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Warfront in farmlands – Herdsmen versus farmers

Africa farmlands are becoming conflict zone: a war caused by the wealthy political elite for the poor local farmers and nomad herdsmen. This deadly conflict has rendered thousands and communities displaced. Lives have been lost and millions of properties destroyed. Herdsmen are becoming what one could only but imagined watching war movies.

How do you explain when herdsmen are moving with AK 47 assault riffle in local communities?  Sometimes I begin to reason why? If cowboy in America translate to herdsmen in Nigeria, so I can relate to some movies I did watched. But I have watched America movies and saw how cowboys at ranches behaves and relate. Noticed that those ranches are private businesses and not Government. Then I am wondering what is taking Nigeria Government into proposing of making ranches for herdsmen?  

Image result for herdsmen with guns pictures

The immediate question on your mind I know is, where and how did nomads-herdsmen got AK47 assault riffle from? You will ordinarily say it is out of proliferation of small arms especially in West Africa: where war and violence is characterized for years. Could it be out of porosity of our borders?  Or that ECOWAS are not serious about what is happening in their region?  Ask them and not me, ask them where did herdsmen get money to purchase guns and riffles across the coast? Or don’t they know those involved in black market armory?  It will amazed you that no body will answer you. You know why? Those that suppose to give answers to your questions are the owners of the cattle,  herdsmen tend to. They are called strong men by our society. You see, owners of cattle’s in West Africa coast are wealthy elite, and mostly political office holders.  Herdsmen are the pipers and take orders from those that pays them to tend. Can’t you see herdsmen attack as script play out? And if you care to know the author of the script? I’ve just told you. That is why you see the boldness herdsmen have in carrying out attack and deadly retaliation in communities they barely know.  That is why  attack is always successful without arrest and prosecution. They are covered up by the powerful and owners of cattle’s.  This I wouldn’t lie. 

Taking a look at the conflict curve in West Africa zone, and to determine the root cause of this conflict, when herdsmen tend for their animals,  moving from place to place in search for grazing zones. These grazing zones are green vegetation in forest and farmlands. And farmlands are where farmers plant their crops in anticipation for yields. And as herdsmen migrate with their cattle’s they trampled knowingly or unknowingly and graze on farmer’s crops. And because of their illiteracy, they are unable to identify crops from grass, and or control the movement of their animals. Therefore,  this is a challenge to food security. I see this conflict threatening Goal 2 of SDG to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture if allowed to continue. What I do know is that nomad herdsmen are poor, peaceful and majorly illiterate shepherds.  Their actions are directed by poverty and nothing less.

Local farmers on the other side are poor too, yet peaceful and majorly rural dweller and illiterate too. Their livelihood is depended on farm yield. Their actions are guided by poverty. Farming in local Africa setting is laborious. Laborious to the extent that anything that threatens crop yield is enemy for attack. So therefore, whenever herdsmen destroy farmlands, farmers react dangerously and attack any available or seen herdsmen as if he’s one responsible for the farm destruction. When farmers attack herdsmen, they usually manhandled herdsmen and loot their cattle’s away as compensation. 

Image result for pictures of farmers with weapons africa

To herdsmen, losing a cow is far better than killing him. One cow’ value means much more than a thousand lives.  And because of their affinity to animals, herdsmen don’t know how to forgive anyone who carts away his flock. When they are on search for recovery of lost flocks, it is usually led as retaliation on farmers. They mobilize and attack communities within the farmlands where their cattle’s was/were looted. The attack usually happens at midnight or at dawn. The attack is always deadly, as they kill any and I mean any living thing within the targeted attacked communities. And burn down the communities.

It doesn’t end there, at unannounced intervals will they re-attack the communities again and again at their whim and caprice without any security resistance, counter, arrest or prosecution. This senseless attack has left poor farmers helpless. Farmlands in rural communities in West Africa are becoming the most fearful zone to go to. Farmers have begun to fortify selves with guns in self defense.

Herdsmen are mainly Fulani’s, predominately found across West Africa and Central Africa. In Nigeria, they are from the Northern part of the country migrating to the southern part.  Fulani herdsmen were known with staff/sticks as guiding tools to control their animals. But  lately, they have gone fortified with guns, and claim that the reason is for self defense against wild animals as they migrate, and otherwise against farmers who attack them.

Though in Nigeria their Association/union have disassociated themselves from all the attacks/atrocities carried out by herdsmen, and lay it on migrating herdsmen from West Africa countries. They have assured Nigerians that they are not terrorist group. But that is hard to believe to my mind.
According to 2015 Global Terrorism Index, Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria are rated 4th deadliest group in the world. But somehow, the last time I visited a community attacked by Fulani herdsmen, I had believed the report.

Image result for picture of herdsmen attack on community

Nigeria Government has shown concerned about this conflict without knowing exactly what the solution is. They have put in place machinery to buy and plant grasses as ranching areas. But is that not misplacement? Cattle rearing are private business and I wonder what Government got to do with it?  Or is it because the owners of these cattle as rich men within themselves? Why wouldn’t the owners of cattle be responsible enough to provide a ranch for their businesses?   I ask if these cattles were owned by the poor, would Nigeria Government have been this speedy and willing to provide ranches for the cattle at all cost ? I tell no, they wouldn’t. But they are, because of their interest and that of the ones that own these cows. It is still hanky panky game. I weep for Africa! (By Dennis Ekwere)       

#herdsmen #conflict

THE IMPERATIVE OF PROTECTING NIGERIANS DIGITAL RIGHTS IN THE POST COVID19 ERA

#Covid19 affected and is affecting the poorest of poor livelihood more than any in Nigeria, thereby exposing very high numbers to vulnerabilities of exploitation and deepened inequalities. The pandemic brought the new normal and bolden online activities including online financial transactions as best alternatives to the masses.          

App-based microlending is popular in Nigeria, both because banks generally require collateral for loans and because the bureaucracy involved with lending can be overwhelming. So there’s a flock of new lending sites springing up, like Okash, Gocash, Credit9ja, Lcredit, Sokoloan, Kash Kash, Fastmoney, Newcredit, Cashlion, 9jacash etc. These online loan app companies in Nigeria operates as financial institutions aka Fintech; targeting very low income earners and the poor with very high interest rate and shortest time for repayment date plan, pushing many people into deepened poverty instead, while the FinTech companies inconsiderably continue to exploit and dig gold out of the poor masses.

The poor keep getting poorer, become helpless and voiceless given this situation while FinTech companies in Nigeria keeps getting richer and richer at the detriment of the weak and vulnerable in our society. Worrisome, these FinTech companies uses defamation and tarnishing of customer’s character to the public as strategy for debt recovery knowing very well the customers are vulnerable, weak and voiceless. During application for loan, they will capture your contacts on your phone and use it against you at loan repayment default with several messages of defamation sent to your contacts. In other words, fail to pay your loan(s) with these online loan app companies, they will begin sending defamatory notes and tarnishing sms to your captured contacts on your phone: that you are a criminal that made away with their company’s money, on police wanted list and nobody should deal with you henceforth. In another case, they will select names from your contact and tell them you used them as “Guarantors” to collect the loan whereas not. They will impersonate as lawyers, using pictures of lawyers as their profile pictures on their whatsapp social media accounts to threaten customers with falsified and disjointed letters and legal suits, record police siren sound and play at the background when calling customers that they are coming for arrest. This entire act is embarrassing, unethical, and unprofessional and amount to violation and abuse of customer’s digital rights, Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) 2019, Guidelines for the Use of Personal Data by Public Institution, May2020.

OKash for instance (made by the same Chinese company behind the Opera browser) has a clause in the terms of service that reads “In the event we cannot get in contact with you or your emergency contact, you also expressly authorize us to contact any and all persons in your contact list.” In other words, default on a loan and we tell your parents, your friends, your boss… OKash has raised eyebrows in Kenya, where there’s no financial regulatory structure to protect what seems like an obvious privacy violation. But these loans are what people can access and worst is, accessible to the populations that are left behind. Their wrongful justification is merely that, customers agreed to the terms and conditions of the loan before collection. So I asked, can two agree to unlawfulness and expect it to stand? Your guess is as good as mine.     

Indeed, these app online loan companies explain its need for personal information in terms of determining your eligibility for lending: that they will access your mobile device for the permission of (but not limited to) contacts, location, SMS, calendar and camera to estimate the suitable loan offer for you. It is a very important part of evaluation process.” But can you trust these app online loan companies with your data? “We promise that we will never disclose your personal information to third parties without your consent. (exempted late refund and service requirement).” Oh yeah, that little exemption…

Unthinking to me is the mandatory collection of loan applicant’s ATM card number, BVN, PIN, CVV which they later use start direct deduction, continuous deductions at intervals and over deduction of monies from customer’s bank accounts without authorization. All this are abuse and violation of customers because they are voiceless and weak. Many customers of these online loan companies in Nigeria are at crossroad.  

Recognizing that there are regulations guiding the operations of FinTech companies/ app online loan companies in Nigeria, I hereby challenge the concerned authorities that the operations of FinTech companies in Nigeria is abusive, contrary to stipulated guidelines and amount to continuous infringement of consumers rights. Aware that nobody is above the law, and that FinTech companies cannot be above the law in Nigeria, then they cannot use and continue to use defamation of defaulters as tool for debt recovery. This have caused many poor Nigerians to commit suicide, mental health, stress and distress, depression, deepened poverty, lost of jobs, broken marriages, family and relationship instability, diluted trust  of victims in the eyes of the public etc. And surprisingly these FinTech companies will do all these without any consequences in Nigeria? That’s why I am writing this article for the hurt souls including those that have died as a result of this misconduct, those who have no voice to voice the pain/injury these unlawful actions have caused and cost them, and as a whole seeking for justice for all. This article is also a concrete attempt to bring to fore what Nigerians are going through in the hands of  FinTech companies and call on Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), Security and Exchange Commission(SEC) and other relevant regulatros  to address this unethical practices and to order Fintech companies to stop the use of defamation as tool for debt recovery and sanction those involved to serve as deterrent to others before this becomes another #ENDSARS protest. Enough is enough!

Dennis Ekwere is a grassroot and digital rights activist, Focal Person of CYPLP, Nigeria.

Dennisekwere1@gmail.com                                                             

When Biro is mightier than bomb

It is rather so unfortunate that I found out that I am fighting a lonely war for justice all the time, when I realized what my fundamental human rights are. But fighting in defense for rights in my country has always been expensive for the poor that, seeking justice seems absolute waste of time.Myself is a victim of rape of justice severally either that I couldn’t afford to pay for legal service for defense in the court of law or, as may seems – justice system itself was calling for money from me; which I could not afford. In such cases I have lost justice and justice denied. But I have never given up recalling or seeking for the full recovery all my lost justice on time, realizing that there’s  power in biro that is mightier than swords, guns and bombs. In reflection, is one of the reasons why there’s increasing wave of violence by vulnerable young people in Nigeria and in Africa; when justice for the poor is hard to get. When majority poor young Africans, are denied justice unjustifiably, they’ll turn around to seek redress through violence. I mean through swords, guns and bombs you see everywhere.  I tell you truth; where there is no justice, there wouldn’t be peace. Check it round, I wouldn’t lie.    I have fought many battles, winning them all with the power biro since I discover it; is a testimony I feel like sharing with my readers, so they too can learn, share experience for scale up, connecting local voices with international best practices.  

How it all startedImage result for prison picture

In 2011, something happened. I had a little misunderstanding with my landlord on a house rent issue. He had increased the rent by 500% and he wanted me to pay for five years and I said no. So he locked up my apartment. I reported the case to the police and some policemen came with me to unlock the place for me to gain access. When we arrived, there was a sort of rift between the landlord and I and he threatened me with dogs; assaulted me in several ways. I decided to take a non-violent approach, so I wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police and I sent it via a courier service. On getting my letter, I think he just made up his mind on how to counter that approach. As a well placed man in my State/Country, he also went to the Commissioner of Police and wrote a petition against me, saying that I tried to kidnap his son. There, the case turned against me because of my vulnerability.Image result for prison picture Upon his compliant, I was arrested and detained for four days on the charge of attempted kidnap, I was denied access to lawyer, was never taken to court. When I was eventually released I was threatened through the apparatus of police to pack out from the house. I was embarrassed and so I went to court to exonerate myself and seek redress to breach of my rights. But looking for that infringed right was extremely difficult for me, as I couldn’t afford a lawyer and when I eventually got one, it was not that right to the task. So I lost the case, and my right gone with the wind.And I realized that something needed to be done for others like me, whose rights are trampled every day, and who can’t afford a lawyer too. Just too rivers to cross, so, I decided something needed to be done fast  recognizing high number of people in awaiting trial in detention out of poverty.While I was detained in a police cell, there I met young people ranging between 18 and 35 years of age. I interacted with them asking each of them what brought them into detention. One thing I noticed was that there is so many co-operations, love and oneness in the cell, which if replicated outside, the world will be a better place for us all. The inmates were so open to me. The crimes that brought them to prison include murder, rape, fighting and stealing, fraud, kidnapping among others.
In the course of our interaction, many confirmed to me that they participated in the crimes they were accused of. When I advised them to change for the better when they leave jail, they said they had no regrets; they were not remorseful. In fact some said that if they get out of jail, they would continue with crime. I tried talking to the 23 inmates then in the Police headquarters’ CID cell; only one of them promised to change when he regains his freedom. When I persisted, the others told me that it was too late to advice them because it will not make them to change their minds.
They also said stressed that if I have the passion to see a new and transformed Nigeria that is violence and crime free, I should deal more with children, saying that crime is a circle. That they themselves took over from others, people who introduced them to crime while they were young. They insisted that, if I want to break the circle, I should go to the children and try to keep them off crime, that they on their part have already made up their mind and that I should leave them for another set of people to handle.
They asked me to mirror into the society that all the crimes they have committed are done in other ways. For instance one of them who were brought to prison on a rape charge said people in high positions have continued to rape the nation’s economy and other aspects of the life of the country and its people.
It was as the inmates talked to me about children that I reflected back on my passion and that gave birth to an organization I founded called- Children and Young People Living for Peace.

Stepping Stones

The peace I am talking about though is not the absence of war but peace of mind; how to create peace of mind for people – among spouses, at home, at school, at workplace and in and among communities among others. If we are able to do this, the larger peace that we are talking about will simply find its place.
So I concluded that my going to cell was never a setback but a stepping stone into doing well, into making a change. I am sure God allowed me go to cell so that I can get first hand information from the people involved in violence so as to do the work well. So when I came out from cell, I started dropping active involvement in advertising and public relations and became more focused on service above self. And I have no regret. I then met with other young people and share the passion with, and at which they bought they idea and became part of the team with many volunteers running the vision.Recognizing what I went through, I currently work as a paralegal and provide means of empowerment by making access to justice to poorest poor women and youths. I also work to keep children and young people out of chains of radicalization and violent extremism by teaching peace at schools, including the teachers.It is real that this work is challenging but more real is it that it is fulfilling. I feel it whenever I touch lives in small ways with greater impact. I get inspired to conceptualize local actions as solutions to problems. I am hopeful that peace is possible, and my team mates are superbly wonderful. Together we work more on researching local communities that have coexisted peacefully overtime, and then learn from them to tailor-apply in communities that are vulnerable to violence. This has been the secret of my local program successes over the years.

After that
I began to search for deeper knowledge and best ways to defend my rights as vulnerable, and I went online. I was able to get materials to digest for insight and practical means of understanding where my rights starts and ends. Particularly, not to wait till rights are infringed but to act when they are about or threatened to be infringed. I also build synergies and networks with others in different countries for amplified voice. Thereafter, my story changed. I am not a lawyer only a barefoot- lawyer.

Listen to one of my real life Success Stories

Abubakar, male, student, 16 years, was arrested with two others and detained for 14 days in police cell on a case of homicide. The other two were released because they could afford bail. But Abubakar’s parents could not afford police bail fee neither a lawyer.  He was arraigned before the court and remanded in Juvenile remand home for adjournment. Abubakar was never brought back before the court and was abandoned for six months without trial in the remand home.    Image result for prison pictureUpon my visit to the remand home and after listening to his case, I pick up my biro and wrote a petition against the State Government for unfair hearing and wrongful detention of Abubakar for six months without trial to National Human Rights Commission, Nigeria.  Two days after, Abubakar was released and set free.Things we often overlook could be the solution

If we are to reduced violence tendencies and occurrence in Africa by vulnerable young people, then we must begin to instill and teach them the power of biros. Teach them that biros can give us better results than swords, guns and bombs. Frame narratives around it and see if this will not give us the needed peace we are searching for so long!  I rest my case.   (Written by Dennis Ekwere, Focal Person – CYPLP).

Abducted and Recruited for Suicide Missions in the Lake Chad Region.

There are many reasons why we may fail and will continue to fail in the fight against insurgency in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region as it seems. Lack of coordination between the military and the police are just one part; another is mismanagement of information by the security. Almost when it seems like the war is over; you will suddenly realize that such news is only a painted picture of information from the security. Immediately in a characterized mode, will either be breaking news of unstoppable sporadic suicide attacks and bombing by the insurgents whom the military claimed have been completely wiped out. And the cycle goes on and on till then.

Nigeria Kidnapping

How many times have we not be told that insurgent in the North East of Nigeria has been wiped out? So many times I can recall. The wrong idea is, when it seems like the insurgent group is defeated at Sambisa forest, we assumed that the war is over. And that is where and how we fail. The war is actually not in sambisa forest but more in the minds of people living in our communities every day. It is not only a war that would be won by guns alone if you don’t know. This hard way approach of militarization used within the Lake Chad Region will not solve this issue, rather continue to escalate and spread, winning sympathy and empathy for new recruitment into extremist group. I wonder why we are yet to explore fully the soft ware approach of citizen engagement. That can solve the problem more than guns.
Why are they helpless
Do you remember the abduction of 275 Chibok girls? If you do, another abduction of 110 schools girls in Dapchi in Yobe State, Nigeria just happened again days back. And I tell you truth, others may still happen if we continue the way we are doing. Surprisingly, two most pronounced abduction on record by the insurgents in the North-East of Nigeria for instance, happened in a broad day light, where community members watched helplessly as these school girls are loaded into trucks and driven away. My fear is that very soon; girls in the region will refused going to school out of fear of being abducted and I bet you to mark my lips. And by that time we will be in messier situation. Remember that the North East Region of Nigeria is where girl child education is at ebb from immemorial. I tell you we are in for it.But I have drawn a map of the two abduction incidents of Chibok and Dapchi school girls as mention and came up with some similarities when the insurgent stroke. I only realized that on the two occasions, the insurgent stroke on the very day the military were withdrawn from vulnerable communities. In this case,  I am tempted to suspect if there is no leakage of security information to the group. And if that is the case, we are but playing the ostrich.Getting to know that security is everybody’s business was something I never thought of.  How citizens can actively involved in security of their communities. I am imagining how citizens will always watch the scene of abduction of these school girls helplessly. I am imagining why we will wait for insurgent to strike before we cover up. I then noticed that whenever school girls are abducted, we start running around the group in pro and anti- dialogue style in attempt to rescue the girls.What beat my imagination is how the insurgents have used the same tactics for abduction successfully for the  Chibok girls and again, with the Dapchi girls. And they will use it again because we have refused to learn. First at Chibok , 275 girls were whisked away, and now it is at Dapchi with over 110 school girls carted into truck like sardine even as citizens watch the scene helplessly. Till then, we feel it is not time to put in place programs that would build these vulnerable communities on resilience, or create safe escapes routes in future for girls at schools. Rather, we are waiting for another abduction to happen so we can begin to cry foul like this and play the ostrich as usual.
It’s not girls against the world?Take a look at how boys and girls especially in the North-East of Nigeria are facing brutality arising from the mismanaged conflict of insurgency. My heart bleeds when I see confrontation of children, whom are recruited into armed violent groups to fight with security forces. Such confrontation has resulted in at least 3,900 children being killed and 7,300 more maimed. It is disheartening to see children failing as either victims of attacks or they are used to perpetrate the attacks. The end result of it all is death and nothing less.Can you imagine that children as young as four years are recruited to join armed violent groups in Nigeria? And it doesn’t end there, even the security forces are also not exempted from recruiting and using children to role-play militarized information gathering as informants. The Civilian Joint Task Force aka CJTF is another, they also recruits children too for related intelligence purpose and these children are used in most security posts as mounting guards. It is on record that at military detention centers as at 2016 in Nigeria, more than 1,100 children were detained and reprieved of liberty for reason you will find difficult to explain. But prime about it was simply because, these children’s  parents are/were traceable to insurgent group -Boko Haram. That is just how these children pay price for their parents.So I asked if that was the crime those children committed to deserve detention? Up till now I couldn’t get an answer. But to be précised, 68 boys between 12-17 years were detained since September 2015 for reason(s) I mentioned earlier. However, as at December 2016, 1,058 children were released.Beginning from 2014, children especially girls were seen in the front row of so called “suicide attacks” in Nigeria. That started after the abduction of the chibok school girls. Something before now was un-think of in Nigeria but now here we are. Have you ever wondered who those suicide bomber girls are? To clear your doubt, last night I dreamt they are schools girls abducted by insurgent group. And immediately I woke up I felt feverish and I am suspecting malaria. Still yet I can infer.So far 90 girls can be verified used in suicide attacks in Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad and Niger.  These girls are dressed beautifully as brides. Remote by manipulation and radicalization against their wish, to move into densely populated locations; like market square and worship centers to detonate explosives/bombs, killing self alongside innocent unlucky targets. These kinds of brides though dressed beautiful, yet are extremely destructive and deadly. They are what they are because they went to school and were abducted with no help. They are abducted and recruited to become tools of destruction of lives and properties throughout the Lake Chad Region. These girls are innocent and who know who could be the next abducted school girls? My heart will always bleed on this.  (By Dennis Ekwere).      

#Extremism #Abduction #Dapchi #Chibokgirls 

CAN TORTURE DRIVE VIOLENCE EXTREMISM/GLOBAL TERRORISM?

 Yes it has. Please turn in, I am by the balcony reading about one Mahar Arar and his incarceration, even though am curious to know what could have possibly lead him to joining extreme violent group as alleged in the first chapter, yet I keep my mind open so I don’t pass judgment on him before finishing the book. But I’ll like to summarize my read to you right away. Mahar Arar was or is a dual national of Canada and Syria. He was detained while in transit at New York’s John F. Kenedy airport on 26 September 2002 by U.S authorities based on what I view as “mistaken and unfairly prejudicial intelligence” as was provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He was detained and interrogated for almost two weeks and on October 7, 2002, the regional director of U.S Immigration and Naturalization Service issued an order finding Mahar Arar to be a member of Al Qaeda. And thereby directing his removal from the United State, and he was flown next day to detention center in Amman, Jordan, where he was blindfolded and beaten by Jordanian guards. Later on, the next day, he was driven to Syria, where he was imprisoned in the Far Falestin detention center.

Torturing for information and investigationHe was detained for more than ten months in a tiny grave-like cell- seven feet high, six feet long, and three feet wide, beaten with cables, and threatened with electric shocks, among other forms of torture. On August 20, 2003, he was transferred to Sednaya prison, before ultimately being released on October 5, 2003 and returned to Canada. Mr Arar was tortured despite the fact that the U.S government had obtained diplomatic assurance from Syrian government that it would not torture him. But they did torture him. Although it is clear that the Canadian consular officials visited him several times while he was imprisoned in Syria, but as we all know, during such visit he could not open up nor speak or tell Canadian consular’s about his torture for fear of retaliation. But as the torture intensifies he became more helpless and on the seventh visit of the consular, he decided to speak out of his torturing despite the serious risks of doing so.  So many tortured inmates barely speak of their torture at detention centers to Government officials on visit to them and are the points to drive home. 
The rest followsFollowing the terrorist attack of 9/11, the United State government commenced a search that lead to secret detention program under which suspected terrorists were arrested and detained in secret prisons across the world.  Many detained were outside the U.S and some of the detainees were more likely mistaken identity yet apprehended for interrogation with a follow up torture to elicit security intelligence information and confession. To my mind, this was grave mistake that spark hates beyond lines that the world is battling with till tomorrow. So I pondered and wondered how on earth could we have reacted and relied to intelligence information gathering from picking people who seems to us as suspect and apply torturing to elicit information, as sensitive as it was then and now. But I know ordinarily that a suspects that gives information under duress, that such information can never stand the test of time in any court of law globally. So I wondered why that method was preferred, knowing very well that such can be misleading and misleading information can cause more conflict, more confusion in any society  than any other. Misleading information has led countries into years of war. A war that people are killed without reasons, a war that nobody can really pin point why the war. Or tell me why war? So I can tell you why for peace. Tell me what is going on in Syria, DR Congo, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan etc and spreading wild round the world. All are needless war.   9/11 as I see took the world by shock and forced the US to take a new approach to countering terrorism. Terrorism was not new really but never dive nosed to the extent as of date. But it is the counter technique implored after 9/11 that gave less regard to domestic and international human rights law and birth a digital dragon the world never prepared for. From Nigeria to Kenya, France to Belgium, and UK to Australia, terrorism is spreading wild and young people and women are recruited as active participants. Violence extremism cum terrorism is recruiting high number of youths into deadly suicide missions, through the aid of technology vis a viz facebook, twitter, YouTube etc and we are watching. They are using appealing narratives inherent in social and religious gaps in our communities, and we are in slow motion. Those working to counter such narratives are awaiting two steps backward and are more reactive than proactive. We wait for bomb to explode before we mobilize!

Back to the point, I mean terrorist suspect that are arrested and detained should be interrogated and tortured? Torturing suspecting terrorist in attempt to gather intelligence information has failed time and time again. Torturing technique has most often proved misleading, therefore this write up is allow us time to re-think, mirror, sleep over and be truthful, if torturing as technique to eliciting intelligence information has really helped? Think back into past mistake so we can move in and win in the fight of countering violence extremism/terrorism all over the world using a new approach for new result.    Interestingly is Mathew Alexander a US Intelligent officer that led the interrogation team that located Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. I lay my foundation on his speech as I quote, “when interrogators used harsh methods that fit the definition of abuse in every instance, that method served only to harden the resolve of detainees and made them more resistant to interrogation”. “In contrast, detainees are likely to cooperate when non abusive technique is applied”. He further said “using torture technique has proved ineffective in eliciting reliable intelligence information”. Unquote and I wonder why we are still using it.  Let me reflect also on Ibn Al-Sheik al-Libi in 2002 who was extraordinarily rendered by the U.S to Egypt. He was tortured by Egyptian officials for confessional statement, and out of duress he fabricated information relating to Iraq’s chemical and biological weapon training of Al Qaeda. Whereas it was false information given out of duress, and based on his confessional statement, the then U.S Secretary of State Collin Powell relied on it.  And according to Powell’s speech to United Nations remains the reason why the US went for war against Iraq. A war that was avoidable. A war birth by misinformation from torture; a war we are still fighting to no end. (By Dennis Ekwere)

STRUGGLE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS AND JUSTICE

 Struggling for environmental rights in Nigeria is one of the most difficult things to think of, based on limited information on environmental laws. This makes me wonder sometimes if we really care about our environments and in return about life? Take for instance, in some local sites where toxic gas leak has occurred, we careless about it and we never cared to clean it. However, it is not really cleared why those sites are left that way, but it is clearer that such abandoned sites remains deadly stigma of disaster to those living in those communities.  Looking round your neighborhood, you may see it too, and in most cases may ignore it too. But most alarming is that most people don’t even know about it. So I ask myself what can I do? So ask yourself, what can we do about it now that we have known about it?I’ll leave that for you.
Image result for picture of environment pollution in nigeria

Could it be ignorance

You know, it is a pity how many people suffer medical complications from toxic contamination from corporations within and around us. How many people receive medical treatment needed for their health problems caused by pollution? Environmental pollution as at date continues and is done where the poorest of poor lives. I just don’t know why it is so?All over the world, corporations builds their polluting factories and dumps, or carry out industrial projects among indigent communities in quick disguise that they will create jobs in those poor communities whereas not. To them poor communities are dumping grounds for toxic and pollution, knowing fully well that they are voiceless. But I know one day we will rise up in unison and challenge how the “powerful” abuses the “weakest” to suffer health damages. Don’t you think so?  That we can rise up in non- violent ways to the challenge?  In short, I mean civil actions coupled with biro of petitions, and you will be surprised that biro is mightier than their guns. That one day one voice would be amplified and heard locally and internationally. Arise and let’s hold corporations that pollutes irresponsibly to accountable so they can do business responsibly and save our environment.

What are environmental rights in Nigeria

Human rights is our property and is for all. Rights to safe and healthy environment is one thing that can not be dashed to us. I have seen individual communities fighting to protect their environment and health, how they often face opposition and violence from Government and Corporation that want to take their natural resources in pursuit for developmental projects, regardless of the harm these acclaimed development  will cause.  In the first place, these projects may have to displace people from their land, create terrible pollution, endanger public safety or produce toxic that causes serious health problems. But of course they will never care about that.  Usually, government befriends to big corporation based on tax and levies they will collect  from these corporations. That makes it looks like the corporation that pollute most, are the ones who pays highest tax to Government.  And these taxes are meant, according to Government for funding the health sector and so on and so forth. If I may ask, what is the rational of corporations causing health problems to the poor only for Government to collect tax and later try intervening or salvaging situation they earlier caused  by building health centers and hospital? To my mind this is “Mickey Mouse” game. Take it or leave it.Image result for picture of women protect on environment pollution in nigeria

Taxes are never enough to fund and remedy health issues of poor people no matter how Government tries.  Therefore, preventing health problem is better than cure. Or what do you think?Large corporation have so much money and power, including local and international connections to the extent that they are able to prevent Government from recognizing or enforcing laws that should protect us. But there are local, and international laws that I know of and are effective, especially in places where local laws are ineffective.  It is fundamental local people know about these laws and rights. The idea is behind this is to protect our communities, and our lives as human. Although these laws are still new, yet it makes sense for the struggle, struggle  for environmental rights.

Attempt to kill the rights has not fly

There was an episode not too long ago in Niger Delta Nigeria. The region was fertile land with plenty of fish and healthy farm lands. When oil companies first came to the area, they promised economic benefits to all. But after 30 years of oil development, oil companies have not kept their words. Then the people revolt violently whereas they are several ways they would have explored for example- non violent approach I mentioned earlier and achieve results.  The Niger Delta is the oil milk center, but the people are poor in the midst of plenty. Development is denied and if you visit these communities, you will hear justice crying for help. Just recently, Nigeria Government has begun a clean up in the area and I am wondering if that could  be considered as environmental justice?  Only you can answer that.
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But baffling is how long the cry started, to the extent that women in the region began peaceful protest demanding oil companies to provide jobs, resources for education, water, electricity and development. And they demanded compensation for all the damages the oil companies had done. Oil companies called on Government to respond with iron fist. Security agencies were drafted in to repel the protesting women and reduce their voices, they fired tear gas and attacked the women, beating and torturing them, and injured many for marching against their tax payers. As at date, youths in the Niger Delta region have armed and resist government and Oil Corporation through militancy demanding that the companies go. But yet things can never be the same again. Hopefully, one day Nigeria Government will realize that when citizens complaint about environmental pollution it is their rights to do so. And that one day Nigeria Government will begin to take concrete actions to protect the environment for me and for you. We are environment and all is part. (By Dennis Ekwere)     

Creating not jobs, Africa sitting on a dynamite

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Who will bail the cat?

My issue is that schools are training graduates to come out of schools in Africa looking for jobs. They are not trained to create jobs after school. Whereas Africa have the youngest  population in the world and that population is strength and not weakness. But ask me if it is? You see, the future of any nation is in the hands of its youths, future of the universe is in the hands of the youths. Youths are the hope of the world, especially if the youths themselves are not docile waiting for almost everything to be brought to them on the table.

Africa is great and greater is the strength of its youths.  But the population is negatively navigating in uprising and consistent rise of armed conflicts across in chart flow. I have watched Africa working through weak institutions and building upon strong individuals, and I can not but wonder why? Why our system seems not to be working in the right direction.

Could there be change in the curve?
At times, I imagine if youths are building on for a changed situation? If they can use their strength to effect and drive change? How many are attempting to change the curve. And I realized that the need to awake and unite as the youth voice is desirable. I urge you to tell the other youths about this awakening. How to tell young people to leverage on the greatest strength they have which is greatest asset. I mean the size and quality of youths across the continent.  I mean how to activate actions online and offline to set in change of time. What I see is that Africa needs a younger voice as its voice seems old and aged. Africa needs young leaders to rejuvenate itself or else, it may fade away  in no time. However than sounds, it may be the only bitter truth to our hearing.

The greatest challenge of youths in Africa is unemployment. Africa is witnessing rising unemployment with six African countries top ranked among First-Ten countries with highest rate of unemployment.Image result for pictures of jobless african youths On the lead is Zimbabwe, where unemployment  is alarming. Just a few days back, I read a cover story in economist with a title “Hopeless Africa” and was stunned. So much that I ask if  Africa is hopeless. I then encouraged myself that it is time Africans must begin to write and tell its stories by ourselves no matter how the story sounds. We must blow our trumpet.

As African youth, are you thinking of  how you can rewrite hope on the minds of the people? A cover story with a title “Hopeful Africa”  can in the real sense radiate hopefulness and liberate us from the pin, emancipating ourselves from mental slavery.  To start with, we must first begin to appreciate our own; begin to change narratives, begin to create and look for “Black Collar Jobs” instead of “White Collar Jobs”.  White collar jobs are no more there in Africa. They have gone with the winds.  It went away with the colonial masters when Africa was liberated, but we never knew it till now that we are searching for it.  Black Color Jobs are entrepreneurial, informal and  untapped potentials of our people leveraging on technology to create digital jobs.

In this context, Black collar jobs are jobs created by young Africans for young Africans in Africa and to the world. Black Collar jobs produces products and services that attracts international spend into Africa market.  Politically in Africa, the problem begins when there are no spaces for youths in leadership role and this hampers their creativity socially, economically and other wise. Having a lot of young people in numbers ordinarily ought to be advantage than a problem as it seems in Africa . When Government finds it difficult to create or provide enabling environment  for jobs creation, that alone is frustrating. Frustration that can lead to violence; and is only timed bomb for African leaders. This may soon explode. They are sitting on dynamite. I see revolution coming one day.  I see it clearly. But this time it will come peacefully. Yet I can see it coming.  Image result for pictures of jobless african youths
Let me quickly replay an event  of 17th December 2010 in Tunisia of Mohammed Bouaziz; a young graduate that couldn’t get a white collar job after graduation.  He started a “Black Collar Job” – small grocery shop. Then  police authority led by a woman, questioned him for permits to sell. She  slapped him for not being able to afford himself a permit. And Mohammed got angry and set himself ablaze for government insensitivity to his plight of self reliance, and that event  put Tunisia ahoy.

I remember, that was the beginning of Arab spring that spread to Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and present Syria. I saw this as one way youth can express their energy when it is not properly used by the Government. Responsible Government creates enabling environment for job creation and allows small businesses to grow especially. But in Africa this is opposite. As policies are stifling new businesses at embryo through high taxation for revenues generation.  Government Regulations are not at ease and  make life of new businesses dead. There are no funding net to encourage new ideas and fund them to grow. New ideas and invention championed by youths are or may be resisted for reason not too tenable.

There are no mentorship platforms.  Youths barely have access to loans and if they do, the terms are so hard to meet.  To worsen matters, financial institutions make it so difficult for young entrepreneurs to meet up with financial support criteria. Whereas, loans are given to the established individuals in the  society, to families members of those working in financial institutions, friends and cronies without much ado.
 The older generation seems to have failed the present, and the present will fail the future if nothing is done about it now. It is too bad to know that for instance in some countries, there are no clear youth policy in place.  There are absent of political will to youth agenda, when political statement can not be taken as promissory note? When promissory note of African leaders is unclear to youths and is  not bankable? When leaders’ rule in auto-democracy for so long years  how bankable is such democracy?  When leadership is recycled among the same old politicians that ruled us before, what do you make of that?

When youths are only used as tool for negatives/ violence  by politicians and dumped after election? When youths believes carrying arms against another is what makes a hero, what do you expect?  I tell you, Africa greatest problem is sit-tight- to- power syndrome. And it is this sit- tight- syndrome that does not allowed free market that creates jobs. And if we will correct that and align Africa as emerging market, then sit tight leaders must begin to go, now and forever. Africa is youth and youths are Africa. Let create Africa we want together.  (By Dennis Ekwere)  

THE FUTURE JOBS

As 2017 is rounding up, it is undoubtedly unexplained that we cannot stop the hands of time. Unemployment and job cuts are real, so real that it is on the rise the world over.  Technology cum automation and robots are taking over jobs of humans. Young people are adversely affected by this take over and may seemingly be disturbed that job opportunities are closing up. Job close up can force young people into migration, whereas young people are more technologically savvy thereby giving room for questions between technology and jobs? The summary is, manual jobs are disappearing for digital and the opportunity is in the energy to translate any manual job into digital job.As said, technology is opening virgin jobs opportunities for young people to tap from, from music to sport, fashion to photography etc, only that those untapped opportunities requires new sets of skills for young people all over the world. It is glaring that if you don’t understand this future present tense in the job shift, you may likely be shifted out of jobs without knowing, hence its becomes common sense that we are ready for technological revolution in the coming year 2018 and ahead.

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Expanding opportunities

Digital technologies can improve overall welfare and reduce poverty, but without complementary investments, they can also worsen inequality. In Africa alone for instance, 11 million youth are expected to enter the labor market every year for the next decade. The internet comes with exciting opportunities that young people can leverage and create digital jobs for themselves. Mobile phones are windows, and I have seen how farmers use mobile phones to get price information and technical advice. I have also seen women facing barriers to work outside their homes work online for a better balance work and family. And many have found earning opportunities through online work and the on-demand economy. But these new opportunities come hand in hand with fundamental and rapid changes in the world of work, as digital technologies increase the demand for advanced skills, and many skills quickly become obsolete. Therefore in 2018, people must begin to learn how to take their ideas into the internet unlimited market space to stay in their game.
From a technological standpoint, fewer than half of today’s schoolchildren in China, Croatia, or Thailand can expect to find a job in an occupation that exists today. But more than jobs disappearing, they will be transformed. The challenge for policy makers is to ensure that all current and future workers can seizethe growing economic opportunities that accompany the spread of digital technologies. The risk is that rapid technological change will end up increasing inequality and leaving many behind—blunting the digital dividends.
The potential gains from technological progress for workers and consumers in developing countries are indeed large. Digital technologies can create jobs and increase earnings in the small information and communication technology (ICT) sector—and much more in the sectors that use ICT. They also increase worker productivity by augmenting human capital and—especially critical for the poor—connecting people to work and markets. And they can benefit consumers by lowering prices and expanding the variety of goods and services available, thus producing consumer surplus.
But not everyone stands to benefit automatically. Only by improving internet access and basic literacy and updating skill and training systems will the benefits be realized and broadly shared. For the world’s poor, the key is to leverage digital technologies to improve the productivity of household enterprises, subsistence family farmers, and the informal sector. Yet for every person connected to the internet in developing countries, almost three are not; among the poor, more than six are not; and many also lack access to such complementary infrastructure as electricity or roads. Even if connected, many cannot read or use the information the internet provides. For workers in more organized labor markets, conditions are changing rapidly. New jobs require different skills from old jobs, and many new jobs are informal or non wage, without benefits or worker protections.
Greater computer power and internet connectivity make some skills obsolete by substituting for work that is codifiable and routine, and thus can be automated. The remaining tasks require complex skills that complement technology, such as creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. These skills remain hard for technology to emulate, but also for education and training systems to provide, leaving many workers unprepared for the modern world of work.
The poor, with no access to technology and lacking skills, see few of the direct downsides from technological adoption but also only partial benefits. Machine operators and clerical support workers, for example, perform many “routine” tasks that are easily automated. Since 1995, the share of routine employment in total employment has fallen by 8 and 12 percentage points in developing and developed countries respectively. Such medium-skilled jobs, critical to the growth of the middle class and held disproportionately by the bottom 40 percent of the welfare distribution, give way either to high-skilled jobs that only a small share of workers qualify for, or to low-skilled jobs that face increasing competition and most likely declining wages.
So the race is on between skills and technology, and the outcome will determine whether the dividends from digital technologies are realized and the benefits widely shared. It is important to bridge the digital divides both in access and in capabilities. This second divide separates the digitally savvy, who can make productive use of digital technologies and have skills that complement them—and the digitally poor, who remain unconnected and unskilled. Providing current and future workers with the cognitive, technical, and socio emotional skills that are augmented by technology—and not replaced by it—is a priority.


Connected People

The world is more connected than ever. On average, 8 in 10 people in the developing world own a mobile phone. Digital technologies, often low-end phones, connect the more than 60 percent of the world’s people who did not have a landline phone as late as 2000. More people have access to a mobile phone than to secondary schooling, clean water, or sanitation. Internet adoption lags behind mobile phone access, but has tripled since 2005. In developing countries today, 28 percent of the population reports access to the internet at home, and in advanced economies, 80 percent.
Mobile phones are driving this interconnectedness, especially among the poor. All regions are converging in mobile phone use, but South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa lag far behind in internet access. A technology diffuses rapidly when it is low in cost, easy to use, has high potential benefits, and fits well with the local context. Low-cost mobile phones—which can be shared, prepaid, billed in prices per second, and do not require much literacy or numeracy for basic use—fits  this description, and are the technology of choice among the poor. In Cameroon, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, more than four in five mobile phone owners have simple phones, not capable of browsing the internet. Personal computers and the internet, by contrast, require literacy and often foreign language (especially English) skills. Computers with internet capabilities in the Warana sub-district in Maharashtra, India, for instance, went largely unused except for transmitting market information to farmers—a function later substituted by mobile phones, which were cheaper and easier to use.
Communications, entertainment, and searching for information are the most common uses for mobile phones and the internet. In African countries, social networking, sending and receiving e-mails, instant messaging, and checking facts and definitions are the most common uses of the internet . This is similar in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, and the European Union countries, especially with social networking (between 50 and 80 percent of all internet users).
 The use of digital technologies  for work, education, and health is more limited but increasing. Across the European Union, around 60 percent of internet users search for health information, and 13 percent make appointments with health practitioners online. In Brazil, 60 percent of internet users use it for educational purposes, and in Mexico, 35 percent. One in four individuals who use the internet in African countries reports doing so to get health and education information. Uses vary across population groups. In Brazil and Mexico, women, rural, and poorer populations are less likely to use the internet for financial transactions or dealing with public authorities, but in both countries these same groups are equally or more likely to use it for educational purposes than men, urban, and richer populations..Across countries, children and youth are most likely to use the internet for education. (By Dennis Ekwere).

WHY BOKO HARAM BECAME VIOLENT

There is no justification whatsoever, when citizens begin to take arms against its nation and fellow citizens by any guise. But this is our story in the Northeast of Nigeria of Borno State aka “Home of peace”- where peace is difficult to find this days.

In the Northeast of Nigeria, over 20,000 lives has been lost, over 2.3 million people displaced, children orphaned, women widowed and many more unidentified number maimed, while properties worth millions are destroyed and human trust derailed totally till then. This is bitter one, with a state that was known to be so peaceful until politic mix with religion, when things fall apart.

There was a group of young people who came together to fight a cause for the establishment of a new religious order with the aim of routing away corruption in Nigeria. That group was founded in Borno state with capital in Maiduguri; a cosmopolitan city. What has become of this group is mind blowing  as date.

Boko Haram is a group of young people founded by Mohammed Yusuf, popularly referred as “the leader of young people” in some circles. Mohammed was a cleric that preached and attracted poor uneducated and unemployed youths in poor communities within the Northeast of Nigeria.  His style of preaching was targeted at reaching out to most neglected groups and vulnerable youths in communities, which made it possible for grass root penetration of his message and attracted easy traffic flow of followership. His message was how to change society using religion as a tool for a take over of Nigeria’s leadership. This was and is still the drive behind the group. This message was new and igniting, and spurred hope into the minds of vulnerable youths who had hitherto craved for identity and class in the society to no avail. That message of hope is the driving force for new recruitment of young people into the group till date.

“Yan Yusufiyya” was their name when the group was formed and not Boko Haram. Boko Haram is a name given to the group by the media. The group existed for a long time and was peaceful. Though popular at grass root, the popularity became a threat to politicians in Borno State. Meanwhile other politicians saw the popularity of the group as opportunity to launch their political ambition, and so started aligning with the group in attempt to mobilize grass root support into political power. But that was just a monster of security problems in incubation.

When Mixing the two is dangerous
That is when we mix religion with politics. It will always birth violence of war and nothing less.  Anyhow, I will prefer to be more specific in making my presentation. That it was in the build up for 2003 election year that the group was brought into politics. The group on it own saw their coming into politics as Clear Avenue to actualize their mission of taking over Government from Borno State to the Nation. From the group’s preaching perspective, that was window for them to launch into politics, and this political presumption made many vulnerable youths who never joined the group to believe the group sovereignty and join them.

The group entered into terms of agreement with politicians who were interested in leveraging their platform to reach out to grass root members. The crux of the agreement was; should the group give support to any politician, and peradventure the politician wins the election into Borno State Government House, then the state will be ruled religiously according to the groups’ tenet and belief.

To beat your imagination, the aspirant/politician the group supported won the election and was sworn in as Borno State Governor for 2003-2007 tenure. The politicians before now had armed this group to teeth as foot soldiers to fight opposition before and during the election. Unfortunately after the election, the politicians never disarmed the group!   However, to straighten the agreement that was entered, the group was rewarded with a commissioner-ship slot in the Government House.  But the group wanted full scale implementation of the agreement and not just political appointment. The group then started asking for more from the Governor: to translate the agreement they entered into prior 2003 into reality. But that so sad the agreement became unattainable.  In the build up to 2007 election year, the then sitting Government’s interest was to re-contest the election, and the group was drafted in again with a renewed terms of agreement for full implementation of the first agreement should they scale through the second term.  After the election, the Government won the election for second tenure which spanned 2007-2011. And between this tenure, was when the group went haywire and violent?  A once peaceful group eventually snowballed in terrorist group, why? Because Government realizes the impossibilities of translating the terms of agreement they re-entered with the group the second time into reality. The group got disappointing.  

In attempt to weaken the group, Government instead of dialogue, set up a special joint police force and military anti- robbery squad called “Operation Flush” to flush out the groups they armed before election. Then, Operation Flush started arbitrary arrest and detention of the group and other civilian in attempt to weaken the group, knowing fully well the extent they had armed the group. It is on record that from 2007 the group had several confrontation and misunderstanding with Government although violent was not recorded.

But in 2009 the group got tired and revolted by announcing refusal to recognize the State Government authority.  They then declare their “state of authority” and castigated the Government as being insensitive, greedy and corrupt. That, Government only used the poor politically to achieve their selfish goals and dump them to deeper poverty because of their vulnerability. The group viewed the action of Government as a renege to the agreement. They term the renege as“THE EDUCATED RICH, using THE UNEDUCATED POOR” for selfish reasons. That, the poor uneducated ones must resist and say – “NO” to the educated rich antics in all ramification. That was how the name of the group came into fruition by the media as BOKO HARAM.

BOKO is a Hausa language and means “Western Education”.  
Haram is Arabic language and means “No”. 

So, Boko Haram simply means – No to western education. What that mean is that, it is western education that has makes the elites to enslave the poor uneducated and should be resisted and claim  such as no fit.

The Explosion Started
On Thursday 11 June 2009, a detachment of Operation Flush near the Custom market in Maiduguri intercepted this group; who were in funeral procession of its member and were asked why they rode on motorcycles without wearing crash helmet. The group saw the challenge as disregard for their mournful situation and in no time engaged in hot argument with the operation Flush.  In the midst of hot argument, an armed member of the Operation Flush opened fire on 17 members of the group and injured many more, whom were admitted at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. After that incident, there was no reaction from Government on the bloody shoot out and the group regarded it as affront and deliberate to exterminate them.    
   Few days later, the founder of the group (now late- Mohammed Abubakar- killed by police) issued a statement that, the action of Borno State Government not condemning the shooting nor empathized with them, and has not set up panel of inquiry into the shooting is a clear indication that the shooting was orchestrated with the aim of eliminating his followers. And boldly promised reprisal as justice.  He called his followers to dust up their arms in preparedness for self defense and eventual Jihad to the shooting of 17 followers.

On Sunday 26th July 2009 at about 10pm, the group retaliated by disabling all GSM networks in Maiduguri and struck different police stations and residents of police officers killing in revenge.  In  counter, Federal Government immediately stepped in and mobilized military force into Maiduguri  then launched back on the group members whose houses were brought down and burnt. The   approach was an eye for eye, which has gotten all blind.

From 2010, the group started using motor bikes to assassinate policemen at check points at duty posts. Then, they started killing soldiers too. Government workers, politicians, communities members were later joined in. Reason being that, they are the ones that allegedly pin point group members to security for arrest and killing.

As at date, it is rather unfortunate how the whole episode has played and is playing out between the group and Government, and how we couldn’t manage the conflict till it became crisis and now a monster. The world did not really know of the group till when the group kidnapped 276 schools girls at Chibok. Then the internationally media like CNN, Aljeezera etc beamed their light for news headlines.

But the group had existed for years. To my mind is baffling, how this group has gone to become the world deadliest terror group by global terrorism index 2015. Leaving one to wondered why?

Why is this happening in Nigeria this long so long. How we are using hardware technique of militarization to solve all our problems. How the technique is always giving us steady and sustainable problem to handle. And why we wouldn’t learn about software technique is solving social issues.

Let pray for Nigeria so peace will prevail. Peace to Nigeria.   

It is somehow strange that most times like in the face of insurgency in Nigeria, the media gives more attention to atrocities than why the atrocities. This article has come to put light into why we have some of the problems we are having so as to know the best way of resolving them. Hopefully this article would help. (By Dennis Ekwere).

Genesis and management of Nigeria’s social problem.

On September 12, 2013 I wrote about this in one of the National Newspapers in Nigeria- Daily Trust Newspaper. And I am today reminiscing on it …………

It has been proven time and time again that it is extremely difficult to disarm young people that were armed during at conflict situations
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This is simply because once these young minds are “mental” that overpowering perceived enemy is easily achievable through the use of alternative measures like sticks, knives, rods, guns, etc. They will do everything possible to remain like so. They wish to be as a macho man. This young people are always bigger burden to those who armed them when the dust of conflict settles. Yet it is on record that these armed youths in the absent of conflict do use these tools of weapon against those that armed them in the first place, and most time those who armed them are the elected, making it real of a story when bush meat hunt the hunter. In this case, Civilian JTF in Borno State may not be an exception, no matter how mild they may look. They can become monster in future if you watched and did nothing.
In retrospect, in 1952, when Prof  Wole Soyinka of the university college (now university of Ibadan )led the big seven alongside ; Puis Oleghe, Ralph Opara, Frank Aig-Imokhuede, Ifoghale Amata, Oye-lola, and Awe to form “THE PYRATES” confraternity (PC). This group in the beginning was formed due to some societal ills and conformist degradation which were exhibited not only by students but by the society at large according to Dr TunjiTubi, a onetime national capon of the Pirates confraternity. The ideals were lofty as it strived to change the society. But in the mid-70s the pyrate exploded when a member was black-spotted and expelled. The expelled member, aggrieved, left to form a parallel confraternity called “the Buccaneers” claiming that he was unfairly treated by members of the former.
It is there for record that the founder of the “Buccaneers” later became provost of one of the nation college of education.

Then the two groups started having confrontation which snowballed into violent clashes where sticks, rods, knives, guns, were used against one another for supremacy. Members in attempts to stay safe started arming up self for defence and as time goes on, different groups emerged as break away. This includes – the Vikings, Black Axe, Red Berets, Eiye, Mafia etc. You will agree with me that as at today, campus confraternity or as you may call, secret cult in our tertiary schools has caused unimaginable catastrophes to extent that the original ideal of its formation has lost taste and test. The politicians are good at exploring and exploiting them as political thugs to rig election into office. These groups are armed to teeth by politicians and are promised juicy things before elections as motivation to maim kill and destroy opponent but only to be dumped after election and or when the politician is sworn into office. Normally, the first thing the elected politician want to do once sworn in, is to look for  ways to disarm these groups knowing full well that they will not be able to fulfill the promises. Then they would use the apparatus of the police force against the group and usually the center will explode and the explosion is manifested in assassination, kidnapping, armed robbery, bombing etc.So do our leaders know the perpetrators of these violence crimes in Nigeria? Yes they do and do pretend not to know.  If not, let see what every election birth in Nigeria.
Every post presidential election in Nigeria has always birthed a monster of security challenges. In the aftermath of 1979 presidential election won by Alhaji Shehu Shagari, it birthed arm robbery of the highest order led by the Lawrence Anini group. In 1999 post-presidential election of Obasanjo, Bakassi Boys, OPC were birthed. In 2007 election of late Yar’dua, militancy in the Niger Delta took a fearsome dimension. In 2011 election of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Ombatse cult and Boko Haram insurgency became more pronounced. Who knows what 2015 post-presidential election would bring?  One can only but discern. 
It is then worrisome considering the kind and nature of babies birthed out of every presidential election in Nigeria. It is a call for our security agencies to have a rethink of going for pre antenatal; for virtually all violence crimes in Nigeria have mute political one. But the police seem snail at combating violence crime with its obsolete strategies of “Oga at the top” syndrome. If one will ask, what is the role of civilian vigilante JTF group in the north east of Nigeria? If not; to die innocently and ignorantly. Why would a responsible government be quiet to push out civilians to fight insurgence the police could not handle? This is a miscarriage and I see the vigilante Civilian JTF beginning to fortify themselves beyond sticks and rods, for guns as they are continually hunt for suspected Boko Haram members. The question is who will buy those guns? May be we will know when the dust settles in the region and at that time, when attempt to disarm them begins.Of course as usual, the centre will explode and who can tell what will happen? May be that would be after the 2015 presidential election. (By Dennis Ekwere).

Localizing the SDGs

On the occasion of the World Summit of Local and Regional Government, ahead of the Habitat III Conference , the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments (GTF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) launched a website www.LocalizingTheSDGs.org – a pioneering knowledge and information sharing platform on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) universally agreed by world leaders in September 2015 in New York.
On locally led actions

“Local actors have a key role to play in translating the SDGs into reality and the platform will be a useful resource for them in this process”, said Barbara Pesce-Monteiro, Director of the UN and UNDP Office in Brussels. “To ensure that the SDGs contribute to a substantive improvement of people’s lives, sharing best practices as well as challenges is key”.

The platform provides concrete tools and practices for local policy makers, development practitioners and other relevant actors to support countries in the implementation and achievement of the Global Goals locally. Users can upload and share their experiences, tools, as well as engage in real-time discussions with all participating partners on the SDG localization. 

For instance, it includes: a Roadmap to localize the SDGs; the experience of the Government of Valencia, Spain in integrating the SDGs in its regional strategies and plans; a tool to collect data at the local level based on the Brazilian experience, and a guide developed by UNDP to support local governance in fragile and conflict affected settings.

The 2030 Agenda entirely embraces this local perspective underlining that “many of the investments to achieve the SDGs will take place at the sub-national level”. While there is the need to face critical challenges, many of them being global concerns with a strong local impact, local and regional governments are key to fulfilling the new development agenda. They have a critical role in setting priorities, executing plans, monitoring results and engaging with local businesses and communities. (By Dennis Ekwere)
#LocalizingSDGs 

Who changed the climate

In Nigeria, there are more people that don’t really understand what climate change is. Much more people have never heard about climate change. These people are in rural areas where electronic communication is inaccessible. Most of them are farmers and attribute drought to “THE ANGER OF GODS”. There are so many misconceptions about climate change religiously and traditionally in Nigeria and in Africa. Who will take the message to these set of people dying ignorantly than you? I put to you that misconception of climate change has caused more harm than effect of climate change, caused communal conflicts and ethno religious crisis in poor vulnerable communities than never.  There is greater gap in stepping down what climate change is and not and spreading the message to grassroots people. Think about it, if you can bridge the gap in your locality.Having that on, every one in any community has rights to life according to the universal declaration of human rights article 2. The declaration came as a result of atrocities perpetrated against minorities and independent-minded individuals before and during the World War II which triggered shock and horror across the world. So when the war ended, the victorious nations met to adopt measures intended to prevent a repetition of those murderous acts and to forward peace. The result of that meeting was the founding of United Nations in 1945.But taking a closer look on article 2 of the universal declarations of human rights, rights to life are ours. So when your right to life is threatened, for in instance as it is today via climate change, who shall we question? You question yourself.  When you drop leather or water proof to soil or any other that you know will not dissolve in the soil, you hurt the soil-earth.  Secondly, have you wondered why our climate is changing so fast? Ask again, why it seems as the stronger nations seem to be against the weak, whereas not, to my mind? And I will show you a documentary of First World War to the second; then you will only realize that we do not need third. Unfortunately, the third is loading in the climate. It is coming as result of human negligence to nature.  Why is nature earth angry? To the extent that it has sent us a “global warning”?  And we mistook it to be “global warming”? Even at that, haven’t we taken the warning unserious?  Ok, come to think of it, what do we mean by global warming? It is simply put; negligence of responsibility by us to nature earth.  As I can remember, last time I imagine if it rich industrial nations that warmed the earth from gas flaring, pollution etc at the disadvantage of poor nations, and I did get my self an answer. I also imagine if poor nations can do something to save the earth for all? And I answered myself, yes.  Are you aware that poor nations will and are the worst hit by global warming? Am asking you? Sadly, these uniformed nations are mostly in Africa and are yet to realize and act. Could this be out of ignorance which is never an excuse to nature? I don’t think so. But I foresee that if poor nations don’t take climate change serious now and start to act, it will rather be too late for us by the time the earth reacts!It our collective duty to voice and advice our nation to wake up and take led in addressing global warming issues. We can no longer wait for rich nations to come and solve this challenge for us, as they may not come and or may come when it is very late. Please take a minute and ponder on it. Then act locally and think globally.  All over the world, the web of life is being torn apart. From deforestation, to increased pollution of water and air, loss of wildlife, are all visible examples. But less visible is the increased in temperature caused by pollution. This problem which started small is leading to big changes and is changing the climate in most part of the world. Can’t you see more floods and severe storms, other places are having less rain and more drought. Meaning that the world climate has changed and soon, we will all go hungry and sick if we do nothing about it now. The greatest challenge is that climate change breeds hunger and deepens poverty; revolve and recycle sicknesses even out of animal migration like lasser fever amongst others.Climate change affects agriculture.  We worsen it when we started depending on the use of chemicals as fertilizers to grow food yields, whereas fertilizers and other chemicals keep hurting nature earth as we plant on it. Why do we keep promoting fossil fuel –oil and coal? Is it just because we are making monies- out –of- it, to- die- out- of- it- from- illness? The amount of pollution released into the environment through fossil fuel became faster and quicker to the elasticity of our environment. This was done by the developed nations in pursuit of higher commercial profits and higher standard of living. Then the poor minority nations and independent minded individuals started following the same unsustainable paths towards development. And here we are. Interestingly, rich and developed nations have realized that the earth has reacted and changed, that something needs to be done quickly. They started shouting, talking and reasoning to themselves, while poor nations are waiting, watching and sleeping. We need to wake up and save the earth. Of it all, we have no balance rationale to tag what is happening to the earth as “Climate-Change”. As the tag description makes use feel lazy playing the ostrich, as if climate has not already changed.  Shouldn’t we rather be talking about it as “Climate-Changed” given our mentality? So we can be proactive than reactive to save the earth.  We all changed the climate; we all need to protect our climate now. (By Dennis Ekwere)

Ending Modern Day Slavery

“Human trafficking is as old as humankind. Regrettably, it’s been with us for centuries and centuries. But… it is our hope that the 21st century will be the last century of human trafficking, and that’s what we are all committed to.”  Tillerson.
 Of course if you think that slavery is over or has been abolished, you may be making a great mistake about it. Modern slavery is deeper than old but same as old in continuum. “Today more than 27 million people, many of them women and children, suffer under forced labor and sexual servitude in over 165 countries around the world, including the US” According to US Senator Bob Coker, who is championing legislation to end modern slavery globally.  And I quote him again- “As I have seen firsthand, the stark reality of modern slavery is unconscionable, demanding the United States and civilized world make a commitment to end it for good”. And I couldn’t have agreed more.
Modern day slavery is a problem hidden in plain sight, found most in developed world and across the world. From Libya to India, Italy to Spain are roots of slave trade till date where human beings are sold as commodities in this age we are? Human trafficking, or modern day slavery, is more pervasive than ever. The International Labor Organization estimates that nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labor, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation— more than at any other time in history.

Count Down 

One in five of those victims are the most vulnerable among us: boys and girls separated from their families and forced into prostitution, or labor that makes use of their small hands, like sewing or untangling fishing wire. High unemployment rates and poverty are just two of the factors that put children at risk. In India, for example, over 100,000 kids are trafficked each year across the border from Rajasthan to its neighboring state of Guajarat. These children are forced to work in cotton fields, often in debt bondage— to pay back what their families owe.
Image result for picture of modern day slavery
Women, refugees, and those fleeing war or conflict are also at higher risk of enslavement. “Trafficking in people in conflict situations is not a mere possibility but something that happens on a regular basis,” said Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on human trafficking, in October 2016.
But modern slavery isn’t just a morally abhorrent crime. It’s a lucrative industry— human trafficking is one of the largest international crime industries in the world. Each year, forced labor in sectors like domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and entertainment generates $150 billion in illegal profits.
Drug dealers, money launderers, or arms dealers are in part enabled or funded by human trafficking activities. And some governments, let me not mentioned names, depend on forced labor to elicit revenue.
In some countries like the U.S. consumers also play an unwitting role. Some products Americans use and enjoy may have been produced by those in forced servitude. The U.S. State Department works to alert businesses during these situations so they may take direct action to insure they aren’t complicit in human trafficking.
But my little joy is that the U.S. is taking action, leading global efforts to address human trafficking. Its policy involves three “P”s: preventing trafficking, protecting victims, and prosecuting traffickers.

What the U.S is doing?

Image result for picture of modern day slavery
Just six months ago, at the Congress the End Modern Slavery Initiative, legislation introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and supported by a bipartisan Congress, faith-based organizations like Bread for the world and World Vision as well as countless individuals pushed for this law to be effected in the U.S and across the world.
“By providing strong U.S. leadership and leveraging our limited foreign aid dollars, this initiative will work with foreign governments and philanthropic organizations to match the funding being provided by the United States and create a coordinated effort to implement best practices to eliminate modern slavery and human trafficking around the globe,” stated Corker. And I say Amen. (Dennis Ekwere).

#EndModernSlavery 

How fake is Fake News

Fake news is stoned age news. So if you are wondering where or when fake news emanate from, you will be wasting my time for nothing in a discuss that have no end. 
Fake news is not really new in developed world per se; it has always been there in news print- media and is placed close to where verified news print stands are. That is what I was made to know and is not a fake news. But before that, one thing is always clear, that getting fake news is a matter  of choice, just choices especially fake ones can misshaped so many world views to the extent  that friends can turn into enemies in just no time. 

The world is talking about zero hunger, so many people are fighting unnecessary wars leading to intense hunger, while only few are making money out of the war we fight. The rich are getting richer everyday and the poor are getting poorer every day. So I ask the other day why is it that wars are fought in poor countries all over the world? That too is no fake news you know!

File:How to Spot Fake News.pdf

THERE WE GO
Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention.  Fake news often employs eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated news stories to increase readership, online sharing and Internet click revenue. Fake news also undermines serious media coverage and makes it more difficult for journalists to cover significant news stories. Many people follow fake news seriously and claim that there is no smoke without fire.

On the internet, are many fake news websites and I see social media helping to drive it. The other day, I read how Facebook News Feed has all been implicated in the spread of fake news which has come to provide competition for legitimate news stories. It is even unbecoming to the extent that if anybody want to get attention on the social media, you simply give out fake news and people sleepily follow and believe it.  
Every fake news online have more likes, retweet etc than verified news. 

Anonymously-hosted fake news websites lacking known publishers have also been credited, because they make it difficult to prosecute sources of fake news for libel. More alarming and disturbing is intertwine of fake news with freedom of speech.But no, that is not correct. You see, fake news is fake. And I wonder asking you if fake news is freedom of expression or speech? Then I recalled sometimes this year (2017), the inventor of the World Wide Web – Tim Berners-Lee claimed that fake news was one of the three most significant new disturbing Internet trends that must first be resolved, if the Internet is to be capable of truly “serving humanity.” And I agreed with him totally. It must be curtailed and the right time  to do that is now. So I have a role to play, so I ask you again what can you do to help.

WHAT HOPE IS IN IT
Internet as it is, has birthed people with characters that some just live on the social media to sow discord by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory pictures, posts and comments. Some comments you see are just off the messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion. These people interact with other like him/her and do often share misleading information that contributes to the fake news circulated on social media sites.
Social media sites and search engines have criticism for facilitating the spread of fake news. But hope is not lost, as social media platform owners/corporations have taken measures to explicitly prevent the spread of fake news; critics, however, believe more action is needed. I say that is it.
For instance, after the 2016 American election and the run-up to the German election, Facebook began labeling and warning of inaccurate news and partnered with independent fact-checkers to label inaccurate news, warning readers before sharing it. After a story is flagged as disputed, it will be reviewed by the third-party fact-checkers. Then, if it has been proven to be a fake news story, the post cannot be turned into an ad or promoted. Another is the development of what is called “Artificial Intelligence” is one of the more recent technologies being developed in the United States and Europe to recognize and eliminate fake news through algorithms but if that will serve is topic for another day. (By Dennis Ekwere). 

#fakenews

Hate Speech, Conflict and Peace

There are some things I find difficult to understand especially when you watch animated and video games as a child. The games are full of violence motivations, and when children become target of such, the society is really in a sorry state of affairs.

On street walls in some areas hateful slogans are displayed. And I wonder why not love, peace and unity instead. People are finding it easy to preach and promote hate this days especially on the social media.  Most people that do this go unpunished for it. They incite the vulnerable along religious, political, ethnic and other lines, and then cover it up with freedom of speech.  No doubt about that, because hate speech is not freedom of speech and free speech is human right, yet no rights are absolute. This I know. 

What we are in for    

Hate speech is spreading and has entered the internet spreading like wildfire and is dangerous. High numbers of young people are most technologically savvy and their lifestyle revolves round the internet, is my fear. From socializing to entertainment, reading to homework amongst others, the internet is an essential part of young people’s life.There are many known online forums and groups, chat rooms, websites that promotes hates on the internet, and those sites are places where extremists meets with vulnerable youths and take advantage, by recruiting them into extremist groups . This recruitment is ongoing and is massive, and extremists are exploring the internet more and seem to be more than those using it to promote peace. It beat my imagination.   On 30th May 2016, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter jointly agreed to EU code of conduct, obligating them to review “(the) majority of valid notification for removal of illegal hate speech” posted on their service within 24 hours.  On my mind, I really don’t know if this has been adhered to, so I need an answer. Recognizing, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPPR) states that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law”. I ask you again, if this covenant is enforceable where you live because mine is not. It is democratic that people are allowed to speak their minds on politic and social issues even when their points of view are unusual or unpopular. But the crime occurs when someone takes his/her speech to another level either by using, or uses, or seriously plans to use, or strongly advocates others to use force or violence to effect change.  That to my mind is hate speech too.    

          Words are powerful    
Image result for south sudan war picturesViolent acts of hate are generally preceded by hate speeches. These acts are expressed publicly and repeatedly by individuals and groups. But more alarming is when public figures promote it too. Basically I see the definition of hate speech as a call for violent attack against individuals or groups.  Whereas in most cases intolerable speeches; are mistaken and garnished to be hate speech. I see intolerable speech as comment, posts and picture uploaded on social media to build hatred. A case in study is the Rwanda genocide (Tutsi vs Hutus, – 1994). That left a sore taste on sand of time and never again should such happen! What of South Sudan? Hate speeches has helped escalate the war.What about the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia Herzegovina (1992-95), and that of Dr. George Tiller (May 2009) with other doctors killed by pro abortionist in the US? Then to Nazi Holocaust. All were sparked by hate speeches.  All began with words of hatred then those words became weapon of mass destruction through guns and weapons.Hate speech attracts vulnerable youths especially the marginalized poor, unemployed into action by taking side ignorantly. This has given rise to intolerance, bombing and killing, shooting and maiming innocent citizens to make cheap statement, and breaking news headlines. Take a look at Europe, in Greece when 27 years Shehzad Laqman, Pakistani immigrant was stabbed to death by right wing extremists. Another, in France was how a gunman went on rampage at Jewish School in Toulouse and the victims were 30 years Rabbi, his children- 4 & 5 years old, as well as the daughter of the school principal. I cried emotionally to know that 7 years old girl, Miriam died in her father’s arms as medics tried to resuscitate her from that attack. Also in Sweden, was a string of shootings in Malmo targeting victims with immigrant background? In Norway, 77 innocent civilians, most of them still in their teens, were gunned down by an extremist.  If you look at all these examples there are common feature; which is fanatical hatred of others by incitement. This shows the increasing divide between “us and them”.  That’s a huge gap to tackle. I have not mentioned Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al shabab in Somalia and Kenya, nor have I mentioned ISIS and Al-Qaeda and many others springing up dangerous groups that are recruiting youths into violence groups. Yet I pray for global peace to reign above all. Searching for the way forward                        I know people are not born hateful.  They are fed up to hate. But education I guess can prevent hate. Like lessons in class rooms on equality and diversity can help too. Education against hateful ideas from the cradle can do better job. Young people must be taught how to love and be loved. Nothing is really wrong in being an extremist, but there is everything wrong when you become violent with your extremism. Let love leads.  (By Dennis Ekwere).       

#hatespeech #dangerousspeech #onlinehatespeech   

Breast is important too- Early Warning Signals to breast cancer on the go

Cancer is a serious illness that can affect many parts of the body. Cancer starts when some cells begin to grow very quickly in an abnormal way, causing growth (tumor) in the body. Sometimes, tumors go away without treatment but many tumors get larger or spread, causing health problems in several parts of the body.  

What causes cancer?

One cause of cancer throughout the world could be increasing amount of industrial pollution and toxic chemicals in our environment and in our bodies too. The increasing number of people living with cancer is a concerned that should lead our Government to act quickly to protect people’s health and saves lives. But this is not coming very soon.  Several types of cancer are known to be caused specifically by toxic chemicals and include – cancer of the lungs, bladder, liver, breast, brain, blood (leukemia), multiple myeloma and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. People exposed to toxic chemicals over a long time have greater risk of getting these cancers than people with or no toxic exposures.  But in our today’s world, it is evenly exposable and knowing about it may help and help in many more ways for early detection and treatment.


Finding and treating cancer early

Finding and detecting cancer early often saves life, because the person can get treatment before cancer spreads. Getting young people to know about it, is still a challenge in Africa and I don’t know if it is the same in other continents? Treating cancer is far more expensive and still seems as death sentence to many as victims. Some early warning signals of cancer are tiredness, chronic weight loss, lumps, and pains in the body parts. Although these can be signs of other illness as well, yet it is good people know and act on time.

Poverty of preventive information materials is the greatest vulnerability to cancer patients across Africa especially young adults. One way to find out if a person has cancer is to have a test that takes a few cells from the affected part, and for early treatment. I tell you cancer is not death sentence. People can actually live and overcome it. But early detection remains the key.


To Breast Cancer awareness

Image result for breast cancer picture

Breast is very important to all as human and recognizing that every human was infant, and infant’s first six months from births relies on it, if not wholly on breastfeeding. Breast feeding of infants as you may know, is the way forward for resilience to six babies’s killer disease especially in Africa. Therefore, we must do all we can to protect and respect breast too; from where almost all of us are nurtured from.But I have come to realize that breasts are receiving alarming threat from cancer the more I look. And I had wondered why? Why some superstition had that breast feeding causes cancer. Why young girls are left to grow with wrong notion or had to believe such to deny their babies opportunity to be breast fed at motherhood. Why children die before aged 6?  While some are disfigured by illness at childhood for life. Why those unfounded misconceptions are left and or treated with levity. I have come, come to know just one thing from it all. People can perish for lack of information. There are many causes of breast cancer from exposure of chemical toxic to pesticides, oil, cleaning products and air pollution amongst others. If a woman, mother or a sister has had breast cancer, one may have a greater chance of getting it too. Breast cancer is most common in women above 50 years.  But do not wait to learn or know about it till then that may be late. So learning ways to prevent it as you graced healthfully in age is commonsense that should be made common to all. Breast cancer usually grows slowly and is sometimes cured if found early. Hiding it is the silliest thing to do as I see. Women can watch for signs of breast cancer by examining their breast themselves. Look for lumps or unusual discharge from the nipples. If a woman can do this once a month, she will be familiar with how her breast looks and feel, and will notice any changes easily and on good time.   Surprisingly it is the vast number of women that grows up without knowing how to check their breast or identify changes in them and prevent breast cancer. As cheap as prevention of breast cancer is, or as low in cost as per early detection of this is, this is not given adequate attention any where I go to. But this article has came to do so. To close gaps of ignorance and misconception, gaps of information.

Image result for breast cancer picture

It came to simply tell you and me that, we have a role to play in raising awareness about breast cancer to young girls and not excluding young boys too. It came to take breast cancer awareness through simulation campaign to secondary schools in Nigeria by an NGO – Children and Young People Living for Peace-  www.cyplp.net.ng  It came on time so lives can be saved.  To inform, persuade and remind young girls how to check up themselves alike-1.       Look at your breast in a mirror. Raise your arms over your head. Look for any changes in the shape of your breast, or any swelling or changes in skin or nipple. Then put your arms at your sides and check your breast again.2.       Lie down. Keeping your finger flat, press your breast and feel for any lumps.3.       Be sure to touch every part of your breast. It helps to use the same pattern everytime. Such as spiral or rows of straight lines.What to do if found a lump1. If the lump is smooth or rubbery, and moves under the skin when you push it with your fingers, do not worry about it. But if is hard, has an uneven shape and is painless, keep watching it especially if the lump is in only one side of the breast, and does not move even when you push it.

Image result for breast cancer picture

 2. See a qualified doctor if the lump s still there after your next monthly bleeding. This may be a sign of cancer.3. Also if there is discharge from the nipples that looks like blood or pus.   See a doctor immediately.And I hope this did help you. Please share this information to others too. Help us prevent breast cancer, as breast is important too. To support breast cancer awareness campaign in Nigeria – contact @
youngpeopleforpeace@gmail.com

Where there is no water to drink

Around the world people are working to protect their rights to health, including the right to a good supply of safe water. In Nigeria, private companies say they can provide better service than Government and still make profit. But when private companies takes control of water services,  I mean water privatization , prices often go up, forcing people to use less water than they need for good health. It is this that makes people collects water wherever they can, in as much as it is at no cost, even if the water is contaminated with germs or toxic chemicals. They really don’t care.Image result for where there is no water pictureTap water provided by Government is not rushing and when it rushes, it is with particles and with odour often times. They say the water is clean but I know it is not safe.  You see, when people begin not to trust water from taps, those who can afford turn and buy packaged – table water or bottled water. But just because water in packaged in polythene leather or bottled does not mean it is safe. In short, in many cases this packaged or bottled water is just tap water in a bottle, but sold at a much higher price. Those packaged in polythene are referred as “Pure water” in common parlance and are often with impurities. Because of chemical reaction between the polythene and water including its exposure to sunlight, a lot of health damages is done when consumed.Companies sell bottled water because it is very profitable. They often advertise their water products in way and banner that people think that water from tap is not healthy or good enough. That packaged or bottled bottle is cleaner.  But safe healthy piped water systems are one of the most important ways to improve health for everyone. In Europe and North America for instance; where safe water systems are the very foundation of public health, is what I envy.  I find it difficult to understand why we suffer from lack of water in Africa. Water is everywhere in my village but there is no safe water to drink any where. Water to drink is just too expensive to buy and drink satisfactorily. Yet they say water is life.    Having enough clean water is not just enough but safe.  Safe water to live a healthy life is human rights. Protecting and fulfilling people’s rights to water in my view, could be achievable when publicly managed or community controlled water systems are put in place in Africa. Governments and communities begins to  work together to improve and extend water systems so they can provide safe and sufficient supply of water, especially for those of us most in need.  Think water, think life. Make safe water available to poor and vulnerable if you can. (By Dennis Ekwere)

#unicef #waterandsanitation #wash

Living Separate Lives

In today’s world, people are beginning to live separate lives in family union without knowing.  A situation of a lonely world; where people only co-habit and not really co-exist.  A situation where foundation is faulty, walls can’t stand. This could be manifestation of rising violence and crimes emanating from family setting into the society. Youths are getting derailed and radicalized into hate. Killing another for personal belief and conviction as cheap scored goals?  And I wonder what the world is turning into. Where is the love? Similarly, as nations are made of families, and are beginning to live separate lives too. I find it most disturbing. In a world where love is replaced by hate? Where religion is becoming epic to diplomatic relations, where war and crisis are ravaging lives of little ones; making many to become refugees without anyone to show compassion, love and solace. This world has lost it all in love.  Why do we live separately together? I just don’t know.  


What brought the world together?

Modern transportation and communication brought people around the world closer together. As a result, countries today are more dependent upon one another. Each nation of the world has unique history, its own cultural values, and political interests, economic needs etc. For instance, USA plants that are exported increases employment faster than plants they do not export, likewise any other country. In summary, what I am saying is simple; that everybody needs somebody in this world for global peace.Through trade, we can eat fruits grown in central/south America during winter, USA computers are sold in Africa and Asia. We import goods/products we might not otherwise be able to enjoy from others. No nation has enough resources to meet all their wants or needs. Therefore, trade seems to be one way that nations solve this problem of scarcity. But my issue is central, why does Africa imports all products it consumes? Well, that’ for another day, so I rest my case. 

 
Drawing lines for walls and breakaways

European Union is an organization of independent EU nations that have no trade barriers among members. Goods, services and workers can move freely within member nations. But with recent development on Brexit, of the UK from the Union, can thing really be the same again? I ask.  Sometimes I am tempted to ask Morocco’ experience after walking out of African Union for years, just to return early this year to reapply renewed membership of African Union.  What was your lesson?   Additionally I learnt Italy is threatening a walk out of the EU Union, a situation where it seems everybody   tends to be on individual tent.  Simply living separate lives. But be that as it may be I recall that in 1990s, USA, Canada and Mexico signed a pact called – North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to eliminate all barriers to trade among the three. But with the recent development of US President to build walls against Mexico, one couldn’t imagine than wonder.    Furthermore, US president has banned 7 Muslim countries from entering US temporarily for 90 days, and the countries include – Iran, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen.  But my concern shall be Somalia, Libya, and Sudan and not limited to indefinite ban on Syria refugees, suspension of border refugees program. Claiming that, the ban is to keep out- “radical Islamic terrorists from the US”. Come to think of it, if this makes it so? To me, I don’t think so.  My thinking is that this could rather wipe sentiment for new recruitment of young people into radical groups and birth new intensified radicalization process and violent extremism such that it could lead to cold war between Muslim dominated countries   versus the US and with attendant spill over effect.

    
Listen to sound of Phil Collins 

Image result for pictures of phil collins

I have listened to a song by Phil Collins titled – “Separate Lives” as a child. I love it but never understood the lyrics and meaning until now. In 1985, Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin recorded this track and the track went on to reached N0: 1 in November 1985 on billboard charts, and was certified silver by the British Phonographic industry.  I urge if you can listen to the song once again with open mind, you may see how and why we live separate lives as individuals or nations. Let me leave you with the lyric of song as you play the music. Follow the lyrics….. (By Dennis Ekwere)

“SEPARATE LIVES”- by Phil Collins

You called me from the room in your hotel

All full of romance for someone that you met

And telling me how sorry you were, leaving so soon

And that you miss me sometimes when you’re alone in your room

Do I fell lonely too?You have no right to ask me how I feel

You have no right to speak to me so kind

We can’t go on just holding on to time

Now that we’re living separate lives.
Well I held to let you go

And if you lost your love for me

Well you never let it show

There was no way to compromise

So now we’re living (living)Separate lives.
Ooh, it’s so typical, love leads to isolation.  

So you build that will (build that wall)

Yes, you build that wall (build that wall)

And you make it stronger

Well you have no right to ask me how I feel

You have no right to speak to me so kind

Someday I might (I might)

Find myself looking in your eyes

But for now, we’ll go on living separate lives

Yes for now, we’ll go on living separate lives.

Separate lives. 

 

Bending the Curve Toward Justice

I met Stacey Cram at Lagos, Nigeria at paralegal training by JEI/IWEI and I learnt one thing from her. And that is the secret to service. Stacey Cram is policy Director, Namati. She first wrote about it on Namati website. 

SHE WROTE 
It was in a small kitchen in Transylvania when I first felt the sting of injustice. I was sixteen, sitting across the table from Eta, a retired doctor in her 80s whose twinkly eyes and cheeky laugh reminded me so much of my grandmother. We sat chatting and she told me how much she loved talking with young people and how she would have loved to have had children of her own, “sadly, not possible because of the sterilizations”. She noted the shocked look on my face and met it with a smile, a squeeze of my hand, and the push of a second slice of plum cake onto my plate.
Eta was a survivor of Auschwitz and I was there to document her story. She continued to tell me how “that so-called doctor” Joseph Mengele had chosen her for his sterilization program and ordered 10 members of her family to the gas chambers. I listened, growing angry at the now-familiar story of the few neighbors who turned against her, the many more who turned a blind eye, and at the system which made this injustice legal. She had no anger left but she was worried the world would forget her family’s story. I promised her I would not.

Eta, 2001I have carried Eta with me since that day, but in the last 12 months she has been all the more present as every day I feel that sting of injustice. With politicians scapegoating complex issues on minority groups, increases in vigilante justice, the birth of “alternative facts” and too many silently watching these events unfold, it is hard not to make comparisons between today and Europe in the 1930s.
Injustice is not new, but rather than making progress towards solving the issues, we are seriously at risk of sliding backward. In 2011, the United Nations estimated that 4 billion people lived outside of the protection of the law. Around the world, millions of people were unable to secure citizenship, healthcare or an education, others had their land stolen or destroyed by corporations or man-made environmental issues. What united them was a routine denial of their rights and an inability to access legal support.
In the years since, the world made significant strides towards increasing justice, culminating with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, which guaranteed “equal access to justice for all”. This was the first time that the global community acknowledged that justice was central for sustainable development and economic growth.
Then 2016 happened.
With the refugee crisis growing in Europe we have seen many aid budgets reduced or reallocated to domestic refugees and vital new funding needed for justice has not materialized. With ‘America First’ policies we seem to have lost a strong and powerful ally for extending access to justice globally. In post-Brexit Britain, the government has recommitted to a 0.7% aid budget but it is unclear if the UK will prioritize fighting injustice abroad over negotiating new trade deals. And with elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany this year, populist movements may gain even greater ground. 2017 looks set to be another difficult year.
Populist leaders often run on the promise of addressing injustice and reducing inequality, but we know this to be a false promise. Instead, populist leaders reduce civil liberties and empower a small, elitist class who pass laws that codify injustice. A functioning democracy which serves the needs of the people requires accessible and effective justice systems at every level of society. No one leader can deliver justice; we need millions of activists, community paralegals, lawyers, civil servants and government officials offering a spread of legal remedies. Around the world today, these are the people protecting and empowering their neighbors to understand, use and shape the law to reduce corruption and reform systems. Justice needs these people as much as people need justice.

A paralegal consults with clients in Myanmar
Human right activists from orange farm South AfricaJustice needs Hassan a 78-year-old man from Tawarka Bay, a small island off the coast of Lagos, who in his retirement years has trained as a community paralegal to fight against eviction notices illegally issued to his community.
Justice needs Marita, a dedicated US civil servant safeguarding funds in legislation to ensure immigrants do not lose access to legal aid with the new administration. Justice needs Ken and Elizabeth, respectively first and last term politicians in Kenya and the US, neither one need make a fuss or fight for the poor and the marginalized, but they do. They listen to slum dwellers and water protectors instead of their party, corporations, or lobbyists.
Justice needs the nameless Polish lady who passed a piece of soap through a barbed wire fence to Eta with a note saying “we are here for you”.
Justice needs the millions of people who marched to stand up and say that what is happening today is not normal.
Justice needs you.
It can feel overwhelming to know where to make an impact. But now is not the time to look away. The fight for justice has never been an easy one – “the arc of the moral universe does not just naturally curve toward justice; we must bend it”.

Lawyers offer free help at airports after US President’s executive order

We have a long road ahead but some key priorities I see are:

  1. we must build a vibrant global justice movement which brings together new activists with those already doing this work to learn from and support each other;
  2. we need legal providers to protect people when their rights are violated and fight back against discriminatory legislation;
  3. we must support and recruit more individuals in office who will put conscience ahead of protocol or re-election;
  4. we need government, old allies, and new leaders, to prevent any slide backs on justice – the Dutch reaction to the global gag order is a wonderful example of a country taking a stance to protect women’s health;
  5. we need investment from governments, philanthropists, and the private sector to support this movement which is already chronically underfunded; and
  6. we need fresh and innovative ideas and leadership to drive forward this movement.

That is why Namati is launching this new blog series, “Resisting Injustice”. Over the coming year, we will discuss why now, more than ever, we need to prioritize giving all individuals access to justice and how best we can do this. We will bring together a collection of voices, from comedians to civil servants to discuss how we can bend that curve together. We will provide ideas and inspiration and be a place for you to discuss, learn, support, debate, cry and laugh.
I know the years ahead remain unknown, but with Hassan, Marita, Ken, and Elizabeth and the many millions more out there, I feel confident we will move in the right direction.
And on days when it seems too much, find an ally, meet their eye and smile. If that ally is me, I promise I will offer you some plum cake. The next day, we will continue the fight together.

https://namati.org/bend-curve-towards-justice/www.namati.org

Wetin United Nations Dey Do Sef?

I grew up not knowing exactly what United Nations does. Nobody could explain it to me and I was left alone to  draw up a mental picture about who they are. My picture was that they fight war. I mean peacekeeping. So many have so many meaning to what United Nations means to them. Some thinks they are western, some that they are against Arab nations and so many notions.Image result for arab people with united nations pictures

If you have ever wondered what United Nations does, you may not be alone. So many people have asked this question and many wanted to but couldn’t, while many never ever knew whom to ask the question. We are many in this dilemma and when many things comes to your mind daily without concrete answers, it may give room to right and wrong perception as answer depending on the side of the mirror to the explanation. But this write-up has come to dissolve and put ice into such conflicting questions with simple answers.

When you think of reasons President-elect Donald Trump criticized the United Nations as an international body that has “potential” to do something good, but just isn’t living up to expectations. You wouldn’t be wrong, than eager to know more about what United Nations does given the statement? In fact, the incoming president said that right now, the U.N. is just a special “club” for people to get together and talk. So sad!” Trump tweeted.

But United Nations had since responded to Trump’ statement in a way and manner I learn a lesson from. By taking time to explain exactly what they do more clearly to me and you and to others too. And for those of us asking what United Nations does and are living in hard to reach locations all over the world, take a read and see if this would explain.

WETIN UNITED NATIONS DEY DO SEF?

         Maintain International Peace and SecurityThe United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. These activities often overlap and should reinforce one another, to be effective. The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The General Assembly and the Secretary-General play major, important, and complementary roles, along with other UN offices and bodies.
·         Protect Human Rights
 Image result for picture of UN human right activitiesThe term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN’s founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization.  In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law.  Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.

·         Deliver Humanitarian AidOne of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is “to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character.”  The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild.  The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.
·         Promote Sustainable DevelopmentFrom the start in 1945, one of the main priorities of the United Nations was to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”  Improving people’s well-being continues to be one of the main focuses of the UN. The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development – development that promotes prosperity and economic opportunity, greater social well-being, and protection of the environment – offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.
·         Uphold International LawThe UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”. Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization.  This work is carried out in many ways – by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties – and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary.  These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty.  As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it.  The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.(By Dennis Ekwere)
#UnitedNations #UN

Not too young to run. To where?

“We believe if you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to run for office”.Image result for not too young to run
Running for political office in Africa is extremely expensive; that you’ll need a sponsor; political sponsors are the aged and dictate the tune. As you already know, African countries are battling with lust for political powers and long dictatorship. According to Freedom House annual survey, there are 50 world dictators, 21 in Africa, 19 in Asia, 8 in Middle East, 1 in Europe, and 1 in Caribbean.  Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Libya, Mauritania, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Swaziland as at 2016, are clear example of what  I am telling you.  Sometimes I wonder what’s the hope for youths in countries where there’s political dictatorship, where there are no spaces for young people in governance. I have seen countries where young people are intimidated not to run for office. I have also seen countries where youths see themselves as too young to run for office. What is it have I not seen in Africa!
LOOKING BEYOND THE LINES

Suffix to say that is error for youths to be allowed for use as tools for violence; for any body running for office post or whatsoever, especially when such actions are with promises for political rewards. It’s simply affronts and I tell you nothing but the truth, that such rewards are usually empty and meaningless, and must be seen as disrespect to your integrity as youth. Do you know who you are as a youth? If you do, you wouldn’t cheapen yourself to be referred as “Personal Assistant” on violence matters and thug as political reward to office. Whereas that office is yours; I came to tell you how more qualified you are to run for that office henceforth. I also came to tell you to give it a try, to take a chance. You see, nobody would dash you political chance if you don’t dare it. It is your right; rights to run for any office.  Dream it, be inspired about it, and you can achieve it.  
Interestingly, today’s generation of young people is the largest the world ever known. Half of the global population is under 30 and is asset untapped, yet 73% of countries restrict young people from running for office, even though they can vote, but can’t be voted for.  Can you ask questions like, why young people in my country are barred to vote for? Why do we use age discrimination to deny young people their rights to participation in democracy? Why has it been difficult for youths to realize meaning full strategies to utilize their population as strength against the old during elections? How can youths jump over financial hurdles and barriers in running for office? These questions and many more answers are within you, and within youths around the world.  I can hear the rhythm of the music and if you listen carefully now you will hear.  

SHOW GOES ON
Campaigns are under way, on going to promote the rights of young people running for public office by seeking to lower the legal age of candidacy and bring it into line with the age at which young people votes.  And this is good news. But like I questioned you the other time about who is a youth? And you did replied with one answer in different variations.  A youth (18-24 years) by definition in United Nations frame work is the same as a youth (18-35years) in African Union Charter.  And I said yes!  Another, you told me that countries define who its youths are.  That some even says that a youth is a state of mind not age? You know I told you I am not here to argue. So we shall be referring to “youth” as defined in African Union Charter.  Not too young to run is a local social campaign turn global, that got me inspirational. Let me commend the initiator of the campaign, a Nigeria NGO- Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, for a good concept. When I got wind that the campaign is driven by Office of the Secretary- General’s, United Nations Envoy on Youth, Inter-Parliamentary Union, UNDP, United Nations Human Rights-office of the High Commissioner, European Youth Forum, I was glad. But disappointed that there was no African regional body especially African Union that is partnering in the campaign. 
However, it didn’t take me much time to realize one of the reasons we have more dictatorship in Africa than other continents. Dictators do not support democracy ideals and do not care about the other youths. So they wouldn’t support “Not too young to run” – against them.  That’s just the African truth.  Truth in the sense that African political parties need to first of all give space to young people to run for positions and offices in party structures and not just create a youth political party wing. Enough of that.       Quote me, “dictatorship is more like African bad spirit” and start from the cradle and grows to manifestation at old age. If I ask you, ask United Nations or Commonwealth Youth Council  for instance to mention ten names of African youths that have represented Africa  in your programs in the last ten years, wouldn’t the names be the same year in year out?  It is bad thing to notice that African youth’s barely outgrown youth age limit. I mean – once a youth, always a youth.  They barely grow older and I see it as wrong foundation and as indicator that snowballs in future into spirit of dictatorship.  Therefore,  it is my  strong view that “Not too young to run” as a campaign must teach African youths how to live and let live, how youths can create space for other youths, how to give chance and grow. Not too young to run, is greatly appreciated and let’s support it now. Join the moving train. (By Dennis Ekwere)

Sustainable future is possible

There is continuous use of fossil fuel – oil, coal and natural gas and this is posing a threat to the earth. Climate has, and is changing. Climate change is real, and is done when most developed countries hurriedly use natural resources in unsustainable ways to develop industrially. Industrial development has brought great development and advancement to humanity with attendant problem that industries are finding it difficult to solve. But the window is there, as we move into technological era. Technology is a solution to any challenges.  But unfortunately, under- developed countries are less technologically savvy, pollute less, yet are not aware of what climate change is and what it is not. Yet they will be worst hit by climate change.       Electricity is good. It helps us light our homes, cook meals, listen to radio and makes our lives and our work easier. Transportation is good too; automobiles, railroads and airplanes facilitate our movement at ease. But electricity and transportation usually uses fossil fuels more than any, and pollutes the earth thereby causing global warming.

Image result for airplane

    Airplanes have large impact on climate system especially those flown at nights. Airplanes emits at cruising altitude high in the atmosphere. And is harmful because its triggers chemical reaction into the air.  At this time, when we need urgent step to reduce greenhouse gas emission, the aviation industry continues to grow.  Making it looks like much is not done to cut emission in line with Doha Amendment, Kyoto protocol.Solar Impulse 2 completed first round trip flight by a solar powered airplane, after touching down in Abu Dhabi in July 2016. That is good news and is a technological breakthrough. In my view in the next ten years, I see solar powered airplanes being developed further into commercial model flights that will face out airplanes models that use fossil fuel. This technology can make the world much better and cut emission greatly by 2026.
Access and affordability of internet around the world will help in the next ten years as more people will reduce travelling and use video conferencing for meetings, and web cams. 
Electricity is made by burning fossil fuel. Some energy also comes from nuclear power and from large dams.  We need clean energy to replace the increasing use of fossil fuel, nuclear power, and energy from large dams; which lead to toxic pollution, destruction of communities and watersheds, and many serious health problems.  In my view in the next ten years, we must think and act on how we can generate energy locally which is part of clean energy. 
Clean energy can be made with few negative social, cultural, health and environmental effects. In my view in the next ten years, I see the technological development and use of renewable energy in house hold and office items like TV, radio, generators, refrigerators, washing machines, computers, smart phones etc. This will force demand against electricity, and will help reduce burning of fossil fuel.Any technology in the next ten years that is not renewable and sustainable in the use of natural resources will not stand the test of time. Clean energy technology can save the earth for last.  See you at 2026, a dream come true.  (By Dennis Ekwere)

 

GENDER BASED VIOLATION SHOULD CONTINUE?

Being a woman in Africa is problematic from birth to death arising from complicating cycles of abuses to the extent that women’s status are belittled and discriminated wholly and nobody ever seems to care. This happens politically, socially, religiously and traditionally and is the rational motivation for doing so. Gender based violation is a crime against humanity. It starts small and gravitates uncontrollably. Stopping it at the small stage remains the best option still.

Image result for pictures of gender based violation of african women

Poor and uneducated women are most vulnerable and will continue to be the horses even as advocacy goes on. So it is time to reflect and rethink about women’s rights treaties vis a vis in African context so that treaties and conventions are not allowed to be seen as paper work.


TELL ME THE RIGHTS

Gender violation has increased and in the last 100 years, nothing has really changed. Men still beat women and go free, children are still married out to older men, minors are raped and is on the increase, gang rape is also increasing, women are denied ownership to properties, women are still far behind in technology and so on and so on. So tell me, where are their rights gone?
I make bold that African women faces all sort of challenges and abuses in silence even to death. At homes, they are beaten, battered, bruised and killed. At schools and work place they are sexually harassed, raped and abused. At religions centers they are not to be heard, needless to mention traditional centers where genital mutilation is promoted and done. With law enforcement agencies, they are stranded when law enforcement sides societal attitudes and hinder justice.

Image result for pictures of gender based violation of african women

Women rights are human rights, make no mistake about it. But the bigger issue is when women themselves refuse to push for implementation of their rights for redress; allowing emotions to override. Another is how can we make women rights rounded and more integrated as people’s agenda for men buy in. A situation where men begin to see women’s rights as empowerment than confrontation?
Men ought to be educated and enlightened about rights on a round table. We’ll need “men to men” dialogue and advocates. I tell you, this can change hearts of stones.

STANDING TALL ON WOMEN’S CONVENTIONS

It is critical to look again at the “Convention on the elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women”(CEDAW). To realize one or more reasons most African countries have not domesticated the conventions after signing and why they may never domesticate it? Could it be that they believe it is affront by tradition and culture that men and women are equal in all ramifications as clearly stated on the convention? My guess is as good as yours. This to me seems to be.So don’t bother to know that 90% of legislators, policy makers and implementer in African countries are men. These people will do all to frustrate bills and efforts for gender equality, even as most of them could be guilty if I am to be a judge especially in rape and child marriage. But am not a judge so let say it again.
I know “Real men don’t beat women, but weak men do”. And according to 2015 women Beijing +20 reports, African have the highest physical and sexual violence at 45.6% in low to middle income countries. So I ask how can we break this cycle of violence and raise real men given the situation.And I remember that globally every year, from 25th November-10th December is 16days activism dedicated against gender based violation. And this year’ starts now forward, that I can count on you to add up voice that would break this cycle by doing any little program within you to educate and enlighten yourself and your neighbor about it. About girl’ child education and not forgetting women too. Educating boys at schools about gender violation and what it is, is a deal. So we can prevent it in future.But educating girls about their rights also is a bigger deal, so we can have better outcome, sustainable peace of mind, at home and to the world. If we are able to do this, then I can see the light raising real men from the boys and I know the sun will rise again in Africa; where women will be seen as solution and treated with respect, free and equal. Only then will Africa arise. (By Dennis Ekwere)

#genderbasedviolation #unwomen

Save the earth for last

Nature is human and human is beautiful. Nature is asset and is our natural resources which show the way and manner we use it. Our world, our environment is blessed and our daily living to  large extent is determinant on it. How we treat our environment determines how healthy and beautiful we are. Interestingly, everybody lives in an environment and that environment is made of natural resources from land to minerals, water to air, plants and animals among others in the web of life. Life is beautiful.
Image result for save the earth pictures

 But as beautiful as life could be, life can equally be ugly too.  Depending on how we use our world cum our environment. The beauty of life is in natural state of things, while the ugly side of life is typically man made. And I explain.

When we begin to use natural resources in unsustainable ways, like felling down trees, burning fossil fuel, flaring gas, use of chemicals as fertilizers on the soil, depositing indecomposable materials like leather water bags, and batteries into the soil, oil exploration on sea pollute and kill sea foods etc, what do you think we are doing? By that, we are creating the ugly side of life by ourselves and for ourselves. Whereas, the beauty of life is for us to protect, preserve and share natural resources so we wouldn’t wake up to see them no more.

It is disheartening to know that natural resources are not equally shared among everyone anywhere in the world, which you should know too. It is the poor that uses the least and the rich the most. Don’t ask me why but how? And you explained. As powerful Corporations and Nations continue to take large share of natural resources, they also continue to pollute the water, the air, the land and the sea unabated. Poor nations will continue to suffer from their actions. Poor nations can not speak up, unaware of the effect of such action to our environment. From their weakness and ignorance, rich nations are hurriedly intensifying their acts, while poor nation’s ignorance lasts. That’ just how we are hurting the earth for all!Image result for picture of plastic pollution

Could it then be assumed that hurting the earth is deliberate or neglect? We shall answer in affirmative to one, and that one is neglect. It is that neglect that result into climate change.  Meaning that the earth is reacting and reconsidering it kindness to human! That reaction is manifested with flooding, storms and drought in the land.

Do you still remember Mahatma Gandhi? He said “there is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed”.  And I pondered philosophically on it; to opine that climate change is caused by greed, greed from rich nations at the detriment of poor nations. And if am cleared, have wondered in the first place why we cut trees than plant trees? Don’t we know cutting down trees is cutting down lives? Don’t we know that human and trees are in symbiotic exchange for survival? Don’t we inhale oxygen free as waste from trees?  

Who do you blame? 

Sometimes am forced to consider if the amount of water, trees, minerals and other natural resources on earth, is not limited as per the increasing number of people using them? And I answered myself, no. You see, the problem is not the number of people using natural resources, but in the way and manner we distribute and use them. Come to think of it, when one person or a group of person uses natural resources more than their fair share, or cause excess pollution without considering the health risk of others  in the name of industrialization, profiting  and commercialization? What do you call that?  When the use and derivation from such activities are used to develop developed nations at the detriment of poor nations that is not greed?  But I know one thing in nature, it abhors greed.

Now to the point, global warming is a global warning for the rich nations to reduce harmful effect on our environment by using fewer resources and using them in sustainable paths that conserves for the future. But it seems they haven’t taken this warning seriously? If they have, why are we still flaring gas? Why are we still in high use of fossil fuel?  Again, how many rich nations that signed COP21 have domesticated it in action? To my mind, the whole thing looks more like paper work that doesn’t walk, like more talk than action. 

Climate has changed. It is poor nations that is and will be worst hit. Most of poor nations are in Africa, and are least informed about it.  Can you see a timed bomb in Africa? There is flooding, flooding, and flooding. I see storms and drought in Africa deepening poverty and increasing hunger with attendant health risk.  May be Africa is waiting till the earth explodes to realize climate change. But before I forget, the other day I was watching on television, about a big corporation that came to my community. When they came, they paid our locales money to clear our forests. The clearing made us to loose trees that kept our soil healthy and protected from storms. Not just that, we also lost plants-herbs for medicine, fibers, animals and foods etc. The corporation came and stole nature from our community and the locales never knew. So I kept watching the documentary, and I noticed that the corporation gained much profit to themselves and have no reason to protect or improve the lives of our people who relied on those natural resources to survive.

Though, the corporation provided short term jobs and income, but when the resources were gone and drained, I noticed that the corporation hurriedly left our community too. Leaving our community in deeper poverty than before! Then I remember what my teacher told me about climate change when I was a child.  She said, “When they have cut down the last tree, polluted the last river and cooked the last fish, then we will realize that we can’t eat money we collected”. As I give a thought on this, I wept.

I began to ask, what can I do as an individual to salvage my community and save the earth? And I am asking you today, what can you do to help spread the message of climate change? That was my meditation till I find answer.  Answer to educate and enlighten my family members, friends, colleagues and community members what climate change is, and what it is not.  How to mobilize locales in non violence ways to demand corporations coming into our communities to respect web of life when doing business in our communities and do it in sustainable ways that whenever they leave the community, our environment is intact and save.  (By Dennis Ekwere)

  AGRICULTURE FOR YOUTHS, BUT WHO CARES?

I remember when my grandpa told me how they used to go hunting, how they grew and collected fresh healthy foods without buying them. When meat, vegetables and fruits were scarce, they were still able to collect “survival foods” of roots, seeds, tree bark and small animals. That was then, and I wish I can turn the hands of times.

Naturally, Africa is conditioned for farming given its rich vegetation and soil. Africans are more energetic to manually cultivate lands for harvest right from the days of slavery in tobacco farms in America till tomorrow. But this energy has not been taken advantage of and we remain primitive. One would have presumed that things should be done differently by this time of age: for Africa to be able to feed Africa by itself. But is that a reality? It’s still a long walk.

THE MIX

If there’s one good thing we have lost that you will see, it is the tradition of raising youthful farmers in Africa. Another is the tradition of eating healthy foods for lasting living. All that is gone out of our laziness. From the way things are, we’ll all go hungry tomorrow if we still don’t really care about food security.

I ask again,  why are farm lands becoming scarce, why are soil not yielding bountifully any longer,  water is never available and streams are drying up,? seedlings are just too expensive to afford, food produce are affected by all newest kind of diseases, our climate is changing, more people are faced with difficult access or with no storage facilities, and youths are migrating to cities etc and etc? Imagine if there are no solutions to this questions what that means?  To my mind, these could be one or some of the reasons why agriculture is fading off in Africa speedily if I have to put lens into it. Is like we farm to feed and then feed to farm. This is the cycle we hace found ourselves year in, year out. Should we continue this way?

In reality, farming is becoming more and more unattractive to young people as I see. Farming age is rapidly overstretched with no transition to younger generation. Take a view when no African child grows up aspiring to be a farmer like pilots and doctors, and other professional careers. That’s bad news to many but is real. Few ones that would have aspired for career in farming have been rebuked by their parents and they have lost interest. Today, parents no longer wish their children to be farmers, as farmers as seen as laborers and failures in our societies by the societies. Children grow up, viewing farming as huge problem and suffering. They see it as poor and rural, a trade only meant for illiterates and  “old school”-  who made nothing out of it. It is farming that actually have greater image problem than the youths itself, yet our Government pretend there’s none and I wonder why farming has not been rebranded if that would be?

Image result for picture of youths farmers

PICTURE THAT ONE AND SEE

All over Africa, Government is working hard to open agriculture up and attract teeming number of unemployed youths, and this has continued to fail. There are no clear farming policies by Government especially to small holder farmers, for instance- what policies are there that promotes the use of land for family farms? What protection is there against farmland pollution?  What of credit availability to small holder farmers? How is Government helping them solve problems? Why do they support big farms that produce only for export while we die of hunger? There are questions you may find it difficult to answer me of course .  
When Government can not offer subsidies as a way to improve food security? What do they mean? When Government loans and support is misused by giving it to corporation or rich associate (farmers) that owns large industrial farms, what do they mean? When we set Agriculture as options meant for the old and retirees, what picture are we painting to youths? When collateral for loans are made too difficult for small holder farmers to meet? Tell me, how would farming then be attractive to youths?If I think about it, it bothers my mind.

Image result for picture of youths farmers

THE WAY FORWARD- hope rising

With or without Government support, there are many ways you and I can improve local food security. From planting a small garden in our backyards, to raring domestic animals for our use and for commercial purposes, there lies our hope for food security if they don’t really care. In this economic drought and circumstance not to buy all the foods you eat, but to augment them.  A small garden by your backyard can help you lot : in saving cost and keeping you healthy like in the days of our grandpas to eat healthy living fresh food. Let’s eat to stay alive, agriculture is life. (By Dennis Ekwere).   

Volunteering, the new spirit

Every year in the United States for instance, millions of people donate their time, effort and money to help make their communities and their country a better place to live. But this aspect is missing greatly in Africa. I mean spirit of patriotism. And hasn’t helped Africa go far. If there must be a change, then there must be a new kind of spirit igniting from Africa to the world. Young people are crucial in playing this new role as future leaders, and can’t afford to ignore it. I mean volunteering, the new spirit.

Volunteering is giving service above self. Volunteer works can bring real change, change  you can be part of, change you can feel it, change you can see with your own eyes. That you don’t need any politicians or security personnel or law enforcement to tell you things to do.  You can see it and feel it for yourself and know you are part of it….. There’s pride involved in this kind.  Because we are involved, we‘re part of community.


FILLING THE GAP AND NEED

It is rather unfortunate that Africans rely on Government for everything from local police protection to national defense, from collecting household trash to ensuring clean water, electricity etc. But in all these among others, it is our shared responsibility for meeting community needs.  You may know that Government can not do everything nor respond timely to all our needs. That’s just the truth.If I can remember in the word of John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”. So I ask what has been your contribution to your community. Have you joined others in your community to give service? I mean mobilizing youths like you to clean gutters, help children to cross road to schools, help out in an emergency situation, teach children who can not afford education, create website to offer free information etc. You can save a soul by offering your time. Serve others without payment. That’s is the new spirit.Image result for spirit of volunteerism pictures

PAYBACK TIME

Even though Africa has not been known as a continent with spirit of volunteerism, but is never too young to learn. So let the spirit begins now.

When Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political writer, visited America in 1830s, He was amazed to see citizens pitching in to solve community problems rather than relying on the Government. He explained it as “self interest highly understood”. And I concur.

 In other words, by binding together to serve our community, we also serve ourselves. By volunteering, we make our community better places to live,  gain new opportunities to learn, make friends, and improve our teamwork, leadership, and problem solving skills. It is satisfying to know that you can make a difference in someone else life. Keep on keeping on, because that’s the new spirit of African youths. Say it loud!  (By Dennis Ekwere)

Football betting and youth empowerment scam

 Africans love football more than any other sport, especially among the youths. Foot ball gambling or betting is old enough in developed world where the game is played. But not in Africa where it is watched. Betting was a taboo in those days according to Africa values and culture. People were hiding to play but not these days any more. If you check 10 youths trouser pockets, you will find 8 out of the 10 youths with long teller papers of betting in their pockets.Gambling crept into Africa through football coupon or poll as it was called. In Africa, coupon or poll were played by those the society considered hopeless. These people were mostly old rogue poor men, who played and won at times, and then loose all the other times.  They followed the game through late or early morning listener-ship to BBC radio commentaries and forecast and perm. Some dreams scores and numbers out of high typhoid and malaria and hence play and loose their hard earned monies. This is simply a game of robbing Peter to pay Paul and nothing more, nothing less. 

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Turned TableGlobalization has opened the game and is watched live on cable TV networks and online channels. As you know, youths have clubs they belong to as fans. They are so passionate about this clubs irrespective if  the club may knows they exist or not. They talk about their clubs every time and argue about it so much that they can fight and kill for this clubs.Football gambling is no more coupons or poll. Today it is modernized with tech to attract younger generation and is referred to as betting. It is popular now in Africa and is no longer seen as taboo. High rate of unemployment has made it relieving to 70% population of youths that bets everyday to find hope in the game.  It embraces the educated and the uneducated, workers and jobless, skilled and unskilled, religious and faithless based people. They are all gamblers in the jungle.  “A gambler is a man who makes living out of hope” according to William Bolitho. But don’t ask me what kind of  hope?Hope that one day his/her luck on betting will shine and make him/her a millionaire! I ask you again? How many millionaire gamblers you know. If not, I know how many THAT HAVE lost from betting and as a result attracted sadness, high BP, depression and madness, I tell you. I know of one that slumped and died, while we thought it was witchcraft from village? We only got to know that he had taken loan/ borrowed some amount of money to play the bet the other day. So which and where or how can that be witchcraft? It is the borrowing or betting that is rather witchcraft to  many.  

Sport betting companies are growing faster and are opening branches than banks and mobile telecom in Africa, everywhere you go.  In the morning, youths in thousands moves idly to sit in betting viewing centers to play betting games. This activity usually engages them and has only helped reduced petty theft in poor local communities. We see and say “boys are busy”.  But most worrisome, is that school children and women have joined in playing the game. Some women bet/play with household maintenance fees to keep the home hungry. This betting has made so many youths to quit their jobs into full time gambling.  If this betting if not tamed, it will promote laziness, blurred dreams, unwillingness for young people to work, dormancy  and quick money mentality which may not augur well for all.

The Other ones
“DO NOT INVEST YOUR LIFE SAVINGS” is what you will see once you log on to MMM website and yet people are lees concern of this warning. MMM is online social empowerment scheme in Nigeria that is driving so many crazy for wealth.  The scheme promises to return 30% interest on investment.  Whatever it is, is  really a scam no matter how it is colored. The scheme will only prove to be real by paying for sometimes and swindle many more when you had invested so much and least expected them to varnish like vapor.

They have done it before in Russia where it first started. Then in America where the scheme swindled Americans and  led its founder to be jail term. The scheme then moved to South Africa and was forced or pushed out of the country because of shadiness of the scheme.

Now it has moved into Nigeria and found it’s veritable because Nigeria is where many youths want to build castles in the air. By becoming a a multi millionaires without working for it. By trying luck to success.

 Despite past experience of similar scheme where people’s  life’s saving, bank loans etc went away, people are yet learn. They jump at any, and you will begin to wonder why we forget so easily. I remember that central bank of Nigeria came out bold to announce that MMM is a scam, and yet people wouldn’t hear. Till they are scammed, they will then turn to blame Government for being careless.

Central Bank is the regulatory financial institution in Nigeria.  I learn that the National Assembly has moved that the Nigeria security agencies should arrest any one promoting MMM in Nigeria. But the people are kicking against it, challenging Government to provide jobs or empower them before clamping down on MMM. So I ask who is right and who is wrong? Give us your opinion now and save our souls. (By Dennis Ekwere).         
#footballbetting

Exam malpractices and effect on quality education

You can no longer argue more than to agree that education and quality of education in Africa has been watered and schools are springing up every where, yet it is unaffordable to many.  it seems as if the more the schools, the more quality drops. Many people go through school and school had not gone through them. This is made worst when corporate employers are complaining that they find it difficult to find or recruit best hands from graduates churned out of our tertiary institutions this days.  I tend to believe what Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps, Director General once said and I quote – “It is worrisome to see and know that most of our graduates in Nigeria do not know how to read and write”. That is worrisome, but too late a blame.  

The original game 

Examination in schools in Africa is really lucrative and big time business for Shylock educational stakeholders and down lines.  Students and parents know about it; is a matter of cash. Student who pays shall pass exams. It is that bad, it is that, simply.It starts from the cradle like play, like play when teachers in primary schools help to answer questions for pupils during common entrance examination. Then it grows bigger at the secondary school level, where students already know they will be helped by teachers during exams. Parents negotiate with schools at a cost for cheating in exam on behalf of their wards. Parents call such school “good schools”.  West Africa Examination Council aka WAEC for instance, is a regulated regional examination body that conducts exams across West Africa countries for secondary students for over 64 years running. The exam is prerequisite for admission into tertiary institutions from secondary school. But the body has consistently raised alarm of examination malpractices, and Nigeria taking the lead.There are rogue websites where students pay to registered and logged in to access leaked and fake exams question papers with answers. Student no longer read their books because of this, teachers no longer teach and cover syllabus, and schools are careless with teaching facilities, all doesn’t matter to them anymore. In as much as they aid and abate exam malpractices for their students to pass. I wonder what morals school teaches young people this days. We are after certificates, Certificate they can barely defend.  
 I remember when WAEC exams are drawing closer, parents will begin to swap their wards to “miracle schools” and exam centers where teachers answer questions on board for students to copy. And you call that exam? Exam Miracle centers usually charges high fees far more than other. The school charges these high fees – called“corporation money”, which is meant to be shared among examiners, typists, WAEC staff, printers, transporters and security agents.  These chain-of-people are involved in WAEC examination, and it is with their corporation and alignment that malpractice in exam can succeed.Then, into the tertiary institution it gets worst. Mercenaries are brought in to write exams, Lecturers sleeps with girls (students) to score them high points, those that reject the approach fails. Handouts are produced and sold to students at exorbitant prices and if you don’t buy, you will fail. And on, and on and on!  It is like a story of a child stealing his/her way through school into office. What will you expect? He/she must steal in that office. This is what is happening in Africa now. Education has become certificated and  is clear our content is diluted.  Image result for africa students in exams malpractices picturesIs there hope I am told of UNESCO idea for counties to fund education by 26% GDP from budget, and for the period of  five years and I am learning the sense in this. I can explain why we find it difficult to implement it Africa. In Nigeria for instance, giving 26% of our budget to education is not really a difficult deal as a country. But Nigeria will not do that? Never, tell me why is it that Nigeria spends less than 9% of its budget is on education?  And I will tell you why students are leaving schools in Nigeria to schools in smaller African countries in droves. I will tell more why our school certificates are ignored at world stage and many more. 
To the point, WAEC in a wake is introducing the use of technology to verify candidates by bio metrics and I hope this works. I read that World Bank has again approved $45 million to boost education in Nigeria, believing that investing in people is essential part of Nigeria’s strategy to reduce poverty and achieve steady economic growth. The money is meant to boost employment opportunities for young people and improve education quality for Nigerian students. That’s right. But my greatest fear is that this money should not get into bottomless pit like the others. You know the one I am talking about.   Look at smaller African nations like Botswana spend 19%, Swaziland 24.6%, Cote d’ Ivoire 30%, Burkina Faso16.8%, Ghana 31%, Kenya 23%, Uganda 27%, Tunisia 17% and Morocco 17.7%  of their budget on education. And schools in these countries are relatively better. According to Economists Intelligence Unit for Pearson, USA, a body that analyses school systems performances globally, found that, Finland’ education system is the best in the world and is 100% state funded. It is my belief that if African leaders give attention to education, by increasing funds allocated to education sector in budget; it can help revive the system. System where teachers/ lecturers are paid well and on good time, system where exam stakeholders are contented and truthful, system where students knows that exam is  proof of knowledge, system where parents refuses to pay money for teachers to help their children during exams, system where everybody will be responsible and accountable. That system will give new hope to Africa and to the world. (By Dennis Ekwere).    

#education

Sex Abuse at IDPs camps,Nigeria

If you know what happens in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the North East of Nigeria where millions have been displaced by insurgent of Boko Haram, you will not be able shout out.  I mean when you hear of N5 billion meant for Internally Displaced Persons camps diverted, you will be dazed. Wait till you hear how food items and materials meant for the camps are diverted to some people’s home, you will tell me to write about it.

What will you do when you see young girls increasingly forced to become adolescent mothers? Wouldn’t you rather ask questions? Come to think of it, how caregivers are giving out children in the camps as domestic house help to the rich without documentation? That alone will bother me most and shall be the rational for answering you, to clear myself from the wrath that is ominous.

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In IDPs campsEstimated 3 million Nigerians are displaced in the North East of the country out of insurgency by Boko Haram.  Half of this number is in Borno State which is flash point and insurgency hot spot. 54% of this number are children and are out of school. 53% are female and only 7% are above 60 years old.  Of this number, 18 % are in official camps and other 81% are scattered and unorganized in makeshift accommodation in communities. Our reflection shall be on the 18% IDPs in official camps in Borno State, but not forgetting the other 81%.

It is rather unfortunate how people are taking advantage of the vulnerable in our society.Image result for IDP camp nigeria picturesIf I am to score-mark Boko Haram vis a viz IDPs camps in Nigeria, sincerely I will score them high and wrong.

Score them high in the sense that they have successfully forced children out of school, closed access to health care to those who need it most, increased diseases, improve hunger, promoted unwanted pregnancies and spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. If you go to camps, you will count hundreds of new born daily, and many of these women were victim of raped, many are impregnated by Boko Haram members, while so many of them are impregnated by those taking care of the camps including the security.

To score them wrong, is that they employ violence in their actions. My point is, nothing is wrong with any one having ideology or being radicalized with a belief, but everything is wrong when you use violence to back a belief. 
   A teenage girl voiced out that she has been threatened for naming one of the security men in the IDP’s camp that severally assaulted her and got her impregnated. Nobody cared, nobody listened nor heard her wailing just because of vulnerability. The news is that she has just delivered a baby. And she is on search for the father of the baby. The security personnel alleged to be the father has been transferred out of the camp to unknown location as the story goes. That is the scenario and that is how bad the situation is. And is just one modus operandi how our security people use in escaping justice.

Rosemary as we shall call her confessed that security men forcefully came into their camps and hand pick girls at gun point to sleep with them. Painfully, most of them got their virginity broken by this security men and sex was horrifying without condom. Rosemary said she can not ascertain her HIV/AIDS status because of the randomness. These men hand pick girls per night and sleep with them, without protection.  I tend to believe her story, though there have been rumor of sex abuses for long in IDP camps, victims couldn’t speak up for fear of being killed. Further more; she said that most of the care givers deliberately hoard food from girls and women including children to keep hungrier so they can give in for sex demand. That they only offer food to them in exchange for sex.  And that, at such point they have no option. Life in camp is miserable especially if you are a girl.   Image result for IDP camp nigeria pictures  Human Right Watch, an international NGO that surveyed young girls/women at the camps on their rights and infringement got it startling that there have been sustained sexual abuses in the camps. Whether tha claim can be substantiated or not, I will leave it up to you.

Their July 2016 report alleges high sexual abuses by security agency and those bestowed with authority to look over the camps. The report went on to challenge Nigeria Government for investigation into their allegation. And I hope this allegation will be looked into and not swept under carpet.         

Government Reaction 

Good as celebrated, the security agencies are trying but that does not mean when there are allegation we shouldn’t ask for clarity. That does not mean any one is against the security agencies. Yes, I can tell that they have tried and should be celebrated. But ain’t we overstretching their use at beck and call?

Nigeria Government has responded to the release of that report, and has called on Inspector General of Police to look into the allegation, by setting up committee of inquiry. So I ask you to look out. Look out for those who will make up the committee?  And you will shake your head in laughter. Why? Because the same police that are alleged, are called to set up the inquiry. That inquiry will not go anywhere, when you are a judge over your case, what do you expect? I tell you, this report will be flawed. And Nigeria must be ready to answer questions, questions about new born, and how new born will ask in future for answers. I rest my case.  (By Dennis Ekwere)         

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The Africa we want

It will not be surprising if you have read many explanations on how the internet began. But I think it wouldn’t be out of place if I can briefly explain it one more time.

Internet was created by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency. Then it was called ARPRANET in the 1960s. It was originally a network that could switch “packets” of information from computer to computer. 
Philip Emeawgali

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 Philip born in 1954, is regarded as the pioneer internet scientist. In 1989 he stunned the world with a connection machine while studying for his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. He used the internet to link 65,000 computers on earth that calculated 1.3 billion calculations per second.  Philip Emeawgali is a Nigerian and African, that faced uncertain future as a teenager during 1966 Nigeria’s civil war. He was forced out of school into refugee camps just like many today.  At the camp, he studied on his own and at age 17 won scholarship to Oregun State University, USA. His future plan is to build a World Wide Brain- the “brain of brains” that will make the internet faster and within the reach of people all over the world. I pray that works out real good.

The big issue

Africa as I see, is yet to tap fully into the benefit of internet like other continents for reasons I don’t know. Internet awareness is still very slow and low in  penetration in Africa, and is extremely expensive to access and use. African Government has done little to address this in policy formulations. But this negligence has limited so many young Africans to take led from the breakthrough Philip Emeawgali made to the world.  It is disturbing to see Africa in analogue than digital? For instance, why is African Government still run in papers and files? Why is Government finding it difficult to give out information to public on request? Are we suppose to request for it or it is the responsibility of Government to put information in public for us? Tell me more, why our democracies are autocratic, and Government policies difficult to understand by citizens? I know, democracy need citizens, active citizens that are willing to be part in civic life. But we are afraid and intimated into silence.I have learn and seen how other youths in other climes get engaged with their Government. I have seen how the internet has served as nexus. And I know the internet offers civic space for participation for all and Africa can take advantage too. But as it seems, I am not sure if Africa Government is ready to open up and make Government open and accessible.  Internet can allow everyday citizens to interact with billions of documents, communicate with one another, and share information at a click?What are the big issues young African citizens have?  It is less interest in Governance and complex.  It is complex when we see Governance as if, Governance is not of us, for us and by us, I suppose. It is complex when youths hoard information among themselves for selfish gratification. I mean it is complex when we are less concern about news about Africa, and consider it “their Africa”. Why should we see ourselves as weak when we are strong? Why do we work separate ways without a common voice that can hold our leaders accountable. Why do we believe our voice does not count? Why can’t we seek for information knowing fully well that information is power? You see, there is no where you can make thoughtful decisions, engaged Government, influence policies and decisions unless you stay informed. And the internet can do all this for you and me, including the other youths too.E- GovernmentAccording to Africa Union Agenda 2063, AU intend to learn from it past experience, build on progress now and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in short, medium and  long term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation in the next 50 years. That Agenda, to my mind should target E-Governance as the way of achieving the Agenda. If not, the Agenda will be a long talk to walk for 50 years. Open Government is simply E-Government should be adopted by AU to its member countries to make it much easier for Africans especially the youths to learn about Government, policies before and after formulation, check on elected officials and weed out dictatorship.  Request service and participation, eliminate rulership and breed leadership with good followership, and buried sit tight rule in all guise.My thought is the same as yours, African youths look forward to a day when Africans will do business with our Government online instead of standing in queue and lines. We look forward to the day where we will obtain birth certificates, marriage licenses, pay taxes etc online. We dream of AU common passport which is come to pass, dream of commenting on public servant’s performances without intimidation, vote and be voted for electronically, view the constitution online, see budgets on websites, and use common currency and much much more. That is the kind of Africa we all want.

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  To use the internet to stay politically attuned and active, to learn about candidate’s background at elections, positions on issues, recent speeches and so on.  That is Africa we want. Where respect for human rights, dignity and life is guaranteed. That is the Africa we want. Where there is peace, justice and tranquility. That is the Africa we want.I know I may not to get there with you, but I know one day my children and children’s children will be proud that they are Africans and stand tall. Living equally in Africa they want. By then, I know by then Africa would have been free from tyranny.  I have a dream.   (By Dennis Ekwere).

@AU #AU

Rising baby’ factories, trade and effect

 We have lost character as people. It has been a case of uncertainty of some sort if you know what makes some orphanage homes, hospitals and clinics, religious centers masquerading as syndicate in the baby industry and trade, in local and illicit international market space.

Then you will weep for humanity. As baby’s farming syndicates have strong network and background voice, to beats your imagination. Some may even be operating next door to you without you knowing, and I wonder how their antics always beat security personnel for that long. This business is spinning and more people are rolling into it everyday. In this market, demand is always higher than supply. There is ready made market,ready cash transfer and deposit is no big deal. Making money by farming babies for sales in Nigeria is a serious illegal business meant for those who can pay the highest. In hospitals, the case is same as body parts of patients are missing unnecessarily. These parts are trafficked for transplanting abroad, and are for those who can pay bills. So many things are happening these days that I can no longer talk.

Inside Story
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  Baby factory trade is not new though. It has been there years back and has been functioning behind the scene silently to grow. It has grown and is rapidly growing. People involved in the trade as agents, sellers and buyers. They are connected with the powerful, the rich and influential in our society, so I’ve got to watch my back as I write.

They can pay to have their way for almost all: pay to be blank most times to security lenses, bend rules to  their favor and escape the laws from being enforced on them. They are the ones our society respects and fear. To the extent that everyday citizens are intimidated if they attempt to volunteer information to security agencies, they are out rightly sold out. You can report these clique to authorities. Reporting them to security would be the highest risk anyone could do or think of. So reflect and think who really cares about what goes on in our local communities for community policing? That’s how we got it wrong all the other times.  

Adolf Hitler prompted what has come to be baby’s factories by experiment. When he wanted to produce a super race whose attributes would portray super German as only and most superior race on earth prior to World War II. He lured and brought German girls to a room to mass-produce offspring to replace the killed Jews. But he failed in it, when Nazi was dismantled. Anyhow, that is bye gone but only used as preamble to my point.

In Europe, Athens, Greece is the capital of illegal babies’ trade. Migrants from other countries are lured and converted to baby making machines for European market. Market demand for babies varies globally and for instance-  Britons prefer Indians, America prefers Chinese and or Latin American. And the trade goes on and on and on.

In Africa, Nigeria is profiled as Africa baby’s trade capital and have potentials to service global market abundantly. Nigeria’s babies have international market acceptability and these babies are bought and brought abroad solely to become slaves. They grow up to live as slaves workers  in factories, mining and other laborious works among others. I am of the strong view that slave trade has not ended, it is still ongoing in disguise. Don’t doubt me.  

My pain is that Africans are the ones still selling Africans as commodities to Europe and America, like in the days of old. So when will Africa learn? 
    In Nigeria particularly, and in the southern part of the country, orphanage homes are used as factories for making babies. Young girls within the age of 13-24 years are targeted and organized in hidden homes. In some of these homes, are up to 30 adolescents or more confined under the supervision of a syndicate. The syndicate usually contracts or employs the service of a young man as sex machinery for the girls at a low cost. The young man’s duty is to sleep with these girls and impregnate them at random. But serious enough, no one can ascertain the health and safety condition of the young man and the girls’including vulnerability to infection. However, in some cases syndicates are medical personnel whose duties are to attain to the girls pre antenatal  from pregnancy to delivery.

The trade and effect

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When the girls delivers, babies are immediately taken away from them and sold off to ready made market, and syndicate makes sure that the girls can never trace or track baby forever. The girls after delivery normally return home with a financial gratification of N20, 000 ie less than $60 for the deal.

The young man’s share per impregnated girl is N50, 000 ie close to $100. In common parlance, – the more  girl produces babies the more money she makes. Equally, this also applies to the man too. As if this is not madness! Babies are sold into reasons you can’t understand and into slavery at birth, majority are sold to be used for rituals as Africans still believes that crunching babies into powdered form is the best form of voodoo. I am imagining when these babies cries before they are killed, if those cries and blood will not affect the future of Africa.

In other similar cases, poor girls with unwanted pregnancy are lured in for cover up of shame in dedicated homes of syndicates till delivery. After delivery, they are rewarded with N20, 000 from the sales of the baby, and the girl returns home as if nothing happens. In this kind of dedicated homes, almost all the girls do so voluntarily. In baby market, the cost for male babies are more expensive. A male baby is sold between $5,500-7,000, while a female baby is sold between $4,000-3,000 in the illicit international market price.

But before I forget, I made attempt to unravel what could be the rational for a young pregnant girl, to walk away without emotions or feelings to her new born baby of nine months pregnancy? To me, this is a big concerned on  how careless people could be in knowing the whereabouts of their babies immediately after delivery.  I also pondered on the point that, if parents do know where their children are, as they read this post. And I was made to know that, before the girls are accepted into the homes, they had entered into agreement at times with the parents.

In some cases, parents gives flimsy excuses that poverty is number one thing that made them vulnerable.  I was speechless listening to them and almost lost myself. Then I remembered the wisdom of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, GOAL 1 – which is to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere.  And I know we can do something about it. In reality, do you think poverty can drive these girls into this? I am lost and only recovering.  Lost at our morals and social values especially for X generation. Lost for what holds for future. So I ask again, parents do you know where your daughters are? 

If I don’t mix up my memory, I remember how one of the girls told me that, she does not regret her actions that it was better she didn’t abort the baby and destroy lives. That it is better for her to birth, sell and walk away. And I wonder the irony to her action.  Another with tears said, that she was stigmatized, castigated and pressured by her family, friends, and society and that forced her into hiding for delivery. That she would have abandoned the baby at road side after delivery if the home was not there for her.

Well I still don’t understand.  I feel something is wrong somewhere. We have to do something about these excuses and save babies from all this. We have to do something definite to save the future. Family values and morals and respect for life are eroded. We all have a role to play. Teach morals, build characters and give value to children so that they can grow as we grew.. Let’s start it now. (By Dennis Ekwere).

Access to Justice to the poorest poor -the role of paralegals in Nigeria

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It is somewhat disturbing according to available data from Nigeria National Prison Audit: on the number of detainees in prisons across the country without legal representation. More worrisome are those who could not pay fines imposed on them by the court, needless to talk of those who can not meet or pay for bail including those whose trials had been stopped due to unavailability of witnesses. They are all in wailing in prisons across the nations.

What about those whose trial had stopped due to unavailability of Investigative Police Officers or a case of missing case files? What of those on holding charges, or affected by delay or unavailability of DPP advice? They are there in prison wailing for nothing too. So many awaiting trails could be innocent and poor.  But they are there in overcrowded and congested prisons making one to wonder if justice is for the wealthy?

Here justice seems expensive and I don’t know why it is that so. Could it be real that laws are made  for the poor and not for the rich? You see, laws without justice is like a body without a soul. It is somehow mind blowing to know that by estimation over 4 billion people do not enjoy protection afforded by law.  That over 3 billion people living in countries of the world are violated of civic freedom according to the new CIVICUS monitor tool I’ve just used. Grass root access to justice is far fetched as law practice continues to be more concentrated in urban rich circles.  Law courts are located not in rural centers, lack of information, illiteracy, linguistic barriers, high cost for filling claims, coupled with entrenched stigma; all makes justice tall and far for poor. But I know that justice, I mean quality and timely justice can support development and eradicate poverty. Yet my eyes are on the justice gap in Nigeria.  I am only but a watchdog.

 Judicial system is made to look far from grass root people. Far and costly it is, that anarchy looms more in poor communities than in elite settlements. Can’t you see the gap between the judicial system and the masses? Can’t you see that courts are over stretched thereby making justice delayed. Can’t you see the masses becoming impatient to the extent that jungle justice is unbecoming in our society? That’s just some of the gap in the system and I think something new need to be done.

These gaps gives needful rising for Paralegal Services. Peradventure justice could be timely and court less burdened. Have you seen civil cases in Nigeria courts that have lingered for years endlessly? Whereas such need not be in first place.  A case that- Am sorry would have resolved in minute is all piled up in our courts. Where there are no Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism, and where there is, the poor do not know how to access same.
     Paralegals are not lawyers. They are barefoot advocates from Civil Society organization or Non Governmental Organizations. Lawyers can equally serve as paralegals too. But Paralegals are ordinarily community based volunteers who have experience and have received reasonable training in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Human Rights and Community Relations. They offer free first aid legal advice to clients – the poor. They resolve civil disputes and facilitate justice to most vulnerables in local communities. They also help and empower locales to know how to access justice by themselves for themselves.  Primarily, Paralegals help those without skills, income or sharp elbow to obtain fair redress.

In Nigeria, there has been some kicks from sections of lawyers and even Bar Associations on the quality and standard of training, data base mechanism of Community Based Paralegals.  The traditional/ community leaders have complained same that Paralegals have come to take over their duties and relevance. But is that true? Of course no, it is not. Paralegals works with all stakeholders and mostly on referrals to relevance authorities when need arises. They are not competing with any rather complementing what lawyers and Community leaders are doing.  

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In so many occasions, I have been asked on the legality of Paralegal service in Nigeria especially, the Law enforcement agencies that have refutably ignore recognizing who a Paralegal is. Others are not aware that Paralegals exists including poor indigent citizens whom are sole beneficiary of the service.

But if we are to lay to rest this entire conversion, we shall refer to the Act of Legal Aid Council 2011 Nigeria.
Legal Aid council Nigeria is an establishment under the Federal Ministry of Justice. It was established pursuant to the promulgation of Legal Aid Decree No.56 of 1976 later amended by the Legal Aid Act Cap L9, Law of Federation 2004, and now repealed by the Legal Aid Act 2011 to enhance the Rule of Law through the provision of free legal assistance and advice to indigents.

To be precise, Legal Aid Act 2011, part IV Section 17 states that; the council may grant licenses to persons who have undergone a prescribed course in Paralegals services to render such services in appropriate situations. The Act also authorizes the Council to partner with or otherwise engage the service of NGOs and law clinics that are engaged in the provision of legal aid or assistance to persons who are entitled to legal aid.

This section makes it clear as per where and how Paralegal service in Nigeria has got its legal soul.  In Nigeria, Paralegals are people from CSOs and NGOs with experience and training, and are typically resident in local communities where they work. Therefore, at this point it is imperative to highlight one of the global network and platform that I have come across with the named – #NAMATI  with a website www.namati.org  that works to give localized legal support and empowers groups of paralegals across the world.

In Nigeria, Global Rights, WARDC, CIRDDOC, Lawyer Alerts, CMRC, JEI, IWEI are on ground pioneering Paralegal services.

To this end, as BAN Ki Moon, former UN Secretary General once said, “We are all stakeholders in a collective enterprise to eradicate poverty, build a sustainable world and leave no one behind. Everybody’ future is at stake. That is why I want everybody to be informed and engaged”.

 And that is exactly what I am doing as a Paralegal by putting law skills and information into your hand, thereby creating awareness that will bridge justice gaps and make justice system more inclusive and closer to the people both socially and geographically.

To me, human rights are meaningless unless they can be enforced. I have always wanted to be paralegal. What about you?  Image result for paralegals  nigeria pictures (By Dennis Ekwere)

                                            

Mapping the gaps for African girls and women in technology

Sustainable Development Goal 5, Target 5.6 (b) is very clear; to enhance the use of enabling technology in particular Information Communication Technology to promote the empowerment of women.  From it I derive power to articulate on the possibility of achieving Goal 5 target 5.6(b) by 2030, 14 years from now. But am thinking if this target would be met with the situation at hand? Anyhow, I’ll let you be the judge.

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Technology is changing the world faster, although it is masculine and challenging, yet is worth noticing. One thing that is indisputable is that ICT seems snail in changing women world, as businesses that are feminine related take back seat in ICT drives. As less girls and women continue to miss out in ICT value chain and more men continue to into the ICT world, the balance is clear. Clear to the extent that, how many girls are taught how to develop computer applications, how many are computer literates, how many are into repairs of hand phones and computers, what are we doing to entice girls in digital career? It is superstitious to believe that ICT can promote promiscuous in women and is just an empty excuse.       Superstition is a big gap and still a comedy, yet is a strong influencing factor that has hold Africa men’ in captivity for so long too long no matter the background.  Undoubtedly, information technology communication vis a viz the internet has changed lives and is still changing lives, it has changed how we do things, what we do, when and where things are done. It has made the world more modern than time.  Close boundaries and open borders, rendered the world into small space for all. The only thing as I see that internet is yet to do is bridging gender gaps.  Gender inclusivity in technology could be reasonable thing to do if we want a better and safer world for all.  Gender inequality remains obstacle to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and Goal 5 in particular. It is unfair to know that Men still find it difficult to comprehend the undertone of SDG Goal 5 – i. e Gender Equality, and then tighten it in to technology. Think, what does gender equality really mean to men? As they used to ask- “do women want equate themselves men? Or what does United Nations mean by – gender equality? That question needs answer and I know you can tell. But you see it has been extremely difficult to explain this in Africa context to men folk.  It has been extremely difficulty to explain the meaning of “gender equality” to African men and is the root causes for resistance. If I may ask, why is it difficult for women advocates to really putting to bear what sort of equality they mean- when advocating for equality? Does this equality mean equating selves to men? What are the qualities of these qualities? What about the benefits now and in future, and even to the children and families? I think if some of this is answered, mindsets and perceptions can be shaped. You know, a lot of men pretend they know what gender and equality is, whereas not. They only turn back within their circle and frame it as affront. Do you know that there are so many misconceptions about gender equality in local communities? Up to global world view? Do a little survey and you will be shocked at your result.The educated men though hand few are worst at it, while the uneducated men don’t even want to hear about it.  Girls are viewed as weak that need no voice. Religiously, a gender is tail and man, the head. Africa perception widens the scope more and relegates women to domestic. I am aware that women and girls are less technologically savvy than men. I ask why? Why men are always trained for emerging opportunities and given priority to access same and on virgin times? Why are women left behind to learn about emerging opportunities later and given last chance to accessing same? Then I realized why the world isn’t fairing better. Imagine if internet educates a woman, isn’t it educating the world as they say?   Preparing girls and women with skills in technology can help, especially now that every job have digital component. Whether it is fruit selling, restaurant business etc, the knowledge of internet/technology can help. But the real problem in Africa is, most girls and women especially those in rural poor areas do not have access to internet, those that can access the internet access it at very high cost; internet is slow and breaking in connection. Internet coverage is still more urbanized; many more do not know how to use the internet with business sense or skill.  And I am disturbed.  Disturbed on what to do?UNESCO 2013 report indicates that 65 million children globally do not have access to education. 29 million girls are illiterate in Africa, while 17 million girls are out of schools in Africa. It is somewhat irrational when few men feel threatened when a women access education?  I mean for instance, how traumatic when we postulate that educated women are not marriageable and make them feel unfulfilled in societal setup.  I know though marriage is not the end but means of society alienation. However, all these narratives at times make our women vulnerable and less interested in becoming whom they are.     According to World Economic Forum 2016 Gender Gap Report, that we would not have gender equality in workplace for another 118 years, makes me to concur with the report and see how to contribute to turning the wheel.  As girls and women empowerment continues to be resisted by majority number of men, it makes me feel like the women led advocacy has not really helped matters, than creating gender enmity. And as I see, men resistance to gender equality is manifested in bullying, assaulting, bombing, kidnapping and murdering of gender activists. It is humble opinion that, women led advocacy should be reviewed.  Advocacies of gender should carry men along in their team work and open up dialogue with men at local levels to international. I will recommend that the UN Women should be led by men and let see if we wouldn’t have new result.     Image result for women in technology picture    From Kampala to Madagascar, girls and young women are doing their best to make impact in the international space. In Dakar, for instance Awa Caba is building e-commerce sites; where local fruits is being sold to citizens while improving their wellbeing. In Nigeria, Linda Ikeji of www.lindaikejisblog.com is using writing skills to write news stories on her blog and ranking with high income everyday amongst others. Therefore, women whom are best entrepreneurs all over the world should be trained on how to use the internet in expanding their social network, businesses, making new friends and contacts. And when this is done, the benefit will rob us all. (By Dennis Ekwere)

#WomenInTechnology

MALARIA FOR THE POOR

It is unthinkable but real what the poor amongst us face especially those living in slums. These set of starved and malnourished people find their health is in pitiable condition, and their environment are filthy; which allows mosquitoes to bread.  Poor health care is issue and affect poor children the more. Slum children are half starved with poor food intake; inadequate education, dirty water and other neglected welfare.  Poor pregnant women with their unborn children face high risk to mosquito bites; that can result in death. It will shock you to know that malaria kills over 300,000 children annually in Nigeria. This is unacceptable.Why does malaria still kill poor African children to date? To me, the answer is basically answered by those we elected into office. They seem they don’t really care about us.  Access to health care is just too expensive for the poor, and they are located in far distance places from the slums. At hospital or clinics, there are no drugs and the personnel are so lackadaisical. That is not best to define our Government hospital but the description is the real truth. The elected cares more on what comes into their pocket from health related contract. Take for instance what is made when monies meant for drainage systems in poor rural communities are embezzled? Or, when the contract for a drainage system is inadequately funded? Or when contractors of the drainage system do substandard jobs and walk away, and when he walks away, he is on health tourism in India, UK AND USA etc. Isn’t that bad? Isn’t that wickedness to the poor? So tell me why wouldn’t mosquito breed and kill the vulnerable?There are so campaigns estimated at millions of Naira for the fight of malaria in Nigeria and Africa in general, and the campaign seems too centered in urban cities than poorest of poor communities where we live.  Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with NetsforLife, a Non Government Organization with five other donors donated 6.3 million mosquito nets geared at free distribution across Africa. Have you seen the nets in your slums?  That is for another.  Society for Family Health is an NGO in Nigeria that is worth mentioned as they have over the years carried several campaigns on malaria prevention and eradication of malaria in Nigeria. They have done well in this.  Yet it is not utopia.Image result for mosquito  malaria  pictures africa

According to World Health Organization, malaria is still the leading cause of death among children under five in sub Sahara Africa. The disease cost Africa more than US$12 billion per annum in productivity loss.  Mosquito, a small flying blood sucking insect, is too dangerous than its size. Malaria is defined as a kind of fever conveyed by female mosquitoes called anopheles; which introduce parasites into the red blood cell by biting human. Mosquitoes are breed where there are no drainage provisions or were there are stagnated waters like gutters. It is only where majority poor lives that you’ll find no drainage systems, stagnated waters, dirt and waste dumping grounds.Do you know that a child with malaria will not get full benefit of improved schooling? Chronic malaria also stunt physical growth of a child, distort mental development of a child, hampers the exploitation of natural resources, reduces agricultural production and impairs industry and commence. Recently, Nigeria and Ghana has been pin-point as two African countries where travelers from UK who visited the countries contacted malaria diseases most. It was reported that in 2010, almost 40% of UK resident who contacted the disease had either visited the two countries.  Health Protection Agency (HPA) UK, therefore warns travelers to heed to advice on how to prevent malaria which is the world biggest killer, especially on their visit to the two malaria prone countries in Africa. That is alarming! This is sad, this is what the poor are left to face and battle everyday in Africa. Malaria kills and kill children the more. What are we to do? (By Dennis Ekwere)

TRIBALISM AS TOOL FOR NATIONAL UNITY IN NIGERIA

How can Nigeria survive as entity given political body language display by the north and the south pole of the country? The northeast is currently experiencing spill of insurgency while the militancy is in the south, drumming up drums of wars. Nigeria as it’s seems may need surgery and surgery for peace. Of recent violence has come to be the way of expression and over time, violence expression in Nigeria is expressed in a way that when someone from the Northern Muslims dominated populace rules as the president, then the Southern Christians dominated populace of the country will foment trouble and boil throughout that tenure.  So also it is, whenever someone from the Southern Christian dominated rules the country, the Northern Muslims dominated region will foment trouble and boils throughout that tenure. What could be the reason for this?  We shall see.

Nigeria coexist in disintegration as if it is option whereas not! So has the country been misery coexisting from the beginning and wandering for so long too long. This tension is not new and was there from the formation of the country. That was why the country operated in regions with interest at independence. Governance was structured on regions to avoid tribal clashes. Yet there was unity in  that diversity.   

From immemorial, human beings are designed to live together and not in isolation. In this stance, consciousness of kind leads to community living together as one. If  I am not wrong, human beings lives in communities and develop such community into small world guided by the rules of law. To me, the word “community” is not different from “tribe” as I shall try to convey. 
Reading through oxford dictionary, “tribe” is described as a group of people of the same race, customs, language, religion etc living together in a particular area, and often led by a chief (particularly in developing countries). 

Tribalism to me is behavior, attitude etc that are based on being loyal to a tribe or identified specific social group. Tribe and tribalism in Nigeria has influenced our behavior, attitude including the way we think and reason, and things we do every day. I will not blame nor start blaming myself if I am loyal to my region. But I will regret it if I am disloyal to my country – Nigeria. Image result for tribes of nigeria pictures

Tribalism though not evil is a great strength of any nation or country made of diverse linguistic groups uniquely with valuable cultural features to offer interchangeably on the national table. When you speak Yoruba, Ibibio, Hausa, Gwari, Ibo, Idoma etc make no mistake about it. It is the same as when someone speaks English, German, Spanish, and French etc. The only difference is that the English, German etc speaking people, addressees themselves as “Nationals” of their countries, while we speak ours and  accept to be addressed as “Natives or Tribes” in Nigeria. 

My uttermost crux is to see how we can pragmatically bridge our unity were we see ourselves as nationals than tribes. That is just one point to score. A situation where each tribe will compliment another’ weakness recognizing that we are of one race. Surely, our ancestors had survived the struggle for co-existing in what is now geographically identified as Nigeria. It is no doubt saying that we were and are racially homogeneous of Negroid race, on the account of our skin color, facial angle, hair texture etc if I don’t miss the point.  

However, it is factual that there are individual indigence of Nigeria that speaks common language and share common cultures, while many speaks common language and share different cultures. Others speaks different language and share common cultures. These were just reasons the colonial masters marked us out geographically as one people of peculiar similarity; which to my mind is the real meaning of Nigeria.

 I have so far researched all the tribes in Nigeria and realize that there is always one thing that we share in common and are interwoven. Above all, is that we are different tribes of one race. And it makes me to ponder why we fight at times. 
But like a seaman, who has drifted from salt to fresh waters, without knowing it, is to cast down our bucket where we are and draw fresh water to assuage our thirst. Yes, we must dig deep from our roots to discover the secret for our successful co existence. Long time ago, I read that Professor Eyo Ita during the 1949 constitution workings at Ibadan, cautioned and I would like to quote, “unity is certainly our best policy, but we must seek quite sincerely to secure genuine and durable unity”.  He went on to say “I am sure inequality of status and inequality of opportunity will not secure it to us”.  So I am wondering how genuine is our unity as at today.

In the same vein, Honorable S.O Awokoya added in concurrence to Prof Eyo Ita and I quote “Any regional autonomy we may desire must be such as is compatible with overall Nigeria interest”.  And today, people are talking on restructuring Nigeria. Whereas the above quotation were uttered 65 years ago when there were doubts about Nigeria living together as a nation. And at a time when effort were made to sow seeds of dissension among various nationalities. Nigeria I know will survive.

It is true that tribalism will continue to thrive until we are able to transfer allegiance from it into our nation completely; though it will take more generation to turn the tick. For now, if we can begin to strip our political parties of the paraphernalia of tribalism and regionalism politics to national, then we will begin producing national leaderships that will be acceptable to all irrespective of tribe or region for national unity. It is my view that everybody needs somebody, for without an individual, there can be no community, without community there will be no tribe, and without tribes there will be no nations. It takes individuals to form a community. It takes community to form a tribe; it takes a tribe to form a nation. 

We must begin to see ourselves as Nigerian Nationals and not tribes. We must recognize our differences and build on our unity in diversity. That way Nigeria shall rise again.   (By Dennis Ekwere)  

#Nigeria #NationalUnity #restructuringNigeria

EBOLA PANDEMONIUM

The world woke up one day and discovered the resurgence of the Ebola virus disease, which was first known in 1976 without much attention to it at that time.  The virus has developed and is killing in no time, less than 21 days from day of infection.  The virus causes internal parts of the body to lose blood and usually ends in death. So far, there is no cure. The only option is quarantine.
The virus made its way to Nigeria through late Liberian Patrick Sawyer, who came to attend an ECOWAS meeting and suddenly started complaining and showing signs of fever, loss of appetite, weakness, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, joint pains, difficulty in swallowing, difficulty in breathing, hiccups, blood in vomit, blood from eyes, nose and ears.  He was rushed to the hospital before being diagnosed as an Ebola victim, where he died.  That was the genesis of Ebola virus being transported into Nigeria. It is causing so much pandemonium beyond fiction.
On its arrival, traditionalists stood against it and claimed that bitter Kola nuts are the cure for Ebola. Before you know it, bitter kola nuts almost got finished in the marketplace. Then the information from the Ministry of Health debunking the claim came, and bitter kola nuts marketability return to status quo. What gave room to this superstitious belief was that the people were apprehensive and there was no timely sensitization program to educate the public about what Ebola virus is, and what it is not. The public then became vulnerable.
News broke out that the first Nigerian to die of Ebola was the health worker who treated the late Liberian victim. The public couldn’t wait any longer as there was just nobody communicating with them, so the available information was taken as truth. News flew all over the country, especially on the social media, text messages and phone calls; from friends to friends, parents to children, neighbour to neighbour, and vice versa.  Salt water taken to bath at midnight on a specific date was reported as the only remedy to Ebola virus. Better still, that the salt water solution must be drunk as well.  The claim was that a certain traditional chieftain will be praying over salt water solutions, and people were requested to put a bucket out in the open at midnight before bathing and drinking from it for cleansing. That midnight of salt water solution prayer was like a noon day for few minutes in Nigeria.  People stayed awake, some bathing, some drinking while so many went on a spree for salt. The day after the salt water solution intake were a handful of dead.  Yet these were people running from deadly Ebola virus.  Could this have been ignorance? The Ministry of Health came out after few days to debunk the salt water solution. What is really more difficult about communicating than in debunking?
For your information, Ebola virus is spread mainly by contact with bodily fluid of the person infected. The virus has changed the way of life of most people. People no longer shake hands with people any more, communion at worship centers is no more given in cups but into bare palm hands, kissing in whatever guise has been limited, those playing physical games like football are not going to field for fear of sweat and so on.  But interestingly, frequent washing of hands by disinfectant can help reduce vulnerability to infection of Ebola virus. (By Dennis Ekwere)

IF YOU HAVE A TOILET, YOU ARE BLESSED

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If you are living in my neighborhood and in a slum, you will know the importance of.having a toilet. Every morning when you wake up and anytime you want to defecate, it is a game.  In my community, every morning you will see many people walking towards railway track nearer to bush trunk to defecate, in any field, any farm land is just good to go. But as good to go it looks, that always bring back diseases when rain pushes back the water to us to drink. Open defecation cut across male and female, elderly, youths and children without borders. Th.is people are not happy about their situation but are helpless. In the sense that they are poor and need help, help that seems too far. Think about it, why do people build houses for rent and for people without providing toilet facilities for those that will be living in? Why has Government not really taken water and sanitation as priority? And then why has Water and Sanitation ministries working in isolation with ministry of Health in most poor countries? This I find difficult to explain.  I mean hard to understand as well. Sometimes when I see some people driving in their cars with families to defecate in open fields happily and drive back home, I wondered what is wrong with us?If you are reading this post and you have a toilet, you are blessed. Because so many do not have, and wish they do. Do you know that 1 in 3 people world wide don’t a have proper toilet?  Could you take out time to appreciate your toilet? Imagine if you hadn’t the mess and diseases this would have caused you.  In reality, over 2.5 billion people globally do not have access to toilet and the number is increasing everyday.  I am thinking of the effect of diseases emanating from open defecation to the poor with the inherent expensive health care service delivery. I am thinking if it will not be sensible to tackle open defecation head-on and provide toilets to people to reduce new infection and diseases, rather than Government and donor agencies interventions; for provision of health care treatment to diseased, when the disease can be curtailed from the root. To me, provision of toilet facilities to the people is cheaper than provision of health care treatment, no matter how we look at it at the long run.  Nigeria is one of the most failing countries in the world on access to sanitation. Available data record Nigeria showing worsening trends – with a disheartening and steady decline in the number of people with access to improved sanitation facilities and increase in open defecation.  In fact, in urban areas vis a viz where there are slums, the number of people defecating in open has more than double over the past 25 years and will continue if we do nothing about it. So many people lack access to water and sanitation especially, the most vulnerable in the society which include children and women, the elderly and people with disability. Water and sanitation situation in slums are extremely poor and is deepened by poverty.  Poor sanitation, access to clean water affects their health ignorantly and has recorded high number deaths especially among the vulnerable children and women than any other.  Lack of access to information about sanitation could be traced to the root of the problem, and which is threatening to eliminate more lives.At schools in slums, are no toilets and if they do are in terrifying state.  I am aware that one of the main reasons why school enrollment or population usually drops at schools is lack of toilet facilities. Girls are worst hit by this. Imagine how a new toilet facilities can motivate young people to come to school, and then you will know that we have so  much work to do. Think about it, how much is it to build a toilet? And consider why toilet should make children drop out of school. How much illiteracy will cost us and younger generation, because of toilet?It is on record that 110 million Nigerians do not have access to toilet and that is huge from the nation’s population of 180 million. Of truth, toilet is a big problem in Nigeria, but this issue is overlooked and is not brought to the fore.  I learn that there is a frame work to eliminate open defecation in Nigeria by 2025. The frame work based on projection from 2009-2017, is expected to at least make toilet accessible to 118 million between 2015 and 2025. And make Nigeria open defecation free by 2025. But that’s  a tall dream.

Please note: if you have read and find it relevance, share the blog please.

This write up is dedicated to World Toilet Day on every 19th November. What will you do about toilet? THINK IT. (By Dennis Ekwere)

LEAVING MANY BEHIND. SHALL WE?

When conflict crisis occur and you are running for safety, think about how the blinds run for cover? Think about how the deaf are communicated about what is happening in such coerced situation? Not to talk of others living with disability, they struggle for safety that is difficult. The assumption is that there are no data globally to track and show how many persons with disability are killed during violent conflict, or conflict caused by able bodied persons. Come to think of it for instance in Nigeria, how many people with disabilities are left behind in poverty, how individual, families and society marginalized them, how Government programs are less focus on them, how policies are made without them, how they are left out of governance and democracy and why they can barely own properties and so on and so forth. All this is a burden to them and I wondered sometimes, why Olympic Games and Paralympics are timed marginalized. I will leave that question for you to answer?    To my mind, all this leaves so many people behind on their minds and I am asking how Sustainable Development Goals of “Leaving No One Behind” would be achieved,14 years from now? Of the 17 SDGs, goal 8, 11 and 16 respectively is geared at promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment and decent work for all; make cities and human settlement inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Promote access to justice for all and build effective, accountable inclusive institutions at all levels.In Nigeria, person with disability are neglected from childhood as they are seen as a “cause” to parents. They are groomed as weak, and good for  nothing children. The worst are female amongst them. They are abandoned and refused education. This pushes many of them into prostitution, vulnerability for infection including HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies, drug abuse, forced marriage and deepen poverty. But to my mind, I know the door to disability is not closed in as much as we are alive, any can become. If that will make us change our minds the way we treat them, so be it. I wish we can treat this people as equal. They are human too. And all human are born equal.

There are so many reasons and causes for disability and most of them are as result of violent crisis, road and industrial accident, poor nutrition, lack of access to quality heath care, environmental pollution, unacceptability of immunization etc.  Unfortunately, most people with disability are with it not by choice, some out of negligence of parents and many due to irresponsible governance.At schools and jobs opening, they are marginalized and left in isolation which often results in street begging for survival. Technologically, how friendly are we with this group? What are chances of soft and hard ware or web application development is targeted this group,  to enable them easy access to the internet? And you will realize we had left many behind for so long. An accessible internet for all holds enormous potential to heighten the inclusion of people with disabilities, facilitating telework, online education, participation in e-government, and formation of relationships that overcome barriers and challenges in the physical world. 
“Leaving No One Behind” is good goal set as target in achieving SDGs by 2030. Meaning that and by implication to the context of this write up, everybody irrespective of whom you are, what and how you are, should be carried along so his/her voice would be heard.

In Nigeria, is difficult task for bill to protect people with disability to be passed for over a decade and counting. That is not justifying and is not inclusive at all. That, a bill for persons with disability has been with Nigerian law makers for that long without accent? Iss equals to nothing been done at all.

This is excusable on the difference in view with Government/law makers and people with disability. In short, how many law makers are people with disability? Do they really know what these people face? They do not feel the need for the passage of the bill. Ask if our President have adviser for people with disability? But take a look at how many advisers he have? Then you will conclude on why they consider that people with disability lives doesn’t matter? But I tell you it does. Learn to carry all along so that we wouldn’t leave no one behind.  (By Dennis Ekwere)

AFRICAN YOUTHS IN EXODUS FOR GREENER PASTURES

There’s a big problem of complex among some young Africans and that problem is majorly in thinking faculty; that, going abroad is a greener pasture. That’ not true. So I put to you, there is no greener pasture anywhere like your home- country and where you come from.  Until we get this into our skull about it, the Mediterranean sea will never seized to be death trap, and is recording increasing number of dead of young Africans swallowed in droves on the rough high sea. I just do not know what is pursuing them abroad.  Take it or leave it, any young person that is unable to make it at home, can not or will find it equally difficult making it abroad. You see, to live or reside in abroad requires hard work, and most job opportunities for irregular are cheap manual labor that you wouldn’t ordinarily do in your country.  So what’s the point?Do you know why do young people risk their lives at all cost to traveling abroad without a destination, permits or money in pocket at arrival? To arrive in a foreign land without where to sleep, food to eat could be traumatic, and starting a life in street as if one is a psycho- man could be another thing entirely?  I have seen people in work in Africa, selling their properties to gather money to travel abroad with the hope of getting a better job, which they never. I have seen parents collecting loans from bank to fund their daughter to travel abroad in anticipation of return on investment, which usually result in the girl’s death of HIV/AIDS. I have seen where Men traveled with children in pretense as theirs, only to sell  these children for a token, and at which these children are used to cause accidents specifically in the Saudi Arabia ; by pushing these children into a high speed moving vehicles, to  jam and kill them so they can turn around and claim damages. Imagine what people do for money? What is more wickedness than this? So you can tell me what is it I have not seen? But that is just the picture.

Image result for PICTURE OF MIGRATION

Back to the point I asked, why young Africans want to travel abroad by all means? Or will you blame this young people in totality for their actions?  Wanting to leave this country in droves? To my mind is where there is hunger there is likely hood of migration. Where there is poverty and joblessness there is likely hood of migration. Where there is war and conflict, inequality and bad governance there is likely hood of migration. And this entire likely hood is in Africa and I don’t know why Africa. To me, migration in its self is not criminal per se, but when it is irregular, it can be viewed illegal by the entering country and as security threat.  Most times at borders migrants are arrested, roughed handled, tortured and killed, while so many are languishing in jailed criminally in Asia, Europe and America. This migrants are usually maltreated may be because they are from Africa and is out of racial discrimination and Xenophobia. But funny enough, even most of those African youths that are arrested and detained in jail themselves have refused to identify with their identities and reject their Government interventions in returning them back in their various African Countries for reintegration. That too goes to show you the rooted mentality we have that greener pasture is not in Africa by African. It is such is pity! But to those irregular migrants whose have found their way into Europe, Asia and America from Africa, they are currently into modern day slavery.  Ask me why? Their condition there is not better than when there were in Africa. They see good life but can not access it. But the truth of the matter is that, Americans, Europeans, Asians enjoys such migrants and recognizes the potentials, which they absorb and provide available labor jobs to them.  These jobs are jobs that do not have dignity nor add value to them. Me, I want to go home. Am tired of Asia, Europe and America, I want to go back to Africa. To eat fresh food and enjoy nature, there is nothing here than artificial life’s.     And now Am back home, I will be telling youths that going abroad was a waste of time. Excerpt I had gone for study and not hustle on the street and smoke all sort. That better is when they use their active years of lives to develop Africa. Else going abroad will make weak and weary at old age.  Worrisome is the rate of women taking the lead in this mass movement.  According to UN statistics, 244 million migrants are living abroad. These migrants make their ways through the Mediterranean Sea by boat, and these boats do capsized, killing our teeming youths in droves. Most of the boat cap siding is never captured in the media and till tomorrow young lives are cut off in this deadly sea route to abroad.  To some that are migrating by road, they are stocked in the desert and killed by hunger and thirst. After drinking their urine as water to be dehydrated to death, you will then understand you do not need this road to greener pasture. Oh, what manner of greener pasture! When I think of it, I now know that I do not need this manner of greener pasture and is extremely not worth the risk? And you need to let others know of it too.You see migration most at times result into trafficking and don’t just happen. It is an organized crime. It starts when some one is desirous and apprehensive to move abroad. You will meet or will be approached, introduced by and to those into Visa racketing. Some of them go into poor local communities, led by family members, known people and community members who lure vulnerable youths with promising annotations of job opportunities in Europe, Asia and America.  These opportunities never existed nor will exist. Young girls are taken out of African abroad to serve as sex toolkits in prostitution. Image result for PICTURE OF MIGRATION IN PROSTITUTIONThese young Africans girls are exploited sexually to sleep with all kind of animals for experiment.  These girls are mostly under 20 years old and are traded for commercial sex to over 30 men daily, without protection. So I ask you, who are these old men paying for these girls to be brought into Europe, Asia and America? And I will tell you they are not Africans. African is only used as the kingpin for the trade. And is senseless, shameful and heartless to humanity, they will pay for it one day.  African leaders have got a lot to do on this migration issue, not that Africans migrant abroad more than others. No, but it is the way and manner others maltreatment Africans as slaves while on migration, that need to looked into. I will like to look and see Africa where jobs are created from sustainable agriculture and ICT. I will like strong legislation restricting foreigners from stealing our natural resources just to refine same and sold at higher exchange rate back to us again; – that is no common sense! I will like to see development of cooperation with others to respect our identity as Africans. I will like to see Africa where trust in the land is rebuild for young people and by young people. It is my dream to see African youths tap from the prowess of Africa and began a new process of leadership where we will find that greener pasture right here in the land.  I think so, don’t you? (By Dennis Ekwere).

Spreading Human Rights at Classrooms

Image result for picture of the judiciary      
It is still unimaginable that so many people in Nigeria have never heard of, nor know what human rights is or are.  And this is true. Young people grow up old and live with violations of their rights everyday as if it’s a norm, in different local communities. Human rights and justice guaranty peace in any society and if checked:any where there is violence, is where there has been infringement of people’s rights, and or where justice is denied. My point however is, that hand few of people that knows their rights, barely educate others about it, nor step down the knowledge. Hence the big gap hanging.

More so, many people grow up with notion that Human Rights do not exist, and where it exist is unenforceable as justice seems to be for sale to the highest bidder, and laws are only meant for indigents. Why?

 But getting children to know about Human Rights on time can help us break cycle of wrong notions during their formative age, and rejuvenate a peaceful society where all are equal before the law, as we begin an inclusive communities where no one is leave behind.  

In Nigeria, from the North is insurgency by Boko Haram, and to the South is militancy by Niger Delta Avengers, all with tone of injustices and impunity.  Violation of Human Rights had fuel several agitations that have snowballed in emerging violence crime in today’s Nigeria like insurgency, militancy, kidnapping among others. The agitation is simply for a new Nigeria, coming from violent actors from the camp of Boko Haram and Niger Delta Avengers including IPOB.

Their claim among others is that governance is highly corrupt. But could this claim be wrong and senseless? And I say No, in the wisdom that their claim of corruption is true. Corruption is a big problem in Nigeria and in other African countries. But as you know, corruption infringes on people’s Rights to Education, Right to Health, Rights to Life etc.

Wondering when an elected or  public officer embezzle public funds meant for every day people? Wondering how do we hold them accountable? As well, wondering why citizens are just so docile for their ownership to be carted away. Then I will say yes again to the claim, but how weak and  senseless given the approach they are using.

I mean using violence against the nation and citizens for justice? That is just so uncivilized. Whereas, there are non violent ways this issues could be raised for attention and for redress, only that when people don’t know it, they can not use it. One can not use what they don’t know.Every person is entitled to certain rights – simply by the fact that they are human beings.  Human Rights allow individuals to be, to do and to have. These rights are for all and are to protect people from harm and hurt, especially indigent children. The Rights are also there to help people get along with each other; and ultimately live in peace. In as much as people don’t know about these rights, will there be no peace.

The society suffers for our ignorance as displayed in random self help violence across the country. So I ask a question? Who will take Human Rights message to young people in Nigeria, so peace can be? How can we resolve and break cycles of violence crimes from France to Kenya, Mexico to Italy and Malaysia to South Africa etc for global peace? Could I be the right one to answer this call? Or rather put, could it then be me and you, that should answer this call? And I realized that, we are the one. 

Spreading Human Rights to Classroom is a concrete attempt to bringing human rights education into 25 secondary schools located in poor vulnerable communities within Kaduna States, Nigeria as pilot. Children and Young People Living for Peace is a local Nigeria NGO that will be driving this campaign. The campaign will use educational materials to explain each right as written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to school students in their respective classrooms during school time. The educational/awareness materials are flyers, stickers, posters and DVD film to create awareness, mobilize people and amplify voice of voiceless. It is to impress Human Rights knowledge on formative minds so that as they grow, they can grow up with it and become advocate for tolerance and peace.   (By Dennis Ekwere). 

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