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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

Senator Ekweremadu insists on no referendum on confab, despite Igbo leader’s stand.


Ike-Ekweremad-3

Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a lawyer and politician is the Deputy Senate President and Chairman of Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution. Ekweremadu, who is representing Enugu West Senatorial District in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, in this interview, says it is critical to subject the National Conference to legislative process. The Deputy Senate President also speaks on the progress of work on the constitution amendment exercise, among other issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports.What is your view on the issue of single term tenure?When the issue of single term tenure came up at the level of our committee, we were mindful of the political atmosphere. We also tried to draw inspiration from what happened in other jurisdictions, especially in Latin America in the 70s, where they had circumstances in which we found ourselves where the issue of transition from one administration was a major issue and was causing crisis within their region.So, they started to amend their constitution at that time to create a single term in each of those countries and it was for a transition period. This helped them to stabilise their democracy and now some of them are amending their constitution to go back to two terms of maybe four or five years. So, we thought it was something we can recommend to our country.Do you think Nigeria can benefit from it?If you look at what is going on in Nigeria now, all the core problems we are having in all the parties are based on the issue of succession. So, we believe strongly that, that matter can still be revisited. But I think some of the mistakes we made in our recommendations, was saying that the incumbent would not benefit from it and I think there was a kind of coalition of forces to defeat it. So, I believe that one of the ways to deal with the situation is for the stakeholders in the politics to come together. It could be a win-win situation for everybody. And I believe that the way it could work is now that people have been elected for four year.Now let everybody complete the four years tenure for which they were elected and then, through the doctrine of necessity, all sort of jurisprudential approach do some kind of transition of two years in which case those present occupiers like the president and state governors who are finishing their tenures, maybe, will now do another two years that would end in 2017.I hear that the complaint of some of those fighting the president is that if the president gets his second term when they are gone, he would start to chase them. So, if we all agree that, that is a way to solve the problem, after two years, both the president and those other governors will now exit and I believe that the fear would not be there and that would bring down the temperature of politics. Of course, we don’t have much problem with the legislative positions.We can go ahead and hold legislative election in 2015.

The advantage there will be that if we do the legislative election in 2015, and then do executive election in 2017, we will have two years gap for the INEC to have a breathing space to prepare well. You can see what is happening in Anambra now. So, INEC needs sufficient time to prepare for one election before the other. In America for instance, there is this two years separation and in fact in most countries, even in Senegal, and some places in Africa they have adopted that policy of separation legislative elections from executive elections.If we create a two year gap, it creates a situation where the country would not be engulfed in crisis in the process of conducting all the elections in one period. I think it is something that we need to reflect on and see if it is something that can help to resolve some of the challenges that we are having now and I do hope that if we are able to do that and we all agree to it, that it is going to solve even some of the security challenges because I do believe that some of the security problems we are having now are from the tension arising from politically charged atmosphere.So somehow, everybody will benefit from it; both the president, governors and all we need to do is to exercise some patience and give them two more years and they will all exit and we will start on a clean slate and be going forward. After that we can move to one term tenure that can be five years, six years or seven years depending on what we all agree upon.The cost of all these re-elections and all the problems that come with it would have been resolved and people will now know that if I am a president or a governor, I have a certain number of years and when I finish, I am not going to hunt the president or stop him from running again.Right now what is happening is that if the governor wants a re-election, he will do all kinds of things to stop the opposition and on the other hand some people will accuse the governor of all kinds of stupid things because he wants to have himself elected, so it causes all kinds of problems.Even the cost of the election itself, I don’t think that Nigeria can continue to sustain that. I know how much money we have spent on INEC and besides I know that politicians themselves spend a lot of money which most of them don’t ever declare. So, it is a huge cost to the country, but if we say let there be single term especially for the executive positions, some of these costs will have to be reduced.How then can we bring the matter back for discussion?Interestingly, we didn’t know that the president and executive would come up with the idea of National Dialogue. When we were doing the present constitution amendment we came up with the amendment of Section 9 of the constitution. Now, because I said the matter was defeated, it is under our processes. And for the matter to come up again, it must come in form of formal motion to bring about that.But because we are serving the people, we would be more than willing to do that if that is what the people of Nigeria desire. If there is a debate on it in conversation and Nigerians believes that the way we are going, we need to think along that line and be able to use it to resolve the existing political tension in this country, just as we did during the ill-health of our president, we would be more than willing as a national service to have a look into it and be able to reach a level of understanding in the National Assembly. So, we will be willing to discuss it provided that is exactly what the Nigerians want. But, for now, the matter was defeated in the Senate. If we are going to bring it about again, there must be another motion to resuscitate it.What is your view on the agitation for state police as part of the measures to be taken toward solving the security challenges in Nigeria?I have my personal position and an official position because I belong to an institution. The Senate at the level of the Committee on Constitution Amendment rejected suggestion for State Police and so we could not take it, even to the floor. And as a person, it is my job and my responsibility to present the report of the committee and I needed to explain to my colleagues why we made that recommendation. And the reason we gave was that though it has its advantages, Nigeria was not ripe for State Police and it was something for the future.That is the official position of the committee which I head. Now as an individual, I believe strongly that we can never resolve our security challenges in Nigeria as long as we are doing what we are doing now. Never! Even let us continue what we are doing, in five years if we meet again, it would be the same problem that we would be having. The reason is clear.No other country is doing what we are doing in term of policing. Most countries, especially the federation, have adopted what I call decentralised policing and indeed, the issue of State Police is even anachronistic. What is done now is multilevel policing or decentralised policing.You see, the security challenges have become very complicated, so you will have to bring a complicated process to address it. We cannot have a federal type of government and then adopt the unitary system of police and expect that to succeed. Even the white men, when they came to do the amalgamation, they knew that a centralised police cannot work in Nigeria.So, the type of police they set up was the Native Authority Police. That was the first type of police we had in Nigeria and it worked. They also introduced the prison, which were Native Authority based. It was later in the years, I think in 1936, that they decided to set up a Federal Police.So, the federal police and local government police co-existed together till 1966 when the army took over. Unfortunately, when the army took over, they set up a committee to review that type of police and they came to the conclusion that people were using it to intimidate political enemies. It was bound to happen because the white men did not bother to set up a structure that would regulate that kind of level of policing. There was nothing like Police Service Commission with clear guidelines on how to structure the Native Authority Police and to be able to determine what bounds they must stop.So, they were doing things the way they liked. But instead of the army finding a way to reform that arrangement and make sure there was a level of control or regulations, what they did was to throw away the baby with the bath water. They cancelled other levels of police and set up a central police system which we have now. What happened after that?First was armed robbery because armed robbers were now going about their business everywhere because they start posting policemen from Kano to Enugu, from Enugu to Calabar, from Calabar to Ibadan. So, they bring people who don’t know the terrain of the place.So, armed robbers take advantage of that. When the armed robbers have established their reign, kidnappers now joined them. Now there are terrorists and some ritualists are also coming into the crime business. The police we have now are not grounded; they don’t know the environment they are operating. Take for instance, you send a male Southerner, maybe a Christian to Sokoto and then, in the course of his beat, somebody commits a crime and he starts pursuing the person.Once he runs into a house he cannot go further if there is a woman living in that house because he is not allowed to enter because their religion does not allow him to see the woman. So, there are cultural differences that we have to respect and the only way we can do that is to get a policeman who is also part of the culture of the area; who respect the culture and also understand the environment and who lives there and as long as he is doing the police work, he knows everybody in the area.What they do in most countries is not state police, but decentralised policing or multi-level policing, which means that in Abuja for instance, we will have the federal police in Abuja and we will also have the Abuja Federal Capital Territory Police.Then, those of us who live in Apo, will have our own police and then the University of Abuja will have its own police and these are all well coordinated. So, if there is an offence in Apo for instance, the first police you will call is the policeman who lives on your street and the man appears there in the next second.If he thinks it is something that he cannot handle, then he will contacts his colleagues who live in other areas of Apo and if it becomes too much for them, they will call the FCT Police and if it is still too much for them, they will now call in the federal police and by the time you finish all these, they would have arrested the criminal.In America they commit crime everywhere and everyday as they commit here but the difference is that no matter where you go, they will find you because they are everywhere and they know what happens within the environment they operate.But in a situation where somebody has to leave a place where he lives in the course of posting, it would not allow to know the environment in which they are operating. Part of the job of the police is prosecution and also investigation. A policeman is investigating a crime and he is going to testify in Court A, in Lagos. And he is now transferred to Jalingo.Now, what happens to that case? That is the end of the matter. Then, the criminal goes free because the policeman cannot be coming from Jalingo to give evidence in Lagos. That is how criminals go away with the offence and that is how they increase the number of criminals in the society. That is why some of them in the prison will never come out in the name of awaiting trial because of the type of police we arrange. It is so sad that we are not seeing all these.Is the National Assembly going to debate the recommendations of the National Dialogue?Legislative process is a time consuming process and it is meticulous. The product of a legislative process is expected to endure for a very long time and that is why it is painstaking. So, if it is brought to parliament it has to go through the whole process because people’s lives are involved and there is no legislation more important than the constitution.So, if some people come together and agree on a constitution and bring it to the parliament, we have to look at it line by line, to make sure that everything is right because after all, they are the duly elected representatives of the people.There may not be fundamental changes to it, but they are going to be subjected to debate because several heads are better than one. It is critical that it should be subjected to legislative process and when that happens we would be assured that the whole process has been completed. There is no way you can sit down in Abuja, bring some people together, they craft a constitution together and it becomes law. It doesn’t happen anywhere in the world.Assuming we had a military regime, it is possible that you can bring people, set up a Constituent Assembly because there is no parliament and so they can agree on whatever they want to be the constitution. But not where you have an institution recognised by the constitution as the ultimate legislative body and you go and duplicate that institution by bringing another set of people by asking them to go and do a constitution.You are asking for anarchy. We hope that those who will come for the national dialogue will realise this, and know that nobody can escape the necessity of sending the outcome to the National Assembly and even to the State assemblies so that it will go through the whole hog in accordance with the law.What is your view on creation of new states?We have never said that it is impossible. What we have consistently said is that it is very difficult and I still maintain that it is difficult. Because a situation where you have to generate certain signatures and then bring it to the National Assembly, which will then deliberate on it and then send it to the Independent National Electoral Commission for referendum within the area that wants to be a state and after that you will now send it to all the states of the federation irrespective of where the demand is coming from.If you are requesting for a state in Cross River, you will have to send it to Sokoto and when they finish, in those State Houses of Assembly, you will bring it back to the National Assembly to vote and it is only when it passes through that it now becomes a state. If that is not difficult, I wonder then what is difficult.We are not saying that it is impossible, but we encourage people to try the process, let’s see how far that they can go. Under our processes, for the matter to come up again, it has to come through a formal motion. But because we are serving the people we will be more than willing to do that if that is what Nigerians desire.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Waiting For Tambuwal’s Revolution By Chido Onumah.


Chido Onumah
Columnist:

Chido Onumah

This piece has nothing to do with what is happening in Egypt. Ultimately, Nigerians, based on their experience and the existing reality, will determine the trajectory of the current impasse. It was spurred by the recent call for revolution by Aminu Tambuwal, a 2015 presidential wannabe.
Last week, the speaker of the House of Representatives joined the growing list of public officials calling for revolution in Nigeria, a call that is not only cynical but downright hypocritical.

Tambuwal was guest speaker at the 2013 Distinguished Management Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and he spoke on the theme, ‘The role of the legislature on the economic, infrastructural and ethical revolution in Nigeria”. “Nigeria is due for revolution – Tambuwal”, was how the Punch headlined its report of the speech.

According to Tambuwal, “The most compelling reasons for revolution throughout the ages were injustice, crushing poverty, marginalisation, rampant corruption, lawlessness, joblessness, and general disaffection with the ruling elite. You will agree with me that these describe conditions in our nation now, to a very large degree”.

It was the same chorus that former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, sang last November in a speech at a West African regional conference on youth employment in Senegal. “Unless the government of Nigeria takes urgent steps to arrest the menace of youth unemployment and poverty, it is a certainty that Nigeria will see a revolution soon”, Obasanjo said. For a man who had eleven years – three years (1976-79) as a military dictator and eight years (1999-07) as an “elected” president – to change the fortune of Nigeria but wasted it, it is understandable that Obasanjo is seeking to make restitution and redeem himself.

For Tambuwal who was represented by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, “That these conditions exist is well known to all persons in authority but the results of these successive efforts have failed to yield the desired results. This therefore is the justification for the radical change from the present approach to a revolutionary one”.

We can see a common thread that is worrying in the extreme in this cacophony of revolutionary battle cry. These voices belong to those who have brought us to this sad end. Both Tambuwal and Obasanjo, examples of the opportunistic and vain-glorious elite that has held this country hostage since independence, are leading figures in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP-led national government has in the last 14 years either created or exacerbated “injustice, crushing poverty, marginalisation, rampant corruption, lawlessness, joblessness, and general disaffection with the ruling elite”.

Considering Tambuwal’s pedigree, it is unlikely that he authored or had any input in drafting that speech that was clearly a publicity stunt. I am inclined to believe that Mr. Bamidele, former radical student activist and ex-president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) who represented the speaker was merely expressing himself while invoking the name of the speaker.

Of course, Nigeria is due for revolution. Nobody who has witnessed the way the country has been run, particularly in the last 14 years will deny that revolution is imminent. A country where the ruling class connives with multinationals to dupe citizens in every sector deserves nothing but a revolution. A country where homelessness is the rule rather than the exception; a country where poverty, unemployment and hopelessness persist in the midst of abundance, is ripe for a revolution. Not just any revolution, but one that will usher a new era of wealth redistribution and reward for genuine hard work as opposed to rewarding the indolence of our ruling elite.

Tambuwal and his cohorts can’t “dash” us this revolution. Tambuwal’s grandstanding should, therefore, be noted for what it is. As one commentator put it, “When the root of a problem starts recommending the solution to the problem, something is amiss”. I will give it to Tambuwal. He has become a star overnight; an adept at using politically correct lingo for whatever it is worth.

Is Tambuwal really interested in revolution, ethical or otherwise? I doubt it. In his opinion, “The most critical role that the legislature plays is through the annual appropriation bill. As representatives of the people, the legislature ensured that the more critical needs of the people got priority attention, as efforts were made to ensure equitable distribution of projects”. Which critical needs is Tambuwal talking about? The collapse of education, health and social infrastructure across the country?

Let’s even leave the issue of the scandalous salaries and allowances Tambuwal and his colleagues receive as “representatives of the people” – salaries and allowances that are the highest in the world – and focus on the “more critical needs of the people” that Tambuwal talks about so glibly.
In a country where universities have become glorified secondary schools, where workers are expected to survive on N18,000 ($110) a month; a country with one the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, where over 10 million school children are out of school, Tambuwal’s House of Representatives approved over a N1 billion ($6million) for food in 2012 for the presidency, N1.7 billion ($11.3million) for the vice president on trips and N1.3 billion ($8.6million) on office stationeries in 2012. This amount included N12 million ($80,000) on books, N45 million ($300,000) on newspapers, and N9 million ($60,000) on magazines and periodicals. A breakdown showed that the VP would spend N723 million ($4.8 million) on local travels and N951 million ($6.3 million) on his international travels. That is the kind of profligate house that Mr. Tambuwal superintends.
We have heard from those who say Nigerians are too timid to carry out a revolution. Now, it is the turn of those who want to wage the revolution on behalf of Nigerians on the pages of newspapers. Of course, if we wait for Tambuwal’s revolution, we’ll wait in vain.

When the mass of our people know that when they confront this oppressive system, they have nothing to lose but their oppression, poverty and indignity they will embark on the necessary journey of genuine revolutionary transformation of Nigeria.

An essential part of this revolution is to tinker with the structure of the country which feeds the corruption and impunity of which Tambuwal is a major beneficiary. Tambuwal, by his own words, has invited the rebellion on himself and others in his class. They should be concerned, really concerned!
conumah@hotmail.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

African Religious Leaders Rebuke Obama’s Call to Decriminalize Homosexuality.


President Obama
President Obama

Religious leaders in Africa strongly rebuked President Obama’s call to decriminalize homosexuality, suggesting it’s the reason why he received a less-than-warm welcome during a recent trip to the continent.

In a news conference in Senegal during his three-nation tour, just as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on same-sex marriage, Obama said African nations must grant equal protection to all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

“My basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you … people should be treated equally,” Obama said. “And that’s a principle that I think applies universally.”

But Obama’s words rubbed religious and political leaders the wrong way. In Senegal, the West African nation where Islam is the predominant religion, homosexuality is a crime.

Christianity and Islam are growing fast on the continent, and religious leaders in both faith communities responded with vehement denunciations.

Indeed, some clerics said Obama’s statements on gays spoiled the welcome religious leaders and their followers could have accorded the first African-American president.

“For religious leaders, in my point of view, this issue of homosexuality which he mentioned had really blocked the hospitality which the religious leaders desired to reserve for him,” said the Rev. Pierre Adama Faye, a Senegalese Lutheran leader.

Faye said he understood Obama’s remarks coming on the heels of the Supreme Court rulings. But he said Africa has its own reality, different from that of the U.S. In Senegal, churches and mosques reject the practice.

Homosexuality is illegal in 37 African countries, according to the Washington-based Council for Global Equality, and many religious leaders here view it as contrary to scriptures and custom.

Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, a Senegalese Muslim leader who coordinates the Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa, said faith leaders have the duty to speak out, especially if outside forces want to impose their will.

“The subject of homosexuality must not be used as a tool to blackmail and coerce society to defy God’s command, which is more important than any world power,” he said.  “We will oppose any manner of arm-twisting that threatens us to embrace it in our societies.”

In Nairobi, Roman Catholic Cardinal John Njue voiced similar concerns, and said Africans must be allowed to forge their own consensus on the subject.

“I think we need to act according to our own traditions and even our own faiths,” he said. “This is very important. We have to be proud of who we are.”

In Tanzania, Anglican Bishop Michael Hafidh of Dar es Salaam said religious leaders followed Obama’s tour closely and would have preferred for Obama to stick to trade and economic issues.

Homosexuality, said Hafidh, “is not an important issue for us now. We don’t recognize or even think of it, let alone its legalization. I think since we have a lot of resources, our discussions with the rest of the world should be more about investments and trade.”

The Rev.Victor Ndlovu, a Roman Catholic priest in Johannesburg, South Africa, where gay marriage is legal, said homosexuality has become a human rights issue in the West and many religious leaders are anxious about how that might affect their congregations.

“They are worried what will become of the past in which the practice has been a taboo,” he said. “In reality, it exists in Africa, but the question is what we do when a man has said he wants to marry a man. It is a delicate balance.”

According to Ndlovu, Africa needs to open discussions on the subject since there is a danger that homosexuality may become an accepted lifestyle choice if leaders let down their guard.

“Obama has raised it now, but we should find ways of dealing with it in our own settings,” Ndlovu said. “We cannot close ourselves and ignore it. It will soon explode if we don’t deal with it.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

FREDRICK NZWILI/RNS

Sonala Olumhense Syndicated (SOS): The Youth Of Nigeria.


Sonala Olumhense Syndicated (SOS)
Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

I am embarrassed that on his second visit to Africa, United States President Barack Obama again refused to set foot on Nigerian soil.
Those who are in the know say Nigeria campaigned extremely hard to be one of Mr. Obama’s stops. His choice of respectable destinations were Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

Actually, he made it all quite clear during his first visit four years ago when he said at the Ghana parliament he favoured responsible, strong and sustainable democratic governments.

“This is about more than holding elections – it’s also about what happens between them,” he noted. “Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.”

He did not, but could also have said:

“No country is going to make progress when its leader asserts he does not give a damn about personal probity, and in effect, about the content of his own character.

“No business wants to invest in a place where the government confers the nation’s highest honours, in broad daylight, upon the most dishonourable thieves or appoints them to high office.

“No self-respecting person wants to live in a society where transparency and accountability may be spelling challenges for the public, but not performance issues for public servants.

“No country is going to make progress when the hallways and lobbies of the executive and the legislature look more like the Main Wing of a maximum security prison than the revered chambers of men and women trusted with power.

“No business wants to invest in a country where Mr. President is afraid to tell the First Lady that she is not Mrs. President; and that the law does not provide public resources in his name for rabble-rousing of her own definition.

“No person wants to live in a society where governors forget they are not visiting sovereigns who come once in a while to pick up cheques, but are supposed to live and work in their States.

“No country is going to make progress when governance is defined as Wednesday morning contract distribution to friends and cronies, and the rest of the week to conspicuous consumption and travel.

“No self-respecting person wants to live in a country where the leadership grades its own performance and brags about how well it is doing.”
Mr. Obama did not say those things, but they were all implied in his call for change in Africa, especially in Nigeria.  Four years later, the danger is not simply that things have worsened; it is that Nigerians are being told they have never had it so good.

Obama did not say those things, but the United States has not fundamentally got around to helping Nigeria, as opposed to the government of Nigeria, either.  While the United Kingdom has taken a proactive legal role in challenging corruption and atrocious governance in Nigeria, the United States does not seem uncomfortable when some of Nigeria’s greatest beneficiaries from bad governance and corruption come shopping.
But Obama did say something especially significant in 2009: The triumph of the future, he said, would be won by the youth.  “You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people,” he told them.

He assured African youth they can accomplish a lot if they took responsibility for their future. “It won’t be easy,” he warned.  “It will take time and effort.”

On the part of the US, he said, “What we will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance – on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting, automating services, strengthening hotlines, and protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.”

Four years later, while Nigeria rots, the US has not delivered on this critical promise or outlined how it is to be implemented.  Partly as a result, while countries like Ghana and Tanzania can at least speak in terms of hope, Nigeria is hurtling in the reverse direction, overrun by the most insipid and cynical government in 53 years.

It is no surprise that, with mediocrity on the ascendancy, incompetence a state value and political promises casually ignored, only the greediest investors come to Nigeria.  We guarantee neither life nor limb.  We are committed to neither water nor clean air.  Today’s story is the same as that of yesterday.
It is no surprise that the youth of Nigeria is surviving on crumbs and leftovers, serving as drivers or thugs, or in kidnapping and assorted crime.  Mostly, Nigerian youth is idle, not because it is lazy, but because it lacks opportunity.  Governance is a treasure, just as unemployment does not matter.

But it is not by coincidence that Jessica Matthews, co-inventor of the sOccket, the amazing electricity-generating soccer ball that was presented to Obama in Tanzania last week, is a Nigerian-American.  In Nigeria, she might have been selling “pure water” in traffic, as are thousands of our educationally-orphaned kids.

The lesson is simple: while the US can achieve a lot in other parts of Africa, unless change takes root in Nigeria, change will not come to Africa.  And no change will come to Nigeria unless we liberate and empower its youth.

That is why it is to the youth of Nigeria that SOS is targeted, and dedicated.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Michelle Obama Likens Her Upbringing to Senegalese Children.


Image: Michelle Obama Likens Her Upbringing to Senegalese Children

By Lisa Barron

First Lady Michelle Obama told students at the Martin Luther King all-girls high school in Dakar, Senegal, that her “experience” growing up was similar to theirs.

“I know that what you all are doing here isn’t always easy. I know that some of you may be the first in your families to attend a school like Martin Luther King, so there might be people at home who don’t quite understand what you’re going through as you work to succeed her,” she said, adding, “I know a little bit about this from my own experience,” reports The Weekly Standard.

She continued, “See, like many of you, I didn’t grow up in a family with a lot of money. My parents had to work hard every day to support us so they never had the chance to get the kind of education they wanted for themselves. But they had big dreams for me. So they, too, made tremendous sacrifices to make that dream come true.”

Obama was speaking on the first leg of the first family’s week-long trip to Africa. The president, first lady and their daughters will also visit South Africa and Tanzania.
Reports earlier this month revealed that the trip could cost as much as $100 million.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Demands That South Africa Embrace The LGBTQ Agenda.


Obama the spokesman for the LGBTQ

DAKAR, Senegal (AP)President Barack Obama on Thursday praised the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage as a “victory for American democracy” but clashed with his African host over gay rights in a sign of how far the movement has to go internationally.

obama-demands-south-africa-embrace-gay-agenda-lgbtq

Obama said recognition of gay unions in the United States should cross state lines and that equal rights should be recognized universally. It was his first chance to expand on his thoughts about the ruling, which was issued Wednesday as he flew to Senegal, one of many African countries that outlaw homosexuality.

Senegalese President Macky Sall rebuffed Obama’s call for Africans to give gays equal rights under the law.

“We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” Sall said, while insisting that the country is “very tolerant” and needs more time to digest the issue without pressure. “This does not mean we are homophobic.”

As for Wednesday’s court ruling, Obama said he’s directing his administration to comb through every federal statute to quickly determine the implications of a decision that gave the nation’s legally married gay couples equal federal footing with all other married Americans.

Obama said gay rights didn’t come up in their private meeting at the presidential palace, a mansion that looks somewhat similar to the White House. But Obama said he wants to send a message to Africans that while he respects differing personal and religious views on the matter, it’s important to have nondiscrimination under the law.

“People should be treated equally, and that’s a principle that I think applies universally,” he said.

A report released Monday by Amnesty International says 38 African countries criminalize homosexuality. In four of those — Mauritania, northern Nigeria, southern Somalia and Sudan — the punishment is death. These laws appear to have broad public support. A June 4 Pew Research Center survey found at least nine of 10 respondents in Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

Papi Nbodj, a 19-year-old student who stood by the road to the presidential palace to see Obama’s arrival, said homosexuality is against the religious beliefs of most in Senegal.

“We are in a Muslim country, so we certainly cannot have it here,” he said. “And for me it’s not OK to have this anywhere in the world.”

Sall sought to reassure Obama that gays are not persecuted in Senegal. But under Senegalese law, “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex” can be punished by up to five years in prison.

Ndeye Kebe, president of a human rights organization that works with homosexuals called Women’s Smile, disputed Sall’s contention that gays are not discriminated against.

“I know of around a dozen people who are in prison for homosexuality as we speak,” she said. “There wasn’t any real proof against them, but they were found guilty and they are in prison.”

And as recently as February of 2008, police rounded up men suspected of being homosexual after a Senegalese tabloid published photographs of a clandestine gay wedding in a suburb of Dakar. Gays went into hiding or fled to neighboring countries, but they were pushed out of Gambia by the president’s threat of decapitation. source – Yahoo News

by NTEB News Desk

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