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Opinion: Thriving in Trying Times (Pt. 1)

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“Until you are tried (pushed), you will not strive, if you do not strive, you may not thrive!” – Tolulope A. Adegoke

Until you are tried, you can’t thrive! In the process of being tried, man must strive not to remain on the floor. This period could feature any of the following processes: from crawling to walking, from walking to running, from running to flapping, from flapping to flying, and from flying to soaring. Trying times are periods of struggles, challenges, lockdowns and knockdowns! It could be terrifying, tempting, difficult and annoying but certainly, it’s a period when the challenged person needs to make some life-changing decisions either to be emotionally drawn in the situation (scenario) or get up and fight by maximizing the storm to discover innate potentials and build capacities beyond the ordinary. It is a period of systematically confronting and conquering one’s fears. It could really be energy sapping (exhausting), it’s a period of fighting hard psychologically, spiritually and morally.

It is a period of aligning your psychological, financial, physical and spiritual strengths to find meaning to your existence. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Sometimes you are up and sometimes down. But our trying times is when we need more supports, push and guidance. We must understand that it is how we respond and confront our challenges that define how strong we are. This tests of times are revealers of those that are true to us. But we become happier in life as we improve on our abilities to navigate this trying period, and we also grow as a being or an entity.

Your trying times might be a serious health challenge, dealing with patients in your (hospital) wards, marriage, children, relationship, career or customers amongst others; trying times are inevitable. Your Spiritual, Physical, Emotional and Mental (SPEM) strength are usually tested during those trying times. And without adequate ‘SPEM’ strength, life’s inevitable challenges are likely to fill you up with self-doubts and anxiety, uncomfortable feelings lending to negative vibes, thoughts which affect or influence your behavioural pattern, which can turn your catastrophic predictions into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Life comes with different seasons: good times and bad times as unveiled in the Holy Book [Ecclesiastes 3:1] “there is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for events under heaven” (NASB). Every purpose, activity and situation simply reveals what time and stages we are in. But the good news is that the Almighty God is unchanging through all the seasons. He says: “I am the Lord that does not change.” Not His integrity, His mercy, nor His faithfulness. However, to overcome in every changing seasons of life, we must adapt and engage the shield of FAITH as given us by God; because FAITH is the spiritual, psychological and moral weapon for all season. The Holy Book in 1John 5:4 reveals that: “For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

Currently, the is an ongoing global crisis against humanity, that is the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). We should understand that what is happening today is not new at all; in 1869, 1919 there were pandemics that ravaged the world. Here is where the hope of our victory lies; if God could put a stop to the plagues in times past, He will solve it again; because He alone is the Almighty.

 

Among others are what trying times does:

One. Trying times is a REVEALER; it truly reveals who you are. Everyone can fake that he or she is strong before their trying moments, but when trying times emerges; that is when you know who you truly are and where you truly stand. Many people tend to play the blames on God in their trying times- these categories of persons want to get their crowns without going through CROSS; such people want the testimonies without passing through the TESTS.

Trying moments reveals our true identity, our strength, weaknesses among others- that is why the Holy Book reveals in Proverbs 24:10: “…if you faint in the day of adversity your strength is small (AMP).”

Two. Trying moments gives us the opportunity to put to test all that we have learnt over the years. Every word of God that has been deposited your heart are to prepare you for battles. Your works/ strengths would be tested in trying times. There are messages you have heard some two to four years ago, such that if something happen today, those words would act as weapon which God had given you in advance to prepare you to lead and conquer. Some of us do not know the power we possess until we feature in trying moments.

Three. Trying times should not make us run away from The Maker, God Almighty; but should push us to run to Him: Just as the Holy Book, Proverbs 18:10 reveals “the name of the Lord is a Strong Tower; the righteous runneth into it, and it is safe.” (KJV).

 

WAY FORWARD- in Trying Times

The word of God is the solution to every problem; it is the way out of every challenge of life when applied. God uses life events to shake the trees of our lives so that the rotten fruits and withered leaves can drop off. He is shaking the Heavens and the Earth so that the things that cannot be shaken can stand. If we are very observant to current issues around the world, it is vividly clear that the so-called nations that we think are ‘up there’, the scourge of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) has exposed and humbled virtually all of them, they all now find solace in the power beyond science (Artificial Intelligence), God Almighty. These were the so-called nations that had almost totally rejected the full (gospel of the) existence of God over mankind. In a nutshell, God uses trying times to humble mankind and prove His Supremacy as the Almighty in the affairs of men; in a bid to draw us closer to Him.

The first way forward on your to-do-list is to know what-not-to-do. Many times, we say this is what I will do, it may not be as effective as knowing ‘what not to do’. It is not what you should do that matters, it is what not to do in trying times- that is the wisdom we got from the Almighty God in the Holy Book of Exodus 20 when He was giving the Ten Commandment. He didn’t at first state to them what He needs them (Israelites) to do, but ‘what not to do,’ then at the latter end stated what to do. Exodus 20:3 reveals: “you gods before or besides Me” (AMP). God didn’t say “you must serve Me,” but He is saying: Know what you shouldn’t do, that is, “you shall not have any god besides me, you shall not make for yourself an idol, you shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them. God began to give them a list of what they shouldn’t do.

In your trying times, you must first of all, know what not to do; that will help you to know what you should do.

Seven Things You Shouldn’t Do in Trying Times that Guarantees Our Staying Power to Overcome are:

One. Do not FEAR! The Holy Book in Psalm 91:5 reveals that “thou shall not be afraid…” we could see the covenant of God in that scripture that if God should say do not fear, then why should you be afraid. Put your trust in Him, cast your care unto Him, then follow His full instructions or directions per-time; of what use or need is speed when there is no direction?

Even when everything around us points towards fear, always remember that God has instructed us not to fear, and none of His words would fall to the ground. The word ‘fear not’ is very instructive and important. It is one of the most important and common phrases in the Bible; but why is it so common and important? ‘fear not’ is God’s ‘stability phrase’, it is our shock absorber. Why is it so important- Isaiah 41,43, Genesis 15? A researcher or Bible scholar unveiled that the word ‘fear not’ appears 365 times in the Holy Book which connotes that there is a ‘fear not’ dosage for each day.

‘Fear not’ is our God’s Spiritual First Aid. God will not start a major thing just anyhow. Firstly, He stabilizes you by saying “fear not.”

A classic example was when a man came to Jesus Christ to plead to heal his daughter, as the scripture reveals that Jesus was the only hope the man had. Jesus Christ agreed to follow him to his house to heal the daughter but was later interrupted by the woman with the issue of blood, and Jesus ministered to the woman which slowed down his movement to the man’s house; then, someone brought a piece of sad news to the man that he shouldn’t bother the Master (Jesus) that his daughter is dead, “don’t trouble the master.” But when Jesus Christ heard the news, he told the man “fear not; only believe.” (Luke 8:50) KJV. That is the word of God will come to us not to fear when everything around us is pointing toward the direction of fear. So, in our trying times, the first what not to do is ‘FEAR NOT!’ it is a gentle command from our Maker to us (His Children) as a message of HOPE to help trigger our faith for the delivery of our desires.

Two. We must not be SILENT. A closed mouth is a closed destiny. Almost all the covenant of God in the Bible are voice and word activated, and we saw that throughout the scriptures, starting from Genesis 1, every time God wants to activate His covenant, He speaks! When God wanted to revive the dry-bones nothing happened until the word was spoken- Ezekiel 37 “Can these dry bones live again? Ezekiel replied “only God knows, then, God instructed to prophesy and he said “…so I prophesied as I was commanded when I began to speak, then God began to move.” God activates His covenants by Spoken words, as seen in Psalm 91:2 ‘I will say of the Lord…’ Hebrews 13:5-6 “…He had said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “so that we might boldly say, the Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” In trying times, know that the covenant of God is word activated and you must not shut your mouth, you must speak! The Book of Genesis 1:2-3 reveals that nothing happened, even when the Spirit of God was moving on the surface of the waters until God said: “let there be light.” We must speak FAITH; we must speak it consistently and we must be cautious of our utterances. Don’t just be silent, and when speaking, avoid negative words- remember what the Holy Book (Ecclesiastes 5:6) says: “say not before an angel that it was an error.” We must know what to say and know how to say it. We must be bold (confident); speak with intensity. When situation refuses to change, change it with your spoken words of faith.

Three. Thou Shall Not Disobey or Ignore Natural Wise Instructions and Guidelines for Your Safety. Most of the time, we over-spiritualize things, so much that we ignore wise counsels and other cautions that are natural. Joshua in the Holy Book was fighting the physical battle while the hand of Moses was raised – Exodus 17:9-11. Kindly ask yourself, what are the spiritual and natural things you are consistently doing. For instance, the case of the Covid-19 has compelled a lockdown in virtually all nations, it will, therefore, be wise to follow laid down guidelines issued by the government and the health bodies in order to prevent or avert further spread of the virus.

Four. You must not stop praying. Holy Bible says, pray without ceasing. We must not stop praying- Luke 18:1. Prayer fortifies and purifies us. It aligns us with divinity, so as to intervene in our humanity.

Five. You must not be slack in your confessions of FAITH. Don’t stop it.

Six. You must not doubt; you must keep believing. The Holy Book reveals that a double-minded person can never receive anything from the Lord. As you are confessing, it is revealed in the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 4:13 “we, having the same Spirit of faith, according to as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken, we also believe, and therefore speak.” If you say it and you do not believe it, it becomes useless and worthless.

Seven. You should not be selfish in trying times. Don’t let your prayer only focus on you. We cannot be praying for our country alone and not remember other countries. If our country is safe and others are not safe, then we are not safe. Do not let your prayers be limited or restricted to only you. Jesus Christ, our great exemplar while on the cross in His trying time was still blessing people and giving them the grace of second chance (a case study of the thief on the right-hand side of his cross). Jesus Christ prayed “Lord do not count this against them, forgive them their sins, for they do not know what they are doing. 2 Corinthians 6:9-10 reveals “As unknown and yet well known, as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed, as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

In your trying times do not shut down. Always do your best to be productive, and positively inclined. As you do all these things, the Lord will turn the situation around. So, what to do is knowing what not to do. As soon as we begin to focus on the things that we should not do, then we will know the right things to do.

The Book of Isaiah 30:15 reveals: “for thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” God is saying to you to calm down, be still and know that He is God [Psalm 46:10]. God is still on the throne and He will turn things around. He will turn your trying times into thriving times for you, and your testimonies shall be full. He will strengthen your faith and give you a lasting solution.

Stay Safe,

Stay Sane,

Stay Sanctified!

Thank you all for reading.

(Thriving in Trying Times continues next week…)

Watch out for the Book titled: “The Power of an Empowered Zero” (From Zero to HERO) by Tolulope A. Adegoke. Foreword by Dr Yomi Garnett (CEO/Chancellor, Royal Biographical Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., U.K., Abuja, Nigeria.) Edited by Ola Aboderin.

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PCP Congratulates Obaseki, Edo People on ‘Deserved’ Victory

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By Eric Elezuo

The People’s Coalition Party  (PCP) has congratulated the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki and the people of Edo State for the victory at polls during the just concluded governorship election.

The party’s message was contained in press statement signed by its chairman, Don Anthony Harmattan, and made available to PointBlank.ng.

The chairman noted that the victory has demonstrated the resilience of the Edo people and that votes must count in elections

“It is a demonstration of the will of the people to actualizing their dreams in the midst of oppressors, money bags and Political God fathers who take advantage of the weakness of Nigerians to rig their protegees and stooges into office. This election has proven that when people are united and resolute, no one can take their mandate away from them. Indeed it is a victory for our democracy,” the statement read.

The PCP sees Obaseki’s victory as an eye opener to what may likely happen in 2023 while asking Nigerians to tie the line of Edo People in flushing out politics based on godfatherism.

“I wish to let Nigerians know that with this defeat of oppression, extortion and God fatherism in Edo State, 2023 will be a year of victory for Nigerians. Nigerians must unite and toe the part of the Edo People to defend their votes,” the statement said.

The chairman also commended President Muhammadu Buhari ‘for being the first to congratulate Obaseki’ and encourage others to do likewise.

“Together, our democracy will be stronger and yield dividends for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion,” the statement concluded.

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Akin Fadeyi Foundation, ABUAD in New Partnership Against Rape, Cyberbully

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Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti has partnered a non-governmental organisation, Akin Fadeyi Foundation, to fight sexual-based violence and cyberbullying.

The partnership was unveiled in a statement on Friday jointly signed by ABUAD Students’ Affairs Officer, Mr Babatunde Wahab, a lecturer at the institution, Dr Olumide Olugbemi-Gabriel, and the Founder/Executive Director, Akin Fadeyi Foundation, Mr Akin Fadeyi.

The statement is titled, ‘Afe Babalola partners FlagIt App to combat rape and cyberbully.’

Speaking on behalf of ABUAD President and Chancellor, Chief Afe Babalola, as well as the institution’s management, Wahab commended AFF’s FlagIt App for helping to contain the menace of sexual abuse and cyberspace criminality in general.

The FlagIt App is a mobile application developed by AFF to report corruption, particularly the activities of rapists and cyberbullies in society.

ABUAD decried that criminality among the youth was growing at an alarming rate, noting that emerging criminal tendencies and trends were being enabled by advancement in Information and Communications Technology and a corruption-ridden larger society.

“This is why we are excited to see the confidence and speed with which FlagIt rose to the occasion in support of the victims, who are now on the road to getting the needed closure and justice,” Wahab said.

“The onerous task you perform as well as the great efforts which you put into it have been experienced first-hand with your recent involvement in cases of coordinated cyberbullying attacks launched by some unscrupulous persons against some female students of our institution.”

Wahab extolled the manner the AFF and its FlagIt were handling the documentation of criminal tendencies and persons, offering at the same time ready evidence in the pursuit of justice.

“It is in view of the aforementioned that I, in my capacity as Students’ Affairs Officer together with my partner, Dr Olumide Olugbemi-Gabriel, who specialises among others in gender-based oppression and exploitation of women/girls shall be glad to partner with your foundation to stem the rising tide of criminal offences, especially domestic violence, sexual assaults and all forms of cybercrime within and outside ABUAD,” he said.

In his remarks, Fadeyi described the partnership with ABUAD as “a very exciting development.”

He said, “Since we launched the FlagIt App as a mobile application to report corruption, we’ve been uncovering the nefarious activities of rapists and cyberbullies in our society. This has been accompanied by such audacious impudence of trading with or threatening to expose explicit pictures of victims who attempt to resist the pressure of blackmail. This is another troubling element of our systemic decay as a nation that we have confronted swiftly.

“This partnership with Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti bears testimony to the traction our activities have gained and we indeed commend the Chancellor, Aare Afe Babalola; the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Smaranda Olarinde, the Students’ Affairs Officer, Mr Babatunde Wahab, and Dr Olumide Olugbemi-Gabriel for their unwavering commitment to working with us to stamp out gender-based violence and exploitation of women/girls in ABUAD and the nation as a whole.”

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How Hushpuppi laundered U.S. Unemployment Benefits – FBI

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Fresh evidence from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has revealed how Ramon Abbas, popularly called Hushpuppi, a Nigerian Instagram sensation, was involved in laundering unemployment benefits meant for citizens of the United States.

The scheme is one of the insurance programmes provided for workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements. The joint state-federal programme provides cash benefits to these workers.

Hushpuppi, who was arrested in UAE over money laundering and cyber fraud allegations, is currently facing charges in the U.S.

He is accused of facilitating computer intrusion, Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud and money laundering and has been arraigned in an American court in California. His trial begins on October 13.

He pleaded not guilty to the four counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

Nevertheless, in the affidavit filed on September 14, with the United States District Court, Central District of California, Andrew John Innocenti, an FBI agent trained on foiling cybercrime indicted Mr Abbas in the outcome of his investigation.

Mr Innocenti said he discovered that Hushpuppi, using his email address, registered on a website whizzlog.com (“Whizzlog”) which is a marketplace for buying US Bank Logs and money laundering.

He said although, based on his training, sophisticated cybercriminals do not use their personal email address in registering on such websites but Hushpuppi did.

“ABBAS email address contained registration contamination from Whizz Log. It also contained numerous confirmations and receipts of bank logs he purchased. One of such messages read “Your order was successful. You have purchased (the “Financial Institution”) bank log with a balance of $9,839.44. Purchase Price: $955. The bank log details are in your account. Login to your Whizz Log account to view.”

“From the example above. I observed ABBAS buys a bank log with a balance of over S9,000 for as low as $900. This prompted me to visit the website whizzlog.com for more findings.”

After creating an account, the FBI agent discovered that Whizz Log sells only accounts which have been used to claim unemployment benefits. “Hackers who have claimed unemployment benefits of victims in the United States sell them off in bulk on Whizz Log.”

The prices of bank logs on Whizz Log range from $600 to S1,000 and balance in accounts sold ranges from $4,000 to as high as $12,000, he noted.

For easier payment, the bank logs are available for purchase instantly and payment is made using Bitcoin.

“Cyber criminals who purchase the bank logs can launder the money off through various means. The favorite means on Whizz Log is to buy Bitcoins with the balance in the bank log Whizz Log specifies if a bank log is “BTC Compatible” or not.

“Based on my training and experience, a bank account is “BTC Compatible” if you can buy Bitcoins from within the bank log. Some banks allow clients to directly purchase Bitcoins from their online bank account. Such banks are “BTC Compatible”. A buyer of a “BTC Compatible” bank log would login to the account, navigate to services provided by the bank and select to buy Bitcoins. He can use the whole balance in the account to buy Bitcoins. The Bitcoins will be sent to the criminal within minutes.”

While going through one of the bank accounts bought on the website, Mr Innocenti found that the account was recently opened.

“All the credits into the account were from the Department of Unemployment Assistance totaling $7,302.15,” he stated.

Since Mr Abbas had pleaded that he should be prosecuted with complaints rather than a grand jury indictment, this new evidence will be added to the previous ones.

If found guilty and convicted, the popular Instagram sensation could spend the next 20 years in prison.

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