NIGERIAN YOUTH IN POLITICAL ARENA: A PANACEA OR BANE IN NIGERIAN DEVELOPMENT

Lecture delivered by Hon Abiola Makinde, on the Occasion of the 2nd Southwest legislative summit of the Students Representative Council (SRC) of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, (AAUA) on Thursday 23rd November, 2017, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Multipurpose Hall.



Protocols 
I must first appreciate your gesture as Nigerian University students asking questions concerning the reality of our contemporary society, inviting me; a youth just as yourself whom the weight of the society falls upon, who also bear the responsibility of restoring the glory and genuinety of this country. I sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness, having created an opportunity to kick-start discussions on how WE the youth could live out this our God given responsibility. 
In the famous word of Frantz Fanon which many of us must have heard before, but we have not contemplated enough upon, “every generation, out of relative obscurity, discovers its mission, either to fulfil it, or betray it.” It is my personal prayer, not just today but always that we do not betray it.
The first challenge you see all around Nigeria today is poverty, and the poverty is still on the increase, (Evelyn Nwamaka and David Onyinyechi, 2015). Poverty is fuelled by politics (M.J Bane, 2009) but only with politics can we reverse the problem of poverty, (Green, Duncan 2012) which calls for our mission. It is unfortunate that Politics in itself cannot solve any problem but compound it, except it is given a purpose, which is a dexterous management of, and systematic improvement on the skills and intellectual character of the working people, especially the youth.

Till date in Nigeria and many other countries of Africa, we still see political involvements only from the standpoint of the “build up to election”, occupying political offices, the politicking of distribution of allocations, and making personal gains from opportunities around government. All these even to the exclusion of the majority of the people who trust us with the responsibility of service. A new trend is also being formalized in Nigerian Politics today, which is the practical PURCHASE of votes, where billions of naira is shipped to election areas few days to the election to induce poor citizens to vote for the highest bidder. Even if we have not yet designed an effective mechanism to arrest this situation, we must bear in our mind, as the future of this society that this is wrong and barbaric.

(Google image of the University).

Our involvement in political arena cannot be a bane, as the question is posed in the topic, except we refuse to put the knowledge we acquire from school to use in our daily lives, and our analysis of the political developments. For those who because of Unemployment and Underemployment in Nigeria resort to politics, I beg you in the name of God and your Human destiny to get back to God and retrace your LIFE-PURPOSE, Eph 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should work in them” KJV. Society should not determine you; you have the spirit of God in you to make changes, but only those who live in that consciousness, Rom 8:14 “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”KJV. 
Many entrepreneurs in the world today, not only in the U.S.A are richer than many countries as a whole, so why should you limit God in your life? Entrepreneurs and Industrialists also have their own place in the aggregate development of a society, beyond contesting for elective positions. 
Foray into politics should be a “calling”, it is a responsibility to solve problems. Taking your people out of poverty is not a hope of happenstance but a Plan, Dedication and continuous Contemplations. Obafemi Awolowo will remain an eternally bright reference for us. He didn’t do any magic, but used knowledge to give a direction to  the productive and socio-economic activities of our grandfathers at that time, and we are better for it today. 
We have only not continued in the “Awolowo spirit” but our generational mission, according to Fanon, compels us to return to it, even in a more advanced way, else we will all have to run into exile, God forbid! Nigeria needs visionary leadership, and having discovered this gap, the young must position themselves strategically to lead the nation, even  the Bible supports it.  Acts 2:17.  “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit in all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams”. The young are to see visions. Joseph in his youthful days saved Egypt from famine, and rescued his own family from hunger, bringing them with him to Egypt where he managed food productivity in excess, while other nations starved. That’s the enormous potentials it pleases God to put in the youth, it is for us to put these potentials to use for the overall benefit of our people. 
The prosperity of any economy does not rest on politicians, but on Industrialists and Intellectuals (especially the Academic). It is the Industrialists who produce goods and services, employ people in the society, pay taxes that government use for social services. The intellectuals think, forecast, and create new solutions for the industries. The politicians give direction to both Industrial and Intellectual productivity as demanded by the immediate and long term requirements of the society, factoring their cultural peculiarities and identity.

 We need youths who will “re-cultivate” faith in the knowledge acquired in our Nigerian Universities and Polytechnics, make up for the inadequacies by our general access to Internet materials today viz-a-viz Google, Wikipedia, Google Scholar, Journals etc. it is the quantum of Knowledge we imbibe and use upon nature around us, locally, to produce useful materials for local and international consumptions, that will improve the Nigerian economy, not our reliance on any Aid from foreign donors (World bank, USAID etc), or on crude oil proceeds. The earlier we decide to think and walk in the reality of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, (Klaus Schwab, 2017) the better for our Foray into Politics, the alternative will only land us all into what I call “Politics of Cannibalism” where we will have to be killing ourselves because the political offices to aspire for are too few to go round.
In conclusion, As a substance of faith and my mission into politics, I want to congratulate us ahead, as a day will come very soon, by our genuine commitment, when our youths will stop being desperate for permanent residency abroad, we shall travel to get exposed, enjoy ourselves and return, as home will actually be home. Economic development will be real and not just a nominal value as we read about the growth of Nigeria’s GDP only in the pages of Newspapers.
Once again, thank you so much for hearing my view, we only need more of us to think alike, and soon we shall arrive at that great National Destination.
Hon. Abiola Makinde, Former Chairman Ondo West Local Government.
REFERENCES:



Evelyn N. O. O. and David O. A, 2015.  Poverty and Income Inequality in Nigeria: Any Casualty? Asian Economic and Financial Review, 2015,5(3):439-452


Green Duncan, 2012. From poverty to power: How active citizens and effective state can change the world, 2nd ed. Rugby, UK: Practical Action Publishing and Oxford: Oxfam International


Holy Bible KJV


Klaus Schwab, 2017. The Fouth Industrial Revolution.


Mary Jo Bane 2009. Poverty politics and Policy

 ADOLF HITLER: THE DEVIL IN PARADISE

‘The first of the two essays (of Percy Ernst‘s book titled, “Hitler: The Man and the Military Leader“) in the book, “The Anatomy of a Dictator,” is based primarily on the record of Hitler’s own self revealing statements made during and after meals at his headquarters on the Russian Front from July 1941 through July 1942 (6). This essay had succeeded in bringing out the shadows and contrasts of Hitler’s extraordinary personality (9). Beyond the revelations of the book, Adolf Hitler, in the minds of many persons today has been termed a maniac, a demon, darkness, hell, and history’s worst atheist, etc.  This labelling (which are not all true) comes at a time when a lot of us try to make sense of the horrors in Germany, the role of the Vatican, and of Protestants, etc. in the wake of World War II.

Because of the German susceptibility to authoritarianism, some authors like Daniel Jonah, Telford Taylor and Percy Schramm among others, in telling the truth about the Third Reich, hope to urgently immunize people intellectually with as much knowledge as possible of the most terrible regime ever.

The Churches, Antisemitism and Hitler

(Pope Pius XII had signed the concordat…)

Long before Hitler came to power in Germany, National Socialism was strong in the Universities, with support not only among a large number of the students but also religious faculty members. It was the Catholic Center Party which provided Hitler the votes in the Reichstag that were essential for the passage of the “Enabling Act” granting him dictatorial powers in March 1933. The Vatican, with the Concordat later that year, was the first foreign power to conclude a major treaty with the new and still rather widely distrusted Nazi regime. Because of the Papacy’s great moral prestige both in Germany and abroad, the Concordat was, of course, exceedingly valuable to Hitler (10). 

 Hilter who was in his early youth an altar boy and a singer in the choir said sadly in November 1941, “today no one who is convenient with scientific research can take the teaching of the church seriously any more.” At the same time, he acknowledged that the problem could not be solved simply by the stroke of a pen. The church would have to “rot away like a gangrenous limb” (cf. 46). Basically his view of the church was rooted in the unsophisticated polemicism of the nineteenth century, which in turn had it’s origins in a vulgarised liberalism derived from the popularization of the enlightment (47).

Nonetheless, before the outbreak of the WW II, the German monk and reformation leader, Martin Luther in his (65, 000 words) anti-Semitic treatise titled, “On the Jews and Their Lies,”  had argued that Jewish synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes burned, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness, afforded no legal protection, and “these poisonous envenomed worms” should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.  He also seems to advocate their murder, writing “[W]e are at fault in not slaying them” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jews_and_Their_Lies).

There were many people before Hitler and during his own lifetime who did not like the Jews, or who hated them  or who even despised them, but no one has ever surpassed him in the extent to which he allowed anti-Semitism to grow into so intensive a mania that it completely shattered the faculty of reason (5). This anti-Semitic mania often prevented Hitler from analysing a situation objectively in order to decide on a rational course of action. To this extent Hitler was almost like the medieval person who sensed the presence of the devil everywhere. This mania led to his revenging himself on the millions of Jews who fell into his hands in Germany (50).

Darwinism, Antisemitism and Hitler

Apart from basing his ideas on Gregor Mendel’s laws of heredity, Hitler’s other touchstone was Charles Darwin, whose teaching he applied in the vulgarised form in which, by the end of the nineteenth century, it had become common knowledge. What this amounted to was “social Darwinism”: Darwin’s biological insight cited as the rationalizing for a theory of government and statecraft which attempted to justify the power politics of the strong against the weak (cf. P. E. Schramm, “Hitler: The Man and the Military Leader,” Jaico publishing house, 2006, pg 85).

Before Hitler’s practicalized albeit cruelly, Darwin’s socialism, the German people through her revolution sought to reconstitute and reshape the European social landscape according to its racial biological principles, by killing millions of people deemed, according to its racial fantasies, dangerous or expendable, and thereby to increase the proportion of the “superior races” (Daniel, 458).

The German people, the Holocaust and the Nazi Revolution

The study of the Holocaust and its perpetrators assigns to their beliefs paramount importance. Its conclusion being that the eliminationist anti-Semitic German political culture, the genesis of which must be and is explicable historically, was the prime mover of both the Nazi leadership and ordinary Germans in the persecution and extermination of the Jews, and therefore was the Holocaust’s principal cause. This is clear because Germany, during the Nazi period was inhabited by people animated by beliefs about Jews that made them willing to become consenting mass executioners (Schramm, 45 – 6). 

The Nazi German revolution, like all revolutions, had two fundamental related thrusts: a destructive enterprise, which was a thoroughgoing revolt against civilization, and a constructive enterprise, which was a singular attempt to make a new man, a new body social, and a new Nazified order in Europe and beyond (cf. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, ” Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust,” USA: Mark Stein Studios, 1996, pg 456).

These political views had given birth to Hitler’s obsession and denouncement of communism and capitalism. Of note too are the events following the Great Depression of 1929 – where American banks withdrew their loans from Germany. This singular act had infuriated the German people in the aftermath of an election which Hitler had lost to Von Hindenburg . However, Hitler had taken advantage of the people’s anger, offerein them convenient scapegoats. His speeches, which expoited people’s fear had also seen a growth in percentage (3% – 18%) in 2 years of the Nazi Party. Hitler – an extraordinary demogogue with Germany’s highest decorations, with an excellent combat record, a man of uncommon discipline – played on the sensitivities of the masses, with breath taking virtuosity, mesmerizing listeners with his infectious conviction that he could not fail (Percy, 9). 

In 1932, after the Nazis emerged as the largest political party in Germany with nearly fourteen million votes to their credit, he was appointed as Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Hitler was considered the undisputed dictator of the Third Reich and by the beginning of August 1934, and after the death of von Hindenburg, he had all the powers of the state in his hands (cf.https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/adolf-hitler-8.php).
In the article titled “The Mind of Adolf Hitler,” published as the introduction to an English translation of Hitler’s table conversations, Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941- 1944 (NY, 1953), The Oxford professor (H. R. TrevorRoper) writes of Hitler’s mind as being “like some huge barbarian monolith, the expressing of giant strength and savage genius, surrounded by a festering heap of refuse…”

(Image: Britannica.com)

To further concretize this German eliminationism, the event of January 25, 1944, comes to mind. Himmler, in the midst of three hundred Generals and Staff officers gathered in Posen, spoke openly as someone does before an approving crowd. Indeed, when Himmler announced that German was wiping the Jews off the face of the earth, the military leaders broke into applause. The applause was not scattered; it was well-nigh unanimous. A dissenting General looked about him to see how many in the audience abstained from applauding. He counted five (Daniel, 430). 
Hence, it suffices to say that, “be decent, moderate, spiritual, ethical anti-Semites, eliminate the Jews, but do not slaughter them” was the spoken or unspoken maxim that informed nearly all of the relatively few German objection to the countrymen’s systematic slaughter of the Jew. 
In fact the bishop of Linz, Johannes Maria Gfoellner, in a pastoral letter circulated in 1933, exhorted the Nazis thus: “If National Socialism…wants to incorporate only this spiritual and ethical form of antisemitism into its program, there is nothing to stop it” (Quoted in Friedrich Heer, “God‘s First Love,” Worcester: Trinity Press, 1967, p. 272).

Towards a conclusion

In the conclusive analysis therefore, being ordinary in the Germany that gave itself to Nazism was to have been a member of an extraordinary, lethal political culture (cf  Daniel, 456). This perspective was quite as much appealing to Steven Fry who was asked  the question during an interview, “If Hitler wasn’t born, can we suppose that the world would be better, same or worst?” To this he responded by asserting that “if Hitler hadn’t been born as at the time of the Great Depression or the World War, certainly the political culture, and horror of Germany would have still given birth to him; another who also hated the Jews would have been born” (paraphrased), and then no one today would be talking about Hitler.

It is now clear to assert that one should embrace the indisputable fact that although innocent their intentions, the German people, resoundingly endorsed Hitler’s Third Reich – a totalitarian regime without effective provision for separation of powers or even for registering the dissent of the governed. They (Germans) did this indirectly through through their representatives in the Reichstag and then directly through Plebiscites ( Schramm, 13).

Hitler himself was never ignorant of this, for he had written:

“To truly ‘learn’ history means to open your eyes and discover the forces that cause historical events to happen. The art of reading and of learning, means remembering the important parts and forgettimg the unimportant…My professor, Dr. Leopold Pötsch of the Linz school,… not only illuminated the past by the light of the present, but he taught me to dra conclusions for the present from the past. More than anyone else, he gave us an understanding of the current problems (Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf,” 1924, pg. 12). 

One can now see that Hitler was ipso facto, not just a lover of history but also a careful leader who had paid attention to the concerns of the German people at the time. To further understand the fuel to which Hitler’s passion to eliminate the Jews was ignited, one ought to herein pay attention to the political philosophy of the time too (and this is what the author intends) – afterall, Hitler could have been anyone; Hitler could be nonetheless summarized as the perfect creation of Germany’s paradise and a deadly devil to the Jews – the devil in paradise! 
Author: David Francis E.

    HYSTERIA, EUPHORIA AND AMNESIA: NIGERIA’S LONG WALK TO FREEDOM.

    BY MATTHEW KUKAH

    ON OCTOBER 07, 2015
    Below is an excerpt of a lecture delivered by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto at the Platform, Covenant Centre, Lagos, on October 1, 2015.
    For years and perhaps out of deep frustration, Nigerians have raised up messiahs, hoping and praying that they would take away their sins and sufferings and usher in a new dawn. But, in almost all instances, our joys have turned into ashes. For over fifty years, we have celebrated every military or civilian regime only to lose patience and fall into depression. Under the civilian administrations, we have often summoned the military to come to our rescue.
    Some years back, while I was in Oxford and working on my book, a friend of mine, a retired military officer paid me a visit. We got talking about our country. I told him I really wanted to know how military coups were planned because I had never really read anything about coup plotting. He laughed and offered me some insights. I asked him if I could have him on tape and he said yes. In summary, he said something like this: The idea of a coup could come from an individual who might then sell it to another very close friend. It is hard to know whom to trust so you have to know how to send out feelers. So, for example, you meet a friend and you ask, how are things? And he says, well, my brother, country hard. You could go on and say something like, how can things be so bad? Will we continue like this? It is really terrible. Then you watch and see or hear his reaction. If he is of the same feeling of frustration, then you know that he is a good material and you go from there.

    Just like that? I said. He continued: Well, you keep sharing the feelings and then from two of you, the circle could gradually increase until you become a small core group. You then get to work and this could take months to plan. But when you are done with planning, the challenge is how to gauge the mood of the country to be sure that the coup might be popular. At this point, we then reach out to our friends in the media. We get people to write articles, editorial opinions, saying how bad things are in the country. Gradually, the people themselves begin to feel that things are really bad. Even those who are doing well may begin to feel guilty and so on. By doing this, we set the tone for public approval. This is why you always see people on the streets, rejoicing and welcoming us as messiahs and redeemers. The rest, as they say is history.
    The hysteria and euphoria that greeted General Buhari’s election victory is reminiscent of these sentiments. You get a sense of de javu, we have been on this road before, it all looks so familiar. I have listened to Nigerians sing the praises of General Buhari as a morally ramrod Muslim, God fearing, a disciplined officer, a patriot, an incorruptible man who is now been adorned with a messianic regalia. We are told that he will take us to the promised land, Nigerians argue by ridding our nation of the devil of corruption. And, as they say, we shall live happy ever after.
    I do not disagree with these sentiments. Some like myself have known the man for the better part of twenty years and can even claim some level of friendship and greater familiarity than most of those who met General Buhari after worship at the Church of latter day saints. However, I believe that Nigerians are very much mistaken in associating fear of God and goodness
    Going forward, I want to do three things in this presentation. First, I will define the key words in this presentation. Secondly, I will then try to look back at how the so-called fight against corruption has been deployed by the successive military regimes as a means of seducing us into compliance. My concern is whether we shall continue to fall for the same all tricks given that after over fifty years, we are nowhere near achieving success in our fight against corruption.

    1: Hysteria, Euphoria & Amnesia: Definitions and Conceptual clarifications:
    Against the backdrop of what I have said, I hope you can now understand why I chose the words, hysteria, euphoria and amnesia as a way of interrogating the situation we are in. So far, what I have tried to do is to draw attention to the fact that we have been on this road before. What lessons are there for us to learn?
    By way of conclusion, I wish to now turn my attention to examining why I believe that ours is a case of a long walk to freedom.
    My Apple computer dictionary defines hysteria as follows; exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, especially among a group of people…. psychological disorder whose symptoms include conversion of psychological stress into physical symptoms, shown in volatile emotions, overdramatic or attention seeking behaviour. While Euphoria is defined as; a state of intense excitement and happiness, Amnesia defined and associated with, total or partial loss of memory. Amnesia is defined as; partial or total loss of memory.
    I believe that the outpouring of emotions welcoming the new administration was necessary and understandable, given the nature of the trepidation ahead of the elections. However, now that we have been able to catch our breathe, what should we make of this hysteria and euphoria?
    Personally, with some trepidation, the sense of de javu manifested in the blind hysterical and euphoric outpouring of emotions welcoming the return of President Buhari and the belief that he has come to take our sins away. The sense that somehow, we should simply fold our hands and wait because, like a scene out of Jim-will-fix-it in the British television programme, we should hand our future to one man who knows it all.
    We are becoming victims of what our favourite daughter, Chimamanda has referred to in a most powerful essay as the danger of the Single story. In her words, the single story is built on stereotypes and, the trouble with stereotypes is not that they are false, but that they are incomplete. Building on this, Nigerians have imbibed the notion of the single story that we are being defined as corrupt. Thus, the idea of a fight, a war against corruption has often taken a life of its own in our collective narrative of the problems of our country.
    We have moved a step further by saying that if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us. I consider most of this analysis a bit shallow, lacking in a serious understanding of how societies and human nature work in semi primitive society such as ours. My argument therefore is to say that, no, we should not be talking of fighting corruption, rather, we should see corruption as a symptom of something that is intrinsically wrong with our society, the loss of the moral centre of gravity of our society.
    If Corruption is so evil, how come we are so much at peace with it? If corruption is so rotten, how come we all seem to enjoy its company? What are the agencies for Corruption? What capacity do they have? Are they above the fray or are they also caught up in the same web of corruption? How much bribe does a President need to pay to get an Anti corruption Agency or bill passed in the Legislative assembly? Why has Corruption become so easy and pervasive and why is it that, like MTN would say, it is everywhere you go? What makes it so attractive? If we are so much against, it, how is it that we cannot generate a collective sense of moral revulsion?

    But, if we are a serious people with a sense of history, how many wars have we won in this country? Fifty years after the civil war, MASOOB says Biafra is still alive because those who govern us have refused to admit that in our dishonesty, we have left a few windows open. We did not win the war against indiscipline?
    Why did we not win the war against illiteracy? Why did we not win the war against hunger despite operation feed the nation? We did we not win the war against armed robbery? Why did not win the war against poverty? Why did we not win the war against insecurity? What makes us confident that we will win this war? Should it not be clear to us that there is more than meets the eye?
    President Buhari is not new on the block. He came and saw but we all know the story. In declaring a war against corruption, he lost his job. It is quite interesting that none of all of those who have suddenly become vocal now in the war against corruption went out on the streets to condemn the overthrow of their hero. If Nigerians were so convinced about the war against corruption, why did they all cross to the other side of the street where President Babangida was already offering them a decaffeinated form of war by stating that the overthrow of Buhari had become necessary because in his words on August 27th, 1985: Muhammad Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitude to issues of national significance?
    General Babangida justified his coup by claiming that General Buhari had been rather impervious to reason. In his words: Efforts to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria requires recognition and appreciation of the difference in both cultural and individual perception only served to aggravate these attitudes…He arrogated to himself the absolute knowledge of problems and solutions and acted in accordance with what was convenient to him using the machinery of government as his tool. This was thirty years ago and both men are still alive.
    So, when I warn about the consequences of our hysteria, euphoria and amnesia, it is based on the feeling that in a more serious country, we should appreciate that we have been on this road before.
    The question we should be asking ourselves now is, how and why is it that every coup plotter in Nigeria hung nailed his colours on the mast of fighting corruption? How come that all successive governments have come in, accusing their predecessors of massive corruption only to turn around and do even worse or leave a similar legacy of rut?
    In my book, Witness to Justice, I titled one of the chapters, Do Not Forget to Remember. The idea was to call attention to a chronic lack of a sense of history that was unpardonable. I drew from a few of the speeches of coup plotters to illustrate this tragedy and argued that we are all culpable and that we are also sinners, not a bunch of innocent people who have been sinned against. Let me just very briefly trace this same trajectory so as to make the point.
    On January 15th, 1966, Major Nzeogwu told a stunned nation that they had intervened to establish a strong, united and prosperous nation, free from corruption and internal strife. The highpoint of his speech was when he said: Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10%, those who keep the country permanently divided so that they can remain in office. He ended his speech by proclaiming that: We promise that you will no more be ashamed to say that you are Nigerians. As we know, he and his men went on to commit heinous crimes against this nation by killing innocent men and finally triggering off the ugly events that led to a civil war.
    When the war ended, Gowon was finally overthrown on July 29th, 1975. Brigadier General Mohammed stated that the military had intervened because: Despite our great human and material resources, the government has not been able to fulfill the legitimate expectations of our people. Nigeria has been left to drift. Even the charlatan, Lt. Col BS Dimka opened greeted Nigerians on February 13th in 1976, by saying: I bring you good tidings, and ended his speech by reminding Nigerians that: We are together.

    On December 31st, 1983, the nation woke up to the voice of one Brigadier Sani Abacha who conscripted Nigerians into the witness box by arguing that: You have been witnesses to the grave economic predicament and uncertainty which an inept and corrupt leadership has imposed on our beloved nation…Our economy has been mis-managed. We have become a debtor and beggar nation…In some states; workers are being owed salaries of 8-12 months. General Abacha concluded that he and his colleagues had intervened because it was their duty as; promoters and protectors of our national interest.
    The new Head of State was announced as Brigadier General Muhammadu Buhari who, in his opening address noted: The change became necessary in order to put an end to the serious economic predicament and the crisis of confidence afflicting our country….This government will not tolerate kickbacks, inflation of contracts and over invoicing of imports, nor will it condone forgery, fraud, embezzlement, misuse and abuse of office and illegal dealings in foreign exchange and smuggling…..Workers who have not received their salaries in the past eight or so months will receive such salaries today or tomorrow. It was interesting that the President acknowledged that even the criminals had a role to play in his vision for the nation. He said: We expect all Nigerians, including those who participated directly or indirectly in bringing the nation to this present predicament, to cooperate with us.
    When Brigadier General Dogon Yaro announced the overthrow of the Buhari administration on August 27th, 1985, he acknowledged that the government had been welcomed with what he called, unprecedented enthusiasm. He complained that Members of the Supreme Military Council had been sidelined and made redundant because only ….a select few members were charged with the day-to-day implementation of the SMC’s policies and decisions….the concept of collective leadership has been substituted by stubborn and ill advised unilateral actions, thereby destroying the principles upon which the military came to power.
    On the same day, General Abacha in his own speech, complained that: …the Buhari leadership lacked the capacity and the capability to lead this nation out of its social and economic predicament….It is most disheartening that most of the ills that plagued the nation during the civilian regime are still present in our society.
    President Ibrahim Babangida then stepped up and opened his speech by reminding a stunned nation that; Buhari had come to power with the most popular enthusiasm accorded any government in the history of this country.

    But sadly, he continued: Since January 1984, we have witnessed systematic denigration of hope. He continued: Muhammadu Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance…He arrogated to himself the absolute knowledge of the problems and solutions and acted in accordance with what was convenient to him using the machinery of government as his tool. General Babangida made the usual noises about the state of the economy and the plans to end economic mismanagement and place the nation on the path of rectitude.
    Then General Abacha came back a third time, this time to oust Shonekan. This was a rather curious speech because it was like no other. General Abacha broke from the tradition of denigrating his predecessor as a way of justifying his coup. Instead, he commended Shonekan for, in his own words, showing the greater courage of knowing when to leave. He promised to lay a solid foundation for the growth of democracy. He ended his speech by again, lamenting Chief Shonekan who, again in his words, unfortunately, resigned yesterday, stated that the government was a child of necessity out to enthrone lasting democracy.
    I know I sound like a bearer of bad news, a cynic or one who does not support Buhari’s war as my enemies have concluded. Indeed, the opposite is actually the case. First, as the American Television series, Everybody loves Raymond will say, Everybody loves Buhari. But that is the first danger. It is not in President Buhari’s interest that everyone presents a face of love for him. The country is more than one man. President Buhari himself has said that much. What the President needs is an army of non partisan patriots committed to supporting him, but looking well beyond him and his Party and focusing on the nation and its future.
    Despite our claims of moral probity, the President’s men and women who will be Ministers will be taken from among us. They will serve in the same public service that has deteriorated into a conveyor belt of corruption and malfeasance. We do not know how long they will stay on the high horse of moral probity before we start hearing the usual cry of, na morality we go chop? These men are from among us, and they will be surrounded by the usual coterie of carpetbaggers. So, the President requires other men and women outside his formal choir of Party members who can help him think, men and women who are unencumbered by the vagaries of the sweet juices of political power and office, men and women who are not seduced by popular approval, men and women who live for tomorrow, men and women who have ideas about how nations are build, men and women who do not see public trust as a vehicle for vengeance, men and women who live by the law of live and let live, men and women who do not see the exigencies of the moment as our turn to eat.


    2: Still a very Long Walk To Freedom:
    I always had great difficulties understanding how Nigerians tried to compare Nelson Mandela with General Olusegun Obasanjo. On the surface, local and international commentators kept saying that they expected Obasanjo to do a Mandela by which they meant that he should have served one term and moved on. The comparison to my mind was a useless distraction because both men had such totally different dispositions, spiritual and other wise. Mandela never spoke of religion while Obasanjo had had a road to Damascus spiritual experience in prison. Obasanjo had been a President, an experience Mandela never had. Mandela inherited a disciplined society which had come at great cost to the black people, but it had produced a nation of superb infrastructure, a business elite that was largely ensconced from direct politics. Obasanjo had been wheeled into power by a thoroughly corrupt and inefficient system with which he had to negotiate and keep happy at a great cost to the nation. Mandela had had years of training and preparation, negotiation and the search for common ground with the Afrikaners while Obasanjo did not have such an experience.
    Finally, Mandela inherited an almost 80 year political movement that had the discipline of a religious group, while Obasanjo inherited a rickety contraption quickly assembled merely to wheel him to power. So, while one moved on and the other opted to stay on and on.
    The title of Mandela’s biography, A Long Walk to Freedom more or less says it all. In his personal life, he had been disciplined in the purifying fires of suffering. He promised the traumatised and oppressed people of South Africa who had been rendered landless and homeless a million houses and salt. But, in the end, none of these really became available to the people of South Africa, majority of who are still in the sheebeens of poverty and squalor. For Mandela, there was a trade off. In exchange for a stable country ravaged by hatred and injustice, he opted to heal the wounds of his people by focusing on the dignity of forgiveness and reconciliation.
    The verdict is out there as to whether he succeeded, but no one can take away the fact that he left his country sufficiently stable. This singular achievement laid the foundation for a new South Africa. It can be argued therefore that for Mandela, securing peace and reconciliation were the primary objectives he wished to achieve. He had all the reasons to turn an angry and hungry populace against the white supremacists especially given that most of those who crafted the architecture of apartheid were still alive and relatively well enough to go to prison as the case may be. He left the task of creating a wealthy country to his successors, believing that first, there has to be a country before we can talk of prosperity and wealth. What lessons can we learn from this?
    It is important to note that Buhari is not a new kid on the block. I hear people talking about a new Sherriff in town, but this is absolute nonsense. This Sherriff was here and left us a record. As I have indicated earlier, he was overthrown when he embarked on his war against corruption and indiscipline. None of us went out on the streets to show solidarity with him. We embraced Babangida but we also ended up accusing him sowing the seeds of corruption. In the 8 years of his rule, we watered those seeds. Today, Buhari has to confront the children of the Babangida era who are still very much around, have become fathers, grand fathers and in some cases, great grand fathers. They have passed on the milk of this corruption to their descendants many of who have built empires and kingdoms.
    Having been President before, Buhari knows things we do not know. But, we already also know a thing a two about Buhari and what he represents. There has been too much focus on his being a good man, a patriot, a moral probity and so on. But really, all of these qualities might be good for the Chairman of the Pilgrims Agency, a Mosque or Church building Committee or Chairman of Parish Council and so on. But for a President to sort out a dysfunctional society like Nigeria, these qualities are necessary but not sufficient to guarantee success. Fixing Nigeria will require more than just a good man especially as we in Nigeria seem to equate goodness with prayer, building private churches and mosques which tend to become shelters and places of refuge criminals and thieves who should really be in prison. In the final analysis, I do not really care what faith our President professes, if he professes any at all. All we need is a man who can fix our problems with the precision of the Chinese who are atheistic, not praying but getting results.
    What we need is a leader who can learn and not be afraid to admit what he does not know, a leader who can ignore the whispers of the coterie of so called inner circles, separate friendship and camaradiere from the business of hearing the cry of the oppressed. Buhari fought his war without a Constitution. Buhari fought his war without a National Assembly. Buhari fought his war with a Judiciary. He fought his war with Tribunals.
    We can start an effort to lay a solid foundation for a change in the Nigerian psyche. However, for this to be more effective, the fight against corruption is not so much going to be won by how many investigations, probes we conduct. It will not be won by how many people go to jail. While we fight corruption, we must not see this as the business of one man, a President, no matter who capable he may be. Governance is about creating safe spaces where citizens can thrive and achieve their goals. This requires a clear vision about a world with limitless frontiers where individuals can thrive with government creating the necessary support structures.
    The President should learn some of the things that worked and the ones that did not. Nigerians genuinely want a change, sadly as things are, they want others to change so that they can have a good. They are not prepared as individuals to change. But, we can learn that change happens as the result of a sequence of actions and activities, dreams and visions that serve as a foundation on which generation after generation make their contributions and move on. As they said with Obama: Rosa Parks and her generation sat (on the bus) so we could walk. Martin Luther and his colleagues took the baton and walked so that the next generation, that of Obama might run. Now, the Obama generation has run so that the next generation can fly. We must build today with tomorrow in mind, hoping that those coming after us will do much better than us, that they will find a more peaceful nation than the one we are living in.
    The youth bulge should not be seen as a threat, rather an opportunity. If governments create the right climate, then, we can produce our own generation of the likes of the Mark Zuckerbergs. After, as we can see from our youth, people like young Davido has proved you can go to school and still make millions without breaking a bank. The energy of youth must be properly challenged and rather than looking for elders to imitate, every young man and woman must know that God has plans for us all. The challenge is to meet up and co-operate with the grace of God by staying on the right path.
    Building a nation as diverse as ours is, is a tough job and requires patience. If we have the patience and are ready for the sacrifice, then, the sky will be a footstone for us. Till then, we must learn from the likes of Mandela, that it is indeed, a long, long road to freedom. This is why I am pleased to eave you with the words of Jimmy Cliff who titled one of his songs, Hard Road to Travel. I will sing it for you just so you can know that if I had not become a priest, who knows, I could have ventured into music and made a living. Among other things, he said:

    I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough rough way to go
    Said it’s a hard road to travel and a rough rough way to go
    But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
    My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop
    My faith will see, see me through

    Photo credit: https://thewhistler.ng/story/president-buhari-meets-with-catholic-bishops-in-aso-rock-photos and Google images Matthew Kukah

    UNESCO AND GENDER INEQUALITY

    By D. F. EFFIONG
    INTRODUCTION
    In order to ensure sustainable development, it has become imperative to recognize the importance of the two sexes (male and female) as complementary biological entities and  moreover, to respect full equity and equality of each of the two genders, i.e., of the social roles that men and women assume in their lives. These roles, it must be emphasized, are socio-political and cultural constructs, which have evolved through history, and vary from one society to another. The fact that the roles attributed to men and women are not static and eternally valid but, on the contrary, that these roles change, have changed and are prone to further change, is essential in explaining why the term gender is not in the forefront on the debate, and why it is not interchangeable with the term sex but is, in fact, complementary to it. 
    Since 2008 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has made gender equality on a global scale a priority.  In 2014 the UNESCO, Priority Gender Equality Action Plan (2014 – 2021) (GEAP II) was published, in which the organization makes a promise to the world about how it will address gender inequality. This paper hopes to summarize the varied indices in UNESCO’s addresses to Gender Inequalities.

    THE QUESTION OF GENDER EQUALITY

    Gender equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behavior, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female (ABC Of Women Worker’s Right, 2000, p. 48). By the end of the eighteenth century, daring social thinkers were beginning to argue that the winds of emancipation and equality blowing across the Atlantic world should extend to women. Two major women’s demands (developed throughout the two succeeding centuries) were: 1) political equality, especially the suffrage, and 2) access to most traditionally male forms of employment. Women’s suffrage is now given in all the world’s democracies; and the last barrier, access to the highest political offices is crumbling. 
    Women have always worked, both inside and outside the home. What they sought in the nineteenth and increasingly in the twentieth century was access beyond traditional women’s work. World Wars I and II, with the men folk in arms and the need for economic mobilization for total war brought women many new job opportunities. Middle and upper-class women struggled to enter the professions from which an increasingly antiquated idea of women’s intellectual capacity still too often barred them (Encyclopedia of Sex, XVI). To the growing numbers of women in the knowledge-production-and transmission business, aka the professoriate, it was obvious that traditional curricula tended to ignore half the human race, that is, women. From this perceived lack, Women’s Studies was born. Women’s Studies work to restore women’s place in history, economics, literature, and the arts. 

    This academic field has shone a bright light, not only on the activities of women but also on the image of women and the conceptions of women held by the dominant patriarchal society.
    One of the things that women’s studies scholars and feminists swiftly discovered (both through their research and the resistance they encountered in their professional careers) was that roles for and attitudes to women were inextricably tied to attitudes to masculinity vs. femininity (that is, gender) and to sexuality and the body. It would not be possible to liberate women, many began to feel, without also liberating attitudes to sexuality and the body. In the process, Women’s Studies have given birth to Gender Studies. The psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, because of its emphasis on the primacy of the sexual drive, has also contributed mightily to the recognition and exploration of the role of sexuality in modern life and this shall be discussed under the science of equality (Encyclopedia of Sex, XVII). 

    Photo Credit: Art from internet

    Between the sexual revolution of the 1970s and the renewed push associated with second-wave feminism, other groups oppressed by the traditional patriarchal order of sex and gender also demanded dignity and equality. The HIV/AIDS epidemic helped force male homosexuality out of the closet and contributed to the mainstreaming of gay culture. Other sexual minorities followed suit, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites, intersex individuals, transgendered individuals, etc. As the law struggles to catch up, we deal with the gay marriage debate even in unofficial circles in Nigeria (cf. Encyclopedia of Sex, XVII). 

    UNESCO’S COMMITMENT TOWARDS GENDER EQUALITY
    For UNESCO gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. It implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is a human rights principle, a precondition for sustainable, people-centered development, and it is a goal in and of itself. UNESCO’s vision of gender equality is in line with relevant international instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is also informed by the reflections concerning the post-2015 development framework (UNESCO Priority Gender Equality Action Plan, 11).
    The process of reform of UNESCO and the preparation of a new six-year strategy for 2001-2006 provide(s) a unique opportunity to integrate fully into its planning, programming, implementation and evaluation of gender mainstreaming practice – which is advocated by the United Nations and other major intergovernmental bodies (OECD, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Union, the Council of Europe, etc.), private foundations and non-governmental organizations, especially since the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China, in September 1995. 
    The implementation in the period between 1995 and 2000 of UNESCO’s major commitments regarding the achievement of gender equity and equality is presented in three parts. Part I outlines major policy decisions, adopted since 1995 by the General Conference, linked to relevant UN decisions on matters concerning the advancement of women and gender equality, and explains what gender mainstreaming means. Part II summarizes UNESCO’s achievements of the past five years, while Part III, “Elements for UNESCO’s Future Gender Mainstreaming Strategy” is a preliminary outline, indicating (i) gender equality issues that have emerged as priorities and for which UNESCO has a comparative advantage because of its multidisciplinary mandate, and (ii) how a gender mainstreaming can be integrated into the Organization’s work both in terms of policy and 

    Organizational/practical considerations (Gender equality and equity, 2000, 4). By promoting gender equality and equity, UNESCO advocates a new partnership between women and men, girls and boys, i.e., a partnership based on mutual respect, dialogue and the sharing of public and private responsibilities. World-wide experience has shown that by marginalizing women a society locks up half of its potential, and thereby denies itself a chance for genuine development. Given its mandate, UNESCO is expected by the world community, and particularly the UN system, to play a major role in advocating and affirming women’s rights, and gender rights more broadly, through its work in education, science and social and human sciences, culture and communication (Gender equality, 10). 

    KEY ACTIVITY AREAS

    GEAP II identifies some key actions to be taken globally. One of these is targeting research initiatives. It is hoped that data gaps can be plugged by approaching data collection in new ways, particularly for those forms of gender equality that UNESCO has an interest in. the organization is particularly keen to support centres of excellence for research into gender equality issues. Preventing violence towards women is another target area. The levels of violence against women are disturbing and have a significant impact on society. The World Health Organization’s latest figures state that 35 per cent of women have experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime and this is a major obstacle to achieving gender equality. The intent of the GEAP II is to promote social change about violence towards women and girls.
    Whilst the Inter-Parliamentary Union reported that in 2013 the average representation of women in parliaments is nearly 22 per cent, UNESCO believes that women still do not have fair representation in leadership and decision-making processes around the world. It is believed that ultimately this leads to many of the inequalities for women persisting. It is for this reason that developing women’s leadership capacity and training through targeted programmes is seen as a key focus area for GEAP II. The final key action is designed to address how stereotypes undermine gender equality. A particular focus GEAP II is to look at the stereotypes promoted by media, as well as those used in educational resources, and analyze the best ways to change these into more positive ones (UNESCO GEAP II Impact Magazine, 38).

    APPROACHES ADOPTED TO ADDRESS GENDER INEQUALITY
    The Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995), proposed gender mainstreaming as a key strategy to reduce inequalities between women and men. Gender mainstreaming, known also as mainstreaming a gender perspective, is “the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action including legislation, policies, and programmes, in any area and at all levels.” It is a call to all Governments and other actors to promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programs, so that before decisions are taken, an analysis is made of the effects on women and men, respectively.
    According to Agreed Conclusions on Gender Mainstreaming (1997), Gender mainstreaming is “the process of assessing the implications for women and men for any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making Women’s and men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension in all design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.” (8) As stated in key UN documents, and in those of other major international organizations, gender mainstreaming means:
    Forging and strengthening the political will to achieve gender equality and equity, at the local, national, regional and global levels.

    Incorporating a gender perspective into the planning processes of all ministries and departments of government, particularly those concerned with macroeconomic and development planning, personnel policies and management, and legal affairs.

    Integrating a gender perspective into all phases of sectorial planning cycles, including the analysis development, appraisal, implementation, monitoring and evaluation policies, programmes and projects.

    Using sex-disaggregated data in statistical analysis to reveal how policies impact differently on women and men.

    Increasing the numbers of women in decision-making positions in government and the private and public sectors.

    Providing tools and training in gender awareness, gender analysis and gender planning to decision-makers, senior managers and other key personnel.

    Forging linkages between governments, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure a better use of resources.
    The three key principles of gender mainstreaming as defined by the Commonwealth Secretariat are:

    Empowerment
    – which means having control over the decisions and issues that affect one’s life. It means having representation in decision-making bodies, and control over the distribution of resources. Where women are underrepresented in decision-making fora, deliberate action to redress the imbalance is necessary. Participation in planning and decision-making processes has an additional benefit of increasing a sense of commitment to and ownership of the plan’s objectives.

    Accountability
    – which underlines that change within an organization and within society cannot be achieved unless the people who constitute these feel motivated to do so. Motivation for change can be encouraged through positive means such as incentive systems – which provide rewards for the achievement of specific goals, or through less positive means such as boundary systems – which define what behaviour is acceptable/unacceptable, what are the minimum standards of achievement and what sanctions are imposed if these standards are not attained.

    Integration
    of effort, as well as a high degree of analysis and co-ordination are necessary in order to ensure that gender mainstreaming functions as a holistic approach aimed at the transformation of the structures that create and perpetuate gender inequalities, rather than focusing on piecemeal interventions. Integration is necessary at different levels and in different sectors of government, society and individual organizations. It is necessary also in order to reflect the diversity in society, as “women” and “men” are not homogenous categories, but include other constructs such as race/ethnicity, class/caste and age. Gender inequalities cannot be addressed adequately unless the inequalities arising from there other variables are also addressed. Nonetheless, it is important to underline that the gender mainstreaming strategy cannot stand alone. Women-specific programmes and projects remain as important as ever, but they should be seen as complementary to gender mainstreaming efforts rather than as the main, or even single, purpose (Gender equality, 6).
    The “gender and development” (GAD) paradigm, proposed in the process leading to the Beijing Conference, is perceived as an evolution from the hitherto dominant “Women in Development” (WID) approach. As explained in the 1995 Commonwealth Plan of Action, “the WID Approach focused on how women could be better integrated into the existing ‘men/male made world’ and corresponding development initiatives. Targeting women’s productive work to the exclusion of their reproductive work, this approach was characterized by income-generating projects for women which failed to address the systemic causes of gender inequality.”
    The WID approach tended to view women as passive recipients of development assistance, rather than as active agents in transforming their own economic, social, political and cultural realities. A key outcome was that women’s concerns were viewed in isolation, as separate issues, leading to their marginalization in the state system and other social structures. In practical terms, WID lead to distortions such as the “tag on reflex” (i.e., it was deemed sufficient to simply allocate a part of program resources for “women projects” in order to honour one’s commitment to the WID requirements) and, beyond this, to treating “women issues” as basically unrelated to major development concerns such as human right issues, democratic governance, protection of environment, globalization, peace and disarmament, etc.
    The “gender and development” approach seeks to integrate gender awareness and competence into mainstream development, while recognizing that development activities may affect women and men differently (due to sexual differences as well as historic circumstances), and therefore emphasizing the need to apply appropriate gender planning in order to ensure that the resulting conditions and results are equitable to women and men. This approach recognizes that:

    Women and men have different and special needs;

    Women do not constitute a homogeneous group because, while being of female sex, each woman is also marked by her race/ethnicity, class, age, sexual preference and other factors;

    Women tend to be disadvantaged compared to men in terms of their access to and control of the means of production, and of their welfare in general;

    Gender differences can, however, also result in men being disadvantaged in certain societies, although presently, in most parts of the world it is above all women that are victims of discrimination (Gender equality, 7).

    CONCLUSION



    All United Nations agencies, including UNESCO, are required to promote gender equality within the framework of their mandates. UNESCO has a unique role to play in this area as the agency with five distinct major programmes, each with a specific mandate, who can work together to promote gender equality in a holistic manner and thus make an original contribution to development outcomes in terms of gender equality. Gender equality is inextricably linked to the Education Programme where efforts to promote the right to education for all. The Programme aims to address persisting gender disparities and to promote gender equality throughout the education system: in participation in education (access), within education (contents, teaching and learning context and practices, delivery modes, and assessments) and through education (learning outcomes, life and work opportunities).
    In Natural Sciences, UNESCO works towards providing strong role models for women in science, building capacities of women in natural sciences and engineering, and supporting the unique contributions of men and women to scientific knowledge generation and dissemination to advance sustainable development. In Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO works to ensure that gender equality considerations are fully integrated into policies for social inclusion and social transformation. In policies and programmes aimed specifically at young women and men, express consideration is given to the distinct needs, expectations, and aspirations of young women in disadvantaged positions. Through its various programmes, the Programme will also develop capacity-building activities that target men and young boys to become strong gender equality advocates. In the field of Culture, gender equality signifies ensuring that women and men equally enjoy the right to access, participate and contribute to cultural life. 
    In recognition of the importance of gender equality for both human rights and cultural diversity, the Conventions aim to include all members of communities in their implementation, and thereby to encourage women and men to equally benefit from heritage and creativity. The Communication and information Programme is spearheading various interventions that are unique within the United Nations system to empower women and girls, through initiatives such as the Gender Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM) and the promotion of gender-sensitive Open Educational Resource policies (UNESCO Priority, 12). This has been the singular purpose of this paper, namely – from the aforementioned – to dissect the varied indices, as well as the recommendations and views of UNESCO in the response towards addressing gender inequalities in our world. This report also concluded that gender equality is a non-negotiable component of any policy, programme or activity relating to sustainable development: ‘Any development pathway will only be sustainable if it enhances women’s capabilities, respects and protects their rights and reduces and redistributes their unpaid care work’ (37).

    WORKS CITED



    ABC of Women Worker’s Right And Gender Equality. ILO, Geneva, 2000.


    Agreed Conclusions on Gender Mainstreaming. ECOSOC, 1997.


    Fediva Malti-Douglas. Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Vol. 1. USA. The Gale Group, 2007.


    Gender Equality and Equity, 2000.


    UNESCO Priority Gender Equality Action Plan – 2014- 2021.

    SYLLABUS OF ERRORS: GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP OR BINOCULAR OBSERVATION (THE NIGERIAN STORY)

    By D. F. EFFIONG

    “A greater resilience is highly relevant in today’s and tomorrow’s global challenges. It seems true that the strategic plan of the MDG establishes that these programmes are focused on those affected by the sharpest inequalities and those excluded from the mainstream of community and national life” ( Helen Clark)

    PROLOGUE

    It was in January 1942 that representatives of the 26 Allied nations met at Washington D.C and adopted the name United Nations, pledging support for the principles of the Atlantic Charter. I feel married to one of its purposes, namely, ‘to develop friendly relations among nations and to encourage international co-operation in solving economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.’ There have been recent trends of continental issues affecting the African man or woman and especially the diplomatic, yet ill and inhuman treatment of some Nigerian immigrants in foreign lands. Emerging questions regarding the suitability of whether these nations are observing the UN purposes are indeed justified. I seek herein to bring to our national conscience the gradual epoch of deviations, misrepresentations and misunderstandings that have arisen as a result of a seemingly lack of attention to the course of the UN in global partnership.

    It was the chairperson of the Nigerian House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Abike Dabiri Erewa, who noted that there is no record of how many Nigerians are living in the Diaspora and hence, there is no legislative account for them. Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why Nigerian students studying in Malaysia recently threatened the Nigerian Ambassador for lack of concern towards the fraudulent and unpatriotic advances on most Nigerians during the past decade. “In late November 2011, there was a published report of crisis in a Nigerian mission in Asia involving Nigerian citizens resident in Bangkok and former officials of the embassy… all encompassing from sheer act of the embassies’ official neglect to its citizens.” (Njoku Saint Jerry and Vera Sam-Anyagafu). From the aforementioned, indeed the ‘two vital problems facing the UN are the Goliaths of nationalism and imperialism’ (Minneapolis star) in the African sphere.


    According to UNDP in 2000, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. It was this pledge of global interest that hatched the egg of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Of course, and rightly of great interest to us, those few years afterwards, and in 2011, ‘the United Nations Development Guide, put to play an endorsement to guide collaborative national efforts to identify and overcome bottlenecks slowing a country’s progress towards achieving priority MDG targets.’ Throughout the world, and in Nigeria, many of these plans are being implemented by government, with the support of development partners, technical agencies, NGOs and the private sectors. These have been for the past years an accelerating successor especially with the affiliation of nations to the MDGs Achievement Fund.

    AFRICAN QUESTIONS

    Despite these ideologies, there exist questions of highest importance to the African. The question lingers till this day. Have we moved from ‘result-oriented deliverance to a process-oriented theory? What shall be the key driver of the post 2015 sustainable development agenda? (If at all these agendas will be achieved)

    Can the emergence of international threats to the ban of same-sex, unfavourable international policies and suppression of the Nigerian citizen be termed friendly and encouraging? Since when did national dignity, integrity and fame precede the human dignity recognized by both God and the international body of nations? These, among others are African questions begging for international answers.

    These existential problems are the new forms of colonialism, racism and ethnicity that shake the very foundation of the millennium development goals. According to M. Makumba, in Introduction to African Philosophy, ‘the western countries never really believed that they could learn anything from Africa…this attitude well perfected by the colonialists, unfortunately, has little been changed and hence, all colonial policies were based on the same logic and philosophy, namely, that of the superiority of European culture over African culture.’ These, are being reflected in our homes and schools, where our mother tongues suffer extinction at the hands of foreign languages and our traditions and histories suffer from western influence. How can we then speak of global partnership, when global unity and boundary friendliness are questionable, in the light of the above challenges?

    EPILOGUE

    Global partnership, despite sex, race or colour is never to put on any form of binocular observation lying on the pedestal of corruption, racism, international preference of foreign investors, manufacturers, etc. to one’s own citizens nor western historical consciousness to the detriment of the family tree and national history. This is the African problem, the Nigerian problem – where national and community identity seems to be flying fast away from us. If we are still Africans, therefore, our policies, traditions, culture, collectivist socialization, African socialism and way of brotherly assimilation must not be compromised. We may continue to blame our foreign policies for inadequacies and our embassies for lack of consular services, yet forget that in the process, we lose our ‘blackness’, our ‘Africanness’ to embrace something else and claim to call it global partnership. What a syllabus of errors!