Super User

Super User

Let's face it, chances are you probably work, or have worked, with an office jerk, a-hole or bully. Toxic workers can have a profound and detrimental impact on organizations and their coworkers alike.

Their toxic behaviour and attitudes can lead to decreased morale, increased stress levels and diminished productivity. But it doesn't mean we must put up with their shenanigans, especially if leadership or HR decides to keep them around. 

If you're challenged by how to deal with your toxic coworkers, here are five strategies for staying focused, productive and keeping your sanity:

1. Change jobs inside your organization

Before you quit and move to another company, consider moving to a different part of your company. Companies like Salesforce rotate their employees to other roles every few months; employees (many of them engineers) attend their job fairs to be recruited by other departments and openly discuss switching teams. 

2. Avoid stooping to their level

When dealing with toxic coworkers, it's crucial to remain professional and not let their behaviour affect your conduct. Avoid stooping to their level or engaging in retaliatory behaviour. Focus on maintaining a respectful and productive work environment despite the a-holes wreaking havoc around you.

3. Set boundaries

Establishing clear boundaries is essential when dealing with toxic coworkers. Communicate what behaviour is unacceptable to you and firmly request that they respect your boundaries. Doing so establishes your expectations and sends a message that you will not tolerate toxic behaviour.

4. Surround yourself with a support network

Dealing with toxic coworkers can be emotionally draining, so seeking support from trusted colleagues, mentors or supervisors is vital.

Share your experiences and seek guidance on how to handle the situation effectively. Supportive individuals can offer valuable perspectives and advice on managing toxicity.

5. Study their behaviour

An out-of-the-box coping mechanism to protect from your coworker's craziness is to put yourself in the shoes of an expert or researcher studying their toxic behaviours.

When in their company during meetings or huddles, rather than getting triggered by their narcissism, put-down comment or belligerence, see it as a curious privilege to be able to observe such a rare specimen of a human being in action.

Studying your toxic colleagues in this light will make a toxic situation less upsetting, even when you can't control the situation.

6. Observe job candidates during interviews

During the interview process, watch for uncivil clues about how a potential boss or colleague treats you and others. If they don't listen, are rude, impatient or keep interrupting, it's a good sign you'll see the same behaviours show up once they're hired.

To minimize the risk of hiring toxic jerks, have job candidates participate in a work project or two and see how the work and people dynamics play out. Toxic behaviours may show up in real-life job auditions.

7. Focus on self-care

Dealing with toxic coworkers can be mentally and emotionally draining, so prioritizing self-care is crucial. Engage in activities that help you relax, recharge and maintain a positive mindset outside of work. This may include exercise, hobbies, spending time with loved ones or seeking professional support if needed.

Toxic coworkers can create a challenging work environment, but by implementing these strategies, you can protect your well-being, maintain productivity and contribute to a more positive workplace culture.

 

Inc

Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan has set a new record to win the women’s 100 meters hurdle at the Silesia Diamond League in Poland.

On Sunday evening, the current world record holder dusted America’s duo of Kendra Harrison and Ali Nia to equal the meeting record.

The reigning Commonwealth Games champion clocked 12.34 seconds to outrace Harrison (12.35) and 2019 world champion Ali (12.38).

She equalled the meeting record at the Silesia Stadium, Chorzó as well as a season’s best.

A fortnight ago, the Nigerian athlete won her first Diamond League title of the year in Stockholm, Sweden.

She is expected to defend her world record in Budapest later in the year.

Amusan had a stellar 2022 where she delivered brilliant performances at the Diamond League, Commonwealth Games, and World Athletics Championships.

She became the first Nigerian world champion after she clocked a wind-aided 12.06 seconds — ineligible as a world record because of +2.5 meters per second strong wind.

The sprinter consolidated her feat with a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games before retaining her Diamond League title to put a brilliant wrap on her season.

She was nominated for the 2023 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year award in February.

The award recognises individuals and teams from the world of sports along with sporting achievements throughout the year under review.

 

The Cable

There are over 9,000 licensed filling stations across the country that are fit for the co-location of facilities that dispense autogas fuel, the Federal Government has said.

It disclosed this in a communique issued by the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology at the end of the stakeholders’ engagement forum on the provision of technical manpower and facility for the development and promotion of autogas as transportation fuel in Nigeria.

The conference, with the theme, ‘Autogas as an alternative fuel for transportation in Nigeria’, showed that there was a need for alternative options for transportation fuels such as Liquefied Natural Gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, and Compressed Natural Gas known as autogas, which should become widely used and accepted as an alternative automotive fuel.

The communique stated that Nigeria gas reserves were about 209 trillion cubic feet, adding that gas production was between 8.15 – 8.35 billion standard cubic feet/day, which was more than enough for the nation.

Providing updates on the implementation status of the autogas programme, the NITT said, “There are over 9,000 licensed retail outlets classified fit-for-purpose for co-location of autogas fuel nationwide.

“There are 50 conversion centres currently upgrading for mass conversion and training of technicians in the country. Auto assemblers are already producing fit-for-purpose dual-fuel vehicles in the country.

“The Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme had held extensive multi-sectoral stakeholder engagement and secured impressive programme support and buy-in. The government is supporting the deployment of over one million conversion kits for trucks and smaller vehicles.”

It said the government was supporting the optimal availability of all autogas fuel streams, and that the adoption of autogas technology was good for Nigeria in the short and long term.

The communique stated that the forum recommended that the Federal Ministry of Transportation should collaborate with relevant stakeholders and the private sector for research, development, and deployment of autogas fuel in Nigeria.

It said the Federal Government should provide incentives to motorists, especially in the public transport and road freights sub-sectors for the conversion kits acquisition as a way of cushioning fuel subsidy removal.

 

Punch

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved a new code of corporate governance which specified that the tenure of a bank’s managing director or chief executive officer (CEO) can only last for a maximum of 12 years.

The CBN made the disclosure in a circular dated July 13, 2023, and signed by Chibuzo Efobi, director, financial policy and regulation department.

In February, the apex bank had ruled that executives can only serve a cumulative tenure of 20 years across the banking sector.

But in the circular, the CBN said the new rules  supercede all previous codes, circulars and related directives on corporate governance issued by the CBN.

According to the financial regulator, the implementation of the new rules will come into effect by August 1, 2023.

The CBN said the new code fixes the tenure of deputy managing directors and executive directors (ED)of a bank at a maximum period of 12 years.

The apex bank directed that when an executive director becomes a deputy managing director, a cumulative tenure of 12 years applies and shall not be extended.

The code also specified that the minimum and maximum number of directors on the boards of commercial, merchant and non-interest banks (CMNIBS) shall be seven and 15, respectively.

However, for a payment service bank (PSB), the minimum and maximum number of directors on the board shall be seven and 13.

The CBN said the board, subject to its approval, is to appoint the MD/CEO, executive directors as well as senior management staff.

“Where a DMD/ED becomes an MD/CEO of the same bank, his/her  previous tenure as DMD/ED is not included in computing his/her as MD/CEO,” the circular reads.

“Remuneration of MD/CEO, DMD, and EDs shall be linked to performance and structured to prevent excessive risk taking.

“The board shall approve a succession plan for the MD/CEO, other EDs and senior management staff, which shall be reviewed at least once every two years.”

The new policy added that not more than two members of an extended family shall be on the board of a bank.

“Only one member of an extended family can occupy the position of MD/CEO, chairman or ED at any point in time,” the circular reads.

“Where a merger, acquisition, take-over, or any form of business combination involves the appointment of a director from the board of the legacy institution, the length of service of such director shall include both the periods served pre and post combination.”

The CBN informed banks and financial holding companies to take note of the responsibilities imposed on their boards by the new rules.

 

The Cable

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has restricted the acquisition of controlling stakes in financial holding companies (FHCs).

The apex bank said any investor looking to acquire up to 5 percent of any FHC would need prior approval from it.

A FHC is a company that controls a group of financial institutions engaged in financial activities such as insurance, banking and securities dealing.

Banks such as UBA Group, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Stanbic IBTC Bank, Access Bank and First Bank have adopted the holding company structure to diversify their portfolio and earnings.

The directive is contained in a circular dated July 13, 2023 and signed by Chibuzo Efobi, director of the financial policy and regulation department.

The circular titled ‘Corporate Governance Guidelines’ was addressed to all commercial, merchant, non-interest and payment service banks, and financial holding companies.

The CBN said the effective date of the new guidelines is August 1, 2023.

The regulation reads: “Except with the prior written approval of the CBN, no FHC or any of its director, shareholder or agent shall enter into an agreement which results in:

i. a change in the control of the FHC, the transfer of shareholding of five per cent (5%) and above in the FHC; and/or an increase in shareholding to five per cent (5%) or more in the FHC.

Provided that CBN’s prior approval and No Objection shall be sought and obtained, before any acquisition of shares of an FHC by an investor (including through the capital market), that would result in equity holding of five per cent (5%) and above.

“ii. the sale, disposal or transfer of the whole or any part of the business of the FHC;
iii. the acquisition or merger of the FHC;
iv. the reconstruction of the FHC; or
v. the employment of a management agent, management by or transfer of its business to any such agent.”

The CBN said that no one can own a controlling stake in more than one bank, except a prior approval is obtained.

The apex bank added that subsidiaries of an FHC were prohibited from acquiring shares in its FHC and/or other subsidiaries within the group.

The CBN said in cases where it has an objection to any of the acquisition, the notice of the objection would be communicated to the FHC, and the company is expected to notify such investor(s) within 48 hours.

 

The Cable

Many Nigerians are currently unable to carry out transactions using their Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) applications.

This is as a result of a major outage.

An aggrieved customer said he started experiencing the problem after GTBank launched a new app for its customers on Wednesday.

He said the problem reached its peak on Saturday after attempts to use the app and 737 code failed.

“I went to a branch nearby to use the ATM for transfer, but still it did not work,” said the customer who simply identified himself as Omezia.

After launching the new app, the bank had told customers that it would discontinue support for the old version of GTWorld by August 12.

Many customers had downloaded the new app but have been unable to make use of it.

Several GTBank customers took to Twitter to express grievances over the inability to use banking services.

Below are some of such comments:

Tweeting via, @gimbakakanda, one Gimba Kakanda, said: “Innalillah. I was here laughing at those who had rushed to update their @gtbank app, only to find out that mine had updated automatically. It’s gonna be a long weekend.”

@detolani said: “Now this is just totally messed up! @gtbank @gtbank_help. Locked out of my account because of your “upgraded” app. Worst part of all this outrage from everyone using Gtb is that no one would be held accountable within the system! How can you screw up this badly?!”

@Mayor38: “GTB una no dey try. After updating your app to log in became a problem. Thank God I could revert back to the old one easyly #gtbank DON’T INSTALL THE NEW GT WORLD APP YET”

@_DiorBaby: “UPDATE If you are using Android and you are having issues logging in to your GTbank mobile app due to the new update. You can redownload the old version of the App from the Palm store. The old version is still there.”

@ShegunTweets: “I swear it shall not be well with @gtbank. Nobody asked them for a new app, they now did it and locked out millions of users just because they refuse to send otp code. since July 12th I’ve not been able to do anything for bast’s sake. is this not madness???”

In its response to the complaints, the bank tendered an apology and asked customers to use the internet banking or USSD platform to initiate transactions.

Dear Customer,

AN UPDATE ON GTWORLD

“We are aware that as a result of the recent update we initiated on the GTWorld Mobile Banking App, you have been unable to log in to the App.”

*First, we would like to sincerely apologize that we couldn’t deliver the new GTWorld App to you seamlessly as we had communicated.

“Whist we are working round the clock to resolve the issues with accessing the App, we would like to kindly appeal that you use our Internet Banking for your online banking needs.

“For online banking, kindly go to www.gtbank.com and log in to Online Banking using any of the following: the same User ID and Password you use on GTWorld or Bank Account Number or Mobile Number or Email.
If you do not have a hardware token, please generate e-tokens for completing transactions on Internet Banking by dialing *737*7# or by downloading our e token App via the Play Store or App Store.

“If you have forgotten your password, you can easily reset it on the Online Banking log in page or call GTCONNECT for assistance.

*We are grateful for your understanding and thank you for banking with us.

“We are always here to help you with all your enquiries or complaints. You can reach us via our 24 Hours Contact Center and via WhatsApp on 0904 000 2900”.

 

Daily Trust

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

20% of Ukrainian weapons destroyed in just two weeks – New York Times

The Ukrainian military lost 20% of the equipment it sent to the battlefield during the first two weeks of its counteroffensive, the New York Times reported on Saturday. This high attrition rate was reportedly a key factor in Kiev’s decision to pause the operation.

Beginning in early June, Ukrainian forces launched a series of attacks all along the front line from Kherson to Donetsk. Advancing through minefields and without air support, the Ukrainian military lost 26,000 men and more than 3,000 pieces of military hardware, according to the latest figures from the Russian Ministry of Defense. 

Ukrainian losses were at their highest during the initial two weeks of the offensive, the New York Times claimed, citing unnamed American and European officials. These officials said that up to 20% of Ukraine’s tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed in this period, including many Western-provided vehicles.

For some units, Western equipment was lost at an even higher rate, the Times continued, citing figures from a pro-Ukrainian organization. Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade – a NATO-trained unit – apparently lost 30% of its 99 Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles in two weeks, while the 33rd Mechanized Brigade lost nearly a third of its 32 German-made Leopard tanks in a single week.

“They all burned,” said one Ukrainian soldier who witnessed at least six Western vehicles destroyed in a single Russian artillery barrage. Another Ukrainian fighter told the Times that his unit’s Bradleys run over anti-tank mines on a daily basis. While the troops inside often survive, the vehicles are left immobilized long before they reach Russian lines.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian forces have destroyed a total of 311 Ukrainian tanks since June 4. “At least a third of them, I believe, were Western-made tanks, including Leopards,” Putin told Russia 24 TV on Thursday.

After the first two weeks, Ukrainian commanders decided to pause the counteroffensive, and losses subsequently dropped to 10%, the Times claimed. President Vladimir Zelensky acknowledged the pause this week, but blamed the West for failing to supply him with enough weapons and equipment for a successful operation.

With little territorial gain to show for Kiev’s losses, Western officials have expressed disappointment at the pace of the offensive, according to a steady trickle of media reports since mid-June. Zelensky and some of his top officials still insist that the decisive phase of their counteroffensive has yet to begin.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Western backers are running low on ammunition, particularly 155mm artillery shells. US President Joe Biden admitted this week that “we’re low” on these shells, explaining that the shortage compelled him to send controversial cluster munitions in their stead. The US has also stalled on approving the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, something that Kiev insists will help restart the faltering counteroffensive.

** Crimea invasion would kill 200,000 Ukrainian soldiers – ex-Zelensky aide

The cost of invading Crimea would be too high for Kiev, a former adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Aleksey Arestovich, said this week. The operation would likely lead to hundreds of thousands of casualties, he said, speaking to Russian journalist Yulia Latynina.

There are “few prospects” of seizing the Crimean Peninsula through military means, Arestovich said, when discussing the options remaining to Kiev in its ongoing conflict with Moscow. “What will be the cost? Extermination of 200,000 of the adult male population?” he added, referring to the number of soldiers Ukraine would be likely to lose. Ukraine’s economy might also be “totally destroyed” in the process, he warned.

Kiev is already “totally dependent” on its Western backers, the former presidential adviser admitted. Should the US and its allies stop supplying Ukrainian troops with weapons, they would not only be unable to take back territories that had joined Russia, but would also struggle to defend their current positions, he said.

Arestovich also openly charged that Washington and its allies were pursuing their own interests in the conflict. “Let’s be honest: our foreign policy goals in this war contrast sharply with the foreign policy goals of our sponsors and backers,” he said, adding that the West was willing to sacrifice Ukraine’s territory and lives of its people to achieve the desired outcome.

Ukraine can now only influence the Western leaders at an “emotional” level, the former presidential adviser said, adding that Kiev should have focused on building up its own sovereignty instead. “We need relations… based on real profits. That’s the only thing they [the West] understand,” he added. Arestovich also said that “immoral policies… and inability to take serious decisions” are the “major weakness of the West.”

Still, Ukraine cannot just abandon its Western backers and pursue its own goals “at any cost,” the former adviser insisted, adding that that would be a “dead end” for Kiev. The only consolation would be the prospect of joining NATO in exchange for peace with Russia.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Ukraine, Russia accuse each other of shelling civilians in Zaporizhzhia

Three civilians were wounded in Russian shelling of a village in Zaporizhzhia, the head of Ukraine's presidential administration said on Saturday, while Moscow-backed officials said that Kyiv's forces shelled a school there.

Fighting has been taking place in Zaporizhzhia for months, a frontline region in southern Ukraine that Moscow moved to annex last year but does not occupy it in its entirety. The regional capital, the city of Zaporizhzhia, remains under Kyiv's control.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine's presidential administration, said on his Telegram messaging app that Russian forces shelled the village of Stepnohirske in the region from multiple rocket launchers, hitting an administrative building.

"There are three wounded: two women and a men," Yermak said.

Russia also shelled the city of Zaporizhzhia, hitting and damaging at least 16 buildings there, Anatoliy Kurtiev, secretary of the city council said.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in parts of Zaporizhzhia controlled by Moscow, said that Ukrainian forces destroyed a school in the village of Stulneve, while air defence forces intercepted a drone over the city of Tokmak.

Reuters could not independently verify neither of the reports. Both sides deny targeting civilians in the nearly 17-month long war that Russia has been waging on its neighbour.

Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday it had destroyed a number of Ukrainian weapon depots in the region over the past day. Ukraine's top military command said that Russia is trying to stop Ukraine's advance there, shelling heavily the area.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed again on Saturday to liberate all the land that Russia occupies.

"We cannot leave any of our people, any towns and villages under Russian occupation," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. "Wherever the Russian occupation continues, violence and humiliation of people reign."

** Fighters from the Wagner group have arrived in Belarus from Russia, Ukrainian and Polish officials said on Saturday, a day after Minsk said the mercenaries were training the country's soldiers southeast of the capital.

"Wagner is in Belarus," Andriy Demchenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian border agency, said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app. He said the movement of "separate groups" from Russia had been observed in Belarus.

Some Wagner fighters have been in Belarus since at least Tuesday, two sources close to the fighters told Reuters.

The Belarusian defence ministry released a video on Friday, showing what it said were Wagner fighters instructing Belarusian soldiers at a military range near the town of Osipovichi.

Wagner's move to Belarus was part of a deal that ended the group's mutiny attempt in June - when they took control of a Russian military headquarters, marched on Moscow and threatened to tip Russia into civil war - President Vladimir Putin said.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has not been seen in public since he left the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don late on June 24.

Poland's deputy minister coordinator of special services, Stanislaw Zaryn, said Warsaw also has confirmation of Wagner fighters' presence in Belarus.

"There may be several hundred of them at the moment," Zaryn said on Twitter.

Poland said this month it was bolstering its border with Belarus to address any potential threats.

While not sending his own troops to Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to launch its full-scale invasion on Ukraine in February 2022 and has since let his country be used as a base for Russian nuclear weapons.

The Belarusian Hajun project, which monitors military activity in the country and which is viewed as an extremist formation by Belarusian authorities, said a large column of at least 60 vehicles entered Belarus overnight Friday from Russia.

It said the vehicles, including trucks, pickups, vans and buses, had licence plates of the self-styled Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics in what is internationally recognised as eastern Ukraine. In a move widely condemned as illegal, Moscow moved last year to annex the republics, which have been Russian proxies since 2014.

Hajun said it appeared that a Wagner column was headed to Tsel in central Belarus, where foreign reporters were last week shown a camp with hundreds of empty tents.

Reuters could not independently verify the Belarusian Hajun report. There was no immediate comment from Russia or Belarus on the reports.

** Putin discusses grain deal, awkward BRICs summit with Ramaphosa

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in which they discussed the Black Sea grain deal, due to expire on Monday, and a summit in South Africa next month, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

Ramaphosa finds himself in an awkward position as host of the BRICS summit because of an arrest warrant issued against Putin in March by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which accused him of the war crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

The warrant means member states of the ICC - of which South Africa is one - are obliged to arrest him if he sets foot on their territory. Russia said at the time that the warrant was "outrageous" and legally void because Russia is not an ICC member.

The Kremlin has yet to say publicly if Putin intends to go to the summit. In Saturday's statement it said Ramaphosa had briefed Putin about preparations for the event, but did not give details of their exchange.

Ramaphosa's office, in its readout of the call, did not mention the meeting of the BRICS group, which also includes Brazil, India and China.

It said the two men discussed an African peace initiative for Ukraine and "the need for a permanent and sustainable solution to the movement of grain from Russia and Ukraine to the international markets".

The African plan was presented separately to Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last month by a group of leaders including Ramaphosa, but has yet to gain any traction.

On the grain deal, which expires on Monday unless Russia agrees to extend it, Putin reiterated to Ramaphosa that commitments to remove obstacles to Russian food and fertiliser exports had not yet been fulfilled, the Kremlin said.

Russia has repeatedly said that for this reason it sees no grounds to renew the deal, originally struck a year ago to enable Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports despite the war with Russia.

Putin told reporters on Thursday that rather than renew the arrangement next week, Moscow might pull out and wait for its demands to be met before rejoining.

Russia has threatened to quit the deal before, however, only to renew it at the last minute.

 

RT/Reuters

A little over a week ago, Wole Soyinka turned the attention of Nigerians from their current harrowing economic existence to one of the tyrannies that religion inflicts on them. Soyinka was apparently in his elements. For decades, he had fought battles of willful violations of human existence in various guises. Young Yakubu Gowon was one of the experiments Soyinka conducted on his intolerance for governmental tyranny. Gowon’s government had detained the comparative literature professor for two years in the wake of the civil war on allegation of hobnobbing with bearded Odumegwu Ojukwu who had just declared a civil war. From Gowon to Olusegun Obasanjo and down to Sani Abacha, Soyinka had always demonstrated his resistance to tyrannies. In this particular instance, however, the Emir of Ilorin, Sulu Gambari, was the object of his singeing pen. The Emir, through some Islamic zealots called Majlisu Shabab li Ulamahu Society, had stormed the residence of an Olokun – water goddess – worshipper, Adesikemi Olokun, to warn her to desist from holding a festival of culture tagged Isese in Ilorin, capital of Kwara State. The Islamic group reportedly claimed they were emissaries of the emir.

“Year after year, Ramadan has been celebrated in this nation as an inclusive gathering of humanity, irrespective of divergences of belief. Not once, in my entire span of existence, have I encountered pronouncements by followers of any faith that the slaughtering of rams on the streets and marketplaces is an offence to their concept of godhead. Vegetarians hold their peace. Buddhists walk a different path,” Soyinka wrote in an open letter to the Emir.

The audacity of the Ilorin zealots and the Emir of Ilorin are tiny specks of the intolerant religious space that Nigerians live in. The two foreign religions of Christianity and Islam have chosen to deliberately forget that they are tenants in this space and have magisterially been muzzling their landlord, the traditional religion. The three cardinal religions in Nigeria – Christianity, Islam and Traditional African worship, have been engaged in a battle to neutralize one another. The competition for pre-eminence and supremacy is such that endangers the peaceful coexistence of the people. Indeed, the rising tide of fundamentalism is such that checkmating the monster of religious intolerance and insensitivity of these religions who believe in the supremacy of their own faiths, is necessary if the country desires peaceful coexistence and sustainable national development.

While Islam penetrated Nigeria from the Northern flank about five or six hundred years before Christianity, sometime between 1000A.D and 1100 A.D, Uthman Dan Fodio’s Jihad took the religion to the nooks and crannies of Northern Nigeria. On its own, Christianity’s incursion into the place now known as Nigeria was through the Portuguese Roman Catholic Mission that came to Benin in 1485, having been invited by Oba Uzolua and later in 1514 by Oba Esigie, Kings of Benin. This history does not obviate the fact that the two foreign religions met the African fully involved with Isese and its cultures.

Gambari’s involvement in this roulette of intolerance and the fact that this was happening in Ilorin seem to be the kernel of the issues of concern. Soyinka alluded to them peremptorily. History told us that Ilorin was under the suzerainty of the Yoruba, having been founded by Laderin, the great grandfather of Afonja, who later became the Are Ona Kakanfo, the generalissimo, or chief military leader, of the old Oyo Empire. Alimi, the progenitor of Sulu Gambari, actually came into town as On’tira (phial maker) of Afonja. He got killed when a brawl broke out between him and Yoruba forces on one hand whose masquerade came out in Ilorin and his boys who had constituted themselves into the Jam’aa who opposed the Egungun masquerade. The Jam’aa, in cahoots with forces loyal to them, then gathered to eliminate him. Afonja was not only killed, but his body was also burnt to ashes and the son of Alimi, a Fulani priest, then took over the leadership of Ilorin. Since then, the Yoruba traditional religion and Egungun festival were banned in Ilorin due to this clash. It was how and why Ilorin became the suzerainty of Fulanis whose treachery in the killing of Afonja has become a folk narrative in coup plotting.

The issue at hand is not even who rules over a people who have been cunningly displaced of their land, but how the people have fared ever since in ethno-religious relations. Progenies of Alimi have made Ilorin an Islamic and emirate town, which is indisputable and commensurate with the nature of conquests. However, the wave of modernity and civilization that is sweeping through the whole world has made it an anathema for one religion to assume superiority over another. Skit makers, after Gambari and his zealots’ rude stomp on the home of Adesikemi Olokun, went to town to reveal that Ilorin, not totally disconnecting from the roots of its Afonja forebears, is replete with Isese. The skit makers demonstrated this through the many videos on the social media they posted. In them, we see that in the hordes of spots in Ilorin where roots, herbs, native talismans and amulets (called l’eku l’eja in Yorubaland) are sold and a thriving market administered by Alhajas and Alhajis and probably Christians, is the realization that Ilorin has not forgotten its Isese past.

The hypocrisy of Gambari and the Islamic zealots of Ilorin is manifest in that, throughout Yorubaland today, there is gravitation towards the medicine and practices of our forefathers. Though it took centuries of brainwashing to accomplish this brain reset, during which period the people threw away their religious and medical identities, there is an attempt to reconnect with them.

Of particular bother is why Ilorin would preference religious ahead of moral chastity. While the Emir and his zealots hypocritically advertise their disdain for sacrifices to gods in traditional religion, they are not averse to the widespread belief that Ilorin is the capital of adultery, where there is no societal condemnation of flesh sacrifices on the altar of sexual illicitness. This is done through the On’tiju Mi syndrome. In Ilorin, adulterous liaisons between a man and a woman, reified in the On’tiju Mi, no matter whether the parties are married or not, are alleged to be accepted canon of inter-personal relations. They are not frowned at as it is done in many other cultures and Ilorin women flaunt the beauty of the On’tiju Mi without an iota of shame.

Why the Emir and his zealots opposed to Isese cannot be allowed, on the altar of religion, to pollute the long chain of cultural affinity between this historical city and the culture of other parts of Yorubaland is that, Ilorin is home to the best of Yoruba-speaking musical talents. These are talents, living or dead, who evoke the rawest and best of Yoruba cultural music. When Ilorin-born musicians like Odolaye Aremu, Iya Aladuke, Jaigbade Alao and down to Kollington Ayinla, sing, they strike a chord in ancient Yoruba culture. Ilorin is home to genres of Yoruba music like Wákà, Bàálù, Senwele, Pankèkè and Dadakúwàdá. It also boasts of its own brand of Àpàlà, different from that of Egba and Ijebu, like that of Àjàdí Ilorin and Salahu Woro Idofihan. Incantations and panegyrics of Yorubaland, including even salutations to spirits of ancestors, reign supreme in those songs.

Samuel Johnson, the foremost Yoruba historian, even claimed that Egungun originated from among the Nupe people, who can be said to be somehow contiguous to the Ilorin. Dadakuwada, an African traditional ritual performance, kindled by llorin oral art, also took its origin from the Egungun poetry, the Iwi. This counterpoises the pretext of the ancient city of Ilorin which, in overwhelming abidance with the Islamic religion, frowns at intoxicants and where Egungun is banned from being displayed due to the spat in history that spilled the blood of Afonja, a spat sparked by the celebration of Egungun festival.

Gambari, by banning Isese in Ilorin, is merely re-enacting the attack on Afonja and his killing for bringing out masquerades in Ilorin. There must be something about Isese that threatens the received religion of Alimi’s progenies. However, no matter how much they try, thousands of Gambari, his Islamic religious zealots and their allies in the Christian faith cannot stop the realization that Ilorin and its Afonja ancestry cannot be divorced from Isese. 

 

N8000 for Bourdillon street sweepers too?

In the last few days since Nigeria’s new government announced an N8,000 palliative for 12 million poor Nigerian families, you would think that, all of a sudden, Nigerians had gone back in time to the Ayi Kwei Armah’s Ghanaian years. Or that the scales had just suddenly fallen off the people’s eyes. Criticisms, snide commentaries and comparative placements of this government, side by side the Muhammadu Buhari government’s similar policy failure, are pelted on Aso Rock Villa. Has the matrimony of barely eight weeks begun to manifest traces of rupture?

The matrimony of pre-independence Ghana with Kwame Nkrumah witnessed a similar rupture not too long after it began. Ghanaian politician, political theorist and revolutionary, Nkrumah had led the then Gold Coast to independence from Britain in 1957, having become its first Prime Minister in 1952. One of the most greatly debated African leaders, Nkrumah came into office with great hopes as a young, promising leader with theoretical plans of how to liberate Ghana and Africa. This renown preceded him into office. He spoke glowingly on how he would show the world the model of peaceful transition from colonial rule to independence. Not only did this transition from colonialism to democracy fail, in 1964, Nkrumah made Ghana a one-party state. This sponsored amendment to the constitution made him president for life. As socialist and nationalist, Nkrumah ran a totalitarian, authoritarian government that was intolerant of dissent and mowed opposition. He also conducted elections considered everything but free and fair. He was however eventually toppled in a coup d’etat in 1966 by the National Liberation Council and he escaped to Guinea where he lived the rest of his life.

Arrmah fictionalized this romance between Ghana and Nkrumah in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Therein, he painted the canvass of Nkrumah leadership’s disappointment, darkening the pictorial image of post-independence Ghana with graphic descriptive images of filth, messy environment, excreta, phlegm and putrefaction. With these, he depicted the intensity of the various levels of corruption and poverty under Nkrumah. To reinforce the images, Armah conjured powerfully disgusting scenes of fictive Ghana enveloped by decaying lavatories and rotting dump yards. In reality, Ghana sunk phenomenally and with it, incinerating lofty dreams which then began to give way to desperation. Rather than the hopes which Ghanaians reposed in Nkrumah for a revolution that would liberate them from the dark times of colonialism, what they got confronted with was postcolonial disillusionment. Armah painted these in fictive images of the new national elite’s power abuses, corruption and mind-boggling poverty. Nkrumah, The Beautyful Ones seemed to have concluded, was leader of a band of men, who the people realized rather late, were false Messiahs. They were leaders who, unbeknown to the people, ascended to power with the major aim of improving their own elite fancies. As he went back home in a bus, the book’s main character reflected on how “all around decaying things push inward and mix all the body’s juices with the taste of rot” and how this degeneration symbolized the doomsday of a corrupted Ghana.

In Nigeria, shocks and disgusts have ruled the airways since the presidency sought and got a N500 billion approval to cushion the effect of harrowing pains occasioned by the subsidy removal. To be fair to this government, after its sudden, peremptory and unilateral removal of subsidy and the harrowing pains Nigerians have gone through thereafter, very little quick-win opportunities exist for it to make an instant show of empathy to the people. In virtually all sectors of the Nigerian economy where this government could demonstrate its empathy to the plights of the people, no visible or achievable low hanging fruits abide. For instance, if the Bola Tinubu government decides to flood the streets with public transportation, how long will the formalization of purchase agreements of those vehicles take, for the mass of the people to feel the pulse of transportation ease? Thus, the government’s apparatchiks justify the recourse to this failed model of palliatives as the only one available to government at the moment. However, if the government had begun from the angle of talking to and engaging with Nigerians ab initio, it would not have been difficult to convince the people to wait for the maturation of a holistic package of tackling the endemic poverty in the land. This would have been more desirable than merely throwing palliatives at the “poorest of the poor” like feeds thrown at dogs as this palliative regime indicates.

There is no doubting the fact that there is connect between governmental policies and poverty reduction in Africa. So, if the Tinubu government gets its policies right, it can significantly reduce poverty in Nigeria. World Bank, IMF and other multilateral agencies have studied the incidence of poverty in Africa and have come to the conclusion that fighting it goes beyond simplistic policies. For instance, factors like lack of income and productive resources sufficient to ensuring sustainable livelihood, hunger and malnutrition, ill health, limited or lack of access to education and other basic services, increased morbidity and mortality from illness, homelessness, inadequate, unsafe and degraded environment, social discrimination and exclusion and lack of participation in decision making in civil, social and cultural life, among many others, have been found to aid the multiplication of the destructive cells of poverty. Poverty in Africa has also been attributed to corruption and poor governance, infrastructure, diseases and poor health facilities. Indeed, poverty and corruption are said to share same umbilical cord, with one cankerworm breeding the other.

Poverty is the oldest and the most resistant virus in the third world, unleashing a devastating gale of destructions on developing countries. Its rate of killing is held to be far more than any disease’s known since the genesis of mankind. Poverty has been said to be more corrosive than malaria and HIV/AIDS and is far deadlier than Ebola. Thus, if the Tinubu N8,000 palliative, just as its name indicates, is merely for the poor to feed for six months, not only is it barely enough, it is a colossal waste of N500 billion by any government whose utmost aim is to combat poverty and lack. If the overall Bola Tinubu government’s plan is to fight poverty, it has to begin with a much more encompassing umbrella and strategy because fighting poverty isn’t as simplistic as offering a token of palliatives to a blood-guzzling god of penury. It can only be fought with strong institutions and equitable distribution of resources and done by a non-corrupt government.

Africa and Nigeria are plagued by programmes which, on the outward, are designed to fight poverty but which are disguised conduits to fatten the stomach linings of governmental elites. Experiences have shown that the funds, most times, ended in the esophagus of corrupt individuals. Because of the paddy-paddy government we run in Nigeria, apprehending those who stole previous governments blind is always the best way to begin. New governments lack the political will to take on these dinosaurs of corruption. If this government were serious about disconnecting the chain of poverty in Nigeria, the first thing I should do was to investigate what went wrong under the Buhari government. Trillions of Naira, in various funny shibboleths grouped as Trader Monie, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development were implemented which, in the opinions of Nigerians, were avenues to divert national monies into private pockets.

As I have asked previously, what is the street credibility of the Tinubu government to assure Nigerians that a N500 billion earmarked for the poor would ultimately get to them? There is acute cynicism on the streets of Nigeria. Like the Nkrumah totalitarian government, what we have today is a “one-party state” filled with the single profile of officials whose pasts are pockmarked by maggots, filth, messy excreta, phlegm and putrefaction, decaying lavatories and rotting dump yards that Ayi Kwei Armah gave vivid description of. The totalitarianism isn’t about a single political party. It is that of a single mind of filth and corruption. This is a government in which, in less than two months, allegations of mounting corruption of governmental aides demanding and getting bribes that run into billions of Naira to put persons in office are rife. The Senate, under a man who, shortly before his ascension into office, was alleged to be wanted by the EFCC, has also been said to have padded the palliatives sum to benefit its members. These are the aides of the president who would prosecute the disbursements of the N500 billion palliatives.

More importantly, what rationale would justify the presidency offering N8,000 to “the poorest of the poor” while a bill, brought before the National Assembly last week, demanded N70 billion for parliamentarians to “improve the working conditions of new members”? We have been told by those who foisted this regime of poverty on the poor that the N8,000 will cushion the agony of poverty on them. Even sweepers of Tinubu’s Bourdillon Street, Lagos cannot rejoice at being dolled that condescending sum. If a sweeper on that elite street buys doughnut and pays for commuting to their place of work daily from the N8,000, the palliative cannot last a week. So, if the amount is indeed a palliative, as its name connotes, what succor would it bring the way of the poor? Somebody did the arithmetic and concluded that each of the lawmakers involved in the N70 billion “palliatives” demanded by sinecure legislators from Nigeria would be hoisting home a booty of approximately N149 million. As poor as Nigerian poor are, what can N8,000 do for them? Conversely, in the same bill brought before the House of Representatives, farmers who suffered devastating blows from floods across the country in 2022, will be getting N19 billion.

The food security announcement made by government last week sounded too vague, too omnibus to capture the dire situation at hand in the Nigerian economy. We all know that insecurity is a major bane of food production in Nigeria today as farmers cannot go to their farms. Insurgents in the north demand taxes from farmers before they can access their farms. Poultry farmers are facing the harshest time of their entire operation in Nigeria today. What is the texture of this omnibus declaration of food security emergency? What are its details? Those are the essential Nigerians demand to know whether it is another Nkrumah pronouncement of liberation of Ghana. The food emergency declaration by this government sounded, to many Nigerians, like a throw-fodders-to-hungry-ruminants strategy which lacks cogency, articulacy and verve. If it was well thought out, please provide the details.

The N8000 palliative for the poorest of the poor smacks of a cynical contempt for them. It seems to approximate the disdain this government has for them.

 

Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed ~ Psalm 112:1-2.

Introduction:

Undoubtedly, divine blessing is one of the deepest mysteries of godliness. It should interest us greatly, and we must practically understand its principles and demands in order to enjoy it in full.

Jacob knew the importance of divine blessing so well that he insisted on receiving it, refusing to let God go until he got it (Genesis 32:26-29). Though, this was at a great cost of personal pain, it was surely worth the cost as his life changed forever after that experience.

If certain things are not working for you the way you expect right now, never worry about that. What should rather concern you is whether or not you are truly connected to the blessing of the Lord.

Divine blessing attracts sundry, diverse and assorted gifts of grace to the blessed (James 1:17). Success, greatness, riches, glory, victory, safety and health are also byproducts of the Lord’s blessing. Only His blessing gives real meaning to any man's life (Proverbs 10:22).

In the days of his tribulations, many people thought that Job was finished. He looked like a faithful man forsaken and forgotten. He lost everything: his family, friends, health, wealth and peace. He was troubled on every side! But, in the end, he got double for all his troubles, because he was a blessed man!

The Generational Dimension of Divine Blessing

Generally speaking, God heaps generational blessings upon His people to infuse them with His honour, and to empower them to possess the gates of their enemies (Genesis 17:7; 22:17-18). When God blesses you, He imbues you with His matchless power to make the blessing effectual (Deuteronomy 8:18).

Divine blessing is characteristically full, rich, unstoppable and void of sorrow. Hence, it always turns to a misadventure for anyone to seek to curse the one whom God has blessed (Genesis 12:3; Deuteronomy 23:5). This was the lesson that Balaam learnt the hard way (Numbers 24:1).

There is nothing like “too late” or “too hard” for the blessed person. This was why Abraham left his father's house to start life afresh at an old age of seventy-five, and he still made it!

When you are blessed of the Lord, everywhere you go, sooner or later, springs will flow in the desert, the barren land will become fruitful and the crooked ways will become straight, because you have been divinely equipped of the Lord (Isaiah 40:4)!

One thrilling truth to keep here is that the blessing of God can actually be captured and stored in the “gene” of the blessed, and thus provoke incredible blessings for his seed: “his children are blessed after him”(Proverbs 20:7b).

In other words, all things being equal, the children of the blessed are blessed! This is the dimension of blessing we refer to as generational blessing, which flows from one generation to the next, imparting, enabling and helping the recipients to achieve their dreams and overcome obstacles.

Now, the father’s blessing is one of the most important dimensions of blessing you can ever receive. Abraham’s blessing was passed to Isaac, then to Jacob and, thereafter, to Jacob’s twelve sons (Genesis 49:1-33). This is the same blessing that rests upon every believer in Christ today (Galatians 3:13-16).

Generational blessing comes from God through the fathers or father-figures, not just any other person. Isaac could only receive the blessing through Abraham, and Jacob could only receive it through Isaac. In fact he coveted it so much that he went some extra lengths to get it.

When a father, biological or spiritual, speaks approval and blessing, spiritual power flows. However, if you fail to receive that blessing by impartation, it’s oftentimes lost. Esau despised his birthright, the inheritance of his father, and as a result he lost the blessing. He also became the only man who  God “hated” in the entire Bible (Romans 9:13).

Similarly, many believers today despise the actual source of their inheritance in Christ, and receive no blessing because they despise the ordained channel through which they can get it: the spiritual fathers whom Christ has appointed as Shepherds over their souls.

Following the Processes To Attract the Blessings

God does not really struggle to bless. No, not at all! He said to Solomon in a dream, “I have also given thee ….” (1Kings 3:13). And, pronto, the man became one without any equal among the mortals of his time! However, a very pertinent question here is, how can we also tap into the blessing?

The real starting point of true generational blessings today is to be born-again in Christ (Matthew 1:1). Every true offspring of Jesus Christ supernaturally dwells under a strong positional blessing, capable of attracting tremendous benefits (Isaiah 44:3; Galatians 3:9; Ephesians 1:3).

Particularly, when a Christian recognizes his/her spiritual father in the faith and honours him, like Jacob, he/she receives not only the gracious inheritance of faith, but also the great generational blessing in Christ Jesus.

Additionally, one of the divine laws that regulate blessing is the law of seedtime and harvest (Genesis 8:22). Everything you are seeking, or struggling to get, is available in a seed. You could actually plough back to honour, abundance, settlement, peace and a glorious living if you would plant a seed on God’s soil by faith, expecting a harvest.

We must embrace the doctrine of generosity to enjoy the benefits of the blessing. No man can truly stand out without sacrifice. Yes, you may stand by the sweat of your labor, but you can never stand out in prominence without sacrifice. Remember Jacob’s venison for his father, Isaac.

Of a truth, blessings and greatness of life can be accessed only through a genuine covenant walk with God. If you are wise enough to channel your sacrifices to God and His kingdom, you start to increase incredibly by the power of His Invisible Hand.

Obey God, serve Him, give and pour out to others (Job 36:11). Like that widow did when she encountered Elisha in 2 Kings 4:1-7, start to pour out into other “vessels”, and continue to follow the divine processes laid out for you to attract the Lord’s all-surpassing blessing.

Furthermore, believe God’s prophet appointed and assigned for you (1 Samuel 22:23). Certainly, your story will change suddenly, and your children will also start to enjoy the pleasure of the divine grant, to the glory of God.

Beloved people of God, divine mercy surrounds the blessed and shuts the doors against miseries in their lives. So, no matter what, they win! May you receive it today, and be blessed evermore, in Jesus’ Name. Amen. Happy Sunday!

 ** Bishop Taiwo Akinola,

Rhema Christian Church,

Otta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

Connect with Bishop Akinola via these channels:

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Marriage is hard under the best of circumstances, but it can be even harder when you're juggling the pressures of running a business and keeping your relationship strong

Which might be why author and entrepreneur Mark Manson felt he needed all the expert advice he could get when he got married recently. 

An inbox explosion's worth of marriage advice 

The author of the NSFW bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Manson also runs a wide-reaching personal growth website. 

Keen to help his new marriage thrive, he embarked on a fascinating – if completely unscientific – research project, using his site to solicit advice from couples that have been together for more than 10 years. Almost 1,500 replies flooded his inbox. 

In a long Quartz article, Manson breaks down the lessons he learned. If you're hoping to armor your own marriage against the slings and arrows of the entrepreneurial life, it's well worth a read in full. 

But what struck me as most useful was one particular theme Manson noticed after wading through this mountain of marital wisdom. 

"As we scanned through the hundreds of responses we received, my assistant and I began to notice an interesting trend. People who had been through divorces and/or had only been with their partners for 10-15 years almost always talked about communication being the most important part of making things work," he writes. 

"But we noticed that the thing people with marriages going on 20, 30, or even 40 years talked about most was respect."

The secret to keeping a relationship strong  

Much of the rest of the article discusses communication from various angles. And talking openly and frequently with your partner is valuable according to just about everyone

But by the end of his experiment – and his article – Manson concludes that one word trumps even the best communication skills when it comes to keeping a partnership going over decades. As Aretha Franklin could have told you, that word is respect. 

Why? 

"Communication, no matter how open, transparent and disciplined, will always break down at some point. Conflicts are ultimately unavoidable, and feelings will always be hurt," Manson explains. 

And when that inevitably happens, the thing that will save your relationship "is an unerring respect for one another, the fact that you hold each other in high esteem, believe in one another – often more than you each believe in yourselves – and trust that your partner is doing his/her best with what they've got."

In practice, Manson explains, respecting your partner, your relationship, and yourself means things like never talking trash about your better half to others, not keeping secrets, and understanding that both partners' preferences and happiness carry equal weight. 

Maybe this struck me because it fits what I've observed over the course of my own 15-year marriage. I can't tell you we've avoided the ugly fights couples therapists warn against, and we've certainly failed to follow the classic "never go to bed angry" advice. 

(Seriously, why is screaming all night when you're overwrought and exhausted better than sleeping on the couch and coming back to the conversation when you're saner in the morning?) 

But we've gotten through them because, at the base of it, I think my husband is a good guy who respects me and tries his best and, hopefully, he thinks the same of me.

Maybe it struck me because of its simplicity. 

Remembering to always hold on to respect is a lot easier to remember when you're in your fifth sleepless month of caring for a newborn (or a newborn business) together than therapist-approved advice to frame complaints in certain ways or hold household administrative meetings

But whatever the reason, Manson's conclusion that respect is the bedrock of basically all the other marriage advice he received was built on struck me as worth passing along to entrepreneurs keen to help their partnerships thrive despite the inevitable strain of their lifestyles. I'll give Manson the final word: 

"Respect goes hand-in-hand with trust. And trust is the lifeblood of any relationship (romantic or otherwise). 

Without trust, there can be no sense of intimacy or comfort. Without trust, your partner will become a liability in your mind, something to be avoided and analyzed, not a protective homebase for your heart and your mind."

 

Inc


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