Ban prayers in Nigerian schools

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: The state governments and anxious authorities devious to stop prayers at assembly devotion in primary and secondary schools across the country would have my trophy. I want them not to rescind the idea, because prayers and religious matters were supposed to be personal things. But regrettably, we have been bamboozled into accepting any norm we grew up practicing without asking a question. It behooves the authorities to understand that the foundation on which prayers in such organisations were formed was orchestrated to further the political and dominating approach with which the founders – the missionaries – who founded them used in conscripting people into one believe-system of “One God”, which was somewhat coercive. The people were not left with an option to choose their personal belief-systems even when they had one, but that of those who taught them in schools and elsewhere. At the schools assembly grounds, you find out that most of the students might not be in the mood for such mantra called prayers, but had no option. And when we look at it, I’m yet to understand what the students pray for, when each and everyone has personal need that should be communicated personally between the person and his or her ‘God’. All the prayers this country had rendered have never changed the country to attain a Utopian one. Rather, people were always deceived to clasp their hands in prayers, inlure of clasp their hands in working. Anyway, we continue to erode ourselves of human intelligence for religiosity. Hence, we continue to breed a brood of children tailoring on blind faith, climbing millions of mountains and trillions of deserts looking for ‘God’. And when they could not find ‘God’, they begin to create ‘God’. Prayers in schools are not only part of relics of colonialism, but also, a height of autocracy owing to the fact that not all people pray the same prayer, the same way, to the same source. Some don’t even believe in prayer, and somebody or group wants to water down prayers down their throats. Hooey!

-Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State.

FIFA Presidency: How Odegbami failed himself but claims Kalu, Adamu, NFF, others behind his failure

By Odimegwu Onwumere

When his name was missing on Monday, October 26, 2015, deadline for the submission of nomination form for candidates vying for the presidency of the Federation International de Football Association, FIFA, the 63-year-old Segun Odegbami who was in the race started throwing tantrums against reputable Nigerians and organisations for his failure.

The former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu who was severally massaged by public figures for the race but backed out at the eleventh hour, and ex-FIFA executive committee member Amos Adamu who tremendously endorsed Kalu, shared in the Odegbami’s affront. The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, was not left out of the bickering of Odegbami; just as the President of the body, Amaju Pinnick was not left alone, either.

Kalu Odegbami

(Odegbami and Kalu)

The former chairman of the National Institute for Sports (NIS) and Nigeria skipper Odegbami nearly went barmy for this reason as no day passed by without him appearing in the media to further his campaign of denigration against Kalu or any of the marked persons or groups he felt were behind his torment not to get the backing of other African countries in his quest to be elected new FIFA boss.

Conversely, indications emerging since then have shown Odegbami to be incorrect with his claims; he was just powerless to win the required backing of five member associations, said experts. But instead he would accept that his frail political standing and perceived sadistic nature were behind his failure, he rather claimed that the NFF did not give him the support that he needed.

Then-again, he was wrong as a report in The Nation, October 27 2015, said, “Odegbami, who was endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to run for the FIFA presidency in February, could not muster nominations from five African soccer federations by Monday’s deadline to enable him stand for the FIFA elections.”

Odegbami speaking haphazardly said that the NFF offered him its support too late to meet Monday’s deadline. Again, he blamed himself, saying, “That was their reaction to my letter sent to them two months ago. It is preposterous.”

The difficulty to come to term with Odegbami’s uncertain-statements was that the NFF he claimed was aloof gave him its support, at least. But Odegbami would prefer denying this fact and accepting it later or saying that the support came very late.

He exposed his boisterous self again by saying that he had criticised de cream de la crème in the world of football. He started with his uncouth criticism of what he said was the “long-standing Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou.”

Odegbami who has a long rope of those he believed were behind his aborted FIFA presidential ambition without holding anybody or group liable said that his biased standing against Hayatou might have counted against him.

“Of course there are local politics within the Nigerian and African football system that pitches some of us against the established system. I have been one of the most virulent critics of the perpetuity in office of Issa Hayatou and I knew I was not one of his best friends,” he said.

Some analysts believed that Odegbami should better write a book on football critiques rather than go for political positions in any football bodies, as they could see his detractor-ship in the former. A football commentator who would not want the name in print warned Odegbami to watch his words.

“Odegbami should watch his words. It was a primary school mistake for him to have aspired to contest in the first place when he never did any homework on such post; or how many times did he work for FIFA before now, in any capacity? He could not have expected to get favour from the same people he had been fighting for years,” said the commentator.

NFF retorted

While Odegbami claimed that a mountain of persons and groups fostered to his failure, the NFF warned him to stop his “campaign of calumny” against the federation and prominent Nigerian football figures, Premium Times, November 2 2015, reported.

“It also asked the ex-footballer to face up to the reality that he undid his own campaign for a slot at the FIFA Presidency,” the source said.

Adamu dismissed Odegbami’s allegation with a wave of hand, saying it was a tissue of lies and cheap blackmail, stressing that such frivolous allegation was not to be expected from a man of Odegbami’s status.

Speaking, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Chairman of the NFF Media and Publicity Committee, stated, “We are thoroughly disappointed at the conduct of Chief Odegbami since his failed bid. He was his own big problem, with the letter he wrote castigating the leadership of FIFA and CAF, which he brazenly copied to these eminent figures. We consider Chief Odegbami an elder statesman in Nigeria football, but he has been throwing a lot of tantrums lately. He has been accusing very prominent and illustrious persons of so many things, and imagining himself to be a saint.”

Then-again for Yahaya-Kwande who’s said to be a member of the House of Representatives: “The NFF is aware that Odegbami reached out to the Football Associations of Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic and Zambia. How is his failure the fault of the NFF? They told him to his face that they were opposed to him because of his statements against the President of CAF, who is now Acting FIFA President.”

Odegbami said the NFF wasted time in endorsing him. But in a swift reaction, Yahaya-Kwande retorted, “As far back as September 8, we set out conditions for himself and Chief Orji Kalu to meet before we could endorse either of them. We always emphasized extensive consultations by the aspirants. It is outrightly mischievous for him to give the impression that the NFF was his problem. The NFF President was in Cairo, Egypt to campaign for him for the five nominations, but where was Odegbami himself on the day that mattered?”

Kalu replied Odegbami

Immediately Odegbami started running his mouth against some persons and the NFF as reason he failed, on October 28, 2015, Kalu replied him.

Published in the New Telegraph, October 29, 2015, it was stated that Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu’s camp hit out at Odegbami, in a statement from Orji Uzor Kalu Media Centre, Abuja, which was signed by Mrs. Rubby Obinna.

The statement distanced Billionaire-Kalu from Odegbami’s failure and warned the later against making unguarded statements against the businessman.

“We would like to say that Kalu had no hand in Odegbami’s failure. Kalu does not support the failure of anyone or take pleasure in the disappointments of others,” the press statement read. “It was a campaign of calumny gone too far by Odegbami against Kalu.

“It was obvious that Odegbami had harboured animosity against Kalu. If not, Odegbami would not have uttered such heinous comments in the media against Kalu.

“We suspect that Odegbami was on a campaign to pull Kalu down by painting him black so that others would see him as a man who enjoys the failure of others.”

The Centre concluded, saying that rather than blaming everyone, Odegbami should take responsibility for his botched dream.

Adamu slammed Odegbami

Amos Adamu heatedly slammed Odegbami on October 29 2015 before newsmen, saying, “I didn’t sabotage Odegbami’s FIFA presidential ambition.”

Premium Times, October 30 2015, reported, “An executive member of Confederation of African Football, Amos Adamu has expressed “shock and disbelief” over claims by an ex-international, Segun Odegbami, that he (Adamu) sabotaged his plan to seek election as president of FIFA.”

Adamu averred in a statement by his media aide, Gabriel Omonhinmin, on Thursday, October 29 2015, that it was not his duty as one of the executive members of CAF to help Odegbami secure the support of four other African countries after he was supposedly endorsed by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for the top job.

Amos Adamu
(Amos Adamu)

“It was absolutely the duty of Odegbami to go round other African countries to campaign and sell whatever programmes he had, that would improve not only the lot of Africa football but global football generally. If he has done this successfully, I am sure he would have gotten the support of four other African countries to contest the FIFA presidency as stipulated by FIFA’s status,” Adamu said.

Adamu said that the statement by Odegbami that Kalu and he were responsible for his failure was not only weak, but untrue and most unfortunate. Adamu continued, saying that Odegbami was not prepared for the job right from time as it was merely “a try your luck thing he did.”

“And what finally knocked him off the contest was his slim knowledge of the rules and regulations guiding candidates who seek to occupy FIFA presidency. These were his undoing.”

The source quoted Adamu to have said that right from the very first time Odegbami made public his ambition to contest the exalted office of FIFA Presidency, he (Odegbami) adopted a very wrong approach by spending almost all the time he had available here in Nigeria lobbying and pleading with the Nigerian Presidency and legislators to compel the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF to endorse him at all cost.

“He stressed that when it now dawned on him (Odegbami) that he had limited or no time on his hands to get other African countries to support his bid, he rushed to Ghana and Benin Republic to solicit the support of their Football Federations for his bid. When the President of Ghana and Benin Republic Football Federations separately asked him whether or not he has sought and gotten the support of Issa Hayatu, who is the President of CAF, for the top job before coming to see them, Odegbami was alleged to have arrogantly said he did not need Hayatu’s approval to succeed in his ambition to become FIFA president,” Premium Times reported.

Pinnick frowned at Odegbami

The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick told journalists on October 28 2015, after an emergency committee meeting.

“Pinnick said the NFF after getting the final government endorsement of Odegbami last Thursday forwarded same to him because he was the person that substantially complied with the laid down requirements needed for anybody to be presented as a candidate for the election slated to take place in February, 2016,” Vanguard, October 29 2015 reported.

According to Pinnick, as a federation the members were just to nominate, which they thought that Odegbami had gotten the other endorsements.

“Ours was to be the icing on the cake and at a point he said all he needed was our nomination and we thought he had other nominations because he is a very popular person not just in Africa but beyond. I did my best as president of NFF,” said Pinnick.

Pinnick added that he was calling Odegbami every one hour, and did not think the NFF did badly as a federation.

“Ordinarily when you are going for a contest like this, there are 209 federations and you needed only five endorsements you should have gotten it. And talking about the so-called sabotage, I don’t want to delve into such a sensitive area, I don’t think it is true, nobody could have arm twisted me. To me it is unfortunate that we lost out but we should leave it like that, I will say we have learnt our lessons,” Pinnick concluded.

Supposed reason Odegbami joined the FIFA race

Making Odegbami a liar of his claim, from some quarters emerged information that it was his gullibility and ‘let down’ on NFF and other personalities that marred his ambition; also he had a mentality that since Kalu is a Nigerian politician, he (Kalu) might not get the needed support from Nigerians who see their politicians not to be living upto leadership expectations. But Odegbami misfired, because he did not know that Nigerians believed that Kalu had a clean bill as a politician.

According to a commentator, “Odegbami played a spoiler game. Immediately he heard about Orji Uzor Kalu’s interest to vie for FIFA presidency, he jumped out of his cave without a proper consultation. Now he is complaining. Why won’t he complain when he thought that he was clean than Orji Uzor Kalu. As if Odegbami was a saint while Orji Uzor Kalu was the devil, Odegbami was too judgmental against everybody and every institution of football.”

For Yahaya-Kwande, “Odegbami has this strange idea that everyone else is tainted and he is not! He worked against himself. It is not NFF’s problem; it is his problem, entirely.”

Presidency’s theoretical connection

It was observable that Odegbami’s outing had political colouration. “I think the Nigerian government must call for an inquiry into the circumstance surrounding the whole episode because I believe we just wasted a rare opportunity for a Nigerian to take a shot at the FIFA presidency,” said Odegbami at a press briefing.

A source said, “Odegbami was endorsed secretly by the President of Nigeria through the All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders who were majorly his kiths and kins, thinking that he could play the politics of FIFA without considering whether he had what obtains to march other contestants. Odegbami choose to interrupt when Nigerians could have queued behind Kalu who, at least, had huge connection all over the world and, the money as well.”

According to pointers made by Yahaya-Kwande, Nigeria was the only country where more than one person showed interest in the race; it’s also true that Kalu indicated his interest before Odegbami did. Yet, the authorities eventually endorsed Odegbami.

ThisDay, October 28 2015, “Odegbami said his quest to vie for the coveted position of FIFA’s topmost position was doomed to fail from the start as the lofty intention was treated with disbelief.”

Adamu challenged Odegbami to name the people who treated his ambition with disbelief, or those who sabotaged his bid right from the word go, asking Odegbami that if he was serious, why was he not in Cairo, Egypt for the CAF meeting to personally lobby the African countries he thought were favourably disposed to supporting his ambition?

Amaju Pinnick

(Amaju Pinnick)

“He said the ex-international’s claim that Mr. Pinnick, who was in Cairo, Egypt, promised to use his weight to get the required five endorsements, was laughable and childish,” reported the source.

Odegbami knew his lies

Segun Odegbami later made frantic effort to accept as lies his claims that some persons and groups were behind his aborted FIFA presidency aspiration.

In ThisDay, October 28 2015, Odegbami said he did not want to say that the process was sabotaged from the word go but that’s the truth staring the world in our faces. He also said that he thought his candidature was shrouded in disbelief with some people asking, “Why him, he cannot win, he is wasting our time, among other insinuations.”

Accepting his wrong soundtrack, Odegbami said, “I think the whole exercise is all about bad blood, I did it. Nobody asked me to do it. It just occurred to me that throughout the whole exercise nobody knew what the rules say about vying for the office of FIFA president, which is not more than get five endorsements and your federation’s backing.”

He concluded, “Right now it’s over for me, it’s a personal thing. I started the race. Nigeria did not start the race for me. I took full responsibility for everything.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State, Nigeria. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348057778358.

The General (Poem)

By Odimegwu Onwumere

 

We have buried the poor

like the rich.

 

Then, introduced to a preceptor

by name: General Higgledy-Piggledy.

 

The surname is Hocus-Pocus.

 

This preceptor, inlure of teach us nice module,

wants us giants to be pilgrims

in the land of Eskimos.

 

This is only acceptable in a 419 course,

where the HOD is from the land of Odumodu.

 

(c) Odimegwu Onwumere (November 21 2015).

Christianity and Islam have kept the world spiritually asleep

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: I read a comment by the spiritual leader of Tibetans, His Lordship, Dalai Lama. He said that the problems with the world, with emphasis on the Paris terrorists attack, cannot be solved with prayers, as they were created by human beings and human beings should solve them. Conversely, on my spiritual pathway, I’ve realised that the problem the world has faced for ages is the problem that is associated to religion. Christianity and Islam have kept the world spiritually asleep but politically awake, with their literary preachments of division and conflict, creating a world of “Believers” and “Unbelievers”, “Saved” and “Unsaved”. It is my humble submission that the world should wake up above board to understand that majority of the troubles in the world are rooted in these religions – Judaism inclusive – or have religious colourations. Alas! These religions kill, destroy and hijack the peace of the world all in the name of dying for ‘God’. Hooey!
– Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State.

When Christians were terrorists

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: I do not condemn any religion; I only condemn the lies such religions as Islam, Christianity and Judaism cooked up for ages and have misled and canned the world into fear, with them. I condemn any form of bestial acts meted out against humanity in any style. This brings to bay that the West has a lot of spiritual cleansing and restitution to do for the heinous acts it committed against humanity in the name of religion – Christianity. Perhaps, the saying that there is always a time for payment – whether for good deed or bad deed – is what the West is reaping in the hands of terrorists. I think the West has no locus standi to condemn Islam and its faithful for whatever reason. The West might have come of civil age, but that will not undermine the truth when the West meted out horrors to the world in the name of Christianity. Over 16 million West Africans were transported through the ocean in the name of transatlantic trade to engage in force labour that denied them of their fundamental human rights. As if that was not enough, we should remember that like the Islam has al’Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and a host of other Islamist terrorists groups today, over 70,000 Muslims were slaughtered by the the West Christian-Crusaders in the Al-Aqsa mosque alone. As if that was not enough, such inimical act like burning – was meted out to hundreds of thousands of Jews in their synagogues; children wailed and were abused and killed. We should also remember that the West, in the name of Christianity, pummeled a lot of people around the world in what they christened heresy. What about what the Inquisition did? What I think the world should be doing is to preach people out of dangerous religious dogmas and not to condemn Islam for another. If truth be told, the West started ‘terrorism’ against the rest of the world in the name of Christianity. Hooey!

  • Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State.

Culture of maltreating elders in Belarus

By Odimegwu Onwumere

A 62yr old homeless Paviel Labkovich was tipped by Andrej Dalarchuk, 21, who was a student in the city of Brest, Belarus.

Dalarchuk was caught in his own act by camera. A manhunt on social media was mounted on him to identify who he was.

He was later identified and expelled from the Technical University, where he was a student.

A remuneration of £1,600 was slammed on Dalarchuk, to be given to the homeless elderly man, who was searching for food, before he was grabbed by the legs and tipped into the bin.

The leader of “Discussion Club 24” Uladzimir Ramanovich narrated how the mother said that she had not seen her relatives in Vilnius for a long time. That was in 2010.

“And there’s a whole load of such people,” said Ramanovich. Hence, the launch of the ‘club’ to contribute to making the elderly internet savvy to enable them connect with family members from their care homes.

These are among the many abuses that are familiar with the elderly people in Belarus on daily basis. The alien culture of relegating the elderly people to the background that has characterised the country, has however spurred campaigns amongst diplomats and NGOs to protect the elderly from maltreatment and abuse.

Disdained and ridiculed

Elderly people are not having a good time in Belarus. The inherent culture now is either they are confined to caregivers’ homes or they are abandoned in the streets to be disdained and ridiculed.

The elderly are seeing hell in this country that was on 26th April 1986, ravaged by over 70% radiation from the Chernobyl disaster.

And investigations revealed that Belarus will suffer the contamination for at least 200 years.

Many of the elderly people sustain injuries both physically and emotionally due to maltreatment in this country that officially unrecognised rates of unemployment and underemployment are skyrocketing.

Although, there is no government statistics for the number of the elderly people that have been abused, but family outcry shows that the number is increasing.

It’s alarming when in 2014, about 23, 000 persons received fines or warning for their misdeeds against the elderly, who were their relatives.

Why the elderly people are maltreated does not meet the eyes, because they are the folk that had scientific orientation, unlike the young ones that do not have interest in science.

“Science is no longer prestigious; that is the reason why young people don’t want to be scientists. Scientists have low salaries, and feminization is taking place because of that – as women are often more satisfied with low salaries than men. One of the main problems is critical shortage of modern equipment, without which development is impossible. Cooperation between science and industry is poor in Belarus; and due to that science doesn’t contribute much into industry.” (Said information contained in EuroBelarus).

Government labours the elderly

Conversely, there are schools of thought that said that the elderly people are maltreated because they are less productive than the youth; while others said that they are experienced even though that their physical powers may be waning.

Tatyana Ivanova is a Belarusian journalist residing in the United States. In May this year, while making a public presentation, decried that longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko was going back to trenches to exhume “the Soviet-dominated past, most recently by introducing a forced-labor law.”

“This April, Lukashenko signed Decree No. 3, whose official name literally translates to “on the prevention of social parasitism.” This term applied in the former Soviet Union to the conduct of able-bodied citizens who refused to work where they were assigned,” said Ivanova.

It’s evident that this idea is intended for the vulnerable in the country because the “labour-decree” will create a labour-barrier-free environment. The Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection Alexander Rumak said during this year’s International Day of Older Persons that “a concept of a state programme on social protection and employment promotion in 2016 – 2020 has been developed in Belarus.”

Although, there are exemptions in the “Labour Decree”, Ivanova argued: “In accordance with the decree, every person residing in Belarus for half a year and one day has to pay a tax equivalent to $250 if he or she doesn’t work in an officially recognized capacity for those 183 days. When the president issues a decree in Belarus, it has the force of law.”

But President Lukashenko on December 29 2014 made a pronouncement when he visited home for the elderly, and said that the state must take care of the elderly. Nevertheless, critics of the president have characterised his comment by political colouration.

Factors contributing to abuse of the elderly

“Elderly people are more vulnerable. The factors contributing to elder abuse include sharing a home, financial dependence, mental diseases, and alcohol abuse. Women are at a great risk of elder abuse for a number of reasons (for example, they outnumber men and live longer). Disability, dementia and social isolation aggravate the dependence of the elderly on others.” (Yelena Kasko, UNFPA Assistant Representative in Belarus told Belarusian Telegraph Agency).

There was a presentation by Europe in Minsk on November 4 2014 to tackle the issue among the member states.

“Minsk is home to 460,000 elderly people, 4,500 of which are aged over 90. 53 people have marked their 100th anniversary,” said the source.

Yelena Kasko bickered that the issue of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse of people aged 60 years and older is pretty grave, relevant and large-scale.

“Elder maltreatment is pervasive in all countries in the WHO European Region, and estimates suggest that at least 4 million people in the region experience elder maltreatment in any one year. Most countries in the region (including Belarus) have an ageing population, putting more people at risk of elder maltreatment,” Kasko added.

Proposal to protect the elderly

Not sleeping on their oars in making sure that the elderly people are protected, Yelena Kasko said in 2014, while fielding questions to journalists, that the country needed to strategise to checkmate the incessant abuse being meted out on the elderly people.

Yelena Kasko showed great concern about this and intoned that the country needed to collaborate with the international community to arrest this ugly trend.

This is given that Belarus is a country where nearly 14 percent of the population is elderly people of 65 years and older.

Kasko outlined that the strategy would help to know the number of people who are affected by abuse.

Checks have it that over 2million elderly people receive their retirement pensions and nearly 3million others are pensioners chronicled with the labour; something the ‘labour decree’ will hype.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State, Nigeria. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348057778358.

Biafra agitators

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The invasions of security agents
Could and did not dismiss the Biafra agitators
In a three day severe protest in Oyigbo, Rivers State.

The spirited youths were on revolution
They mistook as protest
Where bonfires were immense.

The Biafra agitators were not in dearth to die
As they chanted before the stern-looking security agents:
“Shoot us! How many are you going to kill?”

They placed principal stress on
“Free Nnamdi Kalu; Freedom we want!”

They showed serious sign
That Nigeria was heading for amputation
And they were the technicians and specialists
Who were conducting the operation.

Canisters fired by the security agents
Gave the Biafrans strength
Instead of the intention to disperse them
It was fired into the air.

The economic strength of the area
Was grounded as stalls
And businesses owners shutdown
In solidarity and in fear
Due to the devil that was in the air.

While the security agents were forcefully
Making the Biafrans to see the need to be in Nigeria
The youngsters made vocation for Biafra Republic
Or nothing else.

© 11 Nov. 2015 (Odimegwu Onwumere).