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Tanker explosion: Fashola commiserates with government, people of Lagos State

HAKEEM BELLO

In November 2010, in a tribute to Stephen J. Solarz, a former nine-term New York congressman, Douglas Martin wrote that he was a “torrent of activity” supporting it with a statement issued by the late lawmaker’s office that “during his first six months in Congress, he made 12 speeches on the House floor, co-sponsored 370 bills, held 11 news conferences, made 24 trips to his district and attended 99 events there, visited 23 subway stations, sent constituents 513,720 pieces of mail and took an 18-day tour of the Middle East.”

Gospel According to June 12

How do we explain the avalanche of commendations that followed President Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as the new Democracy Day? June 12, 1993 has evolved from an ordinary day in Nigeria’s political history to an extraordinary metaphor that throws up deep life lessons for the nation and for us as individuals. If we think deeply, we will catch dolphins of deep insights that can benefit us as we all pursue our dreams of greatness.

First, dreams can get shattered! One can have beautiful dreams and see those dreams get shattered. It does happen in life, but we must never be discouraged. We must keep dreaming. When one dream is shattered, dream a bigger one and keep your life on a fast lane. This advice makes more sense when the dreamer is still alive. Sadly, in the case of our beloved Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, he didn’t get the chance to dream again as he died and his dream of becoming the President of Nigeria died with him. Though he is long dead, he is honoured today as one of the martyrs of democracy in Nigeria.

Second, watch the seeds you are sowing. Another thing we can learn from June 12 annulment is that there was a disturbing harvest. I believe the annulment is a consequence of certain actions or inaction of our beloved M.K.O Abiola. Some have accused him of sinking a ship filled with Bibles and that he was one of those who hindered Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo from becoming a President. I do not have any evidences whatever to prove the authenticity of these accusations. But one thing is very clear that Bashorun M.K.O Abiola was loved and massively voted for across Nigeria. He was well-known for his philanthropic acts and appealed to almost every section of the country. Yet, the election was annulled! Could it be that a seed has been sown in the past that brought forth an unexpected harvest? Whatever the case, we all must be careful in all we do. All our actions (overt or covert) will count for/against us one day. Nothing escapes the gaze of the all-seeing and righteous Judge of the all earth. So, watch the seeds you are sowing.

Third, you can’t force things to happen. There are times we wish we can force things to happen our way, but it is not going to be possible. Bashorun M.K.O Abiola would have wished too. In life, we have lofty expectations, but we are sometimes faced with disappointments. We just have to accept that fact that there things we can’t force to happen to us regardless of how much we try.

Four, life is vanity. When I recall the popularity and riches of Bashorun Abiola and wonders where he is now, it dawns on me that this life is vain. Life is truly meaningless without touching the lives of people positively. After all the struggles, sweats, tears and blisters, death comes calling and takes a man away from his dreams. Death spoils the fun of life. Life is vain. Do not build your life on vanities or trivialities. Accept Jesus Christ – the Way, the Truth and the Life – as your Lord and Saviour. Life becomes meaningful here on earth and in eternity when we turn to God with all our heart.

Five, money is not everything. At that time, he was Nigeria’s Dangote. Abiola was rich and had the power of reach. Money was not his problem, but his money could not stop the annulment of the election. Many of us think all our problems will be over when we have enough money to spend. Remember, some have money but do not have sound health. And when it comes to accomplishing our dreams, money is important, but it is never the most important thing to consider. Never make money your god. Rather, make God your source.

Six, you need the god-factor, not godfather. In all we do, let us not just seek God’s involvement; let us seek God’s commitment. We are advised in the Book of Proverbs to trust in the Lord wilt all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways, we are to acknowledge Him and he shall direct our steps. Seek God, not godfathers. Putting your trust in a mortal is fatal. If Abiola built his hopes on some godfathers, the godfathers definitely failed him. The government in power may not like your person, but if you have the Almighty God backing you up, your victory is sure. As you pursue your dreams of greatness, build your hopes on God, not on godfathers.

Seven, don’t announce yourself. I think it is wiser to allow people announce your arrival than for you to announce yourself. There is a honour that comes with it when somebody does your praise-singing than for you to do it yourself. Chief Abiola announced himself president since no official results were released. This landed him in confinement; he died eventually under mysterious circumstances. We can learn a life lesson from this, never to open our mouths to sing our achievements before people. Let the people see the evidences and do the praise singing. And even when people celebrate you, keep your head in its right proportion. Don’t let your head swell and push you into the well of tragedy.

Eight, is generosity in your genes? Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was one of the greatest philanthropists Nigeria ever had. He rendered help to the helpless, putting smiles on faces. I could almost say that he had generosity encoded in his genes. Generosity is a way of life we must embrace, looking for opportunities to be a blessing to people around us. While we cannot play the role of God in people’s lives by meeting all their diverse needs, we can certainly be of help. From buying food for someone hungry to paying the school fees of an indigent student to footing the huge hospital bills of an underprivileged person, philanthropy is a way to go!

Nine, not everyone wants you to succeed. Yes! Not everyone smiling at you wants you to succeed in life. There are people whose mission is to stop you from getting to the top and reaching your goals. So beware because those you consider your confidants may actually be your sworn enemies. The forces that stood in M.K.O Abiola’s way were not strangers to him. One would have expected them to support his dream to a logical conclusion. As you share your plans with people, watch out for friendly foes.

Ten, free and fair election is possible! A free and fair election is possible in this country. History has proved this in the 1993 elections. The recent election saga of the Nigerian Governors Forum does not inspire hope in our hearts as to the sincerity of our leaders even as 2015 elections is approaching fast. With a nationalistic brand like Chief Moshood Abiola, Nigerians would gladly vote and know that their votes will count. Nigerians would set aside their ethnic or religious sentiments and vote their choice into the seat of governance.

Eleven, a single utterance can put one behind the bars. Watch what you say. A mere utterance can get you into trouble especially if you are an opinion leader. Words are very powerful. Our beloved M.K.O Abiola made only one statement and the rest is history. It was a statement that led to his confinement. This is to warn those who take delight in making baseless threats or unguided comments. Even jokes must be told with every sense of caution. Yet, just one statement you make can lead you into fortune. Don’t let your tongue invite misfortune into your life.

Twelve, be a beacon of hope. Abiola was a pure symbol of hope. Aside from the hope that flowed from his acts of philanthropy, he built a brand that pumped courage into the bloodstreams of Nigerians. His name rang a bell. His name sang a song. A whole new atmosphere came on the nation as new expectations surged in the hearts. I remember that the Abiola’s campaign theme was Hope ’93. Oh how time flies! My challenge to you is this – become a beacon of hope in your family, community, state, nation and the world at large. Do what you can do to inspire hope in the hearts of people around your life. Remember that hope is the anchor of the soul.

It’s now 25 years yet June 12, 1993 retains its relevance in our books of remembrance. After our visit, what will be said about you and I? What will posterity say about us? What lessons would people learn from our lives? What legacy are you going leave for generations to come? Let us live lives worthy of emulation to the glory of God and to the blessing of mankind!

For a better society

Ortom, Ribadu speak on APC national convention

OJAJE IDOKO

The first act of murder ever committed in history was the killing of Abel by his own brother Cain as recorded in the Book of Genesis chapter 4 of the Bible. Since then millions, probably a billion other human beings have been brutally murdered by acts of wickedness and violence committed by human beings. But the ultimate was the crucifixion of the Son of God on the Cross on Calvary Mountain in Jerusalem. He was arrested, tortured, told lies against, unjustly condemned on the basis of those lies and he was led to the mountain top, carrying his own cross. He was nailed to the cross, elevated and left to die. His Father, God, our Father kept silent on the face of all these. What God was to say, he had said when Cain killed Abel; “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” (Gen. 4:10). God heard the cry of the innocent blood that was shed and He told Cain as such. Is he really silent? No! He made a pronouncement: “And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth” (Gen.4: 11-12). And so when the blood of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ was shed on the Calvary Hill in Jerusalem, God simply remembered the pronouncement He had made in the case of Cain. It applied to those who killed Jesus and it applies to all who shed innocent human blood till today, whether you are a believer in the God of Israel or not.

Here in Nigeria we had the avoidable Nigerian civil war of attrition that lasted for three years (1967 – 70). The prelude to that war of ignominy was the massacre across the nation where hundreds of Nigerians were killed not by foreigners but by fellow Nigerians. In 1981 Nigeria witnessed the Maitasine onslaught in Kano and other parts of the Northern Nigeria that led to the death of many people. What followed was a tradition of religiously motivated riots in almost every city and village in Northern Nigeria.  People who knew next to nothing about God killed others in His name. It was like a competition was going on between the cities of Northern Nigeria of which city will kill more people. Kano, Kaduna, Funtua, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kafanchan, Zaria, Maiduguri, Damaturu, Bauchi, Jos, Lafia, etc were all theaters of religious war before the advent of the almighty Boko Haram in 2009. Thousands of Nigerians were killed. Properties and businesses worth billions of Naira were destroyed and millions displaced from their homes. Some crossed over to neighbouring countries because Nigeria was no longer safe.

All these have informed the Nigerian people without saying a word that because of our religious differences, we are no longer one. So today people settle according to religious beliefs in the major cities of the Northern Nigeria. The Christians live by themselves and Muslims do the same. In some cities, it will be nobody’s fault but yours if you stray to the part of the town that is not your own religious friendly environment. These are facts that we are playing the ostrich about. Then entered Boko Haram sect and killer squad! The politics and brutality of that sect has long been over-flogged in the public discuss.

Then the Herdsmen became an issue in the business of violence and killing in Nigeria. Many, different, varied and most of the time, conflicting explanations have been offered by both the government and security agents as reasons for the clash, violence and killings attributable to the herdsmen. Whatever the reasons may be the government and security agencies shouldn’t be the ones making those excuses for the killers. Has the government been able to arrest the people who have turned this nation, especially the Middle Belt or the North Central Region of Nigeria into killing field? Massive killing of people and burning down of various villages and settlements in Plateau State has been going on for some years now. There was genocide in Agatu between 2015– 2016 that left over 500 dead. We are yet to witness the government intelligently analyzing   killing in those places. Recently the problem moved over to Taraba State and Okpokwu, Guma, Logo, Gwer East and West Local Government Areas in Benue State. Lives are lost daily at the hands of people who brazenly move around the villages with dangerous and forbidden arms. Kogi state is gradually becoming another theater of murder.  Daily, we hear the news of massive group murder of innocent villagers in cold blood in the homes. The villagers and residents watch this daily and they are not able to do anything.

On the 24th of April 2018, the marauders upped their determination. On that day, the worshippers who had just finished their morning Mass in Mbalom in Gwer – East Local government in Benue State were gunned down. In the unprovoked attack, two Rev. Fathers who just finished the saying the Holy Mass with the parishioners were killed and Seventeen others including a Catechist were brutally murdered at a close range. What is happening in this country? What has come on us? Why must we always go on the way of bloodletting?

I am one person who believes in the fact that we have a nation and need to build this country. I was not matured enough to understand the yearnings of Nigerians for a democratic rule after the civil war. I was in primary school when General Yakubu Gowon was toppled in the palace coup in 1975. I was still in primary school when Murtala Mohammed was killed in the bloody coup of 13th February, 1976. But I was already a young boy in secondary school when Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s government of NPN was inaugurated on 1st October, 1979. I leaved through it as secondary school student when things started turning for the worst and eventually on 31st December, 1983 the NPN government was removed in a military coup. I was educated enough then to read enough newspapers and listen to radio to feel the pulse of Nigerians. There was celebration all over the country because we thought that salvation had come our way.

It was the same feeling we had in 2015 at the time of the election and declaration of the election results. We needed a change of power that would usher in a new dawn. The truth was that Nigerians truly desired a change of government not because APC as a political party used it as a campaign slogan. We needed a change that could tackle the menacing Boko Haram terrorists headlong and not with the romancing campaign slogan of that time. We did not feel safe and we needed a government and a leader who would tackle the security challenges headlong and make us feel and be safe in Nigeria. There was fuel scarcity and the almost non-existent electricity supply that at a point in 2014, offices and banks were closing at 1pm for lack of electricity and gasoline to power their generator sets. We were simply tired and we needed a break. It was the feeling of such desires that drove Nigerians out in droves that moved against a sitting president and his political party with the mighty powers of incumbency.

Come to think of the situation we are in at the moment. Did Nigerians sell their dog to buy a monkey? Why do we now feel greatly unsafe as we felt prior to the election of 2015? Why is it coming the full cycle? More Nigerians are being killed daily in their homes, places of worship, farms, schools, highways and byways. Why does the government seem helpless in the face of this mindless genocide against the people? The people of Nigeria are not asking for anything impossible. We simple want to be safe in our homes and community. We simply desire to have a place to work and let there be road and electricity. I do not think that this is beyond my government to provide. Are we asking for too much? How come now that it is the same government that is making excuses for the killer squad that is terrorizing the populace? If the killing took place in the farm between farmers and herdsmen, one can safely say it was farmers/herdsmen clash. But how do you call the innocent killing of Reverend Fathers and his parishioners after an early morning Mass? This act is as heinous as the abduction of the 280 Chibok school girls by Boko Haram. Blood, blood and blood everywhere! This is what we see all over the place.

The desecration of the altar of God on the 24th April 2018 by the nameless, faceless, mindless and heartless people who has continued to trouble Benue State and the greater part of the Middle Belt is the final straw. There is blood on the altar, shed by the people who do not understand the value of the altar. Where did we go wrong? The Middle Belt led down their lives to hold the nation together during the Nigerian Civil War. Now there is war in the Benue Valley. There is war on the Plateau. The federal government of Nigeria does not need to explain to the people but to go after the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity and let us know that we still have a government. The joyful feelings we felt at the 2015 election period is gone. We have become despondent and we cannot but ask, did we make a mistake? Where did we go wrong?

Finally, I go back to where I started. God is not silent. He is still on the throne and watching. He repeats what He said to Cain; “The voice of your brothers (and sisters) blood cry to me from the soil that has opened its mouth to receive it”. God is never silent and He shall eventually roar from the Heavens and put all enemies of His people to flight. We are disappointed but this too shall pass away like every other.

.Rev. Fr. Ojaje Idoko is the Director of Pastoral Affairs Department, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria

For a better society.

June 12: Why Obj, IBB did not attend MKO Abiola’s investiture

Muslims in South Western part of Nigeria under the auspices of Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), on Sunday sent a strong warning to former President, Olusegun Obasanjo; former Military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, General T.Y. Danjuma, religious leaders and other elder statesmen to watch their actions and statements which are capable of “setting the country on fire.”

KELECHI OKORONKWO

There is no force as strong as the collective will of the people. Political theorist, John Locke, who ascertained the domicile of power, eventually discovered that power is domiciled with the people. Locke, in his Two Treatises of Government, published in 1690, argues that it is the people that give power to the ultimate ruler. And in extension, the ultimate ruler can only exercise that power to the extent he is allowed by the people.

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