Like apartheid, like Christianity and Islam

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: Foreign religions in Africa are like apartheid that most African countries experienced in the hands of those who mainly brought the bible but were characters of bestiality. Now, many Africans are struggling to regain their cultures and traditions, the same way Africans fought apartheid. There is no difference between the racial classification, division of homes and interests that apartheid brought with it, and what these alien religions also brought in our midst. -Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State.


The spiritual exercise of sex

If you know the way to meditate
you would have a good sex
with deep concentration.

(Photo: culled from the internet)
Men who come quick
and blame their body chemistry
are like clerics who jabber in prayers
without deep concentration.

Like advancement in spiritual matters
sex is like a person passing from kindergarten
to tertiary institution.

If you put in your best in school
you will have a good result;
likewise if you have advanced
in sexual matters as a spiritual exercise
you can have sexual intercourse
without producing semen –
only when you want to.

Did you ask how possible that could be?

Everything about the world
is training the mind.

The mind is everything.

As there are casual prayers
so there are casual sex
which does not produce the desired result:
Deep concentration.

You may be highly experienced in sex matters
but not experienced that it is a spiritual exercise.

You can pray on it, meditate on it
but it requires two to agree in its spirituality
rather than in experiencing orgasm
that is for the satisfaction of the flesh.

Such that there is sexual climax,
so there is spiritual climax in sex
only oracles like the poet has found out
and will continue to find out.

(c) October 24 2015 Odimegwu Onwumere

Saving Precious Lives

By Odimegwu Onwumere

When the loud noise came on September 13, 2015, the children never expected that they would be later pulled out of the building debris.

The death toll had risen from four to ten after the sound was heard. The blocks were soaked with the innocent blood of the children taking Islamic lectures.

Alhaji Alhassan Barde, the Executive Secretary of the Plateau State Emergency Management Agency, said that his team “rushed to the scene when the matter was reported to us and our efforts yielded fruits as we were able to minimise the number of casualties.”

Some children and their preceptors were buried alive, while many had different degrees of injury on their waists, legs, hands, heads and other parts. They were rushed to the hospital and were receiving treatment.

The North-central Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Abdulsalam Mohammed, said that apart from the fact that it was raining and some pupils did not come to school, some were yet to pay their fees and had been sent home; if not, the figure of victims could have been embarrassing.

The annoying aspect of the collapsed Abu Naib Islamic School on Gero Road in the Bukuru area in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, where the children were taking Quranic lessons, was not about the irritating cry of survivors and the death toll, but why a school in a modern Nigeria, should be operated in an uncompleted storey building regarded as a bungalow that was believed to be for a secondary school.

Checks have it that the survivors of the Quranic collapsed school had tales of woes. Some of the victims that were rushed to the Plateau Specialist Hospital especially, said that the incident was better imagined than experienced. The touchy story of a 10-year-old female student of the school, Mamunat Mohammad was that the incident was nightmarish.

While she recounted the bad omen that befell her school, Abdulsalam confirmed the death of four students who died on the spot, while 25 others were nursing injuries at a specialist hospital, where one of them died after.

The story from the Chief Medical Director of Plateau Specialist Hospital, Dr. Philemon Golwa, to the NEMA scribe was that two other persons also died at the hospital after, making the number seven.

Mrs. Zuwabia Ibrahim, whose daughter Amina survived the mayhem said that she thanked Allah for saving her life.

Meanwhile, it was not only the students that were trapped in the collapsed edifice. Mallam Useni Ibrahim, a survivor-teacher of the school, described the incident as a bad omen, and mourned fellow teachers who died in the catastrophe.

Commenting, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, a journalist said that while Barde’s team could be commended for moving to the scene immediately, “the pertinent question remains: where in the world do buildings collapse at the rate at which they do in Nigeria?”

Adeniyi said that he was disturbed with what he said were familiar stories that were being associated to the collapsed building, such as: “The foundation and all the materials were for a small bungalow, but the building structure was suddenly converted into a two-storey structure, forcing it to cave in as the foundation materials could not cope with the new weight,” said NEMA Zonal Coordinator (North-Central), Abdulsalam Mohammed, who blamed the collapse of the building on carelessness. “The materials used were even very poor. If you check the blocks, you will find that they did not have enough cement in them. If you check the rods, you will find that they were even too light for a building of that weight and magnitude.”

However, that was not the first time school building was to collapse in Nigeria. In July 2014 a newly completed Ejigbo High School of Ejigbo town in Osun State, collapsed. The difference with the Quranic School that collapsed in Jos and that of Ejigbo was that no death was recorded, given that students were yet to occupy the Ejogbo school building.

In the same year, precisely in May, a school building belonging to Homaj Private Secondary School at Igoba community in Akure North local government area of Ondo State collapsed and killed two and injured three. The school was said to be uncompleted.

From Port Harcourt to Plateau and from Lagos to Lokoja the story was not different. With the ill-fates that befall students in their schools premises, Adeniyi added that he was perturbed and aghast with the electrocution of a 300-level female student of Accounting recently, Oluchi Anaekwe, whom he described as “brilliant” at the University of Lagos.

The depressing doom that befell Anaekwe, according to Adeniyi, was when she unknowingly stepped on a high-tension wire that fell from an electric pole. 

“She was said to have been rushed to the school clinic where, according to many students, she was not given adequate attention until she died. Not being promptly attended to at a medical centre is of course a familiar Nigerian story and so is death by electrocution, one of the several tragedies which depict just how very cheap life has become in our country today,” Adeniyi said.

Uju Anaekwe, a 200-level student of Medicine in the university and sister of Oluchi, who sustained injuries below her nose and on her right arm in the incident, told reporters that she was walking with the sister when the unexpected happened.

Inter alia, Uju said, “I noticed electric sparks of white blue light. It all happened within microseconds. I initially lost consciousness. When I regained my consciousness, I saw people running away from us. I tried to stand up but I could not, because I was still feeling electrical shock in my body. As I turned, I saw my sister (Oluchi) with the electric cable around her leg.”

It was noted that the Medical Centre in the school where Oluchi was rushed to, did not even had a toilet roll, according to Uju, who questioned, “What does the school provide for the Medical Centre to cope with emergency?”

According to a source, “Oluchi’s life could have been saved. When they brought out her body, I checked it and I discovered that the only stiff part was Oluchi’s left arm where the electric cable struck her. Every other part was moving freely. And this shows she was left to die because the nurses and doctors, who attended to her, did not know what to do when she was rushed to school clinic and LUTH.”

Nigerians were of baked breathe that the environment in which knowledge was being imparted in the country has not been made conducive for the pupils or students. Checks revealed that in some of the schools, students receive lectures in makeshift pavilions, while others take lessons in shaky buildings that were disasters waiting to happen.

The irony was that Parents Forum Association of the schools across the country only engages in protests in any of the affected schools with letter sent to the appropriate authorities and the authorities would call for probe that would die as soon as they were set up.

Such call was made last year by the then Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Mr. Najeem Salaam, when the newly completed Ejigbo High School collapsed. He called for thorough investigation into the collapse.

In a press briefing signed by his then Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Goke Butika, and made available to newsmen, Salaam, who was representing Ejigbo state constituency, said, “I personally monitored the work-in-progress of the collapsed building, and no sub-standard materials were used in the construction of the building; it was too early to conclude that the building collapsed due to sub-standard materials.”

Conversely, heavy wind has been associated to some collapsed schools building, especially the school that collapsed in Osun State which Governor Rauf Aregbesola had at a campaign rally in Ede, said that the school which was built newly, was one of the most beautiful schools in the country. That was before it land-crashed.

The Police Public Relations Officer for the state, Mrs. Folasade Odoro attributed the collapse to have occurred due to heavy wind.

She said, “The main hall of the newly completed ultra-modern Ejigbo High School collapsed due to heavy wind which blew this morning. Two artisans laying tiles sustained injuries. They were treated and have been discharged.”

For-the-moment, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, President, Building Collapse Prevention Guild, in a public presentation he made available to journalists few days after the Jos school hitch happened, called on President Muhammadu Buhari government to help eliminate the idea of using what he described as “Substandard Building Construction” in Nigeria.

That was even as he added that ‘change’ should be felt in the construction industry in Nigeria, the same way ‘change’ was being felt in other industries across the country. Awobodu attributed the concurrent building collapse in Nigeria as largely man-made, saying that in the olden times, building hardly collapse due to the orderliness that was the Nigerian system then.

“If people entrusted with the duty of implementing regulations and laws on physical planning and building control have been knowledgeable, sincere, steadfast and committed, the danger of slum growth and defective buildings would have been nipped in the bud from the outset.
Preventing haphazard development and substandard building construction is less expensive and more effective to demolition,” Awobodu said.

He further highlighted, “Low staff strength, bureaucracy, experience, poor methodology, sentiments, cowardliness, compromise, corruption and lack of enforcement are the major bane of physical planning and building control operations across Nigeria. When the majority’s interest in a service is not determined by passion but by immediate pecuniary gains in a deteriorating societal value, the collective desire for an organized society will remain a mirage.”

Briefing journalists on Wednesday, September 16 2015, in Jos, Abdulsalam said of the collapsed Quranic School that all the materials and the foundation were for a small bungalow, but after was converted into a two-storied structure.

He added that “very poor materials” were even used for the building. He stressed that the blocks could be checked to ascertain his verdict that enough cement was in dearth in them. Likewise the rods, he said that the quality was not for such a building.

While expressing his condolences to the concerned families, he flummoxed why a bungalow should be converted into a two-storey building without any formal advice from building experts.

How to curtail this alarming menace is today a burning issue of concern in the development of the country.

In 2010, a research titled “Building Failure and Collapse in Nigeria: the Influence of the Informal Sector” by Fagbenle, Olabosipo I., Department of Building Technology, Covenant University; and by Oluwunmi, Adedamola O. (Corresponding author), Department of Estate Management, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, suggested that the building failure and collapse in the country stem principally from hasty construction, low quality workmanship, poor supervision, inexperience (use of incompetent hands), ignorance, evasion/non-compliance with building regulations and non enforcement of building quality, standard and control on construction site/market.

The research added that investigation revealed that more than 70 per cent of the reported cases of building collapse in Nigeria stemmed from the informal sector; and showed that 70-0 per cent, 23-3 per cent and 6.7 per cent of the reported cases occurred in private, public and corporate organizations respectively.

It concluded that there should be the need to educate or give further advise to the government and the governmental agencies to be proactive to their duties in order to curb/reduce this negative image.

Awobodu, however, suggested how to reengineer the building industry in the country as follows:

1.      Both the Federal and States’ Ministries of Physical Planning and Building Control Agencies should be re-organised, sanitized and strengthened for better implementation of the established regulations. Such ministries, agencies and departments should be headed by professionals of high integrity that have the natural passion for standard construction and enviable physical planning.

2.      Strong enlightenment and enforcement units should be established to support the ministries and agencies.

3.      Enumeration of building sites should be carried out in our cities so as to determine the staff strength required to monitor such sites.

4.      The cost of Certificate of Occupancy and building plan approval should be reduced to encourage prospective land owners and developers to obtain them. Possession of land title documents and building plan approval documents enables landlords and landladies to access bank facilities and reduce the rate of litigation on land matters.

5.      The government should outsource professionals to boost the staff strength to facilitate/quicken building approval process and ensure effective monitoring of construction works.

6.      Eradication of substandard building materials in the Nigerian market.

Meanwhile some dignitaries across Nigeria had sent in their condolences to the victims of the collapsed Abu Naib Islamic School on Gero Road in the Bukuru area in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.

To former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar: “I am deeply saddened to hear that 10 kids died in Jos yesterday after their school building collapsed. They only wanted to learn. My heartfelt condolences go to their families who must be going through so much pain. May God comfort them, and heal those who sustained injuries. To avoid incidences like this, the development control departments of various governments must ensure engineers and builders adhere to building codes.”

Alhaji Atiku made this disclosure a day after the incident happened through his social network accounts. Albeit, the office of the Directorate of Press and Public Affairs of the Executive Governor of Plateau State, the Rt. Hon. Barr. Simon Bako Lalong in a letter made available to newsmen the same day and signed by Samuel Emmanuel Nanle, referred that the governor received the news of the collapsed school building with a broken spirit.

The governor, hence, mobilized emergency units in the agencies such as the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the Nigeria Police and Government Officials to the imperiled site for rapid assistance of the victims.

Part of the statement reads, “The Governor expresses deep concern for this loss of lives which brings to bear the necessity to ensure that public buildings conform to building standards and the need for them to be certified fit to accommodate students in training. In this wise, the Governor has assured that all Agencies of Government saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that all public buildings particularly schools are fit for use, are up and doing in ensuring the safety of these structures.”

.Onwumere a poet/journalist writes from Port Harcourt

Essentialities of peace to nation building

By Odimegwu Onwumere
Tony Oyatedor is a veteran journalist and now, publisher of News Times magazine in the United States of America. He orated to journalists in June, 2015 that if he had the opportunity to set just one agenda for the government of General Muhammadu Buhari, the memo would be for the Buhari administration to work first on peace, not corruption.
Oyatedor was of the panorama that peace is an integral part of human existence without which staying healthy, being happy, memorising and meditating on what matter to mankind, espionage of nature and embracing animals, making out hours for reading, observing the realities of the cosmos, calculating the point where science and the spiritual meet, enjoying millions of money, houses, cars, clothes, gorgeous women, and every other acquisitive thing that life gives would have been a herculean task. It was against that conception that Mahatma Gandhi, the superlative leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India said that an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
Regularly, with her huge natural resources and her smart citizens, peace was being endangered by some persons in Nigeria through kidnapping, terrorism, child trafficking, armed robbery, official sleaze and sundry issues. Hence, Nigeria is looking for peace at all cost, as successive governments have not sat on their oars in the fight against the monsters that truncate peace; efforts were being put in place to bring peace back to the country from the honeymoon that some persons regarded as do-nothing have sent it.
(General Muhammadu Buhari)
Nigeria has been doing this knowing that peace requires an immeasurable laudable toil and the thorniest sacrifice. Nigeria knows that peace stipulates superior intrepidness than confrontation. Against that backdrop, it’s observable that Nigeria has always sought for peace amidst the squalls that bully her.
A testament was that at a dinner organised on his behalf in April 2014, in Abuja, for the unveiling of the Universal Peace Federation (a group with its 10 years experience and dedication in building a world of peace, freedom and harmony), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who’s the Chairman of Nigeria Railway Corporation and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, said, “No doubt, no meaningful development can be achieved without peace, stability and harmony. It is also true that peace is not mere absence of war, but it is a virtue that springs from force of character.”
Dr Chang Yang, the president of the group, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was hopeful that the leaders and people in Nigeria would embrace and support the UPF Peace Education initiative for Nigeria, which could inspire several actions for peace in Nigeria and put behind the story of violence and conflicts. What that meant was that from one organisation to individuals, the clarion call for peace restoration and building in the country was the song on virtually everybody’s lips.
Messages for peace to come back
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and individuals have seen peace as a top-quality idea. The Peace Initiative Network (PIN) was one group that was clothed towards the promotion of peace in Nigeria, since 2004. The PIN was bent on crusading peace, security, development, poverty eradication, human rights, democracy, governance and inter alia, protecting the vulnerable.
In June, the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole at the first session of the fifth synod of Diocese of Esan, Anglican Communion at St Andrews Cathedral Eguare Ekpoma where he was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Pius Egberanmwen Odubu, stooped and appealed for the reinstatement of peace, love and prosperity to the country.
In the same month, former Heads of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) in different developments called on Nigerians to support the government in its fight to stop the insurrectionary in the north-east region.
General Babangida made the call after attending the Eid prayer in Minna, the capital city of Niger State. Gowon on his part, made the appeal in Abuja, while addressing Christian pilgrims. The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, urged the churches to start teaching Nigerians, how to use peace as their contribution to the country’s development.
General Abdusalami Abubakar said in a speech on May 25 2015, in Minna, while biding then Governor Babangida Aliyu farewell that unremitting peace which was ‘enjoyed after the general elections’ must be sustained by the General Muhammadu Buhari administration.
On May 29 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan, cheering in the civic reception organised in his honour by the Bayelsa government in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital, said that he would use the waiting part of his life for peace building across the country.
Hear him, “Having befitted so much from the rare privilege of serving, I shall dedicate the remaining part of my life to peace building in all parts of Nigeria. I will urge all to support the new administration to develop Nigeria and work with the state government to develop our own state.”
As if that was not enough, religious leaders have been meeting incalculably to discuss religious peace in the country. In their umpteenth argument, they saw that religious tolerance remained the magic-potion for national development.
How peace was persecuted
On June 20 2014, then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, represented by Special Services Officer, Alhaji Ibrahim Bamiye, at a forum in Lagos, dubbed – National cybersecurity forum –  confronted Nigerians with the bombshell that every 9 seconds, a Nigerian commits crime on the internet with a sharp rise in the indices of 0.9% in the 90s to 9.8% in 2014.
Uzochukwu Mike, a graduate from the department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, expressed in a public presentation on June 24, 2015 that among all, the causes of no-peace in Nigeria, with regard to kidnapping activities, were unemployment, poverty, corruptions, grievances, high quest for money and passively, ethnocentricism.
He wept, saying that Nigeria had unimaginable unemployment rate, which resulted to the unemployed taking to crime as a means to make a living. According to him, “A news publication company, Vanguard online news, reported on May 19, 2014, that an estimate of 60 million Nigerians are unemployed.”
Mike added that in the same year, Nigeria ranked 136 out of 174 on the list of the surveyed countries of corruption, which meant that the country was the 38th most corrupt country in the world in 2014, according to Transparency International ranking.
To get out of the conundrum
On August 3, 2012, Suhaib Mohammed, a freelance writer who’s writing on different niche, was aghast that the country’s unity was being woefully threatened by ethnocentricism, sentiments and religious fanaticism. He stressed that, that were the effects in a country with more than 250 ethnic tribes and various religious beliefs divided across geo-political lines – of Muslim North and Christian South.
He said, “Sentiment is one of the major problems that are threatening the cause of unity and harmony in Nigeria. The war of words and tribal feuds are being squabbled by Nigerians all over the country. We must stop making sweeping generalization on other ethnic tribes, and begin to reserve our emotions toward other ethnic groupings if peace and unity must reign in Nigeria.”
That was even as he highlighted the need for government at all levels to engage in massive public enlightenment, especially the ignorant and illiterate population, about unity and peaceful co-existence among the citizenry.
Centre for Peace Advancement in Nigeria (CEPAN), Nigeria, adopted that strengthening local capacities for sustainable peace and development in communities, promotion of peaceful coexistence and harmony among people of diverse ethnic and religious affiliations in communities, promoting peace education among children and young people in school and out of school, empowerment of women and youth for effective negotiation, dialogue and mediation, producing research and documentation, reducing poverty through the promotion of good governance were what the leaders of the country should look at for urgent eradication of the perceived absence of peace in the country.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers Stat. ( Tel: +2348057778358.

I’m looking for a heart

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: There is a heart that I’ve been looking for in Nigeria: That heart that does not know religion, knowing that “Kindness has no religion”. That heart that is wide enough to embrace others irrespective of their religious/spiritual affiliations. That heart that needs more love than religious indoctrinations. That heart that knows Desmond Tutu: “We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.” That heart that knows that kindness is the formula of life. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing that heart among the many Christians and Muslims that characterise our country. One of them, my toothy friend, has shown me that she has ceased to be a friend, because she sees me as an obscurantist, since my preachments are not quotes from the Bible. Anyway, it is dangerous to assume being at peace with your religion, but not in love with divergent persons. You can’t be a Christian, while avoiding ‘togetherness’ simple because that person does not worship with you. It is essential to say that majority of the people are in dark in the church while pointing accusing compass elsewhere! They have dark hearts and mind while wallowing in the euphoria that they have whoever as their Lord and personal saviour. I say that if most Christians have an opportunity they will do worse than the Islamic Boko Haram and ISIS joined together. They are haters and cruel personalities. They are wicked. Hooey!
― Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State.