Put your money where your mouth is

on   /   in Outside looking in 12:42 am   /   Comments

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.

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