What’s In A National Anthem? #NGWomen4Peace

In 1978 Obasanjo’s military government decided to change the national anthem as part of its preparations to hand over power to a democratically elected government after 12 years of military rule and a 3 year civil war.   As a true Nigerian man he was offended that the previous anthem was written by two white women, if he could have changed the country’s name coined by another white woman he probably would have. The new anthem was written by 5 men and the music composed by the director of the Nigerian Police Band. Women were not considered good enough for such an important task. The new anthem sounds very masculine and military and the sovereign motherland of the first anthem became the fatherland, with all the character of a fascist sound track. Hitler would have been proud.  It sounds ominous, brooding, saturnine, and paternalistic. It announces – women beware, we are a nation of men – men of war.

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Dr. Gloria Laraba Shoda, President NCWS at Press Conference announcing their alliance with #NGWomen4Peace on 28 September 2017
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Independence Day Statement from #NGWomen4Peace

 

On 7 September 2017, women from across Nigeria met in Abuja to discuss the need:

  1. for a platform (NGWomen4Peace) for women to voice their concerns about key issues which negatively impact on us, our children and our families and
  2. to organise women to promote a stronger sense of ownership and belonging in the country and build our confidence to contribute positively to making a difference to the present alarming trajectory of our country.

#NGWomen4Peace is a movement of women and women’s groups representing all parts of Nigeria concerned with the current state of affairs and focused on ensuring that Nigeria remains a country of peace, prosperity and participation for all.

We have observed the following:

  • An increased wave of hate speech and inciting statements,
  • An increased spate of violent conflicts around the country, and
  • That women, who bear the brunt of the violent conflict, are not consulted when ethnic, religious and political groups publish their statements which threaten the peace and security of Nigerians.
  • That despite almost two decades of activism women are still not proportionally represented in politics, peace and security decision making and governance

We acknowledge the efforts of the security sector, the humanitarian community, CSO, religious and traditional authorities and individuals who are trying to manage the problem. We have mobilised to add our voices and assert our rights as citizens, as mothers, as women and as one half of the population of this nation in pursuit of peace, dialogue and deescalation.

OUR DEMANDS

We are not begging. We are not asking. We are insisting. We are demanding

DIALOGUE & DEESCALATION

An immediate cessation of all hostilities across the country and a demand for all stake holders and state and non state actors to begin a process of deescalation and dialogue that will include women in proportional representation as active participants, negotiators, referees, observers and peace keepers.

The are numerous violent conflicts ongoing all across the country – in the north east, in north central, in the south east, in the south south, a nation wide conflict nomadic pastoralists and farming communities.

Nigerian women demand that all violence end immediately and all parties and stakeholders begin a process of dialogue.  Whatever the demands – restructuring, devolution, inclusion, marginalisation, secession, religious freedom, ethnic protectionism – they can and must be negotiated. We will no longer tolerate the blood of our children be spilled to sustain untenable positions of violent insurrection and dominance in a democratic federation.

No Be Fight. We are a civilised and modern nation. We will dialogue and we must start with immediate deescalation.

We call on Arewa Youths, IPOB, Boko Haram, Oduduwa, Ohaneze, the Federal Government and its agencies.

INCLUSION

Increasing women’ s active and full participation in politics, peace and security negotiations, decision making, conflict resolution and peace agreements. There are over 200 MDAs in Nigeria and women must be proportionally included and represented in all. For immediate action –

  • The newly formed House of Representatives committee saddled with the responsibility of fostering national unity led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Sulaiman Lasun should appoint a female representative as its deputy and of the nine other positions at least half should be filled with women.
  • Project Steering Committee for the implementation of the 54.5 million euros support project for the North-east inaugurated in August 2017 should have at least 50% female membership, line ministries that are on the committee must nominate women to fill their position.
  • The National Judicial Council (NJC) under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, established a Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO) to monitor judges and courts handling corruption and financial crimes cases in the country. The membership of the committee is almost entirely male, with a lone female representing the NGO sector. We demand a review and women to be immediately take 50% of the membership.
  • Immediate implementation of Chapter 2 Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria especially section 14(3) and (4) on Federal character to immediately implement representative inclusion of women in all federal, state and local government agencies and a 50% affirmative action policy.

We will in collaboration with our members and allies over the next 30 days continue to identify and various committees, bodies and institutions where women are not adequately represented and demand inclusion and nominate capable women for inclusion. We will use legal means and judicial process as appropriate and various other means of protest and pressure where appropriate.

Zonal and State Working committees of NGWomen4Peace will also articulate and announce specific demands that will be pursued at the zonal and state level to ensure dialogue, deescalation and inclusion of women and respect for the constitution and rule of law. These plans will be announced in a series of press conferences over the next week.

We will assess the response to our demands and our strategies for their enforcement over the next 30, 60 and 90 days and continue to adjust our actions to ensure compliance and update the press and our fellow Nigerians on progress towards peace and women’s inclusion in governance, conflict resolution, peace building and decision making.

We live in hope for a better Nigeria where every individual has equal opportunities to be the best they can be for themselves and their communities. Nothing good comes without hard work and sacrifice but we, Nigerian women, declare that we can and must build the country of our dreams without sacrificing the lives of innocents.

We continue to build a critical mass of women and women’s groups in a grand alliance of women waging peace and will launch the White Blouse Campaign for Peace to build women’s solidarity, visibility and support for our movement.

Signed By:

  1. Iheoma Obibi – Alliances for Africa, Imo State
  2. Esther Eshiet – After School Centre for Career Development, Akwa Ibom
  3. Mabel Ikoghode – Girls Power Initiative, Delta State
  4. Dr. Alice Musa – University of Madugiri, Borno State
  5. Dr. K. Kwari – University of Madugiri, Borno State
  6. Ayisha Osori- Self, Kaduna State
  7. Azeenah Mohamed – Independent, Nassara State
  8. Patricia Onyekwelu – WILPF Nigeria, Enugu State
  9. Ifeyinwa Omowole Nigeria Association of Women Journalist, Lagos State
  10. Ballason Gloria – House of Justice Kaduna State
  11. Osai Ojigho – Self, Delta State
  12. Nnenaya Emeremadu – CARA Development Foundation. Imo State
  13. Jemila Barkindo – Women Peace and Security Network, Adamawa State
  14. Amy Oyekan Monii Development Consultant, Delta State
  15. Ify Malo – Clean Tech Hub, Anambra State
  16. Eleanor Nwadinobi – Gender Expert, Abia State
  17. Olufunke Baruwa – Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Ekiti State
  18. Priscilla Achakpa – Women Environment Program, Benue State
  19. Blessing Usie – Open Society Justice Initiative, Delta State
  20. Felicia  Onibon – Change Managers International Network, Edo State
  21. Edna Mathews-Njoku – Joel Women Youth Development Initiative, Imo State
  22. Ndi Kato – NNidari Empowerment Foundation, Kaduna State
  23. Natasha Akpoti – Builders Hub Foundation, Kogi State
  24. Lesley Agams – Consultant, Abuja FCT
  25. Mariam Aldu – Self, Adamawa State
  26. Amina Salihu, Gender and Security Consultant
  27. Blessing Duru – Program Manager, Alliances for Africa
  28. Ogechi Ikeh – Program Officer, Nigerian Feminist Forum

For Immediate Release – Statement from #NGWomen4Peace on Current Situation in Nigeria

 

On September 7 2017, women from across Nigeria met in Abuja to discuss the need:

1. for a platform (NGWomen4Peace) for women to voice their concerns about key issues which negatively impact on us, our children and our families and
2. to organise women to promote a stronger sense of ownership and belonging in the country and build our confidence to contribute positively to making a difference to the trajectory of our country.

#NGWomen4Peace is a coalition of women representing all parts of Nigeria concerned with the current state of affairs and focused on ensuring that Nigeria remains a country of peace, prosperity and participation for all.

We have observed the following:
1. An increased wave of hate speech,
2. Numerous inciting statements,
3. Increased spate of violent conflicts around the country,
4. That women, who bear the brunt of the violent conflict, are generally not consulted when ethnic, religious and political groups publish their statements which threaten the peace and security of Nigerians.

We acknowledge the efforts of the security sector, the humanitarian community, CSO, religious and traditional authorities and individuals who are trying to manage the problem.

Our demands are:

1. Zero tolerance for hate speech while promoting and protecting freedom of expression;
2. The engagement of women in governance processes in the public and private sector as well as peace building and conflict resolution platforms.
3. That ethnic, religious and political groups refrain from making blanket statements purporting to represent us without due consultation with us. We want all Nigerians to know that when these provocative statements are being made – these groups are not speaking for Nigerian women
4. That we all work together for a better future for our country by promoting the ideal that we are our brothers and sisters keeper.

We live in hope for a better Nigeria where every individual has equal opportunities to be the best they can be for themselves and their communities. Nothing good comes without hard work and sacrifice but we, Nigerian women, declare that we can and must build the country of our dreams without sacrificing the lives of innocents.

Further activities are being planned and we are open to other women and women’s groups joining us.

Signed By:
Iheoma Obibi – Alliances for Africa, Imo State
Esther Eshiet – After School Centre for Career Development, Akwa Ibom
Mabel Ikoghode – Girls Power Initiative, Delta State
Dr. Alice Musa – University of Madugiri, Borno State
Dr. K. Kwari – University of Madugiri, Borno State
Ayisha Osori- Self, Kogi State
Azeenah Mohamed – Independent, Nassara State
Patricia Onyekwelu – WILPF Nigeria, Enugu State
Ifeyinwa Omowole Nigeria Association of Women Journalist, Lagos State
Ballason Gloria – House of Justice Kaduna State
Osai Ojigho – Self, Delta State
Nnenaya Emeremadu – CARA Development Foundation. Imo State
Jemila Barkindo – Women Peace and Security Network, Borno State
Amy Oyekan Monii Development Consultant, Delta State
Ify Malo – Clean Tech Hub, Anambra State
Eleanor Nwadinobi – Gender Expert, Abia State
Olufunke Baruwa – Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Ekiti State
Priscilla Achakpa – Women Environment Program, Benue State
Blessing Usie – Open Society Justice Initiative, Delta State
Felicia Onibon – Change Managers International Network, Edo State
Edna Mathews-Njoku – Joel Women Youth Development Initiative, Imo State
Ndi Kato – NNidari Empowerment Foundation, Kaduna State
Natasha Akpoti – Builders Hub Foundation, Kogi State
Lesley Agams – Consultant, Abuja FCT
Mariam Marwa – Abdu – Women and Children’s Rights and Empowerment Foundation, Adamawa State

Secretariat
Blessing Duru – Program Manager, Alliances for Africa
Ogechi Ikeh – Program Officer, Nigerian Feminist Forum

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Some Highlights of Nigerian Labor Law Act Cap 198 Relevant for Small Business Owners

 

  1. Employees must be paid in cash
  2. Payment by check can only be made with the prior consent of the employee
  3. Employer cannot impose conditions on how or where an employee spends his wages
  4. Any advance on salary cannot exceed one month salary and minimum recovery time is 3 months
  5. If there is an outstanding advance employer cannot make a new advance except in necessity
  6. Employers can only make deductions in respect of fines for willful misconduct or neglect if employee has been previously notified and agreed in his contract
  7. Pension scheme deductions must be consented to by employee
  8. Overpayment deductions can only be made if discovered within 3 months
  9. Total deductions from employees salary cannot exceed 1/3 of monthly salary
  10. Contracts required to be signed within 3 months of employment
  11. Any change in terms of contract must be communicated within one month to the employee
  12. Employment contracts terminate on death of employee, expiry of notice or expiry of fixed term contract
  13. Statutory requirements for notice
    1. 1 day if less than 3 months
    2. 1 week if more than 3 months but less than 2 years
    3. 2 weeks if more than 2 years but less than 5 years
    4. 1 months if more than 5 years of continuous service
  14. Conduct that would enable employer terminate contract without notice

a. Gross misconduct such as fraud, theft, insubordination or criminal neglect

  1. Either party can waive the right to notice or to accepting payment in lieu of notice
  2. All wages are to be paid before expiry of notice
  3. Employer not liable to pay for days employee absent
  4. Payment in lieu of notice only applies to salary not overtime or allowances
  5. Normal working hours are fixed through mutual agreement
  6. Work in excess of working hours constitutes over time
  7. If employee is to work more than 6 continuous hours he/she is entitled to 1 hour aggregate break/rest interval
  8. Worker entitled to one day of rest in 7 days
  9. Workers entitled to up to 12 days of paid sick leave for temporary illness if certified by a registered doctor nominated by the employer
  10. After 12 months of continuous service employee is entitled to 6 working days of paid leave
  11. Sick leave and annual leave pay only includes salary (not overtime or allowances)
  12. Women are entitled to 6 weeks leave before birth and confinement and 6 weeks of leave after birth and confinement at 50% of salary
  13. Employer not liable for healthcare costs of said woman
  14. If you have more than 25 employees you are required to set up a pension scheme (Pension Act Cap 346)
  15. Employees in hazardous occupations (mining, heavy machinery etc) must be insured against injury (Workmen’s Compensation Act Cap 407)

Armed Forces Remembrance Day: We Need To Talk About Biafra

It was Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Nigeria yesterday. Our big brass and the politricksions went and laid wreaths for unknown soldiers. Wouldn’t it have been nice if they had speedily passed legislation for the payment of veterans entitlements instead of creating entitlements of themselves instead?

Let’s look at this Armed Forces Remembrance Day anyway. It started out as a commemoration of the soldiers that fought in the First World War in which Nigerian and African soldiers fought and died with the rest of the global community. Whether they went voluntarily or not is irrelevant if you ask me. They represented.

Then Obasanjo, that wily fox, went and changed it to commemorate the ‘surrender of Biafra troops’ effectively ensuring that the end of Civil War itself is not specifically commemorated or the events discussed. And discussions about the civil was and Biafra are drowned out in a natural outpouring of communal patriotism and and nationalism. To speak about the Civil War and Biafra on such a day would seem sacrilegious as Femi Kani Kayode no doubt learnt.

Of keen interest to me is the change in the tone of the media. Since the administration of Obansanjo the military has mostly been under fire from the media for their human rights violations. Amnesty International kept up a relentless stream of reports and Nigeria was unable to buy arms under some United States act that they invoke on a need to basis.

Now we are talking about the sacrifices that the soldiers are making and there is absolutely no single credible media report about the situation in the militarised zones of the north east, south south and south east. Has our military reformed over night as if by magic? But I thought Buhari keeps them busy chasing cattle rustlers and training in animal farming techniques in Argentina. It is a public relations victory?

I suggest to activists in the Niger Delta to consider the use of drones to capture footage. The activists at Standing Rock, the Native American protest against encroachment on tribal lands used drones to record footage that showed the real picture to the world. Watch the video. The drone pilot said he is completely self taught by the way.

Why do we need to talk about Biafra and why do our rulers want us to forget it? Because we need to heal the physic wounds that continue to haunt nation building in Nigeria. And to heal those wounds we need to listen to each other and accommodate each others points of view – and then find common ground to agree on. Instead what happens is every time the topic is raised there is a still a winner and vanquished mentality – the one saying “You tried to exterminate us, we do not feel safe” and the other saying “You lost the war, deal with it.” Even Chinua Achebe’s account was vilified and divided the national debate. Neither is productive.

The patriarchal old men that have been making decisions about Nigeria’s future learnt well the lessons of the jungle. Control information, only write down stuff in an elaborate code, control access to the code and who can read it. The masses will forget.

The old were revered as living encyclopaedia’s. Imagine what it must have been like when life expectancy was even lower and even fewer made it to old age. All that remains in the common memory is the idea of an injustice inflicted once upon a time, brought out and dusted off by old men (and young) when they need to whip up the crowd.

In the era of new media its tricky to pull off a scam like that. And video IS the new frontier for credible news delivered via the world wide web. It becomes both a record and an account and dilutes the influence and power of those wily old men that would keep their subjects ignorant and malleable. It would be great to see some female leadership too.

 

While, it is appropriate to remember and support our troops, those gone and those risking their lives, media coverage needs to be balanced and consistent to keep the government institutions on their toes and to keep citizens informed. We need to ask questions and investigate their allegations. And we need to whole heartedly celebrate the end of the Civil War and stop making it about the ‘defeat’ of Biafra and sweeping it under the carpet.

The men of the Nigerian Army sure do need our support right now. They’re spread pretty thin – north east,north central, south south, south east, cattle rearing, oil & gas security, Liberia and about to go off to Gambia. And they face formidable foes. Lets keep praying my praying brethren that trouble doesn’t erupt in the north west and south west.

Sadly, stories coming from the front lines seem to suggest they maybe as inadequately cared for as ever. Even in the military Nigerian women  are left to pick up the slack.