Marriage is Overrated?

I wrote this 3 years ago on Facebook.
Is marriage overrated?

I read and hear a lot of comments these days about how
overrated marriage is. A lot of single people dread falling
into a loveless and emotionally draining marriage. “I’d
rather remain single and happy than married and unhappy
is the popular refrain”. Why is this so? If all the married
people you know keep complaining about how boring and
dull their marriages are you may conclude that this whole
marriage thing is a scam perpetrated by those already in it.
They are unhappy in their marriages you opine, so they
must be trying to share the misery! Tales of extra-marital
affairs and young people getting divorced make you cringe
at the thought of touching a wedding ring.

At the same time, there is a lot of pressure on single
people to drop the Miss title for Mrs, and for Mr. so so and
so to become a real man. The most popular occupations
these days have to do with weddings; wedding planners,
drinks specialists, wedding photographers, bakers, dessert
makers and purveyors of other such accoutrements that
accompany weddings. Couples are quick to post their
wedding pictures on Facebook soon after the big day,
everyone sends congratulatory messages and you float
lightly like a fluffy butterfly going from one delectable
flower to another. This is Heaven you say to yourself. A few
hours, days, weeks, months or years into it, the things that
used to seem cute now seem irritating, things that were
standing are now flat and things that were smooth now
stretch (you catch my drift).

Hubby wants to hang out with the boys rather than with you
(usually after he gets a phone call he has to take outside).
The children drive you up the wall with their bickering and
whining. And why is iyawo always tired, not in the mood or
experiencing that time of the month? You ask yourself if
marriage truly is overrated. If this is what everyone has
been undergoing, why would they recommend it to others?
Wicked people!

Everyday I interact and meet with couples from both ends
of the spectrum. I see couples with great marriages and I
see couples with failed marriages. I’ve come to realise that
the difference between these two extremes is quite simply
love. I attended a marriage retreat some years ago and learnt a
few things that have helped me since then. The facilitator,
Dr. Okey Onuzo described three kinds of love. Eros, Phileo
and Agape (three big sounding Greek words). Eros means
physical attraction or sexual love. Phileo is based on
companionship and friendship while Agape means
sacrificial love. Eros gets you going in the first few years of
marriage while the passion is still hot and there may be no
children. Phileo helps to keep you glued together and be
able to share your time, a home, aspirations, dreams, etc.
However, the most difficult kind of love to experience let
alone exhibit is Agape.

Agape requires humility, patience, forgiveness and
selflessness. Agape is to put others first and think of their
own wellbeing rather than yours. It takes humility to
subvert your own wishes and instead focus on making
someone else happy. You are not always at your best so
why do you expect your partner to be at their best at all
times? You need patience to cope with the other person
when this happens. Understand that it is not always
personal. This is not the time to judge and be critical. This
is the time to be patient and prayerful. God needs someone
to work through to make things better and that person just
might be you. It is foolhardy to think that you will never
have arguments or quarrels. It is Agape that helps you put
aside your differences even when you are hurt. Whenever
you want to throw in the towel and quit on your partner ask
yourself what life would be like if God quit on you. What if
He decided to count all your infractions and pronounce
your case over and done with? If you are reading this note
then you are most likely alive and that means there is still
hope for you.

Marriage in my humble opinion is just like any relationship.
Your relationship with God requires nurturing on a daily
basis by constant prayer, Bible study, fellowship etc. Your
relationship with people requires calling, visiting, texting
and keeping in touch. Your marriage too requires watering
on a daily basis. It needs work to work.

At the end of the day it’s not whether tough times come or
not that is the issue because every marriage will face those
tough times. It’s how you handle those times that matters.
Just like a well watered and nourished plant will withstand
famine and drought, a well watered marriage will also
withstand tough times.

So go ahead and tell your spouse you love him/her right
away. Forgive what he/she said or did yesterday night.
Today is another day to get it right. Make up your mind that
it will work. Send the children to Grandma’s place and get
away this weekend.

You have only one life to live so
let your marriage be enjoyed rather than endured.

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How Much Tax Will You Pay From April 1st?

The Chairperson of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Ifueko Omoigui-Okaru has unveiled an amendment to the Personal Income Tax Act, 2004. The new law removes tax exemptions from some categories of public office holders. But more importantly, the personal relief amount has been increased from N5,000 to N200,000 and 20% of gross income. Also, the tax tranches have been increased as well as the rates. So what does it mean for you? Well it depends on how much you earn. The old and new rates as well as the effective rates are also shown below.

Old Tax Rates


New Tax Rates

Effective Tax Rates

Lower income earners will pay less tax with those earning less than N1million per year paying as low as 5.4%. High income earners who were already paying top rates will just about the same amount as before especially for those earning above

N30million. Those who earn above N50million will pay the same tax. So if you are a big boy like many of our Govt officials, you won’t see any significant reduction in your tax (assuming you were paying in the first place!).

Follow me on Twitter @okshorty1

Senile National Conflagration (SNC)

Nigerians, like normal humans have national pastimes that keep us preoccupied. The British focus on the weather as a topic of discussion, Americans love their politics, celebrities and sports. Nigerians on the other hand is chock-full of political analysis and what my friends on Twitter like to call National Distractions. The latest of such discussions is the Sovereign National Conference which I have taken the liberty to christen the Senile National Conflagration. Senile because the idea seems to echo more among old(er) politicians who have fallen out of favour with the current Government. A conflagration because the idea has reached fever pitch and is spoken about with a burning passion. Proponents of the SNC say this is the conference to end all conferences!

So What Exactly is a Sovereign National Conference?

The proponents say it will be a conference to “sit down and discuss” our existence as a nation. What exactly does this mean? It means every nationality will get a chance to air their grievances with the Nigerian nation akin to the Conference Nationales held in Francophone countries, Benin, Togo and Zaire. SNCs are meant to introduce sweeping constitutional changes and placate aggrieved parties after a civil war or other internal strife. Admittedly, the Nigerian state is an amalgam of diverse peoples which previously existed as distinct nations. With ink in hand, the Southern and Northern protectorates were joined at the hip by Lord Lugard in 1914 and named Nigeria from the concatenation of “Niger” and “Area” by Flora Shaw. Nigeria was born out of the need for administrative efficiency by the colonial administration. The SNC is billed as solution to the problems of ethnicity & religious divides, resource allocation and a faulty 1999 Constitution bequeathed by the Military Regime of Gen Sani Abacha.

Several constitutions have been written in the past to give the natives of the former Southern and Northern protectorates a sense of belonging to the nation. The Clifford Constitution (1922) introduced Legislative Houses for the first time. The Richards Constitution (1946) expanded the Legislative Council to cover more of Nigeria while the McPherson Constitution (1951) included more Nigerians and was a step towards true Federalism. By 1954, power had been devolved to the three regions (North, East and West) and Lagos. While many feel that the regional system of Government engendered mutual suspicion and animosity, it was perhaps the closest Nigeria has been to true Federalism. Sir James Robertson in 1961 remarked that 47 years is a very short time to weld the many different people of Nigeria into a nation. Is 98 years enough?

Even after Independence, attempts were made in 1963, 1979, 1993 and 1999 to give Nigerians a Constitution that will serve the interests of majority of Nigerians and keep the loose amalgamation of nations united. So far, Nigeria isn’t working for majority of its people with 61% living in abject poverty. So the call for a Sovereign National Conference is another step in our history of trying to solve our problems through Constitutional means. On the other hand, Nigeria as currently constituted is working extremely well for those in power. Weak institutions, heightened insecurity, failed infrastructure, extreme poverty, endemic corruption and no distinction between the coffers of the state and personal accounts. So as far as the brigands are concerned, there is nothing to fix!

Is There a Formula for SNCs?

There is no universally accepted formula for convening such a conference neither is anyone bound by the outcome. The most common system is for representatives of various political parties to work out formulas for sharing power and resources. Another method is for elections to take place at the Ward, LGA, State and Regional levels to choose delegates to represent every Nigerian at the Conference. Every issue plaguing Nigeria will be discussed and solutions acceptable to all Nigerians will be proposed. This way, the interests of every Nigerian are protected.

Those who once enjoyed the trappings of office and those who aspire to siphon public funds as well are calling for the convening of a conference to solve the aforementioned challenges. If I understand this correctly, the current beneficiaries of the quasi-unitary state will willingly surrender their rights to their “chop I chop” prebend under a modified Nigerian state. As expected, those in power at the moment and their apologists say the SNC will lead to a break up of Nigeria. Those arguing in favour say Nigeria is not working and a Constitutional change is required to solve all our problems.

Will Convening a Sovereign National Conference be a Panacea for a Faulty and Failing Nation?

Only those benefiting from the current kleptocracy would deny that Nigeria is beset by a myriad of issues. But I make bold to say that ethnicity is not Nigeria’s biggest problem. When Gen Gowon decided to walk away from the agreement to run regional Governments reached at Aburi, Ghana it wasn’t because of the inherent hatred for Southerners. It was because he saw the potential loss of Petroleum revenues from the newly discovered Oil fields of the Niger Delta. Subsequent claims of domination by one ethnic group or the other belie the fact that every ethnic group in Nigeria has stolen money from the Nigerian state and corruptly enriched themselves and their cronies. Ethnicity is merely smoke and mirrors designed to keep the masses spilling each other’s blood. When obscene allowances are shared at the National Assembly, nobody cares where you are from. When contracts are inflated and billions stolen, the Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Idoma, Chibok, Berom, Fulani, Tiv and Junkun will close ranks and take their own share of our collective wealth.

Will my Local Government Chairman suddenly start fixing my road after a successful SNC? Will the $16 billion unaccounted for in pursuit of stable power supply be returned and blackouts become a thing of the past? Will a bloated $30billion 2012 budget designed to line the pockets of a few people be trimmed to acceptable levels? Will the scam called Nigeria cease to be simply an avenue for the enrichment of a view at the expense of many? If the problem with Nigeria is merely constitutional, would amendments to the 1999 Constitution be the end of all our problems? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Nigeria’s problem is not ethnicity or religion. Neither is it merely constitutional. The current Constitution is flawed and should be amended as the Americans have done successively to theirs over the years. In my humble opinion, corruption is a bigger problem than ethnicity. Let us prosecute everyone who has stolen from this nation or exile them to Vanuatu with just enough for a plane ticket. Make stealing a shameful and punishable act. Start a process of changing the value system of a people for whom stealing is second nature. Let young people know that taking what does not belong to you is wrong.

The convening of a Sovereign National Conference will not solve all Nigeria’s problems. Nigerians will solve Nigeria’s problems. Do your own part. 160 million Nigerians doing the right thing trumps a few thousand delegates sharing power and money under the guise of “deciding our future”. Maybe I just don’t see it, but a SNC is not the answer.

Follow me on Twitter @okshorty1 to continue the conversation.

Additional research material provided @miss_jayla

Introducing: 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

Dating far back to the 80’s, the term ‘419’ has associated Nigeria and Nigerians primarily with online financial scams – ‘Advance Fee Fraud’. Most unfortunately, the situation exacerbated to such an extent that the internet became overwhelmed with such negative news attributed to Nigeria.

In response to this, ‘The 419Positive Project’ was initiated, with an ambitious objective of generating four hundred and nineteen positive attributes about Nigeria and Nigerians. “If you could tell the world one remarkable thing about Nigeria and Nigerians, what would it be?” Furthermore, in Peter Reilly’s Forbes blog post (Aug 28, 2011), he suggested a similar intervention to his Nigerian audience – “Make lists of 419 reasons to like Nigeria and Nigerians…” His suggestion came as one remedial to his previous post (Nigerians Switching From Greed to Fear), after some Nigerians took exceptions to his views. Other online posts by Chika Uwazie, Nmachi Jidenma and Akin Akintayo, have further lent a voice in this regard.

Pulling these ideas and suggestions together, an online rebranding campaign is being furthered. The aim is clear – to consistently inundate the internet with positive Nigerian attributes, such that when anyone types in ‘419’ in a search engine, it yields positive commentary about Nigeria, irrespective of the pre-existing negativity. This drive is labelled 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria. Awareness is currently being ramped up online, with the topic having trended on Twitter in the early hours of 2nd of September. There will be the big bang launch on October 1, 2011 (Independence Day), of at least 100 Nigerian blogs and sites listing four hundred and nineteen remarkable reasons to like Nigeria, with subsequent monthly blog publishing till the end of 2011.

Every Nigerian with a blog, website, and online presence of any sort (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, account etc.) is encouraged to volunteer and be a part of this campaign. With sincerity and candour, it is true that some, in times past, have contributed unfortunately to the prevailing negative association of ‘419’ with Nigeria, however, the time is NOW for us to counter-strategise by providing alternative content via an online rebranding initiative.

To register your interest, simply send an email to volunteer@419Positive.org, with the subject –CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER, and be sure to provide contact details (email address) so you can be reached subsequently. Volunteers will be contacted latest by the 9th of September, 2011.

Be a part of this drive…the time is now! Let’s tell the world 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria.

Welcome to my new blog

Welcome to my blog. First of all let me say that I’m not a blogger! Not everyone who writes a blog should be considered one. This is my second attempt at writing a blog. I retired the first one but on the advice of a few good friends, I’m starting with this new one. I’m merely going to write what suits my fancy, what God is saying to me at a particular time or my take on topical issues. I’m an avid user of Social Media especially Twitter so my blog posts are going to be brief but to the point. My writing will at times seem amateurish, opinionated and unstructured. I also intend to ask guests to blog as well so expect to read what others have to say. I’m not a “Youth Leader”, satirist, journalist, celebrity or socialite so my writing may seem boring at times.

Please feel free to comment on whatever you see here, but keep it civil and constructive. More solutions and less complaining. In the words of the masked saxophonist, Nigeria must sweet again!