She said, “…slapping a doctor or pharmacist. Which could be more easing when your lover is on the sickbed?” Since eleven years, Daddy had hated the statement, “everything will be fine.” Something never become fine. He’d argue. Melinda Gates breastfed two children herself. My wife did three. She almost went back to slap a pharmacist after he had given her wrong prescriptions to deworm our kids. Thank God we went to school. UNESCO reports that each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 10%. A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past age five.
Beautiful are women particularly from their hearts. Nice to be around. Always. Always. Less but also necessary is their protruded dichotomies, difficult to let go. Naturally part designed to bore sweet fruits of offspring which they suckle. Over the years, they’ve learned to upscale this with several adornments. Clothes served the dual roles of important covering garments and an adorable apparel for a calling outing. Sadly, most female clothing isn’t designed to support breastfeeding. Yes. There are accessories like the nursing bra -with a zip to pull at the nipple base, and caping materials to ease nutrients flow for our children but this scarcity enjoins these markets. A nursing woman wearing a necked top, gown or styled blouse would require a shawl or full-blown iro and buba to conveniently suckle her child.
Walking around Lagos, I’ve been with women that cared less but only to shove their nipples in their infant’s mouth. They almost always saw past a stranger, stepped up, an acquaintance talked and watched as they breastfed their baby. Bororo, the Niger women, paints hope for Africa, as I’ve seen them flipped their breast to the side while their babies keyed to it in an ancient emotional exchange. With their fully stacked, step grown curly hair to help support the traditional bowl, they’re carrying. They would smile with deep confidence as they go about with their businesses. Sell me henna.
A modern high school or college graduate would be flaccid to be involved. Why? Class. Sometimes, socioeconomic statuses or personality push these. But not in all cases, some multimillion naira women would take it up, shove it in, and with respect, they’ll feed their child. In their minds, they’ll say, “look all you want.” Smiling, “my child is getting the necessary nutrients to function in normalcy.” How dare you look?
Breastfeeding takes time, commitment and emotional energy, especially for working mums. It’s so difficult except for those in the teaching and nursing profession where time ethically freezes. But in the 9–5 cubicle life, hell is set loose on earth. Giant organizations in developed countries are making ways around this by providing flexible schedules for mums. Exclusive breastfeeding takes a minim of six months but maternity leave is just three months. Can we please make maternity leave a year in Nigeria? Maybe 9 months.
I have a beard, not a breast. At least, not for suckling. I want my kids exclusively breastfed but I don’t have much to give. Washing and drying the bottles and breast pump parts at night is fine. Distraction and chats while you slowly fill the bottles are fine too. I can help with those.
Four years ago, and I was living in a state where you’d be disturbed by the drop of a needle at 5 am. It’d stain my sleep and the grumbling train would shout it’s locomotive without pause. Every morning and the day would stretch to eternity.
Good morning at 4 am and the mayhem had already commenced. The hustling of souls and honks of trucks creating barricades for innovation and peaceful thoughts. The difference between then and now is space, time and distance.
There isn’t any space in between the long stride of the clock pointing at digit twelve and the short stride pointing seven. The gap appears nonexistent despite the fat arm it had. The time seems now, but I’m absent it its moment. Technology took me on a journey on the screen only for me to arrive at my original spot. Circumnavigation. Earth is truly spherical. The distance I covered in sleep would slip me into oblivion if it were to be deep, so I pray I never had deep sleep until the ink is raised.
Now, I’m lost and my spiritual energy draining to zero, Satan could name me a hero or blame me for being strong enough to make an A-list.
I’d dreamt of death and my birthday cakes had been shared while I was on the sick bed. Admitted. Most smile in pain as fluid syphoned into my veins from a height that is close but far in my sight.
Like a vagabond, not a feudalist. I own nothing, yet I shared the space, time and distance with every matter that matters in existence. And I ran too much, I slipped and failed to feel the pain. Blood gushing into flood yet I felt not. I ran forgetting when to take the ultimate bow and vow that there’s no deity except the reminder of my existence.
I still run though.
For freedom, peace or security. I know but embarrassed to tell.
I still run.
I wished I had stopped.
Picking up writing was a wrong idea, I’d always thought. In high school, I’d see news board bombarded with amazing write ups and features on school happenings -Most times I read only one article, listen to other peoples comments and walk away.
Why? Despite people appreciating these hard work on prints, It didn’t mean much to me, cos I feel I can do better without even doing it before. Of which, very well, I can. This doesn’t mean that I refuse to appreciate these articles, at least the writers are better off me, they gave writing a shot, unlike me.
I didn’t begin writing articles in high school until college, my roommates studying law made me do it. For months, “Acme” was the talk of the campus. Acme was my pen name. I enjoyed the moments, I got plaudits from people but it still didn’t resonate as a career, rather, a mere hobby. After my sophomore year, I was made the editor in chief of the Campus Crescent Press Club (making me the first 300 level and non-Arts student to get the chair), right there they showed me my path,but, I didn’t see it.
Right now, I’m writing at the cubicle of my fifth job with semi happiness and fulfilment. Semi because I’m yet to write fully as I’d always wanted. Seven months ago and eight years after graduation, I commenced my right journey in the right direction. For this first time ever in my career, I pictured my journey in split seconds. As a freelance journalist, I know my vision and mission, and have a short and long term goal. I’m shooting my shot!
How did this happen?
I joined the right team with a wrong knowledge.
Wrong Knowledge ❎❎❎: Code for Nigeria; a Nigerian organization that teach people how to code, you know, write programming languages. That’s the reason I joined anyway, for me, it’s still a walk in the darkest direction, but I was finding my treasure.
Right Knowledge ✔✔✔: Code for Nigeria is a non- governmental organization with three thematic areas -civic technology, civic media and community building, these is so to equip newsrooms, journalists and techies on tools, skills and knowledge they need to better connect the public with the Government.
Good one! This is my jam!
Code of Nigeria opened my eyes to the importance of my existence, I’ve been hovering around knowledge without realizing. I’m a talented writer, a mechanical engineering graduate, postgraduate in computer science and a social intelligence analyst. Probably minus Mech Engrg., All these into one, Journalist! -with sub-specialty in Data Journalism, Investigative Reporting and Multimedia Journalism.
Despite having a traditional job, freelance journalism drives some alerts into my bank account every month despite my working only six hours weekly- only Saturdays and Sundays. I could only achieve this feats because of the value I’m getting from Code for Nigeria every month.
They load me and other journalists with all these life changing and multi million dollar worth of valuable information at no cost whatsoever, sometimes I feel like paying the organization and the facilitators, Blaise and John.
42 Montgomery Street, Yaba, is the Universal Hub of Journalism. Don’t tell I said this.
Check out some courses that made people consult with me,
- Finding data for story
- Data Visualization with Atlas
- Designing Infographics with Mapbox
- Making Interactive maps with Carto
- Google Fusion Tables
- Fact checking and combating fake news
- Data Visualization with Flourish
Snippet into our recent class, facilitated by Blaise Aboh.
Data Visualization with Flourish
This month, May 2018- Blaise cut through the chase by tackling the topic with an approach worth commending. “Hello everyone,” he says, “Tell me what you’ve come here to learn today?”
As the mic passes round, he carefully noted all our responses, immediately analyzed them and took the class back to the grassroots. He started by deciphering some coded features on PowerPoint. That alone, I’m satisfied, we can end the class now, for I’m over saturated with information already.
From this session, my understanding of the use of shapes, icons and colours grew from the beginner to advanced level. We were introduced to the “Çolour Wheel” and how the eye dropper feature dances to its tune.
Also worthy of knowing are;
- 33 ways to visualize your ideas -an info graphic from funders and founders. Google it.
- How to choose the right chart/ graph for data i.e Using a timeline for a data with data progression. You know what I mean?
At that point, I thought I wouldn’t need flourish again because now I know the basics of design, and with my technical background, I can learn any tools. Then when he started Flourish, I thanked my star I didn’t leave the class for my Saturday Owambe.
According to visualising data, “Flourish cuts out the complexity with a powerful template system.” Yes, it is.
But for you to understand, get back to the design basics. That’s where it started.
And, you need a design expert to put you through.
When is the next class?
The class went smooth to the end and most of the participants are longing for the next class already.
Well, the class happens every third Saturday of the month, block that on your calendar, don’t let the Lagos Party party away your goal.
Reach out to Eromosele John Aitokhuehi and thank me later.
Worthy of note, I registered with Project Shield through Code for Africa to guard my website. Are you a newsroom, journalist or blogger who wants your website protected against DDOS -Distributed Denial of Service. Reach out to Code for Nigeria.
Hmnn. Should you need me to teach you any of the courses I’d learnt from Code for Nigeria, comment on this post. FREE it was given to me, I’m giving back for FREE.
It has been 13 years since Deborah Sholaro moved to Oko filling area, along Lasu Isheri road, in Alimosho LG area of Lagos State. A stiffly straight, light-skinned teacher and mother of two lovely girls. She had moved to live in her mother-in-law’s house when she got married, she stayed there while her husband is hustling to make ends meet in Bayelsa. Her first 4 years was worthy, she felt the sweetness and comfort of marriage. At night during heatwave, she would sleep in their verandah and feel the peace in her ambiance in the day. Her story changed 9 years ago because of the environmental degradation that infects her abode. Her environment now breathes obnoxious scent which accompanies first-grade breed of mosquitoes. “When the situation became unbearable, I ran to Bayelsa to meet my husband but the cost of living is too high there, so we came back here,” she shrugs. The Government officials would visit to fumigate the area when they first started, but they haven’t showed up in the past 7 years. The choking burden is growing.
There is hardly a place you’d drive by in Lagos and not observe littering dirt. They crawled even into the nooks and crannies of the streets. The highbrow areas of Lekki and Ajah were absolutely not spared either.
Passengers in public buses, stuck in the Lagos traffic would sit while the deep stench suffocates them -they would argue about the rift between LAWMA and PSP, and the power shift to VisionScape while covering their noses, passersby would take their hills as they walk by.
Rural and semi-urban households seek PSP alternatives by employing individual refuse carriers called “Onile” who pulls waste carriers to collect dirt in the neighborhood. These persons later sort the dirt for plastics pouches and other valuable non-biodegradable items that they sell. Some of these “Onile” were arrested for doing this. “Despite all plans to make Lagos city mega, the Government is yet to get this waste disposal issue right,” says Seyi, a petrol station attendant in Igboelerin area, Okokomaiko.
The Lagos State population, wobbling around 21 million makes her the fastest growing state in Nigeria -leaving Kano State behind. Less arguably, more people, more dirt. However, the Lagos dumpsites: Olusosun in the north wing, Solous 2 (Lanre Bus stop) and Soulus 3 (Oko filling), along Lasu-Iba road, Temu in Epe, Ewu Elepe in Ikorodu, Simpson in Lagos Island, and the Agege and Oshodi TLS (Transfer Loading Stations) are there. Also, is an illegal dump site in Ile Epo area of Lagos Abeokuta Road which is unrecognized by the Government for it wasn’t stated as part of their dump sites.
For a State with this growing population, it is disappointing that the highest waste governing body, LAWMA, can only account for the capacity of four of its six dumpsites, including the Oshodi and Agege TLS.
On the mainland, most dumpsites except Solous 3 is in partial or no functionality- they no longer serve their purposes. Olusosun which is about 42.7 hectares absorbes almost 40% of the entire Lagos waste.
According to Ojota residents, “they (the Government) wants to use the Olusosun ground for some other valuable projects, that’s why they stop dumping refuse there and started burning the place. “Another said the burning has nothing to do with the Government, that the long term stacked refuse sparked up inferno like a volcano.” Close to the actual, the Lagos State Government look forward to making Olusosun dump site a mega bus station where interstate vehicles will operate. That said, it is fair to say that 40% of the entire Lagos waste is littering on its streets and main roads. This is likely to grow worse as the Government plan to close down Solous Igando and Ewu elepe as they are termed “unsustainable.”
In Ile Epo, there is no obvious sign that dumping exercise is going on as they were no garbage trucks in the environment, unlike in Solous 3 where the presence of garbage trucks, LAWMA workers, and sorting personnel build the busy effect of the location.
In Solous 3, the truck drivers parked in long queues waiting turns to dispose of their carriage. “I live in Plaza area of Ifo, see the distance, I’ve slept here for two days, I went home late last night and came in early this morning, yet, it’s not even close to my turn,” laments Isreal Ayodele, a PSP truck driver. Rainy season is near and Lagos experience more rain. Dump sites won’t be spared, coordinators of the dump sites stopped drivers from offloading their trucks as some of these trucks were stuck in the mud as a result of bad roads -needing tractors to pull them out. This made the coordinators allow work only from 5:00pm to 9:00pm when the ground is favourably dry.
The Government brought VisionScape under the Cleaner Lagos initiative, suppressing PSP/ LAWMA implementation. They claimed PSP doesn’t have the capacity to offshore the 13,000 tonnes of refuse Lagos produce in a day. Yet VisionScape contract some of their locations for PSP to clear. The big question is: Does VisionScape not have enough resources and manpower to such tonnes of refuse? Now discussion amongst Lagos youths ends with “Vision Escape” as a mockery to the State.
From an open contracting point of view, numerous events happened that put citizens in the dark;
- Lagos State suppressed PSP. Why? And evidence to show?
- How much was PSP given for the contract?
- How much did VisionScape got for their contract? and ultimately,
- Did VisionScape follow due process to get the contract?
Situations like this kills transparency and accountability.
The 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, is the white elephant that lacks implementation. Lagosians are obviously oblivious of this acronym. Beyond dump sites, this waste disposal issue will continue unless Lagos State look beyond mere clearing off the refuse to creating an innovative and profitable business out of it.
Not every breach goes with a punishment, many could be a behavioral solution that must be consciously ingrained in the subconscious of the masses, particularly in a populated, high diverse city like Lagos. To checkmate some policy implementations, Government sends out monitoring teams to arrest defaulters and put all on their toes, but these people can’t be there all day and all time. With policies linking to waste management, it is more of the people than the Government, what the Government need is to harness with people’s behavioral and create enabling environment by providing resources for social entrepreneurs who sees light in the “waste” business.
In Indonesia, a social entrepreneur, Dr. Gamal Albinsaid created Garbage Clinical Insurance. A micro health insurance programming which uses recyclable waste as financial resources for clinical services. “… people only need to give us their garbage,” the innovative doctor explains, “and in return, they get free healthcare.” Brilliantly, the supposed cause of health problems brings health solutions.
Other countries, Sweden for instance, converts garbage into useable energy, this is so effective that less than 1℅ of their waste end in landfills. Waste is so important to them that they import it from other European countries.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Reppie waste to energy project is set to provide energy, save the environment and address population. “We hope that Reppie will serve as a model for other countries in the region, and around the world,” says Zerubabel Getachew, Ethiopia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nation.
When Government tackles social problems, adopting international best practices and open contracting is highly essential, the Government gets value of her money and this impacts the public in every affairs. Sitting on a short domestic stool, with her kids in her house front, Mrs Sholaro smiles saying irrespective of the stench and mosquitoes, there’s opportunity to make money. If I had started “sobo drink” business, I’d have made lots of money by now but it’ll deprive me of my love for teaching. “The situation is bad, but not too bad,” she concludes.
Recently, the Open Data Research Centre of the School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, organized a workshop for Journalist. The workshop is themed, “Open Contracting for Journalist”. The workshop is supported by Open Contracting Partnership. They also brought in Code for Nigeria, under Code for Africa and Innovation Matters as partners.
Everyday, I look forward to learning new things.
I was in attendance.
There was a free flow of knowledge, I didn’t fail to pen what I could.
This article is not to tell you stories but to share my notes with you, maybe you’ll garner knowledge from it, and also for me to have a backup note.
OPEN CONTRACTING WORKSHOP
Facilitator: Dr. Patrick Enaholo (SMC, Pan Atlantic University)
Open contracting is about People/ Citizens — start the campaign
Openness in contracting process in Lagos.
Impact starts with people
Data Reports is different from Data Stories
Open Contracting is phenomenal, people are buying into it…
Seeing with your eyes. (Using data)
Public Contracting/ Procurement
The importance and why?
A journalist shouldn’t only be negative in their storytelling, you can be positive too in our storytelling!
Social amenities could be an investment in the long run — (case study: Spain.)
How can we address those issues?
Expected benefits and outcomes:
More efficient conduct of tendering
Contracts awarded to the supplier offering the best value
Professional procurement cadre
Reduced opportunities for corruption and malpractices
Procurement process: How it works
Exercise and conclusion
Some Key Projects
Forensic DNA Labs in Lagos
DSVRT – Domestic and Response Violence Response Team
Partnership with World Bank – Secondary schools training for teachers etc.
How has the project benefitted citizens of Lagos? What is the purpose and rationale of the project?
How does it compare with other perceived citizens’ needs? Was it captured in the budget? How much was budgeted for it in comparison with other projects of the state?
Was is really necessary? Was it worth the amount spent on it? Could it have been cheaper? Are there previous or similar solutions that may have sufficed?
Was it well executed? Who were the contractors? What is their track record? What is their track record – what other projects have they carried out? How were the timelines for execution?
Facilitator: Mr. Fatai Onafowote – (Lagos State Public Procurement Agency) and Dede Kadiri of Innovation Matters.
Public Procurement Agency started in 2015 (law in 2011.)
Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.
Anybody can actually be a procurement agency — Teachers, Engineers, Journalists, and Doctors etc.
Guild lines and due process for purchasing and supply- at the grassroots level, Chairmen are the accounting officers that actually.
Ambode personal website.
Ministry of Information and Strategy – To get info/ data.
Open/ Competitive Tendering
Facilitator: —Seember Nyager
Formerly: PPDC – Public and Private Development Centre.
Now: Public Policy, Google, West Africa.
Making data accessible about public contracting!
>>> Different way to financing
Credit facilities for World Bank or others
— System of disclosure
— Contract with accessible data
Why do public contracts matter? -Disclosure and Participation
Why does the public procurement/ contracting process matter? -VALUE for our money!
Value for money.
Fairness — Competing for contracts
Detecting fraud and corruption
Carrying stakeholders along –Monitoring service delivery
There is opportunity cost even when money is even working!
Nigeria needs open contracting to build public trust
A good example of open contracting is Ukraine | Mexico | Slovakia
The autobiography of Budeshi…see open data sourcing in action
Open Contracting Data Standard
A standard for what to publish and how to publish it as open data.
Focusing on what users need.
A data schema for validation of published data;
Ensuring the technical interoperability of data.
Collected guidance on publishing and using data.
To maintain effective use.
A way back online machine
Questions for Journalists
- How do we tell our stories to demonstrate the need for open contracting to the public?
- How can our stories contribute to making open contracting the norm?
Data is a part of your story: With or without data, you can still tell your stories.
Aim: Tell stories around contracting!
There are several other ways to tell stories aside newspaper. Sound cloud!
Finding the data — Dede Kadiri, Innovation Matters
NBS/ UK Gov. / State Government Request/ Development partners’ e.g. the UN/ Research Institutions and NGOs.
State-owned Household Surveys.
Converting all data to OPEN DATA
Data collection- Data cleaning – Data Analysis – Data Visualization – Data Storytelling
Data Visualization — John Eromosele
A story is a journey i.e. Emotional or otherwise? You take your reader.
Munachim Amah — CNN.
Making someone immersed in your world.
The Art of Storytelling
What stories do you like to tell?
The stories you love to tell are as important as how you choose to tell the story.
People should read your stories out of interest, not pity.
Why tell stories
Opening for the story! Example:
“I must leave this city today and come to you.”
“Things fall apart after my father…”
“Many years, after Dele faced the firing squad, he reminisced when his father took him to discover ice.”
What makes a good story!
The content – Uniqueness; and how it’s told- Technique.
Write from the heart – the human angle. – What emotions does the story evoke?
Q&A killer – Writing a passage in the form of questions and answer.
Plot: The flow or sequence of the story!
Intrigue, Suspense, Mystery
Characters: Who is the story about? Explore the first person more! I or You – (News Feature).
News Stories (Simply Third Person!)
Point of View:
Maybe by upbringing or by training. I love testing things out before I totally key into it.
Recently, I noticed some waste disposal issues in Lagos State. It got me thinking, so I decided to check or rather test if it’s happening in other part of Lagos that I may not have walked in the past two weeks or more.
So I built up a Facebook post.
“It is understandable that everyday, Lagos is working towards making her a mega city.
But sometimes it feels that some part of Lagos State are not Lagos State.
Two weeks ago, I was walking to the office, and along Muritala Mohammed Way, Yaba, I found out most of the Street Waste Bin were filled up. I couldn’t intimate myself with the sense in this. I did the same for two other days and the situation was same. I decided to take pictures on the fourth day, which I did.
As if someone contacted the authorities, by Friday, as I was walking back home, VisionScape was doing his work – clearing the refuse at every junction.
I admire their informant.
But I had taken similar pictures in my area for more than three weeks and nothing had changed.
Maybe they had no informant in my area or they felt Okokomaiko is not a part of Lagos.
Surprisingly, this refuse had been on the road for weeks and it increases everyday.
According to a street guy, ” Those PSP people didn’t show up again and some Mallams were arrested for “barrowing” dirts around.”
In my two years of returning to Lagos, I’ve seen PSP and VisionScape after LAWMA.
I stand to be corrected, I don’t think these guys are doing their jobs. Maybe Lagos has been divided and Okokomaiko is now Ogun State.
The truth is, I won’t wait until they dump the refuse on my head.”
Stats first, The video got 144 views, 3 shares, 12 comments and 11 reactions.
***** Then the comments rolled in*****
Interesting comments all the way.
Now is the time to work.
But, I have to do some background research before flagging this a project. For now, it’ll appear on my “upcoming project” page.
We’d see if it passes to the “running project” phase.
With the help of an online entrepreneur in 2014, I started my first blog (www.mindthreaders.com). I won his online challenge so he assisted me with starting the blog.
The niche was poetry and I had wanted to write and analyze poems. It’s difficult to make money in the poetry niche, I was told. And I believed it.
Unfortunately, I had about 8 poems on it until it failed after the hosting expired. I couldn’t afford another hosting payment.
Almost 8 months after it expiration, I started another, (www.mindthreadly.com). This time, the aim was to write and teach people how to properly write articles. Like its predecessor, it failed long before the hosting expired. Just for the same reason.
But better than the first, with about 12 posts, mostly read by families and friends. And one email on the email list, of course, my other email address.
My problem with those blogs was positioning.
Or I had no experience in the areas, I only read online articles and study YouTube videos on blogging.
I had a coach, who distantly guides me after decades of disturbing him, and I respected myself for he was very busy yet he gave me the awesome part of his knowledge.
Thanks to him everyday.
What stood out was that, as much as I was learning, I made money.
Not much for me to throw in my resignation letter but I made money.
One time I did freelance writing and I made almost 150,000 naira in 1 year and five months. I tried stepping up my game so I could get international clients but payoneer never came in, I applied 4 times but all was futile. I will apply again.
Recently, approximately 6 months ago, I started freelance journalism and it has opened doors for me. I’ve made quite some money in less than a year and opportunities are boundless.
I smell success in it. I’m not there yet, but the journey is worth it.
The gist is whenever you fail at something, do not be disappointed, start over.
Keep learning from your mistakes and you’ll hit the jackpot very soon.
How soon? I don’t know. But, soon.