Archive for July, 2012

The Devastation and Destruction Wrought By Africa’s Dictators – Prof. George Ayittey

One of the remarkable facts in the terrible history of famine is that no substantial famine has ever occurred in a country with a democratic form of government and relatively free press. They have occurred in ancient kingdoms and in contemporary authoritarian societies and in modern technocratic dictatorships, in colonial economies governed by imperialists from the north and in newly independent countries of the south run by despotic national leaders or by intolerant single parties.

But famines never afflicted any country that is independent, that goes to elections regularly, that has opposition parties to voice criticisms, that permits newspapers to report freely and to question the wisdom of government policies without extensive censorship.
• Amartya Sen, recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics (1998) in the Washington Times, Oct 20 1998; p. A12)

The act of repression not only assails our human dignity and sensibilities but also exacts a toll in terms of human lives and economic activity. Despotism wreaks such economic, social and human devastation that is impossible to measure. Consider the impact on economic activity for example. Generally, countries laboring under despotism perform less well economically. A government run by a despot cannot make decisions which millions of people must make. If two heads are better than one then certainly a million heads are better than two.

To be sure, impressive rates of economic growth are possible under authoritarian or despotic regimes. China and the Asian Tigers are often cited as examples but there is a caveat. Exceptions do not make the rule. A final day of reckoning eventually arrives. In an interview, Korea’s former President and late Kim Dae Jung, hit the nail right on the head:

“Many of the leaders of Asian society have been saying that military dictatorship was the way and democracy was not good for their nations. They concentrated only on economic development and building a government around a strong leader who controls economic policy. I believe that the fundamental cause of the financial crisis, including here in Korea, is because of placing economic development ahead of democracy . . . If we had true democracy in Korea, then the collusive intimacy between business and government and corruption would not have been as great here. And the wealth would not have been allocated to only a few people. Usually the dictatorship or authoritarian style of government lies to the people” (The Washington Post, Jan 9, 1998; page A1).

Economic Under-Performance and Collapse

In a dictatorship, the normal order of things and even common sense have been turned completely upside down. There is no freedom of speech, no rule of law and state institutions are packed with sycophants and praise-singers. Professionalism disappears from the security forces and the civil service. Fealty to the despot counts more than competence or efficiency. Promotions and job security depend upon who can shout the loudest praise to the despot.

Infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, schools, telecommunications and ports, begin to crumble because contracts are awarded by the despot to family members, cronies and loyal supporters. To sustain the heavy patronage doled out to supporters, the despot may impose heavy taxation and tariffs.  Prices – especially food and fuel prices — start to shoot up. The public might vent its outrage in street protests. The despot may brutally clamp down on these street protests and take drastic measures to prevent future price hikes. The hikes are blamed on foreign saboteurs.  Property rights are scoffed at. Commercial properties of businessmen alleged to be “anti-government” may be confiscated or seized for distribution to the poor masses in the name of social justice.  Such was the case in Zimbabwe for more than a decade (2000 – 2010), where the despotic regime of Robert Mugabe organized ruthless thugs to violently seize white commercial farmlands. To be sure, inequitable distribution of land in Zimbabwe is a legitimate issue, where whites, who comprise about 10 per cent of the population own about 90 per cent of the best farmland. But the issue is not resolved through barbaric and violent invasion of commercial farmlands.

Africa has more dictators than any other continent. But dictators have left a trail of wanton destruction, collapsed states, ruined economies and human debris in their wake in Africa:

• ALL the collapsed, failed and failing states in African have been caused by dictators: Congo DR (Mobutu, Kabila), Central African Republic (Kolinga, Patasse, Bozize), Chad (Habre, Deby), Eritrea (Afwerki), Ethiopia (Mengistu, Zenawi), Gambia (Jammeh), Guinea (Conte, Camara), Ivory Coast (Guie, Gbagbo), Kenya (Moi, Kibaki), Liberia (Doe, Taylor), Niger (Mainassara), Nigeria (military dictators), Sierra Leone (Momoh), Somalia (Barre), Sudan (al-Bashir), Togo (Eyadema), Zimbabwe (Mugabe), etc. It will cost at least $15 billion to rebuild Liberia. Estimate how much it will cost to rebuild the rest. And where is the money going to come from? Foreign aid? http://bit.ly/KRMIOa

• ALL the civil wars have been caused by dictators, along with the destruction of countries, economic collapse and the production of massive flow of refugees –Angola (1975), Mozambique (1975), Uganda (1979, 1963), Ethiopia (1985), Angola (1986), Mozambique (1987), Algeria (1991), Sudan (1991, 2003), Liberia (1992), Somalia (1993), Rwanda (1994), Zaire (1997), Sierra Leone (1997), Congo DRC (1998), Ethiopia/Eritrea (1998), Angola (1999), etc.

The economic costs of Africa’s senseless wars and conflicts are incalculable.  First and foremost is the wanton destruction they wreak. Infrastructure is reduced to rubble. Roads, bridges, communication equipment are bombed by combatants, houses and building destroyed.

Second, the conflicts uproot people, forcing them to flee the general atmosphere of insecurity and war. Most of the refugees are women and children but women constitute about 80 percent of Africa’s peasant farmers. Refugees fleeing conflict do not produce food crops. Since 1970 agricultural output has been growing at less than 1.5 percent — less than the rate of population growth. Consequently, food production per capita declined by 7 percent in the 1960s, by 15 percent in the 1970s, and by 8 percent in the 1980s. Over the postcolonial period 1961 to 1995, “per capita food production in Africa dropped by 12 percent, whereas it advanced by leaps and bounds in developing countries in Asia” (The Economist, 7 September 1996; p.45). Thus, conflicts have a direct impact on Africa’s agricultural production and are partly explain why Africa, with all its rich natural endowments, cannot feed itself my import 30 percent of its food needs or $20 billion a year. Back in the 1960s, Africa not only fed itself but exported food as well.
Third, conflicts create an “environment” inimical to development and deter investment. Up until 2000, Africa was not an attractive place to invest. Between 1990 and 1995 the net yearly flow of foreign direct investment into developing countries quadrupuled, to over $90 billion; Africa’s share of this fell to only 2.4 percent.  According to the World Bank, in 1995 a record $231 billion in foreign investment flowed into the Third World. Singapore by itself attracted $5.8 billion, while Africa’s share was a paltry 1 percent or $2 billion — less than the sum invested in Chile alone (The Economist, 9 November 1996, 95). According to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s civil war that started in 1991 has “killed 100,000 and caused $20 billion in economic losses” (The Washington Times, July 14, 2001; p.A5).
The crisis in Zimbabwe, for example, has cost Africa dearly. Foreign investors have fled the region and the South African rand has lost 25 percent of its value since 2000. According to The Observer [London] (Sept 30, 2001), Zimbabwe’s economic collapse had caused $37 billion worth of damage to South Africa and other neighboring countries. South Africa has been worst affected, while Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia have also suffered severely.

• ALL cases of MASSIVE looting and plunder of treasuries have been committed by dictators. The MEGA-BANDITS: Khaddafi (over $60 billion); Mubarak of Egypt ($40 billion), Ben Ali of Tunisia ($14 billion); Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire ($10 billion); Babangida of Nigeria ($9 billion); Omar al-Bashir of Sudan ($7 billion); Abacha of Nigeria ($5 billion); Eyadema of Togo ($3 billion), etc.

• The MASSIVE plunder of Congo’s riches has ALL been orchestrated by dictators: Mobutu of Zaire, Kabila of Congo DR, dos Santos of Angola, Buyoya of Burundi, Kagame of Rwanda, Museveni of Uganda, Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Surprised that the Congolese are among the poorest in Africa and at the bottom of the UNDP Human Development Index?

• ALL the flagrant cases of human rights violation have occurred under dictatorships: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana (Rawlings), Sudan, Uganda (Idi Amin, Obote), Zimbabwe, etc.

• ALL the 20 countries at the BOTTOM of the UNDP Human Development Index for 2012 are ruled or have been ruled by dictators. http://bit.ly/KRMlDh. Here are the countries:
167 Benin                                               168 Gambia                                             169 Sudan
170 Côte d’Ivoire                                   171 Malawi                                              173 Zimbabwe
174 Ethiopia                                           175 Mali                                                   176 Guinea-Bissau

177 Eritrea                                           178 Guinea                                                179 Central African Republic
180 Sierra Leone                                 181 Burkina Faso                                     182 Liberia
183 Chad                                               184 Mozambique                                     185 Burundi
186 Niger                                              187 Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Despite its immense wealth of mineral resources, Africa remains inexorably mired in abject poverty, misery, deprivation, and chaos. When the World Bank adjusted its yardstick for extreme poverty from $1.00 to $1.25 a day, it found that,

“While most of the developing world has managed to reduce poverty, the rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region, has not changed in nearly 25 years, according to date using the new $1.25 a day poverty line. Half of the people in Sub-Saharan Africa were living below the poverty line in 2005, the same as in 1981. That means about 389 million lived under the poverty line in 2005, compared with 200 million in 1981” (The New York Times, Aug 27, 2008; p.A7)

Back in 2003, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) warned that at the prevailing rates it would take sub-Saharan Africa another 150 years to reach some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agreed to by UN members for 2015. (Financial Times, July 9, 2003; p.1). Former U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, declared at the African Union Summit in Abuja in January, 2005, that Africa was failing to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This was echoed by the United Nations’ African Development director, Gilbert Houngbo, in Congo-Brazzaville: “The [African] continent will fail to reach the goal of slashing poverty in half by 2015” (The Washington Times, April 26, 2007; p.A14).

• ALL the cases of mass deaths and horrific slaughter of the African people were committed by dictators. Get this: Post colonial African leaders have caused the deaths of more than 19 million Africans since 1960:

• 1 million Nigerians died in the Biafra War (1967)
• 200,000 Ugandans were slaughtered by Idi Amin in 1970s,
• 100,000 were butchered by President Marcias Nguema in Equatorial Guinea in the 1970s,
• Over 400,000 Ethiopians perished under Comrade Mengistu Haile Mariam,
• Over 500,000 Somalis perished under Siad Barre,
• Man-made famines claimed over 2 million between 1980-2000,
• Over 2 million have died in the wars of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast,
• Over 1 million died in Mozambique’s civil war,
• 1.5 million in Angola’s civil war
• 800,000 perished in Rwanda’s genocide,
• 300,000 in Burundi
• 4 million have perished in Sudan’s civil wars,
• 6 million have died from Congo’s wars,

The rough total is 19.8 million and this does not include deaths in Chad, Western Sahara, Algeria and those who perish at refugee camps. There is something maddening about these figures. Historians tell us that the total number black Africans shipped as slaves to the Americas in the 17th and 18th Centuries was about 10 million and Africa lost another 10 million through the trans-Saharan and East African slave trade ran by Arabs. This means that, in a space of just 50 years after independence in the 1960s, post colonial African leaders have slaughtered or caused the deaths of about the same number of Africans than were lost to both the West and East African slave trades. Think about it.

It takes DECADES to fix the devastation and destruction wrought by dictators. Two examples from Ghana and Nigeria. When Fte./Lte. Rawlings seized power in 1981, Ghana’s income per capita was $410. Insane Marxist policies sent it down to $265 and a million Ghanaians fleeing to Nigeria in 1983, only to be expelled a year later. Income per capita recovered to $410 in 2003.
Nigeria was flying high in the early 1980s. Income per capita hovered around $800. The currency, naira, was strong – even stronger than the US dollar. But all that was obliterated by a string of military coconuts. Today, income per capita hovers around $300 with 60 percent of Nigerians living in poverty, earning less than $1 a day.
How long do you think it will take to fix Chad, Cameroon, Guinea? Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, etc.?

Want sustainable development in Africa? Get a dictator. Name 5 dictators – out of the total of 222 heads of state since 1960 – who have brought LASTING prosperity to their countries.

No sane person, government or organization – in or out of Africa – would EVER support or defend a dictator on the continent, period.

RT: The wise learn from the mistakes of others while fools repeat them. Idiots, on the other hand, repeat their own stupid mistakes.

George Ayittey  is a Ghanaian economist, author and President of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC.He is the author of best selling book “Africa Unchained :  Defeating Dictators”.

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Vain or Sensible?

TOPE OLOWU'S BLOG

                                                                                                        I honestly don’t know where to start writing this. The idea is stuck somewhere in my head but putting it down on paper is like sitting for Maths exams. Ok…..here we go!!! As a teenager cum younger girl, I wasn’t keen on make up. I was not your regular kind of girl who experiments with make up or dressing up. I hated pink and frilly dresses or hairstyle; I still do. I hated making my hair, didn’t make it at all from birth till after secondary school. Infact, there was a period in my life that I didn’t have a single skirt. I bought my first make up last year. And no, I was not a tomboy.
This morning while performing my daily ritual, it just occurred to me that I’ve changed from that young girl. I have a cream for my eyes, one for my face, another…

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STATES’ BUDGETS: WRONG PRIORITIES, PATHETIC OUTCOMES by Nasir @elrufai

A New Nigeria

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Our aim today is to draw some stylized conclusions from our analysis of the budgets of ten state governments. The states covered are representative of the six geo-political zones; Bauchi and Gombe in the North East, Lagos (South West), Benue and Nasarawa (North Central), Edo and Akwa-Ibom (South-South), Kaduna and Zamfara (North West) and Anambra (South East). These states are governed by five political parties, PDP (Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Gombe, and Kaduna), ANPP (Zamfara), ACN (Edo and Lagos), APGA (Anambra) and CPC (Nasarawa). Thus to a degree, not only are the ten states representative of the six geo-political zones but also their budgets present the ideological outlook of the leading political parties in the country. Our analysis therefore provides a basis to make some generalizations about the budgets of the 36 states of the federation.

The objective of analyzing the states’ budgets is because a considerable proportion of our national…

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Can We Trust State Governors? – Ayisha Osori

Can We Trust State Governors?

Mon, 23/07/2012 | AYISHA OSORI The Tuesday Column

It is a bad idea for Nigeria to amend the constitution to provide states with powers to create their own police. The ongoing ‘to be or not to be’ discussions regarding state police can be resolved with the answer to this question: can we trust the current model of state governors in Nigeria today? The word ‘model’ is used deliberately because, by and large, they have similar interests and attitudes especially towards dissent, opposition, accountability to the public and democracy.

As the constitution review train moves across the nation, with hearings, retreats and calls for memoranda, there are a few common themes consistently topping the chart: state police and new states. Ironically, these are tied to the role of state governors. It is the governors and those who dream of becoming governors who want state police and additional states, and nothing is scarier than these two prospects in Nigeria today. We, a nation going bankrupt with outrageously expensive federal and state governments with little accountability, want even more states the faster to drain our finances and we want to give governors who are not accountable to us even more powers by providing them with their own armies.

Unfortunately, it is easy to be sympathetic to the governors’ argument for state police. The stranglehold that the presidency has over the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) makes independent and effective decision-making difficult within the police commands at the state level and the quality of service is poor. This is compounded by cross-postings which supposedly limit the crime-fighting powers of the police because they find themselves being part of communities where they cannot speak the language or understand the customs. Now more than ever, having highly efficient, and well trained police is critical as Nigeria faces different security threats ranging from terrorist attacks to kidnappings, and so it would seem that there is a genuine desire to be able to improve security across the states.

But there are good reasons for Nigerians to distrust the management of state police by governors. One, most governors are not really democratic. Today, there are at least 27 states that have not held local government elections in five years. Their refusal to allow local government elections to hold in their states is directly tied to a desire to control all the resources which come to the state and the fear to relinquish control. They are scared that if local government elections are held, the opposition might win some LGAs and they would lose their number-one bargaining chip – delivering presidential elections. The sad argument that we have heard — that the state governors are trying to protect their LGs from corrupt chairs — is laughable because it is the responsibility of the governors and their political parties to field better candidates unless they are suggesting that all Nigerians are corrupt. Besides, if there is evidence of corruption, then, there is a process of indictment, prosecution and punishment – it is not for the governors to arbitrarily decide to truncate democracy at the grass roots, in a bid to protect funds which they do not give us any account for.

Two, most of the states have inter-communal conflicts ranging from the severe (Plateau, Kaduna) to the constantly flaring up (Ife-Modakeke and Umuleri-Aguleri) and the mild and building up (Kogi, Benue etc). So far, none of these conflicts has been successfully resolved nor does it look like the governors have the ability to be unbiased. What security is there that these state police will not become armies targeted at the opposition?

Three, many of the governors abuse their powers, openly or in secret. So far Dariye, Fayose, Turaki, Kalu, Nyame, Nnamani, Boni Haruna, Ladoja, Abdullahi, Saraki, Alamieyeseigha and Igbinedion have been investigated or had allegations of corruption made against them and, for all we know, the list should be much longer. There are those who find it hard to accept any dissent with their actions or policies regardless of how well-meaning the criticism. Are these the types of characters we want to trust with state police?

The short answer to ‘Can we trust the governors with state police?” is ‘No, we can’t. This weekend, at the senators’ constitution review retreat in Asaba, Senate President David Mark gave his endorsement to state police. According to news reports, he said “the fears expressed that governors would use the police as instrument of oppression could not undermine the huge benefits that would accrue from it”. Sadly, the report did not say what these benefits would be but if they are in line with the oft-repeated complaint of state governors that the NPF are not efficient in their duties, then, the solution is not state police – the solution is police reform. If the governors are sincere about their desire to protect the inhabitants of their states, then, they should exert the influence of the Governors’ Forum to prevail upon the FGN to implement at least half of the recommendations made by the four different police reform committees we have had in less than a decade.

We cannot be sentimental about this decision. State and community police are laudable goals and would help us achieve the type of federalism we want to ultimately operate. But, we are not there yet. Nothing works the way it is supposed to in Nigeria and, in that context of do-or-die-politics, the arrogance of power and corruption in government, there is good reason for us to believe that the majority of governors will abuse state police and take Nigeria even closer to the brink that we have been dancing close to for a while.

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5 questions every man dreads – and why

Good questions that would expose an insecure partner… male or female. nice piece.

jenniepete

Good communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship, but some questions are best kept to yourself?

Picture this. After spending an incredible night together, you’re lying in bed with your partner and feeling more intimate than ever. The only thing that could make this post-seduction scene even cosier is talking about just how cosy the post-seduction scene is. But just as you’re about to whisper, ‘What are you thinking?’ in his ear, you stop. Why? To avoid the deer-in-the-headlights look from your partner.

Not alone. When it comes to relationships, most women want to know everything that a man is thinking. His secrets are often considered little enemies, capable of tearing the relationship apart. But nothing could be farther from You’re the truth. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary for each partner to have his or her own personal world – thoughts, feelings and boundaries that belong to him or…

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Lets wake up! Let our conscience and renewed hearts turn against corruption. corruption in our churches, in the mosques, in schools and in our communities! Let our faith stir us unto righteousness and integrity!

A New Nigeria

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“Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.” – George Washington

A country of over 160 million people; Nigeria is made up of two religions chiefly: Christianity and Islam. Given the high moral values, the ethics, the principles, the character conducts exemplified in both; one may perfectly conclude that Nigeria will be an ideal example of good governance, of fairness, of justice, of high moral behavior, of low crime, etc. WRONG!

Take for instance councillors, Chairman, Governors, Ministers, heads of parastatals, MDAs, PAs, SSAs, Lawmakers, etc all belong to either of both religions (where they are not atheists!) How then do we have consistent indiscipline, flagrant abuse of power and ineffective leadership as consistent attributes to these leadership positions! Intolerance, Societal dysfunction, Crime escalation (some sponsored by these heads as thugs) and unprecedented corruption are amongst the shameful display we see all around…

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How To Change Government Peacefully And Make Society Better- Pastor Tunde Bakare

Fellow citizens of our great country, household faithful at The Latter Rain Assembly, Gentlemen of the Press, and every other person present, welcome to this special occasion. At the beginning of this month, during the Father’s Day celebration, an invitation was extended to every concerned citizen of our nation to attend this special lecture – our humble contribution towards nation building. We would like to place on the register our gratitude to God and our profound appreciation for the leadership and members of The Latter Rain Assembly for the provision of this auditorium. After all, in matters of public enlightenment, the church should be in the forefront of such efforts, going by the definitive proclamation of Jesus concerning the church.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV):
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be     hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a     lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so     shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your     Father in heaven.
In addition, for those befuddled in their minds about our role in this process, let me again rely on the words of Prophet Malachi written exclusively to those in priestly garments who have forgotten their God-ordained role in matters of nation building:
Malachi 2:1-9 (NKJV):
1“And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If you will not hear,     and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,” says the     LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your     blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to     heart. 3 “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your     faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it.     4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My     covenant with Levi may continue,” says the LORD of hosts. 5 “My covenant     was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might     fear Me; so he feared Me and was reverent before My name. 6 The law of     truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked     with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity. 7 “For     the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law     from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you     have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law.     You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.     9 “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the     people, because you have not kept My ways but have shown partiality in     the law.”

For those questioning our intentions and the use of this platform to disseminate truths that will unblock the minds of our citizens and set them free from limiting thoughts that produce self-defeat, there you have it in black and white in the Holy Writ:
     Malachi 2:7 (NKJV):
“For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek     the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.”

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, saints and strangers, do I then have your permission this morning to perform this noble role of a messenger to a nation on the road to perdition and self-annihilation?
Having given me an overwhelming yes, please permit me to quickly add that, beyond the church being a lighthouse to a dark world, and beyond the role of the priest as a messenger whose lips should keep knowledge and from whose mouth the people should seek the law, there is an additional burden of the watchman and his message that is totally lost on the prosperity merchants and their crowd. Please turn your Bibles with me to the Book of Ezekiel the Prophet, chapter 33:1-20:

1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ 7 “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 10 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ 12 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ 13 When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. 14 Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. 17 “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. 19 But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.”
I invited all and sundry here this morning because I can see the sword already upon this land – shall I then blow the trumpet? Not to do so would be a disservice to my nation and outright disobedience to God – a luxury I cannot afford. Therefore, lend me your ears.

For the sake of clarity and to keep within the boundary of the subject of our contemplation this morning – ‘How to Change Government Peacefully and Make Society Better’ – I have arranged this lecture under four major headings:

1.    WHO TRULY RULES IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN?
2.    THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IN A NATION
3.    HOW TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT IN A PEACEFUL MANNER
4.    THE WAY FORWARD

I will take the headings one by one.
HEADING 1: WHO TRULY RULES IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN?
Today, it is common practice among pseudo-intellectuals worldwide to mock biblical teachings on God, Satan and demons. But to those who are wise and discerning, it is clear that behind the socio-political and economic evils of our time lie supernatural powers.
It is true that God Almighty is “the blessed and only Potentate [Sovereign], the King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:13-16). It is also true that honour and everlasting power belong to God. Nonetheless, in the wisdom of God who rules in the affairs of men, He allows or permits the lowest of men to occupy apex power positions in order that the living may know and hopefully learn.

The New Testament’s perspective on the grip of evil over our socio-political and economic systems comes from the Old Testament prophet, Daniel. Daniel was a young man when Babylonians invaded his city Jerusalem, destroyed it, brutally massacred his people and carried their royalty into slavery in Babylon. Later, they returned to destroy God’s temple and placed God’s sacred vessels in the temple of their god.

This humiliating horror raised disturbing theological questions: Who really rules in the affairs of this world? Who is in control of history – at least at this moment? Why are the kingdoms of this world at times so cruel, brutal, exploitative and oppressive? From the Book of Daniel come three clear answers that can help us navigate our own murky political waters and deliver our nation from imminent bankruptcy and balkanization:

1.    GOD IS THE SUPREME POTENTATE:

Daniel 2:20-22 (NKJV) –
20 Daniel answered and said “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,     For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the     seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the     wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep     and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with     Him.

2.    GOD, THE SUPREME POTENTATE RULES IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN AND GIVES IT TO WHOMEVER HE WILL AND SETS OVER IT THE LOWEST OF MEN:

Daniel 4:13-18 (NKJV) –
13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. 16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him. 17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.’ 18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

3.    WHENEVER THE LOWEST OF MEN OCCUPY APEX POWER POSITIONS, IN THEIR NAIVETY, THEY YIELD TO DEMONIC POWERS WHO THEN RULE THROUGH THEM:
As Daniel humbled himself, fasted and prayed for understanding, he was given a glimpse of the supernatural realm. He saw clearly that behind the socio-political and economic evils of his time lay supernatural powers.
For example, in Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt about a statue made of gold, silver, bronze and iron, each representing four successive empires: Babylonian (gold), Medo-Persian (silver), Greek (bronze) and Roman (iron). After their rule, a mere stone – the kingdom of God – brought all the evil kingdoms of this world to an end.

Curiously, in chapter 7, we read that Daniel, a captive turned learned governor and president, humbled himself in fasting and prayer, seeking to understand where history was going and God’s role in its unravelling. He was given the vision of the same four kingdoms Nebuchadnezzar had seen earlier, except that Daniel saw them not as a dazzling statue of precious metals but as beasts that devoured: the lion (Babylonian), the bear (Medo-Persian), and the leopard (Greek), and the “fourth beast [was] dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong”. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left (Daniel 7:7). This fourth beast was Daniel’s vision of the Roman Empire.

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, the kingdoms of this world were and are beastly, because behind them were and are evil supernatural forces. This understanding of evil as something more than natural, human or socio-political did not begin with Daniel. Israel’s first king became evil, despotic and murderous, and the Bible explains that God’s Spirit had left him and an evil spirit began to torment him (I Samuel 16:14-23).

Likewise, in the Book of Judges, socio-political evils are seen as a direct result of spiritual evil, specifically the operation of the spirit of ill will sent by God when Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men to kill all the seventy (70) sons of Gideon so that he could become king.

Judges 9:22-23

22 After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years, 23 God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech…
Each of the above mentioned biblical texts and a plethora of others affirm that God remains Sovereign over His creation even when He allows evil spirits or devils to hold sway. Apostle Paul explains in Romans 1:18-32 that God gives whole cultures over to evil when humans choose to suppress truth with wickedness. This is where we are in Nigeria today. To the discerning, the nation has been thrown to the dogs of pervasive corruption and disruptive, perennial insecurity. The question begging for an answer is: Who will deliver us from this self-induced chaotic disorder?

HEADING 2: THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT
The purpose of any meaningful government is the welfare and security of the people. In our clime, neither welfare nor security of the lives and property of our people seems to matter anymore. Our malady is not new. History holds records of nations who were bled to death by their rulers and tells how such leaders were ultimately dealt with when the oppressed could no longer bear the heavy weight of their oppressive and insensitive leadership. Biblical history also alludes to this. While the people kept suffering in the midst of plenty in the days of King Solomon, who used his wisdom to satisfy his unquenchable thirst and hunger for material acquisition and outlandish women of all shapes and shades, a day came in the life of the nation when the people kicked and shouted, “We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel!” (I Kings 12:16). The rebellion did not only stand, God also rubberstamped it and said “this thing is from me”(I Kings 12:24) — it was orchestrated by the GREAT ORGANIZED DESIGNER (GOD).

It is unfortunate that our people are crying today for change, but they are expecting the change to either fall from the sky or come from sources that cannot produce it. It is simple logic that when a corrupt leader is in office, he corrupts those he leads. This is true of a family, true of a church, and true of a nation. A corrupt father will ultimately corrupt his family as he cannot distinguish between his wife and his son’s wife. A corrupt pastor will corrupt, influence, affect and infect his church as he prioritizes outreaches, programmes and projects executed with filthy lucre flowing from the perverse and the corrupt above the spiritual welfare of the congregants. And a corrupt elected official will infect his nation with corruption. I cannot but borrow a leaf from the profound lecture delivered by Prof. Niyi Osundare recently on the state of the nation titled: ‘Why We No Longer Blush: Corruption as Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’. He said, and I quote:

“Watch out, Nigeria: a new Jonathan seems to be emerging, one who confuses cockiness with confidence, tactlessness with toughness, strong-manship with statesmanship.”

President Jonathan’s combination of naivety and amorality is as profound as it is injurious to the health of this country. Can a corruption-compliant ruler really lead a corruption-free country? If change – positive change – will ever come to our clime, it will not be engineered by those who are benefitting without conscience from the present cesspool of corrosive corruption. It will and can only come from a new breed without greed and a radical opposition to corruption. True, genuine change can only come from those not infected by the present corruption malaise; it can only come from positive agents of social change who are totally sold out to public good.

HEADING 3: HOW TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT IN A PEACEFUL MANNER

Every time I have considered this subject, only one thing flows from me towards President Goodluck Jonathan – genuine pity. Anyone who has had the privilege of sitting with Mr. President, as I sometimes have, will feel the same for this simple soul who has become a victim of circumstances generated and orchestrated by his bramble predecessor, who, in his bid to be king of all trees, used his position to force on the nation the sick, the weak, and the ill-equipped in an attempt to dominate the polity and maintain his larger than life status out of office (Judges 9:8-15). So, it did not come as a surprise to me at all when, two days ago, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila cited Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution, saying that any action of the President defined as “gross misconduct” by the National Assembly was “sufficient grounds to initiate impeachment proceedings against him.” Let me quote verbatim from Friday July 20, 2012’s Punch [‘Budget: Lawmakers threaten to impeach President’] to buttress my point:

Gbajabiamila had proposed the amendment to a motion before the House     on the poor implementation of the 2012 budget.

 “If by September 18, the budget performance has not improved to 100%, we     shall begin to invoke and draw up articles of impeachment against Mr.         President”, he said.

Members shouted aloud “yes”, “yes”, “yes” and clapped for the minority     leader as Gbajabiamila made the proposal.

He accused the executive of allegedly breaching the Appropriation Act,     2012    by engaging in “selective implementation” of the budget.

Gbajabiamila added, “What we have in our hands today is a budget of     abracadabra; a budget of voodoo economy.

“I like Mr. President, he is a fine gentleman, but I like my people, the     Nigerian people more.”

Indeed, Mr. President may be a fine gentleman thrust into a position of leadership by circumstances beyond his control who is now facing a barrage of problems he is incapable of solving. He deserves our sympathy, our prayers, and whatever else we can honourably and legally do to make sure he gets back to his home-base safely.

Perhaps a few suggestions may change the course of our rapid descent into the abyss, since free, fair and credible election is presently alien to our polity. In all honesty, I perceive very strongly that our next general election will be better, though it may come earlier than expected.

Now, a few suggestions:

1.    First and foremost, THE UNQUESTIONABLE GOD FACTOR: From both biblical and human history, sometimes – if not at all times – God moves behind the scenes in unimaginable ways and fosters changes that are beyond human comprehension – especially when all hope is lost. Indeed, God changes the times and the seasons, He removes kings and raises up kings (Daniel 2:21 & 22).

The same God who raised David the shepherd boy from the sheepfold and made him king over Israel, and deposed the insane King Saul, still does what pleases Him in the nations of the earth. Oftentimes, when citizens are pushed to the wall and rulers boastfully think they are irremovable due to their political sagacity and ‘matter of cash’ policy, a Jehu type of prophetic revolution is in the making. Other times, God replaces the mighty and the powerful with their own appointed palace administrators. One biblical example is sufficient for our time and our clime.

Hear the declarations of God as recorded in Isaiah 22:15-25 (NKJV):
15 Thus says the Lord God of hosts: “Go, proceed to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the house, and say: 16 ‘What have you here, and whom have you here, that you have hewn a sepulcher here, as he who hews himself a sepulcher on high, who carves a tomb for himself in a rock? 17 Indeed, the Lord will throw you away violently, O mighty man, and will surely seize you. 18 He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball into a large country; there you shall die, and there your glorious chariots shall be the shame of your master’s house. 19 So I will drive you out of your office, and from your position will pull you down. 20 ‘Then it shall be in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; 21 I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open. 23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house. 24 ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. 25 In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’”

By the way, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah was a palace administrator lifted by God to the status of a king. God placed upon his shoulders the very keys of David to open and shut as he willed (Isaiah 36:3; NKJV). With God all things are possible — so he who has ears to hear, let him hear.

2.    RESIGNATION: Even for a seasoned, well-cooked and well-equipped UK prime minister like Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, the moment the people rose against her policy, she did the honourable and noble thing – she resigned and returned to the parliament before retiring from politics. Resignation is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of patriotic truthfulness. It is giving opportunity to those who can do a better job in the interest of the nation to carry on with nation-building where the exiting leader stops.

3.    IMPEACHMENT: This can only be carried out by the National Assembly and the process has begun. It may be aborted, or it may be carried to its logical conclusion. Either way, it is a worse option and carries a load of shame with it compared to resignation. Come to think of it, Mr. President should not wait for the conclusions in the court of law and the court of public opinion for the rape and atrocities committed against the Appropriation Act 2011 in respect of the subsidy scandal (a ghost that still haunts his administration and will not rest in peace until the truth is made known and justice is served). The admission of extra-budgetary spending of over N2 trillion without appropriation is another impeachable time bomb that can explode anytime. It would be a total disgrace if resignation comes after that explosion as was the case for Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.

At this juncture, I cannot but wonder what is going on in the minds of those who falsely accused us of crying for regime change in January during the fuel hike crisis. It is the House of Assembly that is now championing same with overwhelming shouts of “yes”, “yes”, and “yes” from the floor members. History truly is lived forward but is written in retrospect. Today’s headlines and history’s judgement are rarely the same. Those who are too attentive to today’s headlines will most certainly not do the hard work of securing a positive verdict from history. Whether or not the President resigns or allows himself to be impeached is his call. In the words of Lord Chesterfield:

“A weak mind is like a microscope which magnifies trifling things but cannot receive great ones.”

If I were Mr. President – unfortunately, I am not, and I do not envy his tottering position, but if I were he – I would give no thought to what the world might say of me, or the drum the hangers-on and political jobbers benefitting from the present chaotic disorder might be beating. I would not “give a damn” if I could only transmit to posterity the reputation of an honest man thrust into the boxing ring to fight enemies I am ill-equipped to fight, and I would therefore resign before I receive a death blow.

4.    THE PEOPLE’S REVOLT: I seriously wish and fervently pray that it will not get to the stage of a people’s revolt before positive changes begin to happen in the north and south of Nigeria. Without a doubt, if corruption remains king, violence its deputy, and insecurity the treasurer of the ill-fated status quo Federal Republic of Nigeria, we might as well write the gravestone epitaph today:

“Here lie the remains of a potentially great country whose ruin came because leadership did not give a damn; her filthiness was in her garments, her collapse was awesome, because she did not consider her destiny.”

HEADING 4: THE WAY FORWARD
Without a doubt, the catalogue of scandalous mismanagement of national resources, the unbridled stealing of public funds, and the bewildering exposure of the level of corruption in almost every arm of government as well as governmental agencies and parastatals, call for a change of guards – more so when the president has openly admitted that the security situation in the country has changed his pre-election agenda. And in spite of the president’s promises to deal with insecurity head-on, this government appears helpless because it cannot see the linkage between corruption and violence.

During the fuel hike protests in January this year, neither the threats to our lives nor the tanks that were rolled out brazenly to suppress genuine agitation against oppression, were scary to me. Rather, it was the bold placard held up in Abuja and Ojota Freedom Park by people unknown to me. The placard contained this startling message: “ONE DAY THE POOR WILL HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO EAT BUT THE RICH”; that was very scary to me, “because no nation, no matter how enlightened, can endure criminal violence. If we cannot control it, we are admitting to the world and to ourselves that our laws are no more than a facade that crumbles when the winds of crisis rise.” (Alan Bible)

For that not to happen is the reason for this message. This is no time for false accusations and counter accusations. Mr. President may be doing his best but the impact is not felt anywhere except in the bank accounts of oil vultures, his corrupt political allies and corporate cowboys. We have a patriotic duty to educate our people and we will continue to do that until light replaces the darkness in foggy minds, since education is considered a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. In the words of Henry Peter Brougham:

“Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”
If this message does that, our expectations would have been fully satisfied.

The starting point of any great enterprise is reality. If we are all ruthlessly and brutally honest about our inventory as a nation, Nigeria requires better handling than we are presently experiencing.
May the good Lord in His infinite mercies look down upon our affliction as a people, burst the gloomy cloud of despair over our nation, and raise for us visionary leaders imbued with wisdom, integrity, justice, courage, temperance and fortitude; leaders who we can trust and who can inspire confidence in our people for the rebuilding of our nation. Let me end this message by quoting Joseph Addison:
“There is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation than a want  of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country.”

May the zeal of God consume us as a people for the good of our country.
Thank you so much for your attentive ears. And may the good Lord heal, save, and make Nigeria great in our lifetime.
Once again, thank you all.

Dr. ‘Tunde Bakare
Serving Overseer,
The Latter Rain Assembly
Being text of speech delivered at the Latter Rain Assembly on Sunday, July 22 2012, as a contribution to public enlightenment on the state of the nationImage

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