Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Time to stop violence against children

I had other plans for Tuesday, September 15, 2015. However, I woke up to see the electronic invitation sent by my sister from another mother, Ms. Angela Agoawike, inviting me to the launch of the “Year of Action to end Violence against Children”. Angela is a communication consultant to the United Nations Children’s Fund better known as UNICEF. As a father, children issues are dear to me. Thus, I altered my original plan for the day and headed for the International Conference Centre venue of the launch. By the time I got there, the entire place was filled to the brim. The parking space was at a premium. In fact, I had to park my car outside of the venue. The entire ICC premises were swarming with children (pupils and students) and adults alike. The Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, was there in person, likewise the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, clerics, representatives of donor agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (some of whom mounted exhibition), and the media. President Muhammadu Buhari was ably represented by the Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi.
As I listened to speaker after speaker, I was moved to tears over the atrocities some animals in human skin perpetrated against children. I heard from the Chief Judge of the FCT of a man who was raping his daughter; a magistrate who was sending children who engaged in street hawking to prison rather than just ordering the confiscation of their wares; as well as the case of a woman who wanted to adopt a child for her boyfriend under false pretence. All that was a tip of the iceberg. Preceding the September 15 launch, in 2014, the Nigeria Violence against Children Survey named VACS was carried out by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Nigeria is the first country in West Africa and the ninth in the world to undertake this survey.
The survey findings were mind-boggling and heart-rending. The VACS focused on three types of violence namely, physical, emotional and sexual. Some of the findings were that, “Approximately, six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence; half of all children experience physical violence; one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence by a parent, caregiver or adult relative. According to UNICEF, a child dies every five minutes from violence. It is that bad. Of course, perpetrators are familiar faces. They include parents, neighbours, school teachers, house helps, friends and extended family members.
While some of this violence can be said to be perpetrated ignorantly, many others are pre-meditated. To my own mind, some harmful cultural practices and traditional norms contribute in no small measures to this menace. There are prominent Yoruba communities where child cursing is seen as a norm, a means of correcting the child’s wrongdoing. The people there do not realise that it is a form of emotional violence. Punching, kicking and flogging are all perceived as means of correcting children’s misbehaviors whereas they constitute physical violence on the victims.
Child trafficking is a big issue today in Nigeria. It is part of human trafficking which experts say is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32bn every year. Of that number, $15.5bn is allegedly made in industrialised countries. Many of the trafficked children are forced into prostitution, soldering, robbery, drug trafficking, used for rituals and engaged as house helps.
Akin to child trafficking is also “child farming” where some unscrupulous orphanages, fertility clinics or maternity homes arrange for some teenage boys to get teenage girls pregnant for the purpose of selling such offsprings. Aside from that, there are also married couples who deliberately offer their children for sale. Many of such have been busted by the police and other security agencies across the country. Perhaps, the ring leaders of these criminal gangs never saw their fiendish acts as violence against children, which it is.
I am also of the opinion that abortion, infanticide, and child-dumping are all forms of violence against children. All of these are on the increase in Nigeria. Another rampant form of violence against children is sexual abuse. Increasingly, there are reports of girls and boys below 18 years of age being raped. Foluke Daramola-Salako, a renowned Nigerian actress, admitted to being raped at the age of 17 while featuring on Sunrise, a Channels Television programme last Saturday, September 26. This made her to establish an NGO known as the PARA (Passion against Rape in Africa). While Foluke may have overcome her own trauma and stigma, many others have yet to get out of the emotional pain.
Generally speaking, violence against children is linked to poorer mental and physical health outcomes for boys and girls in childhood and into adulthood, according to the aforementioned survey report. Physical violence is said to be associated with higher risk for mental distress, thoughts of suicide and substance use. Sexual violence is linked with high rates of sexually transmitted infections, mental distress, suicidal inclinations and unwanted pregnancies. Emotional violence engenders higher levels of mental distress and thoughts of suicide amongst females and higher levels of mental distress and drinking amongst males. More disturbing revelations from the VACS are that females and males who experienced physical or sexual violence in childhood are also likely to perpetrate violence against children. This means that the vicious cycle will continue.
You may ask, are there no laws dealing with this issue? There are quite a few of them. They include the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, signed and ratified by Nigeria; the Children and Young Person (Street Trading) Law; Violation against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015; the Criminal Code; and the Penal Code to the Child’s Rights Act. Unfortunately, there is the lack of political will by law enforcement agencies to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators. The good thing however is that the current Inspector-General of Police and the Federal Government have made renewed commitments to end violence against children during the September 15 launch.
Beyond law enforcement, another veritable way of dealing with this menace is sustained enlightenment campaign through the use of conventional and non-conventional media strategies. I am glad that some newspapers have started writing editorials and news analyses on the issue. It is also heartwarming that partner organisations who did the VAC survey have started media advocacy to educate the public on it.
One of such commendable efforts is the campaign done last Saturday, September 26, on Radio Link, a Radio Nigeria magazine programme. In that broadcast anchored by Solomon Iorpev, Ms. Sharon Oladeji, who is the Child Protection Specialist with UNICEF, and Dr. Samson Olanipekun, who is the Director, Planning and Research with National Population Commission, took time off to sensitise the listening public to the issue while also correcting the erroneous impression that the initiative is a form of cultural imperialism from the Western world. I like the emphasis on the need for positive parenting and recommend it to all parents and guardians.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kudos to gallant Team Nigeria!

Each time there is positive news on Nigeria, I like to celebrate it. Yes, the nation faces enormous developmental challenges in virtually all facets of human endeavours. Yet, it is not all negative news about my fatherland. We are a great nation of good people. The sad thing is that a handful of bad people give the country a poor international image. Nigeria is a giant, not only because it is the most populous African country, it is also a ‘Goliath’ in the sphere of entertainment. By this I mean in music, acting and sports. On this page, I have previously saluted the immense achievements of our music icons, our Nollywood artistes and our sports men and women. It is time again to celebrate our sports ambassadors.

Kudos to Team Nigeria’s contingents to the 2015 Afrobasket in Rades, Tunisia as well as 11th Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville. It would be recalled that our teams to the two competitions did the nation proud by coming first and second respectively. It was a sweet revenge when Nigeria’s D’Tigers beat its arch-rival and several times nemesis in Basketball, Angola 74-65 in the final of Afrobasket 2015 on August 30 to claim their first-ever continental championship. It was also a double victory because; aside being crowned African champions, the Nigerians also qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Furthermore, Chamberlain Oguchi scored 19 points and was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.  Another high point of the competition for Nigeria is that it produced two out of the five best players in the tournament.  Oguchi was named among the All-Star Five which also included his Nigeria team-mate Al-Farouq Aminu, Morais of Angola, Tunisia's Makram Ben Romdhane and Gorgui Dieng of Senegal.

At the just concluded eleventh African Games in Congo Brazzaville (September 4 to 19), Team Nigeria placed second with 47 (Gold), 56 (Silver) and 44 (Bronze) medals behind Egypt’s 74 (Gold), 56 (Silver) and 63 (Bronze). The last time we came second was 12 years ago which thus make this year’s performance outstanding.

A breakdown of Team Nigeria’s medals showed that Athletics accounted for more medals recording 10 (Gold) 9 (Silver) and 5 (Bronze) medals with Wrestling in the second position with 9 (Gold) 5 (Silver) and 4 (Bronze) medals. Weightlifting finished third with 8 (Gold) 18 (Silver) and 9 (Bronze) medals while Powerlifting accounted for 8 (Gold) 7 (Silver) and 2 (Bronze) medals. It was a pleasant surprise that Cycling gave Nigeria 1 (Gold) 1 (Silver) and 1 (Bronze) medals.

Among the high points of Nigeria’s performance at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville was the several World Records broken by our Power Lifters.  Yakubu Adesokan, competing in the men’s 49kg category, lifted 182.5kg to win gold and also set a new world record in the process. Another Nigerian, Esther Oyema, set a new world record in the women’s 55kg category when she lifted 133kg to erase her previous 126kg record. The trio of Bose Omolayo, Loveline Obiji and Precious Orji also set new World Records. Omolayo lifted 137.5kg in the women’s 79kg while Obiji lifted 149kg in the women’s 86kg category, before Orji, competing in the women’s 86kg, lifted 164kg to complete five world records and gold medals for Team Nigeria in Congo.

Ironically, football (male and female) accounted for the low points of Team Nigeria’s outing in Congo with the male team finishing with a bronze medal. Basketball, against high expectation, gave Nigeria 1 Silver (Women) and 1 Bronze (Men). Overall, am very proud of the sterling performance of all our sports ambassadors as none of them was found to have failed dope test.

Are there any lessons from these two events – Afrobasket and African Games 2015 – for Nigeria? Plenty! These noble achievements are not by fluke. It came as a result of right investment, careful planning and transparent administration. For instance, D’Tigers had to hire foreign coach, William Voigt, in order to break a 50 years jinx in African Basketball competition. Not only that, the leadership of  National  Sports Commission, under its current Director General, Alhassan Yakmut ensured that Nigeria only participated in games where she can win medals. This ensured that it was not a jamboree or all comers’ affairs.  Yakmut also run open and transparent administration. He announced to the public that N2.9bn was given to the commission for the Africa Games by Federal Government and tasked all participating sporting federation to account for monies disbursed to them.

Yakmut also made sure that athletes’ allowances were promptly paid to them. $2,000 was paid for each gold medal won at the Games while each Silver and Bronze medalist got $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. In the team events, each member of the team, for example, cycling involving six cyclists received $1,000 each, while beach volleyball involving two players were paid $1,500 each for winning gold medal. Each Coach was paid $2,500 for guiding their athletes to a successful outing in the Games. This swift payment of winning bonuses was a morale booster to the athletes and a clean break from the opaque past when there were issues with payment of camp allowances, accommodation, kits, winning bonuses, etcetera.  Am putting this on record so that Nigerians would not think that coming second in African Games was a happenstance.

I also recalled that Team Nigeria contingents left for Congo in batches based on the start-date for their respective competitions.  This not only ensured that the country saved foreign exchange they would have paid on accommodation and  allowances, the athletes were also able to round off their trainings in Nigeria without distractions.

Am happy that NSC Director General has vowed to take Nigeria off playing second or third fiddle in African Games. What he needs to do is to build on 2015 achievements and ensured proper planning for the 2016 Rio Olympics. If we fail to plan, we are planning to fail. Am happy that President Buhari has promised total support for Nigerian sports, he needs to do more than talking. Adequate funding and prompt release of earmarked resources to the NSC is vital. Nigeria also needs to start grooming athletes that can bring us laurels in high medal games such as Swimming and Gymnastics as well as next generation of track and field athletes that will take over from our aging and less productive ones. We need to start fishing for new breed sportsmen and women from our inter house, inter collegiate and national sports festivals. NSC and its sports federations need to roll out plans that will attract private sector investment. Sports, we must note, is a big business. While we go about that, let’s savour our recent successes, congratulations, Team Nigeria!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Four days in Calabar, Nigeria’s Canaan City

From Wednesday, September 9 to Saturday, September 12, 2015, I was in the Canaan City of Calabar, the capital of Cross River State on an official assignment. It was a two-day retreat organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the heads of the Department of Voter Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society better known as VEP across the country as well as its partners in National Inter-Agency Advisory Committee on Voter Education and Publicity. I was a resource person at the event. The retreat was mainly to appraise the commission’s voter education strategies and contents in the lead up to the 2015 general elections as well as chart the way forward.
It was not my first time in Calabar. I have been there several times. However, the city has never ceased to thrill me. This was why, this time around, I took more than a casual interest in understanding what makes the Canaan City tick. I took time off the busy programme schedule to move round the town and observe the goings on. I also spoke to a couple of my friends living in the city. I had an intimate chat with my long lost but found friend, Dr. Joseph Ukwayi of the Sociology Department of the University of Calabar, with whom I lost contact for over two decades, as well as a youth leader, Ignatius Oli, who I met during my African Union Election Observation Mission to Egypt in May 2014. I also did a bit of Internet research and what I found was newsworthy hence my decision to write about it.
It turns out that Calabar has a long history behind it. It was first known as Akwa Akpa which were Efik words. The indigenous people of the town are Efik , Qua, Efut, Biase, and Akamkpa. How many Nigerians know that the Canaan City was the first capital of Nigeria? How many people knew Calabar produced the first indigenous Inspector-General of Police in the person of Louis Edet? How many knew that the first Nigerian to become a World Boxing Champion, Okon Asuquo Bassey better known as Hogan “Kid” Bassey was from Creek Town in Calabar? Did you know that EyoIta, the first Nigerian professor is from Calabar?
Did you also know that Cross River State is the only state where both the governor and his deputy are both ‘eggheads from the ivory towers”. I mean both of them are professors. The governor, Prof. Ben Ayade is a first-class graduate of Microbiology from the University of Ibadan while his deputy, Ivara Ejemot Esu, is a professor of Soil Science from the University of Calabar.
Prominent figures in the history of Calabar include King Archibong III – the first King in southern Nigeria to be crowned with regalia sent by Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, in 1878. The paramount ruler of the town is Obong of Calabar. A quintessential daughter of the soil is Chief (Mrs.) Margaret Ekpo, who was the first woman special member in Nigeria’s Eastern House of Chiefs and later Eastern House of Assembly (the Calabar International Airport is actually named after her as a mark of recognition of her pacesetting political achievements). Another illustrious son of Calabar is Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo, premier football administrator, first and only Nigerian so far to be elected into Executive Committee of FIFA (1980 – 1988) and the first African to be made an Honorary Vice President of the Confederation of African Football (from 1988 for life). The city is the home to Calabar Rovers Football Club.
According to additional information sourced from Calabar Forum online, due to her early role in international slave trade and colonial administration, Calabar hosts the earliest military barracks, the first Presbyterian Church (Church of Scotland Mission) in 1846, the first Monorail and the first modern road network in Nigeria. The city also boasts the first public (general) hospital in Nigeria – St. Margaret Hospital, the oldest post office and one of the first two Botanical Gardens in the country. “As a social centre the city boasts of the first social club in Nigeria – The Africa Club – and also hosted the first competitive football, cricket and field hockey games in Nigeria. Among the city’s firsts include the first Roman Catholic mass (held at 19 Bocco Street, Calabar – 1903) and the oldest secondary school (Hope Waddell Training Institution – 1895) in Eastern Nigeria. The school later produced the first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe.”
You probably do not know that it was in this ancient town that the Scottish lady, Mary Mitchell Slessor, who stopped the killing of twins, did her missionary work. You possibly also may not know that Africa’s biggest street party holds every December in Nigeria’s Canaan land during the Carnival Calabar which is now in its 11th year.
There are some things about Calabar girls that make them the envy of their peers from other part of the country. These are their beauty and culinary skills. The myth is that Calabar girls can snatch husbands from those who do not know how to cook as they are proficient in cooking and lovemaking. There is no gainsaying that the Efiks culture of preparing their young maids for womanhood through the “Fattening Room” initiation rite named Mbobi helps in sharpening their home management skills. Calabar people own Edikang Ikong, a vegetable soup with a highly nutritious content. The people’s culinary skills have been turned to money spinner as they now run restaurants popularly called “Calabar Kitchen” all over the country. I did observe the indigene’s addiction to snacks like roasted plantain and roasted fish as well as banana and groundnuts. These are found, for sale, at every street corner.
Truth be told, Calabar is very neat. The roads are mostly tarred and well paved with pedestrian walkways. The streets are swept sparkling clean everyday by government engaged street sweepers and woe betides you if you litter your environment. I did also observe that the most popular brand of car used for commercial purpose in the city is Audi followed by Volkswagen Golf. Transportation is very cheap in the Canaan City despite the fact that motorcycles and tricycles popularly called ‘Keke NAPEP’ have been banned from the major streets. It’s also noteworthy that the traffic lights as well as the street lights work giving the town an ambience of orderliness and beauty particularly at night.
A visit to Calabar is incomplete without sight-seeing of its tourist centres which include: Old Residency Museum, Mary Slessor’s Tomb, Marina Resort, and a host of others. I have visited all during my previous stay. What’s more, Calabar is rated high among the top 10 safest cities in Nigeria. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Nigeria’s Canaan City, the people’s paradise.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Nigeria’s cloudy investment climate

The frenzy generated by the 100 days of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the last week or so is palpable. So much is expected of the government who swept into office on the mantra of change. Though the President said he never committed himself to 100 days landmark celebrations, his media aides nonetheless took over the media space to highlight some of the quick wins or milestones that the new administration has achieved in its first 100 days. For instance, Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity informed us in an opinion article published in many of the print media that a new sheriff is in town. That piece is full of sound bites.
Adesina recounted inter alia the bloody nose being given to Boko Haram in the North-East, the rallying of leaders of other neighbouring countries to deploy a Joint Multinational Task Force, the openness displayed about government finances and the welfare package instituted for states that couldn’t pay salaries, the Treasury Single Account, which would promote transparency and accountability in governance, fast-tracking of the cleanup of Ogoni land, reduction in the cost of governance, and many others. He said that under the extant administration, stealing is now corruption. Adesina informed us that electricity generation has climbed to about 5,000 megawatts; some refineries, which had not produced a drop of fuel for years, have cracked into life and that the perennial queues in our petrol stations have disappeared. These are irrefutable facts!
The President’s SA Media and Publicity also said that Nigerians now have faith in their leaders and quoted NOI polls survey in July which shows that over 70 per cent of Nigerians were happy with the Buhari administration to back his claim. In June, just one month into office, the media aide claimed that with the plugging of some leakages and loopholes, foreign reserve surged from $29bn to $31.89bn.
On September 1, 2015 during the 45th Nigerian Accountants conference in Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave some inklings of Buhari administration’s economic blueprint. The VP said the APC government will give primary school pupils free meals, the multiplier effects of which would help to create 1.14 million new jobs; increase food production by up to 530,000 metric tonnes per annum, as well as attract fresh investments up to N980bn. Osinbajo also hinted at the capacity building to improve teachers’ quality. Other areas of focus in the Buhari economic plan according to his Vice are innovation and fighting piracy; diversification of the economy in the areas of agriculture to achieve self-sufficiency in rice and wheat production as well as manufacturing; entertainment and technology.
As the new administration gradually rolls out its economic plan, I hereby point the Federal Government in the direction of what could make mincemeat of its laudable economic recovery plan. That is, the astronomic cost of doing business in Nigeria. It’s important that the new sheriff in town knows that the World Bank has rated Nigeria among 16 worst nations in the world in the area of doing business. A report by the bank specifically placed the nation in 170th position out of 185 world economies polled.
Yes, Buhari has been globe-trotting seeking foreign direct investment in order to boost the economy and thereby tackle the monsters of unemployment, poverty and social insecurity. I recall that the President was in Germany for the G7 Summit in June and was also in United States of America in July. These diplomatic shuttles were partly to seek FDI, more so in the face of dwindling oil revenues. Attempts have also been made to revive the textile industry, reactivate local arms production and also increase agric-business. Just last week, Federal Government also promised to encourage and support the small and medium scale enterprises popularly called SMEs. However, the laudable plan of diversifying the economy and encourage local and foreign investors would be a mirage or remain a pipedream unless the Federal Government brings down considerably the cost of doing business in the country.
In truth, the World Bank report entitled ‘Doing Business: Distance to Frontier’ showed that Nigeria moved up by five points in the latest rating as against 175th position out of 189 countries polled last year. Nonetheless, to be ranked among the 16 worst countries to do business is not an enviable position. The report, excerpt of which was published in last Friday’s (September 4) edition of this newspaper gave some of the parameters used for the ranking as starting a business; dealing with construction permits; getting electricity; getting credit; protecting minority investors; paying taxes; trading across borders; enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
Sadly, Nigeria ranked last in the world in terms of the ease of registering property and emerged the third most difficult country for cross-border trade in the Economic Community of West African States region. In the ECOWAS region, Burkina Faso was ranked the most difficult country for trade across borders at 174. Mali came second at 163 while Nigeria ranked third at 159. Gambia was ranked the easiest country for trade across borders in the ECOWAS region at 77; Senegal came second at 79 while Cape Verde came third at 101.
The report stated that while it takes an average of 19 days to export goods at $1,040 per container and with six documents in the Gambia, it takes an average of 22.9 days to export goods in Nigeria at $1,564 per container and with nine documents. The document equally revealed that a trader in Gambia would require an average of 19 days to import cargo at $745 per container with six documents. But in Nigeria, it would take an average of 33 days to import cargo at $1,959.5 per container with13 documents.
To me, the World Bank report is a wakeup call to the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government such as the Federal Ministry of Finance and its Trade and Investment as well as Interior counterparts, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission and Nigerian Customs Service to work concertedly to ease the cost of doing business in the country. Federal Government also owes it a duty to set the right investment policy guidelines, strengthen our adjudicatory systems, provide adequate physical security and social infrastructures such as affordable and uninterrupted electricity, pipe borne water, good road networks and friendly tax regimes. If Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa in spite of the astronomic cost of doing business in the country, just imagine how greater the economy of the nation will be if we are able to clear the cloudy investment climate in the country.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Nigerian designer wives

The title of this piece is a copyright from Aisha Falode and her team of co-presenters of “Amazons”, a magazine programme on African Independent Television. The phrase was the topic of the episode aired on Friday, August 28, 2015. I watched the fascinating edition and therefore decided to share my perspective on the issue with a wider audience. In the episode, Nigerian designer wives was the ascription given to married career ladies who are trendy, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan but deficient in culinary prowess. They are women who are well-read but lack the ability to manage the home front. They rely heavily on house-helps to clean and cook thereby outsourcing crucial matrimonial duties.
Ace actress, Funke Akindele, in one of the recent episodes of her highly entertaining TV drama entitled “Jennifer’s Diary” featured a character that best describe Aisha Falode’s Nigerian designer wife. The lady couldn’t cook nor do any household chore and only tried to do them when she was about losing her fiancĂ© to another woman.
Is it not shocking that this country now has a sizable number of married women who cannot cook anything beyond noodle? There are even some of them who cannot boil water let alone egg. They have been so pampered that they do not know the way to the market and if they do, they don’t know the recipe for soup making; how to identify good fish or meat; which yam is good for pounded yam and which one is good for porridge; how to bargain, etcetera.
There are many ladies in today’s Nigeria that hire people to go to market for them. Thereafter, they go for their cookery book for guidance on how to go about preparing their meals. Some who couldn’t cook order large quantum of prepared food and soups from restaurants which they take home to refrigerate and microwave when they want to eat or entertain visitors. Some don’t even bother themselves going through all that stress, they simply eat out.
These designer wives do not know how to sweep, wash plates and clothes, mop the floor, dust the furniture, iron clothes, arrange the home and tidy up their environment. While some of them make heavy investment in purchasing washing machines for their laundry; some others hire people to do their home cleaning. Some do most of their laundry at the dry cleaners. All these are done at great financial and social costs.
What then do these designer wives know how to do? Oh, a lot! They are fashionistas and are specialist in the use of information and communications technology. They are connected to all the social media and can ping and chat from morning till evening except when they are busy at work. They regularly upload their latest pictures on their social media accounts such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. They also are good at watching the latest movies and films on satellite television. They have favourite soap operas they cannot afford to miss on terrestrial TV. They know all the major characters in Mexican soaps, Nollywood and Hollywood. They like to gossip and as such spend quality time on phones chatting up friends, colleagues and relations. They also love cars, customised, posh wonders-on-wheel, with which they cruise town.
Above all, they like to party. In order to outshine their peers and friends at social functions, they spend fortunes acquiring the latest designer dress, perfumes, jewelries, wristwatches, hats, headgears, sun-shades, cosmetics and so on. They are generally power dressers! They adorn themselves with artificial eyelashes and nails as well as padded brassiere (if they are not well endowed with mammary-gland).
They are the typical women who pay attention to their looks and spare no expense to look good. They are the ones who go for tummy tuck, breast enlargement and plastic surgeries just to look elegant. Some of the designer wives also spend time exercising and keeping fit. They diet a lot. Because they do not want their breast to sag, they often don’t spend more than a month breastfeeding their children. In short, designer wives want to be complimented as being sexy and gorgeous.
The sad thing is that these designer wives hardly have successful marriages. Though they may have elaborate, talk-of-the-town weddings, their marriages easily crumble like pack of cards as their husbands face the reality of marrying wives without proper home training. They often engage in shouting matches with their husbands as they bicker and nag over improper home management. Even where the husbands are accommodating and tolerant of their wives deficient domestic skills, their family and friends often kick over the mistreatment meted out to them when they visit. How can a wife who cannot cook offer her husband’s family or friends’ food when they come visiting? Well, except someone offers to do it on her behalf or she goes buying it. Some of these wives, who depend heavily on hired female house helps to assist with cooking and cleaning, have had their husbands snatched from them. After all, it is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
The worst part of this sad saga is that women who do not know how to do house chores cannot impart such skills on their children and wards. Thus, we are gradually raising multiple generations of women who though are bookish and are accomplished professionals, lack good moral and cultural education to create happy homes. What a pity!
Incidentally, as there are designer wives, so we have designer husbands. These are husbands who love the good things of life.  They are trendy, classy, power dressers but  cannot do a single house chore nor help out in child rearing and parenting. There is nothing wrong in a man being highly domesticated. Thanks to my mum. She thought me how to cook, wash and do all domestic chores. I recall that in those days, while growing up in the ancient city of Ibadan, mother insisted that we, all her children, should learn how to use the grinding stone to grind pepper for vegetable soup and porridge beans. I and my sisters took turns to do that. My home management skills came handy in my undergraduate and post graduate years as well as during my bachelorhood as I was able to do my house chores by myself including cooking my meals. There should therefore be no gender discrimination when it comes to domestic duties.
For the designer wives, especially those of them who wish to learn, the good news is that some women who saw the knowledge gap have decided to do something to help their fellow women. One of such is Mrs. Ope Tejuosho, who has set up a school in Lagos to educate women on home management, cooking, etiquette and so on. According to her, while featuring on the “Amazon”, some mothers and husbands have been enrolling their daughters and wives respectively in her school. Apart from catering schools, there are also television programmes where women and men alike can learn culinary skills. In closing, our parenting responsibility is incomplete if we do not give our children life skills in home management. All mothers and indeed fathers need to do something about this before their daughters get thrown out of their matrimonial homes.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Will President Buhari probe his campaign financiers?

“Some of those who sponsored the President’s election have not done any other jobs apart from holding public offices. Yet, they provided private jets and funds with which the President campaigned across the length and breadth of Nigeria. He should let Nigerians know where they got money to buy private jets and the several billions of naira spent on his election”  - Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, on August 5, 2015.

One of the main pillars of President Muhammadu Buhari campaign in the lead up to the 2015 presidential election is anti-corruption. In fact, many Nigerians voted for him based on their belief that he will fight corruption to a standstill. During his tenure as Military Head of State between January 1, 1984 and August 27, 1985, Buhari launched War against Indiscipline (WAI) and set up military tribunals to probe the administration of Alhaji Shehu Usman Shagari whom he toppled in a coup. Many ministers, governors and commissioners were sentenced to long years of imprisonments having been pronounced guilty by the tribunals.  While the public applauded him, the victims and their families kicked. They claimed that it was a political witch-hunt devoid of due process and fair hearing.

In the recent past, particularly after his inauguration as a civilian president on May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari popularly called PMB has informed the public intermittently that he is ready to fight corruption. He made the promise to President Barack Obama during his recent visit to United States.  On Tuesday, August 11, 2015, the president while hosting the members of the General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Retd.) led National Peace Committee (NPC) was quoted as saying that “Those who have stolen the national wealth will be in court in a matter of weeks and Nigerians will know those who have short-changed them.”

Indeed,  a  statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted the President as telling Abubakar and members of his committee that his administration was irrevocably committed to doing all within its powers to break the vicious cycle of corruption, unemployment and insecurity in Nigeria. Buhari also told members of the committee that the Federal Government, under his leadership, would not only ask for the return of stolen funds but also ensure that those who stole the funds are put on trial.

Well said! Mr. President has also been walking the talk.  He has ordered that a single treasury account should   be established at the Central Bank of Nigeria for all federal revenues to ensure greater probity, transparency and accountability in the collection, disbursement and utilisation of national funds. He has sacked and replaced some heads of government agencies such as that of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the National Security Adviser (NSA). News report also has it that he is shopping for credible and fearless judges to prosecute his anti-corruption war (See The Punch, August 17, 2015). Even the anti-corruption agencies have suddenly revved up their activities as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC)  are now speedily arraigning ex-governors and corrupt public servants in courts including freezing and seizing their assets.

While all these are happening, the All Progressives Congress is busy grandstanding.  The party in a press statement issued on Sunday, August 16, 2015 through its national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed  alleged that a whopping $56bn (N11tn) was stolen under the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan .  Mohammed stated, “Some instances of the looting are as follows: N3.8tn out of the N8.1tn earned from crude oil (2012-2015) withheld by NNPC; $2.1bn (N413.7bn) from Excess Crude Account unaccounted for; Department of Petroleum Resources’ unremitted N109.7bn royalty from oil firms.

“Others are: $6bn (N1.2tn) allegedly looted by some ministers of the last administration; 160 million barrels of crude worth $13.9bn (N2.74tn) lost between 2009 and 2012; $15m (N2.96bn) from the botched arms deal yet to be returned to Nigeria; $13bn (N2.56tn) in NLNG dividends mostly unaccounted for; N30bn rice waiver; and N183bn unaccounted for at the NDDC.”

The immediate past ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party however came out strongly to rebut the claims of APC. The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement, described Mohammed’s statement as “reckless, irresponsible and highly provocative.” Some of the chieftains of PDP including its governors forum had said that the party members are being molested through media trials and that the new government’s anti-corruption war is selective.  One of those who had made that assertion is the incumbent governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose.

The Ekiti governor not only asked PMB to probe his election sponsors as highlighted at the beginning of this piece, he also said among other things that the Federal Government anti-corruption drive is  mere noise-making, witch-hunt and diversionary tactic to hoodwink the public into overlooking the seeming failure of the government to deliver on its electoral promises.   (See The Punch, August 6, 2015)

The Nigerian public, I must state, is less concerned about party membership of the looters of our patrimony and commonwealth. After all, a sizeable number of APC chieftains today were gatekeepers and influencers in PDP until recent. The question is: Will Buhari probe his campaign financiers?

Jide is the Executive Director of OJA Development Consult, Abuja