Dear Devil’s Advocate: My Wife Bought a House and Won’t Put My Name on the Deed

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If you are wondering what the Devil’s Advocate series is about, read the intro to this blog. This next scenario is inspired by a rift between a couple I met sometime ago.

Dear Devil’s Advocate,

I have been married to my wife for three years. We are both Igbos and we live in Onitsha. She was a widow and I, a widower when we met. I have a son from my previous marriage. She has two daughters from hers. My wife gave birth to our daughter last year and we don’t plan on having another child.

My wife and I are both hardworking professionals–she is a lawyer; I’m a lecturer in a State university. Although we have never really discussed our financial arrangement, we have an unwritten rule where she takes care of grocery and other minor expenses around the house while I take care of the house rent and other major bills. However, I pay my son’s school fees and she pays her daughters’. Her kids attend an expensive private school which I feel is unjustifiably expensive; I won’t ever send my child to such school even if I can afford it–it’s waste of money. But I don’t mind her daughters going to the private school since I don’t pick up the tabs. My son is enrolled in a federal school that offers the same quality education as private schools.

My wife is a wonderful person. But yesterday she told me that she bought a rental property last month. She never told me she was buying the house. She is now telling me after the fact. Obviously, my name is not on the deed and I’m hurt. I have real estate investments I purchased before I married her and we live on a private residence I bought more than a decade ago. So this is not about me being an opportunist. I’m self-sufficient. But I feel her action is self-serving and shows a lack of commitment to our marriage.

We have never had a major misunderstanding since we got married and I’ve never had a reason to question her loyalty. But her buying this property without my knowledge, and especially without putting my name on it has made me question how committed she is to our marriage. I know it’s hard to manage relationships in blended families but I was hoping she would come on this ride with me without any reservation.

Given what she did, is she still worthy of my trust?

Emmanuel

My Response: Dear Emmanuel,

I’m sorry you feel the way you do about your wife’s actions. That said, there may be deep-seated issues that motivated her actions which you need to discuss with her before you lose faith in the woman you love.

First, you mentioned that she has two daughters from her previous marriage. What happened when her first husband died? Did she inherit her late husband’s property? As a patriarchal society–and I have seen this happen over and over again–when a man dies in Igbo land, his widow, if she doesn’t have a male child for him, is stripped of all she and her husband owned together. You may think it is unlikely this happened because she is a lawyer who knows her rights and would have stood up for herself if that happened but people’s professional persona often differ from their their personal lives. I have heard of a female Judge who sits on her bench every morning with a black eye from domestic abuse at home. So you may want to have a talk with your wife about this–if you two haven’t discussed it–because a proper understanding of her past will help you understand her actions in the future.

If your wife lost everything after her first husband died, then you can see why she bought the house in her name alone: if anything happened to you, she could fall back on her own investments without having squabbles with your relatives over jointly-owned properties.

Second, because female children do not inherit from their birth families, your wife may have considered that if she died before you and your name were on the deed, the house will go to you and your son and her daughters will be left with nothing. You cannot fault her for a decision she made to secure her children’s future.

Third, you mention that her children go to a top private school that you consider rather expensive and that you can’t imagine spending so much on a child’s education even if you can afford it. This shows that your priorities may differ from your wife’s. She may have doubts whether you will continue to give her children quality education if she becomes incapacitated. So having a separate investment that can take of them will make it easier to continue to provide them a top quality education without your preferences and judgment overriding her wishes for her children.

Fourth, you already have real estate investments of your own. Given that you acquired them before you married her, I assume her name is not on the properties. Have you considered putting her name on them? Are you aware that your son, not she, will inherit those properties when you die? What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander so you may have to re-think your expectations in your marriage if you cannot make compromises of your own.

Fifth, I have argued that she may be paranoid based on her previous experience. However, what if she actually did inherit from her deceased husband and she bought the property from the investment. If that is the case, she may felt she has an obligation to keep the investment in her name to protect her daughters’ interest so that they will benefit from their father’s estate. Again, once she allows you to be a part-owner of the property, the primary beneficiary will be your son. So your wife concerns are valid.

More important, giving that you two pretty much seem to be handling your finances separately–she paying her daughters’ school fees and you your son’s–your expectation that she includes you in the deed may be unrealistic.

Lastly, regarding her keeping the transaction secret until she completed it, she may have been worried you would have objections, like you do now, to her having the property in her name. While openness is extremely important in marriage, it can be hindered where one party is always made to compromise her stand on important subjects. So accepting your wife’s decision on this issue will create an an enabling environment where she will feel free to tell you her intentions before embarking on a major project in the future.

To allay your wife’s concern for the future which concern I believe led to her actions, I recommend you sit down with her and assure her that she and her daughters’ future are secure with you. It is also important that you two draw up a will that will ensure each of the four children is taken care of in the event either of you dies. Estate disputes are more contentious in families such as yours where the children are not from the same parents. So drawing up a will will guarantee your kids don’t engage in ugly court battles after you are gone. In my opinion, anything short of this then your expectation that your wife leaves her financial future unsecured is not realistic.

Devils’ Advocate.

P.S : For real-life purposes, a 2014 judgment Ukeje v Ukeje held that women can now inherit from their fathers in Igbo land. See my previous post on the subject here.

Do share your insights and comments below.

So You Want to Lose Weight? Here are Calorie Facts and Maths You Must Know

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Update: A Nigerian reader suggested that having the weight measurements in this post in Kg will help Nigerians understand this post more. I appreciate that feedback. 2 pounds (2lb) is 0.9 kg. So if you see 110 pounds, read 55kg (110lb actually equal 49kg but you don’t need that exactitude to appreciate the idea conveyed in this post). Thanks to the reader who drew my attention to the unit of weight measurement in Nigeria.

Years ago, when I was living in boarding school, I’d finish a packet of golden morn (with heaps of powdered milk) in three or four meals ignoring the labels stating the packet contained 16 servings. Now, I still eat more than the recommended serving of Honey Bunches of Oats but with a proportionate dose of guilt.

I began getting a grasp of calories and what it means for my health when I started watching daytime TV shows like Lose Big With Ali Vincent a few years ago. I am sharing some of that knowledge with you with a caveat that I am not a health professional. That said, here are five basic facts you should know about calories to help you make better choices and informed decisions about your health.

1. You Need to Eat Only Between 2000 and 2700 Calories a Day
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Calorie is a unit of heat used to indicate the amount of energy that foods will produce in the human body. Recommended calorie intake depends on factors such as age, size, height, gender, lifestyle and overall general health.

The body needs calories to provide basic life functions, such as breathing and pumping blood. The number of calories the body needs to do this varies from person to person, and it’s known as your basal metabolic rate. You can determine your BMR with an online calculator or a mathematics equation.

Using this online calculator, I found that I have a BMR of about 1,500 calories. So even if I don’t engage in any physical activity, I will still need to consume about 1,500 calories to maintain my current weight.

The average male adult needs approximately 2,500 calories per day to keep his weight constant, while the average adult female needs 2,000. 2,000 calories is 500 in excess of my BMR because light activities like walking and cooking uses up the 500 calories not used for my BMR.

2. 3,500 calories equal one pound of body weight.

Generally if you want to lose wait, you have to dump an average of 1,000 calories per day in an effort to lose 2 pounds of body fat per week.

So let’s say you need to lose 110 pounds (approximately 50kg) and your recommended healthy weight requires 1,500 calories to support but you consume 3,500 calories per day, you can reduce your daily caloric intake to 2,000 calories – thus losing about four pounds per week or 16 or more per month. In only a couple of short months, you could have dropped about fifty pounds and at this point would be mid-way through your final weight loss goal.

Calories can add up quickly than you think and that is why losing eight is easier said than done. So let’s say you are doing all the right things to reach your weight loss goals, just consuming an extra 100 calories (approximately the calorie in one banana or apple) every day for 35 days will result in a weight gain of one pound just for the extra banana or apple. To counter its effect, you will need to walk about thirty minutes each day just to burn the 100 calories.

3. Empty Calories, Carbs, Fats, and Sugars are the Enemies

If you consider that weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise, you will make smarter decisions in what you eat. And this makes sense: if you don’t put in excess calories in your body when you eat, then you don’t have to engage in intensive exercise because there is nothing to burn.

I was watching one of my favorite Nigerian Vloggers cook yesterday and I cringed at the quantity of oil she used to prepare her stew. Now, vegetable oil contains about 130 calories per table spoon. From what I saw in the vlog, and given that the stew prepared could serve only about five people, anybody that ate that food would have consumed about 750 calories just from the oil alone. Prepare your meals yourself so you can be sure that what you have in your food is in line with your dietary preferences.

You know that soda (‘mineral’) is bad for you but do you know that malt drink is not any healthier. A bottle of malt (nutrition information may vary by brand) contains about 210 calories–43 grams of sugar (that’s about 11 cubes of sugar) and more than 17% of daily carbohydrate need. This knowledge has since made me find malt unappealing (and no you are not doing that elderly relative a favor by offering her malt because you think it is more nutritious than soda). A bottle of malt doesn’t offer any nutritional value but takes up about one-tenth of one’s calorie daily allowance. If you are predisposed to diabetes, taking a bottle of malt becomes a death-sentence.

Fruit juice is just as bad–forget the ‘fruit’ in it. Eat whole fruits with the fiber etc. Sugarstacks.com has helped me reduce my intake of sugar because of its visual recreation of sugar contained in most food. It will help you think twice before you gulp down another can of soda.

When you fill up with empty calorie foods like sugary drinks, donuts, french fries etc, you have little room to take in healthy foods like broccoli (a few days ago my daughter asked me to give her more ‘trees’ when she was requesting for more broccoli. That made me laugh. Indeed they are miniature trees, the stalks look like tree trunks and the crown like tree branches with leaves), kale, ugu, cucumber (one of my best, only about 45 calorie for one cucumber but it keeps you full and nourishes you without taking much of your calorie allowance), lettuce etc.

If you are counting your calories, then you must make every calorie count. A good guide is to fill half of your plates with vegetables at each meal (no, a meal of jollof rice, chicken, and fried plantain is anything but a balanced diet). On average, you should take about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday.

4. Read Your Food Labels
Reading food labels will help you make healthier choices. The bottle of malt I mentioned earlier comes from a carton we got from seven months back. I used to consider a chilled bottle of malt a treat but since learning how little they offer in the way of nutrition, I avoid them and take a sip occasionally. So read you food labels and you will be surprised what you find.

While I don’t know if Nigeria has laws requiring the food industry to label food packages, most imported foods come with them. In any case, google is your friend. You can calculate how many calories are contained in a plate of rice you cook from scratch by googling the individual foods you use to cook the rice. For example you can find the nutrition information for rice, tomato, vegetable oil, onion online and then add them up to determine how much calories is contained in that steaming-hot-oil-loaded-fried rice.

Reading food labels will also help you know when you shouldn’t eat more food because you have exceeded your daily limit. So if for lunch you stopped at a McDonald’s and ate a meal of Big mac, french fries and a can of soda, you may have to skip dinner or you will derail from you weight loss goals.

5. Exercise In Order to Burn More Calories than You Consume
Weight loss is a game of numbers. Fitness experts stress the importance of exercise for weight loss because exercise helps burn calories and get rid of excess fat. So if you burn 350 calories by engaging in intensive exercise everyday for ten days, you will lose 1 pound in ten days solely on account of that exercise.

A good combination of healthy diet and exercise regimen is the surest way to lose weight. Not sure if you need to lose weight? Calculate your Body Mass Index here.. You will be surprised that as a mother of five weighing 70kg you are overweight.

To conclude, here are a few practical tips to help you reach your weight loss goals:

    1. Incorporate vegetables in your meal as often as you can (for example, cook afang soup (without the excess oil) more than oha soup);
    2. Throw in mixed vegetable like carrot and peas when cooking indomie and white rice;
    3. Always have cold water (water contains zero calories; it doesn’t get any better than that) in the fridge as it makes it easier to overlook the chilled sodas (even better, don’t keep soda in the house);
    4. Offer your kids apple in place of ice cream for snacks;
    5. Shop the frozen sections at Shoprite for a variety of vegetable–they are cheaper than fresh ones;
    6. Use paprika instead of red oil to color your food (a 6 for 130 calorie sawp); and
    7. Exercise with workout videos on Youtube in the comfort of your home; you don’t need to register in a gym

I hope this blog helps you stay healthier this year. Let’s keep fit!

P.S: Please don’t expect to see an Agbani next time you see me. I’m a work in progress myself. And Like I said in this blog, I learn by blogging.

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An Inspirational Story About TY Bello’s Bread Seller: A Lesson in the Importance of Showing Up

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On a day last week, Jumoke woke up a bread-seller. Little did she know that later that day, with a click of a camera, her life would change forever.

Photographer and Singer TY Bello was having a photo shoot session with Nigerian-UK rapper, Tinie Tempah for ThisDay Style Magazine when Jumoke Orisaguna happened to be passing by (the first picture above). When TY Bello shared the photo on her social media page, people started asking who the lady was and if she was a model. Moved by reactions to the photo TY Bello commenced a search for the Agege bread seller.

She later found her (I read somewhere that Jumoke learned that she’d gone viral when someone showed her the picture on internet and told her everyone was talking about her) and announced on her Instagram page that she was going to help her kick-start a modelling career. Today, the 27-years old mother of two, is on the cover of ThisDay Style Magazine (Second Picture).

Jumoke’s story is a lesson in the importance of showing up. If Jumoke, being unemployed, stayed at home pinging away rather than starting something, however small, like she did, she wouldn’t have walked into Ty Bello’s picture and her life definitely wouldn’t have changed.

I have had people tell me how they applied for jobs they obviously didn’t qualify for but which they got, sometimes earning four times what they earned at their previous jobs. In some cases, even after being employed, they didn’t know how to go about the job responsibilities attached to the new job but they faked it till they made it. If they didn’t apply for the jobs, they wouldn’t have been considered for the positions. This reinforces the Igbo adage that says onye mmiri huru ukwu ya ka o na-ama , only a person whose legs are outside gets beaten by the rain.

So however seemingly unimportant your day job, side hustle, even volunteer gig is, keep doing it. You don’t want your TY Bello to show up only to learn that you have quit. Chance favors the prepared so live as if you are awaiting a bigger role you are destined to play in life.

We wish Jumoke more success in life as her story continues to inspire us. Have you ever landed an opportunity merely because you were at the right place at the right time? Do share in the comments section.

Dear Devil’s Advocate: My Boyfriend’s Parents Won’t Let Him Marry Me

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A Devil’s Advocate takes the opposing side of any argument, just for the sake of debate, so that all sides of a question are discussed.

I am Launching a series Dear Devil’s Advocate to promote understanding and peaceful co-existent between people. From my experience–professional and personal–the strife and bad blood between friends, relatives, co-workers etc. stem from a lack of understanding of the other person’s perspective; if roles were reversed, people will do exactly the same thing as the other person whose actions they find intolerable.

In this series, I will take common situations and argue the unpopular position such that if you are in the position, you may begin to understand where the other person is coming from, and I hope, feel less animosity towards the person you believe have hurt you. For now, I make up the scenarios drawing inspiration from experiences of real-life people I know. With time, I hope you will send me entries about situations and people in your life that drive you crazy. Remember, the goal is not to justify the other person’s actions but to help you deal more objectively with the situation. This will help you keep your sanity and hold less grudge towards others.

The first in the series is from Tolu.

Dear Devil’s Advocate:

My name is Tolu. I have been with my boyfriend Uche for three years. He’s 30, I am 25. I met him during my National Youth Service in Anambra. He is the first man I have truly loved. He’s kind and funny and everything I want in a man.

Problem is, he’s Igbo and I’m Yoruba. His parents who are typical Igbo traders, have never met me but have stood their ground that he won’t marry me because I’m not Igbo. In fact, they insist he must marry someone not just from his State in Anambra but from his town in Ozubulu. How can people who have never met me judge me so harshly? I’m hurt that they have declined to meet me to even assess if I’m ‘worthy’ of their son. How they can be so close-minded at this age and time when people marry people from other race is beyond me.

Anyway, my boyfriend and I have decided to go on with the wedding plans and I have resolved that after the wedding, I’m going to pay his parents back for all the hurt they have caused me. They will never be welcomed in my house nor will the receive any financial help from us.

My Response:Dear Tolu,

Parents disapprove of marriages for reasons ranging from the ludicrous to the reasonable. While I am not going to tell you if going on with the wedding plans is proper in the circumstance–even I don’t know if it is–I can tell you that being mean to your future in-laws is unreasonable for at least four reasons.

First, like you said, your future in-laws have never met you so their disapproval of you is ‘Not Personal’; they would reject any girl that is not from Ozubulu. So why will you make personal something that is not. They don’t hate You as they don’t know you, so please don’t hold any ill-feelings towards them.

Second, you are educated; they are not. Probably you have had Igbo friends in the past and from your relationships with them you learned that certain stereotypes we associate with people whose cultures are different from ours aren’t true. If your future in-laws are like many Igbo parents, they have never left the Southeast and don’t know what Yoruba people are like except that Yorubas use a lot of palm oil to cook soup (Now, I don’t mean this to be derogatory). Will it be fair then to judge these people who may have never talked to a Yourba person by the same standard as you who probably have a mix of Igbos, Yoruba, and Hausas as Facebook friends. Your experience has taught you that irrespective of cultural background, we all share our humanity and cherish such values as honesty, integrity, fairness etc. Yes, your future in-laws are close-minded like you said but they have not been privileged to be otherwise.

Third, have you considered that their reluctance to accept you may stem from fear and worry and not hate; fear that their relationship with you will be awkward; worry that they cannot have conversations with you if you can’t speak Igbo and they cannot speak English. Can you make oha soup, jiakwu, ji agworogwo etc? ‘What the heck are those?’ You ask. Same question your future in-laws will ask when you marry their son and during your visit to them at Christmas you prepare ewedu and amala. The point is, no culture is better than the other but your future in-laws may be worried that you may not be open to learning how they do things. Their reluctance to accept you could be because they believe you will not fit in. Their concern is real–even if not valid. While these days, as extended family relationships weaken, you feel that you will be married to their son, not them, and that their opinion and preferences shouldn’t matter, it is hard for your future parents in laws who grew up in close-knit extended family units to understand this fact and how times have changed.

Lastly it may not be proper to cut them off from their son’s financial support. You have known your boyfriend for only three years. Your boyfriend is thirty. So for the first 27 years of his life you weren’t there when his parents provided for him, offered him emotional and financial support such that he has become the wonderful person you said he is. Parenting is the hardest job there is and robbing you future in-laws the pleasure of having their son take care of them now that they are old is morally wrong. Your boyfriend owes his parents his life and whatever your issues with them are, never prevent him from paying them back for all they did for him.

I understand how close-minded (and old-fashioned, if you like) your future in-laws are. However, were I born when they were, where they were, and had the same life experiences as they did, I would be singing their tune, not yours.

I hope my response helps you find it in your heart to forgive whatever hurt you believe they have caused you. And hey, check back with me twenty years from now when your daughter (assuming you have one by then) presents you a tattoo-sleeved, dreadlocks-rocking, motorcycle-riding white dude as her suitor. I hope you will remember then that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

Good luck Tolu as I invite my readers to comment and help you put this issue in proper perspective.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Start Blogging-With Practical Examples from My Experience

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I started bogging two years ago when I was a stay-at-home mum. After having my second child and starting a part-time job last year, between juggling two toddlers (with my husband’s help) and my career, I lagged and have not been able to post blogs often. This, despite having over fifty topics I have jotted down on a black note I carry around as I get inspiration on bus rides, at the office, at home etc. Yesterday, after reading Uche Pedro’s, CEO of Bellaniaja, post about the importance of a side hustle and following one’s passion, I recommitted to blogging. Partly because of the therapeutic effect I hope this entry will have on me–reminding me of why I should keep blogging–and partly in response to inquiries I received from friends about blogging, I have written this post outlining ten reasons why you should consider blogging or starting an online business.

1.You Will Make Money From Blogging:
While I cannot guarantee that if you start blogging you will acquire a half a billion naira Banana Island mansion like Linda Ikeji did, I can tell you for certain that if you start blogging you increase your chance of getting revenue whether directly from advertising on your blog or getting opportunities through people that read your blog. For example, if you write remarkably well and gain a large readership, you may get book deals from publishers–I know many that did. You can also get freelance writing opportunities which I believe the very talented Atoke is already doing. If you start a Youtube Channel and get hundreds of thousands of subscribers, you may also land a television show on a TV network.

Besides landing a book deal or TV show, if you establish a large following from blogging, you can get freebies from companies looking for online influencers to promote their products. Sisi Yemmie is a poster girl for that. She won the N15 million naira My Big Nigeria wedding contest because of votes from her blog’s loyal followers. About two weeks ago she got Coca-Cola drinks with her name inscribed on it delivered to her from the brand. You can get your own coke too but only if you pay for it at the store.

2. Blogging Can Help You Land a Job
After sending tens, if not hundreds, of job applications without getting an interview appointment, I got my current job through a contact I met from blogging. This, without my employer ever seeing my resume. Though in my case, networking–not necessarily my skills–helped me get the job, showing your expertise through quality blogs makes you more appealing to potential employers. An employer would rather hire a candidate whose skills they can readily assess from their work online than from applicants whose only claim to oft-exaggerated skills are resumes that could well have been prepared by professional resume writers.

As further proof that blogging can increase one’s chance of landing a job, when Bellanaija advertised for several job positions in January this year, they requested that bloggers applying for the openings should send links to their blogs in their applications. You see how those who have managed to maintain personal–even if not financially viable–blogs can have advantage over applicants who can also write but have not ventured into blogging.

3.You Will Make Valuable Contacts From Blogging
You never know who may read your blog and which valuable contact may want to connect with you after reading your posts. A particular post on my blog helped me connect to at least three Nigerian attorneys here–and from them I have met several others, and many others in diaspora. One of those attorneys live a walking distance from my house–I would never have known–and worships at my local parish. These people have proved to be valuable mentors, friends and colleagues and I wouldn’t have met them if I don’t blog.

4. You Can Help People Through Blogging
The two most read posts on my blog are one on getting transcript from Nigerian universities and another on how to wash bitterleaf with a machine. Not a day goes by without one random person I don’t know reading my blog on how to get transcripts in Nigeria. These posts are popular because they solve practical problems for people.

My post on how to get a certificate of good standing from the Supreme Court of Nigeria has also helped my readers obtain their certificates without paying a dime to not-so-civil servants employees of the Supreme Court who request for unofficial fees of thousands of naira so they can be motivated to ‘move the applications around the offices’ which job they are employed to do. You can imagine the sense of fulfillment I have when I receive thank-you emails from these people.

Whatever you profession is–economist, teacher, engineer etc–you can help someone with your knowledge through blogging. For example, if you are an attorney, you can consider starting a self-help legal blog teaching people their rights. Lawyers are not allowed to advertise in Nigeria but there is no prohibition on making people more aware of their rights. For example,it is illegal to collect two years rent in advance in most parts of Lagos. Yet many Lagosians fall prey to landlords who collect two years rent and throw them out after the second year so that they can get another two year rent from a new tenant. Making such knowledge available to people is a meaningful way to help those who cannot afford an attorney.

5. Blogging is a Good Way to Promote Your Products
Many businesses connect to their customers through blogging. People are always on the internet googling how to do things. If you answer such a question in your blog and mention your product that helps accomplish the task, you are on your way to increasing your sales. For example, an attorney blogging about people’s rights will attract paying clients who will hire them for the level of expertise shown on their blog. Here’s a real life example: Last month, I got a message from someone looking to perfect title to a property he acquired in Lagos. Among the over 100 Nigerian lawyers I have as Facebook friends, the only one I remembered to recommend was one who always posts links on her wall about real estate. I knew her area of specialization because of the blogs. Though I don’t know if the person I told about her eventually used the referral, my other equally competent attorney friends missed out on that prospect.

6. By Blogging You Leave Your Footprints in the Sand of Time
Every one wishes to be remembered when they are gone. While not many of us will be privileged to be presidents of a country or Bill Gates, blogging is one of the easiest way to preserve your memory and legacy in the minds of those you left behind. Even better, like books, it will tell those born long after you are gone that you once lived. William Shakespeare lived between 1564 and 1616 but who among you doesn’t know at least a line from his work (For me, Et tu Brute? ). The pen is indeed more powerful than the sword.

7. You Learn By Blogging
It’s a paradox. Blogging indeed helps you learn. The fear of inadequacy shouldn’t keep you from blogging as you learn while you are doing it. I have lost count of how many times I looked up a word at the dictionary or consulted Google just for this entry. Don’t let your skills go to waste because you feel you are inadequate. You have the basic skills to start and you will learn along the way. Blogging improves your research skills, vocabulary, writing and expertise in the field you blog about. Most of us are diamonds in the rough that can shine through with a little polishing. So the most important reason why you should blog could be that you become a better You by doing so.

8. Blogging Brings You Happiness and a Sense of Fulfillment
Blogging is its own reward. Knowing that through your blogs you are helping others gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment that your day job may not give you (except you are a doctor or a priest). Always brainstorming what to blog about, replying to comments from your readers etc keep you energized.

9. You Can Influence Others With Your Blogs
I was inspired to write this post and recommit to blogging because of Uche Pedro’s post I mentioned earlier. She inspired me to take my side hustle seriously. I also know readers who have been influenced by my blogs. A couple told me how they look forward to reading them in the evenings after work. I have one reader who is now addicted to Linda Ikeji after reading about Linda in my blog. If you desire to change the world and be a force for good, blogging is one way to do it.

10 Blogging Helps You Stay Connected to Family and Friends
Though you may have hundreds of Facebook friends, there are details of your life you may want to share on a smaller platform, with you inner circle–that is, before you become big and have strangers as followers–and blogging helps you share such information and stay connected to your loved ones. If you live away from your family, blogging can help you keep in touch with everybody without having to reach each person separately.

There you have it. I hope this post motivates you to start blogging or some other online business that fits your personality. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection. If you spend a lot of time online already, you may want to consider investing that time into creating content that translates into money in your pocket.

I realize that blogging is not for everyone. If it is not for you, look through Uche Pedro’s list (which includes uber, flipping houses, training people) and see what side hustle you can start this year.

I hardly know a rich man that has only one source of income. To be super rich, establishing multiple sources of income is the way to go. And good thing is that you can transfer skills you already have in your day job into a second business. For example, if you are an attorney, you are already equipped with decent writing skills and can become a freelance writer; if you are a teacher, you can be a private tutor after school hour; if you work in a bank or an investment company, you can become a personal finance expert and advise your clients on investments. The key is to get going as I’m sure you may have thought of a side business in the past but didn’t go through with it.

So please share with us in the comments section, do you have a side hustle–a job or passion besides you 9-5 job? Do you have side hustle ideas to share? Your contributions inspire others. Have an amazing 2016!

And please click the follow button to get notifications in your email when I put up a new post. Some of you requested for it. Thank you and here’s to a greater you.

Update, October 2019: I have experienced so many more gains from blogging since this post was written, including contributing to social change. If you are still observing blogging from the sidelines, I encourage you to read JJ Omojuwa’s Digital: The New Code of Wealth available from Amazon and deliverable to Nigeria. The book shows how the internet has made this the best time to succeed. 

Please Note we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

Merry Christmas

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It’s that time of the year! Can you smell the harmattan already? Ladies, have you got the onions, curry, thyme, cabbage, and tomatoes packed into Ghana must go bags? (You can leave out the palm oil, cocoyam and oha as you will readily get those in the village). Guys, have you checked the car to see that the oil, tires, and brakes are in order for the long dusty drive to the East (or North or West as the case may be)?. I hope you also got enough change to spray at events (hopefully the ones in mint condition if your account officer or the ATM was kind to you). Do you still get long queues at the petrol stations?

On another note, how was year? Looking back, are there things you would have done differently? Thank you for your support this year! May all your wishes for next year come true. May God be with us as we celebrate the holidays. Here’s to a more vibrant, healthy, and accomplished us in the coming months! Here’s to an amazing 2016!

Emmanuel-God With Us.

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Legal Reasons Why You Should Consider Deleting Your Facebook Account

Some months ago, I got a phone call from a married Facebook friend (She is more than a friend in real life). She was worried about a video–the content of which was akin to porn–that had been posted on her Facebook wall without her consent or knowledge. Though she didn’t know the actors in the video, she was embarrassed by it. She needed information on know to delete the offending video from her timeline. (Interestingly, Facebook buttons that keep Mark Zuckerberg’s invention in business, such as ‘like’ and ‘add friends’, are readily visible and accessible to users while the features that help keep users safe and out of trouble aren’t. Except one is tech savvy, they would need help locating the ‘unfriend’, ‘delete’, ‘block’ or ‘untag’ buttons on Facebook). With the help of Google, I found the relevant information and instructed my friend on how to take down the post, much to her relief. Later, I wondered how it would cause scandal if, given their pervasive presence on social media and how equally vulnerable they are as a result, renowned Christian pastors become victims of such hack.

Around the same time my friend got her account hacked, a newly married man in his thirties, decided, against what should be his better judgment, to put up pictures of a beautiful 19-year-old girl I knew and claimed the 19-year-old was his ‘ex’. The young girl was related to me and since I considered the post defamatory against her, though I barely know the young man, I called him out on his actions through comments to the post thereby clearing the girl’s name. I was furious as I had previously warned him, through a courteous private Facebook message, against misappropriating the girl’s name and image. I also wondered if the gentleman realized the implication of his post, including conclusions that could send him in jail for abuse of a minor.

Besides one’s online presence making one susceptible to an attack on one’s reputation by others, posts people send out themselves could make them liable in damages and could be used as evidence against them in courts. Given that the Internet is relatively new, some users are not yet well aware of what consequences some of their posts today may have on them in future. If you consider that Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands is only now coming under great scrutiny more than twenty years after the book was published, then before you hit every post or send button on your Facebook page, you will ponder first in what way it might impact you in twenty years’ time when you could say, be running for a political office.

Social media content is increasingly being admitted in courts as proof to establish facts. As of 2012, there were about 700 cases in the U.S. pending on appeal over the admission of social media evidence. Mind you, this was only at the appellate, not trial, courts. Similarly, I read that Facebook plays a role in one-third of divorce cases. A 2012 survey of divorce attorneys found that 80% of them say they look for evidence on social media. For example, a picture of a man behind the wheels of a brand new Mercedes may determine how much more the wife’s attorney insists he pays for alimony and child support. Evidence on Facebook of illegal activities such as drug use may result in denial of child custody. In one case, a wife claimed car accident injuries (and resultant surgery) had left her unable to work, thereby justifying monthly alimony payments. Her spouse countered with evidence from her Facebook and MySpace accounts detailing her active belly dancing exploits four years after the surgery, which the judge accepted and ultimately used to deny the wife the lifetime monthly support checks she sought from her ex-husband.

Social Media posts are also used as evidence in workers compensation and personal injury cases to counter any claim of physical harm and the extent of damage Plaintiff suffered. “Photographs and comments suggesting Plaintiff may have recently ridden a mule,” posted on Facebook was used by the defense, in one case, to argue against the plaintiff’s claims that a car accident had left him physically and psychologically injured. In one worker’s compensation case, a forklift driver at a warehouse in the US said that he hurt his leg at work and claimed damages for lost wages. His employers told the Court they believed his Facebook and MySpace pages indicated that his leg was not as damaged as he claimed, and asked the court to give it his passwords for those pages so they could check.

Incriminating evidence from social media is also used by prosecutors to nail accused persons. Rap music posted on Facebook by a suspect was used in one criminal case as evidence of rape, harassment and threat of deadly harm. Recently, a Twitter user who killed someone while driving posted the body of his victim on twitter just moments after the accident. Undoubtedly, a jury will be more likely to mete out a harsher sentence if defense counsel does not succeed in excluding the admission of the video in evidence through a motion in limine.

Deleting Facebook posts after-the-fact to prevent the negative effects of incriminating posts is not an option. By intentionally deleting relevant information especially in the face of an impending litigation, one would have potentially engaged in the destruction of important evidence and could subject themselves to even more trouble if the Court discovers the actions. In at least one instance, a Court fined both a party and his attorney for “cleaning up” a Facebook page to remove harmful posts and pictures

Coincidentally, while I was writing this, I read this post on BellaNaija about a woman seeking to use pictures posted on BN of her husband’s pre-wedding photos with another woman as evidence in court. Those pre-wedding photos no doubt are solid evidence for a divorce case and possible bigamy charge against the man if the facts alleged are true.

To be sure, social media has its advantages. However, only a responsible use will guarantee one doesn’t get sent to jail over a seeming innocuous post. Once you put something on the World Wide Web, it’s there forever. Even if you delete it seconds after posting it, someone might have taken a snapshot of it, and it may still haunt you in the future. And then, there is the power of subpoena that can be issued against Facebook.

In conclusion, you need to be careful about what you put on the Internet because you never know how it is going to be used against you in future.

Don’t Count On Your Kids To Do It; Here’s the Surest Way to Immortalize Yourself

Embed from Getty ImagesRecently, a popular Nigerian blogger made headlines for acquiring a house worth about half a billion naira. Recently too, a Nigeria doctor resident in the United States made headlines for a different reason: He built hundred houses for widows in his village in Anambra. Because the latter story is so good, I will share some excerpts:

“Maduka replaced every thatched house in the area with three or four-bedroom bungalows and about 100 of such buildings are currently in place in the community. They belong to the indigent natives, especially widows. All such buildings carry green aluminum roofing sheets for easy identification and beautification of the place.

Dr. Godwin Maduka is the founder of the Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Center. Dr. Maduka completed his Graduate Medical training at the Harvard University School of Medicine in Anesthesia and Critical Care and Pain Management. Explaining his philanthropic gesture, Maduka said:

‘I embarked on all these to save my people from my ugly experience while growing up. I grew up in a home that when it rained, it rained more inside than house. Wealth would be meaningless if it cannot be used to better the lives of the people around the custodian. The wealthy must provide jobs for the youths; build skills acquisition centres for willing adults, market stalls for men and women, if society must be secure.'(Emphasis mine).

Maduaka has opened up Umuchukwu by building schools, hospitals, churches, security posts, industries, police station with modern working tools. He believes that government alone cannot give resounding development due to its meagre resources when compared to the volume of social, economic amenities expected by the people. (Emphasis mine).

Umuchukwu, one of the most backward and remote communities in the state, was totally denied any meaningful government attention. Nkerehi, as it was then called, was in abysmal destitution. Maduka’s gesture compelled former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, to construct two roads connecting Umuchukwu with other communities.’

Mr. Maduka’s story is arguably the most inspiring story I ‘ve seen in Nigerian news in months. His example shows how responsible use of wealth entails redistributing it for the benefit of those who are not as privileged as the custodian. While One can argue that one has a right to use one’s wealth as they want because it is their ‘sweat’, the truth is that fate does play a role in how much opportunity one gets to be successful. If one has a university degree for example, it is usually because one has parents that could afford it. If education gives one a better shot at success in life, and one doesn’t choose one’s parents, then it will be illogical to say for example, that a medical license that gives one an opportunity to make ten times more than an okada rider, who wasn’t as privileged, is not an act of fate. Even if one is not inclined to charity out of a sense of obligation, one should consider investing in the dregs of society to lift them out poverty since they commit most crimes, crimes of which the wealthy can be victims. Either way, the rich owe the poor.

If it is true that success comes from a source other than ourselves, then as good stewards, we should account for it. And I find that God does bless people who use their wealth in the service of others. Last year, an old classmate from secondary school and a friend, told me how every year, she goes back to our alma mater to give N50,000 to the best science student as a grant to help them in their university education. Mind you, my former classmate made this donation from her salary as a lecturer, and she was less than thirty years at the time. Recently, she got an admission in Uk for her doctorate degree and she is studying there now. With a brain and a big heart like hers, I am very convinced that God will give her enough resources to carry out all her good intentions. I once told her, and I strongly believe it, that she will make as much impact as the late Dora Akunyili. She is just one of the many examples of people who do good get rewarded with even more success. I can’t keep track of how many charities Bill Gates is involved in. Growing up, I also saw examples from my parents and other relatives of how those who give are blessed more.

Redistributing ones wealth while alive may mean leaving a little less for one’s children, but that is perfectly okay. I used to have qualms with government taxing an estate during probate, but I no longer do because I now appreciate the reasoning behind it. Why allow people leave wealth that will last five generations when it can be used to take care of those already here? And why should someone enjoy the hard work of another by mere reason of accident of birth? While it is the responsibility of every parents to see that their children are set up in life, there is no obligation to leave anything behind. And with the prevalence of children fighting over property left by their parents, there is even a greater incentive to put one’s wealth to good use while alive.

If people focus less on building wealth that will last generations, then they will be more open to taking up tasks that will help build their communities. It will be good for example, to see someone build a public library in my village in Akokwa. Having gained so much from the local library I have access to here, I strongly make a case for having public libraries in Nigeria. I remember once looking for public library in Aba and found none except a neglected one housed in a dilapidated building that proved to be no use. I left disappointed.

It can be tempting for the average person reading this to think that this post is not for them but for the Adenugas, the Dangotes and recently, the Ikeji’s (the last was to lighten your mood), but we can all take small steps. Take the library for example, if I were disciplined enough, I could make the library happen even though I don’t have financial recourses to build a brand new library. I already have access to books I could donate to my community: Between my seven siblings and I, we have used university books from the following disciplines: Law, two sets from Industrial Chemistry (one from a State university and another from a Federal university) Economics, Public Administration, Accounting and potentially three from Public Health, Philosophy and Theology. Surely, if I get these books together, we could start a small library in my village in a room donated by the community. For practically nothing, and if others follow our lead and donate, we will have a library in my village.

It is especially important that the private sector gets involved in building Nigeria because the waste in government cannot match the efficiency by private persons. I don’t know how much Dr. Maduka expended in building the houses but whatever it took, it would have cost probably 20 times more to actualize if same project was awarded by the government and still the houses may be abandoned at some point uncompleted. I also hazard a guess that the cost of Ms. Ikeji’s mansion may be more than the amount Dr. Maduka used to touch 100 families. I do not write this to put Ms. Ikeji down, she is involved in so many charities herself, I wrote it to remind myself that the $5 I spend for lunch may buy a family’s grocery for a week.

We’ll all love to leave our footprints in the sands of time. While many of us think leaving kids behind will immortalize us, truth is that our kids will be busy trying to immortalize themselves not us. Trust me, I know because my two daughters’ English names are derived from mine, not my parents’.

Having seen you can’t count on your kids to immortalize you; go ahead, build that hospital, school, public toilet, library, borehole, road, etc. And when you do, remember to have your name conspicuously and literally engraved on the project because hundred years from now, that may be the only reminder that you once lived. Even better, also have your parents’ name written on those projects too, because even though we can’t count on our kids to immortalize us, we definitely want to appreciate ours.

So do you have ideas of some project you wish you could undertake but which like me, you don’t have the funds to carry out? Please share in the comments section. You never know who might steal your ideas, and yes, we want them stolen.

P:S. I give credit to St Francis De Sales for this post. I prayed to him for inspiration while writing it. He is the patron saint of writers. Even if one person is inspired by this post, it would have served its purpose. I love and appreciate you, my readers. If inspired, please share.

I Missed Mass Once Because of Daylight Saving Time

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So on Sunday, we got an hour of extra sleep because we switched our clocks one hour back. I know, it’s a strange concept for those who are unfamiliar with it. So in the U.S and some other countries in the world, the Daylight Saving Time concept is used to maximize daylight in Spring and Summer.

At a specified time in March every year, everybody switches their clock one hour ahead. The effect is that when the time should have been 7pm, it is 8pm. So in the peak of summer, you can still see with daylight till about 9pm. In the fall however, like last Sunday, we switch backwards so that as early as 5pm (when it should actually be 6pm), it’s already dark; there’s less outdoor activities in fall and winter so you might as well get home early by artificial early sunset. To help you remember which time of the year you switch back or forth, bear this in mind–You spring forward in Spring, and fall back in Fall.

Switching time back and forth comes with its downside. One Sunday in March, my family and I got to mass in the morning and noticed people were already leaving the church. We were confused until we remembered we had forgotten to switch our clocks forward the night before. So our clocks showed 8am while others who remembered to change theirs had theirs reading 9am. Masses take only an hour here so we missed the mass. I don’t remember if we did but we probably made up for it by going to an evening mass. That was the only time I’ve been affected by it. Thanks to phone companies who automatically update the times on phones or stories of missed appointments will be more common.

So my friends in Nigeria, it used to be nine hours difference between us but it’s now eight hours till March. We don’t use Daylight Saving Time in Nigeria. I don’t know if we have need for. Scientists in the house, over to you.

P.S. Readers who are in countries that use DST, ever missed an appointment because you forgot to switch your watch? My Naija peeps, it’s a strange and confusing concept right? Read more about daylight saving time here.

The Invisible Discriminator – You Too Have Bias

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Last week, I came across this video via social media. In it, a ‘man clad in black’ springs up behind the actors, communicating negative ideas to the actors about other people based on stereotypes. And each time, the actors’ actions towards the victims are influenced by the ideas previously fed them (the actors) by the man in black; a woman who came into the store to buy milk of whom the man in black had inquired what she was up to was watched more closely by the storekeeper, and a young woman chose to stand in the bus rather than sit bedside a man who had made room for her. At the end of the video, the viewer is urged to Stop. Think. Respect.

The video was made to draw attention to how prejudices influence our judgment and actions towards other, and how unless we stop to think about it, we won’t know we unknowingly treat others with disrespect.

A day after I watched the video, I was walking by someone from a certain race and gender I feel uncomfortable with when he tried to make eye contact. My first impulse was to look away. However, remembering the video, I looked him in the eye and exchanged a harmless smile and smattering of greetings.

The following day, I walked into the bus and unconsciously decided I wasn’t going to take the first two empty seats I saw; one I passed because the person next to it I considered overweight, the other I passed because the gentleman next to it had a shoulder-length hair. After I found a seat next to someone I considered didn’t have ‘issues’, I remembered the video from the day before. I had never thought that I had such biases until I watched the video. As I sat in the bus fingering my rosary and crossing myself (taking the bus frees my hand to either read a book or say the rosary in the morning, among other benefits), I wondered if the person next to me, who could well be a Buddhist, would be wondering what the heck I was doing fingering beads and making gestures.

An incident from this week made me realize I may have forgotten the lessons from last week too soon. I entered the bus (Yea, I take them often, have been hoping to do a blog about that) and as there were no more seats, a middle-aged man sitting behind me gave up his seat for me which I took gratefully. Afterwards, I noticed he had well-manicured long nails. Then the ‘man clad in black’ made me question what the gentleman’s real motives were when he gave up his seat for me. Mind you, the gentleman never engaged me in any conversation till he exited the bus, yet his nails made me appreciate his kindness less. I have a certain prejudice against men who take good care of themselves.

When I took mediation classes, I learned that people can more readily stop racism, sexism etc if we make them understand them for what they really are: implicit bias. If we realize we all have prejudices, then we can STOP. THINK. and RESPECT more often. Because the truth is: ‘You can never judge a book by its cover’ ( Yea, the print of Adichie’s Americanah I read arguably had the most unattractive cover I have seen in a book, but the novel may well be my favorite book ever).

We all are unique in our own way and appreciating our diversity and cultural differences will help us enjoy one another more. So STOP. THINK. RESPECT.

Do you have biases? Have you ever caught yourself treating someone a certain way based on their looks? I’ll appreciate your comments below.