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Pains Of Widowhood

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Women are the inherent part of our society who cannot be
neglected, not withstanding their less power and authority. Roles of womanhood in the society is one that can never be ignored by any individual.
Women are so important and indispensable that they cannot be confined to their houses. This is moreso as they have in recent times, proven themselves to be active members of the society in many areas of endeavours.
In order for a  society to be progressive, both men and women should think, dress and behave in ways that allow pure thoughts and actions to dominate the ways of life and create a social lclimate conducive for the achievement of the real goal of life.
It is on this bases that I bring to the fore the ordeals faced by women upon the death of their husbands despite al l they go through as women in homes and the society as if they were no longer humans.
Bereavement is a social fact in any culture, but reactions and practices relating to this vary from culture to culture.
Many people never ponder over what happens to a man who looses his wife to the cold and of death? Why is it that cruel practices are not meted on widow and nobody hears of any thing like custom and tradition when a man looses his wife? Are all these still pointing to the world being that of men?
There is something called widowhood rites in most parts of Africa and may be in other parts of the world too. These are specific things that the wife of a deceased man has to fulfill, but there is no such thing as widower rites. If anybody knows of any that fellow should indicate.
When a wife dies, society sympathises with the widower. When a husband dies, the community starts questioning the circumstances surrounding the death of the man and examine invincible motives that his wife may have to kill him. Without any proof or trail, widows are accused of killing their husbands. It becomes mandatory to show public display of emotions so that people will see how distressed the widow is. Widows who do not cry (screaming and shouting) are considered heartless and unconventional. But it is forgotten that shock sometimes make people unable to cry and that the level, height and magnitude of the wailing do not ascertain innocence or magnitude of pain.
In certain parts of Nigeria, the maltreatment of widows is common so do other African countries in-laws and the community subject them to physical and emotional abuses such as being made to sit at the back of the door and on the floor, being confined from a month to one year, having their hair literally scrapped off with razor or broken bottles, not being allowed to observe personal hygiene; being made to routinely weep in public; being forced to drink the water used to wash their husbands’ corpse among other atrocities, then crowned by the loss of inheritance rights and eviction.
When a woman s loses her  husband, a civilized society should rally round to support her and her children, not the reverse. Causing her more pain than she is already going through at the death of the bread winner is just plain evil.
There are many reasons why widows go through this problem, but it is hardly ever for justice. Some families use it as a strategy to get back at the widow especially if they did not approve of the marriage and also if it is perceived that the woman was a hindrance to partaking in their brother’s wealth, they take away the property that the deceased left behind regardless if he had children or left a will. In other communities, it is just mandatory to go through the process because it is considered a thing of shame to lose your husband.
Widowhood in the traditional African context is a religio-cultural symbol that canhave profound spiritual implications for the widowed. Other levels of reality that widowhood symbolises include the awareness that African Society is oppressive, impoverishing and violent towards widows. As seen when relatives of the deceased husbands commit atrocities in the name of tradition against widows and the widow herself may encounter destructive emotional problems such as fear and anger coupled with health deterioration.
Most women lack the knowledge that it is their right to report such matters to the police, others lack the money to follow procedures, but most often they fear the consequences of trying to report this violation of their human rights because most times the police do send back cases like this to be handled by the family by describing it as a family matter or customary. What will be such a woman’s fate?
Women in power like the Permanent Secretrary, Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs, Dr Justina Jumbo, during this year’s International Widow’s Day celebration had advised women all over the world never to be idle, but equip themselves by having a means of livelihood, irrespective of their status, to be economically stable in the society. Facts have it that 115 million widows in the world live in poverty, suffer stigmatisation and economic deprivation as a result of their husbands’ demise.
Communities generally, men and boys specifically must be assisted to recognise and understand the widows disadvantaged istuation in order to be aided to take steps to help them overcome it. Through social widowhood education, men and women can be enabled collectively and individually to take full control over their lives and situations so as to overcome problems of irrational beliefs, superstition, ignorance, illiteracy and psychological suppression.
In order for widows in Africa to be integrated into the support systems of their communities, they need a friendly culture which specifies dignified ways in which the community expects them to behave and how they should be treated by their kin and those of their deceased husbands.
Culture, tradition and law have been identified as the bane of safe widowhood practices in Nigeria, which, if not adequately addressed , are capable of undermining the realisation of some goals in Nigeria.
Let me borrow from Senator Helen Esuene’s speech: Cultural and traditional practices constitute more than 70 per cent of the problems of widows in Nigeria. Even where marriages were contracted under the ordinance, cultural practices will be experienced especially where the widow is ignorant of her right or is financially incapacitated to fight the legal battle. Unfortunately, it is the conflict in the marriage law that is the root of the inheritance problem to widows.”
State Houses of Assembly should speed up actions on all legislations to remove legal obstacles to social justice for women. Appeal also goes to traditional rulers and elders of communities to take a closer look at evil widowhood practices with a view to amending or eradicating them.
In the light of the foregoing, men should set their homes in order by writing legally viable wills before their deaths and wives attaining some type of economic independence from their husbands. Also, there should be legal backing that is, enactment of laws for widows’ protection. Women should in the same way try to be in good terms with their husbands and family members as it is often the extended family members who engineer the execution of the harmful practices.
Women groups, NGOs and government wings for women should carry out sensitisation and awareness campaigns in communities, meet with community heads and elders. Re-education cam[paigns for women because it is women that carry out the outrageous practices on their fellow women. Provisions should be made for suffering widows, empowerment for women so as to stand up for themselves and challenge particularly cruel and unjust rituals and cultural practices.
Issues around mourning, remarriage, inheritance, status in the household and society should be given serious attention.
Solving the problems of widows in Africa means addressing the inequitable power regimes characterised by vulnerability, stigma, discrimination and suffering.
Widows should be celebrated and encouraged at all times that victimized. Celebrate them always especially every 23rd June as International Widows’ Day.
Ogbonda is an intern with The Tide.

 

Igechi Ogbonda

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Opinion

Job Creation Can Reduce Crime

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Crime is on the increase in Nigeria. And some public affairs analysts have attributed the upsurge in crime in the country to the high level of unemployment. Breaking down of law and order is becoming a trend that is growing fast in the land. Illegality is fast becoming legality in the country. Criminal-minded citizens are using lack of employment opportunities witnessed in Nigeria to swindle some innocent Nigerians.
This is because some people are desperate to get rich through all means and cost available to them. And so, some fall prey to the cheats and fraudsters in the society. Some jobless people have been defrauded and killed by their perceived employers. Few weeks ago, the social and mainstream media were filled with news of a young lady who was killed in cause of searching for employment from wrong person in Akwa Ibom State.
So many networking and Ponzi businesses have sprung up in the guise of making people rich with ease. And some people are being swindled of their money on daily basis. The trend of creating platforms to dupe people is at alarming stage in Nigeria.
Today, betting is a lucrative venture that almost everyone wants to invest in. And in some cases, one would always act to cause someone to miss his long-awaited expectations.
Kidnapping is carried out on daily basis for ransom to be paid by the victims or the victims’ families. This is dangerous to national development. A lazy man and a hardworking man need food to eat when hunger comes. The quest to make money without labour is a dangerous approach in the country. Yahoo boys and girls are everywhere making innovation to defraud people of their hard-earned money saved in the banks. And everything is blamed on poverty and lack of employment opportunities. The security agencies in the country have not been able to bring the high crime rate under control.
The government is not seen to be working because of high magnitude of crime rate in the land. Every complaint of crime hinges on unemployment. That may seem as a fact but is not total. Some who indulge in crime are working class and some come from well-to-do families. The crime rate is unassuming, especially financial crimes.
Observationally, it is like stealing is fast becoming a norm. This is worrisome. The state of insecurity is not helping matters in Nigeria. And it is time for the Federal Government to use full force to restore relative peace in the country. Insecurity does not support job creation in any country of the world.
It is high time the government came down and look at the plight of the people. Some of the major manufacturing companies in the country had folded up or relocated to another country because of the unfriendly and harsh environment for businesses.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), government creates policies and laws that drive the economy and businesses in that country. Today, almost every Nigerian knows and talks about the city of Dubai in the UAE. The city is a business destination to most of the business moguls in the world.
Therefore, the governments in Nigeria should formulate policies and laws that will convince investors to establish their businesses in the country and that will, in turn, create job opportunities for the teeming population that are jobless. It is said that a lazy mind is the devil’s workshop. Therefore, Nigerian government should not allow the minds of young Nigerians to be devil’s workshop; where crime is formulated and executed to the detriment of all.
Some of the loans collected by the Federal Government from nations and international financial bodies, should be used for job creation for the youths who are using their energy the wrong way. Nigerian government can reduce crime rate in the country through aggressive and holistic approach towards job creation.
Joblessness has created high rate of drug use in Nigeria. Some ignorant citizens think that taking of some hard drugs can relieve them of their state of hopelessness. Nigerians want a society where hope can be restored and peace will reign. Drug abuse is common and it is inimical to progress and peace in the society.
If some who indulge in crime are engaged by government to earn a living somewhere, it can help to reduce the crime rate witnessed in the country now. Indeed, all the level of governments in the country should move their tentacle towards job creation. And this should be done with a clear-cut policy and programme backed by enabling laws.
Hunger does not know political party and ethnic group. Therefore, it is time for the government to rethink and adopt workable template towards job creation in Nigeria. Crime is evil. The diversification of the economy towards agriculture, if properly followed, will create jobs for the people.
Ogwuonuonu wrote from Port Harcourt.

By: Frank Ogwuonuon

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Opinion

That Vaccine Mandate

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Currently, many countries, including the United States of America, would demand for vaccine mandate as a condition for granting travel visa to anyone. Such policy is justifiable because self-preservation is a vital law for all living entities. COVID-19 pandemic has been quite a disturbing global phenomenon that no country can afford to expose its citizens to avoidable dangers, even if it requires placing restrictions on movements and travels. People carry various things as they move about.
News headline: “N194bn COVID-19 Allocation to Three States Missing, BudgIT Alleges” – The Tide newspaper, Monday, September 13, 2021 (front page). Without going into details of that report, or mentioning the three states involved, one recalls an alarm from a senior Nigerian in 2020, describing COVID-19 as a global scam or smoke screen. The vital issue here is that since its outbreak, COVID-19 pandemic is a controversy (like HIV/AIDS), with various interpretations and opinions. The variations are many and instructive.
Another issue relating to the global pandemic is the controversy concerning the effect of human volition or the mind, over matter. Researchers call this controversy the Placebo Effect. Placebo is defined as a substance given to a patient instead of medicine, without telling them it is not real, so that they get better because they think they are taking medicine. This has to do with the effect of belief, faith, confidence and morale booster on increased human capacity, energy and well-being. Some would say love is medicine.
Without going into details of extensive research works done with regards to the transforming effects of positive attitude, it would suffice to say that human volition, operating through the mind, is a vital, ready weapon which we cannot ignore. Dr E. G. White would tell us that: “It is the duty of every person, for his own sake, and for the sake of humanity, to inform himself in regard to the laws of life and conscientiously to obey them. All need to become acquainted with that most wonderful of all organism, the human body. They should study the influence of the mind upon the body and of the body upon the mind, and the laws by which they are governed”.
Much had been said and written by well-meaning individuals about the need to guard our thought and the mind with all diligence, because of their vital role in human well-being. Even the things which we dread and fear most, would lose their power over us, if we know the truth about them. Surely, there is no blemish but the mind, and no darkness but ignorance. Psychologists would talk about the law of Reversed Effort, which causes fears and doubts to sap vital energy in us, thus exposing us to dangers and depriving us of natural immune system.
So, the COVID-19 global pandemic, like the HIV/AIDS controversy, has the possibility of opening our eyes and expanding our consciousness, to be able to know better the effects of our thoughts and deeds. The alleged missing of money allocated to combat the COVID-19 scourge must have some underlying factors, whether or not any fraud is involved. The truth is that the news story reflects a peculiar human weakness.
Destructive human weaknesses include the propensity to cheat, defraud, call white black and black white, according as we are paid. Thus, avarice, greed and myopia, blind and deaden human conscience which is meant to serve as an effective in-built guide through the wilderness of life. Man can destroy himself and also corrupt others through personal weaknesses which become too hard to curb. From little beginnings and continual indulgence, weaknesses grow into propensities which then become weapons of self-destruction. COVID-19 is an idiom.
So much had been said, off-records and from the grapevine, concerning the beginning or origin of COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years. Some people, including religious leaders, have associated it with “Judgement, Millennium and Rapture”, such that the Vaccine Mandate is interpreted as “Mark of the Beast. Those who refuse to bear mark of the beast would be denied many things, including travel visa, etc. The speculations, controversies and gossips go on and on, behind which lies impenetrable dark clouds. COVID-19 and the Beast!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has not been able to tell us the origin or politics of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that it is a present threat which those who doubted its reality are not spared. Its controversies cover the origin, management, dispensing of palliative measures, deaths associated with COVID-19, drugs or vaccines for the pandemic, and now the disappearance of money allocated to combat the scourge. No one is sure who is speaking from what angle of interest or what political, economic and ethical cover-ups may be involved. We keep wondering!
Beyond the sound, fury and shenanigans associated with COVID-19 and Vaccine Mandate, there are certain issues vital for the Nigerian audience. One of such issues has to do with global commercialism and the possibility of scam, whereby the pandemic and the attendant vaccine mandate, provide opportunities for smart interest groups to play some games. Since COVID-19 could not be associated with originating from Africa, like HIV/AIDS, African nations cannot claim any immunity on the ground of being used to malaria fever. COVID-19 is different from malaria.
If COVID-19 and malaria share similarities, then vaccine mandate would not be compulsory for Blacks, even though malaria drugs feature in the other. An opportunity comes for some vested interest groups to use vaccine mandate as a political, economic or religious weapon. Already some religious groups are out with opinions and interpretations which would run counter to state policies and mandates. When faith and belief system become political issues or weapons, then Boko Haram phenomenon comes in.
Security challenges facing humanity currently come largely from secret dealings, pacts, gang-ups and cover-ups, whereby some interest groups want to take advantage of others. Issue of power comes in, whereby the gangsterist policy of “who wields power, makes the rule and takes the gold”, applies. Global economy and commercialism rule in modern politics whereby power is sought and held for the purpose of control. Power blocks, local and global, have long-term agenda whereby every social institution serves as an accomplice in the project, including science.
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

By: Bright Amirize

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Opinion

Nigerian Banks And Customers’ Burdens

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The banking system in Nigeria has been a burden to the banking public over the years. Some banks do not give adequate attention to their customers. They rather abandon the customers’ complaints or request without cogent reasons.
Customer complaints are inevitable, no matter how streamlined one’s business may look they must always be acknowledged and dealt with efficiently. By ignoring or dismissing the complaints or requests of customers, the bank is telling the public that their opinion and patronage don’t matter. Many business owners see complaints or demands management as time consuming and frustrating to an efficient system, whereas such complaints can be resolved quickly and easily.
When a customer first lodges a complaint, there is need for the authority to take bold step in order to tackle such problem confronting the complainant. It can be difficult to remain impassive in the face of criticisms, but an emotional response will only serve to irritate the customer further.
The authorities are expected to give their customers full attention as desired and carefully listen to the whole problem before responding. Put yourselves in their shoes, if you had a problem you would want someone to listen and solve it.
Appearing disinterested or attempting to argue to discourage the customer based on the complaint lodged will only exacerbate the situation. There is no need to jump the gun, rather one should deal with such complaints on a regular basis, of which many have handled similar cases before now. However, complaints of esteemed customers are usually unique to the bank staff because resolution of such often attract financial gratification.
Treating their cases as important individuals requires listening to their problems in full, which will go a long way to strengthen the relationship existing between banks and their customers only when attention is given to complaints or demands from customers at our various banks. It is easy to be defenseless, particularly if the management doesn’t believe they are at fault. However, they have to put themselves together and feel the pains of their customers, especially when they are at the receiving end of such experience; would they personally be satisfied? If the blame lies on a particular member of staff, it is often best to remove the customer from their presence.
Always use one’s initiative when dealing with customers’ complaints. This can defuse tension and emotion, and help customers to re-evaluate their anger.
However, never pass the customer around from person to person as each complaint or demand should ideally be handled by a particular staff. Therefore, such person should always ensure that the staff assigned to the case has the impetus to deal with the situation.
Once the customers had aired their grievances, the staff on duty should immediately give a sincere apology. Sometimes, apology is all it takes to placate an angry customer; sometimes, a complaint should be followed by a request for compensation, typically through a refund or a voucher. In this premise, the staff remains calm when dealing with a complaint or demand even if the customer becomes irate or confrontational, the ultimate aim would be to turn the\ bankers’ negative experience into a positive one, but arguing back will only make the situation worse.
Customer complaints should always be resolved as quickly as possible and allow sympathy to be the watchword once you have listened to their concern, in order to quell the heat of the matter for better result.
As a public servant, a bank staff should be able to create a bond between him and the customer, so that they know you have heard their concern and are going to work with them to resolve the impasse. The bank should offer solution to their customer’s burden, provide feedback to such problem and execute the solution, instead of creating more difficulties in the life of the complainants.
Customers are made to be treated with care, kindness, love and respect. The banking system in Nigeria should learn how to manage issues effectively, especially those that emanate from their banks, where they are expected to provide suitable machines that will accommodate the needs of the customers; example, the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), because the banks cannot function well without the customers’ patronage and contribution.
Customers are the reason for the banking system in Nigeria.

By: Kpobari Barizaa
Barizaa wrote in from Bori.

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