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Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.

By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

The Parliamentary Fix To Our Broken Democracy By Dr. Peregrino Brimah.

By Dr. Peregrino Brimah

“The gift of parrot’s eggs”

‘Tribalism and democracy are incompatible,’ Dr Elizabeth Rata, associate professor in the School of Critical Studies at the University of Auckland and member of New Zealand’s Independent Constitutional Review Panel, said this January. In contrast to Africa, most European nations follow the parliamentary system of governance. Complex and diverse nations like India, Lebanon and Israel also utilize the parliamentary system. As Africa awakens, there is a push for the parliamentary system of government, as a solution to the continents ethnic and political related woes.

While in Francophone Africa, the presidential system was in effect from independence, almost all former British colonies started out as Westminster-style parliamentary systems. The list includes- Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, the Seychelles, and Botswana. In most all, except Botswana and Namibia, the prime minister eventually became president and the nations practically operated on a one-party system. The World Bank rates South Africa, Mauritius, Gabon and Botswana, upper-middle income economies. It is more than a coincidence that of these four nations, three run parliamentary democracies. South Africa, which has the largest economy in Africa, adopted a parliamentary system, which is working well for the nation.

Botswana which has operated the parliamentary system since independence has remained stable and had the highest economic growth in the world. Parliamentary Namibia is one of the few countries that have consistently enjoyed peace and stability in Africa, with virtually no political turmoil or related civil strife. The same can hardly be said of the presidential African nations. The other African nation that had a parliamentary system, Libya, despite ‘Dictator’ Gaddafi, had the highest Human Development Index (HDI) in all Africa till he was toppled. The continental drought of this safer and more sensible system does appear to be some form of mega conspiracy or mega corruption.

Nana Owusu-Nkwantabisa said in Modern Ghana that the Western style of democracy that we have embraced—in follow-follow style—without adapting it to our traditional system is hurting. He further stressed that the presidential system was alien to Africa and that Africans need to utilize the parliamentary system of government which is very much akin to our traditional system, and that each constituency must be represented in national parliament, and each community should elect and sponsor its parliamentarian. Going on further, he expressed that the western democracy Africans have adopted introduced the concept of the opposition which is opening old wounds and fueling ethnic fracas.

In Nigeria, a group under the aegis of Youth Alive Network Nigeria, on August 25th also called for the re-introduction of the parliamentary system to cut millions in electoral financial waste. The 2011 elections in Nigeria cost 123 billion naira, and yet failed to yield worthwhile results. That is gross waste, in addition to the ethnic fractionating results. Nationwide political campaign money sploshing further violates the nation while ripping it apart.

Reviewing many contributions to the discussion, what can be agreed upon with the present political democratic atmosphere in the continent, is that an intellectual, culturally cognizant review of our systems is pertinent with view to amendment. There are problems in the continent, and these problems do not appear to be abating by any measure.

The discussion on re-instituting the parliamentary system has been rife in Kenya, as politicians desire to tame the powers of the president—one of the advantages over the presidential system. With a colonial wrought problem similar to Nigeria, many politicians clamor for a ‘Majimbo’ political devolution of power to the country’s regions. The 1964 revised Kenyan constitution, which adopted a presidential system, spawned years of political crises and post election violence in the nation, and resulted in a split of executive powers.

This May, former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga called for the adoption of the parliamentary system, saying it offers Kenya’s best solution to tribalism. “Africa is moving away from the big man syndrome, the days of Mr. President, the big man…” He said. Advancing that the parliamentary system works well in mature democracies, he described the presidential system as divisive and only served to entrench tribalism and the big man syndrome. The parliamentary system will curb the supreme powers of Africa’s presidents.

In April, former National Chairman of the defunct Progressive Action Congress (PAC) of Nigeria, Chief Charles Nwodo as reported in Daily Trust, said the parliamentary system was so favourable to Nigeria to “an extent that Nigeria was competing favourably with the developed countries, especially the so-called Asian Tigers”. He opined that, “in 1979 when the country  started  presidential system of government, Nigeria started having economic problems in spite the oil boom,” describing the presidential system of government as “the most expensive system practised in the whole world” and clearly not the best for a developing country like Nigeria. “With presidential system of government, you may end up using one third of the total annual budget to service political office holders at the expense of infrastructure development.”

Challenging the system in response to financial and political pressing realities, Time editor and CNN host, Fareed Zakaria queried whether the United States needed a Prime minister, in reaction to the 2011 drop in the nation’s credit rating due to a deadlock as a result of the polarizing effect of the nations presidential system. He said, “After the S&P downgrade of the United States, no country with a presidential system has a triple-A rating from all three major ratings agencies.  Only countries with parliamentary systems have that honor (with the possible exception of France, which has a parliament and prime minister as well as an empowered president).” These are very important considerations to be made by progressive statesmen. Fareed further referenced Juan Linz, a professor of social science at Yale,  HYPERLINK “”  who argued that parliamentary systems were superior to presidential systems for reasons of stability. In a parliamentary system, Juan Linz contended, the legislature and the executive are fused so there is no contest for national legitimacy.

A parliamentary system, in addition to being highly efficient, fosters economic growth and is most favorable for nations rife for ethnic and tribal crises. In operation, all the electorate does, is selects its local representatives. It is these Members of Parliament (MP’s) that then choose the house leader and potential Head of State from within the legislative branch (parliament) in an internal process. The biggest party (or biggest coalition) gets to form the government. The process not only drastically saves in cost, but also abates ethnic fracas and a violently heated polity. No system is perfect, all systems ultimately being are as good as the people; but in view of Africa’s history and conundrum of crises and conflict, the parliamentary system holds better promise.

The parliamentary system does of course have its challenges, a major one being the in-parliament bribing of representatives, though the World Bank found in a 2001 study, that parliamentary systems are less prone to corruption. Many other analysis have corroborated this. The MP’s are the best representatives we selected from our communities. As they conduct their duties, they represent us. The Prime minister is a member of the parliament and not a ‘foreigner.’ If he or she loses the support of the majority in the legislature on a significant vote, he or she resigns and elections are immediately called. Thus his powers are significantly limited. Accountable to the legislature, he defends his job every day. This is identical to what obtained under many kingdoms in pre-colonial Africa where the elders could pass a no confidence vote on the king, sentencing him to suicide or self exile. Senegal’s Serer elders informed the King his time was up by drumming a particular beat, while Yoruba people of Nigeria had the Bashorun notify the King it was time for him to kill himself by giving him an empty calabash or gift of parrot’s eggs.

There is urgent need for robust public discussion, review and referendum—if needed—on the democratic and political systems in Africa with focus on the re-introduction of parliamentarism.

We need to move forward.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah [Every Nigerian Do Something]


Twitter: @EveryNigerian

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters 

Spanish king apologizes for elephant hunting trip.

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MADRID (AP) — In an unprecedented act of royal contrition, Spain‘s king apologized Wednesday for having gone elephant-hunting in Africa while everyday people endure a severe economic crisis.

“I am very sorry. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again,” King Juan Carlos said, trying to placate a rare wave of outrage against him.

Looking sheepish and using crutches to walk, he spoke as he left a Madrid hospital where he had undergone surgery after breaking his hip in a fall during the hunting trip to Botswana.

The 74-year-old monarch had come under scathing criticism this week after he went on the expensive safari as both Spain and its citizens struggled amid an economic crisis that has worsened by the day.

The trip came to light when the king fell and had to be rushed back to Spain Friday.

A royal palace official denied news accounts that the monarch left the country without telling the government. The official said that on April 2, in a routine weekly meeting with the prime minister, the king told him that the following Monday he would be in Botswana.

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said Tuesday that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy always knows where the head of state is.

The palace official said the king made the trip as a guest of unnamed hosts — so no taxpayer money was spent. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with royal palace policy.

Many Spaniards were dumbfounded that the king could make such an opulent journey — and, to boot, one to hunt elephants even though he is honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund — while everyday people brave a 23 percent unemployment rate, a shrinking economy and fears that the country will be the next after Greece, Ireland and Portugal to need a bailout.

For many, the trip made the king’s recent comments about how he couldn’t sleep at night thinking about the country’s unemployed ring hollow.

News of the safari caused an uproar so loud it eclipsed Spain’s economic crisis for a few days. Members of most political parties had urged the king to say he was sorry.

The palace official confirmed the apology was unprecedented in the history of Spain’s monarchy.

In early reaction, the ruling conservative Popular Party issued a terse statement saying it “shows its respect for a monarchy that is in tune with what the Spanish people expect and need from it.”

The royal family has been in the news a lot lately — and not for the best reasons.

The king’s son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin is a suspect in a corruption case, accused of using his position to embezzle several million euros in public contracts through a not-for-profit foundation. Then, over Easter, the king’s 13-year-old grandson shot himself in the foot with a shotgun, even though by law in Spain you must be 14 to handle a gun.

Until now, Juan Carlos had always been a highly respected figure in Spain and almost never came in for criticism from either politicians or the media.

The king rarely speaks out on current affairs in Spain. But with the royal family looking so bad because of the Urdangarin case, in his traditional Christmas address last year, the king made a point of saying “everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.” He said he was worried because of what he called growing mistrust of “some of our institutions.”


Daniel Woolls contributed to this report.


Associated PressBy CIARAN GILES | Associated Press

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