Youth, Leadership and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria

In today’s world, everywhere you look these days, from books to seminars, conferences, magazine stories, someone is trying to peddle his version of tomorrow. Historians, economist, demographers, businessmen etc embark upon long range planning by looking at dates, detecting trends and estimating from the facts already known so as to tell in advance what is expected to happen. In fact in some part of the world, the year 2000 is practically over for the futurist, they now have their minds on the year 3000 and beyond.

In the history of the world, change often starts with the young. Young people look at the world with fresh eyes. They see the world as it is and ask “why?” and imagine a different world and ask “why not?” George Bernard Shaw and Robert Kennedy asked these questions long ago, but young people today are asking them again.

As it is today there exist a certain degree of tension between what the youth of this nation has already achieved and what it should become. As far as we can see the people are unanimous in their conviction that economic and socio-political performance of this nation is far below its potential and expectations.

As one of my political mentors Late Sen.G.N.S Pwajok opined, Nigeria is a compelling paradox. On the other hand, a nation endowed with vast natural and human resources. But, on the other hand, a nation that has consistently, yielded to the curious paralysis of the will when it comes to judiciously harnessing the resources for her good. The Nigerian condition suggests a history of raised hopes and unrealized expectations; of want in the midst of plenty; of poverty in the midst of affluence and ‘doom’ in the midst of ‘boom’. There is today in Nigeria a conflict between the past and the present as well as between the present and the future.

As a nation, we have experienced years of civilian government and military rule through coups and periods of intense political strife. When there was increasing in oil earning, we witnessed influx of the petro-naira. However, the huge inflow of financial resources has not come close to solving the basic problem of mass—poverty. But unfortunately as we speak now, we don’t have such petro-naira anymore due to the fall of crude oil in the global market. In the present Nigeria, most States can’t even afford to pay salaries talk less of embarking on infrastructural projects.

Professor Chinua Achebe in his book “The Problem with Nigeria” has insisted that “the problem of Nigeria is simply and squarely the failure of leadership”. Thus beyond the past and present leadership, Achebe’s x-ray also posed fundamental questions about the potentials of the so called “new breed” or younger politicians to transform Nigeria into an economic prosperous country.

Young people have a major role to play in all of these by ensuring that democratic politics is not played along undemocratic lines so that the hope of political freedom and economic betterment does not continue to elude the people. In addition to their intellectual contribution and their ability to mobilize support, young people must maintain unique perspectives on issues bordering on the survival of Nigeria. This is more so in a situation where the capacity of democratic institutions has continued be whittled and citizens are turning their backs on politics. It is only a matter of time before the little advances recorded become consumed in the waters of unfolding contradictions if the youth are not oriented on the importance of peaceful coexistence, social growth and development. How our communities progress is determined to a large extent, on how much the youth are involved in building and designing the future. As Senator Pwajok observed, as we prepare for the future to avoid failure we need to take consideration of the following:

  1. We must realize the future is rushing on us as breakneck speed
  2. A leader’s concentration must not be on the past nor on the present but on the future
  3. Vision is an effective leader’s chief preoccupation
  4. This country can be reinvented with new generations of dreamers.

It was Malcom X that said “…they got to be a changed. People in power have misused it. A better world has to build and for it to be built, it has to be with extreme measures. I for one will join with anyone. I don’t care who you are, what colour who are or where you are from, as long as you are ready to change the miserable condition we found ourselves on this planet”. This is a call on my fellow Nigeria youth for us decide the kind future we want to see ourselves and generations to come. The future is now and it is far becoming yesterday.

@muntaseeer on twitter

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Poem: Practice in Staying

stay

(For my future wife)

I come from a long line of men

Who chose divorce papers

Over apologies

To them, that word doesn’t exist

 

Men who love their kids,

But not the women

They came out of.

What an irony

 

I fear the amount of escape  I have

Running through my blood.

Everyday will be a practice in staying,

Sitting in the mire,

Being still in the flame

And saying to myself

This house will not burn

Without my permission

Inspired by Rudy Francisco

A long line…

I have been so busy of late in school. From resumption after 3 months strike, to lectures, revisions, exams and later my elections. I am glad to be back after a long time and a long line of absence.

My vision can still be captured in the statement by Walter H. Capps: ‘We are strongest as a people when we are directed by that which unites us – rather than giving in to the fears, suspicions, innuendoes and paranoias that divide.’

I CARE!!!

UNDERSTANDING THE VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2015

 

violence

During the Nigeria Bar Association Law week, my lecturer Professor Alphonsus Okoh  Aluba delivered a lecture on the new “Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015″ which gave me first insight into this new legislation that seeks to prohibit any violence against persons in Nigeria.

On May 25th 2015 the immediate past President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan recorded a milestone when he signed into Law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015. This has brought to a successful conclusion the 14-year-long social and legislative advocacy championed by women’s groups and gender activists towards the passage of this law that will protect women and girls from all forms of violence. This Act, according to its long title, is aimed to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence, including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, harmful traditional practices; discrimination against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.

This Act commendably covers most of the prevalent forms of violence that could be categorized into: Physical violence; Psychological violence; Sexual violence; Harmful traditional practices; and Socio-economic violence. Specifically, The VAPP Act comprehensively deal twith one of the most vexed forms of sexual violence, rape, from which existing penal laws protected only females and limited to vaginal penetration .
It has expanded the scope of rape to protect males and to include anal and oral sex as well as protect the identity of rape victims.
The following are offences punishable under the Act: Rape, Inflicting
Physical Injury on a Person, Female Circumcision or Genital Mutilation, Forceful Ejection from Home, Depriving a Person of His/Her Liberty, Forced Financial Dependence or Economic Abuse, Forced Isolation or Separation from Family and Friends, Emotional Verbal and Psychological Abuse, Harmful Widowhood Practices, Abandonment of Spouse, Children and Other Dependent without Sustenance, Spousal/Partner Battery, Indecent exposure, Harmful Traditional Practices, Political Violence, and Violence by State Actors.

The law begins in Section 1 by defining rape as the intentional penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person if such person does not consent to the said penetration or if the consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation. It also recognises that women can commit rape as well. Section 2 states that a person if found guilty of rape will be liable to imprisonment for life except where the offender is less than 14 years in which such person will be liable to a maximum of 12 years in prison, however, in other cases such person can only be sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison. If the rape is however committed by a group of persons, the offenders are liable jointly to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment without option of fine and the court shall also award compensation to the victim. The law also states that a register of convicted sex offenders shall be maintained and accessible to the public.

The new law also provides that anyone who willfully causes or inflicts physical injury on another commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a jail term not exceeding 5 years in prison or a fine not exceeding N100, 000 or both.

Also anyone who incites, aids, abets or counsels another person to commit an act of violence is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding N200, 000 or both. The court may also award compensation to the victim.

Furthermore, according to the law, coercing another to engage in acts that are detrimental to the person’s physical or psychological well being is an offence and a person is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 3 years. Anyone who also willfully places a person in fear of physical injury commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year to a fine not exceeding of N100, 000.

Compelling another to commit an act either sexual or otherwise, to the detriment of the victim’s physical or psychological well being is an offence and a guilty party is liable on conviction to a jail term not exceeding 2years.

It is worthy to note that the law prohibits female circumcision and offenders will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 4 years or to a fine not exceeding N200, 000 or both. An attempt to commit the act also attracts a jail term not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding N100,000 or both.

The law also provides for forceful ejection from the home wherein a person who forcefully evicts a spouse or refuses them access commits an offence and liable to a jail term not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding N300,000 or both. The law also states that depriving another of his or her liberty without a court order is an offence and a person convicted is liable to a jail term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding N500, 000.

Causing mischief or destruction of property with intent to case distress is also an offence and a guilty party will be liable to jail term not exceeding two years in prison or a fine not exceeding N300, 000.  Another offence is also forcefully isolating a person from friends and family and a guilty person on conviction will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding N100, 000 or both.

Importantly, the Act contained provisions on effective remedies,
including the rights of victims to assistance. According to section 38,
“Every victim is entitled to receive the necessary materials, comprehensive  medical, psychological, social and legal assistance through governmental agencies and/or non-governmental agencies providing such assistance.” Victims are entitled to be informed of the availability of legal, health and social services and other relevant assistance and be readily afforded access to them. Furthermore, it provides that: “Victims are entitled to rehabilitation and re-integration programme of the State to enable victims to acquire, where applicable and necessary, pre-requisite skills in any vocation of the victim’s choice and also in necessary formal education or access to micro credit facilities.”
This Act, long overdue in coming, will unarguably bring succor and effective remedies to millions of victims who have suffered in silence without recourse to justice or rehabilitative-psycho-social support for their recovery and reintegration. The Act affords access and better services  for victims/survivors of violence, such as hotlines, shelters, legal advice, access to justice, counselling, police protection, and comprehensive health services.
The only drawback in relation to this law is its limited application to the
Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This is as a result of the nature of Nigeria’s federal structure and constitutional distribution of powers between the Federal Government and States of the Federation. It is expected that 36 states of Nigeria will take immediate and necessary action to adopt and enact similar law on Violence against persons.

To my dear future wife

dear

Hello, my future wife.

This is the first of the epistles I promised myself I would write to you. May be we have met or may be have not but whatever way, Allah knows best. Whether you are reading this before we meet, or stumble upon it after, I want you to know a few things.

The reason why I am writing this today is because sometimes I can’t stop thinking about you, and I can’t stop myself from imagining how happy we will be insha Allah. Let this letter be a promise to you that I will do my best to be the man I want to be for you and for us.

I may not know yet all of the difficulties that come with life time commitment, but one thing I am certain of is that together, we can build a great family and by His grace also make a difference in this society we have found ourselves. With you by my side, I picture my life with the person I will commit to: you.

I have read, seen and heard about couples who are a continuous source of education and inspiration on how I want our relationship to be. So here and today, I vow to try my best to do the following:

I promise to do my best to make you beam daily, so count on my surprises. Your smile will be my priority. I promise I will always look at you with the same adoration as I did the moment I realized I loved you. I promise to hold your hand when we’re 80 years old with the same liveliness that I did when I hold yours for the first time insha Allah.

I vow to challenge you to challenge yourself for the better; to make you think differently. I promise to try to feed off of your illuminating energy that will inspire me to do the same with myself. I will do my best to ensure that being bored never crosses your mind.

Even in grief and darkness, I promise to show you the different shades of the dark, and to help you find the tiny rays of light that are always there if you seek them. After all, there’s always worse than worst and better than best; everything is relative.

I promise to strive to be a role model for our children insha Allah. I want both you and them to see me as a source of motivation. I want to inspire them in the same way that my father inspires me. With you, I’m certain that our children would’ve the best upbringing any father would ever hope for his children.

I want to use this medium tell you one of my many hobbies which is travelling. I want us to travel and explore the world together insha Allah. I promise to have new stories and experiences to share with you, and maybe I’ll retell the best ones again if you insist. Among the places I want us to visit insha Allah includes:

I want us to visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage (hajj and lesser hajj). Pray at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina. Visit the hilltop towers and also the capital city of Riyadh. Spend the last ten days of every Ramadan in the holy city insha Allah and also visit other historic and spiritual sites.

I want us to visit Turkey. Our first stop would be Aspendos theatre which boasts one of the best preserved ancient theatres of antiquity. It was built in 155 AD during the Roman Empire. Then Patara beach which is one of the longest stretches of sandy beach found anywhere in the Mediterranean. From there, we head to Bodrum Castle which was built in the 15th century. It is one of the world’s best preserved monuments dating back to medieval times. Then we move to the Blue Mosque with its six minarets and sweeping architecture. The Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque is a great edifice. Next is Hogia Sophia which is located in Istanbul. It was constructed in the 6th century. A masterwork of Roman engineering, the massive dome covers what was for 1000 years the largest enclosed space in the world. Explore Istanbul, Ankara and other cities in Turkey as well.

I want also to visit the United Arab Emirate. I want us to see the Burj Khalifa which is one of the famous buildings in Dubai. Not only is it the world’s tallest building, but it also lays claim to the title of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. Then we move to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a mammoth modern mosque of incredible beauty. It is a blend of modern and old. It doesn’t fail to dazzle all who enter with the lavish use of gold, mosaic work and glass work, marble in gigantic proportions and blindly white stones contrasting dramatically under the Emirate blue sky. Then Hajar Mountains which scythe through the desert, creating the jagged and wild heart of the U.A.E with its twisting roller-coaster roads with spectacular scenery along the way connects the region’s tiny villages. Then to the amazing Sharjah Arts Museum which is dedicated to the diverse arts in the country. Then to other tourist sites like Al-Bidyah mosque, Abu Dhabi towers e.t.c.

United States is one place I hope we visit. First would be Hartsdale, New York where Malcolm X was buried to pay respect to one of my mentors. Then we move to the White house in Washington DC which was built in 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams. Our next stop would be the Denali National Park and preserve which is located at Alaska and contains Mount McKinley, the highest mountains in North America. Then we visit other places like Harvard law school, Maya Angelou’s home, Disney world, James Baldwin’s home, Imam Siraj’s mosque in New York, United Nation building in New York, The United States Supreme Court, The Congress and other places.

Indonesia is another place too I hope we visit. The Lake Toba on the Island of Sumatra is an immense volcanic lake about 100 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide. It is the largest resurgent caldera on Earth. Then we move to Tanjung Puting National Park which is located on the Island of Borneo in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan with many local tour companies offering boat tours to view wildlife and visit the research centers. Other places include the Baliem Valley, the Komodo National Park etcetera.

Visiting England won’t be a bad idea. I want us to see the famous London Bridge, No. 10 Downing Street (office of the Prime Minister), Buckingham Palace, the West Minister (Parliament), Emirate Stadium (home to my club Arsenal fc), University of Oxford but most particularly to the historic Oxford Union where leaders like Malcolm X, Winston Churchill, Margret Thatcher, Lee kuan Yew among others have once appeared there for a debate. Visit cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Swansea and many others.

Then we visit India. I want to us to visit the grave of Indian Nationalist Mahatma Gandhi, the famous Tahj Mahal(Crown of Palaces) a white marble mausoleum located at the on the Southern bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra. It was built by Emperor in 1632 to house the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. I want to also Chennai, Ramesharam, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hydrabad and many other cities.

In Iran, I have read about the Amir Chakhmaq Suare which was built in the ninth century in Yazd. Also I want to visit the Eram Garden (Garden of Paradise) in Shiraz which is typical Persian garden with waterway that leads towards the historic Qayam house. Shiraz is the city of love and Persian poetry and home to many historic sites including the tome o Hafez, a well-known Persian Poet from 14th century. Saadi another celebrated poet of the 13th century is also buried in Shiraz. I want us to also visit Tehran and Ramsar resort which is a popular resort on the Capital Sea.

I want to visit President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I am big admirer of President Putin’s style of leadership. So I want to see to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Kazan, Rostov, the annex Crimea and many others cites in the former Soviet Union.

After reading the Autobiography of the great Lee Kwan Yew titled “From the third world to First”, I think we should visit Singapore to see for ourselves how Prime Minister Yew was able to transform his country into one most developed countries not just in Asia but in the world.

I want us to visit of South Africa. The beautiful Sun City Resort known regionally as Africa’s Kingdom of Pleasure situated about two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, Blyde River Canyon, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Robin Island where Madiba Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Other cities like Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, and others.

Well these are few among many places I hope we visit together in years to come by His grace. I promise to follow up this letter with others just tell you about my other hobbies aside from travelling. Take care of yourself till then.

Sincerely, Your Future Husband

 

What could my love do for you?

love

Just be happy, my love,

to sigh with me by your side

My love kills the mosquitoes of your room

When you’re not around,

my love endures the loneliness of your home

My love will be the Muhammad to your Khadijah

My love will be the Romeo to your Juliet

My love for you is in the Sun, Moon and the Stars

My love promise to be that one decision you will never regret

My love promise to hold you forever and make you feel safe

My love will be by your side and never let you fall

My love will take on the world with you side by side

My love for you gives me California dream at night

My love will lullaby you to sleep every night

My love will be honest and faithful to you and only you

My love will never make you sad or make you shed any tears

My love will put a smile on your face

My love would you cook you meals

Just be happy my love,

to sigh with me by your side

To Adamu Adamu: UNIJOS and the sorry state of our educational system.

adamuI congratulate you on your appointment sir. You are one my most admired and respected journalist/columnist because my dad and I don’t miss your column on fridays. I believe you are the kind of reformer we need in the education ministry at a time like this when our educational system in shambles and a disgrace.

Nigeria is still uncertain where it is headed. In other words, her destination is still unknown. The Nigerian world has blamed the woes of Nigeria, and in particular that of the educational sector, to the many years of military misrule. There is the common feeling that the military neglected the universities because of their opposition to military rule. But with the re-emergence of civil rule the nation’s educational institutions are still in shambles today, with university professors still not being paid on time. (Some may argue that the universities have started to claw their way back to normalcy with the reprise of civil rule – not democracy. See Bollag Feb 1, 2002). But that remains to be seen!

I’m a 400 level law student of University of Jos and since I got into the University in 2011, I have never experienced a hidge-free session. In my 100 level, ASUU went on strike for 3 months. In 200 level, ASUU went for six months strike. In my 300 level, we had a students protest which turned bloody and the school was shutdown for 3 months and now in 400 level, ASUU(internal) has embarked on another strike for almost 3 weeks now.

The reason behind this recent strike according what we learnt is because of some unpaid allowances to the lecturers and other issues as raised by ASUU to the school management. We have heard rumours of several meetings between the two parties but all to no avail. We the students who are always at the receiving end are left broken and helpless as we can’t even pour out of grievances and frustration because like the saying goes, when the elephants fight, its the ground that suffers. I pray for a Nigerian university with no ASUU strikes.

Recapitulating the status of education in Nigeria in the 1960’s and comparing it with what obtains today, one would agree that the standard has truly fallen. Things have really fallen apart as Chinua Achebe (1983) would say. Professor D. Akunjili at one time captured this ugly situation in these words. “Our present educational system is a disaster that has stifled creativity and hampered the emergence of excellence”(2007). Which means that our educational system is already a disaster and the incessant strikes is only making it worse.
As we speak no Nigerian university is among the 1000 best Universities in the world which tells anyone who cares to know that our educational system is indeed a disaster. Nigerians are in Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Kenya and other countries getting sub-standard education and importing it back to us to give us a taste of the disappointment that my brother calls “Nigeria in trouble” simply because we have failed to provide them with a better learning environment.
I agree with Prof Abiola Awosika when she noted that “our problems are many” adding that “I shudder when I think of what we need to do to overhaul this educational system”. I join my voice in calling on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency in education like he promised to do in the petroleum sector because any nation with an educational disaster like Nigeria is a danger to itself.

I wish you the best Mallam as you tackle the problems facing our educational system and I pray you succeed. I have followed your column for years and you’ve written on different issues facing Nigeria and proffering solutions to them. Now Nigeria has given you the opportunity to write your name in gold by changing the sad tales of our educational system.

But for now please intervene in the University of Jos strike issue for an immediate solution because myself and thousands of my colleagues are tired of staying at home while our other colleagues in other schools are in currently school.