Friday, July 28, 2006


URANIUM: Gains and Pains

URANIUM FIND: Gains and Pains
Vincent NNANNA
We are simulating something closely resembling the spiritual term ‘omniscience’ by being able to share vast amounts of information over tremendous networks. Nineteenth century concepts of what was called a ‘billiard board universe’ has dissolved into relativity and the more recent so-called ‘principle of uncertainty.’ As a result, the atom has split, atomic and nuclear energy are being tapped to increase by a vast degree the availability of physical power which has already leapt over great barriers. Yet the general feeling is that we have been able to chip away only a few fragments from the mountain of knowledge. Looming ahead of us, practically intact, lies a huge mass of fundamental facts any one of which, if uncovered, could change our civilization in a manner never before known.
Whereas these developments portend of high economic gains, political superiority amongst equals, security advantage, et cetera, one cannot loose sight of the adverse consequences that could result from a misuse or deliberate abuse. Fire, they say, is a good servant, but could be a very stubborn master.
Only recently, it has been reported that Uranium deposits have been discovered in some six states of Nigeria by the Atomic Energy Division of the Geological Survey of Great Britain. This silvery-white radioactive metallic element was first discovered in the Liruai hills in Kano state and in the Kigo hills near Dorowa on the Jos plateau. Other states where the find have been reported are Adamawa, Cross River, Taraba and Bauchi respectively. This indeed is a heart-warming news not only to the federal government but to the people of the concerned states. At least the derivation revenue accruing to mineral-based states is going to boost the coffers of the states’ Treasury. To the country at large, this means a drastic shift from the problematic crude oil sector to some less competitive enterprise.
According to studies, not many countries of the world are endowed with the radioactive mineral which makes Uranium highly priced and of high value. It is obtained from the ore uranite which occurs in small bodies of granite containing pyrochlore with 3.3 per cent uranium oxide, 3.3 per cent thorium oxide and 41.1 per cent niobium and tantalum oxides.
However, uranium mining being an area of significant interest in the world at present, it is necessary to inform and assist the resident communities (potential victims of radiation) identify the key issues and rights associated with uranium mining. It is our aspiration that the USES, GAINS as well as related health HAZARDS of uranium shall be understood and the determination of the future arrived at soberly and appropriately.
It should be known and properly understand that uranium mining has stimulated immense distress in respect to environmental and radiation aspects over the last three decades around the globe.
Indeed, from the economic perspective it is clear there might be an opportunity for countries endowed with this mineral deposit to profit immensely from its exploitation. However, it is necessary to raise this supreme and most fundamental question whether or not the economic benefits outweigh the social concerns and hazards considering that the life span could only be between 10-12 years.
The government and the general public should be aware that:
Uranium mining carries the danger of airborne radioactive dust and the release of radioactive radon gas and its decay products which is hazardous to the general public and workers.
Uranium has radiological consequences for employees if not well protected risking development of lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases.
There will be contamination of water resource use with the toxic chemicals used in the separation of the uranium ore.
Mismanagement of uranium disposal waste from leaching ore can have long term health and environmental consequences.
Environmentalists and Environmental protection Agencies as well as Human Rights Organisations and other concerned Non-governmental organisations might not achieve every goal and may concede to lack of scientific and legal authority to realize the necessary goals immediately but, assistance and assurance from the relevant authorities that fight to preserve and monitor the environment for posterity will certainly come.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Looking Inward

The wise counsel to use what one has, may sound ambiguous to many who consider themselves as belonging to the category of have-nots. The ambiguity lies in the fact that people always look outside for happiness or sadness. But if we can pause for a moment and look inside of ourselves by way of introspection, we would be astonished at how much potentialities are buried within our treasure vaults. Vincent NNANNA

A twentieth century philosopher says that every child comes to earth with its own supplies. This axiom, much as it is not some argument in favour of what is considered by many as the principle of predestination, points to the fact that each human being possesses in equal measure the same spiritual elements derived from our Creator. This is supported by the fact in the first Book of the Bible which says that God made man (and woman) in His image, after His likeness. (Genesis chapter 1 verse 26). A grain of rice if sowed in the soil cannot sprout forth to yield mango fruits any more than the image and likeness of God can be anything less than its Creator. God being omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresence, man and woman made in his likeness must of necessity, possess all power, be all-knowing and can be ever-present. In essence, man coexists with the Creator. The image before the mirror cannot be different from who or what it reflects. This is the fact which prophet Elisha sought to establish when a widow who had lost her husband in a battle tended to believe that the end had come for her and her two sons who were about to be whisked away by creditors on account of some huge debt she had inherited from her late husband. While she looked up to her creditors for debt reschedulement or conditions other than taking away her two sons into slavery, Prophet Elisha turned her attention inward to the realization of her true worth. Obviously, a debt that would warrant the confiscation of a widow’s two male children should be worth more than the value of a mere pot of oil. But this widow had between her and the creditors a pot of oil and her two sons.
To get a clearer picture of the situation, let us look at the Hebrew meaning of pot. This word is rendered sir, a vessel made of various sizes, and of different materials, earthenware and metal; and used for manifold purposes, such as boiling flesh, reforming metals and storing water for domestic use or oil. Tracing African history back to our Jewish ancestry, one could compare the pot of oil to our ancient earthen water pots or calabash with capacity ranging from 10 to 15 litres. My mother has one.
Doesn’t it sound bizarre to ask a widow who has inherited a debt she did not incur, to go a borrowing? The average person will consider this command as a suicide bid. But that looks like what the radical prophet asked the woman to embark upon. After he had assessed the woman’s agonizing condition, and seeking to help her out of her delusion, he had inquired of her what she had left in store. That is to say, how much is she worth? Many people in responding to this type of inquiry would be inclined to answering in the negative considering the insignificant quantity of the pot of oil vis-à-vis the huge debt burden hanging on her neck like an albatross. Many a times we consider what we have as too little in proportion to our liabilities, and we end up declaring that we don’t have anything at all.
It is an established law of nature that gratitude for benefits already received engenders the opportunity for more blessings. The widow’s recognition of what resources she had, no matter how little, turned out to be the catalyst for abundant blessings that attended her confession. It didn’t matter to the prophet how little oil the woman had. It didn’t matter that she was already a celebrated debtor. It didn’t bother him that society would naturally turn down an appeal for loan from a chronic debtor. All he cared for was that this outwardly poor widow had some hidden treasure which she recognized and had acknowledged. He then says to her, “Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours’ even empty vessels; borrow not a few” (II Kings 4:3). Hard word, you think. But the first approach to obtaining our miracle is gratitude for benefits already received. This involves recognition of spiritual endowments which take various forms with various people. The second step is in humble and implicit obedience to the voice of wisdom. This can come in the form of a good counsel from an expert, a suggestion from a not-too important person by human assessment, or the still small voice. The widow’s response to those rules is most exemplary, for she promptly dispatched her two sons to the task of borrowing empty vessels of all shapes and sizes from apprehensive neighbours. She did not fear that her creditors might lay hands on the boys and kidnap them on account of the debt. She disobeyed traffic rules. She did not question what to do with empty vessels from neighbours, some of whom she had not interacted with for some time since she retired into self solitude. She simply followed orders like a soldier in the infantry division of the army. According to the Scripture, she did not go about gossiping her situation with neighbours or trying to consult other women regarding the prophet’s queer counsel. She simply locked up herself and started filling the empty vessels from the meager supply without any iota of doubt whatsoever. It appears to me that oil was in short supply at that season of the year hence she couldn’t afford more than one small pot, and there were many empty containers in the city.
Having exhausted all the empty vessels in the city, the man of God who had stood guard between the woman and the God of abundance now came down from the figurative mountain, gave thanks to the almighty and ordered the ever-grateful widow, “Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest (II Kings 4:7(b).
Looking at external exigencies of life denies us of the opportunity of recognizing the seed of God implanted in our very bosom. Comparing ourselves with others makes us loose sight of our own capabilities. It is only in recognizing our heaven-endowed treasures can we be truly grateful, which in turn, begets multiple blessings. On the other hand, constantly resorting to our inward part will link us to the voice of silence and make us aware of whatever steps or direction the almighty intends for us to follow. As the Scripture say, “thine ear shall hear a word behind thee saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30: 21). A song I learned in early childhood says, “Count your blessings, and name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
There is no limit to what God can do except the limitations in your thinking as to what God cannot do.


(In)dependence :
The Journey so far:
After being set free by his task-master, one African slave is said to have pleaded with his master’s spouse to intercede on his behalf that he should remain within the confines of the estate. Fact is not that he has no place to return to or does he not have relatives to receive him back into his ancestral home. He had simply gotten comfortable with his state of servitude and cannot contemplate fitting into any other environment whatsoever. Vincent NNANNA

The same can be said of many African countries. Our colonial masters conceded to granting us independence after some protracted battles or dialogues with our forebears. It is on record that no African nation got her independence on a platter of gold. In some cases, lives had to be sacrificed among other dehumanising experiences. Knowing not what the future portends, our inexperienced pioneer politicians had inadvertently conceded to agreements that carried the ‘enslavement clause’ on our behalf. It is this conditionality that now accounts for the myriad of neo-colonial tendencies that seem to clog most of African democracies.
As we are becoming more conscious of the need to be completely independent, the need arises as to how best to completely disengage ourselves from the strangleholds of our former colonial masters.
A debris-infested stream can only be sanitised from the source. It logically follows that for us to break the jinx of colonial enslavement; we have to go back to the drawing board. It is not imperative, though that all countries of Africa must of necessity try to be independent just for the sake of it. Certain options have to be considered against the odds. The first question to ask is what was the interest of the colonial masters? This implies knowing what resources – human or natural – that attracted their presence in the first instance. One could ask what alternative resources there are at the present moment and how much of external or internal resistance there would be against the quest for independence. This consideration is very vital as it has been discovered that at the root of every clamour for a restoration of the status quo (that is returning to the pre-colonial era), are some highly placed members (aborigines) of the country in question. Most of these neo-colonialists are known to have in one way or the other been benefiting from the exploits of the ‘masters;’ and could not see the possibility of enjoying the same privileges under an independent dispensation. Getting to know whether there exist the needed manpower and technology to manage the situation and the resources profitably will not be a bad idea. In the absence of such variables, by all means, remaining attached to the master would be fundamental to the continued existence of any given colony. In that case, a colony should think of how much longer it can afford to remain attached while planning on long-term cessation strategy. Otherwise, it will be foolhardy to negotiate for independence when one does not know what to do with it.
If we must tow the line of secessionism, however, while back at the drawing board one needs to properly negotiate for total and uncompromising independence. No royalties. No appendages. No bi-lateral co-operation or military support strings should attend such negotiations. To be truly independent, a nation should have some level of national earning power and well-trained human resources that should form the nucleus of her Gross Domestic Product. Rather than have ourselves perpetually tied to the apron strings of colonial powers for reasons of economic relief, African countries should seek to initiate inter-regional or trans-regional cooperation and exchanges whereby the richer countries would extend every manner of assistance to the not-too-rich ones; uniting in one grand brotherhood.
To be able to harness their resources properly, the spirit of patriotism should be inculcated on the citizenry. This demands reciprocity on the part of government. That is to say, a citizen ought to have good reasons to be proud to swear allegiance to the country that affords him succour. Ethnic, social or religious and other forms of discriminating structures should be dismantled. Above all, freedom of expression and respect to fundamental human rights should form the bedrock of the country’s existential code.
Experts say that technology cannot be transferred. But we also know that it can be acquired. Therefore, in order to ensure sustainability, a nation should be liberal in despatching her citizens on scholarships to other developed countries for the purpose of acquiring skills in various fields pertinent to the future development of her resources – human or mineral-based.
Alongside this strategy, it should encourage private sector investment by putting in place investor-friendly policies that will encourage individuals that have abilities to embark on healthy entrepreneurial activities that will in turn contribute to the economic well-being of the nation at large.
A policy of heavy taxation of private or corporate investors has been known to be counter-productive. It has led to so many cases of fraudulent practices aimed at circumventing the established system. On the other hand, some foreign investors have tried to shy away from investing into the country even when there seem to exist some other attractive parameters such as a peaceful environment or a Freeport policy. It has to be acknowledged that not all countries do have mineral resources, but granted that no country is built on the sky; one would expect that the soil ought to be the first place to conquer for the propagation and development of her economy. This places agriculture at the top of the list. As the debate or genetically modified (GM) cropping rages on, there have been evidences of bumper harvests deriving from experimenting on this new technology. Records have shown huge foreign exchange earnings accruing from GM flower export by Kenya and Zambia. Fears are rife that some Asian countries will soon cease completely or trim down their import of raw materials from Africa because of their success in GM crop production especially in the field of cotton. Their complaint is that African traditional farming method yields meagre results and is slow in arriving.
A great percentage of African human resources are wasting by reason of lack of skills acquisition. Many people could not benefit from the fortune of knowing the four walls of any educational institution – be it primary, secondary or tertiary. A lot more of our abundant human resources have found harbinger in foreign economies where the pastures are greener. Others who have some skills cannot gain employment either in government or in the private sector. Micro-finance institutions are not helping matters on account of rigid and impossible demands from potential entrepreneurs.
The last thing any sensible human being can do is watch the hands of death try to snatch him of his right to exist. A cursory peep into the prison yards will unfold some trend of confessions from the inmates across the continent. Majority of the prisoners consist of petty thieves who had to steal to keep body and soul together. The other category that is on a recycling list is fraudsters who have chosen to unleash their venom on the affluent members of society who they hold responsible for their misfortune. One other class of armed bandits has the same reason as the fraudsters, but they carry their anger to the extremes by choosing not to be lenient with the society at large. Their revenge is known to be disproportionate.
Before we drift farther into anarchy, let African governments device a means of making every citizen not only seem to feel but apparently feel a sense of belonging. The hierarchy of fundamental human needs should be respected by ensuring that the average citizen has a roof over his head, can afford some clothing and at least a square meal per day. Unemployment scheme should be introduced whereby a near-accurate data of every unemployed citizen is registered. This data would serve as a bank or grid for manpower development according to individual abilities and interests. Micro-financing should be decentralized to ensure that deserving investors from even the remotest corners of the country can draw there from and be accountable to their local peer monitoring team.
It is certain that this exercise, if religiously implemented, will result in drastic reduction in crime rate and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Such a nation cannot afford no to be independent.

Thursday, July 13, 2006



As nations unite once again in one heart and one voice to celebrate football (soccer) at the 2006 World Soccer Tournament, tagged “Germany 2006,” one cannot help being attracted to one unique advertisement which, as far as I can tell, has some moral to inculcate. The message of forgiveness, reconciliation, tolerance and unity of purpose or universality seem to be imbedded in that one cartoon. It depicts a butcher about to cut into pieces a bird that he has already (un)dressed. There is a laboratory scientist about to inject some substance into a guinea-pig. Talk about an inflated balloon about to be pierced by some prickly plant. And there is a stoutly dwarf who embraces in jubilation, some gigantic and muscular neighbour who had invaded his privacy. The cartoon also depicts a lumberman who, halfway through hewing down a forest, had to change his mind as he and the tree engage themselves in a warm embrace to hail a winning team. For the sake of the nostalgia of football, these characters had to literally bury the hatchet and hold their antagonists in warm embrace. Each and every one of us has a right to life, to __expression of our emotions and sentiments among other rights. How many do exercise these rights let alone know them is the big question that does not yet have a satisfactory positive response. Try extending a warm handshake or a peck, why not a hearty embrace, if you can. To the extent that you exert warmth towards your guest, the same measure will you feel.


A crowd of more than 2000 guests honoured a birthday party. That included some generals among other high ranking army and naval officers and some well-known political juggernaughts. That is the way it is when one could be numbered among the cream of the society. In a city of a little more than one and a half million inhabitants, any party that can garner as much as 2000 personalities is rated as a bash. The Scriptures give an account of a certain rich man who made a supper and invited people of his class. When the supper was ready he started receiving apologies and excuses for absence instead. (Luke 14:1620). One need not be counted as rich, but if one is in good rapport with neighbours and the society at large, people will naturally want to identify with you.
That was not the case with the man by the pool at Bethesda near the sheep market in Jerusalem. (John 5:4). When Jesus Christ inquired of him whether he would be made whole, rather than respond directly to a simple inquiry, he would rather start singing his pity party song of what he considered the impediments that stand on his way. He says in effect, "Master, you can see that I am all alone. The people around here do not care about my condition. They are all so self-centred." The second segment of his party song runs like this: "Even the angel whose duty it is to stir the water is not helping matters either. He does not reside here permanently. He comes at special times. And his presence is always very brief." As this man goes forth and back with his complaints, he brings his family history into the picture, and he says, "I have nobody." Having nobody is the point of departure between success and failure in a great number of human endeavours. Seeking employment in some big organisation, getting a raise in work place, obtaining admission into higher institutions, obtaining visa to countries of high economic value, etc; demand having connexions in high places if one must succeed in obtaining some favour. Thus having nobody was a significant factor that contributed to the inability of the impotent man to get out of his condition. It is not unusual for people to ask for complimentary (name cards), of someone they consider important in their life. Some people go to the extent of demanding testimonials which they can attach to their profile to show how closely related they are to some important personalities. This only serves to show what importance people attach to having ‘somebody.’ But the man at the pool had nobody. And that gave him cause to indulge in self-pity.
Pity party celebrants are always alone. They have nobody to party with them. If you ever have a guest at your pity party, your situation will rather deteriorate. The more guests you have, the worse your situation gets. Such guests come not to commiserate with you but to make your illusion seem like a reality. They come to show you sympathy and give you some sense of self-justification. The friends of Job came to sympathise with his situation as Job began to question the wisdom of God. Those sympathisers did not help Job’s situation. (Job Chapters 20 – 31).
But the man by the pool had one distinguished guest who made a difference. As he was having some tête-à-tête with this heavenly guest, there were great expectations that Jesus might probably call down the angel especially for this man’s sake so that some majestic fiat will issue to stay others from entering the pool at that moment. One could see feelings of resentment across the faces of those other patients waiting to take their turns into the pool. To their utter disappointment, this guest had a different agenda. He was not there to add to the man’s sorrows or to cause some reluctant angels to come down to stir the waters. Jesus’ mission is to destroy the belief in unreality.
Amidst all the mixed expectations, Jesus says to the man, "Take up your bed and walk." In so saying, Jesus brought to light the fact that having nobody is not relevant to our salvation or success in life. The Scriptures tell us that one with God is with majority. Jesus also demonstrated that recounting unfriendly attitude of people towards us does not help or improve our situation. He showed that reliance on material objects like diving into the pool is not necessary to receiving healing. He says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6). He also promises that whoever believes in Him will not see death.
Rather than dwelling on pity parties, and recounting our woes of how people relate to us and how we do not have any body to help us, we should look unto Christ, (the author and finisher of our faith); as the sole guest at our party. We should look away from matter for the resolution of our problems. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder and discoverer of the Christian Science Movement, in her book Science & Health with key to the Scriptures, writes, "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts." She goes on to say, that "If one turns away from the body with such absorbed interest as to forget it, the body experiences no pain." (S&H. Page 261, Lines 4 – 11). We should, like the man at the pool, follow divine orders to "rise, take up our bed, and walk." Completely healed. This is the true identity of man: A perfect mind and a perfect body.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


During the next 3 months beginning July 1st through September 30th 2006, pupils and students in Benin republic are on long vacation. As schools remain closed during this period, pupils and students would not take some break from activities. While many of them engage in what has come to be known as traditional ‘holiday courses,’ most of them, especially the girls, would be seen at all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons, around the cities.
Worried by this unholy perambulation during long vacations, the Benin government in collaboration with some international institutions such as the UNICEF has introduced a scheme aimed at providing relief packages to encourage as many girls as possible to have access to fairly subsidised schooling. Unfortunately, though, not many of the beneficiaries do appreciate the value of the scheme.
Little wonder that as soon as schools are on break, most of them resort to doing what they know best – prostituting. One cannot deny the fact that there are some nice girls, however, who, by reason of their good parental upbringing and strong religious background, are persuaded by moral suasion not to have themselves tangled in the wrangle.
The notorious prostitutes’ enclave popularly known as ‘Jonquet’ would be overcrowded with ‘new kids in town.’ Male clients consisting in the main, of white-skinned businessmen and some sailors usually scramble for these new and young girls for a change. The older professionals do not bother because, afteral, they are the ones that offer shelter to these school girls and hire them out to their customers on commission basis.
These girls can be classed into three categories, namely:
1. Some final year students who believe that they have no chances of gaining any employment opportunity. They cling to the axiom of ‘making hay while the sun shines.’
2. There are the insatiable sex maniacs who would grab at the slimmest excuse to return to their stock-in-trade.
3. There is the unfortunate child from very poor families who have no other means of sustenance, and find lucrative bed-mate in the sex market.
As the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. It logically follows that when schools are back on course, those who have smeared themselves in filth will return to classes with unbearable influence to corrupt their unsuspecting peers. Their manner of conversation, spending habit, seductive allurements, drinking and smoking tendencies, extravagant display of dirty fortune; would naturally overwhelm even some teachers. Before long, prompted by some instinct of curiosity, the innocent peer groups will begin to wonder how their mates have suddenly burst into some fortune. The danger lies in the fact that the need to satisfy this curiosity can lead to most of the unsuspecting children being initiated into the crime world.
The bottom-line of the entire hullabaloo is that the maternities are replete with more expectant mothers. The clinics play host to more patients with sexually-transmitted diseases. Police cells are filled with night wanderers who could not satisfactorily explain their motive for being caught at odd places at night. Above all, the cities begin to experience increased crime rate.
To arrest the situation from escalating further, more emphasis should be placed on sex education at all levels of child upbringing including the home, religious institutions as well as educational institutions. The dangers of HIV/AIDS should be made a reality by encouraging more talk-shops. Radios, Newspapers and Television houses should devote prime time moments for enlightening the public on the dangers of single-parenthood, the implications of unwanted pregnancies, the far-reaching consequences of sexually-transmitted diseases, the stigma associated with prostitution, infant mortality and deaths resulting from premature pregnancies.
A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.