By Simon Abah, a teacher, speaker, campaigner, consultant, wrote from Abuja.
This hustler brought his fiancée to the United States from Nigeria. He didn’t have the necessary papers to be in the US, he did menial jobs but through hard work he was able to save money and sent her to a nursing school, she got a job as soon as she graduated, and legalized her stay. The job as a nurse in the US put her on a pedestal higher than him and life was so good, so it seemed. She earned income higher than his shifting income and they settled down to raise six children, of course for the passport as a meal ticket for tomorrow. Then the fizz burst, they had a major disagreement, madam nurse forgot the days in Nigeria before she came to America and that the hustler even brought her there.
She called in the police, informed them that the house belonged to her and that hubby doesn’t have the required papers to be in the country, no need for second telling, he was deported back to Nigeria, with nothing other than the dress he had on that day and he is roaming the streets someplace in the land of the wise men from the east. He told me this story. She is a military officer but single and on the same grade with the military officer who is my friend and he is married with two children, trouble for my friend is, every time she meets him in a watering hole or even in the officer’s mess per chance and not on a settled date, she expects him to pick the bill. Some women in Nigeria seldom pick the bill even when they come to public places with loaded pockets. Those who do so on the odd occasion have plans different from the man.
Not so in Angola, women over there are proud and in public places they share the bills, they even buy drinks for the man sitting nearby. Just like my Franco-phone Cameroonian friend (Gertrude) many years back in Kaduna, she invested in me and I was glad to do same. I hear American women are different. Those who work, have joint accounts with their partners, pay bills, and earn equality not just demand for rights. Partners cannot afford to over spend; they know their source of income and when suitors overspend, these women behind their backs call the police to investigate these men especially if they do not know their source of income. Source of income in Nigeria does not matter to some women. Get it anyhow and spend it. It does not matter if you are a robber, kidnapper, cultist, ritualist, and hacker of bank accounts, the latter is what many Nigerians out of the country and within do now as a full time job. How much is a bottle of drink (soft or hard), fish and chips (potato/plantain)? Why are women so animated when men take them out on a date and buy them food? A levelheaded woman should go al fresco, buy her meal, alone if she must, walk away and earn her respect.
Some women in Nigeria demand for rights without earning it. They watch too much rights programs on television and consume it literally, it shouldn’t be. But the American woman who watches such rights programs know that there are limitations that must be accepted for peace. Hillary Clinton didn’t divorce Bill Clinton despite the Monica Lewinsky affair. My white friend in her seventies still does the laundry for hubby, goes shopping and cooks for the family. She hold hubby in awe. But the lawyer told me she is forty one years old in marriage and has moved out of the house several times but the children moved her back. Her husband is seventy five years old and “I find it hard to cope with old age.” The Nigerian woman told me with pride. Rights come with responsibilities, as responsible as not putting pressure on son-in-law.
Many do. Parents, some, now transfer duties to children having failed to become economic giants themselves in earlier days, children now pay school fees as a right for some family members, dictated by parents. To please her family, she told her hubby who is my friend to invite her mother to the US for the fun of it. The mother other than to ham up didn’t have any business there, just sight-seeing on his shoe-string budget that missed a shoe a long time ago. Mother got to the US and began to use the phone line to call all of her friends in Nigeria. Nothing serious other than small talk, just so they know she was in America. The ritual continued every day.
Lies set in when people talk on the phone for more than three minutes. It took my friend four months to clear the huge bill after the mother-in-law travelled back to Nigeria and he vowed never to allow such needless visit to any further extent in the future. Nigerian women need to work on their self-esteem. It is hard to be a woman in Nigeria, I know. Especially when such women are from poor homes, with household tasks and men with money are ready to throw some around. Women who suffer from a burden of privation, almost always, operate from a position of weakness. How can such women say no to the ‘bindi’ adventure of radicalized men, with rising responsibilities and in a country where the government is on holiday? Government policies aren’t gender friendly in Nigeria. It is hard to be a woman in Nigeria. This is the reason; silly men think women who work in hotels as waitpersons are loose women and always grab their rear end after serving them their orders in open areas. Some libertines beg women for intimate dealings when drinks and food are served to them in their hotel rooms.
They look down on these women and think themselves important enough to ask them without negotiation for a stroll to the laboratory where physical wars and artistic tests are carried out. It staggers my imagination when people do this. This is the reason; stupid men think little girls who hawk commodities for their parents to make ends meet are desperately in need of money and take advantage of them, not minding how young these children are? How can young girls with no confidence in themselves say no to the ‘bindi’ adventure of radicalized men? I was asked out to a ‘club-house’ to see a chief executive in Port Harcourt very late in the day in 2012 and while waiting for him to finish his round of an indoor game, his personal assistant called this fine-looking lady and without respect told her to go and engage in the tricks of the flesh with his friend, in a loutish manner not good for print. I drew his attention to this disrespect but the lady paid the impertinence no-mind. I was more worried for her sake than she could ever be for herself. He who pays the piper dictates the tune. She cared about money and not self-worth.