The Directorate of State Services and the Fulani Herdsmen problem

THE DSS  STATEMENT AND THE FULANI HERDSMEN PROBLEM

This writer knows a reasonable amount of well educated and well intentioned Hausa-Fulani. This article puts to light the same things a hood number of them have commented against.

Throughout history the major premise of violent conflict has always been the contention for resources. People groups, communities, and nations have gone into full scale war over material resources. This is not uncommon.

More than half of the wars Israel has fought with its neighbors for instance are directly traceable to skirmishes over water or land.

Fulani herdsmen and farmers conflict in Nigeria was partly a land resource based conflict predominantly in the North of the country. It was once customary and understandable that herdsmen and local farmers would have some sort of strife as their interests, though complimentary, looked mutually exclusive more often than not. The herdsmen supply much needed beef through the cows they lead around, while the farmers produce food items the beef compliments. This, in theory, is straightforward and facile, the practice of it, on the other hand, is another thing entirely. 

According to a Human Rights Watch report of December 2013 violence between Fulani herdsmen, farmers and local communities had killed 3,000 people since 2010. Fulani herders and farmers are in constant violent conflict over herdsmen’s increased need for access to grazing lands against the expansion of farmland by farmers into corridors traditionally used by the Fulani. Farmers accuse the Fulani herders of allowing their animals to feed on still-growing crops and contamination of community watering-places. The Fulani herders in turn accuse the farmers of denying them access to grazing areas when alternatives cannot be found. 

It is comprehensible that there would be a certain amount of strife between farmers who plow their ancestral farmlands and herdsmen whose livestock intrude on such lands eating the crops and destroying the remnants, however, what is happening with the crises between herdsmen and farmers has seen a profound degeneration, one that portends unimaginable repercussions.  

Previously, the conflicts between the Fulani herdsmen and indigenous farmers was largely in the core north of Nigeria. There were skirmishes in the Middle Belt, but they were few and far between. Now these conflicts have gone beyond mere skirmishes and Fulani herdsmen wielding sophisticated weapons move into entire communities, in a mode of operation that is similar to the terrorist group Boko Haram, and ransack them while killing and raping innocent people.
 However, unlike the Boko Haram menace which is localized these marauders rampage through communities and have now spread their activities to the South of the country.

With the massacres of thousands of innocent people in recent years (incidents like the Dogo Na Hawa massacre of over 500 indigenous people in Plateau State and the recent genocide of multiplied hundreds of Idomas in Agatu, Benue State readily come to mind) there has been the sustained question by well meaning Nigerians as to how best the situation can be handled.

There have been systematic and sustained killings going on for many years in places like Plateau State and in many other places where Fulani take their cows for grazing.
In the past few months there has been an upsurge in sporadic killings and the wanton destruction of communities in many different places across the country. The kidnap of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation in his country home in Ondo State was traced to the Fulani. So was  the kidnap and murder of a traditional ruler from Delta State. After the murder of a 65 year old farmer in Edo State and the subsequent discovery of his mutilated body by relatives the youth in the community burnt down a Fulani enclave after it was learnt that the perpetrators came from there and every single Fulani had subsequently taken to their heels.

With the situation getting out of hand responsible citizens have looked for succor from the government but recent events have brought out a very ominous pattern. 
Apart from the fact that there have not been any arrests after the pogroms committed by many of these Fulani herdsmen it would seem that the relevant security agencies have taken sides with the criminal elements among them.
After a series of protests by some farmers over the activities of the Fulani herdsmen in Awgu, Enugu State a few weeks ago 75 of these farmers were arrested and detained without charge. 
It is not clear if a single Fulani was invited for questioning.

In the most recent of ambivalences the Directorate of State Services has gone on to make a very callous, irresponsible and inflammatory statement, to the effect that a group of “Biafran activists” murdered and buried five Fulanis in a mass grave.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Tony Opuiyo, the DSS said the killing of the Hausa-Fulani residents has triggered tension among different communities in Abia State.
Although Mr. Opuiyo said five men were killed alongside several other unidentified persons, only the names of four individuals were provided.
“The Service has uncovered the heinous role played by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), in the abduction/kidnap of five Hausa-Fulani residents, namely Mohammed Gainako, Ibrahim Mohammed, Idris Yakubu and Isa Mohammed Rago at Isuikwuato LGA in Abia State,” Mr. Opuiyo said.
“The abducted men were later discovered at the Umuanyi forest, Abia State, where they were suspected to have been killed by their abductors and buried in shallow graves, amidst fifty (50) other shallow graves of unidentified persons.
“Arrest and investigation conducted so far, revealed that elements within the IPOB, carried out this dastardly action”, he added.
Mr. Opuiyo said he was alerting Nigerians to the ‘divisive’ and ‘gruesome’ activities of IPOB operatives.
“It is pertinent therefore to alert the general public that IPOB, is gradually showing its true divisive colour and objectives, while steadily embarking on gruesome actions in a bid to ignite ethnic terrorism and mistrust amongst non-indigenes in the South-East region and other parts of the country.
“Following this act, tension is currently rife among communal stakeholders in the State with possibilities of spillover to other parts of country”, Mr. Opuiyo said.

Even if we are to disregard the fact that the aforementioned group is one which has no history of engaging in violence and is simply fighting for self-determination even as its  members have been tortured and killed by security forces while having peaceful demonstrations the DSS statement is still reckless, unconscionable, and morally reprehensible.

In the face of its apparent inability to stop the murderous rampage by the criminal elements within the ranks of Fulani herdsmen, or worse still, it’s complicity, the DSS does not have the moral right to speak about the fanning of mistrust and the igniting of ethnic terrorism in any form.
To then make such a brazen statement in the face of its incompetence in providing adequate security for the citizenry it is meant to protect is taking irresponsibility to previously unimaginable lows. 

Just what is the thinking of the authorities in allowing their spokesman make such unfounded and highly polarizing claims? And even if it is valid is there no better way for such information to be managed in such a tense environment already deeply divided along the fault lines that are so apparent in the Nigerian society?
Why have they not made arrests and intelligent statements concerning the internecions and decimations of entire communities and families by Fulani marauders? Children in diapers are slaughtered like fowls along with their family members and burnt alive in their multiplied hundreds. The loss of lives by these vampires in just the past few months has hit record highs and is numbering in their thousands, and all the security agencies have the nerve to tell us is that the perpetrators are foreigners.

For the avoidance of doubt, I believe in the sanctity of human life, and I believe that it must be respected. Murder in any shape, form or guise is completely unacceptable. For this reason I find some things absolutely befuddling.
One thousand Shiite Muslims were massacred in Zaria and buried in mass graves. Thousands more Nigerians of every other ethnic stock have been brutally raped and murdered by Fulani herdsmen. The International Terror Index has listed the Fulani militia in Nigeria as the “fourth most deadly terror organization in the world”; and the DSS has said absolutely nothing about these.

Why has the DSS only just found its voice? The double standards here are just too acute to be swept under the carpet.
Are the security agencies attempting to serve sectional interests to the detriment of everyone else they swore to protect?

Anyone can readily do the research and see how much an AK 47 rifle costs in financial terms. Havocscope, a global black market information site puts the average cost of AK 47 rifles worldwide at $534 per gun. Other unconfirmed sources put the cost of rounds at between $3 and $5 for a box of 20.
The question then becomes, “how do these mostly indigent nomads afford to buy and use these weapons?”

Anyone that has even a superficial knowledge of the Fulani will know that it is customary for their elite to own heads of cattle. Between the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano, the President of Nigeria and all the other members of the Hausa-Fulani elite across Nigeria there is the ownership of multiplied hundreds of thousands of cattle. 
These cattle are not ranched and so are given to Fulani nomads to lead about. 

Following the rapid desertification of the core north  of Nigeria many of these nomads are heading south with their cattle in search of grazing fields…which are fast becoming killing fields. 

Nigeria is a country that is currently a melting pot of a very dangerous brew of things. With the current unemployment situation, the acute fuel scarcity, hunger, desperation, epileptic power supply, corruption, exploitation of ethno-centric and religious leanings, mass illiteracy, inept and arrogant political class/ leaders bereft of both ability and vision, their crass impunity, and culture of mediocrity, the flagrant disregard of due process and court orders, and the continuous violation of the constitutionally backed secularity of state we already have a very full plate.
To now add a divisive and sectional security apparatus intent on further stoking well lit fires will lead to a conflagration.
The questions at this juncture would now be, “Is this what they want, or are they obtuse to the point of not realizing what is bleeding obvious?”

HURRICANE TRUMP: STOPPING THIS NATURAL DISASTER

Populism is a doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions, especially hopes and fears, of the general population.
Political parties and politicians often use the terms “populist” and “populism” as pejoratives against their opponents. What this means is that populism is merely empathising with the majority of the public, (usually through rhetoric or “unrealistic” proposals) in order to increase appeal across the political spectrum.

This pejorative aptly describes the political operations of one man- Donald Trump.

This abrasive, brash, and arrogant billionaire, reality T.V star, and real estate mogul  is the front runner in the race for the Republican presidential ticket. He is the last of the outsiders (the other two being former Silicon Valley chief executive Carly Fiorina, and world renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson) standing in a field of professional politicians and Washington insiders. Interestingly, up until Super Tuesday and Super Saturday, with an extremely resurgent Ted Cruz, his rating in percentage terms was more than that of the remaining three…combined.
His astounding success on the campaign trail thus far can be attributed to the fact that he plays on the fears and hopes of the public and has become the personification of populism. 

He was never a career politician but is sweeping in delegates with the ferocity of a hurricane.
This is largely because he is speaking what many Americans are thinking.
What they are thinking but are unable to say because of political correctness.
And it’s not just what he says but how he says it. 
In stating his points and position he releases gaffes like they are going out of fashion. 
Indiscretions about breast-feeding women, women in general, the disabled, minorities, and many other policy statements that range from banning Muslims from entering the U.S, through expelling all illegal immigrants, stopping birthright citizenship, to building a wall separating Mexico from the U.S, and of course getting the Mexicans to pay for it.

With every gaffe Donald Trump seems to have his street credibility and ratings with the American public soar, while those rivals that take him on directly have theirs diametrically opposed to his.
When Rick Perry took him on his ratings dropped and he subsequently dropped out of the race. When Lindsey Graham took him on his ratings dropped and he followed suit out of the race. Jeb Bush who was supposed to be the favorite to clinch the ticket was blown out of the race when he took on Donald Trump; the likes of Louisiana State Governor Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum froze off the radar just after they tried taking on Trump.

He seems to be unstoppable. 
But just who is largely responsible for the rise of Donald Trump?

Trump initially came to public attention in 1973 when he was accused by the Justice Department of violations of the Fair Housing Act in the operation of 39 buildings, including false “no vacancy” statements, and sham leases presenting higher rents to minority applicants, all to facilitate the denial of housing to racial minorities.
Today, Donald Trump, probably as a result of his Democratic background, takes an economic and ideological position that leans to the left, but he mixes this position with a toxic brew of bigotry that is appealing to a section of the Republican party, and this second part is largely why several people in the mainstream conservative media did not call him out on time for who he is.

 There were conservative radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and T.V stations like Fox that could have put a spanner in his works but only stopped short of putting the wind in his sails. When he took advantage of his protest over President Obama’s birth certificate to launch his political profile he did so with the tacit approval of several members of the GOP that are today ironically fighting the upsurge in Trumpism. 
Many conservatives turned a blind eye to his verbal attacks on minorities because racial enmity is a big driver of U.S politics and the conservatives were comfortable with Trump playing this card, but now he  has taken it to another level. 

So what can the world expect from a Donald Trump presidency, and can such an unstable personality be trusted with the topmost executive job on the planet? 
This is not just a question of the choice of Americans. The choice of U.S president is bound to have an effect on billions of people around the world.

The second largest economy in the world is the Chinese economy, second behind the U.S. The Chinese economy experienced a mind-boggling GDP accumulated growth of almost 350% between 1990 and 2006, yet the American economy is still at least three times the size of the Chinese.
This is not an economy you would want to be run by such an unpredictable and divisive character.

The U.S has 4,500 nuclear warheads, and the U.S President carries around a briefcase called “the Football”. This briefcase has launch-codes  that can deploy the armed warheads.
I can’t imagine that too many people around the world would be comfortable knowing that that briefcase was under the custody of a President Trump.

Much has been made of how much of a Midas Touch Donald Trump has. Let me rephrase that- Donald Trump has made much of how much of the Midas Touch he has. He has held the world spellbound with fantastic tales of how much astuteness and business acumen he has, and how he turned a one million dollar loan from his dad into his present vast fortune.
Former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is among those who have questioned Trump’s purported wealth and his unwillingness to release his tax returns, suggesting Trump might be wary of revealing a potential electoral “bombshell” such as a failure to pay expected tax rates, dishonesty about charitable donations, or that “he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is.

In 2005, The New York Times referred to Trump’s “verbal billions” in a skeptical and highly critical article about Trump’s self-reported wealth. At the time, three individuals with direct knowledge of Trump’s finances told reporter Timothy L. O’Brien that Trump’s actual net worth was between $150 and $250 million, though Trump then publicly claimed a net worth of $5 to $6 billion. Claiming libel, Trump sued the reporter (and his book publisher) for $5 billion, lost the case, and then lost again on appeal; Trump refused to turn over his unredacted tax returns despite his assertion they supported his case. In a sworn deposition, Trump testified that he once borrowed $9.6 million from his father, calling it “a very small amount of money,” but could not recall when he did so; Trump has since told campaign audiences he began his career with “a small loan of one million dollars” from his father.

Estimates of Trump’s net worth have fluctuated along with real estate valuations: in 2015, Forbes pegged it as $4 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (which scrutinized Trump’s FEC filings) estimated a net worth of $2.9 billion. On June 16, 2015, just prior to announcing his candidacy for president of the United States, Trump released to the media a one-page prepared financial disclosure statement “from a big accounting firm—one of the most respected” stating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. “I’m really rich,” Trump said.

 Forbes called the nearly $9 billion figure a “100%” exaggeration.

However, while it is indubitable that he has street sense and has made  headway producing a great deal of lemonade with the lemons he started with in life his capriciousness becomes evident when we see how disingenuous he has been with the amount of lemons life handed out to him.
Donald Trump is said to have inherited at least $200 million from his dad, and the fact that he has had a litany of failures in business which include his foray into the airline business, his failed casino business, and several bankruptcies puts a slight dent in his self-appraisal form.

An analysis of Trump’s business career by The Economist in 2016, concludes that his “…performance has been mediocre compared with the stockmarket and property in New York.”

But the controversies in his statements about his investments do not hold a candle to the amount of controversies he strings up in other areas.
One that has been noteworthy of recent has been the type of people that have endorsed him.

David Duke is an American white nationalist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, far-right politician, and former Grand Wizard of the most racist group in U.S history, the Ku Klux Klan.
An avowed racist and white supremacist, Duke is a former felon and criminal who has been convicted of fraud and traced to many brutal racial hate crimes.

This was the man that gave a stirring endorsement of Donald Trump.

David Duke, a white nationalist and former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard, told his audience Wednesday that voting for anyone besides Donald Trump “is really treason to your heritage…I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”

In December, Duke told POLITICO that Trump’s candidacy allows Americans to be more open about their racial animus.
“He’s made it okay to talk about these incredible concerns of European Americans today, because I think European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view,” Duke said. “He’s meant a lot for the human rights of European Americans.”

Trump has since denounced him, but his initial unwillingness to do so has stirred the hornets’ nest, with the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, the Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other high profile Republicans trying to disassociate themselves from Trump. 

And it’s not just them. 
There’s a good amount of people who share the same sentiments. 

The situation is so dire that there is a massive number of people who have indicated their interest to migrate if Trump wins the election. A remote town in Nova Scotia, Canada, has had a humongous amount of enquiries on its website by Americans who are anxious to relocate if Donald Trump wins the presidential race to become the Commander-In-Chief of the United States

There are a lot of Republicans who are very uncomfortable with the potential of a Trump nomination, and for good reason too. Being from New York, and having been a Democrat who has allegedly written ten different checks to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the course of her political career, and spent loads of money on a Bill Clinton campaign for the White House, his loyalty to the Republican party is at best checkered and at worst non-existent.
Add to this his numerous unguarded statements and penchant for verbal diarrhea it is perfectly understandable why this man cannot ever be the poster child for the Republican party.
Mitt Romney, a former governor and presidential candidate of the Republican party, recently released a scathing attack on Trump calling him a phony and a fraud. A high point of that speech was when he said Trump’s statements were about as worthless as “a certificate from Trump University”, an “institution” credited as a fraud and which serves as the reason for several legal suits.
Interestingly, several other mainstream Republicans, notably former presidential candidate John McCain, have openly backed Mitt Romney’s position. 
Romney exhorted Republicans to think long and hard about who they would want to represent them in their race for the White House. He stopped short of endorsing one other candidate and encouraged delegates to vote different candidates at each of the caucuses, implicitly suggesting the game plan to stop Trump is a contested convention.

WHAT IS A CONTESTED CONVENTION?
The primaries and caucuses are now on. These are designed for delegates from both the Democratic and the Republican parties to pick the flag-bearers (presumptive nominees) of their respective parties. A Republican candidate needs to win 1,237 of the 2,472 total delegates in order to become the presumptive nominee. 
Most conventions are a bit of a rubber stamp because the presumptive nominee would already have been decided. In most election years, one presidential candidate wins enough delegates during the primary-caucuses process in order for the presumptive nominee to earn a majority of the delegates before the convention begins.
 
In a contested convention, however, no presumptive nominee exists because no candidate garners a majority of the delegates on the first ballot. A contested convention means the meetings actually make a pivotal difference for who the nominee will be. This is because all delegates will cast votes at the convention until a candidate is decided.

This is what Mitt Romney and most conservatives are hoping for. 

His game plan as evidenced by his speech would be for Republicans in Florida to support their senator Marco Rubio when their caucus takes place on March 15th, Republicans in Ohio to support John Kasich, who incidentally is their governor, during their caucus, and Republicans in other states to support Ted Cruz who is the senator representing the state of Texas. This ought to end in a Contested Convention if it goes according to plan. And this would increase the chances of Trump being knocked off on the floor of the Republican convention.
 He might have the sympathy of the grassroots (many of those derisively referred to as “trailer trash” would love him), but for much of the educated, elite and upwardly mobile he is a non-starter.

 So, we have Donald Trump, one of the most polarizing and confusing figures in recent times. For many people around the world he must be stopped. The GOP Establishment sees a potential Trump candidacy as a rollover to the advantage of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
They can’t afford to let this happen.

Would their plan work? Would it be enough to stop this potential natural disaster- Hurricane Trump?

ON ESE ORURU: A PERSPECTIVE

Adam Johnson is a professional footballer whose career had seen him play for English Premier League clubs like Manchester City F.C, and Sunderland F.C; his contract with Sunderland was recently cancelled on the strength of his sexual involvement with a 15 year old girl.
It has since been discovered that this young lady led him on and even bragged to her friends in the tweets she sent them that she was going to be sexually involved with him. 
Adam Johnson is 23 years old and is now facing a criminal charge. Barring some last act of providential intervention we can safely say his professional career is over.

There are several other cases of people who were sexually involved with minors in countries around the world. Politicians, entertainers, and business people; in most cases they had their careers truncated and were summarily punished.

Having it any other way would be catastrophic…but elements of society in some other countries don’t seem to share that line of thought.

Nigeria has the highest prevalence rate of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in the world with an alleged number of between 400,000 and 800,000 women living with this scourge. There are anywhere between 12,000 and 20,000 new cases occurring annually, with 90 per cent remaining untreated.
 The implication of this is that an average of 55 women are infected by VVF on a daily basis and it is conservatively estimated that two million women suffer from obstetric fistula globally. 

Northern Nigeria has a disproportionate amount of VVF cases with over 85 per cent of these figures.

 VVF is an occurrence of an abnormal hole which becomes an unnatural connection between the Bladder or Rectum and the Vagina and is characterized by a continuous and uncontrollable leakage of urine.
 Dr. Ahmed Yola, a VVF surgeon, disclosed that a significant percentage of VVF is caused by prolonged unattended obstructed labour.
It  occurs when the blood supply to the tissues of the vagina and the bladder is restricted during prolonged obstructed labour, the tissues die between these organs, forming holes through which urine can pass uncontrollably.
Other  major causes of it obviously include sex with minors and Female Genital Mutilation.
Sadly, Dr. Yola said, VVF accounts for 75% of loss of babies at birth and is responsible for 55 – 60% of the divorce rate in the country.

In Nigeria, VVF has social, economic, and religious implications. Many women with VVF are regarded as social outcasts and marriages have been dissolved as a result of this. Many girls between the ages of 11 and 15 in the Islamic Northern part of the country become mothers either through early marriage or through unwanted pregnancy. As a result of the less than advanced stage of their reproductive system they experience obstructed labour, and this is further worsened by the ineptitude of some unskilled birth attendants who tend to simply cut through the vagina in a bid to create a passage for the baby.
This can result in VVF, with its major manifestation of leaking urine and faeces through the vagina. 

The odoriferous nature of the condition automatically makes women with VVF outcasts in society.
A visit to any of these VVF centres in Northern Nigeria would reveal a high number of teenage patients who have had their internals lacerated and turned to a mesh by creatures that engage in random acts of sexual intercourse with these young girls who are at various levels of physical development, none of which can be logically referred to as advanced. As they uncontrollably leak urine and fecal matter and give off obnoxious smells these pedophiles that are supposedly their husbands dump them and look for the next child bride. Dropping “damaged goods” and picking the next trophies in a spate of uncontrolled frenzy further complicates the already terrible problem.
When this is done under the garb of religion it becomes all the more unwholesome.

The Northern oligarchs and Islamic elite are complicit in this as they do not only turn a blind eye to this unfortunate and illogical phenomenon but actively engage in such activities. A serving senator, and former governor, from a state in the North-West was in the news for marrying a little Egyptian girl who was between 11 and 13 years of age. The little girl was allegedly the daughter of his chauffeur. 
This should not be a question of religion as this Senator took the girl away from Egypt, an Islamic country where child marriage and pedophilia is not allowed, and brought her down to Northern Nigeria to “marry”  her, a child, under the rituals of a Sharia system he imported into Nigeria when he was a governor.
Rather than ensuring the education level in their region goes on the upswing some of these Neanderthals have buried themselves into defiling little children that are supposed to be their future.
A massive developmental index is education and these people that should know better seem content to keep their people light years behind the rest of the world and have kept them in a condition where they remain appropriate “poster boys” of the concept and perception the Western media is excited to portray of Africa.

The dearth of education in Northern Nigeria is acute when compared to the South, and is abysmal, even alarming, when compared to the developed world. According to Rachel Hatch, a Research Associate, Education Policy and Data Center, in many northern states more than 50% of young women aged 15-24 have no experience with formal education.

The female secondary school net attendance rate in Borno State is only 29% in comparison to a national average of 53%. An additional 18% of secondary school age girls attend formal school in Borno but at the primary level. These girls may benefit from exposure to schooling but they are behind for their age and at greater risk of dropping out. 
A further 7% of secondary school age girls attend non-formal programs. Nearly half (46%) of girls of secondary school age aren’t attending either formal or nonformal education programs and therefore don’t receive any benefits of schooling. 
The Northern Islamic elite are either oblivious to this or couldn’t care less. 
 
Now, rather than solve their retrogression they have decided to go down South, across the Niger to spread it.

The case of 14-year old Ese Oruru, abducted in Bayelsa State and taken to Kano for marriage under Islamic rites has taken over the headlines of national dailies and social media for a considerable amount of time now. 
Ese’s ordeal began on August 12, 2015 in the South-South city of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. Mrs Rose Oruru, Ese’s mother, is a food vendor who has several different customers who patronize her. 
One of such customers was a certain Yinusa, a commercial tricycle operator who apparently hypnotized Ese and took her from Bayelsa to Kano on the purported excuse that she had converted to Islam. She was kidnapped and hypnotized or bullied into telling so many lies about her age, desire to be away from her parents, willingness to “convert” to Islam, and several other issues.
Some commentators have attempted to give a very feeble position on her abduction, saying she was not kidnapped but she, a 17 year old girl,  eloped with her lover. It took an interview with her 16 year old elder brother to show this was clear mendacity as Ese was just 13 she was kidnapped.

A very disturbing twist in this case was that this girl was kept in a location that was openly known. She was literally kept in plain sight. And Ese’s  parents are said to have travelled to Kano State on several occasions in the past six months with officers of the Nigeria Police Force to secure her release without a positive result.
Let that sink in for a second.
The Police Force could not secure the release of the girl for 6 months.
The Inspector General of Police is reported to have said he would not be able to act until the Emir of Kano, who was out of the city at the time, returned.

Unbelievable and Astounding. 

The fact that this happened is proof positive that this is not an isolated case. This is obviously a trend that has one theme running through the various portions of a single narrative.
It is very clear that this is not an exception but the rule as local authorities sat down on this and in all likelihood actively connived with the abductors to perpetrate this heinous crime.
Since the unveiling of the matter there has been the unearthing of several other such cases of criminal conspiracy and abduction of Southern girls by some Northern Islamic adherents. 
The pattern manifested shows that this cannot be done without the collusion of the powers that be in these Northern Islamic communities. 

In a tweet, a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, quoted the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, as saying that Ese was to be taken to Abuja last Tuesday and handed over to the Commissioner of Police in charge of Bayelsa to reunite her with her parents.
“She is crying and refusing to go home. She does not want to go back but I have insisted she must go,” she quoted the Emir as saying.

It has since been alleged in the girl’s most recent confession that she did not even know how she got to Kano. She was taken to a place she referred to as “Kura” where she was put before a marabout and commanded to repeat whatever incantations he made…and that was how she purportedly “converted” to Islam.
In all of these, there seems to be very little mention of the apprehending and punishment of the criminals that corroborated to carry out this heinous crime.
These people are meant to be arrested, arraigned, and severely punished on several counts- kidnap, inflicting psychological trauma, grievous bodily harm, rape, sleeping with a minor, and intimidation among many other crimes.

Many of such things must have happened on previous occasions and they have not just been swept under the carpet but are still being perpetrated with such gross impunity. There has to be a loud statement in this case that will serve as a deterrent so we can save our future.

Like a friend of mine will say, “It is our problem, we can solve it.”

The Monastic Cycle: After God’s Blessing

THE MONASTIC CYCLE: WHAT USUALLY COMES AFTER PROSPERITY AND SUCCESS

One day a friend of mine called me up from the U.S to ask me a question. He had something that was bothering him, he said, and he needed to discuss this with me. 
He had a friend of his who had lived in Nigeria for a little while before heading off to the United Kingdom. While he was in Nigeria he was reportedly “close to God”, but after staying in the U.K for some years he found himself going down a more “rational” path. He began a series of soul searches and came up with questions he began to ask this mutual friend of ours.
Our mutual friend called me and this was more or less what the questions were about-
“If God exists how come He seems to be doing more for people that don’t know Him than He is for those that do?”
It seemed to Him that those who had no need for God were those that had more prosperity and success than those who did. 

He asked a pertinent question about many members of the Church in the developing world when he said, “Assuming some rich fellow who owned a dating agency walked into a Nigerian church and offered all the people who needed a job automatic employment, and gave brand new houses or cars to those that were in need of them, gave a salary increase to all who wanted it, and hooked every unmarried person to the man or woman of their dreams, what percentage of people would remain in the church? How many people would still serve God after they had their needs met?”

He also said how, going from home to work everyday, he would notice how the social welfare system worked and how the disabled and elderly were treated. He couldn’t help but think there really was no reason for God in a society that worked so seamlessly. His logic essentially was that the British that had continuously tended to an impious and godless position where they referred to themselves as post-modern and post-Christian actually had a valid point.
So he came out with the conclusion that people are only religious because they have needs. God is only relevant because people have needs, so the more needful a person is the greater the tendency is of his being religious.

My friend was perplexed that his friend had adopted this line of thought and wanted some reassurance from me.

I might have shocked him a little more after I immediately said to him- 
“There is a grain of truth in that…
This is because N-E-E-D is a four letter word that keeps man constantly motivated to seek God.”
Then I told him that although his friend’s assessment of “needs” was not incorrect it was incomplete. 
Material needs are the lowest level of human needs according to Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Human Needs”

            HIERARCHY OF HUMAN NEEDS 

                            /   \ (1) FULFILLMENT
                         /         \  (2) RESPECT          
                      /               \  (3)LOVE & BELONGING  
                   /                     \  (4)SAFETY
                /                           \(5)BASIC NEEDS
             /                                 \
          /___________________\

I said to him, “Even when material needs are met there will still be several others. At what point in time, for instance, would a person ever get to where he can say with all certainty that he can provide all the protection he and his family need?” I continued, “If he had all the guns and skills he needed to stave off armed hoodlums how much exactly would he have to protect himself in the event of an automobile accident, or plane crash?”
“If he had all the money in the world and could hire the best bodyguards, afford to buy the most sophisticated planes and employ the most experienced pilots he still wouldn’t have enough to buy up love and get everyone to like him. If he had everyone like him he would still not have everyone respect him. And even if he had everything in the world he would still not be able to buy fulfillment.”

The reason is quite simple, there are very few things that produce genuine fulfillment, and having lots of material possessions is not one of them.
Nobody can ever be fulfilled without God. 
An unprejudiced look at the situation and a  glance at all the needs stated above would show that nobody has transcended need. If nobody has transcended need then nobody has transcended God.
God does not cause need in order for people to seek Him, no, not necessarily. He is not an egotist.
Instead, think of it this way- He is all sufficient, and all the answers and solutions rest in Him. A disconnection from Him is a connection with the alternative- emptiness, a void, need, and nothingness.

This still doesn’t explain why it would seem that those who have no fear of God and are not inclined to religion appear to fare better than others. This still doesn’t explain why the fastest growth the Church records today is in indigent places like Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Why are there countries today that call themselves “Post-Christian”? 
Why are there countries today that believe they have grown beyond God?

Let me answer this by bringing something to our attention.

Have you ever considered the fact that the countries that call themselves “Post-Modern” or “Post-Christian” are countries that were once called “Christian countries”? 
As an aside, has it ever dawned on you that ALL the countries that fit into the genus “First World” were at one time referred to as “Christian countries”?

We will take a look at the second question at a later date.
Let us look at the first now. 
These countries that believe they have grown beyond God were mostly Christian countries at some time. China is not among them, nor is North Korea as, especially in the case of the latter, they cannot be called “Post-Modern”. China is still on the path of modernization so we will concentrate on the Western nations that were all part of Christian civilization at some time.
Without exception these countries attained national transformation through a familiar path, and true to type fell away afterwards. It is nothing new, and is a pattern ingrained in the process.

Gordon Cosby, the founding pastor of Church of the Savior in Washington D.C, noted a pattern as he studied the evolution of religious orders.
First, an idealist attracts people with a strong sense of devotion. The devotees then form a community. Usually there are certain behavioral traits  that become prevalent in most of such communities. One of such traits is discipline- hence the strict rules of founders of orders like Benedict and Ignatius.
 Disciplined groups tend to prosper, this is because discipline creates industry and industry produces wealth, but that very success ultimately undermines the group’s commitment and leads to self-indulgence, and at this point the movement begins to fall apart. 
All these happen and then someone comes along to revive the spirit of idealism. After this happens the cycle starts over again. 

Cosby has called this the “Monastic Cycle”. 

We see this pattern through history. The movements led by idealists such as Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, and Benedict of Nursia, demonstrate this very sequence. 
If we take a look at the early Benedictines we will see that in keeping with their culture of devotion and discipline they worked hard to clear forests and cultivate land, investing their earnings in drainage, livestock, and seed. A few centuries later they were hiring people to do the work while they sat back to enjoy the fruit of their labor, such as Benedictine brandy. At times half the order’s revenue went into maintaining the luxurious lifestyles of the abbots. Every so often a reformer would arise to remind the order of the original Rule of Benedict, and start a revival, only to see the same downward spiral and negative pattern eventually repeat itself. 

Beginning with Adam and Eve’s brief sojourn in the Garden, human beings have shown a remarkable inability to manage prosperity and success.
In Old Testament days, whenever the economy boomed and peace prevailed the Israelites attended less and less to spiritual things and instead looked to military power and  alliances for their security. 
In the prophets’ telling phrase they forgot God. We turn to God out of need, and forget Him when things go well. 
That is customary with human nature.
And so we as individuals also succumb to the Monastic Cycle in the same way that nations can and do.

It is this pattern that most of the people that are part of Western Civilization have subsumed into.

Two centuries ago, John Wesley warned Methodists about material success and it’s effects on faith when it is not put in its place-
“I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion (Christianity) to continue long. For religion (Christianity) must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and 
love of the world in all it’s branches.”

Union with God will inevitably produce prosperity and good success. This theme runs not only through the Bible but is consistent with human experience. 
Even before noting the fact that the Bible characters that were the most godly were also the wealthiest (the likes of Abraham, Job, David, and Solomon readily come to mind) a cursory and dispassionate look at several communities in Nigeria, Africa, and the developing world as a whole will show that those that admitted the gospel and the missionaries that brought it usually  end up faring much better than those that hold on to idol worship and deities constructed by their forbears.
In the same community there is usually a considerable distance between families that have accepted even the most  basic precepts of the gospel and those that have cohered to idolatry and diabolism. 

The question usually for us as individuals and nations is, just like with countries who have experienced significant prosperity and success,- “Can we stand to be blessed?”
It’s not a proposition of whether God will bless us or not if we seek Him the right way, it is more an issue of whether we will change when He does.

Will we cave in to the pattern of the Monastic Cycle?

I Remember: Going Down Memory Lane

THE DOWNWARD TREND AND DECLINE IN EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS

I grew up in the 70s and the 80s. I have a lot of memories. I remember how a lot of things used to be back then, and many of those things I remember with nostalgia.
Coming back home from primary school in the early 80s I was always looking forward to watching my favorite T.V programs and shows on the afternoon kiddies belt. 
I still have vivid memories of programs like, “Danger Mouse”, “G-Force: Guardians of Space”,  “Munch Bunch”, “Fraggle Rock”, “The Great Space Coaster”, and the more educative ones like “Telematch”, “Muppet Show”, and “Sesame Street”.
These were programs my siblings and I would eagerly sit around the tube to watch.
Memories, beautiful memories.

I am grateful for genuinely exciting and interesting  animated series like “Tom and Jerry”. They’ve been around for over 50 years and are still bringing good entertainment into a countless number of living rooms around the world. At least my children are watching a bit of what I watched while growing up.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the majority of content on offer today. 

As I look through what is meant to be programming  for children today I can’t help but shudder at the level of witchcraft, violence, lewdness, perversion and impropriety these programs are heavily laced with. The decline in quality is absolutely shocking.
Diabolism, Wizardry and Black Magic are now designed to look appealing to children. The younger ones get entrapped by “Sofia the First”, and the slightly older ones things like “Harry Potter”

We learnt so many things and still have fond memories of the likes of Sesame Street from which we learnt good diction and early analytical skills. The quality of T.V programming then was indubitable.

For the life of me I can’t put my head around what sort of education much of today’s programming is meant to give my children. 

The evening belt on T.V included interesting sitcoms like “The Jeffersons”, “Good Times”, and “Diff’rent Strokes”. These were shows we’d sit with our parents and watch till it was time to go to bed and retire for the night. 
Now, I look for sitcoms and see things like “Modern Family”, which is deliberately designed to put into the subconscious the “option” of homosexuality and the alternative family as a mainstream substitute.

Then there is a proliferation of what they now call reality T.V shows. “Shows” like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and different variants of “Big Brother” are the things that many families now refer to as entertainment. 

Jack Cafferty famously spoke about the travesty of having two girls with “the combined IQ of a box of cereal” (Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian) being role models for young people. 

That’s where we are today.

Seen a number of such “shows” that just made me shake my head. 
Amazing when it’s Snoop Dogg that has to teach us about “Fatherhood.” That’s the quality available to us right now.

I remember when lots of stuff on T.V was good and when it became bad

I also remember the kind of music we would hear coming through my dad’s car stereo, or in the barber’s shop, or the shopping mall. We would go for other children’s birthday parties and it would be the classic Stevie Wonder hit “Happy Birthday” that would be wafting through the air. 
I was recently listening to a radio station whose specialty is classic hits, as they went through each song I felt a wave of nostalgia go over me. Two songs they played were Donna Summers’; there was “Unconditional Love”, the song in which she featured the group called Musical Youth, and the other one they played was “She works hard for the Money.” They brought back lots of memories.
I remembered songs like Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”, “Like a Prayer”, and “Holiday”.
As the years progressed it dawned on me that there was a point at which the songs considered provocative were songs like Madonna’s “Who’s that Girl?”
Looking at what makes the list of regular tunes today who would ever have thought that?

I was an ardent fan of Hip-Hop, and I remember Kurtis Blow who was the first mainstream rapper. Years later, I remember how Rob Base and D.J EZ Rock came on the scene with their “It Takes Two” album that featured a personal favorite of mine, “Joy and Pain”.
I remember the likes of Run DMC, and  Special Ed who would just rap about their props, their hood and similar trivial stuff. I remember Public Enemy, I also remember lighter yet more melodious rhymesters like  LL Cool J and Heavy D. 

Then I remembered when rap music took a downhill turn with 2 Live Crew that was eventually “Banned in the USA” for their lewd music and objectifying of women.
N.W.A (Niggaz With Attitude) took it off a tangent when they entered a new degree of gangsta rap. They glorified “smoking niggers”, and “f*#%ing bitches”, and all sorts of other lyrics that threw propriety out the window.
The likes of Eazy E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube became the springboard for a new and more insidious genre of rap music. A genre that saw a journey through the tarot card and Ouija Board using group named “Bone Thugs N Harmony”, and several others like Snoop Dogg (who reportedly attempted releasing an album he called “DogsiNatas”, which is meant to be a reversible anagram or anadrome for “Satan is God”), and Notorious B.I.G and 2Pac (who incidentally was a very decent rapper when he was with Digital Underground).

Forgive my inexorable incursion down memory lane.

I remember when music was good and when it became bad

I also remember growing up, and how my dad loved cars. He had different Mercedes Benz cars and some other European brands. These cars were made in the 70s, were of top quality and were very rugged, they had very strong metal frames as well.
I used to joke then that if any of those cars ran into a brick wall it would smash through the wall and come out on the other side unscathed.
I love automobiles. So I can tell that they don’t make cars anymore like they used to.
Now, there are lots of brittle looking cars moving around. The plastic components of most of them have been increased considerably, while the steel has reduced. One of the reasons no doubt is to reduce gas consumption and carbon emissions.
Whichever reason is adduced one thing is sure…they don’t make them anymore like they used to. The quality is not what it used to be.

I remember when they used to make good cars and when they became crap.

I also remember the electronic gadgets I grew up seeing around the house. The Television sets looked like they were made out of some indestructible material or something, the stereo sets and turntables, the refrigerators, and practically every other appliance seemed like they would last forever. Now I try to contrast them with much of what is obtainable today….
Only recently, the first set of mobile phones were very tough and rugged. You could very easily have your infant drop your Nokia 3310 on the concrete floor and you’d be sure nothing would go wrong with it. That was their level of quality.

Think about what would happen to that iPhone if it dropped on a carpet now.

I remember when they made good and durable phones and appliances and when they became debile and pallid. I remember when they were good and now they are bad.

I can recall very clearly when I went on my first date; I still have vivid memories. I was thirteen years old was a girl I wanted to take out. He gave me one of his ties; over twenty five years later that tie still exists….somewhere.
The suits and winter jackets my dad had in the 70s and 80s were so rugged that most of them still exist in 2016.
I have had “designer” suits I bought within the last ten years that ended up having a tear designed somewhere less than two years after buying them. They just don’t make suits the way they used to.
Going to buy school shoes for my children I couldn’t help noticing the durability of the leather most of them were made with. I compared them with the shoes and sandals I used while going to school. Of course they were of far less quality.

I remember when the quality of shoes and clothes they used to make was enduring, and now they don’t last.

By now the keen observers among you would have noticed where I am heading with this.
There is an unfortunate trend that has pervaded almost every facet of life and aspect of society. That trend is quality products are fast giving way to more substandard ones, leaving us with only memories of “the good old days.”

The most tragic thing about it is that this trend has also pervaded and permeated Christianity today.
There was a time the word “Christian” was synonymous with terms like “Integrity”, “Morality”, “Faithfulness”, “Commitment”, and every other virtue that could ever come to mind. 
It is no longer the case.
There was a time men of the cloth were viewed with unbridled reverence because of their chaste and moderate lifestyles, and their focus on transiting people to higher realms of glory.
That is mostly no longer the case

I remember books by servants of God. Books that made a profound impact on me after I began my journey of faith. Literature from men like A.W Tozer, Andrew Murray, C.S Lewis, Watchman Nee, John Eddison, E.W Kenyon, and Kenneth Hagin. I can’t help but compare them with many of the books that are peddled in mainstream Christianity today.
The difference in quality is clear.
There was a time when many of the messages that came from the pulpits were soul-stirring and placed a deep conviction in the hearts of the hearers. It would seem the only thing that is stirred when many sermons are given today is uncrucified desires. Most are merely intellectually stimulating discourses and pep talks that tickle the fancy. 
Many ministers today are anything but what they ought to be.

Eugene Peterson said, “The Pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are pre-occupied with shopkeepers’ concerns- how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money. Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers, pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations. Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping, to be sure, but shopkeeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists…..The only problem is that we are called not to be shopkeepers, but shepherds.”

This story is true for several doing ministry in Nigeria today.

A.W Tozer said, “There Tozer said,

“There has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different; the likenesses are superficial, the differences fundamental….The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect…The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public…The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being….The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing…We who preach the gospel must not think ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish 
goodwill between Christ and the world. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. God offers life but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death.”

This is very sad. The same decline of quality that has percolated through society has also suffused through the primary agency for the redemption and transformation of humanity- the Church.
Many of us are now public relations managers and are taken in by the PC squad. We muddle the truth all in our bid to be appealing to everyone. Political Correctness has swept large portions of the Church in America and its spreading round the globe real fast.

The quality of everything seems to have dropped substantially, tragically also in the areas that matter most. Until we realize this we will never take the necessary steps to correct this rot in our personal experiences. 

I remember when the cross was at the core and Jesus at the centre, and now the things that truly count are on the fringes.