All posts by Deborah Odoko

MY RAPE STORY: A DAY TO FORGET

Blood! Blood! Was all I could mutter as I sat there trying to clean myself up even though I felt dirty inside. After keeping myself all through school, this was what I got rewarded with; RAPE! The scene kept flashing and I couldn’t hold back tears from dropping like a raging sea. All I wanted was for someone to tell me “it’s all but a dream” sadly it wasn’t. I didn’t dress in a suggestive way neither did I stay out late. How did I become a victim, I asked myself.  How do I tell Ade that I’m no longer a virgin? How do I deal with the stigmatization if people get to find out? I should probably just take my life. Or do I start doing Runs? These were the thoughts running through my head.

Oct 1st 2016, a day I can’t seem to forget. As usual, Nigeria marked its independence that day and it was a public holiday. Being a Youth Corps Member at that time, I didn’t have to go to my place of primary assignment to teach. The day started off well and kept reminding myself of the evening service I had in the church that day. I didn’t plan on missing it for anything in the world. We value the prayers we make on the first day of the month in this part of the world. I got to church that evening and I saw myself praying like never before that I didn’t even know far spent the time was. I checked my watch, it was 7 PM and it was threatening to rain. I decided to rush home before the rain started. It was just a 10 minutes walking distance from the church to my house and since I wasn’t seeing any vehicle or bike to take me home, I decided to do the walk.

Halfway home, the sky grew darker and it began drizzling. I started jogging so as to get home before the heavy downpour and in less than a minute I was intercepted by two guys who jumped off a bike. They approached me and one asked “why are you running? “Don’t you know cultists are fighting and you might be mistaken for one? In all my innocence, I responded: “thank you, I was only trying to get home before the rain gets worse”. Before I could take a step away, the other pulled me and asked for my phone. The shock that enveloped me can’t be described as I reached for my phone in my bag and gave to him. The bike guy who was still there waiting for the guys started his bike as they left. Standing there trying to catch my breath and figure out what just happened, the bike stopped again. To my surprise, they were headed to where I was. The thoughts of either running or standing still were battling in my mind and the other won. I stood there transfixed and they got to me again.

While all these were happening, the street was dead silent, no single soul passed and the heavy downpour I was trying to beat, caught up with me. So, they led me into a bush close to my street and I could feel all the emotions you can possibly think of running through me at once. They held my arms firmly and while one of them pulled me, the other supported with a little push from behind when I was hesitant. “What more do you want from me?” My heart teared up. I didn’t know what they wanted but I just hoped I’ll make it out alive, a part of me survived and a part died there. We got well into the bush and they stopped, I immediately started pleading with them not to kill me and that I was just a Corps Member with no money. My pleadings fell on deaf ears as one started rubbing my face and asked me to take off my dress. At that point, it became even more tensed, my heart was pounding against my rib cage and even in the rain I felt my sweat gushing out. Is this where it all ends? After years of waiting for the perfect person and time to be deflowered, I get defiled by touts in a bush. I wouldn’t let that happen. I told him I couldn’t as I was a virgin and it won’t be good to have my first experience like this. In disbelief, he asked me to swear and I did countless times without hesitation, hoping this was my prayer answered. Just then a car passed and I screamed for help but I rather got a heavy slap on my face in return. I obviously couldn’t be heard, no thanks to the heavy downpour.

After several slaps, with me struggling and fighting; they finally had their way. I have been raped and in a bush. The one that actually raped me got up like the spell covering his eyes just fell off. Himself and his accomplice took to their heels. In fear, I took to my heel also. I finally got to my apartment with the blood and filth I could wash away, and with tears and thoughts that I’ll always live with. The rest they say is history. It was the longest night I have ever experienced.

Rape is one thing no person should experience. But the truth is that it is highly prevalent in our society and the world at large. Much noise has and is being made about it but the effect is minimal. Rape, a despicable act of sexual penetration carried out without the consent of the victim who could either be a male or a female. It doesn’t matter if the victim was raped by force or under duress, rape is rape. This act has led some of its victims to their untimely death, while others experience psychological trauma. We should all lend our voices against rape. Proactive steps to ensuring that this menace is curbed should be taken. Enough of the stigmatization, victims should be able to speak up without fear of being stigmatized, and well taken care of and the rapist should face the wrath of the law.

#freenairamarley – Why Cyber Crime trends in Nigeria

Nigeria loses 127 billion Naira to cybercrime yearly, which is 0.8 per cent of the country’s GDP. Cybercrime has become a bane in the economy and society at large. There are a host of cybercrimes being perpetrated by Nigerians but the most popular is the 419/Internet fraud which is commonly known as Yahoo Yahoo in our Nigerian parlance. It has been on the increase lately.

Some youth have without denial taken it as their full-time job and have crafted reasons to make it justifiable. How sad! Can there ever be any justifiable reason for indulging in Yahoo Yahoo? Recently, this was a trending topic on social media and to my surprise, a number of young people gave reasons why it is justifiable; from lack of employment to poverty, bad economy, peer pressure and as a means of survival. These attempts to justify crime shows that it is no longer a big deal and as a people, we have accepted it as part of the very fabric of our society.

The reason people indulge in Yahoo Yahoo;

Greed! Jonathan Gash said Fraud is the daughter of greed. Young people trying to outdo each other, amassing luxuries and liabilities all in the name of showing off and keeping up with appearances. Thus, the get rich quick syndrome has eaten deep into the minds of most youth that they find legitimate ways of making money uninteresting. They have refused to go through the growth process and want to arrive even before they start leaping. Despite the efforts of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to curb this menace, it keeps growing and we have the anonymity nature of the internet to thank.

These actions, to whose detriment?

Every Nigerian! Around the world, Nigerians are seen as suspects, investors don’t feel safe with us, to mention a few. Moreover, these negative effects have caused colossal reputational damage to Nigeria as a country. Sincere citizens will have to work twice as hard to prove that they are different. Currently, Nigeria at the moment ranks 144 out of 180 on Transparency International corruption perception index. How long are we going to continue to destroy a nation that is standing on one leg?

At the moment, Naira Marley, a Nigerian artist is being prosecuted by the EFCC for internet fraud after he openly showed support for yahoo yahoo. He asked Nigerians to pray for them rather than condemn them. And to think that some youth are out on the streets with placards protesting for his release with the Free Naira Marley hashtag is disheartening. If he is found guilty by the law, he should face the music. Making a case for fraud only shows that some Nigerians have a problem. We complain about politicians, kidnapping, armed robbery and we want to overlook that of yahoo yahoo? All crimes must be punished.

Frederick William Robertson said, there are three things in the world that deserve no mercy; hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny. A changed mindset and attitude are all we need. No circumstance is an excuse for Crime. #SayNoToCrime!!

Reputation, So what? (Part 1)

Frustrated and jobless, I came up with an idea to checkmate organizations in Nigeria by calling them out for their products or services, if its good we praise and if it’s bad we lash just to give organizations a sense of accountability. So there I was, excited about this new idea and decided to share with a friend and his response gave me chills. He said, “ this is Nigeria and it will not work, most organizations don’t care about their customers because in Nigeria you can get away with almost anything. The people won’t make a noise about it and will forget about it almost immediately”. The bitter truth it was. Countless times as a people we have and still experience the nonchalant attitude of organizations towards ‘us’ like we don’t play an important role.  Organizations need to see the importance of paying attention to what kind of picture the people outside perceive which in all is their reputation.

 

Going by Topalian’s definition[1], reputation refers to “the expectations, attitudes and feelings that consumers have about the nature and underlying reality of the company as represented by its corporate identity.” In Nigeria, most organizations have failed to see the importance of reputation and its management. Maybe because of the unpopular opinion that “Nigerians memories are short termed and they will always come back to what did them wrong”. This might be true in so many ways but should not stop organizations from doing the right things. Big brands have emerged and some have also fallen. It takes years to build a reputation and only a second to have all you have worked for crumble. Reputation does not occur by chance, it relates to the leadership, management and organizational operations such as quality of products and services, relationships with stakeholders, as well as communication activities and feedback mechanisms. What reputation management does is to help identify organizations’ key indicator and how these can foster the growth of the organization. Organizations need to put up a changed attitude and understand that reputation is EVERYTHING. An example of how bad reputation management led to the downfall of an organization; ‘United Airlines took a huge reputational hit after footage emerged of a passenger being dragged off a plane after refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked flight. The airline’s stock price fell after the incident, and CEO Oscar Munoz was forced to issue not one but two apologies to the public. However, that was only after Munoz initially claimed the passenger was “disruptive and belligerent”’. I’m sure a number of persons can relate to this and have had awful experiences with organizations in Nigeria but only a few have been bold enough to raise dust about it. We have airlines, financial institutions and a host of others who treat customers in such ways but little or nothing is done to checkmate them.

 

Allow me to digress to job seekers because not only organizations that have a reputation which should be managed. As individuals, we have reputations which should be managed.  We have to be mindful of our interactions, attitude and behaviour. Using social media, the world being a global village all thanks to the internet, we can now brand ourselves and interact with people from around the world, have online presence. The internet never forgets and nothing actually get deleted from the internet. People have been rejected by organizations and some have been fired also because of what was posted on their social media account. Just recently a BBC radio broadcaster, was fired after posting a picture of a baby chimpanzee when tweeting about the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, Archie Harrison. Also, embassies like UK, US and Australia now require applicant’s social media accounts for background checks before applicant are granted visas. Before you post that tweet, or message as the case may be either on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, ask yourself if you are proud of it and if whatever organization you dream of joining will be proud to call you their representative. Online reputation matters for individuals and organizations. The internet never forgets! So next time you want to make a post ask yourself/organization this question; is this who I/we want to be seen as?

 

 

 

[1] TOPALIAN, A. (1984), Corporate Identity: Beyond The Visual Overstatements, International Journal Of Advertising, Vol. 25, Pp. 61-4.