Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Glorification Of Shame: A Response To The Time Magazine Of October 5, 2009

In reaction to your cover story of the October 5, 2009 edition of the Time Magazine titled 'Heroes of the Environment’, it is very ironical that you allowed the Royal Dutch Shell to take a half centre-spread advert in pages 70 and 71 of the issue. It is very ludicrous bearing in mind the fact that Shell is one of the greatest defaulters when it comes to environmental protection and the salvation of the climate. Shell should not have placed that advertisement there and the Time should not have allowed it. That is a good example of irresponsible journalism and misleading advertisement and it has a close resemblance of what happened sometime ago when the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola was named by the Time as one of the most influential persons of the year despite his support for a controversial bill that was designed to incarcerate the Nigerian homosexuals.

The story of the Shell and the environment is a shameful one. In Nigeria, it has resisted the protection of the Nigerian environment from day one and actually played a complicated role in the hanging of a renowned Nigerian playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa, 13 years ago by the Junta of the late Nigeria head of state, General Sani Abacha. Ken Saro-Wiwa, an environmentalist who opposed the degradation of the lands in Niger Delta of Nigeria by the Royal Dutch Shell was tried and condemned by a Military Tribunal set up by then Head of State, Sani Abacha after being denied a proper legal representation and appeal and subsequently hanged in November 1995. Shell knew one or two things about the hanging since being one of the main source of Nigerian income, they had the financial power and should have stopped the execution by threatening to walk away if the government go on with it but it remained mysteriously silent apparently because of what they stand to gain from his execution.

It was actually alleged that the Royal Dutch Shell helped in drafting the trumped up charges of murder that led to the execution of Saro-Wiwa and eight others and even helped to fund the military operation of the then Abacha junta which on many occasions brutally suppressed the peaceful protests of the local community. Shell really deserve to bury their head in shame for the level of impunity and lackadaisical attitude they have shown all these while towards the plight of their host, the Niger Delta people and their environment and should not have thought of embarrassing themselves further by placing the advert in the first place. They turned their source of water into oil and rendered their farmland useless. The people are simply poor and frustrated because agriculture and fishing which is their major source of income have been dealt a blow by the Royal Dutch Shell.

The Niger Delta is the main source of the oil and revenue for Nigeria yet majority of its people live below poverty level. The gains of millions of dollars being generated daily from the proceeds of the oil has not trickled down to the people. Their farmland is all turned into a wasteland, their water coated by oil while gas flaring which has been banned for long is still in use by the Royal Dutch Shell. It was these notorious acts that Ken Saro-Wiwa was strongly against and therefore a shame that Time could allow Shell to place the advertisement.

Getting The Facts Straight: A Response To The Nigerian Guardian Editorial

I am surprised that you claimed in your editorial of Friday November 5, 2009 that Nigeria is not ‘exactly afflicted’ by amongst other things ‘victimisation, discrimination and other forms of oppression’ to warrant the exodus of Nigerians to the west for asylum and refuge.

The fact is that the editorial is misleading bearing in mind that there is a strong case against Nigeria of victimisation and discrimination against homosexuals. In fact, lately the Nigeria National Assembly initiated what has been described as the toughest homophobic bill in Africa. Part of the expectations of the bill is to criminalise and punish the "Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations" and "publicity, procession and public show of same-sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise", on penalty of up to 5 years of imprisonment.

Homosexual acts between consenting adults are already illegal in Nigeria. The bill's vague and dangerous prohibition on any public or private show of a "same sex amorous relationship"-which could be construed to cover having dinner with someone of the same sex-would open any known or suspected gay man or lesbian to the threat of arrest at almost any time. This is a clear breach of Nigeria’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and it is basically because of fear of being victimised by this type of bill or law that a good number of homosexual Nigerians are moving out of the country in large numbers seeking for political protection as a result of their sexuality. It is therefore preposterous, naive and a mark of irresponsible journalism for you to claim otherwise.

This is a serious issue and the fact is that Nigeria has to get one thing right and that is the fact that we have homosexuals in Nigeria and they will continue to be there till thy kingdom come. Most are very intelligent, well educated and experienced and when given asylum abroad use the intelligence to contribute to their host country and never for Nigeria and we lose. Sexual orientation has got nothing to do with culture or religion. In fact it is an issue that is more psychological and biological than religious and cultural and for one to use his religious or cultural convictions to emasculate the right of others could be akin to bigotry and tantamount to intolerance.

Homosexuality maybe deplorable but to the best of our knowledge, it is not as deplorable as corruption ravaging Nigeria today which has led to millions of deaths and thousands of Nigerians seeking refuge here in the UK, Europe and America. It is not as deplorable as stoning a human being created in the image of God to death. It is not as deplorable as murdering a person created by God in the name of God. And by the way, why should what happen between two consenting adults in the bedroom bother us at all and how can we tolerate the fact that people are being stoned, hanged, decapitated, imprisoned, ostracised and tortured only because of their sexual orientation? We cannot continue to remain silent and neutral for silence and neutrality empowers the tormentor and ridicules the victim. Therefore the Nigerian homosexuals seeking for asylum and protection which Nigeria cannot afford to them from foreign government are doing the right thing and should be sympathised with.

Once more, no one can claim to believe in God and yet in the name of same God kill his fellow human being. Any religion that advocates violence including killing in the name of God is not a religion. Most of us who are strongly against the homosexuals are heavily involved in fornication, adultery, abortion, sex before marriage, corruption, stealing, cheating and many others condemned by the same Holy Books being used to condemn homosexuals.

In as much as I commend the editorial for highlighting this problem, I would also suggest that you follow it up with another on open discussion and dialogue on this issue of homosexuality. We cannot continue treating it as no go area. It is there and that is the truth. All parties involved including the homosexuals and religious groups should be allowed to continue making intelligent contributions on this issue without being subjected to opprobrium, intimidation or violence.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Why Tony Blair Is Not Fit To Lead Europe

The news is that the ambition of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be the first president of Europe has been scuttled. Personally, this is not a glad tiding for me because I am one of the greatest admirers of Tony Blair. He is an intelligent and fine gentleman and possesses all the qualities that could have made him a very good first president of the European Union.

His track records while he was the prime minister is still here to prove what manner of man he is and there is no doubt that British people are not in doubt that he did a lot during his tenure to uplift the image of the Kingdom as well as its standard of living. In the area of human rights he also set a record especially in the field of race issues, gay rights, minimum wage and law and order.

Also on record is the fact that Tony Blair was behind the rebranding of the once moribund Labour Party into the new Labour, reformed the English legal system as well as the House of Lords which resulted in the establishment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in the style of the United States of America. By the time Tony Blair was forced by his own party to relinquish power suddenly, the Labour Party had reached the height of its glory. His exist orchestrated the gradual declining of the party principally because of the loss of confidence of the British voters on the party. This loss of confidence was mainly because of the role it played in the immoral invasion of Iraq. Another reason for the declining of the Labour party is that Tony Blair, born in Scotland was succeeded by another Scottish man Gordon Brown. They are from a place the English are not comfortable with.

Frankly the English are not comfortable with the idea of a Scottish man being their prime minister, hence the stiff opposition facing Gordon Brown and the steady decline of the support of the English towards the Labour Party. Also, the fact that the then Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martins and the Chancellor Alistair Darling are Scottish also complicated the already compounded problem.

It is interesting to note that what Gordon Brown is going through at the moment was what Tony Blair went through before his unceremonious exit from the party. In fact it is alleged that Gordon Brown and his group orchestrated the events that led to this final exit. Gordon Brown did it to fulfil his lifelong ambition of being a prime minister, unfortunately for him it backfired because the English are simply not ready to see a Scottish man prime ministering over them.

As noted earlier, Tony Blair made a good prime minister and actually made a history of giving the Labour Party three consecutive victories in three general elections. However, his greatest undoing was allowing himself to be deceived, brainwashed and used by the then president of the United States of America, George W. Bush, a bigot and a fanatic. This fatal mistake sunk his political ambition and career. In fact the last straw that broke the Carmel's back in his political career was his decision to go to war in Iraq despite numerous oppositions at home and evidences that George W. Bush was cooking up the theory of weapon of mass destruction as a front to invade Iraq to finish an unfinished business. He disobeyed the British electorates and they retaliated by capsizing his ambition. Besides, the messing up of the British Immigration system as well as his romance and eventual conversion to Roman Catholicism hastened the burial of his political ambition.

The English are very proud people and therefore saw his conversion to Roman Catholicism not only as an act of betrayal and treason but as a smack and a deliberate insult to their pride and what they stand for. The Anglican church, the former faith of Tony Blair is the official religion in the United Kingdom bearing in mind that the queen is both the Head of State and the Head of the Church of England and for Tony Blair to engage in any form of romance with the Catholic Church, the archrival of the Church of England is akin to playing with fire. The English may not ever forgive him or the Labour Party for this.

As well as taking the Blair’s conversion to Catholicism very personal and serious, the voters are also angry that Tony Blair and his administration messed up the immigration system. According to them, the Labour open door policy resulted to an influx of immigrants in this country. About 750 thousand of these immigrants ended up as failed asylum seekers, overstayers or illegal entrants and not providing a realistic and practical solution to the plight of these people-having opened the door for them in the first place-deeply infuriated the voters and in response they casted protest votes for other parties especially the minor ones. This action resulted in the election of far right parties to both the Council and European seats.

Tony Blair is aware of this and he knows that the immoral war that has resulted in thousands of deaths of both British soldiers and Iraqi civilians makes no room for reconciliation sooner. It is basically because of the Iraqi war that both the Labour Party and Tony Blair has been an object of criticism, opprobrium and opposition in the UK today. This also led to fierce domestic opposition over his ambition to become the first president of the European Union. The British voters do not see any morality or sense in proposing a man who joined the fanatical George Bush to wage an immoral war in Iraq to become the President of Europe. Not only the British share this sentiment, many Europeans do too.

It is therefore understandable the reason why his ambition to become the EU’s first president was murdered. Also interesting to note is that one of the main groups behind this campaign to destroy him and murder his ambition actually came from the home front. In fact the idea of having a Labour EU president presiding over a Conservative Prime Minister in the United Kingdom is very uncomfortable to the Tories. By the way, the Tories are convinced that they are going to win the next general election, hence the determination and zeal with which they backed the campaign to murder the ambition that would have brought honour to one of their own.

Outside the home front, another formidable opposition to Tony Blair's ambition came from Europe. Europe was strongly coordinated and furious in their opposition. They have reasons for that and they are very cogent. Majority of the British populace are Europhobia. They do not like Europe and do not want to have anything to do with the European Union. In fact they are contented with being on their own and that is the reason why parties like the British National Party and United Kingdom Independent Party are doing strong here. As a matter of fact, the latter popularly known as the UKIP was solely founded to drag the United Kingdom out of the European Union. How the United Kingdom plans to succeed without being part of the European Union is a mystery am yet to decipher. Against that backdrop then, how on earth do we expect Tony Blair to be the foundation president of the European Union when his own people are strongly Europhobia? Things do not work that way and that is the argument of the Europeans. The United Kingdom has to choose between being part of the Union and taking part in sharing the national cake of the union or taking the most honourable part which is leaving the Union and being on their own. But the idea of rejecting the Union and still wanting to head the Union does not make any sense at all. They do not go in pariparsu! It is a sign of superiority complex which is very dangerous in politics.

Moreover, the United Kingdom is not even using the common European currency which is the Euro. Frankly, there is nothing wrong with the pounds but the fact is that, if she wants to play a leading role in the European Union, she has to lead by example. I strongly doubt that any reasonable and sane mind in Europe would buy the idea of the United Kingdom leading the European Union without adopting the common currency. It is impossible and could be akin to seeking the British Citizenship and at the same refusing to pay allegiance to the Queen. That is not possible in the United Kingdom and just as that is impossible in the UK, so it is also impossible for Tony Blair to head the European Union because his home country does not identify with all the elements, beliefs and values of the European Union. He was a prime minister for 10 years and had all the opportunities to introduce Euro but he did not and this suggests that he may after all be a Europhobe too and a Europhobe is not fit to be the president of Europe.

The opposition is not solely centred on the currency issue alone. There is also the question of European visa. The United Kingdom refused vehemently to be part of the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed amongst some member states of the European Union that provided for the removal of systematic border controls between the participating countries. The Amsterdam Treaty incorporated the Schengen Agreements into the mainstream of the European Union law. The United Kingdom opted out of Schengen's border control arrangements. The borderless zone created by the Schengen Agreements, currently consists of twenty-five European countries.

If the United Kingdom opted out of this agreement, how then could she morally stand to be the president of the European Union? That is not morally acceptable. It is completely unacceptable. The United Kingdom cannot eat her cake and have it. If she wants a prominent role in the European Union, then she has to play a model role and that entails living by all the rules, options and protocols of the EU without opting out to suit her own personal and national aggrandisement.

Every country in the European Union has its own national interests and pride to protect but they sacrificed it for the sake of the Union. This is what is called love and patriotism and if the United Kingdom cannot afford to show this love, patriotism and sacrifice, then she should not bother seeking to lead the European Union. It cannot morally lead it because there is no way she could lead an institution she opposes.

Therefore the decision to murder the ambition of Tony Blair to be the first president of the European Union should be welcomed as a moral and good development that is in the interest of commonsense, decency and for the betterment of the general populace of the European Union. The United Kingdom should reflect on her relationship with the European Union and decide to either join the ship or be on her own.