Sunday, 31 December 2017

Steps that save lives when disaster strikes.



By Bayo Ogunmupe     


             Although Nigeria isn't disaster prone, earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist attacks appear in radio, newspaper and television headlines too often. We should prepare all the same. One thing is to read about disasters, it is quite another to live through one. Here are what you can do before, during and after a disaster to improve the likelihood of your survival. Preparing against disasters before they happen is your most important ingredient to survival.
    Therefore, preparation involves acknowledging the fact that disasters do happen and that you and your loved ones are potentially at risk. It will be too late to prepare after disaster strikes. You then learn about disasters that can occur in your area. Know where shelters are. Consider whether the construction of your home and its location are as safe as possible. Remove fire hazards, install smoke detectors and change their batteries at least once a year.
    Prepare emergency supplies: power, water, phone because transportation services can fail. Always keep the fuel tank of your car at least half full. Always have food, water and an emergency kit in your home. Disaster management organizations urge families to store  and yearly update emergency supplies. Of course needs will vary according to your location and circumstances. So, check with local emergency managers for recommendations that could be applied in your area.
    In general, it is recommended that you keep at least three gallons of water per person and three days of non perishable ready to eat foods. Also, you may have prepared 'go bags' with child care supplies and special needs items for seniors or disabled. You must have access to phone numbers of friends both near and far. Make and rehearse an escape plan. Know the nearest exits in your building as well as the emergency plan of your children's school. Set up family meeting places - such as a school or libraries nearby or outside your neighborhood.
    Authorities recommend that you practise walking with your family to those meeting points. Plan to help others including the elderly and the infirm. During the onset of disasters, particularly a fire disaster, act quickly, stay close to the floor; move quickly to the nearest exit. Smoke makes it hard to see, which is why most fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation. Leave behind personal items. Seconds can make the difference between life and death.
    In an earthquake, hide under sturdy furniture or exit to an inside wall. Expect aftershocks, so get outside and stay away from buildings as soon as you can. Rescuers may not arrive for hours, so try to rescue others if you can. In a tsunami, if the water suddenly rushes away from the shore, move quickly to higher ground. Expect more and larger waves of the tide. In a tornado or hurricane, go to a storm centre immediately. 
    In a flood, stay out of flooded buildings. Avoid wading in or driving through water. Food water can contain sewage and conceal dangers including debris, open manholes and downed power lines. We know that two feet of moving water can carry a car away. Most deaths in floods result when people try to drive through moving water. If the authorities order evacuation, leave immediately. Let friends know where you are, or they may risk their lives looking for you.
    Also, text messaging is more reliable than telephone voice service. If the authorities direct residents to remain at home or shelter in a place, stay inside. In case of an outdoor chemical, biological or nuclear accident or attack, stay indoors; turn off ventilation and seal all doors and windows. In the event of a nuclear attack, go to the lowest internal part of your building to reduce exposure to radiation. Listen to local radio, television news to gain direction. 
    Stay indoors until the authorities announce that the threat has passed. After the disaster, keep your normal routine. To avoid disease and danger follow these recommendations: stay with friends rather than in a camp. Keep your living space sanitary. Use personal protective equipment when cleaning up debris. If possible, wear gloves, sturdy shoes and dust mask. Beware of electrical wires and hidden embers.
    Keep your daily routine, do not dwell on the news coverage of the tragedy or take out your frustration on family members. Accept help and help others. Acknowledge that disasters cause loss and relief from others and the government focus on helping people survive not in replacing everything that was lost. To survive we need clean water, food, clothing and shelter from the weather.-1 Timothy 6:7,8.

Making the religions work for peace





                          By Bayo Ogunmupe
    The 31st of October 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the publication of the Ninety Five Theses by Martin Luther. As Reformation Day,  the birthday of Protestantism, it was a public holiday in many countries. Religion and conflict is a conceptual pair, but what about religion and peace? Here we're sounding out the potential for the religions to work for peace in the world. Thus, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is a point of the examination of the impact of the Reformation on society around the world.
    Every religion is committed to peace, yet everyday there is conflict, war and terror in the name of religion. We hear very little of the peace making potential of religion, a competence that politics could make much stronger use of. The best selling British author Ian McEwan dreams of a world without religion. According to McEwan, it would be "a world full of humility before the sanctity of life." The religions on the other hand, are "at the centre of the great conflicts of our time," he once wrote in a newspaper.
    Definitively agreeing with him is the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in her book: The Mighty and the Almighty, in which she says that the religions have always been "a source of hatred and conflict" in politics. However, she does not wish to abolish religion. Consequently, she suggests deploying theologians and experts on religion as political advisers. But we are all spellbound by the potential of religion for violence and conflict.
    And indeed, everyday the news of violence and conflict is delivered by the press, radio and television. They come as holy war, terror, blood and thunder in religious guise all over the world. Without doubt religion  has been a dangerous and destructive weapon in conflicts around the globe. What is not reported in the media is the potential of religion for peace making. Perhaps the ability of religion to work for peace isn't there. But the leaders and believers of the religions are known to be committed to peace making and peace building.
    Are they only paying lip service? If there is such a potential for peace, what does it look like? Or does the commitment to peace by the religionists have any political relevance, both concrete and practical, in internal and international conflicts, in wars and  civil wars? Hardly has anyone examined the constructive potential of the religions. This is all the more surprising because the most famous of non-violence, global icons of peace - Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King were political actors but deeply religious figures. And they believe that both religion and politics of peace belonged together.
    Moreover, Gandhi and King have countless brothers and sisters, religious actors who have made significant and successful contributions to the de-escalation of conflicts and the prevention of violence. Examples of such peace makers range from Albania to Burma, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In those areas, religious people have reduced violence in which they contributed to peace and reconciliation. Though it is true in history that people have had to face suffering and death in the name of religion. It is also true that immeasurable comfort has been given, peace made and violence rejected in the name of religion.
    However, would the world be more peaceful without religion? Perhaps, the world could not do without religion since if you want to wage war or aggravate a conflict you would not need religion as the reason. Like in Nigeria, you can only use religion as a cover for ethnic and cultural domination. All ideologies have a tendency towards exclusivity, segregation and to despoil in other to enslave others. Which was why the vast majority of the war dead in the 29th century were victims of secular ideologies, not religion.
    And now too, contrary to the popular impression, only a minority of today's violence have genuine religious causes. More certain is the fact that many conflicts and wars would have been far bloodier without the influence of religion. Indeed, a religious motivation to make peace awakens trust from the people as against politicians. This is why religious peace actors are reminded of their responsibility; that they are encouraged to be actively involved in peace efforts.
    Religious leaders around the world have close contact with their populations. That is why in Nigeria, government should increase support and cooperation with bishops, imams and traditional rulers. It is customary in West Africa to take leave of your relations by touching them on their death bed. During the Ebola crisis, however, this tradition proved to be a deadly ritual. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, more than half of Ebola infections could be traced to funeral practices of this kind.
    It was only the religious leaders that were able to appeal to the people to stop the deadly ritual. More so, it was the clerics who developed new funeral rituals that avoided the risks of the age old tradition of the people. Thus, the religions must ask themselves whether they contribute to or foment conflicts. A critique of violence abounds in the Bible. But the church has not always acted accordingly in history. It has to learn to profess the truth of the Christian faith without asserting it by force.
    Today, the ecumenical movement is gaining momentum from the commemoration of the birth of their churches on Reformation Day throughout the world. In Abuja, Protestants lined up the streets last Sunday to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of their churches. "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." Martin Luther is supposed to have said. This is just one of many legends attributed to the reformer that merrily passes on without references.
    What is important is that such legends show how much he has influenced society. Five hundred years after the publication of his 95 Theses, it is time again to examine and show how Luther's life and work still influence us. Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1483. He entered St Augustine's monastery in Erfurt in 1505. Luther was a devout Christian and an erudite theologian. However, he had increasing doubts about the teachings of the church. Why should people buy spiritual salvation with money? Why did the word of the Pope count more than that of the Bible? After becoming professor of theology, on 31 October 1517, Luther published his Ninety Five Theses criticizing the church. 
    In 1521 he was expelled from the church and his professorship revoked. He became a best selling author while hiding at Warburg Castle, translating the Bible into German. A special point about Luther was his attitude towards the Jews. At first he hoped to convert them; later he became a virulent anti-Semite. In 1525 he married the nun, Katharina von Bora. He died in Eisleben in 1546.
      What did the Reformation bequeath to us through Luther? The Reformation was a movement to revitalize the church. It divided Christianity into Protestants and Catholics. Thereafter, Luther's ideas became dominant in the Western world. All Protestants shared a rejection of the Papal church. They stood by the Bible with its concept of grace, that the human being achieves salvation through the grace of God, not through good works. Grace is obtained through repentance, not in buying indulgence from the Pope. Historians assert that Protestantism encouraged the scientific method and technology. And that was why the Western world  was the most advanced and prosperous in the world.

Adopt loving as your winning strategy



                          By Bayo Ogunmupe
    The Bible says, "Love never fails,"1 Corinthians 13:8. Money does not bring happiness, fame doesn't bring self worth and revenge doesn't bring satisfaction. The only thing that never fails is love. Napoleon Bonaparte's intellectual greatness and intense egotism make his tribute to the supremacy of leadership by love all the more striking. He said, "Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love and to this day millions would die for Him." 
    Many times, leaders are just power holders. Because you cannot love others without  making yourself vulnerable, for people see expressing love as a weakness. But actually, you cannot love without keeping all your options open. To truly love whether your spouse, your children or your followers, you must give yourself unreservedly that you can be hurt and even be rejected. The fundamental principle upon which power holders operate is to protect themselves and everything they have.
    Whereas, the fundamental principle of true leadership is to give of yourself without restriction. Love as an intrinsic characteristic of leadership seems outmoded in the modern world. But according to the scriptures, love is the best winning strategy in your race for success and recognition in the world. It is applied love that made Bill Gates the greatest and richest billionaire in the world. His love of humanity made him create more billionaires in his Microsoft Company than any other company in history.
    But if you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? Luke 6:32. Love being talked about here isn't sexual affection. It is compassion, caring, concern for the well-being of another. It is the absence of compassion for Nigerians at large that allowed our leaders to open the national treasury for their kinsmen to loot rather than taking care of the populace. The Bible said you must be compassionate, just as Jehovah is compassionate to all of us. Do not judge others or it will all come back against you.
    Do not condemn others, forgive others and you will be forgiven. Give and you shall receive. Your gift will return to you in full, ten fold, pressed down shaken together to make room for ore running over. The amount you give will determine the amount you get. Christ's critics asked Him, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Matthew 22:36. His answer is a timely reminder to leaders and followers alike. This includes those who sit in the pews and those who stand in the pulpit. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment," Matthew 22:37. As a leader you must never leave a question in anyone's mind as to who is God and who isn't.
    God said you shall have no other gods before Me- Exodus 20:3.This is important because you are never in greater danger than when people begin to praise you. Christlike leader discourages adulation and shies away from the limelight. Only when a leader becomes impervious to applause and approval, is god glorified in his  leadership. "Teach the wise and they will become wiser," Proverbs 9:9. Whether God has called you to be a leader in politics, religion or business; there are two important principles you must always practise.
    One, reach for people who stretch you. You can tell a lot about the direction your life is heading  by looking at the people you hang out with. Their values and priorities will impact on the way you think and act. If their values are positive and dedicated to growth, they will encourage you and reinforce your desire to grow. It is not always comfortable to associate with people who are ahead of you in prosperity. But is always profitable to follow them. So, try to cultivate relationships with people who will stretch you. But unless you contribute to the table such relationships will not last.
    Two, you must realize there are tradeoffs. As responsibilities increase, rights will increase. In a world where perks and privileges accompany the climb to success, you must give thought to the responsibilities of the upward journey. The great American millionaire John Rockefeller said, "Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty." the bottom line in leadership is "To whom much is given, from him much will be expected and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48.

Don't just read it, practise it


  
    "Be doers of the word, not merely hearers," James 1:22. We rather cogitate on what we don't know than act on what we know and need to do. For example a company knows it needs to improve the quality of its products, so the executives discuss the problem. They listen to presentations, read all kinds of books, consult the Internet; but never get around doing anything. Their problem isn't ignorance, it is knowing much but not doing enough in solving their problems.
    Another everyday problem is, people would rather debate the merits of protein over carbohydrates in the human fattening process. Even closer is in examining the issue of true federalism in Nigeria today. The Nigerian constitution made Nigeria a federal republic. But we have never got  along practising true federalism since the commencement of military rule in 1966. Since decree 34 of 1966 with which the military ruled Nigeria isn't part of the constitution, subsequent rulers should not have followed it. Unfortunately, our herd instinct  propelled us to follow the illegality till today.No one has as yet got around to follow the true intendment of our basic law.
    Not even the holder of a doctorate degree in philosophy among our former leaders got around repealing the decree with an executive order. The bottom line is simple, do what you want. Likewise, people would rather debate doctrines than do what the scriptures prescribe. As the old American advertisement of Nike sneakers said:- Just do it. Try loving difficult people; try forgiving your accusers. Nothing turns people on faster than one with a head full of knowledge, who lacks the grace and character of a man of letters.
    It is the same today as it was in Bible times when James wrote: "Be doers of the word and not merely hearers." Jesus ended his sermon on the Mount with a striking story that addresses the gap between knowing and doing. "Therefore anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock," Matthew 7:24. Sadly, we find it easier to be smart than to be good. You do not need to know more of the scripture until you put into practice what you already know.
    In the 1970s, while learning tennis as a member of the Yoruba Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos; I would agonize over which racket to use- whether nylon or gut strings; whether to string them up at sixty five or seventy pounds. But my real problem was that I could not hit the ball properly instead of debating the minutiae, I simply needed to practice regularly to become a skilled player. But indeed, you cannot be a doer of the word by drawing on your own strength and willpower alone. The holy spirit which dwells within you must help you.
    When you are doing what is right, the holy spirit within you will empower you to do it. When the situation arises, He will prompt you as to what you should do. Jesus promised, "The holy spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you," John 14:26. When in doubt, Jehovah will work with you, giving you opportunities until you get it right.
    You learn by doing. However, when you cannot change your situation, here are two ways to align your thinking with the doer mode. One, choose your thoughts wisely. Be conscious of your self talk: what you are saying to yourself must align with what you are asking from life. You cannot control life, you can only control your thoughts and responses to events. So surrender your worries and accept reality. Your supreme self is in tune with such reality. 
    Two, practise mindful gratitude. You must realize that abundance is within you, you only need to appreciate what you already have for God to boost your abundance.

National Security in Post Military Nigeria





Bayo Ogunmupe
    National Security, Democracy and Good Governance in post military rule Nigeria is the title of Dr Dan Mou's latest book. It is in two volumes; this is volume one. It belongs to the genre of Mou's tracts on Nigerian politics and society after military rule. First published by Author House in December 2016; the book is massive in volume, printed on glossy paper-back. The book highlights that Nigerian security, economy, political and social problems have been intractable since the civil war. It says Nigeria's challenging security, democratic and governance problems would get better depending on what happens to the 71 percent of the population still living below poverty line.
    This is so, despite the billions of dollars realized from crude oil over the past half a century. This volume reveals that one does not have to be a prophet to predict that without good governance, team work and inclusive growth, Nigeria may witness civil disobedience, insurgency, kidnapping  and the breakdown of law and order. Besides, more of her citizens will check out of the country to become migrants. Sadly, Dr Mou's predictions have come true as thousands of Nigerians perished trying to cross to Europe through the Mediterranean.
    However, under such intense pressures, for self preservation, the Nigerian government will be forced by objective conditions to move against groups and classes in the country. Just as it is happening now, as President Muhammadu Buhari is exposing corruption such as the Ikoyigate and the like. Those who have long captured and hijacked the Nigerian state and its resources for their exclusive use are now being exposed.
    National security's first volume has 14 chapters, three parts, 16 appendices and 856 pages. This book shows that Nigeria's social classes which were hitherto very docile, are now very active, even nearly becoming militant. They are now demanding the dividends of democracy. These new militants countrywide have long eluded the 71 percent of Nigeria's population now languishing below poverty line. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in spite of the billions of petrol dollars Nigeria has garnered as revenue over the years, the majority of the people are still so poor that Nigeria is the worst country for a child to be born in as at 2016.
    This book warns that the demands of the down trodden such as poverty alleviation, inclusive growth and equality before the law, if not met, will culminate in social fragmentation in the years to come. Thus, Mou is looking like a prophet as militancy grows by the day organized by the Oodu Peoples Congress, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra and the Indigenous People of Biafra. Indeed, Mou continues in his testament that within the Nigerian reality, the federal government will be forced to move against the corrupt elite which has ruined the country to the detriment of the Nigerian people. It is only after political, social and ideological reforms have taken place that national security, democracy and true federalism will become internalized by the Nigerian people.
    It is after this projected social transformation that Nigeria would have started on the road to actualizing its destiny's role due to its size and prosperity as the authentic African giant. And we're living witnesses to the collapse of despotism around the world. This has aggravated agitation  for political participation of the youth and the poor.  Just before the publication of this book, participation revolution has engulfed  Nigeria. However, Mou  has addressed here, the form this revolution has assumed within Nigeria. Particularly limited is our knowledge of how and why these agitations  and the demands for autonomy have come to affect our  national security.
    Indeed, this widespread dissatisfaction is bringing about great challenges  to the government. But it is noteworthy that the army voluntarily relinquished power to civilians. They did not wait till we had our own Arab Spring before doing so. More so Mou is able to resolve some mistaken views of Nigerian politics. The first mistaken view is that national security  cannot thrive in a democracy, that is to say only the military can guarantee security. Secondly, that our economic conditions affect national security. Here, Mou asserts that a democratic environment is a conducive place to pursue the goals of national security and good governance. Finally, poor security arose due to weak political institutions and poor leadership. Actually, leadership determines the quality of our national security,democracy and good governance.
    Severe economic conditions such as depression generate cleavages and class based conflicts which undermine security. Each group attempts to capture state power to favour their exclusive  interests. As the prosperity of a nation shrinks, these cleavages increase and the struggle becomes more intense. Corruption also exacerbates instability as public servants engage in primitive accumulation of capital for their private benefit.
    It is such failings that have culminated in Boko Haram insurgency and militancy in the Niger Delta. Mou reveals that in Nigeria good governance means social welfare, consequently,not only corruption is ravaging the country, disparity in income is also subversive of national security. Unfortunately, Nigerians have come to realize the fallacy of prosperity trickling down that will cushion  their suffering. What is more the state managers are restrained by the thieving elite from taking drastic measures  that will provide succour for the people.
      To that end budget surpluses were venerated. It was used to slow down economic development. This practice of hoarding money slowed down industrial growth  and our growth has been declining since 1993. The author, Dr Mou is currently the chair of Centre for Poverty Eradication in Abuja, Nigeria. A graduate of political science of the University of Ibadan, he obtained his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, retired from public service as Adviser to National Security Advisers of three different administrations in Nigeria. He has written seven books on public policy analysis.

Proven spiritual steps to prosperity



                            By Bayo Ogunmupe
    "Clothe yourselves with humility for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble; humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him; because He cares for you,"1 Peter 5-7. Humility is the first step to prosperity. Let us break the scriptures into four parts, one, here clothe refers to a white scarf or apron typically worn by servants. But humility isn't self deprecating.
    Two, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble', it means you should put others first. Three, 'humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time.' Throughout history the mighty hand of God symbolizes two things: God's hand of discipline and His hand of deliverance. And you need both. So, submit to His discipline and you will experience His deliverance. 'Casting all your anxiety to Him, because He cares for you.' Here, apostle Peter addresses one of our core human concerns: that if we don't look out for ourselves, no one else will. 
    But if we really believe God cares for us, we needn't worry about serving our own interest. We're free to focus on the needs of others, confident that God will spare nothing when it comes to meeting our needs. "He was successful because he obeyed the Lord",2 Chronicles 31:21. Other steps to great success are four: put God first. He wants you to succeed, what good parent shouldn't? So work on your relationship with God. Acquaint now thyself with Him thereby good shall come unto thee, Job 22: 21.
    Five, help others to become successful. "Whatsoever any good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord," Ephesians 6:8. Don't just be interested in yourself, become interested in others. Six, create a climate of confidence around you. As long as you keep speaking doubt, you will never experience victory. Remind yourself that your sufficiency is of God. Seven, stay informed. A wise man will hear and increase in learning, Proverbs 1:5.
    Observe, read and grow. If you are willing to pay money for a good meal, but not for a good book, it means you value your appetite more than your intellect. Eight, visualize yourself attaining your goal. Think and talk in success pictures. Moses did that. He had his eyes on the one no one can see; and kept right ongoing. Nine, right down your plan and establish deadlines. Make a detailed list of required activities and set checkpoints. Guard your mind and prioritize your time. Use your head by making the most of every chance you get.
    Ten, set a realistic goal and work towards it one priority at a time. Many goals in life fail for one reason, broken focus. So avoid distractions. A double minded man is unstable, if you use these principles you will succeed in life. But upon all, you need a vision to galvanize you. When God called Abraham, He promised him three things: I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing to others, Genesis 12:2. Understand this: every worthy vision comes from God, whether the person realizes the source or not.
    St Augustine said: 'Let everyone understand that wherever truth is found, it belongs to his master'. God is the fountain of all truth and the source of all worthy visions. And since He gave you your vision, you must pour yourself into it everyday. The psalmist said: "Let the Lord be magnified, who has pleasure  in the prosperity and success of His servant," Psalm 35:27. With Jehovah as your partner, you shall be successful.

Myths versus real cause of corruption





                              By Bayo Ogunmupe
    December 9th, 2017 was the International anti corruption day. It was celebrated nationwide in Nigeria by highlighting the evils of corruption in retarding Nigeria's progress. However, corruption is sometimes portrayed as a cancer in the society. The use of this terminology  indicates that this is a social ill that starts in a place in the body and then spreads as it infects more cells. If this metaphor gas any value, it is essential to find the right location of the corruption problem in our societal body.  If you do not know the location of the disease, you are not likely to be able to cure it. So, it is important to recognize, that like any insidious disease, that corruption will present many myths to obfuscate its source to elude attempts to cure it.
    The following aims to wade through these red  herrings and identify where in the body we might administer a treatment that can cure corruption at its true source. We begin our search from where researchers identified the first myth of the cause of corruption as structural defects in a society. In examining structures that may harbour  the source of corruption, we found that countries dominated by Lutheranism, that are geographically small, that never had  a history of exploitation by colonial powers and that are relatively ethnically homogenous have fared better as nations without corruption. As these results are valuable, they are like a cancer patient asking for a cure isn't helped by the doctor's advice that he should have chosen other parents other than his own.
    Myth two borders on the behaviour of citizens like the level of integrity and standard of ethics of politicians, civil servants and other professional groups. Here research data  do not have explanatory power. Thus researchers moved to myth three which is the importance of institutions. But then, institutions are built, reproduced and destroyed by humans and are open to policy induced change. Even then, we need the particular institutions to focus on in order to lower the level of corruption. Here, research provided a clear answer, namely that the importance of formal anti corruption institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is overrated.
    A case in point is Uganda; which after numerous interventions and the establishment of an institutional framework; with the anti corruption regulators scoring 99 percent in Global Integrity Index, yet Uganda is, according to existing measures, one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Another case is Italy. Corruption studies in Italy show a remarkably large variation between the regions. Yet this is a country with established anti corruption institutions for 150 years. The result implies focusing on strong anti corruption agencies is a misplaced anti corruption strategy. This is not to say that laws against corruption are unimportant, but it is obvious from the Italian example that they are far from sufficient. Most highly corrupt countries have stringent laws against corruption.
    The fourth myth is culturalism. Anthropologists as well as economists are prone to cultural relativism, in using culture to excuse corruption. Economists  even blame the cultures in highly corrupt societies labelling them dysfunctional. However, there are two problems with this cultural view of corruption: first is a lack of empirical support. The second is how to relate it to policy. Morally blaming the culture of a nation does not provide any remedies. The solution is to solve the problem of where corruption is located in the societal body. The answer to this was put forward by the Nobel laureate in economics, Elinor Ostrom when he suggested that we distinguish between, rules in form and rules in use.
    Organizational theorists have suggested that between culture and formal institutions exists a type of informal institution labelled standard operating procedures. These are rules, not formalized but are well known to participants. but importantly, are not part of their moral orientation. They are simply ordinary social norms. In a corrupt society, even people who think corruption is morally wrong  are likely to take part because they see no point in doing otherwise. There is a clear distinction between understanding corruption as ingrained in the society versus corruption as standard operating procedure, that may force people to act in ways they think are morally wrong.
    From the policy making perspective, this is good news. While there is very little knowledge of how to change the culture or moral norm of a society, there is a considerable amount of research on how standard operating procedures can be changed through collective action. There are tangible examples of how genital mutilation in young girls have been eliminated and how organizations have built trust back into systems where people had previously become disillusioned. Through focused policies aimed at creating rules in use and and standard operating procedures, we might finally be able to challenge corruption at its source and provide a long term cure to a disease that has afflicted the Nigerian society for far too long. A return to true federalism is the best way to tackle corruption.

Why you can become the needed messiah



                              By Bayo Ogunmupe
    Nigeria is in dire need of the messiah today. There is no light, no food, no jobs; there has never been a period so dismal and hopeless as this time. Which is why like the Biblical Shamgar, you can become Nigeria's messiah. As such, you will bring peace to the Boko Haram ravaged Borno Kanem; reconciliation to the Niger Delta, prosperity and employment to the teeming population of the unemployed. "Shamgar struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad,"Judges 3:31. Shamgar is mentioned only twice in the Bible. His story takes up three lines and two verses. That means you don't need a period of previous experience. In fact experience has been made obsolete by modern technology.
      And Shamgar's impact was amazing. this is a challenge to those who murmur, "God would never use someone like me." Shamgar was the least qualified person to deliver Israel from the Philistines. For a start he wasn't even an Israelite. Originally, his name was Hurrian. He could have rationalized inaction in a dozen different ways. "I don't have the right weapon, I can't do this by myself. These aren't even my people." If you are looking for excuses you find many. But if you are not looking for one you will not find any.
    When making excuses, we're infinitely creative. We better channel that creativity into finding solutions. If you did God could use you as a messiah to fulfill Jehovah's purpose just as He used Shamgar. When Providence stirs your heart, you cannot sit back and watch Nigeria go under. You have got to step into the fray no matter the danger. And when you do this, it becomes a defining moment in your life. Never worry about the results. If it is right, the results are God's responsibility. Just focus on doing the right things for the right reasons; refuse to buy into the lie that it can't be done.
    All things are possible to those who believe. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you: Philippians 4:13. A failed attempt isn't failure. If you are trying in God's eyes you are succeeding. So grab your oxgoad and go for the Presidency of Nigeria. Like a mercenary, Shamgar decided that if he was going to go down, he would go down fighting. And that is the key to deliverance. As one to deliver Nigeria from the clutches of insecurity and unemployment, you must be ready to die for your convictions. You should go on the offensive. But there comes a point when you say, "Enough is enough," otherwise like former president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, you go down the hill of disrepute.
    Indeed, through indecision, you are only one decision away from a totally different life; a life of regret on the plains of hesitation. So stop procrastinating, stop being a perfectionist. When it comes to working your goal, your greatest enemy is inertia. Stop your tendency towards doing things the same way, hoping for a miracle. So be a Shamgar, take action, God's grace makes victory, not your own power. Goals don't fulfill themselves only rituals do. Imagine being able to bend the world to your will. Believe it or not you can bend the world to your will. This is because we live in simulation universe. You can create the world you want.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Making the religions work for peace


              
                          By Bayo Ogunmupe
    The 31st of October 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the publication of the Ninety Five Theses by Martin Luther. As Reformation Day,  the birthday of Protestantism, it was a public holiday in many countries. Religion and conflict is a conceptual pair, but what about religion and peace? Here we're sounding out the potential for the religions to work for peace in the world. Thus, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is a point of the examination of the impact of the Reformation on society around the world.
    Every religion is committed to peace, yet everyday there is conflict, war and terror in the name of religion. We hear very little of the peace making potential of religion, a competence that politics could make much stronger use of. The best selling British author Ian McEwan dreams of a world without religion. According to McEwan, it would be "a world full of humility before the sanctity of life." The religions on the other hand, are "at the centre of the great conflicts of our time," he once wrote in a newspaper.
    Definitively agreeing with him is the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in her book: The Mighty and the Almighty, in which she says that the religions have always been "a source of hatred and conflict" in politics. However, she does not wish to abolish religion. Consequently, she suggests deploying theologians and experts on religion as political advisers. But we are all spellbound by the potential of religion for violence and conflict.
    And indeed, everyday the news of violence and conflict is delivered by the press, radio and television. They come as holy war, terror, blood and thunder in religious guise all over the world. Without doubt religion  has been a dangerous and destructive weapon in conflicts around the globe. What is not reported in the media is the potential of religion for peace making. Perhaps the ability of religion to work for peace isn't there. But the leaders and believers of the religions are known to be committed to peace making and peace building.
    Are they only paying lip service? If there is such a potential for peace, what does it look like? Or does the commitment to peace by the religionists have any political relevance, both concrete and practical, in internal and international conflicts, in wars and  civil wars? Hardly has anyone examined the constructive potential of the religions. This is all the more surprising because the most famous of non-violence, global icons of peace - Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King were political actors but deeply religious figures. And they believe that both religion and politics of peace belonged together.
    Moreover, Gandhi and King have countless brothers and sisters, religious actors who have made significant and successful contributions to the de-escalation of conflicts and the prevention of violence. Examples of such peace makers range from Albania to Burma, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In those areas, religious people have reduced violence in which they contributed to peace and reconciliation. Though it is true in history that people have had to face suffering and death in the name of religion. It is also true that immeasurable comfort has been given, peace made and violence rejected in the name of religion.
    However, would the world be more peaceful without religion? Perhaps, the world could not do without religion since if you want to wage war or aggravate a conflict you would not need religion as the reason. Like in Nigeria, you can only use religion as a cover for ethnic and cultural domination. All ideologies have a tendency towards exclusivity, segregation and to despoil in other to enslave others. Which was why the vast majority of the war dead in the 29th century were victims of secular ideologies, not religion.
    And now too, contrary to the popular impression, only a minority of today's violence have genuine religious causes. More certain is the fact that many conflicts and wars would have been far bloodier without the influence of religion. Indeed, a religious motivation to make peace awakens trust from the people as against politicians. This is why religious peace actors are reminded of their responsibility; that they are encouraged to be actively involved in peace efforts.
    Religious leaders around the world have close contact with their populations. That is why in Nigeria, government should increase support and cooperation with bishops, imams and traditional rulers. It is customary in West Africa to take leave of your relations by touching them on their death bed. During the Ebola crisis, however, this tradition proved to be a deadly ritual. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, more than half of Ebola infections could be traced to funeral practices of this kind.
    It was only the religious leaders that were able to appeal to the people to stop the deadly ritual. More so, it was the clerics who developed new funeral rituals that avoided the risks of the age old tradition of the people. Thus, the religions must ask themselves whether they contribute to or foment conflicts. A critique of violence abounds in the Bible. But the church has not always acted accordingly in history. It has to learn to profess the truth of the Christian faith without asserting it by force.
    Today, the ecumenical movement is gaining momentum from the commemoration of the birth of their churches on Reformation Day throughout the world. In Abuja, Protestants lined up the streets last Sunday to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of their churches. "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." Martin Luther is supposed to have said. This is just one of many legends attributed to the reformer that merrily passes on without references.
    What is important is that such legends show how much he has influenced society. Five hundred years after the publication of his 95 Theses, it is time again to examine and show how Luther's life and work still influence us. Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1483. He entered St Augustine's monastery in Erfurt in 1505. Luther was a devout Christian and an erudite theologian. However, he had increasing doubts about the teachings of the church. Why should people buy spiritual salvation with money? Why did the word of the Pope count more than that of the Bible? After becoming professor of theology, on 31 October 1517, Luther published his Ninety Five Theses criticizing the church. 
    In 1521 he was expelled from the church and his professorship revoked. He became a best selling author while hiding at Warburg Castle, translating the Bible into German. A special point about Luther was his attitude towards the Jews. At first he hoped to convert them; later he became a virulent anti-Semite. In 1525 he married the nun, Katharina von Bora. He died in Eisleben in 1546.
      What did the Reformation bequeath to us through Luther? The Reformation was a movement to revitalize the church. It divided Christianity into Protestants and Catholics. Thereafter, Luther's ideas became dominant in the Western world. All Protestants shared a rejection of the Papal church. They stood by the Bible with its concept of grace, that the human being achieves salvation through the grace of God, not through good works. Grace is obtained through repentance, not in buying indulgence from the Pope. Historians assert that Protestantism encouraged the scientific method and technology. And that was why the Western world  was the most advanced and prosperous in the world.

Adopt loving as your winning strategy


 
                          By Bayo Ogunmupe
    The Bible says, "Love never fails,"1 Corinthians 13:8. Money does not bring happiness, fame doesn't bring self worth and revenge doesn't bring satisfaction. The only thing that never fails is love. Napoleon Bonaparte's intellectual greatness and intense egotism make his tribute to the supremacy of leadership by love all the more striking. He said, "Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love and to this day millions would die for Him." 
    Many times, leaders are just power holders. Because you cannot love others without  making yourself vulnerable, for people see expressing love as a weakness. But actually, you cannot love without keeping all your options open. To truly love whether your spouse, your children or your followers, you must give yourself unreservedly that you can be hurt and even be rejected. The fundamental principle upon which power holders operate is to protect themselves and everything they have.
    Whereas, the fundamental principle of true leadership is to give of yourself without restriction. Love as an intrinsic characteristic of leadership seems outmoded in the modern world. But according to the scriptures, love is the best winning strategy in your race for success and recognition in the world. It is applied love that made Bill Gates the greatest and richest billionaire in the world. His love of humanity made him create more billionaires in his Microsoft Company than any other company in history.
    But if you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? Luke 6:32. Love being talked about here isn't sexual affection. It is compassion, caring, concern for the well-being of another. It is the absence of compassion for Nigerians at large that allowed our leaders to open the national treasury for their kinsmen to loot rather than taking care of the populace. The Bible said you must be compassionate, just as Jehovah is compassionate to all of us. Do not judge others or it will all come back against you.
    Do not condemn others, forgive others and you will be forgiven. Give and you shall receive. Your gift will return to you in full, ten fold, pressed down shaken together to make room for ore running over. The amount you give will determine the amount you get. Christ's critics asked Him, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Matthew 22:36. His answer is a timely reminder to leaders and followers alike. This includes those who sit in the pews and those who stand in the pulpit. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment," Matthew 22:37. As a leader you must never leave a question in anyone's mind as to who is God and who isn't.
    God said you shall have no other gods before Me- Exodus 20:3.This is important because you are never in greater danger than when people begin to praise you. Christlike leader discourages adulation and shies away from the limelight. Only when a leader becomes impervious to applause and approval, is god glorified in his  leadership. "Teach the wise and they will become wiser," Proverbs 9:9. Whether God has called you to be a leader in politics, religion or business; there are two important principles you must always practise.
    One, reach for people who stretch you. You can tell a lot about the direction your life is heading  by looking at the people you hang out with. Their values and priorities will impact on the way you think and act. If their values are positive and dedicated to growth, they will encourage you and reinforce your desire to grow. It is not always comfortable to associate with people who are ahead of you in prosperity. But is always profitable to follow them. So, try to cultivate relationships with people who will stretch you. But unless you contribute to the table such relationships will not last.
    Two, you must realize there are tradeoffs. As responsibilities increase, rights will increase. In a world where perks and privileges accompany the climb to success, you must give thought to the responsibilities of the upward journey. The great American millionaire John Rockefeller said, "Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty." the bottom line in leadership is "To whom much is given, from him much will be expected and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48.