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Economic concerns

By Donu Kogbara 
 OCCASIONALLY come across great articles written by fellow journalists that express my views, exactly and succinctly, using fine language that appeals to me.

I recently came across one such article that was penned by an esteemed professional colleague, Simon Kolawole (of ThisDay newspaper and The Cable online publication) last Sunday, on March 13. And I’ve decided, for the benefit of Vanguard readers, to simply quote Mr Kolawole, lock, stock and barrel, rather than just echo his views in my own words (which won’t be any better than his).

President Buhari says We must produce our food locally
President Buhari says We must produce our food locally

“I worry about Buhari’s speed and economic philosophy. I admit that he met enormous challenges on ground. Only a magician would have killed all the cockroaches, mosquitoes and rats within 10 months.

“The PDP brigade, still hurting from their humiliation in the general election, are trying to force the issue, trying to brand Buhari as a failure already — yet their party had 16 whole years to address power shortage, dependence on fuel imports, infrastructural decay, comatose healthcare and stunted education.

Golden  opportunity

They wasted a golden opportunity. They are certainly not in a good position to describe Buhari as a failure before his first anniversary in office.

“Nevertheless, I am very disturbed that Buhari does not yet have an economic direction. Neither is there an anchor. There is no clarity. What we are getting are mixed messages, bits and pieces here and there.

“I am hearing sweet statements and poetic promises, a lot of rhymes and alliterations, from APC leaders and ministers. There is no proper articulation so that we can have an idea of where we are headed. There are so many dots that are not connecting. I have this impression everybody is just doing their own thing without any overarching strategy to connect these dots. I can’t see coherence. I can’t see a roadmap. I can’t see what to hold on to.

“Agreed, Buhari is not an economist. But you don’t have to be an economist to lead a nation to prosperity. All you need is a damn good economic team worth its onions. The team must have an anchor. We are neck-deep in an economic crisis and this requires emergency reaction….It is good that Buhari is a patriot and an honest man. It is good that Buhari means well. But meaning well does not solve these problems. He must also do well. The economy is in limbo, let’s be honest about it….

Mr. President, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. We need to see your development blueprint. We want to understand your policies, programmes and strategies. We want to see the goals and the goalposts. Your party says one thing today, you say another tomorrow.

That you met a mess on ground is the same reason the majority of voters chose you. If they wanted the mess to continue, they would have maintained the status quo. And while we cannot expect you to clear the mess in 10 months, we need a mental picture of where you are taking us….”

I have absolutely nothing to add to Mr Kolawole’s concerns, analysis and conclusions and heartily salute him for boldly making, in such an impressive manner, crucial points with which many extremely worried Nigerians will empathise at the moment.

Shame on them!

The Nigerian branch of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Nigeria has expressed outrage about comments made by the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who (claiming to be motivated by genuine concern for Nigerian womanhood) advised men, including the Senate President, to marry second wives.

In a statement issued by FIDA’s Country Vice-President, Mrs. Inime Aguma, the lady lawyers described Ndume’s recommendation as demeaning and accused him of portraying women as “sex objects” and promoting gender discrimination.

The statement also quoted the Marriage Act (which forbids polygamy for persons married under the Act) and pointed out that in Article 21 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (to which Nigeria is a signatory) states that “polygamous marriage contravenes a woman’s right to equality with men, and can have such serious emotional and financial consequences for her and her dependents that such marriage ought to be discouraged and prohibited.”

Meanwhile, the Senate – earlier on this week – rejected the Gender Equality Bill, which was sponsored by the admirably forthright female Senate Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South), because her numerous opponents said that most of its provisions were in conflict with the 1999 Constitution and Sharia Law.

Ndume and his fellow travellers (some of whom are Christians, in case you mistakenly think that misogyny is a purely Muslim phenomenon) should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves!   Imagine Nigerian women being subjected to such stupid insults, unjust indignities and primitive prejudices in this day and age!

Primitive  prejudices

I agree, 100%, with the former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, who has reminded us of Plato’s observation that: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”.

Sadly, I will never have the stomach for the rough-and-tumble of Naija-style politics. But I can use my media platform to support those who are tougher than I am and pray that the likes of Madame Biodun Olujimi will keep up the good fight.

If some beautiful, educated and successful female professionals and entrepreneurs insist on sharing husbands when they can get husbands of their own or survive and thrive – financially and emotionally – as singletons, I cannot prevent them from carrying on as if men (utterly useless specimens of masculinity included!) are glittering prizes who deserve the simultaneous attentions of more than one spouse.

If Nigerian women who have choices insist on regarding men as adorable demi-gods or indispensable meal tickets and are willing to compete with each other (viciously or subtly) to win the approval of one guy who is very pleased with himself for being able to secure the allegiance of more than one female, I can’t do anything about it.

But I will be thrilled if the law is changed.

Until then, let me speak for women who don’t have a choice – impoverished women who are pushed into polygamous unions by their circumstances or their parents. I also want to speak for first wives – I have quite a few friends in this position – who have money and choices and abhor polygamy but stay (because they want to protect their children) with cheating husbands who impose extra wives on them.

I am divorced but I believe in marriage and love to meet happily married couples. And, as far as I and my church (Catholic) are concerned, the best marriages are monogamous and men should stop finding feeble excuses for misbehaving.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.