Opinion: The Golden Rule Binds Us All

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If there is one rule which has found it’s way in all the known major religions it is this: do unto others as you would have them do to you.

One of the things that helps me assess a man/woman(including myself) is this rule. When I enter a Church and a Priest speaks in any way to discredit another sect or religion, I just mute my spirit until he is done with such travesty. For one cannot preach a Christ who, though God, was openly vilified and ultimately killed by His creatures, but would never encourage hate for his adversaries and also preach hate from the same pulpit.

I have read aspects of the Qur’an and the Hadith, shared sessions with great Muslim brethren to know that Islam is not about wars. Call it an act of “correctness” and I wouldn’t still blame you, but if you ever detach yourself enough to encounter Islam through the eyes and hands of a true adherent, you’ll never spew a generalistic bile over the whole lot.

Are there bad Christians? Are there bad Muslims? Yes
Does it invalidate the teachings of Christianity or Islam on love? NEVER.

When next you’re tempted, as a Christian to throw a blanket over any group, do well to read Luke 10:30-37 and Matthew 25:31-46.

You can’t quench a raging flame with a gallon of gasoline.

CREDITS: This is written by Odinaka Ugwuozor, a Systems Thinker and Public Servant.

You can follow him on Facebook or on Twitter/Instagram MrOhdee

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Opinion Sunday: Can Tourism Influence Nigeria’s International Image?

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One thing that Nigeria as a country has struggled with for decades is her international image.

With due regard to the many factors that may be affecting our reputation-which needs to be addressed, tourism seems to be the ultimate solution to improve it. Hence, concerted efforts should be invested in by the government to boost and manage our international reputation.

The impact of a not very good image

The media is an agenda setter. It gives us the subjects and things to discuss and talk about. If the content of the media is negative, it rubs off on Nigeria’s international image. The impact is quick and spontaneous because very few people will brave the storm to visit Nigeria for whatever purpose due to our not very good image.

Definitely, it is not the fault of the media. It is what is happening in the country that they are reporting. Hence, every Nigerian from the top to the bottom must be involved in the reputation building of the country by what we say and do.

Flipping the coin

Almost all the country of the world have a reputation problem. It is noteworthy to say that a not too lofty reputation is not exclusive to Nigeria or Africa. However, these countries whose reputation is ‘fantastic’ have found a way to tiptoe these negative image and reverse the situation.

You see Nigerians rushing to Dubai. The fact is, Dubai is not better than Nigeria. Nigeria has lush green vegetation, mind-blowing landscapes and awesome tourist destinations but we do not sell ourselves. Dubai is in our faces so much that every Nigerian wants to go to Dubai.

We watch international stations like CNN, BBC and Aljazeera and we watch countries tapping tourism to sell themselves. They show their pristine destinations and what they have to offer tourism-wise to visitors and of course, these encourage people to visit. They also invested heavily in their tourist attractions.

If we can do same, leisure and business travellers will be attracted to the country and a business like Jumia Travel will be able to make money off them through booking of their flights, packages and hotels. At the same time, if we are hospitable, showcase our culture and take them to check out our destinations, they will return home with their minds reformed. They will pass the message to others that Nigeria is not what either the local or international media portrays it to be.

We have so much to do

Although tourism is a viable tool to invigorate or amplify our image, there are so many other things that we need to work on if we want tourism to transform it. From changing what Nigerians think and say about the country to the actions of government officials across the board and revamping tourism destination, they all combine for tourism to boost our international image.

Twitter Thread: Systems thinking – Addressing complex development problems through inter sectoral collaboration. Why is it so hard? By @Agbata77

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In a meeting today chaired by the Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development to “mobilize” additional investments for addressing the needs of Orphans and Vulnerable children, it’s become obvious that there’s very little inter-sectoral collaboration was happening in Nigeria.

The Minister’s representative bemoaned the very merge budgetary allocation to the Ministry & the lack of capacity to engage private to invest in the same agenda, it surprisingly failed to recognise the potential to collaborate with other MDAs with aligned interests.

While appreciating that the biggest vulnerability facing the so called “OVCs” is the unfortunate circumstance of being born into a poor family, very likely by parents who were either also born into similar circumstances or had suffered a major catastrophe in their lifetime.

The challenges facing children in these circumstances are often a many – educational, health, nutritional, various forms violence including physical, psychological & sexual abuse, child labour etc. Surprisingly however, the response efforts are often fragmented & uncoordinated.

Responders mostly support one or two distinct challenges at a time hoping that it would catalyze action to address the others issues. E.g. The school feeding program- addressing nutrition & education challenges but not necessarily health or other issues the kids may be facing.

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More wholistic interventions are few & rarely ever operate at a scale to make a significant impact on the crises. That’s frustration expressed by the Ministry of Women Affairs – the fact that their budget was too scale to have the desired impact.

Missing however in the early dialogue was the idea that it was not feasible for the Ministry to expect to address these multifaceted issues on their own & the need for coordinated inter- sectoral action across multiple MDAs to address these issues.

For example the @natpopcom (National Population Commission) to register and enumerate children with vulnerabilities, @Fmohnigeria (Federal Ministry of Health) to ensure they were fully immunized/healthy and other actors to guarantee their rights legal/social protection, economic access etc.

It would seem that we need to have a sort of “minimum quality of life standards assessment” which should trigger emergency action from all stakeholders in a coordinated manner to address the needs of the vulnerable in society. Why this isn’t a deliberate action so far is unclear.

I believe that this not due to a lack of knowledge but instead a lack of action. So why do we not have more inter sectoral collaborative response action to mitigate the impact of poverty in our setting? How do we facilitate this type of integrated thinking in response agenda?

CREDITS: This thread was developed by Oyi of Oyi – APublic health enthusiast and Systems thinker. He talks sustainable development and inequalities via @Agbata77

OPINION SUNDAY: Nkem Says: Every Rich Man Is Handsome (Or Not?)

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Before you join me in psycho-analyzing the issue of a man’s “beauty” being subject to the weight of his pocket, let’s get one thing straight: Money is sexy as hell. Yes, I said so. A while ago, if someone made the same statement and I heard it, I would look at them with disdain, while thinking to myself: “what a shallow somebody” …and naturally, I would roll my eyes… very heavily too.

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But, yeah…I see the light now.

Believe it or not, having money is a game changer for anyone: man or woman. But I guess for men, it’s a more dramatic change. No? Have you ever seen the throw back pictures of some Nigerian celebrities who are kind of sex symbols now? Tu face? Flavour? They looked dried up, hungry and excruciatingly unpleasant to the eyes… compared to the way they look now. What is the difference between then and now? Did their facial features change? Did they take some magical pill that made them look hotter than they used to? No. they didn’t. Their “beauty” came with the money they acquired when they “blew”! I mean…except for maybe Bobrisky who went on to bleach and now wears fabulous weaves and wigs, most of these celebrities did not really do anything extra to their looks. They just became handsome and sexy because they gained wealth.

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Agreed, there are some who even with the wealth, they still look ugly AF…they know it, we know it… but nobody ever mentions it. In fact, they are used as yardsticks for “handsomeness” and “being dapper”. Why? They have the money!

Yesterday, a close friend asked: “Nkem, be honest, would you rather an ugly man with an annual income of 500 million Naira or a handsome man who is unemployed or undecided at his career path?” It was a tricky one, so I asked further questions for clarification: “when you say ugly, do you mean repulsive or just not good-looking?” “hmmm…not good-looking” he said. “Hmmnnn…and both are the same age?” I continued, and he says “Yes, both 32”. With the extra questions answered, I did not hesitate. I straightaway said: “I’d go for the Ugly one.”. My friend (clearly shocked since I’m a huge champion of equal love for “struggling” men) yelled: “Liar! Even if he looks like ‘a certain president Nigeria once had’?” and I said: “YES! What do you mean? That dude is super intelligent and sexy! Have you read any of his books?” Of course, that was me trying to be funny, but my “yes” was a certain yes.

Before you judge me any further (because I know you are already doing that), let me walk you through my thought process and how it was easy to pick the ugly rich man. The way I see it, being wealthy or having a huge income is a product of extreme hard work, huge efforts, and sacrifices made in the past by themselves or their families. The man who makes the annual income of 500 million Naira is rich not just because he has money, he is rich because he did something in the past to grow, to maintain money. He has was intelligent, focused, purposeful and tenacious. The handsome man, on the other hand, what did he do to earn his looks? What effort did he put in? Genetics? Proper grooming? Is that it?

Again, “handsomeness” is a depreciating value while wealth is appreciating value. Looks and unnecessary charm in a man will give butterflies, sweet heartburn and all that goofy nonsense that makes life seem enjoyable…but that handsomeness fades with time and circumstances…and along with it the heady feelings and emotions. That is a certainty.

A man who has successfully earned a considerable amount of money is likely to be more financially smart and plan futuristically. His value usually will appreciate with time, and even if he fails or experiences difficulties at some point, there is the high probability that he has what it takes to rise back up again. Considering these remote implication makes it easy to see pick the ugly man.

Basically, the amount of money a man has kind of determines how valuable and how “handsome” he appears. Even Jay Z, who is generally considered ugly, said in Family Feud, one of the songs on 4.44, his new album: “Ain’t no such thing as an ugly billionaire, I’m cute.” Perhaps he was being petty, but he hit the nail on the head. Do you think Beyonce, the epitome of beauty, would have married him and stuck with him despite the lies and cheating, should he have been the regular boy from across the streets? Do you think she would have thought him handsome enough to combine her genes with and birth children? If you asked her now, she would say to you that he is the most handsome man in the world. Why? His financial worth is handsome, ergo, he is handsome.

Don’t get me wrong, this in no way means I no longer have an unabashed soft spot for beautiful people, I still do. But at the same time, I also have a deep respect for financial stability and economic vigor. Like I always say, women (feminist or not) are naturally wired to seek a man who is capable of protecting and taking care of them financially…even when they can take care of themselves already. It is innate, they would prefer a person with whom they can have a secure future with, ugly or not. A man stops being ugly to any woman the moment he is able to make something for himself and can offer her an above-average future.

We need to stop being pretentious about things like this and look past the erroneous idea that a woman who picks an ugly man with money is shallow, does not see him for more than his worth and is only managing him for his money.

Nkem Ndem

About Nkem Ndem

Nkem Ndem is a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for online writing(web content and blog) and editing, screenwriting, ghost writing, copy proofreading and reviews. She has since worked with Jumia, SpiceTV Africa, and Bella Naija. Check out her Instagram: @kem_dem, twitter: @ndemv and snapchat:@ndemv. Email: nkemndemv@gmail.com.

Opinion Sunday: Take Initiative by @TheSafetyChic

Over the past few weeks, I have had to join WhatsApp groups with young Nigerians and young Africans as a way of getting to know one another before our physical meeting. It was necessary to introduce ourselves and talk about the work we were doing either in business, civic leadership or public management.

We had someone creating sanitary pads from natural materials to help girls in underserved communities, another working on the ills of bleaching to our skin, another creating animated content that teaches children indigenous languages, another was creating jobs by training young people on installing solar power, another invented a tool to help jaundiced babies in rural communities. Yet another was helping rural women by providing clean cooking stoves while the doctors were providing dental and medical assistance in underserved communities. The young ones working in different Federal parastatals were also using their platform to create needed change. We also had the entrepreneurs who were creating unique product lines.

If I wanted to mention every single project, this platform would not be enough. However, the key similarity between all their stories was they took initiative. They saw a problem and without waiting for anyone to chase them with a cane, they started acting. As @olakunleSoriyan will say, you cannot fight the world but you can start influencing it from your own corner. A lot of times as young people we want things to “fall on us”. Oh well, it doesn’t always happen that way. Again, some of us only want to do something if it fetches awards, recognition, funding etc. Again, it also doesn’t always work that way. There are people who did “little” and got celebrated a lot while there are those who have done so much and no one hears their stories. If you do things for the wrong reasons, you will get frustrated when your expectations are not met.

We need to begin to do things just because it makes life meaningful for one other person other than ourselves. So you might be thinking, it cost so much money or it is too big or the system is already wired in a certain way so my actions won’t count (This one is the reason a lot of young people are reluctant about the political space). Remember, little drops of water make an ocean.

Start from your corner.
Start from your sphere of influence.
Start small, think big, grow fast.
Take the initiative to solve a problem.

Have a beautiful new week.

CREDITS: This article is written by Ugochi Obidiegwu. You can follow her across social media via @TheSafetyChic or visit her website http://www.thesafetychic.com

Twitter Thread: Fela Durotoye Cannot Win the 2019 Elections as President – Yinka Ogunnubi


I like Fela Durotoye. It didn’t start today. It started years ago during the Mushin Makeover Project. His passion for Nigeria is deep and infectious. I will vote for him in a heartbeat. But Fela Durotoye (Mr. Nigeria as we call him) cannot win the 2019 elections as President. A THREAD!

Not because he is not capable but mainly because he is not known nationally. Mention Fela Durotoye in Lagos and many especially in the Corporate world will recognize that name. Mention him in Abuja, some will recognize the name. Mention him in Port Harcourt and a few will recognize his name.

But mention him in towns like Dutse, Dukku, Sabon Birni, Bungudu, Jama’are, Gwoza, Dambatta, Tofa, Lantang, Bukuru, Jalingo, Kachia, Afikpo, Oguta, Mbaise, Buguma and many more towns and villages across Nigeria, there are chances that few if not none ever heard that name.

In other words, the chances of Fela Durotoye winning an election in Lagos is higher than anywhere else. So instead of running for President, can he consider running for a Senatorial seat in Lagos. Imagine a Fela Durotoye squaring it up with Remi Tinubu for the Lagos Central Senatorial seat. Winnable? YES!

Imagine for a second that he is able to dethrone Sen Oluremi Tinubu, he will become a senator of the FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA and will have a NATIONAL PLATFORM to showcase who Fela Durotoye is and who many of us have come to know & love. He can start setting good examples for all to see.

This will improve his visibility and acceptability across the length and breadth of Nigeria enough to give him a platform to launch a winnable presidential campaign in the next election cycle. Nigeria’s political dynamics is a reality check every politician must subscribe to including Fela Durotoye.

I am convinced that the next battle ground for us really is the National Assembly. We should work assiduously to get credible people into those Chambers. Not those that talk the talk on Television and Social Media but will not walk the walk in terms of doing what they pledged to do to change the culture in those chambers.

I really do wish Fela Durotoye well in his campaign. Make Nigerians fall in love with you the way many in Mushin and other parts of Lagos fell in love with you.

CREDITS: This thread was shared on Twitter by Yinka Ogunnubi. You can follow him @Yinkanubi or visit http://www.yinkaogunnubi.com

2019: Time to Build, Innovate and Grow (BIG), By Kingsley Moghalu

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Our vision of an innovation-driven economy will tap into the talents of our youth. This will create the wealth of nations for Nigeria and shield us from the debilitating boom and bust cycles of an economy on fiscal life support from income from natural resources. We will create an environment for the private sector to create jobs…

The choice that faces Nigeria in the 2019 presidential election is one between progress and retrogression, between scary poverty and the prospect of prosperity for millions of our citizens and not just the elite few, between our freedom and our continuing false imprisonment by the political elite that have brought us to our present sorry pass. I want to lead our country as its president because I have a BIG vision for the future of our children and youth.

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In terms of current trends of what passes for governance in Nigeria and despite our dynamism and resourcefulness as a people, that future is a bleak one for now. Except, of course, something radically new, different and bold happens in our politics and leadership selection process. Millions of our countrymen and women share my vision. That vision represents the opportunity to move our country in a new and different direction from the inevitable limitations of our recycled and failed politicians. It is time.

Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world. According to the World Poverty Clock, we overtook India in February as the country with the greatest numbers of people who live in extreme poverty. India has a population six times the size of Nigeria’s. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has noted that poverty is increasing in our country and that our economic policy is “muddled”.

We remain the world’s greatest importer of Premium Motor Spirit (refined petroleum), while we export crude oil. How else shall we define madness? Because of incompetent leadership, our government insists on controlling and subsidising the importation and pricing of PMS.

Instead of deregulating the downstream petroleum industry, Nigerians sleep at fuel stations as a result of artificial scarcity whenever this scam is threatened. This has gone on for 40 years. We should be ashamed of ourselves when we elect and re-elect into office politicians whose failed leadership is directly responsible for our poverty. Meanwhile, poverty and unemployment know no tribe or religion. They are “federal character” realities that are widespread across our country. We need a paradigm shift. It is time.

A healthy debate has ensued since I formally offered myself to serve our country by leading it towards a very different and better future. That debate is about the possibilities for the victory of a “non-politician” and about the “inevitability” of our career politicians and their financial and political behemoth structures, as represented by the ruling APC party and the PDP. Nigerians have become a conquered people, their dynamism and potential neutralised by politicians adept at obtaining power for its own sake but inept at governance and economic management. These politicians have intimidated us into believing TINA (There is No Alternative) to them. Not true. We are now awake. The ground is shifting. It is time.

Let me be clear: We (that is, the movement of those who want a better and different Nigeria, to which I belong) intend to win the 2019 presidential election. True, we should not and cannot discountenance the obstacles. But we will execute a winning strategy and ground game across the country with discipline and determination. I will announce in the coming weeks the party platform on which I intend to contest the election.

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We should now elect in Nigeria leaders with a vision, character, and the intellectual and technocratic competence required to confront our myriad problems of nation-building, poverty and insecurity. My vision stands on a tripod:

• First, to heal our country and build a nation;
• Second, to wage a decisive war against poverty and unemployment, and;
• Third, to restore Nigeria’s standing in the world.

I have offered myself for the task at hand because I have a passion for my country’s progress and because I believe I have been well prepared for that task by the level, quantum and quality of my leadership experience. From nation-building around the world to economic management at home, from international diplomacy to the global academia, I have demonstrated a track record of creating superior value.

Some have questioned my not having been mired before now in the sleaze that passes for politics in Nigeria. That mindset is exactly the problem: we have too many politicians but very few real leaders. We are all politics and no leadership. This is precisely why we are a poor and dysfunctional country.

We must overcome our problems of poverty in a structural manner that moves millions of our poor and unemployed citizens into the middle class over the next decade. This requires a certain type of mindset, intellectual capability and philosophical insight, and the ability to assemble a competent team in the government. Combined with the discipline of execution, we will find that the ability to address Nigeria’s problems is not exactly rocket science.

Our nation cannot be built by ethno-religious irredentists who live in the past and whose instincts are based on extremely narrow worldviews. As president of Nigeria, I will provide inclusive leadership that is anchored on a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that unites us all to face the future. We are aware of the retrogressive thinking and talk about “zoning” – the ethnic turn-by-turn that has hitherto influenced who becomes president.

After nearly two decades of democracy since 1999, the report card on the outcomes of this unconstitutional practice that fosters mediocrity is simple: our citizens have gotten poorer and poverty is increasing. As Seun Opaleye, a young Nigerian commented recently on social media, “we have zoned 2019 to competence”.

Those who wish to dwell in the past may do so. The world is moving on and, like it or not, Nigeria will move with it.

We who seek a better future for our children and youth are having none of the retrogression and mediocrity of “zoning”. In any case, it is practiced inside just one or two political parties. Our population in the New Tribe who are focused on citizenship, rather than ethnic tribe and tongue, is increasing because a new generation of adults is coming of age.

Thus, I am not and will never be an ethnic candidate for the presidency of our country. I am unapologetically a Nigerian candidate for the Nigerian presidency. We must create a rising tide that lifts all boats, not just those of relatives and tribesmen and women.

A Kingsley Moghalu presidency would be very different from those before it. At a fundamental level, this is because we would bring a problem solving mindset to it. We will consciously govern with strategy, a worldview that we will inculcate in our citizens through the educational system and other channels, and a clear understanding and application of the requirements of good governance. These include effectiveness, accountability, transparency and inclusiveness. We will be ready on Day One, with the most senior appointments and nominations in the executive branch announced within 48 hours.

We will secure Nigeria with the effective implementation of national security policy, including reforming the police force to become a real one that can guarantee law and order and safe communities. We will do this through massive increases in the police force strength and real training. I have the political will that is presently absent to ensure the effective control of Nigeria’s porous borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon, a situation that has compromised our national security. We will ranch the herdsmen and address the root causes of the herdsmen crisis, which includes, amongst other factors, the desertification of northern Nigeria.

A government that I lead will implement the National Youth Policy and the National Gender Policy effectively. This will ensure that we go beyond tokenism in empowering these two substantial parts of our population. Women make up 51 percent of our population of 186 million people, and there are 60 million youth aged between 18 and 35. Both groups will play a muscular role in my government. We will implement a 50:50 gender parity ratio in political appointments, well above the National Gender Policy recommendation of 30 percent for women. Competent youth with relevant qualifications and experience will play important leadership roles in the government, ensuring the much-needed inter-generational change of baton in leadership, without which any society will enter decline.

Our vision of an innovation-driven economy will tap into the talents of our youth. This will create the wealth of nations for Nigeria and shield us from the debilitating boom and bust cycles of an economy on fiscal life support from income from natural resources. We will create an environment for the private sector to create jobs with a public-private partnership venture capital fund of a minimum capital of N500 billion that will invest in new, job-creating start-up businesses to be established by millions of unemployed Nigerians.

Our programme of economic rebirth will decentralise the national grid and shift power generation towards renewable energy sources. We will undertake a fundamental reform of our healthcare and education systems. The Nigerian Diaspora will play a central, institutionalised role in the building of our human capital.

We will commence a consultative process in collaboration with the National Assembly and State Assemblies to achieve a constitutional restructuring of Nigeria back to true federalism for stability and prosperity within two years of my taking office.

No one says all of this will be easy or will happen in a matter of days or a few weeks. I do not claim to be a magician with a wand or a perfect person. But, like many other Nigerians, I love my country. I care about the daily suffering of our countrymen and women, and the future of our youth, our children, and even the unborn. Together, we all can work to create a better future for us all. It is time.

Kingsley Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, is a presidential aspirant for the 2019 elections and the author of the new book Build, Innovate and Grow: My Vision for our Country (Bookcraft, 2018).

Opinion Sunday: Age is Nothing But a Number – Nkem Ndem

On the first day of November every year, my mother calls to remind me that my birthday is just 9 days away. I don’t know why she does it, but it has since become the tradition. Just as it is a tradition that she reminds me every 10th of November, when it actually is my birthday, that I am destined to birth her granddaughter – seeing as she only has “grandsons everywhere”.

At first, it was cute and I actually would secretly pray that my siblings keep producing sons and leave the mother-given-destiny for me, but as I have gotten older and my mother has become more desperate and tired of waiting for me to fulfill this destiny she bestowed on me, it has become slightly annoying.

As expected, she called on the 1st of this month. Surprisingly, the call sort of took a different and interesting turn. As usual, she asked what the plans were for my birthday and I mentioned a possible Dubai trip with two of my best female friends Uloma (who is also celebrating this November) and Ijeoma.

Then, we somehow drifted into a long gist of the male attention I have had in the last 10 months. I mentioned to her that I recently met a guy who is 50 years old and we are gradually becoming friends. Surprisingly, she went deathly quiet. It was new for me as she almost always praised any male being I mentioned to her and encouraged me to “show him, love”. To liven the air, I went on to say to her that he did not look his age and he did not act too old either. She asked: “Is he married?” I said: “No” then out of the blues, she said: “Don’t marry him.” It was shocking. First of all, I had not mentioned anything suggesting that I was in a relationship with the man, so how did the idea of marrying him come to play? Again, isn’t this the same woman that wants a granddaughter as soon as possible? Oddly, I was in the mood for her drama and was interested in understanding her train of thought, so I asked: “Why?”

Her reasons included the following: at his age, was too old and marriage with a much younger woman will not work; he must be a terrible person to still be single at 50; and most hilarious, he could be my daddy. It was funny because, when I was dating a person I was very slighter older than, she had also complained that the relationship was not fair to me, as he would cheat on me with younger girls if we got married.

Our society, I guess, holds a negative stigma regarding age differences, which causes people to obsess over it. It stipulates that people of a certain age range can only be with people of a certain age range based on their sex as well. We now feel guilt, shame, and disappointment in our selves when we consider the possibility of dating or developing feelings for people outside the indicated age brackets. You are called a ‘Cougar’ if you are 40-year-old woman dating a 25-year-old male; a ‘Sugar daddy’ when you are a 70-year-old man dating a 22-year-old girl; a ‘Runs girl’ or ‘Golddigger’ if you are 17 and dating a 60-year-old man; and a ‘Sugar boy’ if you are 27 dating a 50-year-old woman. The backlash is so strong, it feels out of this world to suggest that such a pair could be bound by genuine love. Somehow we have given ‘age’ more meaning than we should, and we let the number control our existence.

Age, simply, is a number record we keep to remind us of the length of time we have existed. It does not define the reality of who we are or our destiny in life. It should not be this prison it has become, created by our society to deprive us the freedom to do whatever we want or be with whoever we want whenever we want to. If you see yourself happy with someone, do you really think age should be enough justification to re-evaluate what you have or even take a different path? People can wake up any morning and say they are a different age if they want to, and they won’t necessarily suffer any consequences. That is how powerless the number can be. Actually, people have been doing it and getting away with it for ages.

Perhaps she is with an older man because she finds him simple, patient, and easy going, or maybe he is with an older woman because he finds her super brilliant and very caring. Sure, age may affect how physically active we may be with time, but essentially mindset, faith, commitment, and perseverance are the things that actually determine the success of our relationships and life in general. Age is an illusion that does not have any impact until we give it power. We only start limiting ourselves and our happiness when we let age interfere with our mind.

CREDITS: This article is written by Nkem Ndem. Nkem is a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for content creation(web, T.V, radio), writing and editing (blog, magazine, text), screenwriting, ghost writing, copy proofreading and reviews.

Opinion: Get It Right

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Ugochi Obidiegwu is the CEO of The Safety Chic Brand

The nature of my job and other work means that sometimes you’d be in your office working at 9am but that is my own sleep time to catch up on much needed rest. However, when my phone rings and my hands decide to pick that call, I go straight from dreamland to speaking like I’m also in one corner office on Banana Island. If you hear my “Hello, good morning…”, you will trip. I didn’t even know my siblings had been observing until I finished taking one call one day. My elder sister said, “ahn ahn, ever ready, nobody will know that call woke you from sleep”. Lol.

The truth is you cannot desire to be treated like a professional in anything if you do not act like it. Remember that thing they say about first impressions right? You need to learn to get it together no matter how you feel most especially in this social media age. If you cannot get it together, the next option is to avoid having that conversation at that particular time. Some weeks ago, a conversation between a potential customer and a business owner was circulated on social media. That conversation went South real quick. I think that sometimes we feel that if we do not express ourselves well, we’d look like fools. And then in the process of trying to assert ourselves, we cross the line. We need to learn to get it together. The person at the other end of the conversation almost always has no clue whether you’ve had a bad day or not, whether you’re sleeping or not, whether you’re nervous or not. They just want answers. This post is not to encourage bad behaviour but you have the power to choose how to respond even to bad manners. Remember, word of mouth travels faster than any advertising. So, whenever you want to respond anyhow, just take a second to breathe and think of that.

Getting it together could also be relevant in boy-girl matters or speaking to people you look up to. Another example, a friend of mine tried to hook me up with a “big” guy. Personally, I really do not like hook-ups but she’s a really good friend and she meant well. After checking the guy out (Yes na, we have to check, I know you check too), I was worried about the first conversation we’d have due to certain things I discovered. One day, I saw a message on my phone. After doing all the “O my God” and “What am I going to say” in my mind, I replied. He said he had been wondering how to go about talking to me. Apparently, he had checked me out too (you see) and I also seemed larger than life. I laughed and said, “you too?”, “I was worried about what I’d say to you too”. He was so shocked, he said my response was so cool like I had everything under control, lol. I said well, we have to always get it together. smile.

I’ve had to speak to top management in different organisations and they have no clue of the initial feelings within because I put my feelings aside and act. Sometimes it’s funny the kind of reaction I get. One time, after speaking to the leadership of one Federal Agency, they all paused and were looking at me like did all this just come out from this small girl. Well, I get it together. You can too, focus on the big picture and put your feelings aside.

Have a beautiful new week.

CREDIT: This article is written by Ugochi Obidiegwu. It was first published on https://medium.com/@ugochiobidiegwu/get-it-together-c014d5029f27. You can follow her via @TheSafetyChic on social media

#OpinionSunday Fixing the Challenges Frustrating Tourism in Africa

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The United Nations designated the year 2017 as the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development due to tourism’s capacity to enhance economic growth through job creations, attraction of investment, fostering entrepreneurship, preservation of ecosystem and biodiversity, protection of cultural heritage and promotion of empowerment of local communities. Even at the international and national levels, policy makers have come to recognise the potential of tourism and this knowledge is reflecting on the laws and policies being formulated.

Beyond just enhancing inclusive growth and economic development, tourism can complement development strategies aimed at fostering economic diversification and structural transformation within the right policy context. Tourism has the potential to significantly contribute to a nation’s GDP, employment and export earnings. The sector is fairly job-rich, employing comparatively high share of women and youth. On a global scale, women make up between 60 and 70 per cent of the tourism labour force, and half of its workers are aged 25 or younger. It thus has the potential to foster more inclusive growth (United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD), 2017).

Also, considering that globally most international travel takes place within a traveller’s own region and that, with a rising African middle class, if continental disposable incomes increase, there is a greater scope for boosting continental and intra-regional travel in Africa. Tourism helps to generate and spread incomes and has strong spillover effects for poverty reduction through stronger linkages. These stronger linkages propel a multiplier effect that can generate economic benefits at the national level; employment opportunities and poverty reduction at the local level. Sadly in many countries, tourism linkages remain weak and underexploited. As a result, the foreign investors, international tour operators and foreign airline companies are benefiting mostly from the value added of the sector while very limited benefits are available to the destination country and very little flow to the poor (UNCTAD, 2017).

Promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions are necessary in achieving any economic development or goals. Most African nations, however, face tough challenges and constraints in leveraging the benefits of tourism services in trade and economic development. To this end, Jumia Travel, Nigeria’s leading online travel agency examines some 4 major challenges preventing the continent from unlocking the potentials of tourism.

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Intersectoral Linkages

If linkages between tourism and other productive sectors are enhanced, tourism can then promote economic diversification and structural transformation. Unlocking the potential of intersectoral linkages will contribute to structural transformation, aligning of cross-sectoral issues, and included into policy frameworks at the national, regional and local levels.

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Enhancing the capacity of tourism to foster more inclusive growth

Critical to playing an important role in the global fight to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development goals is tourism. No doubt, it will generate economic benefits and boost productive capacities. Beyond these, tourism can foster inclusion by creating employment opportunities among vulnerable groups such as the poor, women, and youth.

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Tapping the potential of intra-regional tourism through deepening regional integration

Because of the increase in the continental and intra-regional tourism in Africa and the opportunities it offers for economic and export diversification, African countries are bound to benefit if they made significant progress with the free movement of persons, currency convertibility and liberalizing air transport services. This would enhance greater access to tourism destinations and boost the competitiveness of destinations. Regional economic communities and countries therefore need to comprehensively plan for intra-regional and continental tourism.

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Harnessing peace and stability for tourism

The development of tourism can foster peace; so is peace essential for tourism. African countries with tourism potential should therefore implement policies that can strengthen the sector. There’s a bi-directional causal relationship between peace and tourism and the effect of peace on tourism is much greater in magnitude than the impact of tourism on peace.