Nigeria: Let’s think unity

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Peace and unity, reconciliation and forgiveness are what we Nigerians should stand to acknowledge through wisdom, kindness, liberty, justice, fairness, love, work to overcoming the negative through the creation of a positive mindset that would lead us to a positive environment.

We knew that there is more power in unity than in division, more to love than in hate. I read a story by a lady who said in the following lines: “Once when I was young, maybe more than once, when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily called me “garbage” in our native Hokkien dialect.

“It worked really well. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But it didn’t damage my self esteem or anything like that. I knew exactly how highly he thought of me. I didn’t actually think I was worthless or feel like a piece of garbage.

“As an adult, I once did the same thing to Sophie, calling her garbage in English when she acted extremely disrespectful toward me. When I mentioned I had done this at a dinner party, I was immediately ostracized. One guest named Marcy got so upset she broke down in tears and had to leave early.

“My friend Susan, the host, tried to rehabilitate me with the remaining guests. “Oh dear, it’s just a misunderstanding. Amy was speaking metaphorically-right, Amy? You didn’t actually call Sophie ‘garbage.'” “Um, yes I did. But it’s all in the context,” I tried to explain. “It’s a Chinese immigrant thing.”

prez jona

This is typical of our country, Nigeria. We are like the lady and her father in the story. We have been called ‘garbage’ and in return, we call those who called us ‘garbage’ the same. But two wrongs, they say, do not make a right.

It is my wish that if there is any website we must host about Nigeria, that website must be for peace and unity. Not for bitterness. We already have the 2015 elections in our hand, yet we seem not to be after the issues that matter to our collective welfare, but our different political parties and interests.

We cannot achieve harmony, peace and happiness as well as spiritual, social happenings in Nigeria if we do not shelve hatred by the side and welcome all and sundry as one. Just as it is written in the bible, so also it is written in Koran and in other writs.

According to religious scholars: Islam teaches us through its two main authentic sources: The Glorious Qur’an and the Prophetic sayings that we can attain peace of mind, happiness, and salvation, by knowing and believing in the one true God (Allah) willingly and wholeheartedly… (Am only quoting the book…).

Our universality requires that we embrace unity and love and forgive all who may have offended us in one way or the other and also go to plead for forgiveness from those we may have offended. It is written: “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” (God here to me means peace and unity, reconciliation and forgiveness, wisdom, kindness, liberty, justice, and fairness, love, work… Not a sky daddy).

And when we submit ourselves respectively to God, we will not see members of the different political parties as rivals, but as Nigeria sons and daughters. We will work in tandem as one family for the growth of the country.

We should not be behaving like those who are far away from civilization. Nigeria is ours and should not be made a jungle of a sort due to our different political aspirations and interests. When we look up far off in the distance, we would see hope. But no one can bring the Utopian world around us if we do not work towards having such around us and making sure that we bring it.

It is not a Spartan babble that this treatise is made up of. We have to be in the front string to build the very-well towers. We cannot continue to fight with narrow minds. We must compel ourselves to change our mindsets about what we think our country should be. We should outgrow the level of bickering and tinkering and looking for whom to make prey.

I beseech all and sundry to pursue excellence and stop this argument, this fusion of wars, but focus on the way forward for the country. We are a great people that should not rub mud on the face and yet looking for who to correct.

One Chuck Palahniuk said: The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up. The shortcut to closing a door is to bury yourself in the details. This is how we must look to (providence). As if everything’s just fine.

It is time we knew that escaping from turbulent situations in our country, if we allow them to occur; we are not going to face them with smiles on our faces. We would know that peace is always better to troubles. Muhammad Iqbal has warned humanity to rise above sectional interests and private ambitions… Pass from matter to spirit. Matter is diversity; spirit is light, life and unity.

Like the lady in the above story was reconciled to her friends after she was ostracized, I would therefore suggest that as a matter of urgency we have to tow the line of peace and unity, reconciliation and forgiveness, wisdom, kindness, liberty, justice, and fairness, love, work… in order to settle ones and for all, the political brigandage in our bellowed Nigeria.

We have to take a clue from the statement by Yehuda Berg, which suggests: I do believe that the original sources of all religions should be taught, because with that we will find our similarities, not just our differences. I believe that if Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus, and Moses all got together they would be best of friends because the spiritual basis of all religions is something that builds unity.

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855.

Ganges River: Concerns, commitments and connections with the wider world

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Rivers are symbols of flow of life. That in itself embodies typical resources of spirituality and divinity that establish and sustain virtues of ethical economy of life. With that given statement, the Indian Ganges River comes to mind. A river like Indian Ganges is a life force and source. As such, the need to rejuvenate the Indian Ganges River at Varanasi of India cannot be overemphasized. This is owed to the fact that it is accepted by majority of Indians to be a source of life to them. Indians have said that the river creates revenues for the government through tourism, helps in irrigation from time immemorial, apart from being the central reality of the people’s River of Life.

ganges

Over 400 million Indians benefit from the water. Either it serves as a source of drinking water to them or it promotes socio-economic farming community. About 1 millions Hindus in India reverence this river which crisscrosses a length of 1, 568 miles. This river’s implication on life is deep. It brings about not only social and economic interests and hopes for peasants but also enhances dominant ritualistic and religious affinities. Devotees of interest call it Ganga Ma.

Presently, the worry among the international committee and Indians of today is that the river is not only soiled with dirt like plastic and garbage and toxin, but is also telescoping the 70 per cent that the Gangotri glacier supplies during the dry season. That way, the danger of shriveling at somewhat 40 yards annually has become inevitable.

Indian authorities said that the Ganges is on the menu of the world’s most endangered rivers in the world. The World Wildlife Fund knew about this daring concern. At a point the river was rising per second, experts feared that it could hamper the settlement of over 25 villages situated along its bank. This suggests that inability to dredge or evacuate dumps in the river will likely trouble the natural water ways and in turn cause sporadic flooding and misfortune to the population area.

Indians, including the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Shatrughan Singh, have shown fear that the situation with Indian Ganges River is agitated by water released from Narora dam and heavy rainfall from the hills. Roshan Jacob has cautioned the management officials to be watchful and be on their sentinel to budge the people. There was the rivers’ level of 113m. Specialists said that it is merely one meter beneath the peril blotch of 114m.

Ganges River Importance

Indians are afraid that the river Ganges is receding and therefore producing transitory supply of water due to the disappearing glaciers. Many Indians are worried of what will become of Hindus if the water is no more.

Mahesh Mehta, an environmental lawyer apparently has shown a great concern to the river that he has been suing some dubious companies that have used the once sacred Ganges as a place for dumping not only solid wastes, but also toxins, to court. Mehta is afraid of the melting glaciers and has been shouting above his voice that Indians should change their ways of soiling the river else all the facets of their livelihood are under jeopardy.

Bhadra Mishra, an engineer and director of the Varanasi-based Sankat Mochan Foundation, an organization that promotes for the safeguarding of the Ganges reportedly said that Indians are becoming imperiled sort of Hindus due to the ill-fated nature of the Ganges.

As if the people’s fears of the situation of the river are not enough, the United Climate report announced that by 2030, the Himalayan glaciers that nourish unswervingly into the Ganges could disappear due to the increasing temperatures. There is apprehension in India regarding the Ganges drying up the same way the Indus and Saraswati rivers dried up without literal reason. A situation in which the Indians centred their history many hundreds of years ago before Ganges could happen again.

By then, the much heralded climate change was not fad, but the modern Pakistan which used to be a fertile land turned to a sudden desert as the river stopped flowing into the Indian Ocean before it later dried up entirely. It was then that all eyes of the Northern India and its cultures shifted gears to the Ganges and evolved it into the spiritual significance it is today on the world map.

It is being reasoned that if the Ganges eventually dries up, Indians will be more frightened that they may be heading for the worse, something worst than the desert they experienced when the Indus and Saraswati dried up thousands of years ago. The population’s worry is that it is yet unknown what caused the Indus and Saraswati to dry up. But now the Ganges River is being aided to empty out by untamed ubiquitous human attitude which is causing harm to the ecosystem. By making the once revered Ganges a cesspit, messed up of fecal waste, semi-cremated bodies, and other anomalies, the likelihood to de-river the flow is imminent.

Army was also seeking to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to clean river Ganga, through setting up task force under a retired Lieutenant General to carry out the project efficiently. The Army even went as far as submitting a pitch to the Government to set up a task force under a retired Lt. General with a team of 40 officers to handle the situation.

According to The Economic Times, “The Territorial Army battalions of the Army are already engaged in the task of preserving ecology and environment and have been taking part in projects to spread greenery in barren areas such as the Bhati Mines area in Delhi.”

Hope Coming

Hope is hope and when it is assured, life is renewed. As such, hope for change came the way of Indians as four ministers held the first meeting in June this year, 2014. Put up with is the resolution that cleaning the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ganga project and the Road map on Ganga cleanup mission would be presented in front of House session in July. Attention got focused on practical approaches than speculations.

Water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation minister, Uma Bharati, said in the meeting chaired by Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari that, “Season, site and rainfall specific plans for different rivers will be readied. A group of secretaries will work out a detailed plan for each river…We will be incorporating ideas as and when required. It is not that we are not prioritizing other rivers but we will have to create a model first which can be replicated elsewhere.”

Gadkari said, “To undertake dredging activities of up to 45 meters from Varanasi to Hoogly, the ministry of environment and forests will evaluate the ecological impact of the proposal and will give us the report….We have started technical evaluation of barrages that we intend to set up at a distance of every 100 km and use it for connectivity. It will also be utilized for goods and passenger transportation.”

Union Minister of States (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan looking freshened-up illustrated praise on Dainik Jagran in a different forum. This is sequel to the effort the dude has taken to clean River Ganga. The efforts of Jagran was taken as dignifying which would keep the river pollution-free after the exercise for undertaking a gracious attempt to clean River Ganges in order to render it pollution-free.

Intervention

As the most priority of Indian government which has lingered for years, Germany showed interest to offer her expertise for the Ganges clean-up project. This interest was coming 27yrs after India started attracting the world’s attention to clean-up the messed up river.

Not even the cash from the World Bank in 2012 has enhanced the quick execution of the programme on the river regarded as one of the world’s 20 largest rivers. The Indian Government requested $3 billion (2.4 billion euros) from Israel to restore the Ganges status.

“Israel NewTech, an initiative led by the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, is matching Israeli clean-tech companies with Indian partners to tender solutions for the Ganges,” said Deutsche Welle. “The Indian government aims to have no untreated municipal sewage or industrial runoff to enter the Ganges by 2020. Yet, according to Oded Distel, head of Israel NewTech, cleaning the Ganges is more like a 20-year mission.”

“It’s a huge project. It combines technological aspects and elements from waste water treatment and water management up to irrigation,” Distel said. During dry season, “it becomes more a kind of canal for waste water rather than a real living river.”

“The irrigation business in India these days is above $0.5 billion a year, which in the next two or three years, will reach $1.5 billion – just micro irrigation,” NaanDanJain director Amnon Ofen, said. According to Deutsche Welle, he added that this would be the reason why foreign companies are based in India.

Heiko Warnken, head of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, supposedly said on the tangential of a colloquium: “Rejuvenation and cleaning of the river Ganga is one of the top priorities of Indian government. We are now just in the phase where we are going to see how we are going to assist the Indian government in this important endeavour…We will soon have a mission who will be coming to India with experts from Germany. We have also cleaned the river Rhine in Germany. We will see how we can assist in the Ganga mission.”

The New Look

The government of India had on June 6, 2014 announced that the concept to develop Ganga is not only for it not to dry, also it is to sustain it as an economic attraction of the state in the areas of transportation, fisheries tourism and hydro-power generation. An estimate of Rs 6,000 crore would be expended in its first stage which the government had promised that it would put every mercenary in place in making sure that the feat was achieved.

The government looked at the ‘new’ Ganga with the plan that it would be a major waterway for transport and tourism, which would interconnect with the Varanasi and Hooghly through river going boats. It also looks at redecorating the major banks with allure and constructing 11 multi-purpose terminals, which would comprise one at Patna. Not limiting its strength here, the government might lengthen its effort to Allahabad. If this is achieved, specialists have said that the government must have to achieve 1,600km broad of the river.

Working Together

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Rather than dollars, we are more interested in knowledge and expertise of World Bank. Dr Kim agreed, in addition said World Bank can be our information bank. We want ideas from the World Bank not only on mass production but also on production by masses, which will benefit our workforce,” Modi tweeted.

At the meeting, “We talked about the importance of scale and the need to work on a scale that inspires people and positively transforms their lives. We live in a world where speed matters. Quick execution is essential. Speeding up World Bank projects will surely increase the impact.”

The river Ganga is revered in the Hindu culture. People from Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Roorkee are working with expectation to see a ‘new’ Ganges emerge. It was observable that, “Rs 1,825 crore was spent in cleaning the Ganga between 1985 and 2009 in phases of the Ganga Action Plan, or GAP as it is popularly called. Suresh Prabhu, who as union environment minister in 1998-99 had implemented phase-II of GAP, recalls: “The plan was appropriately named. There were so many gaps in the scheme and what is needed now is essentially a comprehensive approach.”

David Graham of UK’s Newcastle University, had done all-embracing studies on river Ganga and, graphs out the precedence for Modi Sarkar: “Solutions include routing wastes elsewhere, improving waste treatment prior to release, and motivating ‘social engineering’ to change behaviours and attitudes related to water quality in the river… Delaying waste inputs, by providing portable toilets at habited locations, are an easy and immediate solution, but this does not completely solve the problem.”

“Already, the government has been contemplating a massive drive to discourage people from open defecation along the river. But Graham is not fully convinced of its long-term utility,” the source added.

The hope to regain the value of dredged and free flowing Ganges River is back and the potential to continue to sustain and advance the river of life is increased. What one can obviously learn from the team of worry, action and connection with the wider world is that development can happen when it is considered and approached.

Odimegwu Onwumere,

a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com

Celebrating the unbending Ngige @ 62

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Representing Anambra Central Senatorial District in the Senate, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige (Onwa, as he is fondly called) is 62. He was born on August 8 1952.  He became a political figure in Nigeria, after winning the 2003 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, where he turned a father of a good fight through his commendable stoical approach by not giving in, when certain powers that felt they saw to his governorship success, wanted to kick him out of office through many Kangaroo approach.

Dr Chris Ngige

Onwa did not succumb to their gimmicks. He fought back as a man he is, although diplomatically. Anambra became a very hot place occasioned by political demagogues and traducers alike, as Ngige was in the office as governor. The newspapers made headlines on daily basis, because each day that came had Ngige and traducers in the news. While his tormentors exhibited their retinue of aides and large collection of cars and were after him, Ngige showed them mettle and used his brain more than his mouth.

Mr. Chris Uba from the now dwarfed Uba political dynasty of Anambra State did not want to hear anything Ngige after he fell apart with Ngige. The song on Uba’s lips was, remove Ngige as governor. Uba saw himself as the greatest man in the Anambra politics. Somebody might say that Ngige was a product of Uba’s reign as a godfather, but Ngige in ernest showed how not to be a dull brain; he mapped out plans to liberate Anambra from the obstruct of godfatherism and allowed Uba to ‘sponsor’ his electioneering campaign as the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.

Uba was a member of the PDP Board of Trustees when Ngige was being harassed. Ngige did not like the fact that Uba, seemingly was always asking him to go to the treasury and take money and give to him, upon that there was a seemingly promise by Ngige with Uba in writing that the former would show every sense of loyalty to the later in the event that he won the election. According to Human Rights Watch report, Ngige promised in writing to “exercise and manifest absolute loyalty to the person of Chief Chris Uba as my mentor, benefactor and sponsor” and agreed to allow Uba manage over all significant government appointments and the awarding of all government contracts.

Uba did not know that all of that were intended by Ngige to get hold of power and liberate the state from the Emeka Offors and Ubas of that state. It was not easy for Ngige to break away from Uba as regards to what Ngige told the world: Uba was continually making incessant demands from the treasury. There was a statement credited to Ngige that he was forced at a gunpoint at his house after his inauguration to append his signature that he would pay Uba the sum of N3 billion ($23 million) immediately after mounting the saddle of office.

Nigerians were thrown into the ice when in July 2003, a sitting governor in the person of Ngige was abducted and was placed with a gun on his throat to sign a letter that he would cease to be governor. Nigerians did not go far to look who orchestrated the plan. Accusing fingers were immediately pointed at Uba. Even Ngige fingered Uba as the architect of that, but Uba vehemently dispelled all of that as speculations from the blues. He shouted above his voice that he had no hand in the kidnapping saga and never asked Ngige for a dime from the treasury.

When Ndi-Anambra thought all of that was enough as their state was like the menaces experienced from the charlatans in the Boko Haram today in the North East, thugs in 2004, who were armed with munitions to the teeth descended on the Government House, Awka, and parts of the expensive and expansive lodges were significantly touched. This was too much on Nigerians to bear. The presidency was mute, as if in total support of those who were against Ngige.

It was heavy on Ngige that he nearly did not know what to do, but he never gave up. He battled at the court that the ‘resignation letter’ be thrown out. The news that worried Nigerians much was that while the urchins went for killing and destruction spree at the government house where Ngige was the governor, the police people on guide were only mopping while the hoodlums had a field day.

Ngige wept as many people were killed during the subsequent attacks and organized restiveness that ensued. The same Uba who was denying being the brain behind the attacks on Ngige, reportedly granted an interview to Human Rights Watch at his Enugu residence in February 2007; and the following lines were his comments: “I have been in politics from 1999 and even before, but 2003 is the time I produced a Governor for the State. Since that 2003 I have been handling the party—the PDP­—and we have been doing well and we did not have any problem in the party.

“When he (Ngige) became Governor he started playing funny. That is where we disagree, we signed before he became governor. We said that I am going to produce [appoint] six to seven Commissioners. He is going to produce [some] because he is governor already. I am going to produce more; he is going to produce lesser… I spent a lot of money to put him there but I never asked him for my money back…”

Ngige moved on but in March 2006, a Federal Court of Appeal ruled that Ngige’s 2003 election victory was falsified and hence null and void. This brought the frigid relationship between Ngige and Uba to an end. Mr. Peter Obi of the opposition All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was Ngige’s replacement, as he produced what analysts had called quantum confirmation of electoral fraud against Ngige.

Ngige was again there in the 2007 elections, one of the Ubas, Andy Uba who enjoyed the presidency support was full of smiles when the names of Obi and Ngige were missing from the ballot box. (Others on that issue are history).

Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige graduated from the University of Nigeria-Nsukka in 1979. He is a medical doctor by profession, and served in National Assembly and State House clinics at different times as a civil servant, and retired in 1998 as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health. He was governor of Anambra State from 29th May 2003 to 17th March 2006 with records of indelible footsteps on the soil of Anambra. Between 1999 to 2006, Senator Ngige was a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which he was a founding member, and as well the Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of PDP in the South East in 1999.

Nigerians know that Ngige has fought many political battles. Like the rave during his tango with Uba, his contest with Professor Dora Akunyili (now late) in the 2011 Anambra Central senatorial election, was the outstanding. There were speculations that Akunyili would win Ngige since she enjoyed Obi’s anointing, but Ngige carpet her at the election ground and at the different courts where Akunyili dragged him to.

When he came back for the state’s governorship election on November 16 2014, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, he was not successful this time as Mr. Willie Obiano of the APGA stole the show. It would therefore behoove on Ngige to quit the stage when the ovation is high, else he would drag the faces of millions of his fans and admirers that cut across the world to the mud.

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: 08032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com