Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

Hello you!

Been ages! I’m sorry, and yes I missed you too.

A few things have happened in my life in the past three months, and I would share except I’m not sure yet if the changes will be permanent or if there are bigger changes in the offing. So maybe wait a little bit.

How have you been? My condolences to Nigeria and the shittiness that is our country at this time; only bright spot seems to be the Acting President and his strides across the economy, security, and national unity. There’s so much going on, rulers across federal, state and local levels perpetuating foolishness on levels I didn’t think were possible in 2017. Anyway, Nigeria, this post is not about you.

This is about my one-year-old niece Talia, and how she made me reflect on a few things today. So her older brother, my nephew is 5, but she sometimes believes she is older. Of course when she tries to lord it over him sometimes she ends up crying. Not because he hits her or anything, but because he stands up and runs walks away for instance. Or because she falls or in some other way, causes her own tears.

When she cries she looks for me, I comfort her, maybe give her a treat, and send her on her merry way. And then in less than 20 minutes I hear her voice (and it breaks my heart to hear her cry), and the cycle continues till she falls asleep, she’s distracted by something/someone else, or she comes and stays with me. Sits or lies on my bed for a good cuddle, some tickling, a snack, a cartoon, or whatever fun thing we decide to get up to.

After a particularly hilarious incident today (with plenty tears) I reflected on our relationship with God and how sometimes it is akin to my relationship with my niece. He keeps calling to us, and if you’re His child you know His voice. He doesn’t stop asking us to abide under His shadow where no one can harm us, to drink of Him because every good and perfect gift comes from Him, etc. But sometimes, we act like we know it all, like we created ourselves; like we have the manual for our lives.

And so He sits and waits because we will doubtless come back, bruised, in tears, in pain, everything He warned us about. But He takes us back, cleans us, heals us, and off we go again, like an unending cycle. But that’s not how He intends for us to live. His wish is that we prosper and be in good health even as our soul prospers, but we won’t enter into that without Him. We cannot.

Are you tired of running around in circles? Just some food for thought.

 

Early in October 2016 I spent the day with my day one girl, Francesca. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with someone who not only gets it, she gets me completely. She’s gorgeous in and out, and is one of the realest people I know. But this post is not about her, it was about a ‘meeting’ we went to.

We went as a group to see Fela Durotoye and it was one of the best evenings out I’ve had in a long time! Anyone who knows or has interacted closely with Fela Durotoye knows that he’s such a profound and prolific speaker. And when you add that to the fact that he’s a Christian and has the wisdom of God flowing through him, any/every interaction is one that’s sure to be a blessing.

And so it was, that we spent the evening with his beautiful family. One of the first things I said to myself after spending a few minutes was I would work very hard to raise children that would bring God, us, and their societies joy. Pure joy.

When we eventually got to chatting with Mr Durotoye, I started taking notes, and I’ve reproduced them as is, simply because I stumbled on them recently and I was so blessed all over again I wanted to share. Most of the talk was centred around relationships, marriage (in the 21st century), and pleasing God.

Ready?

  • Love (in addition to the many definitions that exist) – genuine desire and pursuit of the best well-being for another person. How do you measure love? Sacrifice
  • Honour – Recognition of the glory of God in another (to the maximum). How do you measure honour? Adoration

The onus of admiration doesn’t lie on the woman but in the man… he must be admirable.

You can decide to love a person, even in spite of themselves. But you cannot honour them in spite of themselves.

How do we build a generation of admirable men? How do we prepare men that women will honour?

Proverbs 12: 4 – A prudent wife is the crown of her husband. It is the man who bejewels his crown.

There are stats to show that the economic, social, and psychological values of a nation are tied to the family unit.

And then we moved away from family, love, and relationships into nation-building.

Any generation must leave three things for the next’

  1. Values
  2. Environment (that allows the values to thrive)
  3. A good name  (that opens doors of opportunity for the values to thrive)

If we’re going to build Nigeria into a desirable place to be and live in, we must fix the next generation of marriages.

The following are very key to passing on our values to the next generation

A. Transcend bias (religious, cultural, etc)

B. Show personal benefit

C. Be communicable (Messaging must be consistent)

D. Demonstrable

How could the devil who was described as perfect have pride in him? He discovered he was perfect, and his focus became in himself. That’s when he decided to ascend to the place where God was. It became about ‘self’, about ‘me’.

The mentality of ‘other centric’ – leadership… ‘self-centric’ – rulership

If you don’t frame and know your values, ou will acquire values as you go, and they could be positive or negative.

Every generation will have to explain why they ‘didn’t’ or ‘how they ‘did’ – which of them will we be?

Finally, Mr Fela talked about the tripartite, triangular relationship between vision/values, a road map, and people/projects, and how a mastery of all three will ensure you never have unfinished projects.

And then it was time to go home, because good things come to an end. Like this post. 🙂

 

 

 

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree

Just some quick thoughts about the New Year, what we want to do/be/achieve and how quite a number of us erroneously believe that wanting a thing (even bad enough) is all it takes for us to do/be/achieve that thing.

I found this quote yesterday in the course of fulfilling a committment to an organization and it literally jumped out at me. How do you want to see different if you don’t do different? My dad says it’s insanity to plant corn and pray to reap strawberries. Lol. But really. Think about it.

*Let’s not be like the Nigerian government who want to increase the quantity of rice in the country and decide the best place to plant the rice is on rocks. Without irrigation or watering of any kind, fertilizers, nothing. Yet the plan is to increase the quantity of rice for everyone. Sigh.

So do you need to change a habit, eat better (read as less, lol), sleep for longer (or less), get a hobby (or hubby – gosh I’m so silly); do you need to get closer to God, hit some milestones at work, be a better friend/partner/parent, make money so good you’re not swayed by any of the exchange rates in Nigeria at the moment? Nice!

So, what’s the plan? What are the concrete steps to getting there? In a conversation very early this year I figured I have close to no knowledge of project management and it is something that can smoothen the processes for a number of things I am involved with. So, off I went to register for a course, classes start in a bit.

There are a couple other things I need to work on, sort out, and be better at, and we’re on the road to that. Amen to God’s help and strength, and grace to stay the course.

So, away from me, what are you doing? Better yet, what are you doing different?

Happy New Year.

2016 has been an interesting year for me like I can imagine it’s been for a lot of people. For starters, my niece was born in February so I’ve got two shining lights in my life now. My family is great, work could be better but it’s good too, and pieces of my life have fallen in and out of place at different times.  The vagaries of life, isn’t that what some would call it?

In the past few days, I’ve been reading a book by Jon Ronson, “So you’ve been publicly shamed” talking about the democratisation of public shaming ab how people online and offline have developed a voice, one empowered to dispense justice as occasion serves.

From Max Mosley to Justine Sacco, Ronson chronicles stories of public shaming, the manifestation of deindividuation and how shaming is becoming a form of social control. Deindividuation refers to people partaking of things in a group they probably wouldn’t pioneer if, they had to individually. A more relatable, somewhat simpler term would be ‘The Mob’.

The book was personal for me in several ways, explaining a few concepts I want to work on in the New Year. I thought about the relief that confessions bring, and even though I’ve never said “Father forgive me for I have sinned” in a booth, I have felt (and I imagine it’s the same for a lot of people) the relief that comes from opening to God, a friend, partner, colleague, or parent. The “I don’t have to carry this alone” feeling, the belly-deep peace, the flat feeling equivalent of ‘he who is down fears no fall’, ground zero. At that point, emptiness is welcome. Feeling spent is almost a positive.

Shaming as it applies to men and women is also something this book explores in detail, how sexual issues (impropriety, idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms) are more likely to taint and damage women than men. ‘Slut-shaming’ as the offence and the punishment, an interesting concept, is also discussed. For instance, a woman is involved in a sex-scandal with a man, and the commentary naturally weighs more on her end, as snarky as it is hurtful and unforgiving. The man is mentioned, but it is the woman whose story is told with relish, her person and career hacked into. Women rarely ‘come back’ from the scandal.

As the punishment – a woman is in the spotlight for something the mob sees as wrong, whether it be financial impropriety or the misspeaks that are all too common online these days. The responses most of the time will bear on her sexuality, prescribing some sort of sexual punishment that deviates almost completely from the crime. Blame patriarchy, blame globalised expressions of ancient practices, blame anything you want.

How do people recover from a shaming? The truth is some people never do. Some others take years to rid themselves of the stigma, and even then, never completely succeed; it resurfaces every time they do, a permanent reminder of a wrong decision taken. Some others ignore it, and in doing so ‘take the power’ away from their traducers. There is a Yoruba saying that goes, “You cannot remove a man’s cap in his absence”. Not that a person cannot be shamed in their absence, but they must mentally enter that ‘dock’ for it to have any effect.

It might explain the ‘lack of shame’ that we say is ostensive in Nigerian/African/fix in your country’s leaders; the mental absence from the ‘gibbet’ where the shaming should occur. Think African leaders who have buried their umbilical cords in their offices and refuse to step down or hand over. But, I digress.

There is also ‘disrespecting the narrative’ created by the shaming which was influenced by the narrative of the action by creating a third narrative. Stay with me. Let’s say Ada does something ‘bad’ – narrative one. The public shames her – narrative two. She can decide to curl up and hide, or completely ignore the shaming, or she can flip the situation and create narrative three, make it anything she wants. That narrative disrespects one and two and is where my interest lies.

There are variations to shame, and the trauma caused by shaming. Various things trigger this trauma, and it differs from person to person. Same way grief, its manifestations and triggers are personal and differ from person to person.

Perhaps this is a good place to stop and express the rest of my thoughts when I finish reading the book and reflecting. Perhaps a nice concluding statement would be to take an extra minute before losing ourselves in the mobs that play judge and jury online/offline. Even when we think we have all the facts. Even when we convince ourselves that the person is worthy of the vitriol. Wait. Think.

Maryam is a firebrand. Passionate about things she is passionate about, and it’s always very nice to see. She has a blog called ‘The Amba Imprint’, with an interesting meaning for ‘amba’. I like! Maryam takes the stage for the second instalment of the #31Days31Writers project, writing on “Things I am Grateful For.”

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama Baloni, my dear friend. In 2016, she was someone who I felt confident had my back (we all need such people in today’s tough world) and I’m also grateful for the trust she put in me. She is someone I will always be grateful for, my confidant.

I am grateful for the things I can’t count. Like the warm hugs and kisses from my nieces and nephews, the amazing young people I have met who have inspired me to do more for myself and for others.

I must say, I am grateful to be a part of the Not Too Young To Run campaign; it has opened up my mind to another level of political consciousness and involvement even with life in general, it has kindled a fire in me. I am grateful for cake, for seeing my afro get a bit bigger and for hearing God whisper secrets to me along the way.

I have learned more than in any other year that I need to depend mostly on God and myself, every other thing or person can falter at any moment and that it’s okay for humans not to be completely dependable, we are all flawed after all. I’ve always been someone to speak up and make clear what I want and even go for it, I have learned how much more important it is to be a go-getter this year.

I have also learned to be less stubborn and more flexible. One must be pragmatic to survive in this world that is everything but idealistic.

I learnt that the land of opportunity would rather take an honest racist and sexist man than a flawed but experienced female leader. There are many angles that analysts have looked at to explain the situation and its causes but there’s no explanation for me. I guess I have learnt that some things will never have an explanation and sometimes that is fine, one must simply learn the tiny lessons from them.

If I could, I’d change the harsh way people communicate with each other if I could and I would start with Nigeria. I am never able to look at these Jungle Justice pictures that have been going around for too long. It breaks my heart that human beings can be so heartless. If I could, I would bring back to life Col. Abu Ali because he was a symbol of the hope against Boko Haram that many soldiers still held on to. Knowing someone like him is lost is tough even for many of us who never knew him personally.

Another thing I wish I could change that this world has held onto for too long is gender inequality. I wish, and also work, for a world where women are given the freedom to make choices, be free from oppression and violence and be given equal respect, pay and opportunities. Having that happen would be fantastic but the challenges are many and we continue to fight, speak and advocate for it. Realistically, it may not be a battle that will be won in my lifetime.

 

One Local/ Global Event That Has Shocked Me

So many wonderful and terrible things have happened all over the world in 2016 that have incredible shock value. Because so many of these events have been happening, it is really difficult to find anything so shocking now. Shocking events seem to be happening back to back and have for me resulted in desensitisation.

 

Finally, I asked myself what I would do for myself more in 2017 and I realised I am happy and I haven’t thought about any extra thing I can do for myself when the calendar changes. I have found myself asking- What More Can I Do … to make this world a better place? Maybe that is what I will do for myself. I will see what I can do to make this world a better place so that if I am blessed enough to be alive at the end of next year, the sense of accomplishment and joy from putting good out into the world will warm up my pillow as I lay down to sleep into the new year.

Fiery, passionate, but with just the right amount of warmth. Thank you Maryam, here’s to a 2017 full of everything your heart desires!

So the US election campaigns started about 18 months ago, and I’ll be honest and say I was largely uninterested in the debates, rallies, etc. until very recently. Of course there were the very many days the world was jolted by any of the inappropriate (inappropriate here also meaning scary, unacceptable, criminal, etc.) utterances from Republican Candidate Donald Trump either during rallies, interviews, in the locker room, pretty much everywhere. On those days I would be forced to catch up on the outrage, but that would be all.
Not because I don’t care who the next leader of the free world is, not because I don’t see the incredible importance and leap it would be for a woman to become the next president of the United States, but because my people say that “when a man’s house is on fire he does not bother about the fufu he had on the stove.” There was (still is) just too much “what on earth is going on with my Nigeria” going on to focus on what’s happening in the pond an entire continent away.
TV ads forced me to care. Stickers, posters, heck even conversations a little too animated forced me to join the US Election frenzy. With or without my consent, I’ve had to actively follow.
So, I’ve been in the US for the past 4 weeks now and the excitement/apprehension/tension is palpable. Not the Nigerian flavor of ‘we’re voting for x and y not because we know what they will offer but because our leader says to’, but the ‘we’ve listened to both (major) candidates, know their history and believe overwhelmingly that x is better than y’. Or maybe even that x is the lesser of the two evils, whatever personal reasons.  
It reinforced a thought that led to this tweet“Dear #Nigeria, when we’re done climaxing over the #USElection rallies, our candidates MUST debate in 2019. Anything else is unacceptable.”
I believe that tweet with all my heart, and I hope you, Nigerian, tax-paying, voter card-wielding, pledge-reciting, daughter or son of the soil who has followed the US Elections has been reacquainted with a love for oratory, a respect for facts and figures, an appreciation for the media (and the 2016 expression of the Social Responsibility and Hypodermic Needle theories), and a renewed belief in yourself as a citizen whose vote is worth more than screaming rallies without any substance.
Anything less than debates with concrete plans, economic policies that can be argued for or against, and interventions that directly impact the lives of Nigerians is unacceptable. No more platitudes, no more empty promises, no more roaring rhetoric. 
Our state and national representatives must clearly articulate their plans for us, the people they represent. We cannot applaud the levels of transparency we’ve seen in this election and be content with declarations of assets that end up being as vague as they are untrue.
We must elect representatives who will not subvert but uphold the Constitution, and indeed open up the black hole that the National Assembly budget currently is!
Sigh. Deep breath Chioma. Moving on.
I’ve also thought very deliberately about how technology has been deployed for these elections. I’m not referring to diaspora voting which ensures citizens all over the world are not disenfranchised, and sounds like a brilliant idea till you remember that Nigeria has not come close to perfecting our local, physical processes yet. We cannot guarantee votes cast by human beings we can see and touch (’see and touch’ excluding the era when we had Jamie Foxx and Michael Jackson on the list of accredited voters); yet we’re currently fascinated with diaspora votes. Maybe add that to the things we will blame next for inconclusive elections?
Anyway, I was referring to citizen-centered technology. Technology deployed to make voter education and the voting process as seamless and inclusive as possible. First from the government with the listings/helplines on social and traditional media, to parties and politicians constantly reminding the electorate why, how, and where to vote;  broadcast media and state-specific voting information, to the digital titans deploying doodles, stickers, and other ‘make it cool to vote’ paraphernalia for the electorate to perform their civic duty. No stomach infrastructure, sharing of rice, or bread, or corn; no ridiculous photos where fancy wristwatches meet extreme poverty, none of that mess. 
Anyway, it all ends in the next 24 hours. Those who didn’t already vote have until 8pm to get counted, with a collation and announcement devoid of candlelight, midnight miracles, meme-worthy drama, or any funny business. Governance should also start in earnest immediately after the swearing-in, not 9 months after. 
Quite frankly, these elections rank high on the list of things Americans should be ashamed of – the blatant mudslinging, disrespect for candidates/American History/the American people; the divisive nature of the campaign, the hate it’s inspired, ugh. Shameful.
However, for us, there is a lot to be learned, and I hope we’ve all been taking notes. 2019 is coming. 
PS: Originally published on Huffington Post

I think I’ve written about vulnerable people and metrics for giving alms etc.; how I’m more disposed to women with babies and people with disabilities over people who look ‘okay’ at first glance. I’m also more likely to give food /edible items to younger children instead of money. Just my thinking and how I feel those things should happen.

What do you do when someone shows up at your office though? Yes, there’s a story here.

Two Fridays ago, about evening time I was trying to finish up an application, write an article and send a couple emails; talk about being super busy! My team had just come back from facilitating a step-down training in conjunction with Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) and were putting away their things possibly to start heading home.

I was on the phone to Tata, when one of them came to say someone was waiting to see me. I recorded off the call and asked that she be ushered in.

Frail didn’t capture the woman wrapped from head to toe who entered my office and asked if she could sit. She did, and I asked how I could help. She said she came from Nasarawa State because hospitals were on strike and she couldn’t get her anti-retroviral medication. So she came to Abuja and after going to a few hospitals, got two months’ worth of medicines, and for free. She paused long enough to remind me that ARV are free from government hospitals once you have ‘your number’. I didn’t bother asking what the number was.

Anyway, bottom line was she had spent the money she had moving about and buying food and didn’t have any money to get home. She said she couldn’t beg on the streets and that God told her to walk and somehow she got to where our office is situated. How much was she looking for? N1500 only (less than 4 dollars).

I gave her the money, got my people to give her a pastry and drink from what was left over from their training and her smile is something I will remember for a while! Big, warm, and stretching from ear to hear. Then she prayed for us and left. Ah, she took my number too, said “so I can tell my daughter Chioma when I’ve reached home”. I haven’t heard from her since then, and I really hope she got home okay.

Now she could have just schemed me out of N1500, or she could really have been directed by God to seek help at our office. Either way it felt really good to be there for her and to not have had a plan or standard for that kind of request. May God wanted to disrupt this process of mine.

I dunno. And I think sometimes it’s okay not to.

So it’s been a little while since I reproduced my notes from church, not because I haven’t been attending, but because… *sheepish grin* I’m sorry. I’m glad you’re here though because today’s sermon you cannot afford to miss!

I attend HolyHill Church, and if you’re regular here you know I’m always talking about how I enjoy worshiping there, the choir ministrations, the Word of God that feeds my spirit, and the focus on charity the church has using HolyHill Relief Foundation. I love it! 

On the other hand, I’ve heard a lot about Pastor Poju Oyemade; a number of my friends swear by his messages, and I keep hearing great stories about him. Interestingly, I’ve never listened to any of his teachings, and even though I’m in Lagos a lot, somehow I’ve never been to his church.

Then it was announced that Pastor Poju would be at church on Thursday and for some reason I was super excited in my spirit. I knew I would attend.

Fast forward to Thursday evening, I was in church (EARLY), and a really intense worship session, after which Pastor Sunday Ogidigbo introduced Pastor Poju. Cue my thumping, really expectant heart.

The rest of this post is my reproduction of the notes I took during the sermon. Ready? May God bless the entrance of His words into our hearts, amen.

Title: The Economy of Faith – God’s Economic System

Exodus 6:3

El-Shaddai – God of the field. When God revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He introduced Himself as the one who causes fields to produce in abundance… as the God of the marketplace. God is the God of the fields, the one that teaches our hands to profit.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (Amplified Version) “And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity.”

Such a powerful scripture! (There and then I downloaded the Amplified Bible onto my iPad; no time!)

Deuteronomy 11:10, 8:17, 28:11

When you refuse to work at all, there is nothing for God’s rain to fall on. You’re not in the game. Joseph was working in jail and God met him there.

The mystery is, how can anything good come out of Nazareth? Mark 4:30

Give God something to work with – He needs a seed in the ground for His rain to fall on. Even if working for free is the way to get in, do it. Get in the game.

The History of Money

Barter system – French Opera singer (there was a story here about the barter system starting to fail and this singer who was paid in sheep, goats, pigs, and thousands of coconuts and then had the problem of transporting her pay home, lolololol) – value system for products and services. Money moves when products and services of value are exchanged.

Entrepreneurship – using your skill to open the doors for business. Offering – giving a gift without expecting anything in return.

Wisdom creates labor-saving devices. We, as Christians should be full of this wisdom which is a product of the rain of heaven.

Warren Buffet said, “Acquire skills that no one else has, or invest in those who have these skills”.

The ideas God wants to give to me will be too much for me so I will start to trade in them – consultancy/strategy.

The value is not in the ground but in the idea applied to the product in the ground. For example, crude oil. It was just this black, gooey substance in the ground till someone figured out that refined it could do all the things that earned it the name, ‘black gold’.

The starting point to operating God’s economy is this…

  • When we start doing anything, whatever we make from it is not the point. Whatever we are given, whenever we are given, take God’s part and give to Him. Then He will pour out A Blessing that we won’t have room to contain.

But we need to start doing something first. The strategy of the church is (and should be) “…wherever the soles of our feet tread upon…” Where are your feet going/treading?

  • No matter what we’re doing, praise God there. Give thanks – the earth is waiting to yield increases for us when we praise.
  • Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. John 15: 5 God is the husbandman though, John 15:1, and the scriptures say the husbandman is the first partaker of the fruit. So why do we deny him the first fruits?

Anything I release of my own freewill without any demands on the recipient (implied or not) God rewards by Himself. Prosperity is not in material things but the next big idea God drops in your heart.

It was Daniel, it was Joseph, it was Jacob; God is quicker to put His people as right hand, influential men/advisers rather than kings.

Final word: Get to the office excited tomorrow and pray down God’s rain on your place of business. Glory to God!!

And that was it, the message ended while I was still on the edge of my seat, waiting to drink just a bit more. Argh!! Ah well, means I’m hooked on his messages now jor. Totally!

Good news; the message is available for download on our church website, and you’re welcome to fellowship with us in person or online.

God bless you!

 

 

How’s everyone doing?

Good weekend? Ready for the week? This is going to be one of my busiest but I thought I’d take a few minutes and say a big hello to everyone, play catch up a bit.

So my niece and nephew were ill, one had malaria and a tummy bug, and the other one had a cold that stretched at least two weeks, and she still had it after she gave it to me. We spent small time in the hospital, and that’s where the story about blood donation came from (I published that recently).

I’ve also done a bit of local travel, looking forward to when I can take a proper holiday… I owe myself two – one for my birthday and the other because life is short and we should take time off to rest and be quiet when we can. Amen?

God dey.

Work is alright… Moved into a new office in June and we’re getting settled in really nicely. Really thankful to God for that, and the immediate possibilities I see for expansion.

Still on work, got two interesting referrals recently, a stark reminder that clients, no matter how little, matter and an excited client post your custom might make a difference as much as 24 months after. I’m really thankful for the referrals, and now just need God’s help to ensure that we beat the standards we’re being held to. Amen?

On Saturday I was privileged to speak at my church’s business/entrepreneur summit, and I drew my topic/talk from some work I’d done for a client recently. I spoke on minding the gaps and facing the direction of travel. Corny I know but it was a good opportunity to fuse my love for trains with my experiences as a student, an employee, and now an employer. It was interesting for me to talk about some of the lessons I’ve learned, and how each step leads to the next, and the next, and the next. It was also very instructive to talk about the place of God in business, and the mistakes I’ve made simply because I ignored the still small voice telling me no. I had a good time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

What else? I’m happy. Sweet baby Jesus this daughter of God is happy. I am joy-like-a-river, peace-like-a-fountain, love-like-an-ocean brand of happy. Such a beautiful feeling. Everything in my life; experiences, joy, sadness, mistakes, successes; everything that I have seen has prepared me for where I am now, and I am thankful to God for His many blessings and precious gifts. There’s a new mercy every single day! And I’m loving it!

Finally, I need to get back in the gym. Don’t know why I’m typing this instead of renewing my membership but yeah, this child needs to be back in that place where more calories are burnt than piled on. Yep. This week is out of the question sha, and I’m not bothered in the least what you think! *sticks tongue out*

Finally finally, lol. My nephew moves to reception next school session! Whoop! He’s officially a big boy now! Interestingly, he’s slowly outgrowing the millions of hugs and kisses I drown him in, and he’s only four! I thought they didn’t start all of that till much later? Arrrrrghhhh! Bring back my baby! *sad face*

Finally finally finally, I got a birthday gift yesterday… I know o, this is still for the birthday that passed in May. Is the Lord laying it on your heart to send me a pressie? Harden not your heart biko!

How have you been? Are you keeping okay? Are you doing well? Want to share? Please do!

Mwah!

PS: A song in the back of my mind for a few days now has been “we are h-a-p-p-y, we are h-a-p-p-y, we know we are we are sure we are, we are h-a-p-p-y!” (If you went to primary school in Nigeria this should ring a bell… or two… or three… or four… I’ll stop here)!

In March, social media woke up to a really startling story: a young girl, a 13-year-old child that had been kidnapped from Bayelsa, taken to Kano state, rechristened Aisha in an apparent conversion to Islam, and married off to a young man. The girl? Ese Oruru. The man? Yunusa Dahiru, aka Yellow.

The contradictory reports in the media were as frustrating as they were ridiculous. First, it was said that she was eighteen, despite her family’s cries to the press to the contrary. Then the poor child was demonized, something about her dating the man, writing him love letters, and being in love with him, like the word of a child on those matters should be acknowledged. Then it was back to the arguments about her age again, and how she was 14 years old and not 13. On and on and on, splashing her face in the papers, in the hearts and minds of Nigerians that choose, very conveniently what to forget, and what to remember and stigmatize others by.

Interestingly, while this was going on, a number of other parents cried out about their teenage daughters getting abducted, married off and raped. Yes, rape because that is what this is. Non-consensual intercourse is rape, compounded in these cases by abduction, and of minors.

Back to Ese Oruru, we were confused with the back and forth that freeing the girl and returning her to her parents threw up. A lot of conversation between her not getting released till HRH, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi gave instructions to that effect because she was in his custody, the Royal’s swift denial, convoluted messaging from the police, on and on.

Amidst hashtags, commentary in the press and extreme pressure on the consciences and sensibilities of people involved in the matter, Ese Oruru was finally returned to her parents in Bayelsa in March 2016; seven months after her abduction, and recently gave birth to a baby girl. A baby birthing a baby, rife with the risk of VVF, and the total disruption of her life as we know it.

Yunusa Dahiru was charged to court too, a five-court charge of criminal abduction, inducing by the use of deception and coercion, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.

We woke up to reports on the 11th of July that Yunusa, with expensive legal representation, has been released on bail and whisked back to Kano. The news story was garnished with a photo of this abductor and rapist at the airport. The end, literally.

Screenshot 2016-07-11 16.41.23

Some responses came back on how long it took for the alleged abduction and rapist to get bail, the constitution and laws being the problem, rape being a bailable offence, the quality of our laws and the attendant handicap of the judiciary etc.

There were also less sane responses about Ese’s case not being a peculiarity because underage girls get abducted and raped daily, it took three months to secure bail, and then of course the ultimate expressions of ignorance couched as insults or the representation of the matter based on ethnic sentiments.

Both sets of responses ignore the fact that we’re talking about a child. Both sets of responses ignore the fact this case already stinks to high heaven. They ignore the fact that by not speedily prosecuting this case, securing a watertight conviction, and dispensing punishment that is a deterrent to potential offenders, we have lost yet another opportunity to protect our children. We keep failing them.

I have written about child molestation, rape and other crimes against minors before, taking time to narrate not just the horrors the children have faced, but the helplessness the parent feel, and the stark failures of our systems to mete justice.

We have a Child Right Acts that took 12 years (1991 – 2003 after Nigeria signed the convention on the Rights of the child with UNICEF support) to go through the National Assembly, and more than 10 years after that, only 24 states have passed and given gubernatorial assent to the law in their states. That means that our children, the most vulnerable in our society, left unprotected and we do not feel any sense of urgency. Implementation aside, it means that the appropriate legal framework for the protection of the rights of our little ones is still a pipe dream. There is no urgency from the Judiciary or the Legislature whose job is it to empower the courts.

Unfortunately, this sad story probably ends here, and this statement is based entirely on precedent. No rehabilitation for Ese, no clear deterrents for the society because we don’t protect our children. No justice because we have a National Assembly that is filled with self-serving paedophiles who do not agree that people under 18 are children and so will scuttle privately and in public any plans to protect them. A National Assembly with officials who will uphold anything other than the laws they were elected to (and swore to) protect.

While Gambia and Tanzania ban child marriages, Ghana considers raising the age for marriage for girls from 18 to 23; we have popular commentary in Nigeria that posits that child marriage is the preferable, dignified and honourable alternative to child prostitution. The Giant of Africa lagging behind where it matters the most.

We can do better. We must do better. This 8th National Assembly has the opportunity to write its name in the annals of history, and we hope they take it.

First published on Premium Times, and on Future Challenges.