How to Shield Your Children from Corruption

24 03 2019
Robtel Neajai Pailey
Robtel Neajai Pailey

Rife in every section of Nigerian society, corruption is more visible in the armed forces who clog highways with sandbags and drums, and openly extort money from motorist.

I was driving with my 7 yrs nephew, Jonathan, by my side. It was a hot afternoon. We came to a police check.

“Do you want to be a policeman? “ I asked mischievously.

 “No,” the boy answered, without hesitation.

“Why?”

I was curious to know the reason for such categorical rejection. A police job is honored work in many countries.

“They are corrupt!” he quipped with blinking.

The policeman by the car in front crumpled something into his pocket waved him on. We were next.

 I wound down and greeted him cheerfully.

“Anything for your boys?” drawled the officer.

“Nothing today, sir” I said, sheepishly. “May be tomorrow.”

He waved us on.

We drove on in silence. I was wondering how much harm was done to children by witnessing daily daylight graft on our roads by men in uniform.

It reminded me of another story a woman told me, some time ago, about her 7 yr old son, Hamza. He had just joined the boy scouts, the uniform and badges gave him such a trill, he felt like an officer, and like officers do, he wanted money. The next day, on his way to a scouting activity, he stepped into the middle of a busy road and faced a fast approaching taxi. He had seen policemen do all the time. As the car raced towards him, horn blaring, he raised an authoritative hand. Stop!

 The car swerved at the last minute to avoid running him over, the driver spat at him, passengers cursed and showed him their five fingers. Passersby screamed as they hauled him by the ear out of the road and someone whisked him back to his shocked and grateful mother. That was the end of his scouting career.

The difference between Jonathan and Hamza, it occurred to me, was that Jonathan goes to a private school where Christian ethical code were taught every week. During classes, teachers emphasize the difference between good and evil, and how lying, cheating; in word corruption, harms. They help them discover good and do it, the help them uncover evil and avoid it; they learn that they can make mistakes and how to be quick in correcting themselves.

Hamza, on the other hand, attends a public school ill equipped to teach him Math’s and English, but very efficiently creates an environment that makes it hard for him to be virtuous.  He learns from older pupils how to steal, smoke, drink and climb school fences at night to visit brothels. He never been furnished any argument against the corruption he sees.

Yet more Nigerian children attend public schools than private schools, and we cannot have it both ways. Either we teach these children about the evil of corruption now or we have corrupt citizens later.

This troubled Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian academic, activist and author until she decided to do something revolutionary.

 In 2012, frustrated with all the rhetoric about fighting corruption in Liberia she wrote anti-corruption books for kids. The first one, Gbagba loosely translated, means ‘trickery’ or, ‘corruption’

 “I realized that integrity must be strengthened at the earliest stages in a child’s life in order to mitigate the practice of corruption in the next generation” she said.

Gbagba is the story of young twins, who leave the countryside to visit their aunt in the capital, Monrovia. The intrigues of adults in everyday corrupt practices—robbery, bribery, fraud, vigilantism—collide with the children’s strong moral sense of right and wrong.

Immediately after the children arrive in the city, a thief “in dirty clothes” snatches their suitcases in broad daylight. The description of the robber tells us that that the man is poor and desperate. But the idea that it is greed rather than dehumanizing poverty triggers the man’s thievery incites the threat of mob justice

And in no time, the twins later observe their aunt’s driver bribing a police officer. Their aunt’s indifference during this encounter stands in stark contrast to the twins’ sharp perception of the unfair advantage that takes place after the transaction.

You can watch the video adaptation of the book here and please share with your children

Pailey was inspired to write the book in order to give children the verbal tools to question the ethical and moral values of adults around them. The book received critical acclaim and has been adopted as compulsory reading by Liberian Ministry of Education

“Eight to 10-year-old children are the perfect targets because it is at this stage that they begin to form an ethical core,” Pailey continued.

 “In writing Gbagba, I imagined myself a proverbial anti-corruption pied piper, without the instrument of doom…. Even though Gbagba‘s setting is Liberia, it remains a universal tale about children’s emancipation from the confusing ethical codes of the adults around them”

As Pailey says, children are the moral compass of Liberia if not the world. When they start publicly exposing corruption for what it truly is, my hope is that adults will be shamed into living more honestly, with integrity.

The book has been turned into a play and the play was well received by parents, teachers, and school administrators in Liberian and other African countries.  It has also been converted to a play, and 200 theatre-goers enjoyed the performance in the audience on debut day.

A parent of one of the cast members informed Pailey her daughter is now the integrity police in their household, pointing out when her parents and siblings are being dishonest.

This is a worthy investment Nigerian government should consider making, inviting Pailey with her project and give children like Hamza the knowledge they need to fight corruption in themselves and later in Nigerian society . Pailey has since written a sequel to Gbagba called Jaadeh.

By Chinwuba Iyizoba





Boys behaving badly.. By Pius Adesanmi (Professor)

18 03 2019

Today, I decide on a capitalist lunch alone. My assigned driver takes me to a capitalist restaurant – one of the elitist watering holes of anybody who is anybody in Nigeria’s centre of power.

I invite the driver to come in with me. He is shocked. He is used to waiting in the car. Or being given some change to go and find an appropriate Mama Put for his own lunch while the Ogas eat in the capitalist location.

I have no idea why I asked him to come with me. Inside, we strike a picture of contrasts. All eyes raised. All eyes looking at the odd pair.

We are taken to a table for one because the waitress naturally assumes that my driver is just carrying my phone and will find his way out to wait in the car as soon as I am seated.

I ask her for a table for two. She looks at me, looks at the driver, mouth agape. Something ain’t adding up. She takes us to a table for two. The driver is in a strange universe. Fish out of water.

I help him with the complications of the life of the rich: how to order swallow and “protein” from a menu in the ways of the rich instead of barking at Sikira to add more ponmo and shaki at Iya Basira’s buka. I order the same swallow and protein for both of us.

Inquisitive looks. Hostile looks. Querying looks. You’d think we were a black and white interracial couple that had just entered a public space holding hands in America or Canada. It is the same looks of disapproval. But this time, it is not from folks frowning on interracial border crossing. It is from rich Nigerians, big Nigerians, Ogas at the top and their accent-forming sophisticated mistresses, feeling that their space has been violated by the presence of my driver.

Much to my disappointment, nobody says anything to us and I miss the opportunity of a fight. However, I’m extremely pleased with what is going on – this sense that I am violating that space gives me immense satisfaction. I am also pleased that once he attacks his food, the driver no send anybody again. He eats with the natural noises of his normal buka environment – sneezing, belching, guffawing, etc.

There are moments when one has to be a strategic agbaya if it serves the purpose of getting on the nerves of a certain class of people so I join in the bad behaviour, also belching loudly and drawing satisfaction from the disapproving looks on the faces of some of the accent-faking sophisticated ladies and their male company at other tables.

We walk out royally after our meal. I can sense the happiness which engulfs my driver. We strike a conversation about it all on the way to the airport. He tells me that the most painful part of it for him is that all those madams and ogas spending about N10,000 for a meal for two are often people who owe their drivers, cooks, houseboys, house girls, gardeners, maiguards and nannies salary arrears and refuse to pay.

That is when it occurs to me that he probably would have appreciated the cash equivalent of what I just spent on a single lunch for him.

Our bill was N8000.

At the airport, I give him N4000.

His profuse prayers are the last words I hear as the airport terminal swallows me on my way to Lagos………
~~~~~~~~~***~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pius Adesanmi is a Nigerian Professor with Carlton University in Canada that is among those that died on the ill fated Ethiopia airline

Rest in Peace Professor Pius Adesanmi…..🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾





Breadseller or model, a good job is attractive

15 03 2019

by Chinwuba Iyizoba

Jumoke the bread seller whose ordinary work turned her into a model has uncovered how extraordinary and attractive an ordinary work done well, with love and a smile can lead to success.

In 2016, 27 yr old breadseller, Olajumoke Orisaguna—Jumoke, a mother of two was pounding the streets, carrying her wares on her head, eking a living to save her family from starvation.
Unawares, she walked into a street photo-shoot and was caught in the background. While editing the pictures later, the female photo-journalist was so smitten by her photogenic beauty and determined to find her, she posted the picture on instagram and successfully tracked her down and offered her a job as model, thus making an inspiring rag-to-riches story that held Nigerians spell bound for years. Fans couldn’t get enough of her, hope spread among desolate millions in the streets that one day their luck will change.

Olajumoke Orisaguna walks into a photo-shoot accidental
The Picture of Jumoke at background that made her famous

Her parents were too poor to send her to a formal school, Jumoke had trained as a hairdresser because and in 2010, met and married a craftsman. But their combined income wasn’t adequate to feed their two children. To haul the family out of appalling straits, she moved from Osun to Lagos with one of her daughters, to work in a bakery. It was a hard and difficult work, on foot each day with a tray laden with bread loafs on her head. Yet, come rain or shine, she kept a smile on her face.
That afternoon walking past people talking pictures, unconcerned, she smiled and hurried on, calling for customers; little did she know that Lady Luck saw her.

She had since become a runaway success, yet she remains inwardly unaffected by it, humble and straight talking her reality TV shows are filled with great street wisdom and is the darling of you-tubers.

In one of the episodes, she spoke with her usual unadorned candidness, of the shocking things she had seen on social media, things like a man getting married to a man and a woman marrying another woman.

With the candidness of a child she expressed it as utter “unNigerian” and unthinkable.

Jumoke’s wisdom

She was simply expressing her opinion, and besides she isn’t a lettered woman, and as Peter Kreeft, philosophy professor of Boston College said, “There are certain falsehoods that you need a PhD to believe.”

Yet, the floodgates of hate and cyber bullying were immediately flung wide open and attacks on her person and family began. Orchestrated and led by a Ghanaian self proclaimed transsexual who continues to smear her, intent on ruining her, and getting her blacklisted by modeling companies.

Not satisfied with hounding her job, they have turned on her husband and marriage, spreading vicious rumors that she was sleeping with other men and disrespecting her husband.

Yet, come hell or high water, Jumoke is refusing to succumb to threats, and continues sharing her hard gotten wisdoms with Nigerian youths who adore her. And she is not all talk, often swinging into action when she comes across women in grim straits. She recently convinced her promoters to intervene and build a house for an aged woman she saw being evicted from her home.

Jumoke

Yet, young people best remember that Jumoke’s success wasn’t entirely of her own making. “Lady Success” lent her a hand whilst she was busy with her ordinary work selling bread, for love of husband and children.

How true what someone said, that success, true success is really carrying out the duties of everyday and the little things of each day well, with a smile if possible and always elegant. For it is along ordinary paths of life that we meet our destiny.

Still her success is an unlikely story for millions of indigent youths. A rare combination of luck and the goodness of a relentless photo-journalist had made her what she is today, and many Nigerians may never have such luck. They should not be disheartened however, but rather continue doing their ordinary work well, throwing in a smile along, even if their work should suffer the privation of remaining unclaimed till death.

They should remember that just as a man submits to the cruel torture of a surgical operation in order to save his lives; it is quite possible ordinary life’s cruel sufferings might save the life of their souls if accepted with love and a smile. “Pain or suffering of any kind for that matter can, be bearable when accepted as a form of purification,” some spiritual writers say.

And anyone who examines himself honestly will find much to purify: sins, omissions in love, disorderly inclinations which must be paid either in this life or in the next. Suffering is necessarily part of this life, and those who wish to go straight to heaven, after a life spent wholly in God’s service must not shrink from it

And St Paul exhorts in scriptures, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us when we contemplate God face to face.”
And St. Josemaria Escriva adds,“ Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”

Infact, Escriva, with Gospel in hand, constantly taught that God does not want us simply to be good . . . , he wants us to be saints, through and through. However, he wants us to attain that sanctity, not by doing extraordinary things, but rather through ordinary, common activities. It is the way they are done which must be uncommon. There, in the middle of the street, in the office, in the factory, we can be . . . holy, provided we do our job.”
Young people might not all become famous like Jumoke, but their work no matter how ordinary, done with love, and extraordinarily well, is attractive and is a sure path to happiness.





An African gift to a Danish woman

24 01 2019

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

Danish woman social worker who fed and gave new life to a Nigerian child left for dead by his family because they thought he was a witch is herself rewarded with a new life.

In 2016, a Danish woman, Anja Ringgren Lovena, a social worker, found a toddler, emaciated and riddled with worms wandering the streets of Akwa-Ibom, he was naked and fending for himself.


She bent down and gently fed the boy and gave him some water, later she wrapped him in a blanket and with the help of her team took him to a hospital where he was given medications to remove the worms from his stomach and given daily blood transfusions till he was stable enough. She then took him home, washed, cleaned, fed, clothed him and called him Hope.

Pictures she shared of her feeding the starving boy broke the internet and the hearts of many the world over; and she received more than a million dollars in donations. A few months later she posted pictures of the fully recovered boy looking healthy and robust. Again, the pictures went viral and she became a celebrity, but more important, her life was changed forever.

The boy Hope had brought hope back into her own life.

“I have been looking to find meaning in my life,” said Anja, who grew up in a loving home, where her Mom worked with elderly people and thought her how to care and love other people. Her mom often told her stories of African children starving, and as a young woman she became very fascinated with Africa.

At 23, her mother’s death from cancer shattered her life. Distraught, she began looking to find meaning in her life, and decided to come to Africa.

 She founded an organization for children in 2012 in Malawi but opted for Nigeria when she stumbled across online articles about children killed after being accused of witch craft in Nigeria.

“When I found out that so many innocent children in the Niger Delta Region were tortured and killed due to superstition and the belief in witchcraft, I was in total shock,” said Anja, “it really made me so sick to my bones. How could anyone do this to children?”

From then on nothing could stop her from coming to Nigeria. Children needed help

 In Nigeria, in 2013, she met and fell in love with David Umen, a social worker and a law student; together they formed a team and built a children center.

She and David had been on many rescue missions, in obscurity, unclaimed until that fateful morning of 30th January 2016, when she found Hope, a most precious gift clothed in distressing disguise. Hope made her famous.

Now she has 100,000 followers on instagram, more than 150,000 Facebook followers, and millions across the globe who, admiring her generous heart, wish to be better.




On that January morning when she first looked into Hope’s frightfully hungry eyes, she saw with crystal clarity, what many Danish people  or Americans or European can’t see, and therefore can’t understand or even imagine exists.

She grasped that unless she helped them see what she was seeing with her eyes, through the lens of her camera, many will continue drifting aimlessly, chasing shadows and fleeting pleasures, unaware of that inner call to dedicate themselves to something greater than them.

Her pictures shattered the comfortable selfish lives of millions, and raised consciences long dead; and as she extended her hands to feed that little starving child, many satiated stomachs whose hands never extended to feed any other but themselves quivered uneasily knowing they could be better, they could contribute something, they could share some of their bread with those who have naught.

When she saw the starving child, she acted like a human being and became an inspiration for millions,” says the editor of German-language Ooom Magazine that listed Anja as the most influential person of the year 2016.

 “Her sustained efforts to help the abandoned children of Nigeria gives us hope and encourages us to follow suit.”

Africa has given Anja a gift, a return to humanity now lost to many of her folks bent on killing their children through abortions. Abortion is fully legal in Denmark, done on-demand up to twelfth week. A super rich country like the United States killed more than 45 million children via abortion since the 70’s, and just this week, New York legalized abortions until birth for any reason whatsoever!

Africans are ignorant, backward and poor; no doubt and in their ignorance, kill children. Yet, they are excusable precisely because they are poor, ignorant and backward.

More shocking and inexcusable are the acts of nations and peoples, highly educated, highly progressive, and super rich who kill unborn children as a right and a privilege. According to Mother Theresa of Calcutta, “Any country that accepts abortion is the poorest of the poor.”

“Many people are concerned with children of India, with the children of Africa,” continues Mother Theresa.  “These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today- abortion which brings people to such blindness.”

Unlike African blindness, easy to cure with education and bread, European blindness is complicated and requires a complete surgery to right their crocked world view filled with anti-human ideologies of trans-genderism, of homosexuality and atheistic anti-life policies.

Africa has given Anja a home to welcome as many witch-children as her heart desires; Africa has also given her a gift of love in return: Emmanuel, her handsome husband, has filled her heart with joy of life and a gift of her own very son whom she cherishes more than life itself.

By extension, Anja’s action encourages all Nigerians to rise and uproot this evil superstition killing children and do more to help others; there is a joy that the world cannot give that comes from helping others, and as the end of life approaches, perhaps those acts of charity are the only things that will endure; for it is simply true that when we help others, we become better.





Transformative Power of Work by Ikechukwu Onuoma

28 09 2018

 

IMG-20180308-WA0035

UNIV NIGERIA 2019: Getting down to business

Did you ever think about the fact that only humans have hands? It may seem obvious, but it’s not. In the world of nature, we humans are uniquely vulnerable: wings, paws or flippers get you around a lot faster and farther; furs and feathers provide protection from the elements; refined senses, instincts, and defense mechanisms automatically kick in to ward off dangers and detect opportunities for growth.

But our vulnerability is at the same time our strength.

With our hands, we can build wings to fly.

With our hands, we can design our own habitat and weave our own clothe.

With our hands, we can provide care, establish relations, and protect ourselves and others.

Our hands are instruments open to infinite possibilities.

With our hands, we humanize the world through arts and Medicine, Gastronomy, Architecture, Fashion, Communication, Education, Domestic Work and Design.

Our interdependence creates employment opportunities in Commerce, Health Care, Politics, Law, Economy, Business and International Affair.

Our openness to infinite possibilities drives work forward creating Technology that entertainment us and innovations in research.

With our hands, we work. But have we always worked in the same way? Today the world of work is undergoing arguably the most drastic transformation since the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century. Information technology, shifting social demographics and globalization are some of the factors that are shaping the ambiguous future of work, in which one-track careers are being replaced by multi-faceted professional trajectories, and personal capacities and aptitudes such as critical thinking, resilience, problem-solving and decision-making are increasingly valued over technical know-how.

The world of work in the 21st century is full of challenges: vast geographic and social inequalities, corruption, inefficient structures, forced labor, unrecognized and uncompensated work, human trafficking, unregulated activity in emerging sectors and high levels of youth unemployment.

So let’s get down to business. The 21st century professional is serious, dedicated, diligent, creative, focused and capable of persevering in an integrated cognitive and physical effort. What kind of personal development does a professional in today’s workforce need in order to convert needs into opportunities and vulnerabilities into strengths? How does one´s profession become an authentic service to society and the individuals who surround us? What can your hands do that a robotic arm cannot? What can you contribute beyond the scope of artificial intelligence? The challenges are many, but our hands are open to infinite possibilities.

 

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Ikechukwu Onuoma is a lawyer and the national coordinator of
Univ Nigeria





Sarah McLachlan’s $15 music video gives $150,000 to charity

1 12 2017

Fools do nothing when they think the can do little. Canadian musician and song writer, Sarah McLachlan may not have done much to ease the sufferings, injustices and hunger in this world, but she did something, she did what she can. A successful musician, she could have spent 150,000 USD to produce her music video, “World on fire” with all the glamor and glitz, but she decided to use her camera phone instead, and spent just 15 dollars and donated the rest to charity

“World on Fire” music video opens with the singer sitting on a simple chair in a barren room on an otherwise empty set. A title card comes up: “What’s wrong with this video? Well, it cost only $15.” Then the song, featuring the lyrics “The more we take, the less we become / A fortune of one that means less for some,” lists where the rest of the typical $150,000 cost of the film would have been spent (“a producer would cost $7,500”). The twist is that McLachlan’s video dollars are used not on those typical production costs but to help poverty-stricken children and women in Cambodia, Niger, Bangladesh, India, and other struggling countries. (That would-be producer’s salary instead bought “6 months of medicine for 5,000 patients” in a Nairobi health clinic.)





 It’s not worth the risk

22 08 2017

condoms

I had a chance encounter with someone at the swimming pool recently that got me thinking. He works for a foreign NGO that deals with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Africa.

“We go around educating people with the illness about the importance of taking their drugs,” he said.

“Why is that necessary?” I asked, wondering why someone living with AIDS would need an agency to remind him to take his drugs.

“They are ashamed,” he replied, “there is a strong stigma attached to AIDS in this country and people simply do not want to be identified or known as having AIDS.”

“I can understand that,” I said.

“Yes.  So, even though we are offering the drugs free, yet people don’t want to come forward to collect them. Many people are living in suicidal denial

“Human beings are very complex,” I said.

“But do you have preventive program as well?” I asked.

“Yes, we promote the use of condoms.”

“Are you aware of the claims that condoms are not foolproof, some even have holes big enough for Aids viruses to easily pass through?

“That has not been scientifically verified,” he countered.

I smiled.

“But I am sure you aware from experience perhaps, that fingernails can scratch holes through latex condoms?” I continued.

He smiled and began speaking truthfully.

“Yeah, you are right,” he said, “many of the condoms are even expired without the user’s knowledge. And many people don’t check expiry dates before putting them on if at all they do.”

“Sex is a passionate affair,” I said, “and in the heat of passion, people get carried away and become careless.”

He smiled. Looking cornered, he said, “In the absence of better solution, what else can we do?”

“But there is a better solution,” I said with another smile.

“Abstinence?” he asked.

I nodded.

 

“I know, but how many people can control themselves?” he scoffed.

”It is not easy I agree, but when you challenge people, they can do a lot. At least warn them of the dangers and educate them about the abstinence alternative.”

He nodded. There was a thoughtful look in his eyes.

I continued, “Consider for a moment how doctors and nurses wear gloves, and surgical masks and gowns when going in for a surgery. Compare that to the level of protection offered by a single condom. Besides, we are not talking about just HIV/AIDS; there is a host of other sexual and nonsexual transmitted diseases which can be transmitted during sexual acts.

He was silent.

“Plenty of different body fluids are exchanged during intercourse” I added.

“You are right,” he admitted again, “abstinence and mutual fidelity is the only prevention worth promoting. The stakes are two high, and it is not worth the risk of using a condom.”

We concluded and shook hands. He was an honest man and I left the pool feeling that I had made a friend.  I promised to send him an article I wrote many years ago on the “Bleak stories behind failed condom campaigns”

 

From the Editor

Chinwuba Iyizoba








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