HELP!Rough Op-ed draft

Ayobami Olusola
Posted September 2, 2009 from Nigeria

Hi everyone! I missed you all while I was away at my country's youth service camp. I just got back and I NEED your help with my Op ed article. I am posting two different drafts that I am working on here. They are still very rough though. Please let me know what you think. I will really appreciate your questions. They get me thinking. Thanks

Stop Slavery, Save the Children I believe the children are the future. Street children, children being raped and abused in homes where they are slaves are also the future. The future does not belong to only the financially privileged ones. There is no better time than now as violence against children escalates in all parts of Nigeria. The reports are alarming and emanate from every nook of the nation. Children are being raped by teachers, fathers, neighbours and grandfathers. They are being branded as witches and nailed in the head to be delivered from “witchcraft”. Seemingly less harsh and traumatic, in many homes across the country they are employed as househelps. In reality, these children are not helps but slaves. From this point, I choose not to refer to the children as househelps but child slaves. This is what they really are. The unfortunate truth is that many of these children are employed to help give the children of the privileged a more comfortable life. Is it fair to deprive one child of her childhood in order to make that of another more comfortable? The children are taken from their parents, often as young as nine by a Madam or Mister. Basically a business person who pays the parents an agreed sum to take the children away for servitude in the major Nigerian cities often thousands of miles away from the obscure villages where the children are taken from. The children become employees in homes where often they do not even speak the primary language being spoken in that home,most of these children do not speak English. Thus they are miles from home slaving from dusk to dawn and dawn to dusk. Their parents have no idea where exactly they are. The children cannot go back home even if they want to. These children more often than not are not sent to school. Instead they are responsible for fetching cooking breakfast for and getting the children of the masters of the house ready for school. They wake up in the dead of the night to make sure that the master’s children get to school on time. They pack the school bags, picking up textbooks and notebooks scattered from the last night. Looking longingly as the children skip of to school. In their tattered clothes and faded shirts these children go back into the house to wash up the dishes from breakfast and to prepare lunch. Afterall, they are a paid help? Right? Of course they are paid, hundreds of thousands per annum in fact,they are paid through the business person who brought them to the city. The business person who holds on to as much as 95 percent of the money as commission. The issue of course is not how much these children are paid, or how much eventually gets to them. The issue is the cruelty embedded in using these little children as slaves. Their frail and little shoulders are not ready to bear the wight of the domestic duties heaped on them. Most of them are not emotionally prepared to for the separation from family and all known structures. All this is childs play compared to the physical and sexual violence and abuse that these children are exposed to daily. As a people, we must realize this.The pain and trauma that we allow this children to go through will be etched indelibly in our future if something is not done about the various ways children are subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse. It has been said that for those who abuse and deprive other children in a bid to make their children comfortable, eventually, the children that have been abused grow up without skills to gain a livelihood eventually become thieves assasins and hoodlums who attack your own children. Beyond this possibility is the fact that ALL children have a right to life and living in a dignifying form. There is a law in place that is being largely ignored and not implemented as far as these children are concerned. In 2006 the 'Act establishing the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters' was amended stating that Nigerians who employ and keep children under the age of 18 years as domestic servants will now spend five years behind the bars if caught and prosecuted. This law makes it illegal for children to work in domestic capacity in the homes of non family members. So far only 16 states have adopted this law out of the 36 states. Tragically, even where the law has been adopted, citizens are largely unaware that such a law exists. There are no measures in place to ensure compliance with the laws. In fact the slavery continues as though there were no laws at all. This must change! Parameters must be put in place to arrest and punish defaulters to serve as a detterent for others. I must also suggest that provision be made for education, empowerment and rehabilitation of the child slaves recovered from the households. They cannot just be returned to their parents like that because it was probably poverty that drove the parents to sell their children into servitude. Punitive measures must be taken against such parents also. If you are a Nigerian, refuse to employ the cheap labour of these children, you no doubt know at least one family that has such a child in their employ. Speak out! You can do something right now to stop slavery and save the children! . Write about this, blog about it, put it on facebook SAVE the children by stopping slavery.

Of Crashing Banks

The stock market crashed on our heads, the powdery debris filled our nostrils and as yet we can hardly breathe without sputtering.

They say hind vision is 20/20, so we see clearly now. We should have asked more questions, we should have probed asked how come a paralysed economy could have sustained such a vibrant stockmarket. You cannot blame us though, we only wanted a better life. That vision blinded us to the inflated figures and profit. At least we have learnt our lessons, etched on the worthless share certificates that we are left clutching.

While our ears are still ringing from the loud crash of the Nigerian stock market, we hear another storm approaching, threatening to sweep our livelihood away.

On August 14th, the new governor of the central bank of Nigeria announced the sacking of and chief executives of five major banks in Nigeria ( Union Bank, Finbank, Oceanic Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Afribank ). The CBN took this action after auditing the books of the banks and coming to the conclusion that among other failings, the banks had incurred an excessively high level of non-performing loans.

This shakeup in the banking industry has engendered varios reactions. It is worrisome to note that this shakeup is coming on the heels of a report in March by a section of the print media of a grand plan to cause panic and uncertainty in the banking industry, make the targeted banks look unsafe for depositors in a bid to purchase them. The Nothernisation of the banking sector is yet another suspicion that has arisen in the minds of Nigerians. The distrust and suspicion between the north and the south that has bedeviled this nation virtually since inception has been awakened as the CBN governor has been accuse of being a toll to place the control of the banking sector in the hands of Notherners.

The yorubas say and wisely too that the cure for headache is not to cut off the head. The CBN governor must be careful not to cripple the banking sector in his bid for reform. The stock market crash has already depleted the trust Nigerians have in the financial sector. We must also keep in mind that on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the banking sector which was thriving in the past two years has crashed, with the shares becoming % less than their worth a few months ago. In a country where the populace has little trust in government and government establishments, where it has been proven time and again that the interest of the people is not a priority for the government, the CBN governor must do more than tell the people not to panic.

The global economic meltdown is already taking its tool on our economy. We do not need a crisis in our banking sector at this time. However, since this is what is on ground, the CBN must tread carefully so that its efforts will not escalate the crisis. Beyond the esoteric accounting figures quoting. Sanusi must address other pertinent questions in the mind of Nigerians. What will happen to the depositors of such banks? Will this be a repeat of the the 90s whenthe military effort to recoup funds in the banking sector ended in shareholders and depositors as heavy losers? How will this ongoing shakedown affect the banking sector which has become a major employer of labour in a country where there are few industries to absorb the skilled and unskilled labour being churned out by the universities and other tetiaty institutions? With some experts claiming that this crisis may increase unemployment by 65% this question is very pertinent.

Already, it is being reported that all Nigerian banks on the West African Coast had a run on them following the CBN’s actions

The release of figures which are later corrected, contradictory statements by the CBN governor have only increased the panic in the hearts of many, The CBN must get its act together and show Nigerians that it knows what it is about on this campaign. Only then will we be able to listen to appeals against panic withdrawals.

The percentage of non performing loans to total loans ranged from 19% to 48%. These banks are apparently overburdened by loans some of which they have no collateral for in case of default. There have even been insinuations that these M.Ds loaned out money to themselves, their friends and family. They played Santa Claus with the hard earned naira placed in their trust by the average Nigerian. For these reason the bank executives have been incarcerated and are awaiting trial.16 bank executives and sixty bank debtors are currently in custody. These non performing loans which total over one trillion dollars are just a step away from categorization as bad debt. In the final analysis, this money is going down the drain and that loss will fall on the poor depositors if nothing is done by an higher power.

This is where we must commend the CBN for stepping in at this time. Injecting N420 billion into the five banks to stabilized them has gone a long way to convince Nigerians that the CBN is really interested in healing the banks.

If we are to avoid a total crises where Nigerians prefer to keep their money under their pillows, the CBN must watch its methods.

Comments 2

  • dr edonna
    Sep 03, 2009
    Sep 03, 2009

    You have done a marvelous job on both of them. I particularly like the first one as it gives a picture of a situation in dire need for solutions. It is more of a human story, where as the second one is typical news in the economic industry although most people don't know what the situation is in Nigeria, but it sounds similar to what is happening in the Western world. Hope this helps, please look at my final draft and give me some comments as well Dr. Edonna

  • Ayobami Olusola
    Sep 04, 2009
    Sep 04, 2009

    Thanks Dr Edonna. I REALLY appreciate your comment. I know its late and all. Thanks for taking time to read through and say something

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