oyedepo’s congregation who thought that Oyedepo’s God was a lover of the poor and that He must have had them in mind while giving that ‘instruction’.  This must have prompted them to invest their time, energy and money in the construction of the institution, but alas, after the institution was completed came the shock! Not only were they expected to pay to attend Covenant University, the cost was and is still so exorbitant that only the elites of society can afford it. Oh! The partial and elitist God of Oyedepo!!

Oyedepo preaches riches and prosperity to his congregation! He repeatedly claims that God instructed him in a vision saying ‘Go make my people rich!’ but one does not need to be an Albert Einstein to  see that the only person getting richer and richer is the Pastor himself. I have this to say to you, dear Oyedepo: ‘woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess’ (Matthew 23:27).

Some years ago, Helen Ukpabio’s ministry and films sparked off a massive killing of children who were seen as and accused of being witches and wizards by their ignorant parents and family members. In this present age, Helen Ukpabio and her ilk fuel unnecessary superstitious beliefs many of which are against children. She boasts of having an infallible formula for detecting child witches/wizards; she further suggests that children who constantly cry and are in feverish conditions are most likely to be witches/wizards. One would have thought that a kid who has fever and cries constantly would be ill…but Helen Ukpabio feels differently and as usual, the gullible members of her congregation fell for it. Most of these kids were put through hell in the bid of ‘driving away the evil spirit in them’ and a number of them died from it. Others were driven from their homes and disowned by their parents with various degrees of injuries, most being permanent.

Pastors like Helen Ukpabio have set family members and friends against each other; every little misfortune must have been caused by someone. I know of a Professor who was used to having rats invade his ceilings, but after he joined a Pentecostal church, every little sound made by a rat on his ceiling is followed by a bout of aggressive prayers…binding, casting and returning to sender! It even got to a point where he makes sure that he kills any unfortunate housefly which invades his bedroom with a special broom from his church. What a shame!! Superstition is not part of Christianity but of idolatry!!

Oh my!! Great Oracle! It is would be a horrible sight when an educated grown man runs after houseflies with a broom like a retard…Kai!

Shut up Chief Priest, I am still talking!

I am so sorry, Great Oracle.

We have seen Pastors render controversial sermons which appear to support issues which go contrary to the will of God. For instance, Oyakhilome of Believer’s Love world recently preached that masturbation is not sin. He said ‘…it is your own body, masturbation is about you and your body and God is not offended by it (He does not care what you do with your body). He is only offended by any habit that takes a hold of your mind and dominates you…’ Even as an Oracle, I know that it is written somewhere in the bible that ‘your body is the temple of the holy spirit who lives in you’…so if your body is God’s temple, how could He not be concerned about it as Oyakhilome suggests?  Leviticus 19: 28 actually says ‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh (body) for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord’…does this portion of the bible not tell you that God  pays attention to what you do to your body as well as your soul?  That masturbation was not explicitly mentioned and criticized in the bible does not make it less a sin. To you Pastor Oyakhilome , remember that ‘…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea’ (Matthew 18:6).

It is common to see Clergymen parading themselves as demi-gods; implicitly and explicitly bragging about their eloquence and ‘power’. We have seen Oyedepo slapping a little girl who was presented for deliverance as a witch and who, probably out of ignorance, opined that she was a ‘witch for Jesus’…he went on to proudly ask the girl ‘do you know who you are talking to?’ amidst applause from the gullible congregation. Subsequent to that ‘slapping event’, Oyedepo went on to boast in a different gathering that the child-witch went back to her witches’ coven and reported that he Oyedepo was ‘too powerful’ for her to handle. In both events, it was more about the Pastor than the God who he should represent.

Oracle! I have been to Winners Chapel located off Port Harcourt Road in Owerri . As I entered the supposedly house of God, the first thing that got my attention was a mighty portrait of the CEO…oooops! Sorry! GO (Bishop Oyedepo) and his wife; this portrait was conspicuously positioned at the Parish entrance. I unconsciously looked around; hoping to see a bigger portrait of the real owner of the Parish (Jesus Christ)…but to my disappointment, there was none. I then thought within myself…’who is revered here? Oyedepo or Jesus Christ?’

Shhhh! Chief Priest…I am still speaking.

Apologies! Great Oracle! Speak on…

It does not take a great deal to equally notice the likes of Chris Okotie mesmerizing his congregation with his eloquence and use of vocabularies thereby placing emphasis on his speech rather than on the essence and importance of the message contained therein. He often gets applauded for his 'ability' by a congregation who understand little or nothing of what he says. Okotie has become an orator; an actor and his congregation has turned into spectators. As a Preacher, Okotie must be aware of Apostle Paul’s warning against preachers distracting the members of their congregation with their presence, eloquence and superior wisdom. We have seen the effect of Pastors not heeding to Apostle Paul’s advice…a look at the Believer’s Love World Ministry would show a trend where men, both clergy and lay, perm their hair like Oyakhilome…

Ha! Oracle! I must confess that it is kind of irritating, especially when 2 or more grown men (pastors) appear on TV with their hair all permed up…

Chief Priest! Shhhhhh!!

I am sorry, Great One!

Again! We have heard of silly prophesies by certain Prophets. TB Joshua for instance has been known for predicting scores of football matches. He predicts both what happens when the National Teams are on duty and what also happens in international leagues, especially the Barclay’s Premier League. I am not going to start probing the validity of his prophesies and whether they came to pass or not but I do have a question to ask: For what purpose were such prophesies? Has God turned into a football fanatic and enthusiast?
On the 5th of April, Mali’s President – Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika –suffered cardiac arrest and died. His death, according to the media, had been earlier prophesied by TB Joshua. TB Joshua was said to have announced the prophesy 2 months ago and reiterated it 2 days before it happened. He predicted that an old African leader was going to suddenly die; he never gave a name, neither did he say what country the President was from although he excluded West Africa from the picture. The prophesy even brought about serious prayer sessions by Zimbabweans who asked God to take the life of their sit-tight and aged President- Robert Mugabe…but alas, it was Mutharika that died.

The prophesy and happening brought about a resurface of arguments concerning the powers of TB Joshua. While some argue that his prophesies are not always correct; some say they are, and others say that even when correct, they weren’t from God as he uses diabolical powers; others even suggest that he is a prophet of doom…I would not delve into these arguments, rather I would ask the same question: of what purpose was that prophesy?  In the bible, God used prophesies as signs of hope and as warning systems…where do we class TB Joshua's latest prophesy? If Mutharika had been warned that his death was at hand and that he should seek repentance, maybe it would have been a different case; but TB Joshua chose to be silent about who the object of his prophesy was –it never gave hope, it never warned anyone- such a useless prophesy. He only takes the glory and applause that his predication came to pass exactly as he said it would.

I also do know that in Mathew 10: 7-8, Jesus said ‘…and as ye go, preach saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils, freely ye have received and freely give…’  So I do wonder why a certain Catholic Priest by the name of Rev. Fr Ejike Okonkwo demands for money from people to cast away ‘ancestral sprits hindering their progress in life’. This is not peculiar to Ejike Okonkwo, but has become the norm with so-called priests and pastors who claim to see visions and perform miracles and speak in tongues.

Kai! Great Oracle! That ‘Speaking in tongues’ issue seriously confuses me! In the bible, the disciples got filled with the Holy Spirit which caused them to speak in tongues and preach to people of different languages in a single language which they all understood…but now, the reverse is the case. I understand the ‘men of God’ until they start ‘sherimamaing’ and ‘sheripapaing’ all in the name of speaking in tongues. Also based on the Bible’s account; I believe speaking in tongues happens unconsciously…I wonder why Rev. Dr. Chris E. Kwakpovwe (the author of Our Daily Manna) keeps telling his readers : ‘Begin to pray/speak in tongues now…’ ; na by force?

For the last time! Chief Priest! Shut your mouth!

Forgive me Great Oracle…My busy-body don too much...

Since these super-power clergymen and women have built their churches around no one else but themselves; have you ever imagined what would happen when they die? Yes they would surely die because they are human beings, and when they die, the congregation shall scatter. In churches where men like TB Joshua and Chris Okotie preside (the one-Pastor, one –parish churches), when they go who takes over? The end of an era! In churches like Believers Love World and Winners’ Chapel which have hundreds of parishes/branches and multiple pastors heading each branch; when Oyakhilome and Oyedepo go back to their Maker, a power tussle must surely ensue unless they have already instituted persons that would take over from them. Some of their branches might even take up new names and ‘stolen’ by Pastors who wish to be independent…the end of an era! Unlike Jesus, these men cannot send the Holy Spirit to come comfort, unite and empower their followers…it would be the total end of an era.

The excesses of the so called 'men and women of God' are not limited to the Christian fold; in fact, it takes a rather gory nature in the Islamic world. Imams have been known to brainwash their congregation into hating people from other religious groups to the point of harming and killing them. Muslims have been mislead with the promise of 7 virgins for anyone who dies while involved in the holy war-jihad-which is mainly focused on infidels (non-Muslims). When these randy men die, especially through suicide-bombing, they usually leave behind, their wives and children who then become the Imams' responsibility, sex items or further weapons of destruction. One wonders why these men have not asked the Imams why they do not want to die and benefit from the gift of 7 virgins...Pathetic!

The Advice:

My kinsmen, having cited these obvious points, I do not expect the mentioned elements and their type to change…but if they do, it is a plus. Of more importance to me is that you emancipate yourselves from whatever bond and slavery these elements have subjected you to.  The legendry Bob Marley once said: ‘emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…’ Religion, especially Christianity, should be about freedom because Christ’s death has set you free from every sort of bondage as long as you believe; why then should you allow mere mortals to make you slaves? Free yourselves, free your minds! Read the bible, if you believe, God would make you understand; after all, these men and women who you revere so much only read the bible and they have just a head each like yourselves.

Again! Mind how you give to the Church and to these unscrupulous elements. I am not dissuading you from making offerings in church; after all, even God says that He likes a cheerful giver and that He also blesses anyone who helps in the upkeep of His Church and Priests. Nonetheless, mind how you ‘sow seeds’ in the lives of these extremely rich men. Answer me, of what essence is giving up your entire monthly salary of about N20,000 to an Oyedepo who is worth billions in the name of sowing seeds when there are beggars out there who would deeply appreciate a fraction of that N20,000? Yes! It is in the bible to sow seeds but back then, the prophets had no fat bank accounts, vast business empires, fleets of cars or private jets. Donate to Churches my people, but pay more attention to those less-privileged people around you whom your wealthy Pastors and Priests have chosen to ignore and, surely, God would reward you abundantly.

The Oracle has spoken!!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Knowledgeable Nigerian Students: A Dying Breed

I was in a dream, in the midst of unknown faces who were obviously polished men and women; professionals from different fields; intellectuals; very important personalities...I can go on and on! They all appeared to be about the same age or older than my parents but I was not intimidated. We were in a cocktail party and I felt we were of the same ilk. We talked about politics, the economy, our professions and family. It was at this point that every guest started introducing his/her child or children to the small crowd. I noticed that most of that the children to the main guest were about my age; but I was shocked when it dawned on me that they were far less polished than their parents.

 I tried engaging them in discussions bothering on their areas of endeavor but was somewhat disappointed. Their answers to my question didn't flow naturally as those of their parents; in fact, they appeared memorized. It was so obvious that this set of people lacked knowledge of their fields…and I wondered what was wrong.  Suddenly, my name was announced on the microphone, and I was told to introduce my children. My face beamed up with smiles; I was sure my kids would outshine the rest. I started by calling their names one after the other followed by a litany of degrees and certifications which they had, I was really proud. Then questions which I considered relatively simple started flying from all angles, and my kids could not utter a word of answer...they just stood there like morons...my heart was racing, I was sweating like a woman in labor...then came the laughter; I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me; all eyes were on me and my kids; fingers were pointing at us...and someone in the crowd said 'hopeless generation'...in a jolt, I woke up, still sweating.  Almost immediately came the Oracle's voice and I knew it was a divination; below is the message.

Do not be troubled, I only wanted to show you the gaping void; the big difference between intellectuals from before and within your father's generation; your generation and the generation after yours. The polished men and women who wowed you with their brilliance and intelligence were generations before yours; their children represented your generation and your children represented the generation to come, and you -Chief Priest- were a spectator.

As It Was:

It is no news that once upon a time (1960s-1980s), Nigeria’s education system was one of the best in Africa, if not the world. It produced great intellectuals who did Nigeria proud both within and outside the shores of the country. The system produced people who were readily absorbed in the labor market. Nigeria's education system HAD export value, and so were the products. Nigeria could have generated huge revenue by providing world class academic services to the whole of Africa and beyond, but this was not to be as, like the ever depreciating value of Naira, the country's hitherto strong educational system collapsed.

As It Is:

Nowadays, a system that used to produce more professionals than mediocre now churn out mediocre in thousands; a system which reeked of meritocracy has turned into some sort of unction market where degrees are sold to the highest bidders; a system where teaching and learning were the main focus has turned into a haven for bribery, immorality, witch-hunting, greed...you name it!

A visit to the Public Primary schools would show you unwilling teachers who have resorted to selling biscuits, groundnuts, etc because the government has refused to pay even that meager wage that is due to them- there is totally no incentive to teach. A visit to the Public Secondary schools and you would see teachers who, like their Primary school counterparts, have lost every motivation to teach. They try to help themselves out by providing goods which their colleagues can buy 'on credit' pending when salaries are paid. The tertiary institutions would make you shudder as you would see, yet, unwilling lecturers whose main focus has shifted to writing, publishing and selling worthless books at exorbitant prices; selling exams scores and grades to students and turning students to sex items- the excuse being that the government does not pay them well enough and as at when due.

The Great Oracle, it is now clear what the system has turned the teachers and lecturers into...what about the students?

Once upon a time, teachers were so interested in their jobs and were highly regarded by society. This respect shown by all and sundry was not lost on the students who took their teachers as demigods. This submission allowed for easy molding of the students into what they later became-intellectuals; very polished men and women.

As things decayed; government disregarded teachers; society saw them as very poor people who really needed a change of profession; teachers lost their pride and the motivation to work vanished too. These changes were also not lost on the students who started disregarding the teachers and school authorities. Teachers lost the zeal to control and students became authorities of their own. These days, we see cultism- a scourge that has not been properly checked in tertiary institutions – filtering into Primary and Secondary schools. In the secondary schools especially, students dress like touts and come as late to school as they wish...and this is just the beginning.

With the victimization and hardship that now characterize the tertiary institutions, students do not now believe in studying or knowledge; they just want to get the certificate- whatever it may take- and get out of the school as empty as they entered. They leave the institutions, most times, not worthy in character and in learning. In fact, there is nothing different between the Nigerian Police Force and the education system...they are both dilapidated and the key players are self-preservative and selfish because the government has failed to provide for them.

As It Will Be:

Chief Priest, in your generation, graduates are referred to as 'half-baked'...in your children’s generation, they would be called 'flour'...

Kai! The great Oracle!! Is it going to be that bad?

Yes! Even a blind man can see into the future and tell that it is too dim for the next generation. I see a generation that would love to have strings of degrees and certificates attached to their names but would not work for them; I see a generation where there is a surge in the lecturing profession because of the sharp/corrupt practices therein; I see a generation where people would shy away from being teachers at the primary and secondary school levels because of lack of incentives; a generation where the serious minded and privileged ones would have to look outside the shores of this country for proper education; I see a generation which is totally not equipped to take over the reins of the economy and the nation.

What really is the problem, Great Oracle?

The problem originated from the government, who, over the years has thought it wise to starve the education system of funding and support. Funds were not made available for research nor were there incentives for employees of this system. To survive, they had to device other means of getting money which have spiraled into full blown corruption and immorality. This, in turn, resulted to little or no attention being paid on proper academic work.

Not until recently did the government review salaries of lecturers which stayed un-reviewed for decades even though the economy had changed a whole lot within the same period. While political office holders had their salaries reviewed over time, teachers and lecturers were forgotten. This becomes evident and annoying when one considers what was obtainable in 2009 and before the recent review according to this letter as written by the  Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). A Federal High Court Judge used to be on the same salary scale as a University Professor years back, but by  2009, the Judge received N26,875,840.00 as annual salary while the Professor received a paltry N3, 859, 078. 60. 

Though things are considerably different now due to the salary review; it came a little too late as the damage had already been done - a retrogressive culture had been instituted and there appears to be no going back on lecturer's love for and pursuit of money.

It has become so obvious that even when umbrella bodies governing these lecturers make demands from the government which seem to be for the benefit of staff and students and go on resultant strikes; all the government needs do is grant the requests that directly swells the lecturers' pockets and touché! Problem solved. That explains why the standard of living of lecturers have increased, their age of retirement too but the universities still remain glorified secondary schools with little or no research going on because of lack of funding.

Still out of lust for money, most lecturers presently fight over courses that have large amount of students even when they lack strong command on such courses. All they are after is selling substandard books which they hurriedly published in areas where they know little or nothing about. They only have to plagiarize- flagrantly- works done by authorities in such fields and within weeks, new books materialize. The cost? 2,000 Naira a copy.  There is an aging Professor in one of the Nigerian Universities who coyly took 13 undergraduate courses all to himself in a semester just in the bid to sell books. Since each of these courses he took requires as average of two hours a week; he obviously missed a lot of classes which means that his students missed out on the knowledge for which they paid. Again, his greed affected the allocation of courses to new lecturers; marred their development in the profession and set the wrong example for them to follow.

Someone might argue that government provides billions in funds for overseas research through the Education Trust Fund (ETF) and some other governmental agencies like the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and Niger Delta Development Council (NDDC); however, a closer look would show you that by and large, only a few individuals benefit from it and that it adds little or nothing to the system. A closer look would also reveal that the government only ends up patronizing and generating revenue for foreign universities while Universities in the country stay empty handed.

The amount of money said to have been spent or earmarked for research abroad could have been used to equip a number of universities in the country with the infrastructure needed for adequate research; thereby making world class research and study readily available for Nigerians. I am not suggesting that the government has done wrong by sponsoring a number of Nigerians for research abroad, but what is wise about doing so when there are local Universities begging to be funded? Even after funding individuals for research and further studies abroad; if they eventually return home (which they seldom do), the barrenness of the local universities would render them useless and the knowledge gained never put to use.

This lack of University funding also directly affects the study curriculum in Nigerian universities as approved by the Nigerian University council. For instance, learning Computer Science in a well equipped foreign university would entail amongst others, learning Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.  In Nigeria, the curriculum shies away from Robotics because there is no laboratory for this highly practical aspect of computer science. So in other words, the study curriculum in Nigerian Universities is mediocre and far from world-class. Nigerian students from a particular discipline can hardly be compared to their colleagues in foreign universities.

Nigerians do not have the right picture of what a tertiary institution of learning should be. A tertiary institution is not just an expansive land on which classrooms and office blocks are built and which has 'lecturers' and students who have scaled the hurdles of JAMB; but this is the picture in Nigeria. A tertiary institution should be a citadel of learning especially by the way of research; an academic institution where society and organizations run to for solution to certain problems.

Recently, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan announced nine new Federal universities which would undoubtedly toe the path of the existing universities- empty, save for lecturers, students, office blocks and classrooms. The move appears to be a proliferation of mediocrity; I would say 'rubbish was just multiplied' by GEJ.

Just like agriculture, education went to the back-burner since Nigeria discovered oil.  Nigerian is so blessed with human resources, mineral resources, good climate, etc but we have a natural disaster called 'bad leadership'. In the United Kingdom, education has turned into a major export product which, according to experts, rakes in about 246 Billion Naira a year from Nigerians only. Nigerians are also found studying in Malaysia, the United States of America, Turkey, Russia etc. In Africa, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Benin Republic and Zimbabwe have all usurped Nigeria as the destinations of choice for proper education...how shameful. I cannot come to terms with the fact that the government has not thought along the lines of bringing Nigeria's education system up to a standard where it can be exported -if not the whole world- to countries within Africa.

I would not forget to mention the big gap between industries and tertiary institutions in Nigeria. These two entities should be in a close relationship, but would you blame the industries for not trusting the institutions that lack the infrastructure needed to foster an industry-institution relationship? No! I would say.

Another issue is the failure of school management and lecturers to see and treat students as customers instead of as a pack of no-goods who are being done a favor. If this absurd view can be changed, students would be treated better. Without students, there would be no school; but the major challenge here is that universities know that everyone wants to go to school, even if it means doing a course he or she never liked. Therefore, there is no fear about not having interested applicants to take up even the most useless of courses and because of this, Universities can afford to treat students as slaves, idiots, goats...

Again, students have been subdued into believing that they are goats who the institutions are granting some sort of favor by offering them admissions; students have been subdued into believing that they should not enjoy their institutions and lecturers but their institutions and lecturers should enjoy them; students have been subdued into believing that no matter what wrong is done against them within the four walls of their tertiary institutions, they have no right to complain nor react; they have been subdued into believing that they really do not need lasting knowledge in their fields; they are made to believe that they would succeed in life as long as they can buy worthless textbooks/handout, read to pass exams, 'sort' lecturers to have high scores and pay unscrupulous members of management to graduate with top classes.

Great Oracle, what do you think would be the solution?

I believe the solution lies with our acknowledging the problems mentioned above and agreeing to move forward from them. Part of the solution should be business process re-engineering championed by the use of Computers and Learning Management Systems; this would aid ease management of institutions and promote fair play and honesty amongst students and lecturers alike.

As the Oracle, I would make sure the Shrine plays its role in saving Nigeria's education system and students. I want to use this opportunity to advise Nigerian students to stand up for their rights whenever they are being marginalized by their institutions or lecturers. If you find the task daunting; the Oracle is here to help. Send us an email at save.9jastudents@gmail.com  while stating the name of your school, the problem you have, who are involved and what you have done so far to solve the problem. We would try our best to give you the needed advise or wade into the issue if need be. Spread the message to non-shriners who might need help.

Long live Nigerian Students! Long Live Nigeria!!

Kai! Oracle! I am a lecturer and it appears you have taken a hit on me and my colleagues, but I am equally the Chief Priest so I can only say…

The Oracle has spoken!!