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When Mockery and Rejection Fires Up The Hidden Talent In You – the story of Ferdinand

Ferdinand and Gov. Sanwo Olu

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When Mockery and Rejection Fires Up the Hidden Talent In You – the story of Ferdinand

Humanity at it’s peak.

About a month ago,we discovered a boy with Spastic cerebral palsy being mocked by his peers in the slums of Makoko where we had a chess training program for children without access to education, we brought him into our training center and introduced him to the gift if Chess.
Few minutes into learning board arrangement and pawn movements, he outperformed everyone in his class.

The Boy’s name is Ferdinard and he is a differently abled child. He didn’t speak any English word and had never been to school before, but he showed a rare understanding of Chess through Pattern recognition.

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After two intense weeks of chess lessons in the slums of Makoko, we held a tournament to test their understanding of the game and celebrate their excellence.

The miracle child with Cerebral palsy Ferdinard Won with a phenomenal performance.

A star is born.

It didn’t take long to realize that Ferdinard was perhaps a savant when I gave him a complex Knight move geometry to solve few minutes after teaching him the basic movement of the Knight piece.

This in itself is an extraordinary feat,even for a genius.

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He was born to play chess

I visited his home and met his family to tell them what a wonder their son was.
His father is a poor fisherman and his mother a petty trader.
They barely make enough money to feed daily, hence the reason why Fredinard and his three siblings do not go to school.

For a child with such an incredible gift, it broke my heart to learn that he and his siblings have never had any form of formal education.

Yesterday, he was invited to the Lagos statehouse for a chess match against Governor Sanwo Olu, the game was a deeply strategic one that lasted for more than 30 minutes and ended in a stalemate(Draw). It was a keenly contested duel and the governor was no pushover.
For a boy who only learned chess in all its complexities for just two weeks, his genius shined through the entire game and the governor was very impressed by his performance.

The governor gave him a million naira cash and has placed him and all his siblings on lifelong scholarship support up until their university education.
The state government also promised to help relocate them from the slums of Makoko to a state-owned apartment in the city to begin a new life.

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For the little boy with dreamy eyes, this is just the beginning of his journey, and I’m glad I got to be a part of his tale.
His gift of chess has made way for him and he got to stand before kings. His life will no doubt never be the same again and I know that someday in the future, he’ll be in a position to pay it forward for other children like him.

With tremendous burdens often come enormous gifts. Ferdinand has found his gift through chess and there’s no limit to what he can attain with this.
The real superheroes live in the hearts of children like Ferdinand fighting big battles.
His fight is different but won’t have to fight it alone anymore.

Ferdinand’s story has sparked a lot of heartwarming reactions from around the world and it has inspired me to never let my limitations stop me from dreaming and aiming for the stars. He’s a special kid who has brought a lot of joy to our lives and I’ll keep his story somewhere in my heart to always remind myself of who I am and what I can become.

It is possible to do great things from a small place.

Tunde Onakoya- Convener Chess in slums Africa

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Opinion

“JUSTICE RREFLECTS PUBLIC OPINION”

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By Abraham Ogbodo

I have known Dr. Reuben Abati almost from the cradle. We were not only in the same university but the same department. When he was leaving University of Calabar in 1985, he had in his bag, all the prime prizes. The best graduating student of the University which meant he was also best in the Department of Theatre Arts and the Faculty of Arts. I can therefore say without fear of being contradicted that he is not pretentious. He is brilliant; intellectually loaded to the brim. He left two years ahead of me which does not in any way suggest he is older. He was apparently faster and more brilliant. His law degree at the Lagos State University was a latter day addition after he had earned his PhD from the University of Ibadan and in fact already on the Editorial Board of The Guardian Newspaper.

  Of late however, Dr Abati has been projecting rather too forcefully his legal background on the Morning Show programme on Arise TV which he co-anchors with two others. He gets tutorial and even magisterial as he pushes through all the fine points of law when occasion calls for it. He was at his best last Friday following the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the February 25 presidential election and dismissal of the appeals of the PDP and LP candidates, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi the day before.

  Altogether, Abati sounded as if law is not also common sense. As if procedural law is sacrosanct and no matter the weight of evidence, a procedure cannot be overtaken to lay substantive claims or facts. He was a kind of saying the law is independent of truth and even if justice is not served in the process but the law is duly followed, the outcome should be applauded to high heavens. This is taking the Realist School of Jurisprudence too far. The school that says law does not have to go on an endless excursion for meaning beyond what the court says. It is best captured in the words of American jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes that: “The prophesies of what the courts will do and nothing more pretentious are what I mean by the law.”

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  It amounts to open acceptance of the tyranny of the court, however, on the fundamental assumption that the operating and human agent in the court system is rational and far from being a tyrant. That way, the court for instance, will not say crime, without punishment, should be statue-barred or vitiated by the mere passage of time and a very short time for that matter. Such is the consolation and indeed the intention of the realist school. It was not propounded to lead the court into a web of legalese and reverse its very essence as the temple of justice.

  If I may ask, what is law if it does not serve the purpose of justice or the hopes of the people? No jurisprudence aspires higher than the aspirations of the people or subordinates justice and morality to law. Law itself fails woefully if it only massages the intellect and ceases to be an instrument for social justice. The Supreme Court in any legal system is beyond reproach. It can only fine tune itself. Beyond it, no legal arguments stand. Its role in jurisprudence is enormous and it does not include the convenience of hiding behind procedural infractions to obfuscate substantive law and justice. On the contrary, the Supreme Court is remarked for its boldness to rise up to the exigency of changing the position of the law to serve justice and the hopes of society.

  The strongest reference point in jurisprudence today, Lord Alfred Thompson Denning, did not ascend that height by just running with extant codes. Real jurists are defined by their audacity to push the frontiers of substantive law and morality to enrich Jurisprudence. They do not mark time forever upholding the law even when the law has become anachronistic and a clear affliction to society. Needless to say that the majesty of law is its inherent dynamism to translate to justice. For, in truth and as noted by Lord Denning; “law is not an end in itself but a means to achieving a fair and harmonious society.” It is also not some technical game to be manipulated for personal advantages by experts but a “force to be applied with wisdom and compassion” by the sitting judge to serve society.  

  I also heard Dr. Abati saying public opinion does not matter in law. Really? The thing about law is that it is 110 per cent intellectual intimidation and posturing. Whoever holds the high end in sheer sophistry and pedantry also stands on a high ground in real advocacy. Whereas the law may have just an intention, what makes it an interesting practice is the near infinite capacity of its practitioners to create intentions and intrigues to detract from the real intention.  From where does common law, including written and codified law, derive if law is so insulated from its human setting.

The truth is that such legal maxims can only stand firm if other things remain equal. If in any context the ratio decidendi , that is, the reason for the judgment, repudiates facts and common sense and instead celebrates methodology or even mediocrity, public opinion will rise irrepressibly like the morning sun whether you like it or not. The position is that public opinion matters and there had been reviews of case laws on the strength of public opinions alone. For instance, the M’Naghten Rule which set the test for the defence of insanity in criminal responsibility, especially in a murder charge, was forced by public opinion.

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  The views of Dr. Abati were to receive huge validation by Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) who was on the Arise TV Morning Show programme last Frday to specifically discuss the Supreme Court’s decision of the previous day. Abati must have felt within himself like the first and only winner of the Nobel Prize in Jurisprudence as Papa Clarke loaded him with encomiums for a job well done. The only additional point made by the old lawyer was the call for the reordering of the statutory frame work so that elections can be decided by the electorate in the polling booths and not in court rooms by judges. Excellent point I must say.

  As God would have it, while Abati and the old lawyer were in the television studio engaged in a rigorous post-ruling advocacy to dress up the Supreme Court, an old Judge, Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad who retired after 36 years on the bench, 11 of which were spent in the Supreme Court, was reading his valedictory speech to dress down the Supreme. Details of the speech are too heavy to fit into this purpose. It is important to note that Justice Dattijo is more than just an eye witness. He was an active participant. He was the second longest serving Justice of the Apex court and next to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola. The balance of probabilities tilt heavily in his favour.

  It was like the Supreme Court was put on trial in the court of public opinion and while Abati and the old lawyer appeared for the Supreme Court (I will resist using ‘defendant’), old judge appeared for aggrieved Nigerians. The thesis and antithesis are in search for a synthesis. The verdict lies both in history and posterity. GMTNews

_Abraham Ogbodo started his journalism career in 1989 in The Guardian Newspaper. Retired in 2019 as the Editor of the paper after 30 years of reporting across subject matters. He has been in private business since retirement. He is member of the Governing Board of Cecilia and Michael Ibru University, Agbarha-Otor_.

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Opinion

Good Signals from Akwa Ibom

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Pastor Umo Eno

By C. Don Adinuba

In the most cited line from his 1983 book, The Trouble With Nigeria, Chinua Achebe, raconteur, novelist, and thinker, declared that Nigeria’s problem is the leadership which, unable to rise to the true challenges of national development, cannot provide inspiring examples to followers. Achebe’s assertion was in line with the thinking of most researchers of that era. In the last few years, however, some scholars have come to think that Africa’s problem is actually societal rather than just leadership. In a scintillating 2008 academic article, Larry Diamond of Stanford University, one of the leading lights on democracy research, argued that followers of African leaders do not disapprove of the sacrilege committed by their leaders but rather support it out of primordial solidarity; some benefit directly from the system.

Still, the primacy of leadership anywhere in inspiring the confidence of the people, in setting a development agenda, and in defining a moral climate for the larger society based on a regime of sanctions and rewards cannot be overlooked. Africans generally, however, have a fundamentally flawed view of leadership, whether in the private or the public sector. They see leadership from the royalty prism, equating with it bigmanism and all manner of ostentation. Our leaders are expected by society to wear fancy, flowing clothes with big caps and expensive bangles and trinkets, and move in long and expensive motorcades, with large contingents of praise singers, as well as security and protocol officers—all at public expense!

That’s why we are delighted to see something different coming from Akwa Ibom State. The new governor, Umo Eno, flies Ibom Air, rather than use the existing state government-owned private jet. This is in contrast to the practice of most of his contemporaries who consider it infra dig to travel by commercial planes, even when the Singaporean prime minister travels always by commercial flights, to say nothing about Scandinavian leaders who frequently fly budget airlines or use the economy class in overseas trips.

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In his famous memoir, From the Third World to First: The Story of Singapore Since 1965, Lee Kuan Yew, arguably the most important transformative leader since the Second World War, expresses shock that African rulers attended the 1980 Commonwealth Summit in Ottawa, Canada, with their presidential jets. To exacerbate matters, they were asking for aid for their countries from such foreign leaders as the United Kingdom prime minister who arrived by commercial airlines. African rulers appropriate more and more for themselves even when the resources of their countries are depleting fast.

Leaders who are so callously selfish are referred to in modern social science theory as operating the self-protective leadership style, a term coined in 2004 when 97 social scientists from 62 cultures led by (the late) Robert House of Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania produced a path-breaking book on the effects of cultural values on leadership styles across the world. In his excellent book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, and Some Don’t, Jim Collins, formerly a Standford Business School professor, shows that American organisations which indulged in this practice in the 1980s performed suboptimally—some actually crumbled. Any wonder why Nigeria and the rest of Africa are in a development morass?

I was pleasantly surprised to watch on television Governor Umo hold the umbrella while speaking to people when it was drizzling. The umbrella could have been handed over to his aide de camp (ADC), orderly, or any of the numerous security and protocol officers which every Nigerian governor has. But he was making a point: leadership is about service, and not lording it over your people. The leader has to serve, and not to be served (Matthew 20: 28). Servant leadership is now a buzzword, but in Africa, it is observed more in the breach. Servant leadership is about humility; it is taken straight from the New Testament where Jesus Christ chose to wash the feet of his apostles instead of the other way (See John 3: 1-5).

If only Africans knew that the most successful leaders are frequently the simplest and the humblest, former Delta State governor James Ibori would not have chosen the jawbreaking but meaningless sobriquet of Odidigborigbo of Africa. Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo would not have elected to be known as the Redeemer of his people. Nor would Idi Amin of Uganda, a barely literate person, have announced himself the head of the political science department at Makerere University, in addition to making himself a field marshall. Bola Tinubu would not have allowed about 100 blackened SUVs to accompany him from Lagos Aiport to his residence in Ikoyi, a distance of only 28 kilometres, at a time of extreme economic difficulties. Nigerians will always miss Donald Duke, Lateef Jakande, and Babatunde Fashola in public office.

He may not have coined the term, but Steve Jobs, co-founder and chairman of Apple Incorporated, one of the most admired and storied firms in recent decades, popularised the idea that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. In his absorbing book entitled The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation, Jay Elliot, the human resource and operations team lead at Apple, reveals how Jobs wanted an atmosphere at Apple where any of the 100,000 staff members worldwide could approach him in the office without going through the secretary!

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Jobs was so obsessed with simplicity that iPad, which he invented, could be operated within minutes by an illiterate Colombian teenager who had never touched a computer, as reported in Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Jobs’ critical biographer who is a history professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, after working as editor in chief of Time magazine and serving as president of the Aspen Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC. The simplicity of Apple products is a chief reason why Apple has hypnotised the world. Simplicity (and humility) is not just personal virtue but also critical management and leadership requirement.

Governor Eno says he is on a mission to demystify leadership. It is a noble enterprise. But he doesn’t need uniformed security around him. He needs to learn from Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo. There are no security officers in uniform around foreign leaders who are, of course, far better protected than African rulers. All the same, signals from Akwa Ibom State so far are encouraging.

At the recent development conference in Uyo, Eno chose the best from different parts of Nigeria, regardless of their political, sectional, or religious affiliations, to participate in it. Bart Nnaji from Enugu State, a globally renowned engineering professor and chairman of the Geometric Power group whose only one-year tenure as the Minister of Power remains Nigeria’s gold standard, chaired the breakout session on power and is now assisting the state with an electricity development roadmap.

There is still hope for Nigeria. GMTNews

Adinuba, the immediate past Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment in Anambra State, is head of Discovery Public Affairs Consulting, Lagos.

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Opinion

Re-awakening Africa in an Era of Resurgence of Coup d’etat: A Call for Leadership, Integrity, and Progress – Chijioke Ogbodo

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Introduction:

In the heart of Africa lies a diverse continent abundant with resources, culture, and vibrant communities. However, hidden beneath its surface are deep-rooted challenges that continue to hinder its growth and progress. Today, we stand at a critical juncture, urging African countries and their leaders to wake up, shun corruption, and take back their countries. It is time for a self-awakening, a collective movement that fights despotism and confronts the numerous ills that bedevil Africa. This call for change aims to rally citizens, leaders, and communities, fostering a future of hope, integrity, and sustained progress.

The Re-awakening of Africa:

Africa’s history is rich with stories of resilience and triumphs in the face of adversity. However, standing on the present horizon is the continuous struggle against corruption, poor governance, and despotism. It is time for African countries and their leaders to awaken from the clutches of these destructive forces, as these acts only serve to undermine the progress that could be realized. By acknowledging the urgency of this call to wake up, we can pave the way for a brighter future that embraces integrity, transparency, and true leadership.

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Shunning Corruption and Embracing Accountability:

Corruption, like a cancer, has spread throughout many African countries, stifling development, hindering investment, and eroding public trust. It is essential for African leaders to demonstrate a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, ensuring accountability and enforcing strict penalties for those who engage in such practices. By shunning corruption, African countries will create an environment conducive to economic growth, attracting local and foreign investors and enabling sustainable development for present and future generations.

Fighting Despotism and Upholding Democratic Values:

Despotism and autocratic rule pose immense threats to Africa’s progress. It is crucial for leaders to understand that true power lies in serving their citizens, respecting human rights, and upholding democratic principles. By fostering inclusive governance, enabling freedom of speech, and ensuring fair and transparent elections, African countries can stand strong against despotic tendencies, guaranteeing lasting peace and stability.

Confronting the Ills Bedevilling Africa:

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To achieve real change, African countries must confront the ills that plague them. This calls for addressing issues such as poverty, lack of access to quality education and healthcare, gender inequality, and regional conflicts. By prioritizing these challenges, African leaders can develop comprehensive strategies that empower their citizens and create a platform for upward mobility. Collaboration within and between African countries, as well as partnerships with the international community, will be crucial in overcoming these ills and achieving sustainable development.

A Future of Hope, Integrity, and Progress:

Awakening Africa requires a collective effort; it demands the commitment of citizens, leaders, and communities to create lasting change. The potential of this diverse continent is immense, waiting to be fully harnessed for the benefit of all. By waking up, shunning corruption, and fighting despotism, African countries can embark on a journey towards a future defined by hope, integrity, and progress. Together, we can overcome the challenges that bedevil Africa, allowing its true potential to shine and uplifting the lives of its people.

Conclusion:

The call to awaken Africa is a call to action. It is time for African leaders to take ownership, reject corruption and despotic tendencies, and work towards the collective well-being of their nations. By confronting the challenges head-on, fostering transparency, and upholding democratic values, Africa can pave the path towards a future that is free from corruption, characterized by true leadership, and filled with boundless opportunities for growth and prosperity. GMTNews

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Chijioke Ogbodo, former OAP and broadcast journalist, is the Managing Editor with GMTNewsng.

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