Friday, 11 August 2017

OZUBULU AS A METAPHOR




‘If people are good only because they fear punishment,
And hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.’ ~Albert Einstein
The undeniable power, force, and influence of religion stand out throughout history.  In historical retrospect, judging from the rapid development witnessed in Europe in the past millennia, religion was exceptionally important, because it had a great influence on everything from government to social order and family relationships; positive effects of religion such as unity, security, and a social order are still basic ideals in today’s world. The Islamic civilization and the golden age of medicine, mathematics, science and knowledge in general: The spread of knowledge and the rise of universities all over Europe and the new World. The age of inventions and diffusion of innovations; all were aided by big religion which acted as patron saints of the age.
However, religion also has its negative effects such as the conflicts that result in war and bloodshed, the separation of social classes, and the corruption throughout God’s kingdom, especially the recent sex scandal in the Catholic Church; or the radicalization of faith as witnessed by today’s Islamic insurgence and terrorism.  It is these perceived negative effects of religion that has prompted many social commentators to condemn religion as an albatross on human development. Among the factors they site are the following:
·       Religion divides insiders from outsiders. “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers,” says the Christian Bible.
o   “They wish that you disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them,” says Quran 4:91.
·       Religion anchors believers to the medieval age: The medieval period was a time of rampant superstition, ignorance, inequality, racism, misogyny, and violence. Slavery had God’s sanction. Women and children were literally possessions of men. Sacred texts including the Bible, Torah and Quran all preserve and protect fragments of medieval culture, putting God’s name and endorsement on some of the very worst practices.
·       Religion makes a virtue out of faith. Besides exploiting positive moral energy like kindness or generosity, religion often redirects moral disgust and indignation, attaching these emotions to arbitrary religious rules rather than questions of real harm.
·       Religion lends itself to be used by political leaders in spreading division and antipathy among their followers; most commonly in developing polities that are yet to get over primordial divisions. Like ethnicity, religion has become a recurring decimal point in the politics of emerging nations such as Nigeria. Even within the same religion, divisions have been the source of acrimony; such as between Shiites and Sunni, Catholics and Protestants.  
However, religion has its positive side which includes:
·       The formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
·       Enormous potential for addressing today's social problems, which is sometimes questionable.
·       The religious practices of parents, particularly their unity on religious issues, powerfully influence the behavior of children; that is if the children do not succumb to peer pressure and other social influences.
Religious behavior, as opposed to mere attitude or affiliation, is supposed to be associated with reduced crime. This has been known in the social science literature for over 20 years: But not anymore, as we are witness to the most odious relationship between religion and crime in our present world. The so-called men of God today not only aid and abet crime, but are themselves practitioners of crime. The newspapers are replete with screaming headlines of one church or Moslem leader or the other caught in the warm embrace of crime or the underworld: From homosexualism and sodomization by prelates in the ‘house of God’, to avariciousness and criminal atavism, to abuse of Peter’s Pence’ and tithing, exploitation and abuse of the goodwill of congregants, fornication and unbridled sexual exploits, financial and moral recklessness and many other loathsome acts and shenanigan that are odious and abhorrent.
What happened last week in the little Anambra town of Ozubulu is a sad reminder of what the sages say about people keeping silent in the face of crime. The said Catholic Church which ‘gangland’ members invaded and gunned down worshippers was not a strange territory to the men of the underworld; nor were the gang members strange to the congregants who are mostly from the town; after all, the church was built and donated singlehandedly by a notorious ‘drug baron’ and member of the community who goes by the apt alias, ‘Bishop’; just imagine!
There is no doubt, various religious groups have sought to benefit from the corruption and nepotism of the Nigerian system when a member of their religion is in power as the president or as the governor or local chairman, et cetera. By so doing, religions in Nigeria put themselves in a position to be used at will, not only by the political class, but also by the criminal sub-culture: Just as it happened last week at Ozubulu. As Reuben Abati said in his column last Tuesday“The love of money is destroying our lives. Not even holy places are spared.”  Another commentator had put it more succinctly when he said: ‘We have only succeeded in turning religion into our technological achievement as Nigerian churches are spread all over the world with main beneficiaries as the prosperity pastors and we cannot ignore the pathetic contribution of the other religion in bloodletting and everything antithetical to civilization.’
May God forgive all of us; amen.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend


Last Line: If only she were alive, today’s Juma’at would have been a double. If only our mother, late Alhaja Hulaimot Atinuke Jose, were alive; she would have turned 90 today; but Allah knows best. We continue to pray for the repose of her gentle soul. May all our prayers on her for Allah’s forgiveness be accepted and may she be admitted to the perfumed garden of Janatul firdous.
We equally rejoice with her son and birthday mate, ‘the last brother’, Rabiu  Jose who marks another milestone today. May Allah’s grace and mercies continue to be with him. RAB Happy birthday and many happy returns.
Babatunde Jose
+2348033110822

Pop Errors in English, writers beware


      
                      By Bayo Ogunmupe
    Pop Errors in English, writers beware is Segun Omolayo's contribution to Nigerian education and enlightenment in this knowledge driven age. Omolayo, a United Nations trained draftman and analyst wrote the book while serving as a UN diplomat. Pop errors in English unpacks, articulates and examines popular errors writers commit in various ways. The book discusses rules often violated by writers and suggests ways to avoid them. It explains why what is right is right and what is wrong. The author emphasizes how to enhance writers' use of the English language  for effective communication. The author imparts the skills and techniques that separates the tutored  from the untrained  instinctive writers.
      This book is for journalists, legal and legislative draft men, editors of journals and newspapers and diplomats. Pop Errors in English is paperback; published in 2017, it has 558 pages a preface, twelve chapters and three pages of references. In his capacity as a reporter and draft man  for the United Nations, Omolayo has written a great deal, edited, re-written and analysed diverse texts from various fields. It is through such  rich exposure that he was able to identify the errors in this book.
    Omolayo explains applicable principles and rules; suggesting improvements  with copious examples, some of which I shall show you anon. The book aims to share with you- writing skills, tools and principles. It demonstrates that little things matter just as we unconsciously destroy our mother tongues and good English through government promotion of pidgin English which belongs to no ethnic grouping. The correction of these errors shows editing sensitivities that a good writer must be mindful of.
    The following examples are being paraphrased for brevity and judicious use of space to enable me cover as many examples as possible. On redundancy, the author explains it as a phrase, clause, sentence or text in any word or group of words considered unnecessary, in the sense that it can be removed without detracting the meaning. This means, such a word or phrase has no function in the sentence; it neither adds value nor meaning. Sources of redundancies are rampart. They include: tautology- which refers to the repetition of words.
    Verbosity- this comes when you use too many words where fewer would convey the same meaning. Next comes circumlocution- meaning that you are simply beating about the bush. Grammarians consider circumlocutions dangerous because they 'shut down readers'. Here are examples of circumlocutions: "I agree with the idea,"(instead of I agree.); "during the time that", (when); "in view of the fact that", (because); "within the framework of," (in); " within the context of," (regarding); "for the purpose of," (to); "in order to" (to); "in the event that," ( if); " in the field of," (in); "in the year 2012" ( in 2012); "until such time," (until); " and prior to" (before).
    Though sources of redundancies are legion, let us see how they arise, how they affect conversations and how they can be cured; using examples drawn different writings. Here we go: A two day workshop, organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Peace Building Office on Conflict sensitivity with the theme "Strengthening Government Capacity  in Conflict Sensitivity Programming and Development," began in katata on 12 February. Since the purpose of the phrase: "on conflict sensitivity" is to distinctly identify the workshop, that has been adequately done by the theme.  Thus, the phrase is a repetition; which should be removed.
    So the message above sounds better as: A two day workshop, organized by the Ministry of Justice and the Peace Building Office with the theme: Strengthening Government Capacity in Conflict Sensitivity Programming and Development" began in Kakata on 12 February.
    Malapropism is another writer's headache. It is the misuse of certain words instead of another. This is an amusing mistake somebody makes  when they use a word which sounds similar to the word they wanted to use, but means something different. Webster's Dictionary called it a ludicrous misuse of words. A writer desirous of conveying  precise meaning will do his best to avoid malapropisms.  
    Great writers appreciate correct choice of words or ideas by noting that the synonyms of the same word will not always convey the same meaning. This means a writer must spare no effort to perfect his diction. Here is an example of malapropism: Consummation of honey by humans has rules and regulations. Consummation means completion of something, which is why it isn't appropriate. Actually, consummation goes with the action of making a marriage  complete by having coitus.
      Consumption, which is the appropriate word means, the action of eating or drinking something. This is a very good book for speech writers and press secretaries.It will cut down much of the tautology that goes for journalism and broadcasting inNigeria today. Omolayo has written, reviewed and edited scripts for decades. He is a former Nigerian diplomat, he is a registered advertiser and broadcaster.

LEADERSHIP CONUNDRUM




 

The leadership deficit in our country today
is a great cause for concern. It is the prime cause for all
other deficiencies;
structural, infrastructural, power, education, and many
others too numerous to
count. From the pulpits in our churches and the Minbar in
the mosques, at
seminars and other fora where the problems of this country
are being discussed,
the issue of leadership usually fronts the bill. Our readers
have therefore
become agitated and are asking the pertinent question: Are
leaders born or
made? In view of the failure of leadership in our country,
one is not
surprised. This, however, is the most basic and most
often-asked question
about leadership. The job of leading an organization, a
military unit, or
a nation, and doing so effectively, is indeed very complex.
To expect that a
person would be born with all of the tools needed to lead,
is a very tall order.

Yet, there are some "raw materials;
some inborn characteristics, that predispose people to be
and become leaders.
What are some of these inborn qualities? Extraversion has
been associated with
leadership positions and leader effectiveness. There is also
evidence that boldness, assertiveness,
or risk-taking or sometimes daringness can be advantageous
for leaders.
Leaders also need to be smart to analyze situations and
figure out courses of
action: All these are not taught in leadership training
camps or ‘man o war’.
They are ingrain in individual make-up. Even among business
persons, they are
traits that are not taught in Harvard Business School. You
either have them or
you don’t. It is these peculiar traits that separate
effective leaders from run
of the mill ones. To this extent therefore, we could
conjecture that most of
the traits that make a good leader are ingrain. For example,
intelligence is
associated with leadership, but perhaps not general IQ, but
social intelligence
- understanding of social and political situations and
processes; is
the component of intelligence that is important for
leadership. Finally, some
sort of empathy, or ability to know followers, is also
advantageous for leaders.
The leader must be able to know what followers want, when
they want it, and
what prevents them from getting what they want. All of the
above traits are
innate and are not learnt and tend to support the fact that
most leadership
traits and qualities have to do with the makeup of the man,
rather than
internalized. Leadership, therefore, being the ability to
exercise influence
over others for the leader's purposes, aims or goals, is
largely made up of
inherited qualities and traits that make men better suited
to lead. This leads
to the conclusion that most leaders are born. This is
supported by what has
become known as ‘Great Man’ theory and other ‘Trait’
theories. To suggest that
leaders do not enter the world with extraordinary endowment
is to imply that
people enter the world with equal abilities, with equal
talents, said Thomas
Carlyle. 

There is a significant difference
between “learning a skill” and mastering one, in the
same way that others
are born with amazing musical gifts or athletic talents.
They will excel
naturally in these areas but others would
not.

Born leaders are different from made or
artificial
leaders. All remarkable leaders have great history behind
them. They were
leaders from the onset of their journey. Some observers have
opined that birth
is a natural process and the notion to associate leadership
with it is
arguable. This is true to a large extent. Hence, they argue
that leaders are
made not born.

Behavioral Theories believe that people
can become leaders through the process of teaching, learning
and observation.
True, leadership is a set of skills that can be learned by
training,
perception, practice and experience over time. Leadership
learning is a
lifetime activity. Good leaders seek out development
opportunities that will
help them learn new skills. This is true of the military,
para-military and so
on, or managerial positions in corporate organizations.
However, no matter the
amount of training, some military and managerial personnel
will stand out above
the rest and in situation that calls for leadership, they
will be in front.
History is replete with such leaders, such as Patton,
Montgomery, Laurence of
Arabia and Julius Caesar.  

Can enrolling for a programme on management
and leadership makes someone a leader upon completion? Can
charisma, influence,
integrity and the ability to inspire be taught? Will the
granting of a
certificate and a few degrees after one’s name make them a
leader? These are
questions that are begging for answers. Soft skills can be
explained, but not
implanted. The ability to share your vision takes more than
a sophisticated
PowerPoint presentation.

Leadership can be learned by anyone with the
basics. But an awful lot of leadership cannot be
taught. Some do well
but others find themselves poorly equipped rendering
mediocre results. This
much is our bane in this country where we have social
deviants, delinquents and
miscreants parading as political leaders. People of doubtful
and questionable
pedigree and foundation. Even when they are learned and
schooled, they still
lark most of the qualities and traits of good and able
leaders. They are people
who have imbibed deviant cultures and products of
sociological mutations: And
like all mutants are never advantageous to the specie: Area
boys, cheats,
liars, kleptomaniacs and those Awolowo dubbed ‘lost
souls’. Yet, there is no
iota of doubt that this country of over 180 Million people
is blessed with men
and women of sound and impeachable characters who have
exhibited exemplary
leadership in politics and the economy, military and
religion. Where are they
that we are saddled with charlatans and masquerades?
 

Leadership is therefore, an art rather than
a science. It is a set of innate traits, refined and
perfected over time with
education, training and experience.

There is also an aspect of being in
the right place at the right time; which could be call
opportunity. You
may be a leader but also a matter of whether or not you are
in the position
within which your talents can shine
forth.

The discussion about leadership also needs
to identify the location as well as the environment. Not
everyone can be a
leader just like not everyone can become a good actor. Some
people will never
have that aspect in them while others have the latent
ability and thus can be
taught how to lead. All the books, classes, education and
training cannot turn
a follower into a leader.

To be a leader in a structured environment,
one needs some formal training. Most people can learn to
manage well, start a
business, lead a project team since good management is based
on rules - rules
that can be learned and mastered. But, we should remember
that Leadership is
often a choice. A leader is a person who comes forward to
take the challenge.
If a leader rises up from the multitude, then that person
was already a leader
to begin with. Should someone have all the best training,
nurturing and
opportunities, but would rather be hidden in the crowd, an
unwilling
participant...not a leader.

Leadership styles varies with maturity,
followers and situations.

Leadership attributes will include, among
others: “Integrity; charisma, inspiration, vision,
encouraging, positive,
confidence builder, dynamism, foresight, effective team
building,
communicating, coordinating, decisive, intelligent, and
win-win problem solver.” These
attributes are a combination of personality, character,
skill, communicative
ability, and emotional intelligence. Therefore, a leader is
born, developed,
skilled in communications, and cultivated through life
experiences.

Remarkable Leaders would include the
likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King
Jr, and Aung San
Suu Kyi…etc: Individuals that seek neither wealth nor
fame, selfless, loved
justice, passionate about people and worked for the greater
good of others.
Here in this clime we have an acute shortage of such
men.

In times like these, may Allah give us men
that would rise to the occasion and lead us to the Promised
Land; Amen.

Barka
Juma’at, Ramadan Kareem and Happy
Eid. Babatunde Jose
+2348033110822