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Category Archives: National Vanguard
Posted: January 27, 2020 at 12:21 am
Reasoning:Extreme Right, Hate Group, Propaganda, Conspiracy
Notes:Founded in 2005, National Vanguard is analt-rightwhite supremacy organization founded and run by Kevin Alfred Strom, who is a former member of theNational Alliance, which is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and white separatist political organization. Kevin Alfred Strom, according to NBC29 and ABC News,on January 4, 2007 he was arrested on charges of possession of child pornography and witness tampering. Charlottesville Newspaper,The Daily Progress reports in 2008, Strom was sentenced to 23 months in prison on a child pornography charge.
In review, National Vanguard uses loaded emotional language in their articles and headlines such as: Chicago: Blacks, Fleeing Authorities, Try to Hide in Police Station. They also use other extreme right white extremist blogs as their sources such as modernheretic3000. Further, theSouthern Poverty Law Center lists National Vanguard as a white supremacist site. Due to poor sourcing and hate language we rate National Vanguard as a Questionable source. (M. Huitsing 9/29/2017)
Special Note:We provide a link below to their website for the purpose of our Chrome Extensions, which requires a link to the website in order to display on Facebook and the Chrome task bar. We recommend not clicking the link. (D. Van Zandt)
Vanguard University event raises awareness about and prayers for victims of human trafficking – Los Angeles Times
Posted: at 12:21 am
Vanguard University students, officials and community members gathered in Costa Mesa Thursday morning to pray together and raise awareness about human trafficking.
The crowd of nearly 400 packed Newport Mesa Church to pray for survivors of labor and sex trafficking and for the violence to come to an end.
The Pray for Freedom event, hosted by Vanguards Global Center for Women and Justice in partnership with Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking and KWVE radio, is held annually in recognition of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Sandra Morgan, director of Vanguard Universitys Global Center for Women and Justice, speaks at the conclusion of the annual Pray for Freedom event on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Vanguard also will host a Justice Matters Conference Sunday morning and an event called Slam Demand next Thursday to educate university athletes about modern-day slavery.
Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.
Posted: at 12:21 am
Abortionnot many topics stir up equal passion, matched by high levels of private funding. Forty-seven years after Roe v. Wade, abortion opponents are making historic gains, energized by Republicans in office and a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, U.S. philanthropies continue to spend hundreds of millions each year defending sexual and reproductive care and rights. Pro-abortion funders and advocates fighting to preserve past victories are maintaining their footing and gaining new ground on quickly shifting political terrain.
Government funding for sexual and reproductive health does not meet the needs of the many people who seek services. As with most enormous social or medical issues, philanthropy cannot (and many would say, should not) take on full responsibility for this issue. The political controversy surrounding some forms of reproductive healthcare is not likely to be resolved anytime soon, sayas Gretchen Ely, Ph.D., who studies access to reproductive healthcare at the University at Buffalo. She says the U.S. should cover all forms of healthcare, including reproductive health, and that, while advocacy toward this goal is underway, philanthropy can play a very important role in bridging the gap between unaffordable care and people who need the care.
Some of Americas biggest foundations have long worked on abortion access and reproductive health and rights in the U.S., including the foremost player in this space, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF), as well as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Today, these and other grantmakers operate in a landscape thats seen dramatic change in recent years. Abortion advocates face daunting political setbacks, but are also energized by growing and diverse grassroots leadership. While grantmakers support for reproductive health, rights and abortion fell in 2018, interviews with funders and policy experts underscore that private philanthropys involvement in one of the most contested issues of our time remains expansive. (Well also examine anti-abortion funding in an upcoming article.)
Abortion in the United States: a Mercurial Landscape
In 2017, Trump reinstituted and broadened the scope of the global gag rule (GGR), which denies U.S. funding to groups abroad that provide, refer or counsel patients for abortions. We previously covered how some funders stepped up in response, and how philanthropies like the Gates Foundation and STBF, with billions to draw from, could potentially do even more.
Then in 2019, the Trump administration banned organizations receiving Title X federal funding from providing or referring patients for abortions, initiating what some call the domestic gag rule. Since 1970, Title X funding has supported health centers that provide free or low-cost annual exams, screenings, birth control and other health services to about 4 million people with low incomes annually.
A 2019 report from the nonprofit Power to Decide found at least 900 clinics have now lost their Title X family planning funding. Planned Parenthood, which served over 40 percent of all Title X patients, exited the program in response to the new rules, as have all recipients in five states. According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), people of color make up about half of Title X patients, and 32 percent of these patients identify as Hispanic.
The people most harmed by abortion restrictions are women of color, and poor and low-income women, says Christine Clark, Hewlett program officer for family planning and reproductive rights grants.
A growing wave of state abortion bans and restrictions have been introduced and passed, though some have been temporarily blocked. Other states responded by enacting abortion protections. Axios is keeping a running list of legislative developments.
Clark predicts the trend of states limiting abortion access will continue and accelerate, and that private philanthropy will not be able to meet the rising demands. She says that as the landscape continues to shift, the greatest challenge for providers and funders [is] to be ready to rapidly respond equipping providers in states where access remains to help many more people, making sure women can get where they need to go, and making sure there are effective communications channels so women know where they can go.
Many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have voiced support for both codifying Roe v. Wade and repealing the Hyde Amendment. In 2018, about three-quarters of Americans said they did not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, NPR reported.
However, Jethro Miller, PPFA and PPAF CDO, says, Biased politicians have kicked their efforts into high gear to control the narrative on abortion care, spreading misinformation and fear. He adds that the Supreme Court has taken up an abortion case on a law in Louisiana, and their ruling could have dire consequences for abortion access across the country. Several pro-abortion organizations (and their funders) are already directly addressing this upcoming case.
The Biggest Players in the Abortion Funding Field
Sorting out abortion-specific funding in the U.S. can be tricky because it falls within sexual and reproductive health and family planning services, as well as reproductive, womens and gender justice initiatives. Sometimes, its given by funders who also support these causes abroad. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), a leading grantee in this field, reports abortions only make up about 3 percent of its services. And it has numerous local branches, a global division and an Action Fund (PPAF), its 501(c)(4) political advocacy arm. To further complicate things, many abortion funders donate through donor-advised funds (DAFs), shielding their giving from scrutiny.
In the Foundation Centers database, abortion funding is a subcategory of reproductive healthcare funding, and well mainly focus on these two funding streams. Reproductive rights, a separate funding filter that turns up some of the same funders and grants, will be addressed, as well.
According to the Foundation Center data currently available for 2018, foundation funding for reproductive healthcare in the U.S. that year was about $477 million. This constitutes a decrease in this vein of funding; in both 2016 and 2017, it was over $600 million. And reproductive healthcare funding rose almost every other year since 2010, when it was $247 million. U.S. abortion and reproductive rights funding also fell in 2018 after rising for several years prior. While the 2016 election and resulting Trump presidency spurred donors to give, it also created an increased state of competition among NGOs, as many progressive groups found their causes threatenedperhaps this heightened culture of need created the recent lag in reproductive health funding. The needs in this area certainly havent diminished.
Between 2003 and 2018, foundations targeting U.S. programs gave about $5.8 billion in total for reproductive healthcare, $1.2 billion for reproductive rights and about $495 million for abortion.
STBF lead the pack for U.S. reproductive health funding, awarding about $1.5 billion between 2003 and 2018 (future stats refer to this time frame unless otherwise noted). The Bristol-Myers Squibb Patient Assistance Foundation came in second, but this was due to a single large grant in 2015 relating to infant care.
Gates was third in all U.S.-centered reproductive health funding, in the ballpark of $278 million. But much of Gates funding in this realm supports U.S.-based research institutions and NGOs that work on international issues, like an $11 million grant to Johns Hopkins University in 2018 to support data collection to effect change in policies and programs relating to women and families health in Africa and Asia.
Fourth in U.S. reproductive health funding was Hewlett with $240 million granted, followed by Packard at $181 million. STBF, Hewlett and Packard are also within the top 15 funders in the U.S. overall by grant dollars awarded. STBF was the top grantmaker in the U.S for abortion specifically, by far, at $344 million, followed by Packard at $39 million and Hewlett at $19 million. We previously identified these three as top givers for reproductive health and abortion, and well look at their work in more detail below.
When the funding filter is shifted to reproductive rights, the top grantmakers were STBF ($565 million), Ford ($103 million), Packard ($85 million) and Hewlett (about $79 million). Ford was also among the top 10 funders of reproductive care and abortion. Fidelity Charitable, the Huber Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, PPFA and Groundswell Fund were also in the top 10 for reproductive rights funding, each giving more than $15 million.
The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundations Monumental Impact on Abortion Access and Reproductive Health
STBF doesnt publicize its grantmaking beyond its scholarship activities in Nebraska and is not responsive to media requests. (Were working on a separate article exploring its funding, following up on earlier coverage.) The foundation was created by billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and his wife, the late Susan Thompson Buffett, as the Buffett Foundation in 1964. It was renamed for Susan after she died in 2004. STBF focuses on preventing unintended pregnancy and ensuring people can get safe abortions in the U.S. and abroad.
STBF has given out more than $5 billion overall, including hundreds of millions to the various branches of Planned Parenthood. The foundation receives annual infusions of Berkshire Hathaway stock from Buffett, with such gifts also going to the Gates Foundation and the three foundations controlled by his children. So while STBFs assets stood at $2.4 billion in 2018, it received $259.7 million from Buffett that year and granted about $624 millionmaking it one of the largest grantmakers in the world, ahead of the Ford Foundation. While many grants range from $100,000 to $500,000, STBF regularly awards millions.
The global nonprofit Population Services International received the largest single grant in 2018 of about $32 million. In terms of domestic funding, STBF gave major support to the Society of Family Planning in 2018 through several grants totaling about $28 million. This Philadelphia-based nonprofit is currently focused on increasing access to pharmaceutical abortion. STBF backed this group in the past, funding that tracks with earlier support for research aiding the development and approval of RU-486, known as the abortion pill or Mifeprex (the brand name for mifepristone).
Other 2018 and repeat grantees include the National Abortion Federation (NAF), the professional association of abortion providers; Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, and Guttmacher, a major sexual and reproductive health and rights research and policy organization.
The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) received about $3.4 million from STBF in 2018. Abortion funds remove local financial and logistical barriers to abortion access. And STBF gave almost $3 million to the Groundswell Fund, which coordinates a movement of reproductive and social justice organizations led by communities of color. Here, we see the foremost private U.S. abortion funder investing in grassroots-based organizations, a trend we see with other major funders in this realm, like Hewlett and Packard, lately, as well.
One of STBFs most powerful contributions has been funding research that advances reproductive healthcare and/or influences policy. Starting around 2007, in an effort to ramp up the usage of IUDs, it funded studies, new device development and statewide free distribution trials of the devices. We will look at this contribution in more detail in our forthcoming story on STBF.
STBF also backed research that influenced the Supreme Court case, Whole Woman's Health V. Hellerstedt. STBF funded the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP), which gave the court an analysis of the Texas abortion law (HB 2) at the center of the case. Known as a TRAP Law (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider), HB 2 introduced new abortion hurdles and restrictions that were found to be unconstitutional. The TxPEP research was cited in the ruling. And an STBF grantee, the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued the case.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, a 2014 law in Louisiana, Act 620, requires identical admitting privileges to HB 2. The Supreme Court scheduled a case relating to Act 620 for March 2020. The Center for Reproductive Rights, TxPEP and another STBF grantee, the University of California at San Franciscos Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), have already filed documents with the high court, taking the first steps to respond to the Louisiana law as they did with HB 2.
In recent related news (and a potentially foreboding blow for reproductive rights advocates), in December 2019, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Kentucky law that requires doctors to perform and show ultrasounds and play fetal heartbeats to patients before abortions. Then, in early 2020, more than 200 members of Congress sent the high court a brief asking it to uphold the Louisiana law in the spring and consider overturning Roe v. Wade.
Packard Focuses on the U.S. South
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation was established in 1964. At the start of 2018, it had assets of about $7.9 billion, and it granted about $324 million that year. Its reproductive health and justice giving is focused in the United States (Mississippi, Louisiana and nationally), Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and globally. Sex education, contraception, abortion, advocacy and policy are among its focuses.
Packard grants for reproductive issues range from the tens of thousands to the millions. It has long backed Planned Parenthood and gave about $10.5 million in total to several of the organizations branches in 2018. It has also funded the NAF, NARAL, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Women's Law Center.
Packard focuses much of its state-based reproductive-centric philanthropy in the U.S. South, particularly in Louisiana and Mississippi. Both states passed fetal heartbeat laws banning abortion at 15 weeksin a win for abortion supporters, Mississippis law was blocked by a federal appeals court in late 2019. Packard invests in local advocates and movement builders, including women of color-led organizations with strong community connections in these states, says Tamara Kreinin, Packard director of population and reproductive health.
And Packard makes a point to include young people, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive sex ed and services for youth, along with youth advocacy. Young people know what works best for their lives, [but] too often, they are under-represented, Kreinin says. She discusses the importance of supporting youth-led groups and reproductive care access centered around a young persons life and goals.
The Womens Foundation of Mississippi is a repeat Packard grantee, receiving $150,000 in 2018 to increase access to reproductive care. Packard has backed NNAF for several years, including with $100,000 in 2018 to support abortion fund infrastructure in Mississippi. Teen Health Mississippi was another grantee, and One Voice received support for the Sisters Helping Every Woman Rise and Organize (SHERO), a black womens reproductive justice collective.
In Louisiana, recent grantees also range in size and approach, including the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center ($1.2 million), for a program working with adolescent sexual and reproductive health; the Foundation for Louisianas New Orleans Youth Organizing and Leadership Fund; and the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans, in support of sex ed for young people in Vietnamese, Latino and LGBTQ communities.
Kreinin says, The deep history of racial discrimination and health inequities across these states, coupled with the current void of political support and lack of resources, make [advocates] work especially critical. Of its grantees in Louisiana and Mississippi, she says, These leaders know their communities best and are essential advocates.
Hewlett Embraces Grassroots and Youth Power
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation launched in 1966. At the end of 2018, its assets were approximately $9.8 billion and it granted about $417 million that year. It supports family planning and reproductive health abroad, especially in East and West Africa, and in the U.S. The domestic program gives out about $10 million annually and has three general goals: to prevent unintended pregnancy, ensure abortion access, and integrate family planning into efforts to improve womens lives and stabilize families. Research and policy advocacy are key stated strategies.
Every year, Hewlett supports Planned Parenthoods programs in the U.S. and abroad, including with about $2.5 million in 2018. Other past grantees include Medical Students for Choice, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (also known as Power to Decide), NAF, NNAF, National Women's Law Center and Center for Reproductive Rights.
Hewlett recently expanded its grantee portfolio in an effort to be more representative of grassroots organizing and the leadership of women of color. Clark says women of color and those who have less wealth are the most likely to lose access and face the greatest obstacles. Unlike middle- and upper-middle-class women, who have the means to get to places where they can get an abortion, poor women cannot. For them, abortion is an economic issue, as well as a health issue.
We heard a similar message from Rachel Jones, principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute (who was not referencing philanthropy). When we talk about the inequities of access, were talking about who is able to overcome [barriers]; who can afford to take time off work, [transportation, a hotel or child care]. As the number of restrictions increases, those inequities grow, too.
In 2018, Hewletts U.S. reproductive health and rights grants ranged from the tens of thousands up to several million. The Education Fund at UltraViolet, a feminist advocacy nonprofit, received $25,000. Hewlett granted Boston University $100,000 in support of research on women's empowerment. On the other end of the grant spectrum, Groundswell received $2.5 million. The Guttmacher Institute received more than $3 million.
Building on its inclusion of grassroots advocates within its grantee pool, Hewlett also has a new focus: the next generation of leaders from historically underrepresented communities. Citing the political engagement of #BlackLivesMatter, Dreamers, climate strikers, Parkland students and other young advocates, as well as the growing youth vote, Hewlett is in the midst of a three-year (2018-2021), $2.5 million funding strategy to strengthen youth engagement and leadership around reproductive health and justice. A few current grantees are the Alliance for Youth Organizing, Advocates for Youth (specifically, the Young Women of Color Council Program) and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now.
Hewlett grantee Groundswell has numerous youth-led grantees itself. Groundswell program officer Naa Hammond says young people are the lifeblood of every progressive movement, often pushing for the boldest strategies that leave no one behind Yet their leadership is often taken for granted by organizations and funders.
Fords Commitment to Reproductive Rights
The Ford Foundation gave about $103 million to reproductive rights groups between 2003 and 2018, and about $4.8 million in 2018 alone. It was the sixth largest funder of reproductive healthcare during this ~15-year-span (giving close to $153 million), and the eighth biggest funder of abortion, at about $3.5 million. PPFA is a leading grantee for Ford.
In 2018, in terms of reproductive rights, Ford supported the NLIRH (with about $2.4 million); In Our Own Voice, National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, and Sisterlove, which formed in the late 1980s as the first womens HIV/AIDS and reproductive justice group in the Southeast. An anticipated outcome of its reproductive and gender justice program is that leadership on these issues is more representative and includes women of color, low-income women and gender non-conforming people who begin to influence the agenda of the larger movement.
Brook Kelly-Green, program officer in Fords Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice portfolio, tells us many of their grantees, working with strong coalitions, have had a significant impact on policy, especially at the state level. She says state-based organizations are crucial to the reproductive health and justice movement, because they know their members and constituencies best and how to contact, connect and motivate [their] civic engagement. She says Ford backs this kind of work by funding Groundswell, the Astraea Foundation and Ms. Foundation, which have expertise and longstanding relationships with [state] grassroots and policy groups.
The foundation also backs All Above All through its host, the New Venture Fund. All Above All is a reproductive justice coalition and advocacy campaign co-launched by NNAF (another Ford grantee) and NLIRH. Kelly-Green points out that advocacy by All Above All and others was influential in Illinois passing of its Reproductive Health Act in 2019, protecting multiple reproductive rights.
According to data provided by Funders for LGBTQ issues, Ford was the top funder of LGBTQ+ sexual and reproductive rights and justice in 2017an important category well look at, as well.
Other Key Abortion and Reproductive Health and Justice Philanthropies
Back to U.S. reproductive health funding: Big philanthropies like the Kellogg and JPB foundations were also among the top 10 funders, giving approximately $134 million and $70 million, respectively. PPFA was a repeat leading grantee for JPB in this realm, while Kelloggs largest grants in this area went toward maternal-child health. The Harold Simmons Foundation, PPFA, Open Society Foundations and others also gave tens of millions for reproductive health.
The California Wellness Foundation was the 10th-largest U.S. funder of reproductive healthcare at $61 million. Other health grantmakers who were heavily invested in this cause include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (at $51 million) and California Endowment ($20 million).
If we zoom in to U.S. abortion specifically, the fourth-biggest giver was the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, which gave close to $7 million. The fifth biggest was the Education Foundation of America, a family foundation launched by Richard Prentice Ettinger (who co-founded Prentice-Hall Publishing) and his wife, Elsie. Its given about $6 million to this cause. The private Huber and Irving Harris Foundations were also among the top 10 abortion funders.
We dont see corporate philanthropies among the top funders of reproductive health, justice or abortion care. And we know the controversial nature of these issues is a large part of the reason STBF works to maintain a low profile. Of course, private foundations with iconic industry names like Buffett, Hewlett and Ford link their brands to these causes through their giving.
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation gave approximately $1.2 million for reproductive healthcare, including to Planned Parenthood. A few other corporate funders that gave less than a million to this cause include the GE, Pfizer, Prudential and Liberty Mutual Foundations, among others.
The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation makes contributions from associate's donations, and gave about $648,000 to reproductive health, including to Planned Parenthood. Some other companies supported reproductive health through their corporate giving programs with grants in the tens of thousands, including Kaiser Permanente and Altria Group. Companies whose corporate giving programs supported abortion include Microsoft, Maritz and Voqal.
As we mentioned, DAFs play a big role in abortion fundingFidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable and the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program funneled tens of millions to PPFA. Fidelity Charitable, the second-biggest U.S. funder overall behind Gates in terms of dollars granted, is a standout in particular. It gave about $109 million for reproductive healthcare (making it the eighth-largest funder of this broad issue) and close to $5.7 million specifically for abortion.
Community foundations with a womans giving program or an interest in reproductive health, and womens foundations, funds and giving circles can all play a crucial role in supporting local reproductive wellness and movement-building. While we cant explore all of their contributions in-depth, below are a few examples.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a DAF powerhouse and the largest community foundation in the world, is the ninth-largest U.S. abortion funder, having given close to $3 million. The Philadelphia Foundation is the only other community foundation in the top 15 abortion fundersit gave about $1.7 million to the cause.
The Foundation for the Carolinas, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, along with others, gave tens of millions to reproductive health causes. The New York Community Trust gave in the range of $13 million to reproductive healthcare, including consistent support for Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC)
Irfan Hasan, NYCT program director for Health and Behavioral Health, says the trusts support for this group helped advance the passage of New Yorks Reproductive Health Act and earlier this year, [we] gave [PPNYC] a grant to develop and test a sex education curriculum for young people with developmental disabilities.
The Womens Fund of Greater Omaha gave close to $9.5 million to reproductive healthcare. The Ms. Foundation for Women has given close to $6.8 million for reproductive healthcare and about $1 million for abortion. Groundswell has given about $1.4 million for abortion.
American Abortion Funds
The National Network of Abortion Funds has received backing from STBF, Packard, Ford and Hewlett. Its a coalition of about 70 abortion funds that remove barriers to abortion access. An abortion fund may pay for an abortion directly or provide support such as transportation, translation, child care or accommodations. The Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama and Holler Health Justice in West Virginia are examples of state funds. The Third Wave Fund supports Yellowhammer. And before its own Emergency Abortion Fund closed in 2011, Third Wave aided more than 2,000 people seeking abortions throughout the U.S.
Abortion funds, much like giving circles or bail funds, allow groups of people to pool resources to assist specific communities and causes, and build political clout. They can shift money and power to populations that experience greater barriers to wellness and/or justice in the U.S., including in the realm of sexual and reproductive health. NNAF Development Director Debasri Ghosh says the funds use private philanthropy to weave together a compassionate, community-led and values-driven social safety net, which she says is necessary because the government does not provide adequate services to the nearly 1 million people who have abortions each year. She says the funds rely primarily on individual donations and grassroots campaigns like an annual Bowl-a-Thon, through which abortion funds raised $2.4 million in 2018.
Ely of the University at Buffalo studies abortion funds, and her research found people served by one national fund got an average of $1,000 in combined financial aid each to help pay for abortions that cost about $2,000, on average. She says these findings prove the importance of the funds for people with lower incomes.
NNAF provides its member funds with infrastructure and organizational support, and leadership development, while also partnering with networks and groups on advocacy agendas. Its political priorities include ending all abortion coverage bans, including the Hyde Amendment. NNAF co-launched the All Above All campaign with NLIRH in 2011. All Above All centers on a four-part BOLD Action Plan, that calls on activists across the country to educate themselves, get involved in local and creative advocacy, contact lawmakers and support and share the movements agenda on social media.
Supporting LGBTQ Sexual and Reproductive Health
Members of LGBTQ+ communities often face barriers to healthcare. As one meta-study pointed out, heteronormative attitudes imposed by health professionals can make care-access more difficult. According to Human Rights Watch, Many LGBT people are unable to find services in their area, encounter discrimination or refusals of service in healthcare settings, or delay or forego care because of concerns of mistreatment.
The American Cancer Society stated that lack of insurance for unmarried or domestic partners is another roadblock. These barriers also exist and can grow more complex within the territory of sexual and reproductive healthcare. Cultural biases and misinformation, such as the perception that only cisgender women seek access to abortions and other forms of reproductive care, can make it more difficult for LGBTQ+ communities to experience sexual and reproductive wellness.
Kelly-Green of Ford, the top funder in this area, says the foundation centers traditionally marginalized communities, like women of color, trans and gender non-conforming people. She says many of their grantees [expand] the definition of who needs access to reproductive services and work to ensure that access.
After Ford, Groundswell and Borealis Philanthropy are the top funders of LGBTQ+ sexual and reproductive rights and justice, Funders for LGBTQ Issues Vice President of Research and Communications Lyle Matthew Kan says. In 2017, we recorded a record high in funding for [these issues] of $2.9 million, he says. Funding was at $1.9 million in 2014, but dropped to $1 million in 2016. I think it's too soon to see if this increase indicates a trend that will continue, but its encouraging, nonetheless, he says.
Ryan Li Dahlstrom, program officer for the Fund for Trans Generations (FTG) at Borealis Philanthropy, says Borealis supports reproductive justice organizing led by LGBTQ+ people of color, who are often the most impacted by healthcare barriers and discriminatory policies.
Dani Martinez, Borealis Transforming Movements Fund Officer, says this fund backs advocates for reproductive care for vulnerable communities, especially in the U.S. South. And again, we hear a funder discussing youth engagement; she says the fund supports the bridging role young, queer leaders play across social movements.
Avoiding Reproductive Coercion
Historically and on a large scale, reproductive health and rights have often been tied to complex and controversial issues of global development and population. Within reproductive health and justice advocacy and philanthropy, the question persists of whether services are ever pushed on women, particularly those who already face societal injustice.
A 2014 report from Guttmacher explores the history of coercive practices related to contraception, especially those targeting disadvantaged groups. It discusses a spectrum ranging from involuntary sterilization programs as recent as the 1970s to the Norplant controversies of the 1990s, when legislators in multiple states introduced bills to give women receiving public assistance financial incentives to obtain an implant or even mandate its use. In 2015, a Republican state representative in Arkansas proposed a bill to pay unwed mothers on Medicaid $2,500 to use an IUD.
One important consideration, whether its a philanthropist or a government, is to avoid reproductive coercion, Liz Borkowski, a researcher in the Department of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University, recently told Vox in an article on philanthropy and reproductive care. Advocates like NNAF and Groundswell state it is essential that reproductive services be readily available but not coercive, with a focus on choice and bodily autonomy.
Kreinin of Packard says, Every individual, no matter their age, race, marital status [or] income, should have access to quality reproductive health information and services, and be able to make decisions that are right for them without stigma or interference.
The most important thing we can do to make sure reproductive healthcare is available but not coercive is listen to the people receiving the care, Clark of Hewlett says. She says the foundation has funded several research projects recently in an effort to better understand womens wants and needs in this area.
When private individuals and organizations with vast resources wield enormous influence over vital aspects of others lives, concerns of abuse are natural. One potential way for reproductive health and rights philanthropies to build just relationships with grantees and the people they serve is by supporting diverse leadership and grassroots movement-building, which we see more funders doing. This leads to our final topic: what reproductive health and justice philanthropists should do with their money.
Where Reproductive Funding is Needed
Miller of PPFA calls philanthropists who fund sexual and reproductive wellness vanguard defenders of comprehensive healthcare. But where are their defenses best constructed? Where do abortion rights grantmakers need to go on the offense? We asked advocates, funders and researchers which populations were underserved in this arena, and where reproductive health and justice funding dollars should be spent. Most concentrated on three intersecting areas: supporting direct services, especially for people most often lacking access; backing advocacy movements led by the people most impacted by abortion restrictions and other compounding inequities; and getting more people engaged in achieving long-term political progress.
Its clear that many people who face abortion barriers face other societal obstacles, as well. Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D., ANSIHR director of research, tells us the following populations are currently underserved by Americas abortion services: women who live in rural areas, far away from abortion providers, and/or in states with multiple abortion restrictions; undocumented women and women of color; and those with complex medical conditions or drug dependencies. She also mentions young women who live in states with parental involvement laws but no strong organization facilitating judicial bypass, and women who discover pregnancy later (who tend to be young).
Jones of Guttmacher says the institutes data underscores abortion-access inequities in the Midwest and the South. Along with several groups already mentioned, she says people with disabilities are an underserved community.
Kreinin of Packard says that in the short term, as abortion restrictions grow, especially for women of color, low-income women, young people and people with limited mobility, there is a need to cover the full cost of abortion care including travel, lodging and child care. In the long term, she says investments in movement building and civic engagement are needed.
Third Wave also favors support for both reproductive health service access and grassroots movement-building. Co-Director Kiyomi Fujikawa says, We need to be funding local service providers on the ground, like abortion funds, and also, the movement-building work of cis and trans women of color, and trans and gender non-conforming people of color is key. Third Wave recently provided a list of abortion access and reproductive justice organizations at the end of this blog post.
Dahlstrom of Borealis suggests funders in this realm back the work of black and brown trans and gender non-conforming communities, particularly trans women of color and femmes, as well as people with disabilities, currently and formerly incarcerated people, and people with substance use issues.
Ely of the University at Buffalo says, It is young people who are primarily impacted by a lack of access to reproductive healthcare. Hammond of the Groundswell Fund calls on grantmakers to back youth advocacy. She says foundations must resource and support youth activists, who [shine] a bright light on the path forward for this country and for reproductive freedom."
Ely recommends support for many of the populations named above, and also says funders should back reproductive health providers, NNAF and local abortion funds, advocacy groups like All Above All or the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and independent community family planning clinics. But she cautions abortion-rights donors to educate themselves and not support resource centers that are religious and provide no contraception, or crisis pregnancy centers, which do not support abortions.
Before the midterm elections of 2018, Mark Rosenman, a professor emeritus at Union Institute and University and nonprofit activist, wrote that nonprofits and funders must concentrate more on organizing and advocacy, instead of forever trying to fill public shortfalls with private philanthropy. He mentioned family planning as one area where this strategy is particularly urgent.
[Now] is the moment for foundations and other donors to support nonprofits doing the grassroots organizing and education work that will help Americans fight back against dangerous and mean-spirited policies when they go to the polls, he wrote.
While the 2018 midterms have passed, yielding some progressive wins and a Democratic House, Rosenmans focus on big-picture advocacy and widespread political change remains relevant.
Ghosh of NNAF says abortion care access and movement-building are intertwined. The central charge of abortion funds is to fund abortion and build power, and we encourage philanthropists to do just that. These two go hand-in-hand because funding abortion is inherently political work. When people have their needs met, they're primed to join and lead movements against injustice.
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Posted: at 12:21 am
Despite the S&P 500 gaining 31.5% in 2019, active U.S. equity funds experienced a sixth year of net outflows during the decade-long bull market, a new report notes.
That reportcomes from Morningstar, Inc., which notes that while those actively managed funds suffered $41.4 billion in outflows, passive U.S. equity funds had $162.8 billion in inflows, finishing the year with 51.2% market share based on total assets. (Morningstar estimates net flow for mutual funds by computing the change in assets not explained by the performance of the fund.)
The report notes that this was the third consecutive yearly decline in passive U.S. equity inflows, reflecting the decreasing demand for U.S. equity funds overall. Meanwhile, active U.S. equity funds had outflows of $204.2 billion in 2019 but because of 2019s powerful rally, active U.S. equity assets hit a new record of nearly $4.6 trillion, up from $3.7 trillion at the end of 2018. As the reports authors explain: Theyre not dead yet.
In December, investors directed $25.3 billion of inflows to passive U.S. equity funds but $23.5 billion of outflows from actively managed U.S. equity funds. Among the 10 largest U.S. fund families, Vanguard saw its best month of the year in December, with inflows of $22.3 billion. Its $183.3 billion in inflows for 2019 topped 2018s $162.9 billion, and the firms long-term assets grew by $1.1 trillion to $5.3 trillion a 25.7% market share. But while its $183.3 billion in 2019 inflows was better than its $162.9 billion in 2018, that was still down from its calendar-year inflows from 2014 through 2017.
The report also notes that long-term funds drew in $414.6 billion in 2019, more than double 2018s $168.3 billion, and money market flows received $547.5 billion in inflows, the groups best year since 2008s record $593.6 billion.
The strong long-term inflows in both December and for all of 2019 were due almost entirely to record inflows for both taxable bond and municipal bond funds, which collected $413.9 billion and $105.5 billion respectively for the year, and $50.3 billion and $10.2 billion respectively for December. With greater 2019 flows than their active counterparts, passive taxable-bond funds now have a third of that market.
Vanguards Total Bond Market Index II saw the greatest inflows of 2019, with $29.7 billion, although the report notes that this fund is only available to investors through target-date funds. The same dynamic probably propelled the $29.0 billion of inflows into Vanguards Total International Bond Index.
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Posted: at 12:21 am
Finance Minister_Zainab Ahmed. PHOTO: Getty Images
THE implementation of the new Finance Law 2020 has started with the Value-Added Tax increase set to kick-off next month.
The Federal Government had ignored suggestions by informed analysts to reconsider some of its provisions. We now address the necessary palliative measures that should be taken to reduce its negative impacts on the people.
The lead provision of the law is the 50 per cent jerk up in VAT to 7.5 percent. The Federal Government had stated that the law was specially designed to support the implementation of the 2020 Federal Budget. This means the government just wanted more money to spend despite other provisions of the law that tended to address some fiscal systems inefficiencies.
But we would want the government to rebalance its thinking on the implementation of the new law in such a way as to provide fiscal counter-balance to the observed negativities of the law.
For instance, the VAT increase will impact adversely on businesses from the cost pressures perspective. Margins would be affected, depending on the extent to which additional costs could be passed to consumers. The worry is that we are operating in a high cost environment.
We recommend that government should specifically apply the revenue accruals from the new VAT regime to economic infrastructure and services such as roads, electricity and communications which have traditionally carried the largest chunk of the cost components in companies statements of account.
We also have to worry about the provision on minimum tax. It is inappropriate to compel loss-making firms to pay tax, no matter how little. This amounts to erosion of capital.
We recommend that this provision should be adjusted to deferred tax, which can be collected when the companies affected start making profit.
Despite the hypes about the tax-exempts provided in the new VAT regime for small businesses, it is regrettable that the eventual VAT increase will have a negative toll indirectly on all businesses, small businesses inclusive.
It will result to higher inflation, interest rate hike, and decline in demand for goods and services irrespective of who produced them.
It will hurt workers if take-home pay remains constant. This will further impoverish the personal income of consumers, especially the poor. It will affect market operations, mostly the formal sector.
An increase will discourage consumption (people will tend to buy fewer items to save cost). This will hurt businesses and affect employees.
Since the revenue windfall from this law will also accrue to states and local governments, we call for the inclusive implementation of the national minimum wage law by all tiers of government.
We also ask the government to prevail on the private sector to enhance wages at the backdrop of the inevitable spike in cost of living.
Posted: at 12:21 am
Doguwa winsAbdulmumin Jibrin KofaBy Bashir Bello and Abdulmumin Murtala Kano
Former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa has lost his bid to retain his Kano seat at the house.
This was coming as the former Majority leader, House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa won his election to return back to the house.
Jibrin, the proponent of Budget Padding failed after losing to his opponent, the opposition, PDP, candidate, Datti Yako at the Saturdays rerun election in Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency in Kano State.
Declaring the election results, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC returning officer of Kiri/Bebeji Federal Constituency, Professor Abdullahi Arabic, on Sunday, said Yako polled 48,601 votes to beat Kofa, who got 13,587 votes.
According to him, Aliyu Datti Yako of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), having satisfied the requirements of the law is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected.
However, former majority leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa won the Tudun Wada/ Doguwa Federal Constituency seat after polling 66,667 votes to defeat PDP candidate, Air Commodore Yushau Doguwa (Retd) who scored 6,323 votes.
Professor Mansur Auwalu Bindawa announced the election result at the constituency.
Vanguard News Nigeria.
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Posted: at 12:21 am
The Halifax Thunderbirds found another way to victory.
En route to the National Lacrosse Leagues best record, the Thunderbirds have rolled over their opponent offensively or locked them down defensively. On Saturday, they used a third-quarter surge to battle back from a three-goal deficit at halftime to earn a hard-fought 15-12 road win over the defending NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Down 6-3 at intermission, the Thunderbirds (6-0) scored nine goals in the third.
It is all about composure, Halifax head coach Mike Accursi said in a news release. We needed to try and match their intensity, and we didnt in the first half.
Offensively we started to move our feet and move the ball, added Thunderbirds forward Stephen Keogh, who led the offensive charge with five goals. We started taking smart shots and they started dropping for us.
Calgary which entered Saturday with a 2-3 record with each of the three losses by a single goal was strong out of the gate and scored the games first three goals. It was a commanding first half for the Roughnecks.
There was no panic in this group, face-off specialist Jake Withers said in the release. Withers dominated the Roughnecks Tyler Burton by winning 27 of 32 face-offs.
We knew we had the guys in the locker room to make a big comeback in the second half.
The tables did turn for the Thunderbirds, who came flying out of the break and scored three straight goals, capped by captain Cody Jamiesons hat trick.
Calgary replied with two of its own to take an 8-6 lead. But the Thunderbirds took flight and the floodgates opened for them. They scored seven unanswered goals to close the third quarter.
Rookie Clarke Petterson also netted a hat trick and Ryan Benesch and James Barclay each potted a pair of goals for the Thunderbirds, who outshot the Roughnecks 64-45.
Its just offence by committee and everybody is just working for each other, Keogh said. Were good when we are cutting through the middle and just opening up space for everybody.
Its the second road victory for the Thunderbirds, who travel to Toronto to face the North Division rival Rock on Friday evening. Their next home game is Feb. 15 versus the Saskatchewan Rush.
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Posted: at 12:21 am
In this interview, he speaks on the decision of the person, who instituted the suit leading to the injunction, Victor Oye, to discontinue his case. Njoku also speaks on his plans to rebuild the party.
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Last week, it was reported that you have returned as the National Chairman of APGA. Can you tell us what transpired?
APGA conducted two parallel conventions. One was done in Owerri and another one held in Awka. APGA agreed to hold the convention in Owerri on May 31, 2019. This decision was made in 2018. Congresses took place in May. The results of the congresses nationwide were completely against Oye. He decided to schedule an emergency National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting. They excluded many BoT members like Bianca Ojukwu and Chief Victor Umeh. After the convention in Owerri, Oyes tenure should have ended on June 6, but on June 5, he filed a case in Abuja to restrain me from carrying out my functions as national chairman.
Did you win at the convention?
I won and emerged as the national chairman. At the convention, we had legitimate delegates. Why did he obtain an injunction that I should not be recognised? He withdrew the case when he saw he could not substantiate his claim. Didnt he know I am now the legitimate national chairman of APGA when he withdrew the case?
Have you met with Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and what are they saying?
This thing just happened last Thursday. We would write to them.
What about some other stakeholders of the party? Are they aware?
All the stakeholders of the party believed that justice would prevail and we are glad the controversy is over now.
APGA is controlling only one state, Anambra. Has the governor also been put on notice?
The governor is the leader of the party. He is our BoT Chairman. A lot of discussions are ongoing. I wouldnt like to speak about them.
You were quoted to have said that you would bring back all who left the party. How do you intend to achieve that?
I said I would ensure those who left return to the party.
I mentioned the name of Ugo Agbala as an example. He is from Enugu State. Someone asked if I would work to bring back Chekwas Okorie and I said yes. I dont think the party treated him fairly. I havent had any discussion with Peter Obi. He is an old member of APGA. It would be very nice if he returns to the party as an old member. Let us conclude the work we started in APGA, but I think Peter Obi is quite comfortable in PDP.
Have you had a one-on-one with people like Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu?
Yes, we have had many discussions but she is not happy with so many things that happened. I dont think she has any problem with the party. Her real grouse is about the person who paraded himself as the party chairman, who she considered incapable.
Do you think the judgement of the court or the lifting of those injunctions has actually gone down well with the other faction?
I think that because of the way Oye joined the party, he feels being the national chairman is a right. It is a privilege that should be given by members. If members of the party decide that they dont want you or decide that they dont want me to be their national chairman one of us should be honourable enough to give up that position. Whether he is happy or not, he should look at the way things are. You cant force yourself on people.
Have you met with the members of your faction after the last court ruling?
Yes, we have been having meetings. We are actually touring all the zones starting from next week. In all the six geopolitical zones, national officers are going around to know what really is on the ground because we cannot really take anything for granted.
Talking about structures on the ground, most people feel APGA is as good as dead. They seem not to be happy with the relationship with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC
APGA is more or less a sleeping giant and it is unfortunate that we didnt have the right leadership when people wanted to rebuild APGA. The party was not really formed just for the Igbo cause. It was formed for the marginalized. Wherever you find that you needed a platform to express yourself, APGA is the answer.
Isnt the party subsumed in APC now?
No, it is not subsumed in APC. I dont have any problem with parties merging or having an understanding, but it should be done with the blessing of the party faithful. A few people at the top just decided that they were going to support the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. That was how APGA started supporting the PDP. It was also done in the Buhari era. Similarly, in this era, a few people just got up and decided to support the APC.
Does APGA stand a chance in future elections?
Every party stands a chance if the right thing is done. When you have no plan nothing will happen. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We do not plan in APGA. We have to rebuild the party without sentiments. We should look for the best without sentiments and we will have a party that does primaries. If we succeed in doing that, many people who may want to join the PDP or APC will come to APGA.
Do you also subscribe to the idea that all election matters should be concluded before swearing-in?
I think it is a very good idea. For example, what happened in Imo State is going to affect the state because a lot of projects were actually awarded by former Governor Emeka Ihedioha. Now, what would happen to the projects? PDP members protested against the sack of Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State by the Supreme Court
What happened was saddening. Ihedioha is my brother. One of the things I have always said is that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. PDP was there and benefitted from such an occurrence as well. We should learn to speak against anything that is wrong whether it favours us or not. We shouldnt only talk when any development is against our interests.
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Posted: at 12:21 am
MAGUBy Ikechukwu Nnochiri
A Constitutional lawyer, Mr Johnmary Jideobi, has asked the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja to declare the continued stay in office of Mr Ibrahim Magu as Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as illegal and unconstitutional.
The appellant challenged the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja which held that nothing in the law circumscribed President Muhammadu Buharis powers to retain Magu in office, or provided a timeframe within which he could serve as acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency.
It will be recalled that Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had in judgement she delivered on December 4, 2019, declined to invalidate Magus continued stay in office.
Justice Ojukwu, however, stressed that it was a mandatory requirement of the law that President Buharis nomination of Magu as substantive head of the anti-graft agency must be subject to confirmation and validation by the Senate.
She held that EFCC is not an extra-Ministerial department of the Federal Government and as such, the law provided that anyone nominated as its Chairman by the President must pass through necessary checks and balances by the Senate.
Public interest is very paramount in the appointment of any person to head to the EFCC, Justice Ojukwu held, noting that there was a lacuna in the law since section 2(3) of the EFCC Act did not put a limitation to President Buharis powers to retain Magu in an acting capacity.
The lacuna has given the President the proverbial knife and the yam to do as he pleases, Justice Ojukwu noted, saying there was a need for a renewed consciousness that laws must be implemented in accordance with the public interest and not exploited to install Magu in a substantive capacity.
The judgments followed five separate suits that bordered on the legality or otherwise of Magus continued stay in office as Acting Chairman of the EFCC, despite twice rejection of his nomination by the Senate under the 8th National Assembly.
While two of the suits which were in Magus favour, contended that President Buhari ought not to have transmitted his nomination to the Senate for confirmation, three other plaintiffs prayed the court to declare that his tenure as acting head of the anti-graft agency expired the moment the Senate rejected his nomination for the second time.
The pro-Magu litigants argued that transmission of Magus nomination to the Senate for screening was in breach of section 171 of the Constitution, insisting that EFCC is an extra-ministerial department of the federal government.
However, the anti-Magu litigants who are equally lawyers maintained that he was not a fit and proper person to head the agency since he was twice rejected by the Senate based on an adverse security report from the Department of State Service, DSS.
They separately urged the court to among other things, declare that by combined provisions of section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004 and section 11 of the Interpretation Act, Magu could not continue to parade or hold out himself as Acting Chairman of the EFCC, his nomination having been twice rejected by the Senate.
Besides, they sought for an order to restrain President Buhari from re-nominating him, as well as an order stopping Senate from accepting or acting on such re-nomination when made.
They argued that the moment his nomination was rejected for the second time by the Senate, he could no longer be re-appointed in any capacity at the agency.
Meanwhile, in his appeal, Mr Jideobi argued that the trial Judge erred in law when after affirming the mandatoriness or obligatory connotation of the word shall as used in Section 11 (1) (c) of the Interpretation Act in relation to the tenure of the 4th Respondent, then did a summersault to dismiss the Appellants claims.
He insisted that Magu, has exhausted more than four years in the position of Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission without the mandatory confirmation of the Senate.
By refusing to sack the 4th Respondent after making correct finds, the Learned trial Judge wrongly applied the law and unwittingly gave a judicial imprimatur to a constitutional violation in appointments strictly governed by statutes.
By not giving effect to mandatory provisions of the Constitution, the Interpretation Act, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, the learned trial Judge has allowed those laws to fall into disuse.
In his second ground of appeal, the lawyer argued that the trial judge erred in law by refusing to uphold the contention that Magus tenure as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC has ended by operation of law when the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria sent his name.
Consequently, he prayed the appellate court to set aside the high court judgement as perverse, saying it occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
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Execution of CAN Chairman: Boko Haram is gone but everyday Nigerians are killed PFN President – Vanguard
Posted: at 12:21 am
Dr. Felix Omobude, PFN President
Those who are benefiting from the system will deny that theres no suffering but you and I know that the common man is going through pains Reverend Felix Ilaweagbon
Omobude, the National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), speaks on the execution of the Michika local government area of Adamawa State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram among other issues. Excerpts:
The killing of the CAN Chairman for Michika local government area of Adamawa State is tragic, condemnable, callous and a devilish act.
Boko Haram has left no one in doubt that the Church is their main target and they had continued to push this since inception.
The cases of the Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu, aid workers as well as several unrecorded cases are fresh in our memory and yet they have continued in this evil expedition.
But the PFN is certain that good must overcome evil; no matter how dark the night is, the light will conquer darkness.
We cannot hold the government blameless on the issue of this fallen man of God because the government has the responsibility to the citizens of this nation, irrespective of tribe or tongue or religion, and they failed to deliver; they should not believe that the people will keep quiet.
The government wants us to believe that they have decimated Boko Haram; Boko Haram has been tactically defeatedand there has not been peace.
Every week, these people either ravage a whole village and abduct whoever they want to abduct; they even confront army formations, so why are they lying to people that Boko Haram has been decimated? Without a doubt, they still have all it takes to seize weapons from our military.
With all due respect, I respect the efforts of our military men but lets face the situation and do not let the world believe that the war against insurgency is over.
It is not! The callousness of these people and by what they are doing, the issue for them goes beyond ransom.
They actually wanted to execute the CAN Chairman and they accomplished their mission.
We are not certain yet what the Adamawa governor did after he heard the appeal of the abducted CAN Chairman in a video sent to him and the Federal Government..
I dont want to believe that the governor didnt do anything: whether what he did was enough is another thing. Whether he did it when they needed it is another thing. At times, when you look at the scope of these things, its beyond a state government.
I dont think the Federal Government can wash their hands off this and put the blame on the state. Its a national issue. Its a national war. The people are out to cause mayhem to discredit the government of the day.
They want to prompt religious disharmony among the people. And no responsible government should fold its hands and watch this happen.
Its an understatement to say whether the Federal Government is aware of whats happening and they know the enormity of the task. They know the viciousness of Boko Haram or ISWAP.
A government that engages in deceiving the people, making us feel that theres nothing when there are something calls for major concern. Its the concern of the Church.
We will understand if the government has failed and says they have lost control of security and tell Christians to move out, but they tell us this place is safe and everyday people are killed.
We heard about four seminarians who were abducted a few days ago at the Good Shepherd of Kakau Major Seminary along Kaduna-Abuja highway.
These things keep happening and, whenever they happen, you condemn them. Its not about condemning alone. Its not enough! We need action.
Whats the Church doing to engage the government?
At various fora, we have made our stand known. We have made representations. CAN has presented our position a number of times to the Presidency. We have made state-of-the-nation addresses and we have various opportunitiesWe are Nigerians and we love the country.
We are patriotic. We dont want to make things terrible for everybody. What they are trying to cause is an ill-wind that will blow nobody any good. No one has a monopoly on violence.
We are trying to control our young people and pacify them and we expect the government to do the needful by getting these people to account for their sins. Many of them are out-of-school and there are no jobs for them, so what do you expect? The Church cannot pick up arms.
We cannot call for an uprising to cause more trouble in the land. So we continue to hold our elected officers responsible because they swore to an oath to protect the lives of Nigerian people. And this, they have failed. The Church will continue to speak out.
Should the Church just continue to pray without exploring other options?
You suggest to us. Are we going to cause violence? Will that be the best for everyone? I still believe theres nothing better in this circumstance than prayer and engagement of government.
We engaged in inter-religious dialogue even as we engage the traditional institutions. For now, that appears to be the limit of what we can do.
Whether the government listens or not, the beautiful thing is that democracy gives people a time-frame. Although democracy has not matured in Nigeria, you cant fool the people forever.
If a party comes to the people and promises to give security, power and water and, at the expiration of their term, they didnt deliver on any of these, democracy provides an opportunity for the people to revolt with their votes.
So, if anybody thinks they can deceive Nigerians forever, buying them bags of rice, wrappers thinking that will solve their problems, Nigerians are getting wiser.
As a Christian leader, will you say that there are elections in this country?
In all frankness, I will not say that the results of elections in Nigeria reflect the will of the people. But it is a step forward.
The days that one man will hold on to power with the gun and without recourse to the Constitution are over. We all now must begin to enlighten our people and fight social ills.
People buy their way to power and circumvent whatever laws that were made for the sanctity of elections and, going by recent happenings, people are beginning to lose faith in the judiciary. But, to me, its all part of the process. We are getting there but very slowly.
Do you agree with the school of thought that the increasing wave of insecurity is part of the plan to Islamize the country?
I think that people overemphasize this Islamization thing as if the Church is weak or afraid and lacks capacity. Thats not the case. The Church is not sleeping.
Muslims have a right to evangelise if they will do it peacefully, just as Christians have a right to do the same and we are doing that in our own way. Let me remind you that many attempts have been made in the past and to some extent they didnt yield the fruits that the enemies expected.
While I will not ask the Church to go to sleep, we should not have sleepless nights over Islamophobia. I dont think that that day is soon if it will ever come. The Church is not sleeping. We are still working, praying because Nigeria belongs to all of us.
In this country, OIC came and people thought that overnight it would bring a cloud over us. Then Sharia came; even when we cannot claim total victory yet, those who are enemies of the Church know it is not a walkover in Nigeria.
But they appear to be making inroads
We are also making inroads, not through bow and arrows, not through violence but we are making inroads. The Church is the greatest nightmare of Islam.
I think we should also harness our strength. That Constitution thing fell like a pack of cards and whatever they have raised up If there still be a Goliath, God still has a David.
Catholic Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah made a profound statement, comparing the Federal Government with Boko Haram and saying the only difference is that terrorists use a bomb to achieve their aims. Do you agree?
I respect Bishop Kukah. I hold him in high esteem. I believe hes more knowledgeable than me especially in this area.
So, I dont take his words with a pinch of salt. I didnt read that statement but its up to the government to tell the world that they are not what the Catholic Bishop described. Nigerians today are wise enough to know the truth.
We voted this government into power in what we supposed was a civilized method. And if the government is not measuring up, the people have the prerogative to voice their grievance in whatever way they can. I think thats what Bishop Kukah has done. Its a language of dissatisfaction with the government.
Is that sinking down to the generality of Nigerians because we also saw the attempt by Omoyele Sowore to lead a protest against the government and what happened to him eventually?
I can tell that there are challenges that developing countries face. We have to fight totalitarianism and the people need to be enlightened and someone must pay the price for it like the one Sowore has had to pay. It also underscores the point that no matter how strong you are, the voice of the people will be heard.
To your question, when this government came into power, the Naira was exchanging for a dollar at N170 or so and they promised to make its exchange at one to one.
But instead, they devalued it and, today, you need about N360 to buy one dollar whereas wages have not insignificantly increased. The people have been under severe pain as new people are not being employed while every year thousands of graduates are turned out of schools.
Those who have served for 35 years in the civil service are being retired but new ones are not employed. You can ask questionsdo you turn your water tap and you see public water running? Everyone is sinking borehole everywhere.
These are indices. Go to the hospitals or the schoolsin most states of the country, pupils are sitting on the floormore and more people are buying power generators. Thats the situation. The majority of Nigerians are in pain.
Those who are benefiting from the system will deny that theres no suffering but you and I know that the common man is going through pains.
But shall we continue like this?
Honestly, I know that even in developed countries they have their challenges and, at times, the dimension is great. I believe that if we fail to do the right thing, we may not automatically be like Britain or America but attempts to do the right thing will move us forward.
To the credit of this government, they launched a war against corruption which is what every Nigerian needs to support if its wholesome.
Because corruption has set us behind in no small measure and it is still reigning in this country despite all that is being said or done. Even in the public service, you dont need to go too far before you see it. Its a problem that we all must deal with decisively.
How do you score this governments economic programme in the last five years?
As far as I am concerned, the nations economy is worse than what it was in 2015 when they came in. Thats the way it seems and in every area.
When they came in, petrol was selling for N87 per litre but now its selling for N145 and they say they are still subsidizing the product. You are in Lagos while I live in Benin City, theres no difference in electricity which is worse than what obtained when they came in.
On agriculture, I can give them credit because during this Christmas Nigerians ate made in Nigeria rice. That is a positive thing: we must go back to the land. Nigerians should consume what she produces. Thats a positive thing to do and I only wish that they improve on it.
We are increasing taxes and borrowing more. Is that a positive thing too?
I am not an economist and I cannot talk much on the borrowings and all the rest but I can tell you that you can borrow and borrow until you become a slave to the lender.
Thats in the Bible. The painful thing is that theres no nation that people dont pay tax. We should encourage our people to pay taxes, but the people also want to see what their taxes are used for.
Anywhere you go, you see governments upgrading their airports and infrastructural facilities and people are happy to pay their taxes because they can see what governments are using their taxes for. But the Benin-Lagos highway has been under construction since the Olusegun Obas
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