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Saving Suntai’s widow, others from inhuman rites

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Saving Suntai’s widow,  others from inhuman rites

If it is a devastating and traumatic experience for a woman to lose her husband, it is even more unimaginably terrible for her to go through the rites in the name of culture and norms that usually accompany the death of a husband. Ironically, these rites as observed from widow’s tales are never binding on widowers, writes OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI

 

 

In some parts of Nigeria, widows are still being humiliated, dehumanised and abused by degrading customs, that are begging for urgent attention from all and government at all levels.
Some widows are forced to return the bride price paid on to the late husband family, their children forcefully taken from them as a way of erasing what could be binding them with the widow. Some are chased out of the late husband’s house and denied access to all his property despite the existence of supreme court judgment to the contrary. And some are forced to drink the water used to wash the deceased husband’s corpse to prove her innocence in his untimely death.
Few years ago, a widow died after drinking bath water from her husband’s corpse. Another widow, Stella Ogheneovo, in May 2017 lamented how she was forced to disclose the assets her husband left behind to relatives fighting to inherit his property. Thugs were sent to beat and terrorise her and her five children in the hope of intimidating her. She was also forced to drink the water used to wash her husband’s corpse to prove her innocence. Stella was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pains after the incident.
Taiwo Olajide, a 52-year-old widow is still fighting and seeking for justice at the Human Right Section of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice. She was denied access to her husband’s property by her in-laws because she has five daughters for her late husband. She told New Telegraph that, “my offence is that I have daughters and no son and because of that, his children and I are refused part of his property.”
She added: “Another of my offence was that I refused to release my husband’s car for them (his relatives). They swore that I will smell pepper and indeed, I have not only smelled the pepper, I actually had the nasty taste of the pepper in my eyes.”
It also doesn’t stop there. When a wife dies, the society encourages the man to take a wife as soon as possible after mourning her demise without qualms. Should it be the other way round, voices would rise on why the woman remarries even years after her husband’s death. That is the mentality of most Africans, particularly Nigerians, which has so eaten deep into the consciousness of most. Even children of widows see it as absurd.
Omotunrayo Abiodun, 27, refused to allow her father to remarry eight years after her mother died in a road accident. Her reason was that if it were her mother that was in that condition, she won’t think of remarrying, as such, her daddy should go by that assumption.
Olajide’s relatives and children wouldn’t let any man make advances towards their mother and warned her not to think of it. Speaking to New Telegraph, the children sad that was the fable they grew up with, told by friends, people around them and their late father’s relative since their childhood.
This perhaps may be the same philosophy resounding around Hauwa, the beautiful widow of former Taraba governor, Danbaba Suntai. First, she was refused access to most of her husband’s property on religious grounds. According to a source close to her, Hauwa late husband’s relatives were not too friendly with her and this showed more when Suntai eventually died on June 28, 2017 in Houston, Florida, in the United States. They allegedly told her that she cannot have access to her husband’s property because she is a Muslim, according to the source. The source added that, even when she tried to argue based on her Christian activities while her husband was alive, they refused to oblige her; that they cannot remember her renounce her faith in Islam to Christianity.
However, with the help of some friends of her late husband, she got some property of her husband in Abuja, settle down and move on with her life. “She even got cheated of her husband’s property by some of her husband’s friends. They took advantage of her ignorance and of the fact that her husband did not let her know of all his property. But as a first lady, she was able to put up some property for herself. She made some solid investment as well,” the source said.
Before Suntai’s demise, beautiful Hauwa was said to be a dutiful and devoted wife to the man. She was said to be friendly and accommodating. During the man’s vegetative condition, when his brain got damaged, Hauwa stood by him all through. On Valentine’s Day- February 14, she celebrated him, she was seen feeding and pampering him when he was in a hospital in America where he was receiving medication. All through Suntai’s admission in the hospital, she was with him. While taking care of him, she was also trying to hold forth his government even though the late man’s supporters declared that Suntai was fit to govern.
Long story short, Hauwa was the centre of controversy that surrounded her husband’s return in Taraba politics. Difficult and traumatic, she later declared her husband as medically and mentally unfit to govern. In all the battles that surrounded her politically and with the late man’s relatives, she remained solid by his side; she stood by her husband till his last days. What a wife?! Hauwa indeed is a wife any man would wish to have
Before the ill-fated air crash involving her late husband near Yola, October 25, 2012, beautiful Hauwa was said to be the proverbial woman behind Suntai’s political success story. A Muslim from Borno State, (Shu’Arab, an ethnic group in Maiduguri- of Old Borno Empire) married to a Christian from Taraba State. She was undoubtedly an influence towards her husband’s electoral victory.
The journey of her love story began when she was an undergraduate in the Federal University of Technology, Yola , (FUTY) studying Botany while Suntai was the chairman of a local government area under the then political party, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ( ANPP).
To marry Hauwa who is from a strong Muslim background, Suntai pretended to be a Muslim and even got the marriage consummated in a Mosque! Since her husband’s death, nothing was heard about her any longer until the announcement that she was set to remarry few days ago -June 8,2019. There were uproar and nasty comments about her getting set to remarry. Pre-wedding photos were displayed on Instagram where Hauwa and her young husband ( said to be his 30s), looked so happy together.
While some argued against her, some argued for her that she deserves to be happy and does not fit to bear a permanent status of a widow.
One of the comments read, “Widowhood should never be a permanent status especially for men and women who are relatively young when they lose their spouses. Loneliness kills.”
Steve Aborishade, Development and Human rights journalist wrote on his Facebook wrote “Would it not be expected that the man, by now, should have taken a new wife had the woman been the one who happened not to be around? Why should women lose the right to a fulfilling life because they lost their partners?” I think it’s time our own generation looks at these things differently. To women who decides to stay single at the death of their partner, kudos, and to those who feel they are better off with a man, we can only wish them the best. What matters eventually, either man or woman, is to take a responsible decision that makes you happy about your relationship, before or after the death of a partner.”
The wife of Ondo State governor, Betty Akeredolu reacted to Steve Aborishade’s write up on her; “I concur. Thanks for this write up and coming from a Nigerian man. Very thoughtful and timely so that she knows that many are rooting for her. Thanks for being among the progressive men in the club of HE4SHE in Nigeria. She deserves to find happiness. Patriarchy will not let us be reasonable and be fair to women. God forbids! Aluta!! The struggle continues to end women’s subjugation!!! Our daughters are coming up. It won’t be business as usual, believe it or not.”
Meanwhile is now a bride again and happily so. She married a young business man from Taraba State.

Supreme Court decision
As did both the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court found that the Igbo inheritance rules that exclude women from inheritance violate the country’s 1999 Constitution, confirming the decisions of the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal. Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, one of the five justices who heard the case, delivered the Court’s opinion in which he stated that
No matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her later father’s estate. Consequently, the Igbo Customary Law, which disentitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate is in breach of Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution, a fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every Nigerian.
The above cited provision of the Nigerian Constitution, which guarantees freedom from discrimination, states that:
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
a. be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
b. be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.

Accepted Discrimination
Although gender-based discrimination by customary rights is banned, it appears that age-based discrimination remains acceptable. As it did on a number of occasions in the past, on April 19, 2013, the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional the principle of primogeniture under the Bini customary law of succession in which the eldest son is entitled to inherit the family’s principal house, known as Igiogbe.
Meanwhile the Lagos State Government law regarding widow’s right to her deceased husband’s property read as thus: (quote in part)
When a person who was married with children dies intestate (without a will) then difficult questions arise. Who are the beneficiaries entitled to the deceased’s property? Should the estate be distributed according to Customary Law or received English Law. These questions sometimes cause the members of the family to engage in a bitter dispute which may result in litigation.
Section 49(1) of the Administration of Estates Law states that, the estate of a person who died intestate shall be distributed in the following manner; the surviving husband or wife shall take the personal chattels absolutely and in addition the estate (excluding personal chattels) shall be charged with the payment of a net sum of money equivalent to the value of one third of the estate, free of funeral expenses, to the surviving husband or wife plus interest from the date of death at the rate of 2½ % per annum until paid or appropriated and subject to providing for that sum the estate (excluding personal chattels) shall be held as follows; (a) one-third upon trust for the surviving husband or wife during his or her lifetime and subject to such life interest, on the statutory trusts for the children of the deceased; and (b) two thirds on the statutory trusts for the children of the deceased.
Section 36(1) of the Marriage Act states that, where any person who is subject to customary law contracts a marriage in accordance with the provisions of this Act and such person dies intestate leaving a widow or husband or any children of the marriage, the real and personal property of such person which might have disposed by will, shall be distributed in accordance with the provisions of the Laws of England relating to succession of estates, notwithstanding any contrary customary law.
The difference between the provisions of both laws is that, while section 36 (1) of the Marriage Act incorporates by reference English law into our law of intestate succession, section 49 (1) of the Administration of Estate Law directly and not by reference substantially incorporates the provisions of the English law on the subject into Nigerian law.

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We chose street children, women’s rights as our focus – Dala

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We chose street children, women’s rights as our focus – Dala

Yahcit Susan Dala is Chief Legal Officer and Coordinator with the National Human Right Commission in Bauchi State. In this interview with ALI GARBA, she says the emphasis is on women who don’t know their rights, she also speaks on the vision of the Commission to end street children

 

 

So, tell us about you, tell us about the activities of the human right organisation

The main mandate of the Human Right Commission is to promote and protect of human right in Nigeria. That is what we have been doing since the National Human Right Commission came to be in 1995, established by the National Human Commission Act of 1995 and amended in 2010. The commission started with a vision to bring human right closer to the grassroots- the people. 

We have done some sensitisation too with traditional rulers at the Emir’s palace, we have done radio programmes and any opportunity we have we have to talk, it is about human rights. 

What are some of the cases that you received complaints about?

There is no aspect of life that doesn’t involve human right, but to make our work easy, we have divided human right issues into three major thematic areas, namely, economic, social and cultural rights, civil, political right and vulnerable groups rights, we have cases of all these three areas.

Which among them was the most pathetic?

All cases of human rights violation are pathetic, but we noticed we had so many cases of sexual abuse especially on minors, children, we had cases on abandonment of parental responsibilities to family, children and we had cases reported against police officers in the mode of arrest, detention and handling of alleged violation of human rights issue, these are some of the cases. We also have labour related matters reported at the Commission.

How has the Commission been protecting the right of women?

Women, they fall under the vulnerable groups, women rights could be in various ways, domestic violence, it could be sexual abuse or exploitation, and it could be discrimination. When the cases come, depending on the nature,  some could be criminal in nature like domestic violence and that is responsibilities of the police to investigate. So, when we have cases that are criminal in nature, we usually involve the police to find out from the victims if they have reported it to the police, what steps have they taken. And if the police have already taken proper steps, then that it is alright, we can just watch and monitor but when the police have failed to take proper steps, then the Commission can step in by contacting the police on behalf of the victim or sending the victim to the police. Most time when we get in touch with the police, it makes them sit up and do the proper thing, those are some of the few cases concerning women. But the major challenges we have, is that we don’t get much cases reported because as I said, people do not know that this is actually a ‘violation and where to go-to, to get help’ commission. We keep saying that we need everybody and the media to tell people of Bauchi that there is somewhere they can go for assistant when there is abuse of their rights  or violation

Why is it that women, girl-child abuse is on the increase?

Of course, it is and nobody likes that, it affects them physically, emotionally and psychologically as well as when they don’t have a balance life. Women are the ones that take care of the home, children and when a woman is not emotionally, psychologically stable, it affects the children and whole family and it goes on to affecting everything in the society in general.  One of the things we hope to achieve is to liase with House of Assembly and relevant stakeholders and senisitise them on human rights and need to pass some laws. Another law that we really want to advocate for, is the child’s right law, I don’t know which name Bauchi State will call it, some state called it Child’s Protection law, some called it Child’s Right Law that is just an example. We are happy that the administration of criminal justice law was passed before the last administration left office.

How do you protect the innocent and criminal as well?

Depends, everybody have rights, the way we say, your rights ends when mine begins. When you say we protect both innocent and criminal, everybody is innocent until you are pronounced guilty by the Court of law so when someone is perceived to be criminal, we call it allegation, that is why in the Commission make use of terms like alleged violator when someone walks in here and makes a complaints, we don’t say the violator or the guilty one but we refer to it as alleged until it is proven otherwise. so anybody  that walks into this office,

What about the right of Almajiri, street children?

Talking about Almajiri, we do a lot advocacy and sensitisation, one of the things we noticed when we came to Bauchi is high number of street children and Almajiri. We have already begun talking with the state government and one of the challenges I told you is lack of passage of the child’s right acts law protecting children on the street which we have. As we go on in our sensitisation we will speak concerning those issues. On the issue of Almajiri, I know in the past the Commission was at the fore front of advocating for this children to be protected, we noticed the abuses that those children are exposed to. In doing that, the Federal Government tried to streamline this by building Tsangaya schools during President Goodluck Jonathan administration, he established some Islamic schools in the North for those Almajiri children but it has became a major problem that all hands have to be on deck, the government cannot do it alone, parents have to be involved as well, the local authorities, traditional rulers, Religious body among others.

Right of children is one of our primary focus in the commission.

What is your next line of action?

One thing the Commission identify is the need to reach the grassroots with this message, we need to do more sensitization to let the people know what human rights are.  Sometimes, people are surprised at what are their rights!  They are not really aware of what their rights are, like in the administration of criminal justice law there is a way that a police can arrest you, can handle you at the point of arrest so many things can be put in place before arrest. They have to inform but people don’t know these things, so we need education in human rights education. The commission cannot do it alone because it may not have the resources to go all the places, which we need to go to so if we can get collaboration, partnership with people that can access these places, our job would be easy.

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Intention, not love, sustains marriage, says Adefuye

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Intention, not love, sustains marriage, says Adefuye

Omolola Adefuye prefers to be called ‘Omolola Natural.’ Her latest enthusiasm apart from her field of career-Insurance, is about marital affairs and lecturing homes on how to sustain lovemaking sparkles in marriages. Oluwatosin Omoniyi writes

 

What is your latest passion all about?

Presently, I talk about sex in marriages because I’m concerned about couples enjoying sex to the fullest. So what we do basically is do research on marriages, how things can work out between couples. We notice eating the same kind of food all the time could be boring so what we do is teach couples how to eat the same food differently, to reduce monotony and main focus on enjoyable sex in marriages.

What prompted the passion?

The rate of divorce in marriages lately and infidelity in marriages nowadays is alarming. Now when you look at the rate of divorce and you ask why, a larger percentage of the reasons usually go down to sexual issue, or money issue which is why we decided to look at the sex aspect as a move to reduce broken marriages. So on this sex and marriage issues, we post writings but majorly we post videos on YouTube.

I know you as insurance personnel, so what prompted you to go into sex and sexuality in marriages?

Over time, I have had to work with teenagers and I have also been privileged to work with teens from broken homes and then I had to look at them and people that come from homes where both parents are still together and I realised that there was a remarkable difference.  Children who come from broken homes usually have insecurity challenges, feeling and sense of not belonging in a setting and most of them are not as confident as their peers who come from homes where their parents are together. Some of them carry on to the homes they build in future, whereby every little misunderstanding, they think of separating with their spouses because that is the way they were brought up, this set of children are exposed to many atrocities.

I feel this issue of the parents staying differently has more negative effect on children than their parents and this prompted me to venture into what I now do.

Apart from the idea of stealing culture imbibed by these children, some of them are exposed to sexual harassment when the parents are not there. There was a particular case we treated last, three children staying with their father and he was always out to work, the mum was not living with them and they were always alone. Along the way, the youngest one started getting harassed by a neighbour and there was nobody to tell. A girl cannot grow up normal if she does not have a father figure in her life. Consequently, she begins to look for a father figure in every man because father love for girls is equivalent to the air she breathes and when it is absent, she seeks it anywhere possible.

If you look at the percentage of girls that are exposed to pregnancy at a teenage age and all, majorly it comes from girls that lack fatherly love. Mark it, fatherly love could be that the father maybe present at home but physically absented. So, if a father is present in the home, at least he could learn to show her affection. It is usually the same thing to the male child but theirs is not only when they lack mother love, it is also that of the father. I have been opportune to have worked with a male child and I realised that when a male child lacks fatherly love, it affects his self esteem.

How long have you been married now?

Five years now,

What makes you think you are matured enough to talk about sex in marriages?

What I tell people is that it does not matter how old your marriage is, as long as I have taken time to do the necessary research, I take time to do necessary research, hence, it makes me qualified because these days, people believe marriage is something you can jump into and jump out. Before you go into marriage, you should read books on marriages, on relating with people, how to handle different people.

It amazes me when you go to university to study any course and you are not refreshing your school of thought with research and books to help you grow in such field you have chosen therefore I have done and am still doing what needs to be done to be well grounded in the school of marriage and sexual relationship.

Why do couples lose the spark of excitement and love in marriage after a long time of being together?

It is normal, some do not even last up to five years. Let me be practical now, you know when you meet someone for the first time, like there is this novelty, the way you handle it with so much care and you do not want it to fall or crack but after a while you no longer pay so much attention to it, this is the same thing with marriage which is why I say love is not always enough, it’s not all about the chemistry.

You can actually marry someone you do not really love and the marriage will last forever, marriage is about being intentional. As long as I am intentional, that this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and I am ready and willing to work out every flaw and every ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ , it will work. But if you are waiting for the chemistry to always happen, you are in for a very long ride because the chemistry will leave.

You can actually work on love, and how do we work on love, by knowing the temperament of the person, love language of the person you are married to as we all have different love languages.

When one partner’s love language is attention but you are showering the person with gifts, it will mean nothing, as you have got it wrong, if you had stayed with her in the kitchen for five minutes, you would have given her the world. So it is why we say people must learn in marriage and be intentional. If you are intentional you would have figured the right love language of your partner and whether in a bad or good mood, you will still please them.

So LOVE does not sustain marriage?

Yes, the only thing that can sustain it is being intentional. Long ago, before I got married, I had this mentality that if my husband does anything, I will divorce him first thing and I was told Christianity does not allow divorce. Luckily for me, I was living with a couple whose marriage was heaven on earth with over 50 years of being married. Through them, I was able to have the belief that marriage does not have to be bitter, it should be sweet. That was when I mapped out a list of characteristics my future husband must have.

First he has to be someone that will make marriage heaven for me, number two was that if anything went wrong, I must be willing to satisfy everything it takes to work it out, so I was intentional about those two goals. So my thought  was that whatever went wrong, we are both going to work it out whether you like it or not.

Now, how do you sustain sex sparkles in marriages?

Sex spark differs because we all have different libido. Some have it high, and some, low.  So if my libido is high and my husband’s own is high, there is no option other than me finding a way to match his libido which is what we do, we run research to help women meet up, there are fruits to do that, there are medicinal drugs, there are balls to be inserted and other things too.

To sustain sex spark, a woman must be ready always, and sometimes a woman can satisfy her husband without sex, it doesn’t have to be penis to vagina always, they both should learn how to satisfy themselves even without penetration.

Some husbands like their wives to give them blow job but they cannot reciprocate the act, therefore couples should be able to sit and talk about all these which is why communication is key for sex spark to be sustained in marriage.

As a Christian, do you support oral sex in marriage?

Oral sex in marriage, if both couples agree, then I am in support. It has to be an agreement; there is nothing wrong with it.

One of the reasons we started this is because of divorce, this issue of divorce happen in Christian marriages more because of the issue of oral sex and the belief that the holy sex position is the missionary style, it’s very boring that is why Christian men are the ones who cheat most because they do not get sexual satisfaction in their homes. There is a passage in the bible that says a woman’s breast should continue to satisfy her husband.

Therefore, there are different angles to these things, not just the refusal from the woman but also the ignorance from the man. The bible says your body belongs to your husband and you body belongs to your wife therefore as long as there is consent from both parties, it’s alright and if its oral sex, then fantastic.

You say you write, how many testimonies have you got from consultants?

I remember the first testimony I got from a man, he did not even know he can ever give his wife plate (blow job) as the slogan goes.  The day he did it finally, he sent me a text the second day, he said “she really loved it.”  Finally, for a woman to achieve orgasm and not fill used in bed, ask her what she wants and how to please her.

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Infidelity: Women as guilty as men – Gbadebo

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Infidelity: Women as guilty as men  – Gbadebo

Olumide Gbadebo, a physiotherapist, may be termed as odd among her fellow women. She may not even be liked by some for propagating the belief that monogamy is not natural especially for men. In a chat with Oluwatosin Omoniyi, the skin care expert was frank to say the philosophy only works due to choices of individuals

 

Why do you believe Monogamy is not natural?

I believe monogamy is not natural. Reason is that everybody likes the newest, brightest thing. Everybody would want to jump unto whoever they find attractive. I mean to say no one is born with attraction to just one person. We all experience attraction to different people over the course of our lives, starting from the age your hormone start raging till literarily you get too old, there are always different people you find attractive and there is a reason for that. Your body is design to be attracted to the opposite sex and in the case of some people, same sex but generally your body is designed for attraction, so we are social animals. Monogamy is not natural, its civilization, religion, society that designed monogamy.  What I now believe is that monogamy is a choice. Should you choose to marry somebody, then you owed it to the person based on expectations, norms to be faithful but if you are not married or in a committed relationship, it is a free market.

Even in a committed relationship, you don’t think the monogamy philosophy works.

It is not because you do not want to or because your body does not want to but you have decided to stay with the person for reasons. It could be financial, emotional, practical reasons or for the sake of children.  Fortunately our society tend to favour men more than women, the expectations of men are less, lower.  Men are held to lower standards than women in our society. The home depends on the woman, children’s upbringing is the woman, and everything literarily regarding the family is resting on the woman’s shoulders. So, should the woman outside her marriage have sex with somebody else, it becomes a huge offence.

Is it that women do not cheat because of their circumstances?

Not true at all! If you are on social media these days, the truth is women are probably cheating as much as, if not more than men these days, because these days the rate at which marriages are breaking up is high. Women are financially dependent, all those things that used to hold women down that make women pretend to be holy are gradually fading away. So, people are showing their true colours now. The truth is women are probably cheating just as much as men.

What danger does that portend for women to be gaining upper hand or having economic power?

First of all the home suffers. I was raised by a working woman, I am a working woman, so I know this may sound funny but if we are to be objective, the home suffers. The man is not going to sit down to take care of the children. Women are now doing the men’s job and women’s job. It is not easy to do two things well at the same time. So, what happen these days is that, we are having domestic workers to help raise our kids. Definitely, one or two things will drop along the way. Children are no longer raised as perfectly as they were decades ago. If you look at the 20 year old we have today, fresh graduates we have now, home training is lacking, the typical Nigerian youth.

The question now is what we do? Should women go back to be second class citizens?  Is that the solution, where do we find balance?  Men need to take more responsibility, there is nothing wrong with been a stay-at-home-dad. There is nothing wrong with it, if daddy cook stew today, there is nothing wrong with it, if a woman can go to work, a man can enter the kitchen too once in a while, nobody will die. We need to have a more blended society.

Now that women are gaining upper hand economically, how can they continue to find their voices without having to pay a price for it?

Men need to begin to take more responsibility in the areas where it has initially been said it is a woman’s role. These generations of women, who are raising boys now, needs to raise our boys differently.  We need to raise our sons differently from the way our mothers raised our husbands and brothers. We need to teach them the fact that a woman is earning a lot does not mean she’s your lord and master; it doesn’t mean that she’s trying to suppress your position. The role of man and woman is not about monetary terms or academic qualifications, the approach we take those roles from is what our problem is. Somehow, we believe man is the money earner, woman is the home keeper and that is that-we need to reverse that mindset. I don’t understand it because men find it very easy to take money from women and it is not a thing that started now. In the days of our parents, the mum that has small change use to raise the dad when there was no money. I mean nobody is buoyant for a long period of 30, 40 years that a marriage happens, everybody has ups and down.

Many women have been known to hold the house together while the man is going through a rough time, so if you can collect that cover from your wife, when you are broke, she’s okay, why can’t you cover for her when she too wants to build a career, and you have. Life and marriage is about give and take, when you say that this is who cooks and this is who drops money, its too rigid and that’s when problem comes in because there is fiction. Another thing that is killing us is social media, it is too easy for us to expose our lives, we want everybody to know what is going on, we want to tell everybody what is happening in our secret lives.

Why do you think the economy is more favourable to the women’s folk?

My tought on this might be little controversial. Our society pushes women more than the men. You must be this, you must be well behave, you must be diligent, you must be discipline, you must be this, you must be that.  Meanwhile our society tends to pamper men, as far as you are born a man, you are perfect. If a boy is failing at school, people just assume that he will adjust, he will adapt but if it is a girl, your mother will break your head. Women are more disciplined by nature. Because of the way we are raised, the burden is shifting more on us, unfortunately, we are having more responsible women, fewer responsible men.

Typically from time memorial, women are responsible for the children anyway. Gradually, and perhaps, more by circumstances, women started finding out that they are good at businesses, you see them as owners of chain of stores, eateries, pharmacies. Women are doing amazing things and it all started as let’s see how this will go but because of that discipline and because they have been held back for so long. Give a woman a small opportunity and she will do it to the best of her ability, so it is just normal now that women are on the forefront of everything and the society is responsible for that as far as I’m concerned.

Do you think that an intelligent and assertive lady can really make a happy home according to our tradition?

I think she can. It depends on the man. Again it is up to the men to rise up. Women have changed, the world has changed. Men need to wake up. They need to accept it. Unfortunately, men are in denial, they need to accept that we are not going back to that time where a woman must be a humble servant. Even these men, do they want their daughters to be like that? They don’t want, they are the ones that will shout if anybody touches their daughter, so it is okay to do it to another person’s daughter. Men need to wake up and embrace the reality of a changing world, women have moved and her taking over.

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‘Why I abandoned banking for kid mentoring’

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‘Why I abandoned banking for kid mentoring’

For Mrs. Charity Babatunde, the Chief Executive Officer of AltAssist Limited, the passion to equip younger generation is all what her life revolves around. To this end, she abandoned her banking job in 2003 to set up a multifaceted company which gives a veritable platform to kids for reinforcement of values, attitudes, creativity, and life skills. She also pioneered digital intelligence quotient for kids in the country. WALE  ELEGBEDE speaks with her

 

 

 

 

Babatunde, is the pioneer authorized DQ Ambassador in Nigeria by virtue of RAVE et AL’s, certification (the first in Africa) by the DQ (Digital Intelligence Quotient) Institute, an institution which aims to empower children between 8 and 12 years around the world with DQ digital citizenship skills.

Globally, internet safety is an issue of concern for both adults and children. While adults usually find a way around it, children appear vulnerable to the vices and intrusions daily bestriding the cyberspace.

With the advent and exposure to social media, children are increasingly getting stuck to various negative cyber behaviour. Notable among these cyber confrontations include, but not limited to cyber bullying and threats, online trolling, sexual solicitation, hurtful and low-esteem comments, scams, rumors, gossip, hurtful, identity theft, cyber deficiency, stalking and inordinate adventure.

According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1 in 5 children receive a sexual solicitation or approach via the internet in a one-year period. The report further states that 70 per cent of children have encountered pornography on the Web accidentally.

Similarly, an NOP Research Group report says more than 29 per cent of internet-using children freely give out their home address, e-mail address and other personal information online when asked.

Also, statistics show that nearly 43 per cent of kids have been bullied online and 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once. Shockingly, a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Cox Communications Parental Internet Monitoring Survey, states that 95 per cent of parents could not identify common chat room lingo phrases such as POS “Parents Over Shoulder” and P911 “Parent Alert,” which are used to warn people with whom they are chatting their parents are watching.

Given the wide array of dangers posing as a harmless buddy on the cyberspace to children, the need to comprehensively safeguard kids from inappropriate advances and contacts, and orientate their usage of the cyberspace, clearly becomes inevitable.

Leading the vanguard for this caution and cyber ethics familiarization for children in Nigeria and Africa, is Mrs. Charity Babatunde, a certified life coach. For Babatunde, to reinforce values, attitudes and life skills in children, either online or offline, parents and guardians can rely on a global initiative, Digital Intelligence Quotient (DQ).

The initiative, christened ‘DQEveryChild,’ is piloted by Babatunde’s social enterprise firm, RAVE et Al Limited. The invectiveness is a digital intelligence education programme, which can be ‘plugged and played’ into Nigeria’s education system, for free.

With the scheme, DQ Institute, said children in Nigeria will be able to measure their ability and command of digital media, thereby helping to combat their exposure to dangers such as fake news, cyber bullying, online grooming and radicalisation. The certified Senior Professional in Human Resources espouses further on the initiative.

Digital Intelligence Quotient and the Nigerian child

Digital Intelligence Quotient measures the ability to use digital technology and media in safe, responsible and effective ways, in the same way as IQ and EQ measure the general and emotional intelligence. #DQEveryChild is a combination of online education tools and real-time assessment which is free to every child 8-12 globally, and can be easily ‘plugged and played’ into any national or school curriculum via the DQWorld.net platform, paving the way for a healthier, safer and more prosperous digital economy, for all. Children in Nigeria will now be able to measure their ability and command of digital media – helping to combat their exposure to dangers such as fake news, cyber bullying, online grooming and radicalization.

The nature of assessment

The curriculum of 20 lessons over 10 hours is delivered through storytelling and gamified design, which makes learning interactive and fun and encourages a positive attitude shift and behavior. At the end of each lesson, children take an online real-time assessment that will provide DQ scores for each of the skills acquired. Children are ‘scored’ against a range of criteria – such as sharing personal data; meeting online strangers; online sexual behaviors; exposure to violent content; cyber bullying and game addiction – with the average DQ score for each set at 100. For example, with an average score of 100 against the criteria of sharing personal data, the risk of a child sharing personal data is a 17 per cent risk. However, increasing their DQ score to 110 reduces that risk to 12 per cent , raising their score to 120 reduces it to 8 per cent , and increasing it to 130 reduces it to 6 per cent.

Why DQ in Nigeria?

“Our children are digital natives, born into a world that offers them incredible opportunities but not without its own fair share of dangers. The 8 core digital citizenship skills that DQWorld.net empowers our children with, is a vital necessity for helping them make informed choices and navigate the digital world safely. Our organization RAVE et-al Limited, is a social enterprise that partners with parents, schools, government and other stakeholders, to equip the younger generation for the future, using education and other creative & vibrant tools to reinforce values, attitudes and life skills that are imperative for successful  & safely navigating the various phases of life online, offline and impacting the society positively. It is, therefore, a great honor for me to serve as the pioneer DQ Ambassador in Nigeria (first in Africa) and to be a part of this laudable, award-winning initiative. I encourage parents, schools, government and all other stakeholders to join the #DQEveryChild movement. Let’s make the necessary investment today, in preparing our children for the digital future,” Babatunde said.

Eight Core Value Base

The DQ mechanism is holistic and covers eight citizenship skills, namely, Digital Citizen Identity, Screen Time Management, Cyber Bullying Management, Cyber Security Management, Privacy Management, Digital Empathy, Critical Thinking and Digital Footprint Management.

Pilot Programme

A pilot programme was undertaken last year in Singapore involving more than 2,200 children aged 9-12 years old, to understand the efficacy and impact of the online program in enhancing the children’s DQ skills and in changing their attitudes and behavior against cyber risks. The study showed that the programme improved children’s DQ score, on average, by 14 per cent, minimizing the impact of risky behaviors online and maximizing their personal strengths.

The DQ Institute believes there is an acute urgency to equip children with DQ. DQ ( Digital Intelligence Quotient) – the technical, social and mental skills to be informed and discerning users of digital media and good digital citizens – is the must-have competency for all children beyond IQ and EQ in order to thrive in the digital age.

Empowering Children is Important

According to Babatunde, empowering children is an important key to building a healthy digital ecosystem that connects school-family-community-ICT companies- government.

The DQ will teach children how to make better life choices and reduce potential online risks. It helps children develop necessary skills and digital ethics. The device also empowers students to comprehensively deepen their DQ skills and enables schools to effectively identify children at risk and facilitate timely and effective intervention. For parents, the mechanism empowers them by highlighting their child’s improvement of DQ, identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses in digital competencies and offering practical suggestions to help parents better mediate their child’s usage of digital technologies.

In a fast growing digital world, it is clear that DQ is children’s most critical life skill against cyber-dangers.

Global urgency for digital citizen education

There is a global urgency for Digital Citizenship Education. This is imperative to empower our children to become future-ready, smart and responsible digital citizens who can responsibly use digital technology for the benefit of themselves and others while avoiding the cyber-dangers. DQ is our children’s most critical life skill. DQ, or Digital Intelligence Quotient, is the sum of social, emotional, and cognitive abilities essential to safely navigate the digital world and thrive. It is about having the necessary knowledge, skills, attitude and values to deal with the challenges and demands of the digital era. In the digital world, and with fast-growing, digital- oriented economy, our children need to learn digital skills for their future. The Mission of DQ is to ensure every child acquires the technical, social and mental skills to be informed and discerning users of digital media and technology and good digital citizens.

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Buhari cabinet: Women decry marginalisation

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Buhari cabinet: Women decry marginalisation

The nomination of seven women in the 43 ministerial list transmitted to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari is raising dust on the commitment of the administration to the engagement of women in the country. While some see the development as a means to stifle women representation in government, others averred that the 16.4 per cent representation indicates that women are only reckoned with during electioneering, when politicians made several promises to the womenfolk. Tope Ogunbanke writes

 

Seven women in ministerial list highly disappointing – Ojikutu

Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu is the first elected female deputy governor in Nigeria and Third Republic deputy governor of Lagos State 

It is highly disappointing considering that women were the major workforce of the campaign. It is highly disappointing and we have more women that are qualified to hold the positions all the men had been put in. They should have considered more women. I don’t know whether those considered were considered on the basis of money that they put down to support the campaign or on their efforts because if it was on effort, many women put efforts too. But if it was about money used to support the campaign or money put down by their sponsors to support the campaign, then it means that we are back to square one. And these people are going to go there and work for the money that was spent during the campaign to reward there sponsors.

If it was on the basis of merit, we have women too who were qualified to hold positions and helped turn Nigeria round. So, I am very much disappointed that it is like we are back on same and this is highly making people like us, who supported President Muhammadu Buhari very uncomfortable and very unhappy. We thought that his administration is going to be a turn around and so far money shows the game. In his first term, I said he should hit the ground running; I hope he has what it takes to hit the ground running. I am a die-hard Buharist but what I am expressing now is not making me feel happy at all and we pray that things will change. We are receiving a lot of batons left, right and center. I have gotten a lot of calls over the ministerial list. I am not looking for position but I believe more women could have been recognised. The baton we are receiving on his (President Buhari) behalf is too much for him to come with this kind of list. I don’t know, maybe it is the state that put them up but he himself could look out. There should be more room for women to participate. We are not even near the Beijing Conference recommendation of 35 per cent. What we have now is just about six per cent representation. That is not fair; not fair at all. We are not happy since the list was made public on Tuesday.

I know some people will say some women messed up in the past when they were put into positions but men also messed up. Some of us flew the flag and we flew it high. So they should consider that there are more women out there who are capable and able and they are not corrupt and will not corrupt themselves.

What I felt actually was that from the list, it seems we are back to square one of people going there to service their sponsors. Because on the basis of why they were chosen; I don’t know. It is a political list, not a technocrat list at all. And if it is a political list, it means it is same of the same. People are going there to loot the nation’s wealth to reward whoever had sponsored their names to that place and to recover whatever they have used for the election. And that is not good for the nation at this point in time. Many of those who made the ministerial list don’t deserve it base on their past performances. This is not what we expect from President Buhari at all.        

Nigeria women deserve better representation, says Okei-Odumakin

Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, a human rights activist, is the President of Women Arise for Change Initiative 

There are actually seven women nominee in the recently released Ministerial list by President Muhammadu Buhari. While this represents a slight improvement when you compared to the previous cabinet, it is my opinion that Nigerian women deserve greater representation in government, particularly at such a decision making body like the federal executive council.

Having about seven female ministerial nominees out of 43 nominees is not encouraging especially when we access the contributions of our women to the political development and also conscious of the global realities of today. It is therefore my hope that the President will make this up by appointing a higher number of women as Special Advisers and head of other key government institutions, in order to address this very fundamental issue of gender imbalance in our society.

With the few positions given to women both in the executive and legislative arms of government, women are not represented in governance and politics as much as expected, but we must continue to demand higher inclusion of women, not only in the federal executive council,  also at every organ and level of government in the country.  I think those men who have anything against women occupying public positions in politics and decision making can best explain why, that nonetheless, the women must at all times understand that power is never given, it must be fought for and they must be ready to do this at all times.

I don’t think Nigeria will be ready to implement the 35 per cent Affirmative Action or allow more women in politics anytime soon, if we don’t sustain our struggle for the actualisation of the affirmative action. Hence the women, civil society and the media must work together in demanding from political parties and government at all levels, the implementation of it. Women have become an integral part of development in most societies today and Nigeria cannot afford to miss out of this global trend.

It’s not good representation of women – Chukwueke

Barr. Nkechi Chukwueke is a former deputy governorship candidate of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and Special Adviser on Women Ethnics Group Mobilisation and Empowernment to ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State

Having only seven women out of the 43 ministerial nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari is not a good representation of women. Before now, we are clamouring for 35 per cent and we shifted it to 50 per cent and as at today it is about five per cent. There is a lot of declining. It is not a good situation. But I wouldn’t know his reason for doing that. But whatever the reasons are, I think there should be more women that are qualified to do the job that men are going to do as ministers. I believe he has reason for choosing those he has chosen already.

The next thing is board appointments and ambassadorial appointments. Looking at that, I think he should look at peoples’ complaints and since women are now voicing out our opinion, I am sure he is going to consider more women for ambassadorial and board appointments as well as appointments more women into ministries, departments and agencies. There are lots of women who are capable and willing to do the job. I believe he is going to make up with that. So, I am expecting government to do more for women by ensuring that more women are appointed as board members and Nigerian ambassadors to different countries.

Everybody has right to their believe ad what they think. The ministerial nominees by President Buhari showed that he has chosen those who he believes he can work with and can help him to deliver his change agenda to take Nigeria to the Next Level. If he thinks he is more comfortable with men; as long as the job is done and is delivered, to me, that is the most important thing.

A lot of us would have prefer that he has more women, at least maybe 15 or so out of the 43 or even more. But the most important thing is that let those he has chosen deliver and help him to actualise his dream. President Buhari is known all over the world as a disciplined and no nonsense person. Those around him should not spoil that name for him. They should work with him. We want Nigeria to move forward.

Women not adequately represented, says Akiyode-Afolabi

Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi is the Chairperson of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Executive Director of Women Advocate Research and Documentation Center (WARDC)

This is a sad development owing to the fact that there was high expectation from Mr. President on running an inclusive government based on the fact that his last administration excluded women and his attention was drawn through different mediums to this government of exclusion.

The president at different times,  made public commitments to an inclusive government and some of these are audio taped and documented, so it becomes challenging where he reneged on these promises at different times. Nigeria at this point  does not need politician to manage sectors but rather experts, the list had most people of questionable characters, some have been charged for corruption and still have questions unanswered , moving on with this kind of people is a dangerous and an insensitive step on the part of the president. A good leader should be sensitive to the yearnings of his people.

Seven women out of 43 ministerial nominees does not reflect inclusion, as much as there is a shift from his last administration. The shift is still not significant as it does not meet our expectations on running an inclusive government.

The president is bound to fulfill the constitution on gender equality and other international instruments. Our data shows that Nigeria is low on gender indicators and our representation is a ridicule in Africa and globally, several countries are moving forward on this , and Nigeria cannot continue to be a laggard.

With the numbers of women currently in legislative and executive arms of government, it is clear women are definitely not adequately represented. And that means there is still more to be done. Furthermore the president has a duty to push for more. At the elective level, the political parties didn’t do well but political will on the President’s part can help to ameliorate the injustice that women face in coming around the decision making table. His body language in this respect is important and critical to ensuring increase in the number of people.

There are a lot of stereotypes around and unfortunately little is done to address these which are as a result of socialization. From experience shared by few female who are into politics and at one point or the other have aspired for positions, most of whom are perceived as sex objects and of inferior personality to their male counterpart and this cannot be separated from the patriarchal system of our society. The government should therefore to lead the way. The list is not inclusive for women, people with disability and young people or youth.

From all indication, Nigeria is not ready for the 35 per cent affirmative action. I think women groups, women politicians, women associations, women led professional bodies etc need to come together to demand equal participation in politics and also continually use the international instruments that Nigerian women are part of such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), National Gender Policy, 2007 and other instruments Nigeria signed to. We need to come together in one voice and be prepared to encourage more women to actively participate in politics. We also need to engage the government as well as create awareness about promoting women actions in governance especially at the grassroots level.

With the above stated, through continuous engagement we will not relent, there’s always a time in the life of a country, when citizens will define their identity. If we fail to act, nothing will change. Having a crop of politicians as gatekeepers for a nation, keeps the country at risk.

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The world of female security guards: ‘Why we went into security guard work’

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The world of female security guards:  ‘Why we went into security guard work’

It is no news that both sexes now cross paths in terms of means of  livelihood. Working as a security guard is assumed to be a very strenuous and lucrative work meant for men, but today, ladies are dominating that section in a  move to eke a living.  Opeyemi Ayinde interacts   with some of these women who seem to have taken the bull by the horn

 

 

One Thursday afternoon around 11am, within a school compound,  Oluwatoyin Odukoya, 40, was seen pacing up and down the corridor of a unit of classrooms where academic activities were going on. Ebony looking Odukoya, was combat ready at any slight trigger of action.  But for her physical feminine features, she could be mistaken for a man. Chest out and trudging each of her foot on the ground, accompanied with confidence, she was seen patrolling the administrative unit premises, monitoring and watching out for any misconduct behavior and safety of the students.

No one could pass Odukoya without noticing her, not only because she is beautiful looking but for her firm friendliness and seemingly strong passion for being a security officer.  New Telegraph moved closer; after an assuring discussion, she warmed up and disclosed her reasons for the decision to take up a security job.

40 –years-old Odukoya is a National Diploma ( OND) in Business Administration, said she decided to become a security officer after looking for a befitting job to no avail. But having taking the job 14 years ago, she is in no hurry to leave the job or exchange it for any job yet!

“Actually I want to further my education but I have no assistance, I believe that, when I work, I will be able to gather enough money and send myself back to school. I start 6am and close by 6pm. Although, my intention was to find a better paying job but only this security work came through and so far, I will say it is profitable especially as it involves protection of life and property,” she said.

However, there is a challenge for Odukoya, her husband according to her does complain whenever she is on night. “But really, I reason with him, it’s not really decent for a married woman to leave her husband and her children to come and do night shift.

We do three shifts here; by morning, I resume 7am to 2pm, afternoon 2am-8 pm, and by night, it is 8pm-7am in the morning.

My worse experience was the day I slept in the security house because my partner that I’m supposed to hand over to the following morning came late around 9:30am and I couldn’t go home, so I was forced to still spend the night. Unfortunately, one of our officers arrested a student with bags full of charms. He was taken to Sabo Police Station the following day, but his gangs came with full force, unfortunately, I happen to be around when exchange of gunshots was going on. Behold, one of the bullets brushed my stomach. 

Another challenge is constant harassment from my counterparts and downgrading from people as if security job is meant for people of low class, as such we don’t deserve respect. If I see another job, I doubt if I will leave this job because it depends on the risk involved in the new job. When I started this work I was paid N10, 500 but now, my monthly take home is N100, 000. I now conveniently support my husband in taking care of our children and the home front.  We are also on the verge of completing building our house,” she said.

Odukoya believes that despite the challenges and risk associated with the job, more women are now braving into security guard jobs. “They are even more diligent in securing people lives and properties, even though, our men are still finding it difficult to give their full supports.”

Most of the female security guards who spoke to NEW TELEGRAPH, said they venture into the business because there was no other job available for them and they have family responsibilities to cater for. Some of them said they ventured into the job to further their education or sponsor their siblings in school

Mercy Osakwe, another female security guard who is in her mid-30s and a Higher Diploma(HND) holder in industrial design got into the job due to the financial challenge she had while in school. “I was in school already before I joined. I finished my HND with my salary from this security job. I initially thought I would leave the job when I’m done schooling but as it is, I have achieved from the job and my salary has since tripled. I have come to love it, so I decided to study further. I have gone back to school for a post graduate diploma in security management. I discover that it is a career someone can embark on. I just want to broaden my experience in this security job before I go for another thing because there is no knowledge you carry that is a waste so far,” she enthused.   

For Osakwe, the only snag which she really doesn’t mind is the manner of approach of most people towards her. She said some people treat her like she  does not matter. “But I have come to live with that, hence, I now expect insults and ridicule from them, and it is part of the job, I no longer feel bad,” she said.

The only real challenge for Osakwe is the shift she operates because her reliever as it is called doesn’t resume early enough relieving her so that she can hurry to her classroom.  “The job entails proper handling over and proper taking over before you go. But if your reliever come late what you are expected to do is call your superior that I have not seen my reliever then they will now arrange for someone to relieve depending on when your reliever come, it takes time,” she explained.

She added that, “I have passed through fire and water, this job is even less. I was brought up with lots of difficulties. That was what made me to be strong.”

Speaking with another female security guard, Mrs Kemi Joseph,43 said she has achieved so many with the security guard job. According to her, she joined a security outfit with O’Level 16 years ago, but now has a master degree. She added that she has successfully trained three out of four of her children in the university. “It was not an easy job anyway but with passion and diligence with focus and determination, I underwent my training just like parliamentary, we are actually parliamentary. We don’t use gun, tear gas, knife that will make us complete parliamentary. After the training I was asking my second how are we going to do it, because we were just doing the training but we were not really sure what we  wanted and where we would be posted to, or how much we would be paid. We were just like we had nothing doing but let’s just do it to keep body and soul.

After the training, I was taken to a hostel on Lagos Island, where I was paid N7,500! It was shocking to me because by then I was married with a child who was not up to a year in age. I was just like how am I going to cope from Ketu/Mile 12 down to Victoria Island. I wept bitterly but since there was no other solution, I kept faith and kept going hoping it will be better someday. There was a particular day I cried on duty, it was a very little girl in the hostel, the hostel actually belong to all those rich men children. I was not supposed to open the gate for anyone that hour of the night because it was girls hostel and this lady came to me that Aunty please I want to buy something outside which was not allowed, I was like go and tell your hostel mother to give the order to open for you.  The young girl got angry and told me to my face, ‘this girl what is wrong with you, are you okay, can’t I buy something outside, am I in the prison yard like you? She insulted me like there would be no tomorrow. Even when her friend or sister joined her at the gate, and enquired what happened, she replied, ‘ordinary security woman can’t open the gate for me.’ I cried my eyes out but I encourage myself immediately that it is part of the job. Another incidence was in Akata hall in Yabatech, a girl was supposed to show me her pass and I was like where is your pass and she was like didn’t you see me when I went out now, that she didn’t come along with her pass, I now told her to call one of her friend to help her bring it down.  After insulting me thoroughly, she told me that, ‘this is where you will die, you can’t even achieve what I have achieved.’ Again, I cried that day throughout.

As a female security officer, you can become whatever you want to become in life. The difference is just that people look at you as if you are suffering or you don’t have a job doing that is why you just have to do it .As for me then roaming around has nothing to do with my life but getting a job even if I am paid peanut is something . I was transferred to Yabatech where I got paid N22,000 for two month compared to what I was receiving. I also did night in Yabatech until members of governing council came in at night and a female security guard opened the gate for them at their guest house, they were like it is not proper for a lady to be doing night that was how they fought for us and we stopped doing night. As time goes on I enrolled in the academic career. And today, I have a PGD.

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Domestic helps as necessary evils at home

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Domestic helps as  necessary evils at home

In Nigeria, the trend of employing domestic helps is fast becoming an eccentricity. As much as the outcome of having them has brought some sort of financial stability to the young girls and their parents, it also brought about stench of regrets to some of the families that employ the help of these sets of people.

New Telegraph observed that  with the apparent danger that comes with having domestic workers of which employers are aware of, they still employ these domestic helps, the increasing danger is enough to get one worried when away at work.

Most of the domestic helps come from either Cotonou or Benin republic while some others are Nigerian citizens whose parents cannot cater for or are grown enough to get such jobs themselves.

Reports gathered revealed that even after being bitten by some mischievous conducts of these maids, families still find them useful and are always still in need of them in high demands especially in Lagos state where parents are so busy with career that they need a steady hand to watch over their children while they are at work and have little or no choice but to constantly collect domestic helps. For some employers it is because their children have grown up and they need somebody to help them, also keep their company.

New Telegraph spoke to some employers of domestic workers on the reasons for employing maids and what their experiences are like.

Mrs. Grace Oboh, a shop owner and resident of Alagbado, axis of Lagos told New Telegraph that her children have all grown up and married, and her last child is in her mid twenties and goes out early for work, and for the fact that she owns a shop, she needs extra hands. She said she has had house maids and most times, they have always sold some of her goods without turning in the money, sometimes they even give them out to some of their friends in the neighborhood for free. It is just that they have become necessary evil for some of us. “Having domestic helps make things a bit easier, you are less lonely especially when your children have all grown up and age is not so much on your side.”

She continued that having a maid is not easy because it is like having a complete stranger in one’s home, a stranger with complete access to everything in your home including the food the whole family eats, your belongings and valuables which is often a very big gamble.

Despite the many headaches of employing the help of a maid, it hasn’t been a too pleasant experience for Oboh. She said Helen could go out for a week, thereby putting her family on the hot spot of looking for her. According to Oboh, Helen would be found in an uncompleted building where she hibernated with some area thugs. The most offensive for Oboh was the day she caught her maid right in the middle of the act of having sex with her boyfriend inside her shop. According to her, Helen with to the shop early in the morning with the aim of setting up the wares for the day but it was with a different motive.

The expected thing was for Oboh to send her away but she said truth is she cannot carry out all the house chores along with the stress of her shop. “Ordinarily, one would think I would have stopped taking domestic helps but the truth is one cannot do it all, it is not advisable for anyone to be alone in old age, that is why I still employ them regardless of how badly some of them behave.”

Another woman, Mrs Modupe Ario narrates her ordeal to New Telegraph. She said she decided to have house maids when her youngest daughter gained admission into the university in 2014 and from then, she has made it a habit of changing her domestic helps on yearly basis. She said, “there is a woman call mama-orobo, the woman is from Benin Republic, and she stays at Pako in Oke-afa, Isolo in Lagos state. Her business and mainstay is bringing girls from ages 13 and above from Benin Republic popularly called Cotonou in Nigeria every year to come who come to work as house girls in Lagos.

According to her, the domestic helps often come to work as from January as live in maids and they return by December to their country and return again in January and the cycle continues in that format. Sometimes the girls go back to the same family they served if they are willing and the family still wants them. Otherwise the family can go and pick up other girls from the same woman when they return. She said the last house girl she got early January this year stole her daughter’s money from her kolo(local piggy bank) without even breaking it.

Mrs Ariyo described her former house girl-Imoleayo, from Osun state, as a very warm 18-years-old. “Imole stayed for four months and acted like she was a saint until my daughter’s pant and clothes started missing. My daughter confronted her and she said she was not the one that took it. All evidence pointed otherwise because when my house maids come to my house for the first time, I check their belongings just to know what they have brought, so it will make it easy to know when they have started buying new things through stealing and when I checked, she had no white pant but three months later she had the same white pant that my daughter was looking for. The white pant was what she stole from my daughter’s room and some clothes which she had sold cheap at some local boutiques close to my house.

I begged my daughter to let it go and start locking up her room when she is living for work. Locking her room was hard because she was not doing so before. Imole was also using the money she stole to buy clothes from neighborhood boutiques; she was borrowing phones from people to call men.  She was close to the same age as my daughter and she saw the kind of things she wore. I guess that made her covetous to the point of stealing the money my husband kept in the room to buy open heavens for the church.

All these things had been happening and I did not know, until my daughter broke her piggy bank one Friday and found only N6000 after saving for over two months. One would say she might not have stolen it but she is the only one at home and my daughter just put over N10,000 into the piggy bank on Monday of that same week..

After beating her and asking her to confess, she refused to confess but when I woke up the next day being Saturday, she had packed all her things and ran away, leaving my gate open. We called the agent to tell her what has happened and she really had little or nothing to do to help find her.”

Mrs. Opeyemi Olawale recapped her experience with some of her past maids. Mrs. Olawale is a working class lady in her early thirties. She has two daughters aged two and four. I have had cases where my house girl is exchanging numbers with my neighbours, even the gateman. She goes to them to collect phone to call her boyfriends because I did not allow her to use phones. She was very wayward, stubborn and incorrigible. Honestly, with that girl in my house, I never had a moment of peace. Most times, I was scared she would run away with my children. I always called my gateman and neighbours constantly to know what is going on. I must say having ‘house maids’ is sometimes very agonising, sometimes my neighbours would tell me she brought a boy home but when I confront her she will say it is a lie. After a while, I sent her away, got another girl but that one too had her problems. She became the boss of the house and barely followed instructions; she started doing chores at her own time prompting my husband to beat her sometimes.

It has always been and is still God’s grace dealing with house maids. One must always be at alert because being too busy and unavailable gives those wings to start misbehaving and maltreating one’s children, they are a necessary evil like my mother says.”

Another parent, Mrs Remi Hassan said, because her mother has grown old, and age is not on her own side, she employs house helps that will take care of her aging mother while she juggles responsibilities of being a wife to her ailing husband.

She also said that employing house girls has become an integral part of family life in Lagos. Meanwhile, she explained that maids are two sides of a coin, they are very useful and dangerous too but the ‘No Choice slang’ is why the domestic helps keep finding their ways to most homes.

She also said, indirectly the people that employ house helps are often helping the young girls, since many of them are from poor families and the salary they earn they use it to fend for themselves and give some to their families.

DOMESTIC HELPS VIEW

New Telegraph interviewed some house maids and they told their story on how they are being treated at home.

Folakemi Obong, a 17 year old girl told New Telegraph that where she used to work, her boss used to tap her bum-bum. She said, “I was working for one madam in Lekki, the woman had three children who were still small. The children were very stubborn and insult me freely for my bad language. When they go to school, I used to follow my madam to her shop where she sells Lace. I used to work very hard there but she complained too often. One day I went to pack some things from my madam’s car and I had to get the key from the husband, he followed me to the car, opened the boot for me and when I bend over to get the things from the boot, he tapped my back side. He was doing that until I told my madam but she couldn’t believe it. She was just shouting at me, after a while I told the woman that brought me to her that I was no longer interested in working for the family, I ran back to my agent and she sent me to the village where I went to be doing sales girl at a beer parlor with some of my friends. Sincerely, any time I remember what he was trying to do, I always fill like I should have injured him before I left.”

Another young lady, a 23 year old Esther said her boss beats her up for smacking his children when they misbehave. She said the children will be very calm in the afternoon when no one is home but immediately their dad or mum comes back, they start to act like they are possessed, they hit me and stone me but I cannot complain because my opinion does not matter so what I do is to beat them in the afternoon to assuage her feelings for their ugly attitude at night.”

According to the Police Public Relations officer, Lagos State command, Chike Oti, it is very important to carry out a background check as it helps authenticate any information supplied by any domestic worker.

Mr. Ubani Chigozie, a seasoned security expert said, from the angle of safety and security, “one has to do serious profiling, a thorough background check of the person you want to hire is needed. There are some agencies that do profiling. So, we need to do a background check on the individual which should reveal whether such persons have records of criminal, sexual or drug abuse tendencies and offence.

He also advised employers/parents to pay attention to their physical appearance, “check out the appearance of how the individual you are about to hire dresses, if you realise you cannot live with such person’s personality, they shouldn’t bother so that that person does not become a bad influence to your children.”

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Women want better, smooth world – Synka JyteDavis

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Women want better, smooth  world – Synka JyteDavis

Synka JyteDavis, is a vibrant, strong willed and intelligent mobile lady behind one of the fastest growing sexual abuse response non-governmental organisations in the country – Dinma Heart Foundation (DHF). Believing that she could make the world a better and conducive place for all, the graduate of International Relations, is providing solution to sexually-abused victims in the society. In this chat with EDWIN USOBOH, she pointed at intentional healing process as one of her three core programmes and among other issues

 

 

What prompted you to establish organisation?
I will say it’s the leading of the Holy Spirit and passion. In life, if you are not convinced about something, even if you go into it, you won’t be able to scale through when the huddles come up as effectively as someone who knows the core reason he or she starts it. Aside that, I was abused at an early stage and I feel that I’m in the position to help someone heal because I’ve gone through the healing process, I’m in a stage where I also want to help others to come out of that stage where they are still striving to heal, get better and to come out of the struggle of the trauma.

What is the essence of the NGO and when was it established?
DHF is actually a faith based NGO that officially started last year June. As at the moment, we have a team of volunteers presently in Lagos and Abia states. As a faith based NGO, DHF is established with the focus to help children and youths that has been sexually abused to heal, so we provide a robust healing process for them to ensure that they are emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually and physically whole again. Our vision is to see a world where by sexually abused survivals will leave beyond abuse; our mission is to facilitate the healing process where people will go through psychological and therapy counseling sections with sole aim of making them to get back to their normal self or even become a better person after been sexually abused.
Our three core programs determine our activities and actions; they include healing, education and empowerment. The healing part of DHF is basically helping children and youths to heal from sexually abuse. We achieve this by taking them through counseling sections; we have group therapy activities for them, so that when they see people that have the same challenges with them they will be more comfortable to open up. In this wise, the healing is made easier because the boredom will be taking away. Education part is when we bring in our creativity; we devise means where we can disseminate information or knowledge about sexual abuse and sex education, we go through outreach sections, seminars, workshops and events where we talk to people about sexual abuse. Our target audience are not just children and youths, the third parts of our target audience are parents and guardians because these are the people these children have immediate trust in, as a child the first person you trust is your parents.

What do you think makes your DHF unique from other foundations or NGOs?
The unique value proposition of DHF is the core purpose of healing and to intentionalise the healing process. I’ve studied a lot of other sexual abuse response foundations or NGOs that are in existence in Nigeria and I noticed that a whole lots of them focused on activism, although that is good but as an organisation, you need to find your niche, so the core niche of this organisation is to make the healing process intentional because I noticed that in Nigeria and Africa as whole, when children or anyone goes through sexual abuse, they are abandoned and with time, the victim will heal, nobody even talks about it. so after it, nothing happened, everybody just erases it from their memories and expect this individual to heal with time but what we are trying to do is to develop a very intentional healing process whereby each individuals will be able to get in touch with others and be able to start loving herself or himself the more.

How do you handle sexually abused victims and able to surmount the hurdles that come your way ?
As a burden organisation and growing foundation, there is always challenges of the first stages of commitment but by God’s grace we have been able to slowly scaled through each and every challenges that come, so one of the challenges we have faced is, we found out that sexually abused victims find it hard to open up and they feel that people don’t believe them, society as a whole has made them to feel like an outcast. So the process of trying to make these people develop trust in us has been difficult. Questions like “what do know or how do you think you can help me?” That’s one on one contact with number of people. Secondly, is the funding which I think it’s a challenge that everybody come across in every sphere of life but we have not allowed that to stop us because we believe that there are other ways we can get something done without necessarily having money. As of now, DHF is still trying to get sponsors and partnership that will aid us financially but we trust that by God’s grace we will be able go through our plans, achieve our goals without even asking people to fund us.

As a NYSC Corp member, how do you combine all these activities with running of DHF?
One thing I believe is prioritising and understanding balance, you have to know your priorities and you have to understand balance. So when you prioritise, you list your activities in a scale of preference to be able to know the one that is more important to you and create balance. You have to have time for yourself, God, family and work. So it’s about prioritising and creating balance, because I’ve learnt how to do these overtimes, it doesn’t put much strain on me.

So, how do you relax?
I try to balance that because I noticed that when I have too much activities going on, I have to come to that level of “Oh! You have to cool off.” Life is not that too serious, so I swim every Friday, because I’m not too much into sporting activities and exercise, but swimming is good for the body, I read online articles about different things and I watch movies.

You are beautiful, what is your beauty routine?
For beauty routine, I drink a lot of water and mind my business….

What informs your fashion and outfits?
I’ve always been the class person; I like class, whether I’m in casual, traditional and corporate outfit, as long as it is decent and classy. I wear what I can afford; I can’t be wearing what I cannot afford. In my own little way I try to look classy, moderate and decent.

What is your advice to your audience and survivals?
To my target audience and survivals, I will say you have all it takes to go through your healing process and come out strong because there is strength in that trauma you are going through. To my second target audience which is parents/guardians, I will say please listen and know your children, listen and know the people who you are taking care of, listen to them psychologically, emotionally, mentally not just listening physically. And try to know them because many parents don’t know their children, they just have them in the house, and they really don’t know them, their likes and dislikes. We all want a better world where things are going smoothly, I believe the first thing to do is to start investing in the wellbeing of everyone around us because if he or she is feeling good and happy by helping him or her coming out of difficulties, we will have happier people.

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Ruga controversy, others worsen Nigeria’s agriculture woes

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Ruga controversy, others worsen Nigeria’s agriculture woes

Following the criticisms trailing the planned Federal Government’s controversial Ruga settlements scheme in every part of Nigeria, the perennial havocs floods have inflicted on farmlands across the country and other challenges, the agric sector was less impactful in the first half of this year. Taiwo Hassan writes.

 

 

Ruga settlements scheme
Indeed, the controversy that emanated from the planned Federal Government’s controversial Ruga settlements nationwide has set the nation on fire!
Specifically, when the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammadu Umar dropped the hint in Abuja recently on plans to go ahead with the scheme on the sidelines of a workshop on Regional Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and associated legislation in West Africa, he didn’t not anticipate the uproar it would create.
Umar had explained that the Ruga settlements pilot scheme would be done in only 12 states and was meant to address the incessant clashes between Fulani cattle rearers and farmers.
But surprising, the Perm Sec, added that government would replicate the programme in selected states as work “is already ongoing in the 12 pilot states”.
With the selected states inclusion in his statement, it there had been wide criticisms from far and near that the scheme would set the country on fire and by extension, affect not only the country’s agric sector, but the economy as a whole.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the Federal Government had allocated the sum of N2.26 billion in the 2019 budget for the development of national grazing reserves.
The amount was contained in the 2019 budget signed into law by the president on May 28.
Specifically, the N2.26 billion is under the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Agric stakeholders have cautioned the Federal Government on its planned Ruga colonies scheme, saying that it would bring set back to the little achievements recorded in the country’s agric sector.
They noted that extending the Ruga settlements scheme nationwide won’t address government’s objective of hegemony between the herders and farmers, rather, it would further bring acrimony in the groups and this will cause further food security in the country.
A source said, “Generally, it is a policy conceived by the Federal Government to cover the entire country. But government decided to discuss it with the states and said states that are willing should indicate interest.
“Of course, the Federal Government is going to carry the states that are interested along. It is mainly between the Federal Government and the interested states, discussions are still on-going and we can’t give a final figure on funding now.
“But we are surprised at the political undertone that this issue is having. Why will a group from Benue stage a protest that government wants to invade their land?”
But following public outcry, the Federal Government announced last Wednesday that it had suspended the proposed Ruga scheme.

Tomato paste ban
As the Federal Government explained that it was ready to ban the importation of tomato paste into the country this year to pave the way for the development of local market, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Niger State chapter has charged government to salvage the tomato paste industry by putting the right structure in place before banning the importation of tomato paste.
Speaking with journalist in Minna the state capital, the state chairman, Alhaji Shehu Galadima said that the importation of tomato paste into Nigeria diminishes the economic potential of the country.
“I am in support of the planned ban on importation of tomato paste into the country by the federal government “ he said. “This is because the importation is not growing our economy in terms of local and foreign trade.
“You also find out that some of these importers import all kinds of substandard tomato pastes that can be hazardous to the public”.
According to Galadima, the ban would do more harm than good if the right machineries are not put in place to facilitate tomato paste production in the country.

Non passage of agric bills
Another major event in the period under review was the inability of the 8th National Assembly lawmakers to pass some key agricultural bills expected to change the fortunes of the country’s agriculture.
Indeed, the non-passage of key agric bills, including the fertilizer quality control bill and the seed bill, are yet to get presidential assent; while the third, the warehouse regulatory bill, which is also yet to be passed by the National Assembly, are already causing uncertainty among agric stakeholders in the country.
The reason for this uncertainty is not far-fetched as those bills are critical to the country’s farmers enjoying high yields of agriculture produce and creating job opportunities.
Agricultural experts explained that it was critical for the lawmakers in the National Assembly to expedite actions on the passage of these key agric bills because of their importance to the development and growth of the country’s agric sector.
These bills, according to them, were meant to ensure that Nigerian farmers reap the fruit of their labour, especially on the hard work they put in to ensure availability of food for the populace. So having autonomy over the control and regulation of one’s farm will bring liberty and mass production of food from farmers, the experts stated.

Global cashew glut
Also, during this period, it was reported that Nigeria’s quest to realise about $1.7 billion from cashew nut exports this year was elusive following the sudden glut in the commodity at the global market, as price volatility, bad conditions of Apapa roads and rejections marred government’s revenue projection targets for 2019.
Unfortunately, cashew nut farmers operating in the country’s agricultural space are not finding it easy this year in their quest to realize foreign exchange (forex) from export of the commodity, as global glut is currently affecting the commodity produce.
In fact, for the first time in many years, this year is assumed to be a lull year for cashew nut farmers, as gluts in the global cashew sector puts their investments in cashew cultivation and plantations and revenue projection targets at risk following price instability, infrastructure decay and rejections at the points of delivery at international ports.
However, to make matter worse, investigations by this newspaper showed that Nigeria’s hub markets, Vietnam and India have refused to uptake the delivery of Nigeria’s cashew nuts because of the inability of their governments to give out loans to processors this year, since they have not been able to offset the facilities for 2018.

Fertilizer chemical ban
Another major activity during the half year review was the pronouncement by the Federal Government that it was planning to gradually phase out the use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture.
Immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, dropped the hint at a forum in Abuja where he expressed worry over the increasing numbers of liver and kidney diseases among young people.
According to him, the objective was to eliminate dangerous elements from foods.
He noted that the move would also help to reduce the damages in the soil through the application of fertilizers.
‘‘We are slowly going to begin to eliminate chemical fertilizers. Organic nature means that this is what nature is all about without polluting it with salt, the chemical fertilizers are salt.
‘‘They damage the soil of all kinds and over a while, you find out that the soil is no longer good for you because they destroy the microbes, which make the soil more productive. We need to make the food healthier because a lot of self-poisoning is going on in the country.”

Floods
Also, the return of heavy downpour (rainfall) at the end of the half year under review fueled floods to wreck havoc on many farmlands across the country.
This prompted stakeholders to predict that the country’s agricultural output was set to reduce significantly, as farm investments are at risk – unless the Federal and State governments intervene.
In an interview with New Telegraph in Lagos, the Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State chapter, Otunba Femi Oke, explained that this year’s flood would bring poor harvests in many agricultural crops in the country due to droughts, which delayed plantings at the start of the 2019 season.
He noted that when the rains finally came, it became rather excessive, as was witnessed in some parts of the country in recent times.
Particularly, Oke said that this year’s floods could halve the country’s 25 million tonnes maize production for this year, while other crops too are expected to suffer same fate with local farmers set to go bankrupt amid disruption of their farmlands.

Last line
No doubt, the Ruga settlements policy and floods are expected to continue to shape the direction of the country’s agric sector negatively this year, but stakeholders fear that it could escalate food security challenges in the long run.

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Ogun dep gov: My emergence was about preparedness, opportunity

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Ogun dep gov:  My emergence was about preparedness, opportunity

Noimot Salako-Oyedele is the Deputy Governor of Ogun State. Born 53 years ago in Ibadan, Oyo State to the late Professor Lateef Akinola Salako from Ota, Ogun State. She is a graduate of Civil Engineering from the University of Lagos, and holds a Masters degree in Public Health Engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London. She was, until her foray into politics, the Managing Director of Glenwood Property Development Company Limited. In an interview with the Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC 2), she spoke about her involvement in politics. WALE ELEGBEDE monitored the programme

 

What prompted you to go into politics?
It was not one thing that prompted me. I think it was a matter of preparedness meeting opportunity. It wasn’t as if I sat down and said that I want to be a politician. The opportunity arose. His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, having won a ticket to run as the governorship candidate of the APC in Ogun State needed to choose a running mate to run with. And the criteria that were set out for the running mate, I fitted that quite well. So, I put my name in their heart. I said I am interested and that those that do it are not two-headed monsters. They are just people who have the ability to serve. I have always wanted things to be done right. So, when this opportunity came, I went for it.

What are your plans and programmes for the people of Ogun State, especially women and the girl-child?
Generally, our government is about improving the lives of everybody in Ogun State and at the end of it, improving the personal prosperity of everybody, not of men or women. And we are going to achieve this through a lot of programmes- investment in our road networks- so that people who want to do their business can go about to do whatever they want to do; investment in schools, investment in industrial parks, farm settlements. All these things that His Excellency has laid down will improve everybody’s lives. However, there are some specific programmes, which are to cater for women and one of them is the Okoowo Dapo scheme, which will be launched soon. This particular one is about interest-free loans to women.
Again, there are some things that disenfranchise women from getting loans like collateral. If people do not have things for collaterals and properties, they don’t have access to loans. So, this scheme that His Excellency has put forward will help women and it will be interest-free loans and that will cater for all sectors of the economy and help people who will otherwise drop out of the other schemes that are being put forward.

If you have your way to change anything in Ogun State, what would that be?
There are so many things I wish I could have a magic wand and just improve overnight to let everybody live in a fantastic state where everything works. It is an enormous task we have ahead of us. We will start gradually. Essentially, what is important is that at the end of our four-year tenure, people should look back and say this government has done something for me because one doesn’t know what is important to each person. For some people, schools are not relevant to them. It may be that their children are young or are not in Ogun State. Some people are blessed. They don’t go to the hospital. They don’t even know the state of hospitals in the state. It could be the roads in front of their houses, or pipe-borne water that would be the needs of some people. Some people’s problem could be poor electricity in their area. Everybody has his individual challenges but we are hoping that at the end of four years, we would at least be in a better place. It can’t be perfect because if it is perfect, there would be nothing to do after the end of our four years. So, as long as people could turn around and say this past four years, my life has improved in one area or the other, I think we would have done a good job.

Can you share with us your experience so far as a woman in politics?
The whole political experience has been interesting since I joined politics right from the start of the campaign; I just went into it right at the deep end. It has been a very sharp learning curve for me but like I said, there is an element of preparedness. I have had a lot of years of training- the discipline of growing up, the discipline of being a professional engineer and having my own business. Whenever I get an assigned task, the set out is what is it that I have to do and I just go ahead and do it. This is also an assigned task for me to serve as deputy to Governor Abiodun. What are the roles? What are the objectives? What are we trying to do? Just go out there and do it.

How have you been coping with grassroots politicking?
I have always been a family-oriented person. Even though my nuclear family is small, we have a big extended family, which has different types of people. It is not that I am not used to people outside the environment in which I was brought up. I also have had a lot of years of service. I am a member of Lions Club and we are used to dealing and interacting with people and providing services. Also in other places, through my religious associations, we have opportunities to meet with people. At the end of the day, grassroots person is a person that knows about their wants and needs. As long as I can communicate with them, it hasn’t been a problem for me at all.

Are you satisfied with the level of women participation in politics?
Women participation in politics has been politicians being engaged, moving around, going around. We are doing quite well. You hear, “ko s’obinrin, ko s’ibo”(no women, no votes) mantra. Women do move around. As candidates, it has not been easy for women to break into this. One of the reasons I got the ticket to run with His Excellency was because it was a merit-based selection. It wasn’t about having godfathers or by just trying to push your way through. There were lots of people who put their hats in the ring. We had to make presentation to party leaders and I was selected on the basis of that. When you do things like that, it’s fair. Everybody comes, you make your page. This is what I have to sell. This is what I can do. Then, women get a chance when it comes to that. But if it comes to you like I’m having a godfather, and somebody says he is my boy, he will look after you, and then women will not do anything.

What are the basic hindrances as candidates?
That is one of the hindrances I spoke about earlier, when it is not about fair competition and it is about somebody coming with a candidate. If I say somebody should help me put my name in the ring, I don’t know what back negotiation has gone on to be able to say I’ll support this person and he has been with me for 30 years; he is my boy, I’ll support him. And the woman who may perhaps not have that network will not get that far ahead. The old boys’ the network is still alive and kicking everywhere.

You are an engineer by profession. A good number of people believe your experience in that area will stand Ogun State in good stead of structural and infrastructural rejuvenation. What are your plans in this area?
One of the things that we saw when we went around the state throughout the campaign was that there is a dearth of the infrastructure in the state and there are very poor road network. If the roads are in good shape, they will actually help with the economic development of the state. His Excellency has said repeatedly that we will be defined by the improvement in the road network. That is one of his key points of his agenda and he has said we are going to come up with Public Works Department. This department will be able to directly engage people to work on these roads and try to avoid the bureaucracy that will slow down the implementation of these ideas, create employment for our people and to also create patronage for our people. This is an area that I am familiar with. So, in whatever role His Excellency wants me to support it, I am waiting and ready to do that.

What was growing up like for you?
We are four- three girls and a boy. The only boy is the third born and I am the first child. It was a nice upbringing; my parents were quite strict but very loving. The society was slightly different then. It was a privileged background.

Let’s go to the home front. How is your family?
I thank God, I have a happy family. I’m married with children. They have been very supportive. It’s been difficult but I am obviously very close to them. We normally spend plenty time together but all of a sudden, I have told them I am now mother of Ogun State, not just the mother of two children. I now spend more time away from home than I used to previously but they are quite understanding and I hope with time, we will all adjust to that.

Some men say they can never allow their wives to go into politics for a number of reasons, how were you able to get the support of your husband?
My husband is a politician in Lagos State. He understands the terrain and until I became involved in active politics, I used to think how do you do this? It takes so much of your time and now, I am there, keeping long nights and meetings and now the table has turned. He’s been quite supportive. If you have a strong relationship prior to doing anything, not just politics; even advancement in any workplace that you are; it’s a challenge that women have always encountered, not just in Nigeria but all over the world. But if a woman is blessed with a strong and supportive man, she has the best.

How did you meet your husband and who is he?
That is a long story. I used to know him many years ago and I just met him again recently. He is Alhaji Bode Oyedele. He is a Chartered Accountant, a retired Permanent Secretary in Lagos State and like I said, he is a politician in Lagos State. He comes from Orimedu, Ibeju-Lekki in Lagos.

You look very agile, you are ebony-beauty and very athletic, so what’s the secret?
Good food and exercises are very important. I think we should all eat well but essentially eat a lot of fruits, eat less red meat, less alcohol or no alcohol if you can manage it and add much exercise as much as possible. With many exercises, we will improve our life expectancy a bit.

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