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PDP expresses confidence in Saraki

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State yesterday passed a vote of confidence in the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. In a statement issued after its state executive meeting and made available to newsmen in Ilorin, the party assured Saraki of its continued support and all that he stood for.

Bukola Saraki

The statement, signed by the state Chairman of the party, Kola Shittu, assured Saraki that the party’s executive and members stood firmly behind him in all his struggles to liberate, emancipate and free the country from draconian and autocratic rule and also share in the pains of the present with him in all ramifications.

The statement also thanked Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed for his administration’s giant stride in the various development programmes embarked upon since his assumption of office in 2011. It, however, urged him to continue his good work till the end of his tenure in May.
“The party hereby assures the general public that the Garin-Alimi Underpass, the UITH dual carriage way and the new state secretariat, among other projects already embarked upon by his Excellency, would be completed by the end of his tenure.

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Vatican contemplating married men as priests

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The Vatican has formally opened debate on letting married men be ordained as priests in remote parts of the Amazon where priests are so few that Catholics can go weeks or months without attending a Mass.

Pope Francis

The call for study on the proposal was contained in the working document, released on Monday, for an October meeting of South American bishops on the Amazon.

The document, prepared by the Vatican based on input from the region, affirmed that celibacy is a gift for the Catholic Church.

But it suggested officials study “the possibility of priestly ordination for older men, preferably indigenous and respected and accepted by their communities, even if they have stable families, for the region’s most remote areas”.

The idea of ordaining so-called “viri probati” – married men of proven virtue – has been around for decades to cope with a priest shortage and decline in vocations overall.

But it has drawn fresh attention under Pope Francis, history’s first Latin American pope, thanks to his familiarity with the challenges facing the Amazon church.

The October 6-27 meeting on the sacramental and environmental needs of the Amazon will draw bishops from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Brazil’s bishops have long pushed for the Church to consider ordaining viri probati to minister in remote parts of the Amazon where by some estimates there is one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.

The celibacy question has been a mainstay in Catholic debate given it is a discipline, not a doctrine, and therefore can change.

The Church has had the tradition since the 11th century, imposed in part to spare the Church the financial burdens of providing for large families and to ensure that any assets of the priest would pass to the Church, not his heirs.

Proponents of a relaxation of the rule say more men would consider a vocation to the priesthood if they could marry, a surefire fix to the decline in priests globally.

Opponents say relaxing the rule for the Amazon will certainly fuel calls for it to be relaxed elsewhere.

Already, married men can be ordained in the Eastern rite Catholic Church and married men who convert from Protestant churches can be Catholic priests.

In addition to ordaining married men, the document called for the synod to identify “the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women”.

It said women, who already play important roles in indigenous communities, must be guaranteed leadership roles.

But it stopped short of recommending debate on whether women could be ordained as deacons.

One of the organisers, Monsignor Fabio Fabene, said the female diaconate was essentially off the table since Francis has recently determined that the issue needs further discussion.

Overall, the synod bishops are expected to debate a host of measures to better minister to indigenous and migrant communities in the Amazon amid deforestation and exploitative industries and competition for souls from Pentecostal churches, which are more present in the region with indigenous, local leaders.

The Vatican’s working document acknowledged this competition, saying the Catholic Church must transition from being a church that merely visits vast regions to one that has a full-time presence with ministries, liturgies, sacraments and social services.

It called for a Church that has a more indigenous face, with local songs, dance, costumes and the Bible translated into various languages.

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Nigerians celebrate 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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As the world marks the 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Saturday, the Coalition for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) has called on governments to address the welfare of older persons.

The group is asking for improved healthcare, social security and prompt payment of pensions and stipends for older persons in the country.

The coalition noted that the senior citizens have contributed to national progress in their prime and consequently deserve attention now that they are less active.

Sen. Eze Ajoku, former senator representing Imo East, who is the President of COSROPIN, made the appeal at an event to mark the 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Abuja.

The event had its motto as: “Lifting up your voices’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

It represents the one-day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on some of our older generations.

Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.

The theme for 2019 Elder Abuse Awareness Day is: “Access to Justice: Legal, Social and Economic Services for Older Victims of Sexual, Physical and Financial Crimes”.

Ajoku said: “Government has done very little to ameliorate the plight of older persons either through policies or legislation.

“We are asking the Federal Government, among other things, to fast track the Social Security Act which is a poverty safety net for older persons in order to reduce their sufferings.’’

He said the healthcare system at the rural levels should be improved upon for the benefit of this set of people.

Ajoku also said that government at all levels must facilitate the payment of pensions and stipends to older persons as well as create day care facilities for them.

According to him, there is no national policy on ageing that is why COSROPIN has come up with a draft bill which will be forwarded to the ninth National Assembly with strong hope of passage.

“Elderly people suffer several societal ills ranging from neglect to verbal, physical, emotional, material and financial abuses.

“Older Nigerians are vital as contributing members of the society, hence their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us.’’

He noted that the Elder Abuse Awareness Day should remind every Nigerian that each one has a role to play by focusing attention on “elder justice’’.

He said with this year’s motto of “Lifting Up Your Voices,’’ COSROPIN wants all Nigerians to say no to elder abuse.

Ajoku added that in a society where cultural values of respect for elders are firmly rooted, it is disheartening that older persons are still treated with disdain.

He also advocated for improved public sensitisation on the role of Nigerians towards “senior citizens’’.

The president of COSROPIN charged religious leaders to use their platforms to orientate their members on according right treatments to older persons.

The UN said millions of seniors have been falling victim to some form of elder abuse, neglect or monetary manipulation around the world.

Around one in six older people experience some form of abuse, a figure higher than previously estimated and predicted to rise as populations age worldwide, the noted.

Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences, it emphasised.

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#DidYouKnow Nigerians are the smartest people to walk the earth?

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Nigerians are smart, adaptation to hardship coupled with the intense ‘survival of the fittest’ situation we face due to a peculiarly high population density made us smart. We are undoubtedly the smartest people in the world.

Well, smartness is a mental state, a response to environmental conditions. Basically, smartness is an adaptation for tolerance, the capacity to endure continued subjection to the uniquely challenging Nigerian state made us who we are, smart! Adaptation definitely still occurs in humans, and at a different rate proportional to environmental factors.

In biology, adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits organisms to their environment, enhancing their evolutionary fitness. Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a phenotypic or adaptive trait, with a functional role in each individual organism, that is maintained and has evolved through natural selection.

Generally, organisms face a succession of environmental challenges as they grow, and show adaptive plasticity as traits develop in response to the imposed conditions. Therefore, if this index does not exist already, I would state that the Gross Adaptive Plasticity (GAP) of a Nation is a measure of the smartness of a Nation: that’s what we are talking about here.

Consequently, this index is a direct reflection of the degree of enhanced evolutionary fitness, and it seems imperative that this factor correlates to population growth. The evidence of this can be attributed to the ever-increasing population of people in Nations with smart people.

It is projected that Nigeria will surpass the US population sometime around 2050 to hit 500m despite the prevailing circumstances. Yes, of course, the next generation of Nigerians would need to find ways to support this growth, by finding value in population growth. Certainly the smart once would thrive in the midst of this and even become smarter at surviving.

Thus all the peculiarities and unique challenges as Nigerians have allowed us to develop tolerance and resilience to varying environments across the world. The agility and swiftness towards this success facilitating adaptation is what we basically regard as smartness. Undoubtedly far more Nigerians tend to be on top of this than any other Nationality today.

Ultimately, smartness is a strength, and “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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Prominent Nigerian female curator, dies aged 56

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Bisi Silva, an adventurous curator who, with her own money, founded a nonprofit art gallery and education center in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, that has nurtured the growth and recognition of contemporary African artists, died on Feb. 12 in a hospital there. She was 56.

Her sister Joke Silva, an actress, said the cause was breast cancer.

Ms. Silva started the Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos in 2007 and made it a hub for bold and experimental sculpture, painting, photography and video and performance art that could ignite local and global interest.

She also curated exhibitions of African art around the world. One, in Helsinki, Finland, in 2011, featured the Nigerian photographer J. D. Okhai Ojeikere’s images of African women’s exotic hairstyles. (She turned that show into a book.) Others showed the work of the Ghanaian-born sculptor El Anatsui in Amsterdam and Johannesburg.

“I wouldn’t call her an African curator, but an international curator,” Hannah O’Leary, the head of modern and contemporary African art at Sotheby’s in London, said in a telephone interview. “She promoted African artists to the world and brought the international art world to Africa, and did it tirelessly. She never did the obvious: Her knowledge and vision were unrivaled.”

Ms. Silva felt that her mission was to change the way contemporary African art was being viewed from a Western perspective and to develop African artists in ways that their schools were not.

“The gaps in the art education system are jarring,” she told Frieze, an art and culture magazine, in 2017. While some West African nations like Nigeria had arts education programs, she called them “a colonial relic out of tune with present-day contextual, stylistic and intellectual realities.”

To fill the gaps, she created the Asiko Art School — actually a series of pop-up schools holding annual, monthlong educational gatherings in various African countries including Senegal, Ghana and Ethiopia, where artists, writers, historians, curators and teachers immersed themselves in seminars, workshops and exhibitions. The events gave Ms. Silva opportunities to evaluate artists’ work.

“Everyone had 15 minutes to present,” Antawan Byrd, who learned art curating under Ms. Silva at C.C.A. and is now assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, said by phone. “She’d be very critical. You had to defend your work and your research.”

Ms. Silva believed that her exhibitions, lectures, workshops, mentoring and educational programs made a positive impact in a short time.

“Twenty, 25 years ago, curators of contemporary art might have been completely and totally scared of going to ‘the Dark Continent,’ ” she told The New York Times in 2016. “Now it’s like, ‘Oh, Bisi, I want to go to Lagos, I want to go to Ghana.’ ”

Olabisi Obafunke Silva was born in Lagos on May 29, 1962. Her father, Chief Emmanuel Afolabi Silva, was a lawyer, and her mother, Charlotte Olamide Williams, was a civil servant with the Nigerian Railway.

After graduating from the University of Dijon in France, where she studied languages, she earned a master’s in curating contemporary art from the Royal College of Art in London. Her thesis examined the marginalization of black artists at exhibitions in England.

Ms. Silva returned to Lagos in 2002, inspired by her research but disappointed that she could not find an outlet for her vision of curating contemporary African art.

“Most of the galleries were commercial, and as far as I knew, there were no nonprofits,” she told Frieze. “Government institutions were moribund, and there was no place for young artists interested in experimenting with media other than painting and sculpture.”

She decided to start C.C.A, becoming its artistic director.

“There is no government funding for such initiatives,” she said in a lecture at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in 2017. “If you want to do something, you have to do it yourself.”

Her cutting-edge shows at C.C.A. included “The Progress of Love,” which explored love through performance work by Jelili Atiku of Nigeria and Wura-Natasha Ogunji of the United States, and installations by Temitayo Ogunbiyi of Nigeria and the United States and Valerie Oka of Ivory Coast; “Identity: An Imagined State,” which looked at African identity in videos by artists from Africa and South America; and “Like a Virgin … ,” an exploration of women’s bodies, sexuality and identities by Lucy Azubuike, a Nigerian sculptor, and Zanele Muholi, a South African photographer.

“Virgin” was “a divisive show,” Ms. Silva said in an interview in 2017 with Pulse.com, a Ghanaian news website. “There were a lot of objections to Muholi’s photographs of her menstrual blood.”

In addition to Joke Silva, she is survived by two other sisters, Olajumoke Dawodu and Ojuolape Silva; and two brothers, Olabiyi Silva and Bolaji Oladunjoye. She considered her 13 nieces and nephews her children.

Ms. Silva had a particular expertise in organizing photography exhibitions and in creating a library of visual arts at C.C.A.

Oluremi C. Onabanjo, a scholar of African arts, wrote in Aperture magazine after Ms. Silva’s death that her influence on photography “will be writ large, emphasized in bold.”

Citing the vast range of work that radiated from C.C.A., Ms. Onabanjo wrote that “her remarkable vision and indefatigable spirit instigated tectonic shifts in editorial, curatorial and institutional frameworks in Nigeria and across the African continent.”

NYT

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