25 – 12 – 2020.

This message succinctly captures the state of the Nigerian nation. I thought I should avail it to all readers unabridged for proper digestion and comprehension. Indeed, Nigeria is in a quagmire of sorts.

Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah

Worshippers at Holy Family Cathedral, Sokoto for Christmas Mass
  1. Another Christmas with Dark Clouds of Death:
    Let me paraphrase the holy prophet Isaiah who said: “For Jerusalem (Nigeria’s sake), I will not be silent until her vindication shines forth like the dawn…..No more shall people call you forsaken, or your land desolate, but you shall be called my delight and your land espoused.” (Is. 62:1, 4).
    Against the backdrop of our endless woes, ours has become a nation wrapped in desolation. The prospects of a failed state stare us in the face: endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and community violence, kidnappings, armed robberies etc. Ours has become a house of horror with fear stalking our homes, highways, cities, hamlets and entire communities. The middle grounds of optimism have continued to shift and many genuinely ask, what have we done to the gods? Does Nigeria have a future? Where can we find hope? Like the Psalmist, we ask; from where shall come our help? (Ps.121:1).
    Whatever the temptations to despair, we cannot to give up. When the Psalmist asked where help shall come from, he answered that it will come from the Lord. Therefore, like Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, wePriests must stand before the mercy seat of God and plead the cause of our great country(Lk. 1: 8). Like Abraham, we must plead for the Lord to save our nation because we have more than ten righteous men (Gen. 18: 16ff). Like Moses, we believe that as long as our hands are held up in prayer, the Lord will be on our side (Ex. 17:11). These are trying but life changing moments in the history of our nation. Politics and Economics alone will not resolve our problems. There is enough hate and bitterness to go around. We need to pause, reflect, pray, be honest and courageous in facing tomorrow.
    Yes, our dreams have been aborted. Yes, our commonwealth has been stolen. Yes, our cancer of corruption has metastasized. Yes, we have been guilty of patricide, fratricide and attempted even suicide. Yes, we are hungry, angry, thirsty and starving. Yet, we stand firmly with the unshaken belief that no matter the temptations, the world has known worst times. These may be the worst of times, but for men and women of faith, they could be the best of times. We must stand firm and resolute because, our redeemer liveth (Job 19:25).
  2. Annus Mirabilis or Annus Horribilis?
    The roads to the grave yards are busier than those to the farms. Amidst the wails and laments, I hear the congregants saying; the world is coming to an end, it has never been so bad.Yes, people are dying, but they are not dying more now than they did in recent years. It is the social media and its connectivity that has given us a sense of greater urgency and added to our seeming despair with the way things are. The social media is value neutral.It depends on what we make of it. Its instantaneous impact is often times dizzyingly traumatic, but the other benefits more than compensate. In a way, the choices we make will help us decide whether this year is our annus mirabilis or annus horribilis.
    When Isaac Newton, at the age of 23, made the spectacular discoveries in the areas of Calculus, Motion, Optics, and Gravitation, the year of those discoveries, 1666, was referred to as, annus mirabilis, the year of joy. On the other hand, in 1992, when the marriages of three of her children collapsed, Queen Elizabeth in her Christmas address referred to that year as her annus horribilis, the year of horror. As such, notwithstanding all the earth shaking impact of the Covid-19, our own individual, communal and national tragedies, it is not just a choice between annus mirabilis and annus horribilis. At various levels, there have been grey areas of hope, flickers of light, achievement and so on. It is to these flickers of hope that we must cling tenaciously. For our son, Anthony Joshua, the loss of his title to Andy Ruis on June 1, 2019 after 25 fights without a loss, that year was his annus horribilis. When he pummeled Kubrat Pulev, this year became his annus mirabilis. Things change and, joy or sorrow, we must know that nothing lasts forever. What matters is how we handle failure.
  3. Another Christmas in Cloud of Doom:
    Not unexpectedly, this Christmas is again coming against a backdrop of so much pain, sorrow and uncertainty in our land. We all seem to have become sedated and inured to pain. Tragedy has been standing as our gate keeper. For over ten years now, at almost each Christmas, a dark pall of horror, sorrow and death has consistently hung in our horizon threatening to eclipse the promises of the joy of Christmas. Recall the bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla on Christmas day in 2011. In the wake of the Christmas day bombing, I issued a statement titled, An Appeal to Nigerians. In the statement which enjoyed a wide circulation, I stated: All of this should cause us to pause and ponder about the nature of the force of evil that is in our midst and appreciate the fact that contrary to popular thinking, we are not faced with a crisis or conflict between Christians and Muslims. Rather, like the friends of Job, we need to humbly appreciate the limits of our human understanding. Terror is a product of hate, but while hate tries to divide us, terror and death should pull us together.
  4. Is Government in Suspended Animation?
    As our country drifts almost rudderless, we seem like people travelling without maps, without destination and with neither Captain nor Crew. Citizens have nowhere to turn to. After he assumed power, a delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference had audience with President Buhari. In the course of our discussion, the President shared with us his frustration over the state of decay and rut that he had met. In frustration, I vividly recalled him saying that, from the decay and neglect, it seemed as ifpreceding governments had been doing nothing but just eating and going to the toilet! Looking back, one might conclude that those were happy times because at least there was food to eat and people could go to the toilet. Now, a journey to the toilet is considered by the poor an extra luxury. Our country’s inability to feed itself is one of the most dangerous signs of state failure and a trigger to violence.
  5. Breaking the Ice: From Chibok through Dapchi to Kankara:
    The sleepy town of Kankara, just 130 kilometers outside Katsina, like Chibok and Dapchi before it, has leapt into prominence not because they now have potable water, electricity or any dramatic improvement in the quality of their lives. Rather, it is because of large footprints of the evil men who have passed through their terrain. As always, we were unsure of how many children were missing: 80, 820, 800, 500, 520, 333, 320, no one knew. The numbers kept changing between the government and Boko Haram. The story of Chibok and Dapchi was for some time, a metaphor that exposed the vulnerability of the girl child. Kankara has added to the mix and now we have to face the mortal dangers of the Nigerian child in northern Nigeria. The Almajiri is the poster child of the horrible and inhuman conditions of the northern child. It is a best kept secret that the region refuses to confront but it has now exposed its underbelly. Now, what next for the children of the north? In another ten or twenty years, these children will be leaders in their communities. What will they remember and how will they remember? Their fate and future are a dream deferred, a nightmare that will be ignited by the fire next time.
    We thank God that the children have been returned safely. This is the easy part. The challenge now is how to deal with the scars inflicted by a derelict nation which is still unable or unwilling to protect its citizens. Yes, we commend the federal and state governments for the rescue operation. The larger issues now are whether the federal government understands the evil web of intrigues into which Boko Haram has tied it. Will the federal government continue to reward and fund Boko Haram by playing its game? How long can this circle of deceit last for given that every kidnap merely strengthens their arsenal? The men of darkness have shown far greater capacity to shock and awe a forlorn nation by constantly blindsiding us all. When will it all end?
  6. A Nation in Search of Vindication.
    This government owes the nation an explanation as to where it is headed as we seem to journey into darkness. Thespilling of this blood must be related to a more sinister plot that is beyond our comprehension. Are we going to remain hogtied by these evil men or are they gradually becoming part of a larger plot to seal the fate of our country?
    President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second class status. He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions. He may be right and we Christians cannot feel sorry that we have no pool of violence to draw from or threaten our country. However, God does not sleep.We can see from the inexplicable dilemma of his North.
  7. Nepotism and the Worship of False Gods.
    It is curious that President Buhari’s partisanship and commitment to reinforcing the foundations of northern hegemony have had the opposite consequences. For a long time, beyond the pall of politics, very prominent northerners with a conscience have raised the red flag, pointing out the consequences of President Buhari’s nepotism on national cohesion and trust. With time, as hunger, poverty, insecurity engulfed the north, the President’s own supporters began to despair and lament about the state of their collective degradation. Was this not supposed to be their song? The north that the President sought to privilege has become a cauldron of pain and a valley of dry bones. Today, the north itself is crying the most and why not? No one has suffered as much as they have and continue to. The helplessness is palpable and the logic is incomprehensible.
    One Northern Imam after the other have posted videos of lamentation on the social media askingwhy, with all the cards of power in the hands of northern Muslims, everything is bursting in the seams.How come our region has become a cesspool of blood and death? Why did President Buhari hand over a majority of the plum jobs to Northern Muslims? Was it for efficacy and efficiency? What was the logic? President Buhari must pause and turn around because his policy of nepotism has been rejected by the gods.
    During the Endsars Protests, the north pretended that it was ensconced from the pain that was driving the protests and that they had nothing to complain about. The northern elites claimed that the protests were part of a plot by Christians to overthrow a northern, Muslim government. Their sentiments false, but understandable. However, it turned out to be the lull before the storm.The dam soon broke as the bandits tightened their grip on the region as the spiral of kidnappings, abductions and killings of innocent citizens intensified.
    The North spurn into denouement: the idea of a united north seems to have ended. The northern Governors’ Forum has split into the three zones. With the killings, kidnappings and abductions of Emirs and other traditional rulers in the north, the signals have gone out that no one is safe and nothing is sacred. In the wake of the Endsars protests, the traditional rulers across the country assembled to express solidarity with the President. Then it all changed. The Emir of Katsina, the President’s home state, only recently said; We cannot continue to live like animals. I have not seen this type of country. His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar said that the north has now become the worst part of the entire country. The Senate whose leadership is almost totally dominated by Northern Muslims has raised alarm. The Northern Elders’ Forum has called on the President to resign. Has the politics of nepotism run its course? Perhaps, the spirit of Christmas should offer us an answer.
  8. The People that Walked in Darkness have seen a Great Light.
    The rut and decay in our country today is evidence of a people who have not yet seen the light. The experience of northern Nigeria is evidence that nepotism is a counterfeit currency. The nation must therefore now pull together. It is not enough to blame the military. After all, they neither run the economy or the bureaucracy. It is not enough to blame even the political class or even the President alone. We found our way here by the choices we have made as a nation over time.
    Indeed, the colonialists claimed that they were bringing light to a dark continent. In a way, despite the cost, we could see ingredients of theirlight; good education, running water, relatively good roads, security, among others. We finally accepted Democracy as the platform for actualizing these. However, today, there is evidence that we have literally returned to the cave, those times when life was brutish, nasty and short. Each and every one of us has contributed to the darkness of our nation. The light of Christ which we all received at baptism calls on us to act in the mind of Christ. To be a follower of Christ is to be in his footsteps. This moment calls on us as Christians to celebrate the simplicity of Christ represented in Christmas. Joy to the world, the Lord has come, the song says. Jesus has offered us a roadmap. We are challenged to bring light into the darkness of our society.
    Darkness has its own logic. St Paul reminds us that without Christ, our lives are characterized by: immorality, filthy and indecent actions, worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight, they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups, they are envious, get drunk and have orgies (Gal. 5: 19-21). When it is dark, we cannot see our way and we stumble. Nigeria has stumbled so much. It is time to for us to turn on the light of the torch. Each of us can make a change.
  9. Wailers and Redeemers.
    Finally, today, amidst the pains and the trials, we can say with the Psalmist: Our tears have become our bread (Ps. 43:2). We have no reason to doubt that at the fulfilment of time, in His own time, the Lord will dispense justice to our nation. It will come as day follows light.
    Our brother Femi Adesina, a Pastor of the Four-Square Gospel Church was right when he referred to those who were calling attention to our situation as Wailers. The wailing started quite early in the day. To the herdsmen across Nigeria whose cattle have been lost to rustlers, bandits, or lightening, the Prophet Zechariah said: There is a sound of a shepherd’s wail for their glory has been ruined (Zech 11:3). To the thousands of widows left to mourn their husbands or children across our country, the Prophet Jeremiah is saying; Send for the wailing women, that they may come! Let them make haste and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may shed tears and our eyelids flow with water (Jer. 9: 17). For our hepless nation overrun by bandits? Prophet Jeremiah still says; A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more (Jer. 31:15).
    So, Pastor Adesina was right. On the sad situation in Nigeria, the United Nations has wailed. The Pope has wailed. Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Pastors have wailed. Emirs have wailed. Politicians have wailed. The Sultan has wailed. Surely, it is time for the Lord to hear the wailer as they have sung their redemption songs. With St. Paul, I say: The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, the day is almost here; so let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (Rom. 13:11-12). Let us unite and seek the Lord in sincerity because the Lord will vindicate the righteous.
    Merry Christmas to you all.

Avoiding Information Overload in L&D Programs

Learning & Development

The quantity of information delivered during a Leadership & Development (L&D) program can be overwhelming to learners. There is often so much to say and the time organizations can afford to spend on training tends to be limited.

So how can you avoid information overload when designing your L&D program? How can you ensure that your team will learn the crucial points of your training sessions and be able to apply them to their jobs post-session? Here are a few tips to keep in mind and keep your program on track.

Get to Know Their Skill Set

Start by being aware of how much information your team can retain during each L&D session. Sometimes, you may have little choice but to firehose your learners. Maybe your industry changed suddenly and dramatically and you need to adapt the skill set of your employees as fast as possible.

Still, it is better that they learn something rather than nothing. Look at the results of training sessions you’ve conducted in the past and ask yourself these questions:

  • Was your team able to apply the new knowledge to their daily tasks?
  • Did you check their knowledge base beforehand to remove topics that they already know well?

One reliable indicator of information overload is when only some of what was explained in a previous session has been applied to daily tasks.

Additionaly, if your workforce has considerable variation in their level of knowledge and experience, you should split them into multiple groups so you can tailor your training programs accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a program where half your audience already knows what you’re teaching and the other half is getting so much new information that they simply can’t keep up.

Customizing your training sessions to the needs of your audience might sound like a lot of work but you’ll get better results from your training if you put in this effort before you begin.

Learn from the Best

Do some research into how successful L&D programs are being designed and delivered. This may give you some clues about why people are experiencing information overload in your program. Learn from the best by following thought leaders on social media, listening to interviews with current and former CLOs (such as Tom Evans and Jennifer Alesia), and following niche blogs. Study best practices or go back to the basics. Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective.

At the end of the day, you want your employees to be able to apply what they learn in their daily work. These are skills you can learn from any experienced CLO, even if they aren’t speaking about L&D programs.

Make It Practical

Woman pointing to papers

According to Nelson Cowan, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Missouri, our brains have endless capacity for storing information. And yet, your employees might look at you during your training sessions as if their minds have shut down for good.

Most of the time, those faces are a sign that your audience doesn’t understand the relevance of the topic at hand, not necessarily because you aren’t communicating clearly.

During a training session, people are taking notes, listening to your voice, looking at visual aids, and more. They might be concerned about what is expected from them or what they must do next. For many, it’s hard to draw conclusions or make deeper connections to the topics under discussion when they’re trying to do so many other things at the same time.

You can demonstrate the practical use of each subject to the learners using the following methods:

  1. Highlight the essential points of your presentation. Write beside them, “This is important to learn because you will apply it to X and Y tasks in this or that manner.”
  2. Let your team brainstorm in small groups about the practical applications of the topic or skill you’re discussing. Set the expectation that they will need to be prepared to share their ideas with the large group after the team brainstorm.

Adapt on the Move

Sometimes it can be hard to anticipate information overload. You may think the session is going well, but when you ask the learners to respond to the idea you’ve just presented or check for their understanding, you get nothing in return.

Take a deep breath. Tell your team you understand there is a lot to learn. Empathy will put them at ease. Give them a brief break to stretch and clear their minds if possible.

Next, quickly assess what needs to be revisited. Pose a few questions to the room. If most of what you covered previously has been lost, be ready to cover the highlights in a different way. Be flexible and slow down. Sometimes, having an open discussion is much more effective than using the latest audiovisual resource.

Keep Communication Open

An L&D program is a long-term journey. As such, you are bound to face some ups and downs. During your training sessions, remain flexible and open-minded. Read your audience for indicators of information overload such as parallel conversations, furrowed brows, or raised eyebrows.

Above all, your team must feel free to give you feedback. Hold one-to-one meetings to discuss the latest session. Check what they have learned and encourage them to share their likes and dislikes. Make adjustments to the training based on the feedback you receive both during and after the session.

Because learning is an individual experience, it will be hard to accommodate everything you hear. But no matter what, suggestions for improvement will strengthen your training skills and minimize information overload in the future.

Welcome the light

Dec 24, 2020 by Pat Marrin / ncronline.org


“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:1).

Christmas Gospels: Luke 2:1-20; John 1:1-18

The timely alignment of Saturn and Pluto this week offered our Covid-weary planet a reminder of how important light is to human survival. Our planet depends on our position in the solar system for life, warmth and food, but we also need the light of understanding to align our human world to the physical and moral universe we live in.  A light in the night sky humbles us and invites us to ponder life’s persistent questions and the many stories that give motive and meaning to our shared existence on earth.

Christmas walks us from darkness to light with three masses at different times. The vigil mass has angels from on high appear in the night sky to lowly shepherds to reveal that heaven has come to earth in the birth of a child in Bethlehem.  The dawn mass shows them welcoming the child. They are the first evangelists among the poor. The mass during the day proclaims John’s majestic prologue on the meaning of the light that has come into the world.  We need this light to see the events we celebrate made visible for us by faith.

Luke’s infancy story subverts the presumptions of earthly power.  He dupes Caesar Augustus by having his imperial decree send Joseph from Nazareth to Judea fulfill the prophecy that Jesus be born in Bethlehem of the house of David. Higher powers are at work than in palaces. The child lying in a manger surrounded by hill country shepherds is the true ruler and savior of the world.

Mary is Luke’s witness who “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  What better way to know Christmas than to see it through the eyes and heart of Mary? The word “glory” is used repeatedly, another name for “revelation,” an eye-opening, soul-pondering insight about what is happening even if it is invisible to physical sight.  The shepherds know. Mary and Joseph know, and Luke invites us to know this glorious story from inside the mystery of the Incarnation. 

How each of us celebrates Christmas depends on where we are in the progression from darkness to light, where we choose to enter the story with faith about its importance for us. How does the birth of this child enlighten my own questions about the meaning of life?   Has the darkness sharpened my longing for light and has the pandemic deepened my solidarity with others? What does it mean for my ordinary efforts that Jesus is my human brother inviting me to join him in the harness of humility and meekness, showing me the power of compassion to change the world one person at a time? We might wish to escape this world, but we would meet Jesus going in the opposite direction to embrace our humanity.  Heaven has come to earth; God is with us. Being fully human is our path to glory.

Biggest Political Blunder in American History?

American Thinker

December 22, 2020 By Steve McCann

If courts and state legislatures award Joe Biden the presidency, the anti-Trump cabal, driven by a four-year single-minded obsession to defeat President Trump, will have committed the greatest political blunder in American history — the unabashed and overt theft of the 2020 presidential election. 

This myopic and oblivious group so misunderstood the depth and breadth of support for Donald Trump that their blatant manipulation of the election would fall monumentally short of the planned for and anticipated landslide defeat of the incumbent.  A landslide they needed in order to dominate the political arena for the foreseeable future and avoid any backlash from the electorate for their duplicity.

Thus, this cabal, which consists of the Democrat party establishment, Tech and Wall Street billionaires, the mainstream media and left-wing elitists, will find itself in a quagmire of being unable to govern.  The Democrat party’s dominant and radicalized left-wing base will revolt over failed promises and expectations while the extent of the fraud will inevitably be fully exposed, resulting in nearly half of the citizenry viewing the government as illegitimate. 

The unleashing of Covid-19 on the world by the Chinese Communists opened the door for massive voter fraud, primarily via mail-in ballots, to be introduced into traditional battleground states.  Operating on the four-year premise that the destruction of President Trump justifies any means, the Democrat party establishment extra-constitutionally imposed changes to election laws in a number of states. 

At the same time their cadre of co-conspirators were also mobilized.  The social media oligarchs and the mainstream media controlled and blatantly censored the flow of information.  The self-styled progressive billionaires, in violation of campaign laws, poured untold millions into so-called get out the vote campaigns.  And the left-wing elites mobilized their army of foot soldiers to intimidate state and local politicians as well as state and federal judges in addition to being frontline participants in various statewide voter frauds.

These conspirators smugly believed that they had successfully set up a scenario wherein Donald Trump would be defeated in such a massive landslide that a vast majority of the citizenry would never question the results.  Further, Donald Trump would be so marginalized that his future as the leader of a growing political movement would be rendered moot as he slunk, tail between his legs, back to Mar-A-Lago.  Thus leaving the political playing field in the hands of the established ruling class in near perpetuity.

Instead the worst-case scenario played out.  The election came down to four battleground states, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania with a total margin for Joe Biden of 120,000 out of 18,600,000 legally or illegally cast votes or 0.6%.  The question of fraud, despite the cowardice of the federal and state judiciaries, cannot be swept under the rug particularly as so many illegalities have already been exposed. 

Further, nearly half of all likely voters (75% of Republicans and 30% of Democrats) believe there was sufficient fraud in the election to ensure Biden won.  Despite the best efforts of both social and mainstream media as well as the Democrat party hierarchy, that perception will never dramatically change, as in a recent poll just 56% of Americans say Biden is their president.   Once in office, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be viewed by a significant plurality of Americans as transparent frauds and imposters thanks to an unabashedly fraudulent election.  A citizenry already consumed with contempt for the ruling class due to their ham-handed police-state tactics in dealing with the Chinese Coronavirus is now waking up to their duplicity and megalomania. 

Without the modicum of a mandate and open hostility towards a Biden/Harris Administration, there is very little the ruling class can do to enact their agenda with the specter of revenge in the 2022 mid-terms hanging over their heads.  However, there is a more pressing issue that will impact the nation.  The left-wing base of the Democrat party can rightfully claim that it was their grassroots efforts that pushed the Biden/Harris ticket over the top.  Had there been the landslide all had anticipated and planned for, then the left would have had no choice but to be satisfied with the crumbs from the executive table as their role in the election fraud would be downplayed.

But there will be no crumbs from the table, as many of the grandiose plans of the ruling class will have to be shelved.  This will not sit well with the rank-and-file left-wing radicals as they will realize they were mere pawns in the lawless seizure of power by their nemeses.  The billionaire class, the corporatists and the ruling elites and their collective self-interest runs counter to Marxist/socialist ideology of the left.  None of the promises made during the campaign season will be kept as these doctrinaire socialists and their leaders will be shunted to the side while their erstwhile allies focus on maintaining their stranglehold on the levers of power in the face of an aroused and determined opposition led by Donald Trump.

In the spring and summer of 2020, the ruling class, in a marriage of convenience, tacitly allied themselves with another anti-Trump faction, the left’s uncontrollable militant militias, Antifa and Black Lives Matter.  By their collective silence and capitulation in the face of ongoing riots, violence, intimidation and looting, they conveyed to these self-styled revolutionaries that they are spineless and easily intimidated.  When the radical left is ignored and marginalized by a Biden/Harris Administration and the frustration level reaches a boiling point, then these militants will again take to the streets in an even more violent manner. 

The bitter harvest of massive election fraud will be a government beset with an inability to govern, as it will have no good will with the bulk of the American people and a political base it cannot placate.  The perpetrators of this fraud are predestined to fail as well as hasten the ultimate demise of the Democrat Party.  The only issue outstanding is whether this nation will descend into chaos and bitterness as a result.