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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

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

 

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

The Igbo Fallacy By Fredrick Nwabufo.


By Fredrick Nwabufo

In my previous didactic, tart, and dispassionate polemic entitled “The Igbo False Dimension: The Igbo I Hate” I adumbrated, exposited and espoused the tendentious logic of vehement and sustained rise in Igbo criminality in Nigeria. The piece extracted venoms from the fangs of “Igbo nationalists”. I was torpedoed with a fusillade of contumelies instead of seasoned, disciplined counterpoints by seemingly bruised Igbo people. My “Igboness” was excoriated and called into question and opprobrium. Let me reiterate here, that I am Igbo, but I will not out of blind, cowardly and defeated ethnic nationalism earthen the malfeasance and failings of my people. The burning truth will always consume the cold, easy lie.

In truth, the gruesome, senseless and depressingly cold murder of a Nigerian of Igbo fount in India, and the ceaseless profusion of crimson Hindustan xenophobic outrages towards Nigerians vivify curious ponderings, somber, sober reflections and unkind truths about the sojourning Igbo.  About forty thousand Nigerians live in India. Of this number, a vast queue of Igbo persons constitutes an irrepressible, but unimpressive quota. That is, the Igbo are in the majority stratum of Nigerian sojourners in India. It is therefore in the remit of unbiased logic to aver that a majority of Nigerians who commit crimes for which all law abiding Nigerians share in condign comeuppance in India are Igbo.  It is also on the threshold of verifiable truth that gross proportions of Igbo Nigerians in India are wired and prodded by survivalist propensities, and as such can do anything beyond the cloud of kosher to drag on their existence. Consequently, the piercing hollering of Indians that Nigerians in their country are criminals may be the unfortunate, lachrymal truth.

Arguably, the reason for Igbo sojourning to even the remotest of places in the world has been attributed to their much-vaunted entrepreneurial spirit. As a matter of fact, the claim that Igbo sojourning is driven by an atavistic entrepreneurial proclivity is enclosed between pressing, meaty layers of fallacy like the entrails of burger between fluffy loaves. Inasmuch as the “entrepreneurial sojourning” thread cannot be utterly pooh-poohed, it is judicious to explore other reasons why the Igbo are seemingly peripatetic sojourners. First, in Igbo ethology, it is a cringing evil for an Igbo man or woman to commit a “stigmatized” crime (Alu) such as armed robbery at home. This is not an obviation of abhorrent crimes committed at home by some unabashed Igbo criminals. The truth is the “home” Igbo criminals are a hopeless and shameless horde whose self esteem and sense of shame are terribly at nadir, and as a result purvey crimes at home. Inter alia, for any stigmatized crime committed at home there is a stern reprimand implicit in cleansing of the crime. The sacerdotal process of cleansing the land of a crime or an abomination is called “Ikpu Alu”. However, “Ikpu Alu” (cleansing of abominations) does not extend its sacred arm of cleansing and reprehension to crimes committed by Igbo sons and daughters in places outside the Igbo picturesque dome.  It is therefore not surprising if some Igbo persons commit heinous crimes in obverse places, and come back home to receive chieftaincy titles. As a matter of fact, in some morally weak Igbo communities it is a brave thing to traffic in hard drugs. Drug barons are gleefully celebrated as Ndi kara Obi (lion-hearted people). Such is the pantomime of the Igbo and crimes.

Going by the stated point, it is therefore indubitable to posit that an unenviable number of self-conscious Igbo persons with innate criminal manuals travelled outside the Igbo enclave to peddle crimes. This confutes the general idea that the sojourning of the Igbo is driven solely by entrepreneurial inclinations and motives. To a large extent, the sojourning of some Igbo people is driven by a morbid aim of shielding their evil trades from the peering eyes of their kinsmen. Their names are protected as long as they do not traffic in crimes at home. The important thing is to be successful at crimes abroad; successful enough to build vulgar mansions at home and throw lazy cash about.

To animate my argument further, what is the entrepreneurial inclination or motive of the Igbo in India, Malaysia, Vietnam and other Asian countries peddling drugs? Is the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbo only revivified abroad or outside Igbo land? Why should the Igbo entrepreneurial spirit find its host cozily and lopsidedly outside Igbo land? Is there a marriage between Igbo criminality all across the world and Igbo entrepreneurial genome? These are questions that defeat the long, tired argument of Igbo entrepreneurial “peripatetism.”

The fact is the “entrepreneurial” beat up logic and reason for Igbo sojourning is a bored excuse.

Analogously, Igbo sojourning atavism is also effectuated by pride, ego and vanity. A typical Igbo person will want to prove he is successful in anyway. It is wickedly mortifying to be seen as poor or struggling in Igbo land. This underscores the reason many Igbo persons smuggle themselves out of Nigeria, and because it is thought that any person in Obodo Oyibo (white man’s country) or even anywhere outside Igbo land is “doing well”. Those Igbo persons who are “cursed” to be in Igbo land are seen as struggling and as such do not deserve the courtesy of admiration and respect. It is a proud thing for an Igbo father to say, “All my children are abroad”; even when the abroad is Gabon. Such a father courts the respect, envy and admiration of other fathers in Igbo land. Again, it is a proud thing for an Igbo person to be far away from home. It gives him a mysterious air of importance. The Igbo value more their people who are not in Igbo land than their people who are in unenviable propinquity. This is the Igboawful linkage between Igbo sojourning and base vanity.

In all, there are Igbo persons in the scrawny good number whose sojourn in foreign countries is not tainted by any evil intent or base vanity, but it is a bleeding fact the singular Igbo entrepreneurial logic for sojourning is one big smorgasbord of fallacy.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and a poet. Email: fredricknwabufo@yahoo.com08167992075.

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

Thousands Protest in Gabon against Ritual Killings.


LIBREVILLE, Gabon — Several thousand people protested in Gabon on Saturday against a spate of ritual killings that has seen mutilated bodies washing up on beaches in the central African state this year.

Sylvia Bongo, Gabon’s first lady, led most of the demonstrators, while rights groups tried to lead a separate march but members said they were dispersed by tear gas and several leaders arrested by the security forces.

Body parts of humans and animals are prized by some in the region and Gabon’s Association for the Prevention of Ritual Crimes estimates that 20 people have been killed so far this year and their lips, tongues, genitals and other organs removed.

President Ali Bongo, who addressed the main body of protesters, said: “Anyone who is convicted will be jailed for life, without the chance of parole. We must put an end to this phenomenon that tarnishes the image of our country.”

But the rash of killings this year has led to accusations by rights groups that Bongo’s government has not done enough to tackle the issue.

Several hundred people tried to take part in a separate demonstration from the one led by Bongo’s wife, according to witnesses.

“The police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators,” said Anne Lea Maye, a member of Gabon’s Coalition of Women Against Ritual Killings.

Six senior figures from rights groups leading the rival march were arrested, said Marc Ona, a senior member of the movement.

The Interior Ministry had earlier said only the Bongo-led march would be authorized.

Critics say that until recently few in the closed-door power circles in Gabon would comment on the issue of ritual killings.

In the most high-profile ritual murder court case in Gabon to date, a convicted killer accused a Gabonese senator of ordering the 2009 murder of a 12-year-old girl for her organs.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Gabon oil workers’ union says begins unlimited strike.


LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – Gabon‘s powerful ONEP oil workers’ union said on Saturday it had begun an unlimited strike to demand the application of a 2010 agreement signed by the government on working conditions.

“We have started an unlimited strike from Saturday,” Hans Landry Ivala, ONEP spokesman, said by telephone from the oil hub of Port-Gentil. “We have called on all our members to observe the strike.”

ONEP is demanding the application of a November 2010 agreement between the government and oil workers, guaranteeing better labour terms and greater use of Gabonese staff.

Ivala said the strike was being followed at 90 percent of companies operating in Gabon and it had slowed down their operations. It was not immediately possible to verify this.

A government official in the oil sector had no immediate comment.

The central African nation of around 1.5 million people produces roughly 240,000 barrels per day of crude oil from a sector dominated by France’s Total and Royal Dutch Shell.

The oil revenues contribute around 60 percent of the state budget in Gabon, one of the few sub-Saharan African countries to have a dollar-denominated bond.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

6 people taken from oil vessel off Nigeria coast.


ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Gunmen attacked a vessel off the coast of Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, kidnapping six foreigners in an area that has become increasingly dangerous for oil companies and shippers, a police official said Wednesday.

Three Ukrainians, two Indians and a Russian were taken from a vessel run by energy companyCentury Group 70 kilometers (43 miles) off Nigeria’s southern coast on Sunday, Bayelsa police spokesman Fidelis Odunna said. The kidnappers have demanded a 200 million naira ($1.27 million) ransom.

Typically, foreign companies operating in Nigeria’s Niger Delta pay cash ransoms to free their employees after negotiating down kidnappers’ demands. Foreign hostages can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.

Foreign companies have pumped oil out of the Niger Delta, a region of mangroves and swamps the size of Portugal, for more than 50 years. Despite the billions of dollars flowing into Nigeria’s government, many in the delta remain desperately poor, living in polluted waters without access to proper medical care, education or work. The poor conditions sparked an uprising in 2006 by militants and opportunistic criminals who blew up oil pipelines and kidnapped foreign workers.

That violence ebbed in 2009 with a government-sponsored amnesty program that offered ex-fighters monthly payments and job training. However, few in the delta have seen the promised benefits and sporadic kidnappings and attacks continue.

Pirate attacks are on the rise in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, which follows the continent’s southward curve from Liberia to Gabon. Over the last year and a half, piracy there has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings and cargo thefts. Last year, London-based Lloyd’s Market Association — an umbrella group of insurers — listed Nigeria, neighboring Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as Somalia, where two decades of war and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish.

Experts say many of the pirates in the area come from Nigeria, where corrupt law enforcement allows criminality to thrive and there’s a bustling black market for stolen crude oil. Nigeria’s lawless waters and often violent oil region routinely see foreigners kidnapped for ransom. Increasingly, criminal gangs also have targeted middle- and upper-class Nigerians as well.

Sunday’s kidnapping is just the latest attack in the region. On Dec. 17, gunmen kidnapped five Indian sailors on the SP Brussels tanker as it sat about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the coast of the Niger Delta. That came the same day gunmen abducted four South Koreans and a Nigerian working for Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. at a construction site in the Brass area of Bayelsa state. Those workers were later released, though the Indians are still believed to be held by the abductors.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By BASHIR ADIGUN | Associated Press

C. African Republic leader calls rebels terrorists.


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BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The embattled president of Central African Republic on Tuesday accused the rebels who have seized the northern half of the country of being backed by “foreign terrorists” and said he is heading to this week’s peace talks to defend democracy.

President Francois Bozize, who himself took power in 2003 following a rebellion, has offered to form a coalition governmentwith the rebels. Some fighters, though, insist they will not join the government unless he steps down.

While Bozize’s government has faced previous challenges from rebel groups, this latest joint offensive launched one month ago has posed the gravest threat to his rule during his nearly 10 years in power.

“In a democracy, change is made at the ballot box and not with weapons,” he said Tuesday during a news conference at the presidential palace in Bangui, the capital.

Rebel leaders and the delegation representing Bozize’s government already have arrived in Gabon, where the peace talks are set to begin later in the week. Bozize said that if the rebels come with something positive to say, he is prepared to hear it.

“If the terrorists come to talk terrorism, the whole world will know it,” he said. “If they come to discuss defending the cause of Central African Republic, we are going to listen to them. If there is something positive, we will accept it. If it’s armed robbery, we will not accept it.”

The rebels of the Seleka alliance come from four separate groups that have now joined forces against Bozize’s government.

On Tuesday, the president again accused outside forces of aiding them and said “there is a risk that a religious cause is behind Seleka.”

He said it appeared there were Janjaweed, or fighters from neighboring Sudan, along with “people who don’t speak Sango, French or even English” from beyond the country’s borders.

“Foreign terrorists are attacking the established power in Central African Republic. Under those circumstances, I am proud of having served my country normally, that democracy is functioning normally,” he said.

Seleka began its offensive Dec. 10, and the rebels have seized a dozen towns in a month’s time. They said they were halting their advance before reaching Bangui in an attempt to give the peace negotiations a chance.

However, a spokesman for Seleka in Paris warned earlier this week that they still had the strength to attack the government-fortified city of Damara as well as Bangui.

“If we wanted to take Damara, it would already be done. We have the means to take Damara and also to take Bangui today, but we don’t want the capital to suffer attacks,” rebel spokesman Eric Massi told The Associated Press in Paris on Monday.

The rebels behind the most recent instability signed a 2007 peace accord allowing them to join the regular army, but insurgent leaders say the deal wasn’t fully implemented.

They have claimed that their actions are justified in light of the “thirst for justice, for peace, for security and for economic development of the people of Central African Republic.”

Despite Central African Republic’s wealth of gold, diamonds, timber and uranium, the government remains perpetually cash-strapped. The land-locked nation of 4.4 million, a former French colony, is among the poorest countries in the world.

___

Associated Press writer Hippolyte Marboua contributed to this report.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By KRISTA LARSON | Associated Press

Turkey aims to more than double trade with Africa by 2015.


LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – Turkey aims to more than double its trade with Africa to $50 billion over the next two years and ratchet up its fast-growing diplomatic presence on the continent, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Speaking in Gabon‘s capital Libreville on the first leg of a West African tour, Erdogan said Turkish firms from transport and construction to energy and tourism were eager to do more business across the continent.

“Our trade volume target for Turkey (with Africa) in 2015 is $50 billion and we are determined to reach this target,” he said in a speech to Turkish and Gabonese business leaders.

Turkish trade with Africa stood at $17.7 billion in the first 11 months of 2012. Its exports to the continent were $12.2 billion in that period, more than five times the level of a decade ago.

Turkey has rapidly increased its business and diplomatic presence in Africa, following in the footsteps of China, India and Brazil, as its companies look to diversify away from the slowdown in their traditional European export markets.

Business and diplomacy have gone hand in hand.

Erdogan, who is due to travel to Niger and Senegal on his trip, said Turkey would open three new embassies in Africa in the coming months, bringing its total on the continent to 34.

Turkish Airlines, 49 percent state-owned and a “soft power” tool of diplomacy, has rapidly expanded its African network in recent years, flying to 33 destinations and opening routes to Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Niger last month alone.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

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