Jan 1, 2013

Faith Without Works; Dream Without Action - The Consequence

As this new year dawn on us, we've seen how the old tradition of so many wishful thinking, endless prayers are offered by all and sundry. "This year, you shall be celebrated.." blah blah blah. Of course, everyone want to be celebrated including the author.


But, there is a fundamental flaw in those wishful thinking. There is an inherent problem why many of those endless prayers may go unanswered.

The main flaw or problem is that men has turned God to father Christmas who you can just come to and utter any wish in His ears and it is done. God's ways are not Father Christmas' ways. You can not just utter wishes in His ears for even Jesus Christ His beloved Son never did. We must digest this concept of paying a fair price for the article we wanted.

Oh vain (black) man! How long will it take you to know that steps must be taken before you reach even the land God promised you. Rivers must be crossed, mountains scaled, the Amalekites repelled and the wall of Jericho encircled so many times before it would fall. You must dare. Peter could not have enjoyed what it feels like to walk on water if he'd never dared.

Even Jesus Christ our Lord had to go through the rigorous process of due preparation and hard-work before He could sit at the right hand of the Father and began to enjoy the fruits of His labour. See how the young carpenter's son worked tirelessly in the carpenter's workshop. Though a King, he walked up and down with his feet, many times wearied from walking, hungred, dishonored, preaching the Gospel to ungrateful and unfaithful generation and He never had 3,000 converted during His laboring years. Because He understood the principles on which God founded the universe, that "seed time and harvest [time]" are so coupled together that one cannot come without the other on the horizon. Without "seed time" there will be no "harvest time".

But ho! He laboured that your might enjoy? So speaketh your motivational preacher! Look, even Paul laboured before he could enjoy. And since you have been claiming this and that, how many have you grabbed? You cannot upturned the principles on which the world is founded!

We all take things like the airplane, rockets, electronics, wireless communications, great novels, and many other things for granted forgetting that without men that dared and understood that the fruit is the labor of much efforts and perseverance, such feats wouldn't have been achieved. We have read so many inspiring biographies; each chapter in each of them is a synopsis of one step in the life of the biographee.

The point is that without taking decided and firm actions beginning from now, we may well end in the familiar and over-crowded territory of mediocre, the unfulfilled, the he-just-come-and-died-just-like-that, no-lasting-footprint. Those wishes and prayers may well be just another empty rhetoric. There is a price to be paid. Let this sink into our hearts and we've just set our wishes and prayers on the course of them being answered!

Surely, you may have all the money as many Nigerians do and your fake "prestige" but without measurable contribution to mankind you won't be celebrated by history and you won't be fulfilled in the grave either. How many people are tired of not working though collecting salaries! How many night vigils you have had but nothing, nothing great and measurable to show for it. How your life have become one of boredom and seasonal depression! At any rate, it is always more blessed to give than to receive.

As 2013 began, it is necessary that we gird up our loins and be prepared and ready to be a builder, a giver, a worker in things lofty and precious. Nigeria is where it is today because everybody seems to have this alien concept of just enjoying without paying a fair share. And without that we cannot be happy. We will keep on being on the receiving end, eating and drinking and then dying just like that. All the inventions and great accomplishments in the world will pass us because we don't dare to venture into the hidden world of treasures that only those who took the bold steps shall enjoy.

And when you are on your dying bed, if you are lucky to be on one, how will you look back on the way you've spent your years? Happy that you gave your all and God was merciful to bless your efforts or as a parasite in the society, in the Church of God always asking, and asking...

This is January 1st, let our understanding be enlightened the right way.

May 31, 2012

Is Buhari still a statesman?

by Olatunji Owolabi
Published in the Guardian, May 21st, 2012

PERHAPS, the days are gone when that long-held adage was true, that "the elder cannot be around and the head of a newborn baby goes shapeless". For, from the occurrences of the past few months in this country, it is the elders that have consistently played to the foolery what we are wont to associate with young men who are yet to learn from the vicissitude of life and are lacking in moral judgment.

Few months back, it was the shameful exchange of words between our two former head of states, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former President Ibrahim Babangida that made us wonder if our core values as a nation are not being sacrificed by these elders on the altar of partisan politics, bequeathing to us an evil heritage of selfishness and unbridled love for power and relevance.

Things took a dangerously new dimension, again from one of the elders, when a few days ago, former military dictator, General Muhammadu Buhari said that there would be bloodbath in 2015, "the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood", if the general elections of that year were not transparent. This is a stronger wording than the one he made prior before the last general elections after which there was violence that claimed numerous lives including the lives of some of my fellow comrades in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who were serving the country.

Putting all sentiments aside and whether the coming elections would be rigged or not, the former General deserves the condemnation of every patriotic Nigerian both at home and abroad. Never was there a time when we need the collective wisdom of our elders, shoving politics aside, to work together in the spirit of patriotism so as to tackle the numerous issues of insecurity, corruption and unemployment that are endemic in the land. Must lives be shed because some men cannot control their lust for power? Can they sacrifice their own life and that of their children for the country?

But truly, can we still be regarding this man as an elder statesman? Statesmanship denotes wisdom in the management of public affairs. There is so much in disarray in the country that warrant that all hands be on deck to find a lasting solution so that affliction will not rise the second time. Can we still be pointing to retired General Buhari as one of those who truly mean well for the country as a whole? He shed tears while trying to persuade Nigerians to vote for him but he is yet to shed a drop of tears for the lives that were lost in that elections.

Neither has he done anything visible to contribute his own quota to stemming the evil tide of Boko Haram. We all know that Boko Haram is the result of past leadership negligence of which General Buhari was among. Certainly, the present administration of Goodluck Jonathan was not responsible for this. Thus far, we are yet to know where General Buhari stands, whether he is for Boko Haram or not. This house is being battered by heavy storm and an "elder statesman" is still pointing unwarranted accusing fingers. The election of 2015 is still a long way to come; this is just 2012! But elders are men who use their influence to maintain peace and promote the prosperity of their nation in or outside of power.

There is also a consistent pattern in the General's attitude; that of appealing only to a section of the country. It is not a sin to love one's kinsmen. But as a former president and an elder "statesman" in a united Nigeria, it is unbecoming to even show signs that unfailingly label him as a regional leader who is insensitive to the diversity of the country. However, more alarming is his use of religion to back up his blood-thirsty comment, using "God willing" and "by the grace of God" to fuel the passion of the religious fanatics.

Therefore, General Buhari will find it exceedingly difficult to convince discerning Nigerians like me that he has the interest of this great country uppermost in his mind. He has consistently diminished the regard some of us young Nigerians have for him. For it is now obvious that he is far more enchanted with the notion of himself returning to power than to contribute to a better and peaceful Nigeria.

Former military president, General Yakubu Gowon has been out of power for more than 40 years. He has done far more good and won over many hearts without being in power than when he was there. Neither has he made any attempt to reduce his honour and prestige by leaving the higher calling of statesmanship. We see him in the society and rejoice that even out of power and in old age, a former president can still be bearing much fruit. Let the general go and take a leaf from this noble man's book.

*Owolabi is a youth corps member.

May 12, 2012

The Plight of Ministers

by Richard Baxter

Bloch-SermonOnTheMount Oh take heed, brethren, of every word you speak, and of every step you tread, for you bear the ark of the Lord – you are entrusted with his honour!

If you that “know His will, and approve the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourselves are guides of the blind, and lights to them that are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes ,”  if you, I say, should live contrary to your doctrine, and “by breaking the law should dishonour God, the name of God will be blasphemed” among the ignorant and ungodly “though you”. And you are not unacquainted with that standing decree of heaven, “Them that honour Me I will honour; and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”

Never did man dishonour God, but it proved the greatest dishonour to himself. God will find out ways enough to wipe off any stain that is cast upon Him; but you will not so easily remove the shame and sorrow from yourselves.

May 11, 2012

The Flesh as an Idol

by Richard Baxter

The flesh is not just the common idol, but the most devouring idol in all the world. It has not, as subservient, flattered idols have, only a knee and compliment, or now and then a sacrifice or ceremony, but it has the heart, the tongue, the body to serve it; the whole estate, the service of friends, the use of wit and utmost diligence; in a word, it has all.

It is loved and served by the sensualist, as God should be loved and served by His own, even "with all their heart, and soul, and might:" they "honour it with their substance, and the first-fruits of their increase." It is as faithfully served as Christ requires to be of His disciples: men will part with father, and mother, and brother, and sister, and nearest friends, and all that is against it, for the pleasing of their flesh.

But Christ required men to part with no greater matter for Him than transitory earthly things, which they must shortly part with whether they will or not; they will do for the flesh ten thousand fold more than ever they were required to do for Christ. They forsake God for it. They forsake Christ, and heaven, and their salvation for it. They forsake all the heavenly comforts of this life, and all the joys of the life to come for their flesh. They sell all that they have, and lay down the price at its feet; yea, more than all they have, even all their hopes of what they might have to all eternity.

They suffer a martyrdom for the devil and for their flesh.

Apr 13, 2011

How Not To Help the Youth

The multiplicity of “talent” hunt programmes being sponsored by the likes of Globacom, MTN and others leave little to be desired when critically analysed. Rather, they are only fostering a situation where our already low productive populace in which we lack the necessary skills needed to meet up with the advanced world is further worsened. Certainly, we have so many challenges in our country that the greatest needs of the hour are creating and expanding our knowledge base and helping the youths to gain more knowledge and work experience.

30995As a young man, I am disappointed that so much energy is injected into Nigerian Idol, Talent Hunt, et cetera, than into how electronic routers, electronic switches and so on which are used in bulk by the Telecoms can be manufactured in this country. I am disappointed that rather than brainstorm on how to set-up firms that will reduce the strain and the attendant capital flight on consumer electronics, these companies and their collaborators are busy occupying Nigerian youths with programmes that are only good for the imagination but take us to nowhere.

If these companies really want to help nurture talents, there are better areas they should spend more energy. I am not saying singing is not needed; we need people to sing. I am not saying we don’t need comedians. What I am saying is that we need to get our priorities right. Our house cannot be burning and then we organize a feast. What for? That our house is burning?

Nigeria is a nation that is very poor and vulnerable in the real sense of the word. To what extent can we survive without foreign help? Can we produce oil by ourselves without foreign expatriates? What consumer electronics can we design and manufacture? They say Nigerian graduates are featherless chicken, and I believe Nigerian Idol, Talent Hunt and the likes are only exposing us to the cold of backwardness. If we remove Japanese cars from our roads what will remain? If Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil pull out of Nigeria today, will we not stop producing crude oil straight-away? Can we protect our airspace as a nation? Do we have the know-how, the wherewithal? A young man graduated from Agricultural Engineering, another from Zoology, another from Microbiology and they all end up working in banks and other financial institutions eventually getting a certification in ICAN and ACCA! Yet, there are vast areas of land that are lying fallow and not utilized. We still import rice, wheat and all manner of food stuffs in very large quantities. Can we feed ourselves?

They say we should setup an SME and become entrepreneurs. We ask what kind of SME? Certainly not an IT firm or any other tech company for we need readily available electricity, good road networks, a stable government policy that can be banked upon. But to tell me to be painting house, to be selling recharge cards, to be wiring houses, to go to Dubai and come back with goods to sell is a wild notion, a very ugly idea. Do we think Apple, Sony, Google and the likes just emerged? Without a sane government it would have been impossible.

A whole nation with 150 million people can only generate electricity that a mere city in the US or Germany doubles. Texas alone generates far more electricity than we generate at our peak. We still rely heavily on refining our crude oil in distant and better climes. These are pressing needs; these are urgent issues that need to be attended to. There are millions roaming our streets for lack of work to do. There are millions of talented youths not furthering their education for lack of finance. The whole system is chaotic and disordered in terms of economic viability and virility. We should be busy raising up monument here and there. We should be busy reducing our dependence on foreign countries for basic needs. These companies and their collaborators should be hunting for these talented youths beclouded by a greedy and unpatriotic system.

My contention here is that seeing “there is fire on this mountain” of ours, we should be more alive to putting it out than any other issue. The Americans that we are copying are far ahead of us. They have secured their houses, put things in order and they can joke all day if they like. But ours is a pathetic case; this is not time to joke, it is not time to feast. What are we doing to solve the problem of massive failure recorded in WAEC, NECO and UME exams? Certainly companies can help challenge youths to be more studious; they can “hunt” for talents among these youths and help launch them to a path of honour and national service. I pray the management of these companies and their collaborators receive inspiration to invest in better projects.

Yours faithfully,
Olatunji, Owolabi

Mar 31, 2011

Our Past Heroes and their Labours


Amidst much that passes for euphoria as we witness the coming of another election, we ought to be asking ourselves more pointedly, as a nation, what steps we shall take in moving nearer to the Promised Land. We have been around the mountain of stagnation for so long, it is time to chart a new course and move swiftly to the place Providence has destined us to be? To be sure, our progress shall be fraught with new risks and unforeseen circumstances, but inasmuch as they will lead us closer to the land wherein floweth milk and honey, we ought to joyfully take on these challenges.

First, as some have started doing, we need to sit down and talk to ourselves in a very blunt manner. The people in government need to be more productive and patriotic in their daily undertaken. Much have been lost to the past by those who once occupied the position you know take; seek to amend for their wrongs. Not because you are guilty but simply for the sake of being a builder, the restorer of paths to walk in.

Next, there is need for our law-makers and law-enforcement agencies to be reformed in their offices. We are ashamed at the occurrences of past year wherein the law-makers engaged one another in a blatant display of folly. Such must not happen again. We must put things in place to prevent the re-occurrence of such.

wole                                  achebe

Perhaps, most paramount at this hour is the state of our economy which is far from normal. We shall need to diversify from our too much reliance on crude oil to other lucrative sectors, most importantly agriculture and manufacturing; a knowledge-based economy will follow by default. We climb the steps one at a time! It is not proper that we are almost totally dependent on other nations for basic goods and services.

Of equal importance with our economy is the education of our youths and the continued training of our workforce. In their peace shall this country have peace and their failure is our failure. It is very vital that we get it right this time. Sadly, a very promising generation have almost being totally lost to militancy, agbero, prostitution and to varied unfruitful undertaken. How many shining embers have had their light quenched! This is very unfortunate and we ought to declare a day of mourning for this particular issue.

We need to put more resources in the educational sector and raise the academic standard. We cannot continue to live on the glory of the past which evidently is not sufficient for the present; we need stars, sons and daughters of the land that will go to greater heights than did Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and a whole host of our early fruits – the fruits of our freedom fighters.

Certainly we can do far better than what we now have in our hands. If we put our house in proper order, in the offing lays a mighty harvest and we shall all rejoice together. But betwixt us and this foreseeable future is this mighty mountain we must scale: corruption in high places, poor education and infrastructure, unemployment, unflinching disregard to the plight of the people by the leaders, complacency, dependency on imports of basic goods and service, et cetera. Let us all arise and begin to build an edifice out of this desolation our past uncaring leaders left us. The government should take the lead and all public persons in the rebuilding of our nation.

Yes, we can take our own future into our hands and that of our children and make a beauty from the ashes of the present. The expectations of other nations from us are massive. “By whom will Nigeria rise”, they often ask themselves. It is by Nigerians that Nigeria will rise. The labours of our true heroes who have passed away in the persons of Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and so many others in their rank must not be in vain. Oh let us make their bones to reel in the grave for joy that their labours are being rewarded! Just a little while, we ourselves shall cross the threshold of time into the world of eternity and our influence, like echo, will fade into the rear. For what shall we be remembered while this echo lingers and for how long? What will be our investment to the coming generations? The time to do something, yeah, great things is now!