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Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi Feast Day Jan 20 – Full Text

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Mount St. Bernard Abbey: Re-internment of the remains of the Lulworth Monks & Blessed Cyprian Tansi.
Re-Internment of Lulworth Monks at Mt. St. Bernard Abbey at which BLESSED CYPRIAN TANSI was present and appears.

Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi (born in Aguleri, Anambra State, Nigeria in September 1903 – died in Leicester, England, 24 January 1964) was an Igbo Nigerian ordained a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria on 19 December 1937. He worked in the parishes of Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajalli and Aguleri.
He was later a Cistercian Monk at Mount Saint Bernard Monastery in England. After being recommended by Cardinal Francis Arinze, who was inspired by Tansi as a boy (he had been one of Tansi’s students and knew him personally), he was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 March 1998, who said, “Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi is a prime example of the fruits of holiness which have grown and matured in the Church in Nigeria since the Gospel was first preached in this land. He received the gift of faith through the efforts of the missionaries, and taking the Christian way of life as his own he made it truly African and Nigerian.”
Heritage and Early Life
Before he was born, the British had come to colonize Nigeria. The British [Royal Niger Company] was traded in Aguleri before Michael was born, and buying palm oil from the local people to sell abroad. An incident happened when a local person named Onwurume wanted to take a little palm oil to put on his roasted yam (yam is the staple food of Igbo people, and palm oil to yams is the cultural equivalent of butter to bread) and he decided to puncture a barrel of palm oil to get some. When the hole he made caused the entire barrel to be emptied out, he ran away but was grabbed by employees of the Company and put into custody. When the local people heard about it they gathered together to negotiate with the company agents, but the company called for military reinforcements and arrested the twelve chiefs who came to negotiate, and then afterwards proceeded to attack the neighbouring villages, burning down the homes of the local people, pillaging their property as well as mistakenly destroying a nearby village of a different group that had no relation to the incident.
Michael’s father was Tansi of Igbezunu, Aguleri. He was one of the people taken hostage by the Royal Niger Company, and later released. Later he named his firstborn son ‘Iwe-egbune’ shortened to Iwene, meaning ‘let malice not kill’; which was the birth-name of Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi. His father was a pagan, but not a polygamist, and he married twice, the second wife after the first one died. Michael was his first born, and he had another son with his first wife. His second wife gave him four boys and one girl.
His parents were poor farmers.
When he was a young child, he became permanently blinded in one of his eyes as a result of a mud-fight with other children.
His father sent Iwene to a Catholic mission school, with the intention of getting his son to receive a better education that would help lead their family out of poverty and would never again be taken advantage of by the westerners. Michael automatically became a Catholic by being enrolled and taught at the school, and he was baptized in 1913 with the Christian name of Michael.
Upon graduating, he became a teacher, and worked as a teacher from 1919-1925.
Seminarian-
At that time there was little enthusiasm for Blacks becoming priests in Nigeria. The Bishop was Irish, and most of the clergy were Europeans. Bishop Shanahan saw the native Igbo, even after conversion, as still being steeped in paganism, and that it was going to be difficult to teach them to be proper priests. While Igbo could become priests they were subject to strict discipline and were often expelled from seminary for relatively minor lapses. The priests who taught them were concerned that only the very best men should become priests.
Michael attended seminary from 1925-1937. His family was appalled at his entrance to the seminary, because they wanted him to go into business or something that would take them out of poverty, which was what his father had always planned. His family was poor and they desperately needed his help, but he felt that God, the same God he had learned about in the mission school his parents had sent him to as a child as a means of getting material benefits for the family, wanted him to continue in the seminary rather than do something else.
Parish priest
At that time in Nigeria, almost all priests were foreign missionaries. Few Africans were being ordained to the priesthood. The foreign missionaries were generally unwilling to live in the same poverty or conditions that the native-born Nigerians endured, and as a result if an area wanted a parish priest the local people had to get their money together and be able to supply enough money so that the priest could live well. This included building a church and rectory (which rather than adobe or mud, could be brick or concrete, with two stories and a zinc roof), buying a car, scooter or bicycle for the priest’s use, European style foods including wine, chicken, tea, coffee, sausages, peas, potatoes, imported foods, etc.
As Black priests became more common some often followed the lifestyle of the foreign missionaries. Monks and nuns also lived more comfortably than most Nigerians and some people began looking at taking holy orders as a priest, monk or nun as a way to escape poverty.
When Michael became a parish priest, he refused to live in this fashion. He lived a very austere life in comparison to the other priests around him. He refused to live in a nice home, and he would build his own home using adobe, mud brick or other traditional materials. He would sleep on any bed even if it is uncomfortable. He would eat even poorer food than what the local people ate, surviving on tiny portions of yam. He sometimes had a motorbike provided to him, but he often preferred to use a bicycle or even just to walk. He was not deterred from doing his work by tropical rainstorms.
His lifestyle shocked and amazed the Nigerian Catholics, who were not accustomed to this kind of priest. And he became extremely popular and loved among the four parishes that he served in. He organized the community to help the poor and needy, and he personally would help people to build their own homes or perform other projects. He never insisted that poor people pay the AMC, although for richer people he insisted. He was very good at building homes, and taught people new building techniques with adobe or mud brick that were copied and used by the whole community. He was remembered as always being very kind.
He was unyielding in confronting vice among his flock. For example, towards the issue of pre-marital sex, he would not allow men to see their brides before they got married, and he would organize the community to place the bride to be in a special home wherein she would be looked after until she got married, and if the groom attempted to go there without Fr. Tansi’s permission, he could be penalized. He also had a women’s group organized who would enforce disciplines on their own members to avoid pre-marital sex and deter abortion. He was also a very strict disciplinarian with students who failed to work hard at the parish school to the point of hiding near the school, waiting for the bell to ring, and then when he saw students coming late he would come out of his hiding place and penalise them for coming late to school.
He also stood up against oppression of women within the traditional culture and advised women to fight back against those who would rape them or mistreat them. On one occasion, a female parishioner was attacked by a group of pagan males, and she fought back against them, and Fr Michael, who was nearby, came on his bicycle and joined with her and fought them until they fled. He then encouraged her to bring the assailants to court and she did, and won the case against them, forcing them each to pay her four pounds; this case was a milestone in the establishment of women’s rights in Nigeria.
He also was opposed to some aspects of the traditional pagan culture in Nigeria, especially the masquerades, who were believed to be spirits and used to punish innocent people at times. Nigerian pagans had murdered his own mother after claiming she was a witch who had caused mischief.
He gave the community advice and teachings about the right way to live in a practical fashion. For example, there were many mango trees in his locale, and it was common for people to go to the trees and throw rocks at the fruit, and in the process they would knock down far more than they were going to eat, or they knocked down the unripe fruit along with the ripened fruit; and as a result the tree would be denuded before the season was over. Michael considered this very wasteful, and told his parishioners to pluck each mango individually so that nothing was wasted and that they would not lack mangoes to eat later.
He worked in four large parishes: Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajalli and Aguleri (his own home town).
He was also remembered as being a perfectionist, who wants things to be done in the most perfect of way possible, which sometimes placed a burden on those who were under him that they resented.
Trappist Monk
While serving in his last parish, in his own hometown of Aguleri from 1949-1950, Michael began to become attracted to the religious life and was asking about becoming a monk. At that time there were no monasteries established in Nigeria, and the bishop was interested in the idea of sending some candidates to a monastery in Europe who would become monks in Europe and later would return to Nigeria to start up the first Nigerian monastery. Michael and others were selected for this project.
1950 was a jubilee year in the church, and Michael was first sent to Rome to make the pilgrimage to the four major basilicas. He was then sent to Mount St. Bernard in England, to join the Trappist monks there. He arrived on June 8, 1950
At the monastery he joined the novitiate and took his vows, later becoming a full monk, taking the name Cyprian after the Roman martyr. No one at the monastery had any idea of how he had constructed such great parishes in Nigeria and all his accomplishments, and he never told them. He did not try in any way to stand out among the other monks, and to them he seemed like just a normal monk, and many of them did not think that he was a saint or special person.
Despite fears of being treated with racial prejudice, he was fully accepted by the other monks, with the exception perhaps of one South African monk who seemed to look for things to find wrong in his work.
His novice master was very hard on the new monks, which caused him much stress. Bl. Cyprian was sensitive to criticism, and his novice master could always find things that were wrong with what he had done. This caused him much suffering and it was during this trying time that he understood he had made some mistakes in Nigeria with the hard discipline and expectations he had placed on those under him.
He was found to be intelligent and educated. When the monks were listening to a reading of Julius Caesar’s invasion of England, when the boats could not continue, Cyprian asked, ‘Why didn’t they turn on the motors?’ He also didn’t memorize the psalms which the monks sang every morning at 2am after getting out of bed, and would make up words as he sang along.
The English winter was also hard on him.
He didn’t go back to Nigeria again, but remained in Mount St Bernard, because of illness. He did not feel Nigeria independence movement was properly done. His health deteriorated, but he accepted death with no complaint. Before he died he went to Leicester Royal Infirmary, and when he was examined the doctor came out of the examination and spoke with monastery priest Fr James saying “Can you help me please, Father? This man must be in terrific pain, but he will only admit that he has ‘a little pain.'”. He died the same day as a result of Arteriosclerosis and ruptured aneurysm. The date of his death was 20 January 1964.
His body was buried at the monastery in England, but it was later moved to Nigeria.
His Quotations
“Count no one saved, until he is found in heaven” (Onye afuro na enuigwe, si aguyi na)
“Do not be imitating the whites in everything, strive hard to gain the Kingdom of God. The whites are already in heaven in this world, but you are suffering every want. Are you going to suffer also in the next world: Life on earth could be compared to the journey of a young student who received a slip for a registered parcel, and he had to go to Lagos to claim this parcel. On the way he passed through many beautiful towns, towns with very attractive things in the shops. He started going from one shop to another, stretching his hands to the beautiful things he saw. He stopped so often in these big towns that he almost forgot what he was travelling for. It was after a long time that he ultimately reached Lagos, and when he went to claim the parcel he was told that the parcel had lain in the post for so long without him arriving to claim it that they had finally decided to send it back to the sender.”
“God will give you double for what you give Him”
“If you want to eat vultures, you may as well eat seven of them, so that when people call you “vulture eater” you really deserve the name. If you want to become a Catholic, live as a faithful Catholic, so that when people see you, they know that you are a Catholic. If you are going to be a Christian at all, you might as well live entirely for God.”
“Whether you like it or not, saving your soul is your own business. If you are weak and fall by the wayside, we shall push you aside and tread on you as we march forward to meet God.”
“She is not ‘Onye Bem’ (a common Nigerian expression for wife, meaning ‘in my place) but your wife, your better half, part of your own body. ‘Onye’ means a stranger which your wife is not. You must recognize the worth and position of your wife and treat her as your partner and your equal. Unless you do that, she is not a wife to you but a servant, and that is not what God wants a wife to be to the husband.”
INSTITUTIONS NAMED AFTER BLESSED CYPRIAN IWENE TANSI
Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary,Onitsha Anambra State Nigeria (Provincial Seminary)
Blessed Iwene Tansi Secondary School,Aguleri
Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish,Umudioka
Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish Ugwu Orji Owerri Imo State
Blessed Iwene Tansi Chaplaincy, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (Igbariam Campus)
Tansi International College Awka
Tansian University,umunya
Mount St. Bernard Abbey: Re-internment of the remains of the Lulworth Monks & Blessed Cyprian Tansi.

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Osisioma Pipeline Fire: Obiano Calls For Proactive Measures To Preserve Sanctity Of Life

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By JAMES EZE

Governor Willie Obiano has called for precautionary measures to
preserve the sanctity of human life.
The Governor made the call while reacting to the fire incident along the Osisioma axis near the NNPC depot in Aba, Abia State, which claimed many lives and destroyed property worth millions of naira.
The Governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary Mr James Eze, while commiserating with his counterpart in Abia State Dr
Okezie Ikpeazu and entire people of the State, regretted the untimely
loss of many lives mostly youths at a time when life needs to be better nurtured and preserved.
Governor Obiano who stressed the need for the sanctity of human life to be maintained, through conscious efforts, urged the citizenry to avoid acts capable of undermining the sustenance of life.
The Governor while praying for the repose of the souls of the departed sent his condolences to the bereaved families, praying God to give them the fortitude to overcome the trauma of the tragic incident.

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Chinua Achebe : There was a Country- A Review

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Chinua Achebe

There was a country is just another literary paragon that Achebe brings forth, a powerful recount of history, culture, war and nationalism. To summarise, the book is a historical satire of Nigeria and Biafra, a personal and first hand chronicle of his experience before and during the Nigerian civil war of 1967–1970, and how Nigeria unfolded from an Imperial colony, to an optimistic Independent nation and its aftermath decline into a war stricken zone (which constitutes the bulk of the book) and his personal experiences during this period. He narrates almost angrily and sentimentally on the Biafran War, on not only the genocidal atrocities and war crimes but also tries to capture the Image of what Nigeria used to be like before Independence and what it is now- a failed, corrupt, mediocre, ethnically bigoted and politically inept state.

Cover Design

PART 1: The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 starts on a comedic note, talking about his family, education, youth and “magical years” and how things used to be back-in-a-day. He writes of how he grappled with culture, religion and colonialism. There is a particular expression that Chinua tells about him coming to terms with western religion during his youth:
“I often had periods of oscillating faith as I grew older, periods of doubt when I quietly pondered and deeply questioned the absolutist teachings or the interpretations of religion. I struggled with the certitude of Christianity- I am the way, the truthand the life”- not its accuracy, because as a writer one understands that there should be such latitude, but the desolation, the acerbity of its meaning, the lack of options for the outsider, the other. I believe that this question has subconsciously influenced my writing”
However, Achebe also recounts on his academic years and a reader can see how intelligent and bright a student Achebe was from his primary school days even to University college, Ibadan. He studied alongside prominent academia like Chike Momah, Flora Nwapa, Mabel Segun and Elechi Amadi amongst others and the alma mater also produced great scholars like Wole Soyinka, J.P Clark and J. C Echeruo. Talk about Alumni…
After securing a good job at a broadcasting company, meeting his life partner and publishing things fall apart, he then narrates the trail of Nigeria getting its independence, to the dark days- the times of ethnic tension and resentment. The story gradually begins to darken with events like the 1966 military coup and the countercoup and assassinations that followed, the pogroms and mass killings of the Igbos in the north, the Aburi accord and the declaration of the  Biafra War, the beginning of the Nightmare.

PART 2: According to the writer, the final provocation for the Biafran war was entirely a function of an Injustice committed by the Northerners against the Igbos by the widespread butchering of thousands of Igbo in the north as a response to the assassination of the highly revered Northern leader Sir Ahmadu Bello by Major General Kaduna Nzeogwu(The Hyena) when he seized power as military head of state in the 1966 coup. Even before this, there had been increased and heated tensions between these two ethnic groups and it had finally reached its tipping point. The Nigerians felt that the Igbos had a bloodlust for power as many of them seemed to occupy high position in government and academia. Subsequently, In response to these mass murders, the Igbo nation was furious and had to get justice whichever way possible because clearly Yakubu Gowon wasn’t providing it. Achebe writes:

“On May 30 1967, Ojukwu citing a variety of malevolent acts directed at the mainly Igbo easterners such as the pogrom that claimed over 30,000 lives of men women and children, the federal government’s failure to ensure the safety of easterners in the presence of organised genocide; and the direct incrimination of the government in the murders of its own citizens- proclaimed the Independence of the republic of Biafra from Nigeria”.

The Author looks back in retrospect and claims that the war was deemed inevitable and there was no other path to go than to secede. For the Biafrans at that point, there was no going back, it was either secession or death. An all-out declaration of war.

Biafran Leader- Colonel Odimegwu Ojukwu

The War: The war accounts are holistic enough coupled with enough facts and data as he simultaneously captures the bloody atmosphere at the receiving end of the battering. Bombs, Napalms, shells and bullets rained constantly upon Igbo land with heavy loss of human life and mass destruction of property. It was more of a genocide than a war and the primary weapon of mass destruction was no other than- Starvation. As the Nigerian republic shut off food supplies to the east and effectively bombed arable land suitable for farming, the Biafran men, women and children starved and died in cataclysmic numbers that it created an international media upsurge. Innocent children starved to death, victims of a war fought against an unapologetic, ruthless administration that endorsed the starvation of women and children as a “Legitimate weapon of war”.

Starving biafran Children

There were massacres indeed, and the most notorious of them was the Asaba Massacre carried out under the orders of General Murtala Mohammed and Ibrahim Haruna of the Nigerian Army 2nd division, 2 of the generals that led the 3 tonged offensive, the Pitchfork attack, that rained terror on the Igbos. Emma Okocha in his poetic classic The last dance on the Niger wrote that “Sons buried their fathers in their thousands and fathers buried sons in their thousands”. The Asaba Massacre and the Calabar Massacre joint together scores a death toll of over 3000 lives. The author horrifically recounts that Death and destruction were the order of the day and there was “blood, blood everywhere”. By the time the war was over the death toll hit around 3 million lives and even more displaced, thousands of buildings destroyed, property vandalised, women raped, children hospitalised and the whole eastern region came to the brink of poverty.
Notwithstanding, it was still a war and in war, you fight back. The Biafrans sure fought back bravely. Perhaps the most important battle strategy used by the rebels was the Che guevara style guerrilla warfare, leveraging on home advantage, the rebels usually made late night/early morning sneak attacks on enemy soldiers and violently battered them to pulp and there were even rumours that Biafrans ate the cooked flesh of Nigerian soldiers. ewww..

the Ogbunigwe

He also reminisces on the contingent but creative technologies used by the Biafran engineers like the Ogbunigwe, a locally made bomb made up of explosive gunpowder and scraps of sharp metal. Nevertheless, the Biafrans were completely outgunned and outmanned and the ratio of Nigerian soldiers to Biafran rebels was about 6:1. The rebels had guns too mainly supplied by the French and the Chinese but still not enough to go around for them all. He mentions:
Frederick Forsyth recalls in an excellent BBC documentary , Biafra: fighting a war without guns, that Biafran soldiers marched into war one man behind the other because they had only one rifle between them, and the thinking was that if one soldier was killed in combat the other would pick up the only weapon available and continue fighting.
The Nigerians had advanced military equipment like fighter planes and armoured tanks while the Biafrans could only make manage with Saracens, Howitzers and SUV’s. Also, The Ahiara declaration would have been the primary constitution and rule of law for Biafra if secession succeeded and the nation just like any other would have had a Biafran flag, anthem, a military and an economic policy. That was the plan.

Achebe also sentimentally reminisces of how he and his family were displaced 4 times and they had to constantly keep relocating to ensure their safety. He talked particularly a lot about his dear friend and confidante Christopher Okigbo, an astute and talented poet and thinker and the junior brother of the renowned economist Pius Okigbo. During the hardest periods of the war, Christopher remained close to his family until he signed up to join the Biafran rebels and was sadly executed as a Major. One can tell how close and important Okigbo was to the author’s life.

Christopher Okigbo

PART 3: The war gradually draws to an end, the Biafra republic surrenders to the Federal republic of Nigeria and Ojukwu flees to asylum. One can see the myriad of events that led to the loss of morale on the Biafra side- the endless starvation, the silence of the United nations, Azikiwe’s withdrawal of Biafran support, the bombing of the Uli strip, Ojukwu’s execution of the italians at Kwale oil rig that trumped International support and the recapture of Owerri, all which led to the Biafran surrender in January 1970.

PART 4: After such a rough, bloody and terrible past, Nigeria was expected to arise from this miry clay into a peaceful, unified and productive nation but after all said and done, Nigeria still remains a hub of corruption, mediocrity and indiscipline largely controlled by the ruling class. He suggest ways for State resuscitation and recovery with this final note:

A new patriotic consciousness has to be developed, not one based on the well worn notion of the unity of Nigeria or faith in Nigeria often touted by our corrupt leaders, but one based on awareness of the responsibility of the leaders to the led- on the sacredness of their anointment to lead- and disseminated by civil society, schools and intellectuals.

Poems and Notes: The book is also decoratively laced with beautiful haunting poems positioned in-between chapters. Before I read this book I had no idea that he was such a great poet and I was indeed mesmerised by the quality of his poetry. Such of the poems included in the book are — The Penalty of Godhead(already on the blog in the poetry section), Biafra(1969), We laughed at him and After a War.
In conclusion, Achebe is also a very heavy indexer and a voracious researcher. I guess writing a book of this cadre requires a dense investment into research and data collection. He cited 391 articles and notes in the course of writing this Chronicle.

DID YOU KNOW?

-The Nigerian civil war of 1967–1970 is Africa’s bloodiest war to date with 3 million lives lost and over 4.5 million people displaced.

-Achebe turned down Nigeria’s second highest national award (Commander of the federal republic) twice in 2004 and 2011 as a result of his anger on the condition of Nigeria. He writes “I had very little at my disposal to protest with, so the strongest statement I could make was to turn down the honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, which i was awarded”

-The three Military generals picked by Gowon that led the attack on the Biafrans were General Murtala Mohammed,Gen Mohammed Shuwa and the notorious Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle aka The Black Scorpion. They spearheaded what they call the Pitchfork Offensive

-Colonel Odimegwu Ojukwu(The Biafran Leader) came from a very affluent and wealthy family, his father Sir Louis Odimegwu Ojukwu was considered the wealthiest man in Nigeria at the time(similar to Aliko Dangote now). He was so rich that he was the only African to own a fleet of porsches as a student in Oxford University England.


This article was written by Farah Izu

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The Power of Heroes in the Fight against Human Trafficking

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Secretary Pompeo and Ivanka Trump present U.S. Embassy to the Holy See-Nominee Blessing Okoedion with the TIP Hero Award

Human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, is a global crime that deprives millions around the world of their human dignity and freedom. Its victims are often lured with false promises by people they trust — including family members — and are forced into prostitution, debt bondage, domestic servitude, and other forms of modern slavery.
Human trafficking also compromises national security, distorts markets, and emboldens transnational criminals and terrorists. It threatens international peace and security.
The United States is fighting human trafficking on all fronts, engaging in robust domestic and international efforts.
On October 11, President Trump convened this Administration’s first meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF). He vowed that America “will not rest until we have put these vile organizations out of business and rescued every last victim.”
The Trump Administration understands that the path to ending human trafficking demands action, but also cooperation. No single government or individual can fight it alone. Governments, faith-based organizations, civil society, and survivors must work together.
This is why members of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, comprised of survivor leaders representing a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences participated in last week’s meeting. These leaders, appointed by President Trump, provide a formal platform for trafficking survivors to advise and make recommendations on federal anti-trafficking policies to the Task Force.
It’s also why each year, the U.S. Department of State recognizes the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes — brave individuals who dedicate their lives to this cause. They are celebrated for their tireless efforts — despite resistance, opposition, and even threats to their lives — to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad.
As U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with one of these extraordinary individuals: Blessing Okoedion.
Blessing is a survivor, an activist, an author, and a fierce protector of victims suffering under the evil of human trafficking. She has helped a multitude of women escape this horror. Her advocacy on their behalf has saved numerous lives.

In June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognized Blessing and nine other individuals with the 2018 TIP Report Heroes award. I couldn’t have been more proud of her selection.
Prior to her work in fighting human trafficking, Blessing worked as a computer technician in Nigeria. A recruiter found her through her local church and offered Blessing, a college graduate, a job in Spain in a tech store, where she could have a better life. When Blessing arrived at the airport in Benin City, an immigration agent told her that her visa was fake. She was allowed to board the flight anyway.
Blessing never stepped foot inside the tech store. After arriving in Spain, her exploiters took her to Naples, Italy and forced her into prostitution. Her traffickers told her that she owed them over $70,000 to cover travel and recruitment costs. After four days on the street, Blessing managed to escape. Her perseverance took her to Casa Rut, a shelter operated by Ursuline nuns in nearby Caserta, Italy.
During an April 11 symposium hosted by our embassy, Blessing explained how the sisters of Casa Rut provided her with shelter and care. Blessing has written a book, Il Coraggio della Libertà — The Courage of Freedom, to help others better understand the horrors of human trafficking. Today she works as a cultural mediator and an advocate for women forced into human trafficking networks.
We desperately need heroes like Blessing Okoedion in the fight against modern slavery. Her perseverance and advocacy is an example of how trafficking victims can overcome, thrive, and help others to do so as well.
Leveraging input from human trafficking survivors is critical to combating human trafficking. Doing so strengthens federal policy and programming efforts. As Secretary of State Pompeo explained at last week’s Task Force meeting, survivors, “set a courageous example of service for the United States, and for the world, by choosing to transform their harrowing experiences into powerful advocacy.”
The Holy See, like the United States, understands and appreciates the crucial role survivors play in the fight against this global evil. Pope Francis has called for a victim-centered approach to this endeavor, a method U.S. law enforcement has adopted for some time.
Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States will not rest until human trafficking is eradicated. And the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See will continue to join heroes like Blessing Okoedion and our Vatican partners in this cause.


This article was written by Callista L. Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

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ANAMBRA STATE COMMISSIONER FOR WORKS BAGS AWARD AS AN ICON OF INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT

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ANAMBRA STATE COMMISSIONER FOR WORKS BAGS AWARD AS AN ICON OF INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT

 

By Maduabuchi Nwalieji

Accolades have been showered on the Anambra State Commissioner for Works, Engr. Marcel Ifejiofor, for his outstanding leadership, knowledgeable expertise and commitment to the advancement of the State through the wonderful administration of Governor Willie Obiano.

This came as the award of Icon for Infrastructural Development was today, 18th Oct, 2018, conferred on him by the Nnamdi Azikiwe Students Union Government, Awka, in a follow up to the occasion of the 25years anniversary of the University.

The Students Union President, Comrade Igwebuike Ikenna, disclosed that this award was conferred on Chief Engr. Marcel Ifejiofor for his forthrightness, passion, talent, ability, competence, patriotism, zeal, loyalty and commitment to the advancement and betterment of our dear State.

In his remarks, the Honourable commissioner for works, expressed his heart felt gratitude and admiration for the award.

He dedicated the award to the Anambra State Governor, H.E Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, the Permanent secretary, directors, contractors, Engineers, consultants and other staff of the Anambra State Ministry of Works.

He appreciated Governor Obiano who deemed it fit to bestow on him the right and privilege to manage the affairs of road construction and infrastructural developments in the State.

He urged the Students Union Government of Nnamdi Azikiwe University to ensure that peace reign in the campus and as well work towards achieving a peaceful coexistence between all the Universities in the State.

Present in the function are; the Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs, Ndidi Mezue (Mrs), HRM Igwe Ben Emeka, Okebo II Umueri amongst other big names in the Ministry of Works.

*See photos below*

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Obiano Condoles with Ikpeazu on Osisioma Tragedy.

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The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, commiserates with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and the people of Abia over the heartrending incidence of fire outbreak that caused heavy fatalities at Osisioma.
In a press release issued by Mr. James Eze, Gov. Obiano’s Chief Press Secretary, the Governor lamented the ‘untimely loss of so many lives, mostly youthful lives, in just one neighbourhood at peacetime.’ The Governor regretted that the heavy death toll occurred at a time in history when life should be better nurtured and preserved in our land.
While empathizing with the Government and people of Abia State, Gov. Obiano enjoined the people to ‘always take precautionary measures in preserving life by avoiding occasions or acts capable of undermining the sustenance of life.’ He instructed that ‘the sanctity of life demands conscious human efforts to keep life, especial at moments of need and trial.’
As the Governor wished repose of the souls of the departed, he sent assurances of his heartfelt sympathy in his condolences to the bereaved families, while praying God to grant them the fortitude to bear the loss with equanimity.

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Electoral Bill: Senate stands down move to override Buhari

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The Senate on Thursday stood down consideration of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 for third reading and passage, until Tuesday.
The bill, which was captured on the Order Paper, was stood down at plenary for more legislative work.
Announcing the development, Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said “in view of the sensitive nature of the bill and its importance, it is vital to give the committee more time to do a thorough job.’’
After his remarks on it, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, put the issue to voice vote and the “`step down’’ was unanimously adopted.
The bill scaled second reading on Oct. 10, a day after the Red Chamber resumed from recess.
Ongoing process on the Bill is the fourth attempt by lawmakers to have it ready for assented of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari had on Sept. 3, declined assent to the Bill, which was transmitted to him by the National Assembly on Aug. 3, for the third time.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang, in a statement in Abuja, announced the president’s decline of assent to the Bill.
He had explained that the president declined endorsement of the bill due to some drafting issues and the period fixed for political parties’ primaries, among others.
In Auguat, Enang had clarified that the bill, which was forwarded to the President on Aug. 3, was “alive and awaiting assent.’’
The clarification was against the backdrop of media report that Buhari had again vetoed the bill forwarded to him for assent.
But, Enang explained that the vetoed bill was the one sent to the President on June 27 and not the one passed by the Assembly on July 24, the day the lawmakers commenced their annual recess.
In February, the president rejected the first Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 forwarded to him for assent and gave reasons.


This article was written by
Cecilia Ijuo

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11 trapped in Anambra building collapse

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No fewer than 11 persons were trapped under a three storey building which collapsed in Nnewi, Anambra in the early hours of Thursday.
The building was located in Okpuno, Otolo, in Nnewi North Local Government Area of the state.
According to SP Mohammed Haruna, Police Public Relations Officers (PPRO) who confirmed the incident, said the building belong to one Collins Avoyi.
Haruna said nine of the trapped persons have been rescued and taken to hospital while effort was on to get the remaining two out of the rubbles.
He said the trapped workers included foreign masons from the Republic of Togo.
“A three storey building belonging to one Mr Avoyi Collins ‘m’ collapsed at Okpuno Otolo in Nnewi North LGA of Anambra State.
“Police Patrol rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area to prevent looters from taking advantage of the situation to steal.
“So far, nine of them were rescued alive from the collapsed building while efforts are ongoing to rescue two others who are still trapped inside the debris.
“Meanwhile, the rescued victims were rushed to the Community Health Center, Okpuno for medical attention and investigation is ongoing to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident,” he said.


This article was written by  Chimezie Anaso

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Buhari Gets Approval On Paris Club Debt Settlement

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President Muhammadu Buhari is presiding over the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, at the Council Chamber, State House, Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval for the payment of the last tranche of Paris Club refunds to states.

Fielding questions from reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed said the approval however came with some conditions which include that the benefiting states must show proof that they used the previous refunds for payment of salaries.
Council has also approved the issuance of $2.9 billion and other securities in Eurobonds from the international capital market.

The focus of the approval according to the Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed is to enable the Federal Government implement the external borrowing of plan of $2.786 billion and fund capital projects in the 2018 Appropriation Act.
The Finance minister told reporters after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday that her ministry also got approval to raise the sum of $82.54 million to bridge the shortfall of the 500million Eurobond that matured on the July 12, 2018.
Council also on Wednesday approved the livelihood of family improvement project in the Niger Delta.
The project according to the Finance Minister will see the disbursement of the sum of $60 million in the form of loans and grants to encourage youths in the region engage in rural farming.
States to benefit from the programme are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.

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Senate Directs CBN To Suspend ATM Card Maintenance Charges

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The Nigerian Senate has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the ATM card maintenance charges being deducted from customers in a resolution passed during plenary on Wednesday, October 17, 2018.

The upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly also directed commercial banks operating in the country to configure their machines to dispense up to N40,000 per withdrawal pending the outcome of investigations by the Senate committees tasked with probing the excessive and illicit bank charges.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said the motion affects every Nigerian and should be addressed by the relevant authorities. He said the Senate must ensure that effective resolutions are reached to ease the financial burden of excessive bank charges on everyday Nigerians.

He said, “This is a motion that affects the lives of every Nigerian - irrespective of what part of the country you come from or whatever political affiliation you might have. This is why we are here: to always defend and protect the interests of the Nigerian people. This Senate has done this many times before; when there was a hike in the mobile telecommunication data charges, we intervened and put an end to that. When there were discrepancies and increases in electricity prices, we also took action. We have done this on a number of similar cases. Therefore, on this, I want us to take effective resolutions.”
Speaking further on ATM withdrawal limits, Saraki said it’s time for the banking sector to get rid of unnecessary charges that affect customers. “For me, this is a major step that we are taking. This is because I introduced the first ATM machine that came into Nigeria over 25-years ago. Now, after 25-years, we should have grown out of these excessive charges and moved on. So, I believe that this something that we must address to create an environment that protects all Nigerians, because these kind of charges in this economy affects everyone,” he said.

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Ikpeazu on VP Nomination

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Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Vice Presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi has cleared the air over reports that South East Governors and Party leaders from the region were not consulted before his nomination was made public.

The former Anambra State Governor who was in Aba, the commercial city of Abia State to see Governor Okezie Ikpeazu explains that he consulted widely including all the South East Governors and other stakeholders with no one declining his candidature.
Obi notes that what Nigeria needs at this point in time is a leader who will tackle the economic and security challenges confronting the nation.

Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu had earlier debunked insinuations that the three PDP governors from Mr Peter Obi’s South East region were opposed to his emergence as the running mate to the Party’s Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Ikpeazu made it clear that the choice of the former Anambra State governor stems from Obi’s leadership qualities and integrity over the years, describing him as the right man for the job.
It will be recalled that after a meeting of PDP leaders from the South East zone in Enugu last Saturday, the Governor’s were reported as complaining that the Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar did not consult them before nominating Peter Obi as the running mate.

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Can’t get on ANSSID?
If you have been having challenges getting your Anambra State Social Service number, here is what to do:
• send an email and ANSSID login details to: info@airs.an.gov.ng for immediate assistance.
• Visit the ANSSID HELPDESK or call HELPLINES: 07066727750 or 07033822851

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Just think about Jessica Osita( Silicon Valley Golden girl) who five months ago had never used a computer, sent an email or even browsed the internet, now she is part of a team of teenagers who just won a major Silicon Valley contest.

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