Friday, 26 June 2009

Tribute To Michael Jackson

I am still in shock and speechless as a result of the breaking news of the death of Michael Jackson and am yet to come to the fact that this could happen at this point in time. My qualm stems from the fact that Michael is a household name you cannot do without and this is true.

Love him or hate him, loathe him or accept him, Michael is a genius only comparable to the likes of Einstein and Darwin. He was a superstar, very unique and original in his talent and most of his songs never had a precedent or were successfully copied. He loved and worshipped talent that he is willing to spend whatever it takes to produce the best music videos and Thriller is a tribute to that hard work and ingenuity. He is simply an icon and to be honest it is difficult to explain a giant and an enigma called Michael Jackson.

I belong to the age of Michael Jackson because I was born shortly before the Thriller was released and therefore all we could listen to as young boys growing in Africa was Jackson. In fact Jackson was very popular during my childhood that no matter what, every child must stop what they are doing to dance to the beats and tunes of any of Michael Jackson’s songs especially the Thriller whenever it is played on the radio or then black and white television.

Thriller, which he released in 1982, is the biggest-selling album of all time, shifting 65m copies, according to the Guinness Book of Records. We are yet to see anyone beat that record.

As a young boy Jackson put most of us into trouble because often we would leave our chores to spend more time dancing to the style of Michael Jackson especially the break dance stuff. Michael was really fabulous, tremendous and wonderful. His talent was amazing, innovative and dynamic. He was a phenomenon that no other person could be him except him. He left a very big footstep that would be very hard for any other person under the face of earth to put it on.

Michael introduced a new dimension in the history of music especially with the innovation in the area of music video introduced with the Thriller which today has been copied by many, not only in the Hollywood but round the world. It was even played by prisoners in a prison in the Philippine. In fact in the pop and RNB genre, Michael commands a huge following including R. Kelly, Timberlake and Usher.

Michael is a bunch of talent and wherever he put his hand, success comes out of it. He was simply amazing and devoted most of his time to kids. Reading his autobiography, the Moon Walk recently, Michael confessed that his love for children stems from the fact that he wanted to give these kids a happy and wonderful childhood, a benefit he never got to enjoy.

This love would later put him into many problems including the 2003 charges of molesting a 14-year-old boy, but was found not guilty following a five-month trial.

Paramedics were called to his home around midday local time on Thursday after he stopped breathing and suffered a suspected cardiac arrest. They performed CPR on him and rushed him to the UCLA medical centre but his death was announced shortly afterwards. The star, who had a history of health problems, had been due to begin a series of comeback concerts in the UK on 13 July. Jackson had a history of health problems and had not completed a concert tour in 12 years.

Concerns were raised last month when four of his "comeback" concerts were postponed, but organisers insisted the dates had been moved due to the complexity of staging the show.

Jackson began his career as a child in family group The Jackson 5. He then went on to achieve global fame as a solo artist with smash hits such as Billie Jean and Bad. May his soul rest in perfect peace!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Sonia Sotomayor’s Nomination: A Justice Fast tracked!

I am extremely excited with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as a candidate for the Supreme Court of the United States of America by President Barack Obama. This could not have come at any other time than this time bearing in mind the need to placate all the groups that have been sinned against in one way or the other in the United States.

For a long time, America has been pretending to be a champion of democracy while at its own backyard a lot of atrocities not in conformity with the spirit of democracy are taking place. America has condoned racism to the level where blacks are dealt with in ways and manner that contravenes all instruments of human rights including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights especially Article 20 of the instrument.

Blacks in America were singled out for all forms of victimisation. There were denied jobs, equality, transportation, education, healthcare including the freedom to associate, hold opinion, choose a religion and live a decent life. Many of them were falsely accused and imprisoned over phantom allegations. Many prisons in the United States especially San Quentin in California bears witness to all these atrocities suffered by the African Americans.

The trend continues to the extent that the number of Africa Americans in the United States Prisons is already at the level of scandal leaving one to ask why the proportion of African Americans in the prison is very huge and monumental compared to other ethnic groups.

The sins against the African Americans reached an unbearable stage in the 1950s and 1960s which resulted to a black revolution that ushered in that great period of human rights movement that produced the likes of Martin Luther Kings Jnr, Reverend Jesse Jackson and many others; too numerous I cannot mention all of them here.

The heat and momentum of this human rights movement and the brutal assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, touched the heart of many Americans and made them to wonder aloud the rationale behind the ill-treatment of their black brethren. The result of this, is what Africa Americans are enjoying today in terms of equality and freedom which their fathers never had the opportunity to enjoy. The election of Barack Obama is one of the fruits of this agitation and revolution.

However it is not yet uhuru for African Americans. Despite all these human right achievements, the poverty gap between whites and African Americans continues to widen. Whites are getting ever richer compared to the blacks. A promotion for a white staff is highly likely while for the blacks they have to go through numerous hurdles to make it. The summary is that despite all these struggles blacks are yet to achieve that equality with their white counter parts.

But compared with other ethnic minorities, the African Americans have still something to rejoice and write home about. The Native Americans have been through hell ever since the Christopher Columbus discovery of America; and if the Native Americans have been through hell, words cannot describe the agony and trauma facing the Hispanics in America today. This is worrisome bearing in mind the role America is playing lately as the custodian of democracy.

Lately the Hispanics have been victims of stereotype and profiling orchestrated by the American establishments right from the Customs to the police and to the immigration. In fact, lately they have been the target of a nationwide raid and clampdown on illegal immigration. The story of the small town of Postville in Iowa is still fresh in the mind of Americans.

The Hispanic families are being targeted and rounded up in various cities of the United States without due regard to their fundamental human rights and in a clear contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mothers are being separated from their children and deported while husbands are left with agony of seeing their wives publicly humiliated and deported. In most cases because any child born in the United States is automatically an America, parents are deported leaving the children behind. In no other time in history have we seen such a mass deportation in this scale than during the Nazi era under Adolf Hitler.

It is against this backdrop then that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor should be welcomed as a very good development. This is the first time a Hispanic is being nominated and if the Republican are going to set aside their bitter and partisan politics, she would be the first Hispanic to be a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Why this appointment is very remarkable is not only because Sotomayor is a woman, I think it has more to do with the fact that she is from the minority and having experienced the downside of life peculiar to the minorities, she is no less qualified to occupy this position at this point in time than any other person.

America has done a lot of injustices to its own people and the world in general. The war in Iraq is still not yet justified and therefore the appointment of somebody who is from within the main fold would have been seen as the continuation of the injustice. As expected, the nomination has met with some oppositions; all of them coming from the Republicans who are yet to come to terms with the fact that the era of Bush and his deception is over.

Sotomayor is being particularly probed and opposed for a statement she made some years ago arguing that a Latino woman like her is no less capable of making a wiser decision compared to his male white counterpart if her difficult upbringing is put into consideration.

According to Sotomayor, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Sotomayor is never a racist and if a serious mind analyse the above statement, she is never. She was only wisely reasoning that because of her difficult upbringing, she was able to experience first hand unlike most of her colleagues, what it means to be a poor and disadvantaged American and therefore concluded that her experience could be a huge plus for her in making better decision and judgements in the court. This is a portion the Republicans and friends have been highlighting and criticising since the nomination.

But the fact is that the phrase actually summarised Sotomayor as a very hardworking and focused Judge who is really and frankly in touch with the common people. The fact that she was able to make reference to her difficult upbringing is a fact that she is not going to be dogmatic and legalistic in her judgments. She is more likely to tamper justice with mercy and this is what is urgently required in law. Every man deserves mercy and second chance.

It is therefore with this scenario in mind that I call upon the Republicans to cast aside their partisan politics and embrace the ideals and unique talent Sotomayor is going to introduce into the Supreme Court of the United States of America. I am very flabbergasted that the Republican Party, despite the monumental damage they have done to the image of the United States of America, her relationship with the Muslim world and the world in general, still have the effrontery to accuse Sonia Sotomayor of being a racist for being candid and frank in her speech.

I would have thought that the Republicans instead of making more trouble and being obstacle to the good and damage-control work being done by President Barack Obama, should have devoted more of their time and energy in doing penance over their sins. There is nothing wrong with the statement made by Sotomayor. She was being frank, honest and circumstantial in what she said and that is what is expected from a person who is going to sit in the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Republicans should get their life and stop argumentum ad hominem.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Painful Truth About Nigeria!

One interesting thing about Nigeria is that it is daily becoming a classical example of how things are not being done. It sounds incredible but that is the simplest truth ever to be told. And today it is fast going into everyday parlance that Nigerianism simply means being politically myopic and leaving the substance to pursue the shadow in politics.

The Nigeria of today is fast degenerating to that level where people or nation feel good when they are daily being talked about not for something good but for something bad. It is clear beyond doubt that Nigeria of today derives more pleasure when it is referred to as a very awkward and backward nation despite the fact that it has an abundant natural and human resources that could transform the nation into a much-sought-after El Dorado.

As a result of this ugly situation, many Nigerians who are so much eager to develop their future and talent and of course live a happy life based on their beliefs and orientations are fast leaving the shores of the country for Europe and America in thousands yearly. The increasing number of Nigerian professionals in various parts of the world is a testimony to this statement and the trend in the migration of the Nigerian health workers to America and Europe is a shame to the nation. But the worst part of the whole thing is that the Government of Nigeria is not making any effort to tackle the root of the problem with Nigeria.

The consequence of this is that many things are simply not going the way they should go. Corruption is today glorified as a conditio sine qua non for living in Nigeria and being a Nigerian. The ugly situation of our educational standard and system is today a huge trauma for many Nigerians especially those seeking for education and job abroad. They are not simply being reckoned with since these countries are fast loosing faith in our educational system. Even the quality of education and governance of the nearby Ghana is reckoned abroad more than that of Nigeria that many Nigerians are begging to live there. What a shame that we are now begging to live in a country of the people we once expelled from our country in the name of economic reform.

Electricity, transportation, working conditions, pension management, healthcare system and housing scheme are so poor and bad that many Nigerians have simply lost faith in those they elected to man the governmental affairs. But the fact still remains that many Nigerians are not yet appreciating how poor and bad things have gone and are still going. An average Nigerian who has not been abroad or even the nearby Ghana may not have the platform to make a comparative analysis of these countries with Nigeria in order to appreciate how bad and poor things have gone and the harm that have been done to this nation and is still being done to it on daily basis by those in elective, selective and nominated positions.

It is therefore with sorrow to note that despite all these problems to tackle, the National Assembly had the gut to welcome the homophobic bill presented to it by the Presidency to punish lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites. My stomach turned for a long time when I heard this because I was asking myself if this is the main issue facing Nigeria of today. At the end of the day, I had no option than to conclude that all these grannies have got no work to do in the National Assembly. I was convinced that they have got no work to do because a reasonable Assembly should not have touched that Bill not to talk of allowing it be presented to it in the first place.

But it is a shame that the National Assembly went along to give a precious time to that Bill despite the fact that there are many other issues that demand urgent national attention. The situation reminded me of one time in history when Catholic theologians exhausted of issues to debate on began to debate on how many angels that can dance on top of a pin. This is exactly the situation the National Assembly found itself in otherwise why would they be cowed into giving a consideration to that obnoxious Bill.

Part of the expectation of the Bill is to punish severely whoever is canvassing for same sex marriage, promoting it, sponsoring it or taking part in the marriage either in Nigeria or abroad and to punish severely lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites who exhibit their sexuality with punishment of up to five years in the prison. As I said earlier, is this the issue that demands urgent attention in our nation today? Obviously a lot of issues are there to be tackled, top on the list being corruption, dwindling educational system, poor healthcare system, unavailable housing and high cost of living. Therefore when one begins to think about the rush with which the members of the National Assembly used to debate the issue, one is left with the option of concluding that these shameless grannies have got no quality job to do.

I have no doubt that issues surrounding sexual affairs should be left for individuals and theologians to decide upon with the state setting only the guidelines on how it should be conducted. For instance, though I have got the right to marry any girl of my choice, the state in as much as they are morally obligated to respect this my choice, should be able to provide me with a guideline on how this should be done to avoid infringing on the fundamental human right of the girl I so much desire to marry. In this case the state is expected to come up with regulations on how this should be conducted.

For instance the state in a bid to safeguard the right of the girl child to joyful teenage life and education is morally justified to come up with a law that would prevent me from marrying that girl if she is below 18 years and should also punish me if I contravene this law. In the same vein two same sex adults who agreed to have sex, should not be punished for their choice but should be protected by the state since the main locus of the sex is a prior agreement and consent between two of them. The state can only punish this form of relationship in the event of rape or when one has a carnal knowledge of his same sexual partner who is below the age of consent for sex in the state or having carnal knowledge of someone without their consent.

A nation is founded upon commonwealth and as such should be able at all times to protect that commonwealth. A nation like Nigeria is made up of various interest groups ranging from religious, commercial, ethnic, sexual and many other groups and therefore the state is under obligation to protect all these interests and especially to ensure that the minorities are not unduly victimised. The state should also protect the interest of religions but then even as it is doing so should not allow religious groups to impose their beliefs upon those who agreed not to believe in anything or do not share their beliefs.

For instance though am born a Roman Catholic, the state should ensure that nobody not even my parents should force me to believe all the doctrines and dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church or deny my right not to be one anymore. The sate should also go a step further to uphold that right if I choose to be an atheist. Religion and religious matters should be made to be a very private and personal issue and the state should be ready to protect me from whoever wants to infringe on this my fundamental human rights.

It is therefore shameful that the National Assembly allowed itself to be cowed into going ahead with that controversial bill whereas many issues are still calling for urgent attention. For instance what has the shameless National Assembly done to punish employers especially in the media and banking industry who have the notorious habit of placing graduates and other jobs seekers on eternal probation. Some of them have ended up being in this probation for between one and eight years, whereas in the western and some African countries they should have their appointments either confirmed or asked to leave with a cogent reason within six months.

The members of the National Assembly should therefore bury their heads in shame for allowing themselves to be cowed into considering the no issue an issue in the first place. The argument the National Assembly advanced forward in going forward with the Bill is that being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transvestite is not part of Nigerian culture. These we have heard over and over again but how do one explain that even though this is not part of Nigeria culture, we still have gays, bisexuals and lesbians in different parts of the country and in every aspect of its life including the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of the Government, churches and in a nutshell everywhere. What then could be referred to as Nigerian culture? Maybe corruption is?

This is not an attack on lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites, the Government or the churches but a call to those who are responsible for all these homophobic attitudes and hatreds to consider the harm they doing to the image, health and future of the nation as a place to live a sane and peaceful life.

In the middle of the 1980’s when the first case of HIV and AIDS was reported in Nigeria, the first reaction of the then Government and of course the nation was to completely deny its existence claiming that it is a Whiteman’s disease. Before we could know it, the so called Whiteman’s disease has affected about 3.5 million Nigerians and continues to wreak havoc on our young population. But the most agonising part of the whole drama is that despite huge human resources we have both here and abroad, no single person has had the audacity to sue the Federal Government for the initial denial that led to this present day AIDS and HIV epidemic in the nation.

It is also a shame that this single episode has not taught Nigerians a good lesson. Am not surprised because Nigeria is a classical example of people who do not learn lessons from their past mistakes. Bearing then in mind the bitter lesson we are learning from our initial responses to the HIV and AIDS epidemic, it is a shame that no single Nigerian has mustered the courage to challenge both the Presidency and the National Assembly on the effect their homophobic stand would have on the future of the nation especially as it relates to the war against HIV and AIDS.

Nigerian being a country not good in statistics does not know how many gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transvestites we have and of course with the current homophobic nature of the nation, we would never know that. Reason is because nobody would ever accept being gay, bisexual or lesbian for the fear of its attendant homophobic implications. And the consequence of this would be that before we are over with this stage of denial, more harm and damage would have been done.

An example will suffice here, because of the homophobic nature of Nigeria as a nation, many gays, lesbians and bisexuals would always have their fundamental human rights trampled upon simply because they are gays, lesbians or bisexuals and would never complain to the police otherwise they would complicate their problem. Unscrupulous people are setting them up and using them daily and making lots of money out of them simply because they cannot complain and the reason for their not complaining is because the law is against them.

Similarly many of them would lose their lives in the future either by being attacked by homophobic people or by committing suicide since their lifestyle do not have any form of protection under the law. But the most agonising part is that the current fight against HIV and AIDS is likely to be a complete failure, if nothing is done to accommodate gays, lesbians and bisexuals under the law. Let me illustrate this in a very simple term, a bisexual who indulges in sexual intercourse with both men and women is likely to end up transferring the virus from his male partner to unsuspecting female partner.

Research conducted in countries with a very strong homophobic attitude, noted that it is only a microcosm of gays, lesbians and bisexuals that are ever identified or known due to their strong tendency to deny their sexuality throughout their entire life for fear of public opprobrium towards them. In addition, due to high level of illiteracy and ignorance in homophobic and third world countries, many gays, lesbians and bisexuals have a strong culture of unprotected sex amongst them. This is partly because they believe that same sex love can never transmit Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The implication of this is that so far they are forced to live in closet sexually the sexual health of others would always be in jeopardy.

Many women who unsuspectingly and unknowingly are married to bisexual men got the STDs including HIV and AIDS virus through this way. Against these backdrops, it is imperative that Government and members of the National Assembly should reconsider the homophobic state they threw Nigeria into. We cannot continue denying the existence of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites in Nigeria.

There is no point in denying the reality and what we all know is there in our midst. It may be very understandable that the nation is not yet ready or ripe for same sex marriage or civil partnership but to completely deny the existence of gay life and culture in Nigeria or use stringent measures and laws against them would never help the situation but would only go a long way to aggravate the already bad situation. By the way how are we convinced that putting them in prison for five years would return them non gays or lesbians at the end of their incarceration?

Our going to 50 years struggle in Nigeria should have been a good lesson for us Nigerians on how not to tackle issues like this but it is quite unfortunate that we do not learn lessons from our past mistakes and things are being complicated by majority of the uneducated, half literate and untravelled members we have in the National Assembly and other arms of government. It is a shame that we have ended up turning Nigeria into a classical case study on discrimination. If it is not between the north and the south, it is Muslims against Christians and where there is nothing against something, something must be created. The consequence of this is that we have ended up building lots of walls against ourselves thereby creating this big war amongst ourselves.

Having tried a lot to create these artificial walls, I think it is high time we began to pull them down. If the Government is not considering same sex marriage or civil partnership at the moment, it should at least work towards creating a conducive environment for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transvestites by having a legal protection under the law for them to avoid attacks on them, their personality, arson against their properties, victimisation against them in work places their being set up and used by unscrupulous people and stuffs like that.

A good number of Nigerians believe that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites should be severely punished and if possible wiped out hinging their argument on what their religious leaders told them but the fact still remains that it is morally unjustifiable for one to impose his religion, beliefs or way of life on others. By doing this, Nigerian religious leaders headed by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola, have continued to inculcate into the minds of their unsuspecting congregation a Hitler-type victimisation, annihilation and hatred against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites.

Akinola by spearheading this has positioned himself as the most holy one but he forgets one thing, that his life style may not be compatible with his office. The question we must ask ourselves here is how is Akinola and his cohorts living up to the expectation of their model, Jesus Christ. They have already judged and condemned the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transvestites. I strongly think that what they stand for is contrary to what Jesus Christ would have stood for.

Considering the level of poverty in Nigeria, is Rev. Jasper Akinola the homophobic advocate of Nigeria leading an example of Jesus Christ who was so poor that he has got no place to lay down his head with his vivid life of luxury in a choiced part of Abuja and of course with many maids and servants and fleet of cars with a nice holiday and health package abroad whereas his flock are dying of poverty as a result of corruption in a country where he is the Anglican Primate. Another important food for thought is to have a closer look at the background of his children and family.

Considering also the level of poverty and corruption in Nigeria, what effort has Akinola made to fight the Government just like the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa fought corruption and apartheid? Akinola is today known for promoting hatred and prejudice against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites in Nigeria than for taking Government to task on the massive corruption and underdevelopment in the nation. It is really a shame that a man of God who is supposed to be a bridge builder is promoting hatred amongst people in then name of religion. At this juncture one begins to wonder the difference between Akinola and some Christian, Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who are notoriously known for promoting intolerance, disrespect and hatred amongst people they should have been teaching the importance of love, harmony and tranquillity as promoted by their founders.

Little wonder Karl Marx defined religion as an opium of the people, filled with leaders looking for speck in the eyes of their faithful whereas they have logs of wood in theirs. No wonder religion is fast loosing its credibility amongst the people as a result of their diluted and fundamentalist stand and teaching.

It is also quite unfortunate that the National Assembly has allowed religion to be the basis of their law making, thereby putting over 145 million Nigerians under a compulsory standard of religion. But the truth is that no one should be forced to be part of any religion and Nigeria being a secular state should not rely on religion in making laws since it will infringe on the right of those who do not believe in anything. Making a nation a theocratic state causes more harm than good. A good example is this type of homophobic attitude and hatred being promoted by religious leaders without being punished. Another example is millions we spend yearly in the name of religious pilgrimages whereas the money being spent on these pilgrimages would have been used in making healthcare available to the masses.

It is therefore in the interest of Nigeria to distance itself from any form of undue interference and meandering from religion. Any issue that boarders on religion should be an individual affair and the state should not put their hands in it. Gays, lesbians and bisexual should be allowed to live as their straight counterparts by enactment of laws to safeguard the rights of each regardless of their religion, race, ethnic group, creed, sexual orientation and many other stereotypes.

It is the function of the Government to break down all the walls of barriers and discrimination that still exists in the nation by emphasising on what people can contribute towards the nation building rather than who they are. And for Nigerians who do not see anything wrong in discriminating against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transvestites, they should also not be offended or shocked when they are denied employment based on their ethnic group, religion or any other stereotype.

The essence of this article is therefore never to cast aspersion on religion or anybody representing it but to point out that things are not going the way they should go. And for those who are going to crucify me for the stand I have taken, I have just one message for them. I do not care for I am a staunch believer in that yet to come Nigeria and world where and when individuals should no more be classified based on their colour, race, ethnic group, religion, creed, belief or sexual orientation but on what they can contribute to the development of the nation and the entire human race.

And the quickest way to break all these artificial boundaries and barriers is by creating a Commission that should be charged with the power to severely punish any individual, group or establishment engaged in promoting any form of discrimination. This Commission could be called Commission For Equality or Equal Opportunity Commission or whatever name we chose at the end of the day. It should have a tribunal status with the responsibility of trying and bringing to justice those promoting these discriminations and hatred.

At the end of the day, it will save the nation more embarrassment of appearing more holy than the Pope and very stupid before other Nations. We cannot obviously continue denying what everyone knows is there and I seriously think that the earlier we stop this rubbish, the better for us.

End.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Iran: ‘Where Is My Vote?’

I have been following with a very keen interest and disgust the ongoing electoral crisis in Iran. I am highly disappointed that Iranian authorities could treat their own people this way. As I have always believed and keep on repeating, we cannot keep quiet or pretend that what is happening over there is none of our business. Because we are one and part of each other, it is more of our communal business than it is their own personal business.

In fact what is happening today in Iran concerns each and every one of us. Wherever mankind suffers brutality and oppression as a result of exercising their right, that place should be the epicentre of the whole world. The whole world should focus their attention there till the brutality and oppression is brought to an end.

It is a shame that except for few governments, many world governments have not come out to openly condemn and call the Iranian authorities to order. I am not in doubt that the reason why most governments have refused to comment is because they are afraid of interfering with Iranian domestic affairs and are in fear of infringing on their rights and sovereignty as a nation.

But the fact is that keeping silent and maintaining neutrality will never solve the problem. In fact it will go a long way to empower the brutal regime in Iran and demoralise its people who are dying in their quest to have a democracy. We cannot continue to maintain that neutrality or keeping silence because it is not working and does not worth it. The events of the last century have taught us that neutrality and silence are never good instruments of diplomacy. They are very weak and nations hide under them to perpetrate evil.

Millions of Jews that were killed during the holocaust would have been saved if the world had abandoned their silence and neutrality to come out as one and defend the Jewish people. Same ugly situation also repeated itself during the genocide in Rwanda. People die and they die in millions because we are trying to maintain neutrality and keeping silent and respecting people who not have respect for the life and rights of others.

The fact is that we are not fighting with people who are sensible; we are fighting with brutal regimes that do not have an iota of respect for human rights and dignity. As a result we need to fight them with the weapon they fear most and that is speaking out against their atrocities and as a last resort trespassing into their sovereignty to let them know that a nation no matter how powerful it is can never win the whole world.

We have tolerated Iran a lot and we cannot continue to tolerate her anymore. The more we tolerate her the more it gives her the audacity to continue in the evil it is perpetrating in the name of God. Iran thinks that the whole world is filled with fools and that is why a bunch of dirty, tattered-looking fanatics who pose as God would have the gut not only to develop a nuclear weapon but to treat its own people like nothing. This is a trend North Korea is also copying.

We cannot continue enduring this. Iran and North Korea have pushed the rest of the world to the extreme and this is the right time to unleash our Jihad on them. We cannot wait anymore for the more we wait, the worst things are getting. What happens if one day we wake up to notice that Iran has wiped Israel off the face of the world or that North Korea has annihilated Hawaii? No! We cannot wait for that time. The world has to act now to save us from this madness coming out of Iran and North Korea.

I am convinced am making sense here. For the sake of a world with peace and sanity, something has to be done. We have been negotiating with these two rogue states for quite a long time now and they have been taking us for a ride. They do not have an iota of respect for human life and dignity. Iran openly supports Hezbollah and Hamas and seriously finances Syria to scuttle the welfare of the State of Lebanon. It is therefore clear that Iran is part of the problem in the Middle East and if something is done to call Iran to order, the future generation would be eternally grateful to us for assuring their future.

Iran is not and can never be more than the rest of us. It is an eyesore to see how a government is treating its own people. The force being used against Iranians at the ongoing demonstration as a result an election they claimed was rigged should not be tolerated and we cannot keeping looking while a group of people are perpetrating evil in the name of God.

We know from evidence that God is not human. He is unfathomable and therefore nobody, no matter how holy he is or how conversant he is with Koran could claim to be running a state in the name of God. That is a deception and a way of perpetuating evil by subjecting people to the yoke and fear of God and religion. We should get it right; the Iranian authorities are not acting in the name of God and they are not running a theocratic state. It is a brutal regime!

What they are doing is just perpetrating evil in the name of God and that is an abomination. God does not sanction the production of nuclear weapon or even production of one to wipe out another nation. All these are lies in the name of God and the earlier we get this fact, the better for us. We are in the 21st century and not dark ages when people were being deceived in the name of God.

It is therefore with a heart filled with sorrow that am confronting the Iranian authorities using this piece and medium. How on earth do they think God can sanction this brutality against a people? Come on! God is not a toy and you should stop deceiving yourself! The right to demonstrate is a God given right. It is a sacred right God bestowed on people to check the excesses of their leaders. Demonstration is one of the ways people demonstrate their will to their leaders.

It is therefore disgusting that this is happening in 2009. We have come a long way out of dark ages and we need to let Iranian authorities know this and considering the fact that this is taking place 61 years after the adoption of that sacred document called the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which in Article 20 upheld the right of the people to peaceful assembly and association, makes the whole scenario repugnant.

It is a shame that despite the provisions of this document which is in par with the holy books, people’s right to peaceful demonstration is still being denied them not only in Iran but also in various parts of the world by brutal juntas and regimes. Against this backdrop, I decided to use this medium to revisit once more the right of the people to demonstrate either as an individual or as a group. My dream is that this article would reopen once more the global debate on the right of the people to hold a peaceful demonstration, a dream borne out of the fact that this right which is inherent in democracy is not only inalienable but also sacred.

Democracy is a system of government that relies on the will of the people to function. The will of the people is the grease that ensures the smooth running and operation of any democratic government. Remove that grease the government will come to a halt and collapse. However, we do know that Democracy cannot just do that as a human simply because it is not a human, therefore the right of the people to speak for democracy becomes imperative and a conditio sine qua non for democracy to survive.

One of the way people speak in nomine democracy is through demonstrations. People make their will known and lay their grievances through demonstrations and a peaceful one indeed. This is a sacred right and this right is placed above other rights in democracy for it is through only this that juntas and brutal regimes are forced to listen to the people.

Unfortunately it is this right that the duo of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini are denying their own people today. The worst part is that these people are not only being denied their God-given rights but the government which is supposed to be the government of the people has sanctioned its own militia to brutally suppress its own people.

This is strongly against the ideals we all believe that form the core tenets of democracy. The people have the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration and that right should and must be respected. The voice of the people is the voice of God and the Supreme Leader should know more than all of us. Or is it now a question of the voice of God when the Supreme Leader says it is? This is complete rubbish and the Supreme Leader must do everything within his power to rectify the situation as soon as possible and stop further brutality against his own people.

The people have spoken and what they are saying is that the result that returned Ahmadinejad to second term does not reflect their votes. In a nutshell, they are saying that the election result was seriously tampered with and rigged with impunity and they have been crying to God and humanity asking, ‘Where is my vote’. Every sensible believer in God and humanity should listen to this cry. It is only a four-lettered word but it is very strong and has life in it.

If this allegation of rigging turns out to be true, then something must be wrong. However from the way things are going, it is very obvious that the people are saying the truth this time around. The whole nation cannot be wrong. They are fed up with all these evils in the name of God and under a government that claims to be theocratic. The fact that such an evil could happen under the watchful eyes and full glares of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini is a serious minus on his part and a real question over his integrity and the authority he is representing.

I therefore call on the Iranian authorities and all those involved to seek the path of peace and honour now. Let them cancel the election and call for a fresh one and monitor it closely so that what happened should never happen again. Also a Panel of Investigation should be set up as soon as possible to look into the causes of such magnanimous electoral fraud and the brutality of the security apparatus against Iranians exercising their fundamental human rights.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Dissolve The British Parliament Now!

From the way things are going at the moment, I am no more in doubt that there is no more Parliament in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If there is one, then the members at the moment are better described as fraudsters, cheat, consters and embezzlers. In a nutshell house filled with shameless 419ers who lack credibility and integrity.

That great institution, an age-old symbol of British democratic integrity has been so stained and tainted that people are left now with no choice but to begin to question and wonder the importance and relevance of not only the parliament but also democracy in general.

An average British is today angry; so angry that their anger was reflected openly in the last European elections in many ways. For the first time in the history of the Kingdom, the British people elected a radical and anti-immigration party to the European Union Parliament. The British National Party was able to capture two seats in the parliament as a result of the boycott of the main parties by the British electorates. Other minor parties including the United Kingdom Independence Party also did very well to capture more seats even ahead of the ruling Labour Party.

The fact of the matter is that the three main parties-Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats-and in particular the ruling Labour Party and official opposition party to Her Majesty, the Conservatives allowed greed to take hold of them leading them to perpetrate an act that could put corrupt Africa leaders to shame and give swine flu to sight tight Arab leaders.

The cankerworm uncovered by the British Daily Telegraph was like a tale of shame coming out Mobutu’s Congo. It is best described as roll call of dishonour, shame, disgrace, scandal, embarrassment and infamy. It was an atrocious act. Senior MPs and ministers, including Beverley Hughes, David Blunkett and Mark Tami, were accused of over-claiming for council tax on their designated second home over the past four years.

Eric Illsley, the Labour MP, is thought to have made the highest phantom claim-recouping more than £6,000 over and above his council tax bills since 2004. David Willetts and Jeremy Hunt, both shadow ministers, admitted over-claiming on their council tax by at least £500 each while Jacqui Smith, who deported a woman dying of cancer-she later died on arrival in Ghana-to Ghana claimed for pornographies watched by the husband.

In total, more than 50 MPs profited from the dubious claims. Eighteen have already privately repaid over-claimed council tax to the Commons fees office, including the Labour MPs Linda Gilroy and Michael Meacher. Some MPs claim round figures-usually £150 or £200 a month-for council tax; others make 12 monthly claims even though their annual bills are divided into 10 instalments.

Until last year, Parliament only required receipts for expenses of more than £250 per month leading many MPs not bothering to submit council tax bills before making claims. When the rules were changed to require documentation, several MPs reduced their claims and were not questioned over previous council tax payments they had received. The "phantom" council tax claims will add to the growing concerns over the policing of the parliamentary expenses system.

The Daily Telegraph has already disclosed how several MPs have made "phantom" mortgage claims, while there are questions over payments made by some MPs for staff, some of who are their family members. It is against this background that one would understand fully and appreciate in toto the level of shame and corruption the dishonourable Members of Parliament have fallen into and it is basically because of this that the British electorates nearly caused for the first time a political earthquake in the history of the British politics.

But come to think of the fact that these members could have the gut to carry out such impunity at no other time but at a time when the whole country is going through a very difficult time. That leaves all in no doubt as to the manner of people representing them. It is indeed a shame that the parliamentarians embezzled the public money with impunity and to add salt to injury they had the effrontery to defend themselves.

The fact is that there is no iota of remorse from any of the MPs. They are all pretending to be sorry. Instead of apologising for their sins, they went on defensive even shamelessly coming out on the national television with their shameful faces to say they have no question to answer because they have done nothing wrong. This is a clear case of arrogant bunch of oldies that are so naive and out of touch that they are no more in touch with the common people they are called to represent.

They have gone a long way in playing with the intelligence of the people and I personally think the Members of Parliament are of the opinion they are representing cows, sheep and goats otherwise why have they refused to apologise in the first place instead of shamefully going on defensive. It is purely based on this reason that am asking that the British Parliament be dissolved and a new election called.

The parliament is no more working. It is filled with people who are so ignorant, shallow and empty that they go into the parliament to read or recite an already prepared speech; more of a rehearsed rhetoric instead of being original and to the point in their argument, a landmark for which parliaments all over the world are known and praised for. In fact at the moment, it is not fit for a purpose and the Labour Party is obviously not in control.

A lot of Labour cabinet ministers have resigned lately and more are still resigning and this is clearly crippling the Labour government and the UK government in general. There have been a lot of internal squabbles within the Labour party over the leadership of Gordon Brown; a clear case of internal fighting and wrangling which is not good for a party in government. And that could be a cog in the progress of smoothing running of the government. Resignation and dissolution of the parliament followed by a general election is obviously the solution at this point in time.

It is crystal clear that the Labour is in a big problem and things are not moving well and since things are not moving well, it would not be a shame but taking the honourable path if Gordon Brown would take a cab or even walk down to the Buckingham Palace and tender his resignation letter to the queen so that she could dissolve the parliament and have a general election called as soon as possible.

What is happening today is obviously drawing the whole country backward and we cannot allow a few egoistic, insensitive, egocentric and self-centred individuals in the Palace of Westminster to be a cog in the wheel of progress of this nation. They all have to go because this country is more than all of them.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Free Patrick Okoroafor Right Now!

I was in the Nigerian High Commission in London yesterday on a short business only to come out and see litany of placards with the number 14 on them flying here and there and yonder in front of the High Commission. On inquiry I was told that the Amnesty International UK, are protesting the continued detention of Patrick Okoroafor in Aba Prison in Abia State of Nigeria. I was given some pamphlets and after reading them, I cannot stop crying that my own country, 'The People and Federal Republic of Nigeria' could have the gut to incarcerate a child of 14 and still have the effrontery to keep him there up till today at the 'Pleasure of the Governor'.

My expression was that of a rude shock, utter disappointment and a complete shame that such impunity could be allowed to take place in such an advanced country by the third world standard. I am yet to recover from the shock and I can imagine what this young man is going through. I cannot stop shouting and asking why on earth the type of sanctions placed on Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe should not be lifted and placed upon Nigeria till Patrick Okoroafor is released and compensated not only with money but also with full scholarship by the Nigeria Government towards a University education abroad.

This is a big shame and I am ashamed of being called a Nigerian. Where are those giving sanctions? Nigeria needs many of them now! That young man should be taken out of the prison right now because he does not belong there. That should not stop there! In actual fact the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency set up a panel of inquiry to find out those responsible for this type of impunity. I strongly suggest that legal experts involved in this nasty case should be debarred for ridiculing and tarnishing the image of the Nigerian Bar Association.

No matter what Patrick Okoroafor did, he was a child and should not be in the prison. This is a gross and blatant violation of the 1989 United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child of which Nigeria is a signatory and also the Child Right’s Act domesticated in Nigeria in 2003. It is a shame that Patrick never had the privilege to enjoy childhood and adulthood like the rest of us. Nigeria seriously violated this Convention.

Back in days as a journalist with the Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria, I had a rare privilege to visit the Medium Security Prison in Kuje Abuja with the then Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el Rufai and what I saw there, am not able to put down here. The prison in particular and the Nigeria Prison system in general is a shame and in a big shamble. A room normally meant for at most two inmates are occupied by more than 50 people. They sleep standing upright and defecate on the floor.

There are wide cases of brutality, rape, diseases and death and yet government has not deemed it fit to undertake a reform of the nation’s penal system. Corruption amongst the prison warders is also monumental and capable of making decent people vomit till thy kingdom come. The Nigeria prison system is simply not fit for a purpose and Patrick Okoroafor should simply not be there. And the fact that Patrick was thrown into this messy system at a tender age of 14 should be a reason the international community should join to pressure Nigeria to release and compensate him or face sanctions. This is exactly a situation where we want the international community to act on.

This is no time for silence and neutrality. We cannot condone neutrality and silence when people are suffering. I am conscious of the fact that neutrality does not pay and being aware that it does not pay, we cannot continue to keep silent or remain neutral when people are going through a very difficult time or humiliation because it may be our turn tomorrow. Neutrality empowers the oppressor and never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor and never the tormented. I believe we have to take part in a controversy no matter whose Ox is gored especially when it borders on human life, human right and human dignity by speaking out against it.

When human lives are endangered and human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sovereignty should come last. Wherever people are being persecuted, imprisoned, humiliated or become a subject of opprobrium as a result of their race, religion, ethnicity, political views or sexual orientation or even false accusation or miscarriage of justice in the case of Patrick, that place should be the focus of the entire world until that cynical and barbaric behaviour is brought to an end.

I therefore urge and address personally the Government and people of the Imo and Abia States of Nigeria to grant the immediate and unconditional release of Patrick Okoroafor from Aba prison. We do not want to know what happened. What we are interested in is the fact that he was incarcerated at a very tender age, a clear violation of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which Nigeria is a signatory.

Patrick Okoroafor has been in detention since 1995 and denied the right to a fair trial. Arrested at the age of fourteen on phantom charges of robbery, a crime he has always said he never committed, Patrick was sentenced to death on 30 May 1997, at the age of sixteen, by a Robbery and Firearms Tribunal. Patrick did not have the full right to appeal, contrary to international law. In 2001, the High Court of Imo state declared Patrick’s sentence by the Robbery and Firearms Tribunal to be “illegal, null and void” and changed his sentence to detention 'at the pleasure of the governor'.

This amounted to indefinite and arbitrary detention, and as such, a violation of international human rights standards. Patrick however was recently given a definite sentence of ten years. Nevertheless, I believe Patrick should be released immediately. He was fourteen when he went to prison after an unfair trial and he has now spent fourteen years of his life there. 14 years should be enough!

The condition of his long detention has had serious consequences for Patrick's health. He suffers from acute asthma attacks described by prison authorities as "frequent and life-threatening". I appeal again to the people and government of Imo State of Nigeria to demonstrate their commitment to justice, transparency, accountability, rule of law and respect for human rights in by granting the immediate and unconditional release of Patrick Okoroafor.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

America: A Shameful Story of Deportation Injustice!

As am writing this the American Department of Homeland Security is busy wreaking havoc by displacing families all over the United States in the name of immigration enforcement raids.

The American law empowers the Department of the Homeland Security, the equivalent of the British Home Office to carry out raids to fish out and deport illegal immigrants and that power has been turned into witch-hunting lately with the Hispanics as the main target just like blacks are in the hands of their British counterpart.

The illegal aliens as they are called in the United States are usually not given the right to a legal representation before they are deported. When they do, it is usually under a very murky condition often accompanied by torture, harassment and various forms of persecutions including emotional and psychological in the hands of the unscrupulous officials of the Homeland Security. The use of electronic tagging system is also notoriously and widely used and parents are usually tagged and made to go about with the tag in front of their children. The shocking story is that children are being detained too.

Treating parents this way in the presence of their children could inculcate in their mind a very gloomy image difficult to wipe out. The impact on the society could be disastrous for a child who grow up to witness his parents being subjected to this type of psychological, emotional and public humiliation. He is more likely to retaliate in future by being a menace to the society. This could explain why they are more likely to join a gang, carry knife or gun and become revengeful or even suicidal.

Carrying knife or gun and gang membership are some of the main social problems confronting the United States and the United Kingdom today as it concerns Hispanics and blacks. I have no doubt that a critical analysis of the mind of a young Hispanic or black could trace their restive behaviour to some of these problems I highlighted. It is therefore imperative that countries involved especially America in this case look into their immigration laws once more with a view of mitigating the impact the actions of the Homeland Security is having on the targeted people and if possible to look beyond the law and find a way to stop removing illegal aliens with American born children.

This ugly situation has been repeating itself in America for quite a long time to the extent that the impact is proving disastrous both for the families involved and the American society as a whole. Businesses have closed or gone down because of this. People have taken their lives while others suddenly lost their means of livelihood. Those who cannot cope have resorted to armed robbery, thuggery and gangsterism and ended being a huge problem compared to what they would have been if America had legalise them.

The impact was very dramatic in a little town of Postville in Iowa where a local company that was raided has to close down due to huge lost of manpower. Frankly, some illegal aliens were employed in the company but the fact is that somebody must have to employ these people otherwise we will begin to question our virtue of compassion. They have children and need to feed them. Children should not be held liable for their parent’s decision. Illegal immigration is demonised today to the extent that they are in same par with terrorism. Being a Jew in the Nazi Germany was also a very big issue but some Germans stood up to the Nazis. I have no doubt that these illegal aliens deserve every bit of apology for these sins against them. In fact what they are going through today is a million time more than what the Jews went through during the Holocaust.

The growth of Postville's economy during the last 15 years has been due to the presence of two large meat processing plants, Agriprocessors and Iowa Turkey Products. Agriprocessors, the kosher meat plant, is the largest of its type in the world, which as of February 2008 employed about 900 people and purchased $100 million worth of livestock annually.

In May 2008, Agriprocessors was the target of an immigration raid. Subsequently, a criminal complaint was filed against the company for alleged violations of immigration laws. The company has to close down due to the impact of the litigation with over 800 workers losing their job including documented migrants. The whole scenario is a proof of non-viability of the American immigration system and the fact that mass deportation may after all not be the solution the question of illegal immigration.

According to the American Constitution anybody born in the United States of America is automatically an American citizen. The implication is that illegal immigrants with children born in America are still illegal but the children in question are not. Over the past few years, the American government has increased the tempo of removing all the illegal immigrants and this has led to an ugly situation where parents who are illegal immigrants are removed while their children who are not, are either left behind or are forced to go with their parents.

This practice is proving very unpopular in the States to the extent that people are already experiencing a very big setback as a result of this. In some states, some good Americans have come up with the idea of co-opting the children of the deported illegal immigrants into their own family to enable them continue with their education. This echoes the memory of good Samaritans who helped to hide the Jews during the Nazi era. I am thinking of the good family that harboured the family of Anne Frank.

The fact of the matter is that somebody has to call Americans and the American Government to order because this issue is not only contentious but also borders on human rights. Parents have the right to bring up their children and enjoy the company of their children. Nothing should come between parents and their children. Children are also entitled to this right. They have the right to live and stay with their parents till they are old enough to be on their own. This right is going to be seriously tampered with if anything is done to infringe upon it and what is happening right now in America is a clear violation of this right. These children are seriously being deprived the joy of childhood and that could lead to a monumental psychological problem in the future.

The European Union being aware of the harm this situation could do to the family made it very difficult to remove a person who has a family in the Union. According to Article 8 of the European Union Convention on Human Rights countries are not allowed to remove either a parent or both since that could adversely affect their children and destabilise their family life. This is one thing America should learn from the European Union. At the end of the day, I personally think America is digging its grave today by continuing with this policy because this same people are likely to turn against them tomorrow.

This removal action by the Homeland Security has a very close semblance to what happened under the German Nazi government where children were uprooted from their parents and displace and vice versa. This action is very undemocratic and if the American Senate and House of Representative in all their wisdom and democracy ideal cannot find a solution to this, then something is wrong with that system in particular and democracy in general.

One of the beauties of democracy is that since it is a representative government, people are allowed to collectively use their wisdom to proffer solution to very difficult situations like this. But come to think of it, it is very shocking and disturbing that this is happening in America, the citadel of modern democracy. We will understand if it is happening in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan but the fact that it happens in America is beyond human comprehension.

The American democracy has many elements of theocracy in it. The dollar has ‘In God We Trust’ written on it. When one sees things like this we are left to wonder how on earth those who trust in God could be so callous and indifferent to treat their neighbours like animals. The disgusting part of this story is that these illegal immigrants who are being deported are their neighbours, church members, fellowship members and so on and so forth and yet none of them have stood up to their government to stop the injustice and wickedness in the name of the law. The famous communion of the saints makes little sense here!

In America there is an estimated 2 million illegal immigrants and managing that number should not be a problem to them. All of them could be given temporary visa and dispersed amongst all the states in America with a proviso that the visa is not valid outside of the state for a period of certain years. For instance a person assigned a visa to live in Georgia should not go to New York for work in the next ten years. This will ensure equilibrium in population.

Over the past 8 years America has spent billions of dollars fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, that money could have been used to settle this immigration issue. In fact the United States spent $607 billion in defence in 2008 alone. This put it on top of the list of countries that spent most in defence. This amount is more than seven times the amount spent by China, which beat out the UK for the No. 2 spot for the first time. Since the beginning of the Iraqi and Afghanistani conflict, the United States has spent $903 billion in prosecuting the unjustified wars. Against this background, one is left with only one option; to begin to ask why this war is still in progress while these people are being rounded up and deported. There is no wisdom in this. It is simply illogical and bears a mark of people who lack a common sense and conscience. America is rich enough to give joy to these people and their children.

The illegal immigrants are not criminals. They are in America and wherever they are because they do not want to resort to the option of criminal life back home to feed themselves and their families. They do not want to resort to pushing drugs, kidnapping or piracy. They want it the honourable way which is to work with their hands.

It is therefore with a heavy heart and one filled with sorrow that I condemn this raiding going on at the moment in America and at same time join other people of good will to ask the America government to find a lasting solution to this. President Barack Obama is from the minority and knows the pains and disadvantage of coming from there. I trust him to use his wisdom to proffer a solution to this as soon as possible. These are people and not animals.

If they are sent home, they are being left with option of poverty and joining criminal gangs in different parts of the world where they come from. And if they do, none of us is safe, not even in the cosy atmosphere of our mansions.

Okumephunaism: A Critical Analysis Of My Philosophy of Life

I come from a philosophically dysfunctional family where my parents are to the extremes in their philosophies about life. While my dad is a very hard and unrepentant conservative my mum on the other hand is a very soft and evangelical liberal.

My dad is named Nwabueze while my mum is named Ngozichukwuka. Both are conflicting characters philosophically and psychologically. Psychologically my dad is highly extroverted while my mum is an introvert to the core and up till today am still wondering how they managed to live together as man and wife. They are opposite of each other and the first law of science is that opposites do not usually attract. They are always in conflict. But then, the ability of my parents to live together all these years as one is a miracle am yet to comprehend. They have been married for over 40 years now.

To put this picture in perspective I would need to throw more light into their characters. My parents are Roman Catholics and my father in particular nurtured the ambition to be either a priest or religious but that ambition was never achieved. He therefore settled down as one of the most vibrant and active lay Roman Catholics in my community. His Catholicism belongs to the school that does not believe that a priest can ever make a mistake and therefore religious activities are taken seriously in the house and it must be according to the Roman Catholic tradition.

Daily rosary and Sunday mass are obligatory and in actual fact since I knew my father he has never ever missed his rosary for a day and this is not a joke. I am not quite sure if my mum says hers often. He goes to morning mass daily and even now he is getting old, he manages to keep it up despite his constant sickness due to old age. Anything Roman Catholicism is never allowed to be criticised within his household. No abortion for whatever reason. No homosexuality or bisexualism for any reason. No missing of mass or daily rosary and litany of other rules he made for us to follow. He is more than a Moses. Moses gave only Ten Commandments. My father gave nearly a thousand.

Despite my dad’s level of education and literacy, he opposes all these not because he has done critical study of them to know why some people are gay or bisexual or why abortion should be allowed in certain cases. He cannot condone any of them simply because the Pope and the Roman Catholic theology say it should not be tolerated and that is the end of the story. My mum on the hand is the opposite. Though she is more educated compared to my dad, my mum has always been of the opinion that the world is not only dynamic but also fast moving and therefore we must move on with it. She believes strongly in globalisation and is of the opinion that for us to live and fit in, within the society we must always review our philosophy to conform to the modern world.

She does not see the need for daily rosary when people are tired and could easily cancel it when my dad is not around. Sunday mass to her should not be obligatory because she does not believe in going there simply because we should. She strongly believes that God is omnipresent and therefore could be talked to anywhere including the kitchen, the playground and the toilet and in fact everywhere. On the issue of abortion she has always maintained that children are blessing to the family but unlike my dad, she is of the opinion that a child that come in rare circumstances including one that could endanger mother’s health should be aborted unless the mother decides to go instead of the child.

On the issue of homosexuality and bisexualism, my mum once told me that even though she does not like that, she is not going to judge or condemn anybody. Her defence is that God has a purpose for all his creatures on earth. On a particular occasion she asked me the benefit of living with a woman you are not happy with when you can live with a man you love with all your heart. Sex education is a taboo as far as my dad is concerned. My mum taught me everything including what is called masturbation. I was actually surprised when she told me it is very normal. I nearly reported her to the Archbishop.

This is just a little picture of what my parents look like. My father is a good representation of faith while my mother represents reason. They do not have many things in common but one thing to the best of my knowledge they have in common up till today is that they are perfectionist. My parents are not only neat when it comes to homemaking and dressing, they are simply perfect in their choice of clothing that at one time to my greatest delight my parents especially my mum was declared the neatest woman in the whole area. That was when we were still leaving in Emejulu Lane Onitsha, Nigeria.

My mum in particular is something else when it comes to perfection. She knows where everything is in the house and can easily notice when they are no more there. Everything and I mean everything is neat, ordered and where they are supposed to be. The cooking though may not be like a monarchical dinner, is however very classical and neat. Our flat is always very neat and my friends always like to sneak in and take advantage of the cosy atmosphere.

It is against this back drop that I wish to use this medium to enunciate what my philosophy of life is all about. People ask me about this often. They want to know my stand on issues because according to them, I tend to be very confusing sometimes. But one thing is very certain about me and that fact is that am not confused or confusing. I am very much in control and aware of what I believe in. I am neither a hard conservative like my dad or a soft liberal like my mum. I think am something in-between. Let us begin from here.

Psychologically, I am a moderate extrovert, more of a sanguine, less of a phlegmatic and a perfectionist. In enneagram I belong to the number One which is an extreme perfectionist and frankly speaking I am. I am a highly principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic individual. I am a hardcore perfectionist to the extent that books in my library are arranged in every order available including size, date of purchase, language, colour and many other criteria. I am very instinctive. My refrigerator is fabulously neat while my room lacks virtually any trace of dust. The rug is hovered often and usually when people come and go especially when they come in with their shoes or slippers. The first things that is done in the morning is to lay the bed and the whole room must be perfect whenever am leaving the room otherwise I will not leave with a rest of mind.

Enneagrammatically the One's attention goes to appreciating the excellence and elegance in anything such as a shape, musical score, a piece of art or a speech; to noticing and correcting errors; to identifying and adhering to standards of perfection in thought, feeling and behaviour; to acting according to what is right or wrong; and to judging and criticizing oneself and others. The defensive coping strategy at the root of Type One's makeup is based on the internalization of a critical and judgmental parental voice. This voice is designed to call attention to and correct one's behaviour before it becomes punishable. Major traits of Ones include a strong internal critic, a tendency to criticize or judge others, a concern with ethics and correct behaviour and adherence to rules and standards. Ones also tend to be perfectionists and idealists. In terms of strengths, Ones are typically reliable, analytical and moral. They often demonstrate integrity, adherence to a set of values and a desire to improve things for the good of all. Challenges for Ones include dealing with their own anger, managing their perfectionism, and being overly critical of self and others.

I am also a Sanguine and because some schools of thought are of the opinion that one cannot fall exclusively within one personality, I have no doubt I am a combination of Sanguine and Phlegmatic. Sanguines generally are light-hearted, fun-loving, a man of the people, loves to entertain, spontaneous, possesses leadership abilities and very confident. However Sanguines could be arrogant, cocky and indulgent. They can be day-dreamy and off-task to the point of not accomplishing anything and can be impulsive, possibly acting on whims in an unpredictable fashion. Phlegmatics on the other hand are generally self-content and kind, their shy personality often inhibits enthusiasm in others. They could be lazy and resistant to change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats. Like the sanguine personality, the phlegmatic has many friends. However the phlegmatic is more reliable and compassionate; these characteristics typically make the phlegmatic a more dependable friend.

In actual fact what brought about this writing is that my cousin asked me couple of days ago if am ever going to marry. Why he asked that question was because of the level of order, adherence, neatness and perfection he saw in the arrangement of things in my room and I sincerely hope that this write-up would answer that question. One time in college I quarrelled with one of my best friends because he dirtied my notebook and I had to buy a new one and recopy the whole thing. It is basically because of this that I would prefer buying my own books and photocopying library books instead of borrowing them. Even to lend my books to people is like a scary movie because am always afraid they would dirty it. As One, I think am not far from suffering from an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Well the answer to his question is that I will marry but whoever am going to marry has to learn to conform though I would not want to force the person to be like me. We will have to try and bond just like my parents bonded despite their oppositeness.

This is exactly what I am psychologically. Philosophically it is a different ball game altogether. I have read a lot of books in my life. I started using my personal money to buy books when I was as young as eight and from that day up till today it has been a non-stop buying and reading to the extent that I do not only have a large library but have also read almost everything worth reading in the literary world. I am a fast reader and can read between 250 and 300 words per minute. I can read for about 11 hours especially when am facing an examination otherwise six especially when am reading for fun.

Being an avid reader and having read a lot, a lot of people and writers have consequently come a long way in shaping my philosophy about life. Some of these people and writers include Mahatma Ghandi, Elie Wiesel, Ben Carson, Ola Rotimi, Edith Cavell, Barack Obama, Franz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Abraham Lincoln, Isaiah the Prophet, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Paul the Apostle and numerous others. The aforementioned seriously shaped and moulded my philosophy of life. My firm belief in the principle of dialogue and non-violence is a doctrine I borrowed from Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jnr while that of patriotism was shaped by Edith Cavell. The love, tolerance, accommodation and respect for others is borrowed from Abraham Lincoln and St. Paul the Apostle while the need for peaceful co-existence, universal brotherhood and solidarity is from Elie Wiesel, Martin Luther King Jnr, Isaiah the prophet and St. Francis of Assisi.

My mum introduced me to Abraham Lincoln and I could still remember very well a book that she bought from the market for wrapping stuffs only to notice that it contained a letter of Abraham Lincoln to his son’s teacher. She gave me the book and asked me to read the letter aloud. I fell in love with that letter. Here is the reproduction of the letter.

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader.
Teach him for every enemy there is a
friend.

Steer him away from envy
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick. Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books.
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat.
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong.
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon.
Teach him to listen to all men.
But teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad.
Teach him there is no shame in tears.
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness.
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he's right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient.
Let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do.
He is such a fine fellow,
my son!

My philosophy of life is therefore hinged upon patriotism to the land of my birth Nigeria and that of my domicile the United Kingdom or wherever I see myself at any point in time. However that is never enough! I must have no hatred or bitterness for no one because I strongly believe that pain no matter how painful it is can be healed while hatred can be turned to love and division into unity. Human race can and will be one.

Patriotism to Nigeria is borne out of the fact that it is not only a privilege to be born a Nigerian but a wonderful opportunity to be an Igbo from Nigeria. I am a proud Igbo and Nigerian despite the fact that the latter has not been fair to me the way I wanted her to be. I still love her with all my heart and pray constantly that she grows to be what I want her to be. Nevertheless Nigeria as my country has been good to me at least it gave me the opportunity of a federal education and the opportunity to have my first international work experience within it. It also gave me the opportunity to begin my journalism career there and my first international award in journalism was on the Nigeria police. I am therefore grateful to my beloved country Nigeria and pledge to be faithful, loyal and honest. To serve her with all my strength and to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory with the help of God.

In the same way, patriotism to the United Kingdom is a duty I owe the Queen and this great nation for that privilege and opportunity to live and make my livings here without fear or intimidation. I am very grateful to her and promise to honour her and protect her dignity for this privilege.

I believe strongly in making love not war, preaching peace not hatred, division or bitterness and bearing no malice towards none irrespective of their religion, creed, belief, ethnicity, colour, language or sexual orientation for we are children of the same father with a mandate to heal wounds, unite what has fallen apart and to bring home those who have lost their way.

I decided not to judge people based on their colour, ethnicity, religion, creed, belief or sexual orientation. Nothing is confusing to God. He is aware of what happens down here. I do agree strongly that no one religion is better than the other. They are all the same and simply worship same God according to the dictates of their conscience, geography, culture and way of life. It is never a minus but a plus, which allow us to see and enjoy diversity in worshiping and praising same God. It is against this background that I firmly believe in everybody and equality of human race. I see these diversities in this racial makeup as a great miracle. No race is superior or inferior to the other. We are the same and no one is more important than the other. We are complimentary to each other. Americans got it right, “E Pluribus Unum”.

A straight guy is not superior to a gay guy. A lesbian is no less superior to her straight counterpart while a bisexual is as human as gay or straight. They are all good and wonderful and play vital role in fulfilling the will of God here on earth especially as it concerns diversity. However by this am not suggesting that the ongoing debate over gays, lesbians and bisexuals round the world and in particular my country Nigeria should go away. Each side should be allowed to continue making their case to the public with all vigour, passion and conviction but we must do this without reducing the other party with a differing opinion to a public opprobrium or caricature.

I do not believe in neutrality and silence when people are suffering. I am conscious of the fact that neutrality does not pay and being aware that it does not pay, I have sworn never to keep silent or remain neutral when people are going through a very difficult time or humiliation because it may be my turn tomorrow. Neutrality empowers the oppressor and never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor and never the tormented. I believe we have to take part in a controversy no matter whose Ox is gored especially when it borders on human life, human right and human dignity by speaking out against it. When human lives are endangered and human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sovereignty should come last. Wherever people are being persecuted, imprisoned, humiliated or become a subject of opprobrium as a result of their race, religion, ethnicity, political views or sexual orientation, that place should be the focus of the entire world until that cynical and barbaric behaviour is brought to an end.

My belief is borne out of faith in universal brotherhood of mankind and absolute trust in a supreme being called God. I believe in God. Yes I do and in His only begotten son and our lord Jesus Christ born of the Virgin called Mary the wife of Joseph the Carpenter as well as in the truism that there is salvation for all those Christians and non-Christians who worship God according to their culture and the dictates of their conscience. The meaning of this is that I do not believe in the superiority of one religion over the other. I believe in the equality of all religion as well as gender equality in the service of God. If a man can be a priest nothing should prevent a woman from being that too.

Additionally I believe firmly in showing charity to all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right and bearing in mind at all times that above all these the greatest is love. I believe in doing to others what I would want them do unto me. I am not ready to hurt anybody because it hurts to get hurt. I endeavour to be sincere, honest and helpful to all because it pays to be.
I believe on the day of judgement and also believe strongly that God will judge us on how much we loved others as ourselves which is actually the summary of His commandment. I also believe in the principles of dialogue and non-confrontation upon which God will judge between the nations and settle disputes for them so that they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks and learn war no more.

Above and beyond, I have an absolute faith in that new world where wolves will live with the lamb, leopards with the goats, calves and yearlings with the lions; where the cows will feed like the bears while the lions will eat straw like the ox. Then the infants will play near the hole of the cobra with no fear even as they put their hands into the viper’s nest for He has allowed us to joy in Him through our lord Jesus Christ by whom we have now received the atonement.
This is my belief and this is the belief am going to the grave with and would love to have as my epitaph,

“Here Lies The Remains Of Chukwunwikezarramu Okumephuna
Who Before This Journey Devoted All His Energy To Making Love Not War,
Preaching Peace Not Hatred And Bitterness
And Bearing No Malice Towards None
Irrespective Of Their Religion, Creed, Belief,
Ethnicity, Colour, Language Or Sexual Orientation
As Well As Showing Charity To All
With Firmness In The Right As God Gives Him To See The Right
And Bearing In Mind At All times That Above All These
The Greatest Is Love.
Pray That His Dream Goes On And On
So That His Soul Would Rest In Perfect Peace, Amen”.