IS THE ECONOMIC RECESSION A VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS?

This Article was written by Mr. Kayode Majekodunmi. Kayode holds a Master of Laws Degree from the University of Notre Dame, in the United States and has been a human rights lawyer working with an NGO that deals with issues of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

For the past couple of months, the uniform cry you hear from almost everyone in the country is that times are hard. The prices of commodities have doubled from their initial prices in just a few months. Everything is affected; even eggs are not left behind in these upsurge. What is worse is that salaries have not increased to match said inflation, instead they are slashed and in some cases a lot of workers have been laid off. Policies of government seem to be making things harder and worse for Nigerians. When one thinks about it, one can’t help but wonder what our government is doing about it and when all of these will come to an end. Does the government realise that it has an obligation towards the citizenry, to make our lives easier and not difficult? Are our human rights not being trampled upon with this economic recession?

One set of rights that the Universal Declaration of Human rights recognises, which our government does not pay attention to are economic, social and cultural rights. These sets of rights obligates government to fulfil the rights of the citizens to health, education, housing, adequate standard of living, science and culture. Are these rights being fulfilled? How many of us enjoy the best education, healthcare, good standard of living and housing? We are all aware that to enjoy even the most basic of these, one will be left out of pocket providing them privately. How many Nigerians can afford to pay a premium to live comfortably when it is becoming challenging for some to even feed their families?

 This article is an attempt to understand if the present economic recession is a violation of human rights. Even if there is a likelihood of not getting a direct answer to the question posed above, we must not be deterred from exploring the mystery between human economic needs and human rights in a world of inequality and global economic imbalance. We can also trace the issue at stake here through the perspective of addressing recession as a human rights issue, especially considering the recession’s toll on the weakest rights-holders in the world, those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder.

 It was due to a realization that economic and social rights are an integral part of human rights, that the United Nations adopted the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1966, which Nigeria is a party to. In the case of Nigeria, the campaign for the establishment of a welfare state was brought to the forefront when the nation witnessed an oil boom in the 1970s.

 In Nigeria, the inclusion of Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution was a manifestation of the intention of Nigeria to the ideals of Socio-Economic rights. The provisions of the Fundamental Objectives chapter of the Constitution include socio-economic rights such as the right to security and welfare, right to political participation, right to education, right to health, right to environment, right to secure adequate means of livelihood including suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled and other vulnerable people. In order to guarantee national prosperity, the state is obligated to promote a planned and balanced economic development and harness the resources of the nation.

 As good as the above provisions are, they are non-justiciable, i.e. they are not enforceable in the court. Their enforcement is at the discretion of the government. The drawback to the appropriation of these ‘dreams’ or objectives by citizens as of right is found in the provision of Section 6(6) (c) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that the judicial powers of the Court: “shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution;”

This provision of the Constitution makes the objectives non-justiciable. The Supreme Court took a giant step in giving life to this provision in the case of Attorney General of Ondo Vs. AG of the Federation and Others. Where the Supreme Court said the provisions would be enforceable if the National Assembly makes a law that breathes life to it. Based on this declaration by the Supreme Court in the instant case, the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Act gave life to fundamental principles and directive principles of state policy that the government should take steps to abolish corruption.

 How did we find ourselves in this recession? There have been different reasons attributed to how we got into the present recession. The following are some of the reasons:

  • Inability of the previous administration to save.
  • Pervasive Corruption of previous administrations.
  • Nigeria’s over-dependence on foreign products.
  • Economic policies of the present administration.
  • The delay and controversies of the 2016 budget.
  • The activities of militants and pipeline vandals.
  • The existence of wasteful and abuse-prone subsidies.
  • The different actions (or inactions) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in forestalling recession.

The irony of the present recession being experienced in Nigeria is the fact that the situation was as a result of government actions or inaction and it is affecting the people who are groaning under the strains of the dire straits of state of the economy. The economic impact of recession is felt so much by the common man and the most vulnerable in the society. Women, children and the young continue to bear the brunt of the economic downturn and there is presently nothing in sight which would indicate the government is ready to fight the telling effect of the economic hardship.

 With the entire above, one can safely say that the economic recession is a violation of the human rights of Nigerians. However, as with other socio economic rights in Nigeria, there are simply no avenues known by the law to take action against the government. One can only continue to hope and pray that the legislators will be up to the task of seeking redress by taking pragmatic steps to address the negative effects of the harsh economic condition on the masses.

The hands of the courts are tied as far as the implementation of Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy are concerned. The executive seems to be struggling with what to do to chart a course out of this maze called recession we have found ourselves. It is now left to our legislators to act. We all have the duty to push our legislators to represent us properly and make laws that will alleviate the sufferings of all Nigerians.

Continue reading “IS THE ECONOMIC RECESSION A VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS?”

Why Human Rights?

Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard about the call for a nationwide protest march made by Tuface Idibia that has been circulating on the social media for about a week now. Tuface has requested that all Nigerians join him on February 6 2017 in a protest march tagged “Enough is Enough” against the government and its policies, which have caused recession and suffering in the country. This call is not without the attendant controversies, with many people reacting in different ways to his call. While some people think it is necessary, some others think it is not. Many Nigerians, ordinary and public figures, have expressed interest in taking part in this nationwide protest march; one of those who recently showed interest in being part of the protest march is the Governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose (that’s not surprising though). We all know that this (protest march) would not have been possible in Nigeria many years ago during the dark military era because a lot of people would have been arrested, in fact, heads would have rolled! (Is any one left wondering why we are still recycling military leaders in this country?). In all of this, I think to myself this is progress and human rights at work!

When I told a friend that I wanted to concentrate more on human rights related issues on my blog, he asked “why human rights?” I wondered to myself, “why not?” I know that most other blogs deal with entertainment, gossip, fashion, politics and many other topics, but why have I chosen to focus this blog on human rights related issues?

There are a number of reasons; some that readily come to mind are: first and foremost, this is what I am an expert in, partly because I have a Master of Laws degree in international human rights law and because I have worked in the human rights field for over a decade. Now lets go to another reason; Human rights is the core of our existence- it is the only privilege that is bestowed on us immediately we are born, the tragedy here is that most people do not know this. A lot of people do not know that government is a custodian of power that we give them and we are actually the ones with the power. We are the “right holders” and government is the “duty bearer” The government therefore has a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill our human rights; this is an obligation that it owes to us. This obligation is not a personal favour that a government bequeaths as it deems fit to a priviledged few, but an obligation that it is expected to achieve for every citizen of its country, regardless of sex, religion, beliefs, tribe and any other difference you can think of. Our government has committed itself under the Constitution and other international laws to carry out this three-fold responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill our rights and therefore can be held accountable by the people and the international community for failure to do so. This responsibility can be broken down as follows:

  • The obligation to respect means that government must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights.
  • The obligation to protect requires government to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses.
  • The obligation to fulfill means that government must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

Has our government lived up to its responsibilities? Are our rights being respected, protected and fulfilled as Nigerians?

For many years, Nigerians have suffered and continue to suffer from corruption, insecurity, inter-communal clashes, political violence, violations of rights by security agents of the state and so many other violations and abuses. We have largely kept quiet, sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of ignorance and most of the time because we are not directly affected, that is, until we actually become affected. A person without knowledge whose right is being violated will definitely be fearful because he or she is not equipped to speak up or act in defence of his/her right or seek help to protect him or herself. This is why a lot of wrongs do not get corrected and why the status quo has not changed for such a long time.

I am actually glad that we have transitioned over the years- from being silent, to grumbling within closed doors, to a bold few going out to protest and getting arrested for doing so (during the military era), to a social media awareness period that brought about protesters behind the screens of their computers, to people coming out to protest, being fully aware that they will not be arrested for exercising their rights (I believe that will be the case in this proposed up coming protest).

A nationwide protest, while it is an exercise of a fundamental right under the Constitution and under international law is and should always be welcomed. However it should aim to be peaceful, effective and results oriented. Why will thousands of people leave their homes, jobs and families on a Monday morning to go out to protest under the scorching sun and at the end of the day, they don’t achieve results? I will like to believe that organisers of this protest have a clear mandate on what they hope to achieve with the protest. A nationwide protest that does not change the status quo will be an exercise in futility.

So, how many of you are taking part in the nationwide protest?

 Toodles!

PS: Don’t forget our Human Rights Free Clinic where we answer your human rights related questions or issues that you are confused about and need clarification on. Fill our contact form and we will get back to you with the professional advise that you need.

Protecting the child, a collective responsibility 2

Hello my people, I hope you are having a wonderful week so far. I certainly am. I have loads of gist to give you about what has been happening but before then, I need to get this very important topic on child sexual abuse that I started with last time concluded. To refresh your memory on what the last post was about click here:

Here are some existing myths about child sexual abuse:

  1. Child sexual abuse is rare and does not happen often: A lot of people think that child sexual abuse is rare and does not happen often- this is a myth. Statistics have shown that one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria are abused before the age of 18 years old. Just imagine 4 girls standing together, now there’s a huge possibility that one of them has been sexually abused! That’s really scary.
  1. Child sexual abuse involves only forceful penetration: Wrong! According to UNICEF and other research, child sexual violence can take the form of sexual abuse, harassment, rape or sexual exploitation in prostitution or pornography. These acts could involve physical contact or non-physical contact for them to constitute sexual abuse.
  1. Only strangers can sexually abuse children: Studies have shown that it is those who are quite close to the family of the child, that abuse children, not necessarily strangers. Studies in Nigeria have shown that girls first sexual experience occur in the following order: romantic partner- friend – neighbour – classmate – stranger. While boys first experience is in the following order: classmate – neighbour. You would be surprised to know that house helps, drivers, relatives and family friends are perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Also, children are most likely to experience sexual abuse in the perpetrator’s home, in their own home, at school or someone else’s home (e.g their friend).
  1. Only adult men can sexually abuse: Wrong! Women can also sexually abuse boys. A couple of adult men have admitted that their first sexual experience was with an older lady who was either their older sister’s friend, an aunt, a house maid or even their teacher at school. In addition to this, children also act out sexually with other children. This means we have to be careful about the kind of information we expose our children to. A child who has seen pornographic content or who is frequently being exposed to sexual acts by adults, would most likely see it as normal and would act it out with another child when the opportunity presents itself.
  1. All sexual abuse victims are girls: This is also a myth. Even though the rate of boys who have been sexually abused is not as high as those of girls, boys are also sexually abused by both adult men and women. This happens in a lot of boarding schools and other places you find young persons of the same sex sharing a living space over a period of time. You would either find a situation where an unwilling “feminine” boy gets abused by the bigger and stronger boys. This myth also goes hand in hand with the one that says that child molesters only molest children from the opposite gender. This is false.
  1. It is sometimes the fault of children who are sexually abused because they dress provocatively or display provocative behaviour: Now this is one excuse for bad behaviour that a lot of men folk give, to justify rape by their peers, which I absolutely hate! Really? I mean Really??? Does this mean that a man who rapes a 5 year old did so because she dressed provocatively? According to experts, there are two things a rapist looks for when he tracks a victim: opportunity and vulnerability. The thought that provokes such an action is the man’s and has nothing to do with the victims’ actions. Statistics have shown that women who were sexually abused/raped (now I am talking generally) have different characteristics- some were gorgeous, others plain, some were young, others elderly. Some were attacked while wearing jeans and a T-shirt, others while wearing jogging clothes or heavy coats. Some were children (sadly). So sexual abuse should not be excused because of how the victim was dressed.
  2. If children did not want to be sexually abused they could tell the abuser to stop: Now picture this: a 30 year old man who is 6 feet tall and a little 10 year old child.  Now tell me on whose side the scale is tipped in terms of strength, power and persuasion (that is if he is even trying to coax her into being abused)? The adult abuser is usually a person in a higher position, authority, status or age than the victim. Children have also been taught and made to believe that adults are always right. This would definitely prevent a child from stopping or reporting abuse, especially when the abuser has promised to do something for the child or threatened to take something away from him/her . There is a fear that refusal to comply would cause harm to the child, or to other members of the victim’s family. The abuser usually instills fear in the victim, before, during and even after the abuse.
  1. Majority of victims report the abuse to someone else – This is a myth. Victims do not always report abuse because of different reasons like fear, being too young (example is 6 year old Jummai I spoke about in the last post), financial consideration, manipulation and coercion, guilt and shame and believe it or not, a desire to protect the abuser.
  1. Sexual abuses occurring in homes or within families are often isolated, one-time incidents: This belief is false. Statistics show that 71% females and 69% males who experienced Sexual Violence reported more than 1 incident of abuse. In some cases it goes on for many years and only stops after the abuser or victim moves out of the place where the abuse took place, e.g. is when the child becomes older and goes away to boarding school.
  1. Family members who do not know that sexual abuse is happening are always irresponsible: When we hear about sexual abuse, everyone is quick to blame the parents for shirking their responsibilities and not being watchful enough to know that their child/ward is being or has been sexually abused. This is not always the case because to be honest, it is not practically possible for parents to be with their children 24 hours in a day. Especially with our present economic situation where most times both parents have to work to make ends meet. There have also been cases where children of housewives get abused. Abuse occurs firstly, because the offender works hard to keep it a secret. From the story cited above, there was no way that Jummai’s parents, who were both in the house during the time of the abuse happening outside, would have suspected that the driver was abusing their child. This is because the driver worked really hard to keep it a secret, by knowing the schedule of the family. He knew his boss would be having breakfast with his wife at that particular time and the other siblings were not interested in playing outside like Jummai did. Secondly, abusers groom family members to ensure that they do not suspect the abuse. Grooming takes the form of being really nice to the kid, offering to help out with taking care of the child, buying stuff for the child, helping with the child’s home work etc. All of this ensures that the parents do not suspect the abuser.
  1. Non-violent sexual behaviour between an adult and a child is not damaging to the child – This is another myth. Studies have shown that children who were abused either violently (rape) or non-violently were affected negatively in different ways and exhibited behaviours, which include emotional instability, increased sexual behaviour, faulty interaction with others, drug and alcohol abuse and other deviant behaviours. Sexual abuse is linked to poor mental and physical health with outcomes that include self-harm, thoughts of suicide and sexually transmitted infections. Among females that were raped, 1 in 7 reported pregnancy as a result of the sexual violence, 10% of children victims reported missing school due to the sexual violence they experienced, 9% attempted suicide, 6% of the girls who disclosed used drugs or misused substances as against 2% of boys.
  1. Children who are sexually abused are damaged forever: This is false. With proper physical, psychosocial and spiritual support and interventions child victims can move on to live fruitful and purposeful lives.

Now you have it and its time to take action. One cannot say this enough: it is our collective responsibility as parents, teachers, pastors, friends, brothers, and sisters to a potential victim (don’t say God forbid! Remember 1 in 4 girls?), to ensure that child sexual abuse is stopped in its tracks. You can do so by stopping and/or reporting any incidence of child sexual abuse you come across to the appropriate authorities. It is offence against the state, not against the victim alone; this means without the family, the perpetrator can still be prosecuted. We should also educate children about child sexual abuse by telling them what to do when they find themselves in certain uncomfortable situations with adults. We also need to have close relationships with our children so that they won’t hesitate to tell us about inappropriate behaviour towards them by another adult. Time spent preventing child sexual abuse from happening is of far greater value than time spent fixing a child who has been damaged by sexual abuse.

Enjoy the rest of your week folks and don’t do what I would not do. 😀

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/15426517@N07/10398665926″>The laughter of all</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Help gone wrong- “Madman”

Everyday when I drove home from work or to church on Sundays, just before the right turn that led to my church, I would see this “mad man” at the bus stop. Sometimes he sat dejectedly under the shade of the bus stop, with his tattered grime-covered clothes, his hair overgrown and dirty. I sometimes saw him sleeping on his make shift bed, made of cartons straightened to form a mat. I felt sorry for him each time I drove past and something tugged in my heart to render some sort of help, no matter how little. Sometimes I wondered where he came from, whom his family was and if they knew he was there. I asked myself what could have been responsible for him being there- most likely a mental illness of some sort.

I wished to help somehow- get him some food, clean clothes or provide help in the form of psychological rehabilitation- Just to give hope to a fellow human being. However, in spite of my altruistic thoughts towards him, I could not summon enough courage to approach him. This was because I couldn’t tell if he dangerous; what if he attacks me and I had no way to escape and no one to help me out? Or worse still, what if he bites me? (Ha!God forbid). There’s this superstitious belief I heard of that if a madman bites you, you would also become mad. Despite my fears, each time I drove past the bus stop, I thought of ways to go about my “mission” to help the mad man.

I still have memories of when I was a little girl growing up in the cold city of Jos, Plateau state, in primary school, we always passed by a madman at a place called farin gada, on our way to school in the school bus. This man could be described as a creative madman. In his case, he started by sleeping under a tree, in the cold weather. Gradually, he started gathering sticks and wood under that tree. As children, we wondered what he was up to, as we all gathered by the windows to watch him whenever our bus passed that place. In addition to the sticks and wood, he kept adding all kinds of knick-knacks to his collection daily. Then when he was satisfied with his supplies, he started building a house just by the road. Everyday, we watched his progress with interest. Anytime we approached farin gada, we all crowded eagerly at the windows of the bus to see how far he had gone with his task. As each day passed, we saw the progress he had made- starting from the foundation, to the frame and up to the roof of his little shanty. Finally, after a couple of weeks, he completed his project- a shelter to protect him from the elements and what he would call a home. Then we stopped seeing him outside like we used to before his shelter was built, he now resided inside his new home! I often wondered what it was like inside the shanty. Well that’s a thought no one in his or her right senses would want to pursue further, for the sake of safety. As kids, we had to find other things to interest us on our ride to and from school, when the creative mad man show was over.

Anyway, back to the current mad man. I will call him Erin (Elephant in Yoruba language), You will know why I call him that soon enough. For the past couple of months now, I have started listening to myself speak to me, instead of listening to the outside world speak to me and tell me what to do. I started doing this when I realised, after several researches and soul-searching exercises, that most answers to our questions, resided right inside of us, if only we asked, searched and listened to our inner self. Since I started listening to my inner self, I started getting good results- the world started looking different to me and its been great. Ok back to the reason why I went into that explanation. Each time, I passed by his bus stop shelter, my inner self kept telling me to take some food to Erin and I knew it was something I had to do or else I would keep getting the same push to do so.

Finally, when I had had enough prodding and was tired of making the “I am busy” excuse, I made up my mind to just do it! (Nike style :)). On the first Sunday of this year, a day I knew that a friend was coming to visit, I packed some Jollof rice and chicken in a bowl, with a bottle of coke, put them in a plastic bag. When my friend came in, before he had time to settle down, I told him of my intention to take food to someone. Well, I said something like this, “Please I need you to go with me, to give some food to a homeless man somewhere not too far from here”. Luckily, he readily agreed to go with me. So off we went in his car. On our way, I decided to explain the situation to him- the fact that I was not sure of the mental state of this man because this was my first time of taking food to him and that he is what we would call a madman. I was relieved when he said “No problem, let’s go”. As we approached the bus stop, I started getting scared, my palms started to sweat. All sorts of thoughts ran through my head about this mission. I wondered if I was in my right senses because I know that here in Naija, we always avoid mad people for so many reasons, the most compelling is to avoid being bitten and becoming mad too (I know that no one would want to test the falsity of that superstitious belief because even if one does not become mad from being bitten, the pain of being bitten by someone with an unstable mind would definitely send maddening pain all over ones body!).

Anyway back to my gist, as we neared the bus stop, I asked my friend to slow down. We drove slowly until we got in front of the bus stop and stopped, with the engine still running of course and the car in gear, just in case we had to flee. Erin was asleep stretched out on his carton mat, so my friend honked his horn. He woke up with a start, looked up, shielding his eyes from the sun to take a proper look at who was disturbing his afternoon nap. He walked cautiously towards the car, looking unsure. Then we greeted him, he responded and I thought to myself “This is going well”. So I picked the bag and said, “We brought you some food”. He collected the bag with its contents, then he said “God bless you, thank you”. He asked for our names, I hesitated a bit, but when my friend told, his, I also did the same. We asked for his name as well and he said “Erin…something” (I didn’t get the last part of his name). It was a Yoruba name. What struck me was the fact that he spoke coherently and not like I had expected. I mentioned this to my friend as we drove away, having concluded my successful mission. My friend however advised me that I should be very careful about helping an unstable person because of my safety.

Needless to say, I was pleased that I had accomplished this task and was looking forward to doing more acts of kindness. You know that feeling of joy and satisfaction that comes from giving to someone who you expect nothing from in return? That was what I felt throughout that day. The next Sunday, I decided to take some food and drink to him again, since he didn’t seem to pose any threat the last time we went there. So off I went again. I greeted him and he responded and I reminded him that I had come the previous week with my friend. Then I gave him the food. Before driving off, he asked if I could buy him bottled groundnut and bread. So I said I will do that and bring it to him the next day. However, I didn’t anticipate my schedule for that week – what I call crazy busy days. I couldn’t fulfill my promise to Erin to bring him groundnut and bread. Finally, on Saturday, which was another busy day for me, I managed to squeeze out time to buy a loaf of bread (I bought the groundnut a day before). Then I headed for the bus stop that was Erin’s shelter. As I drove by the place, I didn’t see him. Although I saw his mat and a few rags where he slept. Anyway I decided to go home and try again the following morning on my way to church.

After getting dressed the following morning, I headed to church, with the intention to drop the groundnut and loaf of bread with Erin. When I got to his shelter bus stop, I saw him standing leaning on the wall of the shelter with something like a small radio held close to his ears (I didn’t want to believe it was a cell phone). I stretched my hand over to the back seat to pick up the bag of goodies. When I looked up my mouth dropped open in shock when I saw that the guy was actually smoking Indian hemp! My hand was stretched over the passenger window with the bag I held. Imagine my second wave of shock when he opened his mouth and said something like this to me with an angry tone of voice, “You told me you were going to bring these stuff to me since last week, and I waited for you but you didn’t come, what is the meaning of that?” Then he hissed and proceeded to snatch the bag from my hand and walked back to his shelter. Well words failed me; I drove away and slowly closed my mouth.

So many thoughts came to my mind as I drove- the first was a resolve that I was never going back to that ungrateful “mad man” again. I was also quite annoyed that he would talk to me like that. But I stopped being angry when I told myself that he was unstable, what did I expect? To be treated like a long lost cousin? Then again, I thought of my safety, what if he had attacked me and no one came to my aid? Thank God that did not happen. I drove past the bus stop on my way to church a couple of times after that and saw him but I knew I had to preserve myself from harm, so the thought of stopping, stopped crossing my mind. All of this happened in January within a space of three weeks.

Last week, on my way to work, I was listening to a radio programme I usually listened to every morning. The presenter of the programme had invited the police as guests on the programme to sensitize the public about safety. The policeman then informed that the police recently apprehended a “mad man” who everyone thought was actually mad because of the way he looked. I didn’t catch the part about the location where he was apprehended (I was distracted by my son who was saying something to me), but the rest of the story was that he was caught with Indian hemp, a small gun (yes a gun) and some other items that might have been stolen. The moral of the story was this: not every madman you see on the streets is actually mad, some pretend to be mad just to attack unsuspecting victims. I haven’t seen Erin at the bus stop since the day I heard about the mad man who got apprehended by the police and I seriously suspect that he is the madman who was arrested by the police.

Tosne, note to self (pull ya ears well): future charitable acts of kindness towards the indigent shall be targeted at and carried out through appropriate, formal and regulated channels e.g. orphanages or IDP camps, where you would find people who are sincerely in need and where your safety would be assured.

By the way, did I tell you that I was given 100 dollars the first time I gave Erin food? Who says my inner man isn’t super?

Have a blessed, productive and wonderful week guys!

Random Ramblings… because it doesn’t have to be serious*

*Random ramblings are just what they are –random ramblings; my thoughts, my imagination running wild, other people’s thoughts; real or unreal, with light humour meant to just make you smile. This I will feature on Tosne’s Blog from time to time, I hope you get it, because it really doesn’t always have to be serious.*

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Its 2pm on Saturday and I have been in my towel for about one hour now, doing nothing: not taking a shower, not wearing my clothes – I just feel so comfortable in my towel and if possible I can be like this all day. I remember my mum scolding me for doing this many years ago when I was still a teenager. She would shout, “When are you going to get out of that room and take a shower? Owuro lojo!”

Then as a teen I’d be distracted by an interesting movie showing on TV or a book that I am reading (I have always loved reading books). Then I’d tell myself “Let me just watch/read for 5 minutes before going to shower”. Then I would sit through 10 minutes of the show or book. I would then say to myself again, “maybe I should just watch/read for another thirty minutes”. By the time its thirty minutes into the movie or book, I’d tell myself that the movie is almost over anyway, so its better to just see it to the end (or read that chapter to its end). By the time I’m done and decide to finally go and take a shower, two hours or more has already been spent!

Ok back to Saturday afternoon, just before deciding to go into the bathroom, yet again, I felt my stomach grumble with hunger, so off to the fridge I went still in my towel, in search of a snack, which took another 10 minutes. Ten minutes after, hunger satisfied, I hurriedly jumped into the shower and took a bit of time daydreaming about Idris Elba (yes he’s my man crush, ok lets not go there okay?) and how wonderful a date with him might be. Shower over and I came out of the bathroom to put some lotion on my body.

Just as I picked up the lotion and balanced myself well on the edge of my bed, facing the TV, a show started on Investigation Channel, about how a husband killed his mistress a few weeks after she told him that she was pregnant. “Hmmmmn,” I said to myself “Na wa oh, some men are wicked sha…” Then I decided there and then to see how the show would end, because my immediate desire was to see what happened to the “killer man”. Though I already knew that for the show to be featuring that story, the man must have been caught, convicted and serving time or a death sentence already carried out on his unfortunate soul. Anyways, as I slather my body with lotion, I watched as the story unfolded. Then I started to wonder to myself if such a thing could happen to me: I put myself in different roles of the characters of the story and asked several “what ifs”: What if I was the wife, what if I was the husband and what if I was the mistress? What would my reaction be if I found myself as one of them in different scenarios? As the man, would it not be better to have come clean and divorced his wife if he truly wanted to be with his mistress? (Though a long process and expensive choice, its still better than murder); Would it not be better for him to leave the mistress if she was just a fling? (Since agbada don dey hook for nail). Or better yet, maybe he should have used protection, to prevent a pregnancy (common sense is not so common when it comes to lust!). So many what ifs… but in conclusion, I always tell myself that a lot of people get into trouble because of selfishness and fear, which prevents them from thinking though their actions before carrying them out.

Anyway, I’m finally done with the lotion, walked to my wardrobe where I spent another 15 minutes trying to decide what to wear. By the time I decided on what to wear with clothes strewn all over the place, the show was over, with the end that I expected: conviction and a long sentence for the man. Then I hopped out to meet up with my date … 2 hours after I said I would be there shortly (oh no!).

So are you still wondering why I took so much time getting ready and being there on time?

 

 

Dignity of the Human Person

file1101277665895Hello folks! Its been a while right? I have been battling with Internet issues that somehow got in the way of putting up posts on the blog. However it seems today things are looking up again. I pray that we will one day finally overcome Internet issues in this country. Amen.

So after thinking of what to talk about today, I remembered another issue that frequently occurs in this country which gets me really upset and sad: lack of respect for the dignity of the human person. Nigeria is signatory to many international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The Convention Against Torture and other related instruments, which clearly state that no one should be subjected to torture, cruel or degrading treatment, and we all have the right to dignity of our persons as humans. In spite of our country’s international and domestic commitment to respect these rights and others, we still find a lot of cases of violations, with little or no intervention from our government. Section 34 of the Constitution of Nigeria states that:

Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly:
1. No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.

Let me just briefly define some of the terms I have mentioned above like, Cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment and dignity of the human person.

Cruel is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “disposed to inflict pain and suffering: devoid of human feelings”. Not having human feelings that are expected of normal human beings in the face of pain and suffering of another person is cruel. Cruelty is starker when the person inflicting the pain and suffering does it with no feelings of pity or sympathy for the victim who is the subject of the cruel act, but instead does it with indifference and even pleasure.

Inhuman” is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as “lacking pity, kindness or mercy: not worthy of or conforming to the needs of human beings” This definition connotes the suffering which no human should reasonably be made to go through or endure and which no human should inflict on another.

Degrading is “to lower in grade, rank or status: to lower to an inferior or less effective level. Treating a person in a degrading way, when looked at in the context of the definition is putting a person in a position or situation which is lower than that of other humans, in order to humiliate them. Almost as one would treat animals that one does not care about. I must say at this point that nowadays, even animals have rights as animal rights activists now abound :).

Dignity” in this context according the Merriam Webster dictionary means “the quality or state of being worthy, honoured or esteemed.”Dignity of the human person in my view would therefore mean treating a person with respect, as being worthy, treating a human body in a honourable way, in a manner that gives high esteem to the person.

Just last week a friend sent me a link to read. When I checked it, the caption was something like this: “woman caught cheating on her dead husband”. That got me really puzzled. When I scrolled down I was appalled when I saw pictures of a naked man and woman who were being paraded on a street by a mob. Then I decided to go ahead and read the story. I was even more appalled by the story, which read that the woman’s husband had died a few days ago and she was caught having sex with her lover before the deceased husband was buried. I had to take a pause and ask myself why what she did was classified as cheating. Is it actually possible to “cheat” on a dead person, who no longer has the ability to feel, think or even get angry that he has been cheated on? If the answer is “No”, then why mete out a demeaning punishment like that on the widow? Even if the man was still alive, could such degrading treatment be justified?

Usually, it is expected according to tradition in most parts of the country that a widow should mourn her husband for a few months or a year after he has passed on. She is also not expected to have any relationship with a man during that period, out of respect for her deceased husband. However, if a widow decides not to do so, for reasons best known to her, should she then be subjected to such demeaning and degrading treatment of walking around the village naked and asked to sit on the bare ground with her lover in that state? All of this was done, according to the perpetrators of the degrading treatment, to supposedly “cleanse” the village, for their immoral acts. I am a little bit satisfied that she was not asked to do this alone, as it happens in some other cases, where only the woman gets singled out for punishment for adultery; as in this case her “partner in crime” was also included in the punishment. However there is no justification for treating anyone in that manner. We have laws that govern all our dealings in the society and the rule of law must be upheld in all situations. Otherwise we would not be different from animals in the jungle.

What puzzled me most were comments that came after the post: so many people lauded the punishment, heaping insults on the woman, saying: “it serves her right”. I then wondered what our country was turning into. If in this day and age, people still applaud barbaric acts committed against fellow humans, all in the name of justice. Then I ask this question: in this case, justice for whom?, especially since the husband was dead.

The horrible “ALUU four” incident that occurred about a year ago readily comes to mind. Four young men, who were university undergraduates, were killed by a mob in the most barbaric manner, over an unfounded allegation that they were robbers: they were tortured, cruelly treated, degraded and eventually killed. This sort of mob justice keeps being a recurring decimal in our country and it is time for us to stop it. We have to stand up against injustices that we see happening around us on a daily basis, we should condemn in strong terms all acts of torture, cruel and degrading treatment and extrajudicial forms of justice, instead of supporting them. Who knows if tomorrow it would happen to us or very close to home? Only then would we realize that these are menaces that should be stamped out completely from our society regardless of our traditional beliefs.

Have a wonderful weekend!

10 words and phrases Nigerians love to Use, Misuse, and Abuse.

naija flagAbout two years ago around the period of Nigeria’s independence day, my friend Dooter Malu compiled a list of 10 words and phrases, Nigerians use, misuse and abuse. I only got to read his post recently on Facebook. I found his compilation and description of each word or phrase very hilarious but apt. So I decided that I would share them with my readers, with his permission and he has graciously allowed me to. No copyright infringements! :P. I believe most Nigerians would totally identify with these words and phrases and I can bet that a few of us have used at least one or two of them at some point or the other. It is just a few days to our Independence Day, so I am posting this in the spirit of preparing for our great country’s 53rd year. I hope you would enjoy reading as much as I did.

Here goes…

10. Opportuned
Example of how it is used: “I was opportuned to speak with the Governor last week”
This first word doesn’t actually exist, at least not in the English dictionary. It is in the category of words I consider to be IFBG (I Fit Blow Grammar). Speakers would normally use the word with the intention of evoking privilege. Ironically it evokes the opposite.

9. It goes without saying
Example of how it is used: “It goes without saying that the police take bribes”
This is not a disagreeable phrase, but as my friend Myani Bukar notes, if it goes without saying, then it probably doesn’t need to be said. If I could save a word from the list, it would probably be this one, because when I’m speaking, it provides a sort of four-word pause that enables me gather my thoughts. So it goes without saying, that when I use the phrase, I probably don’t know what I’m saying.

8. Go back to the drawing board
Example of how it is used: “In order to move forward with the economy, we have to go back to the drawing board”
This is a good phrase to fill in when you have a dearth of ideas. By saying nothing, it is really saying nothing. This phrase should ordinarily be used to indicate that an idea or scheme has been unsuccessful and that a new one should be devised. When it’s used by Nigerians however, the literal definition is employed, meaning that the bad ideas left on the ‘drawing board” are revisited. The next time you hear this phrase, please request to see the drawing board, because you probably won’t want to go back.

7. Fortitude to Bear the Loss
Example of how it is used: “We pray that God will grant you the fortitude to bear the loss”
This is one of those phrases like “Merry Christmas” that you hear over and over again in its season; in this case, it is the season of loss. The phrase is however quite appropriate as the word “fortitude” stands almost solo in the English language in expressing courage in pain or adversity. I don’t spite the phrase; I just mourn it because its overuse has removed the intimate commiseration that those in mourning deserve. 😦

6. Step up their game
Example of how it is used: “In other to score, the strikers need to step up their game”
This phrase is commonly used in sport commentaries. Compare the following commentaries at half-time of a soccer game:
Tommy Smith (ESPN Sport Commentator): “The 4-5-1 formation should allow some fluidity in the mid-field. The central mid-fielder should overlap more to give the lone striker more support without exposing his back, which can be covered by the wingers.
Tunde Tijani (Nigerian Sport Commentator): “The mid-fielders are not passing well, they have to step up their game; The striker is not going to get the ball, I think he has to… he has to, step up his game.”

5. All Protocols observed
Example of how it is used: “His Excellency the Governor, His Excellency the Deputy-Governor, The Right Honorable Speaker of the House, The Honorable Chief Judge, The Honorable Commissioners, the Honorable Senior Special Advisers, the Special Assistants to the Senior Special Advisers, blah blah blah, all Protocols observed”
Nigerian leaders love protocol. Scratch that. Nigerian leaders love recognition and events are organized to remind them of their names and offices. But that’s not my grouse with the phrase. “Protocol” is an official procedure or system of rules. The phrase “all protocols observed” is therefore the equivalent of entering a meeting and saying “all people greeted” or entering a questioning and saying “all suspects interrogated.”

4. He died of Old Age
Example of how it is used: “We regret to announce the death of our grand father who died of old age”
This is a phrase that I imagine should get Doctors reeling in laughter, but is however commonly used in Obituaries. My brother disagrees with this one as Coroners in the UK and some other countries accept Old age as a cause of death. Old age however, is not quite a disease as it is a state of being. Elderly people can die of Pneumonia, blood clots and heart attacks, but not old age. Saying someone died of old age is like saying a drunken youth died of youthful exuberance.

3. Yesteryears
Example of how it is used: “I remember in yesteryears we had unlimited electricity supply.”
The Nigerian penchant for invoking past memories is quite famed. Nothing is better in the present and this IFBG word is often used by Sages to remind us how pathetic our progress has been. There’s really nothing wrong with this word just that its overuse makes its ordinary usage seem stale.

2. Peradventure – Nigerian Pronunciation: Paraventure
Example of how it is used: “If peradventure we had unlimited electricity supply our economy will be growing by 9%” (This is actually true).
It’s not so much the meaning of this IFBG word as much as its pronunciation that stands out. The word should ordinarily mean “perhaps” or should be used as an expression of uncertainty or doubt as to whether something is the case. For its Nigerian usage however, the phrase that it is used in would have the same meaning as it would have if the word were omitted. (Consider the example above). In other words, if peradventure you omit the word “peradventure” there is peradventure a good chance you would be better understood.

1. My names are…
Example of how it is used: “My names are Dooter Daniel Malu”
The funny thing about this phrase is that it started out as a correction to the perceived grammatical error of introducing yourself in singular as “My name is…” and then calling more than one name. In its noun form as used in an introduction, the word “name” refers to the entire set of words by which a person is known, addressed or referred to. You can however use “names” when you are referring to insults (as in calling someone names) or making reference to people involved in illicit activity (naming names). So the proper expression of using “names” in an introduction would be, “My names are Dumb, Silly, and Tevez”

Have a wonderful weekend and be safe!