Naija runs girl

Yellos,

I have just come across Mollie’s work over @naijarunsgirl aka Lolita on youtube. It is hilarious, real and what can I say, very funny. Multi talented Mollie  is an artist of style, grace and class. She deserves  a ‘big welldone’ for her videos. I have posted one here. Please ‘like’ her on facebook and watch more of her videos on youtube.

A diva in the making, her videos have been very successful .. in excess of a quarter of  a million views so far (263, 037 views and counting) and nearly 3,000 subcribers. Lets get Mollie 1000,000 views before Valentine shall we?

Mollie can contacted  at: NaijaRunsGirl@gmail.com

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Extra curricular: A quick swim

Exhiliarated is how I feel right now. I had felt some strain in my eyes earlier from hours infront of my laptop and poor lighting at the V.cafe.  My head did hurt a little as I curled up in the sofa for about two hours. I was not going to go swimming as it was raining and cold.

I am glad I made the effort. The water was warm and the pool was not as busy as last week. I had a great swim.  I suppose thats what a little exercise does to you. You feel vibrant. If you struggle with self esteem issues, try exercise. Find a sport you like and give it space in your life. Its a little wonder, doctors ( I think) suggest twenty minutes of it every morning. Great way to start your day. My mum plays table tennis. She has done this for decades now.

Zumba is a huge thing now, before Zumba, was Latin dance.  Mum has tried Zumba. I am yet to sign up. I know someone who lost weight by following dance routines from a dvd infront of her TV in her sitting room. Exercise is a discipline in itself. It requires time, effort and at times, money.  I digress. Let me return to swimming.

Swimming is beautiful. It relaxes and tones the whole of your body. It is a good way to burn calories and develop/build stamina. My favourite style is the back stroke. When I swimming, I dont day dream, I just feel nice and happy. The problem most women have with swimming or sports when they have kids is organising child care. The pool is also a place to meet kindred spirits like yours: old women, all types of men, young women … social swimming I think is what I do. A little swimming, a little talking. Nice.

Photo credit:frugalfitness.com

This is not me in the pool But, look at those arms!

My sports history

I have tried a little bit of most sports at some point or the other in my life. Netball, I had a go at as a teenager. Curiously, ball games are not  my thing.

I love squash though, but a lack of regular training hinders me. Lawn tennis is also great should I give it more of my attention. When I lived in Canterbury, I had time for Karate.I thoroughly enjoyed Canterbury and the shotokan karate club over at the University.  Since then, I have trained with several clubs, though I m yet to make any of them home. I did enjoy training with Charlie in Berkamsted,  but I suppose the club at Lewsey farm is most likely going to be a favourite for me.

What I would love to do is to go jogging. I grew up running. I ran with my karate club at UI in those days on the field. Even though that field no longer exists, the University has built on it. Sadly.  I ran with my lovely Aunty Tayo and Nike …at times in the rain. I run solo too.  So, I am not a stranger to running. The problem is just getting into it. Again.  I love the feel of the air in my face and the oneness with my thoughts as I jog. Yeah, I can just feel the cold air across my face. Hmmmmmmmmm.  The pleasure of a jog. Once upon a time, I used to run with the  Stopsley Striders. That was a little while ago now. What happened to that? Life happened.

Extra curriculars are a huge part of my life as you can see.  What extra curriculars do you do? Drop me a line.

I should be doing other type of writing, but I have come here to indulge. Gotta go!

 Nice to be able to blog.

T 4 Tundun.

Hey!!!!

Hello everybody

A quick stop here to say a couple of things.

Yesterday morning, we woke up to  rain and thundery showers. Sadly, all the ice from the snow had been washed away. There is no trace of ice and the fact that just a week ago we were bombarded with snow!!! Isnt God wonderful?  Its nearly 11:30am here at the Vauxhall Leisure Centre and its nearly dark outside as in the there is no sun out there.  I have been told that we are in the middle of the winter right now hence.  The good news is that we are nearly out of it too! From March, we can begin to anticipate spring and some nice…. not immediately though!!!….. bbq weather.lol! 🙂

Talking about seasons and weathers, I have enjoyed this winter. Why? I cannot say. O well, perhaps, it is that I am older now and more matured. Plus, I have had a good start of the year. Yeah, I am grateful to God for all his blessings.  I used to dread the cold and the freeze, but somehow, I have taken this season in my strides and even learnt a thing or two. Hurray! What have you learnt this season?

Hmm…

I met a wonderful lady from Tanzania yesterday. She came home with me and over green tea (she had green tea) and Ru’s banana cake, we discussed everything. Life, men, kids, finances, career, options, opportunities… I felt as though I met a kindred spirit. It was more of a pouring. Soul share.

We were meant to go swimming and then to Macdonalds, but all that talking wore me out. Had a beautiful Sunday nap after she left and I missed evening service (arrrrrghhhhh). O well!!!

I am rambling.  I know. Sorry.

I better get back to work. I just came here to www.tundunadeyemowrites.blogspot.com. to say I know it is going to be a beautiful week. Enjoy it! ‘Cos I will.

Take care!

Love some of U!
Sometimes.
(a copy from Baratunde Thurston).

T 4 Tundun
Follow me on Twitter@tundunadeyemo

2015: I Endorse You, Spectocrat! By Pius Adesanmi

 
We are a nation of 150 million spectators. In political discourse, we are arguably the world’s largest spectocracy. Our spectocratic tendency may be music in the ears of the English Premier League and other European football leagues which serve as national diversion from our sorrows, in the domain of political agency and participation, however, it makes us a thing, that insulted thing which is the exact opposite of a citizen. When next you call yourself a Nigerian citizen, you lie. You deceive yourself. You are not a citizen, Nigerian, you are a spectocrat and here’s why.
You are a spectocrat because the validity and legitimacy of your country’s political process do not inhere in you, your choices, and your preferments. It is precisely because these things inhere in the citizen in genuine democracies in Africa and elsewhere in the world that the citizens of such countries are referred to as an electorate. You, Nigerian spectocrat, are a member of a spectocrate, Africa’s largest spectocrate, because all political choices and options are rammed down your throat in a top-down process. Your ability to even be a spectator of how your life is run and ruined is further dependent on the benevolence of PHCN or your generator. Otherwise, you are in total darkness.
It is from the pit of this spectocratic darkness that you grumble – in your living room, in beer parlours, at Premiership viewing centres, on commercial buses, on social media – that your vote does not count during elections. Actually, you are making a mistake by focusing on your worthless vote at the election. You are underestimating the condition of your sorry ass. It’s worse than you think. There are other things that did not count before your vote did not count. You just didn’t realize this because you are used to being a spectocrat. And a spectocrat, like I told you already, is a thing, not a citizen.
So what else did not count? Check out these scenarios from two responsible democracies. You know already that in the build-up to the last presidential election in France, Ségolène Royal lost out in the race for her party’s nomination to François Hollande, the man who eventually ousted Nicholas Sarkozy. What you may not know is the scenario she describes later in interviews about her preparations for the party primaries. She talks about some four to five years of crisscrossing France, selling herself, her vision, and her programmes to the people: townhall meetings, focused-group meetings, meetings with all kinds of organized professional bodies, labour unions, associations, organizations, rallies, debates, advertorials, etc.
Mind you, she is not the official candidate of her party yet. Why is she doing this? Let’s go to America for our answer. Those positioning themselves to run in the Democratic or Republican Primaries also begin the race, like Ségolène did in France, by trying to sell themselves to the party base and to the country. Then the media comes in, playing a civic role by constantly relaying news about who is polling well in which critical states and among which critical segments of the country. Who is polling well with – women, men, young, old, whites, blacks, latinos, rich, poor, middleclass, students, teachers, industry workers, trade unions, Christians, gay rights advocates, civil rights advocates? Who is polling well with all these critical demographics and why?
You can see that Hillary Clinton (you know why she is leaving the State Department), Chris Christie, Paul Ryan – indeed, anybody with a potential for 2016 – has already begun this critical process of trying to poll well with the electorate. Meanwhile, what are the party leaders doing as Wolf Blitzer, John King, Rachel Maddow, Chris Mathews (and even racist lunatics like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh) begin to relay analyses of who is polling well and where? Party leaders are listening and watching very carefully. They are plugging in because that is how they eventually gauge who is sellable, who is a viable candidate. In essence, whether it is in France or in the US, the process begins and ends with the electorate. I am not saying it is perfect. Money and other factors do come in, by and large, but you do not stand a chance of getting your party’s nomination if you have not gone through a grueling pre-electoral process of selling yourself to the electorate and polling well.
What do you have in Nigeria? It is an arrogant and frustratingly insulting process in which the spectorate – I insist that we don’t have an electorate – considers herself grateful if she is even accorded the privilege of spectatorship at all. And our media is complicit in this process of national insult. It’s always the same ritual, at least since 1999. Two years to an election or so, Obasanjo, Babangida, Tony Anenih, Tinubu and all kinds of risible godfathers, corrupt stakeholders, and yeye elder statesmen will wake up and begin to announce who they have decided to endorse. The media falls in line and the spectorate is treated to haughty headlines: “Obasanjo Endorses X”, “Babangida Opts for Y”, “Governors’ Forum endorses Z”.
Then these characters will spend the next year treating us to catfights, mudfights, and roforofo fights. Mind you, nobody has yet asked us our opinion. We are spectocrats. Then they will kiss and make up. They will align and realign. They will enter into every manner of agreement. They will zone, re-zone, de-zone, and unzone. They will share offices. They will then organize primaries and announce to you who the candidate will be. Nobody has consulted you up till now. Nobody has tried to sell any vision to you. You do not matter. They know that they have produced three generations of Nigerians who lack civics and therefore will not ask critical questions about why they are spectocrats. It is only after this stage that a general election is announced and you are told that you have now qualified to go and cast votes that will not count because the winner of every election is always already pre-determined.
2015 is at hand and you can already see this insulting scenario unfolding. Which presidential hopeful have you seen crisscrossing Nigeria since 2011, selling a carefully-calibrated vision to students, farmers, traders, market women, etc, in the hope of polling well, preparatory to contesting his or her party’s primaries? Which presidential hopeful has been selling himself to NURTW, NUT, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, (we can’t mention NANS, can we?) and other critical national unions in the hope of polling well with them? Which presidential hopeful has been grilled by socially responsive media outfits such as Punch, Premium Times, Sahara Reporters, Ynaija.com, Omojuwa.com and a host of others? This will not happen because you do not count. They do not need to poll well with you. All they need is a war-chest built with the proceeds of corruption and the blessing of Obasanjo, Babangida, Anenih, Ahmadu Alli, Bola Tinubu, and patati and patata.
If you are tired of these insults as we approach 2015, then you belong in the category of Nigerians that Tunde Fagbenle, Okey Ndibe, and yours truly want to work with as we map out strategies to break the jinx of spectocracy in the weeks to come. Tunde Fagbenle has already kicked off what we plan to do in his Punch column last week. Please check it out here is you have not already read it: (http://www.punchng.com/columnists/tunde-fagbenle-saying-it-the-way-it-is/2013-is-the-window-to-2015/).
Nothing is cast in stone yet. We are still dis
cussing. And we are under no illusion that the task ahead is easy. We are merely powered by the conviction that we are neither voiceless nor powerless. And we believe that there is a sufficient number of Nigerians out there whose anger and frustration could be harnessed and conjugated into a movement towards 2015. We believe that we have the numbers to confront the corruption and insults of the current crop of players and their godfathers who are already preparing to ram candidates down our throats top-down. We believe that we do not have to accept their choices, their arrogance, and their rudeness. We believe that if we build a movement powerful enough – powerful only in numbers for we have no money – our largely docile and complicit media will resign from their vocation of merely reporting the choices and preferences of corrupt godfathers and yeye elder statesmen and begin to focus on the preferments of the people. We believe that we are the only ones who can transform ourselves from a spectorate to an electorate.
Our strategy for now – we are open to suggestions. Just join us first and let’s start the movement – is to see if we could collect five million signatures in support of a candidate we would have agreed upon through a process we shall make public in due course. We are thinking of drafting a credible, patriotic compatriot with solid personal capital, who would not come from the ranks of the current jokers running Nigeria. We are thinking of massing at least five million or more of you behind this choice. Personally, I have expressed my preference for Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah and Tunde Fagbenle has supported it. Okey Ndibe will also let us have his own suggestions in due course. When we open a Facebook page for this project, you will be able to let us know who your own choice(s) might be and what strategies you envision going forward.
Please do not join us if you are wearing tribal or religious blinders. We are reaching out to kindred spirits hungry to become an electorate beyond the limiting and destructive faultlines of our national experiment. We are not interested in the ethnicity of the next President. We are not interested in his religion. We are not interested in quota and zone talk. For all we care, if he or she is your choice, has credible personal capital, and has not been tainted by dalliances and alliances with the current crop of corrupt rulers, s/he may even come from Otuoke. In essence, there is nothing inherently wrong with an Otuokean succeeding an Otuokean in Aso Rock so long as the new man is not cut from the same clueless, corrupt, and incompetent cloth as the incumbent. In essence, do not bring religion, tribe, zoning, and quota talk into our conversation. We have serious work to do and we have no time for distraction.
As discussions proceed and as we refine and define our strategies, please stay tuned to the three weekly columns of Okey Ndibe, Tunde Fagbenle (Punch), and yours truly for periodic updates. Let me leave you for now with this parting shot. For 2015, I endorse you, spectocrat, to become a democrat. I endorse you, spectorate, to become an electorate.
 
 
Published in Premium Times
January 12 2013

The Power of a Black President

Hello everybody

Thanks to the weather, I have worked from home (sort of), monitoring the Inauguration of President Barack H. Obama and doing my thing ( trying to write, a little bit of reading and surfing the internet). I have had a successful day because I have three more things on my ‘to do’ list. Here is one of them. Thankfully, I can make the time and reflect here.

I have followed President Barack Obama since 2008. People who know me know I am a huge fan of Michelle and Barack.  Pictures of President Obama and his wife are the screen savers on my laptop, ipad and iphone.I have rooted for him, read every piece (or at least) tried to read every left leaning article about him.  Politico (44) gives me my daily fix of news. Because of him, I love msnbc.com, I watch the Chris Matthews show and  the Rachel Maddow show. I follow several left leaning blogs which support Obama. As you would expect, I have no patience for channels like Fox news and the right winged media. When it gets negative about Obama, I switch off. This is typical. If its about Obama, its personal. Full stop.

The truth of the matter is he inspires me. I dont agree with everything he stands for, but I have a huge admiration for him.  He is a man millions can relate to.   President Obama is our trophy. He is African for crying out loud. I do not feel this way about  David Cameron for example. I love  England. Its been my home for over a decade and perhaps I should get involved somehow in events which shape my life…….. (who knows?). At the moment, I am bound by inertia. England is a great country sadly,  I am not enthused about its politics. It does not help that the Labour party has Ed instead of David. I do love certain people on the shadow cabinet… but not as much as I love President Obama. Please dont send me emails on citizenship. I  just cannot figure out where or how  to get engaged in British politics.

What am I rambling about?

It is a great day for black people. It is a great day for Africa. It is a great day for Democrats and American politics. We celebrate America and their democracy.  Unfortunately, in Nigeria’s politics, it is still business as usual. Nigeria’s political elite do not command this same enthusiasm from me or from our nation’s youths. We have as a country very few leaders who inspire confidence. Who? I dont know! Perhaps, it is just me, but not much excites me. Why should I be excited? Recently, I learnt about how Senators conduct themselves in Abuja. Many of them chase women. I hear sleeping with loose women is the norm (a competition of sorts) in Abuja.  Egos prevent senators from self regulating, half of them are drunks and careless with money. They are not interested in developing Nigeria, just in buying expensive properties and flying abroad.

A friend from Lagos explained it this way. Referring to the state of the Nigerian nation, he said people have stopped stealing. They loot now. Recklessly He is probably right   when you read about the fraud/scam which take place. In 2012 we learnt that N273 billion naira was stolen from pensioners.  This is just a tip of the ice berg. There is the Farouk Lawan/Otedola case that is dying a slow death with the EFCC. Recently, the Agriculture minister, Dr Adesina was going to buy 10 million phones for N60 billion.  What do you say to that? N60 billion on phones? And that is a priority. To 10 million farmers we are told. Your guess is as good as mine.

Nigeria is a country of contradictions. In such wealth, there is appaling poverty. The race against poverty provokes nearly every body to think about what they can get (or steal) rather than what they can give to develop Nigeria/Nigerians.

As I watch President Obama’s inauguration,  I wonder  about Nigeria. Is there hope? Would we ever rise above the curse of bad leadership? Would we all cruise into a failed state status as predicted?

I am still watching the inauguration. I have two more things on my ‘To do’ list.

See ya!
Tundun Adeyemo
Follow me on Twitter@tundunadeyemo

Rape: Lessons from India

Hello everybody

Rape is an issue I feel strongly about. I feel we dont talk about it enough.  We need to challenge the wide spread view in many parts if Nigeria that suggests it is the woman’s fault when she is raped.

Rape, I think, should stay in the limelight of our discourse as its frequency in Nigeria is appalling. I hope women and men would talk about how we can help rape victims, ensure they get the help they need and then punishment for the offenders.

Here is a thought.

The brutal rape of a young woman in India and her death in Singapore last week sparked rage, riots and a series of questions about how women are treated in Third World countries. Delhi is the world’s capital of gang rape and indecent treatment of women.  The brutalization of women appears to be cultural and religious as well. The  BBC reports about the country that ‘female foetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth leading to an appallingly skewed sex ration’. Many of India’s women face discrimination, prejudice, violence as single or married women. In the United Kingdom, it is typical for class teachers to complain that  young boys of Indian origin find it difficult to accept the authority of female teachers. The idea that a woman’s place is in the bedroom and kitchen as taught to girls by their mothers who led inconsequential lives themselves have done Nigerian women a disservice. In the United Kingdom, women have liberated themselves from the shackles of the kitchen and bedroom. They choose as and when they want to have sex.  Marriage is not regarded as an accomplishment as it is in Nigeria. The laws of Great Britain  protect women from forced sex.

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against the other`       without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated or below the legal age of consent. The legal age of consent is 16 in the United Kingdom. According to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence and rape in particular is considered the most under reported violent crime. Rape by strangers is usually less common than rape by persons the victims know. Many girls and women are raped routinely by people they know. There have been cases of brothers/ step brothers raping their sisters,  uncles raping their nieces and nephews and family friends raping girls in their common sphere of influence. In India, most disturbingly, according to police records, the offenders were known to their victims in more than 94% of the cases. Neighbors accounted for a third of the offenders.

Across the world, policies that promote gender equality, safeguards against violence and access to health care make Canada the best place to be a woman. This is according to a poll by Reuters.  Predictably, infanticide, child marriage and slavery make India the worst, the same poll conducted. Nigeria did not feature in the seventeen countries that were polled. Germany, Britain, Australia and France  rounded out the top five countries out of the Group of 20 in a perceptions poll of 370 gender specialists conducted by Trust Law, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation. At the other end of the scale is Saudi Arabia – where women are well educated but are banned from driving and only won the right to vote in 2011-polled second worst after India, followed by Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico. Whilst Nigeria admittedly does not treat its women as horribly as India, we have our issues also. For example, widows are often left at the mercy of in laws, single women suffer terrible emotional damage from the hands of superior colleagues only because they are trendy females. In institutions across the nation, females are  made to conform to a dress code to prevent them from being viewed as sex objects by men. In cultures across Nigeria, wives experience  terrible agony and bullying when they fail to produce male children. We may never know if the scale of the gang rape which killed the nameless  23 year old young medical student in Delhi and seriously injured her male counterpart can ever take place in Nigeria, but we know that unless we consciously talk about the issues women face, many women will keep suffering in silence.

Whilst it is hard to find statistics on rape in Nigeria, long distance travelers in Nigeria (especially in the Eastern parts)  have often been attacked by hoodlums who have with  machetes, clubs and AK 47s (machine guns) raped women indiscriminately. The Senate and National Assembly seem more preoccupied with same sex marriage and  money sharing than in  enacting laws which would make sure rapists are deterred by punitive castration.  The latest viral story is that of a final year student of the Federal University of Minna who chopped the head of his girl friend after prolonged abusive sex. The circumstances of the case seem hazy, what remains clear is that the viciousness of the Delhi attack could be replayed in the streets of our country. Our women from Ilesha to Gombe ought to understand that they must now do all within their power to make sure they are safe for tragically, Nigeria has lost its conscience and voice unlike Delhi.  

What can Nigeria learn from Delhi? The swift response of the leaders in making sure the perpetrators of the crime received  justice show that India’s leadership are on top of the situation unlike NIgeria where the political elite seem deluded and detached. It is Nigeria after all life does not count for much.  We are months after the brutal death of the Aluu four, the Mubi massacres, it is unclear if the dead have been vindicated and the perpetrators of the crimes brought to justice.  We know that the killers of the Facebook girl Cynthia were brought to justice because her father was influential. Unlike India where a societal transformation is slowly taking place Nigeria is still yet to wake up and deal with its social issues.  The Federal Government are at a loss to handling  the well oiled terrorist organization, Boko Haram, prevalent insecurity and enslaving poverty. Preventing a Delhi from happening in Nigeria requires a people with a conscience and a leadership on top of things.

 

 

Tundun Adeyemo

.

 
 

On Pensions, Pension Reforms, on hope for the rest of us

Hello everybody

I am posting Mr El- Rufai’s piece here for you read. Nigeria is a nation with visionless leaders. It seems the core of our political elite are only interested in what they can get and grab for now. They are interested in sleeping with cheap girls, buying houses and land for themselves, they are interested in throwing beach parties in exclusive resorts in Victoria Island and Ikoyi amongst other places. Our leaders have no real plan for what life would be for pensioners let alone our unborn children. In twenty years or so, many of us reading this will become pensioners. What will your fate be then? What can we do about it now?

  An important read, by Mr El- Rufai. (Emphasis are mine)




Pensions Reforms: To be, or not To be? By Nasir Ahmad El Rufai

Published on: Sahara Reporters June 11 2013

A few years ago, it was common sight to see aged pensioners struggling – and often dying – in the process of obtaining what was rightfully theirs: their pensions. Due to the chaotic and punitive conditions suffered by these senior citizens who more often than not travelled great distances to Abuja to receive their dues, many simply gave up the ghost – some literally died while standing in queues.

Those that persevered were subjected to sleeping on the streets under harsh weather conditions and begging passersby for what to eat. To reward our parents and grandparents who had devoted their lives to serving Nigeria in such cavalier manner speaks volumes about our essence as individuals and collective humanity as a people.

Any discourse about the issue of pension reforms in Nigeria must begin with critical questions: What systems were in place for pension administration and how effective where they? What happened to the funds that were expected to be set-aside for these pensioners over the years? Was there not a less cumbersome means of pension funds administration? What are the gains and losses of a decade of pension reforms, and what more do we need to do as a country to widen and deepen the social security system?

Pension, which is essentially setting aside monies for use in old age when one can no longer work and earn much income, was first started in the 1880s in present day Germany when Otto von Bismarck introduced social insurance programs that became the model for other countries and the basis of the modern welfare state. Bismarck introduced old age pensions, accident insurance, medical care and unemployment insurance. Bismarck appreciated that society has a responsibility to put in place a safety net for the old, the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Decades later, John F. Kennedy concurred with Bismarck’s vision when he observed, “if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The first attempt at pension legislation in Nigeria was enacting the Pension Ordinance of 1951 which allowed the Governor-General to grant pensions and gratuities applicable to public sector employees, in accordance with the regulations, which were reviewed from time to time with the approval of the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs in the UK government.

In 1961, the National Provident Fund (NPF) now the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) was established by an Act of Parliament. It was established in line with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention 102 of 1952 and sought to cater to employees in the private sector of the Nigerian economy.

Subsequently there were; the existing civil service pension scheme covered by the Basic Pension Decree 102 of 1979, the Local Government Pension Scheme which was established in 1977 and the Armed Forces Pension Scheme created through Decree 103 of 1979 by the Murtala-Obasanjo administration. There was also the Pensions Rights of Judges Decree No.5 of 1985 as amended by Decrees Nos. 51 of 1988,29 and 62 of 1991. The Police and other Agencies Pension Scheme Decree No. 75 of 1993, which took retroactive effect from 1990, represented another landmark development in the history of the Nigerian pension system and sought to cover the largest public sector organization in Nigeria – the Police with its nearly 400,000 officers and men.

There was one fundamental flaw with all these schemes – they mandated in the laws pension entitlements, called “defined benefits’ in pension’s parlance, without setting aside any cash to pay for the future liabilities. The assumption of successive governments in Nigeria (and indeed in many countries) is that there will always be tax (and oil) revenues to pay for future pension entitlements. This held true until the mid-1980s when profligate spending accompanied by collapsing oil prices and resultant debt burdens brought our economy to its knees. Pension payments became erratic and current arrears built up, and unfunded future liabilities escalated.

When the BPE was tasked with the responsibility of privatizing public enterprises in 1999, we realized that the unfunded pension liabilities in NITEL, then estimated at N43 billion and NEPA at N75 billion would make difficult if not impossible to privatize the companies. Who would buy a company with such hidden, future liabilities, in addition to over-staffing, attitudinal and other problems? Drawing on a seminal paper by a Nigerian lawyer Jude Uzonwanne of Levin & Srinivasan LLP, New York, the BPE presented a memorandum to the government in year 2000 warning that unfunded pension liabilities in public enterprises alone amounted to nearly N500 billion, while the rest of the public sector had another N1 trillion of the same.

The Obasanjo administration realized that a ‘defined contribution’ system needed to be put in place to replace the unfunded, defined-benefits “pay-as-you-go” pension scheme prevalent in Nigeria. A steering committee on pension reforms under the chairmanship of Fola Adeola worked at resolving the problem first in public enterprises, then nationally, with many outside stakeholders and select BPE staff. Many people like M K Ahmed, Dr. Musa Ibrahim, Chinelo Anohu and Aisha Umar that ended up being foundation staff of the future Pensions Commission played active in the committee and the aftermath.

The Fola Adeola team did extensive and commendable work and attempted to reform the pension structure in the country due to the gross inefficiency and poor administration of the previously launched schemes, culminating in the enactment of the Pension Reform Act 2004 (PRA 2004). In line with this, National Pension Commission (PenCom) was established to regulate and supervise all pension matters in the country.

Some of the highlights of the PRA 2004 are that the scheme would be contributory and fully funded, mandatory for organizations in the private sector with five staff and above, portable, provide full pension rights in the event of dismissal and the contents of Retirement Savings Account (RSAs) cannot be deducted by employers for any outstanding financial obligations among others.

How the contributory pension scheme works is that the employee contributes 7.5% of their income while the employer provides a minimum of 7.5% of the employee’s income into the RSA of the employee. For a country like Nigeria with huge income disparities and numerous low income earners, the total amount to be accumulated by an employee who worked for about 30 years on the current minimum wage of N18,000 monthly would roughly amount to N972,000.00 – less than a million naira for a lifetime of employment unless the contributions are invested in safe, but high yield investments that would increase faster than the rate of inflation and exchange rate deterioration.

The initiative, while laudable on paper and a major improvement over the old
, unfunded system, has still not translated to alleviating the plight and hardship of current pensioners in the country, many of whom are not covered by the scheme.
A lot more work has to go into the structure and manner in which pensions are administered in order to achieve the desired aims. It is time to look at the nearly ten years of experience of administering the PRA and enact amendments to improve the operations of the sector, and abolish the transitional arrangements that have led to the theft of billions of Naira under the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

As at 2012, 23.9% of the labor force was unemployed according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). This invariably implies that a whopping 76.1% of the labor force is gainfully employed. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the total labor force in the country was 52.5m in 2011. Using 2011 statistics to calculate even though the numbers must have risen giving the teeming population of graduates churned out daily from our institutions of higher learning, the probable number of employees in the country is nothing less than about 39.9m at present.

However, of the total employed population across the country, only a paltry 13.2% (5.28 m) of workers had been registered under the scheme as at September 2012 since its inception in 2004 according to the immediate past CEO of the commission. The statistics are bleak for the pace of work carried out in the whole of 8 years, and more needs to be done!

In addition to the snail pace at which the scheme is being executed, a major issue with the pension administration in Nigeria is execution at the state level. At the end of 2012, very few state workers were beneficiaries from the scheme; mainly because the states are allowed to enact their own laws and the PRA 2004 is not binding on them. So far, about 21 states have adopted the contributory pension scheme while 14 others have initiated the process of enacting versions of contributory pension schemes in their states. Lagos state is the only state according to Pencom that has fully funded its pension obligation to its workers. Katsina used to be another until recently when arrears have accumulated without any justifiable cause.

Another noteworthy area is private and informal sector participation in the scheme, which has been particularly poor. Many reasons come to the fore here. How do you enforce an act when there is no data on the number of private companies or informal businesses contributing to the GDP of the nation? Majority of small businesses evade the scheme because of the cost to them and minimal penalties for evasion. Pencom has barely been able to cover the urban areas much less the rural areas. The implication of this is that the scheme is highly imbalanced; focusing mainly on employees of the Public Sector and urban dwellers while neglecting the private and informal sectors as well as the rural areas.

To worsen matters, the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) set up sometime in 2010 to bring some sanity to the system and ensure that pensioners received their pensions as and when due, rather than perform their tasks, only succeeded in embezzling the funds at their disposal. While claiming to have uncovered misappropriated funds, the committee itself depleted pensioners’ funds worth billions of naira on frivolities and corruption.

Pension funds, the world over, are designed not just to provide respite to employees in their post-retirement years but are meant to boost economies by improving their financial markets, accumulate re-investable savings and contribute to the GDP. Funds accumulated from pension deductions ideally, would be channeled into creating employment opportunities and financing infrastructural projects such as electricity, transportation, housing e.t.c. As at September 2012, the accumulated pension funds had amounted to some N2.94 trillion quite impressively. Whether this will translate to visible infrastructural development in the next few years is an entirely different matter.

It is imperative that the government critically analyzes the pension structure and make amends where necessary so that the scheme does not die a natural death. Pensions could be a very important aspect of the economy if done right with multiplier effects across many sectors. A contributory pension scheme where pensioners die in the course of claiming entitlements is definitely not a step in the right direction. It will certainly hamper on employees’ productivity while still active. One where those at the helms of affairs are embezzling retirees’ hard earned funds is without doubt a disgrace to the nation as a whole.

The pension schemes adopted must take into cognizance our peculiarities as a nation and those in our economy. It should not be implemented in the typical fashion of other economic policies, which are just cut and paste models of those obtainable in the more advanced nations. It should be tailored to the needs of the beneficiaries. The structure, direction and sustainability of the scheme must be clearly articulated so that it does not end up as another haphazardly implemented project. Most importantly, it should achieve its purpose, which is securing the future of employees in the most convenient manner

Two weeks ago………

Here is what I wrote two weeks ago, still relevant. Here have a read.
 
 
 
A little bit of everything

It is hard to remember an Editorial deadline when Christmas only just ended in the wee hours of  Boxing Day. This is how it all began.  We put up our six foot Christmas tree a week late for reasons unconnected and disjointed reasons.  Then, it was a job decorating the tree. Eventually, our tree was respectable enough for the season. Towards Christmas Eve, the frenzy of Christmas presents peaked and nearly became overwhelming. At that moment, Christmas became a chore. According to the Money Advice service website, Christmas spending in the UK,  is expected to hit £29 billion this year.   People are expected to spend, on average, £46 more than last year; and among those set to celebrate Christmas (about 19 million people), 41% anticipate this Christmas will be more difficult to afford than last year.  UK adults are expected to spend an average of just under £592 in total on Christmas this year. More than a quarter of us (27%) admit we often get ‘carried away’ and spend more than we can afford at Christmas.

We wonder how much cash strapped Nigerians would spend on Christmas and Boxing Day sales? Christmas, known for its sacrificial antecedents, has pushed some even into borrowing money to buy food,  second hand clothes and toys for their children. Christmas is hardest time of the year for singletons and immigrants in the UK, without family and friends, it can be very lonesome. In Nigeria, the lack of money can grind Christmas to a halt.  Generous employers  with social consciences, give to staff portions of rice, chicken, oil and other Christmas accessories in the Christmas spirit demonstrating the lessons Scrooge learnt in the famous Charles Dickens book ‘Christmas Carol’. Still, millions of unemployed Nigerians will drink garri or and wear raiment presentable enough for the season. Thankfully, Christmas is over.

Every family has their Christmas tradition or routine if you like. For most, it involves stories around Santa and gifts under the Christmas tree, a multiplicity of festive lights  and last but not the least, a service of some sort at a church.  The one service for nominal Christians, many a Pastor is armed with  diluted versions of the salvation story. The Candle light Service at the West Street Baptist Church hit the right notes for all the right reasons. The hymns chosen were classic, the orchestra was available, the hall was lit entirely by candles. No offence to atheists and non adherents of the Christian faith, but, you have to be the devil himself not to get caught up in worship at the West Street Baptist Church.  The family service (in toddler church)  was not all that. It was interrupted with cries of children, agitation of stressed parents chasing after little children and the nuisance of social networking. 

Christmas is the only day of the year the whole nation (UK) actually stops working.  The only exception to this rule are emergency workers and of course, the Asian/Muslim owned corner shops  and eateries. Another important part of Christmas no one talks about is the Christmas meal. Across the world, mothers and wives dutifully show their culinary prowess when they cook the Christmas meal. These days, to avoid the Christmas meal stress, some families tend to spend their day  camped in hotel restaurants where they are served nine long courses of the Christmas dinner. The Christmas dinner is the primary meal traditionally eaten on  Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Turkey is present in a fair number of these meals. The dinner usually consists of roast turkey ( although, other poultry such as goose, chicken, duck, capon or pheasant are alternatives) sometimes with roast beef or ham.  In Nigerian homes, the traditional British Dinner has evolved into a mixture of African and British contemporary delicacies which includes, fried rice, jollof rice, coco nut rice, pounded yam and egusi soup and other such meals.  

With the New Year on our heels, corporate Nigeria must reflect on how to move our country forward. We must begin to think to country first as opposed to self enrichment. This is so un-Nigerian.  I know.  The Nigerian way is looting and embezzlement. The Nigerian way is corruption and ‘dog eat dog ‘ mentality. The Nigerian way is win or die. The Nigerian way is scorn for the poor and deprived.  The Nigerian way is  a struggle for the masses. Saying goodbye to 2012, we will mourn with families of those who died in the June 3rd Dana Air Crash and all the other air disasters in the country.  We remember the memories of Yakowa, the late Kaduna State Governor, Azazi the former National Security Adviser and the four other noble men of honor whose lives perished at the ill fated helicopter crash at the funeral jamboree of Presidential aide Orontos Douglas. We all bear the wounds of  the disappointments and failures of a Government whose best known words in the face of corruption are ‘I dont give a damn’.  In 2012, we mourn untimely deaths from ill equipped hospitals and death roads. We regret the escalating trends of inequality and social injustice.  We feel the poverty from a crushing incarceration of opportunities to find gainful work. The 2012 we leave behind is one in which religious, business and political leadership flaunt their jets, yachts and expensive toys in our faces. Their egos preventing them from seeing the vanity of their misplaced priorities.

It is clear that Nigerians will continue to hope for the best even in tough times. As we approach 2013,  we need to pursue ways in which we make the recycled lot of our insensitive leaders uncomfortable in their gated homes. (Can this ever happen?).  2013 will be more of the same unless Nigerians clench their fists and say Enough!  Thank you for your support in 2012. May the New Year bring surprises and a promise of healing, hope and restoration. Happy New Year!

 

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

My Year of 'Double, Double'.

Its past midnight and I have finally made it here to post a few items here and there. A busy life prevents more frequent posts. This does not mean that I have not been thinking about what next to write (if I had the time). I am inspired by bloggers who commit and keep their commitments to blogging once a week. Lets just say, I am grateful for the time to blog now.

I want to post an article published in TELL last week about Planning and Resolutions. Huge thanks to LanreFatokun’s blog from where the inspiration came. A shout out to my very special person, Mr Onabanjo for cleaning original article out and making it actually interesting to read. I must not forget Mr Ogun’s kind narrative and assessment from his latest trip across the width and breadth of Nigeria.

So, here it is.

My Year of ‘Double, Double’.

The London fireworks which marked the start of the New Year were magnificent enough except that they lasted only a mere ten minutes. As the sparks transcended to the heavens, many cheered, but most took pictures immortalising the start of 2013. With free transport (up until 04.30 a.m. in London), a dodgy weather which held up, thankfully, and more than enough booze, Londoners partied into the new year.

The new year parade, on the other hand, was fantastic as the city revelled again in its outstanding accomplishments from 2012 (mainly the triumphs of hosting the London 2012 Olympics). 2013 was celebrated by millions across the world in different ways. Whilst some stayed at home, others drank and smoked into the early hours. Caucasians are not known to be religious about  about new year, even though New Age beliefs, astrology, intellectualism, atheism and paganism are already locked in strong holds. (General Statement here: neither here nor there).

Nigerians notorious for tradition flocked to their churches en masse for vigils and varying lengths of candlelight Mass and twilight services. Black churches in the United Kingdom enjoyed the patronage of ‘new year’ worshippers who welcomed with open arms those who only worship once or twice a year – at Christmas and new year). Clichés such as its ‘my year of double portion,’ ‘my year of promotion’ are gaining ground.

Observers say the excitement into 2013 was palpable in Nigeria. It seemed that many people could not wait to step into 2013. 2012 was long enough. We suffered from the terror and violence unleashed by the manic organisation Boko Haram, sporadic oil spills, unexpected deaths, unprecedented floods and disastrous effects of climate change, air tragedies, road accidents and so on. If 2012 is anything to go by, Nigerians can expect from 2013, amongst other things, more of the same unless we change our leadership paradigms.

On a positive note, in spite of the tragedies of 2012, in spite of the fact that Mr Jonathan himself recently blamed the Nigerian mess on ‘attitudinal’ factors rather than the ‘slow pace’ at which he governed, Nigerians are beginning to feel the impact of some leadership from the top, afterall. In terms of road construction and tourism, Ekiti State is said to be doing well. The leadership in Osun has ambitiously embarked upon opening new roads to link Osun with Lagos. The state is also creating local employment and improving the lives of ordinary Nigerians. More work still needs to be done in terms of fixing schools and sorting out moribund health care. Oyo State appears to be succeeding in battling armed robbers but this is neither here nor there. The beautification project has stepped on a lot of toes, but the governor is adamant; he is writing  history.

People in Edo and Akwa Ibom states are saying good things about their states, which suggests their governors are working. There is still room for much improvement, especially in terms of fixing rural roads (Lagos), providing good schools/rehabilitating state schools (Oyo), repairing roads (Yenogoa), accounting for all contracted projects (Abuja especially) and investment in agriculture. 2013 is a new opportunity for Nigeria’s leaders to deliver the dividends of democracy, making sure the good life they (the leaders) live is achievable and attainable equally by all.

For the rest of us, the start of a new year is that time of the year to make plans for the year. Plans? Yes! Or new year resolutions. These can be grouped into social, health, religious, education and financial departments. Making plans for 2013 under these headings ensures that the individual is growing or, at least, is thinking of how to grow. Whilst New Year resolutions have their benefits in terms of planning and organisation, people are not generally interested in planning. The reasons are numerous. First, they may not have the willpower to see a plan through, or have hectic lifestyles which prevent detailed planning.

At other times, people lose interest in planning out their lives because they might have been broken down – or made weary – by series of life’s disappointments, ill health and other mental issues. How do you re-energise a lethargic person? I want to focus on the buzz of exciting new year resolutions for those who still believe that life is worth living. It is best to start with simple measurable goals such as a plan to read a book a week, to exercise for 20 minutes every day, to pass an exam, be more productive, start a business, get organised, become a vegetarian for a month and so on. Realbuzz.com offers some alternative ideas on new year resolutions. They are: sort out a financial worry, learn a new language, get your photo taken in five interesting places, break a record, make a new friend a month, develop a good relationship with your body, do something nice for someone each day, learn something you never learnt as a child and smile more.

New year resolutions tend to inspire and energise us as we strive to make our lives more efficient and productive. Efficiency and productive individuals make an efficient and productive nation. No one ever awards that person that follows a resolution through. But the joy in fulfilling a resolution stems from the self-satisfaction of a promise well kept. What are some resolutions you have made? Care to share them?

Tundun Adeyemo.