THE COURTS AND INTERNAL DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA. By Dr Muiz Banire

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In Nigeria, the biggest and most constant headache that confronts the legal adviser of any political party in Nigeria is the non-observance of internal democracy by the party hierarchy. In the Nigerian political landscape, until recently, internal democracy is a mere tag that only existed in the imagination of politicians. In this vein, any electoral position within the structure of a political party is a subject of conferment without any consideration of the electability of the beneficiaries of the conferment. In other words, only those that the political kingmakers consider worthy are conferred with the “honour” of being the party’s candidates; the process of engaging a method that includes the members of the party in the decision making generally and nomination of the flag bearers of the party is considered alien by both the party oligarchy and their suitors. Without mincing words, minority will have both their way and say. The few occasions where the majority get to have their say (when purported primary elections are held), the minority still retain the ultimate power of having their way by superimposing their decisions on the outcome of such internal elections. Internal democracy is slaughtered on the altar of imposition.

By my calling as a legal practitioner, i have the hallowed responsibility of ensuring the observance of rule of law and the tenets of democracy. My duty here extends to political institutions, particularly, with regard to compliance with the applicable laws and the rules of the game. This easily brings to mind the sacred words of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON at the Call to Bar Ceremonies held on July 13, 2017. His Lordship, in his speech, admonished thus:
“As legal practitioners, you cannot close your eyes to the social, political and economic problems of our time, therefore you have a duty to help rescue our society from pervasive lawlessness, corruption and anti-social activities.”

It is, therefore, not in doubt that it is immoral for a legal practitioner to close his eyes to political parties’ lawlessness. Rescuing internal democracy from the hands of political oppressors and the jaws of imposition falls with the ministerial function of every legal practitioner.

At this juncture, it must be noted that internal democracy transcends the internal affairs of a political party. This is because the Nigerian legal framework duly recognizes it and commands compliance with it. In this regard, section 228(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered) confers on the National Assembly the power to make laws providing for:
“…guidelines and rules to ensure internal democracy, within political parties, including making laws for the conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party convention….”

It was in the exercise of this power that the National Assembly enacted section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). It clearly set out the guidelines, rules and steps that a political party must follow in the nomination of its candidates for elections. Here, section 87(1) of the Act is instructive, clear and unambiguous. It provides thus:
“A political party seeking to nominate candidates for election under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions” [Emphasis mine]

Section 87 of the Act is so elaborate that it states the types of primaries that a political party may adopt (direct or indirect) and the procedural steps a political party must follow where it adopts either of the two types of primary election in case of each election mentioned therein. Emphasising the purpose of section 87 of the Act, in PDP v. Sylvia [2012] 13 NWLR (part 1316) 85 at 148, paras. A-B, Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC opined thus:
“The clear object the provisions of section 87 is intended to achieve besides the inculcation of internal democracy in the affairs of political parties in this country moreso in the conduct of their party primaries includes thus making them transparent and providing level playing ground for their contestants in party primaries….”

Equally important is the fact that the constitution of political parties contains the procedure for the nomination of candidates and voting at congresses and party conventions. In this respect, the constitution of the political party sets out how the party’s primary elections are to be conducted in a manner that institutionalises internal democracy. An example that easily comes to mind is Article 20 of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (as amended), the political party in which I am the legal adviser. A look at the provisions of the said Article 20 makes it clear that candidates of the party can only emerge through a democratic path. In case of indirect primaries, the delegates that will vote at the primary election must have been democratically elected by members of the party from the various wards contained in particular constituency at congress. Even where an aspirant is unopposed, democratic principles still have to be followed to ensure that the unopposed aspirant is not a product of imposition. Without a doubt, the party constitution has entrenched internal democracy and eschewed imposition of candidates by the “powerful” minority.

Based on the foregoing, it would be reasonable to assume that when it comes to nomination of candidates for elections, the legal adviser of a political party could go to sleep knowing that the legal framework would hold sway. However, it is common knowledge that this is rarely the case. The fact is that any legal adviser that urges compliance with the legal framework and adherence to internal democracy easily finds himself to be a lone voice. He is considered a rebel that is deserving of being ostracized from the decision-making and deliberation within the party structure.

Despite the foregoing, it gladdens my heart to say that the Supreme Court, under the leadership of the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Hon. chief Justice Onnoghen, has taken the courageous step of ensuring that the political oligarchy do not succeed in casting internal democracy into the refuse bin. Now, political parties are faced with the fact that the erosion of internal democracy will not go unpunished. A case worthy of consideration is the very recent and yet to be reported decision of the Supreme Court in Mato v. Hembe & 2 Ors. SC.733/2016 (delivered on 23rd day of June, 2017), amongst others.

Before delving into the recent landmark decisions of the Supreme Court on this issue, it is necessary to note that the Supreme Court has always made pronouncements on the importance of internal democracy and the need for political parties to obey its own constitution as well as the jurisdiction of the courts to intervene in this regard. In the case of Shinkafi v. Yari [2016] 1 SC (Part II) 1 at 31, line 13 to line 23, the Supreme Court held thus:
“… it is now trite that where a political party conducts its primary and a dissatisfied contestant at the primary election complains about its conduct of the primaries, the Courts have jurisdiction by virtue of the provision of Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to examine if the conduct of the primary was in accordance with the party’s Constitution and Guidelines. The reason is that in the conduct of its primaries, the Courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes. A political party must obey its Constitution.”

The Supreme Court made a similar stance in Tarzoor v. Ioraer [2016] 3 NWLR (part 1500) 463 at 529, para. G. In the leading judgment of Rhodes-Vivour, JSC in PDP v. Sylvia (supra) at 125, paras. D-E, the Supreme Court held thus:
“…where the political party conducts its primary and a dissatisfied contestant at the primary complains about the conduct of the primaries the courts have jurisdiction by virtue of the provisions of section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act to examine if the conduct of the primary elections was conducted in accordance with the parties constitution and Guidelines. This is so because in the conduct of its primaries the courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes. A political party must obey its own constitution.”

Also, pertinent is the hallowed warning of Supreme Court in the case of C.P.C. v. Ombugadu [2013] 18 NWLR (part 1385) 66 at 129 to 130, paras. F-E where Ngwuta, JSC held thus:
“An army is greater than the numerical strength of its soldiers. In the same Vein, a political party is greater than the numerical strength of its membership just like a country, for instance, Nigeria, is greater than the totality of its citizens. It follows that in the case of a political party, such as the 1st appellant herein, the interest of an individual member or a group of members or a group of members within the party, irrespective of the place of such member or a group in the hierarchy of the party, must yield place to the interest of the party. It is the greed, borne of inordinate ambition to own, control and manipulate their own political parties by individuals and groups therein and the expected reaction by other party members that result to the internal wrangling and want of internal democracy that constitute the bane of political parties in Nigeria.
….
…It is apparent that a few powerful elements therein hijack the parties and arrogated to themselves right to sell elective and appointive positions to the party member who can afford same….
There is a popular saying that politics is a dirty game. I do not share this view. It is the players who are dirty and they inflict their filth on their members and, by implication on the society. Politicians must learn to play the game of politics in strict compliance with its rules of organised society.” [Emphasis ours]

It is now trite to give due consideration to the impactful decision of the Supreme Court in Mato v. Hembe (supra). In that case, Onnoghen, CJN held that holding a primary election in a manner contrary to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the constitution of the political party will render such primary election null and void. At page 37 to 40 of His Lordship’s judgment, His Lordship held thus:

“The facts deposed to in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons show that the said primary election was held at HAF HAVEN HOTEL, MAKURDI quite outside the headquarters of the Federal Constituency. So, apart from the irregularities catalogued in exhibits 4 and 2 reproduced above, the holding of the primary was contrary to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the constitution of the 2nd defendant.
Section 87(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provides:-
‘A Political Party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below-
(c) in the case of nomination to the position of senatorial candidate, House of Representatives and Head of Assembly, a political party shall, where they intend to sponsor candidates-
(i) hold special congress in the Senatorial District, Federal Constituency and State Assembly respectively, with delegates voting for each of the aspirants in designated centres in specified dates’
As a corollary to the above provision, article 14.11 of the 2nd defendant’s Constitution provides that every member shall assemble at their respective Federal Constituency Headquarters and voting shall be by secrete ballot. A combined reading of these two provisions reveals that it is mandatory for the political parties to hold their congresses for the purpose of selecting their candidates in the headquarters of the Constituency. As was pointed out by the learned counsel for appellant in their written address, the Electoral Act and the 2nd respondent’s constitution make detailed provisions for the way and manner by which primary elections are to be conducted. This is to ensure a level playing field for all aspirants. Any contravention of the Act and the Constitution of the Party in this regard would be regarded as a ploy to negate the principle of due process of law enshrined therein.
It is trite that where a statute provides for a means of doing a thing, no other means or manner shall be permitted. Both the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the 2nd defendant make it mandatory that primaries be conducted in the headquarters of the Constituency. The failure to comply with these provisions makes the entire exercise null and void…
The truth must be told and that is, that the 1st and 2nd defendants did not respect the provisions of the Electoral Act and the constitution of the 2nd defendant in the conduct of the primaries. This court has decided in quite a number of cases that political parties must obey their own constitutions as the court will not allow them to act arbitrarily or as they like….
From all I have endeavoured to say above, it is crystal clear that the primaries which produced the 1st defendant was frought (sic) with manifold irregularities aside the fact that he was not even qualified to contest same.” [Emphasis mine]

Beyond doubt, by this singular pronouncement, His Lordship seeks to enthrone internal democracy in the affairs of political parties. In the same vein, Kekere-Ekun, JSC asserted that where political parties appear to violate the principles of internal democracy, the courts will not hesitate to whip them into line by wielding the big stick. In Mato v. Hembe (supra) at page 2-3 of His Lordship’s judgment, Kekere-Ekun, JSC held thus:

“This case, in my view is a clear example of the mischief sought to be tackled by section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. While it is true that the courts will not interfere in the internal affairs of a political party nor its choice of candidate, Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act ensures that in making their choice of candidates for elective office political parties do not stray beyond the confines of the Electoral Act or their own electoral guidelines. The section seeks to curb the impunity with which political parties hitherto acted without regard to the democratic norms they profess to practice. As stated by my learned brother in the lead judgment, this court in a plethora of cases has asserted the fact that political parties must obey their own constitutions and guidelines and where necessary (as provided by law) the courts will intervene and wield the big stick to prevent arbitrariness. The only way our democratic dispensation can work effectively is where every aspirant for political office, who is qualified to contest an election, is given an even playing field. The failure of internal democracy within our political parties right from the grassroots level eventually leads to instability in the entire political system. The failure of internal democracy is one of the reason why the courts’ dockets are congested with pre-election disputes. In Ugwu vs. Ararume (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 376 @ 514 D-E, this court per Mahmud Mohammed, JSC (as he then was) admonished:
‘My lords if we want to instill sanity into our human affairs, if we want to entrench unpolluted democracy in our body polity, the naked truth must permeate through the blood, nerve and brain of each and everyone of us. Although credit may not always have its rightful place in politics, we should try to blend the two so as to attain a fair, just and egalitarian society where no one is oppressed. Let us call a spade a spade!’

I am in entire agreement with my learned brother, that in the circumstances of this case it was crystal clear that not only were there irregularities in the primary election that produced the 1st respondent, the 2nd respondent failed to follow its own guidelines in the selection of its candidate. I agree that in the eyes of the law the plaintiff/appellant was the only candidate of the 2nd defendant/2nd respondent as found by the report of the 2nd defendant’s Appeals Committee.”

At page 4 of Eko, JSC’s judgment in Mato v. Hembe, His Lordship did not mince words in calling the 1st Respondent an impostor.

Another very recent decision of the Supreme Court is between Alhaji Shuaibu Isa Lau v. Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi regarding the Taraba North Senatorial District (delivered on June 23, 2017). The Punch Newspaper, under the caption: Harsh verdicts await unqualified candidates, S’Court tells political parties, quoted, Augie JSC thus:

“This is a hard and very bitter lesson for political parties to learn. They may have chosen candidates or eminent personalities they want to present as candidates to INEC, but they have to play by the rules.
“The chosen candidates must comply with requirements of the law; they must abide by the provisions of the Electoral Act, which creates a level playing field for all aspirants who seek to contest elections.
“So, the political parties and their candidates must obey the rules.”

I need not say more. Ordinarily, this ought to sound a death knell on the untoward practice of imposition of candidates contrary to the provisions of the applicable laws and the party’s constitution. However, it appears that party oligarchy appear to enjoy turning a deaf ear.

In the recent decision of the High Court of Lagos State (per Okuwobi, J.) in Suit No. ID/1838/GCM/2017: Hakkem Abolaji Saka v. All Progressives Congress & Anor. (delivered on July 7, 2017), the court did not hesitate to nullify the nomination of candidate without the conduct of primary election in accordance with the stipulation of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission Law and the Constitution of All Progressives Congress. Consequently, the Court, inter alia, made and order restraining the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission from recognising, relying on or using any list of chairmanship candidates submitted by All Progressives Congress for the forthcoming Local Government elections in Odi-Olowo Local Council Development Area.

Without a doubt, the foregoing is commendable as it shows that parties do not have to get to the Supreme Court before the judiciary wields the figurative big stick where a political party jettisons internal democracy in the conduct of its affairs. This is, particularly, instructive because the elements behind imposition always rely on the fact that it would take years before the matter would be decided by the Supreme Court in the course of which their imposed candidate would have enjoyed a substantial portion of the tenure of office. The good news however now is that, not only are pre-election cases on fast track now, impostors are now sanctioned by both removal and restitution of illegally gotten dues. With the proactive pronouncement of High Court of Lagos State, the erosion of internal democracy will be nipped in the bud and good things will not suffer irreparable injury before salvation comes.

Good governance is the desire of every sane society. In order for any society to have good governance, there must be good leadership. For there to be good leadership in a democratic setting, internal democracy must be effectively and effectually practised. One can only hope that political parties see the writing on the wall and behave accordingly.
In conclusion, I believe the role of Courts in contemporary times in the strengthening of internal democracy is not only commendable but proactive. It is only hoped that more of our courts will see the wisdom in this approach and political parties learn the art of respect for the rule of law.

WHY ARE WE IN DARKNESS?

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What is the essence of power? What has power got to do with sustainable businesses? Why should the power sector be fixed? If the power sector is paralyzed, what is the effect? Why are we in darkness? These are rhetorical questions have been asking and continue to ask myself.

In Nigeria over 75 million people are yet to be connected to National grid, with Nigeria’s power capacity between 4,500MW and 7200MW but can only supply between 2,500MW and 4,000MW per time it is glaring that Nigeria has shortage of power. Recent statistics show that Nigerians spend over #700 Billion (Seven hundred Billion Naira) on fueling generators without maintenance and utility. This is sure big loss and wastage in the economy; it is expedient and purely sensible for government to quickly fix the power sector to boost the economy and foster prosperity.

It is clear that with well over 75 million people yet to be connected to the national grid and many still do not have up to 20 hours of power every week, it is clear that Nigeria needs to expand her power capacity with investment in clean and sustainable energy to cushion climate change.

Nigeria’s main sources of power are mainly Hydro and Natural gas. During dry season there is always a drop in power because of reduction in water pressure from the hydro power station. Hydro power has its limitations if we cannot control the water pressure to be constant all year round. Hydro power is really safe but sustainability is yet to be achieved in Nigeria. When the dry season is heavy, sometimes Nigeria power capacity drops to 1,900MW. As one of the fastest growing economy in Africa, we could double our growth if we invest effectively in power.

The unpatriotic and destructive attitude of greedy citizens and militants across the water coast where there are gas pipeline is sabotage on access to power. Nigeria is a gas and crude oil producing nation, gas is a very good alternative to providing power, many houses now use gas cooker to make their food, iron their clothes and recently new innovations like gas generator are becoming more acceptable in Nigerian household. The continuous vandalism of gas pipeline by militants has been a great jab on every little progress the power sector tries to make in providing clean and sustainable power. Vanguard newspaper reported that in 2015 NNPC said Nigeria lost #51.3 billion to vandals.

In the global community, connection is important, without power on our phones, laptops and gadgets, this connection will never be possible. Power is important to our business life. It is the soul of productivity in government, entertainment and agriculture.

In Mowe, ogun state a small community of about 5000 houses, Mowe is on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the main expressway that connect the north, east and south of Nigeria together. Mowe is a strategic location because it is a small town between Lagos (the commercial hub of Nigeria) and Ogun(the border state to Benin Republic) Many religious organization have their headquarters on this expressway, yet it is really sad to know that nobody in mowe has up to 20 hours power. The community has been forgotten by the government, no good road, no water, non-functional health centre and the worse is that the town is in darkness.

In Mowe, many are connected to the national grid but have less than 20 hours power and they pay between #2000 and #5000 monthly without constant power supply. Many houses have a running generator, rechargeable lamp, kerosene lamp to lighting their homes at night.

Many have been in and out of hospital because of adulterated kerosene by criminals. A resident of Mowe that want to remain anonymous said, “The inability of government to provide electricity made me almost lost my eye while refueling the kerosene lamp for my son who was preparing for exams”.

The owner of Adonai ventures also recount her loss to fueling her generator everyday with petrol. She said, “It is really annoying to spend #30,000 monthly on generator, do we have a government at all?” She asked rhetorically.

Doctor Oyin says, “Hospital bills can be reduced by 20% if there is constant, stable, and affordable power supply. We run generator 24 hours in our hospital because we deal with lives, we cannot afford to take chances on our patients. We know there are a lot of people who need to access cheap health care but the cost of running the hospital especially power is a big challenge to accessing low cost health care. It is a pity that the government health Centre that are supposed to cushion this effect are not also working. Who suffers? The lowest cadre of the society that the government was elected to serve”.

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From 2005-2008 when I was in high school I read with a kerosene lamp or rechargeable lamp which has affected my eye sight. I have seen the doctor and a correcting eye glass was recommended but I have refused to use it. The doctor said, “You have over stressed and strained your eye to read in the time past, you eat good food that is why your eye sight is still sharp, but to stop the tears and itching in your eyes you need a correcting glasses”. Lack of power has different adverse effect on our health, business, education and others. I did lost some reading days in school because of no power supply which had its own negative effect sometimes on my education.

Rape, robbery, and kidnapping on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway at night is becoming worrisome, yet the reason crime flourish is there is no street light, responsive and reliable security operative on the road at night.

What exactly should we be doing? Is there a solution? Sure there is. I am no expert at power but I will try my best as an active participant. Corruption is a huge monster on the way to sufficient power supply; a whooping #30 billion was spent between 1999 and 2007 to revamp the power sector without result. No one has been punished or sentenced by EFCC or ICPC for public fund misuse. This is still a tragedy.

enel-green-power

Privatization of the power sector is a great move in the right direction. Reduction in bureaucracy and bottleneck in getting license for a power company like ENEL will be a major move to lighting every house in Nigeria. A close monitoring of all gas pipe using technology will further make power capacity in Nigeria stable. Nigeria government must be willing to finally bring corruption to a hurt in the public sector for citizens to access power.

Exploring clean and safe energy like solar, wind, and so on will further help expand the national grid. Currently, the federal government is the only one that has the legal power to generate power, this is a big challenge, and therefore government must allow private company, state, local government and investors to generate power in states, communities and regions.

Government must create the free and fair environment for investors to profit while also protecting the citizens from greedy investors. Government must be a fair umpire between power companies and customers through legal frameworks, policy, and sanctions.

Citizens must begin to protect power infrastructure if they want constant power supply. We all have a responsibility to light up Africa. Africa is rich but we need visionary leaders to lift Africa out of the mess we find ourselves.

Why are we in darkness?

 

Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard Commencement speech 2017

Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard Commencement speech 2017Screenshot_2017-05-26-08-57-52

President Faust, Board of Overseers, faculty, alumni, friends, proud parents, members of the ad board, and graduates of the greatest university in the world,
I’m honored to be with you today because, let’s face it, you accomplished something I never could. If I get through this speech, it’ll be the first time I actually finish something at Harvard. Class of 2017, congratulations!
I’m an unlikely speaker, not just because I dropped out, but because we’re technically in the same generation. We walked this yard less than a decade apart, studied the same ideas and slept through the same Ec10 lectures. We may have taken different paths to get here, especially if you came all the way from the Quad, but today I want to share what I’ve learned about our generation and the world we’re building together.
But first, the last couple of days have brought back a lot of good memories.
How many of you remember exactly what you were doing when you got that email telling you that you got into Harvard? I was playing Civilization and I ran downstairs, got my dad, and for some reason, his reaction was to video me opening the email. That could have been a really sad video. I swear getting into Harvard is still the thing my parents are most proud of me for.
What about your first lecture at Harvard? Mine was Computer Science 121 with the incredible Harry Lewis. I was late so I threw on a t-shirt and didn’t realize until afterwards it was inside out and backwards with my tag sticking out the front. I couldn’t figure out why no one would talk to me — except one guy, KX Jin, he just went with it. We ended up doing our problem sets together, and now he runs a big part of Facebook. And that, Class of 2017, is why you should be nice to people.
But my best memory from Harvard was meeting Priscilla. I had just launched this prank website Facemash, and the ad board wanted to “see me”. Everyone thought I was going to get kicked out. My parents came to help me pack. My friends threw me a going away party. As luck would have it, Priscilla was at that party with her friend. We met in line for the bathroom in the Pfoho Belltower, and in what must be one of the all time romantic lines, I said: “I’m going to get kicked out in three days, so we need to go on a date quickly.”
Actually, any of you graduating can use that line.
I didn’t end up getting kicked out — I did that to myself. Priscilla and I started dating. And, you know, that movie made it seem like Facemash was so important to creating Facebook. It wasn’t. But without Facemash I wouldn’t have met Priscilla, and she’s the most important person in my life, so you could say it was the most important thing I built in my time here.
We’ve all started lifelong friendships here, and some of us even families. That’s why I’m so grateful to this place. Thanks, Harvard.
•••
Today I want to talk about purpose. But I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose. We’re millennials. We’ll try to do that instinctively. Instead, I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.
One of my favorite stories is when John F Kennedy visited the NASA space center, he saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded: “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon”.
Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.
You’re graduating at a time when this is especially important. When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community. But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs. Membership in communities is declining. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void.
As I’ve traveled around, I’ve sat with children in juvenile detention and opioid addicts, who told me their lives could have turned out differently if they just had something to do, an after school program or somewhere to go. I’ve met factory workers who know their old jobs aren’t coming back and are trying to find their place.
To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge: to not only create new jobs, but create a renewed sense of purpose.
I remember the night I launched Facebook from my little dorm in Kirkland House. I went to Noch’s with my friend KX. I remember telling him I was excited to connect the Harvard community, but one day someone would connect the whole world.
The thing is, it never even occurred to me that someone might be us. We were just college kids. We didn’t know anything about that. There were all these big technology companies with resources. I just assumed one of them would do it. But this idea was so clear to us — that all people want to connect. So we just kept moving forward, day by day.
I know a lot of you will have your own stories just like this. A change in the world that seems so clear you’re sure someone else will do it. But they won’t. You will.
But it’s not enough to have purpose yourself. You have to create a sense of purpose for others.
I found that out the hard way. You see, my hope was never to build a company, but to make an impact. And as all these people started joining us, I just assumed that’s what they cared about too, so I never explained what I hoped we’d build.
A couple years in, some big companies wanted to buy us. I didn’t want to sell. I wanted to see if we could connect more people. We were building the first News Feed, and I thought if we could just launch this, it could change how we learn about the world.
Nearly everyone else wanted to sell. Without a sense of higher purpose, this was the startup dream come true. It tore our company apart. After one tense argument, an advisor told me if I didn’t agree to sell, I would regret the decision for the rest of my life. Relationships were so frayed that within a year or so every single person on the management team was gone.
That was my hardest time leading Facebook. I believed in what we were doing, but I felt alone. And worse, it was my fault. I wondered if I was just wrong, an imposter, a 22 year-old kid who had no idea how the world worked.
Now, years later, I understand that *is* how things work with no sense of higher purpose. It’s up to us to create it so we can all keep moving forward together.
Today I want to talk about three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose: by taking on big meaningful projects together, by redefining equality so everyone has the freedom to pursue purpose, and by building community across the world.
•••
First, let’s take on big meaningful projects.
Our generation will have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self-driving cars and trucks. But we have the potential to do so much more together.
Every generation has its defining works. More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon – including that janitor. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio. Millions of more people built the Hoover dam and other great projects.
These projects didn’t just provide purpose for the people doing those jobs, they gave our whole country a sense of pride that we could do great things.
Now it’s our turn to do great things. I know, you’re probably thinking: I don’t know how to build a dam, or get a million people involved in anything.
But let me tell you a secret: no one does when they begin. Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started.
If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook.
Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven’t had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started. Oh, you know what else movies get wrong about innovation? No one writes math formulas on glass. That’s not a thing.
It’s good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right. Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it’s impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there’s always someone who wants to slow you down.
In our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can’t keep us from starting.
So what are we waiting for? It’s time for our generation-defining public works. How about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet and getting millions of people involved manufacturing and installing solar panels? How about curing all diseases and asking volunteers to track their health data and share their genomes? Today we spend 50x more treating people who are sick than we spend finding cures so people don’t get sick in the first place. That makes no sense. We can fix this. How about modernizing democracy so everyone can vote online, and personalizing education so everyone can learn?
These achievements are within our reach. Let’s do them all in a way that gives everyone in our society a role. Let’s do big things, not only to create progress, but to create purpose.
•••
So taking on big meaningful projects is the first thing we can do to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.
The second is redefining equality to give everyone the freedom they need to pursue purpose.
Many of our parents had stable jobs throughout their careers. Now we’re all entrepreneurial, whether we’re starting projects or finding or role. And that’s great. Our culture of entrepreneurship is how we create so much progress.
An entrepreneurial culture thrives when it’s easy to try lots of new ideas. Facebook wasn’t the first thing I built. I also built games, chat systems, study tools and music players. I’m not alone. JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before publishing Harry Potter. Even Beyonce had to make hundreds of songs to get Halo. The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.
But today, we have a level of wealth inequality that hurts everyone. When you don’t have the freedom to take your idea and turn it into a historic enterprise, we all lose. Right now our society is way over-indexed on rewarding success and we don’t do nearly enough to make it easy for everyone to take lots of shots.
Let’s face it. There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.
Look, I know a lot of entrepreneurs, and I don’t know a single person who gave up on starting a business because they might not make enough money. But I know lots of people who haven’t pursued dreams because they didn’t have a cushion to fall back on if they failed.
We all know we don’t succeed just by having a good idea or working hard. We succeed by being lucky too. If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code, if I didn’t know I’d be fine if Facebook didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be standing here today. If we’re honest, we all know how much luck we’ve had.
Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation.
We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things. We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable childcare to get to work and healthcare that isn’t tied to one company. We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need a society that focuses more on continuous education throughout our lives.
And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too.
That’s why Priscilla and I started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and committed our wealth to promoting equal opportunity. These are the values of our generation. It was never a question of if we were going to do this. The only question was when.
Millennials are already one of the most charitable generations in history. In one year, three of four US millennials made a donation and seven out of ten raised money for charity.
But it’s not just about money. You can also give time. I promise you, if you take an hour or two a week — that’s all it takes to give someone a hand, to help them reach their potential.
Maybe you think that’s too much time. I used to. When Priscilla graduated from Harvard she became a teacher, and before she’d do education work with me, she told me I needed to teach a class. I complained: “Well, I’m kind of busy. I’m running this company.” But she insisted, so I taught a middle school program on entrepreneurship at the local Boys and Girls Club.
I taught them lessons on product development and marketing, and they taught me what it’s like feeling targeted for your race and having a family member in prison. I shared stories from my time in school, and they shared their hope of one day going to college too. For five years now, I’ve been having dinner with those kids every month. One of them even threw me and Priscilla our first baby shower. And next year they’re going to college. Every one of them. First in their families.
We can all make time to give someone a hand. Let’s give everyone the freedom to pursue their purpose — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because when more people can turn their dreams into something great, we’re all better for it.
•••
Purpose doesn’t only come from work. The third way we can create a sense of purpose for everyone is by building community. And when our generation says “everyone”, we mean everyone in the world.
Quick show of hands: how many of you are from another country? Now, how many of you are friends with one of these folks? Now we’re talking. We have grown up connected.
In a survey asking millennials around the world what defines our identity, the most popular answer wasn’t nationality, religion or ethnicity, it was “citizen of the world”. That’s a big deal.
Every generation expands the circle of people we consider “one of us”. For us, it now encompasses the entire world.
We understand the great arc of human history bends towards people coming together in ever greater numbers — from tribes to cities to nations — to achieve things we couldn’t on our own.
We get that our greatest opportunities are now global — we can be the generation that ends poverty, that ends disease. We get that our greatest challenges need global responses too — no country can fight climate change alone or prevent pandemics. Progress now requires coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community.
But we live in an unstable time. There are people left behind by globalization across the world. It’s hard to care about people in other places if we don’t feel good about our lives here at home. There’s pressure to turn inwards.
This is the struggle of our time. The forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism. Forces for the flow of knowledge, trade and immigration against those who would slow them down. This is not a battle of nations, it’s a battle of ideas. There are people in every country for global connection and good people against it.
This isn’t going to be decided at the UN either. It’s going to happen at the local level, when enough of us feel a sense of purpose and stability in our own lives that we can open up and start caring about everyone. The best way to do that is to start building local communities right now.
We all get meaning from our communities. Whether our communities are houses or sports teams, churches or a cappella groups, they give us that sense we are part of something bigger, that we are not alone; they give us the strength to expand our horizons.
That’s why it’s so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That’s a lot of people who now need to find purpose somewhere else.
But I know we can rebuild our communities and start new ones because many of you already are.
I met Agnes Igoye, who’s graduating today. Where are you, Agnes? She spent her childhood navigating conflict zones with human trafficking in Uganda, and now she trains thousands of law enforcement officers to keep communities safe.
I met Kayla Oakley and Niha Jain, graduating today, too. Stand up. Kayla and Niha started a non-profit that connects people suffering from chronic illnesses with people in their communities willing to help.
I met David Razu Aznar, graduating from the Kennedy School today. David, stand up. He’s a former city councilor who successfully led the battle to make Mexico City the first Latin American city to pass marriage equality — even before San Francisco.
This is my story too. A student in a dorm room, connecting one community at a time, and keeping at it until one day we connect the whole world.
Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us. In our generation, the struggle of whether we connect more, whether we achieve our biggest opportunities, comes down to this — your ability to build communities and create a world where every single person has a sense of purpose.
•••
Class of 2017, you are graduating into a world that needs purpose. It’s up to you to create it.
Now, you may be thinking: can I really do this?
Remember when I told you about that class I taught at the Boys and Girls Club? One day after class I was talking to them about college, and one of my top students raised his hand and said he wasn’t sure he could go because he’s undocumented. He didn’t know if they’d let him in.
Last year I took him out to breakfast for his birthday. I wanted to get him a present, so I asked him and he started talking about students he saw struggling and said “You know, I’d really just like a book on social justice.”
I was blown away. Here’s a young guy who has every reason to be cynical. He didn’t know if the country he calls home — the only one he’s known — would deny him his dream of going to college. But he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself. He wasn’t even thinking of himself. He has a greater sense of purpose, and he’s going to bring people along with him.
It says something about our current situation that I can’t even say his name because I don’t want to put him at risk. But if a high school senior who doesn’t know what the future holds can do his part to move the world forward, then we owe it to the world to do our part too.
Before you walk out those gates one last time, as we sit in front of Memorial Church, I am reminded of a prayer, Mi Shebeirach, that I say whenever I face a challenge, that I sing to my daughter thinking about her future when I tuck her into bed. It goes:
“May the source of strength, who blessed the ones before us, help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing.”
I hope you find the courage to make your life a blessing.

Congratulations, Class of ’17! Good luck out there.

CAN YOU WAIT FOR SEX?

CHASTE

 

Great to have you here Kings and Queens. You are the best of your kind that God has created. You are priceless; you are the solution to this world. Before and after you no one will be better than you. Therefore, let no one make you feel less of yourself. You came alone, you will go alone. No one is as important in your journey as God.

 

Why should your father, mother, sister, brother, pastor, boyfriend, girlfriend, aunt, uncle, neighbor, boss, or anybody want your hymen or want to have sex with you? No price is worth you? Sometimes we may get carried away by emotions but we must be disciplined enough to control and WAIT! We may be weird and be in our beast mode but we must allow the word of God dwell in us richly to conquer our emotions to wait for the purpose of God on our life in marriage.

Have ever thought girl, what is the function of the hymen in the body? Yes, for what purpose? I can say it emphatically that science says it got no purpose. It only purpose was to be a sign of God desire for us to wait till our marriage night. It is God speaking to us to close-up and WAIT!

POPE

Can you just WAIT for sex? God desire we offer ourselves a living sacrifice worthy and acceptable to him, this is our only reasonable service.

If you live a chaste life with Christ in you the hope of glory then you have offered your life as a sacrifice to God. Jesus is the real deal. His life given into our spirit has transformed us to become an Ekklesia (selected one).

If you have been broken, no worries, Jesus still love you the way you are, you have made great mistake, He desires to show you agape love, a love unconditional, he wants to pour out himself on you, come to him and be free from your guilt, shame and death.

Action Key: I vow to stay chaste to my marriage as Christ was sinless to save and take the church as a bride from sin and death. I accept him as my Lord and Saviour.

Continue rejoicing in his peace till we meet again. Jesus loves you.

CAN POLITICS BE THE VEHICLE TO NIGERIA’S CHANGE?

Can politics bring about change? What has politics help achieve in the last 18 years of democracy of Nigeria? Is politics the vehicle or catalyst for our actualization? What is the motive of the average Nigerian politician? Can politics knock out corruption? How can we fight and win as a people? Can we try change to change things?

Since 1960, we have thrived from one administration to the next, we have run the race back and forth and drop the baton half way for the next generation to pick it. We have stood together as one and fought dictatorship as a country. We have been through several phases yet we still find it miraculous to be together till date.

politics

From 1999, we have suffered a heart attack from one civilian government to the next, 18 years into democracy; we still cannot provide basic human need like good roads, potable water, not to talk about providing good policy for business, correct monetary and economy policy and so on.

I have concluded that politics cannot solve our problem. How can few people in government overcome 200 million Nigerians? How can the whole Lagos state government house of assembly earn more than the United States president? If the executive is focused and visionary while the legislative arm have political interest, they will do anything to stop the executive. Politicians are not our solutions. The solution of this country’s problem is in the hand of the ordinary PEOPLE.

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The ordinary people who will do small things to move this country forward like being diligent at work place, repair that water pipe that is burst on your street, conserve power when you can, reject bribe when we are lured, blow the whistle when you see corruption around you, solve a problem in your community, ask questions from government that will make them act correctly.

I am so sure that if 200 million people in Nigeria that are currently sleeping will be united on this change and transformation, the few in government cannot win. They will use power, force, weapon and all they have to stop us, but when we have resolved to fight corruption, injustice, inequality, underdevelopment, and so on VICTORIA ACERTA.