By Denrele Animasaun
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because, someday in your life you will have been all of these. ” — George Washington Carver
May I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a brighter and purposeful 2014!
On January 1st, Bill de Blasio was sworn in as the 109th New York Mayor, I do not know much about him but, much have been said about his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg . Bloomberg had made his fortune before he became Mayor of New York. What made him outstanding was he rejected the $US2.7 million worth of salary to which he was entitled. He instead accepted just $US1 a year, yes,a paltry $1.
When he was elected Mayor of the NY over a decade ago,, he used his personal fortune to bankroll various projects around the city. One of the first things he did was to install two giant aquariums inside City Hall. Ok, that is a bit grandeur but it’s his money .The cost to him for having the tanks cleaned out every week for the past 12 years-about $US62, 400 ($70,100).
He had his own private plane at no costs to the tax payer; I do hope the Nigerian kleptomaniacs are listening. I repeat, Bloomberg spent his own money to travel at a cost of $US6 million.
It is reported that Bloomberg had spent $730 million on a wide variety of perks and bonuses, political campaigns and advocacy work; he gave to the arts,charitable and social causes. He donated at least another $US263 million to New York arts, civic, health and cultural groups through his personal company, Bloomberg LP.
Hope our vice president is taking note; Bloomberg contributed from his pockets $US5 million to renovate an official mayoral residence that he never inhabited. The man preferred the privacy of his own mansion !
They say what goes around comes around and so it seems as his magnanimity attracted financial progress, opportunities and investments to the city.
During his tenure there has been an outstanding progress in terms of crime reduction, transport safety and he paid for free lunch for all city workers. Of course, he is not a saint and New York is by no means cleared of its problems, but no one can deny that he saved the city money, transformed every corner as well as he was a great benefactor to many worthwhile and social causes.
He wrote a $US30 million cheque to create a city programme to improve the lives of disadvantaged black and Latino men he knows that there is great disparity and inequality amongst these groups, therefore,improving their lives would improve their lot. New Yorkers have their opinions on Bloomberg: 30 per cent said Bloomberg’s wealth had made him a better mayor; 27 per cent said it had made him a worse mayor; and 35 per cent said it had made no difference. I suppose you can not satisfy everyone!
One aide said of him;”We’ve never had anybody like him before. “If only we can have men of Bloomberg calibre maybe, just maybe, we can change our collective mindset of giving.
Be the change you want to see
In the spirit of the Year, I will begin as I left off. I have been piqued by the daily diet of stories in the Nigerian and overseas media and as well as first hand discussions I have with my fellow Nigerians. There is no doubt that we need to do better. I have also experienced the wall of silence both from men and women alike when I broach the subject matter. I was heartened to hear that the wife of a former House of Representatives,plucked up the courage to seek for divorce after many years of violent abuse.
Mostly,it seems that we rather stick our heads in the sand rather than deal with the alarming deprivation and inequalities that pervade our religion, tribes and society in general. We do what we do best,we shift uncomfortably, doggedly determined that we will not discuss it and so we shift the blame on the girl/woman for being in such situations. I was shocked when I heard that a governor’s wife who was locked up in her home against her will; the comments I read was that “she deserved it or at least she is rich, some say she was mad, so deserved to be treated that way”. Some people blamed her for allowing the abuse to happen and the same patterns played out against young girls and women up and down the country who mostly have been physically and sexually abused, some people simply recoil when they are confronted but shrug it off as one of those things.
No,it is not one of those things and it should not be happening in a civilised society. Many of us have become voyeurs, often revelling in other peoples’ misery and humiliation. It is high time we took a look at our society and deal with these malaise once and for all.
I accept it can be uncomfortable and most people are indifferent to it all as long as it does not affect them. Collectively,this has a gargantuan impact on us all.
We all have female relatives and in as much as we protect their interests,we should extend our support to the voiceless and dispossess in our society and country. The young people are watching and experiencing this maltreatment and in turn, we are breeding future generations of abusers and the abused.
What do first ladies have to say?
As you may have heard, Senator Ahmed Yarima is up to his old tricks again. He has recently divorced his 17- year old after two years of marriage. He has to divorce the teenager, mother of one so as to allow him to marry another!
What planet is this man from? Why are people like him fond of hiding behind religion to practise their perverse behaviour. It is very disappointing not to hear from the first ladies nor any social group speaking out against this man’s depravity.
So,off he goes to shop for another 15-year old in Egypt to marry. In the meantime, what happens to his discarded former wife, she is only 17 and with a child? Where does she go and who is responsible for her upkeep, her emotional state and her sense of rejection? This is very immoral and the first ladies are watching not saying anything.