BEFORE THE SUNRISE

“Happy Married life!” Jide hugged the groom. “Thanks my man,yours is the next!”
“And talking about mine being the next,I think you’re damn right. And I think I just found my bone here today” Jide informed Charles excitedly,but Charles could only wave him off as unserious… Just like that? He laughed in complete disbelief of him.
“You can’t be serious Jide!”
“But I am. And you had better believe it”
“You?! You won’t ever change: you always…”
“…No,no,but I am damn serious this time. I know I feel right about this person,” He cut in quickly. Charles looked him straight in the eye,a disbelieving smile worn on his face.

“Well,maybe I always joked about stuffs like this. But today,my man,you challenged me…like a mentor. And I aint jokin’ no more. This is it!” He smiled widely,and pointed in the way of Clara who was just walking towards them as they were rounding off.
“Look!” He pointed like a shy little boy.
“That’s she whom I fell in love with” He chipped quickly before she got any closer.
“My wife’s maid of honour? Clara?” Charles didn’t realise he had raised his voice. Covering his mouth,Jide said,
“And I haven’t even told her yet. You must arrange a meeting between us,please!” He begged him with a wink.

Nine years later

Charles and Caroline had been married for nine years. So had Jide and Clara,who married in November in the same year,ten months after. Whilst Jide and Clara seemed to enjoy a fruitful marriage with four kids–two boys,two girls–Charles and Caroline were still struggling to bear their own children.

The following year

The thunder stormed thrice or so with a heavy wind slamming the window pairs against themselves. Caroline dragged herself from bed to close and bolt the windows in place. The breeze that caressed her chest was cold and amorous. She waited a minute longer to savour the passion. She looked behind her to see that her husband too had been awakened by the cold breeze. The breeze had undone her chest buttons. But she left it bare for him to oogle at as she resumed to his side again. Their sexual life had been on a very low ebb. She prayed silently for him to touch her tonight. Charles was always wooden towards her on bed no matter her advances. Nevertheless she thought this night might be another opportunity to attempt engaging him. So she moved her body towards his. She also tried drawing him to herself on bed. He did not oblige to draw close to her. She then drew closer to him,touching him by his right temple to his right chin. He decided at that instance to turn fully away from her,as he changed from lying on his back to lying on his left side,away from her view. Why,does he have to do this all the time? Caro thought to herself. Why can’t he be the man? They have been trying for a baby all these years,would they give up now? Caro became so sad and started sobbing beside him. She wept and wept till Charles couldn’t bear the crying anymore. Then he consoled her and they made love that night.

6 months later

“I said I’m fine!,”Charles barked at her. It was the umpteenth time she had asked what was wrong with him. He had come home that night from work,and went to bed straightaway. He’s been avoiding her lately. And he hardly took his dinner too.
“At least,you should talk to me;I’m your wife,I deserve to know what’s wrong with you. And…or if I have wronged you,please tell me,let me know,and I will apologise!” She implored. Silence,a long silence,that’s all she received in return. So she let him be finally,and went to sleep on the sofa in the living room

Must she always be the only one to make the move? Can’t he realize he is hurting her by always denying her of his attention and affection? She could still remember,as she looked at the Almanac on the wall,that they last met,as man and wife,six months back.
“Oh my God!” She moaned,tears rolling down her pale cheeks. “That’s half a year now.”
“What’s happening to my marriage,Lord?” She lay stiff and downcast with her back on the sofa,and wept all over again.
“What’s happening to my home Jesus?” She asked,her eyes so soaked,as she beheld the portrait of Jesus on the Almanac.
“You said the fruit of the womb is our reward as children of God. O Lord where is my reward? Where?” She queried in sorrow.
“My kid sister Clara married same year as I,she’s with the reward without labouring. I laboured in your vineyard;and I served you Jesus all through my youth to this time,where is the reward of my faithfulness O Lord?” Clara whimpered and lamented.

The following day

Charles stretched and yawned as he woke up. He turned around to look beside him. She was not there. He had thought as much. Where else would she be? It’s either the guest room or parlour. He sat up,elbows on knees,cupping his chins in his palms.
“I can’t continue like this anymore. No!” He said quietly under his breath. He had been staring at the floor all the while. It was looking sparkling clean. He looked around the bedroom too,and everything is beautifully set in its place and properly organised. A beautiful environment devoid of children to scatter things is the least he ever expected of his marriage. What is happening? Is there not a curse? He reasoned. Did he even marry the right person in the first place? That was the position of his parents,that he had married the wrong woman. Maybe they are right,who knows? He mused

But nothing suggested this dreary journey from the time their relationship began on campus. Charles had met Caroline in fellowship Bible Class. Back then,almost every brother in fellowship wished for her for keeps. She however prayed and confirmed that Charles was the right man for her. He too had waited on the Lord before approaching her. How come all this? “How did I miss it?” He queried himself

He came out of the bedroom and walked past the guest room. He retreated on second thought,and tried to eavesdrop should she be there. The silence that greeted him was a confirmation. She was not in the guest room. She can’t be sleeping till now. Then she must be in the parlour,he thought. He was going to check the parlour when some sweet aroma wafted through his nostrils from the kitchen to the sitting room. How she cooked so well,he thought. He felt a strong craving for her food immediately. But he had other stronger feelings to let out before food,so he suppressed his appetite.

“Good morning dear!” Caroline greeted from the kitchen. He didn’t answer her.
“Good morning dear!” She repeated.
“Good morning!” He answered back grudgingly. She reduced the volume on the cooker and came over to the parlour.
“How was your night dear. You must have been over-stressed at work yesterday. Thank God you’d be able to rest well today and tomorrow” She placed a hand on his shoulder. He took away her hand tactfully.
“What’s stressing me is not from outside Caro.”
“Let’s not start again so early this Saturday morning. Please!” She pleaded.
“But we need to talk. We can’t run away from telling each other the truth,can we? And the truth is,I’m tired of this status quo. This home should be a source of joy to me but the moment I step in here,it always brings me waves of sorrow and pain. That is worse than work pressure or stress Caro. You know exactly what I’m talking about!”
She listened. Yes,she knew it. He wanted to have children. And so did she. They’ve tried everything but nothing worked. Meanwhile doctors have always confirmed to them that they were medically fine and fit.
“My love,I know what’s bothering you. But please take it easy on yourself and me. I’m bothered too. We have to keep trying!” She implored.
“I don’t want trials any more Caro.” He yelled. “I’m ready and willing to face reality and reality is,simple and short: our marriage is a failure. I’m not one to accept failure,you know me,don’t you?” He screamed.
Caroline was shocked at his use of words.
“Why are you making everything look so terrible for us. Stop calling our marriage a failure. We will smile very soon.” She implored him holding his hand and trying to calm him down.
“Please don’t tell me that anymore. I’m taking my decision this time. No more preaching. Let’s be practical. I can’t continue like this anymore. I need to move on. I’m stuck! And I hate to be stuck!”
“What are you saying in essence Charles?” She asked him calmly.
“I’m saying,let’s get separated. Simple.”
As he mentioned that word “Separated”,an arrow pierced through her heart and tears streamed down her eyes. She quickly wiped them with the back of her left palm.
“I didn’t hear that,Charles?!”
“But you heard me right!” He replied,looking away from her. He didn’t want to see her tears. He had weakness for them.
“See,there’s no need to use tears as a weapon. It may have worked all these years,but please it won’t work anymore. We have to be practical.” He stated frankly.
“I’m not using anything Charles.” She held back her tears and held him tighter.
“Let’s not give up on our marriage,that’s all I ask of you!” She begged. “It’s always dark before the sunrise! It may be our night now but our morning will surely come. Please!” She begged him even more.
“See,we have to be practical Caro. The point I’m making is,we can’t keep doing the same thing over and again. Marriage,like every contract,needs appraisal. Let us have a time-out to appraise the whole thing. If we get separated for awhile,it will give us a room to re-appraise,re-pray and clear our heads,and find the way forward.” He pressed with a look of sincerity.
“So is this what you want?” She asked softly.
“This is all I want. I’m not divorcing you. I just need time alone with me…and God.”
“Who is leaving then? You or me? She inquired.
“You ofcourse!” He returned quickly.
“And why? You should leave! It’s your idea. Not mine. I’m not tired of being here.” She fired back in annoyance.
“Well you know the scriptures,don’t you? The Bible says “For this cause shall ‘a man’ leave his father and mother…” It didn’t say “For this cause shall ‘a woman’ leave his father and mother…If you look at it very well then,the man,and not the woman,was asked to leave his parents. Hence the Bible,I believe,provides the woman a clause of grace of “not leaving”,that is,”not breaking ties or solace” with her parents,if need be,since it didn’t say “For this cause ‘a woman’ shall leave father and mother.” So take solace with your parents for now. Only the man can’t go back to father and mother for solace. He has left them forever. So I will stay here. You will go back to your parents for now. Take advantage of that clause of grace.” He sermonized her.
“Please stop twisting the Bible to your own favour. There is no such clause.” She corrected immediately.
“The Bible that says a man should “leave” his parents,also demanded of him in the same verse to “cleave” to his wife…not to “leave” his wife or ask the wife to “leave” him for any reason whatsoever,but to “cleave” to her at all cost. That to me is the main thrust or clause in that verse. So stop twisting the Word of God just to suit yourself.” She warned
“Whatever! I have said my own.” He returned in an indifferent air.

A week later

She woke up very early beside her mum. Taking a cursory look at the old woman,she saw a happy,contented and stress-free woman in her own husband’s home. She was always treated like a jewel by her dad. She had thought Charles was a man like her dad,loving,sensitive and caring,but now she knew better. She had packed a few of her things yesterday and had come to be with her parents. The previous week with Charles was terrible for her. She slept and woke in fear and fever each passing day. Last night was her best night in a long weary week.

“Good morning my girl. You’re awake already?” That’s her mum.
“Oh mum,good morning.” She responded.
“But I thought you’re asleep!”
“Asleep? A mother never sleeps…” Her mother answered. She didn’t understand that. For her mum looked well-rested.
“After you went to bed yesterday your dad suggested we see the family doctor.” She informed her daughter.
“But mum,all I need is a week or two of rest and I’ll be fine. I’ve started feeling better already sef just between last night and now.” Caroline explained.
“Well. But your dad says you must see the doctor. It would do you a world of good.” She convinced her.
“Ok mum,I’ve heard you…where is my dad?”
“I don’t know… But I think he would be in the study room by now. He’s predictable,you know.” Her mum stated. She nodded her agreement and made her way to the study. On reaching the doorstep,she tip-toed quietly into the study and covered her daddy’s face from behind with her palms.
He reeled out in deep laughter and said,
“Daughter,you’ve forgotten that I could decipher your footsteps even miles afar?”
“Oh why dad. You don’t forget even my footsteps. What do you forget then?” She teased and gave him a peck.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing!” He replied.
“A father never forgets her child!” Chipped in her mum. Oh,was she there all along?
She looked over her shoulder and there stood her mum at the doorstep watching them.
“Mum?!”
“My girl!”
“Would you allow my husband to round off his study? He’s taking the sunday school class this morning. Let’s go to the kitchen and make breakfast and get ready too for church.”
“Mum,dad,can I pass for church today,please!” She pleaded with her parents,looking from her mum to her dad.
“That’s okay.” Her father agreed. “I understand…anyway,has your mum told you that you are seeing the doctor to look you up later today?” He asked her.
“Mum told me dad. But…”
“Eh my baby!” He shook his head in disagreement. “No ‘But’ please.”
“Health is the first wealth.” Her mother added. “We need to be sure of your soundness of mind and body.”

At Saving Grace Hospital

“We’ve carried out all the tests. Your results are here…” The doctor,a young lady looking her age,began as she perused the papers in her hands. Her stethoscope dangled across her neck. Her eyes popped in her glasses.
“…Yes. I’m listening.”
“This is bad. You won’t be going home. Your BP is very high with all these other results…we will give you a bed!” The doctor pressed a bell to call a nurse.
“Wait! It can’t be that bad because if you ask me,I feel normal.” She countered.
“Please let me see the results?” She requested. The doctor gave her the first report. She read through it. Typhoid and malaria. Then handed her the second result. She read the word “Pylori” in every line.
“What’s Pylori?” Caroline asked the doctor.
“H. Pylori or Helicobacter Pylori is a bacterium that causes chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach. This infection has been linked to gastritis(stomach gas),ulcers and even to stomach cancer.” She explained. The nurse entered and the doctor instructed her on what to do. After she left,the doctor continued.
“And your stomach acid level is too high…look here!” She showed her the percentage on the report.
“Now take a look at your vital signs.” She handed her the third report.
“Your blood pressure is 148/95. It’s a miracle that you’re still here talking. This BP is too high. It’s an emergency case.” The doctor broke the bad news.
“Doctor what you’re saying is that I have hypertension!” She said,sweating profusely.
“Yes. A blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89,for example,is pre-hypertension because it is only denoting a risk of hypertension. But a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered hypertension. And high blood pressure could lead to organ damage,heart attack,stroke,heart failure,or even renal failure.” She concluded.
“Oh my God! Doctor will I make it?”
“You will. We will place you on bed rest and also on drugs that will help you.” She answered. Then finally she handed her the last report. Caroline almost fainted.
“What? I’m not aware of this?”
“So you see why you need a bed to survive this. If you don’t mind,let me show to your suite!”

Three weeks after

“Good afternoon Mr. Charles Olaonipekun.”
“Good afternoon Miss Modupe Ajao!” He took her hand in a firm shake and smiled.
“Please you may have your seat. You’re welcome!” He said,adjusting his tie. She took the seat directly opposite him.
“Yea. Let’s go straight to business.” Charles began. She leaned forward and listened attentively. He searched her eyes in a split of a second,swallowed hard and continued.
“Yes…as the Business Development Manager,I’ve discussed your proposal with the Managing Director. Though we are looking into it positively,I must confess,…but…” He looked her in the eyes again to see if her attention is unbroken. She was listening. Then he furthered,looking at the file content before him.
“…but there are grey areas to clear.” He said,knocking the table thoughtfully with the head of his pen. She shrugged her shoulders just as he caught back her gaze.
“No problem. So when is that? Now or…?”
“…Now? No,it’s not something serious. If you don’t mind,it’s a tea table discussion. We’ve crossed the harder lines in doing business with you.” He assured her. “This grey area can be discussed outside the office setting. Let’s meet for 7pm later today at Top Stars Teas & Snacks.” He concluded.
“It’s okay by me sir…as long as this proposal flies at the end of the day.” She stated in a pleading tone.
“Why,it will.” He re-assured her. She stood up to go. He walked her to the door,opened it for her and they shook hands before she left. He stepped back into his office and closed the door behind him. He rested his back on the door and exhaled heavily.
“At last,I’m meeting Modupe one-on-one!” He clenched his fist and jabbed into the air. Yes,Miss Modupe Ajao! She’s tall,lovely,dark-skinned and beautifully cut in right sizes from head to toe. Where was she all these years? This is the type of woman to have and to hold. She looked so fertile and womanly,so enterprising and business-minded too. He still was lost in his thoughts when a knock on the door jolted him out of his fantasies back to the office.

One month later

Modupe and Charles have been going in and out together lately. Leaving work and heading home directly has become anathema for Charles. He would rather drive down to Top Stars where Modupe would meet him after the close of day at her own office too. The staffers of Top Stars have come to know them like the conspicuous signpost at the Eatery. They would drive in at different times,Charles always being the first to arrive.

Today was different. Modupe arrived first,without her car,and was sipping Coke. Her mood was quite different too. But she was trying to calm herself down as she sipped away the time on her bottle of Coca Cola. Ten minutes later she heard a car honk from the gateway. She knew it had to be Charles. She corked back the remaining liquid content on her drink and readjusted her sitting position.
“Oh baby,I’m sorry for keeping you waiting!”
That was Charles. He gave her a peck and took a seat beside her. She didn’t even look at him but stood up immediately and took the seat opposite him on the table. A cold frown masking her usually smiling face.
“But Darling…what is..” He stuttered
“…What is what? Don’t Darling me o! Because I’m not your Darling!” She thundered at him. A cold shiver ran through him. He was spellbound and flabbergasted.
“What do you want to say Charles? What? You’re married Charles,and you’ve been lying to me!” She broke down in tears.
“Who told you I’m married?”
“Who told me you’re married? Are you not married Charles?” She looked him straight in the eye. “Answer me,Charles!”
“Well…yea… but it’s complicated!” He replied,looking very apologetic.
“So you’ve been lying to me all this while!”
“I never did lie to you at any time,Modupe.” He pleaded and held her two hands.
“Maybe I just didn’t want to talk about it yet. I’m sorry.” He tried to rub her hands apologetically.
“Take your lying hands off me. To ever think I allowed these hands cuddle me at all.” She cursed regrettably aloud,pushing his hands away. His emotions were let down and tears began to cascade his cheeks immediately. She hissed at him intermittently.
“Modupe,whatever I felt for you was,and is,for real. It was true love I felt…for…”
“…Love? For who?” She interjected. “You didn’t feel love for me Charles. You are ma-rri-ed. What do you wanna feel for a single girl like me? What? Just mere raw lust!” She hissed at him again and waved off his tears as the crocodile tears of a caught thief.
“Well,Dupe,I think you’re entitled to judge me only after you hear out my story.” Modupe was not going to buy into his tears. But what is his story? She wondered.
“If you’ve got any to story to tell me,why did you deny me the knowledge of it,and led me on into a wasted emotional journey.” She fired at him. Going down his two knees,he began,” I am very sorry for everything. I wish I could show you my heart.” She pulled him up back to his seat.
“Sit up Charles. Before begging for forgiveness. Let me hear your so-called story. What’s your story? I’m all ears!”

Later That Night

Jide and Clara were just concluding a 3-night intercessory prayer on behalf of Charles and Caroline. They have always been calling and visiting each party since their separation. But that was simply not enough for them,especially when they heard from the grapevine how Charles had derailed into an extra-marital relationship. They did keep the information to themselves,and prayed for his restoration instead of breaking the news to Caroline especially because of her condition. They also prayed for her safety.

Modupe tossed about on end in her bed. She just couldn’t find her sleep. The event of her break-up with Charles nagged her mind so badly. When she had thought she has found the man of her dream it all evaporated like a daydream via an anonymous SMS she received this afternoon on her phone.
“I’m not getting any younger. When will I find a man of my own. I’ve got my business. I’ve got connections and money,but no man. Gosh!!” She moaned under her bed cover.
She also reasoned that Charles was a good man anyway but that he needed to believe again and re-unite with his wife. Her mind is made up to move on without him.

Charles knelt down beside his bed and prayed for the first time in a long time. He had Don Moen’s song playing at the background. The lyrics simmered into his spirit line after line:

Lord you seemed so faraway
A million miles or more it seemed today
And though I haven’t lost my faith…

When he reached that line,he couldn’t sing it. He had actually lost his faith. He prayed for forgiveness and restoration on his bended knees. Then the next lines came:

…I must confess right now
That it’s hard for me to pray
And I don’t know what to say
And I don’t know where to start
But as you give the grace
With all that’s in my heart
I will sing…

Instead of singing on at this point,he wept. He realized how far he had drifted from his faith in God. And quickly,the scripture that says, “If you faint in the days of adversity,your strength is small” came to his mind. He prayed to God to re-install his spiritual strength. Meanwhile Don Moen sang on:

I will praise…
Even in my darkest hour
Through the sorrows and the pain
I will sing I will praise
Lift my hands to honour You
Because Your Word is true
I will sing

Then he joined in the second stanza of the song,his best part of the song: he sang along

Lord it’s hard for me to see
All the thoughts and plans
You have for me…
But I will put my trust in You
Knowing that You died to set me free

And I don’t know what to say
And I don’t know where to start
But as You give the grace
With all that’s in my heart
I will sing…

Jide and Clara prayed till they received a confirmation in their hearts that the Lord has answered their prayer that night. It was like a kick in their thought. Caroline too received a kick. Same night,Charles could say that he kicked the devil out of his life.

The following week

“Charly,it’s a pity you behaved the way you did. You really did hurt your wife,” said Mr Akin-Williams,Caroline’s father,as he returned to the sitting room. Charles looked down in shame and remorse.
“This is the third time that I’ve gone inside to beg your wife to come out to the parlour to meet with you. Well,as you can see,it appears like she’s not yet willing to talk with you…” He said,throwing up his hands and then sat down beside him. Charles was motionless on the cushion chair with a very sorry face. He shook his head repeatedly in self-blame. Why did I do this to myself? He breathed heavily and exhaled loudly.
“Not to worry,Charles. She’ll come around. I guess you have to be on your way home now before it’s too late,” suggested Mr. Akin-williams. He nodded in agreement,tears trickling down his bony cheeks.
“Pull yourself together!”
He nodded again and prostrated to bid him farewell.
“Stand up Charly. He who accepts his faults is never kept on his knees forever. We will talk to your wife. She should give you a call as soon as possible. Or possibly join you at home soon. All’s well that’s ends well.” He admonised him. He stood up,stretched his neck and looked down the passage to one of the rooms where his wife is said to have locked herself in. Caroline had the door to the room locked in on her and her mum. Eight hours had passed since the time he arrived his in-laws house. He stood up and made to go.

The following day

Jide and Clara Martins came over to the Akin-Williams’ to further intervene in the Caroline-Charles matter. Charles had called the couple the previous night to help him. Thirty minutes after they arrived,Caroline and Clara were left alone by all as they had a sister-to-sister chat for close to an hour. Much later,they appeared to be on a lighter mood as they reeled into laughters and giggles from time to time. Whatever it was that they were discussing,no member of the family could decipher it but every one then heaved a sigh of relief. It was Jide that first muttered “Praise God” and mummy and daddy replied with “Halleluia”. Meanwhile Caroline and Clara continued with their happy-go-merry talk.
“Wait,you mean Charles and you didn’t know you were pg?”
“Honestly. Until Dr. Sophia of Saving Grace Hospital showed me the result. And I almost fainted that day…for shock…cos I didn’t know myself…at all,at all” She slapped a palm against the other,and vice versa,to emphasize her utter surprise.
“Isn’t it amazing that all the times Charles and I were so worried about getting pg,I was already six months pg…and we didn’t know! Isn’t it amazing,Clara?!” Caroline asked,giggling.
“It’s more than amazing. There was a time or two when I viewed a programme on TV titled ‘I didn’t know I was pregnant’. Then I used to think it was impossible for one to be pregnant and not know….but since it happened to you,my sis…I believe it now,” explained Clara. Caroline laughed. And Clara too. They couldn’t contain their joy.
“Clara,are you saying that none of you in the family noticed on my behalf too,until I was at the hospital. So funny! Especially you…you who can decipher a pregnant snail.” Caroline laughed at her.
“Well,shall we say my psychic Octopus failed this time,and must thus be roasted for…. barbeceu!” Clara returned in jocular sense.
They reeled into laughed once again.
Changing the topic slightly now,Clara asked,
“Have you called your husband? Have you discussed….”
“…Discussed? No! We’ve not discussed.” Caroline answered. “But I’m no longer angry with him.” She quickly re-assured her sister.
“What I want is to make it a big surprise for him. My problem is,I don’t know how to package the surprise!” She confessed to her kid sister.
“Oh,you want it a secret still?….wrapped up…let’s say…until dd?”
Clara asked Caroline. She nodded.
“Mum and Dad told me they never did for once reveal to my husband that I’m pg. I hope you and your husband haven’t unwrapped my surprise gift already to Charles?” She asked with a chuckle.
“Nah,nah,nah!” Clara replied,waving her index finger for an emphasis. “Not at any time…But please,call your husband. It’s not been easy for him. I think pg or no,the guy wants you back. And he wants you back for good. He’s changed…” implored Clara.

Four weeks later

“Hello,Charly boy. Your wife,your beautiful wife,my daughter,wants to see you.” The line was fluctuating but he recognised the voice.
“Daddy,oh thank you!” He smiled.
“Don’t mention”
“But can I speak with her atleast?” He asked in a tone showing unleashed excitement.
“I’m sorry,you can’t!”
“I can’t? Why?” His excitement metamorphosed into a rude shock.
“She’s hospitalised!”
“Hospita….lised? I’m confused….. What’s happening Daddy? What has happened to my wife?” The Nokia handset fell off from his hand and splintered on the floor. He gathered them hurriedly. He looked at the wall clock. The time was a quarter to four in the morning. Though the day had not fully dawned,he rushed out to the garrage and drove out in a hurry to her in-laws house.

At Saving Grace Hospital

Charles arrived the hospital with Mr. Akin-Williams at about six in the morning. His shock was worsened when he met Caro’s mum,her sister and Jide,all waiting at the reception. His heart skipped beats on end.
“What’s going on here?” He asked everybody. “What’s happening?” Sweat gathered on his forehead profusely.
“Relax Charly. It is well,” placated Caro’s dad.
Charles was ushered into one of the wards by a nurse with the tag-name of Ngozi Nwuzor. Clara,her mother,her father and Jide,all followed behind. His wife was all smiles as she threw her arms around him.
“Congratulations dear. We have a baby boy!” She announced. He didn’t think he heard right. He held her back,and looking her in the face with puzzled roving eyes,asked,”How? When? Am I ok? Are you ok?” He felt drained by all the suspense going on.
“Here is your baby!” Nurse Ngozi presented the baby boy to Charles Olaonipekun.
“My baby? I need explanations please?”
“Carry your son first of all,” replied Mrs. Akin-Williams,” because if you look at him closely,you’ll get the explanations from your resemblance.” He took the child in his hands and excused himself into a corner with Jide Martins his bosom long-time friend. Jide explained everything to him from the beginning to the end…as the others looked on and laughed intermittently.
“So you see…Charles my Pally,you didn’t send only your wife packing o. You sent your wife and your son packing together.” Jide informed with a wide grin on his face.
Charles took a cursory look at the baby in his hands. His pointed nose,the birth-mole on his right temple,and his earlobe are all a replica of his own. Oh this is my son! He thought as he smiled at the baby.
“I’m so sorry son,forgive me!” He apologised. “Forgive me my darling wife!” He moved over to her side on the bed. She patted him at the back and said,” You’ve been forgiven tay-tay my love.” He looked around and begged the whole family.
“I’m sorry Dad,Mum,Clara and Jide for all my mistakes. Please,I apologize!”
“Apology accepted!” Chorused everyone.
“Can we change the topic?” Demanded Caroline. Just then,nurse Ngozi re-entered the ward to ask everyone to excuse the mother and child for some minutes. She closed the window blinds as the baby was beginning to squint at the incoming rays of the rising sun. As they stepped out,some nurses passed them by,and Charles overheard them gist. The first nurse started,”Wow,that should be the father to that baby in Ward 2! See the long nose and long pinna.” Charles rather felt commended and smiled in a self-congratulatory manner. He stepped outside the building. Jide followed him but kept a distance. Charles lifted his hands up in the sky and adored the Lord his God. With tears of joy in his eyes,he said,”Oh thank you Jesus. From the rising of the Sun to the going down of the same…You remain true. Your faithfulness is forever. Even when we are unfaithful: you remain faithful. Thank you for the sunshine you’ve brought into my world today. Thank you!”

THE END

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WE ARE BROTHERS

We need to be a people joining our hands together for success and upliftment rather than making fists at one another to our own peril and annihilation. Aren’t we the blessed Nigerian nation any longer? We have values we used to count upon. We were born together in the same communities,and remember quickly how your mum used to leave your sibs to my own mum who treated all of us as her very own. We never fought nor discriminated one another. You spoke my language and I spoke yours too. No one easily tells the difference between you and me. You are my brother. And I am yours. We have social thoughts that guided our peaceful co-existence all these years. We have a common past which formed solid antecedents for why we are a nation of unique composition in the world. Let us not throw away the brotherly love and team spirit all in a session of madness. Let us not kill and maim one another all because you congregate on Fridays and I do same albeit on Sundays. I dare to call you brother. Please dare to look me in the eye and call me brother too.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? By Nabeel Qureshi

On December 15, 2015, Wheaton College, a flagship of evangelical educational institutions, placed one of its professors on administrative leave for “theological statements that seemed inconsistent with [their] doctrinal convictions.” Five days prior, donning a hijab and staking her position on a variety of controversial matters, Larycia Hawkins had stated on Facebook, “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Wheaton’s decision to give Dr. Hawkins “more time to explore theological implications of her recent public statements” ignited a firestorm of controversy. One strong voice in the fray was that of the Chicago Tribune, which described Wheaton’s actions as “bigotry… disguised as theology.” This assessment was partially based on the input of Yale Professor Miroslav Volf, a theologian greatly respected for his contributions to Christian-Muslim dialogue, who said, “There isn’t any theological justification for Hawkins’s forced administrative leave. Her suspension is not about theology and orthodoxy. It is about enmity toward Muslims.” Such dialogue-stifling judgmentalism is shocking from a highly acclaimed Ivy League scholar, but it serves to illustrate the enormous tensions in Christian-Muslim relations during this time when the nation is pulled between the poles of Muslim refugees pouring into Staten Island and Muslim terrorists massacring innocents in San Bernadino.

In the past week, I have received dozens of requests to provide my input on the matter, especially from those who are aware that I do not have “enmity toward Muslims.” As a former Muslim, I have many Muslim family members and friends that I spend time with regularly, and I often adjure Christians to consider gestures of solidarity with the hope that, somehow, this affection will trickle down to the Muslims I know and love. I have even recommended that Christian women consider wearing the hijab in certain circumstances, as well as counseled Christian men to consider fasting with their Muslim neighbors during the month of Ramadan, as long as it is clear these gestures are out of Christian love and not submission to Islam.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

With this desire for love in mind, I turn now to the question: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Like all good questions, the answer is more complex than most want, but I am confident of my position: Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, but given the complexity of the matter we all ought to stop demonizing those who disagree with us.

I should start by saying this: for years after leaving Islam and accepting Jesus as Lord, I believed that Muslims worshiped the same God as Christians but that they were simply wrong about what He is like and what He has done. After all, I had been taught as a young Muslim to worship the God who created Adam and Eve, who rescued Noah from the flood, who promised Abraham a vast progeny, who helped Moses escape Egypt, who made the Virgin Mary great with child, who sent Jesus into the world, who helped the disciples overcome, and who is still sovereign today. Is that not the God of the Bible?

For that matter, the Quran asserts that the Torah and the Gospel are inspired scripture and that Jews and Christians are people of the Book. The Quran tells Muslims to say to them, “our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender” (29.46). If the Quran asserts that Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians, does that not settle the matter?

For years I thought it did, but I no longer do. Now I believe that the phrase “Muslims and Christians worship the same God” is only true in a fairly uncontroversial sense: There is one Creator whom Muslims and Christians both attempt to worship. Apart from this banal observation, Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God. I do not condemn those that think they do, but the deeper I delve into the Christian faith, the more I realize that this assertion is not only untrue but also subverts Christian orthodoxy in favor of Islamic assertions.

Let’s start with the obvious: Christians believe Jesus is God, but the Quran is so opposed to this belief that it condemns Jesus worshipers to Hell (5.72). For Christians, Jesus is certainly God, and for Muslims Jesus is certainly not God. How can it be said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God? This fact alone is enough to settle the matter, but at the very least, no one should argue as Volf has that “there isn’t any theological justification” for believing Christians and Muslims worship different Gods. There certainly is, and it is the obvious position when we consider the person of Jesus.

Another difference between the Islamic God and the Christian God that is quite personal to me is his Fatherhood. According to Jesus, God is our Father, yet the Quran very specifically denies that Allah is a father (112.1-4). In fact, in 5.18, the Quran tells Muslims to rebuke Jews and Christians for calling God their loving Father because humans are just things that God has created.

The same is the case when we consider the doctrine of the Trinity. Islam roundly condemns worship of the Trinity (5.73), establishing in contrast its own core principle: Tawhid, the absolute oneness of God. Tawhidspecifically denies the Trinity, so much so that it is safe to say the doctrine of God in Christianity is antithetical to the doctrine of God in Islam. Not just different but completely opposed to one another.

There is much more to be said about the differences between the Christian God and the Muslim God, but this much can already be said with confidence: the Christian God, both in terms of what he is (Triune) and who he is (Father, Son, and Spirit) is not just different from the Muslim God; He is fundamentally incompatible. According to Islam, worshiping the Christian God is not just wrong; it sends you to Hell. They are not the same God.

Why Do People Say Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

So how can people argue that Muslims and Christians worship the same God? By unduly giving priority to the Islamic assertion that this is the same God. The Quran says that Allah is the God of the Bible, so He must be. The Quran says that Allah is the God of the Biblical prophets, so He must be.

The Quran says that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, so it must be the same God. Ultimately, this is the reasoning of those who believe, as I once did, that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, and it is flawed.

The similarities between the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are fairly superficial, and at times simply semantic. Though Islam claims that the Muslim God has done some of the same things as the Christian God and sent some of the same people, that is not enough to say that Muslims worship the same God as Christians. These minor overlaps are far less essential to the reality of who God is than the fundamental differences of his nature and persons. What God has done or whom He has sent is far less of a defining characteristic than what He is and who He is; though Islam and Christianity overlap at points on the former, they differ fundamentally on the latter.

Volf’s challenge in response is that Christians believe they worship the same God as the Jews though the Jews do not worship the Trinity. How can Christians accuse Muslims of worshiping a different God without also indicting the Jews of doing the same? That would be inconsistent or hypocritical.

The response should be obvious to those who have studied the three Abrahamic faiths: the Trinity is an elaboration of Jewish theology, not a rejection. By contrast, Tawhid is a categorical rejection of the Trinity, Jesus’ deity, and the Fatherhood of God, doctrines that are grounded in the pages of the New Testament and firmly established centuries before the advent of Islam. Most of the earliest Christians were Jews, incorporating their encounter with Jesus into their Jewish theology. Nothing of the sort is true of Muhammad, who was neither a Jew nor a Christian. Islam did not elaborate on the Trinity but rejected and replaced it.

Additionally, Volf’s assumption that Jews did not worship something like the Trinity is unsubstantiated. Many Jews held their monotheism in tension with a belief in multiple divine persons. Though the term “Trinity” was coined in the second century, the underlying principles of this doctrine were hammered out on the anvil of pre-Christian Jewish belief. It was not until later, when Jews and Christians parted ways, that Jews insisted on a monadic God. The charge of Christian hypocrisy is anachronistic.

Conclusion

The question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God is complex. Wheaton made a respectable decision in giving Hawkins time off to consider the implications of her statement: she is allowing Islamic assertions to subvert the importance of essential doctrine. That said, one ought not fault her harshly for the mistake, as these issues are murky. What is dangerous is the path of Volf, accusing people of bigotry to shut down valid conversations. One can both love Muslims and insist that the God they worship is not the same as the Christian God.

Christians worship a Triune God: a Father who loves unconditionally, an incarnate Son who is willing to die for us so that we may be forgiven, and an immanent Holy Spirit who lives in us. This is not what the Muslim God is; it is not who the Muslim God is; and it is not what the Muslim God does. Truly, the Trinity is antithetical to Tawhid, fundamentally incompatible and only similar superficially and semantically. Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God.

HILLARY CLINTON FINALLY SAYS: “I’M SORRY!” FOR MIXING EMAILS

On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, ABC News’ host of “World News Now” anchor David Muir interviewed Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The following is a transcript of the interview:

DAVID MUIR: Secretary Clinton, thank you.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you, David.

DAVID MUIR: Here we sit, five months into your campaign and there are some eye-opening poll numbers out there, and I’m sure you’re aware of them, when it comes to how Americans see you. Our ABC poll, Gallup, Quinnipiac showing your favorability numbers taking a sharp dive.

In one poll, the lowest ever. And when voters were asked, “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?” Words like liar, dishonest, untrustworthy were at the top of the list. Does this tell you that your original explanation about the private server, that you did it to carry one phone out of convenience, that this didn’t sit well with the American people?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, David, obviously, I don’t like hearing that. I am confident by the end of this campaign people will know they can trust me. And that I will be on their side and will fight for them and their families. But I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier.

I really didn’t perhaps appreciate the need to do that. What I had done was allowed, it was above board. But in retrospect, certainly, as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should’ve used two accounts. One for personal, one for work-related emails.

That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility. And I’m trying to be as transparent as I possibly can to not only release 55,000 pages of my emails, turn over my server. But I am looking forward, finally, to testifying before Congress. Something I’ve been asking for nearly a year.

DAVID MUIR: You have said you would apologize for the confusion but not say, “I’m sorry.” But I did hear a word in there just a moment ago and I’m curious. Would you acknowledge that you made a mistake here? Because you wrote in your own memoir last year just how important using the word mistake is in politics. You, you wrote, “In our political culture, saying you made a mistake is often taken as weakness when in fact it can be a sign of strength and growth.” And so as you sit here, millions watching tonight, did you make a mistake?

HILLARY CLINTON: I did. I did. As I said, it was allowed and there was no hiding it. It was totally above board. Everybody in the government I communicated with — and that was a lot of people– knew I was using a personal e-mail. But I’m sorry that it has, you know, raised all of these questions. I do take responsibility for having made what is clearly not the best decision. And I want people to know that I am trying to be as transparent as possible so that, you know, legitimate questions can and will be answered.

DAVID MUIR: You mentioned everybody in the government knew that you were using this private server. It– did fellow members of the cabinet know? Did the president know?

HILLARY CLINTON: Everyone I emailed with, and I’m not going to go into names, but let me say I emailed with many people in the White House and the rest of the government, of course, across the State Department, knew that I was emailing from a personal account.

It appeared, you know, as my address. But I emailed two people on their .gov accounts. And that’s why I believed and I think it’s been proven to be accurate, that the vast majority of everything that I was emailing would be captured on the State Department system. Or on the government system that I emailed into.

DAVID MUIR: You see the new headlines every day, just as we do. The New York Times just today reporting on a second review now of two of the emails in particular sent to you. The Times reporting they contain classified information. The intelligence community’s Inspector General telling ABC today that after reviewing those emails, that two of them carry the classification of top secret.

That both of emails were classified when they were created and remain classified now. One was about drones, one was about North Korea‘s nuclear program. And I’m curious, does this mean classified information passed through your private server?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, there is still, as you know, a dispute. The State Department disputes that. I understand why different agencies have different views and I respect that. It does not change the fact that I did not send or receive any information that was marked classified at the time.

Now, I know that it’s hard for people who haven’t been in these systems, perhaps, to understand exactly how this works. But in the State Department, you had an unclassified system So, David, even if I had used a government account on the State Department– government system and I had said I wanted emails released, we would be going through the same process.

And that is a very typical process that takes place when information is requested. Or somebody asks that it be made public. So these same kinds of disagreements between different parts of the government would be occurring. But I think even the Inspector General of the Intelligence Committee as well as– community as well as others have said I did not send nor receive any information that was marked classified at the time.

DAVID MUIR: Right, at the time marked classified. But let me ask you, for the rest of us, the average voter and average viewer out there who might wonder, how can some of these emails be classified and labeled as top secret today? What changed in them so significantly that you wouldn’t have seen red flags even just a couple of years ago as Secretary of State? That you, of all people, would’ve known.

HILLARY CLINTON: Yeah, that’s a very fair question. And I think there are a couple of answers. One, sometimes events do proceed in a way that maybe there’s a case being brought against somebody. Maybe even a terrorist. And all of a sudden everything is classified until the trial attorneys go through it to figure out what should or shouldn’t be public.

Maybe there is a backward-looking effort to see, okay, maybe that wasn’t classified. Or maybe that was unclassified on the State Department system. But we had it on a different system and we treated it differently. Something that we wouldn’t have known about in the State Department. So–

DAVID MUIR:But North Korea’s nuclear program? Wouldn’t that be classified?

HILLARY CLINTON: There’s a lot of public information about their nuclear program. I don’t know the specifics about the one that they are claiming is classified. I can only repeat what happens to be the case– that I did not send nor receive information that was marked classified at the time that it was sent or received.

DAVID MUIR: Let’s go bigger picture here for a moment, because many who quite frankly wanted to support you have now learned of this F.B.I. investigation, have learned of the I.T. guy who helped set up the server planning to plead the Fifth.

And many who have said to themselves, you know, “Hillary Clinton of all people who’s been in the public eye for so long that she should have known.” And perhaps the more important question they’re asking is, “Can Hillary Clinton survive this?” Can you?

HILLARY CLINTON: Yes, of course I can. I, as you might guess, have been around a while and there’ve been lots of, you know, attacks and counter-attacks and questions raised. And I can survive it because I think I’m running to be president to do what the country needs done.

And I believe the American people will respond to that. You know, with respect to the two points that you made, this is a security investigation. And that’s why I turned over my server. It’s not, as has been confirmed, a criminal investigation. Again, that needs to be explained to people because they may not understand the difference.

And I, I think on all of this, I’m looking forward to testifying before the Congress in public, which is what I demanded to be able to do. I’ll answer all their questions for as long as they wish to ask them. But at the end of the day, at least in the campaigning that I’m doing around the country, people wanna know what I’m gonna do for them.

What I’m gonna do for their families. They want a president who will take care of the big issues that are in the headlines, whether it’s ISIS. or climate change or Syrian refugees. But they also want a president who’s gonna care about the problems that keep them up at night. And they know that I will and that I will work hard to try to make America work again for people.

DAVID MUIR: We saw the voters out with you this weekend. We also saw voters out with Joe Biden. He was jogging along the way and, and we heard them shouting, “Run, Joe, run.” And you’ve said everyone should give him time to decide–

HILLARY CLINTON: That’s right.

DAVID MUIR: –given what’s happened recently in his family. But you were once on the same team inside the White House. You would often have breakfast with the vice president. Would he make a good president?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I like Joe Biden a lot. And I think he is a great vice president. If he gets into this election, there’ll be lots of time to talk about, you know, what he–

DAVID MUIR: But would he make–

HILLARY CLINTON: –wants to do.

DAVID MUIR: Would he make a good president?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, you know, I think he could be a good president. There’s no doubt about that. But I think he, you know, we shouldn’t get into the politics of this back and forth because I don’t think it’s fair to him. He’s testing the waters. He deserves to test the waters.

He deserves to kind of feel it. It’s such an emotional decision. At the end of the day, this is a grueling, difficult journey that anybody who decides to run for president subjects themselves to. And you have to be really ready and prepared.

And Joe has said himself he’s got to find out whether he’s got the fortitude, given everything that’s happened to him. So I’m not gonna comment on his campaign in waiting. Or whether there even is a campaign.

DAVID MUIR: And then who does the president choose? Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think the president will have to wait to decide who the candidates are. And I know he wants to be succeeded by a Democrat and I very much hope that happens because I think the country and the economy do better when we have a Democrat in the White House.

DAVID MUIR: Let’s talk about the speech you plan to give tomorrow. A major speech laying out your support for the Iran nuclear deal. As you know, Republicans have come out swinging, even some Democrats, too about what happens when the deal is done.

And I wanted to ask you about a recent Brookings analysis that says after 15 years, Iran would be allowed to produce reactor-grade fuel on an industrial scale using far more advanced centrifuges. And that the warning time, if Iran decides to race for a bomb, would shrink to weeks. Does that concern you?

HILLARY CLINTON: Of course it does Everything about Iran concerns me. I do not trust them. You know, to paraphrase President Reagan, you know, “Don’t trust. And yes, verify.” I intend to lay out tomorrow why I think this agreement is in the best interest of the United States.

Of our allies, including Israel. But that we have to remain very vigilant. And I will talk about some of the steps I would take as president to enforce to the absolute letter the agreement to hold Iran accountable. And to re-affirm that we can never, ever allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

DAVID MUIR: You say don’t trust, verify You’ve also said cheat and you will pay. Your former senate colleague, Chuck Schumer, against the deal, saying inspections are not anywhere, anytime. And that the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling. Does that 24-day waiting period trouble you, too?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, there’s a lot of other inspections going on. This is an element of the inspections, which I will address tomorrow. Anything about Iran and whether or not it will comply with the agreement it signs I think has to remain an open question. There’s no doubt about that. The real–

DAVID MUIR: But does it give it ti– does it give the Iranians time to move things out of the way?

HILLARY CLINTON: You know– we now have very advanced detection equipment. I think one of the most important contributors to the agreement was Secretary Moniz the Secretary of the Department of Energy a nuclear physicist from M.I.T. I take very seriously what he says.

Because I know of his expertise in this arena. Tomorrow, I will be very much addressing the skeptics. Because they make some good points. They, I don’t reject their concerns out of hand. I think they are totally legitimate.

The real bottom line is, what’s our better alternative? I put together the coalition that brought the world to the place where we imposed global sanctions on Iran. It took me 18 months and then it took me another year to make sure that they were being followed. I know how hard this is to get the world together to stand up to anybody, let alone Iran.

We did that. We got them to the negotiating table. Now, of course, if the United States walks away, the rest of the world is going to think, wait a minute. We got the best deal we could. And given the constraints, I think that is the case. And the sanctions would be gone in any event. The United States can keep imposing them, but that’s what we did during the Bush administration.

So that when we came in, President Obama and I came in as Secretary of State, the Iranians had already mastered the nuclear fuel cycle under the Bush administration. They had built covert facilities. They had stocked them with centrifuges. They were proceeding. So our sanctions, everything we did as the United States in those eight years of the two Bush terms did not stop Iran. We now have the opportunity, if vigilantly enforced, to stop them.

And to prevent them. Now, we have to begin to look at what happens at the end of ten years, what happens at the end of 15 years. But this gives us time. It puts a lid on their nuclear weapons program. It allows us, frankly, David, to turn, to deal with some of their other very troubling behavior.

Their support of terrorism. Their constant support of Hezbollah and Hamas Their interference with the countries in the, their region from Yemen to others. So we’ve got other problems with Iran. This gives us the chance to keep that lid on their nuclear weapons program and to turn to build the same kinda coalition against them when it comes to their support for Assad and so much else.

DAVID MUIR: Back here at home, Donald Trump. I wanna read you something Jeb Bush has recently tweeted. “Can’t wait for this summer reality TV show to be over.”

HILLARY CLINTON: That’s cute.

DAVID MUIR: But is it a reality show? Or are we witnessing something real here?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that’s gonna be up to the Republicans and the Republican primaries to determine. You know, I’m always a little amused when people get into politics and they think that all you have to do is give speeches and the more colorful you are, the more dramatic, the more vehement you are that’s leadership.

Well, in fact, if you’re running to be president of the United States, you have to know every single day that people all over the world really pay attention to what you say. They make decisions, markets rise and fall, armies get bigger or smaller. Things happen with real consequences.

And if we have people whose view of leadership is the kind of rhetoric that gets, you know, lots of applause, gets lots of attention, then I think we sell ourselves short. So we have made the turn into the post-Labor Day period. And it’s going to be up to the Republican voters who decide, you know, who they want to support.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think Donald Trump is just a leader of rhetoric and speeches?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, he won’t tell you how he would do anything. You know, you try to question him about, “Okay, tell me, you wanna deport 11 or 12 million people. How are you gonna do that?” “Well, we’re, you know, we’re just gonna tell ’em to leave and then they can get in line to come back.” You know, that’s, that’s hardly a policy.

DAVID MUIR: Something else he said, “That I will take care of women’s health and women’s health issues better than anybody. And far better than Hillary Clinton who doesn’t have a clue.”

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that’s just absurd It’s laughable, if it weren’t about a serious issue. Women’s health is really an important issue to me, personally, as well as the work that I’ve done for many decades. And if that’s his position, I look forward, if he is the nominee, to debating him about it.

DAVID MUIR: But privately, as you’re traveling with your campaign team, I mean, when you hear something like that what’s your first reaction?

HILLARY CLINTON:There he goes again. And I’ve addressed that. I raised that particular issue when I was in New Hampshire Saturday. And at the rally of Women for Hillary, where Senator Shaheen endorsed me. And, you know, we just look at each other, we just shrug.

I mean, it’s just more of the same. And we’re gonna be held to a high standard about, you know, what I would do as president. How I would do it. What policies I would promote. What’s my vision. How do I get things done? Everybody else should be asked the same.

DAVID MUIR: We sat down with the pope just last week and he’s made–

HILLARY CLINTON: I’m jealous. I wish I could’ve been there.

DAVID MUIR:It was extraordinary. Extraordinary. And he made news again today radically transforming the process for Catholics when it comes to divorce and annulment within the church, speaking of a more inclusive church. Fast-tracking the process. And I’m curious what you make of this pope and some of the changes he’s making in the church.

HILLARY CLINTON: I am not a Catholic but I am a great admirer of the pope because I think what he’s trying to do is to take this venerable institution, the Roman Catholic Church, and really, once again, place it on a firm foundation of the scriptures, of Christ’s words.

One cannot read the Sermon on the Mount without thinking that we all have to be more humble. We all have to be more kind and respectful. We all have to try to do more to help our fellow men and women. And I think that the pope is emphasizing the words of Jesus Christ. Emphasizing the high priority given to the poor. The priority of caring for those who are in trouble. Whether they are on the side of the road or whether they are in prison. It’s hard when you are in the world we live in to be as good a messenger of Christ’s words–

DAVID MUIR: With the pa–

HILLARY CLINTON: –as we would like.

DAVID MUIR: With the partisan divide, though, in this country, is he going to make people feel uncomfortable during that joint meeting with Congress? That first ever joint meeting? He doesn’t hold back.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think leaders of conscience, particularly leaders of faith, who say what they believe in their heart and what they are called to say often make people uncomfortable. And we need that. We need more of that. You know, the kind of mean-spiritedness that I see too much of in our politics, turning our backs on the poor.

Trying to prevent people from, you know, having the opportunities they need to have by cutting programs, by making college literally unaffordable for hardworking low income kids. There’s a lot that’s wrong in America. And it’s not just wrong politically, it’s really wrong in our hearts.

And I hope what the pope does is to prick the conscience of everyone. I’m not talking right, left, Republican, Democrat All of us have to do better. And if he can summon that heart of America. You know, de Tocqueville was absolutely right when he said, “What sets us apart in addition to the being the longest democracy, our Constitution and so much else, are the habits of the heart of Americans.”

He noticed that way back in the 1830s. We’ve gotta be reminded of that. You know, that’s in large measure what the fight over the Confederate flag was about. Really? Do we need a symbol of divisiveness? A battle flag that was a symbol of racism to be flying on our state grounds? No, we don’t. But there’s so much else we can do better together. And I hope the pope really calls us to do that.

DAVID MUIR: And helps spur the conversation. Just a couple of light questions before you head back out on the campaign trail after us today. I understand you’re a fan of House of Cards.

HILLARY CLINTON: I am.

DAVID MUIR: I’m just curious who you relate to more, Robin Wright as First Lady or Kevin Spacey as Commander in Chief?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, honestly, neither. You know, I think I know enough about our political system and the vigilance of the press that neither of them would be in that position. But it’s great drama and I– they’re just such superb actors.

DAVID MUIR: Charlotte turns one in just a couple of weeks.

HILLARY CLINTON: She does. She does.

DAVID MUIR: I’m curious, what is she going to call you when she starts talking?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well

DAVID MUIR: Is it Grandma Clinton? Is it–

HILLARY CLINTON:I don’t know, David. We’re waiting. You know, she doesn’t talk yet. She makes lots of sounds. She’s got a few words but I wanna wait to see what she does call me. Grandma’s fine. Madame President’s fine. Whatever she chooses.

DAVID MUIR: Uh-huh. She’ll be talking before then, though. Well before then, right?

HILLARY CLINTON:Yes, she will. She will.

DAVID MUIR: She’ll have to watch the process with you. And let me, let me finally end the interview by asking about something you made a reference to with Joe Biden. In talking about Joe Biden, you said it takes, it takes a lot to run for president.

Americans have watched you as First Lady, they watched you run for Senate, they watched you run for president the first time. You served as Secretary of State. And now you’re running for president a second time. And I, I wanna know in your most private of moments, is there ever an instance when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this again?”

HILLARY CLINTON: Yes. Of course. Because it really is hard. And it’s, it’s something that you know, just demands everything. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. It is just 24/7. And you have to be fully present. Everybody that I meet I want to give them my best.

So, yeah, at the end of a very long day you go, “Wow, this is really hard.” But then you do a town hall in a place like Newton, Iowa. And a young mother stands up with her four-and-a-half-month old baby in her arms. And she said, “You know, why is it so hard being a mom in this country? I need paid leave. I, I don’t wanna leave my baby too early.”

I want other people to have the same opportunities. These are issues that I have fought for my entire adult life. I cherish and love this country. It gave me, you know, opportunities far beyond anything my mother or my father could have had. I wanna make sure that everybody has those same opportunities. Not just our granddaughter, the granddaughter of a former president. But every single child in America can feel what I felt. You know, yeah, do we have to do better? Do we have problems?

I grew up in the Civil Rights era. Of course we did. You know, we still have a long way to go. But no nation has ever done more to be more inclusive, to try to overcome the problems of human nature that we all are afflicted by. And I think that our nation deserves a president who will be focused on guiding us through the big problems we face. But also remembering, you know, what those people have told me all my life about the difficulties they encounter just trying to raise a family. Just trying to make it in America again. So it’s hard but–

DAVID MUIR: So you do wake-up–

HILLARY CLINTON: –it’s absolutely worth it.

DAVID MUIR: –you wake-up like the rest of us every once in a while and think–

HILLARY CLINTON: Yeah, it’s hard.

DAVID MUIR: –“Am I really doing this again?”

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, yeah, of course. You know, I, I never, you know, I, I was a girl. I never thought I would run for president when I was growing up. I never thought I’d be in political life. I never really believed I’d run for anything. And it was a long journey to get me to agree to run for the Senate the first time. And it was a young woman who persuaded me when she basically embarrassed me by saying, you know, “You go around telling people to compete. Well, dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.” So I did.

DAVID MUIR: Is, is your mother’s voice in your ear? And if so, what’s–

HILLARY CLINTON: My, yeah.

DAVID MUIR: –give me the, give me one line that you repeat to yourself.

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, as, as you probably know, my mother had a terrible childhood. She was abandoned by her parents. She was rejected by her grandparents. She was literally working as a housemaid at the age of 14. And she told me every day, “You’ve gotta get up and fight for what you believe in no matter how hard it is.”

And I think about her a lot. I miss her a lot. I wish she were here with me. And I remember that. And I don’t wanna just fight for me. I don’t, I mean, I can have a perfectly fine life not being president. I’m gonna fight for all the people like my mother who need somebody in their corner. And they need a leader who cares about them again. So that’s what I’m gonna try to do.

DAVID MUIR: Are you having fun?

HILLARY CLINTON: I am. It’s hard but it’s fun. Most of the things that are hard in life are fun. And, you know, one of my great favorite lines from A League of Their Own when Tom Hanks, playing the broken down drunken coach, you know, confronts you know, the player that, you know, says, “Look, it’s just so hard.” And he says, “Supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, anybody could do it.”

DAVID MUIR: Secretary Clinton, we thank you.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thanks, David.

DAVID MUIR: See you on the trail.

HILLARY CLINTON: Yeah, you bet.

DAVID MUIR: Thank you. Thank you.

HILLARY CLINTON: Look forward to it.

DAVID MUIR: That’s excellent. Thank you.

END OF TRANSCRIPT

GOODLUCK JONATHAN’S HANDOVER-NOTES SPEECH

“I welcome you all to this occasion of the formal presentation of the Hand-over notes of my Administration to the in-coming Administration of the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.

This event and tomorrow’s inauguration of a new administration are truly historic as it is the first time in the history of our nation that we are witnessing the democratic and orderly transfer of power at the Federal level from one political party to another.

 The Hand-over notes which we now present, contain the governance philosophy, strategies, policies, programmes and activities of my Administration for the period – 2011-2015. Also to be found in the notes are the objectives, targets and implementation strategies, achievements and challenges of our key policies, schemes, initiatives as well as the status of commitments and liabilities of the various MDAs.

As we hand over the affairs of the nation, it is appropriate to recall that at inception, in May 2011, we committed ourselves to consolidating national unity through democratization and good governance. Our assessment then, and our firm belief ever since, is that the unity of Nigeria, the security, well-being, greater freedoms and opportunities for all citizens must remain the primary objectives of government.

The Agenda for National Transformation which we did our best to implement consisted of clear and consistent governance strategies, policies, plans, programmes and projects, in all facets of our national life. Emphasis was placed on human and state security, democratization, sound economic management, as well as structural and institutional reforms.

 Our foremost concern was the unity of Nigeria.In keeping with that concern, we engineered a process that began with a review of issues outstanding from previous Constitutional Conferences by the Belgore Committee. After that, we widened political consultations through a National Dialogue that was orchestrated through the Okurounmu Committee. These culminated in the all-inclusive National Conference which unanimously reaffirmed that Nigeria must remain united and indivisible.

The Conference also made resolutions and recommendations for serious constitutional, political and governance reforms, which we have forwarded to the National Assembly for appropriate legislative action. It is our hope that the incoming Government will accord the Report of the National Conference the very high priority that it deserves, as a genuine expression of the will of our people.

The recognition that the starting point for good governance is the legitimacy of the government itself informed our commitment to promoting free and fair elections.

 It also motivated innovations in the management and conduct of elections which we undertook. Hopefully, in the years ahead, those innovations will be properly and fully implemented so that Nigerians will be even more assured of the integrity of the electoral system and the legitimacy of any government that it produces.

To strengthen the social contract between the government and the governed, we institutionalized the rule of law as well as the independence of the legislature and the judiciary.  We also promoted group and individual freedoms. As a result, there is vast expansion in democratic, social and economic space for all citizens.

 Our nation and citizens faced many new challenges over the past four years but the greatest was the vastly increased menace of Boko Haram with their mindless terror, mass killings, utter ruthlessness, kidnapping of innocent children and other unspeakable acts of brutality.

We should all remember that Boko Haram’s emergence predated our administration going as far back as 2002. The group however became extremely malignant with the killing of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf in July 2009.

 It therefore became an urgent task for us to effectively confront the great threat Boko Haram posed to the security and well-being of our people. To do so, we overhauled and virtually reinvented our security architecture to confront Boko Haram and its insurgency. We re-organized our security apparatus. We re-equipped and fully motivated our forces.

 Victory is now in sight and within our reach. However, the cost in blood of citizens and heroes; and the diversion of national treasure from urgent needs for development have been very high. While more than 500 women and children have been rescued from the clutches of Boko Haram thus far by our security forces, it remains my sincere hope and prayer that our beloved daughters from Chibok will soon be reunited with us.

I wish to thank the Nigerian people for their resilience and patience. I also wish to pay very special and personal tribute to all the men and women of our valiant armed forces and security agencies. Their sacrifice and dedication have brought us thus far.

While striving to overcome our national security challenges, we still gave necessary attention to economic development. Our goal was to achieve long-term economic growth and stability, improve the quality and quantum of infrastructure and enhance human capital development.

 Our financial system reforms included the Treasury Single Account [TSA] that unified the structure of government accounts for all MDAs and thereby brought order to cash flow management; and Government Integrated Financial Management Information System [GIFMIS] was introduced to plug leakages and waste of resources. The Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System [IPPIS] weeded out 60,450 ghost workers in 359 out of 425 MDAs, yielding N185.4 billion in savings to the Federal government.

Improved Revenue Mobilization was achieved through improvements in the laws and compliance measures. In 2013 alone, these measures resulted in a 69% rise in Federal tax revenues from N2.8 trillion to N4.8 trillion. Also, Waiver Policy and Trade Facilitation were reformed to create a more rational regime. Our emphasis shifted to granting waivers to specific sectors instead of individual companies and the Sovereign Wealth Fund was established to provide stabilization from external shocks, provide funding for critical infrastructure and savings for future generations.

Our Financial Sector reforms addressed the issues of inefficiencies in the coordination and monitoring of the financial system. Our policies promoted transparency, better risk management, new banking models and payment systems. We established the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria as a resolution mechanism for toxic banking assets. We strengthened banking supervision and enhanced public confidence in Nigerian Banks.

Similarly, we undertook innovative reforms for job creation and repositioned the manufacturing, agriculture and housing sectors. Specifically, it was observed that over the years, job creation did not keep pace with economic growth. Thus unemployment, especially amongst the youth was assuming alarming dimensions.

 To address this, my administration made job creation a key consideration for all programmes in the Transformation Agenda. Emphasis was also shifted towards empowering youths to become entrepreneurs rather than job seekers, through such initiatives as Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOU-WIN), Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), the SURE-P Technical Vocational Education and Training Programme (TVET) and the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP)

Manufacturing in Nigeria faces many challenges, including poor power supply, high cost of input, high cost of doing business, multiple taxation, poor infrastructure and lack of synergy with the labour market.  To address these problems, we launched several programmes and initiatives including the National Industrial Revolution Plan and a new National Automobile Policy designed to boost domestic car production and expand existing capacity. Since then, five new private vehicle assembly plants have been established.

 Agriculture is critical to national survival and yet the sector was besieged with many problems. By year 2010, Nigeria was the second largest importer of food in the world, spending about N1.3 trillion on the importation of fish, rice and sugar alone.

The reforms we introduced in agriculture dramatically increased local production of staple food and saved us vast amounts of money that we would have spent on the importation of food items.

To address the glaring inadequacy of critical national infrastructure, we focused on the Power Sector, Roads, Railways, Aviation, Ports and Harbours as well as on Water and Sanitation, Information and Communication Technology.

My government introduced the Power Sector Roadmap in 2010.Since then, we have privatized the generation and distribution aspects in a most transparent process. Obstacles to the private sector investments in power supply were removed and we developed cost effective electricity tariff to make the sector more attractive. It remains our hope that the successor companies to PHCN and also the private sector will step forward with the necessary investment to make the power reform work.

 The major challenge in the road sector in Nigeria is the high cost of building roads and it continues to rise. The other challenge is the fact that because of regular use, roads are one of the fastest depreciating assets in developing countries.

To address this, Government has developed the required legal and regulatory framework and created opportunities for Private Public Partnership (PPP) in road construction and maintenance.

 From Ore/Benin Road, Lagos/Ibadan Expressway to the Kano/Maiduguri dualisation projects, we made concerted efforts to address age-long problems of delays in construction, design defect, neglect and ineffective maintenance. The construction of the historic Second Niger Bridge has also commenced, and on completion, it will open new and far-reaching opportunities for greater trade and interaction among our people.

In the Aviation Sector, our government developed a Master Plan to institutionalise safety and security, and to develop infrastructure at the airports and local airlines. We embarked on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 22 airports nationwide. Construction work on five new international terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu are also on-going.

There has been a revolution in rail transportation. We rehabilitated the old narrow gauge network and ensured that it has served our people steadily for three years running with new coaches and improved expanded services nationwide.

 We are in the construction stages of a new national network for standard gauge speed-train services, with the new rail line segment, from Abuja to Kaduna, successfully completed. In addition, we have initiated the process for the construction of an ultramodern coastal rail line that will run from Lagos to Calabar, with a link to Onitsha.

We have also successfully completed the dredging of River Niger, from Warri in Delta State to Baro in Niger State, and completed construction works for the Onitsha River Port. Other River Ports at Baro, Lokoja and Oguta, are at advanced construction stages. Working with the states and development partners, we have facilitated the process towards the development of two new deep sea ports at Lekki in Lagos, and Ibaka in Akwa Ibom. We have also implemented reforms to streamline the clearing regime in existing ports, increasing cargo turnover time and easing business for all users.

In the oil and gas sector, our local content policy has continued to empower Nigerian companies, particularly in technical and engineering projects. The Gas Revolution Industrial Park in Delta State is unprecedented in the subsector, and will not only deliver Africa’s biggest industrial park, but all the accompanying benefits to local industry and job creation.

We recognized Human Capital as the most important agent for transformational development. Our reforms in this sector focused on Health, Education and Social Development and also on Women and Youth Empowerment and Social Safety Nets.

In the Health sector, the comprehensive National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP) of 2011 laid the foundation for widening access and improving the quality of healthcare with lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancy for the populace.Our effective curtailment of the Ebola epidemic has continued to receive worldwide acclaim as an example in prompt and effective national disease management. On our watch, guinea-worm has been eradicated from Nigeria and we are on the verge of wiping out polio entirely.

In the Education sector, our objectives are clear and precise. They emphasise expansion of access and the upgrade of quality. I am proud that we have widened access by establishing 18 more Federal Universities and other specialized polytechnics. We strengthened TETFUND and used it to boldly address the problems of inadequate infrastructure in the existing institutions.

I am particularly proud of our efforts with regards to Early Childhood Education and Out-of-School Children. We provided modern hybrid Almajiri Education Programme in the North, attended to schooling needs of boys in the South-East and ensured the construction of special girls’ schools in 13 States of the Federation to improve girl-child education. We expanded opportunities for open and distance learning and provided scholarships at all levels to help improve access to quality education for bright and promising Nigerians.

We have promoted gender-mainstreaming with commensurate priority and opportunities for our womenfolk, beginning with ensuring that not less than 30 per cent of key Federal appointments go to women. Other initiatives that we have taken include: the National Gender Policy, Establishment of Gender Units in Federal MDAs, Women Empowerment Training Programmes, Micro-Credit for Women, Social Safety Net Programmes and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Scheme.

My Administration has emphasized giving a free hand to our Anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). We preferred that they mature into strong institutions instead of being the images, the hammer and the anvil of a strong man. We must encourage them to abide by the rule of law and due process instead of resorting to dramatic or illegal actions orchestrated for cheap applause.

Beyond the very impressive records of enhanced convictions by statutory anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC and ICPC, our other strategy has been to fashion economic policies that deliver higher deterrence and frustrate concealment. In this regard, the Bureau of Public Procurement has played a central role and impacted strongly on the fight against corruption.

In Sports, we have improved our national performance in team and individual events. The disappointment of not qualifying to defend our African Football Championship was cushioned by a decent FIFA World Cup appearance, an Under-17 World Cup win in addition to other victories in other international football tournaments and the Paralympics. We have also encouraged excellence in other sports, apart from football, resulting in exceptional performance in international sporting events, especially in athletics.

Our foreign policy position remains strong. In October 2013, Nigeria was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the second time on our watch. Our country had only served in that capacity thrice before 2011, since independence in 1960. Our Administration also played a leading role in the resolution of security and political challenges in our sub-region, particularly in Niger, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso.

In addition, we increased engagement with Nigerians in the diaspora who contribute so much in remittances to their fatherland. Our Administration successfully encouraged more of them to invest in Nigeria and others to return home and join in the task of nation-building.

In summary, Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our administration has done its best to intervene robustly and impact positively on key aspects of our national life.

 There is no doubt that challenges still abound, but they are surmountable and overwhelming national transformation remains realisable, with continuity, commitment and consistency.

Nigeria is blessed with citizens that will always remain faithful, firmly committed to national unity, accelerated political, social and economic development.

As we hand over the reins of government, I believe that our nation is secure, our democracy is stable, and the future is bright. Let us all work together, and with greater resolve, continue to build a stronger and more prosperous nation.

May God Almighty continue to bless our dear country, Nigeria.

I thank you all.”

Give Jonathan’s Administration Due Credit, Former Ministers Tell Buhari (#ChannelsTVnews)

Former ministers under the administration of former president, Dr Gooduck Jonathan, on Sunday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give some credit to the former president and not “condemn, ridicule and undermine the efforts of that administration, in addition to impugning the integrity of its individual members”.

The former ministers made their position known in a statement signed by former Minister of National Planning, Dr Abubakar O. Suleiman on behalf of the other ministers who served under the former president.

The former ministers further urged “him to press on with the anti-corruption fight, but in a fair and non-partisan manner, in line with due process, and not as a political witch-hunt.

“We encourage President Buhari to continue with the probes, but this must be in strict accordance with his oath of office to treat all Nigerians equally and with the fear of God” he said.

Read Full Statement Below

We, the Ministers who served under the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, have watched with increasing alarm and concern the concerted effort by the Buhari administration and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to condemn, ridicule and undermine the efforts of that administration, in addition to impugning the integrity of its individual members.

While we concede that every administration has the right to chart its own path as it deems fit, we nevertheless consider the vilification of the Jonathan administration, to be ill-intentioned, unduly partisan, and in bad faith. The effort that has been made to portray each and every member of the Jonathan administration as corrupt and irresponsible, in an orchestrated and vicious trial by media, has created a lynch mentality that discredits our honest contributions to the growth and development of our beloved nation.

We are proud to have served Nigeria and we boldly affirm that we did so diligently and to the best of our abilities. The improvements that have been noticed today in the power sector, in national security, and in social services and other sectors did not occur overnight. They are products of solid foundations laid by the same Jonathan administration.

Contrary to what the APC and its agents would rather have the public believe, the Jonathan administration did not encourage corruption, rather it fought corruption vigorously, within the context of the rule of law and due process. For the benefit of those who may have forgotten so soon, it was the Jonathan administration that got rid of the fraud in fertilizer subsidies, which had plagued the country for decades. This helped to unleash a revolution in agricultural production and productivity.

It was also the Jonathan administration that supported the institutional development of strong systems and mechanisms to curb corruption in the public service and plug revenue leakages. These included the development of the Government Integrated Financial Management Platform, The Single Treasury Account (TSA), and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management Systems (IPPIS), in addition to the biometric registration of civil servants and pensioners which saved the country over N100 billion paid to ghost workers and ghost pensioners.

To ensure greater transparency and integrity in the oil and gas sector, the Jonathan administration ordered investigations and put mechanisms in place to check the theft of Nigeria’s crude oil. It was also under the Jonathan administration that a Nigerian Content policy was introduced, which opened up that sector to Nigerians in a manner that was not previously the case. It was also the Jonathan administration that mobilized and secured the support of our neighbouring countries to ensure a robust multinational response to the menace of terrorism and insurgency, resulting in notable advancements in the fight against terror. President Jonathan personally initiated the collaboration that led to these advancements and ensured that Nigeria provided the needed financial support for the Multinational Joint Task Force.

It was the Jonathan administration that repaired and rehabilitated over 25, 000 kilometres of our nation’s roads. Nigeria also became a profitable and preferred investment-friendly destination. It was under President Jonathan, for example, that Nigeria’s electric power sector became more competitive and attractive to local and foreign investments.

The same administration promoted the rule of law, free speech, fundamental human rights, and a robust freedom of information regime. Women’s rights to participate in public life and the Federal Character principle as well as other Constitutional principles were also respected. In every respect, our administration promoted inclusive governance and encouraged all stakeholders including the private sector to play key roles in the transformation of Nigeria.

It should also not be forgotten that the Jonathan administration strengthened electoral institutions and created a peaceful environment for democracy to thrive. On this score, it is sad and ironic that the chief beneficiaries of that same legacy are the most vociferous today in condemning President Jonathan and his team.

Perhaps the new administration and the APC would be sincere enough to publish the details of the hand over notes they received.

In addition, the Buhari administration should be fair enough to acknowledge the good works of the Jonathan administration. No administration can be either completely bad or completely good. President Jonathan’s achievements in moving this country to greater heights deserve to be duly acknowledged. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to build on these achievements.

We also urge him to press on with the anti-corruption fight, but in a fair and non-partisan manner, in line with due process, and not as a political witch-hunt.

The various lies and fabrications being peddled by some self-appointed spokespersons of the administration may entertain the unwary, but such sensationalism may achieve the unintended effect of de-marketing our country within the international community. All such persons playing to the gallery for whatever gains should be called to order. The name-calling of members of the Jonathan administration and the trial by news media should also stop.

We encourage President Buhari to continue with the probes, but this must be in strict accordance with his oath of office to treat all Nigerians equally and with the fear of God.

We have reserved our comment until now, in the fervent hope that once the euphoria that may have inspired the various attacks on the past administration wears off, reason will prevail. But we are constrained to speak up in defence of the legacy of the Jonathan administration, and shall do so again, for as long as those who are determined to rubbish that legacy, are unrelenting in their usual deployment of blackmail, persecution, and similar tactics.

Dr Abubakar O. Suleiman

Former Minister of National Planning

For and on behalf of:

Ministers under the Jonathan Administration

August 30, 2015

@JeffSchweitzer EARTH 2.0 IS NO BAD NEWS FOR GOD

EARTH 2.0 IS NO BAD NEWS FOR GOD, IT’S JUST ANOTHER OF HIS MANY PLANETS

Science says it has fished out yet another Earth. The second Earth, according to scientists, can be likened to a twin of the one in which we live, because of its similarity in features. In size though, Earth 2.0 is said to be bigger than Earth 1.0 – ours. This new Earth is quite distant from us. It can’t be reached in a hurry – not in 30 minutes, 1 hour, several days, or months, but 1,400 years away. That’s absolutely interesting!

This so-called Earth 2.0 that’s 1,400 years (in time) away from us, recently discovered by scientists, has suddenly ran them mad to question the very existence of God and the accuracy of the account of creation in the book of Genesis.

I will address specifically the questions and insults issued by one Jeff Schweitzer, a scientist and former White House Senior Policy analyst in marine biology/neurophysiology, who said the discovery of the new Earth 2.0 is bad news for God. In his thin reasoning, he boasts that how will God explain the existence of yet another Earth when it seems He announced only one, in Genesis. I disagree with Schweitzer that God might be caught unawares about something He Himself created: He created it all. According to Hebrews 11:3 “We understand that the worlds (the planets and the entire universe) were framed (prepared, designed) by the (creative) word of God.”

Schweitzer and his scientist-friends say the Earth 1.0 is 4.5 billion years old, and that God could have been late to creation-day the day He declared “Let there be light” because indeed there already existed shining stars in their ancient galaxies said to be 13 billion years old now. In his thin reasoning, he thinks: how did God come so late to calling light forth when lights were already shining off the stars. He obviously did a little bad math, based on his ignorance, and arrived at very wrong conclusions about God, his timelines in creation, his existence in time, and the existence of Earth 1.0 and Earth 2.0 which he sees as twins. Where was God before Gen.1:2? Did He miss the memo about the pre-existence of some stars? Was He aware (or unaware) that we will now discover Earth 2.0? Did He deceive us He created only Earth 1.0? All these seem to be the questions giving Schweitzer and other scientists some headache now. But God has answers for them. He is God in and out of time. No scientific discovery can become a bad news for God. No scientist can nail Him to a corner He whose presence and influence fill all the heavens and Earth. God is God, and His ways are past finding out. Science can neither find God nor his timelines. But if Schweitzer will read the scriptures with a little more of an open mind, the spirit of God will enlighten him, and bring him out his worries and doubts.

Many peripheral (critical) readers of the Bible such as Schweitzer need to read Genesis Chapter 1:1 again and again.

Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” PERIOD. Jumping the “period” or “full-stop” punctuation, and falling off onto verse 2 will give any unsuspecting minds the feeling that CREATION began in Verse 2. It did not. And that’s the problem many critics of creation are wont to have.

Let’s be clear about verse 1. It says: God created the heavens – the heavenly bodies and all celestial bodies, plus all the things that are contained in them – and He also created the Earth – and everything contained in it -, and there was a full stop. That full stop or period (there) represents a completion, a satisfaction, after which were years upon years of heavenly and earthly existence, before the coming of verse 2.

Schweitzer is more worried about the six days of creation. He tries to insinuate that christians believe that each day in creation were possibly “billions” of days. I disagree with him. Most christians don’t believe that. And I am not going to digress much on the six days of creation other than to say that they were actually five days of creation (which were actually restorations), plus one day of an entirely new creation, the day He created Man (the sixth day of Man). So, let’s return to the crux of Schweitzer’s doubts – the timelines of creation.

When verse 2 showed up, suddenly it’s a divergence from verse 1. Earth 1.0 had become formless, in bad shape and void. A curious and sincere reader/researcher would ask, what happened between verse number one and verse number two? For indeed something had happened. But what? That’s where a true quest should have begun for Schweitzer. That’s where a good math would have been appreciated. Scientists however just speculate, they don’t add up – that’s their bad though.

Schweitzer thinks God was late to creation because he failed to pause, think, wonder, and reflect on the gap of time between verse 1 and 2. Like I said before, a good quester will pause and think.

Now, keep in mind that creation was completed early, and not later – as God was not late to creation. Genesis 1:1 definitely represents an early creation work (the actual creation). Creation was completed by God in a period called eternity past which verse 1 talks about. God does not start what He cannot complete, perfect and finish. The book of Ecclesiates 3:14 says “I know that everything God does is permanent; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it.” Hence, heavens and Earth were completed places before the deplorable situations in verse 2.

Again, Isaiah 45:18 reminds us that “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in VAIN (another word for VOID), he formed it to be INHABITED.” The Earth (as seen in its CREATED form in verse 1), therefore, was in full existence, and was duly inhabited by some inhabitants. Were they humans? No. The human race was created much later, after verse 2. But those were a type of race – a type like ours – who were wiped off the Earth.

How? What happened to them? What happened between verse 1 and 2, which are two timelines separated by billions of years which the “period” or “full-stop” sign – separating those two verses – accurately stands for. 2 Peter 3:6 makes clear that they met with God’s divine judgment in a flood stage. 2 Peter 3:6 declares that “Whereby the world that THEN WAS, being overflowed with water, PERISHED: but the heavens and the earth, WHICH ARE NOW, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” It makes clear a pre-existence.

But let me also make it clear that “The world that then was” isn’t Noah’s world or generation. Before Noah’s time, the human race – as we now know the chief-inhabitants of the Earth 1.0 – have already been here. In Noah’s time, although there was indeed a flood, the world in his time did not ALL perish. Therefore, “The world that then was, BEING OVERFLOWED WITH WATER, PERISHED” talks about a different world where all its inhabitants were destroyed – a pre-existed world. Genesis 1:2 corroborates that TRUTH by saying, “Now the earth was formless and empty (another word for VOID, which also means “tohu” – desolate), darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” It says, the spirit of God was HOVERING OVER THE WATERS. There was a flood stage. We are getting somewhere.

But first and foremost, we need to realize that the Earth 1.0 is in fact older than 4.5 billion years as Schweitzer and his speculating, guess-full, science colleagues would have us believe. And even if we do not have all the facts from scriptures, just as scientists do not have all the facts on the true age of the Earth, none of us – the science school or the church school – can doubt the existence of the Earth. By extension, we can not doubt the existence of God. Even in our doubts, such crossroads as the existence of these marvelous planets shake our thoughts and point us back to God.

While Earth 2.0 might be new to Schweitzer, it isn’t, in any way, new to God who “IN THE BEGINNING CREATED THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND THE EARTH (called Earth because He places the highest-order of living things here, normally). The existence of Earth 2.0 does not disprove the existence of God who rules all the planetary bodies in their orbits/courses, it rather confirms his majesty. The existence of Earth 2.0 does not give God or anyone bad news – as Schweitzer would have us believe – because he erroneously, as many do, jumped verses from verse 1 to 2, thus missing the point, which remains that verse 2 addresses ONLY the re-creation of a desolate Earth, while verse 1 is a complete sentence making a complete sense of a previously finished work of creation – the actual CREATION.

Hence, the Earth we live in, which was not DISSOLVED between verses 1 and 2, even though it was flooded and rendered void (“tohu” – desolate) is as old as those galaxies and stars which Schweitzer says are 13 billion years old. The reason is simple, the Earth was not dissolved, it was left in void state, came back to by God, and restored anew. That wasn’t a birth day, that was a redemption day. We cannot now call that THE CREATION DAY OF THE EARTH. That’s a flawed logic and a fallacy.

Yes, there has been a beginning before verse 2. For “In the BEGINNING God created the heavens and the earth.” That beginning, which we – both science and the church – don’t know about is called ETERNITY PAST. And even in that ETERNITY PAST, before THE BEGINNING was begun, God had been there, before the BEGINNING, to usher in the BEGINNING into existence. There were no beginnings before Him. Hence, “In the beginning…” announced in Genesis 1:1 does not TIME the existence of God, but the very (unknown) timeline of His CREATION of the heavens and the Earth. Let it be known also to the Schweitzers of this world that their discoveries can only be what it is – discoveries. The science-suggested age(s) of stars in their galaxies, or Earth 1.0, Earth 2.0 – or even Earth 3.0 if soon discovered – does not disprove the existence of God, rather it proves it. God, the chief-beginner of all things existed prior to the beginning of all these things. These discoveries can only make the validity of “In the BEGINNING, God made heavens (heavenly bodies, planetary bodies, etc), and the Earth,” become even more valid, not less.

The Earth, as we have it in verse 2, I reiterate, is a re-creation.

Yes, I said re-creation because the world that then was perished in a flood and the inhabitants were no more. The declaration “Let there be light” is, in itself, a restoration of light (after darkness). This is where Schweitzer is thoroughly misled. God was never new to Light and Light was never new to God, for He Himself is Light. When God destroyed the world that then was (that is, the world in Genesis 1:1), He not only withdrew its form, its beauty, its fullness, He also withdrew its light. However, God returned to RE-store the Earth, and He put it in a new order. For scriptures say in Jeremiah 4:23, “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, AND THEY HAD NO LIGHT.” It was then God decided to re-create (re-new, re-store) the Earth, that’s RE-CREATION, a restoration. But he then CREATED a fresh set of inhabitants – the human race – after his own likeness and image, to both inhabit and rule over the Earth.

“For there shall be new heaven and new Earth”

Is it just a second Earth you scientists discovered and are slamming God? Some decades-old reports say certain scientists discovered Heaven. Are we shocked? Heaven is a place, as much as the Earth is a place. We are not going to be shocked out of our faith in God by your shallow discoveries. God is deeper than the deepest discoveries you can come up with. We are waiting for you not only to discover a Earth 2.0 but also Heaven 2.0 and as well a third Heaven. For all these already existed in the eternity past. In 2 Corinthians 12: 2 the Bible accounts that there is “A third heaven”. Science is yet to discover that. The Bible says “It is He who sits above the CIRCLE (sphere) of the earth” – a salient truth (clue) “kept safe” in scriptures for so long, but certain scientists back then said no, that the world was flat, until in recent history when science eventually agreed with God and the scriptures. Is it special therefore that the same science is talking about Earth 2.0, when we already know from scriptures, well ahead of science, that there are possibly Earth 3.0, Earth 4.0, and so on. “For there shall be new heaven and new Earth” that have not now been discovered by man and scientists. There can only be more and more of these celestial creations of God – not less. These are planets “kept in store” (or hidden away), from the knowledge of man, until we discover them. The bad news for science is, it won’t discover everything there is to discover before the world that now is is phased out by God – just like the world that then was. The truth is: God is, and God has his timelines, and would not compare notes with NASA or scientists like Schweitzer. He is not a discoverer; He is to be discovered. When these Earths and heavens (heavenly bodies) are no more, God will be. He is, from everlasting to everlasting. We will always be on the Lord’s side.

THE ROLE OF FACEBOOK IN INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIP

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The reason we enter into social networks or relationships with others is to form a connection with them. And we formed the most important connections with people we grew up with, people such as our family relatives and closest friends. We spent time with them frequently, sharing our good stories or disclosing our bad tales, in an atmosphere of empathy, understanding and support. We could recall many unforgettable moments with family and friends, whether we were at home with them, or at the local store; the local church; the community school, or at the area park. We always had time and space to hang out, and just talk, talk and talk. However, since social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook and Twitter came, that paradigm has changed. We are beginning to lose the close-knit relationship we all used to share with our families and friends.

Facebook’s role in shaping our most meaningful social relationships cannot be over-emphasized. A school of thought believes that Facebook is damaging close and interpersonal relationships, while another school says it is actually improving them. The latter school, the “cyber-optimists,” opines that social networking sites (SNS) have added quantity, options, and quality to interpersonal communication. While one might agree with the cyber-optimists that Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, have added quantity and options to communication, the impression that they have also added quality to communication may just be totally misplaced. Face-to-face communication tend to hold more quality than virtual communication. “Sometimes we just need someone with skin to give us a smile, wrap their arms around us, or hold our hands in theirs” (Fileta, 2013). This is the stance of the former school of thought, which has been branded the “cyber-pessimists.”

The so-called “cyber-pessimists” assert that social networking sites (SNS) have debilitating effects on close relationships. According to them, members of a social networking group often experience constraints in transferring the size of time and cognition displayed online by them to the same members of their online group who belong or crisscross as members of their offline social networking group. In essence, Facebook and other SNS bring about a false sense of connection between friends and members of a family. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, squeeze the quality out of what a “close” relationship is supposed to mean. The quality time and intimacy that would have been better shared, in real life (IRL) situation, with significant others, are wasted daily via the internet (or URL) service. Meanwhile the time and intimacy lost may never be regained because “in real life situations that are bound by time and space, people cannot help but have unique and unrepeatable encounters with others. In contrast, communication structured along the lines of computer logic is inorganic and infinitely reproducible” (Psychiatric Times, 2014). What close relationships are meant for are those irreproducible, happy moments of interpersonal communication that are shared time and time again. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Time is required to build and strengthen relationships, but at the same time, time is inelastic, and the size of “time spent on the internet displaces time spent socializing, particularly with family and doing face-to-face activities” (Pollet, Roberts and Dunbar, 2011). This the bottom-line of the “time displacement theory” propounded by the cyber-pessimists.

They also propounded a “cognitive constraint theory”, which is the reason some Facebook users feel empowered and in control, when online, but in real life (IRL) situations, they are weak and incompetent fellows. Social networking sites (SNS) have become places where these shy, less confident individuals hideout to develop “weak” relationships which they might brand as “strong” or “serious” relationships, until surprises begin to fly right, left and center – and their online relationship status changes to “complicated.” In any case, the complications will continue until people learn to pull out of social media, or lessen the hold SNS have on them, and enter confidently into real-life physical relationships. This is the way to lift the cognitive constraint. Communication over Facebook should not replace – but only supplement – face-to-face interpersonal communication. “For most of our history, contact and relationships between human beings have involved physical proximity. Although remote communication such as letter writing has existed for thousands of years, it was understood to have a secondary role to that of communicating in person. Under conditions of physical proximity, communicating with others has necessarily involved the use of special senses: sight, hearing, touch, and smell” (Psychiatric Times, 2014). This close-contact communication ensures better cognition and understanding, which in turn will make stronger relationships. The emotional closeness of an offline social network or close relationship ought to be more important, and sought after, with more time and cognition invested in it, rather than some online social network relationship with no real-to-life meaning.

And talking about meaning – the reason some adolescents and young adults joined Facebook, in the first place, is because they are lonely and seeking a meaning for living. Meanwhile, the meaning they seek is all around them in real life (IRL) social networking groups – not in internet (URL) social networking sites. For all the connectivity that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram promise, the human race has never been lonelier than now. Yes, we are connected to devices but disconnected from ourselves. Husbands and wives, for example, may be connected on all the social media, but disconnected from themselves. This makes them lonely – or lonelier, if they already were lonely – and being in one another’s presence cannot fill the vacuum of the “strange” loneliness. Neither indeed can social media. But while they stay faithful and hooked to Facebook, they break away from their spouses – the ones who are in the best place to offer them true companionship. “Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer” (Marche, 2012). Owing to this, it is advisable for lonely SNS lovers to shirk their Facebook and other SNS accounts for real-life relationships where they might engage in self-disclosure, and get the help and companionship they need, in a more meaningful and humane atmosphere.

On Facebook, there is a limit to what could be publicly disclosed, because of its over-reaching effect. An information posted online could be shared and re-shared to reach the remotest of places, and the strangest of strangers, all around the world. Several social networking sites (SNS) have millions of users on their platforms. Facebook alone could boast of billions of users on its platform, a size bigger than the population of any one country in the world. China is the most populous nation in the world with a population size of 1.39 billion people. Facebook has a population size of 1.44 billion people on its platform with a daily active user size of 936 million of them who have access to photos, videos, and private chats of people they don’t know. This lack of privacy is a very serious concern for some SNS users and non-users. According to Professor Paul Booth of the college of communication DePaul University, Chicago, “Because interpersonal communication is changing, we’re finding ourselves more apt to share on social media the sort of information we might have previously shared face-to-face. We always have to keep in mind that our social networks are searchable – even when privacy settings are set extremely highly, it’s always possible to find out personal information” (Booth, 2014). And the information may be picked up by scammers, kidnappers, or cyberbullies who may use it against the owners. Or, as in some other cases, curious potential or present employers may find out some nasty information about their would-be or present employee which may lead to his or her job loss. Therefore, Facebook is not a safe space for too much self-disclosure or an over-sharing of very personal information.

We have to learn how to cut back on the time, energy, passion, information, and disclosure we invest into Facebook and other SNS. We have to learn how to be comfortable in our own skin, and find our true identity – and stop using Facebook as a smokescreen to hide our failures or incompetency at going out to relate with others in a more meaningful way. “Maintaining social relationships over time is a cognitively complex task, and individuals with better social cognitive abilities have larger personal networks” (Pollet, Roberts and Dunbar, 2011). The larger the offline, face-to-face networks we create, the better the companionship and friendship we experience. In real-life (IRL), meaningful relationship is possible with or without computers and phones to browse, because of its quality of physicality. However, “Try having a Facebook relationship if you have no computer access, if the internet service is down or unusually slow, if the power goes out, if your backup battery dies, or if one day Facebook is outlawed. The central question is: who is ultimately in control of such a relationship? Does it arise organically between individuals who are free to structure it the way they see fit?” (Psychiatric Times, 2014). It is high time humanity regained the control it has over its own social networking as social beings. Mediated communication should not replace interpersonal face-to-face communication. Or else, things will fall apart and the center will not be able to hold anymore. The only way to restore sanity again is to let social media take a secondary place in our lives, as it happened with letter writing, the coming of the telephone, radio and television – laudable innovations that improved the human race without robbing it of emotionally beneficial physical connections.

Let it be clear that the intention of this research of mine is not to conclude that a few meaningful relationships have not happened in virtual situations – after all, twice in a day, even a dead clock gets it right – but the crux of this research is that the most humanly beneficial connection is best accessed in real life situations. Facebook networking does not lead to a long lasting relationship. Find a life – and a relationship – outside Facebook. You’ll be more fulfilled.

Peace Religions: A tale of two worlds

Muslim Legacy

Christian Legacy

Countries that Muslims want to escape from. Countries that Muslims want to escape to.
Madrassahs that indoctrinate Muslim
children with bigotry and terror.
Mission schools that teach reading and
writing to Christians and Muslims alike.
Suicide bombings for Allah No suicide bombings for Jesus
International terror organizations. International charities.
No formal charities for non-Muslims. Leading provider of disaster relief to Muslims.
Murder of aid workers. Supply of aid workers.
Christians in jail for apostasy or blasphemy. Religious freedom.
Modern-day slavery in the name of Islam. Abolition in the name of Christianity.
Muslim clerics who engage
in or condone terrorism.
Christian clerics murdered each year by
terror groups rife with Muslim clerics.
Daily religious violence against Hindus. None.
Daily religious violence against Jews. None.
Daily religious violence against Buddhists. None.
Daily religious violence against Muslims. None.
Ritual slitting of animals’ throats Ending of animal sacrifice
Religion Technology & Medicine
Censorship Freedom of speech
Intolerance for criticism of Islam. Tolerance for religious dissent.
Restricting other religions from preaching faith. Allowing all religions the
same right to evangelize.
Conversions allowed to Islam only. Freedom of conscience.
Converts to Christianity beheaded. No dead converts to Islam.
Most famous Muslim: Osama bin Laden. Most famous Christian: The Pope.