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Nigeria

The Highlight Reel: July & August

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The Highlight Reel: July & August

A long overdue post, and I apologize!! I have been all over the place recently, and here's what 've been up to. I'll give you the highlights for each month, shall I? 

JULY: A very Google week: From an intimate dinner for select friends of the house, to a 2 day YouTube Creator workshop, to a culture and arts night, all culminating in a final conference day...

AUGUST: Aka my birthday month!! Between shooting my new TV show for Ebonylife TV (Yup, coming soon!!), which I'm producing, writing for and presenting, hosting a couple of events, and of course, my birthday...

The Diaspora Festival was probably the most eye-opening experience I had. The emotions the returnees had, and the connection they felt, made me curious about the way people from other cultures, especially those who have history rooted in slavery, often feel; like something is missing... 

 

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Speaking Above Whispers on Gender Equality - #SupportGEOBill

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Speaking Above Whispers on Gender Equality - #SupportGEOBill

Today is the day the Gender and Equal Opportunities bill (#GEOBill) is up for public hearing at the National Assembly in Nigeria. After months of controversy and initially being rejected by the senate, the bill was "re-assessed" aka watered down, and re-presented. This version (click here to read - downloadable pdf) is what is up for public hearing, and addresses, among other things, inheritance law, equal opportunities in education, workplace discrimination, and maternity rights. What is being presented is in no way adequate, but it IS a beginning.

Key clauses addressing age of consent, reproductive rights, legal age of marriage, and sexual violence were left out, and while it is a huge issue that archaic ideas of what Nigerian culture is, and what it represents meant that vital parts were dropped, I acknowledge and accept that we must start somewhere.

These are some of the points I discussed a couple of days ago, when I was invited to discuss this issue and how it affects young Nigerians on a radio show called "Above Whispers on Air" on WFM. 

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Opinion: But Really, Who do they think they are?

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Opinion: But Really, Who do they think they are?

It is a thing of rage not to be able to be at peace with what your tomorrow will bring.

It is a thing of sheer frustration to live in a place where hardships come quick and fast, like a series of storms, ceasing briefly, only to come again when you're just coming to terms with the destruction the last one brought.

It is madness to wake up each day with dread, because "what are they going to do to make life harder and screw us over today?"

Who do they REALLY think they are?

Who do they think WE are?

Shot by Tobi Tejumola, Abuja 2016

Shot by Tobi Tejumola, Abuja 2016

We watch as fuel prices increase, electricity gets worse, foreign exchange gets higher and higher, and the small comforts some of us used to pacify ourselves become further and further out of reach,

We look as the price of pure water, gala, indomie, small fish in the market continue to rise, so even the most basic of meals become a struggle for the non-smartphone toting, regular (wo)man on the street.

Shot by Tobi Tejumola, Abuja, Nigeria, 2016

Shot by Tobi Tejumola, Abuja, Nigeria, 2016

Aso Rock is a fortress, protecting only those who have access to it by hook or by crook - and many of them are crooks to the core.

They pontificate over the things that don't matter, and avoid the things that do. It is almost as though they take delight in seeing how much they can drag people down and kill their spirit.

They kill businesses each day. Honest people can't make a living. Crime is on the rise. Sadness and anger are the default emotions for many.

WHO DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE?

What kind of leader has a heart and mind so impenetrable that the suffering of the masses doesn't prompt him to listen to voices of reason, and change his thought pattern?

What kind of man ignores what's happening as those who make the laws push ONLY the things that benefit them, so they can continue to rake in the benefits and money this country DOESN'T EVEN HAVE, while the most vulnerable are forced to suffer more and more daily?

It is a thing of shame that this my country is bent on making life so hard.

It is a thing of shame that this is who we are. That there is no arm of government which is truly FOR THE PEOPLE. That the laws you make in that Senate house are for your own gain. That daily we have to wonder "how are they going to kill my joy today?"

Shame on you, Nigeria. Shame.

*Pictures courtesy of Tobi Tejumola - Instagram @BadmanTej*

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Another 48 hours: Democracy Day Discussions

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Another 48 hours: Democracy Day Discussions

I'm starting to feel like 48 hours is now the magic length of time for me to go out of town for work these days!

I headed to Abuja over the weekend to take part in some interviews with my colleagues Arit Okpo & Tosin Odunfa commemorating Democracy Day here in Nigeria (May 29th), and got to chat with the Minister of Power, Works &  Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, and the Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

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Fueling my Frustration: Elsewhere on the Web

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Fueling my Frustration: Elsewhere on the Web

In my latest article for Accelerate TV, I talk about what's been going on with the chronic petrol shortage that practically crippled the nation recently, and is still not quite over, aka the #Petrocalypse, as some Nigerians have been calling it.

Here's an excerpt:

Lagos is hilarious. And by hilarious, I mean frustrating and rage-inducing.  At least recently, as I know many may agree.

Humor me here for a second: If the past few weeks with all the fuel struggles in Nigeria haven’t affected you, then I hail you. Please select your preferred hailing here: Tuale/You’re the real MVP/I bow/Chairman/MAMA!!!!

This fuel scarcity has humbled almost everyone I know. If you (or if you’re fortunate, your probably sleep-deprived driver/maiguard/assistant) haven’t had to queue up for hours, only to get to the front of the line and get turned away, or you haven’t struggled with all manner of miscreants just for a few precious liters, then you, my friend, are blessed among men!

Please read the rest here

How did you survive the #Petrocalypse? What say you?

Please comment, like and share this post!! Thank you

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The Weight of Hope and Expectations

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The Weight of Hope and Expectations

It's not a bad thing for one person to expect something from another. That's just the way life goes. But I've often felt the weight of what I think are unrealistic expectations; from friends, family, bosses/co-workers, and of course, society.

That's why I wonder how the crop of new governors, senators, representatives, and of course, the new President & VP, must be feeling. Just a few days into their administration, people, already deeply disappointed with some of their predecessors, are putting all their hopes on the new (well, new in some places, a continuation in others) guys in charge.

In Lagos, the people who loved former Governor Babatunde Fashola are hoping Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is up to the challenge. Promises of a N25bn intervention fund and new ministries to increase foreign investment into Lagos, among other duties have been made. People in areas they feel Fashola ignored are expecting Ambode to "pick up the slack." 

And in Rivers State, where there's been so much violence and controversy, some who say former Governor Rotimi Amaechi was charismatic but non-performing are undoubtedly hoping Governor Nyesom Wike will do a lot better, starting with sorting out the confusion/controversy with the state judiciary and civil service.

But the biggest hopes and highest expectations have been placed upon President Muhammadu Buhari. Those who believed in him and voted for him want an end to the crippling poverty in Nigeria, the extinction of Boko Haram, a solution to this awful fuel scarcity we've been living through, assistance for the internally displaced, constant electricity, better infrastructure, overhauling education, healthcare and several other sectors, ending corruption, reducing our reliance on oil, making sure our refineries are overhauled and local industries are supported, improving the environment for the private sector and of course, the SMEs....and he hasn't even been in power a week!

With all these issues and many more besides, the hopes and expectations of 180 million people rest upon this one man and his team; a team we expect will be made up of smart, young(er), fresher minds than what we had before; minds that aren't there to take up space and steal the country's riches while spewing platitudes. Minds that will look at how their decisions will affect you and I, as well as people living in abject poverty. Minds that are able to make the right choice for us all, not choices that will benefit the barons, cabals and other "big men/women."

If change is really here, then I hope the new school of change-makers (including us, as citizens, willing to speak up and insist on holding each other and our leaders, accountable) is ready to shoulder the weight. Good luck (no pun intended) and Godspeed to all the new reps, senators, governors, and above all, President Buhari. We expect you to do what you've said you will do. Many of us, including citizen-run platforms like @BudGitNG and @Buharimeter are tracking you. Please don't let us down.

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Elsewhere on the Web - Food in Lagos!

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Elsewhere on the Web - Food in Lagos!

Hi guys,

When I'm not busy shooting my TV show, or in pre-pro for a documentary, I occasionally write an article for other websites, so here's an excerpt from my article for Tastemakers, a mobile app and content platform for finding and buying hip experiences on the continent. This is definitely not your average "travel to Africa" website. It truly celebrates Africa in the best way possible.

So, they asked me to write about some good places to eat in Lagos that were atypical or "off the beaten path" and I had to include a couple of places I like, like Glover Court & Jevinik.

Here's a snippet:

One of the cool things about Lagos is that new things pop up every day, bringing modernity and “the West” to West Africa. Despite that, we still keep the ‘Naija flavor” close to our hearts, which is why, as much as I enjoy a trip to one of our malls with all the foreign stores (Inglot, Mac, Mango, etc – yeah, you see where my priorities are, right?), I also love to hold onto our culture in different ways – particularly when it comes to food.

Lagos has everything from the fancy restaurants to a massive street food culture. You can’t come to Lagos and not check out the legendary Glover Court Suya,

Full article here. Let me know what you guys think, or if I missed anything out!!

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Video: Panel with Presidential Candidate Buhari

And here we go If you didn't catch this on EbonyLife TV or aren't in one of our broadcast countries, here's the panel discussion with APC Presidential Candidate Muhammadu Buhari, which I moderated. 

Over 50,000 views on Facebook! Please let me know what you think!!


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Merry Christmas??

Season's greetings to you all. It's been an odd kinda Christmas for me.

As much as I'm grateful for the successes of the year, it's also extremely difficult to think of all the places and people in the world for whom Christmas isn't so merry. To help spread the Christmas cheer, I was happy to have taken part with a small group of people in something we call "Santa Goes to Yola"

Yola, for my non-Nigerian friends, is the capital of Adamawa, a Northeastern state. It's "home" to tens of thousands of people who have been forced out of neighboring states due to terrorist attacks from Boko Haram. Click here for some images of the camp and read more about it here.

It's impossible to do something for everyone, but we wanted to give the younger ones (0-19 year olds) something to smile about. The numbers kept rising as the days went by, but we were able to make it work, thanks to people's generosity, donating items and money, as well as their time to help us pack the gifts. Here's a short video of us working:

If you'd like to see more pictures, you can check out the official Twitter handle, and here's to Christmas and New Year cheer for us all :)

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The trouble with voting...

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The trouble with voting...

I've got my Permanent Voters Card. So I can vote. I was the last in line at 4pm on a Monday afternoon, and I left behind people who were frustrated because their cards had not been found, as the INEC staff vented their frustrations about not having materials, not having time, and not being paid.

At the end of the day, I got my Voters Card. That doesn't sound so difficult, right? Unfortunately, millions of people are confused, uninformed, misinformed, or exasperated about/with the process. From workers not being equipped properly to electoral staff/ad-hoc workers not showing up at all, to delays in disbursing the voters cards, there are real, valid fears that millions will be disenfranchised, and come February 2015, a major chunk of eligible voters won't be able to vote.

In a system causing more frustration and confusion than anything else, many can't help but wonder what's going to happen when the time comes to vote in another set (or the same set) of people to lead a country rife with problems too complicated to delve into.

Read more here: http://businessdayonline.com/2014/11/inec-pvcs-the-missing-millions-in-lagos-kano-kaduna-rivers/

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