Reactions have emerged following the death of a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Personnel Lance Corporal Ogah Bercy, attached to the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), who died of complications from snakebite in her toilet at the NAF Base Bill Clinton Drive Abuja.
Questions on how snakes and other reptiles manage to enter our bathrooms and toilets have been raised and asked by many across social media.
Checks by The Nation show that it’s not very common for snakes to be found in toilets. More plumbers have seen snakes under houses or in a roof cavity than in the toilet but however, snakes can get into a toilet through an opening in the sewer.
Sewers can be a hiding ground for mice and rats. Snakes can enter the sewer to get their next meal. They can make their way through a sewer and slither their way through.
When talking about snakes getting into the toilet sink, some people think or assume that there’s already water inside the toilet sink, but according to plumbers, the toilet seat is designed in such a way that the water stays only in the sink and the pipe that leads to the septic tank or soakaway is always empty and free of water.
Most reptiles would find it difficult to jump or enter into the water closets, they always find it easier to enter from the concrete chambers at the back of the house through which sewage pipes get connected and through cracks, under the doors and crevices.
Here are some preventive measures to take which will help in avoiding snake(s) curling up in your toilet bowl;
The best way to prevent a snake from making its way into your toilet is to make your home less attractive to the snake in the first place.
1. Keep windows and sliding doors in the bathroom closed or ensure the screens are fully intact so a snake can’t slide its way in.
2. Prevent a mouse or rat infestation in your home with the correct rodent protection. Snakes will follow the food trail, so if you have mice or rats near or in your house, get rid of them faster.
3. Always make sure that all the bushes around your house are properly cleared and well burnt so as to prevent any rodents or reptiles from harbouring around the house.
4. Another thing you should take note of is to always ensure you fumigate your toilet sink regularly. There are special pesticides that are made specifically for this purpose.
5. Keep your toilet lid closed at all times and you can also make use of a flat tile to cover your bathroom filter when you’re not in the bathroom so as to stop any further movement of the reptile through the pipes and also ensure that all pipes are well fixed and closed.
6. Lastly, always make sure you check inside your toilet sink before you sit on it, avoid using the toilet in the dark and public toilets are dangerous to use anyhow. If you must use them, don’t sit directly on them, lift up your buttock slightly above the bowl and be watchful.
Emmanuel Onwubiko: Killings: Where are Northern elders
Nigerians must reinvent their collective sense of national outrage so we can know that we are actually a part of the comity of nations and same as the rest of the human race.
I am beginning this essay in the aforementioned format because it is abundantly evident that the killings of citizens by terrorists and other armed non-state actors have made millions of Nigerians to lose their sense of righteous indignation and collective outrage especially in the face of the affront to our common humanity by those who kill in small and large numbers.
Another sociological impact of the serial killings of citizens in Nigeria by terrorists is the erosion of the tested and trusted cultural value systems we once held so dear here. Those who are the conflicts entrepreneurs and are actively engaged in carrying out mass execution of innocent Nigerians are part of one community or the other in Nigeria and those who carry out these terrorist attacks in the North are from the northern communities. Terrorists are not ghosts or spirits. The other day some Northern Women were arrested for hiring their daughters to the terror gangs in the forests for sexual gratification. Many members of different Northern communities have been arrested but not charged after police parade of supplying logistics and foods to terrorists. A particular man in Kaduna got picked up by the police for allegedly being the one baking breads for terrorists in different forests in the North West. There have been lots of publicly announced arrests of women supplying guns and petrol to terrorists in the North. There are also informants who provide actionable intelligence to terrorists which are used by these agents of death to carry out mass killings of individuals in those same communities whereby these informants are born and bred. So terrorists have collaborators amongst their kits and kins. Terrorists do not fall from outer space. These communities have sets of social, cultural and religious values and norms and these communities are peopled by amongst others the elders who are the natural leaders.
Naturally, a typical African and a typical Nigerian is someone guided by religious convictions of the distinctive belief system that has the central focus on the supremacy of God who created life and therefore even by natural law, life is sacred, inviolable and sacrosanct.
Some notable cultural values of Africans are the view that life is sacred. Others are respect for elders, hospitality and honesty. But all these cultural values and norms are being systematically eroded and demystified by the actions of mass murderers responsible for some of the most outrageous and gruesome crimes against humanity happening in Nigeria.
In his book titled: “The Elder in African Society: The View from Folklore and Literature by Joseph Mbele, he clearly identified the import of the conceptual frame of the word Elder. He wrote thus: “Conventional wisdom presents the elder in African society as a wise, dignified and powerful figure, who keeps the culture alive and guides the young. This paper tries to demonstrate that this image of the elders in Africa is simplistic, using evidence from folklore and literature. Folklore, though a rarely used source for studies of this nature, is the most authentic expression of a people’s reality and experience. Since it springs from the remote past, folklore bears the evidence of where the Africans have come from. Together with folklore, there are some literary works which are also used, since they spring from and appropriate key aspects of the folklore heritage.”
Importantly, when cultural norms are eroded, we then have to find out the status of elders because it is true that: “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership”, (The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe).
My question as well as the reason for most people’s curiousity is where are the elders of the North of Nigeria where some of these worst cases of genocides have happened and are happening? Remember also that it was the systematically organised pogroms and mass killings of Igbos living in the North that caused Nigeria’s fratricidal civil war that led to deaths of over 3 million people in the mostly Igbo dominated Eastern region of the then Nigeria of the 1960’s. During those genocides in the North, the Elders backed the armed hoodlums carrying out the daredevil assignments that instigated the bloody civil war.
If we look at the claim by professor Chinua Achebe that the fundamental cause of much of the crises experienced in Nigeria has its origin in deficit of leadership, we will then be made to reinforce our question of where are Northern elders in the face of mass killings?
Aside institutionalized government, the elders in Africa should occupy a central leadership status and if a lot of things are going wrong, there is the need to ask what the elders are actually doing. Northern elders just like their counterparts in other regions of Nigeria, are basically concerned about partisan politics and have failed to put to work their supposed influences and authorities to rein in mass killers in the North. For instance, in Igboland, OHANAEZE has no structures or blueprints on how to revolutionise the economic base of the South East or do they find the presence of mind to proffer panacea to such social problems like Youths unemployment or youths’ involvement in drugs and crimes.
To use the thinking of the late military ruler General Sani Abacha who said that if terrorism and violence perdures in any society, it therefore means that government is aware of the source of the violence. So are Northern political establishments and the bulk of them that are holding commanding positions in the armed forces in the know of who these terrorists in the North are?
Why are the young armed terrorists in the North not respecting their elders or are the elders part of the cocktails of killings?
What is going on and are there elders in Northern Nigeria?
In the North today, there are some organized form of elders who often are heard and seen in the popular mass media claiming to be Northern elders. Why are they unable to expose their children committing atrocities?
Commentators used to cite the North as being homogenous in terms of leadership but with these persistent killings of the poorest citizens in the North in their large numbers by terrorists, it is now evident that claim of homogeneity in political hierarchical order in the North of Nigeria is a ruse. I ask again –where are elders of the North?
We will give just a tip of the ice berg regarding the hundreds of incidents of terrorism- related killings in the North which have graphically projected Nigeria as a killing field.
Around January 19th 2022 three hundred people were killed in more than 50 attacks by terrorists across communities in Niger State in the first two weeks of this year, Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello, lamented yesterday.
The governor in a chat with State House reporters after a closed-doors meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also said that about 200 persons were kidnapped by the terrorists within the same period.
Sani-Bello was in Abuja to brief the President on developments in his state, gave a breakdown of the attacks and their impacts on residents.
He blamed delayed response to distress calls on the lack of access roads to the communities.
However, he expressed optimism that with the new measures being put in place, the security situation in his state should improve soon.
The governor stressed the need for the contiguous states to work together to stop the terrorists from moving from one to another.
“This afternoon, I came to visit Mr President to give him an update on the security situation in Niger State with regard to banditry activities, kidnapping, and cattle rustling among others.
“We had a very fruitful discussion. We were able to review some of the invasions in the state. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you all.
“In the last few days, there have seen a lot of activities in Niger State. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we see some relief with regard to banditry.
“I also gave a highlight on some of the challenges. Of course, our size is a disadvantage, almost nine million hectares. We lost some forests.
“In January this year alone, we suffered not less than 50 reported attacks and loss of lives, between 1st and 17th January. Within the same period, not less than 300 communities have been invaded by bandits.
“The number of people kidnapped is 200, including three Chinese nationals. We also lost some security personnel. Their number is 25. Unfortunately, we lost about 165 civilians and 30 local vigilantes.
“So, it’s a very dire situation that we have been battling in the last few weeks since the beginning of this year.
“But I’m very optimistic with the kind of zeal I have seen from our security agencies and all services. I’m very optimistic that the situation will be addressed. And hopefully, we should get a very peaceful state within the shortest possible time.
“But there is still a lot of work to do. We share borders with Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kebbi States. And these bandits have the habit of hibernating between forests, moving from Zamfara to Kebbi and Kebbi to Niger.
“They take advantage of the cattle routes which they already know. They move on motorcycles. And most of the areas and communities they attack have no access roads. So, you cannot drive there. So, our response time is slow.
“But going forward, there will be new strategies which I earlier mentioned. It will help us. But I can’t disclose some of those strategies. But basically, the States of Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi would have to work together to address the situation.”
“What I realized is that they have been taking us on a merry-go-round. When we deal with them in Niger, they move to Kaduna. When Kaduna deals with them, they move to Katsina. They have been hibernating in the forest. Some of these operations need to be handled simultaneously so that we get the result.
“We are not happy and we are sad with the developments in these states. We are doing whatever we can, using kinetic and non-kinetic efforts to see that we address the present situation.
As we go on, we will try to update you from time to time on progress being made in this fight.”
Earlier around 8th January 2022, Survivors of terrorists’ attack on Rafin Danya, Barayar Zaki, Rafin Gero and Kurfa villages in Zamfara State recounted their ordeal.
The bandits, in their large numbers, were said to be fleeing from Zamfara State as a result of ongoing military operations, when they invaded the villages in the Anka and Bukkuyum local government areas of the state.
According to survivors of the attacks, the terrorists killed over 200 villagers and set many houses ablaze, forcing scores of villagers, who managed to escape, to flee and remain missing.
A survivor, who gave his name as Mohammed Kurfa, said trouble started when vigilantes in the villages tried to confront the terrorists, who have been designated terrorists who were fleeing Zamfara State with cattle numbering not less than 3,000.
Where are the Northern elders and why are the youths finding commercial pleasure in waging a war of attrition against everybody else in the North? Why are there no elders providing actionable intelligence on those gangs importing sophisticated weapons from some fringes in their communities that are geographical neighbours of Niger, Chad and Cameroon from where some of these weapons of mass destruction are imported into Nigeria? The North has lost its soul and this is very dangerous to the wellbeing of all Nigerians. The North needs to heal now.
EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was federal commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.
Chris Gyang: Tinubu and 2023
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), who dressed up Mr. Buhari in the borrowed regalia of a messiah, paraded him round the democratic world as a man of integrity with the courage to fight corruption, reduce insecurity, enhance economic buoyancy and give impetus to democratic norms, now wants to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
Of course there is no problem in any qualified citizen aspiring to the number one position of the country.
In fact, Nigerians across ethnic, religious and political divides are fervently praying and working towards ensuring that the next president extricates them and their country from this sweltering quagmire President Buhari has buried them.
Can BAT’s long-standing ambition be easily divorced from Mr. Buhari’s lackluster performance so far?
In fact, many Nigerians feel that any of the aspirants who has played a key role in the about seven years of the Buhari administration must also bear the brunt of its unwieldy, toxic, baggage that is today weighing down the progress of the country and threatening to ground it to a halt.
Nigerians are now wondering whether Senator Tinubu and his co-salesmen still went ahead to market Candidate Buhari in the run-up to the 2015 presidential election well aware that he did not possess the sterling labels they lavishly attached on him.
And even when it became apparent that President Buhari had mired governance in religious and ethnic bigotry, why did BAT not call him out in the manner of a statesman? Rather, he largely chose to look the other way or, at most, made incoherent noises to at once placate suffering Nigerians and not to appear unduly antagonistic to Mr. Buhari.
His once stellar antecedents as a dogged fighter for democracy and human rights during the Abacha dictatorship belie the passivity he has adopted these seven years in which his buddy, Buhari, has turned Nigeria into a living hell.
It has been suggested that it is very likely that Senator Tinubu has been so lukewarm since 2015 out of a sense of self-preservation – with an underlying political motive.
Perhaps, in 2015 and 2019 he made the South-West massively support Buhari, whether he deserved it or not, mainly because he knew it would further his political ambition of becoming president in 2023.
Political analysts say that this may have informed his strategy of concentrating most of his mobilization/campaign efforts so far in the North-West, Mr. Buhari’s sub-region. In fact, BAT has not hidden his preference for a running mate from that segment of the country – which is predominantly Muslim, like he himself.
This has informed his public pronouncements that he is very willing to run on a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2023 presidential election because the matter of religion is not so much of an issue in his native South Western Nigeria.
Anyway, there has not been much resistance to this view in that geo-political zone – where BAT commands a lot of respect.
But other Nigerians view this stance as essentially callous and insensitive to the country’s religious diversity, especially at this point in time when most policies of the Buhari administration have created deep seated suspicions in the minds of Christians.
The government is seen as generally being pro-Islamic, mainly pursuing a nativist, ultra-Fulani agenda.
Tinubu’s much vaunted Muslim-Muslim ticket is further construed as being akin to brashly and pompously talking above the heads of Nigerian Christians in the South-South, Middle-Belt, South-East, his own South-West and parts of the core north as if they do not exist and are therefore inconsequential in the country’s overall political algebra.
In his estimation, an exclusive alliance with Buhari’s North-West would automatically give him the presidency on a golden platter. He is also relying on the fact of his being a Muslim would guarantee him the support of the core north, especially Buhari’s North West – which is said to have one of the largest ballots in the country.
However, critics point out that if a power sharing formula between Christians and Muslims for the office of governor is strictly followed in Lagos State (which BAT enjoyed for two tenures of eight years), why is he averse to such equity and inclusiveness being extended to the much more diverse and polarized Nigeria where religious fault lines run deep and mutual suspicion is at an all-time high?
They put this down to Tinubu’s desperation to become president at all costs.
Nevertheless, those who understand the inner workings of the minds of the political elite of the core north will tell you that Tinubu may as well be misplacing his trust and may be inadvertently positioning himself for a rude shock, sooner or later.
This is because of the deeply entrenched notion in the core north that, in Nigeria, there are Muslims and there are Muslims.
We need not mention the political travails of the famous M.K.O Abiola, of blessed memory.
We shall continue this conversation in due course.
Comparing Dubai at 50 with Nigeria at 61
By Magnus Onyibe
To cast light on Nigeria’s stunted growth despite her enormous potentials in human and material capital , let us compare our country which obtained her independence from British colonialists in 1960 with the United Arab Emirates, UAE which was formed in 1971 under the counsel of the same Britain.
So, while Nigeria is 61 post independence, UAE just celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding , the UAE is ten years younger than Nigeria, yet she is light years ahead of our country in industrialization , adoption of high technology and prosperity of citizens .
According to the UAE office of the Historian, prior to 1971, the Trucial Sheikdoms of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharja, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Fujairah, and Ras al-Khaimah were under a British protectorate.
Fifty years after her coming together as a country, she is the toast of the world for the socioeconomic, infrastructural and dexterous management of its diversity.
Even as Nigeria has been caught up in the past 61 years in the shenanigans of ethnic supremacy, religious rivalry and insurgency, banditry and separatism, the UAE has been plotting its way into the club of countries with presence in the orbit with its recent deployment of satellites and a robot to planet Mars and the building of awe inspiring infrastructure so magnificent that it appears to have trounced that of the Uk, USA and France, put together.
While Nigerian authority’s predilection for proposing archaic policies such as RUGA and re-enacting millennium old grazing routes/reserves for cattle is legendary ; the UAE has got the whole world cooing about her stupendous wealth, adroitness of their leaders and the indomitable spirit of the Emiratees which in terms of population is far less than delta state, that is a little less than six (6)million people .
And it is a testament to that country’s ingenuity that despite the fact that she is located in the gulf region and nestled in the desert between Saudi Arabia, Oman and lran, it is the world’s foremost tourism destination, while at the same time attracting hordes of business into the country because of its gigantic man made sea ports and some of the world’s biggest and busiest airports. Little wonder, it is the undisputed market hub for practically all major multinational firms that have set up offices there for their Middle East and Africa markets .
Now, can Nigeria be more Islamic than the UAE? Not by any chance.
Yet,while Nigeria is locked in religious extremism leading to deadly clashes between Muslims and Christians resulting in colossal human and property losses in the past decades , the UAE just entered a strategic arrangement with Israel, a Christian and Zionist country that is a world leader in technology, to set up technology driven businesses in Dubai with a view to achieving technology transfer.
So , in a very profound way, the UAE places peace, progress and prosperity of Emiratees above prebendal issues of religion or tribal rivalry, matters on which we dissipate colossal energy in Nigeria.
Like our country , the desert nation of UAE is made up of diverse nationalities and ethnic groups, yet the country is very stable and therefore a very much sort after investment haven for funds managers from Europe, (Sweden , Denmark and other Scandinavian countries with huge sovereign wealth funds deployed as foreign direct investment,FDI ) and from North America – multinational corporations like the USA , Canada and Mexico.
That is in stark contrast with the volatility and instability of government and governance in Nigeria occasioned by religious and ethnic intolerance, which have prevented potential investors from pitching their tents in our country. Available statistics indicate that only an inflow of a paltry sum of about $320m in FDI came into Nigeria in 2020 . That is despite the existence of abundance of God given virtues, which is underscored by the fact that Nigeria is not only the largest market, but also has the highest Gross Domestic Product , GDP in the continent of Africa.
Even as the United Arab Emirates, UAE present a striking blend of ancient customs and modern technology, of cosmopolitanism and insularity, Nigeria is the antithesis of all the positive virtues that the 50 years old Arab country represents because, regrettably , our leaders’ policies are anachronistic.
At the risk of appearing to be calling out my country and waxing lyrical about the great accomplishments of another country’s strategic and visionary leaders , it is with all sense of responsibility that l am denouncing the apparent myopic world view of our leaders whose policies are mired in pre-historic and archaic idiosyncrasies.
Which is why l would like to recommend that president Mohammadu Buhari models Nigeria’s development after the UAE’s extraordinarily captivating system simply because it is a universally acknowledged success story and he too can attest to the wonder in the desert which Dubai, in particular has been transformed into.
The advise is also especially apt now, since mr president has just returned from a visit to the UAE’s months long EXPO 2020, where that desert country exhibited her scintillating accomplishments in the 50 years of its formation as a united country of seven Emirates independently optimizing and reaping the benefits of the natural endowments endemic in their various locations.
One can imagine that if the UAE were to be Nigeria , all the other Emirates would literally run pipelines into Abu Dhabi to suck all the oil endemic in that region as all the states in Nigeria appear to be doing by relying solely on the oil/gas in the Niger Delta region for sustenance instead of harnessing other natural resources available in their localities as the UAE is doing with Dubai as the hub for trade, industry and tourism and the other Emirates like Ras Al-Khaimah, Fujairah , and Ajman being centers for agricultural production and various activities in which they enjoy comparative advantage.
Put succinctly, why can’t Nigeria adopt a development strategy similar to UAE’s proven formula ? The Niger delta can be like Abu Dhabi as oil/gas hub, Lagos as commercial , industrial and financial center like Dubai and the northern region would be like Ras Al-Khaimah for agriculture and the eastern region can be the artisan and engineering hub like the other Emirates like Sharja , Umm al-Qaiwain etc in the UAE.
I am of the conviction that such might have been the vision of the British colonialists that modeled our country structure after their own parliamentary system at independence in 1960. And it was working well for us until some smart Alecs with guns, (six years after the British left our destiny in our hands in 1960-66) derailed the train of progress via a mindless coup detat and six (6) months after that sad event, another set of the same spoilers with guns, further muddied the waters via a counter coup, and thus consolidated the damage already inflicted by the first set of military adventurists by adopting the unitary system of government disguised as federalism. More than 50 years after the first coup that started a civil war, the military incursion into politics remains the main culprit for Nigeria’s arrested development.
Is the quest to reverse the mistakes made by the military (wittingly or unwittingly) in 1966 and subsequently consolidated by the politicians who took over from them, not what the current clamor for restructuring is all about ?
The bottomline of this piece, (which is actually a plea) is that our political leaders should strive to be more religion and tribe neutral. That is one sure way that we can have the chance to be like the UAE.
More liberalism and less totalitarianism is one sure way that as a nation , we can optimally harness our latent potentials to enable us collectively attain the destined level of prosperity, from which we are currently very far from achieving, largely due to the dearth of innovative and dynamic leadership vision of the hue that has been deployed by the leaders of the UAE that which has enabled them turn desert into paradise .
In conclusion, l am optimistic that my fervent plea for our leaders to, like true patriots resolve to rise above ethnic and religious considerations and resolutely pursue a political settlement of the crisis of separatism and terrorism threatening to wreck the nation, and adopt the UAE development model would not fall on deaf ears.
Because it would facilitate the harnessing of the full potentials of our beloved country that is currently hamstrung by the pursuit of inanities by some of our past and current leaders as earlier outlined .
Without a scintilla of doubt, it is clear that the urgency of seeking innovative ways to put our country together again can not be denied , as it is increasingly looking like the subject of the kindergarten rhyme, Humpty-Dumpty that sat on a wall, had a great fall and all the kings men could not put it together.
If the UAE leader Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nayan and his co-rulers of the 7 Emirates presently known as the UAE could co-operate with each other to cobble together an originally disparate people from the seven (7) Emirates that were independent and banded together as one nation in 1971 to form one country; and thereafter rose meteorically to the level of being the envy of many nations, l do not see why Nigeria and Nigerians should continue to be mentioned in same breathe or be grouped together with wretched countries like Afghanistan, lraq, Syria, or be at the bottom of the rung of the comity of undeveloped nations.
For the sake of emphasis, were it not for the mismanagement of our diversity by our leaders to the extent that the twin monsters of secessionism and terrorism have been unleashed with ethnic nationalism and religious extremism as propellants, our country would not be in such a sorry state today.
We need no soothe sayer to enlighten us on the fact that a combination of religious insurgency , ethnic supremacy and separatism that have collectively and significantly impaired the productivity of our country men and women, (hence we are currently punching below our weight) should not be allowed to fester, more so because they are preventable and avoidable through good leadership.
And what a glorious country Nigeria would have been, were it not for the mismanagement of our diversity- a condition which leaders of other climes such as the UK, Switzerland, Canada and UAE that are also comprised of diverse people are successfully managing and harnessing for the beneficially interest of the citizens of those nations.
Now that our leaders have been fully apprised of what has been ailing us as a nation, and as we prepare to enter the year 2022, hopefully they would make a new year resolution to be more flexible and responsive to the stimuli of progress through dialogue and negotiations amongst the multifarious ethnic nationalities and religions for the common good and prosperity of all.
•ONYIBE, an entrepreneur, public policy analyst ,author, development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts university, Massachusetts, USA and a former commissioner in Delta state government, sent this piece from Lagos.
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