The young terrorists have been brainwashed by Palestinian leaders and ‘scholars’ spewing hate against Israel and Jews on a daily basis. In addition, they are being assured that anyone who dies while carrying out a terrorist attack against Jews is a
Cattle forces farmers out of farmlands, as hunger looms in Nigeria’s Benue Valley
Several hectares of farmlands have been allegedly destroyed by herdsmen in 2021 in some states in Nigeria’s north-central region. Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue are the worst-hit states by the herder-farmer crisis. In this report, Justina ASISHANA spoke with farmers affected by the crisis and examined how it threatens food security in the country.
WHEN Samuel Odey planted cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, green peas, carrot, and other vegetable crops in January 2021, he envisaged the usual three planting seasons, which he usually does yearly on his farm in Zarazum in Jos East local government area of Plateau state.
But in February, when the crops were in the process of maturing, his farm was invaded by the Fulani herders whose cows ate all his crops, leaving him with little to fall back on.
“This year, my farm witnessed the brutality of the Fulani herders,” he narrated with a mournful gaze as he stared into the near-empty farmland.
“I started irrigation farming in January, and my farm was destroyed in February,” he continued.
“I had to plant again after the loss, and after re-planting, the farm was attacked by a disease which devoured about half of the farm. The Fulani herdsmen again destroyed a part of the farm which survived.
These destructions, according to Odey, were carried out as the herders marched their cows into the farm, stomping the crops and eating the ones they could.“Most of the time, when they come to give their cows water to drink at the dam close to where I farm, they matched on our crops, ate our crops, as they walked across the farm, instead of taking the footpath.”
Over N1.5 million, the capital he invested for this year’s planting season, went down the drain, thus ending Odey’s hope to return to the farm for the year.
“My production rate before the attacks has been good,” he recalled. “For my cucumber, I harvest nothing less than 300 bags. But after the invasions on my farm this year, I only got 50 bags.”
“For the tomatoes, there was nothing to salvage because I lost everything. The price of fertilizers, chemicals, insecticides, and other things I used, including labourers’ wages, was a total loss for me. I cannot bring myself to go back to the farm because I do not want to remember the loss and the pains these Fulani herdsmen have caused my family and me.”
Martin Agbo Audu-Doma, a retired civil servant, turned farmer no longer goes to his farm, which is located in the Doma local government area of Nasarawa state.
The farm, his lifelong wealth creation venture, could no longer support him following repeated herders’ attacks. Before the crisis, his five-hectare farmland hosted yam, guinea corn, maize, benni seeds (sesame) and melon plantations.
“I have stopped planting because there is no point going to the farm to plant only to have your crops destroyed by cows and their owners. One would struggle, even to the point of borrowing loans from the bank only for some cows to come from nowhere and eat them up or destroy the ones that they cannot eat,” he recounted his ordeals.
“The destruction of my farm has always been carried out at nights. I go home and come back in the morning to see the destroyed crops,” he narrated sadly.
Audu-Doma is one among the many farmers in the state who could no longer return to their farms due to the increasing attacks by herders.
Nigeria’s Benue Valley, which comprises Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau states, has been suffering the scourge of herder-farmer’s crisis, leaving most residents with pains, agony, and sad tales to tell.
The herder-farmer’s conflict, which became more intense this year, had begun threatening Nigeria’s food security. The affected states primarily produce most of Nigeria’s staple food, such as yam, maize, guinea corn, millet, and vegetables.
A research report titled “Trends and Dynamics of Conflict between Farmers and Pastoralists in Nigeria’s Benue Valley” released by Zinariya Consults in March 2021 stated that no fewer than 2,539 persons were killed in 654 attacks in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba states while over 300,000 were displaced between 2017 and May 2020 across the four states.
The report showed that 176,000 people were displaced in Benue, 100,000 in Plateau, 100,000 in Nasarawa and 19,000 in Taraba – all due to the surge of attacks and counter-attacks by the herders and farmers in those states. The conflict involves contests over land and water as access to water and grazing have become more competitive, it added.
Millionaire farmers now unable to feed their families
With 250 hectares of farmland fully cultivated with maize, guinea corn, yam, rice, benniseed, acha, and millet, Williams Audu’s effort to create wealth placed him among large-scale farmers in Nasarawa state. But his efforts ended in ruins as the herder-farmer’s crisis ravaged his rural community, turning him into an internally displaced person in a nearby refugee settlement.
A leader of Nyamadaga community in Keena local government area of the state, Williams spoke to The Nation at the LEA Pilot Primary School in Kadarko North. The school has become his temporary abode, alongside other members of his communities.
“They were killing and condemning us when we stayed in the village, and that is why we had to run away. We had to leave all we had because we needed a safe place to stay”, he recollected.
“On my part, I have about 250 hectares of land, but I cannot go there now because the Fulanis are settled there. When you go to Nyamadaga, Fulani has taken over the whole place. I cannot dream of going there except I have a death wish”, Williams said with a sad face.
He recapped with nostalgia: “For rice, I produce up to 100 bags per season, and I do two seasons every year; for benniseed, I produce about 80 bags, and others are like that too.” Before, the herdsmen allegedly took over his farmlands after ransacking his community.
“I had so much money to spend then, but now, I have to search for food by working for people to feed myself and my family. My children could no longer go to school”, he added.
Another large-scale farmer, Adamu Hoss, hails from Riyam village of Tahoss Community in Riyom local government area of Plateau state. Annually, he makes about N900,000 from his farm produce.
But after trying to salvage the remaining cucumber and corn that was destroyed by cows, according to him, “I could not get crops that were worth N50,000.”
“I can no longer afford to keep my children in school because there is no money to pay their fees and purchase some basic things they need in school. Feeding has become a big problem in my family because if I do not farm, how can I bring food home or get money to buy food?” he asked hypothetically.
For Dawon Kwon, his major plantations of maize, millet, cabbage, and tomatoes attracted buyers from far and near in the recent past.
“Before, I used to get one pick-up vehicle each for my maize and millet crops. I sell these crops for about N500,000 to N600,000 annually when I harvest them. I planted this one (while showing this reporter round his farm), and they came to destroy it”, he narrated.
“I don’t know how I will cope for the rest of the year and next year; I don’t know how I will feed my children. Even if I want to plant next year, I cannot afford to buy fertilizer which is about N20,000 per bag, and this hardship is just too much to cope with”, Dawon added.
Empty stalls on market days
The Doma farmers’ market, domiciled in Doma local government area of Nasarawa state, plays host to traders and consumers from the length and breadth of the country. Known for its sweet yams, good millets, among other farm produce, buyers and sellers converged at the market every Wednesday of the week.
However, reverse is the case these days. Although this reporter couldn’t visit the area on a market day, residents said the market is usually very scanty in recent times as farmers no longer have crops to bring to the market to sell.
Audu-Doma could not hesitate to link the dwindling volume of produce in the market to the herder-farmer crisis, saying the food crisis looms.
“In the past, when you come to Doma market on Wednesday and see the volume of farm produce that will be sold, you will wonder whether it was humans who farmed the produce or robots. You will see trailers from the north, the east and the south to buy yams, millet and other crops, but now, it is different.”
“Doma market is no longer functioning like before. I was there during the last market day, and it was virtually empty. All the vehicles that usually come to buy goods no longer come.
“No place produces yam like Doma. But if you go there now, you cannot find yams for sale because nobody farms yams anymore. After you have planted, these Fulani herders will come and remove the seedlings and use it to feed their cows.”
The situation is not also different at Kadarko Market, located in Keana local government area of the state.
Residents said farmers in communities that made up the local government area could no longer grow crops massively due to constant herdsmen invasion of their farms. Thus, buyers began to desert the market, as they were often disappointed when they patronized the market, only to discover that there was no produce to buy.
Prices of food skyrocket
In the same vein, Plateau state is known for its large vegetable plantations, especially cabbage, carrot, cucumber, spinach, and tomatoes, among others.
But a walk through the Jos Terminus Market in the Plateau state capital showed an increase in prices of foodstuffs, especially the vegetables and staple foods consumed by most Nigerians.
Traders interviewed affirmed that with as low as N300, one could buy all the ingredients needed for coleslaw, also known as Salad. They said currently, a medium-sized cabbage sells for N200 with plenty “abeg ma” in the market.
“For ten tubers of yams, the price now ranges between N3,000 to N5,000; this was about N1,500 to N1,800 earlier in the year. Whereas, maize which sold for N180 – N200 per mudu (that is, a common unit of measure in which foodstuff is sold in markets across northern Nigeria) in January, now sells for N300 per mudu,” Mrs Anne Barau, a trader in the market told this reporter.
Hadiza Musa, another trader in the Tomatoes section of the market, shared the same opinion with Mrs. Barau.
According to her, the cost of tomatoes and other vegetables are high; as such, we always explain to customers why the tomatoes, pepper or onions they bought for N200 yesterday are being sold for N300 the next day.
“For now, a basket of tomatoes is N5,000, but last month, it was sold for as high as N9,000 to N10,000. In contrast, a bag of onions is between N30,000 to N32,000.
“Cucumber goes for N8,000 – N9,000 depending on the bag; cabbage is N8,000 to N9,000 per bag; green pepper is sold between N12,000 to N13,500 per bag while a bag of Irish potatoes goes for N18,000 to N20,000. These were sold at lower rates last month. Most of them increased by 20 to 30 per cent”, she said.
Many commentators use the Book of Revelation to support anti-Catholic opinions. Here are five of the most common fallacious statements you will encounter.
Source: The Time Is Near
God is charity: He has loved us with an everlasting love!
Source: God Loves You!
Vatican City, Dec 25, 2021
On Christmas Day 2021, Pope Francis delivered his “Urbi et Orbi” address and blessing from the central balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square. The following is the full text of the pope’s Christmas message.
Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas!
The Word of God, who created the world and who gives meaning to history and to humanity’s journey, became flesh and came to dwell among us. He came like a whisper, like the murmur of a gentle breeze, to fill with wonder the heart of every man and woman who is open to this mystery.
The Word became flesh in order to dialogue with us. God does not desire to carry on a monologue, but a dialogue. For God himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is dialogue, an eternal and infinite communion of love and life.
By the coming of Jesus, the Person of the Word made flesh, into our world, God showed us the way of encounter and dialogue. Indeed, he made that way incarnate in himself, so that we might know it and follow it, in trust and hope.
Sisters and brothers, “what would our world be like without the patient dialogue of the many generous persons who keep families and communities together?” (Fratelli Tutti, 198). In this time of pandemic, we have come to realize this more and more. Our capacity for social relationships is sorely tried; there is a growing tendency to withdraw, to do it all by ourselves, to stop making an effort to encounter others and do things together. On the international level too, there is the risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to taking shortcuts rather than setting out on the longer paths of dialogue. Yet only those paths can lead to the resolution of conflicts and to lasting benefits for all.
Indeed, even as the message of the birth of the Saviour, the source of true peace, resounds in our hearts and in the whole world, we continue to witness a great number of conflicts, crises and disagreements. These never seem to end; by now we hardly even notice them. We have become so used to them that immense tragedies are now being passed over in silence; we risk not hearing the cry of pain and distress of so many of our brothers and sisters.
Let us think of the people of Syria, who for more than a decade have experienced a war that has resulted in many victims and an untold number of displaced persons. Let us look to Iraq, which still struggles to recover from a lengthy conflict. Let us listen to the cry of children arising from Yemen, where an enormous tragedy, overlooked by everyone, has silently gone on for years, causing deaths every day.
Let us recall, too, the continuing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians that drag on without a resolution, with ever more serious social and political consequences. Nor should we forget Bethlehem, the place of Jesus’ birth, which is experiencing hardship also from the economic repercussions of the pandemic, preventing pilgrims from visiting the Holy Land and adversely affecting the life of the people. Let us think of Lebanon, which is undergoing an unprecedented crisis, accompanied by very troubling economic and social conditions.
Yet, in the heart of the night, look! The sign of hope! Today, “the Love that moves the sun and the other stars” (Paradiso, XXXIII, 145), as Dante says, became flesh. He came in human form, he shared in our plight and he broke down the wall of our indifference. In the cold of the night, he stretches out his tiny arms towards us: he is in need of everything, yet he comes to give us everything. Let us ask him for the strength to be open to dialogue. On this festive day, let us implore him to stir up in the hearts of everyone a yearning for reconciliation and fraternity. Let us now turn to him in prayer.
Baby Jesus, grant peace and concord to the Middle East and the whole world. Sustain all those who provide humanitarian aid to peoples forced to flee from their homelands; comfort the Afghan people, who for more than forty years have been sorely tested by conflicts that have driven many to leave the country.
King of all peoples, help political authorities bring peace to societies roiled by tension and conflict. Sustain the people of Myanmar, where intolerance and violence not infrequently target the Christian community and its places of worship, clouding the peaceful countenance of that people.
Be a source of light and support for all those who believe in and strive, despite all obstacles, to advance encounter and dialogue. In Ukraine, prevent fresh outbreaks of a long-festering conflict.
Grant that, through dialogue, mutual respect and recognition of the rights and cultural values of every human being, the values of solidarity, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence may prevail in the hearts of the peoples of the Americas.
Son of God, comfort the victims of violence against women, which has increased in this time of pandemic. Offer hope to young children and adolescents suffering from bullying and abuse. Show consolation and warmth to the elderly, especially those who feel most alone. Give serenity and unity to families, the first educators of their children and the basis of the fabric of society.
God-with-us, grant health to the infirm and inspire all men and women of good will to seek the best ways possible to overcome the current health crisis and its effects. Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care – and vaccines in particular – are provided to those peoples who need them most. Repay those who generously devote themselves to caring for family members, the sick and the most vulnerable in our midst.
Child of Bethlehem, grant that the many military and civilian prisoners of war and recent conflicts, and all those imprisoned for political reasons, may soon return home. Do not leave us indifferent before the tragic situation of migrants, displaced persons and refugees. Their eyes beg us not to look the other way, ignoring our common humanity, but instead to make their stories our own and to be mindful of their plight.
Eternal Word become flesh, make us attentive to our common home, which is suffering from the carelessness with which we so often treat it. Inspire political leaders to reach effective agreements, so that future generations can live in an environment respectful of life.
Dear brothers and sisters, amid all the many problems of our time, hope prevails, “for to us a child is born” (Isaiah 9:6). He is the word of God, who became an infant, capable only of crying, and in need of help for everything. He wished to learn how to speak, like every other child, so that we might learn to listen to God, our Father, to listen to one another and to dialogue as brothers and sisters.
O Christ, born for our sake, teach us to walk beside you on the paths of peace.
Happy Christmas to all!
In the Nativity of the Lord, the cries of the world, the cries of the human heart, and the cries of God coincide. These shared sighs and aches unveil silences overshadowed by Divine Power and out of which the Savior comes.
Though unaided reason is ignorant of His presence, God has never been indifferent to the plight of even the least of His creatures. He is always at work on their behalf. That is why we find Him throughout the Scriptures searching in the world’s silences and poverties as a shepherd seeks out lost sheep in a wilderness or a father his lost son.
The Living God implicates Himself in the misery of the most forgotten, overlooked, and rejected until He too is rejected, overlooked, and forgotten. He is not disgusted with his children when they cry to Him no matter how lost they are. He eagerly takes them home and embraces the consequences of their sins, suffering them with the wisdom that knows that evil is not without limits. Love goes farther than hatred, lasts longer than resentment and bitterness. Love heals what we have destroyed.
Such a pathway involves humiliation in the short run and in the exigency of the moment looks as certain defeat. But God’s love is never defeated. In the pure excess of His love, God chooses the humiliated and the humble even to the point of his own humiliation and death. But His love is stronger than death and the chaos of Hell has no hold on this Light. So He raises up those who are bowed down and refreshes them for the great journey home. The humble “yes” of those who choose to serve Him leads to all this and more. The object of his Divine Affection, these are the souls who He invites into even deeper silences, spacious places that the world cannot know, nights so dark that they alone can hold a light brighter than day.
For those who choose to trust Him, He invites them to go where no creature has ever gone before. He makes this invitation by entrusting to them His Son. The invitation is by way of faith, the decision to believe when this choice seems most difficult to make. This is because trust alone welcomes God and trust only becomes strong when it is tested. The Word comes to those who will welcome him in times of trial and hardship – He sees the strength of His Father in them, and this delights His heart. He comes in the vulnerability of a baby. He comes as the pure gift of the Father for no other reason than love and love alone.
Into the silence of the world, the Father has spoken his Word. Into humanity’s deepest silence, the Word entered and resounded. That deepest silence was in the form of “let it be done to me.” It is not only a silence of soul but also a silence of body, a taking flesh in a loving womb because so perfectly held in a humble heart. Sin does not know this silence but through this silence, the Word communicates power to overcome sin. This same power waits to be enfleshed in our own lives too – a transformation in light and love.
By Keith Surface
Decades ago, an elder minister told me, “Most people do not want you to tell them what God says. They want you to tell them what they already believe but do it in a new and exciting way!” Sadly, I have often found these words to be true. People gravitate to hear those who will reassure them in what they want to be true. Such behavior comes from a spiritual condition the Apostle described as “having itching ears.” II Timothy 4:3.
This generation seems to crave affirmation of predisposed positions. In politics, we refuse to listen to anything which does not tell us that “our side” is good and the “other side” is evil. If the politician we support does wrong, we want to hear that it was justifiable or excusable. If the politician we are opposed to does the same, we want to hear how evil they are and how they must be punished. It is the same concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccines which followed. We will not tolerate anything except it tells us what we want to be true.
“Itching ear” syndrome is also well entrenched in the modern church. This is evidenced when you consider the multitude of prophets in the land who promise to speak only “good things” to the people. People may love to hear such a prophet, but speaking only good things is not an attribute of a prophet of God. God spoke of such, saying, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” Jeremiah 23:21. If a prophet is telling you what you want to hear it is almost certain they did not hear anything from God.
Paul told us this “itching ear” syndrome would cause people to forsake the truth and turn to “fables.” He said they would “…not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” II Timothy 4:3-4. It is astounding to realize that the most beloved doctrines of the modern church are simply “made up.” They are just “fables.” I challenge people to go to the scripture to show why you believe what you believe. If you believe “The blood of Jesus covers your sin from the eyes of God,” you will not be able to find it in the scripture. If you believe “Those who die in their sin will go to heaven if they have believed in Christ,” you will not find it in the scripture. If you believe the redeemed are still sinners who sin every day,” you will not find it in the scripture. These things are “fables.” They are just “made up,” but people with “itching ear” syndrome love to hear it.
Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed his blood to deliver you from the power and presence of sin. Romans 6:22. Anything which denies this freedom cannot be the gospel of Christ because Jesus himself told us “…the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32. Why does this message of freedom from sin through Jesus Christ so disturb the hearts of many who hear it? The simple answer may be that it strips us of all excuse. If Jesus suffered and died to make us free, then the only reason for a person to be in the bondage of sin is either they have not heard, or they will not believe. Jesus confirms this, saying, “the Comforter” would “…reprove the world …of sin, because they believe not on me.” John 16:7-9. “Itching ear” syndrome will always cause a person to reject “the truth” and choose a “fable,” thereby condemning themselves to continue in sin’s bondage.
Do not believe God because he has spoken something you like to hear, but rather believe God regardless of what he has spoken! If you seek to pick and choose what to believe, you will make all his word “of none effect.” Mark 7:13. It is important to remember that whatever God speaks, he speaks for your profit. Even his reproof is for your good. Hide his word in your heart and believe it for exactly what it says. If it breaks your heart, it will also mend it. If it tears you down, it will also lift you up. If it reproves your sin, it will also make you free! John 8:32.
Discovery of ancient shipwrecks brings underwater treasures to light
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) recently announced an incredible find—the discovery of not one but two ancient shipwrecks off the coast of the ancient port city of Caesarea. The earlier shipwreck dates to the Roman period (c. 300 C.E.), while the other was a vessel from the Mamluk period (c. 1400 C.E.). The ships had sunk at the same place in Caesarea’s harbor more than a millennium apart. Within the wrecks, the IAA discovered a treasure trove of ancient artifacts, including coins, statues, pottery, and jewelry. Most remarkable of all, however, was an octagonal gold ring set with a green gemstone carved with an image of the Good Shepherd, one of the earliest known Christian symbols for Jesus.
Both ships were discovered in shallow water near the ancient harbor. The archaeologists suggest the ships “may have been anchored offshore after getting into difficulty or fearing stormy weather.” Amongst the hoard of finds from the Roman ship were hundreds of bronze and silver coins, a small bronze Roman eagle, an intricately carved red gemstone, and the golden ring of the Good Shepherd. The green gem of the latter was masterfully worked with an image of a young shepherd wearing a tunic and holding a lamb on his shoulder.
It is one of the earliest known Christian symbols associated with Jesus. This unique ring gives a hint as to its original owner, who was likely a wealthy Christian living in Caesarea, the same city where the Apostle Peter baptized the first gentile (Acts 10:10) and where Paul was put on trial (Acts 23–24). The red gemstone, which would also have originally been set in a ring, bore a carving of a lyre known in both Roman and Jewish traditions. From the Mamluk ship, the IAA uncovered nearly 600 coins and, between the two wrecks, archaeologists also found dozens of bronze bells, pottery vessels, nails, lead pipes, and a large iron anchor.
Over the years, the coastline of Israel and especially the area around Caesarea has revealed many incredible finds, such as gold coins, Roman statues, Crusader swords, and even Phoenician statues associated with the practice of child sacrifice. According to IAA Director-General Eli Eskozido, “Israel’s coasts are rich in sites and finds that are immensely important national and international cultural heritage assets. They are extremely vulnerable, which is why the Israel Antiquities Authority conducts underwater surveys to locate, monitor and salvage any antiquities.”
This is wishing all visitors, friends, and followers of the Searchlight blog, compliments of the season.
Wishing you also God’s blessings and the best of heaven’s bounties in the news year.
I have been out for two solid weeks without warning. I missed your posts, your visits, and your comments.
Please let us keep on blogging for the good of humanity.