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Posts tagged ‘South Sudan’

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

Zoological republic of Nigeria at 100, Break-up won’t guarantee freedom –Atiku.


Former vice- president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has admonished Nigerians to guard the unity of the amalgam,

jealously. In his message on the centenary celebration of the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates which formed Nigeria, the former vice-president cautioned that agitation for balkanisation of a united federation would not automatically transform to freedom and economic prosperity, citing the experience of Southern Sudan.
“My message to fellow countrymen and women as we mark this landmark occasion is that we should not take our unity for granted or push our luck too far. We should learn from the recent experiences of other African countries. The current situation in South Sudan is a reminder to all African champions of division and pursuit of ethnic superiority that the secession of a group of people from a nation based on ethnic, racial or religious identities does not guarantee freedom from the struggle for life and only deepens the trivial divides which distract us from our common humanity. The gains of independence in South Sudan are now going up in smoke because of inter-ethnic rivalries and hostilities at the expense of unity. Nigeria and its people can no longer afford to weave a tangled web of fractious identities wrongfully defined by their opposition to one another.
Atiku further noted that Nigeria’s diversity was her strength and urged Nigerians to guard it jealously.
” As we mark the centenary celebration of the amalgamation of the Lagos colony with the Northern and Southern Protectorates by the British Colonial occupier forming one country, Nigerians need to pat each other on the back for we have truly come a long way. However, we must redouble our efforts towards building a stronger and more united Nigeria rather than concentrating energies on division or breakup.
The recent clamour by some of Nigeria’s leaders for a renegotiation of the continued being of Nigeria are dishonest and an unnecessary distraction from the future that we can build. Such leaders need to be concentrating their efforts on tackling the challenges ranging from lack of security to addressing poverty and unemployment through infrastructural investments. The victims of structural ineptitude are not distinguished on the basis of their ethnicity, tribe, religion or region. It is also a truism that both the perpetrators and their victims are Nigerians and secession will not fix these woes. Rather, if our leaders devoted more energy on dealing with these basic challenges facing ordinary Nigerians, ethnic and religious differences would have sunk to the background as people will be able to focus on the economic and social opportunities available to them. Once the citizens are contented through the availability of opportunities granted by good governance, these dividing lines will gradually become symbols of Nigeria’s unique composition, driving progress through a collaboration of perspectives and ideas.To me, it is regretful that more than 40 years after the unfortunate and devastating civil war the country went through, leaders could still be busy playing the ethnic and religious cards to gain power while poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease continue to ravage our people, leading many to venture into illicit and sometimes violent activities in order to provide for their families. True leaders must at all times shun the temptation of taking Nigerian’s perceived resilience for granted. Rather than being a source of weakness, diversity remains a major challenge to which all Nigerians must be sincerely committed.”


Source: Radio Biafra.

Jonathan once again addressed Obasanjo in the Church, says ex-president doesn’t own Nigeria.


President Goodluck Jonathan has again hit back at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying he and his like do not own Nigeria, reiterating that Nigeria does not belong to any politician or group of politicians.
In his remarks at Christmas Day service held at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Abuja, the president, who was obviously unhappy over Obasanjo’s 18-page letter accusing his administration of corruption, promoting ethnicity and engaging in anti-party activity among others, said those beating the drums of war should take a look at crisis bedeviling countries like Syria, Egypt, South Sudan, DR Congo, Pakistan and the like and see the effect of war and terrorism.
While thanking the clergy men for their constant prayers, which, he said, has so far helped to save Nigeria from plunging into war, urged them not to relent. He stated that despite the numerous challenges his administration was forging ahead and striving to deliver what Nigerians duly deserve.
Re-echoing the message of Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nicolas Okoh, Jonathan said even in time of peace, neigbouring countries surrounding Nigeria were already uncomfortable with the number of Nigerians in their territory, saying that if not for diplomacy, a lot of them would have sent them packing.
He therefore, called on Nigerians to cherish the peace they are currently enjoying and not to do anything to rock the boat.
President Jonathan said: “For us at this time, especially we the politicians that think we own this country, we begin to think about next elections and doing what we ought not to do, making statement we ought not to make, writing letters we are supposed not to write.
“I call on clergymen and statesmen, who really own this country because this country belongs to our statesmen, traditional rulers, religious leaders, our men, our women, our youth. Nigeria does not belong to any politician or group of politicians. So we continue to urge to pray for this country.
“The primate mentioned a number of nations that deals with crisis.  For those who know about terrorism, countries that are infested with terror will hardly get out of it. If you look at a country like Pakistan, we even go to Pakistan to train our soldiers. In some parts of Pakistan, as we are talking now, there appears to be no government. So this country could have been worst.
“Look at the incidences in Abuja, even the police headquarters was boomed, the UN building right here, in the seat of government, was boomed, maybe the next target would have been the State House.
“So we have to thank God that we have been able to bring it to a reasonable level, though we are far from getting there. There are a lot of challenges but we have to thank God.
“The primate asked if it were to be a country like Syria, what would we have done? Look at South Sudan; they were part of Sudan and they felt that they were being dominated; they have resources there, oil in part of South Sudan; they carried arms against the state. Finally, the whole world, through the UN, liberated them. In fact, within this week we will be going for Security Council meeting under the AU. My envoy just came back on Sunday from where he had conversation with them on how do we stop this madness.
“So we have to thank God, even though we still have this security challenges in our country at least we are reasonably better.
“The Primate was mentioning that Ghana, Sierra Leone can accommodate us if Nigeria was to have crisis.  I was just laughing because even now with the number of Nigerians in these countries, the people are not even comfortable. We don’t have crisis but from Cameroon to Senegal, Nigerians are everywhere, that the countries, if not for political and diplomatic reasons, would have even asked some of them to leave. Then assuming we have crisis, what would be the state? Where will you go? Is it the Atlantic Ocean? So I urge you to continue to pray.
“I also thank the religious leaders of this country; they have been praying and I believe God has been hearing our prayers. We will do our best within the period that God has asked us to occupy the positions we are occupying we will continue to work hard.”
The Anglican Primate, in his sermon, had stressed that those who don’t have peace cannot share with others. He said that God’s peace was not based on things that cannot endure, adding that one could only find peace in Jesus Christ.
Okoh reiterated that peacemakers are children of God, adding that one cannot draw a logical line from God to destruction and killings that the nation has witnessed in recent times, as God is the source of peace.
“We need to draw God’s peace to the church, the family, the community and the world,” he stated.
While admitting that Nigeria was facing a lot of challenges, the primate said just as the people in Syria, DR Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Ukraine cannot understand the message of peace and joy at this time, there was need for us as a country to do everything within our power not to be at the same level.
He warned ordinary Nigerians not to allow themselves to be used because, according to him, unlike the politicians, many people do not have international passports and foreign bank accounts to fall back on should crisis breaks, adding that they would bear the brunt at the end of the day.
Okoh said: “War frustrates peace. Most economies tagged the best in the world are violent economies; they produce weapon of mass destruction to kill people and themselves. How many Nigerians can go to Togo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cameroon accept as refugees? So it is in our interest to keep peace because we have no where to go in case of war. God has given us the best in the land. I charge you to maintain peace.
“In some places, they live in extreme conditions, extreme cold, extreme heat.  But that is not our case, we have the mangrove; we have good weather condition, we are blessed with all sorts of natural resources; we ought to be grateful to God and not the way we behave at times. We ought to live responsibly.
“We ought to pray for the peace of Nigeria; do not join anybody to cause trouble, confusion because you might bear the brunt. Some of you do not have international passports, but those asking you to cause trouble have passports, bank accounts and can vamoose at any time. Stay here and maintain peace because Nigeria will blossom. Whatever you get from the devil you will pay dearly. Refugees are not the happiest of people; don’t make yourself a refugee.”
Prayers were later offered for President Jonathan, his family, his cabinet, the National Assembly, the judiciary and security agencies for them to be agents of transformation.
Also prayers were offered for the trade union, for industrial peace and for Nigeria, asking that the expectations of those who pray for the country to crash will be futile and that there may be no more bloodshed in Nigeria again.
Prayers were also offered for the economic and education sectors and that Nigeria will become the preferred destination for pilgrimage.
Some dignitaries present were the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, President Jonathan’s mother, some members of National Assembly, ministers and some presidential aides.


Source: Radio Biafra.

President Jonathan Refutes Own Remarks About Terrorism, Blaming The Press.

President Goodluck Jonathan and wife in church on Xmas Day
By Saharareporters, New York

The presidency today called on the Nigerian media to “eschew undue negativity and join hands with the government to promote peace, national security and political stability.”

The advice is contained in a statement by spokesman Reuben Abati protesting reports which correctly quoted President Goodluck Jonathan at a Christmas church service as expressing pessimism about the war against terrorism.  Churches in at least two northeastern States were closed at Christmas.

The spokesman declared the reports to be “completely untrue and a mischievous misrepresentation” of what Mr. Jonathan actually said.

“President Jonathan’s verifiable remarks at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp Abuja were to the effect that in comparison with some other countries which have experienced the scourge of terrorism, Nigeria has made remarkable progress in dealing with the security challenges posed by terrorism and insurgency,” Abati said.

He added that headlines such as “Terrorism Has Come to Stay” and “Insurgency Far From Over – Jonathan” are incongruous with the thrust of the President’s remarks and amounted to taking “extreme editorial liberties” with his comments.

“It is apparent that in their indecent haste to cast the most sensational and negative headlines, some editors never paused to consider that it would have been most absurd for a President whose administration has done so much to reverse the tide of terrorism, to publicly assert the contrary,” the statement continued.

In terms of the substance of the remarks, he said Mr. Jonathan only pointed out that whereas terrorism remains a global challenge and a source of continuing concern in some countries, Nigeria has done comparatively better in reducing the incidence of terrorist attacks within its borders to a “reasonable level”.

“Interpreting those remarks, which are clearly in tandem with facts available to all objective observers of Nigeria’s war against terrorism, as an expression of defeat or helplessness, amounts to reckless scaremongering which can only serve the purpose of needlessly instigating fear among the populace and bolstering the confidence of criminal and unpatriotic elements,” Mr. Abati observed.

He described the war against terrorism as “very winnable” and that Mr. Jonathan’s administration as “steadily winning it” in Nigeria, adding that the government, the Armed Forces and national security agencies will continue to build on the successes they have achieved so against terrorists, insurgents and their sponsors.
In a front page lead today, the Abuja-based Daily Trust wrote as follows: “President Goodluck Jonathan says his administration is making headway in tackling security challenges but that the insurgency afflicting parts of the country is far from over.  He said had it not been for the success recorded in the campaign against terrorism, the State House in Abuja might have been targeted by now.”

The Eagle Online, in a transcript published online, demonstrates that President Jonathan clearly expressed helplessness about terrorism.  The following is a verbatim transcript of the segment of Mr. Jonathan’s extempore address relating to terrorism, which includes the remark that “countries that are infested with terror will hardly get out of it”:

“The primate mentioned a number of issues that deal with nations, which have crises.
“For those who know about terrorism, countries that are infested with terror will hardly get out of it.
“If you look at Pakistan, we even go there to train our soldiers in some parts of Pakistan.
“As we are even talking now, there appears to be no government.
“So, this country could have been worse.
“Look at the incidences in Abuja, even the police headquarters was bombed.
“The UN (United Nations) building right here in the seat of government.
May be the next target would have been State House.
“So, we have to thank God that we have been able to bring it to a reasonable level, though we are far from getting through.
“There are a lot of challenges but we have to thank God.
“The primate said if it were to be like Syria.
“Look at South Sudan too.
“They were part of Sudan and they felt that they were being dominated.
“They have resources, there is oil in parts of South Sudan.
“They carry arms against the state.
“Finally, the whole world, through the UN, liberated them.
“In fact, within this week, we will be going for a security council meeting on South Sudan under the African Union.
“My envoy just came back on Sunday from where he had a conversation with them.
“How do we stop this madness?
“So, we have to thank God even though we still have these security challenges in our country, at least we are reasonably better.
“In terms of Nigeria, if we have crises, the Primate was mentioning whether Ghana or Sierra Leone can accommodate us.
“Even now, Nigerians in these countries, the people who own the country are not even comfortable with the number.
“From Cameroon to Senegal, Nigerians are everywhere.
“If not for political and diplomatic reasons, they would have even asked some of them to go.
“Then assuming we have crises, what will be your state, where will you go?
“Is it the Atlantic Ocean?
“So, I urge you to continue to pray.
“I also thank the religious leaders of this country.
“They have been praying and I believe God has been hearing our prayers.
“We will do our best within the period that God has asked us to occupy the positions we are occupying.”

South Sudan Crisis: A Lesson For Rabid Seccesionists By Raheem Oluwafunminiyi.

By Raheem Oluwafunminiyi

The month of July, 2011 marked a turning point in the history of South Sudan. Not only did it eventually come out of over two and half decades of a bloody civil war in Sudan after intense struggle with its northern neighbour, but also succeeded in becoming the newest independent state in Africa. Like the hopes many African states had in the 60s and 70s of gaining independence from colonial rule, so was that of South Sudan. The hope that self-rule was going to mark the beginning of good things to come for the periphery countries and its teeming population quickly ignited series of nationalist movements and bred leaders who not only sabotaged the continued efforts of the colonial overlords to keep holding forth their respective colonies but put willful pressures on colonial structures which led firstly to decolonisation and ultimately independence.

It was hoped and believed that at the turn of independence, self-rule would transform the continent into one filled with socio-economic development, credible democracy and a total commitment to the uplift of the people. This however failed to yield any meaningful result. Hopes of a brighter tomorrow were soon shattered as gloom set in. The Congo became the first casualty while more than half of all African countries which had newly gained their independence went either into a civil war or found itself overthrown by blood thirsty and gun wielding military men. Africa since then had known no peace. It was in the light of this, amidst the decade long sufferings South Sudan had faced over time that it was thought a separate country was needed to be carved out to give the people a new lease of life and breathe of fresh air. Anyone who had lived in Sudan in the last two to three decades and knew well the historical evolution of that part of the former Sudan would agree that its people had suffered a great deal in the hands of its northern neighbours, such that the only solution to a lasting peace was to grant that part of the country swift independence. However, no one would have envisaged that two years into South Sudan’s independence; it would fall into crisis which appears to threaten its very foundation.

As a landlocked country, South Sudan is among the world’s most impoverished country with less than one per cent of its population having access to electricity. Despite being the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria and Angola, the new nation is not only awash with guns after a long battle with Khartoum, but has been grappling with corruption and lawlessness since independence. The current crisis in South Sudan is perceived to have both ethnic and political dimensions. The current president, Salva Kiir is from the Dinka ethnic group, the country’s largest, while his main rival and former Vice President, Riek Machar belongs to the Nuer ethnic group, the country’s second largest. This ethnic rivalry forms part of the current crisis bedeviling the country with each group systematically killing one another in their respective places of domicile. The political angle to the crisis which has seen tensions rise between Kiir and Machar since July of this year stems from the latter’s intention to win the leadership of the ruling party ahead of presidential elections in 2015. This quickly led to his sacking by Kiir and his cabinet. The political tension soon snowballed when Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup on the 15th of December, a situation which saw the arrest of opposition figures and former cabinet members.

Apart from the fact that the crisis have left hundreds dead, with figures quoting about 500, the number of people displaced as a result of the crisis has tripled to about 81,000 with the number increasing by the day. Also, the United Nations has asked for another 5,500 troops from other UN missions in Arica to complement the 7,000 already deployed across the country. It is saddening that the African continent has failed to learn from history and have therefore consumed by its lack of it. When other countries of the world are seeking ways to better the lot of its people and move their country towards growth and development, African countries wallow in ethnic and political rivalry. It is disheartening to find a country that had come out of a long period of turmoil engaging in the same crisis that gave them life support. It is only hoped things will return to normalcy soon.

With the entire crisis bedeviling many African states today, no country has been able to hold its head up high than the Nigerian state in terms of managing conflicts and civil disobedience in all guises. Since the 1967 civil war, Nigeria has been in a state of precipice. There have been over a very long time talks about Nigeria’s disintegration. The most saddening part of it came from the United States which noted, like a prophet of doom, that Nigeria would seize to exist by 2015. Locally, a lot of rabble-rousing and threatening voices have sprang up, especially in the Niger-Delta region where predictions of a possible breakup of Nigeria would take place if their ‘son’ is denied a second term in office. The country is not new to such threats of disintegration. For those who are historically conscious, both the Northern and Western regions had at some point called for secession. It would only take the audacity of the late Ojukwu to make good such threats which of course failed in its entirety to solve the Nigerian Question. This open call of secession or outright appeal for disintegration has continued unabated and the loud tones could still be heard across the country. With the current political imbroglio brewing among the political elites, it remains to be seen what 2015 will look like.

The Nigeria state is gradually failing if the face-off between a former president and the incumbent is anything to go by. The face-off comes at a time when many Nigerians are deeply worried at the direction the country is going. The industrial strike embarked by most government owned institutions, the massive looting of the treasury, the harrowing insecurity problem, unemployment among others show gloomy signs that all is not well with the country. In fact, the country today faces an unprecedented socio-political and economic cancer which threatens its very foundation. However, despite these seeming problems, this writer believes secession or threats of disintegration are not the decisive solution we need both as a people and country. The event in South Sudan and elsewhere should serve as a lesson for those who think dividing Nigeria on either religious or ethnic lines would solve all the problems we face as a people. We are a people with so much anger and are wont to unleash it at the slightest provocation. Our nature is very unpredictable and unstable such that we do not have a collective consciousness that drives nationalism, patriotism and love for even thy neighbour. The fact that our thinking has been streamlined over time to pursue personal aggrandisement makes nonsense of whatever lesson the Good Samaritan story portrays. Our inability to pursue what binds us together and see the demerits of what divides us is perhaps the major reason we have failed to move forward and therefore, lost faith in the country. However, in as much as the country does not hold much to be desired and its leaders failing outright to fulfill their own part of the social contract, we must not crave as a people for disintegration or break-up of the country.

There is no denying the fact that a growing division, not among the different ethnic groupings within the country this time around, exist within ethnic groups of the same historical consciousness. The Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa-Fulani, Ijaw among others, have shown within themselves and overtime that they cannot put their house in order. The Yoruba for example, may have achieved some level of socio-political development over the years but when it comes to pursuing a common goal, you find them fanning the embers of discord with each sub-group claiming some unknown rights and privileges. The Igbo on the other hand have failed to realise that they hold so much hope for the betterment and uplift of the country, yet they revel in personal fame and wealth which to them is the hallmark of a fulfilled Igbo man. Until the Igbo take away their parochialism and embrace unity as a viable weapon for political mobilisation, they may never rise beyond the cocoon they have been placed by some elements within the country.

Despite the predictions that Nigeria will seize to exist in 2015, the country appears stronger than what many believe. In fact, Nigeria is better off being Nigeria than becoming a hopeless disintegrated entity which in the long run may end up being another Somalia. For those who believe a divided Nigeria is the very best option for the survival of the various ethnic groupings in the country should have a rethink. An Arewa, Biafra, Oduduwa or Ijaw state portends grave dangers for the people within such state structures. The history of power struggles, power grabs, ethnic tensions and lack of cohesion African states and its people are known for would once again creep into a divided Nigeria, tearing it further apart. It is the belief of this writer that no matter what Nigeria faces as a country today, it forms part of our developmental process for no nation great today was built in a day. Simply put, our fragile agglomeration suits us better than a divided one!

As the crisis in South Sudan continues, the lesson we must learn therefore is that disunity breeds nothing but further bloodshed. Those who call for division do not understand the pains and horror of war and think it is going to take a smooth transmission. Events in South Sudan paint this sad picture of a path we must not be willing to follow. The political elites must realise that the Nigerian state may not be able to hold itself for long if the massive disconnect between the ruler and ruled continues. It is therefore imperative that a workable solution is engineered in order to remove the pangs of mutual distrust that have remained part of us since the days of amalgamation. Those who fail to learn from history are condemned by it. South Sudan is a reminder and example of this apt truth.

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

Pope Calls on Atheists to Work With Religious Believers for Peace.

Pope Francis, celebrating his first Christmas as Roman Catholic leader, on Wednesday called on atheists to unite with believers of all religions and work for “a homemade peace” that can spread across the world.

Speaking to about 70,000 people from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the same spot where he emerged to the world as Pope when he was elected on March 13, Francis also made another appeal for the environment to be saved from “human greed and rapacity.”

Francis: A Pope for Our Time, The Definitive Biography 

The leader of the 1.2 billion-member Church wove his first “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and world) message around the theme of peace.

“Peace is a daily commitment. It is a homemade peace,” he said.

He said that people of other religions were also praying for peace, and – departing from his prepared text — he urged atheists to join forces with believers.

“I invite even non-believers to desire peace. [Join us] with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace,” he said, drawing sustained applause from the crowd.

Francis’ reaching out to atheists and people of other religions is a marked contrast to the attitude of former Pope Benedict, who sometimes left non-Catholics feeling that he saw them as second-class believers.

He called for “social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.”

Thousands are believed to have died in violence divided along ethnic lines between the Nuer and Dinka tribes in the country, which seceded from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war.

The pontiff also called for dialogue to end the conflicts in Syria, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, and prayed for a “favorable outcome” to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!” he said, saying their most vulnerable victims were children, elderly, battered women and the sick.

The thread running through the message was that individuals had a role in promoting peace, either with their neighbor or between nations.

The message of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was directed at “every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty,” he said.

“God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world,” he said.

Pilgrims came from all over the world for Christmas at the Vatican and some said it was because they felt Francis had brought a breath of fresh air to the Church.

“[He] is bringing a new era into the Church, a Church that is focusing much more on the poor and that is more austere, more lively,” said Dolores Di Benedetto, who came from the Pope’s homeland, Argentina, to attend Christmas Eve Mass.

Giacchino Sabello, an Italian, said he wanted to get a first-hand look at the new pope: “I thought it would be very nice to hear the words of this pope close up and to see how the people are overwhelmed by him.”

In his speech, Francis asked God to “look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.”

He also called for a “dignified life” for migrants, praying tragedies such as one in which hundreds died in a shipwreck off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa are never repeated, and made a particular appeal against human trafficking, which he called a “crime against humanity.”

Francis: A Pope for Our Time, The Definitive Biography 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

UN Sending Thousands of Peacekeeping Troops to South Sudan.

The United Nations Security Council voted to bolster the UN’s peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and help end the worsening conflict that has created at least one mass grave and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The council unanimously approved U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s request to add up to 5,500 soldiers and 423 police officers to the force of 7,900 uniformed personnel already authorized for the U.N. mission in South Sudan.

“Political dialogue is the only solution to this crisis,” Ban told the council after the vote. “Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show their people and the world that they are committed to peace.”

The world’s newest country, founded in 2011, South Sudan is at risk of breaking apart because of fighting that erupted on Dec. 15 between supporters of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his deposed vice president, Riek Machar of the rival Nuer group.

At least 500 people have been killed, with some 100,000 internally displaced and about 45,000 civilians seeking protection at U.N. camps in the country.

Troops and police from five other U.N. peacekeeping missions — in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and the Abyei and Darfur areas of Sudan — will be transferred to South Sudan, says the council’s resolution, which also authorizes Ban to generate “complementary force and asset.”

Ban on Monday recommended sending three attack helicopters, three utility helicopters and one Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130 Hercules transport plane.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose for the fourth time in five days as the conflict in South Sudan forced a partial shutdown of its oil production facilities. South Sudan exports about 220,000 barrels a day of crude, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd., and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The Obama administration has stepped up preparations for a possible evacuation of U.S. personnel from South Sudan by positioning about 150 Marines in nearby Djibouti,  Benjamin Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, said in an email Tuesday.

U.S. envoy Donald Booth met Monday with Kiir in the capital, Juba. The president expressed a willingness to begin talks with Machar “without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing,” Booth said.

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts,” Booth said on a conference call.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan when gunmen attacked the presidential palace in Juba.

Machar, who is being hunted by government security forces, has demanded that Kiir step down for failing to unite the nation. Kiir fired Machar and the rest of his cabinet in July.

The two sides have agreed to an offer by neighboring Kenya to host peace talks, Kenyan Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said Monday in Nairobi.

Rebel forces loyal to Machar said they have captured crude-producing Unity state as the government evacuated some oil workers and plans a partial shutdown of facilities.

Fighters led by General James Kong Chol seized Bentiu, the Unity state’s capital, and other parts of the northern region on Saturday, and have aligned themselves with Machar, Chol said in a phone interview Sunday.

It was the second state to fall to anti-government forces since Kiir’s administration lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei province, to a group headed by Gen. Peter Gatdet Yak last Wednesday. Chol and Yak previously headed government forces in the two states.

“We’re controlling the area of Unity state,” Chol said from Bentiu. “My government planned to kill me, and I have nowhere to go. I decided to join Riek Machar.”

The U.N. discovered a mass grave in Bentiu amid reports of at least two others in  Juba, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

A U.N. official who visited the Bentiu site reported at least 75 bodies, Pillay’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said in an email Tuesday, adding that the U.N. is working to verify reports of two other graves in Juba.

Pillay also expressed serious concern over reports that several hundred civilians were arrested during house-to-house searches and from various hotels in Juba. There also were reports that hundreds of members of the South Sudan National Police Service were ordered to be disarmed and arrested at police stations across Juba, according to the U.N. statement.

South Sudan’s oil-producing Upper Nile state is also facing tensions after gunmen attacked government forces in Nasir county, Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the national army, said by phone Sunday. He said he had no further information.

Kiir said yesterday he agreed to a request by the six-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development to help mediate an end to the crisis.

“We’re ready for any dialogue, but Dr. Machar must come to the table without any preconditions,” he told lawmakers in Juba. “Through dialogue I think we can resolve this misunderstanding very quickly.”

South Sudan seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output. The landlocked country’s oil provides more than 95 percent of government revenue.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data. Its low-sulfur crude is prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation.

ONGC repatriated its 11 employees, and the company’s joint venture has shut down oilfields in South Sudan that were producing about 40,000 barrels per day, Finance Director S.P. Garg said in a phone interview.

Chol said there is “no interruption to oil” production in the country. “Oil is still flowing,” he said.

Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Sunday that the evacuation of oil workers from the country was temporary and oil output from Upper Nile was flowing normally.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer estimated the country will need $1.1 billion of humanitarian aid in 2014 because 62,000 people were displaced in the past week’s violence.

Four U.S. service members suffered gunshot wounds on Saturday while on flights to evacuate Americans from Bor. The United Nations had previously sent helicopters to evacuate staff from South Sudan, and one was hit and forced to land on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

About 380 U.S. officials and private citizens have been evacuated to Nairobi and other locations, along with about 300 others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement Sunday.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress on Sunday saying he “may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy” in South Sudan.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


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