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Out with old year, in with the New Year

By Denrele Animasaun

“The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Port Harcourt Pleasure Park after the Official Lighting of the Christmas Tree by the Rivers State Governor

As the year comes to an end, it is important to give thanks for life and the blessings no matter the size, was all worth the gift.

Nigeria with all its challenges, upheavals and obstacles remains home to millions of Nigerians and the only place many truly feel ironically connected.

In the midst of all the scandals, there is hope and faith that Nigerians will have get the country back and thriving. There are young people making amazing strides home and abroad without the support or help of the Nigerian establishments or institutions. Nigerians are resilent and malable, more than capable of making something out of nothing. Next year, hopefully that the government will do more to help all Nigerians and provide a robust   and sustainable employment opportunities, incentify international   investors to create business opportunities across the country and create more jobs and ancillary industries as a result.

The narrative of Nigeria being Africa’s largest nation with its biggest economy is meaningless and without merit. Time now is for Nigeria to live up to its true potential; start by improving lowest ranking in the  social  indicators in the Sub-Saharan Africa average. Nigerians cannot truly say they have made progress and improve the lives of millions of Nigerians.   The country has to look at places like the Emirates and  in particular, Dubai, a success story of building an opulent oasis in a desert. They have successfully diversified from oil wealth reliance and they have done much to make their institutions as places of excellence.

It is not lofty to think that Nigeria could become an incredible and impressive country after all; it had all the raw ingredients.   I wish you a wonderful festive holiday and an inclusive 2018.

We are Firdaus

There is nothing more polarizing in Nigeria than tribe, religion and gender, other than that, Nigerians can be agreeable and tolerant.

So the case of Amasa Firdaus Abdulsalam has been getting people hot under the collar home and abroad because the impressive young woman was not permitted by the Body of Benchers to enter the International Conference Centre on December 12 where the call to bar is usually held because, she refused to remove her hijab. So the story gathered speed and it  got ugly and the hatred garnered by her refusal to remove her hijab to wear the customary wig was beyond the pale. This young woman had been wearing hijab throughout her studies and she did so well in her examinations. She made a choice, and she has every right to and her professional body failed her by not supporting her choice but also scapegoating her as a result of her choice. They need to look at the way women are supported but also a Muslim woman going into the profession, if this was the message; that if you are a Muslim woman, the law institution is not for you.

We have to address the way we receive information and how we deal with subject matters that we find uncomfortable or anything or anyone that is a  deviation from the set norm. Firstly, this woman has the right to refuse to take her hijab off, it is her wish and whatever her religious expression was, it was hers to make. The undercurrent of religious intolerance runs so deep and the colonial throw back is more incidious than many Nigerians  care to admit; colonial mentality affects most Nigerians and it rears its ugly head whenever there is a slight deviation it is seen as  an affront to their inner colonial superiority by proxy.

Many Nigerians, it seems are too  oppressed to recognise the  colonial white male rigidity mindset. It is a shame.

They have missed the fundamentals; basic human rights, constitutional rights, freedom of expression and choice and of course, justice to protect and uphold the constitution.

Historically, the wig is a remnant of the colonial times. It is archaic, but understandably professional tradition and in particular specific to the British legal institutions.   Nothing is written in stone that it is only one way and no way at all. Wearing the wig does not make you a lawyer and there is much more, integrity, professionalism, principled and knowledgeable.

In the UK and other western countries, Muslim officials in all walks of life are wearing their hijabs, turbans  while carrying out their duties and it does not distract their duties and responsibilities so, Nigeria should not be different.

The world has made these adjustments in the spirit of inclusion and equality. It is about time Nigeria moved with the times and does what is right.

Firdaus has been cruelly discriminated against because of her choice and her religion, they have denied her the opportunity to graduate with her peers, and this is not acceptable. The country needs Firdaus and people like her represent the future.

“We can’t look to the world to restore our worth; we’re here to restore our worth to the world. The world outside us can reflect our glory, but it cannot create it. It cannot crown us. Only God can crown us, and he already has.” ¯ Marianne Williamson



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