Monday, 17 December 2012

Fictional Presentation of Senate Debate

                                 CHAPTER  ONE 
          “My name is Dele George. I represent South Senatorial Zone of Lagos State.  Perhaps, Mr President I know is different from the one some of you know. I know Mr Fox, the great democrat. I know Mr Fox as an engaging character and someone who turned Nigeria around in eight years. Nigeria, at the time Mr Fox was elected President was in very bad shape. To say our economy was tottering on the edge of the precipice is to put it mildly. All the economic indicators were in the negative. Ours was an economy characterized by high interest rates, volatile exchange rates, high inflation, a rising debt burden –both internally and externally, colossal pension backlog, inefficient and corrupt public sector, etc. 
          “Eight years on, thanks to Mr Fox’s leadership, the Nigerian economy has not just woken from its slumber but is well on the way to a promising future; and that shall secure economic well-being of the Nigerian populace. By virtue of his economic reforms, Mr Fox has ensured that Nigeria has undergone a turnaround. Truth be told, what Mr Fox has achieved for the Nigerian economy in the course of his tenure as Nigeria’s President, is no mean feat, in the light of per-existing actualities; so he is entitled to a third term so that he can finish the beautiful work he’s doing for our country.
          “As far as the Nigerian economy is concerned, Mr President has not only reversed the years of economic mismanagement and corruption but has recorded successes that can rightly be said to be unprecedented. Perhaps not many of you can recall that Mr Fox spent a good deal of his first term traveling round the world in an attempt to free Nigeria from the shackles of debt and debt-induced poverty, and for this he was criticized so much at home. Nigeria, however, got the pay-off after seven years, in his second term, when a successful debt relief was granted the nation by the Paris Club.
      “What Mr Fox achieved by freeing Nigeria from the 19-nation strong Paris Club of lenders becomes more appreciable, when one considers the fact that it is inconsistent with the rules of Paris Club. Members of the club usually want to sustain indebtedness by granting debt rescheduling and spreading payments over a number of years, which is actually more strangulating and detrimental. The extension of Mr President’s tenure will be a victory for democracy, because it will give him chance to continue his good works.”
                “Thank you the Senate President for given me this opportunity to make my contribution to this very important debate on the future of our dear country. My name is Obinna Mba. I represent the Central Senatorial Zone of Rising Sun State. Factually, debt servicing, as a proportion of total resources had cost the country so much by diverting scarce resources away from basic social services. Not only did it cause a slash in public spending which shrank the public sector, it choked the economy by blocking economic progress for millions of Nigerians. Yet, yearly Nigeria had to be coughing out billions of dollars for a debt that was not abating but steadily eroding our financial capability and stifling our economic growth.
                “Given that there was no exact or precise sum on our indebtedness as figures emanating from different quarters revealed disparities, due to a dearth of data on, and proper compilation of, our debt profile, the President began by creating what is today known as the Debt Management Office. The creation of the DMO saw to the harmonization of our desperate debt figures and this gave a much needed sense of direction. Today Nigeria has been removed from the international credit blacklist, meaning that we are now creditworthy and can hold our head up in the global scheme of things.
          “The government ordered the consolidation of the banks and made them more viable. The insurance sector has been re-engineered under Mr President to improve their capital base just as there has been a holistic streamlining on tax laws through Tax Reforms. The stock exchange has been revitalized also. All these go to achievements are reasons why I support that the president be given another four year term in office to put this nation on the path of permanent progress.
          “My name is Bala Abdulkarim. I represent North-west Senatorial Zone of Kastina State. Nigeria has suffered because its leaders felt no compassion for citizens, who are hardworking, honest, religious and truthful. Mr Fox was so thick-skinned and obtuse; he mistook the fear of the people for consent. Without compassion for the people, no leader can succeed and that was why Mr Fox failed.
          “A good leader must be intelligent. The truly intelligent person recognizes that knowledge is infinite and that he or she knows very little. It is this modesty, the recognition of profound ignorance in certain areas that is the beginning of wisdom; and the quest of endless pursuit of knowledge. President Fox is not wise, more so for believing he is clever. Wise men always left room for new ideas; fools believe they know it all. And Mr Fox believes he knows it all. This is a government that pauperized the people. It is a government that set up a cabal, where ten percent of the populace who are in power or in the corridors of power monopolies ninety percent of the national resources; while the rest ninety percent of the populace are confined to scramble for the remaining ten percent of the nation’s resources.
          “Despite his pontifications to the contrary, the Fox administration had in the last eight years undermined the deepening of democracy in the country by his scant regard for the rule of law, which is the bedrock and hallmark of democracy. Apart from taking deliberate decisions in contravention of the 1999 constitution, the Fedral Government under him had the penchant to select which court rulings to obey or disregard. A typical example was the Supreme Court ruling over the withheld Lagoon State council funds. The ruling, which was in favor of Lagoon State, is yet to be complied with barely two months to his exit from office.
          “Unlawful impeachment of governors is another of his undemocratic activity. Even though, his aides strenuously deny his involvement, it is known fact that the Fox government sponsored and promoted the arbitrary impeachment of some state governors out of political vendetta. Using the Economic Crimes Agency as the enforcer, legislators in states such as Plateau, Oyo, Bayelsa and Anambra were either induced or blackmailed into impeaching their state governors. In most cases, the constitutionally required quorum was never met.
          “In  Plateau State for state for instance, the Federal Government upheld Jerry Jang’s purported impeachment by just five members of the legislative until the Supreme Court recently upturned it. Democracy presupposes freedom of choice and association. Despite allowing the registration of more political parties, the Fox government stifled the growth of democracy by deliberately undermining and destroying opposition parties or individuals of opposite views. The CPP for instance, which was running neck to neck with PNP in the last elections in some states of the federation is virtually non-existent anymore except in a few states where it enjoys traditional support.
          “Within the PNP itself, internal democracy was destroyed and only Fox’s anointed candidates picked tickets for public offices. This much played out in February when the party held its primaries to pick gubernatorial candidates. Using a combination of blackmail and threat, all the major contenders for the tickets were cowed to drop out of the race, thus clearing the coast for the emergence of his candidates in most of the states in the federation.
          “Through utterances like the ‘Do-or-die’ politics, his presidency inadvertently encouraged political violence that swept across the land during all the elections he participated in or that took place during his tenure.”
          “Thanks my Senate President for giving the opportunity to speak. I am Bashir Nurudeen. I represent North-East Senatorial Zone of Nasarawa State. The economic policy of this administration is the best this country has ever had. From about a paltry $4 billion when he took over the mantle of leadership, he grew the nation’s foreign reserve to about $50 billion. The immediate implication is that it restored investors’ confidence in the economy, thereby attracting the much needed direct foreign investments.
          “Today, Nigeria is one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in the world and only second to South Africa in the continent, owing to the GSM revolution. And through the privatization policy, President Fox ensured a shift from a state-owned administration to a free market economy in line with emerging global practice. Although, the desired impact is yet to be achieved, the policy is designed to ensure greater efficiency of public utilities.
          “Economic Crimes Agency, ECA, though mired in controversies owing to perceived selective approach to the fight against corruption and its penchant to short-circuit constitutional processes, the establishment of ECA has no doubt recorded modest achievements in the fight against corruption.
          “It cannot be denied that the government of President Fox has expanded the democratic space in this country. There existed only three registered political parties in the country when he came to power. Despite the initial reluctance by the administration to open up the democratic space, the government finally succumbed to agitation in that regard by registering more political parties. There are about three scores political parties in the country today.
          “It is also a known fact that most government not only this present one attempt to suppress the legislature and the judiciary, the mere fact that the judiciary has the freedom to give anti-government judgments is in itself an achievement. The legislature has also passed some landmark acts that embarrassed and set precedence for the future. I don’t know how our country would manage without the sagacity of President Fox.
          “My name is Funke Odumoku. I represent Southern Senatorial Zone of Oyo State. This move of tenure elongation will bastardize our constitution and ruin our political system. I owe it to the youths of this country and generation yet unborn to speak up. If I fail, I will be happy that at least I did something and did not sit and watch while bad things were happening.
          “Where are we now? Where are we going? If we look at our country now and compare it with other countries, and see the rate of development, how fast they have moved, and how slow we’ve moved, in my estimation, we have moved one step forward and three steps backward. It annoys me. Why can’t our people live like other people in the world? Americans, Britons, Germans etc. The so much touted economic policy of Mr Fox’s administration notwithstanding, the purchasing power of naira against major currencies of the world has been another black spot in Mr President’s score card.
          “I thought that prolonged practice of democracy attendant upon a democratically determined superstructure, would correct much of the rot of the authoritarian military culture, but unfortunately I was wrong. What’s wrong with Nigeria, now? What has been wrong with Nigeria all along? It is a lack of order, a lack of efficiency, a lack of good leadership and a lack of respect for Nigerians by the leaders.  Despite all the glaring maladministration and leadership ineptitude of Mr Fox, has been going about arrogantly in his fake messianic garb rather than apologizing for his numerous misdeeds. To add salt to injury he is even trying to extend his tenure. I urge honorable members of the legislature to wake up from their slumber. It is only National Assembly can item the spreading ‘cancer’ of sit-tight leaders in Nigeria. I think African nations will be pleased if we succeed.”
          “I am Nkiru Adimora representing south-east senatorial zone of Imo state. In life, we learn more from those who disagree with us than those who agree with our views. And it is not by coincidence that most progressive countries in the world today are countries where we have very robust opposition. President Fox is invariably obnoxious, with no consideration for other people’s rights.
          “The president is dancing to the evil music of tenure extension bidders. Ruling party has been hijacked by confused and greedy people who want to mar the fragile unity and sovereignty of Nigeria. There is really no one more dangerous than a greedy man, with power. The lessons of history have taught us that most of the people who’d occupied the highest office in this country have attempted to overstay their welcome in office. But invariably, they all came out bruised in that effort. Desperation breeds despotism. Mr President did not know it, but he had set his course toward the point at which destiny would turn and mock him like foolish despotic leaders who erroneously believed they were in control.
          “Vile attitude to the rule of law, gangsteric manner he uses the Economic court rulings is disheartening. President Fox’s tenure extension agenda is causing a great deal of political uneasiness. This is his grand plan of becoming a life president who can run the country as he likes. The big question is what does he want after eight years in power? More money? More power?
          “My fear is that the job is simply beyond him. The sad truth is that no single man has the intellectual capacity to understand all the affairs the president is expected to manage. Economy for example, perhaps his most important contemporary duty is an area his advisers can’t agree on a set of policies that can reasonably address the problem. It is, generally wise for a country to manufacture most of its goods than to let its money go overseas to pay workers in those countries to make them. As a result no work for Nigerian graduates and the resultant effect is high rate of crime. Importation of all commodities even toothpicks are the principle that he can understand, and better yet, a principle that he can explain to others, and since the people to whom he speaks with are sycophants, they will always agree with him.
          “Moreover, he is convinced that Nigeria should be a dumping ground for sub-standard products and that Nigerian workers are not as good as any in the world, unprepared to enter into fair contest with any other, and that is his policy and it is being applauded by his cronies.
          “All he does is to make a few favored cronies happy. He loves making party bigwigs happy. Isn’t a policy that make both of them happy a good policy? That is why we are here discussing the tenure extension of a non-performer.”
          “My name is Nosa Amadasu. I represent Edo South Senatorial Zone. The president is an intelligent man. A man who has won everything in his life on merit. A man who in school studied more than anyone else to get ahead. He is a man who started at the bottom and worked his way to the top through hard work. He is a great achiever.”
          “Honorable Senators I greet you. My name is Abdullahi Abdulfatah. I represent Kwara North Senatorial Zone in Kwara State. The great promise of democracy hinges on government that works openly and honestly, for the broad interests of the Nigerian people, as opposed to the narrow benefit of the favored wealthy few. The Nigerian people have had enough of Mr Fox, and we are going to get rid of him regardless of what his cronies think. I know that Nigerians will be pleased if we succeed in aborting this evil plan, because it will be to their advantage. They would rather deal with someone they could trust. And like us, they have learned that Mr Fox cannot be trusted. The only thing I can imagine worse for Nigeria than Mr Fox staying in power is earthquake.”


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Consequences of Being a Single Mother

Single mothers lead complex lives. Juggling the role of wage earner, housekeeper, and parent and making time for some semblance of a personal life as well is quite daunting. Most, though not all, single parents are women. Most work but have not been employed steadily; they took time off when their children were small. Most have less money than the average two-parent family and, if they are divorced, less than they had when they were married. Many are coping with the emotional trauma of a divorce and the social awkwardness of becoming single again. Some are widows. Betty was married immediately after high school. She never worked outside the home. Her husband handled all the family’s needs. She never signed a check until after he died. Suddenly she found she has to fend for herself and her three children. “My Francis thought it was silly for me to want to work. A woman had only one purpose in life to him, to be a wife and a mother.” Betty said.
          Some single mothers never even had the chance of experiencing a married life no matter how short, like can be seem in the case of Rose. “We were supposed to get married next month. But that was before he found I was pregnant. Then he decided he couldn’t handle being a husband and a father all at once. So he walked out accusing me of deliberately getting pregnant. My son has me and I will love him enough for two. He doesn’t need a father who doesn’t want him.”
          He accused her of being a freak for refusing to take the pill. At one point he’d even questioned whether or not the baby was his. It was then she had given up on him, hounded him back his ring and later gotten him to legally give up any and all parental rights, which he had been only too happy to do after insisting he never wanted to see her or her baby again. She couldn’t risk leaning on someone again and then suddenly waking up to find him gone when she needed him most.
Many mothers are now single parents and have to take on an even bigger role in the life of their children. Not only must they provide the care and support a child needs but they also provide enough income for the family to live on. This is great task for anyone to take on. It is extremely difficult for a mother to provide everything a child needs so it helps if the child has another male figure present in the home.
          She had been warned by her mother that babies consumed every waking moment and, a good part of the sleeping ones, as well, and she had got herself ready for it. She was bent on doing the right things for her baby. However, she couldn’t get used to this feeling of being overwhelmed by her new responsibilities of taking care of her son.
          Single mothers tend to grant more independence to their children than parents do. This can be good for the children up to a point. Children need firmness as well as freedom. Authoritative parenting takes time and energy, both of which are in short supply in single mother homes. Establishing rules and monitoring the teenager’s activities are much easier when there are two adults in the home. In part to make up for their feelings of guilt, single mothers may bend over backward to make their children happy. In the absence of other adults in the house to support their decisions, they may give in to their child in order to be accepted. Adolescents may try to step into the absent father’s shoes and present themselves as more mature than they really are. The overburdened single mother may not supervise the mature-seeming-adolescent as closely as she would have otherwise.
          Because single mothers are more likely to be permissive, their adolescents are somewhat more likely to get into trouble. If a single mother maintains authoritative relationships, however, any problems that might develop can be averted.
          It is natural for a single mother to want to begin dating and entering into sexual relationships. How much of their personal life should single mothers reveal to their children? In my view, very little.
          Children are only beginning to formulate their ideas about dating, sexuality and intimacy. Just as parents have a hard time accepting the development of sexuality in their adolescents, so adolescents find it hard to deal with the emergence or re-emergence of sexuality in their parents. When parents stay married, adolescents tend to give less attention to the expressions of physical intimacy but regard it as affection. When parents are single and dating, this self-deception is more difficult.
          The best way to deal with the adolescent’s mixed feelings is not to bring home every man you have dinner (or more) with. Instead, meet new dates outsides your home and tell your adolescent you are going out with a friend. If you begin seeing someone frequently, you might invite him to dinner, preferably with a group of friends the first time. Introduce your date as a friend, and ask him to act like one. If the adolescent asks, point blank, whether you are going to bed together, reply that you are not ready to discuss your sex life with him. But if the relationship becomes serious, you will have to tell him.
          There are obvious reasons for not parading every date through your home, not to mention your bed. Firstly, it makes everyone (you, your date, and your children) uncomfortable. Secondly, your adolescent might jump to wrong conclusions. If the adolescent is hoping you will remarry, each date will raise his hope unnecessarily. If he dreads the thought that you will remarry, each date will plunge him into needless despair. Thirdly, as an adult, you may engage in more sexually advanced behavior than you want for your son or daughter. As a newly single woman, you may sleep with someone on a first date, but will you want your daughter to do the same? Do you sincerely want your son to expect this with his first date?
          The time to introduce someone to your children as a boyfriend is when you and the man are becoming serious. You may or may not be contemplating marriage, but if the relationship is amorous, significant, and steady, it is time for the people who are important in your life to meet one another. Certainly, you should not invite someone you just met or someone you are dating casually and do not see a potential partner to spend the night. There is nothing wrong with a lover sleeping over or even moving in, after some time, if the two of you care deeply for each other and are contemplating a life together. Many adults who have been through a divorce want to try living with someone before risking a second marriage. If the relationship tentative, however, if moving in a way to hold someone who may not want to be held, this is a serious mistake. Your children have already lost daily contact with one parent; don’t subject him to another loss. Raising a fatherless baby is not easy.