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Can the Biafran War wounds be healed?

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Can the Biafran War wounds be healed?

By Prof. Protus Nathan Uzoma

Since after the Nigerian Civil War, the Igbos have been crying of marginalization in almost every aspect of national endeavor, including political, military, and senior civil service appointments and promotions, as well as economic and social development, which all began with the non- implementation of the Reconciliation, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation program promised at the end of the civil war in 1970 by Generel Yakubu Gowon.

Nonetheless, this seemed assuaged with the pairing of President Shagari (Sokoto State- Northwest) and Dr Alex Ekwueme (Anambra State- Southeast) in 1979-1983, was considered as a smart assuage and healing for the central leadership lost cost by the 1966 saga and the devastation of the civil war on Biafra. Certainly, it was in this light of General Gowon’s declaration- ‘No victor, no vanquish,’ which whimsically worked for the immediate post-war Southeastern politicians who were as well the Independence and Post-Independence politicians. After the active political domination of the post-civil-war politicians, the constitutional rights of the lgbos and southeasterners have been jeopardized, mostly since the return of democracy in 1999 and in the same manner the post-war military administration never allowed an Igbo to become the Chief of Staff since 1966.

General Aguyi Ironsi (Abia State, today’s Southeast) made Col Yakubu Gowon (Plateau State, North-Central) the Chief of Army Staff; Col Yakubu Gown (Plateau State, North-Central) made Lt Col Joseph Akahan (Benue State, North Central), David Ejoor (South-South), General Hassan Katsina (Kastina State, Northwest) as Chiefs of Army Staff; while General Muritala Mohammed (Kano State, Northwest) made Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo (Ogun State, Southwest) and Brigadier Theophilus Danjuma (Benue State, North-Central) as Chiefs of Army Staff. General Olusegun Obasanjo (Ogun State, Southwest) used Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (Kastina State, Northwest) as Chief of General Staff and Vice President and General Theophilus Danjuma (Benue State, North-Central) as Chief of Army Staff. President Shagari (Sokoto State, North-Central) retained the Chief of Staff and later changed him with General Gibson Jab (Adamawa State, Northeast) and Gen M.l. Wushishi (Niger State, North-Central) as Chiefs of Army Staff. General Buhari retained the latter and changed him with Major General Babangida (Niger, North-Central) as Chief of Army Staff.

General Mohammadu Buhari (Katsina State, Northwest) took Gen Babatunde Idiagbon (Kwara State, North Central) as Vice President and Major General Babangida (Niger, North-Central) as Chief of Army Staff. General lbrahim Babangida (Niger State, North-Central) took General Sani Abacha (Kano State, Northwest), General Salihu lbrahim (Kogi State, North —Central), and General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (Zamfara State, Northeast) as Chief of Army Staff; while Commodore Oko Ebitu Ukiwe (Abia State, Southeast: for just 7 months- December 1987-July 1989), Admiral Augustus Aikhomu (Edo State, South-South), General Donaldson Diya (Ogun State, Southwest) and Vice Admiral Mike Akhigbe (Edo State) were Vice Presidents, and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Niger State, North-Central) served as Vice Presidents and Chiefs of General Staff.

From General Aguyi Ironi who was the first indigenous Nigerian General Officer Commanding, which title years later became the Chief of Army Staff (1965- January 15, 1966), it took lgbos in the Nigerian Army 54 years and a roll of 24 indigenous Chiefs of Army Staff before General Azubuike Ihejirika (Abia State, Southeast) became the Nigeria Highest Ranking Military Officer (2010-2014). Thus, the Igbos have been marginalised in the military since after the January 15, 1966 coup. The only few moments lgbos emerged were the General Babangida’s magnanimity on Vice Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe (as Junta Vice President), and the revolution of President Jonathan who appointed Lt General Oneyabo Azubuike lhejirika as Chief of Army Staff, which has never happened in Nigeria since after the death of Gen Aguiyi Ironsi, and thus the first lgbo Army officer to have so been appointed thus since after July 29th 1966.

Similarly, it is also a historical fact that since 1963 till date 2020, Nigeria has had a total of 20 indigenous Chiefs of Air Staff (CAS), and out of the 20 CAS, only 1 lgbo (Air Marshal Paul Dike: 2006-2008 and a South-South Igbo) has held the position, while the Efik/lbibio, Tiv, Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani, etc., have dominated the Air Force apex leadership.

In the Nigerian Navy, the Chief of Naval Staff is the highest ranking naval officer, and since 1956 till date (2020), Nigeria has had a total of 22 indigenous Chiefs of Naval Staff (CNS). Out of these, only 2 were of Igbo extractions (Rear Admiral Alison A. Madueke (1993-1994) under General Abacha, and Vice Admiral D.J. Ezeoba (2012-2013), under President Jonathan. Besides these, the Igbo man whether from South East or South-South has not held such position since 60 years now, and these two were in office for just 1 year each.

The same story is applicable to the Nigerian Police Force. It is also factual that since the beginning of indigenous Inspector-General of Police (IGP) in Nigeria, starting from Louis Edet’s 1964 leadership as IGP till date (2020), it is only of a brief time-frame (2009-2010) that an IGP of Southeast extraction emerged in the person of Mr Ogbonnaya Okechukwu Onovo (Enugu State).

Thus, apart from Mr. Onovo, till date Nigeria has a total of 21 IGPs for 56 years with an Igbo man heading the Police Force for just one year. A seeming attempt to experiment if an lgbo of South East extraction could mount the IGP position was on the former IGP, Sir Mike Mbama Okiro (2007- 2009) who is a core South-Eastern Zone lgbo enrolled into the Force from Rivers State, under President Yar’Adua. On the contrary, the Efik/Ibibio as minority tribes have produced 3 IGPS, same with the Yoruba and former Midwest (Bendel State) and South-South.

The story is more pathetic in the history of the Nigeria Chief of Defence Staff, which is the highest ranking military officer of the Nigerian Armed Forces, which is appointed by the Nigerian President and started in April 1980 with Lt. Gen. lpoola Alani Akinrinade till date, with a total 19 CDSs and only one lgbo man- Air Chief Marshall Paul Dike; who only stayed in that office from August 20, 2008 to September 8, 2010. I wish to ask here too, has none of the past Nigerian President since Alhaji Shehu Shagari till date found any other lgbo in the Nigerian Armed Forces worthy of such post for 40 years?
To this effect, one is compelled to ask, what is the taboo that Igbos committed that since 1964; it is only of a brief period of 1 year that an lgbo has headed the Nigeria Police Force? The same story goes with the Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC), NNPC, NSCDC, etc. It is only in Customs and Immigration that few Igbos have emerged some years ago as heads.

More so, it is on record that since 1958, Nigeria has had 16 indigenous Chiefs of Justice of the Supreme Court. The Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria is the head of the judicial arm of government in the Federation, and thus presides over the Nigerian Judiciary and Supreme Court. None of these 16 Chiefs of Justice of the Federation is of lgbo extraction, beginning from Justice Ademola Adetokumbo (Ogun State, 1958-1972) to the present day CJN, Justice Nkanu Onnoghen (Cross River State, 2019- till date).

Thus, since 1958 when Nigeria started having indigenous Chief Justice for the country, the former secessionist Biafra: Today’s Southeast and South-South geopolitical zones have not had any Chief Justice of the Federation, despite the crop of high-class Justices of the Supreme Court coming from these zones; not even the Socrates of the Nigerian Supreme Court- Late Justice Ckukwudifu Oputa. It is evident that most of these Chief Justices were formerly among the judicial crew in the apex court before their appointments by the Nigerian Heads of State.

Since the position is by appointment, and records of past CJNs are still existent, the principles of federal character and the justifications of component States and ethnic nations in Nigeria have not till date enhanced the possibilities of a CJN emerging from any of these two zones for 62 years of appointments.

And one should sincerely ask here, what is the rationale behind the appointments of CJN that apart from the recent appointment of CJN Nkanu Onnoghen, none Igbo or South-South has been found worthy to be appointed? The meaning is that the entire former Biafra, has for 61 years never emerged as head of the Nigerian Judicial Arm of Government.

_______________

Being part of a paper presented at the Imo NUJ Legacy Award in Owerri 18/11/2020

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Called to be Merciful

Fada Henry Ibe

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Called to be Merciful

The Feast of Divine Mercy is designed to commemorate the ever-flowing mercy of God which overshadows our unfaithfulness. The mercy of God which was perfected on the Cross of Calvary is an abundantly sufficient antidote for all our sins. As Scripture says, wherever sin increases, there is a more than proportional increase in the divine grace (cf. Rom. 5:20). In one of the revelations received by the Divine Mercy visionary Saint Faustina, Jesus said: “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open…. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.”

Today’s feast is an invitation for us to become channels of God’s Mercy. Many around us need our example to come to the knowledge of the truth about God, through our practice of basic Christian principles like empathy, forgiveness, and generosity. This was the experience of the first believers as we saw in the First Reading. They were of one heart and mind and none of them was lacking because they pulled their resources together. They shared an authentic bond of selfless love, and this is what the Lord wants us to do in today’s world. Whether by visiting the sick or elderly, comforting the lonely or suffering, forgiving and asking forgiveness, or listening to those needing to be heard, we have a chance every day to be instruments of God’s mercy.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus shows mercy to his Apostles after they had all abandoned him during his passion. He institutes the sacrament of reconciliation and grants each of them the faculty to forgive sins and bring about divine healing. Any sin they forgive is forgiven by God and any that they retain is retained. Through the sacrament of reconciliation, the unbounded ocean of God’s mercy is poured over our iniquities, to save us from guilt and shame. The Feast of Divine Mercy is a reminder and a call to show mercy to others.

In 2002, a young man in Florida, United States, was driving under the influence of alcohol when he crashed into another vehicle, and instantly killed two young women. The driver, Eric Smallridge, was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 22 years. On the day of sentencing, he apologized to the victims’ families and they forgave him. After a while, the mother of one of the girls started a campaign against drink driving.  She always took the wreckage of her daughter’s vehicle to the campaign events and her story had a huge impact on many people around Florida.

As the years went by, she kept feeling that there was still something missing. She felt she needed to co-opt the convicted driver into her campaign to make it more effective. Accordingly, she lobbied to have him accompany her in her presentations, and the two formed an unlikely partnership for a common cause. This move opened the path to healing for both of them. The killer-driver attended the venues in his prison uniform, wearing shackles and chains.

According to this woman: “I could hate him forever and the world would tell me that I have a right to do that, but it’s not going to do me any good, and it’s not going to do him any good. I would grow old and bitter and angry and hateful. … In my opinion, forgiveness is the only way to heal.” She also grew to love the man and his family and even considered him to be like her own son. On his part, the man said he considered the woman to be an angel. He was initially due for release in 2022, but the woman pushed to have his sentence cut in half and he was eventually released in 2012. On why she pressed for his early release from prison she said: “I didn’t want him serving too long so that he would leave with a criminal mind … We live in a world with a lot of pain and heartache, I want to promote love and forgiveness and help break that cycle of hatred.”

Dear friends, mercy is an essential ingredient of peace in the world. According to Pope St. John Paul II, real peace is possible when humans learn to live harmoniously side-by-side with one another and show the willingness to forgive one another. In his words: “We all need to be forgiven by others, so we must all be ready to forgive. Asking and granting forgiveness is something profoundly worthy of every one of us. Forgiveness, in its truest and highest form, is a free act of love.” An unwillingness to forgive shows a lack of gratitude for the blood that was shed for us. The light of God’s forgiveness cannot shine through our lives when our hearts are locked against forgiving others.

As Christians, therefore, our greatest treasure is the gift of Christ as the perfect expression of divine mercy, the only force strong enough to penetrate the walls of pain, anger, fear, and resentment that surround our hearts. God’s mercy is sealed in the blood of his only Son, and there can be no gesture greater than that. The death of Jesus unleashed a flood of mercy on the world, and since this flood has yet to reach every heart, we are invited to become its channels. Today is a great opportunity to seek forgiveness for our mistakes, to forgive others, and to forgive ourselves. And so, with St Faustina, we pray: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Amen!

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THE LAST BORN (THE DIGNITY OF A WOMAN)

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THE LAST BORN (THE DIGNITY OF A WOMAN)

By Amb. Mrs. Roseline Emma Agbachi

WHAT IS HUMAN DIGNITY?

Human dignity is derives from fact that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:26. The Dignity of man therefore is based on the fact that dwelling in him or her is the image and likeness of the Father. We respect one another therefore because we are God’s image.

THE DIGNITY OF A WOMAN

The woman is the last dot in the master piece of creation. But without this dot, this master piece wouldn’t have been completed. To complete it therefore, the woman was created. The dignity of a woman lies in the fact that the Father created her to be not only a helper to man but to the Father Himself, because in helping the man, she is also helping the Father.

However, this is a two-sided coin, in the sense that she can help you to the throne as well as to the grave. Gen 3, Eve played a bad role, Gen. 16, Sarah brought confusion in the family, King 21, Jezebel planned to execute the murder of Naboth., to mention but a few.

THE MYSTERY OF A WOMAN

“Let us make him a helper” Gen 2: These were the very words of the Father when He sensed that there would be a mistake in His master piece of creation if the last and the most beautiful element is not introduced. And so, the word Helper in Hebrew is rendered “Ezeh”. This name is only found in the name of God, rendered as Ebenezer in Hebrew, which means “God my helper”

The Father took a rib from Adam to form the Eve (woman) but He took the rib of His name to Name her “Ezeh”. In creating her, He caused Adam to sleep so that He could present her as a surprise, a gift and a blessing to him. Before now, notice that Adam was not comfortable relating with other creatures. He wanted someone like him yet opposite.

If Adam was complete, the Father wouldn’t have thought of creating Eve, but then Adam was not complete. Not only Adam, creation itself was not complete.

Because of her office as a helper, it is given to her to bring peace, ease and calmness whenever and wherever. It is given to her to multiply, increase, and to expand what ever is entrusted to her. If she is in your life, everything changes. Sometimes too if she is not careful, she could lose this nature of hers out of carelessness. These can happen when she starts to compare herself to a man, or think that by performing her responsibilities, that she is being used.

Imagine what would happen to our world if she was not created? Everyone would be frustrated. But you know what? The Father is a perfect artist. He wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

GATE KEEPER

A woman is a gate in the Spirit. The womb that was given to a woman is not just about child bearing, but it is also about bearing other beautiful and wonderful things. A man and a woman are two dimensions of the Father. The woman is the dimension of the Father that has to do with accessing anything in the Spirit. There are things in this life that only going through a woman can grant you. Going through her implies that, you have to love, respect, honor and appreciate her.

A lot of gates in one’s life could lock just by hurting and hating her. The primary assignment of the woman was not child bearing. It is something more than child bearing. In any gathering, when a woman is not there, then nothing fruitful would take place in that gathering. A woman is a signpost in the Spirit realm. She points to greatness and she can also point to down fall.

To understand the Holy Spirit, one needs to understand women first. Understanding her will help us know why her name was caved out from the ribs of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason why we all need to protect her from every harm.

THE DIGNITY OF A WOMAN

In our world today, the woman has lost many of her abilities. She has lost her unique role in creation and her purpose. The devil knew that she is caring, that was why he came to her to get Adam. Genesis 3

And today, the evil one is still playing the same role as he played during the time of creation. He makes her feel that

·               She is not complete without makeup so she gets addicted to it.

·               She is not being respected, so she forms all kinds of NGO’s to seek for respect.

·               She is not getting enough, so she campaigns for gender equality.

·               She is not pretty so she goes for plastic surgery.

·               To be loved by men you have to do this or that, so she goes out of her way to do things that even her soul hates.

·               Your husband is not man enough, so she looks for another man outside.

·               Expose your body and get the attention you need so she sends nudes pictures of herself, to mention but a few. But do you know why she won’t stop doing this to herself? Because he knows that she is caring, which the woman is ignorant about.

One of the ways to know that a woman has lost her dignity is, when she starts campaigning that people should respect her. This is because the Father created her in such a way that her presence would force you to respect her. This is the bone of my bone. Genesis 2:23

The dignity of a woman is in the awareness of where, why, what and how the Father created her. To rediscover this, the woman needs to go back to the creation story and rediscover for herself the secret behind her creation. When she has done this, she would know that, she has been deceived all this time into thinking that she needs to fight for equality, respect, honor etc. if she would respect her nature just the way the Father had created her, then the honor, glory and power would come naturally.

THE IGBO CONCEPT OF THE DIGNITY OF A WOMAN

In the Igbo culture, the word used to describe a woman who is a helper is the biblical sense is “OdoziAku” as against the home breaker “Ori aku”.

ODOZI AKU: From the name, this is a woman who guards and guides the wealth of the family, who is a helper in every sense of it, who puts the family first before everything and everyone. This kind of woman knows the difference between “needs” and “wants”. The family is more important to her than career.  She is a prayerful woman always on her kneels for the family. In summary, she is obi di a.

ORI AKU: From the name, this kind of woman is a woman in competition – the show-woman. She is the one who compares her husband with other men. She is after her wants and looks. She goes for the latest gadgets and cars in town not considering the future. Career is more important to her than the family. In a family like this, the maid is usually the mother of the Children. Sometimes the Vashti cycle repeats itself in this kind of family.

CATHOLIC WOMEN

When someone is very close to the Father, he or she needs to be careful so that the tendency to take things for granted does not creep in. I want to submit to you today that no one does more harm and violence to women more than a fellow woman. We know that the news of men acting in this way is no longer strange to us. But that of women is silent. It’s a woman that knows how best and where it hurts a fellow woman. As Catholic women, if we have to restore the dignity of the woman, we need first to restore our own dignity. We need to go back to our duties and roles as helpers, mothers, wives to our husbands, children, family and the society at large.

Some women no longer cook for their husbands and children. You have replaced yourself with your housemaid. Let me reveal to you the power of aura. When we cook for our families, we deposit our auras in that meal, when they eat, we are able to hold the bond together spiritually. Anyone who feeds you has control and power over you. Now do you still wish to allow your maid to do the cooking? And we complain that our husbands cheat, you have failed to do your job and a maid is doing it for you.

We have to remain humble and honor our husbands. Respect and don’t compare your husband with any one. Be interested in his mission and vision. We have to do this, if not we would permit the Vashti cycle to repeat in our lives. Queen Vashti lost her position because of Pride. Esther 1:10-12

Do not call any Pastor, Bishop, priest etc. any name you are not ready to call your husband. Do not even give that respect to any Pastor, Priest or Bishop you are not ready to show to your Husband.  Sarah calls Abraham my Lord. 1 Peter 3:6.

Every mother should pay attention not only to training their daughters, but they should also watch and train the boys. These days, we love the boys and train the girls. And that is why the boys don’t understand why a woman should be respected.

The dignity of the woman starts from the home. Be that Angel at home not outside. If Pope Francis should come to our parish today, you will see a lot of mother’s and women doing stuffs and things they have never and would never do at home. This is not dignity. This is disgrace.

Let us learn to help other women rise to the top. This is one of the most difficult things for women to do. This is because our elegance and beauty also came with its weakness. We are jealous and envious of one another.

Let us guard ourselves and our daughters from toxic groups, NGO’s, Clubs, Societies and information that seem to make the woman feel that she is cheated by man, nature and God.  That promotes hate and bitterness for men etc.

We should teach ourselves and our girls the nature of true beauty – that we are complete without anything to add.

We should cultivate the life of intimacy with the Holy Spirit. We bear His name, he will teach us how to be a perfect woman.

May the Name of the Lord be blessed both now and forevermore. Amen 

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How SHE Lives

Weep For Yourselves

The Leader News Online

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Weep For Yourselves

There are many salient lessons hidden in the passion week and Easter ceremonies. One only needs to look a little deeper to see these wisdom that have been embedded in these wonderful Christian rituals. It is celebrated the world over, that women were the ones who stayed with Christ till death. Even when the twelve or eleven remaining disciples fled. Thus, it became the bragging right of women in Christendom. This is one of the activities in the Bible that spurs women to over-zealousness in religious and church activities.

A little deeper in the account of Luke, precisely Luke Chapter 23:28, Christ gave a “caveat emptor”. We do recite it in stations of the cross, without paying much heed to it. Christ said… “daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children”. Perhaps, Christ was irritated by their over dramatic display of hurt. Maybe their aggrandizement and public show of religion without Christ, got to his guts. Perhaps he saw that they neglected their husbands, homes and neighbours in public display of following Christ, yet bore false witness against him the night before.

It will shock you to see and know the things women do to be noticed and to remain relevant in the scheme of things in religious environments. Women neglect their first God-given responsibility : their husbands and home, just to appear religious and committed to the church. Times without number, my husband and I, have mediated on issues bothering around wives neglecting the home for church activities. In such situations, you often hear the women raising statements like… “my husband does not want me to serve God”.

My dearest sisters, in all sincerity, those things you do in the church, are they intended for the service of God or are the intentions rather best known to you? Those women wailing on the street of Jerusalem could be likened to those of us who cook at home and turn all the food into the coolers and carry it off to the priests and pastors while our husbands and children remain hungry. Women who can sacrifice everything for the attention of the priests and pastors. Women who worship and adore pastors and priests and treat their husbands with total disregard and disrespect. Christ is telling us today to weep for ourselves and our children and not for him.

Let’s not get it wrong. Still in that crowd on the way of the cross, Christ recognized the sincere efforts of some women and their commitment and handed them over to one of his trusted disciples, to take care of. In the same vain, women who are sincerely committed to the things of God are commended. They do their due diligence with consideration to their homes. The Bible said so in Proverb 31:10-29. My fellow women, Christ does not resent or reject the services we render in sincerity of heart and intentions. If we recall, from the Bible account. It was around this season that Christ encouraged the woman with the jar of Alabaster to scrub his feet with her hairs and apply such expensive scent on his feet. That act appeared extravagant and controversial, but it was not done at the detriment of her home. In fact, there is nothing we give to the church and the priests that would be too much., so long as they are not given at the detriment of our homes. Such acts of goodwill should actually be done in agreement with our husbands and children where necessary.

How I wish that our pastors and priests, the representatives of Christ in our time, would be as blunt and as bold as Christ was to tell all the “daughters of Jerusalem ” to go weep for themselves and their children ; by asking all those “food-flask” carrying women if their husbands and children have eaten. By telling those attention seeking women that the attention of their husbands is all they need. To tell them, just like Jesus did, that their husbands also deserve such expensive gifts they spoil the priests with. Letting them know that the right thing, is that the priest share of the food they cooked for their husbands and homes and not their husbands and children eating the remnants of the food they cooked for the priests.. This will help the women get their priorities right.

So that, having journeyed with Christ through His passion and are singing His Hallelujah, we would know that while it is necessary for us to make sacrifices for the church and our priests, our homes should not suffer. Such that the risen Christ would not reject our efforts and sacrifices and tell us to go weep for ourselves and our children. I come in peace. Hallelujah
Shalom!

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