Nigerian President’s Inaugural Speech

The newly sworn in Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has made his inaugural speech. He has said that three key areas for his government are power, employment and terrorism.

He called on the judiciary to act with dispatch in matters of abuse of office and corruption, and called for a reform which will purge it of its immediate past. He also talked about a clear definition of the three tiers of government and declared that the Federal Government will not close its eyes to the problems of governance particularly gross corruption in the states and local government. He has declared he will ensure that there is adequate control under his watch. He demanded for accountability at all levels.

He called on labour unions, organised private sector, press and civil society organisations, to raise productivity in order to share in increased wealth and economic growth. He called on the media to exercise their role with dignity particularly on social media.

President Buhari-official portrait
President Buhari-official portrait

He talked about four immediate priorities for the Buhari government; Boko Haram, Niger Delta situation, power shortages, and unemployment in young people. The president spoke about longer term priorities to include Education, Medical care, physical infrastructure; all of which need overhauling and updating. For Boko Haram to be adequately tackled, President Buhari announced that the Command centre will be relocated to Maidugri until Boko Haram is subdued. He spoke about rescuing the Chibok girls and all who have been kidnapped; alive if possible.

According to him, Boko haram is a typical example of a small fire causing large fires. Negligence, complacency, and collusion have all made Boko Haram strong. He said that Boko Haram was a mindless and godless group, who were as far away from Islam as possible. As the group is subdued, the government will commission a committee to study the group; its emergence and sponsors, in order to stop further emergence. He says that the military’s rules of engagement will be overhauled to avoid human rights violations, and legal system will also be overhauled to tackle human rise abuses of the armed forces. Furthermore, he was clear about working with sub-Saharan neighbours and the entire international community to deal with Boko Haram and the emerging refugee problems as well as financial crimes.

His priorities include a disciplined and well compensated security forces, and although the amnesty programme in Niger Delta which is due to end in December, his government plans to invest heavily in infrastructure. He says he is willing to listen to grievances and extends his hands of fellowship.

The president declared the Power situation a national shame; the fact that Nigeria generates only 4,000 megawatts and distributes even less. He says 20 billion dollars had been expended on power since 1999 and has only brought frustration and misery and resignation among Nigerians. The government will discover the safest and quickest way to bring power to Nigerians. Youth unemployment will be tackled through investment in agriculture, and micro-credits will be given to small and medium businesses. In addition, he wants to accelerate the revival of roads and railways.

Buhari stated that the international community has extended a hand of goodwill to Nigeria, and the country is basking in goodwill. We can achieve our mission as a great nation. To finish, he quoted Shakespeare’s Julius Cesear saying Nigeria had an opportunity, urging the nation to “cease it”.

For me, the most profound statement the President made was his phrase ” I belong to everybody. I belong to nobody”. Perhaps this is the tone which we can expect from the government, where he pledges allegiance to nobody but to the entire nation and to the oath he swore.

The Tories Won So What

I have been following the UK General Elections 2015 and a lot of people seem pretty disappointed that the conservative party, also known as the Tories, won the 2015 general elections. David Cameron will remain at 10 Downing Street. This is said to have been one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history. There were a lot of debates around the economy, immigration, the NHS and education.

Many people voted on their convictions along those lines. I did not vote, but I know many who did. A lot of people whom I know voted Labour but then again that’s the popular party followed by the diverse London crowd. The Labour party did not get enough votes to form a majority, and many analysts have blamed this on the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron. Source: www.versanews.co.uk
Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron. Source: http://www.versanews.co.uk

Apparently, a lot of Labour voters deflected to Conservative party for fear that if they voted Labour and that party was in a place to form a coalition government, it would invite the SNP to join it. Why are people afraid of the SNP? The SNP has consistently said that Scotland is its priority and thus people are worried that it would be pushing an agenda to divide the union.

Consequently, the Tories will be running shop for the next 5 years. What will the public expect? Records suggest that food banks have grown since the Tories came into government 5 years ago. This is a good stop gap measure, just as aid is a stop gap measure for developing countries. But may not necessarily be a good thing in a G7 country as it could mean that the poorer are indeed getting poorer.

SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 11:  Salisbury foodbank volunteer sorts a donation of food at the foodbank centre  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM – FEBRUARY 11: Salisbury foodbank volunteer sorts a donation of food at the foodbank centre (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

In the last 5 years, the NHS has begun to struggle even more, failing to meet its target response time for A&E patients; there have been news stories of emergency tents being set up outside hospitals, nurses being urged to come back to work on social media as there aren’t enough hands, and some portions of the NHS heading towards privatization.

In addition, the bedroom tax is biting poor people, while mansion taxes have been clearly avoided by this government. Tax evasion of the rich has increased, and people with disabilities are having their benefits increasingly cut as part of the austerity measures. However, the Tories inherited a deficit and a country whose books were unbalanced, overspent, and struggling from the credit crunch.

credit_crunch

Since 2010, the deficit is being reduced gradually, and records show a growing economy and reduction in unemployment. Whatever the case, the public in Britain will have a chance to go to the polls again in 5 years and vote. I personally have tried to understand the protests and public outcry at the majority win of the Tories. In any case, coming from a very young democracy, to me if elections are free and fair, and the people have voted, there really is no need for protests regarding the win unless people have smelt foul play.

I think the UK is very fortunate to be in a place where its elections are free and fair and the people are given a voice. Some people think that the election system is very unfair, that the number of votes do not translate into the number of seats. Will David Cameron be interested in a reform that will match votes to seats? Will there be a referendum soon to suggest a reform?

Photo from the 7 party debate of major party leaders. From left to right; Green Party, UKIP, LibDem, Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru. Source:www.bbc.co.uk
Photo from the 7 party debate of major party leaders. From left to right; Green Party, UKIP, LibDem, Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru. Source:www.bbc.co.uk

The anger I have heard from people is that he has no clue about the middle class or the working people, and his policies benefit him and his cronies; the rich. Hopefully, David Cameron will do what is just and look after the poor. At least people can heave a sign of relief that UKIP did not get a chance at 10 Downing Street with its far right plans of huge increase in defence spending, harsh restrictions on immigrants and anti-European co-operation.

A business owner expresses annoyance at Tories win. Source:www.facebook.com
A business owner expresses annoyance at Tories win. Source:www.facebook.com

Ed Milliband, Nick Glegg and Nigel Farage all of Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP have all resigned following the failure of their parties to make significant gains per their expectations at the genral elections. Their post results announcement speeches all spoke of regret and exhaustion, and then they resigned. I think perhaps Nigeria can borrow a leaf from these attitudes.

Although we know a lot of politicians to be two faced and dishonest at best, there are boundaries and levels to dishonesty, ambition and shamelessness. Politics cannot be a matter of life and death. If one runs and fails, there is no use making a spectacle such as the one we witnessed at Jega’s results announcement from one time Minister Godswill Orubebe. I look forward to the next couple of years of Nigeria’s APC government and the UK conservative government. Hopefully the change being demanded by the people will begin to come to fruition.

Identity. Heritage. How Important?

I have wondered about identity and heritage, and how much of who one is, comes from an understanding of the history, values, and peculiarities of one’s heritage. Recent occurrences in some parts of the world have given rise to those questions again in my mind. I am a woman. I am Igbo. I am Nigerian. I am black African. I am a Christian. I am a human being. How do these segments and demographics fit into the big picture of my identity? How do these affect my attitude to life? How does it determine how I treat others? Does it?

identity

Identity and heritage are quite clearly important and cannot be dismissed as perhaps the root of many social problems facing communities and regions, indeed the world today. In Nigeria for example, there have been a number of incidents and statements emerging from individuals which were based on their identity, perceived heritage and stereotypes which exist regarding the country’s demographics.

Source:kauerthought.wordpress.com
Source:kauerthought.wordpress.com

In the USA, protests and demonstrations are ongoing regarding several incidents which have been alleged to target defenceless members of certain race and sex. In South Africa, xenophobia and its consequential attacks have been linked to identity issues and heritage of perpetrators by some experts. In the same vein, the Boko Haram incidents and the Charlie Hebdo incidents have also been linked to identity crises and confusion emanating from misinterpretation of heritage amongst other things.

je suis charlie
I have always believed that first I am a human being, then I am a woman, before I am anything else. Thereafter I am Igbo before I am Nigerian. I am Nigerian before I am African. Does this make me disrespectful of the other sex or of other ethnic groups? Absolutely not. I think that I identify with the values and experiences of the milieu in which I was raised, as well as the bigger picture of being Nigerian and African. An understanding of my identity and heritage I believe gives me a clear picture of who I am, what our traditions and belief systems reflect, and more importantly, my place in the bigger picture of life and the rest of the the world.

Source: www.museumvitoria.com.au
Source: http://www.museumvitoria.com.au

Although these social constructs of demographics in some ways, encourage discrimination or in some cases, indirectly advance the victim mentality, I firmly believe that an awareness of the various segmentations and what these mean for daily life and heritage wise, is necessary and should be part of the education of every child. I am a woman, thus I must understand the changes that happen with the female body and the potential for discrimination and suppression that comes from an unequal society.

I am black African, thus I must understand the problems of sickle cell anaemia as well as the phenomenon of beautiful thick hair which responds a certain way to combs, and looks different from the predominant images on tv. I am Igbo and thus must understand the traditions and history of the Umu Ada, the mmanwu symbolism and the land laws no matter how unfair I believe them to be. First is awareness and understanding, before an informed acceptance and perhaps strides towards changing what we do not think is fair? These are just small illustrations and by no means cover the breadth of that which is peculiar to who I am and what my identity and heritage stand for.

Executive Director of UN women;  Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Executive Director of UN women;
Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

What I am very interested in, is how external factors such as migration, sexual orientation, religion, certain upbringing, tragedies, and globalisation affect one’s perceived identity or how they contribute to the identity struggles particularly in young minority groups. Invariably, I really think it is essential that children are taught that all humanity is one and the same. This must come first alongside the education necessary to equip the child for a successful and informed life based on certain peculiarities of his heritage.

The Glory That Was Hippie-Era Kathmandu Finally Died in the Nepal Earthquake

A bittersweet tribute to Nepal’s Hippie Era Kathmandu and the sad change and hardship, which have been forced upon it and its people as a result of the earthquake.

TIME

Though the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck last Saturday has now claimed more than 7,000 lives, modern, workaday Kathmandu — the Kathmandu of ring roads and malls — has come through.

Fabled Kathmandu, however — that mystical waypoint on the Himalayan hippie trail with its promise of enlightenment and cheap, potent hash — has been devastated.

Anyone who has been to the Nepali capital will know the red brick color of the old city. Today, those bricks are dust, and their trademark red coats the arms and faces of workers digging through rubble in the mournful search for bodies.

According to Nepal’s UNESCO chief Christian Manhart, who has just completed a thorough assessment of the city, 60% of all heritage buildings were “badly damaged” in the quake. With them, a whole way of life has finally vanished.

The Kathmandu valley lies at an ethereal altitude of 4,600 ft. (1,400 m), and…

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