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Nigeria needs leader to awaken potential of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Nigeria needs leader to awaken potential of sleeping giant

The Sun reported in "Nigerians go to polls to choose civilians for National Assembly" (Feb. 21) that last weekend's voting for parliamentary representatives caused little fanfare in the capital of Lagos. There will be fanfare aplenty tomorrow when a president is chosen.

Thankfully, after 28 years of military rule and only 10 years of civilian leadership since its independence in 1960, Nigeria is rousing itself to join the community of nations dedicated to achieving world progress by peaceful means.

With a population of about 110 million, Nigeria is truly the giant of Africa. But with the inefficient and misguided management often associated with military regimes, this country of great potential has been dozing. Now, answering the prayers of all peace-loving Nigerians, the giant is finally greeting a dawn of freedom.

I had the pleasure of meeting the leading contender, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, many times during a recent seven-year period when I was in Nigeria with the River Blindness Foundation. I am impressed by General Obasanjo's administrative ability, honesty and dedication to humanitarian causes. I support him for several reasons:

He is a man of his word. After serving as a military leader from 1976 to 1979, he stepped aside, as promised, relinquishing control to a civilian president.

He is a man of proven capability. He would bring a record of successful performance as a military leader, businessman, farmer, educator and crusader for peace and equal opportunity (he helped Nelson Mandela in his struggle).

He is a man of compassion. After resigning as head of state, he planted a nonprofit farm that provides food and employment for many of the least fortunate. As an educator, he founded a coeducational boarding school on his farm.

He would promise to reduce corruption. Nigeria is Africa's leading producer of crude oil. Unfortunately, much income from the sale of oil has been lost through corruption and mismanagement. General Obasanjo pledges to reform the production and marketing of Nigeria's crude oil so that the profits are shared by the people rather than a privileged few.

I am convinced that General Obasanjo is best qualified to guide his sleeping giant with great potential to its deserved position of leadership for the 21st century.

Donald Rice, Gaithersburg

Great female musicians are still stifled by men

The article "A repertory of discord" by Steven Wigler (Feb. 14) demonstrates not only the past but the present of prejudice and discrimination against women in the performing arts, especially classical musicians.

Unfortunately, the media and the many pseudo-academics have contributed most to the deplorable situation. The audiences, like other informal social groups, have frequently been under the influence of the media prejudice and of the manipulative forces of the music industry.

In spite of the many cultural, social and political "revolutions," women have little hope of receiving the encouragement and the rewards they deserve for their God-given talents.

Real music lovers have been deprived of great music composed or performed by great women who because of politics have been restrained to the roles designed and imposed by men.

However, Mr. Wigler's article might serve as catalyst in transforming the existing attitudes toward great women musicians in the United States and abroad. Thus, his article should be disseminated around the world, particularly to those who have an impact on the music industry.

Charles K. H. Borowsky, Baltimore

The author is an executive member of the International Friends of Music Association and is married to cellist Cecylia Barczyk.

Legislators should protect citizens from Y2K problems

Timothy B. Wheeler's article "Bill would squash Y2K bug lawsuits" (Feb. 7) again illustrates state legislators' concern for business interests, with no mention of concern for the citizens.

Spurred by fears that the year 2000 will spawn a monstrous snarl of lawsuits, lawmakers in Annapolis have introduced a bill in the House of Delegates to limit the liability of government and businesses for economic disruptions caused by the year 2000 computer flaw.

My concern is how will the bill protect citizens of Maryland for any computer year 2000 glitch? Will an employee working paycheck to paycheck be protected from eviction from his home or apartment because the Y2K problem causes his employer's payroll to be delayed and he can't make his rent or mortgage?

Employees also need protection when they are unable to pay car notes, insurance, gas and electric bills and telephone bills.

Albert Jennings Jr., Baltimore

Beloved principal's death affected MSPAP scores

This letter is in response to a column by Michael Olesker ("School takes on growing role for children of Lansdowne as parents' jobs disappears," Feb. 21). The column captured the spirit of the school but missed a significant piece of the puzzle. I was one of the assistant principals at the school for the past four years and would like to tell the rest of the story.

Mr. Olesker listed the scores from the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program test administered in May. Missing was the fact that Edgar Massey, the much-loved principal of Lansdowne, died four days before the test was given. The students, staff and community were devastated by the tragedy and are still healing. Most of these people attended his funeral and put forth a great effort to begin the test two days later. Unfortunately, their pain prevented their true achievement from being measured fairly.

Lansdowne's MSPAP scores had risen significantly over the previous three years. The growth had been enough to get us a letter of commendation from the state superintendent of schools.

I had the privilege to witness a change of climate and culture in a school where more than 60 percent of the student population qualified for free and reduced lunches.

Despite their personal struggles, students began to take pride in their academic accomplishments and came to school regularly. Suspensions and expulsions decreased greatly. Respect and responsibility were "in."

This did not happen easily. An outstanding leader had a vision that he believed in passionately and a very talented and dedicated staff followed his lead.

The children's scores will improve. The 1998 scores should not be counted because of the tragedy that struck the school.

Catherine P. Walrod, Monkton

The writer is assistant principal at Hereford Middle School.

Farmers getting the blame for home use of fertilizer

New farming rules and regulations are merely a scapegoat for a problem that the governor's office doesn't want to deal with because of money ("New rules could cost farms cash," Feb. 16).

The state alleges that the runoff from farm fertilization and manure is the chief cause of Pfiesteria, although countless articles and interviews of scientists claim they really aren't positive of the exact cause of the bacteria.

If they would analyze what is happening across the state, they would find that the true culprits in this ordeal aren't the farmers, but homeowners that abound in the suburbs. These homeowners use fertilizer on half-acre yards. Unlike farmers, who use fertilizer once a year, some homeowners use it several times a year.

Doug Summers, Hanover

Sun should investigate police automobile chases

I encourage The Sun to do an investigative report on the effectiveness and risks of police chases. Reports of police officers and innocent citizens injured as part of a police chase seem to occur frequently.

Recently, my wife and I were involved in a head-on collision with a car that had been chased by police. We were informed later that the police had discontinued the chase minutes before but the driver still was trying to escape.

Clearly, fire, police and ambulance vehicles need to speed, but they have well-trained, experienced and rational drivers behind the wheel. In a police chase, the driver being pursued is usually out of control and lacking judgment.

John R. Burton, Baltimore

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 2/26/99

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