Thursday, 13 September 2012

HIV Epidemic In Nigeria…A Good Example Of Nonchalant Attitude Towards A Serious Problem!


I am appalled by the fact that despite the continued rising threat of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, the effort of the Nigeria government to match the virus is nothing to write home about. About 3.6 million Nigerians are living with the virus today and that is one out of every 11 people living with the virus in the world. It seems that the Nigerian government is not perturbed by these figures. The government seems very much interested in politicking and looting the commonwealth than taking a decisive, strong and confrontational approach to deal with the virus. This is a very bad way to tackle a pressing problem!

The implication of this nonchalant attitude towards the virus is that a lot of people especially the young people who make up the bulk of our population and work force and of course the future of our country are daily succumbing to the virus, not even in tens but in hundreds. I am scared that there will be a time in future when there will be no more young people to take over the mantle of leadership of this country but God forbid we will ever get there. This is scary indeed and that should scare a hell out of every living creature and right thinking person in Nigeria. The picture I am looking at now is very bleak. It is nothing to write home about and will become hydra headed and monstrous if this nonchalant attitude of the Nigeria government continues.

The implication of the poor quality of this picture is that Nigeria is today bearing one of the highest burdens of the virus in the world and that burden is still appreciating instead of depreciating and that is exactly what makes the whole story so sad. This is not good news and should be a source of concern to all of us and I mean it. The saddest part is that the Anti-Retroviral Therapy that is meant to manage the virus is nowhere within the reach of the millions living with the virus. Even the little in circulation is being hindered by injustice in the circulation and distribution system. This has led to the exclusion of those who are in genuine and urgent need of the drugs even as those who do not need them smuggle them and make thousands in profit in the black market. This is unfortunate, completely unacceptable and somebody must bury his or her head in shame!

It is scandalous and even sadder to know that patients still die of HIV today in 2012 in Nigeria. Elsewhere HIV could be perfectly managed to allow those living with it to live almost their full lifespan. In fact, in the United Kingdom today, you could just go online, request a free kit that will be sent to you, take a swab of your mouth and send it back in an included prepaid envelope and your HIV status result will be with you in less than a week! Why should this case be different in Nigeria? I have seen people living with HIV for over 25 years here in the United Kingdom and they are very healthy and doing their everyday normal job and even having babies born free of the virus. Would it be a sin for this bright picture to be exhibited in Nigeria?

And if you think that what I have been saying is very shocking, wait until you here the next thing I am going to say and that is the fact that 1 in 3 of those living with the virus in Nigeria today do not even know they have the virus. How would they know if they do not go for regular tests? Due to the ignorance of their serostatus, they will go on to infect others or get married and infect their wives who will in turn pass it on to their kids. This is sad and people should be encouraged to go out there and have the test even as the Nigeria government must make itself accountable to these people and pretend at least to be a responsible government for once. Those who are positive should take good care of themselves and ensure that they do not pass on the virus to others while those who are negative should strive to continue being negative and always having protected sex is the key!

Above all, everyone should play a part by ensuring that condoms are always used during sex and that should be the right condom size too.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

What is the point of studying law?


Yesterday, a young college graduate held me to ransom! He wanted to know why I chose to study law and not History, Physics, Mathematics, English Literature or something else. It was a fascinating intellectual lucubration. By the way, the young man was actually wrong in assuming that I did not read something else before delving into law. In fact, before going to the law school, I had already studied Mass Communications majoring in Print Journalism and also practiced as a journalist for over five years. Being a journalist, I thought that a career in law especially Mass Media law might be a very good idea. I did not tell the young man this, however I did promise to get back to him in a very formal way as soon as possible. This blog is therefore a fulfilment of that promise.

For majority of those wanting to explore a career in law, we could fairly argue that the main motivating factor is to contribute towards building a just, free and fair society. The often repeated cliché amongst lawyers is the burning desire to see a future fair to all and a world where justice and fairness must appear to the right thinking members of the society to have been fairly dispensed without looking at the wherewithal or status of parties to a dispute.

Right from the time of ancient legal philosophers and jurists, law has always been associated with justice and fairness and since the year 1543 when Lady Justice was first blindfolded by a German Sculptor Hans Gieng on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen in the city of Berne, law has also become not only a symbol of blind justice, objectivity, impartiality and truth but also a driving force in the maintenance of law and order hence the full sense in arguing that law is the soul of the society. It is principally because of this reason that successive generations had continued to reserve a pride of place in the society to the study of law bearing in mind also the role law could play towards safeguarding lives and property, rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad ones. It is purely because of these reasons that I chose to study law; I want bad guys to be punished and good ones to be rewarded.

Before going further, it is pertinent to point out that finding an acceptable meaning of the term ‘law’ is a controversial one and indeed an uphill task. Finding a common ground in understanding the meaning of the term ‘law’ is very difficult and depending on who is being asked, the term ‘law’ could mean different things to different people. It could symbolise an honour or class elevation for those involved; I do not subscribe to that! It could also be a force for good and deterrence to evil; this is where I stand! And yet to others it could be a symbol of oppression or even misuse of power and disorder rather than order.

A young Blackman in Peckham High Street in South London will definitely give a different meaning to it from a young Whiteman of same age in a High Street in Cornwall. How about looking at law from the perspective of different world religions? Would a western law on divorce mean same thing to Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews? How about looking at it from the angle of customary laws of Asian and African countries? And how would you explain to a secularist that Sharia and Canon laws are also laws or that the ancient pagan Roman law played an important part in shaping the meaning, development and contemporary understanding of law in the west and the rest of the world? Such definitional and ideological struggles are exacerbated by discrepancies between different religious systems and their competing truth claims. The study of law therefore becomes imperative in order to make the crooked way straight!

Am sure that by now that you must have agreed with me that these perceived controversies as to the meaning of law makes it not pointless but reasonable for a pride of place to be given to the study of law. Ever since the Roman Catholic Church used her monopoly of the Canon Law to uphold and justify the doctrine of inquisition, many world religions, states and tyrannies have continued to compete ferociously to outdo each other in totalitarianism and autocracy in the name of law. The Jewish Pogrom, the South African Apartheid, the Armenian Genocide, the American racism, the on-going shooting of protesters and killing of innocent citizens in Syria are just some of handy examples of evil being perpetrated in the name of law. The consequence of these developments is obvious; it is increasingly becoming difficult to know what exactly is lawful and what is not or the boundary between legality and illegality. Situations like these make the study and knowledge of law very imperative and more urgent than it has ever been and that is the reason why I joined the bandwagon!

Law is therefore very essential in order to set a boundary and standard for human conducts and even as that point is noted, we should also not overlook the importance of law as a potent instrument in defending the rights of the people, safeguarding the life and property of the citizens as well as arbitrating over disputes and assuring the commoners, the poor and the oppressed that the law will always be on their side as their last hope against the ‘brutal hands’ of the mighty and the rich.