Saturday, April 25, 2015

One Day!

You climbed through the ladder you were given but when it got to my turn, you removed it quickly so I wouldn’t climb.

I was at first confused and dismayed but I recovered from this evil you threw at me. It took me longer but I finally climbed. You made it tougher but you ended up making me tougher.

I climbed, without a ladder, using sharp rugged stones as stepping stones. Sometimes I fell and many times I was bruised.

I saw you way up there. Watching me struggle, watching me limp, watching me grunt and perspire. And all you did was smile.

Yes, you sat under the shade someone was kind enough to put there. You sat there, smiling at my pain, drinking cold bottled water someone was kind enough to give you while you watched with glee as the sun beat down on my perspiring wearied back.

Throw down the ladder I begged, you did not. Throw down some water I cried, you did not. Not even a hanky for my sweaty brows.

But I thank God that you are not my God. For all along, He was watching and giving me strength I never knew I had. Now that I have arrived where you once were, I have dropped back the ladder you removed so that other climbers can climb with ease.

And as I continue to climb, I pray that I am fortunate to meet a ladder or two left by more kindly souls than you, to help in my journey ahead.

Thank you for teaching me this great lesson – that with resilience persistence and faith, eventually we all get there, One Day!


To you my dear climbers, stay the course, work the talk, forget the naysayers, ignore the mockery and the gossip and through all of your pain, struggle and tears, you too will get it done – One Day!

© By Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi
@signetseal;

Image credits: linkedin.com/pulse; google.com

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I DON'T LOVE GOD ANYMORE!

“I don’t love God anymore.” She said to me.
Heavy words. Unfortunate words. Scary words but true words – at least at the time it was spoken.
“I don’t love God anymore.” She said again. How can a simple sentence, spoken so calmly but bluntly be so complicated and unnerving? I looked into her eyes just to be sure she was alright. I looked deep into her eyes just to be sure she wasn’t joking. I looked at those eyes and they stared back at me with candidness. I exhaled. I sighed.

What do you say to someone who tells you this? How do you respond to the emptiness and frustration that such a statement carries? How? Something told me not to say anything. Just listen Chalya, listen. I did. I kept quiet and I listened. This was no time for preaching. She continued: “look at me. I am what…45…no child, no husband, not even a great job – responsibilities everywhere.” She sighed. “I am tired of going to church. I am tired of attending all these ceaseless church activities that does nothing for my life. This God doesn’t love me ojare. Wetin? Na only me waka come? I say I no dey do again. Look at all my friends. The crazy and baddest ones are happily married. After all the crazy stuff I know they did, they still ended up with great husbands, great kids and great jobs!” She drank some more from the tea I had served and like someone who was thinking upon the ludicrous, she laughed impatiently and added with incredulous disbelieve, “And the funny thing is that, after like 2 to 3 kids, fine husband, fine job and fine house sef, they have also found Jesus! They are now officially born again and now they want to to come and be preaching to me – me far. Chai, I don suffer.” She exclaims in frustration.

I am still silent. Only this time, I am no longer looking at her. I am simply staring at the rug in my bedroom and my mind is wondering far and asking where it all went wrong? I am as bewildered as she is confused. I am as speechless as she is pissed. What am I suppose to say to such a great woman of God? How am I supposed to reply to a woman who knows God better than I do? What, how, which? I continued to listen as she vented. “Is God not seeing all the correct married guys coming for me here and there? All these rich and wealthy men disturbing my peace, ready to give me what I want cept marriage if I can also give them what they want. Some even want me as second wife sef, I said no! look at me Chalya.” I didn’t look. She stood up and repeated for emphasis. “Chalya, take a good look at me.” I raised my somewhat disconcerted eyes from the ground back to her. “I’m I not still beautiful. Have I not taken good care of myself? I’m I not educated, sanctified and walking the walk. Look at me. I have tried and I have tasted and I am yet to see that the Lord is good. What is wrong with me that God decided that when it comes to my own matter, my answers will never be given? Me, I have said my own, I am tired with wanting to please a God who doesn’t want to please me in return. I don’t love Him anymore girl, I just don’t. As from today, it is official, I don backslide. Wetin wan happen make e happen. She clapped her hands excitedly while I looked on. This lady of the spirit and the Holy Ghost, this lady who sings and preaches, this beautiful specimen of a child of God that I‘d always admired and still do. She shook her weave of hair from side to side as she pranced up and down the room venting out more profound analysis of her dire situation. “No be only me waka come this earth biko. This life of chastity and purity has given me zilch. Sex I haven’t had in years. I can’t even remember what it feels like to be wrapped up in the arms of a strong man. Na wetin!” Hands on akimbo, legs tapping, she threw back her head and laughed scornfully. “Remember Wemimo now. That little girl of yesterday that calls me aunty, well Wemimo got married barely three weeks ago. What of Ifeyinwa that did worse than Domitilla sef is now Pastor’s wife. Modupe something, that one we cally Dupsy, that very fat one, nosy and can be tiresome to be around, she is living da vida loca.” I almost laughed but for the seriousness of the moment, I smiled. Regina could be hilarious and realistic in speaking. “I no dey do again”

My dear friend Regina (not real name) slapped her thigh. “Cloth sef person no dey wear again because say I love Jesus pass Mother Mary. See my clothes Chalya. You sef know say when I was in the world, I correct no be small. My dressing was the bomb! Now see as following God and loving Him pass Apostle Paul has reduced me to a church rat. Me, wey don follow Jesus enter everywhere enterable. No, enough is enough is enough. I will not wait until I am fifty when it’s too too late. Now as it is sef, e don late for me. See other sisters taking matters into their own hands and succeeding. Me I dey here dey form Holy regina. This sister, has had it up to here” She held  her neck. “If God will be God, let Him be God, no problem. Me, too will repent after I have sorted myself out. I will no longer be the suffering model for longsuffering.”

Venting is good, very good, Venting is spontaneous. It is deep cleansing from deep frustrations. It allows you the freedom to blurt out stuff you wouldn’t usually have said when calm and normal. It helps you speak out the deep thoughts that only you thought and worse, it helps you to say things you never knew you were capable of thinking how much more saying. It is good to vent just make sure when you do, it is to your trusted friend. That way, what is said is not misunderstood. And vent Regina did. I learned a lot in one morning but especially that all super  homosapiens are still humans at the end. We all want the same things but in different ways and at different times.

But back to the issue of not loving God, was I going to speak for God? Was I going to tell God about Regina’s situation when He already knew about it? Was I going to answer for a loving God that didn’t seem loving anymore to my friend? What exactly was I going to say for God that she didn’t already know much more better than I? What words could I possibly say on God’s behalf that would make a daughter of God believe any differently? Was I even suppose to speak for God in the first place?

Well, one thing was quite clear to me. I wasn’t going to speak for God in this instance. No. God is well able to speak for Himself. God is well able to tell this very special, beautiful and utterly disconsolate daughter of His that He still loves her. Wouldn’t it be foolish of me to say your daddy or your boyfriend loves you, when he never tells you himself? Wouldn’t the very words “I Love You” be useless coming from the wrong mouth? How would you feel if someone kept telling you that your guy or chick loves you but they never ever tell you themselves? O yes it would be unbelievable. The words: “I Love You” is better heard from the mouth of the lover of you. Nothing less. I wasn’t going to tell her the usual auto-flex responses we Christians sometimes hurry to say to a disheartened and angry soul. No. I wasn’t going to go into a fully activated hyperbolic preaching of God’s pouring-down-from-heaven kind of love nor did I quote those wonderful scripture passages that said “I know the thoughts I have towards you…to give you a future and an expected end…” etc. She knew them by heart already. No I will not tell her that God loves her. She’s heard that all her life. It was time for Baba God Himself to demonstrate His love for her. I believe God is more than capable of telling His own daughter that He loves her. No I will not speak for God in this instance. But I would intercede for her. I would ask God to pour out His divine love on her. “I can do nothing Lord” I cried within me. “You on the other hand can do everything. She is your daughter, not mine. She is your handiwork not mine. Let your love which surpasses all understanding begin to speak to her. The time of theory is so over Lord. Please act your Love towards her. But I will not speak for you Lord. I can only appeal that you show her your mercy and pour out your grace and favour over her. You alone can do the telling and the loving. You alone can demonstrate the POWER OF YOUR LOVE to her.

I feel you sister Regina. I do. I think every faithful follower of God gets to this point when you aren’t feeling God’s love; when the taste of the rituals of religion goes all sour in your mouth and your situation is a very far cry and a poor reflection of the extravagant love of the God of the bible and this God, this God that you often hear about from the testimonies of other testifiers seems silent about your case. I understand that at such times the atmosphere around us is redolent with doubt and fear and uncertainties about our future. There is no simple answers to your questions of WHYs and WHENs. What do you do when everything you are is not enough? What do you do when everything you’ve got and done is not working out like you hoped? I wish I knew. I wished I had one of those Brother Daniel and Joseph wise answers with a formula to boot. This I do know though. I retreat. I stop all my busy-ness and I step away from the many energy draining activities that have the form of godliness but lacks the power thereof. I pause and I go one on one with God, away from all the expectations of people. Expectations can be very burdensome you know. But I never go on like we sometimes like to do in Christendom saying it is well when it is not all well. There is an “it is well of faith” and there is an “it is well” of hypocrisy. And until I find my peace, it isn’t well. God will usually sort me out when I am in a place of absolute abandonment. He will. He does. He has. Peace.

Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi
@signetseal 

Image credits: youtube.com, Google. Com  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

This Election Will Not Be Objective - At All!

I have been amused by the much pretence of many Nigerian Christians and Muslims alike, on and off the social media network as regards their logic when trying to appear seemingly objective and academic in their discussions about voting for President Jonathan or General Buhari. Based on the realities on ground in Nigeria, there is no way around being objective in a political climate beclouded by the subjectivities defined by two major faiths (Christianity and Islam) and three critical issues (Terrorism, Corruption and Religion).

Oftentimes, I hear people talk about the need to be objective with regards choosing the candidate to vote for come February 14th 2015 and they go to the extra length of mentioning Mandela and Martin Luther King, comparing their candidates and these times to the times of the apartheid regime in South Africa and the civil rights movement in America. They forget that the common denominator then was the oppression by the white man in their own country. The common denominator today in Nigeria is a perceived oppression by our own brothers in our own Fatherland. The composition of Nigeria now CANNOT be compared in any way with that of South Africa or America.

South Africans fought for a common purpose – to put an end to the apartheid regime that culminated in the freedom of Nelson Mandela. Mandela and Winnie were the prominent leaders of that struggle based on their commitment and sacrifices for the CAUSE. And therefore, black and white South Africans rallied round them. On the other hand, Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement was to put an end to black segregation and oppressive laws against black Americans and he made notable commitment and sacrifices for the CAUSE, therefore both black and white Americans rallied round him.   

Their issues were quite simple and straightforward because they were fighting an evil called Apartheid and black segregation.  

THE ISSUE OF TERRORISM
Enter Nigeria, a country besieged on all sides, plagued by many issues ranging from the evil of corruption to the evil of BokoHaram and Islamic fundamentalism in a secular Nigeria. As it stands now, the complexities of Nigeria’s problems are deep and foundational, more so, since Nigeria is divided between a Christian south and a Muslim north – whether we accept it or not, religion will play and is playing a critical role in the voting preferences of Nigerians. But what is also obvious, is that, geographical region is equally playing an all important role in this 2015 election. Why so?

In the elections of 2011, even though the incumbent President Jonathan was from a minority group as against his opponent General Buhari, majority of Nigerians threw their support behind President Jonathan irrespective of region and religion. However, the Northern elites were not happy about Jonathan’s victory and promised to make his tenure in office ungovernable which they did by employing the effective but evil weapon of terrorism called Bokoharam. In trying to make President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure difficult, starting with the North Central of Nigeria aka the Middle belt region, Bokoharam unleashed mayhem and violence in its wake, leaving heavy casualties in Plateau state, unto Nassarawa, Kaduna, Benue, Bauchi, before engulfing the whole North extending even into the supposedly protected federal capital territory Abuja. To put it mildly, as one resident in the Plateau observed that where Bokoharam stopped, Fulani marauders took over. No thanks to the level of violence and havoc unleashed, most of the people of Plateau have come to equate the term Bokoharam and Fulani with one religion only – Islam. Now, the perception amongst many people in Plateau seems to be geared against Islam. Many people believe that if this level of terrorism can happen in Plateau when there is a Christian President on seat, what will happen when a Fulani Muslim becomes the next president? Will it translate to expecting more violence in the not too distant future? These and much more are real fears and questions in the hearts of the Middle Belt people.

From my interactions with some of the Yoruba and Igbo individuals, those who have lived in the North and have seen firsthand the atrocities and mayhem committed by over zealous Muslims tend to lean towards voting for Jonathan from a subjective viewpoint influenced by the negative and terrible experiences they’ve had while living amongst the Muslim communities in the North. However, interactions with some Yorubas and Igbos who live in faraway Lagos and in more safer regions lean towards voting for Buhari from an objective viewpoint having never experienced the fear of a suicide bomber detonating in crowded market places.

Invariably, our subjectivity and objectivity is influenced by our personal experiences and perceptions. At the end of the day, terrorism will work for and against both candidates. Those who believe the North created this terror will vote against Buhari. Those who believe Jonathan was weak in handling the terrorists will vote for Buhari.

THE ISSUE OF CORRUPTION
Corruption is endemic to Nigeria and as vicious as the ebola disease. I know it. You know it. We know it. Perhaps one can even say that Ebola is the lesser evil, attacking only the body – detect quarantine and deal with it. One’s options are limited. You don’t know if you’ll survive but chances are that you’re going to die and die quick. Corruption on the other hand is not easily detectable. It attacks the body, soul and spirit. It is subtle and deep with wide ramifications. Corruption obstructs economic growth, it stifles entrepreneurial spirit and process, it mismanages meagre resources, it weakens managerial competence, destabilizing political stability and national integration. A good example of corruption in leadership is the kind exhibited by Governor Jang of Plateau state which reeks of blatant misuse of power while in office, ethnic chauvinism, granting gratuitous favours to one’s family, tribe, friends and key supporters while crippling the development of the state. Another example of corruption from my standpoint is the University of Jos school fees and paying of master fees brouhaha. The decision to subject struggling university students to paying a N25,000 acceptance fee and charging students for online payment of fees does not only border on insensitivity to the plights of students in a depressed economy but also based on corruptive influence and managerial incompetence. So unlike Bokoharam and ebola that kills quickly, corruption kills you slowly but surely. Corruption kills you everyday – you die a little each day when a corrupt leader sits in governance over your affairs.

Those who will vote Buhari, will damn all other consequences of religion, terrorism and vote him for the singular reason that he would drive out corruption in government. Those who will vote Buhari will vote for him based on his squeaky clean image and hope that he will do to Nigerian Politicians and all corrupt Nigerians, what Jerry Rawlings did in Ghana. I do not see how feasible that is in a democratic dispensation but hopefully, voters of this category hope to see a great decline in institutional corruption.   THE

ISSUE OF RELIGION
Ah, this is the tricky but apparent one – isn’t it obvious already. I am Christian, I’ll vote Jonathan. You are Muslim, you’ll vote Buhari. What could be simpler than this? Only that, it isn’t as simple as we think. If we are to follow the dictates of the holy books of the two religions, then both faiths are expected to vote for the believers of their faith and not the infidels. Understanding that the religious leaders of both faiths in Nigeria wield a certain power and influence over their congregation is sometimes the beginning of political wisdom. Nigerians tend to want to please their Pastors, MOGs and Imams over the divine creator of these beings. And the politician who is astute enough to appeal to their religious piety gets the nod of approval from the religious masses. I remember how the people of Plateau were deceived into voting for Jang because he rolled on the grounds of the state stadium before God in a show of remarkable Brother Jeroboam fashion.

Still on the issue of religion, Christians are usually expected to vote for a candidate that would allow freedom of religion and to pray for those whose positions contradicts their values. Muslims on the other hand are told to vote out the infidels - they are not children of Allah.  So you find many religious Nigerians voting against any candidate who may pose a threat to their religious freedom. Any candidate perceived by the masses to encourage zealots whose idea of justice is to wreak havoc and violence in a vengeful post election spree will be voted against.

Today I want to believe the voting populace of Nigeria are getting wiser in democratic years. It should be good practice in every election that there be a central point on which political candidates ought to base their reasons for campaigning for election. Bandying around the general word change is not enough. Change should come with specifics on where and how the change will be effected. Being only a man of righteousness does not solve Nigeria’s problems. There are obvious realities affecting ordinary Nigerians that borders on safety and security of lives and properties, adhering to the rule of law, freedom to coexist peacefully in any Nigerian state, freedom to practise one’s religion, freedom of assembly for a cause without persecution, access to jobs and opportunities based on merits and many other critical issues to discuss. In a country where merit is often killed in favour of ethnic affiliations and political favours, in a country where national development is overruled by selfish interests, Nigerians need true and unwavering leadership that will carry through and make Nigerians proud to be Nigerians once again.

So these three remains: terrorism, corruption and religion. The winner of the 2015 presidential elections will be voted in by the majority of those mostly influenced by one of these three evils – that will be the greatest of them all.  

However, for those saying vote objectively, well, this is one election that will not be objective. There are too many subjective variables for objectivity to hold sway. Until we have an objective constitution with objective parameters for everyone in society to succeed squarely without discriminatory concessions given to an elite few, the issue of objectivity seems farfetched.

I, however, will vote according to the issues that affect me the most.  

You have one day
As one Nigerian
With one voice
Having one opportunity
To cast one vote
For one person.  

Vote wisely.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi
Twitter handle: @signetseal

Sunday, January 18, 2015

DON'T VOTE? DON'T COMPLAIN. #VOTEWISELY

The better Nigeria We Dream About Begins With One Vote, Protect Your Vote.


“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choices are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy therefore is education.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Agreed, it takes twenty two players to play a game of football. Eleven players to make a team but one football is pursued by the twenty two players in order to kick it into the goal post to score one goal for the team, the football club and the football fans in general. Whether you head it, kick it or chest it, all you want is the ball successfully getting through the goal post according to the rules of football. One goal must start the count that would eventually aggregate to the highest goal scored by a team to be declared the winning team in the field.

The politics of electing a representative in an election is like the game of football. And like the coach who must pick out the best players for the game, the onus lies with every eligible citizen of Nigeria to vote the best candidate to represent the interest of the people and the nation. The right to vote is one of the important fundamental rights that the citizenry of any nation should never take for granted. Take for instance the youth, which forms an estimated 70% of the over 170 million population of Nigeria, they can no longer be ignored. I have happened upon several advocacy groups on social media platforms, groups determined to orientate Nigerian youths about the importance of political engagement and ultimately, the power of one vote from a Nigerian youth. This is a good thing.  Groups like YBE and other civil society groups are using its platform to mobilise, educate and advance the progress and development of Nigerian youths and engage not just the youths but Nigerians of every ethnicity and tongue in participatory ideals of good governance. We need more of such groups using their platforms for the effective political education of disenfranchised Nigerians who do not understand the true value of a single vote.

Youths (18-35) and all Nigerian citizenry must awake from political slumbering and become an active part of the process of politicking from organising issue-based debates to mobilizing the youths on social media platforms to becoming politically aware of the ongoing developments in Nigeria. The youth must demand good governance and accountability from its leaders. Using all forms of available communication technology, from radio to television to social media interactive platforms like their blogs, Facebook and Twitter, the youths should keep on sharing appropriate information and promoting open discussions of all issues pertinent to youth and national development in Nigeria.

As February the 14th draws near, let our votes be driven by issue based politics and not just mere propaganda and worthless sentiments. In a country where poverty is still extremely high at over 43.3% and oil prices are crashing almost daily, we need to vote in a leader who must be prepared to diversify our economy from the main stay of oil to other more productive sectors. Nigeria MUST move from being a consuming nation to a producing, manufacturing, and an efficiently run economy. Any government therefore that does not have a huge dose of vision, resourcefulness, transparency and entrepreneurialism, etc will only lead to more disappointments for Nigerians.

This is an appeal to all youths who are understandably eking out a daily living in a tough Nigerian economy, to refuse the shenanigans of politicians who would use cash and other tempting offers to buy your votes – which is your nonnegotiable instrument of power. Say No! - No matter how tempting the offer. While the issue of stomach infrastructure is very much a critical and realistic matter on ground, youths must resist selling their vote which comes every four years for gains that could be gone in 60 seconds without any lasting impact and hang on for more practicable and lasting benefits from a more worthy candidate.

If there will be a ballot evolution that evolution must start with you as a youth. The evolution begins with youth rising up to say: “NO, my vote is not for sale.” Youths must decide by saying: “I have ONE vote to give and I must PROTECT my vote at all cost.” To vote is your opportunity to have a say. To vote is your opportunity to make your choice about who becomes senator, governor or president. That opportunity comes with the responsibility of knowing who you are voting for, know what you are voting for, and know why you are voting for that person. It is your responsibility as a youth to know your candidate beyond and above their biographies and campaign slogans. Know who has demonstrated questionable decisions when they needed to make a decisive judgement call and ask them about it for more clarity.  Know who has integrity and character amongst your senatorial, house of reps, gubernatorial and presidential aspirants. Understand that the finer the advertisement, T-shirt, slogans, stickers, posters and all other forms of political propaganda and jamboree does not necessarily equate to the better candidate. In truth, the better candidate may be disadvantaged in acquiring fine campaign materials.

These and much more are important points and questions that youths must begin to ask without fear of recrimination. Our leaders are not gods. They are people being given the privilege by you, yes you reading this, to serve on a public and wider platform. Your leaders are not doing you any favours by serving you rather they are fulfilling the terms of reference of the job they were elected to do by you – remember that.
The election fever is upon us, yours truly included. It is highly important that we know how to present and articulate our thoughts without making disrespectful and insensitive statements on social media that merely serves as fodder for brewing more hatred in our national discourse. Learn to present your opinions and sentiments without attacking others. There is something called social media etiquette. Learn it. How are we ever going to have a civilized conversation on social media or elsewhere if we cannot endure the differing opinions of others? When you think about it, it is actually good to fight a good fight. What could be goodlier than who becomes Nigeria’s next president in this 2015? But easy does it…like this Nigerian pidgin rightly says:

“Person wey dey use him head break coconut no dey follow chop that coconut.”

Softly, softly, I beg us all, it pays to live and fight another day. Do not shed blood over our politicians. Mbanunu. What your sword can do, you will do better with a gentle but more persuasive tongue or pen. Use it wisely. Still, make una gather strength and while gathering strength for durability, please gather even more patience and tolerance because, believe me, electing your candidate is just the warm-up stage. Please reserve some of the same passion you are using to get your candidate elected because after the winner has been safely inaugurated in Aso Rock, we must still have stamina to hold them accountable over issues of national importance. We should all be in it for the long haul.  

So please, let us all come out to VOTE! By voting, you are sending a strong signal that you know you hold the power and choice to decide who your leader becomes. Voting is your sacred responsibility that only comes to you about once in four years. It is your civic incontrovertible duty to vote. Your vote can change your world by giving you a candidate who will do the job of making your world better by making the right policies and approving the right plans to make your living conditions better. To stand up for a better Nigeria, use your vote well. It is your single most effective tool for creating the change you want to see in Nigeria.  

You have one day
As one Nigerian
With one voice
Having one opportunity
To cast one vote
For one person.  

In an instance, your one vote multiplied by an estimated 50 million Nigerian youths translates to 50 million votes. See how powerful that one vote has become.

1vote x 50,000,000 Nigerian youths = 50,000,000 votes. BE THAT ONE!

~ Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi.
@signetseal

Image credits: sierraexpressmedia.com, naijaloaded.com.ng, shetall.wordpress.com

Thursday, December 11, 2014

COME LET US PLAY POLITICAL SCRABBLES: it's between the hat or the hula.


Ok let us stick to their traditional names. If you were to spell Buhari like Boo-ha-ree and Ebele like Air-Bay-lay then you may not win at all on the Nigerian scrabble table. Simply because you often times, never spell a name in the manner of its pronunciation. However, if you are smart, shrewd and astute, you may yet produce a scrabble dictionary that would approve of your Boo-ha-ree and Air-Bay-lay spellings and God so kind, you placed it on a triple letter word, your score would of course be tripled. That is the way it is done in Nigeria- nothing is ever the same.

Now that we know who the Apc presidential flag bearer is, the tripartite is now complete: Pdp, Apc and Nigerians, in other words, Jonathan Buhari and Nigerians. But this game we are playing is called scrabbles, therefore we must acknowledge and refer to the scrabble dictionary from time to time to sort out any discrepancies or misunderstandings. If the word is not in the dictionary, sorry, you lose a turn and allow your opponent to gain a round. And if your opponent is a maestro of long lettered words, then you will be contending with a master who will be dropping premiums at every opportunity but if your sole advantage is that you are proficient in the use of those annoyingly wicked three lettered or consonantal words, knowing where to place a Z, Q and X where it scores most and hurts most, your opponent premiums have got nothing on your game.

If you have read this article up till this line, then of course you must be realizing that this writer sef is a scrabble lover or enjoys the stimulation of word puzzles. My point is quite simple really; politics in Nigeria is for the dexterous and the adroit, the cunning and foxy. What you thought was your edge on this side may be the very reason you may be hated on the other side.

Now that this truly bothersome and vexing matter of delegates, have been put aside, the first two groups in this tripartite will now be coming for proper courtship activities, they will now be putting together strategies to woo the bride – the third group in this tripartite – the voting populace to support their party flag bearer. I can almost taste the excitement in the air.

Who will the public vote for? How will this election be conducted? What will sway the majority into supporting which party? Will religion play a critical role or will ethnicity rear its ugly head? Will stomach infrastructure be instrumental at the rural level while intellectualism tries to sway the Nigerian elites? Is this game going to get dirty so that Ebele will now be spelt Air-bay-lay or perhaps Buhari can now be spelt as Boo-ha-ree through the introduction of a trip hammer? Will the maestros of three lettered words win or the consummate premium player set the stage for a victory? Are there more skeletons to be unveiled or will everything crumble like dominoes triggered by one masterfully played political stroke?

The Nigerian populace is watching. Some will call this 2014/2015 elections the clash of the titans. Some will say it is the Napoleonic Waterloo of wars. Perhaps it may be likened to Alexander’s battle of Granicus. Still, fantasy lovers like me would like to imagine a warrior’s scene like the one in Lord of the Rings ‘the Pelennor Fields.’
Who will be Sauron and who will be Gandalf? Haha. Whatever our imaginary and fantasy-inclined mind may bring, hopefully, this is one election that will see a lot of Nigerians coming out to decide who will be king come 2015.

Unfortunately, as in all battles, there will be casualties from both sides. There will be persons who will not play by the book or the rules; there will be irreparable fall-outs and rashness in the heat of battle. Many will take it personal, and many more will use all manner of measures to score cheap goals in the spirit of politicking.

My advice to us will always be true. Those who want to be gladiators will be gladiators - kill or be killed. Those who will be warriors – be warriors. The non-participants, those who will cowardly remain by the sidelines with slaked lips thirsty for the sight of spilled blood – will be spectators. And those who will simply perform the civic but patriotic duty to cast their vote, by all means do so. But in all our doing, let us not burn bridges of friendship because Buhari was spelt Boo-ha-ree or because Ebele was spelt Air-Bay-lay.

Finally, whoever wins, amongst these two contenders forced on us, I have since decided that I will accept as president (like say I get choice) and pray that he be granted wisdom to be one of the best Presidents or leaders that Nigeria would have. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

PS. Please read the poetic prose below and remember to live and let others live.  


Politics of The Jungle: the Hunt Has Begun.  

I am weary weary weary of all these talks and arguments
Pdp this Apc that and everything in between
I am sorry sorry sorry that I do not like your candidate
For reasons small for reasons great for reasons way too much
Whether it’s Abc, or Apc or Pd flipping P
Impatient animals, lurking and growling with teeth sharpened for the Hunt
Revolting smell of blood, not so for predatory folks in the wilds
Instincts thoroughly awakened by fresh smell of blood knows a wounded prey is close
Like sharks circling a prey in sea or vultures stalling for the carcass  

Fear fear all around as the heat of contest is brutal and fierce
Cannibalistic desperation desires just a bite into flesh
Chunks of flesh bitten off the defeated are being chewed with relish and glee
The entrails and blood are everywhere
Acquire. Acquire as much The moment is now or never
Survivability is the sport, greed is the name of the game
The price of honour has gone way higher in a jungle of lust and greed
The harsh light of survival has emptied the mind of sound reason and obvious truth  

I am weary weary weary of them bloody politicians
Clothed in suits or kaftans, hats or hulas, shoes or sandals
None is saintly, all are beastly
I cry foul foul foul
It is politrickery and not politicking
Viewers beware and be not carried away
Monies changing hands, transaction is the language and the highest bidder is King
For you see, there is an auction of soul and mind and endorsement is altered on a whim
The usual suspects seem guileless on ground and deceit is all around
The maestro of art and play are masters of images and half-truths
This season will come this season will go
Burn not the bridges of today for fallacies of yesterday  

I am so flipping knackered
Of the lack of a structure of merit
Do not care for the pretence of eloquence and oratory
This sweet mind of mine won’t be soured
By matters too confounding for me
Yes I care and I act and I respond
Yet I am no gladiator, nor ever will be
For a gladiator kills for the amusement of spectators and I got no stomach for that
This democracy drives me crazy
Just live and let me live.

~ Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi 2014

Please don't go away without dropping a few lines here just so I know you passed by. Also you can engage with me at my twitter handle: @signetseal :-)

www.thesealuponmyheart.blogspot.com
Image credits: google.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

But My Spirit Holds

Born a woman in a crazy country, surrounded by discriminatory traditions of men
Born a second in an average family of 10, with all the challenges of kith and kin
Born a Christian and not knowing who Christ is until Christ introduced himself to me
Born and steeped in the relics of religiosity, held back by inhibitions of conventions
But my spirit held

Born in an impossible country, where the act of faith is a feat of its own kind
Bombed with sweet colours and flavours of multi-ethnic conflation
Buttered with the biliousness of religious and military severity
Bested, blamed biased and held by a bootlace of hope and affection
Brazenly my spirit held    

Balderdash swirling like clouds above me, denied a place of residence within me
Bucolic lovers have become bucolic slayers of men, women and children
Bodies of unacknowledged past corpses dug out of nationhood navigated in bloody murky waters of past wars
Brave victims and warriors of all manner of historical injustices still crying out for compensations that may never come
Brazenly my spirit held

Baffled by the offensive basic instincts of a deformed mind of blind supremacy
Banshee wailings of the spirit of an orphaned nation gives warning of a demise that can be prevented
But the belligerence of barbaric domination will not heed the sense and sounds of times
Bottlenecks of ethnic, religious, regional and vested attachments obstructing the flow of life to a wheezing nation
But tenaciously, my spirit held
Beaten, battered, wounded, trampled and crushed
Bold valiant audacious Nigeria
Bestowed with the beauty of nature of mind and of resilient people
Bitter braving odds, unrelenting breed of children who will not bow or yield
But our spirit holds.

~ Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi


Dedicated to the resilient Nigerian people.

Hope this poetic prose lifted your spirit. Don't go away without dropping a few lines just so I know you passed by. Also you can engage with me at my twitter handle: @signetseal :-)

Image credits: "The unbroken spirit" Loretta & Charles Aniagolu; recreateyourlifetoday.blogspot.com; google.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TO DEFLOWER A BOOK

TO DEFLOWER A BOOK

“Chalya why do you keep underlining most of the passages in your book” my good friend once asked me. I didn’t have an answer for her then but with time, I came to understand why. As an avid reader, I love to deflower all my books thoroughly before I give them out. No kidding. I underline, and sometimes would use my favourite colours of markers, lemon green, orange, yellow & red to accentuate a passage that appeals to my exotic senses or resonates with my exact sentiments; underlining words or phrases that would leap out of the pages like a skilful dart player hitting the bull eyes. {You need to see my Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man Book}
Make no mistake about it. When I have thoroughly enjoyed a book, fiction or not, my fingers must make its comments on its pages. I and the author would become as one as we become intimately acquainted with one another on the book pages. Together, I and the characters would embark on a journey. If they travelled to Paris, I travelled the same roads or flew in the same plane with them, stopping over at the same side cafes and drinking the same sweet or bitter coffee they drank. If they sky-dived, I did and I felt their fear and courage of sky-diving, almost experiencing that high they got when they dared a feat and succeeded. If they went mountain climbing in the dead of winter or the heat of summer, I was right by their sides. If they were heart-broken, I too was heart-broken and if they made sweet love…well…erm, erm…no comments. But I never die with my characters, no, I simply refuse to die with them. If they choose to die, that is where I happily part ways with them – who wan die!
As the song goes, let’s just say:
“I know the distance it takes to sail around the world (The Librarian by Laura Jane Scott) and I have done it many times on seas of Van Gogh green” from the pages of my books. 
The point is, we made this beautiful, sometimes difficult, exhilarating journey together, not divorcing myself from the fantasies or realities of both their dreams and experiences. How then would you expect me to come out of such a breathtaking experience with the pages of my book unscathed, or like it just left the printers? What’s the point of reading a book without leaving a sign of your magnificent presence in its wake? Una sef!
The world may eventually be overtaken by kindle and all things virtual but people like me will still be willing to pay a little extra to experience the feeling of holding and turning the pages of a hard paper book until it is properly deflowered. Which one consign you sef? Flees from Pa @Ikhide

PS. Can you imagine that the word ‘disvirgined’ is not in the English dictionary? But you just might find it in our Nigerian English dictionary. That should have been the appropriate title for this my piece o. #Sigh what a sweet word to say rather than deflowered, sounds boring.

O Another PS.
Seriously, got to join an interesting book club where one can be drinking hot mugs of coffee and eating cookies while discussing books! And yes, you can engage me any time about a book on my twitter handle: @signetseal
This is Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi telling you that it is a wonderful thing to be lost in a book! Have a great day guys. Hugs. :-)

Image Credits: indulgy.com; girlsheartbooks.com

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE NIGERIAN GOOD WOMAN – By Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi

“Good women these days are hard to find.”

I should have punched him on the face. Suffice it to say my look did the punching and I hissed inwardly as I muttered to myself if the question shouldn’t have been the other way round.

I don’t think you understand the pressure of being a good woman in Nigeria today. If you did, then you will understand we were born to Nigerian parents whose generation believed that domesticity is synonymous with the word woman and perhaps with some level of education and church-upbringing, you’re on your way to becoming a good woman all things being equal. It goes therefore, that if you wanted to be easily identified as a Nigerian good woman worthy enough to be selected for ‘settle-down-with’ material, you must be willing to subject yourself to meeting their criteria or definition of the Nigerian good woman. Notice I said ‘their.’ This is because in Nigeria, you must be vetted by the parents, prospective spouse, prospective in-laws and of course, the ubiquitous pastor before you are eligible for the good woman brand of acceptance and only after you have successfully passed the wise evaluations of these enfranchised people are you able to be deemed ‘the Nigerian good woman.’ That said who then is a good Nigerian woman?

Shall we start from the beginning?

Home-Training: it is rightly expected by your parents that you fulfil all the requirement of a well brought up Nigerian woman. You’ve got to understand the traditional roles of a woman according to the tribe you were born into: daughter, sister, servant, caretaker, care-giver, mother, tire-less worker, you name it. You should be able to play these roles promptly and interchangeably when the situation calls for it.

You’ve got to be well grounded in all domestic chores ranging from cooking to washing to general housekeeping skills.
You’ve got to have certain socially valued ideals like, speaking only when spoken to, no arguments or confronting elders, your elders are usually always right, you move, dress, speak, and appear a certain way.

And my favourite, you’ve got to be a constant church-goer and an obedient member of all church doctrines as per your denomination and to up the ante, you must be an active member in church for upholding public appearances.

And so while you’re being sharply groomed on fundamental African womanly behaviours, enter your prospective spouse who also has been well groomed by his own mother and has his own list of ideas of what his mother told him a good woman should be:

She should be from a good home (I don’t know whether having separated or divorced parents is considered a good home yet.)
She should have a sound education (don’t know what ‘their’ sound means. Is it secondary to Phd, well, you figure it out)
She should be member to a certain sane church-denomination (preferably the traditional church that everyone is familiar with)
She should speak softly (don’t know at what decibel rate a voice pitch crosses over to loud)
She should be respectful……………………………….Ok. Respect is a huge deal here. And not just huge, it is gargantuan. With respect, you’d better be really careful here. You will have to struggle with questions like: should you always allow him the right to win an argument 60 to 70% of the time? Should you agree with most of his ideologies at the expense of yours? Should you genuflect when you meet your in-laws for the first time or always? Did she actually say hi or hello or did she say the full good morning/afternoon/evening when you introduced her to your personal people?

Then of course, the dressing often comes into play: how does she dress? If you’re lucky, trousers or certain kind of dresses will not disqualify you but if not, you’d better stick to wearing wrappers and very long skirts and dresses. Did I hear you ask ‘how will I know if he likes my dressing without asking?’ Easy. The moment he opens his mouth to say ‘Jenny, you look fine in this but you look finer in wrappers’ know that your dressing is no longer social but the stakes are now political. It will eventually become a deal breaker if not addressed. O ye ladies that like sexy dressing, you’re on your own, I advice you leave that for girlfriend material.

I will not get started on facial make-up or your hair-do because by now you should know that there are certain make-up and  hair-dos that good women do not wear and there are certain attachments that good women do not buy. You must have the look of a good ‘wifely’ woman. Like these my sisters like Mo & Mrs Ighodalo here:
Let’s not forget the very sensitive matter of the number of Ex-es you had before you found ‘the-One.’ (Coughs, clears throat, erm…you know what I mean)

By the way, if you succeed in scaling through all these loopholes into your matrimonial home, be prepared to comply with a whole lot of rules on your mother in law’s checklist of good-daughters-in-law.

However and this is a humungous BUT, if you’ve past the age of 30, God forbid 40, and you are still single, everyone is allowed to call you bad until proven married.

Did I leave any out? I know I did. Please feel free to correct me. Add your voice ojare, I am all ears.

I hope you enjoyed this piece. I look forward to catching up with you via my handle: @signetseal and yes, would love to read your comments too. Do have a great week. Blogging at: www.thesealuponmyheart.blogspot.com 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Understanding How Quality Defines Choices - Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi

Every product has a grade, a tag, a label, a brand and a price – which is yours?

Our daily vocabulary is spiced with different adjectives to describe the different perceptions of what we experience each day. For example, we tend to notice the way we were treated at a bank, received in a home, the taste of the food we were served, the type of comfort we got in a hotel, the depth of the sermon we heard in church. So we inwardly question, was the speech evocative? Did it stir me up in an impactful manner? Does she dress well?
Can he speak good English? We want to know where he works? What she does? Where they live?  On and on we go, all in the spirit to qualify what we meet, see, feel, or understand.

We see red roses, we call them beautiful flowers. We eat a great meal, we call it delicious. We read a novel and we just can’t put it down. We stay at a Trump hotel
and we experience luxurious service at its best; we watch a game of throne series, and we want to keep on watching. We read an article and we rave about it. Our human nature loves to qualify what our senses like or do not like. Without realizing it, our traditional five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste and sound) are always on the lookout for better, richer, sweeter and exceptional. And that is as it should be for God in His infinite wisdom created man to go after perfection and that is why we grow, we upgrade, we keep on developing to acquire or attain a certain quality in standards.

A simple definition of quality to me is:  conformance to requirements. (Crosby 1979) Going further, quality can be a perceived degree or grade of excellence or expectations with minimum defaults or deficiencies that are acceptable to the recipient. Since there are varying degrees of qualities to different people, in no particular order, these are a few of the many bases on which the quality of an individual is judged in our society:

1) Social status or employment position (Pedigree, Son or daughter of whom, fame, Occupation, type of business, financial wealth, etc)
2) Personality or Character traits (kindness, honesty, generosity, integrity, consistency, hardworking, etc)
3) Accomplishment or attainment including (fame, wealth, academic degrees, Olympic Athletes, International Football players, renowned singer/musician/actor etc)
4) Physical Form or Structure (height, skin colours, shape, age, etc)
5) Charisma (charming, engaging, seductive, confidence, baritone voice, dress style, intellect, poise, swag, comportment, flow, fascinating, etc)
6) Faith/Beliefs (Being spiritually inclined, religious, fanatic, tolerance, liberal, Atheist, etc)

VETTING THAT OPTION

Identifying your own definition of quality is crucial if you want to make great choices in life. There is absolutely no shame in writing down your list of requirements. Setting up parameters to guide one in making quality choices is imperative for successful living. What is a deal breaker for you when you are vetting your options? What are the must-have-attributes you cannot do without? What is the one attribute that must not make that list? Do your own home work, have your own guidelines before you make that choice. With time you may amend that list with a few additions or subtractions, but always create your list of preferred/not-preferred attributes when deciding on life-changing choices. Nothing can be set on stone unless it is the Ten Commandments! So be flexible with that list when it comes to certain adjustable areas.

With individual preferences, comes relativity. What is acceptable to you may be unacceptable to me. You may prefer intellect over beauty. Another would prefer wealth over form. Still, another would prioritize faith over anything else. On a scale of one to ten of likes and dislikes, some people would gladly settle for 3, 5 or 6 qualities while others would aim between 7 to 10 or even higher. And everyone may go home happy. The choice is yours. Your quality will certainly define your choices. You may make tradeoffs along the way but you can never compromise the top three essentials on your expectations without which all other things could be disastrous to your overall well being.

If I was a car dealer and you came to me and said you want a quality car, I will first have to ask you what your definition of quality is in order to understand your need. Do you want a factory fitted AC?
Would you prefer a car that starts with a key or a button, would you want a car that comes with a TV and a wine bar? Do you want a car with a turbo engine etc. You may say yes and go ahead and add that a car that consumes fuel is no problem to you if it has certain vital features. Same with quality food. You cannot tell someone like Nky Iweka that you want Edikang Ekong without expecting her to put in shrimps, prawns, dry fish, stockfish, snails, periwinkles, goat meat, you name it except you specifically told her to exempt an item or two. The car dealer will expect you to know that a quality car is pricey and cost money while Nky will expect you to know that soup wey sweet na money kill am.

On the other hand, if all you had ever known was a canoe or bicycle, you may settle for any car you can afford. Yet, another may hold on until he can acquire a certain kind of car. He may sacrifice immediate gratification to own just any car for the long haul of owning a functional, classy and beautiful car in the foreseeable future. Your quality is that trait {vision} that defines your life-changing-choices, based on who you want to be tomorrow and not who you are now.

It is so easy to mistake the lack {or abundance} of money for quality. Wrong!

I may not have money now but I know how to make money and soon enough I will have money. Another person may have money now but do not know how to invest money and soon enough, he will have none.

I have seen people I know {yours truly included} make decisive mistakes because they thought they could sacrifice a fundamental part of who they were for what they thought was quality. You cannot sacrifice certain fundamental requirements of your own definition of quality except it is for a greater purpose much greater than the sacrifice itself. I believe human beings were made to strive for improvement in every area of our lives. We cannot afford to be satisfied with the way we are and so we advance in technology, self-improvement, family values, national values, societal values, spiritual values, professional values, and relationship values…we graduate from one level in life to the other with the goal of going upwards and never downwards. The status-quo eventually becomes boring and we must spice it up, change, alter, diversify but we cannot be stagnated in one area forever or we die. WE WERE ALL BORN TO DEVELOP. Only GOD is unchangeable.

I believe quality is an ongoing process of improvement towards a certain goal, however developing the ability to identify the ever-changing needs of our future transformations to fulfil our aspirations will help us make great satisfying choices.

I hope you enjoyed this piece. I look forward to catching up with you via my handle: @signetseal and yes, would like to read your comments too. Have a great week. :-)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Nigeria and its 6-3-3-4 Educational System. By Sammy Omotese

‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.’ Martin Luther King
It has constantly been said that: ‘education is the bedrock of any meaningful society’. This has been proven to be an accurate assertion based on the developmental strides many of the civilised nations have experienced; due to their rapt concentration on the most important aspect of human improvement.
Knowing the value of education, industrialised countries have mandated the earliest forms of learning for all and sundry. The basic acts of literacy and numeracy accounts for the monumental strides they have experienced over the last five centuries. One cannot place enough value on the usefulness of education in any given clime. The key factor is being able to continuously develop the mind and prepare ones mental state for easy assimilation of ideas and ideals and the character to put to practice what has been learnt.
Over the years, different countries have adopted approaches to national development through a regimented educational system that will project their overall goal. In Nigeria, we have experienced different forms of educational systems since we attained our independence. One of the systems that readily come to mind is the existing system put in place by Prof. Babatunde Fafunwa, Minister for Education during the General Ibrahim Badamusi Babangida’s regime. He came up with the 6-3-3-4 educational system.
Laudable as the programme itself is, we were not fully prepared for it. We did not put a lot of factors into consideration. However, 24 years on, we still have not been able to correct the anomaly that has crippled what could have been one of the best educational policies in Nigeria since our national independence.
According to the system, children are supposed to start primary school at age six.
They are taken through elementary subjects for the next six years after which they will take an examination to ascertain their preparedness for the challenges of the junior secondary school. They have a dossier kept on them for the six years and ideally be passed on to the secondary school for continuity. On completion of the first three successful years at the junior secondary, the grades they make will determine what path they will follow. For example, if you excelled in science based subjects such as Integrated Science, Mathematics, Agricultural Science and English Language at a minimum credit level, you will be posted to a Science Class from Senior Secondary School (SSS) 1. Where you are expected to study Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Further Mathematics, Mathematics, English Language, Geography, Government and Agricultural Science till you take the senior West Africa Examination Certificate (WAEC).
Others are placed in ‘Commercial Class’- where they are taught: English Language, Mathematics, Biology, Commerce, Economics and Accounting. Whereas the ‘Art Class’ are taught: English Language, Mathematics, Biology, English Literature, Yoruba/Igbo/Hausa Language, Christian Religious Knowledge(CRK)/ Islam Religious Knowledge(IRK) and Government. They learn these subjects for three years and are made to sit for the senior secondary examination (SSCE). Successful candidates are encouraged to sit for either the Polytechnic qualifying examination or the University qualifying examination. Ideally, they are to spend a minimum of four years at the university and five years at the polytechnic.
Those who have showed flair for technical subjects are sent after the first three years at the junior secondary school (JSS) to a Technical School (Specialized Schools where technical subjects such as: Building and Construction, Mechanical Engineering, Wood Work/Carpentry, Sewing, Weaving, Crafts etc are taught). The idea being to ‘catch them young’ and mentor them to become leaders in the construction industry, furniture and steel industries, etc. Only a few of these specialised schools were fully functional as at the time they introduced the educational scheme in 1990. The preceding educational syllabus was watered down to make way for the additional one year. A few questions still need to be answered:
1. Would it not have been better if we had tried out the proposed system in one or two states for a minimum of six years to see how effective it would be when it is fully implemented country wide?
2. Would it not have been advisable to conduct a survey to project the number of students across the country that would be leaving year after year to determine how many slots each university can accommodate?
3. What effort was made to ensure that there would be enough university places for the resulting candidates from the 6-3-3-4 educational system?
4. What arrangements were put in place to create specialized schools (technical schools) in time where those that have the flair for technical subjects would be tutored and mentored?
5. What arrangements were put in place for the students to gain industrial experience?
6. What arrangements were put in place for the continuous training of the teachers to enable them carry out their roles effectively?
7. What was the rationale behind subverting the existing educational policy prior to 1990 without first getting all the needed structure/infrastructure in place to foster the change that was being ‘created’?
8. What is the reason for keeping the dossier of the child’s first nine years (the first six years at the primary school and the first three years at the secondary school) if not to clearly align them with areas of their interest?
9. What structure is in place to cater for children with exceptional learning abilities (geniuses)?
10. After twenty four (24) years since the programme has been in place, have we reconsidered the way the policy has fared and perhaps made an effort to right some of the anomalies?
In addition to these questions, which have not even been considered because the system has never been reviewed to ascertain its successes or failings, the system has bred another anomaly. Over the years, contrary to the original aims of the 6-3-3-4 system, it has become almost a ‘normal situation’ for a child to stay at home for upwards of six (6) years after completing his/her secondary education while waiting to pass the Joint Matriculation Examination (JAMB). Students pay over five thousand naira to write this exam and the few that score over 200 at the exam are made to pay yet again for internal examination before they can be admitted to study at the university/polytechnic.
My question would be: ‘what is the essence of JAMB when each university would end up conducting their own entrance examination anyway?’
Is it right for those that have the misfortune of not scoring over two hundred (200) to stay at home for upwards of four (4) years doing nothing? What do you reckon they would be doing at home for that period of time? Therein lies the genesis of one of the menace in our society. The menace of ‘area boys/girls’.
On the other hand, it becomes daunting for a child that has finished his/her secondary education six years after to cope with the challenges of another academic life. Six years is such a long time to stay away from school; if you asked me. The pupil finally gets admitted and he spends another four years (let’s disregard the incessant strike actions that sometimes add one or two extra years to the four years they are to spend in school) plus the one year compulsory youth service programme.
If my arithmetic is correct, the child would have spent twenty three (23) of his/her life getting ready for work. If you add six (6) to that, you will arrive at twenty nine (29). Unfortunately, he/she becomes too old for employment in Nigeria. Most employers specify that you must not be older than twenty five (25). Little reason why most people claim to start primary school at age three (3)!
Moving forward, I think we need to re-address this 6-3-3-4 system and promptly ensure that we do the following:
• Train and retrain teachers at all levels
• If we must follow the 6-3-3-4 pattern, then it must be a continuous journey without breaks in-between
• JAMB should be cancelled totally
• There should be no age discrimination when you are applying for a job
• Technical schools should be built in all the states of the federation and their certificates accepted
The 6-3-3-4 system like most of the policies we have witnessed in Nigeria has failed because we placed the cart before the horse. To avoid a reoccurrence of the sad state of the last twenty four years in the education sector, immediate steps should be taken to correct the above listed anomalies. If we wish to be great, we have to restructure our schools to meet with the challenges of the 21st century.

Sammy Omotese is a UK-based Nigerian who produces compelling events in support of talents, businesses and communities. He can be reached on his twitter handle: @sammyomotese or follow his writings on his blog:http://sammyomotese.blogspot.co.uk/
Would love to hear from you; try not to dash off without dropping your comments. :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Thoughts on Gays & Nigeria's Anti-Gay Bill - A Christian Perspective

I must confess, since this anti-gay bill was signed into law, I have been most delighted. For many months now, I have concentrated much of my arguments on the wrongs of homosexuality strictly from a somewhat rigid stance based on my faith & spiritual perspectives. I have been besieged by so many comments, some unsavoury & some downright rude. I have read & re-read several articles written about why the Nigerian anti-gay law should or should not have been allowed. Mentally, I am simply exhausted from listening and reading varied opinions on this matter though very necessary & to think the debate is just getting started.

Spiritually, there are no gray areas for me, I know where I stand on this gay matter & I do not support homosexuality. Intellectually though – and this is the tricky part - when you’re dealing with matters of the intellect, you’re dealing with logic and an organized & structured pattern of reasoning – this is where I must confess that I have had sleepless nights, literally. But after my own soul searching, much research & prayers, I must choose to do what I think I should do, even when it is most inconvenient. I have tried to live my life as frankly as I can & for me, these are my deductions.
For me to have my own peace of mind, I had to ask myself several questions.

Q1: Is homosexuality wrong?

Ans: Yes
.
Q2: Why?

Ans: Simply because my Christian faith tells me so.

Q3: Where is it written in the bible?

Ans: Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination! Romans 1:26-28; Jude1:7; 1Kings14:24; 2Corinthians6:9-11; 1Timothy1:10. I can go on and on.

Q4: So based on the ways of the Lord Jesus, the author & finisher of the Christian faith [Hebrew12:2], what would Jesus have done if He had met a gay woman by the Samaritan Well? What would Jesus have done if a gay man or woman had been brought to him [like the adulterous woman] so that they could be stoned to death?

Ans: I doubt that He would have condemned her. Surely, He would have condemned the sin but not the individual. He would have had quite an interesting conversation with her by the Well, chatted her up and through His Charismatic manner of persuasive engagement, & godly compassion, He would have touched & transformed her life.

Q5: With this kind of reasoning, would you still support the criminalization of the sin of homosexuality as you put it & as defined by the Nigerian anti-gay bill.

Ans: No I will not.

Q6: Why

Ans: While I do not support gay marriages or homosexual practices, I believe a person should not be condemned as a criminal because of his or her sexual preferences. Though homosexuality is against my faith and culture, I cannot impose my culture or faith on another person for the simple but obvious reason that faith, beliefs, & cultures differ. What may be repugnant to me may be acceptable to another person. I also believe that doing so is an infringement on the human rights of another.

Q7: Is the Nigerian anti-gay bill therefore wrong?

Ans: Well, if the Nigerian anti-gay bill criminalizes homosexuality, it is wrong because it infringes on the rights of gay individuals by taking away the freedom of their rights to associate & practice their acts as gay citizens in Nigeria.

Let us be sensible here. There are no verifiable damages occurring from the practice of homosexuality amongst two consenting adults to a third party. While some Christians may argue and rightly too that there are spiritual & other unforeseeable far-reaching effects of allowing gay practices in Nigeria, I can also add that the same spiritual & far –reaching effect hold sway for the sin of adultery, murder, & polygamy amongst others. Sin is sin. There is no favoured sin in the sight of God over another. It’s like saying all sins can disqualify you from heaven but some sins are more grievously disqualifying than others. Wouldn’t that be hypocritical to say the least? The same bible preaches: Love thy neighbour as thy self.
If your neighbour happens to be gay, will you still love him or her?

Still, I believe that Nigeria as a sovereign state has the right to decide amongst its own people what is acceptable as her national values and what is not. I had hoped that a proper referendum & national debate about homosexuality be put forward to Nigerian citizens before enacting a law based on the people’s wishes. But that didn’t happen instead a law has been enacted that has given the Nigerian police an arbitrary right to throw people into jail unceremoniously without the slightest compunction. I foresee serious future consequences if we all keep quiet about this. Tomorrow, it might be something else and therein lies the error of the anti-gay bill.

However, when a majority is against a certain way of life, it doesn’t help the case of the minority to begin to insult, abuse, & denigrate the majority.
Rather, it is in the interest of the minority to think of a better way to explain & appeal to the reasoning of the majority. Blocking or censoring people from your social-media handles or pages whether it be twitter or face book will not help your case. Imposing, say, economic sanctions upon Nigeria will only aggravate Nigerians and make them more adamant & determined to crush or wipe out the term ‘homosexuality’ from the country. The path towards gay-tolerance in Nigeria will not come with blackmailing or being intellectually arrogant either. What a people do not understand, they will never never accept. However, as a Christian woman, my standard is the Lord Jesus Christ not my Pastors or Bishops. What would Jesus have done today if He had been invited for dinner by a gay couple? What would Jesus have done in the midst of so much outrage & discrimination against gay people? I strongly believe, He wouldn’t have condemned them. He would have allowed His love to shine through & not His self-righteousness as we are wont to do. Surely, He would have had a parable or two to tell about how we treat gay people. Eventually, He would have told them to sin no more but He would not have asked for their heads.

Where is our Christian compassion for those Christ died for?

In conclusion, I am not afraid to condemn the act of homosexuality like I would condemn adultery or rape or corruption. It is my prerogative to choose whether to associate with a homosexual or not based on 1Corinthians 15:33. But it is not my Christian duty to condemn the homosexual person. I do not support the persecution or harassment of homosexuals. While I believe homosexuality is an irreverent way of life to our traditional marriage values & customs, I also believe the rights of the homosexuals should be protected in a democratic nation.


Not so fast guys. Please don't hurry away. I would like to hear from you so please & please, let me know you visited my blog by dropping your comments. Many thanks & God bless you! We can talk some more on my twit handle: @signetseal

Monday, January 13, 2014

WHO IS A FASHION CRIMINAL?


Fashion, style, vogue – who defines it?

Only recently I read an article berating Beyoncé for going all out to look like a blond when she should be black & perhaps afro. It was a great article according to my standard because it raised up some really salient points. And it got me thinking, at what point can I be judged to have committed a fashion crime. Am I a fashion criminal?
Say, I pick up two fashion magazines: one is an international magazine, the other is a local magazine, I tend to believe every fashion style from the international mag because it is international. My believability is therefore dependent on ‘the-bigger-the-better-the-truer.’ I’m watching fashion Police & Joan Rivers & her crew are – defining to the point of hilarity – what fashion ought to be. I do not understand nor question her fashion opinions because she is Joan Rivers – the-know-it-all-fashion-guru. My believability is dependent on the opinions of a TV celebrity. I wake up & standing before my Mirror, my self-portrait doesn’t feel so good any more. My mind wants to see what the magazines I’ve read & what the TV celebrities in the fashion world calls fashion. So I become dis-satisfied with what I am for what I am not & before you know, I’m at the hair dressers buying & fixing what I have accepted as fashion according to Beyoncé or Joan Rivers. Come on! I think we are now confusing fashion, vogue & style for beauty and that it isn’t. I think because we aint confident of who we are & how we look, we become gullible to every trend thrown at us by every famous face or celebrity. If every individual were to define fashion based on what is suitable to their natural looks, the fashion business would be out of business. If Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, etc had decided to wear Afro & nothing else, I believe even their Caucasian fans would be buying afro-wigs because they want to look like Beyonce. Unfortunately, our black celebrities aint comfortable in their own skins or with their own beauty, I think they have accepted a white definition from Hollywood or the high streets of world Fashion on what beauty should be & we see nothing absolutely wrong with it because we want to make more money and in so doing, lose our natural allure & integrity. That is why acrylics sell, why eye brows are carved, why dresses go way shorter & wigs sell even more.

For what it's worth, why should I base my hard-earned budget on the opinions of other people's fashion sense? Does that make me a fashion criminal? If perhaps I wear an orange scarf with a lilac blouse on a red MC Hammer's kind of baggy trousers, I'm I now condemned to a fashion criminal? O dear! Should I dig my natural afro or should I mix it up with a pink wig or perhaps I should just damn the consequences and give myself a Mohawk cut tinted with a golden hue that shouts - crazy?
Go figure. I think fashion is whatever suits me and whatever I like and not just because Ms G or Mr P says its ok. Still, I have seen several fashion ideas & styles that are just lovely and just because I aint brave enough to wear this afro hair-do
doesn't make me judge the person who does. Like my younger sister would say, there are only certain people that can carry-off certain looks. I agree. However I think we are all fashion criminals one way or another because what might be great fashion to Miss Daisy might be appalling to me or someone else - different strokes for different folks guys. Let's just conclude this piece amicably, any fashion that is a 360-turn-around from your natural self & does not flatter or better your natural image aint fashion in my opinion but
then I aint Joan Rivers, I am simply me, the unknown & to cut a very long story short, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. :)

NB
And don’t go asking me ‘what if I don’t like my natural image or my natural image does not flatter me, then perhaps you need to see a certified shrink!

Once again, don't hurry off that quickly. I would love to read your comments, please drop a line. And you can also follow at my handle: @signetseal. :)


Sunday, October 13, 2013

WHEN THE MIDNIGHT OIL RUNS DRY


The thing about reflecting on the scriptures is that it can make you go gaga when you catch a revelation or rhema from a passage. I was reading my #LA130 daily portion of Matthew 25:1-13 when it struck me. The groom was delayed and the foolish virgins lost out because they had no extra oil at the midnight of their lives. It wasn’t that the foolish virgins weren’t good virgins; it wasn’t that they were impatient either; they were called foolish because they chose not to be prepared for the long haul, the winter or the dark night. They just didn’t have foresight in the event of any eventualities to their plans.

Now understand that people don’t usually use lamps in the day time. People usually use lamps when day has turned to night and the darkness surrounds them – that is when lamps or candles are usually flicked on. So it goes without saying that, if you’re waiting for an important guest, you should be prepared to receive this VIP at any time the VIP turns up bearing in mind that he may or may not turn up according to the appointed time planned. Well, the foolish virgins had a short time plan. What they didn’t envisage was a long time plan and because of this oversight, at midnight, their oil ran out just when they needed it most – chei!

What do you do when your oil runs out?

Understand that oil is meant to beautify and smooth skin or enrich the texture of food or grease the smoothness of an object into operating smoothly. Oil is meant to stop things from becoming rusty or make things run smoothly. Oil, when used on the face puts a glow on your facial skin. Oil takes away the dryness or brittleness of life so to say. That is why we have petroleum oil for our cars with its by-products like Vaseline oiling our lips. That is why we have coconut oil for our skins; we have kerosene oil for our stoves and all kinds of oil for all kinds of purposes. For the virgins, the oil was meant for the oiling of their lamps to give them light to brighten & dispel the darkness of their surroundings and perhaps to illuminate their faces and make them recognisable to the groom.

Now verse 5 of Matthew 25 tells me the groom was delayed. Remember the word – delayed. What do you do when your groom is delayed? Not that he jilted you, he was merely delayed; not that he didn’t want you, he was merely delayed; not that the wedding wasn’t going to hold nor that the marriage wouldn’t take place – he’s still gonna show up but he’s been merely delayed; he’s still gonna marry you but he was delayed – what are you gonna do about it eh?

Delay! Are you like me and don’t like that word at all. Never liked it then, don’t like it now. Some likely scenarios: your airport flight was delayed from 8:15am to 5:15pm, it happens. Your tailor delayed in finishing that dress you needed for a very important occasion, it happens. What about the long queues at the bank just when you need to rush in and out and then you’re told the bank computer crashed, please hold on. Or when the ever fiery preacher just keeps on yapping and refuses to round up the message in time and your godly etiquette wouldn’t permit you to just up and quit the service? Lest I forget natural blessings like when it’s raining cats and dogs or hailing an avalanche of snow at your doorsteps and right before your very eyes, the clock is ticking away and there’s nothing you can do about it as your plans just simply falls away because man or nature interfered – it is very frustrating.

What are you going to do when your groom has been delayed and your oil is running dry? Natural reactions are beginning to set in: anxiety, panic, fear, disappointments, depression – these creepy feelings are keeping you company and making you feel even much worse. I tell you, it can be scary and frustrating. But I’ve got good news for you – I’m here to tell you that your groom is still coming! Though he delays, wait for it since it will certainly come and not be late. (Habakkuk 2:2-3). Ok but he should have been here by my 10am or 12noon or 2pm, sorry he got delayed and hasn’t shown up – na wao – this groom aint coming no more. That is a lie from the devil. Your groom is coming!

Now I may be using the groom analogy but it goes beyond the marriage context. Your groom might be that long awaited child, that job or employment you searching for; that visa or admission letter that isn’t forthcoming; that contract that is way over due or that your competitor sort of snatched under your nose; that sickness that you’ve been battling since way-back-when; that promotion, ambition, dream, troubled marital home, family etc – whatever that delayed groom represents in your life, I am here to announce to you, your groom (your testimony, your breakthrough, the promise) will surely come at the appointed time. If it hasn’t come, then it isn’t the appointed time.

If you feel your bottle of oil is running dry, go buy another bottle of oil. Stock up and don’t let your (oil) run dry. It wasn’t the groom’s delay that locked the foolish virgins out of the banquet feast nor was it the beautiful lamps or the wise virgins, it was the oil – the lack of oil that they allowed to run dry that locked them out. Initially they had the oil, the purity, the grace & the joy, the love & the kindness, the presence of the Holy-Spirit but gradually, when the midnight of their lives approached, they grew weary of waiting and since time dragged on, they soon lost hope and they stopped caring. They allowed the vicissitudes of life, societal pressures etc to weigh them down.
And finally, their faith grew thin. They allowed the physical to dictate the spiritual and finally they lost. This message is for those who feel they have lost their oil – you can get it back. Stop dwelling on stuff you cannot control like the time the groom would show up, the time Nigeria would be great, the time the child, admission, award or job, appointment or money would come because it would eventually come when you least expect. Go get your extra oil. Start with your little corner – your home, your neighbourhood, your village, your city, your face book page, your twitter lane, your blog –those are the places or things you can control and leave the controller of time and output to do the rest. They all became drowsy and fell asleep. Yes, those moments will surely come but when you wake up and you will because you aint dead yet, then go take a shower, a bath, a soak even and freshen up with extra oil!

Hope you enjoyed this piece. Please don’t hurry off. I would love to read your comments so please drop them. As always the handle is: @signetseal

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