Posts Tagged ‘People’s Democratic Party (Nigeria)’

The thing I love best about the #31Days31Writers series is the diversity it stirs up, from people I probably would never have heard before! And there is so much knowledge and insight in the world we miss out when we don’t listen to others! Halimah has such a powerful post, and it is my pleasure to present this beautiful writer on the 3rd day of our series!

My name is Halimah Tauheed and I am Congolese-Nigerian, a fact I have hidden for so long because I was afraid of the reactions of people. I stay in Minna and people there are still not quite receptive of “mixed “nationals like me. I teach at the Federal University there and I also volunteer at the campus radio. I love continental dishes, especially Indian. I am constantly fiddling with my phone, not because I am chatting, but because I am learning new (and sometimes weird) stuff.

Forgive me for not following the order in which we were asked to write. Hence, I will start with what I have learned this year. I have learned to take my own advice. I present an inspirational program every Sunday where I dole out words that would hopefully uplift people’s spirits and souls but the funny thing is I often go home after each show empty. I learned that it is okay for me not to be the most amazing person in the room. It is okay to be just me. I learned that it is okay to love and not be loved in return. I learned that love cannot be bought, forced, cajoled or manipulated.

For as long as I can remember, people, including some so-called friends, described me as “awkward”, “misplaced” and “weird.” I realised I was not understood and did almost everything to change that perception. I have learned it is ok to be misunderstood and “out- of- place” in society. I have learned to believe that I matter too and I am learning to love myself. I have learned that people are human and will hurt you, sometimes not of their own volition and that I must forgive them for my own good. I learned that I am also deserving of my forgiveness. I learned that certain “important” people would walk away from you and life would go on. I have learned not to squirm when I look at myself in the mirror and to love my imperfectly perfect body. I have learned that life is like the roads in Nigeria where some parts are good, others bad and the rest horrible. I have learned to be less judgemental of people. Everyone is fighting a battle, some that would give u shivers down your spine. I have learned that there is still hope, even in the face of depression, tears, and fears.

I am grateful to The Almighty for the opportunity at another chance to do right by myself, do right by others, to say sorry, to motivate someone or anyone, to help a person whether friend or stranger. I am grateful for family and friends who love me unconditionally. I am grateful for the boy who calls me “Mummy” even though I am not. I am grateful for the gifts I have been given and the ability to use some if not all of them.

If you ask me what I would undo this year, the first thought would be not to be so emotional. But on a second thought, why would I want to turn off part of my humanity? It is part of what makes me unique, makes me “me”. I realize now that it is a gift. So I would undo all the excuses I made up, the procrastinations and most of the pity parties. I would have been nicer to strangers, not lost my temper so often, and been more patient.

To you, it is not too late to make 2015 worthwhile and have an amazing 2016.

Boom!! I enjoyed reading this so much, it felt like Halimah was writing to me personally! As a matter of fact, when I received her entry my reply was “I think you have a gorgeous heart, and I really enjoyed reading this. I can’t wait to share with everyone!”

This was for me. Really. Come back tomorrow!

One of my favorite past times is ‘putting forward my strong reasons’ why a thing should go one way or the other, big thanks to my father who encouraged us to ‘defend’ (used very loosely) requests, e.g. a increase in our weekly allowances. Thinking about that particular episode makes me chuckle – the intensity with which I argued you would think I was trying to get myself off death row! Those were the days…

Some would say Nigeria is on death row – the economy is as distressed as the very definition of the word, Boko Haram is FINALLY losing ground but still wreaking havoc via suicide bombers, and in the words of a friend of mine, corruption has become a ‘come one, come all’ venture. Regardless of the giant strides this government might have made across board, everything pales when lined up against insecurity.

Now, there are currently 14 people put forward by the existing political parties in Nigeria, who say they have the answers to our problems; who say we should vote them in as President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. From ending the Boko Haram insurgency in one month, to running an inclusive government, to banning the importation of rice, the politicians are waxing lyrical, touring states and only stopping short of promising to raise the dead in exchange for our votes.

Beyond the ruckus and rhetoric our road tours are, beyond the hoarse voices and prostituting musicians hoping from one campaign trail to the other (h/t Etcetera), what do the presidential candidates have in store for us? Beyond the cleverly crafted documents and sexy presentations, where exactly are their minds? Stripped bare, without the music, what are these candidates about?

Now, we hear the Presidential candidate for the All Progressive congress General Muhammadu Buhari has said he would not participate in the Nigeria Election Debate Group NEDG-organized debate because the component organizations have been compromised. Exact words from Garba Shehu, of the directorate of media and publicity for the APC Presidential Campaign Organization said, “The boycott was due to the “unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme, against the corporate political interest of the party (APC) and its candidates.”

Here’s a few reasons I gleaned off Twitter at the time and why I think none of them hold any water.

  1. AIT and co are government funded, partisan, pro GEJ, etc.” What is a debate though? Isn’t it men standing behind podiums and talking? How much influence can the partisanship of the medium airing the debate have? Will any of the parties not be allowed to speak? Their microphones will be turned off mid-sentence? What exactly, in a debate that will be aired lived and probably live streamed at the same time? Do we not know that Nigerians, who are suckers for the ‘underdog/victim’ narrative, will naturally gravitate towards whoever seems to be getting a hard time during the debate?
  2. “President Goodluck Jonathan refused to debate in 2011.” This particular excuse amuses me to no end. APC runs on one word, ‘change’, implanting it in the hearts and minds of supporters and opposition alike. Yet, the plan is to walk a path only because someone else walked it four years ago. Really?

And now, three questions of my own.

  1. What is the plan for the Sambo/Osibanjo (vice-presidential candidates for the incumbent and APC respectively) debate, which seems to be the more favorable idea? Will all purportedly partisan media be banned from attending?
  2. Should current and future presidents relinquish control over the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria so they will truly be independent? That’s an obvious yes, ditto for our electoral commission; real question is would all the presidential candidates honestly be open to doing that?
  3. Why not just pass up on the elections as well, seeing as the Independent National Electoral Commission is government-funded and therefore purportedly/potentially compromised?

Final word. Nigerians have never been this interested in the elections and the one person to whom we will entrust our lives and living for the next four years. Every party deserving of our votes should be raring to go, seeking out every opportunity to reel out their plans to take Nigeria to where we need to be.

Dear handlers, let your candidates debate.

PS – this piece was written in November 2014, but never made it to my blog. The live debate on #RubbinMinds (available here) on the 8th of March was brilliant (both the idea and the event itself), and reminded me about it.


PPS – Originally published on Future Challenges.