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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Mukkadas: 90 per cent VVF patients are divorcees
Dr. Halima Mukkadas, a consultant obstetrics gynaecologist, former Commissioner for Health in Bauchi State and currently, a Director of Women, Children and Youth Health Education Initiative (WCYHEI), in this exclusive interview with ALI GARBA, talks about the dangers of early marriage, why VVF is common in the North and other issues
Why is VVF prevalent in the North?
Ninety per cent of VVF patients are divorcees, some are being divorce on their admission bed, while community, husbands rejected and abandon by relations.
As you know Vesco Vagina Fistula (VVF) is not a problem of the developed countries now, but problem of developing countries and this is because they have being able to addressed most of their obstruction emergencies. They have a good system towards handling obstruction emergencies while in developing countries we have challenges with addressing Obstructic emergencies. The most common cause of VVF in the North is more of obstructive labour that usually occurs when the back canal is not adequately in a safe exit of the baby. This occurred because the baby is either too big for back canal or is not laying properly, let me use pelvis as an example, there are bones and soft tissue while the bladder is soft the vagina is also soft tissue, the head of the baby which come press those tissues against the bone of the back canal which is the pelvic and that compression would now injure the bladder and cause a hole between the bladder and the vagina that urine normally stays. Hence, the bladder starts leaking and coming out from the vagina.
If it is a supervised labour by somebody who is experienced, either a midwife or a doctor, she would be able to recognise that this labour is not going very well and she would now take action or refer quickly where action can be taken. However, in the North we have deficiencies of those skilled personnel that would stay with a woman to monitor that labour while in the south, there are more of midwives and doctors to monitor, you can see why we have VVF common in the North.
The second reason is that even if the midwives are available in the North, most of our women would prefer to deliver at home instead of going to hospital where those skilled personnel would monitor the labour. While in the south, the number of those who deliver in hospitals is more than those at home.
Another reason is that if the woman is not well matured, her pelvis is not matured and adequate enough to carry a baby; she can end up with obstructed labour thereby ending up with VVF.
In the North, we have many girls that marry early before their pelvis is matured and then they can end up with pregnancy and end up with labour problem.
And if that labour is not supervised, she will end up with obstruction that can result into VVF. But not all obstructed labours result into VVF. If obstruction is recognised early and caesarian section is done to bring out the baby, then that woman is save from VVF, now if the obstruction is left, labour became prolong and obstructed which may end up with VVF. That is one of the reasons VVF is common in the North.
Another reason, even if a woman is matured however, during childhood when a young girl or as a child she did not have adequate nutrition, such a girl would not attend her optimal state, the pelvis would not mature optimally and would end up being small. Despite the facts that she is matured, the pelvis remains small and she would not be able to deliver on small size pelvis. VVF also occurs in the south however, the number is much more in the North than that of the south.
What is your nonprofit organisation doing to tackle/ prevent girl-child marriage?
There are various preventive measures that we are taking in order to stop or reduce the scourge of VVF in our society. One of it is women empowerments making sure that they are enlightened, making sure that the women have skills in some small trade, so that they generate income and reduce the poverty level of the family. Such ways, there would be food on their table and girls would be given proper nutrition, they would eat well and attend their optimal growth. Other things we are doing include, encouraging girl-child enrollment into school because when you educate a woman she is more likely to be part of decision taken in the house, she is more likely also to delay pregnancy and delay delivery.
Most of these early marriages occur because of poverty and lack of enlightenment.
We are going to the root causes of why the first instance lady is allow to get pregnant when she is a child, when those things are prevented from happening, the parents are encourage to educate the girl- child, she will be part of many decisions that would be made in relations to her upbringing.
We do other things inform of advocacy to policy makers, encourage policies and legislation for the girl-child, we encourage parents to keep the girl- child in school so that we will not have girls taken out of school to be married off before the completion of secondary school. We also encourage that girls are educated free till the end of secondary school so that they would have attained the age of their reproductive system.
For those affected, what are the respite measures in place to help them overcome the stigma surrounding VVF?
There are various issues that are associated with VVF, it is not just the leakage of urine, feaces leak as well. The most important thing is to build them for surgical care, counselled in times of their condition because some come depressed, they have being separated from their husbands, they are rejected by the society because of stigmatisation and their smell, we addressed them in phase and the initial pre-counselling is for them to take care of her hygiene, making sure she clean herself properly so that she doesn’t smell. We also build her up if she has nutritional deficiency or anemia. Some of them even required blood transfusion; some of them come with infection and treat them. The most important part of the treatment is the surgical. The surgery is conducted to close the opening that is causing the leakage so that it becomes dry.
How do husbands of VVF victims treat their wives?
Most of them come in divorce, what we notice is that it usually occurs in first pregnancy. 90 per cent of our patients are divorcees, those that stay with their husbands are those that the VVF occurred after fifth to 10 pregnancy that they have had children with the husbands. The stigmatisation actually starts from their husbands, they reject their VVF wives, blame them for their miserable condition. We have had instances where the husband would follow her to the hospital and tell her go and pack your luggage out of the room, I want to marry another woman to put into that room. Most VVF victims have been living with the condition for years. It is only because of the establishment of this center in Ningi and because the treatment is free that they would now venture to come out for help. They have many social problem because of stigmatisation attached to their conditions.
What about their parents especially in the area of girl-child marriage?
Child marriage is a very sensitive issue because we live in a society where there are various aspects to look at. Some people would say culturally they are used to it and some would talk about the religion aspects, but a girl maturity starts from when her menstruation startsand for a girl to be fully matured to carry a baby, she would have to reach the age of 18. However, a few numbers of girls would have full body maturity that is very fast and their pelvis is big enough to carry a child but most often full maturity would be towards the age and above 18. The Nigeria constitution has clearly stated that any woman below the age of 18 has been taken as the age of adult in Nigeria. So any marriage below that age is child marriage. We try as much as possible to show what is happening all around us because VVF is real. QUOTE-Every year, we do up to 500 surgeries minimum in just one hospital in Ningi. Let’s assume there are so many more out there in their villages that have not come for treatment and come to the number of those that are being operated upon all over Nigeria, those are the ones that have been treated which constitute 10% of those that already have the VVF. So, we are not even talking about those that have VVF those that would develop VVF and die and if care and prevention is not put in place to stop it from occurring. I am calling on parents to delay a little there are so many ways that we can empower these girls, we educate them on how to take care of a child proper before they get married. Those are the things that parents need to know that, if you educate a woman, you educate the whole society.
So, we are encouraging girl-child education as much as possible so that we empowers those girls when they educated they would take care of their children and take proper care of their husbands better than when they are not educated. So we are doing a lot of sensitisation programmes all over. We are using different forum to reach out to parents, communities, traditional leaders, policies makers and with the message that VVF is common in our environment. more common in certain local government than other local government. We want to eliminate VVF in our environment and the way to prevent it is through prevention at various levels.
As a former Commissioner of health, officer in charge National Obstructed Center, what were the health challenges women faced aside the VVF that you recorded?
I am a gynecologist, I have practice for more than twenty years of my life. I have seen so many maternal child health challenges that is bedeviling the state despite all the efforts and support that we have been given at the state. If you go to certain hospitals in Bauchi State, they are many poorly managed primary health centers that suppose to have all the basic services.
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.
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.
Suitors walked away from me because of my job – Uber driver
Dorothy Akpan is an interviewer’s delight. She is not only knowledgeable, she is also pleasant, witty, bold and daring. Akpan is a trained engineer and also versed in security profession where she was the national head of a firm. But unable to meet the target of N25 million monthly, she veered into the transport sector. With her rich experience in the security world, she is conquering with ease, the challenges the transport sector throws at her way. For her, passion is the energy behind the success story so far in her new venture. Akpan recently shunned a N500,000 paid job for Bolt driving. OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI writes
For how long have you been a Bolt (Taxify) driver?
I’ve been driving bolt, precisely for a year now, actually started driving on the first of May last year.
What gave you the push to becoming a bolt driver as a woman?
Well, from my background, I studied electrical engineering, as such, I don’t see it as a big deal. I really do not see myself as a female, rather, I see myself as a male. I am motivated and I love to take bold steps, I didn’t see it as something that will be difficult for me to understand. Engineering was a male dominated course and so I saw it as something I could do because there is a saying that what a man can do a woman can do better. Secondly, I worked in a marketing field for a long time, I have marketed for engineering services, corporate services, health services and my last employment was security services. Been a marketer, I was exposed to road network and I did it for close to eight years, so driving in Lagos won’t be a problem because my road network knowledge is intact. It was my daily routine when I was a marketer.
Beside, the customers relations aspect wasn’t going to be a problem because when I was heading marketing, I was in charge of marketing and customer services, so I know there was no kind of client or customer I would not be able to handle. by God’s grace, due to the little exposure I had in customers relations, so be it tough or soft one, whichever way you come, I should be able to flow with you and accommodate you for the few hours I am going to drive with you. Those were the three things that gave me the drive because I know it is what I can do, everybody can do it, a man can do it, I should be able to do it and again because I have the fair knowledge of the road network, so I should be able to drive myself from point A to point B. Also, all thanks to Google map also which gives me easy link to move around the city of Lagos. And thirdly, ‘human factor’ the people you are going to carry should be people that you would be able to manage ad people you can have smooth communication with and be able to enjoy your ride with. I thank God because I don’t think I have ever gone below a very good rates because most of my customers enjoy my rides and when I look at that I’m like I can go with it.
What were you doing before going into driving Bolt?
Like I mentioned, I was the head of marketing, nationwide head in the company. For security reason, I am not going to mention the name of the company. So, marketing was a good platform, good exposure and experience and by the grace of God I was pretty good in it because I was progressing, it was not as if I was just stagnant, it wasn’t the salary I started with that I left with, I was actually progressing, we all know that, with marketing there is always a set target and due to the economy of the country, when target is difficult for me to meet, I looked at it and just had to check out.
What was your earning and your target like?
In the position of a national head, I was expected to turn in N25million monthly, so you can imagine where I am coming from and I tried everything because a tough marketer won’t shy away easily. I tried that from January till March and it did not add up. One lesson of life I cherish is that it’s not good to have a negative energy because you don’t know where you might meet someone tomorrow. So, I told my boss that it doesn’t add up, hence, I may have to drop my pen, and that was exactly what happened. I left amicably, there was no fight, in fact, I give him a plus because he was a wonderful boss, he gave me a very good package, three bedroom apartment and every resources I needed to work with. So, when it was time for me to leave, I just looked at it and ask what if I was the CEO, with the economy situation of the country it could be difficult for him because my salary was on a pretty good level and maybe he couldn’t t really pay this salary so I put myself in his shoes and did not have to fight with him, I just looked at it that maybe this would be too much for him to keep accommodating so we path ways amicably.
When you path, did you also let go of the good packages that came with the employment?
I actually left the company April and he did not take the accommodation away from me, I stayed in the accommodation up till December so I can’t say such a man was a bad man, but indeed he was a good man, so I have every reason to understand with him why he had to let me go. I have been marketing for like nine years, I have grown up to that position of been a national head and supervising 11 states, so what I actually looked at was that I have grown and thank God to my brother and a friend that I had that was a consultant, he told me you have put in so much energy, why don’t you think that it is time for you to work on your own thing? Why don’t you sit back and be a consultant also and be a broker for all this establishments you have worked for? And that was my driving force and it was like a chain because when I left, seriously, competitors came for me but when I looked at it, I am going to put in that same energy again or it is just going to be a fresh start and I did not want a situation when I will still see myself coming to this same bus stop of meeting targets or making me to want to hands up. Then, I just said okay, why not I do my own thing and that was what drove me to this. In all honesty, my package was too big that most of the people that came were not able to meet it up, so when I looked at that, the first thing I did I just divided my salary by 30days I needed to know my daily worth from where I came from, and when I saw my daily worth, I discovered that there were two types of business that was going to help me gets close to that and transportation was one of it and thanks to Uber and Bolt that came in that time. So, here I was and I asked myself why don’t I grow my company to becoming a fleet manager? Managing fleets of vehicles and drivers under me since I was coming from a place that got me exposed to a managerial position, as such, I was able to manage and coordinate people, and that experience is taking me thus far. I am not just a driver here, I am also a fleet manager, I gave myself a target having seen my daily worth from where I am coming from I wanted something of that margin, a business that will be giving me closed to that if not exactly that amount between 80 and 100% margin of the kind of salary that I left and that was really achievable.
I had to plot out the graph of how I was going to achieve this, so I look at the Uber, Bolt turns in N120,000 monthly and looking at where I was coming from I needed like four vehicles to get close to that.
Going this far, definitely there is going to be challenges, is it similar to where you are coming from?
With my security background and if I could deal with guards, you should know that I can deal with drivers successfully. I was not only dealing with guards, I was also dealing with stubborn marketers and drivers, already the human management was already in me and I wasn’t scared of where I was coming from. We have challenges and everybody know that challenge is a human factor.
What is it like with your male passengers, do they make passes at you, and how do you handle that?
Well, I want to say this so that anybody who finds his or herself in any field should know that there is always a preparation ground. I came from a marketing background in the university where I studied electrical electronic engineering and we were only three females that did that. So, men making passes at me is not a challenge at all because I had started dealing with it from my university days, and going to marketing everybody knows what marketing is all about and its challenges, everybody knows that there is always that other factors, so been here now, God has already prepared me from engineering background to know how to handle men.
When I did my industrial training, (IT) we were only two females and 52 males and that was still in my pretty young age because that was my second age in school so that was another opportunity to crack the male advances.
One motivating factor that I used to tell my girls during training session when I was in marketing was that, “you do not need to get down with a man to be able to get contracts, it’s not just necessary.” I tell them to “set your target that you are going to talk to five companies in a day, I meaning that in a week, you will be talking to 25 companies, in a month you are talking to 100 individuals, so like how many men you would go down with? Breaking it down this way for them, it is already a NO NO! So coming to my present job as a Bolt driver and meeting male advances, is not a problem and it can never be a challenge but I bet you that every male that rides with me takes something back home. Having left your marketing job for this, have you had course to regret that decision?
If there is anything I have enjoyed, it is the flexibility of my time and peace of mind. Marketing comes with tension, I used to be accessed on weekly basis, in my last job I was head of marketing nationwide, I had so many states to bother for and if these states were not functioning well, I am already looking and seeing myself as a failure so within three working days in a week I had to drive, keep driving, talking to the customers, kept pushing the girls and encouraging them, because I have to present my report on Mondays, and because the way my report was fashioned, you can’t lie. I used to take a full day to prepare my report, anytime I want to prepare my report, I don’t go to work because I have to give a comprehensive report, they have to see the stages of progress because that is what will enable you know if you are closed to your target or not, so you can imagine the tension that comes with it. I had to make sure everything was done accordingly to avoid mistakes. I didn’t get married on time because of this job. When you are just thinking of money, meeting targets, you don’t have time for relationships. I know how many men walked away from me because of that job seriously. I know of a guy that told me to go and resign, otherwise nothing more, then I asked him a hard question- what have you put in place for me? It is not resigning that is the problem, have you to put something in front of me or I should just resign and sit at home to be a full house wife? If you actually put something on ground for me then I would know the kind of man you really are, but for not putting any thing on ground, I already know where you want to fix me, a full time house wife taking care of the kids and that all, I wasn’t factor for that and so he left
What do you have to say about being security conscious while driving?
Been a driver you need to be security conscious and intelligent. I try as much as possible to look at my riders, access them and know their body languages. I have had a case where I went to pick three guys and when I got close to them to pick them I noticed one wasn’t even wearing a shirt, I had to roll up my glass and speed of, and I canceled the trip quickly, reported to Bolt that I could not do that trip because I suspected them. I narrated the story to them and that was it. So what I will tell the drivers is that there is no job that doesn’t have its own risk. Well I do not blame the drivers because truth be told, the money is actually made at night because there is less traffic. As a driver, you need to be very smart, most time, you need to go cashless, you don’t have to be with money, in case you meet them, you just surrender whatever they want, money, phone, anything they ask of you just surrender it.
Rescuing children from decadence
Children are salt of the world and a heritage of the Lord, according to the Holy book. But current challenges in the society have put them under threat, OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI writes
Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist, say that childhood means simplicity. “Look at the world with the child’s eye-it is very beautiful.” And indeed, the world is beautiful through the eyes of the child (ren). They are transparent, innocent, straightforward and have no biases.
For Satyarthi, relating children to simplicity has helped his friendship with them and aided in having a much deeper meaning than others.
This shows in the love between parents especially mother and child and the fact that such love is unquantifiable. Naturally, they are bundle of joy and pride of parents. So, it is understandable for such parents to go wild with rage or go nearly mental to see the child murdered or mistreated. In fact, no parent can withstand the pain of having his child (ren) canned even when it is done with love by another person, not to talk of bullying or scolding, it is only just natural for a parent to be displeased. The flow of love towards one child is simply boundless.
The Nigerian system back then was such that was apt with the notion that ‘it takes one person to give birth to a child but takes a community to train the child.’
However, that view no longer holds sway as the society and world at large now seems abusive and cruel to children. Again, the Holy book says ‘the heart of man is desperately wicked, who can know it.”
Similarly in the Macbeth drama, one of the characters- King Duncan said, “There is no art to read the mind’s construction on the face.” Meaning that there is no way to predict betrayal, otherwise, parent would have prevented avoidable of sudden and cruel deaths and attack of their children. It is disheartening that the world is unbelievably becoming cruel against children (tomorrow world owners) who she ought to protect and guard jealously.
It is becoming too constant in the national and international dailies as fathers, uncles, caregivers sexually abuse daughter(s),girl-child, rough handle and mistreat children put in their care. There are too many series of sad and pathetic stories of maltreated, abused and attacked children recently trending and going viral on social media and online, in fact, the flow of heart-rending videos seem thriving on daily basis
The most pathetic video was that of a baby flung to the floor from a height, thick blood flushed out of the baby’s mouth and the food she ate, earlier, came through her nostril! While the baby (maybe six months old) was gasping for breath, the care giver went farther by strangulating the baby till her last breath.
Another viral video showed a caregiver hitting a child hard on his head for littering the floor with dirt. The caregiver, a woman was seen giving the child a foam to mop the floor and as the little boy who looked like a three year old boy, was cleaning the floor, she kept hitting him mercilessly on the head and in the face, pushing and kicking with some deep seated hatred domicile inside of her. With obvious frustration shown on her face, she pulled the little boy to the floor, matched him on the head with her shoe and hit him once more on the neck and pushd him outside the room. Perhaps the pain was too much for the boy to cry, he quietly pulled himself up and staggered out of the room.
A similar video showed a lady caregiver first spanking a young girl of about 3 years as well. She ordered her to clean a table and chair. She gave the little girl a wiper to clean the table, the poor girl used it to clean her face instead and this got the caregiver infuriated more, she came down heavily on her by hitting the little girl hard with two hands on the face. The beating was like two adults trying to outsmart one another in a fighting contest. The little girl cried, fell on the ground, got up and continued cleaning. While cleaning, she was also receiving palm beatings from her caregiver.
While the above stories are credited to callous caregivers, there are other ways even parents are wicked to their children knowingly or unknowingly. Some exposed their girl-child to maltreatment and danger in the name of fashion or being trendy.
Last week, on Facebook, a 5-year-old girl named ‘most beautiful in the world, was seen. She was also declared an international model. The post received a wide range of backlash from readers online. One Edward Oyewole reacted that it is ‘Child Abuse Extra Ordinary.’ Demola Adewusi said her childhood has been stolen away from her. Yanju Uwala corrobortated Oyewole that it is an International child abuse.
However, some argued that nothing is wrong with it, after all, Pears baby beauty product has done baby pageant before. One Fadilat Idris argued that stars like Tiger Wood were captured from toddlers, hence, nothing child abuse about it.
Another video showed a little 2year girl dancing seductively in tune to the rhythm of music. She was certainly trained by an adult. While dancing, she got applauded and geared to continue.
Similarly last week, an international based mother by name Rocio Umsted couldn’t help posting her annoyance on Facebook advising fellow mothers to be at alert using her experience. Her daughter was found with several bite marks on her back. According to Umsted, her daughter was bitten about eight times on her back at the daycare centre, Sunrise Preschool in Maricopa, where she kept the child while she went to work. “I was upset, and I get it, kids are going to be kids, but when I picked and checked my daughter out, she had about eight bite marks all over her back…how can you justify this?” The mum wrote on Facebook.
“We pay good money to get our children taken care of. Moral of the story please be careful on where you leave your children for daycare.”
The president of the nursery Dana Vela later said the toddler “was injured by another child very quickly and while the caregiver was changing a diaper.”
“This is not meant to excuse the incident but to explain what happened,” she wrote. “We can and will do better and this unfortunate matter has provided some hard-learned lessons.”
The child responsible for the biting has now been expelled, she added.
Another mother- Alice Bryant also shared on Facebook how she found 25 marks on her 15-month-old daughter Rosalynn’s back – and hasn’t been told the truth by staff or authorities about what happened. She also shared the images on her Facebook page, explaining they happened within five days of her child starting at Creative Beginnings Daycare in Tucson.
Bryant filed a police report for negligence and notified the Department of Health, which handles daycare accreditation, but said after two months the incident was still under investigation. She said: “No word and neither department contacted me with updates, and I signed up for victim notification. All of these bites happened in one day. Please share!”
There are so many ills ongoing against children and the society seems to be losing its grip in upholding the moral values surrounding the children. The summarised adage “that it takes a community to train a child seem to have been thrown into the abyss of moral decadence. Adults encourage little children to dress deductively. Another post of children in their early teens, like 12 and 13 were seen posing with bottles of beer, in commemoration of Children’s!
Days that morals were sacred, children dare not been seen with such and celebrating their ‘Day’ in such manner. The questions some threw to the post was, “who was the beer parlour operator that distributed the drinks to them. Someone commented that, “this is just too bad. The beer parlour operator ought to be apprehended and charged for child abuse.”
The belief of most people New Telegraph spoke to, is that women mostly are culprits of evil deeds against children. According to Mrs Theresa Ajewole, a Guidance Counselor and proprietor, women are more dangerous than Cobra snake. “I agree that I’m a woman but truth be told, all the wicked deeds in the videos going viral, are committed by women so far. Watching the videos, depict how callous and vicious women could be. And that is because they are closer to the children. It’s not as if men are better than women, but reality is that not all of us are human beings, majority of us are covered in human skin but we are actually animals, deadly ones at that. Otherwise, how could you explain the scenarios painted above?
She explained further that when it comes to kidnapping children and doing it perfectly, women are involved. “Why is it like that? It is because they are closer to children, as such, the easy doorway to them,” she said.
Ajewole buttressed her point with a news report of a woman somewhere in the East who lost four of her children to a woman kidnapper. A set of twin and two of triplets were stolen by the kidnapper, according to her.
Ajewole pointed out that reason for children attack by adults is because of current lifestyles. She explained that those days were more of communal lifestyle unlike nowadays of enclosed lifestyle.
Oluwawemimo Adebiyi, child advocate and a child psychologist, therapist and counselor told New Telegraph that the incessant attack on children is alarming and at the stage of emergency which will need a global attention especially in this part of the world.
Children go through abusive situation and they end up growing into damaged adults. And these are the same adults who in turn run society. According to her, the circle must be broken and the only way out of this menace is by educating every adult on who a child is and to respect the fundamental rights of children.
Children also must be empowered with the knowledge of who they are, what their rights are and the responsibility that comes with their rights.
“To start with, what is attack on children and who is a child? I will say, the literal meaning of “attack” is an aggressive and violent act against a person. And since we are talking about a child ( an individual within the ages of 0-17).
At family level, the rights of children are being attacked. The right to protection, the right to participation (children must not be heard), the right to development(cultural embargo on how fat a child should grow both mentally, socially and physically) , and the right to Survival ( too many babies are being aborted).
Origin of children’s day- May 27
CHILDREN’S DAY is one dedicated to celebrate “childhood”, it is On this day that tribute is paid to all children in the world.
It is an event celebrated in many places around the world. The holiday is simply set to honour children and minors. The International Children’s Day had its origin in Turkey in 1920 (April 23, 1920) and later in the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland in 1925. Children’s Day was first celebrated worldwide in October 1955, under the sponsorship of International Union for Child Welfare in Geneva. The idea of a Universal Children’s Day was mooted by Rubab Mansoor grade 8 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954.
First proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, it was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children.
This year campaign theme for UNICEF was tagged, “For every child, every right.” It was inaugurated to create awareness about the rights of children in Nigerian society. UNICEF’s new Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr Peter Hawkins, made this known on Monday in a statement to commemorate the Children’s Day, observed annually on May 27. Hawkins said that while there have been many innovations over the last few years, children in Nigeria were still not accessing health, nutrition, education and other amenities as they ought to.
I’m concerned about women, their economic position – Diffa
Akeghayifa Diffa, is a proud farmer in Bayelsa State. Although, she studied Agricultural Economics and Extension in University of Calabar, she decided to Rub shoulders with men in Agriculture and on the farm as she spoke passionately on the gains of being a farmer with Pauline Onyibe
You were into agriculture some time ago. How has it been?
Agriculture is a very interesting hobby for me and apart from that, others should see agriculture as a hobby because we cannot do without food. Agriculture is key to every family. Without agriculture, the garri (cassava flake) we see in the market may not be there. The rice in the market, we will not have them. So for me, agriculture should be seen as a very important venture.
Why did you as a woman, decide to go into agriculture because it seems to be a field not so attractive to many people?
I studied agricultural economics and extension from the University of Calabar and since then I have been practicing agriculture. I also had my one year service with NIFOR Nigeria institute for oil palm research in Edo state. So, in all, it has been agriculture for me. I have stint with FADAMA. I have that passion. If you come to my house, the whole environment is filled with plants and it will interest you that when we had that crisis in 2016, I didn’t suffer because I had vegetable all around me. So what I needed to buy was just fish and meat. In fact, I don’t need fish because I can find easily in the neighborhood. So I just go out with my Okro, pepper and vegetable, I will just make soup. It didn’t really border me that there was crisis at that period in the state.
But I learnt like agriculture is tedious especially when considering the terrain of Baylesa?
We have problems because we don’t expose ourselves to information. Like I told you, even though, I employ labour to do the initial clearing; it doesn’t take much to rid your farm of weeds. What you need is just to apply herbicides in the right proportion and you will be able to get a clean farm with a good produce. So if we allow ourselves to gain knowledge, I think agriculture will be an interesting thing for us.
As a farmer, what is your area of specialisation?
Vegetables. Because of the season, we are looking at short season crop like Okro. We have spinach which is not very common here. We have pumpkin leaves and we are looking at other exotic breed. We are expecting them soon.
What do you mean by exotic breed?
I mean some vegetables that are not indigenous to Bayelsa. And the varieties we have are improved ones. We work directly with Biotech Odi. So whenever they get improved variety, they send to us.
So far, what are some of those things you have been able to produce?
We have green pepper, bell pepper. They are not very common in Bayelsa state. We are also looking at producing more of that.
Are there some methods you know that can help farmers in the state achieve easy means of farming?
Our people have not known how to use herbicide. So we want to teach them how to use herbicide for fast production because if we do not use these herbicides, we get tired so fast and it makes agriculture very cumbersome. So we want to introduce its use. Using herbicide is a very technical procedure. In time to come, we will teach our farmers on how to apply these herbicides in their farms so that before the weeds come, they would have harvested their crops.
Bayelsa youths said they are afraid to go into agriculture because it’s not mechanized in this part of the country. What do you say to that?
I’m very concerned about the way our youths are going and I sincerely want to advise them to look for something to do. I know for sure that there is dignity in labour. Let people know that you are into something and when people know they will come and support you. But if you are not doing anything at all, it will be very difficult for anybody to see you and want to support you. It is my sincere appeal to our youths to look for something to do. They have spaces in their compound and if they don’t have space, they can start with pots. You can use pot to plant, just get soil from your environment. You are good to go. You can start with two pots and before you know it, you are fending for yourself. You don’t have to go out to the street.
I thought it is only flowers that you can plant in such way?
No you can produce Okro. You can produce even vegetables, even if you don’t have pots, you can use cement bags. Just wash out the cement and fill the bag with humus soil. You mix it up with manure and you use it to plant.
Talking about using cement bags and pots, can you explain better?
I know that plants thrive in soil. Once you are able to put them in a conducive environment, plants will strive and so once you get a bag because bags are perforated. There is a way air can circulate. Even if it is not a cement bag, once you have holes where air can penetrate, you are good to go. And a lot of plants are phototropic, so, they have a lot to do with sunlight. All you need to do is to position your pot where there is enough sunlight so that the photosynthetic process can go on. Once you have that even if your floor is cemented, the plant will grow.
This place is covered with water. You don’t think it could be an added factor discouraging many who want to go into agriculture?
And that is why I’m saying there are many ways doing that. We have a problem when it comes to being receptive to knowledge. Advanced countries have gone past this. Right now as we speak, in Germany, they plant tomatoes in the air. That is how far technology has taken them. So we shouldn’t limit ourselves to our terrain. We are humans and God has blessed us with wisdom to be able to overcome certain things that nature has given to us. And so, we should try and open ourselves to knowledge. A lot of things can be done in the area of agriculture in Bayelsa state. So, I’m inviting as many women, youths and men to contact me. I’m ready to teach them and let them know what they can do to be able to go far and improve in their agricultural occupation.
Talking about challenges, I know there must be. How do you source for your products, finance manpower and all that?
That is a very big challenge. When you say finance, if we had finance, we would have gone far and our farms would have been larger. We don’t seem to get support from the government. And when there seems to be green light and you want to go close, you see that green light is so deem. You have to be connected somehow before you can access any finance and so that is a major challenge genuine farmers are facing. Even when you go to our communities and you want to sensitise people, that is the main complain. They complained that the government is very far from them. And if we want to move on, government should at least go closer to farmers. More than 70% of people in our local communities are farmers and so if we don’t support them with some of these techniques, they will continue to remain at the subsistence level and that is not what we are looking for. We want a government/citizen relationship when it comes to farming activities so that we can move away from where we are to a higher position.
Religious, traditional leaders worked against my guber ambition – Mahmood
Hajiya Baheejah Mahmood, popularly called Mother of the Orphans (Uwar Marayu), was the only female governorship candidate in Bauchi State during the last election under the platform of Action Congress Democrat (ACD). In this interview, she told Ali Garba that religion and traditional leaders were against her at the last election; while on the other part, money and male marginalisation played a role that led to her withdrawal from the race a week before the election
You were confident that you will win at the Governorship election but you withdrew from the race along the way, what happened?
My confidence stemmed from the fact that out of the 31 contestants for the position of Governor in the state, I was the only female. Historically in Nigeria, females participate in voting more than males and youths and I have years of experience working with women groups and individuals in the state. Secondly, during my work years, I have put in place structures and programs that stood the test of time and are still being enjoyed by our citizens. So I was confident because I believed most women will vote for me if effectively mobilised, and they will come along with their children who are the youth.
On why I withdrew from the race, I wish to state that I ran the full course of the race up to a week or so before the Election Day. I joined the gubernatorial race after I concluded that there was a total collapse of governance in the state. The people were crying from lack of any improvements in their lives as a result of the level of non-performance of the state government. I wanted to deliver life changing programs to the people. Bauchi is a conservative Muslim state and still gives credence to the religious and traditional establishments, and it was a tug of war for me as a woman to contest the gubernatorial election as the first ever female to do so. Some religious and traditional leaders were vehemently against the move and did many things to work against my efforts.
Another major challenge I had was the role of money in our politics. Money still plays a very significant role in determining who wins election in Nigeria. Even when one is a more credible candidate and is qualified, if your political opponent has more money than you have, he is most likely to be voted in, even by the electorate, talk less of the security agents and the electoral officials. The system needs to change. There is also a systematic marginalisation of women in Nigerian politics. When you seek donations, a lot of people, mostly male will make pledges which they will intentionally refuse to redeem, thereby leaving you stranded and unable to implement your strategies.
Therefore, in a political race, one needs to think about his supporters, the state, generality of citizens of the state and the possible pressures that may be coming from different quarters in that regard. I implore Governments and Organisations all around the world to make provisions for women in politics with the intention of supporting them, especially when they are contesting elections. Women will work hard, especially towards the 2023 elections to secure slots for the Deputy Governor position all over the country, like in Kaduna state where the Governor selected a woman as his deputy governor for the 2019 election.
Winning an election is a relative term in Politics. The main thrust of any politician with genuine intentions towards his people is to form a good government that is service and people oriented, and that is winning. Finally, in my opinion, there are three or more kinds of withdrawal from a political race.
Can you elaborate on the three kinds of withdrawal please?
There are candidates who right from day one are not sincere with their contest. They merely indicate their interest with the sole intention of withdrawing along the line for material and financial benefits that they will negotiate in order to support the highest bidder. It’s all about what they can get from the deal. There is a particular gubernatorial candidate in Bauchi who has contested four times just to withdraw for someone else. These are political prostitutes.
The second category is a candidate who may be qualified and has the financial capability to run, but is not a favored candidate by the electorate. He may withdraw from the race and continue to work on his lapses and on sensitising the electorate for the future.
The third kind is a candidate who is qualified, has the interest of the state at heart, has a strong support base but lacks financial capabilities. The candidate’s paramount interest is moving the state forward so that its citizens will enjoy the gains of democracy, instead of thinking of his personal interests. He/she may withdraw from the race in order to be part of a more formidable union that would even perform better for the people.
So, in which of these categories does your withdrawal falls?
Hmmm- you will agree with me that I am qualified, willing and capable to govern the state well. I joined the race and put together my structure and started working long before any other candidate in the state. I had a very good plan and strategy of winning the election. I confronted and crossed both religious and traditional stereotypes; I enjoyed unflinching support of my family, friends and overwhelming supporters. I spent plenty money to get to where I am today, I built a formidable, honest, sincere and dedicated campaign team like no other. I pray Allah reward them abundantly. I did not compromise my position for the sake of financial inducements, but as a result of the perfect understanding we had with all stakeholders and our supporters. Our interest in the people is more than our personal interests which resulted in our collective decision to collaborate. I pride myself that I did not collect any money from any quarters as inducement or payoff to be where I am today; it is pure sacrifice from me, for the general good of our people. My integrity mattered to me.
Are you impressed with women participation in politics in northern Nigeria?
Women all over the world are not fully integrated into Politics. In Nigeria, despite the affirmative action that allows around 30% women participation in Governance and in Politics, they are yet to fully enjoy from the constitutional provision. In the North, because of our religious and traditional values, believes and stereotypes, women are still largely not accepted as equal to the men in Politics. Despite all these though, it is impressive how more women from the North are joining Politics and becoming bolder in contesting for Political offices
How and when did you start helping the Almajiris and the needy in the society?
All my life, from childhood, I was, on my own way helping the needy and Almajiris. I don’t deal directly with Almajiris except through the normal tradition of our set up as northerners. Presently, in my house you will see many Almajiris, living with us. They use to come sometimes to assist us; we also give them alms and support their education. We took them as our children; I didn’t deal directly with them. Even though the Almajiris fall within the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) concept, I worked with the well-structured OVC concept that was driven with policy and strict rules of service delivery. How I wish parents would stop sending their children to the Almajiri schools at an early childhood age outside care of their parents. So, we established two non-governmental Organisation (NGO)-Support Initiative for Vulnerable Women and children (SIVWoC) and Bauchi Grassroots Development Initiative BGDI party of our activities we deal with orphans and vulnerable Women and children, we take care of their basic needs we support their education by paying their school fees , we provided them with uniforms and leaning materials we also give them support in education, health, shelter clothing even legal and psychosocial support when the need arise.
Do you have any support from government, donors, politicians and philanthropists to help them?
Like I said, I don’t deal with the Almajiris directly, so I have never received any support in their favour. Actually, Government is often reluctant to collaborate with and support NGOs. That said, I am aware that the Federal Government has a special program designed to specifically cater for the Almajiris.
So far how many Almajiris have you helped; do you want to add in the future?
Personally, I do help the Almajiris in whichever way possible to make it easy for them to concentrate in studying the Qur’an but the one I deal with orphans and vulnerable women and children we support over thousands of them I even mentioned them in my books called “ the Journey so far” and another book called “the Voices” talk less of the one that benefited under the Bauchi State government agency I initiated and established. Bauchi state Orphans and Vulnerable Children Agency, Under the agency we have successfully built a befitting s Secretariat for OVCs , we have given thousands of OVCs and there care givers interventions, in all the thematic areas of intervention, we built schools for the orphans in the orphanage homes, we built training centers for the OVCs in Bauchi, Misau and Zaki local Government areas plans are under way to establish the centers in the 20 local government areas, before the tenure of the administration expires in 2015.
What do you have to say about the suffering of women in Nigeria especially in the crisis zone?
Women are among the most vulnerable segment of our society and the world over. Majority of Nigerians live below the poverty line of $90 per day. Women are the worst hit in this index, because there are a lot of women who are widows and are left alone to cater for their orphans while they themselves may not have a means of subsistence. Whenever there is strife or any form of breach of the peace, women and children are always at the receiving end. As if that is not enough, women are not carried along in the distribution of aid materials in the crisis zones.Government philanthropist, communities and the entire societies should come to the aid of the suffering Women and children.
Features23 hours ago
Suspect: We were told my brother’s skull would be vomiting money
Politics23 hours ago
Baylesa guber: Intrigues as PDP ticket tears Dickson’s group apart
Arts & Entertainments23 hours ago
I wasn’t born with a silver spoon- DR. OLATOKUNBO AWOLOWO-DOSUNMU
News23 hours ago
How we lost Colonel, Captain, three soldiers –Army
Show Biz23 hours ago
How Wizkid performed into 29th birthday after Braxton, Tiwa Savage
News23 hours ago
PDP closes case after 62 witnesses testified against Buhari
Features23 hours ago
My wife’s killers won’t know peace –Funke’s husband, Idowu Olakunrin
News24 hours ago
UI begins e-voting, elects new governing council members