UNIBEN VC saga

 

 

UNIBEN VC saga: A critical analysis

The vice-chancellor is the principal officer of any university and is responsible to the Governing Council of a university.

The vice-chancellor sits on the University Governing Council and chairs the Collegiate Council. He can be called the President or the Chief Academic and Administrative Officer of the University.  As such, he is accountable to the governing body, the Senate, for the organisation and management of the university.

The vice-chancellor chairs the university’s management board, which is responsible for developing the university’s corporate plan, and the development of approved strategies to support its delivery, and also he presides over the academic council.  He is the university’s principal ambassador as well as its designated accounting officer, responsible for the university’s use of public funds.

The vice-chancellor is assisted by the deputy vice-chancellors who play a key role in supporting him in the academic leadership and management of the university and individually take special responsibility for academic leadership and the development; formulation and co-ordination of policy in the following areas: academic planning and resources; education; research; outreach and economic development.

The leadership of universities today, especially large, complex and transforming institutions, is hugely demanding. To succeed, experts say, a vice-chancellor, principal, rector or president must be a strategic visionary, a change-manager and negotiator, fund-raiser, public figure and the bold, jet-setting workaholic chief executive of an unwieldy organisation staffed with critical minds and big egos. Ideally, he or she should also be a respected academic.

Not surprisingly, a combination of such qualities in one individual is difficult to come by. So universities have become head-hunters and the world in their search for leaders for what are, in reality, major corporations that spend billions of naira, employ thousands of staff, have a high public profile and operate in a competitive global environment.

Gone are the days of crusty academics in ivory towers cutting up a generous public funding pie over high tea. Higher education institutions are highly complex businesses with an annual turnover of several billions of naira and are now operating in an increasingly competitive national market.

The talents and skills identified in recent years by vice-chancellors as critical to their work are strategic leadership, management experience, the ability to understand and operate effectively in local, national and international environments, and the academic credentials and experience needed to understand a university and earn the respect of its scholars.

Presently, the University of Benin is searching for a VC. It is looking for someone who can lead with conviction and skill; a person with an exceptional record of delivery and change management, a non-tribalist or ethnicist with communication and team-working skills, who will demonstrate strategic thinking, a strong intellect and personal track record that will command the respect of all stakeholders. The process has, however, been bedevilled by politics. In keeping with the tradition of appointing a VC, the Acting VC set up a search group called an Appointment Panel, with members from diverse backgrounds to give the appointment panel a federal look as the University of Benin is a federal institution and must show that federal character.

Armed with the adopted criteria for selection, they were about going to commence the onerous process of selecting the next VC when it was detected that the federal character that existed in the panel had been altered in favour of some applicants from a section of the country. Students and other Nigerians were not happy with such a development, and reacted by a demonstration and subsequently, a petition to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The alteration of membership of the panel to favour a particular tribe was seen as distasteful to other Nigerians, in particular, the Benins from Edo State. The alteration of the VC Appointment Panel was an unsavoury political intervention in a process that should be done on merit and in a transparent manner, as the VC should represent the interest of the university community.

The reasons given were puerile; for instance, that some members of council did not have a university degree. When has it become compulsory for all council members to have university degrees? Some members of council represent the interest of everyday Nigerians what some columnists call the common Nigerians. In every board a round the world, there are always representatives who represent the interests of the public. Why should the University of Benin be different? Secondly, at whose instance were the members of the appointment panel changed? Thirdly, was it done at the National Universities Commission or at the Federal Ministry of Education? The fourth question is how do we remove politics in the selection process of university vice chancellors? Those who were involved in this fraudulent change of the appointment panel have done a disservice to the great Uniben heritage.

This fraud that has been perpetrated in the appointment process of the Uniben VC is due to the fraudulent environment of our nation. This behaviour amounts to infantile dominance of “me, me, me, or I or myself” without consideration for the others, who also have the right to what is on offer. The desire of one politician to edge out all else and place his kinsman in the position cannot be right and cannot be the way forward.

As in the business sector, university leaders need to have a long antennae with which they scan the environment, understanding how internal and external environments are changing and how best their institution might respond to problems, which is to what happens in the appointments of the CEO of major companies. A VC that is chosen based on politicisation of the appointment process cannot have that lure amongst his peers and may be a lame duck VC from the beginning to the end and, in effect, slow down the steady growth of the University of Benin. This is why the Federal Government should act decisively on this issue to keep within the laws that established the university.

In an economic downturn, investment in research, development and higher-level education by government and private enterprises are more important than ever. Higher education is ideally placed to deliver the workforce needed for a highly skilled knowledge-based economy. As the economy continues to shift towards knowledge-based activities, it is likely that a larger percentage of the workforce will need higher-level skills. It is for the above reasons that the process of selecting a VC should not be influenced by politicians because a rightfully selected VC will ultimately contribute to the academic and socio-economic growth of the nation.

We, as alumni of the University of Benin, wish the best VC for the institution, but the selection process must be transparent and without any politicisation.

By SEO Ogbonmwan
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letter to Yakubu Gowon 1 & 2

http://www.tribune.com.ng/13042009/opinion.html

Letter to Yakubu Gowon (1)

By Angelicus Onasanya, Steve Ogbonmwan and Yemi Oyeyemi

DEAR, retired General Yakubu Gowon, We write this letter in response to a speech delivered recently on your behalf by Alhaji M.D. Yusufu, at the second anniversary seminar of the Arewa Consultative Forum. It is our hope that you will view the contents with the utmost consideration they require and deserve.

First, Your Excellency, please note, that of all the Nigerians who have had the privilege of serving Nigeria as heads of state, your tenure is generally regarded as the most favourable. Most Nigerians would readily agree that your regime was the most humane of all Nigeria’s military administrations. Second, you are the only living former head of state not known to be a billionaire, and that endears you to many Nigerians. And finally, most of us note with gratitude your unrelenting prayers for the welfare of Nigeria. For these reasons, whatever you say about Nigeria deserves to be received and considered with utmost respect.

It is for these reasons that very many Nigerians feel very deeply about the opinion you expressed in the speech under reference to the effect that there are “four groups” trying to destabilise Nigeria, and that these are as follows:
• “idealists who cannot wait to see a perfect Nigeria … (who) agitate for the cancellation of the 1999 Constitution on the premise that there is too much concentration of power and resources at the centre.
• those who want to see the country balkanised into small territories to be headed by tribal leaders… made up of demagogues and other anarchists who will sooner take Nigeria back to the chaos of the 18th century.
•those who desire the country’s break-up into “geopolitical territories, whereby big ethnic groups may swallow up small ones without a challenge”.
• those who demand “a new constitution that will allow them keep 100 per cent of money derived from the sale of oil that is extracted within their territories.”

In short, Sir, your opinion of all who challenge the status quo in Nigeria today is wholly negative. As far as you are concerned, all who challenge the status quo or who ask for a serious look at Nigeria as it is, are despicable elements who are simply impatient with the pace of Nigeria’s evolution, or are demagogues and anarchists whom no system of order can satisfy, or ethnic chauvinists who want their own large ethnic groups to dominate smaller ethnic groups or who simply do not want the resources of their own ethnic territories shared with the rest of Nigeria. While there are, without doubt, some persons who may answer to these characterisations, we urge you most respectfully, Sir, to look deeper below the surface. When you do that, you will find that probably most of the persons who are actively asking for change for Nigeria, or who are intensely dissatisfied with Nigeria as it exists today, are motivated by very positive and commendable purposes – persons who, in your own words, seek “perfection”, perfection and meaningful order out of the near chaos that Nigeria now is. Such persons do not deserve opprobrium but acceptance and encouragement from all far-sighted Nigerians. Another Nigerian, Peter Ekeh, in a paper titled: “Urhobo and the Nigerian federation: Whither Nigeria?” demonstrated a clear understanding of the realities of today’s Nigeria when he said: “It is an indication of the stress and turbulence of our times that Nigerians are everywhere re-examining the purpose of the Nigerian state and the relationships between their ethnic groups and the Nigerian federation. There has been no other occasion in our history when men and women, otherwise engaged in professions far removed from politics and public affairs, been so concerned of their ethnic groupings and about the purpose of their country’s political arrangements.”

The truth, Sir, is that most informed Nigerians, and very many friends of Nigeria in the world, are intensely worried about the way Nigeria has turned out to be. That is why speeches, articles and even books about Nigeria’s future are being churned out increasingly today. And that is why the pages and editorial columns of Nigerian newspapers are continually littered with the evidence of the stress and the turbulence raging in the minds of thinking Nigerians concerning Nigeria.

The most important question, then, is this: What are the roots of Nigeria’s very profound sicknesses – Nigeria’s intractable political instability, the intense criminality, fraud, and violence in Nigeria’s political processes, the political assassinations, the all-pervasive and resolute corruption in the management of the nation’s public resources, the disregard for law, etc. There are some who would opine that the causes of these aberrations are simply human greed, the lack of patriotic leaders, or even a weakness in the make-up of the moral and societal consciousness of Nigerians. This is tantamount to saying that, before the British came and favoured us with the creation of Nigeria, we were all morally, socially and politically depraved and incapable peoples, intrinsically unable to produce solid and respectable leaders of men or to manage orderly political entities.

But people who hold such opinions must ask themselves certain important questions. The Hausa people, long before the 19th century, created for themselves a number of splendid kingdoms, and their rulers ruled those kingdoms with dignity and poise. If they were depraved and incapable, how did they accomplish such things? In the course of the 19th century, the Fulani and Hausa peoples carried out a revolution that produced a larger, more inclusive polity, (a Caliphate), whose leaders promoted knowledge, excellence, commerce and pride. If they were depraved and incapable, how could they achieve such great things?

The Nupe on the Middle Niger and the Tiv on the Benue, though not very large peoples today, were very strong peoples, each of whom built a strong kingdom and managed with distinction the trade, and the channels of trade, across its own river. In the forest country of the south, the Yoruba built one of the most advanced civilisations of tropical Africa, established well ordered and gorgeous kingdoms throughout their expansive territory, built walled towns and cities, and evolved the greatest urban civilisation in the thick forests of tropical Africa – all of which were already far advanced before the first European explorers came to the coast of West Africa in the 15th century. The Edo and related peoples had also established one of Africa’s most prestigious kingdoms before the fist Europeans came to the coasts of West Africa – a kingdom that, today, would have owned more territory and more population than each of Belgium, Portugal, and many other countries of Europe. Astride the Lower Niger and east of it, the Igbo people evolved supremely well ordered democracies and produced a civilisation rich in art, culture and commerce – and are today one of Africa’s most dynamic and most modernising nations. Similar comments as these are also true of the Ibibio, the Ijaw (builders of the city states of the Niger Delta), Urhobo, and many other small, but deservedly proud, nations in all parts of Nigeria. If these peoples were depraved and incapable, how did they achieve the orderly political systems and impressive civilisations that they achieved?

No, the true explanation for Nigeria’s huge, stubborn, and perpetually worsening diseases is to be found not in any inherent flaws in us as peoples, but in circumstances created by the very existence of Nigeria itself. To understand that, one needs to look at what has happened, and what is happening, in countries similar to Nigeria in the world – countries comprising two or more ethnic nations. The apparently almighty Soviet Union perpetually suffered serious distractions from the desires of its many ethnic nations to manage their own affairs. Ultimately, in 1991, the Soviet Union splintered into many countries – 15 in all, each of them an autonomous and independent nation state, most of them very small. The Czechs and Slovaks of Czechoslovakia had the common sense to terminate the complex problems of Czechoslovakia by breaking it up peacefully – so that each now lives in its own small independent country. Yugoslavia, created in 1918, was one country riddled with subliminal hostilities, corruption and instability. When two of the ethnic nations of this country announced their decisions to secede, the Serbs, who happened to be Yugoslavia’s largest ethnic nation, took up arms in order to prevent the breaking up of the country, but all they succeeded in doing was to cause horrendous violence and bloodshed, thereby attracting worldwide condemnation. In the end, each of the various ethnic nations of Yugoslavia did win its own small country – a total of seven countries, the smallest of which has a population of only 864,000. The Walloons and the Flemings, the two ethnic nations of Belgium (a country created in 1831), have, in recent times, been constantly at loggerheads.
(To be continued tomorrow)

Onasanya, Ogbonmwan and Oyeyemi are Nigerian professionals in the diaspora

 

http://www.tribune.com.ng/15042009/opinion2.html

Letter to Yakubu Gowon (2)

By Angelicus Onasanya, Steve Ogbonmwan and Yemi Oyeyemi

(Continued from yesterday)

Following a troubled election in 2007, the Walloons and the Flemings seem now to be heading for eventual break up of Belgium into two countries. Great Britain entered the 20th century as a country of four ethnic nations – the English, Scots, Irish, and Welsh. The Irish broke off in the 1920s and created the independent Republic of Ireland. (The small province of Northern Ireland which was not allowed to go with the Republic of Ireland has remained a scene of terrible troubles since then). Both the Scots and Welsh are also agitating for independent countries of their own, and the Scots now seem to be near that goal. Spain comprises two ethnic nations – the Spaniards, and a smaller nation, the Basques. For many decades, the Basques have troubled and shaken Spain in an attempt to break off and have a country of their own. In Russia, one small ethnic nation, the Chechens of Chechnya that was not able to break off in the 1990s, and in Georgia, the small people of South Ossetia, are both fighting life-and-death struggles in order to have tiny independent countries of their own.

At the United Nations, this reality has become fairly well understood. And that is why in September 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution entitled “Declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples” by indigenous peoples”, the United Nations means ethnic nations that are members of larger countries. In its preamble, the resolution states as follows:

“- – – the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, affirm the fundamental importance of the right of self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural independence.”

As far as the countries of Africa are concerned, clear and unambiguous demands and agitations for separate countries are still rare. And the reasons are obvious. First, the African countries are still quite young – being generally about 50 years in existence. Second, most of the ethnic nations of Africa are very small – so small that many can not yet envision themselves as constituting separate independent countries.

As a result, every African country is buffeted and battered by political turmoil, sordid corruption, wrong-headed attempts by some nations to dominate others, rigged and violently protested elections, lawlessness, pogroms, ethnic cleansing, genocide, etc. But all these are bound to change, and the confused and indefinable storms will give way to clear visions and demands. The peoples of Africa are becoming more and more literate and educated; and the immaturity and lack of confidence will gradually evaporate. Already, in Nigeria, where some of the provinces rank among the most literate in Africa, the desire for separate independent countries is becoming unmistakable. Naturally, it is difficult for those of us who would want to preserve Nigeria to contemplate, but there is no way we can avoid the situation whereby increasing numbers of the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, Edo and related peoples, Kanuri and related peoples, Nupe, Tiv, Ijaw, Ibibio, as well as combinations of neighbouring small peoples, will seek separation of their peoples from Nigeria in order to have countries of their own. Again, there is nothing bad or wicked or condemnable about that and those of us who oppose such outcomes only need to work hard for what we believe to be more meaningful and peaceful change.

Of course, the tortuous political and moral mess of Nigeria tends to serve, for now, as the immediate major provocator of such views and the rising agitations for separation. For many whom education has elevated to membership of the wider community of the world, it can be sometimes unpleasant these days to be identified as a Nigerian. But the deeper, ethnic nationalist, causes are also affirming themselves. Even if Nigeria were much better run, the ethnic nationalist factor will still advance itself. Throughout the 20th century, Great Britain has been one of the richest, most powerful, and proudest countries in our world, and yet the ethnic nations in it have wanted to break away from it. The same is true of Spain, Belgium, Canada, etc. The expansion of agitations for the dissolution of Nigeria seems inevitable, regardless.

Your Excellency, we urge you to see this whole matter from one further perspective. Trying to heal Nigeria’s diseases with a Nigerian wand has never worked, and it will never work. Military regime after military regime thought that the way to solve Nigeria’s problems was to pursue a centralizing, unificatory and integrationist path. Well, they succeeded in centralising and integrating, but that made the problems of Nigeria enormously worse.

Needless to say, the solution is not more centralisation, or the fostering of more, or other, super-powerful political groupings. The solution is to restore control to the people – to empower the people to nurture again a leadership that is produced by the people and that serves the people. And there is no other way to accomplish this than by empowering each ethnic nation to call out its traditional ethical norms and laws and cultural influence for the guidance of its own affairs. There is no other conceivable way to get it done.

Your Excellency, is this growing demand what you were reacting to and castigating in your statement when you spoke of “idealists who cannot wait to see a “perfect Nigeria,” and who “agitate for the cancellation of the 1999 Constitution on the premise that there was too much concentration of power and resources at the centre”? Is this what you were referring to and demonizing as the voices of “demagogues and other anarchists who will sooner take Nigeria back to the chaos of the 18th century”, who want “to see the country balkanized into small territories to be headed by tribal leaders”, who “desire the country’s break-up into “geopolitical territories, whereby big ethnic groups may swallow up small ones without a challenge”, and who are “asking for a new constitution that will allow them keep 100 per cent of money derived from the sale of oil that is extracted within their territories”?We really must urge you, Your Excellency, to rethink these sentiments.

(Concluded)
Onasanya, Ogbonmwan and Oyeyemi are Nigerian professionals in the diaspora

 

ALLEGIANCE SHOULD BE TO THE NIGERIAN NATION

ALLEGIANCE SHOULD BE TO THE NIGERIA

BY

SEO OGBONMWAN

steveogbonmwan@aol.com

I have been moved to write this article due to the threat of the supporters of Chief Olabode George to decamp from the PDP after the pronouncement of his guilty judgement at the High Court of Lagos State, Criminal Division of Ikeja Judicial Division Lagos on the 26th October 2009. Chief Olabode George is no mean Nigerian, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Deputy National  Chairman (South) of the ruling People’s Democratic Party the (PDP).

According to a lot of commentators, Chief George was christened untouchable, a sacred cow who enjoyed immense immunity as a result of his closeness to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo the former president of Nigeria. He was said to be held in awe by fellow Nigerians especially in the southwest and in Lagos in particular.

He was the former military governor of Ondo State and was appointed as the Director General of the Yar’Adua-Jonathan Campaign Organisation. How could he be sent to jail his supporters are asking. Now they are threatening the Yar’Adua government of pulling out of the PDP en-mass and the election is only in 2011.

The threat by the supporters of Bode George to decamp from the PDP is in protest against the state, regional and the national leaders of the party, over a perceived abandonment of Chief George throughout his trials and his eventual conviction by a Lagos state high court.

These supporters have failed to realise that the PDP as a political party is operating within the Nigerian constitution where any proved fraudulent practice will be viewed with all seriousness and punished appropriately.
Whatever the felon may have done, party membership does not exonerate him from any unlawful acts he may have committed. There is the erroneous belief that Chief Bode George may have been sacrificed due to his closeness to OBJ in the ongoing fight against corruption and abuse of public office in PDP governments at both state and national level. It is an indictment of the federal judicial system as opined by some commentators that a different result would have been obtained if the case has been held in the federal capital territory of Abuja. Does that then imply that this judgement was obtained because PDP does not control Lagos State?

It should be stated that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria supersedes political party constitution, party comradeship and cult constitutions or oaths allegiance.

Politics is interesting but those who play it in Nigeria are usually jobless professionals who see politics as an opportunity to amass wealth pauperise fellow Nigerians fail to implement their manifestoes. Playing politics in Nigeria is also very expensive as would be politicians have to pay evil and demanding godfathers huge sums of money, buy thugs to ward off attacks from opponents, buy other contenders to create elbow room, buy the police and in some cases the army boys as occurred in Edo State in 2007 when armoured vehicles were deployed by the then defence minister in support of those godfather who ran Edo aground.

Politics as exhibited in Edo State recently also showed the level of the intelligence of our politicians and that their allegiance is not to the people they have sworn on oath to serve but themselves and their political party. The case of the Oredo Chairman who is currently under suspension clearly illustrates the wrong allegiance to the political party rather than the people of Edo state and our nation Nigeria. To ensure that the present government in Edo State fails or to contribute to the failure of the current Edo State government the Oredo Chairman refused to pay the council workers and remove refuse from the various markets in Benin City in spite of the State governor requesting him to obtain funds from the crude oil account to achieve a clean Benin City. The council workers went on work to rule to ensure they are remunerated monthly and the markets became infested with mountains of refuse all to paint the current state government in bad light. This did not last long as he was suspended by the governor and an acting chairman installed who within weeks paid all the outstanding entitlements of the council workers and collected the refuse heaps in the city. That was very bad politics played by the suspended chairman of Oredo local government as it was the inhabitants of Benin City who suffered from the heaps of uncollected refuse and the people exposed to preventable diseases due to non collection of refuse in the city.

In Edo State House of Assembly, the PDP controls the house as they have the majority of legislators. Allegiance to their political party has stalled the approval of the members of the Board of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) for Edo State which has prevented the state from benefiting from the Federal Government allocation to the state which amounts to over 2.5 billion naira. To imagine because of party politics people who went to school with federal government scholarship and Bendel State bursary award and scholarship during the governorship period of Dr Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia and late Professor Ambrose Alli of blessed memory are now a clog in the wheel of educational development of Edo people and Nigerians by failing to allow Edo State children benefit from the Universal Basic Education funds is totally incomprehensible.

Our legislators seem to have forgotten the United Nation Convention of the Rights of the Child which is an international human rights treaty for which Nigeria is a signatory that grants all children and young people a comprehensive sets of rights which include rights to basic education and health

amongst many other rights.

Deliberate obstruction of this right to free basic education by Edo State legislator is obviously contravening an international treaty for which they can be held accountable anywhere in the world if they persist in these obstructive policies to the education of our children. If they are unaware of national demographic studies which have shown that primary education sector revealed that, 12% of primary school pupils sit on the floor, 38% classrooms have no ceilings, 87% classrooms are overcrowded, while 77% pupils lack textbooks, they should be reminded of these facts.  Almost all sampled teachers are poorly motivated coupled with lack of community interest and participation in the management of the schools.

This uncaring attitude of the PDP members of Edo State House of Assembly legislators is as a result of having allegiance to their political party and to ‘self’ rather than having allegiance to the electorate and all Nigerian people especially the children in of their education. This is why continued stalling of the 2.5billion naira allocation to Edo State for the UBE is criminal to say the least no matter the reasons  they may give for their actions.

 

There are many such other examples from other states of the federation and from the federal capital Abuja as well where the allegiance to the political party is placed before allegiance to the nation and Nigerian people.

Many obviously corrupt politicians who have been earmarked by the EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu for persecution in the courts of the land have been given a pat on the back of their hands and allowed to go absolutely free because they belong to the ruling political party at the federal level the PDP, coupled with the change of guards at the Aso Rock and the EFCC.

 

In an enlightened society where you have a high proportion of the electorate being well educated, they will punish such governments in the pools; but in Nigeria it is those whose pockets are deepest, who have the most ferocious thugs, who make the loudest noise, who have links with the Nigerian forces and the best rigging tricks win at elections. To achieve the millennium development goals and the seven point agenda of this government, in addition to transparency, accountability and honesty of the politicians at the helm of affairs, the politicians must show total allegiance to the nation, to the national pledge and to our national anthem.

 

Dr Steve Ogbonmwan sent this via steveogbonmwan@aol.com

 

http://www.tribune.com.ng/30112009/opinion2.html

 

 

Abortion-the need for education

http://www.tribune.com.ng/12022009/opinion.html

Abortion: The need for education

By Seo Ogbonmwan

Abortion generally is the termination of an ongoing pregnancy mostly for social reasons. It is a very emotive subject from whatever angle one looks at it. Those who are against procurement of abortion are totally against it so also those who are pro-abortion are completely pro-abortion. There is no middle ground although you hear some say they are anti-abortion but pro-choice. This cannot be possible as one cannot serve God and mammoth simultaneously.

In the case of abortion which is illegal in over 70 nations of the world, one cannot be anti-abortion and pro-choice at the same time. There are those like myself who are conscientious objector to abortion and would not like to be associated with it or facilitate its procurement whether by counselling or assisting in the procurement of legal documents in its favour.

This stand is moral, religious, reasonable and straightforward. The concept of no abortion is based on the following premise: that one cannot take what is not yours to give; that one cannot destroy what one cannot create; that 99.9% of cases of abortion result from social pleasurable activities and not incest as some will make us believe; that there are very effective, long acting reversible, reliable, cheap and available methods of contraception; that menstrual regulation with a positive pregnancy test is a bourgeoisie but confusing term for abortion; that abortion or menstrual regulation as some call it is not a method of contraception; that the more than seventy countries of the world where abortion is illegal cannot be wrong.

Countries where abortion is said to be legal deceive; because when you critically analyse the premise under which abortion is mostly carried out, you will find out that the law is loose.

Abortion has ruined many women having contributed significantly to increased maternal mortality in places like India and Nigeria. Although maternal mortality rate is highest in India with Nigeria coming a close second, when one relates maternal mortality to the overall population, Nigeria becomes the nation with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. The high maternal mortality rate is as a result of accumulated ills of corruption of our leaders over the years. The only good factor about this high rate is that it does not discriminate. Daughters of politicians, Emirs, Obas, and Obis as well as the daughters of peasant farmers are not spared.

When they bleed during childbirth or after an illegal abortion which is usually done in secret, they die before they can be flown abroad for treatment so the ills of a small percentage of corrupt and greedy politicians affect us all. No one is spared including those who fly abroad for treatment at public expense and those who cannot go .The difference is that, these ‘big people’ go abroad and die a lonely death unlike the poor who die at home in Nigeria surrounded by loved ones and close relatives.

A change in the law will have no effect on abortion rate and its associated maternal morbidity and mortality. We have seen and are aware of many Nigerian laws that are ineffective. In fact Nigerian laws are made for those who lack the means to bribe their way out whenever they are caught pants down.

I am not proposing new laws. There are too many laws already which unfortunately are never obeyed. In a nation where a single doctor terminates 70 pregnancies per day in a very small portion of a city like Lagos, tell me how many such pregnancies are terminated daily in the whole of Lagos and even more so in the whole of the Nigerian nation. The figure will be staggering.

The bitter truth is that only education can salvage the situation not laws. Our people are illiterate generally and those who are literate are uneducated. You can decode it in their argument, utterances, attitude, greed for foreign made goods, insatiable greed for more wives, many houses, and a knack for stealing money and putting it in foreign banks or in dug out wells in their garden. These attitudes smack of lack of general education.

We need education so as to accept the concept of being our brothers’ keeper, that the wellbeing of our fellow men is also our wellbeing; that we cannot have a restful sleep when there is groaning next door; that we all belong to the same sea of souls where a hurt of one passes through all and where if one is glorified, it also passes through all that is, if you believe.

Coming back to abortion, we need to educate our teeming masses of female folks that there are effective, cheap, reliable, available, methods of contraception. The advances in the area of contraception in the last two decades are overwhelming. In the present day and age no one, I repeat, no one needs to procure an abortion as most methods of contraception have over 99.5% effectiveness if used correctly. Using an effective method of contraception correctly comes by way of education. It is education we need and not more laws.

There are pills and devices one can place below the skin, inject about four times annually, insert in the womb, insert in the vagina, wear on the phallus and above all, there’s abstinence which is the greatest and safest method of preventing pregnancy and associated infections.

We need an effective educational system to teach our people that pregnancy is preventable and one needs not procure abortion in this day and age as effective methods of preventing pregnancies and therefore illegal abortion abound.

For those who ask what will happen in cases of incest, I would say they are rather very rare occurrences and what we have to contend with is social abortion.

My dear brothers, we do not need new laws but education: moral education, social education, religious education, sex education.

 

ABORTION 2

Nowa,

Thank you for your contribution.

It is not surprising as anyone will support those having and propagating the same idea as one but I must say that your argument left the issues tangentially. You seem to have written extensively about pro-abortion and points against anti-abortion and your propagated third option of prochoice which I classed as pro abortion if viewed critically.

What I am propagating is that laws are irrelevant in preventing abortions complications and reducing maternal morbidity and mortality from the sequel of attempts at procuring abortion because when there is no pregnancy, there will be no abortion.  What is relevant is education on how to prevent pregnancy in the first place. Once pregnancy is prevented, there is no need for abortion and its complications or abortion laws. This is the basis of public health medicine.

Prevention is the bedrock of public health medicine which fortunately some of us have been exposed earlier in your medical career so you can easily see the points I am stressing here. The concept I have proposed is that every Nigerian should be taught to prevent getting pregnant an exercise that will make the issues of abortion completely irrelevant.

Generally  family doctors give pills to lower cholesterol levels to prevent heart diseases; others give low dose aspirin to prevent coronary artery diseases. Our women have mammography for early detection of breast cancers and prevent it. So also is screening for cervical changes to detect abnormal cells and prevent cervical cancers so our women folk can take measures as well to prevent pregnancies so that they do not have to procure abortion.

The use of preventive measures does not only apply to medicine but in all areas of life, for example the use of smoke alarm in the homes to detect fire early and prevent fire hazard or the use of barriers to prevent flooding.

To ensure the success of these preventive measures, people need education not laws. Basic sexual health education, coupled with moral and religious education will reduce drastically the number of those getting pregnant when it is inappropriate to do so. Education will also reduce the cases of incest and deviants having sexual relationship with minors.  They may be educated to understand the ills of their action and so desist from such acts or if they do, they will use preventive measure so avoiding pregnancy and subsequent abortion and its sequel.

What Eghosa described in respect of marijuana is well known but he failed to include that liberalising or re-classing marijuana led to increased usage of the drug with its attendant deleterious effects.

Education about prevention of pregnancy is simple and would go down well with our people. Educating the people of the available methods of preventing pregnancy, technique of use, side-effects, reliability and the source will reduce abortion significantly as well as the associated complications of abortion. This is not a religious stand but it  is what is practicable, cheap and applicable in our environment as abortion is not a method of preventing pregnancy.

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