Old habits hard to break

I came across an interesting article the other day. It was about a nasty trend in the USA whereby African immigrants were taking law into their own hands rather than seek the help of the land in which they live to settle domestic feud.

This article focussed more on Nigerian men killing their wives – gives about six examples with similar circumstances before wives were killed by their husbands – few of which were:

– The women went to join husbands in the States and husbands support during educational/career pursuits.

– All were Registered Nurse in the States

– All changed attitudes as soon as their financial status improved.

– Husbands of all felt wives were ‘disrespectful’ as this is not our ‘tradition’ so killed wives to rid of insults in their lives.

There are many success stories of Nigerians in diaspora, but when tragedies follows certain pattern then attention is paid more than usual.

Comments on this article were as interesting as the incidence itself. One thing that initially attracted me to reading through was when I read the attitude is usually common with village women – oh well, villagers are always the butt of all jokes.

Nigeria is a patriarchal society, we do this shamelessly even when it is detrimental to our progress.

I think it is a misconception to think marrying from ‘home’ is a gateway to imbecile wives who would work to keep the family afloat and at the same time on call 24/7 at the service of the husband all in the name of tradition.

For those who have been away from home for a long time – well, things are changing. We still have long way to go giving women deserved respect for their contribution in our society but now you have many more women playing equal parts to raising their families and father need not feel belittled by that even when women tightened their purse strings.

I remember at one point when my sisters and I were in secondary school, it got to a point that my parents divided responsibilities – my dad to pay school fees and books while mother was in charge of food, clothing, house rent and all that was in-between.

My father didn’t have time to dwell on anyone being disrespectful to him or that Moomi earns more money, his goal was that no matter what the cocoa or kola nut prices was he must earn enough for our tuition which he did or finds a way to be adult about it and get his wife to foot the bill.

People at home are embracing positive trends from around the world, one part of it is women owing up to their contribution and getting fathers to play their parts too.

With more girls’ education being promoted, this will only continue to benefit our larger society.

Not sure why folks are under illusion that adhering to tradition is synonymous to taking advantage of your spouse.

RIP to the victims.

I only hope folks would learn from these atrocities when it comes to joining their spouses overseas.

Death sentence for blasphemy

Sharia law Vs. Nigeria Constitution

Nigeria as a secular nation is hardly true given Sharia Law exists alongside Nigeria law.

Earlier this week 8 men and one woman were sentenced to death for insinuating  Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, a Senegalese Islamic leader was bigger than Prophet Mohammad.

According to the news, these guys pleaded guilty to these offence and if no appeal they will be killed.

Sharia court do not have lawyers or jury involved, trials involved the judge, plaintiffs and  the defender.

Now a bit off topic – why do people vandalise?

“The venue was burnt to the ground by an angry mob and the nine were arrested”- BBC

Many threaten violence if the nine were released. I think the twisted guys burning properties down in a state where handouts is common should have been arrested – they are the ones deserved to be behind bars for destroying public properties.

Oh well, given this is the first time anyone has been convicted of blasphemy in Nigeria, we’ll just have to wait to see how this goes.

Minister of Common Sense

It is hard to ignore Senator Ben Murray-Bruce speeches, not because he was saying anything  new but because public officials in his position seldom talk about fundamental issues.

I think his proposal of Minister of Common Sense to be incorporated in all of our ministries is spot on. Someone brings in an idea, everyone looked at the logistics around it and the final stage would be for the Minister of Common Sense to say the final word, that’ll be so cool!

Many of our initiatives just do not make any sense – Senator in this speech broke it down from lack of access to sound education to all to lack of population control.

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce is not alone in saying that in order for the very rich to survive in Nigeria, there must be adequate provision of opportunities for the poor to survive as well.

In the absence of pulling everyone along, the country has created what we now have in the north-east.

One other aspect of the Senator’s speech that I enjoy is not shifting blames to different party )at least not in this one).

11:58 is where his Minister of Common Sense suggestion came in.

 

 

Stone Circles

 

Stone circles

“People from outside Africa find it easier 2travel into d continent than the people of the continent & this must change” – Lindiwe Kwele

Above was another piece that caught my attention today. Africans are talking about uniting the continent for the betterment of us all. It is about time.

I have realised that Africans need to do bit more by giving examples of our experiences as it helps to understand situation better.

The first time I travelled without a visa was very exciting – it was going to The Gambia. Nigerians do not require a visa because of the ECOWAS. The two weeks there was quite pleasant, this was 2004, the year of the Tsunami.

The Gambia has more established tourism industry compared to Nigeria, so is better value for money – one area that we need to pay attention to in Nigeria, most ordinary folks travelling do want to enjoy their holidays but they can not be charged the same amount as our politicians – more to gain in volume.

Anyways, entering The Gambia was no issue with my green passport, had a great time and was nice visiting historical places such as Circle Stones, Goergetown (colonial town) and enjoyed visiting the gorilla park.

Exiting the country after two weeks was a different case. The lady at the counter was friendly enough but went away with my passport with what felt like eternity, every other minute, she’d come back to ask more questions which thankfully I was able to give satisfactory answers.

I saw her flipping through my passport as if something was sewn to it, she scanned all the pages so at this point I gestured to the lady if I could be of any further help as she still looks as if something was amiss.

In the end she told me of her concerns, she was looking for any slight traces of drugs and wanted to be sure that onward visa to my place of residence was genuine – “And it took that long even with computer access and all?” I thought to myself.

I thanked the her and left. That was the first time I was delayed for over 10 minutes for passport checks and it just happened to be a place I entered without a visa.

The lady was only doing her job.

 

Why do we have so many restrictions for Africans travelling within Africa?

Nigeria for example can do well by prosecuting corrupt officials. Also by investigating cases of injustices in our society, when this is done, we are a step further towards being a trusted nation.

Minding my business, am I?

A good friend forwarded this message to me today –  I thought it was funny and found it useful. I often pay too much attention to the craziness going on in Nigeria especially the people who bear the brunt of the lawless society.

IMG_5152

So I decided to mind my business today, then this showed up in my newsfeed!

These are the people that we are supposed to listen to – very shameful. I hope for a day that any physical violence during meetings would result in automatic sack – how else are they go to learn?

Father is the mirror

We have a handful of soulful songs that celebrate mothers, I have always wondered why we don’t have the same for our fathers, it would have come handy on a day like this.

Or Perhaps it was me who didn’t know many, would love to learn.

…Baba ni dingi (Father is the mirror), Mirror? I suppose it’s a metaphor for something deep.

By the time I was a teenager, my father didn’t talk much about anything, he was still very active in the village affairs, he’d wake up every morning at 5am to ring the church bell for morning prayers,  alerting people they only have half hour left before service commenced.

Oh this hymn – “Opin ti mo n lepa ni Olorun, kii se bikun nikan, a f’Olorun…” (The end that I am after is God, not only blessings but God). How are people not bored listening to the same song every morning?

I felt like I didn’t know my father at all. He was more interested in writing his diary than sharing his thoughts with anyone.

Years passed.

One day at work minding my business, I looked up to see Moomi. I was lost for words “What are you doing here?” “Is everything okay?” I asked my mother.

She arrived in town that morning and was there to say my father was at the local clinic, since I was the only one around so she thought she’d better stop by to let me know.

I officially ran out of luck – the joy of being the one around.

“Moomi, I can’t leave work now, I’ll find my boss and be home in the evening” I told my mother.

My mother looked at me, not very convinced. She thought I’d chickened out of my responsibility to step up and give back to the father who chose to send me to school rather than build a house or had endless family parties.

He was severely dehydrated so was put was on an intravenous drip. He had malaria, that was not treated properly, also his bulging hernia is growing by the day – that was due for removal 6 years prior.

“Okay, Ode, tell me something, is daddy going to survive this time?” I asked the nurse.

The nurse was positive my father would live but we had A, B and C to be dealt with in the first instance.

Getting clearer, so it is hopelessness that’s killing my old man this instance?

Looking at my father where he laid, the little story I knew of him flashed before my eye. His own father and older brother both died around the same age in their early 60s after a brief illness  of something that could have been easily treated.

Rural farmers sending children to school often rely on their help in old age. Some people are lucky, their ‘investment’ would pay off, others not so much.

My father was given a second chance in life. Almost 80 years old now. He is full of life, anytime is a good time to ask him any questions and now my father is not as boring anymore. I am glad to have daddy of my childhood back.

To him and fathers around the world – I wish you all a very good one.

Looking inward to increase sub-saharan Africans’ lower than average IQ

Professor Drew Fraser 2005 views on multiculturalism in Australia attracted quite a few heated debates as the Professor of Law was convinced Sub-Saharan Africans has never developed due to their lower than average IQ.

Debates on people of certain race being more intelligent than others is not going away anytime soon even when it is clear the assertion is baseless.

At 2:00 Prof. Fraser asks people to use the search engine to get up to date information to back up his views.

Wait for it… listen to what he has to say in 5:24

Why am I not upset about Prof Fraser’s views?

When the Prof is bored with seeing too many Sub-Saharan Africans up his alley, he goes online to search for current news on Nigeria leaders, below is what he sees:

This event happened in November last year when one of our lawmakers was prevented from entering the National Assembly.

Maybe we need to look inward and start to use our lower than average IQ to hold our lawmakers accountable.

Waste of time arguing with the likes of this Prof.

Uncharitable charity

Nigeria is one big basket case.

The more you look, the less you see saying is true.

News report about Nigeria lawmakers’ pay is the latest talk in town. The one that got Nigerians talking most wast the speculation of Wardrobe allowance of ₦506,000 for each senator (not clear if this is monthly/annually or for he duration of 4 years in office) RMAFC disputed the figure but yet to release official one.

Even if it were to be just what we have here, why should a country with more than 60% of the population living in abject poverty pay this absurd amount of money so lawmakers could come to work in clothes?

To put things in perspective, here:

how_nigerias_lawmakers_pay_compares_with_other_countries_salary_per_year_thousands_dollars_chartbuilder

This absurdity is not new, however there was hope that the new government would affect change from day one in the office, but it seems the country is in for a very long ride.

With someone like Senator Ben Bruce-Murray and his passionate speech  about how he’d use his time as a newly elected Senator to push for fair pay that reflects Nigeria economic situation – Nigeria youths were building up hope. 

“Nigeria is too poor for the leaders to act like multi billionaire and Nigeria is too rich for people to be so poor.” Ben Bruce-Murray

Nothing the senator said was new but if felt nice to hear it coming from someone who is going in with awareness to people’s concerns.

After the Wardrobe Allowance announcement, one of the first stop was to ‘poke’ Senator Bruce-Murray to start the work he promised Nigerian youths.

Today the Senator regained his voice to say a lot but nothing that youths wanted to hear.

Then Senator Ben Bruce-Murray came up with something that basically means nothing is changing at all. He is accepting the Wardrobe Allowance and here’s what he had to say:

How convenient – Why must we ‘rob Peter to pay Paul?

Where is change?

**post updated to reflect the released allowance figures 

Handouts for the poorest Nigerians

Vice President Prof Osinbajo, recently revealed the government is working on one of the election campaign promises of giving out ₦5k monthly stipend for the poorest Nigerians, currently estimated to be 25M people.

The first time I saw this on a billboard, I actually thought that was a joke taken too far – guess I was wrong.

Who are the Nigerian poorest?

According to Dr Yemi Kale, the Nigeria Statistician General, in 2010 poverty rate in Nigeria were north-east 76.3%, north-west 77.6% and southwest is 59.1%.

In general, Sokoto state has the highest poverty rate in the country at 86.4%. Sokoto is in the northwest with estimated population of 4.5M people.

Presently in many northern cities, there’s news about people gathering in government houses for cash handouts – honourable in religious sense, I suppose. Another example is mass-marriage for the divorced sponsored by the Kano state government a few years ago.

In 2014 UNICEF handing out ₦20k per/year for up to 23,000 girls between age six and 15 years old in Sokoto and Niger to buy text books and other incentives to go to school. Mothers received ₦5000 – this program is scheduled to run through this year too.

So folks in the north are already used to get minimum cash handouts from their public officials and yet no improvement to standard of living.

Who are the 25M poor Nigerians that will benefit from this monthly stipend?

If we are talking about abject poverty, beneficiaries from this program are likely to the northern folks which is absolutely fantastic as the world is better for all when resources go round.

From what we’ve learnt government officials in the north will prefer to give handouts rather than spend the allocation for intended purposes, partly for religious or cultural reasons.

So how would this new stipend be any different when the same set of people especially those in the cities are already used to free cash.

Can we approach eradication of poverty differently this time?

– For example use this fund to build classrooms especially in the remote areas with adequate teaching resources?

– Perhaps healthcare for Vagina Fistula corrections to give decent lives to the victims of child marriage rather than leaving this role for foreign aid to foot the bill?

– Sponsor skill acquisition programs for the poorest?

Given our unique situation in Nigeria – I don’t think ‘one hat fits all solution’ is the best.

Many people in the south are poor, no doubt about that. The main reason many generations remain poor in the south is due to lack of quality education, most of those that are affected are in our small towns and villages. Basic quality education is luxury for many people.

– Using this fund to resuscitate our dying schools in the rural areas, repair our roads and help with safe drinking water will be the first thing to do rather than cash in hand.

Between the anointed and the serfs

The news that could not be wished away, keeps coming back until justice is done.

In Africa ‘small’ people are the majority therefore hard to hide injustices thrown at them.

When I was in secondary school, my sister and I lived in a storey building with eight rooms upstairs and 8 downstairs. The landlord is a DIY enthusiast. He is a trained carpenter but did all aspects of building work by himself.

He was a jolly happy man with his sing-song voice greeting every passersby.

The downside to his DIY enthusiasm in a country like Nigeria was that he makes his own rules, his then 2 storey building was once a solid bungalow, he ripped off the roof to make rooms on top with less than ideal structural pillars to support extra loads.

One midnight, half of the building collapsed. Not without warnings.

Weeks prior, I have overheard on a few occasions some adult tenants pointed to the cement peeling off the front building wall exposing soggy sand inbetween the bricks – sure sign something terrible is about to happen.

Landlord assured all was well. Tenants moaned and groaned and prayed some more.

My side of the building was fine. One room to the front of the house collapsed into the bottom one – no one died. Baba Iyabo was the only one that took a while to get out of the rumble. He was bruised all over but his limbs were all in the right places.

Everyone murmured under their breath accusing the landlord but really, the old man was a product of a lawless society – he apologised for the collapse, end of.

That was the last night I slept in that building. Realistically, it is a City Jungle.

Safe yourselves when you can is the rule of thumb.

Last year September, in the process of expanding worshipers’ guesthouse of a Nigerian popular Prophet’s synagogue in Lagos, 119 people died as the existing building gave way, 80 of the victims were South Africans.

Nigerians, the only way we know –  showed heartfelt concerns by raising our voices. Many called on ‘God to judge’, many defended TB Joshua as being anointed man of God who can not be touched.

Ex President GEJ visited the site, so some hoped maybe, we’ll have precedent we could reference in the future – that was a dream.

Just as anything else in Nigeria, the noise quietened in a matter of weeks. Families of the victims in South Africa not long ago were worried of having the wrong corpses when receiving their family members months after the incidence – oh well.

Now, almost a year later, TB Joshua is back on stage continuing where he left off, seeing visions of heaven and curing HIV AIDS with anointing oil, along the way are uncountable predictions of what to happen.

Some South African folks were upset about TB Joshua birthday bash held in SA yesterday to be insensitive given families are still grieving. Some see no wrongdoing. One of the victims’ brother here thinks “these people are so heartless…” at 1:10 of the video clip.

At no point did anyone has strong faith that either Nigeria or SA government would for once work together to investigate this – got to show lives of the ‘small’ people means very little.

It hurts when we read candid assessment of our continent on the web as being one big ‘jungle’ where big animals trampled on the little ones at will.

Are we not?

Hope on the horizon for Osun State workers

While I think Governor Aregbesola has set Osun State in good path for years to come especially with the new public school buildings across the state, (fingers crossed they will all be functional soon), also the apprenticeship schemes such as the handset assembly factory etc. I still could not understand why state workers are left in limbo. I hope our governor and his team aren’t paid for these past seven months either – only fair.

Not sure what the federal government is doing with this but I think this attitude of owing staff must stop as in the end everyone suffers.

Thankfully, most people in the state rely on farming and trading for a living otherwise it would have been worse. However, after seven months of non-payment, now even non government staff are feeling the pinch as spending behaviour has changed.

My old lady is owed for food stuff – she doesn’t give in to selling for credit easily but everyone is aware of what is going on so makes it harder to turn good people down – Please Ogbeni pay salary o!

 

I hear all about reduced federal allocation, but we all see this long ago – hardly enough reason to keep begging. Eebu alo ni t’ahun…

On a lighter note:

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) representative on the weekend called on christians to bring food to the church to help fellow members get through hard time.

This is a brilliant initiative coming from the church, quite pleased to hear.

Thinking about it, three of the most renowned Nigerian televangelists have their roots in Osun state and are all in favour of Ogbeni during the last campaign and plenty of ‘courtesy visits’ photos to show for it.

If CAN is going to call ordinary people to help, I hope the church would loose the purse strings too – after all it is all about saving life for Christ.

Women inheritance rights

One may not be directly affected but the extent that women in our society are unfairly treated is baffling.

In Nigeria, easy to shy away from discussing difficult subjects especially when one is not the one at the receiving end, all of this because of ‘our tradition’

Gender inequalities in our society runs deep than what we see on the surface especially when it comes to inheritance rights.

Yoruba culture is rich no question about that. Ours is a tradition we assume our elders know all so we leave all matters for them to resolve.

Tayo and I grew up together, she is a few years older. Her mother died during child-birth so was raised by her father. She was an only child.

Tayo was a lot hands on in the farm that I ever was. Her involvement wasn’t gender specific – she did all farm work from clearing to harvesting.

Farming in the southwest is mostly subsistence, work usually done by hand.

About 15 years ago, unfortunately Tayo’s father passed away after brief illness, he was in his early 60s.

Tayo’s uncle who moved to town long ago and seldom visit his own farm relocated to the shortly after his brother’s death. His own plot was a jungle – farmland is only worth something when it’s cultivated on.

About five years ago, after several unsuccessful attempts to secure a white-collar job with her university degree, Tayo decided to go back to the village with her son, after all she has worked the farm with her father since very little – she knew what to do and could earn living that way.

Tayo’s uncle met her at the entrance of the village mud house built by Tayo’s father that she was not welcome, that the farm belonged to his father and brother – women have no claim to inheritance.

Tayo cried and to avoid a scene left the village.

I have witnessed a few cases whereby there was no issues sharing land inheritance amongst siblings.

Rule of thumb was if there is a male child in the midst, the females without being told won’t even think about wanting any of the land share.

Tayo is a perfect Yoruba girl, she walked away from her uncle thinking her life could have been better if she were to be a boy.

Land inheritance is nothing I ever had any interest in thinking about for many reasons, however, I am aware that this is the only ‘fall back’ for millions of Yoruba today be it male or female.

For many farmers, the only inheritance they leave behind for their children usually is the farmland.

Tayo’s father worked all his life, didn’t even own a house apart from the mud house in the village and all in all his only daughter was bullied away by the uncle that should have protected her.

So I asked my father “Say if tomorrow your brothers didn’t want to see your children in the farm?”

My father without thinking replied “Would you let them?”

Just seems a bit odd leaving important issue such as female inheritance to the discretion of the elders in the family or village chief. Sometimes they do work collaboratively well to make sure everyone is happy with the outcome, however in a situation when you have a bully, how do one go about it without being seen as disrespectful to the elders?

How do we overcome the traditions that alienate half of the citizen especially with land inheritance?