Letter to women affairs minister

Dear Honourable Minister, I realise that you have a need; a great need at that, to show your employer that both you and your team are active, proactive and working. Nevertheless, let me first inform you that the art of work since the stone age, when men and women walked about naked and hid in the caves, has followed this pattern, namely, quench the fire to kill the smoke, place the horse before the cart, and neutralise the cause in order to stop the effect. These principles have never changed and will never change.

Now, I find it really absurd that you are in the forefront of advocating and encouraging kill-the smoke-without-quenching-the-fire. For instance, sometimes in 2023, the social media was awash with the story of an Akwa Ibom state based lawyer who brutalised his wife to the extent that she was almost naked during the fight. As soon as that news got to your office, your first reaction was to order for the arrest and detention of the said barrister. Incidentally, the affected woman started to plead for her husband’s release.

Unfortunately, the woman’s action negated your approach. You were supposed to call the couple, find out what led to such a show of shame before you ordered for anyone’s arrest. About two weeks ago, the social media, again, featured a sad story of an Onitsha-based lawyer who domestically abused her maid to the point of using a hot iron on her. Again, you hurriedly placed a N2 million bounty on her arrest.

I recall in 2021 when Mr. Ahmed Isah (also known as the Ordinary President) of the Human Rights Radio slapped the woman in the cause of avenging the minor whose hair was scotched with fire. Ahmed Isah and his radio station were suspended for 30 days because of his actions. He was so penalised because he had no right to assume the place of the court when courts of law exist in Nigeria and are very open to adjudicate such matters. This incident ought to guide your actions.

So, I decided to write you. But, first, kindly answer the questions below. Honourable Minister, in a country where the levels of sound morals are so low that one cannot vouch for a public office holder’s integrity to not steal public funds, do you think it was wise for us to adopt a-no-child-flogging approach at this time of national life like it’s done in the first world countries? Dear Minister, are you aware that the first world countries adopted this approach because their public conduct culture is so entrenched that any misconduct is punished without fear or favour?

Are you aware that in the US, for instance, an average American prefers to commit suicide to being named and shamed for breach of public trust or abuse of office? And with a system like that, it is easy for a parent to correct their children by simply pointing them to the fate of some criminal that could befall them if they continued in misbehaviour? What system do you have in place here that could serve as a deterrent if parents pointed their children to it? Is it the high profile corruption or the yahoo boys or the fake religious leaders?

What do you have in place in the country that makes you go about ordering the arrest of persons? Before the Chinese or those in Singapore decided to curtail domestic violence, child flogging and abuse of minors, the first thing they did was to entrench a deep culture of self-awareness and high moral values. They made efforts to strengthen their country’s local currencies, improve the standard of living and insist on leadership by good example. Are you aware that in Singapore, citizens don’t spit just anywhere they deem fit?

So, on what basis are you building your advocacy of no-to-domestic-violence and no-to-child-flogging on? If our ancestors who were not educated as you and I are knew that in order to kill a smoke, all you need to do is to quench the fire, then what are you aiming at? I expect you, Honourable Minister, to use your good offices to articulate ideas that can restore our lost moral values, promote minimum acceptable behaviour and stimulate renewed trust in our shared destiny. You are a minister in a country where family values are dead and all you do is order arrests?

You are a minister in a country where indecent dressing, drug abuse and prostitution are rife and all you do is promote the culture of the west where you know too well that systemic rot like those in Nigeria are absent? If a man beats his wife, isn’t it better to check him in with a psychiatric instead of arresting him? And when a woman verbally abuses her husband, do you resolve this by arrest? Yes, as reported, the lawyer had abused her maid. So, how was arrest going to redress the wrong? How was arrest going to deter other caregivers from repeating the wrongs?

Yes, the lawyer abused his wife but how will arrest help? As a race, the black man is not unfortunate. As a continent, Africans are not unintelligent. What has made us appear both unfortunate and unintelligent is the fact that some of us promote the mindset of assessing the white man from his fruits instead of assessing him from his roots! Is there a glory without a story? But some propagate the idea that glory can exist without a story. The other day, I was reacting to one proponent of women empowerment who works with a major TV station.

So, I wanted to know how she got hired by that station particularly if she was hired because the station wanted to empower women or because she was prepared and eminently qualified to get the job. If she was taken because it was an empowerment then she was right to preach women empowerment but if she got hired because she qualified for the job then she was out to deceive other women, to preach women empowerment! She should rather preach hard work, good networking and self-improvement.

Let me state my concerns for writing you as I conclude this letter. Between adopting the liberal culture of the Americans and adopting the value system of the Singaporeans, which do you think could quickly translate Nigeria from a third world country to a first world in 10 years’ time? Between rolling out an attitudinal change curriculum in all our schools and, arresting and placing bounties on citizens because of misbehaviour, which do you think could quickly trigger the much needed transformation that Nigeria craves?

Ambassador Ifeanyichukwu George,

Executive Director, Self-Awareness for Suicide Prevention Initiative, Africa Abuja 08062577718