Nov 27, 2009

A secretary of a Baptist Conference Says he Never voted Chris Okotie

The body of the Baptist Church in Nigeria is referred to as the Baptist Convention. The Nigerian Baptist Convention which is headed by a General Secretary is fragmented into regional conferences which are headed by secretaries. Reverend Philip Mwelwis Dafes is the Secretary of the Plateau Baptist Conference that has Plateau and parts of Kaduna and Bauchi States under it. Following the re-election of the German Chancellor, Angela Markel under the Christian party in Germany for a second tenure, we approached Reverend Dafes and asked what role the church has played in Nigerian politics and what it still can do.
In his appraisal of the Nigerian democracy since 1999, Dafes said his perception is mixed. The shortcomings of the democracy according to him, is accentuated by political indiscipline that has resulted in Nigeria being placed as the number 137th most corrupt nation out just over 180 countries of the world. Dafes said the root of the problem is in the inability of the nation to evolve into a true democracy where actual winners of elections are announced as the winners rather than the current situation that ensures that losers are actually announced as victorious. Such leaders cannot be held to account by the people since at the back of their minds, they know they were not elected.
Religion is what people believe in and if Pastor Chris Okotie wanted to become president then he ought to have the backing of other Christians since they have the same belief. Contrary to this, Dafes said he never voted Chris Okotie. According to him, he never met Okotie in person and does not know his manifestos. Furthermore, should Okotie win, he will be compelled to have some cabinet members from the secular world of Nigerian politics that will inevitably stain him as a clergy man. The history of clergy men in Nigeria politics has been a source of embarrassment to the rest of them as such politicians failed to live up to their calling as men of God.
Dafes said that not all Christian politicians are truly committed Christians. It is the reason why it is difficult to change them. According to him one of them once said that the church should not mingle into their affairs because the type of oath they take is far different from the type of oath usually taken in the church.
Dafes also explained that it will be disastrous to find a political party on the basis of religion like the Christian Party in Germany because our level of political development is so modest that it will be better for us to just sustain the status quo. Such parties will not find acceptance. Though political parties are not founded on the basis of religion, he says however, some parties are perceived as Christian parties while others are perceived as Islamic parties with the different faiths voting largely along this line. To stress his point, he added that a presidential aspirant once pronounced that all Muslims should vote Muslims and all Christians should vote Christians. He said that until we pull ourselves out of this predicament, we will continue to experience the current political difficulties. The Christians he says cannot separate themselves from the Muslims and vice versa as God knows why he brought us together as the people of one nation.

Mohammed Abubakar, the Linchpin of Quanpan People

Mohammed Abubakar is the most recent member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, having come to the House just six months ago.
Abubakar was born a Moslem at Kurgwi in Quanpan Local Government Area of Plateau State. He attended elementary and secondary schools education there and was later educated at the Department of Mass Communication of the University of Jos. He joined politics immediately. He was a councilor under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP between 2003 and 2007. In 2003 he contested to represent the people of Quanpan South at the Plateau State House of Assembly. He did not win. A DPP candidate however went to court asking it to cancel the election, claiming the electoral commission was not fair to his party. Satisfied with the evidence presented to it, the court went ahead to annul the election and directed that a new election be held. This time, Abubakar won the election which was held on the 28 March 2009.
According to the young but outspoken legislator, his constituency is one in which the people have failed to manage their ethic and religious differences as it should be. The result is perennial fighting, during which people are killed or maimed and lifetime possessions lost. The people however saw the need to come together and vote for him to make him their rep at the state house of assembly. This action of the people has led him to see himself as the unifying factor of the people of the constituency. Thus one of his goals to the constituency is working towards a lasting integration of the people. Related to this is the bill he is sponsoring for the establishment of an emergency respond centre to threat people in the event of religious or ethnic warfare.
Crisis among the people are most times the result of frustration due to leadership failure. Along this line, his predecessor who was wrongly sent to the House also failed since he was unable to initiate a single project to fill the development vacuum in the constituency during the two years he has been at the House. Abubakar however intends to tow a different line. The projects that are now at lintel or roofing levels in his constituency in just six months of his representation have vindicated him.
Besides the 5km township road project in Quanpan, there is just but the Dokan Tofa-Baab road project undertaken by the state government. Abubakar was not opened but the tone in his voice seems to suggest that more could have been done.
Abubakar is also full of praises to the House for living up to its duty of curtailing the excesses of the executive in the state. The House does not usually sit on Wednesdays. It however sat on Wednesday 18. It is due to the urgency of the agenda before the members. A court had ruled that the sitting Chairman of Mikang was wrongly declared a winner following the Chairmanship elections for local government councils but the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission failed to issue a certificate of return to the actual winner of the election as directed by a court. Their sitting on Wednesday was meant to compel the Chairman of the electoral commission to issue that certificate. The previous day, the House sat and passed only N4 billion as against the N14 billion that was tabled before the House by the executive as supplementary budget for the year 2009. The House did not do so without giving it’s a reason which was that the year is already spent and it will not be reasonable that the state can spend up to N14 billion in less than fifty days remaining for the year to end. These two events in the house, according to Abubakar are a demonstration of the ability of the house to check the excesses of the Plateau State executive arm of government.

Nov 5, 2009

Black People and the Obama Hype

Had Barack Obama, the democratic candidate in the United States Presidential Election failed to win, it will have dealt a big blow on the psyche of black people not just in the US but also around the world. It would have also resulted in a serious backlash that time alone would have been able to heal. This is because a lot of black people particularly in Africa had already conditioned their minds to believe that Obama is the President in waiting. This is despite the slim margin that put Obama ahead in the opinion polls and previous experience to the fact that black politicians have often been handed big surprises at the moment of decision.

For the sake of Obama alone Africans had wished they had a franchise, which they could exercise in the US elections. Obama’s presidency is important to Africans because Africans are aware of the fact that they are often the underdogs in global issues; be it in politics, economy, science or technology. Thus a black President of the most powerful nation on earth would have reinforced the belief of Africans that they could also do it. Obama’s presidency will give Africans a bigger sense of belonging in global issues.

I personally have heard songs in eulogy of Obama as the black “President of the World.” One is from Ghana and the other from Jamaica. To underscore the significance of Obama’s presidency of the US, a Nigerian woman who happened to be the Director-General of the Nigeria Stock exchange, Ndi Onyiuke Okereke, raised one hundred million naira (N100, 000 000) with the aim of supporting the Obama campaign which Obama however declined to take as it violates portions of the electoral laws in the US. In Kenyan where Obama’s father was born, there are newborn kids that have been named after Obama. Obama’s T-shirts and speeches on DVDs have sold in thousands. There is also the audacity of hope, a book by Obama that are now found on every bookstand.

To African-Americans, Obama’s Presidency will no doubt give them a sense of belonging in their own country. They also hope that it will be an opportunity to address peculiar problems of black people in the US.

Obama however will be a President for all races and an advocate of a better world for us all. In as much as Obama has enjoyed the full support of black folks within and outside the US, he has also enjoyed the support of the other races in the US. As a matter of fact, the earliest indication of the potential of Obama Presidency was made by some white liberals who vowed to support him leading to his eventual declaration of his intention to run for the presidency. Had Obama had only black votes he would have lost the elections. It should not be forgotten that Obama’s mum is white.

Thus Obama’s victory is a physical and tangible actualization of Martin Luther’s dream of a United States were people are judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. Hence Obama is a unifying symbol and the US that made that happen for the first time, is undoubtedly, the leading nation on the surface of the planet.

NUBES Honours Danboyi and Others

Pamson Dagyat
Students are aware that the community will look at them expectantly when they pass out of school. The formation of student unions is to provide them with a platform on which they can nurse their leadership skills and be able to live up to the expectations of the community. The National Union of Berom Students (NUBES) National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) Vom branch is not different. On the October 25, the National Association of Berom Students organized an award and cultural day festival during which they honoured nine Berom sons.

The organization of cultural days and award presentation ceremonies is one of the activities student unions perform. The activities nonetheless have significance to their respective communities. The purpose of a cultural day is necessitated by the threat of western culture on all other cultures including Africa’s. Thus the cultural day was also aimed at fortification of the Berom culture in view of the threat of extinction, which it also faces. Hence there were people dressed in the traditional Berom attires. Typical Berom traditional meals were also served. There were also Berom traditional dances to entertain all present.

The Berom people make up one of the most populous tribes in Plateau State, occupying three of the seventeen local government areas of the state. These three local governments of Jos-South, Riyom and Barkin Ladi happened to form the most developed, urbanized and economically strongest parts of Plateau State. In view of these opportunities the Berom people feel there shouldn’t be poverty among their people but the reverse is the case. Thus a paper that was delivered during the occasion traced the root of the problem to the inability of the Berom people to embrace western education fully. This, the paper stressed, is connected to the fact that majority of the people were blinded by the abundance of the mineral deposits in the land.

The fellow tribesmen honoured are people who have made the Berom proud by distinguished performance in various spheres of human endevour. They include Honourable Emmanuel Danboyi, a member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Da Gregory Pam Pwojok, the Dagwon Kwata Zawan and Da Choji Balak, the Da Gwon Rwei of Vwang. Others include Amos Dauda Gwom, Reverend Canon Dalyop Gyang Mang, Pam Gabriel Dagyat, Coach Peter Gyang and Tobias Choji

To Honourable Emmanuel Danboyi, the award ceremony is significant because it afforded the elders being hounoured the opportunity to meet with the students and encourage them and the community at large. In an era where people can only forge ahead when they have the relevant education, it will indeed be wrong of any elder to shun an invitation from the age bracket that have often been scolded for refusing to embrace education. When the youths continue to get educated there will be that assurance of continuity for the tribe they originate from. The tribe will in turn be able to move on in a world of competition.

Honourable Danboyi agrees that the Government of Plateau State is determined to change the fortunes of the state for good. It has support but not as much as it should be he said. Thus he uses any slight opportunity to address a crowd to solicit for support for the government.

All members of the Plateau State House of Assembly recently visited Germany. Honourable Danboyi also used the opportunity to talk to the people on lessons the members learnt during the visit. Danboyi said they were led to German schools to see the kind of attention the Germans attach to education. He says it has served as an inspiration and he would use his position as member of the Plateau State House of Assembly to press for changes in the sector in Plateau State. Danboyi also talked about the fact that they were lead to the House of a royal king that was renovated at the cost of eighty million Euros. That to him is a reflection of the significance the Germans attach to their traditional rulers. He called on the people of Plateau State to attach the same significance to their own traditional rulers in view of the obvious role they play as anchors of peace and the custodians of the tradition of the people.



Obama Becomes US President

As early as 4am on November 5 Nigerian time, I woke up and tuned to the BBC. My aim was not to merely keep up with my normal routine but to be able to witness the declaration of Obama’s victory first hand rather than be told by a third party. A BBC reporter was at a venue in Arizona where John McCain and some of his supporters had gathered in anticipation of the results of the elections. The result however, came earlier than I had expected and I had it first from McCain himself. The BBC reporter announced that McCain was on his way to the podium to give a speech and since I have not heard the result declared, I thought McCain was going to speak about something else. McCain on climbing the stage told his supporters that he had just spoken to Barack Obama a short while ago. During the speech the Republican candidate said he congratulated Obama for his victory at the polls. I screamed and jump up from my bed. Obama the African-American had become the next President of the United States of America.

Obama, in his acceptance speech, which came later, underscored the fact that his election has proven that anything is possible in the US. Yes, the US has led the world to understand that anything is possible. The fulfillment of Martin Luther’s dream came earlier than many had thought. Martin Luther foresaw the gradual fading away of the line that divided the races in the US.

The news of Obama’s victory was relayed alongside other stories. There was also the story of suicide bombings in Iraq and the war in eastern Congo. Since the Civil Rights Movements, the US had grown from racial segregation to a stage where white people could vote a black man to become the President of the United States. Thus Obama is truly a symbol of change and whom people from all parts of the world supported. He is hence a global figure that will be expected to lead the world to overcome the problems of sectarian differences that saw people fly planes to buildings and killing thousands, a problem that has led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Obama could also be that symbol of change that can lead the world to overcome global poverty and hunger. A problem that has led to the type of wars in Liberia, Sudan, Angola, sierra Leone, and many other parts of the world.

It happened that the US, a country whose presidency Obama had won, is largely responsible for the causes of global warming. Obama could also be that symbol of change that will lead the world to overcome this next big threat after terrorism.

Obama’s political victory might be just the first stage in a series of unthinkable changes that will finally remake our world.

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