The theme for International Women’s Day this year is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. In keeping with that theme, we organized a collaborative commemorative tech workshop on the 10th March 2023, with El Pasion Foundation dubbed “DigitALL: LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS TO MAINTAIN A CUTTING EDGE AS A WOMAN IN BUSINESS AND CAREER.
The Event was sponsored by the American Space, Abuja who provided all the facilities we utilised for the event – the Space, the computers used for the practical sessions, the camera, and the overall décor.
This hands-on practical workshop brought together 14 business and career women aged between 18 – 35 largely from grassroots communities in Abuja. The women were either career women working in the civil service, or business women with their own entrepreneurial ventures. We also had a few university students in attendance who also had their own businesses on the side. Below is a graphical/pictorial explanation of the demography of our attendees.
The main purpose of the workshop was to expose them to taught them to tech platforms they could use to upscale and upskill themselves both in business and professionally. These tech platforms are already existing platforms which they may not have considered exactly very potent in setting them apart both in business and professionally.
The workshop taught them how to creates a YouTube channel, trade on Jiji and learn courses on Coursera, among others. It also taught them how to create simple websites on Google Sites and as well as how to create graphs and charts of their business information on Google spreadsheets and utilizing the Google Workstation. These were the few modules that could be taught given the shortness of time for the Workshop.
As is in the nature of such workshops with an unreliable internet network generally in the country, we had network hiccups which delayed the workshop to an extent. That notwithstanding, we made the best of it to have a wonderful event. And because the shortness of time meant we couldn’t cover all the topics we’d hoped to cover, we have created a WhatsApp platform to continue mentoring and helping the participants in continuing to practice what was taught in this workshop.
We made the following findings from the Workshop and the women who participated in it:
Among the women, the Millennials aged between 30 – 35 and a few of the women in the 25 – 30 age category were not as tech savvy as their Gen Z counterparts in the 18 – 25 age category. Women in the latter age category appeared more tech knowledgeable than they were. What this effectively revealed was that the age demography where the need we are looking to fill falls into may have to embrace more of the Millennials than the younger generation who appear more grounded in use of technology.
All the women had at least an android phone and thus had a gadget that they could make use of when some of the computers were not working.
Following from number 2 above, none of them were novices when it came to the rudiments of using technology – phones and computers.
Access to computers is a major challenge for women in business in rural communities. And as such it would be more sustainable teaching them how to make the most use of their phones since almost all women have a smartphone that can perform some of these tech for entrepreneurship functions.
The event was a hybrid event which was also streamed on Zoom and live-streamed on Facebook. Indeed our Speakers spoke virtually and demonstrated to our participants from their virtual location. The beauty of having the event as a hybrid event is that the knowledge shared with the physical participants are also available as a memorial for anyone who is interested in the knowledge to go back and watch and practice it. The video of the event can be accessed on our YouTube page here or on our Facebook page here. Please do not forget to like our video and pages and also subscribe to our channel.
The event would not have been a success without the participants who attended and were all very punctual and actively participated. All participants were given Certificates of Participation at the end of the Workshop.
We want to also thank our Speakers for doing justice to the topic. We want to also specially thank the American Space, Abuja for sponsoring this program logistically by providing the Space that we used as well as the computers used and the camera used to capture the beautiful pictures seen here. Through these Spaces and the social impact events such as this one organized in partnership, by the Executive Director (God’sglory Ifezue) who is a United States Government Exchange Alumni, US-Nigeria relations are further deepened.
Happy International Women’s Day once again. Follow our social media pages to stay informed of the remaining great stuff we have lined up for this Women’s month. You can find our Instagram handle here and our Twitter handle here; our Facebook page here and finally our YouTube channel here.
Man is born tabula rasa and, without the help of education, would remain ignorant and unable to navigate life and its vicissitudes. Education remains one of the fundamental rights of humans. It is so essential that some countries ( Germany, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden) provide free education and others (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Czech Republic) offer subsidized tuition at different levels (Business Insider September 19, 2019).
Britannica defines Education as “the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society.” While the Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the process of teaching or learning, especially in a school or college, or the knowledge you get from this.” Whatever definition one may choose to go by, the point is that education involves the transfer of knowledge.
Education may be formal or informal. It is formal education if it occurs in structured and official settings like schools or colleges by trained teachers (Througheducation December 15, 2019). It is informal if knowledge is passed down in an unofficial environment, for example, at home or among peers or neighbors. Informal education is not structured as it is often spontaneous and sometimes comes from one’s experiences (Througheducation December 16, 2019).
What is the Legal Framework for Basic Education in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a signatory to many international and regional treaties providing for education, particularly basic education. To this end, she is bound by their provisions. This section discusses these (international and regional) laws and those passed by the Nigerian National Assembly. Together, these laws seek to foreclose activities that may disrupt education in Nigeria.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948 This declaration provides a foundation upon which human rights are legislated. Article 26 provides for the right of everyone to Education. It is reproduced below:
Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. This means that basic (early) education must be free and compulsory. Although this instrument is just a declaration and cannot be enforced, its provisions are sound and should be followed by well-meaning governments.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989 This is an off-shoot from the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 which itself drew from the 1924 Geneva Declaration on the Rights of the Child that first gave recognition to Children as recipients of welfare after the first World War. In 1991, Nigeria ratified the CRC and domesticated it 12 years later in 2003. In Article 28, the CRC provides that every child has a right to be educated and that primary education should be free, while secondary education should be available. It further requires that every child be encouraged to attain the highest level of education.
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights 1981 This Charter recognizes and provides for Economic, Social, and Cultural rights, as well as Civil and Political rights in Africa. Nigeria ratified it in 1983 and is thus bound by its provisions. Article 17 (1) provides for the right of everyone to education, thus state parties (including Nigeria) must ensure that everyone has access to education. Following this provision, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights in its 346th Resolution on the Right to Education in Africa – ACHPR/Res.346(LVIII) 2016 urged States Parties to guarantee the full scope of the right to education, including, the opportunity for all children to enjoy free and compulsory primary education without discrimination and providing pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary, adult education and vocational training to all citizens.
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child This Charter provides for the right to education of children in the territories of State Parties. It is applicable in Nigeria as it has been adopted through the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003. Article 11(3) of the Charter provides that State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to protect the right of children to education by providing among other things, free and compulsory basic education.
African Youth Charter 2006 It was developed in 2006 by the African Union as a rights-based policy framework to guide Member States in caring for young persons (aged 15 to 35) within their territories (This Day February 17, 2010). Although adopted on July 2, 2006, it did not come into force until August 9, 2009. It was adopted by leaders of various African States in Banjul, Gambia. Article 13(4)(a) of this Charter enjoins State Parties to “provide free and compulsory basic education and take steps to minimize the indirect costs of education.”
1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) (as amended) This is the grundnorm, the fons et origo of all laws in Nigeria. It is the foundation upon which other laws stand and any law inconsistent with its provisions stands null to the extent of that inconsistency (Section 1(3), CFRN 1999). The Constitution provides for free, compulsory, and universal primary education in Section 18. Section 18 is under Chapter 2 of the Constitution and all provisions within this Chapter are termed non-justiciable. What this means is that even where the government fails to live up to the letters of Section 18, no citizen can rightly sue the government on this basis.
Child Rights Act (CRA) 2003 The adoption of this act gave legal backing (in Nigeria) to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. As interesting as this law is, it is only applicable in 23 out of the 36 states of the Federation because the other 13 States are yet to ratify it (National Human Rights Commission).
Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act (The UBE Act) 2004 This Act does not just provide for free and compulsory basic education, it also defines basic education as reproduced earlier. It is the major National Law on Basic Education in Nigeria, as it was passed for that purpose and other incidental reasons. It seeks to provide basic education from basic 1 to basic 9 for children aged 6 to 16 years of age (Uko-Aviomoh, Okoh, and Omatseye, 2007).
Education is a vital requirement for survival in society. It should be free and compulsory and made available by the State. Although the Nigerian Constitution makes it non-justiciable, citizens can enforce the right to Education by seeking the implementation of other National Laws, as well as the international and regional instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory. Nigerians can also sue based on the provisions of the various Acts of the National Assembly providing for education in Nigeria as discussed above. It is also important for citizens to understand the importance of education in order to fully appreciate its existence and demand its availability in good quality.
Education is one of the core areas of the Nigerian society close to our heart as a Foundation. We believe very strongly in the value of a sound educational foundation in setting one up for success in life generally.
As a Foundation, because education especially for the grassroots communities is very close to our heart, we launched this Reading Competition as a part of our activities in commemorating the International Day of Education this year. This Project which is part of the larger Neoteric Engagement Project is part of our commitment and contribution to grassroots communities, particularly the youths, in the area of education.
The main goal of this Reading Competition is to start to create a desire for reading among early learners at the primary school level. Good readers from as early as primary education will make for great life-long learners that will be most beneficial to the society.
How did we come about the school? We understand that lofty as our Project is, we needed to start somewhere and then scale up. We chose a township community in one of the grassroots communities in Enugu State, called Ibeagwa.
We then embarked on a journey around the area surveying primary schools. We came upon 3 schools and were warmly received in just one of the 3 schools and that was the school we eventually settled for. We noted a hesitation on the parts of the schools once we mentioned that we were an NGO. We would later learn from the school where we carried out the competition that the reason for the hesitation was because NGOs have in the past acted in a manner that was not too forthright in their dealings with them.
Having found the school and obtained their permission to carry out the competition, we also obtained the permission of the parents for their children to take part in the competition. 43 parents consented for their children to take part in the competition. With the parental consent obtained, the stage was now set for the Competition. The students were visibly excited, as were we.
The Competition ran over a period of two days and was spread across Primaries 1 through to 6. The questions chosen were picked taking into account the stage of learning of each class. The first day was a written comprehension test which gave them comprehension passages with questions. This component of the competition was meant to test their ability to comprehend simple passages. (See some pictures of participants in this stage below)
From the written comprehension, we then marked and shortlisted the number to students who made 40 out of 50 and above, for the final round. 15 students out of the 43 made the cut and moved on to the next and final stage which was held on the second day.
This final stage tested the reading capacity of the shortlisted students. They were required to read the written comprehension they had answered the day before. The students read their own scripts. As they read, we were testing their fluency and phonemic awareness as well as their vocabulary. The students were so impressive and did excellently well; a testament to the quality of education the school is giving them. Watch the video of this leg of the competition here.
Up to this point, we had not revealed what the prize(s) we had come with was. The School kept asking us what we would be giving out and we simply told them small tokens of educational materials. We told them that the point of the competition was not the prizes but the principle we wanted to impact and so we don’t want anyone thinking there is a bonanza to cash out of. The reason why we did this is to ensure that only serious students who loved reading, for the sake of reading and not because there was money involved, took part in the competition. It is those particular students who are in love with reading for its sake that we want to invest in because they are the ones who can sustain the passion for reading and life-long learning.
So what was the prize or prizes?? DRUMROLLL!!!! We were giving out 5 scholarships for 2 terms!!! Thus 5 learners will receive fully paid up scholarships for 2 terms of school this year. The School and parents could not believe it when we unveiled this as the prizes. And you can tell that those who consented for their children to participate and whose children won the prizes were glad they gave their consent.
Having heard the shortlisted 15 read their comprehension passages and marked them, we had the unenviable task of having to pick out only 5 top readers out of the 15. It was not the easiest of tasks and had we enough finances we would have loved to give a scholarship to all 15 shortlisted students. There was however one learner that captured our heart and who we just had to look for an extra N5,000 to give her to encourage her. This was Chioma, the only Primary 1 student who made it to the semi-finals and who read so well that she was number 6 on the final list. The N5,000 was applied towards her school fees for the term.
It was deeply rewarding giving out the scholarships. Putting a smile on the faces of the learners and their parents made the whole Project very worthwhile. We chose scholarships because we learnt that the parents of several students were unable to pay the school fees and we thought what better way to help than alleviate that burden, should their child perform well in the competition. While it may not be much, we hope that this little seed in the lives of these children in this grassroots community will go a significant way in contributing to their future. For the rest of the students of the school, we gave them all an 80-leaves exercise book each, to remember our visit even as they write on it. For the 15 semi-finalists, they got 2 exercise books.
Finally, this Project would not have been the success that it was without 3 formidable members of our team whose tireless efforts saw these wonderful results – The Team Lead on the Neoteric Engagement Education Project, God’sgrace C. Ifezue, The Director of Programs and Project, Emmanuel I. Igwe and the ED, God’sglory Ifezue. The 3 exemplify the fact that you don’t need a large team to make impact and deliver excellently. You just need the right people, with the right energy and the right drive. The Foundation thanks them immensely for their contribution towards the success of the Project.
We would also like to thank all our donors and sponsors whose donations and contributions went a long way in making this Project a reality. Many thanks to Sandra Oge, Janet O. Darko, Mrs. Igwe, Godwin Ifezue, Godsgrace Ifezue (who is also the team lead on the Project), Emmanuel Ifeanyi Igwe (who is also the Director of Programs and Project), and of course our Founder and Executive Director, God’sglory Ifezue.
We thank the School Proprietor and management of Pneumalife Mission Academy for giving us the chance to make impact in their community. We also want to thank them immensely for the excellent work they are doing with their students and hope that they keep it up. The quality of the students we saw is evidence they are doing an amazing work in ensuring quality education for the children living in the grassroots community of Ibeagwa Nike, Enugu State.
You can also check out details of this competition across all our social media platforms – Instagram here; Twitter here; Facebook here; and LinkedIn here. Don’t forget to also like and follow us across these platforms.
As part of our celebration of the International Day of Education 2023, we engaged in this rich and thought-provoking discourse on the theme, “An Investment in Basic Education is an Investment in Grassroots and Vulnerable Communities.”
Our remarkable panel of speakers (whose bio you’ll find in some of the images below), did justice to the topic. The following points were key take-outs from each speaker (thanks to the very copious and helpful notes of the Moderator, Ms. Darko):
Dr. Emmanuel C. Chukwuma:
We need to encourage investments in rural areas by increasing activities of NGOs in rural areas even though they are not profit target areas. NGOs who operate in rural areas need ensure they engage in activities that attract more donors and partners to help and support their projects.
There is also the need for more recreational activities in rural areas, as their lives are practically fixed in a triangle (from school to church to market or farm and the cycle continues).
Further, we must all help to donate quality books to children in the rural areas. Their inability to have effortless access to books is a major challenge.
Finally, we need to develop the spirit of volunteerism; this will help encourage or boost human capacity in rural areas. As young people, investing our time in impactful volunteering activities as this will encourage others to also help out and this will help boost the human capacity and resources needed in the rural areas.
Education is an irrevocable asset and almost every country’s development starts with education.
The government should ensure full implementation of educational policies both in the rural and urban communities.
Basic education should be completely free to enable parents who cannot afford the educational cost of their wards to feel supported.
Government should ensure the school feeding programme in rural communities is in full force. Government should provide free books to the children, provide instructional materials and to also provide healthy meals for their lunch.
There should be the uniform implementation of the UBE ACT and educational policies so as not to create a disparity and an imbalance in the basic education system, especially for those in the rural communities.
Parents need attractive actions to encourage them actively participate in the education of their wards.
There should be effective and open communication between parents and schools. The schools should constantly and consistently keep the parents involved and aware of their wards’ progress and challenges in school.
Parents should also be involved in any decision-making involving their children’s education. This indicates how they are recognized and appreciated in the community. The schools shouldn’t take any decisions for the students without their parents’ consent , and the schools should also try to make sure that the parents understand every activity or action they decide to undertake in the lives of these school children.
Teachers should also make it a point to serve as role models to their students and not just behave anyhow since they are the focal points of the education of these young children.
The parents in rural communities should also be treated with respect.
Some of the problems of basic education at the rural communities:
Lack of access to books, to basic classroom resources and to engagement of students in public schools.
There are no weekend school projects for these kids and there’s a huge disconnect between teachers and children.
We need to talk directly to the government to make them aware of these challenges.
Short term programmes that could act as solutions:
We need to advocate for better communications and better funding.
Create more programmes targeted at rural communities.
Create actual educational programmes to fill in that educational gap between those in the rural areas and urban areas.
We need to have summer/long vacation programmes; create education & fun activities for rural education.
Train teachers with a particular skill/strategy to be able to deliver quality education that suits the level of interest of these children.
We need to encourage the children to explore and to bring their creativity to life by practicing them.
Long Term programmes that could act as solutions:
We need to invest in technology and have donations to children in rural areas, laptops and other technological devices that can help improve the educational development of these children.
Introduce a book lending programme, by giving books to children to take home to continue learning at home.
As is evident from the above, there can be no doubt that the Speakers trashed out the topic extensively. We extend our heart-felt gratitude to all our Speakers for giving the topic their best. And to the Moderator as well, for excellent moderation that got the Speakers to bring all these points to the fore.
In case you missed out on the live discourse, you can still catch up on either our Facebook page here https://fb.watch/ihk1jAqg2t/ or on our YouTube channel here https://youtu.be/Hom9k7wmsSE (Please do not forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and also like and follow our Facebook page).
In the past couple of years, we’ve read hideous news feeds of abuses on young domestic workers in Nigeria, thanks to social media. In 2020, a woman chopped off her domestic worker’s finger in Onitsha, Anambra (withinnigeria.com, Sep 24, 2020). Similar incident had happened in 2014 (read here). In 2021, a 10-year-old domestic worker was bathed with hot water by two women in Anambra (PR Nigeria, Jan. 15 2021). A 10-year-old domestic worker was forced to drink hot peppery water by her madam in Abia (Vanguard News, Oct 9, 2021). A 12-year-old domestic worker was brutalized by a widow, for stealing meat (Vanguard, February 13, 2022). A 15-year-old domestic worker was raped by her Airforce boss (Vanguard, Feb 8, 2022).
The above cases are but droplets in an ocean of maltreatments many children face in Nigeria as domestic workers. I dare say that 1 in 4 Nigerians have either witnessed, heard, or personally experienced the ordeals of child domestic workers. There is always a story of a child being starved, scourged with hot metals, locked in dog cages, overworked, made to sleep outside a house through the night, and in the worst-case scenario, killed because their employer was unhappy with them. But such stories are told informally, passively. Most abused children never get justice. Their ordeals are underreported. Many of them accept the abuse they face as fate either out of fear or lack of opportunity to seek justice.
Early this year, I heard about an unfortunate incident of a domestic helper in Enugu who died while trying to pluck mangoes. The boy’s body was found on a tree days after he went missing. He was said to have been electrocuted by a pole’s wire while trying to pluck mangoes. Meanwhile, neighbors knew that the boy was often maltreated by the family, beaten to a pulp, locked outside, or starved for days, but they could not help him. This boy lived his life at the mercy of his abusers. Perhaps, this boy died trying to fend for himself. We would never know why he climbed that mango tree since he isn’t alive to tell his story. Will he get justice for being mistreated while alive? Highly unlikely.
It begs the question, what is the government of Nigeria and Nigerians doing to fight the use of child labor in Nigeria? An estimated 15 million Nigerian children under 14 are engaged in child labor International Labor Organization (ILO) in Nigeria. This number increases if we include children above the age of 14 but below 18. If the stipulated percentage of Nigerian children engaged in child labor is 43%, it means that Nigeria has the highest number of child laborers in Africa and probably around the world. After all, Africa has the highest number of child laborers globally (ilo.org). Reports like these are shameful for us as a nation, given that many children engaged in child labor are exposed to some of the worst working environments.
Source: Statista. Although 2008 had the highest number of recorded child laborers in Africa, the numbers for 2016 and 2020 aren’t too convincing of the efforts of African governments to reduce the number of child laborers in their country.
Source: unicef.org. Sub-Saharan Africa has more children engaged in child labor compared to other least developed countries.
What is the Nigerian Government doing about child labor in Nigeria?
In theory, one could argue that the Nigerian government is trying to fight child labor in Nigeria. Last year, the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor (“IYECL”) was launched in Nigeria, in collaboration with the ILO. IYECL is somewhat a move by the Nigerian government to expedite the actualization of target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) adopted in 2015 by world leaders. Perhaps we can argue that it’s too early to judge whether this move will yield anything tangible. We hope it does.
Meanwhile, in collaboration with other ECOWAS countries, Nigeria adopted a regional action plan on child labor in 2012 to end the worst form of child labor in West Africa by 2015. Judging by various statistics on child labor in Africa, I can’t honestly say that the 2012 plan was actualized.
Nigeria has one of the most comprehensive Child Right Acts in Africa. Section 28(1)(c) states that, “Subject to this Act, no child shall be… (c) required, in any case, to lift, carry, or move anything so heavy as to be likely to adversely affect his… mental, spiritual, moral, or social development; …” But is this provision of the law being implemented in Nigeria? Reality is far from our paperwork.
Truthfully, the government of Nigeria is not doing much in the area of child labor. Internal trafficking of children is still rampant in Nigeria. The recruitment and transportation of children from their rural homes and to cities for menial jobs are still done with ease. An article by globalpeoplestrategists.com notes that Nigeria does not have any implemented policies that regulate the issue of child labor in the informal sector that is responsible for 75% of child labor. By implication, there is no system that identifies or monitors children used as laborers. There is no system that stifles or penalizes private individuals for employing or maltreating child laborers. Therefore, more children from poorer backgrounds will remain vulnerable to harsh labor.
While the Government of Nigeria is still struggling to eradicate child labor, which includes the recruitment of children as domestic helpers in Nigeria, they should enforce strict laws against corporal punishment on children in Nigeria. It’s time to end the use of sticks, wires, metals, hot water, and many other tools as instruments of punishment. All harsh punishments, including starvation or locking up of children in strange places, should be illegal. The mistreatment of child domestic workers is detrimental to the country. Broken children are not far from being broken adults. The pattern needs to die.
The government should also enforce the need for compulsory basic education for every child in Nigeria. This way, employers will be in contempt of the law if they refuse to send any child in their care to school. A move like this one will empower people to report people that refuse their domestic helpers from attending school.
What can other stakeholders do to help out young domestic workers in Nigeria?
Non Governmental Organizations.
Thankfully, many NGOs that act as a quick response team to abused women and children are scattered across Nigeria. Although some of these organizations need funding and are raddled with many internal problems, they are still effective, especially in South-Eastern Nigeria. More NGOs need to pull weight in services like therapy, temporary shelters, school placement, family placement, and child monitoring.
NGOs that work with abused victims should take their messages to schools, community meetings, and streets. The more people are aware of domestic child abuse and how to help victims, the greater the nation’s chances of reducing cases of abuse against domestic helpers.
More NGOs should work hand in hand with various State Governments and other international educational bodies to form a functional counseling unit in schools. Counseling units are lacking in many schools in Nigeria. Counseling units should act as a haven for traumatized children or children experiencing other domestic problems in their families.
No government or organization can effectively fight child abuse in any country without the help of its citizens. When citizens keep silent, they empower people to continue to maltreat child laborers.
As a citizen, you might say, “I don’t want to get into other people’s family matters because I don’t have any means of helping any child after being saved from their abusers.” Your concerns are valid in a country like Nigeria, where the Government is slacking in the welfare of its citizens. However, start by unburdening yourself with what would happen after the child has been rescued and focus on saving that child’s life first. After the child has been saved, Other people or organizations will continue where you stop.
As citizens, we should no longer be comfortable living around neighbors who abuse other people’s children. If they cannot allow their child to go through such ordeals, why should another child in their care be subjected to such life? It is time to start exposing such neighbors without shame or guilt. Why should you feel guilty for doing the right thing? However, it is possible to conceal your identity in such matters. NGOs dealing with abused women and children will comfortably do that if you find the courage to report to them.
Let’s play our parts to end violence against young domestic workers in Nigeria. Hey, you might be interested in “the child house helpers in Nigeria” by Aljazeera.
Written by God’sgrace Chichi. God’sgrace is an educator, freelance writer, entrepreneur and the Founder of 4G Jewelries, a brand of bespoke handcrafted chic jewelry pieces. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From time immemorial, women have broken biases. Today you can still be that woman that defies stereotypes and shatters biases.
You can still be the Aba women of the 1920s who were not afraid to take the bulls by the horns and challenge unlawful action. You can still break the bias they broke that said women should be subservient and not challenge impropriety.
You can still be that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that shatters the bias that says women cannot be vocal and speak out or write in ways that challenge stereotypes.
You can still be that Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela shattering stereotypes and biases and rising to the greatest heights in your chosen profession and industry.
You can still be that Queen Amina breaking biases and spreading your wings to conquer as many symbolic territories as there are for you to conquer.
You can still be that Fumilayo Ransome-Kuti galvanizing other women like yourself to break biases and take whatever bulls needed to be taken by the horn, by the horn.
Our nation needs you to be that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. To be that Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela. To be that Queen Amina. To be that Fumilayo Ransome-Kuti. To be the Aba women. To be that limitless woman you are meant to be.
You make our society and the world at large a better place when you are your best unlimited self, harnessing all her potential. Nigeria and the world at large will continue to thrive if all of us as women can continue breaking the biases our predecessors and current examples like the ones cited did.
Our nation will run and compete with the likes of nations like New Zealand being led by a female Prime Minister in the person of Jacinda Arden. We will be able to boast like nations such as the United States of America with the first female Vice President in the person of Kamala Harris. We will thrive like Germany did under the able leadership of Angela Markela. We can proudly stand tall with our contemporaries like young Namibia with the youngest female Parliamentarian in the person of Patience Masua (aged 23 at the time of her appointment) and Bogolo Kenewendo of Botswana.
Whatever you want to be as a Nigerian woman, as a woman anywhere in the world, you can be that woman. You can choose to be whoever you want to be. There are no limitations and should be no limitations to your attaining as far as you want to attain and achieve as a woman. And if any such limitation and/or bias rears its ugly head against you, kick it, shatter it, break it! Break the Bias! Be the phenomenal remarkable woman that you are meant to be.
Happy International Women’s Day from all of us at Glory Ifezue Foundation.
August 2021 saw the birth of Glory Ifezue Foundation. The journey had however started earlier in June/July 2021 when the Founder and Executive Director, Ms. Ifezue, put out a call for expression of interests for the Neoteric Governance Boot Camps Lagos and Abuja, as part of her Neoteric Engagement Series.
We kicked off our work as a Foundation with the Neoteric Governance Boot Camp which held in Lagos and Abuja, at different times in the month of August. The Boot Camp was aimed at equipping Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with foundational knowledge on rudiments of governance such as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the rights and duties of Nigerians, the importance of government accountability to citizens, and the office of the citizen.
The Lagos Boot Camp was graced with the presence of the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the United States Consulate Nigeria, Jennifer Foltz. Both Boot Camps successfully held in both Abuja and Lagos with a total number of 7 CSOs participating in both Lagos and Abuja. You can read more about the Lagos Boot Camp here and about the Abuja Boot Camp here.
The Boot Camp Project culminated in the giving of a mini grant of N50,000.00 to one successful CSO who was able to demonstrate how they would sustainably impact the knowledge learnt from the boot camp to the grassroots communities they served. Despite aiming to give a total of N100,000.00 for both Lagos and Abuja, the grant was only made to a CSO in Lagos because no viable submission was received from the participants at the Abuja Boot Camp. The CSO who won this mini grant in Lagos was ConstitutionLab and they successfully completed their Project earlier this month. You can read more on their Project here.
The Neoteric Governance Boot Camp was followed by another Neoteric Engagement Project that touched on the discourse around technology and elections in West Africa, particularly Nigeria and Ghana. This discourse held on the 19th September 2021, and brought together experts in the area of elections and technology in both Nigeria and Ghana. In a rich and engaging panel discourse, our panelists spoke to the existing framework on technology and elections in Nigeria and Ghana, what we are doing and what can be done better. Read the full details of that discourse here.
Since the 20th October 2020, the month of October has become very significant in our national calendar because it is a month that reminds us of the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre where security operatives gunned down innocent Nigerian citizens for exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest. At the Foundation, we also added our voice to the voices of several others in reminding our nation what the month of October means to us.
In commemorating and remembering our fallen heroes of 20th October 2020, we invited short pieces from members of the public, providing a platform for them to express their feelings on what the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre meant to them 1 year after the Massacre. This invitation was met with several illuminating pieces which you can read about here, here, and here.
We ended the month long remembrance on a bitter sweet high with a Commemorative Panel Discourse held on the anniversary of the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre, the 20th October 2021. It was a rather somber time of reflection. This reflection brought with it a saddening realization that even after 1 year, not much has changed as regards the injustices which birthed the ENDSARS protest and the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre that followed in its wake. You can catch up on this Panel Discourse here.
As the year draws to a final close today, we look back at the few remarkably fruitful months we’ve had as a budding organization with a sense of pride and joy. We also know that none of it would have been possible without the help, support, and encouragement of all friends and well-wishers and everyone who contributed their time, resources, expertise, and love to us as an organization. We want to say a very big thank you to everyone who played a part, both significant and otherwise, in our success as an organization in 2021.
We hope to continue and carry on the good work that we do in 2022 and continue to hope for your support and encouragement. Compliments of the season from all of us at Glory Ifezue Foundation, and a prosperous 2022 ahead.
Glory Ifezue Foundation is registered as an Incorporated Trustee under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and pushes for active citizen engagement and education on development issues as they affect Nigeria.
Earlier in the year, we launched the Neoteric Governance Boot Camp with a maiden edition that kicked off in Lagos and Abuja. We earlier discussed the highlights of the Lagos Camp here and the Abuja Boot Camp here.
The Boot Camp had a community project component that entailed sponsoring one of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with a mini grant of N50,000, to carry out a community project aimed at practically impacting the knowledge learnt from the Boot Camp to targeted host communities. This was to be done through a competitive selection process vetting the submission of concept notes by the CSOs in attendance.
The submissions received by the Abuja attendees did not measure up to the requirements sought. This resulted in no award being made for Abuja. Lagos on the other hand had very good submissions. However, only one winner could be awarded. That winner was ConstitutionLab. The Community Project carried out by ConstitutionLab was tagged “PVC DRIVE IN EWUPE-IJALIYE, SANGO-IFO, OGUN” and was carried out from October 2021- December 4, 2021.
According to ConstitutionLab, the aim of the Project was “creating awareness on Nigeria’s government structure and how it relates to voting by proving easy to understand reading pamphlet and customized key holder to voters between the ages of 18-25”. ConstitutionLab recorded the following as the key successes of their project –
• “The project attracted not just young people but also the older demographics. • Over 120 persons (young and old) participated and benefitted from the PVC registration fliers and customized keyholders. • The reception was amazing, as they happened to be the first NGO to visit the community.”
As is to be expected, such projects will experience challenges. The challenges recorded by them were the following:
• “Poor road network to the venue resulted the sensitization started behind schedule, and this slightly affected the turnout of people at the designated spot provided for it. The team, however, took the gospel to people on the street. • Also, the date coincided with an ongoing tournament. Thus, this limited participation of young people at the sensitization venue. After engaging those seated, the team took the street and started engaging youth in clusters. • We had fewer young people participate compared to earlier projection. • Lack of equipment for facilitate online registration”.
As an organization, we are immensely proud of the work that ConstitutionLab has done with this laudable community project sponsored by the Neoteric Governance Boot Camp 2021 Lagos Edition. It gives us joy to have contributed significantly in making their project a success and we look forward to more fruitful collaborative efforts with them in the future. And for all the anonymous donors who made giving out the mini grant a possibility and success, we cannot thank you enough. Ordinarily we would have named you and given you the recognition you so deserve but we understand and respect your wishes to remain anonymous.
And with the finalization of the community project component of the Neoteric Governance Boot Camp 2021 Lagos Edition, we officially draw the curtain on the Neoteric Governance Boot Camp 2021 and thank everyone who contributed to making it the resounding success that it was.
In this ENDSARS Commemorative Guest Article, Chimezie Udechukwu reflects poignantly on the ENDSARS and the social contract theory and how this also translates to reforming the Nigerian Police Force.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily represent the official policy or position of Glory Ifezue Foundation. Glory Ifezue Foundation is not responsible and does not verify for accuracy any of the information contained in the Guest articles published on this website. The primary purpose of these Guest articles are to educate and inform and create a platform for Nigerians, as well as anyone, who have thoughts to share on policy issues affecting governance in the country.
Conflicts around the world are increasing, whatever form they take or assume; whether as response to unpopular policies by governments, clashes among ethnic groups, border disputes, the struggle for resource control, religious crises or even the most recent and indeed frequent – terrorism. This projects an image of the Hobbesian state of nature where life is solitary, brutish, nasty and short – an era when might was right, when a strong man can be murdered in his sleep by another strong man and his estate plundered.
In explaining the evolution of state, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau advanced the theory of the social contract. Establishing in their separate treatise, the need for the formation of a central system of governance, where the weak can be protected and development can thrive. Thus, the modern state as we know it today is a function of the willingness of citizens to surrender their individual mandate to a central authority – the leviathan, who assures them of protection from external aggression and internal civil disorder.
Thus a contract was born between the governed and the governing class. A functional machinery to administer these contract known as the government was formed. The government’s duty is, to protect its citizens from internal disorder and foreign invasion, thus allowing them to go about their legitimate business in an atmosphere that promotes prosperity and sustainable development. The citizens on their part had the responsibility of obeying the rules and regulations and also contributing some money for their proceeds as maintenance of the government. This is how constitutionalism, the payment of taxes and, indeed the policing system began.
Prior to the colonial incursion into Africa, this system was practiced albeit using strategies that were unique to each peoples and cultures. There was a justice system that punished deviants and a reward system that rewarded conformists. This was the era when communalism was a major cornerstone of the cultural practices of our people. Although this piece is about the Nigerian Police and its records of policing the nation more than nine decades after its establishment, it is imperative that the above background is provided to contextualize the essence of our conversation.
Over the past nine decades, the Nigerian Police has remained on the front burner of national discourse. Year in and out, we hear of the high levels of corruption, brutality, extra-judicial killings and a general negative image in the eyes of the majority of Nigerians. But does this presuppose that the Police as an institution is all bad by itself? Could it be that the negative public perception is as a result of the nefarious activities of a few of its officers? Well, that is a question to be left to the courts of public opinion.
The earliest history of the Nigerian Police Force can be traced to Lagos in 1861 when a 30-member consular guard was formed for the Lagos Colony. Eighteen years later, a 1,200-member armed paramilitary Hausa Constabulary was formed. In 1896 the Lagos Police was established. A similar force, the Niger Coast Constabulary, was formed in Calabar in 1894 under the newly proclaimed Niger Coast Protectorate. Likewise, in the north, the Royal Niger Company set up the Royal Niger Company Constabulary in 1888 with headquarters at Lokoja.
When the Protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria were proclaimed in the early 1900s, part of the Royal Niger Company Constabulary became the Northern Nigeria Police, and part of the Niger Coast Constabulary became the Southern Nigeria Police. Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914, but their police forces were not merged until 1930, forming the nation’s first national police, the NPF, headquartered in Lagos. During the colonial period, most police were associated with local governments (native authorities). In the 1960s, under the First Republic, these forces were first regionalized and then nationalized.
While Section 214 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution provides for a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, Section 4 of the Police Acts and Regulations lists the duties of the police force to include: (1) the prevention and detection of crime (2) the apprehension of offenders (3) the preservation of law and order (4) the protection of life and property (5) the due enforcement of laws and regulations with which they are directly charged (6) the performance of such military duties within and outside Nigeria as may be required of them by or under the authority of the Police Act or any other Act.
The primary responsibility of a Police Officer is to act as an official representative of government who is required and trusted to work within the law. The officer’s powers and duties are conferred by statute. The fundamental duties of a police officer include serving the community, safeguarding lives and property, protecting the innocent, keeping the peace and ensuring the rights of all to liberty, equality and justice.
Juxtaposing this with the vision of the NPF which is “to make Nigeria safer and more secure for economic development and growth; to create a safe and secure environment for everyone living in Nigeria,’ many Nigerians may not agree with this. And this is especially in the light of current existential realities playing in the country particularly with regards to personal safety, police brutality, harassment and unlawful detection.
Amidst the worsening Covid-19 pandemic, Nigerians said enough is enough with regards to the wanton harassment and killings attributed to the Police, especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS. There were nationwide protests which drew international support. The #EndSARS movement was monumental and the climax was the Lekki shootings by the military on October 20, 2020.
One year after, despite public outcry over the impunity with which SARS operates, the leadership of the NPF is yet to prosecute any officer for the role they played. In what may seem as yielding to public pressure, especially the 5 for 5 demands, the Federal Government approved over N13.1 billion for commencing of community policing. The Inspector General of Police dissolved SARS.
Statistics show that currently, there may be more than 350 thousand men and women policing a country of over 206 million people. That translates to 1 police officer to 589 Nigerians. How can we expect effective policing? The stress of such work coupled with the conditions of service of officers lead to a heightened aggression which is then transferred on the citizens. This is a recurring scenario with regards to public institutions and amenities.
The SARS quagmire is a reflection of the entire Police architecture in the country. The problem is at the root of our policing philosophy which borrows heavily from our colonial experiences. The now scrapped SARS is a reflection of our policing systems, where we have problems of Police Brutality, Custodial Violence, Transactional Bail and a host of other barbaric actions.
It is an open truth that criminality evolves faster than law enforcement hence, there is need for a constant application of new approaches to dealing with deviants in the society. But first, it must begin by punishing offenders within its ranks, for that is the first step to win public trust and repair its battered image before Nigerians who see it as institution that is corrupt, repressive and brutal.
The Nigerian Police must understand that policing involves civil conduct, effective community relations and indeed the application of modern technology to fight and solve crimes. Like some other organizations responsible for security, the Nigerian Police is highly militarized and needs to not just dissolve, but also embark on a gradual disarmament program. Almost everywhere you turn to, you see a gun wielding policeman even while controlling traffic and the natural reaction to such sight is fear.
The popular slogan “Police is your friend” needs to be thoroughly practiced. The level of police brutality speaks of a defective philosophy in the Nigerian Police. Just like our Correctional Center is largely governed by punitive rather than rehabilitative principles, our policing is more of an oppressive institution rather than a law enforcement machinery. There may never be any change without deep reforms – consequential reforms that dwell more on a performance appraisal system tied directly to their career trajectory.
Again, it is time for the Nigerian Police to rejig its policing philosophy to be in tune with modern day realities. There must be regular trainings that focuses on intelligence gathering, cyber security and effective human relations. This is the time for the Nigerian police to invest hugely in human capital development. The Police must create a synergy with the National Orientation Agency to create best practices on how to civilly engage the Nigerian people.
And of course, the Nigerian Police must publish the names of the many trigger happy policemen who have committed crimes against the people. They must also be made to face the music for their crimes. Let the law take its course. Doing these will bring reprieve to the families of those killed by the police. Also, Nigerians will come to truly believe that the Police is our friend. That said, it not time to celebrate yet. This is only scratching the surface.
As the Nigerian Police Force marches into its tenth decade as an institution created to assist the government in keeping its own end of the social contract, it must ask itself certain questions especially as our world has been altered by the Covid-19 pandemic. As it approaches the final lap of its centennial celebration, certain reforms are needed. Hence, it must ask; what level of professionalism is needed from its officers? How can staff welfare be improved? Should it be a proactive or a reactionary force? Will the police hierarchy commit itself to the regular training and retraining of its officers especially in the areas of preventive conflict, peacebuilding and effect customer relations?
We may have ended SARS, it is time to end Police brutality!
Chimezie Udechukwu is a Communications Strategist, Policy Analyst and Concerned Nigerian. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
Twitter and Instagram: @ojisiemezie Facebook and LinkedIn: Chimezie Judemary Udechukwu
“The ENDSARS Protest was the largest demonstration and social movement against police brutality and human rights violations in Nigeria’s history.”
In this ENDSARS Commemorative Guest Article, Philip Ochika provides his deeply reflective thoughts on what his thoughts are on the ENDSARS and the state of the nation today.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily represent the official policy or position of Glory Ifezue Foundation. Glory Ifezue Foundation is not responsible and does not verify for accuracy any of the information contained in the Guest articles published on this website. The primary purpose of these Guest articles are to educate and inform and create a platform for Nigerians, as well as anyone, who have thoughts to share on policy issues affecting governance in the country.
The EndSARS protest was a demonstration against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, which was formed in 1992 as a special police force to combat the rising number of armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom by criminal elements operating across Nigeria. According to a Vanguard News source here, Simeon Danladi Midenda, a retired Commissioner of Police, was one of the pioneers in founding the squad in 1992.
Who would have believed that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, formed to protect the people, would turn out to be a deadly squad against the people?
Prior to the EndSARS protest, the Nigeria Police Force’s SARS unit was accused of police brutality, extortion, and unlawful killings. This has revealed the eroding structure of “Nigeria’s Policing and Law Enforcement,” as well as how negligent some officials of the Nigerian police have exercised “discretion” in fighting cybercrime and other criminal activities.
Discretion refers to the availability of options or actions in a given scenario. It entails making judgments or decisions based on an informed investigation into a suspected criminal activity, but SARS made life even more difficult for innocent and hardworking youths aged 18 to 35, who are 52.8 percent of the population, according to the National Bureau of Statistics 2012 National Baseline Youth Survey.
Following widespread demonstrations across the country, the former Inspector General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, NPM, mni, on October 11, 2020, dissolved the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) across the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where they had previously existed, according to the Premium Times here.
Twelve months ago, on the night of October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Toll Gate, social media footage of men identified as military officers shot at innocent protestors, but Nigerian military officials denied killing unarmed protesters, claiming that soldiers had simply shot blank bullets according to BBC Africa’s report here.
Several people were reportedly murdered. We will never forget Jimoh Ishaq, Ikechukwu Ilohamauzo, (see this Report) and many more whose deaths went undocumented. Their sole offense was exercising their constitutionally protected right to peaceful protest.
Justice for all deceased victims of police abuse, as well as adequate compensation for their families.
Establishing an impartial agency to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all allegations of police wrongdoing (within 10days).
In accordance with the police legislation, all disbanded SARS officers must undergo psychiatric evaluation and retraining (as validated by an impartial agency) before being redeployed.
Increase police salaries so that they are fairly compensated for protecting citizens’ lives and property.
One year after making those demands, the police’s use of discretion is still deplorable and barbaric. On September 19, 2021, the Police Command in Edo State announced the arrest of one of its personnel for firing a shot that killed a passenger in Benin. According to one Report seen here, SP Kontongs Bello, the Command’s Police Public Relations Officer, revealed that the officer, who is part of the command’s “anti-kidnap and cybercrime team,” was attempting to apprehend a murder suspect when he fired a shot to restrain the running suspect.
In the same month, TheCable News reported here that on September 12, 2021, an 18-year-old girl named Monsurat Ojuade was killed during a police raid in Surulere’s Ijesha axis in Lagos. Earlier this year, on July 3, 2021, a 14- year-old girl known as Jumoke was also murdered by a stray bullet from a police officer, according to this Report by Sahara Reporters.
On 19 September 2021, the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters adjourned indefinitely. The suspension was announced by the panel’s Chairperson, Justice Doris Okuwobi (retd), who stated that the break is needed to “analyze, consolidate, and make findings” on the Lekki shootings, according to this source. One year later, it is disheartening to learn that records are still being compiled to determine whether or not anybody died. Premium Times reports here that President Muhammadu Buhari has just approved N13.3 billion for the launch of the country’s Community Policing initiative on Monday, October 11th, 2021. Our nation’s policing will not improve unless it is fully implemented.
With more emphasis on “Policing and security” in Nigeria, it is obvious that one area in which the police officer must be retrained is in the Sociological Perspective on Police Discretion as rightly pointed out in this academic article. The use of discretion by the police rests on two levels; (a).Individual level and (b). Command or Departmental levels.
At the individual level, discretion involves the choice of alternative actions by the individual police officer, including taking no action at all. It requires the use of individual judgment to decide what to look for, where to patrol, whom to investigate, and so on. At the command or departmental level, discretion involves decisions regarding objectives of the police force, enforcement policies, deployment of manpower and resources, and so on.
In most police organizations, the widest use of discretion is found with the lowest ranking policemen, especially the patrol officer who maintains regular contact with the public. Therefore, he or she usually has the first or initial contact with either the criminal or the scene of crime.
One year after the killings at the Lekki Toll Gate, this is where we are as a nation. A significant number of our police officers on patrol are still failing with exercising discretion, as result, there will be more unlawful killings. Therefore we must reinstate the five demands until they become part of our nation’s policing culture.
We remember our fallen heroes who fought against police brutality until their death, and we pledge to continue the nonviolent revolution of cleansing Nigeria at all costs. Every Nigerian youth, from all tribes and religions, must commit to speaking out against bad governance and demanding accountability until we see the Nigeria of our dreams.
Philip Ochika is a Data analyst with RoadPreppers Technologies and co-founder of “The Happy Hour Group,” a social organization that supports young people and helps them achieve happiness in their relationships with loved ones through counseling, mentorship, and skill empowerment.