How I quit Smoking | A story of Dirty Lungs and a Good Heart

In modern societies today, the rate of smoking habits keep increasing. Hence, the extreme difficulty associated with efforts to quit smoking. This is in spite of the various health disasters people know that such habit would bring and in spite of the clearly written label on cigarette packs that ‘smokers are liable to die young’. Some have argued that the caveat only applies to cigarette smokers, but not marijuana smokers, but this has been proven to be wrong!

Also, the use of shisha pots and vape pens has been a trending culture for some time. I can’t exactly say that shisha and vaporizers have the same effects as the traditional smoking culture, but it depends on the quality of the shisha/vape pen and the content or flavor being inhaled. Such devices with major parts made of rubber or plastic materials could be cancerous, but who knows? 

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These devices generate and/or insulate heat which reacts with the materials it is made of. We all know that high temperature has never been good friends with rubber and plastic. Moreover, while flavors from mint or other healthy herbs could be beneficial to the health but do not make you quite high, other variants like tobacco and cannabis would be adverse to the health.

This story is not about shisha or vape pens because these materials do not exactly produce smoke. They involve an indirect heating of the substance which produces the vapor or steam that is inhaled. Smoking, on the other hand, involves a direct burning of the substance which produces carbon monoxide (smoke) that is inhaled.

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People mostly smoke cigarettes, cigars, and marijuana, also called Indian hemp or Cannabis. Marijuana or Cannabis has been given many nicknames including; ìgbó, weed, pot, dope, kush, joint, blau, spliff, jombo, claro, maryjane, arizona, skonk, ganja, among others. I could go on and on condemning the habit of smoking, stating how it destroys your vital organs and that you should totally avoid it. But I think that would be cliché and may not bring any exclusive benefit from reading this, for the simple reason that when you searched ‘ effects of smoking in the body’ on Google, you got all the information in that regard. So I will tell a story. It’s the odyssey of a Nigerian who started smoking as a teenager and grew with the habit but later stopped after some life-changing ordeal.

 

How it all began

“10 minutes to go, start rounding up”, bellowed the examiner as Iyanu was putting the finishing touches to his drawing. The West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WAEC/WASSCE) had been going on for a while now and it was all smooth for him till that point. He was a brilliant kid who was always among the top three positions in his class. He was and still is good at the visual arts. The Fine Arts examination was the last paper and the excitement was building. In a few minutes, he would be done with Secondary School.

“Time up! Submit your papers!”, the examiner’s voice resounded across the hall. Having finished, he submitted his papers, then raced outside to join other classmates of his. Shouts of joy echoed outside as the Junior students congratulated them. They signed autographs and draw funny signs on their uniforms, as is the culture in many Nigerian Secondary Schools. Iyanu joined his classmates to the hostel. When two of them, Ciroma and Emeka prepared to go out and have fun. He was excited and wanted to join them too. So they agreed.

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The first ecstasy with Maryjane

Iyanu wanted to know where they were headed. But they told him to just relax and come along. They would have some really good time and that was all that mattered. He thought it would probably be a hotel, bar or night club, so he didn’t really bother. After all, he is a big boy now and can take care of himself. Contrary to his presumption, they didn’t go to a hotel or bar. Instead, they bought some alcohol at a supermarket, then went to a stream which was in a jungle behind the school premises. 

There, he saw some men and women, older than they were. They sat around; drinking, smoking, and playing music from portable speakers. Ciroma smiled and said to Iyanu; “Welcome to the zanga!” “This is the dopest bonk in the area where you’ll get higher than the skies”, said Emeka. Iyanu knew this place was no good, but he couldn’t just tell his friends he did not like it. That would not be cool. The cigarette and some other grass they were smoking was just much. Although he could handle a bottle of beer or two, he was not a smoker. “Make una come siddon” said one of the guys there, looking at them with bloodshot red eyes. Iyanu sat down on a bench with his friends and they opened the drinks. 

“What is that dry grass those guys are rolling and smoking?” Iyanu asked his friends. “it’s weed. It makes you strong and smart, we call it the royal highness” Emeka said. “Don’t worry! You’ll get a taste of the real deal today”, said Ciroma. He went over to the guy with red eyes and bought some of the weed.

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Emeka and Ciroma rolled some of the weed in a  thin triangular paper, then gave a roll to Iyanu. He knew from school, that weed is a hard drug. He also hear that it was illegal and drives people crazy. But all these people were smoking it and they were not acting crazy. He was quite curious to know how it feels, so he took a drag, but could not get the smoke into his lungs. His friends showed him how to breathe it in, or he would not feel the highness. So he took a drag and swallowed the smoke. It hurt his throat, making him cough. They urged him to take in little drags since it was his first time. He did so and was able to handle the smoke with less cough.

At first, he felt nothing. But after 10 minutes of inhaling the weed, he started feeling happy. As the cannabinoids started taking action in his brain, he felt ecstatic. Gradually, he started enjoying himself. The music sounded much better, the environment became very colorful and he felt elated. He felt he could do anything now. He started talking more freely to his friends. Then he courageously went over to the guy with red eyes and shook his hands in greetings. He felt strong. So he started dancing to the music while singing along.

He was full of energy but soon ran out of breath. So he sat down and started talking to himself. He was hallucinating and everyone could hear him stage a coup d’etat. He would become the Nigerian president, legalize marijuana and travel to Las Vegas. After some time, he started singing and dancing again, telling everyone to come and join him. These continued for about 2 hours. When he finally got tired, he sat down. “Damn! I’m hungry! Can we go get something to eat?” He asked his friends. Emeka and Ciroma finished their second roll of weed, then bade goodbye to red eyes and others, then they took their leave.

 

Did you know?

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Cannabinoids are the active nutrients in Marijuana, with Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) being one of the most active. THC mimics a natural cannabinoid chemical in the brain called Anandamide. Like Anandamide, THC sends messages between neurotransmitters of the brain, affecting areas of the brain that control pleasure (such as sex and food), memory, thinking, concentration, movement, sensory reception, and time perception. It also has the ability to trigger the flooding release of a hormone called Dopamine in a dose that is way higher than it’s natural release. When this hormone is released to the brain, it activates parts of the brain that control feelings of happiness and ecstasy. This causes the euphoric ‘high’ that a person experiences. 

The first introduction of Iyanu’s teenage brain to THC gave him a unique experience. There is no high like the first high of marijuana. It may not always be euphoric for every first-timer. To some people, it could have the effect of discomfort, confusion, and loss of personal identity. But whatever the feeling, the first time is always unique and the experience cannot be like subsequent highs.

 

From the first Smoke, onto the next one

Iyanu and his friends went to a restaurant to eat. They ate so much before being satisfied. He had never eaten that much food in his life. When they got back to the hostel, he went straight to his bed and fell asleep. He slept like never before, from 2 pm to 10 pm.

The next day, he packed his bags and went home. He would never forget the experience of the day before. He knew that smoking was not good for his health. But doing it one time wouldn’t hurt anyone. During the holidays, a period of waiting for University admission notification, he enrolled for computer lessons. He did not have any urge to smoke again and seldom thought about it.

Some weeks later, the computer program was coming to an end and there would be a send forth party. During the party, some guys had weed and were smoking at a corner. He perceived the scent and was drawn to join in. That day, he got high again and it felt so good. He exchanged contacts with the guys there. That way, he could hook up with them and smoke some more during the holidays. Occasionally then, he would call the guys, go out with them into the bush or an uncompleted building where they would smoke and get high. 

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He didn’t really know these guys and they didn’t even talk much. They would just hook up, greet each other, and go smoking and playing music. It was fun, and Iyanu did not ever feel any urge to smoke. He just did it when he was bored and for recreational purposes. He had heard that weed was addictive, but he did not feel addicted to it. Whenever he wanted it and didn’t get it, he would simply forget it. At this stage, he could not roll a decent Joint and didn’t know where to buy Weed, so he smoked only when he hooked up with those guys and he only did it occasionally, like once or twice in two weeks. 

He was totally in control. And whenever he smoked he would feel more confident. He would bravely talk to girls whom he was shy to approach when sober. He would easily compose poems, write stories, draw and paint beautifully. He would dance so well to music like Chris Brown and he generally became more social. He made new friends with people who do not smoke and he had more girlfriends. He was so cool, exhibiting smartness and boldness whenever he was high. 

He figured why musicians and other celebrities take drugs a lot, and doing what Davido and Burnaboy does, made him feel like a celebrity already. Little did he know that drugs have ruined many celebrities in the past and more of them today are really trying to quit the habit. Others take expensive steps to ensure that their use of drugs are medically examined and managed in order to ensure it does not destroy them and their career. Some of the celebrities may afford to smoke and get away with it because they can always afford the medical expenses involved.

 

Campus life and Freedom to Smoke

He later got admission into a Nigerian University. He was very happy because he would be living alone, without the supervision of his parents. He would be free to do what he liked and go where he wanted at any time he deemed fit. When he resumed school, he hooked up with guys that smoke over there. They would smoke freely in their rooms in the morning before going out for lectures. This made them to be very jovial and bold with their classmates. Gradually, Iyanu started smoking more regularly. He learned how to roll a decent joint. At this time, he could easily buy Weed and smoke on his own whenever he wanted. He became very used to it, but the more he smoked, the less he would feel the high, so he started smoking more rolls and buying stronger strains or species of Cannabis just to get high. Gradually, smoking became a habit of his as he began to do it daily.

 

The Addict

One day, the Police arrested the drug dealers in town and there was no supply of Weed for a whole week. During these times, he could barely handle himself, as he had a strong urge to smoke Weed again. He became confused, shy, scattered, withdrawn and antisocial. He saw the other guys smoking cigarettes so he decided to try it, maybe he could get a bit high. The cigarette was nothing like Weed. The smoke was thicker, and it didn’t get him as high as weed. He smoked 10 sticks of cigarettes at a sitting. Even though he didn’t get high like Weed, it was an alternative that calmed down the urge to smoke Weed.

 

The Struggle to quit smoking

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Sometimes, he tried to quit smoking, knowing it was unhealthy, destructive and illegal. But he could only succeed for a few weeks and get back to it again. He tried so many times, but couldn’t get himself to quit. The urge to smoke would always defeat his will power. Without knowing it, Iyanu had become an addicted chain smoker. He would spend most of his money buying weed or cigarettes and food. Then he would lie to his parents, so they send more money. 

He didn’t want to join any bad gang, so he took the precaution of not joining any group of people who smoke together for social or recreational purposes. He knew that such groups could lead to cultism or other forms of criminal behavior. He began to spend more time indoors, smoking and playing music only. He could hardly concentrate on his books and he stopped spending time with his friends. 

 

The junkie who couldn’t quit smoking

Official SEVICS website how-to-quit-smoking How I quit Smoking | A story of Dirty Lungs and a Good Heart Lifestyle  quit smoking life change addiction management  His youthful and handsome appearance started fading. His skin shriveled. He looked older and haggard. His teeth and fingernails became discolored. The smoking habit gradually made him antisocial, his academic grades plummeted, he started dressing shabbily, he missed lectures frequently and when he attended, he would sleep off in class because he could not concentrate.

Having tried so many times to quit smoking, but to no avail, he gave up and embraced the drug. He became more careless about the addiction, seeing it as a normal thing. He would buy weed in large quantities and store in his room, and occasionally he would invite a few people and throw a party in his room, smoking and drinking on weekdays.

 

Consequences 

One day, he was caught by the police. He had gone to buy weed from the local dealers. Unknown to him, there were policemen in that area, stalking the dealers to see if they could catch their leader. They saw him buy the weed, and on his way out, he was arrested. It is quite usual for policemen to issues warning and release drug offenders if they were willing to part with some cash. When  Iyanu realized that he could be in police trouble, he panicked and tried to escape. The Officers restrained and dragged him to the police station. Iyanu was detained.

The policemen gave him the most severe beating he has ever received in his entire life. The inflicted wounds on him for trying to resist arrest. His parents were called and notified of the arrest. When they arrived, the police officers did not agree to grant him bail at first, insisting that he must be charged to court and remanded in prison. Luckily for him, his father had some contacts who could pull strings in the police force. After some calls and contemplations, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) agreed to grant him bail. The condition was that his parents pay ₦100,000. They paid the money and took him home that day.

See our article on the Nigerian Police and their to deal with them
Click to read article

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Turning Points

When they got home, his parents talked to him in a manner they had never done before. He was such a good boy, or so they thought. Now they were so disappointed in him. They still loved him, but they did not trust or respect him anymore. His privacy was taken away, everything he did and everywhere he went was monitored. He was deeply sorry and ashamed of himself. If only he could go back in time, but it was too late. Only the future remains and he wanted to make his parents proud and regain their trust and respect. 

This time he was at home, he could not access weed or cigarettes, and after 2 weeks, he started experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as loss of appetite, depression and lack of sleep. He also started falling sick frequently with illnesses he had never suffered before, and he developed chest pain and peptic ulcer. The doctor prescribed some medicines for him and told him that if he was faithful to the prescription, he would be free from the illness after a few years. Otherwise, the chest pain and ulcer could develop into heart disease and cancer. So he took the medications faithfully.

 

 

How Iyanu quit smoking

 

When this happened, he was already in his final year of studies at the University. His parents requested the School Authorities to provide a copy of his grades and were duly disappointed. Iyanu had failed 7 courses which meant he would definitely not graduate with his classmates even if he passes his final exams. The final exams were coming up, but his parents refused to let him go back to school, moreover, he was not feeling well. He did not graduate that year. 

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After 3 months, he stopped experiencing the withdrawal symptoms. He was made to practice meditation and yoga in order to help him gain focus and concentration. His parents refused to pay any further school fees, instead, they deferred his admission for 3 years. They asked him to learn a skill, make some money and then he would be able to pay his own school fees whenever he was ready to return to school. They paid for him to learn computer programming, and during these times, he was not given any pocket money. He also learned how to play guitar and how to paint like a professional artist.

2 years later, Iyanu got back his life on track. He became responsible again and started planning to go back to school. Learning those skills had made him independent and he did not get the urge to smoke ever again. He totally overcame the addiction because of his parent’s discipline and support, and because he had committed to stop smoking after the terrible experience of being arrested by the police. He wanted to make his parents proud, to make up for the embarrassment he had caused them. He desperately needed to regain their trust and respect.

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Did you know?

Smoking of any kind has harmful effects on the respiratory system. Marijuana and Cigarettes contain carcinogens and nicotine respectively. These chemicals damage the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the immune system, and the nervous system. Although Marijuana has been particularly tested for as being beneficial for treating diseases like cancer, insomnia, and depression, there is no conclusive research for these and it is strictly reserved for patients who have received prescription for using the drug. Moreover, smoking is never a healthy way to use it. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are pure poison with no benefits whatsoever. Both products should be avoided.

 

TIPS ON HOW TO QUIT SMOKING

  1. 1. Addiction mindset: Addiction is in the mind, therefore, the first step to quitting should start from the mind. A person who wants to stop smoking must make a decision to quit for good. Even if you fail at your resolve, do not give up.
  2. Stay Motivated: The decision to quit could be for any reason that is right. It could be for health, academic, professional or social reasons, but make sure you are doing it for you, not because of someone else. Doing it for someone else may not always hold water, except that person is always there to watch you and/or your love and commitment to that person is profound. In my experience, only Jesus, Allah, a spouse or family could qualify for these. Sometimes though, death and distance can separate you from a spouse or family. All in all, it’s best you quit for yourself.
  3. Dispose of all accessories and tools which you used for smoking.
  4. Avoid people and places you know could tempt you or bring back memories of being high.
  5. Divert your time and attention to doing something else. Something you enjoy doing and requires concentration. It could be a hobby such as drawing and painting, or a skill like learning a musical instrument.
  6. Play games like chess, checkers, Monopoly, Whot or Ludo.
  7. Change environment. Relocate to a different place where you will be away from all associations and memories you may have formed from smoking and getting high.
  8. Pray and read the Word of God. Participate in spiritual activities and join a religious group that is not judgemental or hypocritical, but loving and supportive.
  9. Practice meditation and yoga. Also, get involved in physical activities and exercise regularly. If possible, hire a trainer and create a gym goal that you must achieve with the trainer.
  10. Seek external help, eg going to a therapist or psychologist who can help you to quit smoking.
  11. Use E-cigarettes or Vaporizers instead of smoking. Make sure you avoid tobacco and cannabis flavors and herbs and use vaporizers that are mainly made of ceramic or glass even though they are usually more expensive. You could use mint and rosemary flavors or herbs, or other flavors and herbs that are beneficial to the health. Only use this option if you are certain or you have a system of checks to make sure that you don’t buy tobacco or cannabis flavors, and ensure to buy quality vape pens made of glass or ceramic.
  12. Get an extra job or a part-time job to keep you busy.
  13. Spend more time with family and friends, people you love and those who also love and support you.
  14. Avoid alcohol altogether, or only drink once in a long while, and when you do, don’t go more than drinks having more than 7% alcoholic content at a sitting. Alcohol serves as a trigger for the urge to smoke and there is always a mental association created between drinking and smoking.

 

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GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA | A search for the impossible? | Possible way out

Nigeria is a country with great potentials. But, these potentials have been punctured by a myriad of problems. These problems are not caused by a lack of resources but by bad governance shown by the ruling bodies. And this has hindered the developmental drive of the country. Nigeria is recognized as the poverty capital of the world and amidst a dwindling economy, it would seem that hopes of rejuvenating this once great nation is all gone. This state of affairs has been blamed on a lack of good governance in Nigeria.

 

What is Good Governance?

Governance is the process by which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for its development. It is the process of decision making and the process by which such decisions are implemented.

Good governance is a process of measuring how public institutions carry out the affairs of the public and manage its resources. The United Nations Development Programme sees governance as the exercise of power through a country’s economic, social, and political institutions in which institutions represent the organizational rules and routines, formal laws, and informal norms that together shape the incentives of public policy-makers, overseers, and providers of public services.

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Good leadership and governance go hand in hand and work together to bring about all forms of development. Good leadership is concerned with fostering positive change. Both concepts bring positive change for the good of the masses, based on acceptable values to attain the society with a governance that is participatory, accountable, transparent, efficient and effective and above all, based on the rule of law. Good governance entails the establishment of a representative and accountable form of government. Good governance requires policies to promote broad-based economic growth, a dynamic private sector and social policies that will lead to poverty reduction. 

  

Factors of good governance

There are so many factors to consider when assessing the governance of public institutions and governing bodies. These factors are the catalyst for the realization of enhanced performance of government agencies for the development of the society. Such factors include accountability, transparency, regulatory reforms, effectiveness and efficiency, equity, rule of law, effective service delivery and participation. In Nigeria, good governance should be measured by the provision of basic social amenities, employment opportunities, good roads, adequate security, poverty alleviation.

 

Accountability

This is the ability of the citizens, civil society and the private sector to access and analyze the activities of public institutions and government to hold them accountable. Accountability is the life wire of any nation if it to be considered developed. It modifies the actions and decisions taken by the governing bodies.

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Transparency 

When the activities of the government is transparent, it becomes freely accessible and available in an understandable form to the citizens of the country. This brings about openness, truth, and straightforwardness in the running of governmental affairs.

 

Trust

When the public institutions and governing bodies become accountable and transparent in the affairs of the government, the citizens, civil society and private sector will trust their activities. 

 

Participation 

Every citizen should take an active part in the decision making of any government institutions that represent their interest. This concept is known as civic engagement and is one of the programs of SEVICS. The participation needs to be informed and organized, including freedom of expression and assiduous concern for the best interests of the organization and society at large.

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Rule of Law

The legal framework should be fair and enforced without any form of partiality. The rule of law should be enforced by an impartial regulatory institution, for the full protection of its stakeholders.

 

Effectiveness & Efficiency

Good governance ensures that the procedures implemented by all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), produce favorable results which meet the needs of its stakeholders.  Government institutions should produce results that meet needs while making the best use of the resources.

  

Effective Service Delivery

There should be access to basic services such as education, primary health care facilities, electricity, etc as they are the prerequisites for effective development. Basic amenities are the bedrock on which all-round development can be built.            

 

Credible Elections

Elections should be free and fair and not based on appointment by the elites in the society. When government officials are not appointed based on the will of the people but the will of their GODFATHERS”, it promotes the selfish motives and interest of the “GODFATHERS” and not the needs of the citizenry.

 

 

CHALLENGES MILITATING GOOD GOVERNANCE

 There are various challenges that face the good governance in Nigeria. They include the following:

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Corruption

Corruption as dishonest or illegal behavior especially of people in authority.  is the major challenge faced by public institutions and different governing bodies in the society. Corruption is the violation of established rules for personal gain. Corruption is described as efforts to secure wealth or power through illegal means for private gain at public expense; or a misuse of public power for private benefit.  In Nigeria, the forms of corruption include bribery, embezzlement of funds, payoffs, etc.  The majority of officials in the governmental agencies engage in corrupt practices such as embezzling funds meant to be used to provide the basic social amenities in the society, collecting of bribes in the office, roadblock by the police to extort money from commercial drivers and so much more.

 

Management of Public Funds

Because appointment is not based on the merit and required qualification but on favoritism and its vices, there is a lack of efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery. This is because the resources provided are not properly utilized. Rather they are used to provide weapons and ammunition for suppressing political opponents and other persons of divergent views.

 

Politics of Godfatherism 

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Godfatherism in Nigeria has become a thing of concern to the society. The godfathers are the wealthy elites mostly those who held a political position in the past, they anoint their preferred candidate, who they believe can hold a political position while protecting their interests in the society. Most of the godfathers have converted politics from a social engagement to an enterprise where they make more money. The godchildren are not answerable to the society but to the whims and manipulations of the godfathers.

 

Policy Inconsistency

Government instability, policy inconsistency, and over-reliance on foreign ideas to tackle domestic problems are a bane of effective governance in Nigeria. Leaders hardly sustain policies and programs of their predecessor and this brings about uncompleted or abandoned projects littered over the country.

 

 

Prospects of Good Governance

The challenges facing good governance in Nigeria have been analyzed and the following situations can be employed to ensure good governance and development in the society. They are:

1. Disincentivize Political Offices 

Political offices should be made less attractive so the money-conscious politicians are not enticed. Therefore available opportunities are taken up by people who are genuinely concerned about rendering services to the people. The background of prospective political office holders should be screened as a way of bringing about possible reduction in government.

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2. Punish corruption 

Corrupt practices by government officials should attract some great punishments. Penalties for unethical practices or behavior should be enforced severely, so as to serve as a deterrent against future occurrence. The legal frameworks dealing with issues of corruption and bad governance should be redesigned to deal with all defaulters irrespective of status or position. Agencies charged with the duty of prosecuting corruption cases such as the EFCC and ICPC must be empowered to work without undue external influence. 

3. Meaningful appointments

Appointment into the public offices should be transparent, based on merit and qualifications and not biased. The federal government should not create a situation where the offices in the governmental agencies are seen as a platform for rewarding relatives, friends and political associates in terms of appointment.

4. True Independence

Governmental agencies that are independent bodies such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Judiciary should maintain their independence in structure, appointments, and functions. This can be achieved through the amendment of the constitution to ensure that no single arm of government has a monopoly over such appointments. This must also reflect in the way, these appointees are removed from office. No single arm of the government should have the power to remove principals of independent agencies from office.

5. Immunity from Criminal Prosecution

Constitutional provisions that relate to and support the immunity clause should be revisited. As such, public office holders can be tried while still in office and removed if found wanting. It is wrong to protect criminal elements in government from trial simply because of the position they occupy. There should be no sacred cows in government. Nigerian voters should only vote for candidates with a good record of integrity, good principles, and a proven impeccable character.

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6. National Orientation

There should orientation and re-orientation of leaders and followers on a continuous basis. Values and practices should be internalized in the country by all citizens. This can be achieved through promoting movies, music and other group activities like sports that bring people together. There could be seminars on interest topics that will bring about development to the country. Agencies like the National Orientation Agency, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Information should lead this process.

 

Conclusion

This article examined the concept, challenges, and prospects of good governance in Nigeria. It also shows that, for a country to be considered a developed country, certain factors such as accountability transparency, responsiveness, equity and so much more are noticeable in the governance of the country. It is also obvious that nonadherence of these causes disunity and lack of cooperation between the citizens and the governing bodies.

In order to bring about development through good governance and curtail corruption and its vices, some solutions must be introduced urgently.

With effective leadership and the minimization of corruption as well as good governance, Nigeria will be able to perform its functions such as; provision of housing, healthcare, security, job creation, education and so much more.

POLICE BRUTALITY IN NIGERIA | HOW TO SEEK REDRESS

“Police is your friend” is a popular maxim displayed in Police Stations across Nigeria. That doesn’t matter anyway since Police Brutality in Nigeria is absolutely higher than it has ever been. Most Nigerians have experienced police brutality or any of its variants. These could be police harassment, extortion, torture, arbitrary detention and in extreme cases, extrajudicial killing. It is safe to say that the widespread fear of the Nigeria Police is justified. I bet you agree. Have you had an encounter with the Police? How did you handle yours? 

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I am my friends ran into some problems with the Police during the holidays.  Below is our story and how we dealt with it.

How We were Robbed by the Police

The small fashion business which I started with three of my friends about 2 years ago was growing. The customer base was increasing and we made big sales during the festive season last year. This new year, we decided to treat ourselves well by buying ourselves a car and going on a vacation to Calabar for some enjoyment. We were on our way back from that vacation, all three of us in the new Hyundai Accent. Then we were stopped on the road by some police officers and asked to pull over. We came down from the car and these police officers started shouting orders with angry voices- ‘Oya open that boot’, ‘where una laptops?’, ‘bring your phone jaree, awon Yahoo boys’.

At that moment, I actually thought these may not be real police officers because I never had such experience before. Upon unlocking our phones, they immediately went to our social media chats, SMS messages, Gallery, Crypto and Forex applications. The chats with our associates in China from where we imported materials for our Fashion business were quickly pinned as our attempt to defraud foreigners using social media. Our crypto wallets were tagged as our way of laundering fraud money without being noticed and the policemen accused us of being internet fraudsters. 

All attempts to explain to these officers fell on deaf ears. They would not hear that we ran a fashion business, not minding the various evidence of our business we showed to them. These officers seized our car key and our phones. We could not make phone calls. Their last resort was that we could either bail ourselves there with ₦50,000 each or if we get to the station. we would be detained and the bail price would increase per person. The three of us could not provide the money there, and we asked to make phone calls for people who would get the money for us. They let us make the calls. Unfortunately, after making the calls, no one could get the money to us because we were on the highway, very far from our State. We then asked the officers if we could make mobile transfer of funds directly to their accounts using our phones. They disagreed at first, insisting that they would detain us in cells if we did not bring the money. However, after much deliberations, they said they would accept mobile transfers only on the condition that we would pay ₦70,000 each. We had no option, we needed to get home, so we transferred the money to them, and they let us go!

The Pain of Loss and Our Resolve to Fight the Police

Kabiru would not have it. He kept on venting his anger throughout our journey home. “Efosa”, he said, calling my attention from the road, “How could we be robbed of our hard-earned money like that? detained and treated like criminals by the very people who were charged to protect us”?  This got me thinking; our business is legitimate and we pay our taxes. Kabiru insisted we must do something about it otherwise we would never be safe, even in the hands of those who should ensure our safety. “These policemen would detain and extort more people, and who says it could not happen to us again? Some of these police officers have so much darkness in their blood as if their black uniform is a symbol of their evil hearts. But I know some other good police officers though, Segun added. 

We knew we had to tackle this. It is our duty as citizens of Nigeria who pay taxes and it is our right as human beings with dignity to follow this issue up. We knew that there is no guarantee that the police officers would be brought to book even if we took action. And we also didn’t know what particular action to take at that moment.

 

Channels for Seeking Redress

The next day, we conducted some research on what could be done and we came up with the following options:

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1.) Get a Lawyer and go to court; This was the most obvious option and the first to come to mind. We didn’t need any research to figure this out, actually. But court cases were always fraught with technicalities, long delays in getting justice and also quite expensive. We would definitely lose more than ₦50,000 each, or spend close to that amount in pursuing the case, and we were not even sure we would win. Technicalities in court can upturn the course of justice. It may well not be worth the stress, we have a business to run.

2.) Go to the National Human Rights Commission; This seemed to be a quicker approach. The commission would take administrative action by sending our grievances to the Commissioner of Police or the Inspector-General of Police, and they could even take up a case in court on our behalf, saving us the expenses. But then again, there was no guarantee that the commission would take up our case seriously, and getting a government agency to help you against another government agency didn’t sound very promising. The success of our case would depend greatly on the weight of evidence we had against these police officers, and in the willingness of the Commission to follow it up with tenacity.

3.) The Police Public Complaints Unit; This is a department of the Nigerian Police Force that deals with public complaints of police brutality. Getting the police to deal with its own officers may be the best way to seek redress, or it may leave us exposed and lead to more persecution by other police officers who could make us a target. Anyway, we have heard news of some police officers being expelled from the Force, and even charged, prosecuted and convicted. We have also heard rumors that these officers who were presented as having been dealt with properly, were simply redeployed to another State, in a jurisdiction where no one would recognize them. Anyway, we were not ruling out this option either. We visited their website using this link. From where we got their contact information. We also learned that every State Police Headquarters have a Human Rights Office where we could go and make our complaints.

4.) The Public Complaints Commission; This commission generally handles complaints against any public officer, civil servant or government office and can be reached here. It seemed a bit wide including them in our options because they deal mostly with Civil servants and other public officials, but we did not rule it out.

There are also many other Non-government organizations which could help in different ways. And we resolved to find these NGOs and see how they can help us too. We decided that since we could not afford option no.1, and there was no guarantee that any single option would provide a remedy, we decided to take options 2 to 4. 

The Irreplaceable Role of Evidence in Claims of Police Brutality

Upon enquires, we understood that whatever channel we would use for seeking redress, concrete evidence was key. Evidence to identify the officers, and to link them with the corrupt practice. Thankfully though, we have a video camera which was attached on the car’s dashboard and captured everything that happened. The camera was able to capture their faces, their names, and numbers as written on their uniforms. Everything that happened that day was recorded. Also, the records of the mobile transfers which we made to their account was extremely relevant. With this evidence, we filed our complaints. And we had hope. Real hope that we would get remedy for the injustice done to us. 

Social Media is a Potent Weapon Against Police Brutality

To fuel the flame of our complaints, we also used our social media and other available media channels to tell the public of our plight with the policemen, and the steps we had taken to seek redress. We also released the video footage to the public. Getting reactions from individuals and organizations made the agencies before which we laid complaints to give priority to our case and make efforts to bring the Police Officers to justice.

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Hope: how it is almost ending… 

Having done these, we had hope. Hope that Human Rights are still real, recognized and enforceable in the Nigerian society. Hope that the Nigeria Police Force still had some discipline and dignity towards its duties, not minding the misconducts of ‘evil’ Police Officers among them. Hope that the ordinary Nigerian citizen can get justice without bribing his way through. Our Joy lies in the fact that by taking steps to enforce our rights instead of sulking and complaining bitterly without doing anything, we would give others hope and encourage them to take steps in enforcing their rights too. 

What you can do?

We now encourage citizens to rise up and gear up. Here are a few suggestions to help you anytime your rights or those of any other persons are being violated: 

  • Make efforts to discreetly take pictures or record videos of the event as this will serve as invaluable evidence in seeking redress. Try to capture the faces of the police officers, and if possible, their names and numbers too. 
  • Remember to be discreet, evil police officers are known to be trigger happy too. 
  • Making wired transfers instead of cash would also provide evidence. 
  • Take note of the location where the event takes place. Police Officers are territorial.

Truly, there is no guarantee of getting a remedy, but the assertion of our freedom and dignity serves as warning bells to the bad police officers to keep off, or they could get burnt by our ‘wahala’. Activate your rights today! 

Have you had any experience of Police brutality? How did you handle yours? Are you taking any precautions to ensure that you do not fall victim to police brutality, extortion, and harassment? Let’s have your thoughts…

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How to break from a relationship

It might be to that point where things do not seem to have a headway in a relationship. Have you thought about breaking up?

Now you may think I’m some angel of bad news, but nothing is as bad as enduring a bad relationship. Let us get somethings straight, dating someone is not the same as being married to them, those are two different things. We are talking about people who have not bound themselves up in matrimony. At this point, you like the person so much to want to be in a relationship with them. As with most things in life, none last forever.

You might not be happy with your partner, you feel abused, exploited or you have a change of mind about the relationship, it is not going to be easy to break up that relationship. This doesn’t mean you will keep on in the relationship; it’s best that a breakup occurs. We would like to explore some ways people can end such relationships while avoiding a likely backlash.

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For some persons, a decision and outright pronouncement is made and the relationship is over. They go away and move on. For others, it is a more delicate matter. It takes months of preparation and planning. For such persons, it would be best to perceive breakup as a journey and for which I would like to suggest the following points.

1. Reflect

Think clearly about this decision and how you would like to do it. I mean, the words to say and how you say them. Do not be irrational or sentimental, it is a decision about the heart.

2. Choose a location and meet with them.

This is important, so both of you can meet. If you are worried about safety (because some partners can become emotional and harmful) do it in a public place. You can go with someone if it makes you feel safe.

3. Do it physically, in their presence.

This is important as it gives you some psychological strength to move on. Also, it confers on you some dignity and respect and it shows respect for the other person. This isn’t a declaration of a Cold war. Do not text or ask a friend to do it, do it in person.

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4. Speak plainly.

Do not use ambiguous statements or go around in circles. Tell the person what is on your mind so as to avoid passing the wrong message. Don’t say ‘… let us just be friends…’ or ‘… let us take a break…’ Call it what it is.

5. Be resolved.

Stick to what you have decided to do. It is understood that it is not an easy decision. But remember, not all things which matter in life are easy. There will be moments when you wish you haven’t done it, miss the person or feel too much pain that you want to undo what is done. If you want to move on, stand by your word.

 

6. Seek support.

Seek it from friends and close family members. Not all of life’s burdens should be borne alone; cry, listen to music, stay with friends and do fun things. This way, moving on is easier.

Do not continue to in that relationship if it becomes a burden. Such relationships have been implicated as a cause of depression and suicides. Look on the bright side and make a move. After the breakup, do not feel bad, depressed like you are the worst person on earth. Pick up and move on. Seek support from friends and family who understand and keep believing. You can find love again!

Good Facilitator Skills │ Everything you need to know!

To have good facilitator skills and lead Workshops and training events is an interesting prospect. However, mastering the art of facilitation takes some years of practice to attain. The purpose of this article is to simplify all you need to know to excel as a facilitator.

Who is a Facilitator?

To facilitate is “to make easier” or “help bring about.” Thus, facilitation in the workshop context is to help smoothly manage the flow and learning activities of a group. The facilitator guides the activities and attempts to maximize member’s time and energy by keeping the event and discussions on track – in terms of time, topic and learning outcomes. By taking a group through a process that produces a specific outcome (learning, decision-making, problem-solving, etc.), facilitation generally encourages all members to participate in some way, shape or form. By recognizing and utilizing the unique and valuable contributions of each member, an effective facilitator increases the collective value of the entire group.  By mediating the group process, the facilitator plays an active and critical role in ensuring that a group taps deeply into its own knowledge. Good facilitators should be able to:

  • value people and their ideas
  • think quickly and logically
  • communicate excellently

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The Role of a Facilitator

The role of a facilitator is to help the group move through their intended agenda, reach learning targets while carrying along all participants. The facilitator helps ensure that these learning targets are in harmony with the pre-identified learning objectives. The facilitator is therefore expected to:

Plan each day’s activities

  • Decide the agenda for each day
  • Gather resource materials that support topic
  • Arrange games, techniques, stories appropriate for your target group
  • Prepare learning aids. Improvise if necessary…
  • Set up your materials in the classroom ahead of the participants’ arrival
  • Meet with other co-facilitators to preview the day’s activities and split up the workload.
  • Ensure that the classroom has easy access to conveniences, water supply, adequate ventilation, and good lighting. Ensure that girls and women in your class have access to the nearest provisions.

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Set Up Learning Activities

  • Be at hand to welcome participants to the class
  • Be sure that all participants understand why they are at the training
  • Access knowledge/skills level of participants
  • State the purpose of the group session,
  • review the agenda and ground rules, and
  • remind everyone how much time is available for discussions. Everyone should be encouraged to participate actively while observing the laid down ground rules.

 

Gathering information

  • Make sure everyone has a chance to participate in activity,
  • remember that some participants are shy so may need encouragement
  • Use probing questions
  • Invite the experts to speak up
  • Call on individuals in the group
  • Invite debate
  • Try to keep discussions focused on the topic and get to the root cause of any issues,
  • ask for more details in order to gain clarity if needed
  • Key questions include: How do we understand …? What have we tried before that works? What would happen next? Is that what you mean?

Organizing information

  • group common thoughts and ideas together
  • avoid repetition, but don’t lose the details
  • Don’t lose good ideas that are off-topic – record these for use in the future
  • Key questions include: Are these ideas similar? What would happen if we tried these ideas together? Can anyone add anything to these ideas?

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Connecting ideas

  • Rephrase ideas so they relate to the issue we are discussing
  • Combine ideas to build solutions
  • Key questions include: How can we use that idea to help with our issue? What can we do today that will make a difference? Can we see some solutions or next steps emerging from our ideas?

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Wrapping Up a Discussion Session

  • Summarize key learnings,
  • Make sure everyone is clear on what has been decided and what will happen next.
  • If there are assignments to be completed after the class, be sure that everyone knows who is responsible for this and when it will be turned in.
  • Remind everyone how important it is to involve ourselves in these activities.
  • Don’t forget to thank everyone for coming, and ensure everyone is aware of the next agenda on the program of events if any.

Dealing with unproductive behavior

Difficult behavior is often unintentional or occurs as the result of an emotionally charged situation. You can expect a lot of such ‘charged’ moments in a human rights education class. You might be dealing with inattentive members who are engaging in side-bar conversations, taking calls or indiscreetly dealing with e-mail.  You might also be dealing with personal agendas or disrespectful behavior.  Progressive intervention will most often assist you in dealing with behavior that does not help the group achieve its meeting goals or objectives.  The following tips might be useful:

  • Use gentle and appropriate humor for redirection
  • Restate the ground rules directly
  • Direct your questions to the individual for clarification
  • Seek help from the group
  • Address the issue at a break or offline

 

Remember to

  • make eye contact,
  • smile,
  • be enthusiastic
  • avoid “closed” body language such as crossing your arms or turning your back on your audience
  • listen (listening is a key part of successful facilitation)

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