Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Nigeria's Road To Economic Salvation

         By Bayo Ogunmupe

     As Nigeria's economy contracts owing to low oil prices, domestic challenges of being unable to meet previous oil production levels, the country of Champaigne drinkers has been overtaken by recession. The profligacy of the past that attracted luxury goods salesmen and investors had disappeared with the naira being exchanged at N390 per dollar and a pound sterling selling for N500. Everyone now knows we are riding out the worst economic downturn in recent memory.
     Price domestic goods rocketed with increases inching on 100 percent, foreign exchange shortages and a lack of investor confidence triggering capital flight. When President Muhammadu Buhari deregulated the oil market a couple of weeks ago, ending decades of wasteful expenditure on subsidies that benefited the corrupt elite  who diverted billions of dollars yearly from productive enterprises. This culminated in many workers leaving their gasoline guzzling cars at home in favour of pool vehicles and public transport as an open testimony for the changing times.
      Now manufacturers are battling to get foreign exchange to import components and inputs with many seeing dwindling disposable incomes due to hyper inflation. Indeed, energy supply is more erratic  than ever, forcing greater reliance on other expensive sources of power. Traffic to the ports are reducing in the wake of a raft of import restrictions leading to a decline in customs revenue. Job losses are mounting, from the banks layoffs have spread to the automobile industry, the newspapers and the printing industry. Inflation is ravaging at 17 percent now.
     Which is why Buhari has continued to come under attack for his lack of focus, his lack of a team of economists to energize the economy. The lackluster performance of the Buhari cabinet and six month delay in signing the budget has eroded confidence in his competence. The President's laudable anti-corruption drive has lost its impetus, undermined by short term utilities shortages. Upon the storm came the Niger Delta militants wreaking havoc in the oil fields. Attacks on oil installations have cut oil production by half, significantly reducing power supply via cuts in gas pipelines to urban centres.
     Undoubtedly, Nigeria has a long road to walk to salvage the nation from the ruins of profligacy, mediocrity and incompetence of its past leaders. Thus, the road to salvation is in reducing cost of governance through restructuring. Then let the President constitute a veritable Office of the Chief Economic Adviser, staffed with a team of economists. Its mandate should be to move Nigeria toward full employment and reasonable price stability within a specific time frame.
       Like the depression in the United States between 1953-55 our economic advisers should deploy neo-Keynesian economic interventions which would result in many families staying in the middle class with just one wage earner feeding our extended family system. But this might entail the establishment of the National Full Employment Programme whose mission shall be to create jobs within the Organized Private Sector. With everyone gainfully employed the backbone of poverty would have been broken.
     However, Buhari's poor economic performance for which the Catholic priest, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka lambasted the president is worthy of note. But Buhari cannot carry the entire blame alone. These challenges have been piling up since 1999. Like energy exporters now suffering from excessive dependence on oil and gas, Nigeria failed to diversify at the time when oil prices were booming. Then, the governments were too complacent, they neglected small and medium scale enterprises that are the mainstay of inclusive growth. Then, the governments benefited from corruption ignoring justice and security.
      Thus,public assets were stashed away through crony capitalism, with tacit foreign support. Moreover, discretionary award of oil blocs by each successive Nigerian president ridicules government reform claims. That issue was raised by the Niger Delta agitators who listed inequitable spread of oil wealth emanating from their land. They claimed inequitable allocation of oil blocs by past presidents made Northerners stupendously rich while Niger Deltans remained poor. Those facts were released at the 40th edition of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Conference in Lagos recently. These unethical practices are fueling both vandalism and recession.
     Now, that the full impact of our economic illiteracy has come upon us, the next step is to devise  a means of navigating the country out of recession before it deteriorates into depression. We need a series of stimulus programmes such as Arthur Burns did for the U.S in 1953-54. Likewise, Barrack Obama's $831 billion package in 2009 was designed to preserve American jobs. Singapore's $14 billion stimulus package in 2009 provided welfare  for the poor. The Federal Government should stop dithering by taking decisive action. In the weeks to come, Buhari must protect fiscal sustainability by any means. He must reduce imbalances and reinforce  the resilience of the banking sector. Most importantly, he must forcefully execute structural reforms for sustained and inclusive growth.

Afa-Okeagbe in Nigerian History


         By Bayo Ogunmupe

     Afa is an ancient settlement in Okeagbe, Ondo State. It constitutes a little more than half of Okeagbe town. Along with such other settlements as Oge and Ido, at the behest of a West Indian missionary named Venerable Augustus Lennon, they relocated from their hilltop refuge, where they hid from slave raiders to settle at their present abode in 1924. Okeagbe is the headquarters of the Akoko Northwest Local Government of Ondo State.
     Another town created similarly at the urging of the same Venerable Lennon at the same time  is Idoani in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo state. There are no historical records of Afa up to 1923. For that reason, it was necessary to rely on linguistic evidence; long held oral traditions, evidence obtained from place names or the panegyric of the Ogotun lineage as well as logical deductions.
     The Sahara Desert covers most of North Africa. It is a dry inhospitable place. In the past, about 800 years ago, the Sahara Desert area was characterized by abundant rainfall that sustained lush vegetation, great rivers and lakes, human settlements and a variety of animals. Like is happening now, following climate change: a steady decline in rainfall caused the Sahara to dry up.
     Subsequently, desert conditions took root and expanded outwards. This caused humans to scatter in all directions. In the course of these, groups of people of common origin and language broke up into bands, taking their languages with them. Owing to mixture with alien groups and adaptation, their common language begins to diverge, becoming noticeably different.
     Such bands of the same people are now speakers of Igbo, Yoruba, Itsekiri and Igala. Which is why Afa-Okeagbe dialect is linked to those aforementioned nationalities. Moreover there had been wars between these communities such as the war between Afa and the Nupe at Ogidi near Kabba in Kogi state in 1885. There was another war with the Nupe in 1897 but this time the Nupe were assisted by the forces of the Royal Niger Company, the forerunners of the British colonial government in Northern Nigeria.
     The last war that took Afa fighters away from home before Pax Britannica was the Ekiti Parapo War, also known as Kiriji war, fought from 1876 till 1896 against the Oyo imperial army led by Ibadan. That Afa force was an amalgam  of Akoko, Ekiti and Ijesha fighters. The aim of the Kiriji war was to put an end to harassment from Ibadan marauders. It was for safety that people resorted to living on hillsides such as by Oyin, Aje, Oge, Akungba, Oka and Idanre.
     However, it was not the Fulani who brought Islam to Afa and the Akoko territory. It was the Nupe who for decades ranged freely all over Akoko from 1840 to 1897. Islam was the first alien religion in Akoko, Christianity followed a century later. It was not until 1842 that Protestant Christians penetrated into Akoko land via Badagry on the Atlantic coast. In Badagry, the Protestants quickly established their base; founding Western style educational institutions. With Ajayi Crowther  as their leader. They moved further inland to Abeokuta in 1846. The school they found in Abeokuta was moved to Oyo in 1896- becoming St Andrews College now renamed Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo. Regettably, Afa's location up country prevented education from reaching it even by the time it relocated to its present  site in Okeagbe in 1924.
     This book in review is titled, A Short History of Ancient Afa-Okeagbe. It was written by Oladele Awobuluyi, professor emeritus of Linguistics. It was published by Okeagbe Book Company in 2015. The book has five chapters, 101 pages in English and Yoruba combined. It also includes a preface, an appendix of traditional titles and the ward lineage in Ogotun Afa. The author, Professor Awobuluyi is the eldest child of the late Ologotun of Ogotun-Afa, Okeagbe. Educated in Nigeria and the United States, Awobuluyi has written many books in addition to many essays in scholarly journals at home and abroad.

Folorunso Alakija Speaks

           By Bayo Ogunmupe

     Folorunso Alakija Speaks is the title of an inspirational book from the richest woman in Africa, Mrs Folorunso Alakija of Lagos Nigeria. It is a new form of autobiography since Mrs Alakija compiled her own speeches into a book. This volume is a selection of her favourite speeches, carefully presented by the author, the skills she honed in decades of a distinguished career as a stenographer, motivational speaker and coach.
     Alakija's speeches covered  many topics and subjects ranging from business, motherhood, marriage, charity to education. Her other areas are Corporate Social Responsibility and nation building. The book also contains Alakija's acceptance speeches in universities where she received honorary doctorate degrees and her latest award as the first female chancellor of a government owned university in Africa, the Osun State University.
     The Folorunso Alakija Speaks(FAS) has nine chapters. It is grouped according to the type of speech and subject. Chapter one deals with acceptance speeches on awards from Yaba College of Technology, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the University of Uyo and Osun State University. Chapter two has speeches on business and Finance. These speeches she delivered at the Africa/Asia Oil and Gas summit, rebranding and formal Opening of Digital Reality Print Limited, her personal printing facility. Also included is her speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum.
     In chapter three, Corporate Social Responsibility is highlighted as a means of promoting qualitative education. Education covered chapter four while leading through innovation is the theme of her motivational speeches in chapter five. In chapter six, her public presentation of Conversations With My Country authored by Mrs Funke Egbemode, President of Nigerian Guild of Editors.
     At chapter seven, she celebrated Women's Development in speeches made at Abuja; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Eko Hotel, Lagos Nigeria. Chapter eight she devoted to charity,whereby she spoke on her foundation, The Rose of Sharon Foundation and the launching of the book: The Cry of Widows and Orphans. Thereafter, she delivered a speech in Abuja on the Role of Governors' Wives in Grassroots Transformation in Nigeria. The chapter nine of FAS deals with interviews. There, she shares with us her interview by  the Cable News Network(CNN) at the State House, Marina, Lagos. Her last speech on record is her TW Magazine brunch with interviewers.
     As you have seen, this paperback book has nine chapters,200 pages, 20 of which are photographs. Also, the last page contains references. However, her most moving speeches that must be highlighted are the fifth anniversary of the Rose of Sharon Foundation and the farewell of its matron. The Rose of Sharon Foundation is Mrs Alakija's philanthropic foundation. It is one of the institutions through which she undertakes her corporate social responsibility and works of charity.
     In her celebration speech, Alakija espouses her commitment to the word of God as expressed in the Bible book of James 1:27 which says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world". Thus, she gives glory to God for enabling her to use the foundation to place 217 children in institutions of higher learning and 628 in primary and high schools in Nigeria. Moreover, 1,366 widows' children have received  scholarships in the states of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Benue. Over 2000 widows have been registered in their books and had their lives touched in Benue State; 970 widows have been empowered with micro-credits to run their businesses while 82 were given rented accommodation and shops. The loans are interest free and the scholarships have no conditions attached.
     But in her farewell address to The Rose of Sharon Foundation's matron, after eulogizing her husband Modupe Alakija, Mrs Alakija celebrated milestones and her notable achievements. Before 2008, she had empowered three widows financially. Progressively, since then, her foundation had empowered 761 widows and 1,425 scholarships were awarded to orphans and widows' children. She also launched the book: The Cry of Widows and Orphans, a tool to advance campaigns seeking to improve existing laws and push for the enactment of new protective laws.  In celebrating the International Widows Day, she used it as a platform to advance campaigns to end discrimination and violence against widows all over the world. Also, her Enterprise Development Training Programme is providing management skills with the view of helping  widows expand their businesses. This beautiful book  was published this year 2016 by Folorunso Alakija at The foundation is at Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos.

Reformation, Luther's Legacy of Freedom


By Bayo Ogunmupe

 The Reformation, Luther's legacy,

 500 years on, is the most far reaching event in Western
 civilisation. Its impact will be the subject of discussion
during the Reformation's 500th anniversary in 2017. Five
 hundred years ago in Europe, there were changes which had a
 profound influence on world history. The divide came about
 within Christianity between the Protestants and the Catholic
Church. Individual freedom, freedom of conscience, the
German language and the present day understanding of work
>ethics- developed.
What happened at that time is now
known as Reformation. It began as a theological dispute
 initiated by a young monk Martin Luther(1483-1546) who
> taught at the University of Wittenberg, Germany that had
> only recently been founded. On October 31, 1517 he sent out
> 95 Theses on theological questions that he wanted debated in
> public- as was usual at that time. Later, Luther also nailed
> the Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg.
> However, his ideas provoked a dispute that led to the
> division of the Church, which after Luther's death led to
> the European Wars of Religion between Protestant and
> Catholic princes as well as the redrawing of the map of
> Europe.
>      Luther developed his own theology,
> later called Protestantism, which turned against the Papacy,
> shifting the focus of attention onto individual faith.
> Thereafter, Luther left the Order of Saint Augustine,
> married, translated the Bible into German, wrote many books
> which the people devoured avidly- as a result he founded the
> Protestant churches. Today roughly 37 percent of the world's
> 2.2billion Christians belong to Protestant denominations. In
> Germany, 29 percent of the people are Protestants, 30
> percent Catholics while 34 percent do not belong to any
> religious community.
>      The 95 Theses of Luther written in
> Latin became etched into our cultural memory as an
> affirmation of the right to freedom of religion. In 2017,
> 500 years after that event, the anniversary of the
> Reformation is being celebrated worldwide including Nigeria.
> In Germany, there will be church and government organized
> events, exhibitions and conferences. The 31 October 2017
> will be a nationwide holiday, consequently the Reformation
> anniversary will be the largest jubilee ever.
>      Thus, the Federal Government and
> several states established a Luther 2017 Project Office.
> Government is focusing on the achievements of Reformation in
> fields of art, culture, human rights, politics and to inform
> people on the legacy of Reformation. Undoubtedly, the
> Reformation is one of the most far-reaching events in
> German, European and world history. It has profoundly
> influenced the history, politics and self image of Europe
> and Western civilisation. It had impact on education,
> created the foundation for social and political
> participation and citizenship.
>      Without Reformation, the world
> would be different in many ways. Thies Gundlach, Vice
> President of the Church Office at the Evangelical Church of
> Germany and the person responsible for the Reformation
> celebrations believes that today we are again living in ''
> in our own form of prereformation era'', when fundamental
> principles are being questioned. He considers Luther's path
> from Augustinian monk to the discoverer of the freedom of
> religion without recourse to institutional requirements, to
> be an existential archetype of all liberation paths.
>      Yet, historians and theologians
> agree that neither the Reformation nor Luther's theology was
> merely  a story of liberation. Thus, it is better not
> to invite historians to the jubilee, because they can be
> depended upon to focus on the points in history that are
> hard to celebrate- from Luther's anti-semitic writings to
> the European Wars of Religion. Naturally, these subjects
> will be discussed during the anniversary- incidentally on
> the initiative of the Church itself. In the history of
> ideas, Luther had many harbingers who anticipated his
> thought. However, he was able to assert himself by applying
> courage and skill, by attracting attention throughout Europe
> which he received thanks to the media revolution of printing
> and by seizing the political moment.
>      Then, Luther's ideas of the right
> to freedom of speech and religion, freedom to hold opinion
> and impart ideas without interference, spread swiftly.
> Nevertheless, the history of the Reformation was
> intrinsically contradictory. And like all historical
> processes open: The Reformation did not end the Middle Ages,
> it emerged out of them. The Middle Ages were not dark, many
> of the ideas we consider modern today had already been
> formulated then. To that extent, the Reformation represents
> the culmination of medieval ideas, not their overthrow. It
> is also not a history of Luther; though Luther is its
> central figure, he is not the only influential figure in the
> early days of the Reformation.
>      Therefore it is important to note
> the late Middle Ages as a time of enormous diversity, in the
> same way that the age of Reformation was itself diverse.
> Even the term: the Age of Reformation is misleading, because
> the time was not simply the time of the Reformation, but
> also the time of the Renaissance. Martin Luther's
> contemporaries included other Reformers such as Huldrych
> Zwingli and Johannes Calvin- those the Church untiringly
> refers and the Renaissance giants like the artist Leonardo
> da Vinci and the historian and political philosopher Niccolo
> Machiavelli.
>      Which is why there are no longer
> grounds for the thesis of decay with reference to the
> Catholic Church, which was only renewed by Luther. The whole
> history of the Reformation is closely bound with the many
> different forms of piety, theology and culture of the Middle
> Ages, according to the historian Thomas Kaufmann. There is
> also the argument among researchers on the place of the
> Reformation in history. This dispute rages on whether it
> should be described as an unexpected, sudden break with the
> past or as a gradual transformation of ideas.
>      However, there is consensus that
> there was not one single self-contained Reformation, but
> many different Reformations. Here, according to Kaufmann,
> Luther especially came to be used by subsequent generations
> as a surface for the projection of diverse longings, hopes,
> enmities and dreams. Nonetheless, on this the experts are
> agreed that Luther  isn't an exceptional figure but in
> many respects a stranger to us today: in the assessment of
> the Church historian Volker Leppin.
>       Nevertheless, Luther had and still has
> a strong historical influence. This is especially
> demonstrated by his understanding of freedom. In his
> treatise "On the Freedom of a Christian", which was
> published in 1520, he establishes the idea that a Christian
> is, on the one hand, a free lord over all things and subject
> to no one, and, on the other, a ministering servant to all
> things and subject to everyone. That looks like an echoing
> of Muhammadu Buhari's " I belong to everybody but I belong
> to no one". In any case, by that thesis, Luther made the
> distinction between the inner and the buter human being.
> This forms the basis for the Protestant theology that shifts
> faith into the centre of what it means to be a Christian.
> Neither works nor laws, nor even the Church, in other words
> no buter factors are crucial for inner salvation; only faith
> and God's mercy can decide.
>      Luther's concept of freedom is
> above all a theological imperative. But he was never only
> understood that way. Thus, varying opinions emerged during
> the German Peasants' War(1523-1526) that the
> understanding  of freedom should be applied
> politically. Though Luther opposed this, but the idea of
> freedom as a rejection of servitude had a great impact on
> German politics and society of his time. Therefore, Luther's
> 95 theses were claimed by different sides and also misused
> as justification for national, social and political freedom.
> Luther did not discover modern freedom, his ideas preceded
> it. Luther only strengthened a dialectic that reveals
> liberty to be an ambivalent process.
>      There are many good reasons to
> remember the Reformation on the 500th anniversary of the
> hailing of the Theses. This also represents an important
> cultural and intellectual transformation. The most important
> point is that Reformation has not yet come to an end. We
> should attach importance to the renewed Church that embraces
> everyone, across the divides of the religions, ethnicity,
> continents and self interest. This post-colonial
> interpretation of the Church aims to respond to the here and
> now. That definitely comes close to Luther's theological
> conception of Christianity. To Luther, Christianity meant
> above all one thing- lived faith. It is this life-long
> awareness created by Luther which engendered the uproar that
> greeted the killing of Evangelist Eunice Elisha in Kubwa,
> Abuja last July by religious extremists.

Leaders are made, not born

winston Churchil

             By Bayo Ogunmupe
       Why does God call people who don't necessarily feel qualified to lead? So, we will depend on God more than ourselves. When God called Moses, he asked, "Who am I that I should go? When Jehovah called Gideon, he replied, " I am the least in my family". When God called Solomon, he said, " I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties."Kings 3:7. When God called Jeremiah, he replied, " I do not know how to speak." Yet all of them became great leaders.
      How did they do it? By saying yes to Allah's call, learning from their mistakes and growing wiser, and drawing strength from God each day. So whether your God-given assignment in life seems large or small, you can grow into it. A teacher once told Mary Martin the famous American singer, that she had an inferior voice and would never make it in the field of music. But she determined otherwise and for over fifty years she reigned as the world's most loved and famous singer. Mary overcame her seeming deficiency through determination and self discipline.
       The Greek statesman Demosthenes had such a speech impediment as a boy that it was embarrassing for him to speak before a group. But by investing long hours by the sea in unrelenting practice, he overcame his problem. As a result he became one of the most famous orators of all time. You may not have a natural aptitude for leadership, but under God's guidance you can develop into a visionary leader of our dreams. This is because even though you may be limited, Jehovah who lives within you isn't limited.
       Thus, success comes through group cooperation. Each of you is a part of it. None of us can do individually, what all of us can do collectively. Apostle Paul said: All of you together are the body of Christ (the church), and each of you is part of it. But the body of Christ has been known to misbehave. The brain discounts the heart. Academics discount worshippers. The hands criticise the knees. Men of action criticise people of prayer. The eyes refuse to partner with the feet. Visionary thinkers won't work with steady workers. The mega city needs the smaller towns. The liberal needs the conservative while the pastor needs the missionary.
       Cooperation is more than a good idea, it is a scriptural command. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace", Ephesians4:3. When we work together in unity, the bible says God commands His blessing to be upon us. We have not been called to compare, to compete, to complain or to criticise one another. No, we have been called to complement one another. Jesus said: "When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I will be there,"Matthew 18:19-20. What an astounding promise; when we come into agreement Jehovah notices. He shows up; He hears and answers our prayers.
      Which is why we should cooperate, patiently embrace change and the new leader Muhammadu Buhari. God who abides in him will guide him to prosper the nation. Our duty is to pray for Jehovah's direction. We become like those we spend most of our time with. If we spend time with angry and resentful people, we risk becoming angry and resentful ourselves. So choose your friends carefully, for attitudes are contagious.
       Good and quiescent attitudes get our prayers answered. For the right answers, we have to ask what we desire in accordance with the will of God. Otherwise, we might have been sabotaging our prayers. God told the Israelites the reason they were not getting answers to their prayers was because they were engaged in finger-pointing and criticism. It is just as important to glorify Jehovah through your spoken words when you are not praying, as when you are. There is a direct link between having a critical, careless tongue and not getting your prayers answered. How you treat others will determine how God treats you.
       God made it clear: "Stop oppressing those who work for you; treat them fairly, share your food with the hungry and those who are helpless, poor and destitute. If you do these things Jehovah will shed His own glorious light upon you. He will heal you; your godliness will lead you forward; goodness will be a shield before you and the glory of God will protect you from behind. Then when you call, God will answer. Stop making false accusations, stop spreading vicious rumours, help those in trouble and your light will shine out from the darkness and your surroundings will be as bright as day: Isaiah 58:6-11. That means the answer to your prayers is contingent upon your attitude and actions towards others.