Tag Archives: Nigeria

Returning to Naija? Culture Shock, and Personal Struggles

If you are returning to Nigeria after spending some time in another country, particularly a developed one, be prepared for the reverse culture shock which will surely hit you. First of all, a lot of people will dodge you because they perceive that you are here to ask them for a job. Ha! Then there are these fun points to consider.

1. There is no constant and consistent electricity supply. Be prepared for power cuts and excruciating heat. For example, last night, I spent the night hugging a coke bottle in a bid to cool off and get some sleep. Carry your phone charger around and be prepared to charge it in your car, in restaurants, at work, even in church. Water supply is also a luxury, the city mains in Nigerian cities and towns barely work. People have taken laws into their hands and have what we call bore hole, which is a deep well with a water pump that distributes water to the entire house.

2. You must have two phone sim cards because you see, one network will shut down, and you will miss that job interview. You will also miss that contract you have been sowing for. Equally important is the purchase of 2 different internet sources, don’t believe the adverts on billboards. Some poor naive JJC actually believed something about one provider and bought their modem because of an advert hahaha. A word is enough for the wise.

Source: Commons Getty Collection Galleries
Source: Commons Getty Collection Galleries

3. To drive here, forget the driving rules you learnt during the theory and practical tests that you managed to pass “in abroad”. To drive in Naija, you better play those car racing games on your Ps3 or whatever series your neighbour allows you to partake of occasionally. The practice will help you to effectively weave in and out of traffic appropriately and dodge the owners of the road. Traffic rules and traffic lights are discretionary, pray that your instinct proves useful for when to and when not to obey them. If you like, try walking casually across that zebra crossing on the road. You will be dead in minutes. You may find that the drivers prefer to speed up upon approaching a zebra crossing, it means “move move move”.

4. When you go into the banks, restaurants, government offices, you are an annoying relative who is disturbing them. Forget all that nonsense about you bringing your business, or your tax paying their salaries (do you even pay tax?) Are you the only one? This is a country of 170 million people (methinks there are more of us), someone else will bring business to the banks and restaurants and airlines. We are so used to being treated badly that we just get on to it. Have you had the waiter watch and discuss Chelsea, while saying to you “Order nooow” and then ask for a tip? Have you had a local airline delay and cancel their flights without saying a word to their partners. Be clear about what you want and insist on it. Goodluck…

5. Sorry if you look foreign i.e have an accent, or look fairer than usual. Better get a tan quickly and learn to speak with a Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa accent, whichever comes to you naturally or prices will keep going up.

6. God bless you, or we thank God, or God is faithful, does not mean that man is good or that woman should run your business. People pray to God and rob you at the same time. Religion in Nigeria does not translate into goodness. Don’t be deceived.

7. If you are a woman, you are fair game. Why have you not married? Why have you not had children? It is well, etc. Everything male will flirt with you and treat you as fair game. You may have a bit of respect if you have children in tow or a ring on your finger, but men will act weird; old, young, married, single, colleagues,etc. Be prepared.

8. Your old mum or dad will be treated with tremendous respect and kindness. Our attitude towards older people is very sweet, unless they have dementia, then they may be a witch and their senile rambling is them confessing their witchery and all the people they have killed.

Urbanization. Source:www.spyghana.com
Urbanization. Source:www.spyghana.com

9. There’s no need to discuss religion, women’s rights, or anything progressive such as online shopping for groceries (meat, vegetables, God forbid, are you not ashamed to buy meat online? If my wife does that, I will chase her back to her father’s house, etc). “It is not our culture” to do anything differently than the everyday norm in Naija.

10. Finally, there is a huge sense of entitlement that you will notice. That person did not help me. He did not employ anyone. When I was struggling, that my uncle went and bought another car, he wants to be the only rich person in our family. Maybe he bought the car because he works very hard and saved to buy himself a nice car?

Finally, if you are female, and a man tells you that he loves you (as you may hear without knowing anything about the person and vice-versa) thrust one or two plastic gallons or cans into his hands and ask him to prove his love by buying you a minimum of 10 litres of petrol for your car, and another 10 litres for your generator, nobody has time to do love where there are significant queues for petrol. I rest my case

“My Mercedes Is Bigger Than Yours”

It was a drive from Abuja to Asaba. I was fortunate to be given a free ride in an air-conditioned vehicle by a kind middle aged couple who were friends of friends. The couple (or maybe it was just the man) had requested a service from a taxi driver whose usual airport pick up and drop off services he used quite regularly. I never learnt what this service was. His instructions were not quite followed properly.

Nigerian taxi. Source:www.connectnigeria.com
Nigerian taxi. Source:www.connectnigeria.com

“Such a fool, that man. Simple message, he could not deliver.” He fumed at the wheels.

“Oh forgive him, if he was as smart as you, he won’t be a taxi kabu-kabu driver.” His wife rubbed his shoulder as she spoke the words.

“I know! Anyway, he is lucky I did not meet him when he arrived to deliver the news. I would have slapped him a few times.” He said.

I remember being very still when I heard this. I was outraged and shocked that the people I was travelling with held this point of view. This was over 10 years ago; they were older than me by over 20 years. Therefore, as is the norm with Nigerian traditional values, I did not challenge this outlook. But it came back to me today because I heard this view expressed again, this time about a waiter.

Isn’t it incredibly pompous that that some regard themselves as somewhat superior based on occupation, social standing, wealth, qualifications, or worst still circumstances in life? Nigeria is an incredibly class conscious society. Should the “human-ness” of others be categorised based on these social constructs or just as bad, based on financial standing?

I have found some other countries to be incredibly class conscious societies as well, but at least, there is some semblance of a social system which provides equal and regulated services to all and sundry; whether rich or poor.

Public transport. Source: www.en.wikipedia.org
Public transport. Source: http://www.en.wikipedia.org

These services include great quality healthcare, transport, and security services, although of course having a family name or upper class connections and some wealth, may mean being bumped up school lists, or cutting the waiting lists and paying for private healthcare or flying a private jet to France instead of being stuck at Calais as a result of strikes in France or the “swarm” of migrants attempting to cross the channel tunnel.

However, the police will respond to an accusation of an employer hitting his employee, and justice will follow its due course in the United Kingdom for example. In Nigeria, try reporting your employer to the police. The police, for the most part, will dispense justice to the highest bidder. Good luck to you as the series of events unravel.

Nigerian police force. Source:www.dailypost.ng.com
Nigerian police force. Source:www.dailypost.ng.com

There will always be people who seem to be in less of a social standing than us, or seem less intellectual, or are more qualified, have a higher IQ, are better leaders, better looking or have their lives seemingly together more so or less so, than you. That this man is a taxi driver, so what? Someone has to do that job; he could be more liquid than you are, (not that this matters anyway), with a better quality of life even. How do you know that this is not a two or three year plan to the next phase of his life? This man was a branch manager of some micro-finance bank at the time. But he did not start out as a branch manager. Most people do not come fully formed. What was wrong with being a taxi driver? Everyone has a different goal; I would never work as a branch manager of a Micro-finance bank.

I wanted to say all these as I sat in the back of that car, particularly to the wife for her patronising line. I find that those who seemingly preach “peace” but are only actually being very patronising and institutionalising these attitudes, are just as bad as those who treat those whom they perceive to be in a lower social standing, with contempt or abuse.

I remember feeling annoyed and ashamed that I did not speak up for that taxi man. He failed to deliver on the errand to which he was sent; big deal. The solution is simple; don’t use his services any more. This is the sort of belief system or social system that brings on abuse even in domestic relationships.

I have been meaning to do a piece on the modern day slavery that is the so-called “housegirl” arrangement where women keep children in their homes as housekeepers. These minors are then expected to look after the children and run the home. We are talking about a 10 year old who is barely able to look after themselves. This child will make mistakes because he/she has been given the mandate to supervise a household that they neither have the capacity nor the maturity to manage.

USA Dept of Labour's findings regarding child labour in the USA. (Just a random photo of the publication I found while looking through NAPTIB's documents). Source:www.issuu.com
USA Dept of Labour’s findings regarding child labour in the USA. (Just a random photo of the publication I found while looking through NAPTIB’s documents). Source:www.issuu.com

The result is a lot of physical and emotional abuse and violence meted out on these housegirls by madam. What did you expect? Can you trust your child at that same age with such responsibility? Will you send your child to clean and wash and scrub other peoples’ home and look after babies unsupervised? The fact that women have allowed this to go on is beyond me and quite irresponsible. I hear the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIB), the Nigerian agency working to do exactly to end all trafficking and child labour related crimes, has developed a massive campaign around this. The agency reported a total of 130 cases relating to human trafficking and other related cases in the first quarter of 2015. Over 20% of that related to child labour. Read the report here.

Our societies are almost obsessed with the idea of respect bordering on fear. This respect is not necessarily earned or extended to all human beings, but is leveraged on the basis of age, social standing, material possessions and religious affiliations, or its hierarchy. It seems to me that everyone deserves to be respected to begin with; young, old, rich, poor, white, black, Christians, Muslims, atheists, humanists, and all the different kinds of people in existence. But this is not true in practice.

The concept of “nkali” is one that is so embedded in our culture that nothing seems to supersede it; not moral obligation, not our overly-religiousness, and certainly not the state with its weak regulations and even weaker enforcement. It is an Igbo word which when loosely translated means “to be greater than another”. In our society, people are treated quite badly depending on where they have found themselves in life and there is no recourse to justice. Anyone who tries to stand up for him/herself is regarded as disrespectful.

Geert Hofstede’s power distance index goes into a little more depth in his work on cultural dimensions. Nigeria (and other countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) which is struggling with development in spite of incredible resources, features very highly as a country where the power distance index is very high. This “nkali” is quite commonplace in countries steeped in inequality and poverty; the wealthy, elite, political class and the powerful do not want a distribution of power. No surprise there. But also those most affected by inequality, seem satisfied with servicing this inequality instead of standing up and demanding for change and what is rightfully theirs. Nobody wants to be dubbed ‘disrespectful’. We see this manifest in governance in Nigeria.

When I thought about this incident, the one thing that captured the essence or the ripple effect of this “nkali” besides Hofstede was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story”. In her talk, she discusses the reality of treating people in a certain way, because we know only one version of who they are, and depending on what that version is, treat them with condescension, amusement, or in the case of this woman who was making peace with her husband, patronising pity.

It is often quite startling to see others treated in a certain way when because we have preconceived notions about them or are more fortunate than them. So we do them “favours”. I hear some of this ‘favour’ when women talk about giving housegirls access to the same pots from which their children are fed, and paying their school fees (in a community school with the worst ranking and the lowest fees nonetheless). As though treating people right was a luxury instead of a necessity.

Another example of “nkali” is the book ‘My Mercedes Is Bigger Than Yours’, written by Nkem Nwankwo and published in the Heinemann African writers series. This book tells the story of Onuma and portrays the wastefulness and opulence seen in the city slicker. However, the moral superiority held by the rural dweller quickly diminishes when the chiefs in the villages are shown to take advantage of the desperate and poorer migrant labourers.

mercedes
There is a chance for exploitation in every human being. This is why one hopes that factors such as teachings of faith, leadership, consequence, or a reform and necessary evolution in cultural norms which have outlived their usefulness, will begin to tip the balance of inequality in our society.

However, the real solution is yet to be seen but may include a steering that boosts economic growth, a social services system and infrastructure development that can close the gap in inequality, and act as a leveller.

The principle of “nkali” breeds human rights abuses, resentment, terrorism, poverty, disease and general instability. Realistically, “nkali” will always co-exist with human nature, but there needs to be fundamental change in us as individuals, our common humanity must be more important than our differences. Most importantly, the government must empower an incorruptible, well equipped and knowledgeable police force and judiciary system to deliver redress and consequence for injustice and abuse.

Nigeria’s Senators And Legislators Receive UK MP’s Annual Salary As Wardrobe Allowance

Nigeria is an emerging economy, considered as the fastest growing economy on the continent. Yet according to numbers from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), over 61% of Nigeria’s population lives under $1 per day. In the last four years, the country has gone through a steady battering, with raging terrorism in the North east, and a failing infrastructure that means the cost of business and livelihood are at an all time high. In the last couple of years, corruption has also been significantly high and amnesty granted to politicians who were known to have looted from the treasury.

The Nigerian National Assembly. Source:www.sunnewsonline.com
The Nigerian National Assembly. Source:www.sunnewsonline.com

Fast forward to March 2015, Nigerians voted for what has come to be known as change. President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office on May 29th, 2015 and he promised in his inauguration speech, to prioritise the tackling of terrorism and the improvement of infrastructure. He has spent his first two weeks in office travelling to some parts of West Africa and to Germany; to discuss the strategy for fighting Boko Haram and to engage with world leaders at the G7, respectively.

Nigerians have very high hopes, particularly given the poverty that is rife in the country. Imagine the shocker today when the realisation hit, that this may be business as usual. The realisation that politics is indeed a quick avenue to rob the country and enrich oneself. The Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives in Nigeria are very well paid. Indeed they are so well paid that the 8th National Assembly which has recently been sworn in will allegedly receive the sum of NGN9billion which is about 28 million pounds for wardrobe allowance. No statement denouncing this has been issued by the National Assembly. Nigeria is spending this much to clothe the members of the National Assembly, yet we receive international aid. This is incredibly shameful.

Agbada which the NASS requires £60,000 per annum for. Source:www.thisisafrika.com
Agbada which the NASS requires £60,000 per annum for. Source:www.thisisafrika.com

In other words, the Senators will receive about 21.5 million naira each, while the legislators at the House of Representatives will receive 17.5 million naira each, all for clothes. The question is; how is it that a country which still receives aid from the countries in the G7 is giving about 60-70,000 pounds each to its senators and lawmakers to buy clothes? This is the annual salary of members of Parliament in a country that gives Nigeria aid. Nigerians are waiting and hoping that President Buhari intervenes in this and puts a stop to this wastefulness, vulgarity and mismanagement.

Furthermore, considering that Nigeria’s 2015 budget was approved by Goodluck Jonathan the former President, one understands that this wardrobe allowance was not fundamentally instituted by the Buhari government. However, he is the President and has the authority to dispose of certain wasteful parts of it or to review it, thus we shall hold him responsible.

Finally, recall that Nigeria is heavily reliant of oil and gas for 99% of its revenue. The 2015 budget was laid out using the revenue number of $70 per barrel. Since the price of oil has not risen above $64 per barrel since its crash to about $40-$45 per barrel last year, this government must begin to cut back, it should be running an austerity government. The economy must be run efficiently with as many cuts as possible where feasible. This ridiculous wardrobe allowance is one of such costs which should be implemented. Nigerians are watching President Buhari closely to see what kind of policies, economy and country he will run.

Why Do Married Men Cheat On Their Wives (Part 2)

By now, you have probably heard about the media personality/vlogger Toke Makinwa’s breaking news. Her husband cheated on her with a woman who is now pregnant for him. Neither party has released a statement confirming or refuting the story. For the last two days, there has been twitter and instagram fuelled frenzy going on regarding the Toke and Maje marriage.

The couple dated for 12 years and have been married for just 1 year and a few months. Personally, I think this is sad and the couple should be left alone to deal with their problems, or lack of, because we all might just be speculating.

Toke and Maje. Source:www.360nobs.com
Toke and Maje. Source:www.360nobs.com

However, I believe that there is a reason why this is such big news here. Toke is an “it” girl who has truly worked very hard within the Nigerian media circuit. She hosts an early morning Radio show on Rhythm FM Lagos, and hosts a regular weekly vlog which discusses relationships primarily on youtube. Beyond that, she hosts events, and is now a brand; many commercial brands have signed her up as an Ambassador. She’s gorgeous, hard working, and quite fun to watch and listen to.

Toke is a brand and thus literally every event she attends, every endorsement, every media or tv appearance ends up on social media and on blogs. This is good for her business, because in such a short period of time, she has become a household name. This means she works hard, hopefully she smiles to the bank. But this visibility in a young woman who is neither an actress nor a singer, is one which Nigerians seem to love and hate all at once. You will see why.

Toke Makinwa
Toke Makinwa

So why has Maje cheated on her? There really is no known cause of infidelity in marriages, there is a long list of potential factors. Infidelity in relationships could be seen as high blood pressure in humans. Sometimes there are certain pre-dispositions, perhaps not exactly genetics in this case. These predispositions may have to do with individual values, society’s expectations; including abhorrence or acceptance of certain behaviour. There is also the question of consequence or lack of it.

In the same vein, there are other potential factors such as incompatibility, mid-life crises, communication, revenge, or even certain needs. Sometimes there is no known cause. Unfortunately, because of Toke’s demand-driven and highly visible brand, and seemingly glamorous job, the feeling on twitter and on blogs is that her husband cheated because she was not available.

Toke and Solange:Source:www.instagram.com
Toke and Solange:Source:www.instagram.com

Nigerians are very religious. One who does not pledge allegiance to a faith in Nigeria is in a minority and is often ostracised. The non-religious in Nigeria is considered weird and suffers proselytism. However, Nigeria is also a society where religious beliefs are separate from values. It is a place where moral standards and family values quite commonly apply to only women. The world is an excellent place to be a man, but an even better place is Nigeria.

Suffice to say, the feeling even among some women and many men (at least if the tweets are anything to go by), is that Toke is responsible for her husband’s infidelity because she was at events all the time. Apparently, Toke also partied constantly, and was not available to Maje. He loved and respected her so much that he channelled his “missing her” energies into impregnating another woman. He could have done something more honourable if she was not available; leave respectfully. She had that career before they married just over a year ago, so he knew about her brand.

Maje Ayida. Source:www.igrooveradio.com
Maje Ayida. Source:www.igrooveradio.com

She probably feels a sense of shame at this time, but one can see why. There are people are mocking her on social media. The cheat should be the brunt of these jokes not the wife (although there have been a few angry women on his instagram comments sections). She is also double mocked for hosting a vlog where she discusses how to find and keep a man, how to spot a “side-chick”, and the types of men to avoid. Never mind that most of her vlog posts are girl next door-chatting-to-my-girls satires. So yes, she is responsible for her lot in life, she must be mocked, and perhaps in her next life, reconsider having a career. But even doctors can become infected. Oncologists are sometimes diagnosed with cancer too.

I wonder then if all career women, including surgeons, new resident doctors who work impossible shifts, broadcasters and journalists who have to chase down stories, or politicians and activists all have unfaithful spouses? I wonder if researchers who often travel to present papers, or conduct significant bodies of research have been presented with news of the pregnant ex? Perhaps international development experts, bankers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, in essence women with demanding careers who are shattering the glass ceilings, all have trifling spouses?

How about women? Do women with husbands who have been working in these careers for the longest time possible cheat on their men? Do we can blame their husbands for their lack of availability? I was irritated by calls to her to become more available to Maje because it fosters a sense that somehow, we know it all. We are insiders in their routine, in their home. That we know their story. But I was even more put off by the gentle chiding of him by both women and men alike regarding the use of condoms. Does condom use mean it is no longer infidelity?

“Couldn’t he have used condoms? Did he have to get her pregnant,” one tweet questioned.

The video above is one of Toke on a panel discussing men and cheating. In analysing her thoughts and views, it is clear that she urges restraint in telling a woman that her husband is cheating.

“It may ruin your friendship, because the woman does not want you to know what goes on in her home. She will probably stay with the man,” she says.

She reflects briefly on an experience she had where she confronted her husband (then fiancé) on rumours of “someone else”. So what does this mean? Did she see this coming? Was it something that had occurred in the past that she had forgiven and moved on from?

The condoms statements on twitter bothered me the most. Is this an acceptable norm in society? Just as long as you do not get caught? This story should not be so important but it has become so. This is because it has triggered a conversation that we did not have before. A conversation about careers and women and fairness in the narratives that will become a legacy for our children.

I believe it could certainly mark a fundamental turn in how Nigerians perceive what is good and what is not when women are involved. Could this mark the turn of the tide where women are accorded the same level of humanity as men? I may be dreaming, but it may well form the foundation or the quick start to how we perceive women or society’s treatment of and perception of both sexes. Does a double standard exist? Absolutely. Can we see past our sentiments and recognise a fundamentally flawed psyche?

Hilary Clinton overcame the Monica Lewinsky saga.Source:www.biography.com
Hilary Clinton overcame the Monica Lewinsky saga.Source:www.biography.com

Invariably, it will be left for Toke to decide if she can move on. She must decide whether to carry on with him or to move on with her life. I have a feeling that she will heal and bounce back. She seems to be doing so already, appearing on radio this morning. Hilary Clinton seems to be doing alright; she could be President of the United States. If she wins, the man who cheated on her will be standing beside her at the inauguration. He will be former President and First Man. Hillary Clinton describes herself as “arguably the most humiliated woman in the world”. When asked about recovering from the Monica Lewinsky saga and forgiving her husband, she said “forgiveness is hard”.

12 years of one’s life is a very long time. Whatever reason Maje had or not, for being unfaithful, Toke is unequivocally, the victim here, the “injured party”. He should be ashamed and remorseful for what he did. He deserves a Tiger Woods type of shunning. The other woman deserves shunning as well, she very well knew he was married. Perhaps he didn’t quite think she was good enough to share his life properly, why else did he marry someone else and return for a dip in the pond?

Hopefully Toke will find succour with family and friends and decide what she can live with.

Carpe Diem

Nigerian President’s Inaugural Speech

The newly sworn in Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has made his inaugural speech. He has said that three key areas for his government are power, employment and terrorism.

He called on the judiciary to act with dispatch in matters of abuse of office and corruption, and called for a reform which will purge it of its immediate past. He also talked about a clear definition of the three tiers of government and declared that the Federal Government will not close its eyes to the problems of governance particularly gross corruption in the states and local government. He has declared he will ensure that there is adequate control under his watch. He demanded for accountability at all levels.

He called on labour unions, organised private sector, press and civil society organisations, to raise productivity in order to share in increased wealth and economic growth. He called on the media to exercise their role with dignity particularly on social media.

President Buhari-official portrait
President Buhari-official portrait

He talked about four immediate priorities for the Buhari government; Boko Haram, Niger Delta situation, power shortages, and unemployment in young people. The president spoke about longer term priorities to include Education, Medical care, physical infrastructure; all of which need overhauling and updating. For Boko Haram to be adequately tackled, President Buhari announced that the Command centre will be relocated to Maidugri until Boko Haram is subdued. He spoke about rescuing the Chibok girls and all who have been kidnapped; alive if possible.

According to him, Boko haram is a typical example of a small fire causing large fires. Negligence, complacency, and collusion have all made Boko Haram strong. He said that Boko Haram was a mindless and godless group, who were as far away from Islam as possible. As the group is subdued, the government will commission a committee to study the group; its emergence and sponsors, in order to stop further emergence. He says that the military’s rules of engagement will be overhauled to avoid human rights violations, and legal system will also be overhauled to tackle human rise abuses of the armed forces. Furthermore, he was clear about working with sub-Saharan neighbours and the entire international community to deal with Boko Haram and the emerging refugee problems as well as financial crimes.

His priorities include a disciplined and well compensated security forces, and although the amnesty programme in Niger Delta which is due to end in December, his government plans to invest heavily in infrastructure. He says he is willing to listen to grievances and extends his hands of fellowship.

The president declared the Power situation a national shame; the fact that Nigeria generates only 4,000 megawatts and distributes even less. He says 20 billion dollars had been expended on power since 1999 and has only brought frustration and misery and resignation among Nigerians. The government will discover the safest and quickest way to bring power to Nigerians. Youth unemployment will be tackled through investment in agriculture, and micro-credits will be given to small and medium businesses. In addition, he wants to accelerate the revival of roads and railways.

Buhari stated that the international community has extended a hand of goodwill to Nigeria, and the country is basking in goodwill. We can achieve our mission as a great nation. To finish, he quoted Shakespeare’s Julius Cesear saying Nigeria had an opportunity, urging the nation to “cease it”.

For me, the most profound statement the President made was his phrase ” I belong to everybody. I belong to nobody”. Perhaps this is the tone which we can expect from the government, where he pledges allegiance to nobody but to the entire nation and to the oath he swore.

The Tories Won So What

I have been following the UK General Elections 2015 and a lot of people seem pretty disappointed that the conservative party, also known as the Tories, won the 2015 general elections. David Cameron will remain at 10 Downing Street. This is said to have been one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history. There were a lot of debates around the economy, immigration, the NHS and education.

Many people voted on their convictions along those lines. I did not vote, but I know many who did. A lot of people whom I know voted Labour but then again that’s the popular party followed by the diverse London crowd. The Labour party did not get enough votes to form a majority, and many analysts have blamed this on the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron. Source: www.versanews.co.uk
Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron. Source: http://www.versanews.co.uk

Apparently, a lot of Labour voters deflected to Conservative party for fear that if they voted Labour and that party was in a place to form a coalition government, it would invite the SNP to join it. Why are people afraid of the SNP? The SNP has consistently said that Scotland is its priority and thus people are worried that it would be pushing an agenda to divide the union.

Consequently, the Tories will be running shop for the next 5 years. What will the public expect? Records suggest that food banks have grown since the Tories came into government 5 years ago. This is a good stop gap measure, just as aid is a stop gap measure for developing countries. But may not necessarily be a good thing in a G7 country as it could mean that the poorer are indeed getting poorer.

SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 11:  Salisbury foodbank volunteer sorts a donation of food at the foodbank centre  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM – FEBRUARY 11: Salisbury foodbank volunteer sorts a donation of food at the foodbank centre (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

In the last 5 years, the NHS has begun to struggle even more, failing to meet its target response time for A&E patients; there have been news stories of emergency tents being set up outside hospitals, nurses being urged to come back to work on social media as there aren’t enough hands, and some portions of the NHS heading towards privatization.

In addition, the bedroom tax is biting poor people, while mansion taxes have been clearly avoided by this government. Tax evasion of the rich has increased, and people with disabilities are having their benefits increasingly cut as part of the austerity measures. However, the Tories inherited a deficit and a country whose books were unbalanced, overspent, and struggling from the credit crunch.

credit_crunch

Since 2010, the deficit is being reduced gradually, and records show a growing economy and reduction in unemployment. Whatever the case, the public in Britain will have a chance to go to the polls again in 5 years and vote. I personally have tried to understand the protests and public outcry at the majority win of the Tories. In any case, coming from a very young democracy, to me if elections are free and fair, and the people have voted, there really is no need for protests regarding the win unless people have smelt foul play.

I think the UK is very fortunate to be in a place where its elections are free and fair and the people are given a voice. Some people think that the election system is very unfair, that the number of votes do not translate into the number of seats. Will David Cameron be interested in a reform that will match votes to seats? Will there be a referendum soon to suggest a reform?

Photo from the 7 party debate of major party leaders. From left to right; Green Party, UKIP, LibDem, Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru. Source:www.bbc.co.uk
Photo from the 7 party debate of major party leaders. From left to right; Green Party, UKIP, LibDem, Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru. Source:www.bbc.co.uk

The anger I have heard from people is that he has no clue about the middle class or the working people, and his policies benefit him and his cronies; the rich. Hopefully, David Cameron will do what is just and look after the poor. At least people can heave a sign of relief that UKIP did not get a chance at 10 Downing Street with its far right plans of huge increase in defence spending, harsh restrictions on immigrants and anti-European co-operation.

A business owner expresses annoyance at Tories win. Source:www.facebook.com
A business owner expresses annoyance at Tories win. Source:www.facebook.com

Ed Milliband, Nick Glegg and Nigel Farage all of Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP have all resigned following the failure of their parties to make significant gains per their expectations at the genral elections. Their post results announcement speeches all spoke of regret and exhaustion, and then they resigned. I think perhaps Nigeria can borrow a leaf from these attitudes.

Although we know a lot of politicians to be two faced and dishonest at best, there are boundaries and levels to dishonesty, ambition and shamelessness. Politics cannot be a matter of life and death. If one runs and fails, there is no use making a spectacle such as the one we witnessed at Jega’s results announcement from one time Minister Godswill Orubebe. I look forward to the next couple of years of Nigeria’s APC government and the UK conservative government. Hopefully the change being demanded by the people will begin to come to fruition.

Should Men Pay All The Bills? (Part II)

This is a tough one that goes way back. I wrote about it over a year ago here. The traditional perception of family and relationships are evolving and changing. There are more divorces in the world now that there were 50 years ago, and these numbers apply everywhere; in North America, Europe and Africa. Look at Nigeria for example, the nuclear family unit or the “mono-polygamous” families as we knew them are fast disappearing. That is evolution though, things are changing and will continue to change. Only progressive people who embrace change, understand it, open up to its good sides, face it headlong, and emerge stronger for it.

Couple getting married. source:annechia.com
Couple getting married. source:annechia.com

There is divorce, single parenthood, civil partnerships and so forth. The world is changing. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on how you approach it. Are we better off for the changes or not? I say we are; look at the miracle of technology and the internet, social media, family so far yet so close, transactions made easy, and so forth. Look at the 2015 elections and how effective the media updates and live streaming were. Look at the strides made in medicine for example. There are treatments for cancer, vaccines against polio, advancements raising the numbers of safe childbirths, people are also living longer. Some people may argue that all these advancements have come with a cost. But one must weigh the pros and cons, do a cost comparative analysis and see how much time you save by conducting your business online. Does anyone remember those dreadful NITEL days? The dynamics of relationships have changed forever, thanks to these advancements.

Photo source: www.clipartof.com
Photo source: http://www.clipartof.com

When our grandparents were in their 20s and 30s, the population was lower, the pace of life slower, women were essentially marginalised with lower pay and fewer opportunities, and men were seen as superior. Thus the women kept the home, raised the children while the men were the breadwinners who paid all the bills.  The mid-19th century arrived with its major advancements and economic boom, the landscape of human rights began to change. The world required an increase in the number of skilled workers. This came with a clear evidence that men and women had the same intellectual capacity. The days of hunting and protecting the hearth, of superiority based on physical strength, were gone. Thus boys and girls became educated for the same opportunities and vied for the same jobs. There is still a lot of growth required in the area of equal opportunities and equal pay, but that is a post for another day.

Source: http://www.legrc.org
Source: http://www.legrc.org

Enter, a different kind of dynamics in the world with my focus being Nigeria. Women began to undergo the exact same pressures as men, working the same long hours and in some cases, earning the same pay. But their roles had not evolved and men refused to change. Women still cooked and cleaned and looked after the children, and when the men helped to change the baby’s diaper, the woman would say “thank you” as though he was doing her a favour. Men in turn carried on watching their football, coming home late and playing “tennis” on Saturdays.

It remains a society which has stubbornly refused to evolve despite a clear evolution happening with the world. Whether you are on social media or not, whether you are anti-equality or not, we all need to wake up and smell the coffee, the world has changed. Only people who study this change, can adapt and survive. Closing oneself off to the change and Facebook, will not save your marriage. In some way, it is this denial, this refusal to change, that is wreaking havoc on family institutions and ruining relationships.

You see, there is a certain entitlement that comes with being a breadwinner, a certain power if you will, which acts as an enabler and makes that breadwinner feel that as though he/she is not accountable to their partner/spouse. Just as long as the bills are paid. It is a human thing particularly in an unbalanced society like ours. When someone doles out money for every expense in a society that is patriarchal, he will feel a certain entitlement to do as he pleases. Men do this. The same actually applies to women, it is a human thing. If she solely pays the bills, she will act as she pleases. I must issue a caveat; this does not apply to everyone. Theories do have exceptions after all.

Most women with whom I have discussed this have said that they preferred men who were responsible and ready to step up and provide for them. Some said they were happy to be a good partner, helping out with the finances. But they argued that men were cunning and the minute you gave an inch, he would shirk his responsibility. Others have said that they were happy to support, as long as he pulled his weight. A minority said they were happy to lay the cards on the table and divide up bills based on the income, but expected the man to treat them as an equal, that means ringing to say where he was going, coming home early just as the woman would, and doing his fair share of the housework.

What did the men say? A mix of different things. Most said they thought the woman should keep her money,if you allowed them to contribute, they start wearing the pants in the relationship. Others were resentful and complained about the women in their lives never contributing, yet they had jobs. What did they do with their money, one asked me? Some said they would not never be involved in “domestic anything” around the house.

Tailor Zaki Baushe Source: cartercentre.org
Tailor Zaki Baushe
Source: cartercentre.org

It seems like relationships in the 21st century are a badly coordinated dance. Women are resentful because they work as hard as the men, yet when they go home, they work twice as hard, and the men are nowhere to be found, after all Chelsea and Utd are playing. So what do they do? They keep their money and make the man pay for everything. Have you seen those types who punish their men for coming home at 3am by making demands for more material things? Men in turn are either resentful or taking the mickey; I pay the bills, this is my house, I can come and go as I please. And then in moments of anger, they ask her “by the way, what do you do with all the money you earn?”

All these pressures and falsehood lead to divorces and break-up. My solution? Change with the times. Adapt or find a like minded person. If a woman and a man work just as hard, why not put all the cards on the table and upgrade your lives with your double income? Why does one party have to carry on bearing the costs and another the labour of keeping house? It just breeds resentment and inequality. Look at your income (s) and whoever earns more can pay more.

Photo ©: niakc10 - Fotolia.com
Photo ©: niakc10 – Fotolia.com

The biggest destroyers of relationships are a) a lack of understanding and agreement of roles, b)unmet expectations c) finance problems. If you are traditional and believe in the “man pays bills, woman keeps home” arrangement, find someone like you. If you have evolved and are in a partnership of dual careers, find someone who thinks alike.  It is really a business partnership founded on love, approach it as such and survive.

NB: If you would like to write a response to this, please send me an email at iamannechia@gmail.com