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Monday, 8 September 2014

Alqueda,ISIS, Al-shabab & Boko haram: Different manifestations of satan set loose I turned on the television in my hotel room in Mokwa,Niger State and stumbled unto the video of an IS( Islamic State) renegade, beheading the second American journalist and I flinched. I quickly changed the television channel. I could not stand the gory picture. How could a normal human being in the 21st century use a butcher's knife to slowly slit the throat of another human being and then go on to cut off the man's head, with blood gushing all over like that of a beheaded chicken. This is grossly inhuman! I had similar pains when I watched the television footage of the attack by two deranged Nigerian-British nationals who hacked a British soldier to death with Butcher's knives some time last year in broad day light in the UK. A few weeks ago, a Boko haram terrorist was caught somewhere in Bauchi State and when he was asked his role in the cell, he said he was the "chief butcher". Human butcher! When the terrorist group Alqueda appeared on the global scene with their brazen invasion of the United States of America's airspace on 9/11 and took the lives of thousands of Americans and other nationals, the world thought that we had seen the worst of evil that can be conceived by man against man. I kept wandering what America did to Osama bin laden and his tribe of nihilists that they wanted to take America down in one day. Today Alqueda is still fighting in different parts of the World and training and supporting other terrorist organizations with the singular intent to shed blood, destroy and cause pains. At first, I thought that they were just a more virulent faction of the "pirates incorporated" that Somalia on the Horn of Africa had become, until the Kenyan Shopping complex terrorist attack perpetrated by the Al-shabab terrorist group. Since then, they have effectively stopped the lucrative tourist trade in Kenya, deeply affecting the Kenyan economy and taking several innocent lives in the East and Central Africa regions. Can anybody tell me what is the cause of their anger and who they are fighting? If Alqueda is fighting American or Western interests, whose interest is Al-shabab fighting? When Boko Haram broke into the National scene after the 2011 elections, many thought they were angry that President Jonathan won the Presidential elections, instead of General Muhammed Buhari. This thinking was predicated on the utterances of General Buhari, Atiku Abubakar and a couple of the Northern political elites who threatened brine and limestone .Then they began to attack and bomb Churches and We began to think that either it was because they felt that many southerners and Christians voted for President Goodluck Jonathan or that they were embarking on another round of Jihad. When they began to bomb indiscriminately, killing Christians and Moslems, We got confused. And then they attempted to attack or bomb the Late Emir of Kano, and eventually killed the emir of Biu,we could no longer find any logical motivation or reason for the madness. Now, Boko haram has gone completely bizarre, killing and kidnapping any human being they can lay their hands on. They have taken old people and young people of all ages and of all creed in addition to the CHIBOK girls and despite all the "bring back our girls campaign" around the globe, nothing has happened and only God truly knows the fate of those innocent school girls. They have now gone on to the mode of capturing territories and placing their white and black evil empire flags. Every morning, they wake up and drive into the nearest village, gather the poor and innocent people and shoot them to death,without any feeling and then vanish into the forest. Infact, they rejoice after every such orgy of blood-letting and then they would praise their god. Which type of god is it that rejoices at the deliberate and unending shedding of innocent blood? Some weeks ago they attacked The Cameroons, killing and kidnapping. Recently, they announced that they had established a 'Caliphate' in Gwoza, Borno state. Indeed they almost killed Gen Buhari recently. So what do we make of all this brigandage and thirst for blood? What are they fighting for and whose interest are they fighting? "The devil only comes to steal, to kill and to destroy" Then Lately, the ISIS now IS( Islamic State) appeared in global consciousness with their exploits in Syria and particularly in Iraq. They have begun to take territories, starting with Christian territories. Those who agreed to convert to Islam were allowed to live, those who refused had their heads chopped off and used to decorate village and town squares on stakes. Having taken a size able territory between Syria and Iraq, they declared an 'Islamic caliphate', similar to what Boko haram has done in parts of Borno State in Nigeria. These 'Islamic State' psychopaths are the most vicious the World has seen as date. American and British leadership have declared them as "cancer". A few weeks ago they beheaded an American journalist and made a video of it. The world was shocked to the bone marrows. This week they have cut off the head of a second American journalist! What savagery!. Look around the globe, the cancer is spreading to every part with increasing intensity. I have looked and pondered at all this and I can find a common tread. Satan on offense. he has been set loose. " Woe to the inhabitants of the Earth and the Sea, for the devil is come down unto you having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth,he persecuted the woman who brought forth the MAN Child...and the dragon was wrought with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." So what should we do, now that satan is on his final mission and rampage. "And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony". Let him that has ears, let him hear! Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa ,OFR

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

WOULD YOU RATHER FLY THAN TRAVEL ON NIGERIAN ROADS? I get to travel quite frequently within the Country by all modes of transportation but particularly by air and road. Beyond the very often unexplained delays by the 'big two' airlines, and the uncomfortable vibrations of many of the aircrafts on take off, which sometimes make you feel as if the aeroplanes are 'reluctant' to leave the ground,flying in the country is becoming more pleasurable. A few 'new' airlines, some with names that remind you of the older airlines that have gone out of business, for example "Melview reminds you of Belview" have introduced some competition especially on the busy routes. Many of them depart on schedule and the staff treat you as a customer. The 'big two' sometimes treat you the way NEPA or NITEL used to treat us before the Nigerian customers won their independence, thanks to Deregulation and Privitisation . Indeed, I went to pay for tickets for a series of journeys I had planned at the ticketing office of one of the 'big two' at MMA 2 recently. First, the 'saucy' ladies at the counter said I must go and get cash since they would not accept any electronic payment( ATM cards-credit or debit). I was sad that in this era of cashless transactions, a major airline will be proud to announce to its customers that they only accept cash. But I swallowed hard. Now I asked that they check and let me know how much I would pay for all the tickets for the different routes so that I could go down to the ATM downstairs and collect all the cash at once. To my utter shock and unfathomable consternation, the girls told me I had to go down and up four times to collect cash for the four tickets. They would book each ticket, then advise me the cost and then I would go to the ATM, collect cash, come up, pay, collect the ticket, then they would book the next one and the process would repeat! I was too shocked to be angry and just told them I was "coming". I just walked over and "discovered" an airline with similar name and quietly bought my tickets, paid with my credit card, checked in for the next day's flight, collected my boarding passes ( to and fro) and went home relieved that I had a choice. Since then I first go to this airline each time I have to travel . Do not begin to ask me why I do not book on line. That will be a story for another day. We do pray that more 'big' airlines will come on stream, at least to challenge the near monopoly of the' big two'. This will help Nigerians truly enjoy the growing ambience of our renovated terminals and the huge investments the Federal government has made in the aviation sector in the last three years. But the real issue of this day is how to make travel by road in this Country comfortable and safe. Every Nigerian travels by road. It is unavoidable. Even those who have the 'luxury' to travel by air, will still travel by road to the airport and from the airport to their destinations or to their homes. Only very few Nigerians have helipads in their homes, so that they can fly straight to their homes. And unfortunately we do not and can not have airports in every town. That means that everybody has to use the roads either in public transportation or in private cars. Even the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria travels by road! Traditionally, when we speak about safety of road travel, the first issue would be the condition of the roads. Nigeria is a very big country with a wide land mass crisscrossed by several roads. Today, the only roads we seem to hear of and which come under regular scrutiny are the Federal Roads. And there are too many roads that belong to the Federal Government, some of which in my view should be ceded to the States, though one may argue that many states are even unable to maintain their current roads outside the highways leading to the state capital. For example, Since 1999, each time I went to Obigbo or Oyigbo,near Portharcourt , I had always wondered if Oyigbo was part of Rivers State?. There is no single good road in the whole of Oyigbo town.As it was in the days of Odili, so it is in the days of Amaechi. May be we should remove the "Igbo" from the name of the town! Nevertheless I still think that there are just too many federal roads and I believe that the Federal government will never have enough money to appropriately keep all the roads in serviceable conditions. But it must be acknowledged that in the last 3-4 years much investment has gone into federal road construction and rehabilitation aided by the SURE-P intervention funding. Indeed from my personal experience, virtually every federal road is undergoing one form of reconstruction or renovation. And that has vastly improved the condition of several of the main arteries in our country. But this has presented a new troubling challenge which is undermining road safety. Because many of the highways are being reconstructed, it is natural to expect some disruption in the free flow of traffic. But in a number of cases, the problem has become excruciating. Sometimes it is the fault of the contractors, who fail to properly redirect traffic and adopt a work programme that minimizes traffic bottleneck. Sometimes, it is inevitable because of the volume of traffic. This is the situation on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway where the contractors are doing their best in redirecting traffic yet the delays are getting terrible.The matter is worse on the Ibadan end where I spent over 90 minutes on my recent trip to Akure. At other times it is the fault of the road users who readily form double or triple lanes, blocking the oncoming drivers and causing traffic jam. Since it took me five and half hours to reach Akure from Lagos, a journey which should not be longer than four hours, I decided to return to Lagos through the Ore-Sagamu road and then spent Eight hours. A few kilometers, after Ore, we ran into this traffic jam that continued to almost Ijebu Ode. This was bewildering. I kept searching for what caused this excruciating traffic jam and could find none. What I noticed was that the drivers heading to Ore from Sagamu occupied both lanes of the highway and we who were heading to Sagamu had to be pushed out of the way or had to squeeze our way through. When we eventually came off the traffic jam, the rest of the journey back was tortous. People were driving on both lanes without care. While you are driving on your lane in a dual carriage highway, all of a sudden you would notice a car coming from the opposite direction and racing towards you without care. We narrowly missed several collisions thankfully, but some others could not because we saw a few head-on accidents on our way .I find that this problem of drivers not respecting anybody's right of way is common on high ways where construction work is going on or where some portions of the road are bad. Yes in some cases, the contractors divert all traffic to one lane only. But this is usually for some short distance and thereafter, traffic ought to return to their normal lanes. But some 'smart drivers' will never return. They will continue on the wrong lane, terrorizing the oncoming traffic which has the right of way on that lane and many times, leading to road mishaps. For others, they need nobody to redirect them , the moment they notice that the other lane is better than their own lane or that traffic ahead of them is slowing down they quickly swing over to the other side of road without qualms. In my experience this has more than doubled the risk of driving on Nigerian highways today. And I am asking where are the Road safety guys? Are they not supposed to be on the highways to enforce obedience to traffic rules? In my recent experience, it is as if we operate in a state of anarchy on the roads, where everybody does what he or she likes imperiling the lives of other road users. As we journeyed from Ore on that faithful Sunday, I was on the look out for the road safety guys. I eventually found a few close to Lagos. They tried to flag me down and I must confess that we ignored them. All the way from Ore to Ijebu Ode, where there was utter chaos and where we needed them to come and restore order or punish the law breakers, they were no where to be seen,only for them to gather after Mowe on the precincts of Lagos waiting to ask for my 'C- caution'. Recently the situation of the ROAD TO AROCHUKWU became a national issue. Most of the Newspapers including this one carried the story and it was on Channels TV community news. Any one who reads newspapers or watches Television in Nigeria must have read the story of a road abandoned for several years. This is one of the federal roads. In April 2012, the contract for the reconstruction or rehabilitation, whichever, was finally awarded to BEKS KIMSE a young Nigerian contractor. The work was supposed to be completed in 24 months but as at date, not up to TWO kilometers of road has been completed. When you ask from the federal ministry of works, you are told they have mobilized the contractor. When you ask the contractor, he either blames the rain or claims the problem is money. Which ever, the beleaguered people of Ohafia, Ihechiowa,Abam , Ututu Arochukwu and their Cross River and Akwa Ibom neighbours who use that road believe it this kind of contractors that give the government a bad name by undermining the excellent work the federal ministry of works is doing across the nation. Every time I have had to pass that road in the last 20 years and after several efforts we have made to get the road fixed without success I began to pray that God should give me money to buy a private Jet or Helicopter so that I could fly from PH or Owerri or Enugu or Uyo airports to my home. But this prayer has not yet been answered. If you were in my shoes, would you rather fly or travel by road to Arochukwu ? Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR