Posted in BIBLICAL EXEGESIS, Prose, Religion

The Manner of Manna – 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

By

Noel Ihebuzor

The 18th Sunday readings speak to our times.

These are hard times.

Food insecurity stalks the globe. Humanity grapples with the challenges of moral choices, consumerism holds the hearts and minds of men and women hostage, and rising savagery and wars with heavy undertones of bestiality bedevil our world. Merchants of misinformation and disinformation, of division and gain seeking distortion deceive people and lead them blinkered on to slippery slopes of false boundaries and exclusions.
The “Moseses” we see around us are false ones, all big talk and no action. They are sellers of false promises and dope, experts in denials, double talk, retractions and somersaults. The few “Amoses” we had have become compromised and most have abandonned themselves to selective amnesia and expedient associations.
We are in the desert. The desert seeks to invade us with its aridity and sterility.
Yes, these are hard times, but we must hang on there in faith, refusing to surrender to despair. We must stand firm against the invasion of any sense of futility.
God is there for us. Just like He heard the pleas of the Israelites, He will hear ours. In the same manner that He fed them with Manna will He also feed us. But ours will be a manna that feeds the body, nourishes the spirit, removes despair and restores the buoyancy of the soul. Positivity will return and in time, true leaders will emerge who will lead us to inclusive development, a development that welcomes us all, includes us all and where dividends and benefits of democracy are shared not by how one voted but by a spirit led sense of equity, justice, fair play and love.
Happy Sunday
Posted in Politics, Prose

Drawing Lines in the Sands of Time

By

Noel Ihebuzor

One hears a lot of things these days. But one has learnt never to believe most of them as we are now in a time of easy retractions and of claims of either being misunderstood, being misquoted or being quoted out of context. Shehu Garba and Femi Adesina, both presidential spokespersons, have now become experts in such methods of denial.  But wilI their skills stop speakers from speaking and hearers from hearing what was said at those increasingly frequent moments when the mouth appears to run ahead of and faster the brain?  “Mouth run” is a hazard and the best cure for it is a padlock but such a solution is painful and also violates a fundamental human right.

I hear the General has now decreed, yes, decreed that the probes into corruption in Nigeria will now be limited to the period when President Jonathan was in power. Femi Adesina has come forward to defend and justify this cut-off line that his principal has now drawn in the sands of Nigerian time. Note that this new cut-off line represents a departure from earlier indications that the period of “PDP misrule” (1999-2015) was going to come under serious probe.

The first question then is – what really prompted this departure? Logistics, fear of OBJ, fear of offending northern sensitivities by any focus on the short period of the Yar’Adua presidency? Nigerians are no fools and can read beyond the lines.  And lines that are purposefully drawn to include some and to exclude others represent the worst forms of arbitrariness and dishonesty, both of which have no place in good governance.

The second question is why the narrow focus? There are myriads of corruption allegations all over Nigeria starting from accusations of a $2.8 billion scam, to outright screaming headlines of an alleged heist by Halliburton that are yet to be closed out. Allegations such as these merit the attention of anybody genuinely interested in fighting corruption.

The third question is this – why this exclusive focus on the federal level? Are we suggesting that crooked deals at the state and LGA levels are unworthy of attention and prosecution?

The fight against corruption is not one of “pick and choose”. A selective approach calls into question the ultimate intentions of persons posing as anti-corruption crusaders. It exposes them to legitimate accusations of witch hunting and of attempting to use state powers in the pursuit of personal vendettas. It is worth reminding ourselves that whenever the instruments of state power are hijacked for personal pursuits, we are dealing with a case of abuse of power, and abuse of power is also a form of corruption. Let those who are drawing lines in the sands of time note that line drawings driven by vendetta and spite will eventually turn around and catch the same drawers. Finally, credibility is a requisite attribute of all who must fight corruption. Acts by corruption fighters that undermine this credibility will eventually sink the anti-corruption crusader.

Posted in Politics, Prose

General Buhari and P-Square

By 

Noel Ihebuzor

Who would ever have believed that the Okoye Brothers (Paul and Peter – PSquare) had this amount of influence, and that the influence extended even to the highest citizen of the land? That is the power of artists – their influence can be so insidious that we often internalize their messages without our being conscious that such internalization is going on. General Buhari’s recent 97% and 5% talk is a classic example.

PSquare sang: “if you do me, I do you, God no go vex” and the General must have taken the message in this modern day rendition of a mosaic injunction to heart as a guiding philosophy of life. This guiding philosophy then found a convenient outlet in the 97% and 5% comment. Never mind that the mathematics is wrong. Never mind that the forum chosen to express this personal philosophy of governance and political payback (with commonly owned assets) was the worst. The comment is no slip of the tongue. It is a comment that swells from deep within. It defines the man and it tells us what to expect in the coming months and years. Such a comment is most unworthy of any statesman or national leader. It betrays pettiness. It betrays vengefulness. It also betrays a regrettable and fundamental sectionalism. It is thus a public relation and governance disaster. It is a tasteless howler. The timing for this latest howler is also most appropriate. It happened in the public glare of spectators who had come to watch a sales and image laundering exercise. The gaffe turned it indirectly into a media disaster, an apt exercise in self-revelation/disclosure and a true commentary on one’s competence, social vision, and intellectual depth.  In a single blow, the 97% and 5% gaffe thus gave a lie to all the hype and posturing of image launderers, scattering them all as “wash” in full public glare.

The French novelist, Victor Hugo said–“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come”. Let me end this short piece by inflicting on the reader a very mischievous adaptation of that same saying. Here goes – “Nothing is as inevitable as a disaster whose time has come”.  I am sure that Mr. Hugo would agree that this adaptation rhymes well with our present charade and that it fits the current parade of governance clumsiness like a glove.

Posted in Politics, Prose

Achievements and their claimants

By

Noel Ihebuzor

It is amazing how much we can “ACHIEVE” when we define our targets with such looseness and when we bring down the bar of metrics to very low points. When we do that, waking up becomes an achievement and brushing one’s teeth becomes a super achievement. In a climate of loose definitions and lowered expectations, leaders in search of achievements to celebrate do not need look too far. Visiting a school becomes an achievement. Receiving a group of citizens is celebrated with the same panache reserved for the discovery of a new economic theory. It should therefore not surprise that our new kid on the block has ACHIEVED so much because of the slack targets & loose indicators that his media team and supporters have been and are still pushing for him. But those who must claim or sell achievements should first read up impact, causal theory, logic models and attribution theory. Claiming trivia and the mundane as achievements simply trivializes serious business and the claimants. Worse still, claiming responsibility for the success of events conceptualized, planned, nursed and “ante-natal cared’ for by another before your arrival is plagiarism. Hoha!

Posted in Poetry, Politics, Prose

wEtin dey hAppen?

by

Noel Ihebuzor

Spiralling out of control, spinning,
tumbling into free fall,
our Nero chases rodents
his followers cheer on,
reason & vision drowned

I had just read a report of a Bomb explosion in PH this morning.

Yesterday, ChannelsTV reported that GMB made very critical remarks on the GEJ’s administration’s handling of the BH insurgency when the BBOG group, who were strategic allies in GMB’s campaign, came calling. He forgot to tell his audience that at critical moments in the GEJ government’s efforts to deal with BH, He (GMB) made remarks calculated to discourage any robust muscling up of effort. He forgot to mention that of some his unfortunate cooments sounded like poorly disguised apologia for the BH savages. Even worse was the fact that GMB was making those remarks at the BBOG reception against the backdrop of his own seeming inability to respond creatively to the recrudescence of BH carnage right under his nose and on his incipient 40 day old watch. I almost flipped. Your house dey burn, you dey chase mouse, playing blame games, looking for cheap popularity and offering hollow over-used excuses! So I hastily scribbled these incoherent lines in the poem above as catharsis. Forgive the imperfections.

Posted in Prose

Ramblings and Jottings on Corruption

by

Noel Ihebuzor

I scribbled these ramblings and jottings on corruption way back in 2012 and published them on my other blog. A reading and review of these jottings now acquire an enhanced relevance given that the incoming Buhari administration was part marketed to the Nigerian electorate using the fight against corruption as a sound byte. Administrations can only combat what they understand – and understanding presupposes sound problem conceptualization and adequate causality analysis. The hope is that a reading of these ramblings and jottings will prompt such. It is also hoped that they will set the nation on a course of action to correctly and sustainably tackle corruption, a course of action that would involve a blend of preventive, punitive and corrective measures. Populist approaches (high drama, handcuffs and histrionics) to tackling corruption are very attractive and the photo and media pecks they bring are numerous but such approaches are hardly ever sustainable. Sustainable approaches involve the judicious blend of environmental control, internal controls, incentives, deterrence, sanctions, positive deviance and behaviour change. We hope that policy makers and corruption fighters will read these ramblings and jottings, reflect on them and apply the useful ones in their fight against corruption. Goodluck!

PS/ In a related reading on this blog, I discuss the need for fast but fair prosecution of corruption cases. In a number of situations, the failure of the judiciary to achieve this is a major inhibitor to the effective fight against corruption.

Posted in Politics, Prose

Jonathan, the real change!

My cousin and friend, Reg Ihebuzor,  with whom I regularly engage in discussions on development and politics, pointed out to me today that President Jonathan by his utterances and actions represents real change and that indeed the mantra of real change fits him like a glove. He reminded me of the following products of President Jonathan as proof of this real change mantra.

  1. Almajari Schools – never been done before
    2. Stopping corruption in fertiliser – never been done before
    3. Starting 2nd Niger Bridge – never been done before
    4. Revamping railways – never been done for 20 years
    5. Revamping 14 airport terminals – not been done
    6. Appointing more women in responsible positions – never been done
    7. National conference for effective federalism – never been done before
    8. You-win for youths – never been done before
    9. Reform of power sector – never been done
    10.Reform payment system in public sector to stop corruption – never been done.

He contrasts these evidences of real change with startling evidence of the rigidity of Buhari, of Buhari’s incapacity for change and his inflexibility, all the more startling given Buhari’s change campaign slogan. He cited the following as evidence of inability to understand change and to change :

  1. Arrogant Dictator – unchanged. “If you do not like Me, go and vote for the other party”
  2. Unchanging attitude towards his role in the PTF heist and the gross management ineptitude he displayed
  3. Unrepentant and unchanging attitude towards the post election violence by his supporters in 2011
  4. Unrepentant and unchanging attitude towards his current association with politicians with shady and corrupt pasts.
  5. Unchanging attitude towards retroactive laws that resulted in deaths. So, no apologies for retroactive laws
  6. Unchanging arrogance –  “I can’t change the past” and unwillingness to retract utterances he made in the past which are indicative of outright religious bigotry
  7. Unchanging attitude towards decrees 2 and 4
  8. No change in attitude towards his overthrow of a democratically elected government.
  9. No apologies for jailing democratically elected political leaders.
  10. No change in his attitude towards the unresolved certificate issue.

Whatever Buhari is, he certainly is not change. Buyer, beware! Choose wisely.

Posted in Prose

Change and credible criticism

by

Noel Ihebuzor

  1. The possibility of alternation is one of the biggest benefits of democracy, but meaningful alternation is reason and cost benefit analysis driven.
  2. Change is often mistaken for a “replace with anything” sell & mindset. That is not change. Change is value adding & positive.
  3. If it is not value adding, then it is not and cannot be change.
  4. Some folks believe that the surest way to market themselves as change agents is to engage in endless criticisms of those in power.
  5. They criticize, trivialize and oppose whatever it is that the person in power does.
  6. Such an attitude and mindset soon give rise to a malignancy which I call serial opposition disorder, SOD.
  7. SOD as a malignancy leads to the spawning of mindless and non-credible criticisms.
  8. To be credible criticisms must be context sensitive and more importantly provide valid and feasible alternative lines of action.
  9. Non-credible and invalid criticisms are usually driven by spite, ignorance, ambition, bias, arrogance and selfishness.
Posted in Politics, Prose

If good news gives you a bad headache, then you need APC

By

Noel Ihebuzor

Rejoice with the good, celebrate the positive and come away from criticism for criticism’s sake. It is sterile and cheap – a plea for sense and moderation.

  1. The attitude of the APC leadership to the military campaigns in the North East is baffling and appears unpatriotic.
  2. APC leadership appears to rejoice at news of any reversals or loss of men/territory/weaponry by our military.
  3. Elements of this party leadership mocked and teased the military and the presidency over the debacle that was the failed cease fire.
  4. Recall that the ceasefire was conceived primarily to ease suffering and to explore solutions to the insurgency, not to score political points.
  5. The same party leadership guffawed when the attempt to purchase arms through SA failed. The weapons were to improve the operational efficiency of the military.
  6. Improving the operational efficiency of the military was meant to help the military quickly degrade the BH, not about elections.
  7. The military has now acquired new weaponry, morale is on the rise and battle tide has turned and the APC leadership is unhappy.
  8. The APC leadership now accuses the military and the presidency of politics. They claim the timing of these military gains is political.
  9. What is the APC leadership telling Nigerians? That they prefer Nigerian territory to remain under insurgent control till after the elections?
  10. That they prefer Nigerian men and women who have suffered to continue to suffer till after the elections? That they put electoral ambitions ahead of consideration of the emotional health, safety and security of Nigerians?
  11. These are the messages that the APC leadership is sending out to Nigerians, wittingly or unwittingly.
  12. Such messages are clearly unpatriotic. Please let us all rejoice with our troops who are liberating territories.
  13. Let us salute the gallantry of the military. The sacrifices they make go beyond petty politics.
  14. Certain things go beyond politics and it requires a large heart, decency, dignity and patriotism to see and appreciate such.
  15. Where good news about your country consistenlty gives you a bad headache, then something is definitely wrong – some debilitating conditions present in this way! Time to seek help as neither APC nor Codeine nor Paracetamol can provide any lasting cure.
Posted in BIBLICAL EXEGESIS, Prose

Wishing you a Wonderful Valentine Day

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

14 February, A Special Day dedicated to Love, a badly needed commodity in our present day world where petty ambitions, greed, short-termism, myopia, concupiscence, materialism, commercialism, ethnicity and all forms of bigotry conspire to strangle all the vestiges of this decent emotion called LOVE in all of us, and to dessicate us and to make us hollow and hollowing men and women. A world without love celebrates the triumph of sterility, hopelessness, emotional drought, angst,  social disconnect in manners that remind us of portions of TS Eliot’s “WASTELAND” or Bob Dylan’s “A hard Rain a-gonna fall” – and this is the general direction of our drift in a world now marked increasingly by impersonality, indifference, violence, anonymity and consumerism – all of this because of the death of true love

Without Love, we are thus nothing. Let us then commit today to rediscover, to reinvent, to refresh and reactivate LOVE in each of our individual lives, to show it to all around us, to share it with all we meet and to convert this world to a beautiful peaceful garden filled and blessed with LOVE, a garden in perpetual bloom and blossom, where harmony becomes the background rhythm that inspires, challenges and animates all humanity. As economists and public policy experts would tell us, LOVE is one of those items whose sharing and consumption are non-rival in nature. The quantity of LOVE in the world does not decrease the more you share it with people – rather it increases!
Share LOVE today. Happy Valentine Day……and just to remind us all what love is, here is a link line to one its best descriptions in the new testament of the Christian scriptures. I have also printed it out in full for friends who may not have internet connection. It is a beautiful passage, worth committing to memory and to be called up in each of life’s encounters . One amazing feature of love is this – Love never ends.
The Way of Love
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
 13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Beautiful passage! Now apply it! Go on, show some love today. Share some love today – I mean real love, not those narcissistic and self serving displays we often call Love. Real love involves giving “a la Mother Theresa”. It demands the control and domestication of our impulses and the recognition of the needs and interests of others. Real love involves sharing and caring. It involves the recognition of a shared humanity with others, a shared humanity which then makes us see God in the faces and needs of those around us. To love is to sacrifice. It is to give in humility and to find love and joy in so giving and helping others to grow, to self actualize, to bloom and to blossom.
Go on, share and show some love today – to your spouse, your partner, your children, your family, your neighbours, your parents, your colleagues etc.. The world will be hapier because you did.
Noel