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Accepting Defeat with Dignity and Victory with Virtue

The Leader News Online

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registered voters INEC 2019 elections

Winning or losing is part of life. The difference between uncommon losers and uncommon winners is that each graciously accepts defeat or victory, knowing  that nothing in life is permanent. As we await the results of the presidential election, what we want to see are uncommon winners and losers – not violence!

If ever there is a time the spirit of true sportsmanship is needed in this country, it is now. It is now because we have just gone through an unusually long, tough and controversial general election, trying to elect a president. There were those who predicted that Nigeria would not survive ‘this one’ and others who simply suggested that the country would survive anything if it survived ‘this one’. Good news is, we have. Thanks to God and our collective effort and unspoken resolve to stick together as a country. Nigeria has survived many things that would have torn it apart and will survive many more.  Each time we are pushed to the wall or find ourselves at the brinks of collapse, somehow, our spirit of patriotism or rather our determination to stay together as one nation rises up to help us meet the challenge.

But this is one time we need the spirit of good sportsmanship that enables one to be magnanimous and humble in victory and dignified in defeat. Even after a dirty fight, sportsmen and women still shake hands and embrace each other.  In the developed countries, once election results are announced, painful as they may be for some people, the losing parties concede defeat and congratulate their opponent in the interest of the country. Even with all the name-calling and mudslinging, once the victor emerges, people close ranks, bury the hatchet and patriotism takes over.

This is the spirit we want to see as the country awaits the results of the tough and keenly contested election. In an election like this, there can only be one winner, one party! Victory could go either way. It is pertinent for people to rally round the victor, leader or president in the interest of peace and progress and this is the only way we as a country can move on.

We badly need that spirit of accepting defeat without destruction or victory without provocation. In all things, let the whole country be the winner. Winning for Nigeria will be when a clear winner emerges and he salutes his opponent, acknowledges his strengths and takes the victory on a humble platform. On his part, the loser concedes defeat, recognizes his opponents and retires to review strategies for a future that belongs to no one. Let party supporters also toe this same line of peace and patriotism.

We have had two clear instances in Imo and Ekiti States where two governors who lost at the polls congratulated their winning opponents only to renege after a few hours and head for the courts. What could have been an example of a new Nigerian spirit was dashed. Notwithstanding, it is better to go to court than to take laws in one’s hands. We do not suggest that any aggrieved person should not seek redress; rather we are asking our politicians to take a leaf from their peers in other nations and shun violence.

Many have lost their lives from post election violence. This is bad. Nigerians have suffered a lot from electoral violence to our shame and embarrassment. Lives have been lost especially in the northern part of the country and properties worth billions of naira have been destroyed because of the attacks of Boko Haram. We do not want more bloodshed.

Let us borrow a leaf from America and the rest of the developed world and put our country first.  This is the true test of democracy.

 

PASTOR’S CORNER

The Nature of Christian Love

Fada Henry Ibe

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The Nature of Christian Love

The desire for love and validation is innate in human nature and this is manifest in the different ways we seek attention, acceptance, direction, inspiration, affirmation, and consummation, etc. On the other hand, there is also an inherent desire in us to show love and affection to others. In today’s liturgy, Jesus gives a command that we love one another as he has loved us, and we know that love in its purest form is at the core of his life and teachings on earth.

Love is a grossly misunderstood notion and that is why our Lord goes ahead to clarify what it means for him. By declaring that a man “can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends”, Jesus wants to see love as a self-giving idea such that the greater the love, the greater the self-giving involved. When we put ourselves at the service of others, learning to give and not just to take, living simply that others might simply live; when we are ready to suffer to relieve the pains of another person, and willingly give our “today” for someone else’s ‘tomorrow”, then we are practising Jesus’ model of love.

As a measure of his example, Jesus went beyond explaining the meaning of true love and demonstrated it with his own suffering and death. He accepted mockery, humiliation, torture, rejection, injustice, misunderstanding, betrayal, and finally death – death on a cross. This was not because he was too weak to resist, but to prove that the core of true love is self-giving generosity. He bore our sins while hanging on the cross, thinking not of himself but those he came to save, even pleading for their forgiveness up until the very end. Jesus’ notion of love is that which gives without counting the cost and not seeking something in return.

Loving others as Jesus loves us is fundamental because it is the same love that he received from his Father. It is the love of an obedient heart that flows from the fountain of divine grace. We cannot have a genuine prayer life without obeying our Lord’s commandment to love others as he has loved us. The Jesus type of love is not possible so long as we see the other person as an extension of ourselves or someone who fulfils specific needs for us. To truly love another person, we must learn to respect them precisely as ‘another’, uniquely made by God and equally redeemed by Christ.

To love another is to desire the very best for them, to work towards their spiritual and material edification while avoiding anything to the contrary. True love must be free, total, and unconditional. It is a kind of love that is resilient and perseveres through pains and all kinds of difficulties. A couple possessing the Jesus love will stand by each other in moments of crisis like ill health or financial difficulties. Instead of separation or violence, such challenges will become unifying moments that help to strengthen the bonds of love. The same is applicable in other life situations like work, friendship, academics, etc.

We do not want to be like those who flocked around Jesus because he was giving them bread, only to walk away when he offered them the bread that was his own flesh. Nevertheless, to love others as Jesus has loved us, we must first learn to love ourselves and appreciate the depth of Jesus’ love for us. That is how we learn to love others as they are and not as we want them to be. God loves us exactly the way we are. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and nothing we have done will make him love us less.

However, true love does not mean turning a blind eye to evil, because we do not want to offend others. True love does not shy away from constructive criticisms, and we cannot cover up evil because we want to appear “nice and gentle.” Rather, true love demands that we always “do the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). It is not about feelings but being oriented towards the genuine good of our beloved. Since God is love and God is truth, it follows that nothing can be loving unless it is true.

Loving others as Jesus loves us makes us true Christian disciples and witnesses to the Gospel, and that is what it means to bear lasting fruit. This is what we hear in today’s Gospel: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16). The lasting fruit comprises acts of self-giving towards others. It is more than a wish or goodwill towards another, but a concrete act of love. We are called to the spiritual and the corporal works of mercy, like passing on the faith to children and uncatechized adults or assisting those in need. Loving others as Jesus wants helps us to see human relationships from God’s perspective. Ordinarily, it is easy to approach relationships with a mind set of what we stand to gain materially or emotionally. But when we realize that the path to true wisdom and lasting joy lies in the self-emptying love that Jesus has for us, that sentiment begins to fade as we start to see relationships in terms of what we can give.

This week, therefore, let us think of something we can do to relieve the burdens of someone around us. What can we do to make our colleague’s work a bit easier, or to bring some encouragement and joy into our spouse’s life? What can we do to bring comfort to that friend, relative, or stranger who is suffering? We all can make a difference in our own little way. So, what is the Holy Spirit asking you to do now?

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The Life of Exile And the meaning of Redemption (1)

Article written by By Fr. Dr. Gilbert Alaribe

The Leader News Online

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The Life of Exile And the meaning of Redemption (1)

Part of what it means to be a Christian is the fact that the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is used as a resource for life. Its stories, moral commands and wisdom teachings are used as an immense spiritual compass to measure human life and its goals, especially where these goals stand in relation to God’s purposes. This can be possible only when the story of Israel in the Bible is seen to resonate in the life of the believer, where this believer rediscerns his/her own situation in the greater drama of God’s redemption, and participates in that drama.

Exile: A pattern of life and liberation
One of the principal biblical motifs that exemplifies and prefigures the pattern of life and liberation for believers of all ages is the story of Israel’s journey to its promised land. This story is remarkable because it touches on several key experiences of man: personal or collective crisis, exile, enslavement, liberation, homecoming: “No story has been more influential in shaping the inner landscape of liberty, teaching successive generations that oppression is not inevitable, that it is not woven into the fabric of history. There can be another place, another kind of society, a different way of living. What happened once can happen again for those who have faith in the God who had faith in humankind. The God of freedom calls on us to be free” (Sacks, 2010:2).

The theme of exile is common in the Old Testament. Most of the biblical stories of the Patriarchs in the book of Genesis shows them often on the move: away from the father’s inheritance in the case of Abram and following a promise of God for another land that will be shown to him (Gen.12); away from the wrath of Esau after a family feud in the case of Jacob (Gen. Gen. 27: 41 – 45); away from the land of Canaan after a terrible famine in the case of Jacob and his household (Gen. Gen. 45: 16 – 20; 46: 1 – 7). Most of the main characters in the stories are depicted as strangers far away from their native lands: Hagar in the desert (Genesis 16); Lot in Sodom (Genesis 19); Abraham’s servant in Mesopotamia (Genesis 24); Isaac among the Philistines (Genesis 26); Jacob in Haran (Genesis 29 – 30); Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 39 –45.); in Egypt too, later, Jacob and his entire household (Genesis 46 – Exodus 1); Moses in Midian (Exodus 2), etc. This is a fact of no mean significance in our understanding of the life of faith.

Wiesel (p.21) is even more poignant in pointing out how the life of exile shaped the fortunes of some of these biblical characters: Abraham was the first man to be exiled for redemptive reasons. His journey would not be a one-off experience, but would predate and exemplify countless experiences of the nation that did eventually come forth from his loin. Joseph – a great grandson of Abraham – would be the first exiled youngster to strike a fortune in a foreign land. Moses, of the tribe of Levi, would be the first political exile in the Bible, forced to flee into the desert for fear of the wrath of Phaoah. His experiences as a fugitive exiled from home came handily to his aid by the time he was given the great mission of freeing Israel from Egyptian captivity.

The life of Exile
While the books of the Old Testament follow the movements of the people of Israel, from region to region, in and out of slavery and oppression, in good times and bad, in search of freedom and good fortune, the books of our personal lives continue this story and keep track of our own individual experiences. The life of exile can thus be seen as a pervasive human experience, encapsulating the myriad experiences of uprootedness or displacement from one’s original place of embeddedness, be it imposed or by one’s choice. Our century has been aptly called the century of the expatriate, the refugee, the stateless, and the wanderer (Wiesel, p.19), alluding to the stark reality of dislocation for economic reasons, or the life of exile as a result of war and persecution. Many today are being swept away from the world they knew, confronted by a dismantling of all the structures that previously gave meaning to their lives, and fleeing and wandering from one place to another. A UNHCR(cite document) report of June, 19, 2017 indicates that an estimated 44,300 people were displaced every day that year. At the end of the year, a staggering 68.5 million people were projected to have been displaced from their homes, and were forced to be living the life of exiles either as refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, etc. Nor can any comprehensive statistics adequattely show forth the number of the psychologically bruised and abused who suffer the pains of breakups in marriages, betrayals of love, abuses of power or positions, and erosion of authority figures and institutions – burning issues trending in the world of today.

And so the sense of loss, alienation, disorientation, estrangement and ‘home-less-ness’ – common features of the life of exile – are notable in the socio-cultural life of today. The post-modern world is a place of fragmentation and a battlefield of suspicions, fears, anger and chaos. Many today, as a result of colour, gender, sexual orientation and belief, are still being discriminated against and forced to battle against the forces of intimidation, slavery and death. Especially for young people the world of today is no easy place to build a niche. We live in the age of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative reality’. Whereas in former times there were accepted social norms, and certain truths were held to be indisputable in public discourse, today we are living in an environment where facts are often twisted and grossly distorted for economic or political reasons. Social and mainstream media is awash with the large-scale perversion of truth, spins, ideological manipulations, outright deceptions, etc, orchestrated by industries, governments, religions and individuals to cast a shadow on beliefs, to conjure up a camouflage world of disinformation, and to mislead or confuse so many. To say that many people, especially the young, are no longer ‘at home’ in today’s world is no more an understatement.

Man – a homo viator
Perhaps exile has become no more an experience we encounter only when we open the pages of the Bible, but an altogether deepening human reality. Wiesel (p.20) has suggested that in history the human situation has become a journey from exile to exile: social exile, criminal exile, political exile, religious exile. Homo Viator is the seminal concept that Gabriel Marcel uses to describe the human existentialist condition in his philosophical thinking. The concept embodies Marcel’s understanding of man as a being on the road, as temporary, unfinished, in the process of becoming, and creatively challenged in his life ‘on the road of transcendence to the mystery of being’. The ‘itinerate man’or ‘man on the way’ is a prodigious phrase that reinforces and commends the life of man as a participant in a broken world that often smothers the life of the spirit and that all too easily leads him to a life of despair manifested in lack of self-worth, a feeling of alienation, and a loss of confidence in the overall meaning of life. And this is why Marcel characterizes the experiences of man in the world as a pilgrimage of hope.

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FUTO VC: Where is the Igbo Unity, the Biafran Spirit?

Written by Comfort Obi

The Leader News Online

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Dame Comfort Obi

If you are looking for why a number of Nigerians think it is not possible for the Igbo to work together, look no further. It is not in the hilarious caricature photographs and cartoons being shared to ridicule the hastily established Ebube Agu, by the dilly-dallying, South-east Governors. No. It is in the statement issued by a Group which goes by the name Imo Elites, in response to the appointment of Professor Nnenna Oti as the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. FUTO.

If you are looking for why they say the Igbo take the cake when it comes to petition writing to run down one another, the answer is in that statement released by the Imo Eltes.

I don’t know about you, but I had neither heard the name, nor read about this Group, well, until Thursday, April 15, 2021. Perhaps, I never took notice. As you know, Nigerians like forming Associations. Like acquiring Chieftaincy titles, forming one association or the other is in our DNA. It remains to form the “Association of the Dead.”

I don’t know if it truly does exist, or if the name was coined and adopted by a couple of people for the battle the group imagines is ahead over the VCship of FUTO. But it announced itself in an obscene style.
Its language was crude. Its intention, mischievous. The contents of what it was saying, bitter. As a teaser, the Association warns that its members would march on the Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission, NUC. We wait with bated breath.

Here’s why the group descended on us with its foul language and threat.

On Tuesday, April 13, FUTO’s Governing Council announced the appointment of Professor Nnenna Oti as the new Vice Chancellor of the University. She is to succeed the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Professor Francis Eze, as from June, 2021.

FUTO, established in 1980, is the oldest University of Technology in Nigeria. In its 41 years of existence, it has never had a female as its Vice Chancellor. It has been the exclusive of men.

But on April 13, Professor Oti broke the jinx. And she did it in style. She beat a field, well-studded with brilliant male Professors to clinch the high profile job.

Applicants were 29. The number was reduced to seven for the final interview and selection. At the end, Prof Oti came tops.

Announcing the result at a Press conference, Chairman of FUTO’s Governing Council, Professor John Offem, said Professor Oti scored a total of 75,5 per cent marks to beat Professor Ikechukwu Dozie to the second place. Dozie scored 69.7 per cent.

For the records, I do not know Professor Oti. But her appointment as the next Vice Chancellor of FUTO excites me to the moon and back. And it is not because she is a woman.

Her whole package excites me. She merited her appointment. She deserved it. When I looked her name up on Goggle, I was like: this is it. Rich. Solid. The Professor is a combination of brain, beauty, and brawn.

Professor Nnenna Oti, FUTO VC.
Having no brain for sciences, I admire any, every science-inclined woman no end. I was not the only one excited by her appointment.

Many of those I spoke to in Owerri, especially within the FUTO community, were happy. They attested to her brilliance, her eyes for details, her diligence to duty, and her unobtrusive carriage.

I was, therefore, taken aback when, on Thursday, April 14, a statement by this Group, Imo Elites, surfaced on WhatsApp platforms.

Signed by one Ken Uwandu J, the intention was to rubbish Prof. Oti, and the process which threw her up.
The statement had quite a few things to say, and had some choice words to describe the Chairman and members of the University’s Council.

Uwandu and his group called them wicked, and the process which produced Professor Oti evil and corrupt. If Uwandu, the character who signed the infamous statement is not fake, he should, please, be man enough, and stand up for recognition.

The group, and its statement, did not stop at trying to rubbish the process, it also descended on Oti. In the process, they exposed their ignorance, and zero knowledge of who Oti is. She was called unfit, unqualified, not exposed academically, not brilliant, had not presented any academic or seminar papers, had written for no academic journal, has had no experience in administration, and more.

But here is a brief on the person Imo. elites called unfit, not brilliant, and incompetent.

Professor Oti holds a First Class Honours degree, (Agriculture), in Soil Science, from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN; a Masters in Soil Science (Soil Biology and Biochemistry option), UNN. She did her Postgraduate Diploma in Irrigation Engineering at the Katholic University Leuven, Belgium, and came out in style. She made a Distinction. She then got her PhD in Soil and Environmental Conservation from FUTO.

So, you ask: how can anybody who came out in a First Class from no less a University than UNN be described as not brilliant? How can a woman who made a Distinction in her post- Graduate course be dull and unfit? How can anybody who got her PhD from FUTO, a high rated University, be an academic push-over? None of the Universities she attended is a “kwe-kwe” University.

But the degrees and academic brilliance are not the only things that make her tick. What makes Professor Oti tick is what she has done with those degrees, what she has done with her brilliance.
A brief.

A Professor of Soil Science and Environmental Conservation, Nnenna Oti was a three- time Head of Department of Soil Science and Technology in the School of Agricultural and Agriculture Technology (SAAT). She is also the immediate past Chairman of the Gender Policy Unit. And she has relevant experiences to boot.

To her name are about 34 years in academics, research, teaching and administration in the Nigeria University system, and a large dose of exposure internationally.

Her work experience includes consulting for the Government and the Private Sector, ranging from TETFund, Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority, National Biotechnology Development Agency and more. And, yet, this group says she has no experience.

The group, also, ignorantly said she had no academic papers to her name. How can anybody be a Professor, without writing academic papers. But here’s how much she has done in that area.
Prof Oti has written over 65 Academic papers, 40 Seminar and Workshop Papers. She has edited a handbook, delivered 50 public lectures, and had written over 10 Technical Reports for the Federal Government. Until her appointment as FUTO Vice Chancellor, she was the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics.

The question mark on her abilities by the Imo Elite reminds one of Arunma Otteh, former Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC.

On invitation to the House of Representatives by the House Committee on Capital Market, its Chairman, Hon. Herman Hembe, dared to question Otteh’s qualification for the office of the DG of SEC. Otteh felt insulted. And by the time Otteh finished with Hembe, and reeled out her qualifications, Hembe, literally, forgot his name. Now, see where Otteh is, and see where Hembe is.

While Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s Finance Minister and Coordinator of the Economy, Adams Oshiomhole, former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, called her incompetent. Now, see where Okonjo-Iweala is, and see where Oshiomhole is.

These accomplished women are even lucky. Nobody has called them “bottom-power” – meaning that they slept their way to the top. That is the burden many accomplished women carry in Nigeria.

In the case of Professor Nnenna Oti, they have also not alleged bottom power. But they are alleging corruption. They are alleging man-know-man. They are wrapping her appointment around their destructive politics, their politics of bitterness. They are alleging favouritism for her – on the part of the Minister for State, Education. And they are alleging hatred, by Governor Hope Uzodinma for Mbaise people, because a couple of those who contested against her are from Mbaise.

Their grouse, they wrote, is that Minister Nwajiuba and Governor Uzodinma, both Imo sons, deliberately denied Imo sons of the Vice Chancellorship of FUTO in favour of an Ebonyi indigene – Professor Oti.
For Uzodinma, they say his hatred for Mbaise people, made him work against two Mbaise candidates for the post. For Nwajiuba, they said he simply preferred Oti to Imo candidates. But I gather differently.

Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha, an activist, blunt in capital letters, while congratulating Oti, mocked Minister Nwajiuba, and said he, Iwuoha, was happy Nwajiuba’s candidate did not make it. For Uzodinma, you begin to wonder what his interest is in a Federal University. He is not the visitor. FUTO is not Imo State University. They say he hates Mbaise people. Why? That is a political statement. Hate is a strong word.

Questions then: Is there any reason Uzodinma and Nwajiuba, both Imo sons, will not want an Imo son to be FUTO’s Vice Chancellor?

Why would Uzodinma hate Mbaise people? Does he not have friends and political associates from Mbaise? Does he not have aides from Mbaise? Are there no Mbaise people in the APC? Reading politics into everything is deliberate mischief. Every Professor who got to the final round is solid, sound and capable. But it had to go to one person – the best of the egg heads.

What has, sadly, happened to us is that we have allowed politics, ethnicity and religion to rule our everyday lives, to affect our reasoning, our thinking. We have murdered competence, efficiency, effectiveness, on the alter of politics, religion, ethnicity.

In the instant case, the grouse against Oti is that she is not from Imo State; that she is from Ebonyi State. So, how can an Ebonyi indigene, they ask, be the Vice Chancellor of a University in Imo? And, this is a Federal University. Has it occurred to this Group that the FG is not bound to appoint somebody from the South-east FUTO’s VC?

But here is the irony.
The South-east say their Zone is marginalised. Sons and daughters of the Rising Sun, a good number of their people are fighting for freedom from Nigeria over marginalisation. It is a Zone which, rightly, shouts and fights discrimination. Yet, they discriminate against themselves – all the time.

It was why Senator Theodore Orji, at a point, sent Imo State indigenes in Abia State Civil Service packing when he was Governor. I cannot confirm, but I understand it is one of the reasons those against the confirmation of the Honourable Justice Ijeoma Agugua, as the substantive Chief Judge of Imo State, are adducing. Married to an Imo man, with children, now a grandmother, they insist she is from Anambra, and so, should be denied the position.

During the Presidential election in 2019, a good number of high profile Politicians of Igbo origin worked against the Abubakar Atiku/Peter Obi ticket out of prettiness. One of them, who wanted to be in Obi’s place, reportedly asked Atiku to pick a running mate from the South-west instead of Obi.

But back to Professor Nnenna Oti. She should stay focused. And, if this Uwandu guy who signed the petition, and made all kinds of allegations against her is not faceless, I encourage her to sue him for whatever he’s got. I also encourage Professoe Offem and his Council members to do the same.

Let Uwandu and his group publicly prove their allegations. What kind of “bad belle” is this? Where is the Igbo unity? Whatever happened to the much touted Biafran spirit? God forbid.

_____

The Author, Comfort Obi is the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of The Source (Magazine), Email: comfortobisource@gmail.com, comfort@thesourceng.com

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